Thursday, August 26, 2010

Doing the best we can with nutrition

One of the most confusing yet important topics I discuss on a daily basis is nutrition. Clients get such an influx of information from friends, family, the internet, books and so on. All they want to do is to pick the best possible food for their beloved pet.

So many people rely on the labels and try to compare ingredients. This is so frustrating for them since there are so few regulations. Any pet food company can label ingredients however they want. For example, one company’s definition of by-product will be vastly different from another’s.

One of my favorite pieces of advice to owners is to look for “AAFCO clinical feeding trial” printed on the bag. If they can’t find it, contact the company to find out what kind of feeding trials have been performed. There are a few companies that have run the proper trials but haven’t advertised it on the bag.

All that is involved in a clinical feeding trial is sending a portion of the food to a laboratory. Then ALL the feces from the dogs/cats being fed that food in a six week period is sent to the lab so the digestibility can be definitively determined. As an undergraduate student I did a digestibility study using wolves and coyotes and I can attest to the fact that it is only inhumane to the human involved.

By knowing that a diet is properly balanced (not only for protein, fat and carbohydrates, but vitamins and minerals as well) it allows us to make the choices for our pets that are in their best interest.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

School/Group Tours

Something that I really enjoy doing is school or group tours at the hospital. We periodically schedule these tours and we generally start with a viewing of the surgery room through the staff room observation window. If the groups aren't too big I may even take them right into the surgery suite. After that we go back to the treatment room where we all gather round to do show and tell.

What I have found that gets the most fun reactions from both kids and parents/teachers alike are the worms. Grossed-out fascination is visible all around when I show the samples of tapeworms and roundworms I have collected over the years.

Roundworms are a zoonotic disease (people can become infected) and one study has shown that 17% of children have antibodies to this parasite, meaning that they have been exposed to the worm at some point in their lives. The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) recommends we deworm our pets approximately four times yearly. This significantly decreases the risk to our children and immuno-compromised human family members.

The tour continues with obedience and trick demonstrations with my dogs and the rescue cat, Jasper. Needless to say, after the tour everyone is more than eager to wash their hands – always a good habit to get into after any interactions with pets.

If you are interested in having a tour of our clinic, please feel free to contact us.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Eva's input in dental surgery

When I invest in certain “toys” for my hospital, I tend to name them. Eva is my digital dental radiograph machine. I can have a radiograph (x-ray) within seconds and determine whether the tooth (or teeth) can be salvaged or need to be removed.

Many people assume that animals will always show pain and stop eating when they have a sore mouth. If only that were so. I am always amazed how “normal” they act even when there are slab fractures of the teeth, loose teeth or even abscesses of the tooth root. What gives me satisfaction are the phone calls from owners who are amazed because their dog or cat is acting happier once the dental surgery has been performed.

Bud is one of my more recent cases. Over the years, he has had a few dental procedures. During his biannual senior exam, I found that he had progressed to stage 2 out of 4 dental disease. This means he has moderate tartar and gingivitis. His family and I decided it would be a good idea to schedule bloodwork, then a thorough cleaning and polishing.

It turned out to be an excellent day to have Eva around. While one of my AHTs was charting and probing his teeth, she found a pocket around one of the teeth of the lower jaw. I decided to take a radiograph. It turned out that two teeth needed to be extracted. There was both bone loss and abscesses at the tooth roots. Without Eva, I would not have known how extensive the dental disease actually was in the mouth.

According to his owners, he was back to better than his normal self in just a few days. Bud also wanted to play fetch again, which they hadn't realized he'd stopped playing a number of months ago.