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What Veterinarians Wish all Pet Parents Knew

1. When a pet is not eating or drinking, there is something serious wrong and the pet needs to seen now.
a. Pets hide their symptoms of disease until they are so severe they can no longer hide it. Dogs and Cats think like wild animals – if I show I am sick, I am “lunch”.

2. Pets do not usually cry out when they are in pain. Symptoms may be subtle, such as:
a. Panting, increased respiratory rate, increased respiratory effort
b. Lethargy or decreased activity
c. Increased or decreased drinking water
d. Decreased appetite
e. Dilated Pupils
f. Increased or Decreased Heart Rate
g. Decreased or Increased Temperature
h. Increased or Decreased blood pressure
i. *Note some items can be increased or decreased because it depends on the condition that is causing the pain

3. You are what you eat. A good diet can prevent disease. Eating junk food does the same thing to your pet it does to you. Labels DO NOT tell you how good the food is.
a. The only way to be sure a food is good is research to prove it is good and research to make it good.
b. Chicken can be the first ingredient because it is listed as whole chicken which is full of water which is heavy as ingredients are listed by weight- dehydrated chicken would be listed much later on the label but there could be more of it
c. Grain is not a common allergy or sensitivity in pets (this is for people)- protein is the most common allergy in pets (chicken and beef for dogs and fish for cats).
d. Dogs should eat dog food and cats should eat cat food. People food is for people but a Veterinary Nutritionist (a Veterinarian that went to school extra years to learn Nutrition) can formulate a diet for a dog or cats to meet their full medical needs.
e. Food can be expensive but food is cheaper than treating disease
f. Food high in legumes (peas, lentils) have been associated with a serious and deadly heart disease in dogs and cats. Dilatative Cardiomyopathy does not usually have changes on a physical examination.
g. Food can treat and prevent disease. There are prescription diets that can help treat and can even help prevent dental disease, bladder stones, and weight gain.

4. If you pet is sick or might be in pain, call right away do not wait:
a. Too many times veterinarians get calls on Friday night or Saturday morning about pets that have had pain or illness that has been going on for days or weeks. While we do not mind fitting sick pets in when we need to, we do get a little upset that the pet may have suffered longer than necessary and that treatment was withheld for convenience reasons.
b. Most veterinarians do not mind admitting pets for the day and observing them and treating their illness. This way, the pet parent can go to work and get things done and the veterinarian can call them on the phone with an update. The pet is observed and watched closely for additional symptoms and can received necessary medications. The veterinarian can even watch for reactions to medications and to see if the medications are helping. Veterinarians and their staff are in the pet helping business and care about all pets like they do their own. So, dogs get walked and pet and cats get pet and talked to and get blankets and litter boxes and everyone gets love and water. It is not just sitting in a cage for a day- it is true hospitalization. Good for the pet and convenient!!
c. There are emergency hospitals open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. If you pet is sick or eats something or showing symptoms and you are not sure if the pet needs treatment right away or can wait, call and ask. It is better to ask and get the answer that you expect then not call and find out it is more serious than you think.
d. What is a serious condition that cannot wait until the next day? Crying, pain, limping, difficulty breathing, difficulty urinating, difficulty defecating, any blood anywhere, not eating, repeated vomiting, seizures, bleeding, bite wounds, car accidents, holding an eye shut, green or yellow eye discharge, coughing in a cat or anything the pet ate that could be toxic.
e. What can wait until the next day? Stool that is a little soft, vomiting just once, slight decreased appetite, a lump (unless it is bleeding), sneezing, mild coughing in an otherwise healthy dog, clear discharge from the eyes or nose, increased discharge in the ears without pain or bleeding, mild itching, mild lethargy, hair thinning, drinking just a little more than usual.
f. If you are not sure, call your vet).

5. Trusting Dr. Google.

a. This might be the number one pet peeve of Veterinary and Medical Healthy Professionals alike. You can find anything on the internet and get completely opposite answers in minutes.
b. The internet can be very helpful if you know the correct sites to look. Most veterinarians are more than happy to direct you to good sites which are created by veterinarians. Education is a good thing as long as what you are learning is accurate. For example: www.VeterinaryPartner.com www.ACVS.org www.ACVO.org https://www.aaha.org/pet_owner/pet_health_library/default.aspx
c. Remember that if you want to learn about a behavior or medical condition or the best way to take care of your pet, call your local veterinarian as they will usually be more than eager to email you information or talk to you. Veterinarians and veterinary professionals love educating people about their pets. The best way for pets to stay healthy is for their people to know what to do at home to keep them healthy.

6. Veterinarians and their staff are not out to make money:
a. Mean four-year debt of graduates who filled in-state veterinary school seats was $132,560, and $187,379 for out of state veterinary school seats.
b. Veterinarians are paid far less (1/3-1/4) than human physicians with similar school debt and similar training. Veterinary Nurses are paid far less than human nurses.
c. Veterinarians and staff work long hours- often 10 to 12 hour shifts and weekends.
d. Costs of routine and sick care at Animal Hospitals are considerably less than care at a human hospital. We just often are not aware because most people have insurance and never realize the before insurance bill.

7. Behavior Problems are solved by trainers and because the dog is bad or was abused
a. Behavior problems are often due to normal dog behaviors that occur at unwanted times (inappropriate because of the human lifestyle).
b. Dogs require socialization to humans, noises, dogs, animals before the age of 8 weeks. Lack of socialization is far more common than abuse.
c. Pet parents often promote behavior problems by unknowingly reinforcing them.
d. Punishment (including yelling) does not work and makes the behavior problems worse
e. Dog trainers train obedience. A behavior consultation with a veterinarian is more helpful for behavior. Your veterinarian can also refer you to the few dog trainers that can help with obedience.