Friday, May 25, 2012

We Can't Make This Stuff Up!

It’s the last few days of May and I am finishing up the May 2012 Reader’s Digest article, “50 Secret’s Your Vet Won’t Tell You.”

This is my last installment, (I promise I am happier than you guys are). This is also my favorite section.

This section is entitled; “We Couldn’t Make This Up.”

Every veterinary staff member has a bunch of funny tales to tell about some of the cases that they have participated in. The weird cases with utterly unimaginable cascading series of events that somehow landed you and your pet in our office. We have seen and heard almost everything. I have to admit in many cases that I skip the story and just go right to the pet. (It's sometimes hard to focus if I dwell on your superfluous sequence of events. For example, what's the relevance of what you bought at the grocery store on your way home when you found your pet..etc..) For a good laugh, the next time you are at a party with anyone in the veterinary field ask them about their funniest stories, I promise they will have some.

These are the stories that were shared with Reader’s Digest. I will share some of mine here, and sprinkle some through my blog sporadically. The old saying “real-life is stranger than fiction,” is true.
“I once had a dog responsible for a divorce. The dog came in and had eaten something unusual. When we went to surgery, it turned out it was a pair of women’s underwear. The owner insisted she wanted the underwear back. We washed them and sent them home, and it turned out they didn’t belong to the lady. They belonged to her husband’s mistress.” Bernadine Cruz, DVM

I can’t tell you how many times we have surgically extracted “unmentionables” from the stomach and intestines of pets. Actually I should say dogs. I have seen some cats eat odd things, like hair elastics, pencil erasers, plants (fake ones), etc., but not underwear. Those dogs will eat some grotesque stuff. Poop, (cat in particular), must be the yummiest stuff on the planet? Yuck! We have removed tampons. Oh, yes, more than 1, I removed four the last time. The logistics of that boggle me a bit. Were their 4 women in that house? Or did that dog just stalk the waste bin for them? I have removed men’s and women’s underwear, socks, toys, tennis balls, rugs, towels, Nyla-bones, rawhides, hair, grass, gravel, stones, plastic, and coins. I think that dogs eat underwear, tampons, and other “smelly” stuff because they are very driven by their noses. So if it smells particularly aromatic my suggestion would be that you treat it they way all of us dog owners treat rotting food in our trash cans. Place these items in a very solid, safe, secure receptacle and make sure your pet can’t get access to it. What you and I think is gross to the point of being beyond palatable, your dog thinks is irresistible. But I also think many dogs ingest items because their chewing need/frustration turns into obsession. I really believe that these dogs are bored. So, if your pet has an "ingestion problem" think about getting them more active. My honest best piece of advice is to get another dog. Nothing distracts them like a puppy chewing on their ear, biting their tale, and jumping all over them.

 “A client came in with her poodle and warned us that the dog would bite. She said that it would often corner her in a room at home, too, and snarl and sometimes bite. I asked how she handled it, and she said, “Well, I started throwing food to get him away from me, and it worked. So now I keep snacks in every room just in case.’ ‘So…,’ I asked incredulously, ‘whenever he tries to attack you, you give him a treat?’ ‘Yes,’ she answered, ‘and it works everytime!’” Dennis Leon, DVM

I have discussed many times how important it is to get help if you even think that you have any small tiny behavioral problem. I am always perplexed how clients mis-understand what they are doing, and how they are training their pets to be "bad." That’s one of the biggest obstacles. Getting the clients to understand and recognize that their tactics to control the situation are often just re-enforcing the bad behavior. Get some help, from a respected, knowledgeable, trained, recommended trainer, (finding them on-line, and them getting their degree on-line should be a red flag). Then, if you still aren’t able to modify their behavior, or understand how you got your dog to where they are now, take a good long hard honest look in the mirror. Almost EVERY pet can be re-trained to be your perfect companion, but it takes work, patience, and admitting you are also a part of the problem.

“I had one client who got upset because her dog’s ear infection wasn’t getting better. It turned out she was putting the oral tablets in the ear canal. They were all stuffed in there. I wish I were making this up.” Rob Nathan DVM, a vet at Sharon Center Veterinary Hospital in medina Ohio.

I was once at a party with a human doctor and we were sharing our favorite stories. He told me that while he was in his residency at a state healthcare clinic in a very small coal-mining town in rural Kentucky that he had a patient who kept getting “accidentally pregnant.” After the second child was born, he sat the couple down to try to figure out why their prescription prophylactics weren’t working. Turns out the anti-spermicidal foam they were given was being orally taken by the husband.

I am a stickler for writing a very long, verbose, simply stated, clearly legible (computer only), label on ALL medications. I know from firsthand experience that if a medication can get screwed up, it probably will. I also know that people don’t use all the meds we give them; they ferret them away for the next illness, and then can’t remember if that ointment was for the ear or the eye? So every label says how to give it, how often to give it, how long to give it, where to give it, and what it is for. I also tell my clients when to stop using, what to watch out for, and what the product is. Too much information is better than too little.

And then when the medication seems to have failed we all get together and I have them demonstrate to me how, where, and when they used it.

I would say that the biggest mis-use of a product is the monthly flea and tick spot-ons. Many of these products need the natural oils in the skin to disperse the product over the entire body of the animal after they are applied to the skin, (NOT to the hair). Many of my clients will come in complaining that the product I sold them isn’t working because they see fleas or ticks on their pet’s days to weeks after they apply it. When we sit down to discuss it I find they are applying it right after they bathe their dog. When you bathe your dog you strip their skins natural oils, so I remind them that these products "like a dirty dog."

I welcome you sharing your favorite funny tales. Please share.

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