Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Reason Veterinarians NEVER USE RUBBER BANDS!

There are a few Never, Evers! in veterinary medicine. They are the secrets that every veterinarian knows because one of our clients has learned the lesson the hard way. 

Like grandma used to say, "Never, Ever.. do this!" 

Here is my list of things that no sensible veterinarian would ever do. I hope they help you and your pet avoid a potential trip to the vet. 

This is Samantha. She is like many pets in that she licks her feet. 

She licks her feet for two reasons;
1. She has allergies.
2. The allergies have led to secondary skin infection on her feet. The licking causes infection, and dogs make their sore feet feel better by licking them. This is a cyclical snowballing syndrome. 

Her parents tried to discourage the foot licking by putting socks on her. But socks don't stay in place without help. So, they put a rubber band around the socks on her feet to keep them in place.

My Never Ever part of this story is, NEVER, EVER use a rubber band on a pet. In fact, I would even go so far as to say, if you have a pet in your house "don't have rubber bands in your home."

 This is even more important if you have small children and cats.

One of my worst rubber band story came from a cat who has an obsession with playing AND swallowing them. Two abdominal exploratory surgeries later, (to the tune of about $2500), and in all we have removed over 50 elastic bands from this "My Strange Addiction" feline edition episode.

My other "worst rubber band" story came when a cat was brought in for limping. Turns out the cat was frequently the Barbie doll replacement for the young daughter in the family. She routinely dressed up the cat, brushed her, and played house with the family cat. At some point she also tried to 'do her hair'. This included placing a rubber band on her leg. By the time I saw the leg it was swollen and the cat was unable to walk on it. It wasn't until we did surgery to amputate the leg that the rubber band was found acting as a tourniquet and cutting off the blood and nerve supply to the leg. Rubber bands have been found on tails, feet, legs, necks, and all with the same dire results.

In Samantha's case the sores from the rubber bands go all the way around her ankles and wrists. She may never grow hair back here. But, she walks normally, and it seems that no permanent damage to her feet or legs has occurred.

Samantha is a very loved dog. Her family didn't ever intend to hurt her. Accidents happen. It is our hope that her story will help others avoid the same situation.

If your dog is licking their feet excessively the answer lies in identifying and treating the underlying cause of the itch. This is almost always require a trip to the vet. There are some very good, very effective, and even much safer medications available these days. In cases where licking is severe and red, inflamed, smelly feet have resulted it is also important to get an antibiotic/antimycotic for the infection. If cost is a concern ask about over the counter options; Like foot soaks, topicals, or even over the counter antihistamines. As always, cheaper options are often available online, or at the local pharmacy.

It is also important to discuss prevention products like e-collars, booties, and pet shirts so pets cannot access the area that is bothering them. If you are considering stopping the licking by denying access to the area (with the use of an Elizabethan collar, booties, socks, muzzle, whatever) please remember that you are not helping your pet in an effective meaningful way. I see these as torture devices if used inappropriately, or incorrectly. How would you feel if you had poison ivy, allergies, an itch that was so compelling you couldn't stop itching it, and then someone put handcuffs on you? Don't put anything on your pet without asking your vet if it is ok to do so.

Stay tuned for more tips and Never, Evers!

If you have a story to share, or a pet mishap that you think others might benefit from please add it in the comment section below.

If you have a pet related question you can ask it for free at For more pet related information find me at my YouTube channel, my veterinary clinic's Jarrettsville Vet Facebook Page, or Twitter @FreePetAdvice.

Gratitude. The Grace That Hardship Gifts

Farewell 2017. It has been a year of ups and downs. A year I am struggling to find a reason to ever want to traverse through again. There were hard lessons and the end brings forth preparation for resolutions more reliant on self-preservation to protect from losing the part of myself I hold most dear. The end brings graceful acceptance and gratitude that I am still standing.

There are lessons in struggles. It is my belief that if you don't stop, dissect them, understand the cause to the pain, suffering, and disease, you are likely to be back here again. Medicine is the same. Every disease/illness/affliction has a cause; a sequence of events that allowed it to happen, a host response that saw some benefit to permit it to perpetuate and flourish, and there has to be a conscious effort to provide a cure or your host self will succumb, or, lie in wait to become the victim once again. Who wants to relive, revisit, and get stuck in the same merry-go-round of pain and struggle? You can throw in the towel to be replaced by a headstone and a memory, OR, you can learn to live and walk on stronger. Parvo puppies who survive never get parvo again.

I am here. Stuck between a belief that is the very core of the person, (the vet as they are one in the same) I am, standing beside what I believe in, and facing the reality that at some point I may have to chose to just get out alive if I cannot convince myself that I am strong enough to keep going. At some point you have to put up armor, stop beating yourself up, and care a whole lot less about what other humans think about you, while trying to not become as uncaring as these same people have become to you.

At some point you walk away older, wiser, and stronger. Or, you give up. You learn hard lessons and become grateful for them. They build you into a stronger, more resilient, gritty soul.

At some point you seek more credible sources for judging your own self worth and trust the puppies, kittens, your own kids, and your own patients, who love you unconditionally. If you can trust them perhaps you can even grow so much as to try to reciprocate it to all others across all species lines? I have to learn this. It isn't easy. I'm not having an easy time with much of it.

How many of my colleagues hope I give up? How many will celebrate in their successful destruction of another? Is their gain, my loss? Or, is it the concession to the chips I am willing to throw on the table? This profession of mine. Where death is so rampant, is trying to become the death of one of me. It is the sole source of the pain I am burying with 2017's departure.

The problem of killing each other, our companions, and our own soul is as pervasive as the hateful judgmental vitriol that spreads like cancer we cannot put into remission long enough to reflect on the gifts of gratitude and beauty we all know lies in the ripples of each struggle. Economic euthanasia, the indifference we hold with it, and the abandonment of serving all of those less fortunate then ourselves are my enemies. I bring these old enemies with me into 2018. But I do so with a resolve to search for healthier ways to do it, and more resolve to cure them. I HAVE to bring them with a clearer firmer steadfast course forward. 2018 holds new challenges, old struggles and back up plans I never thought I would have to consider. But as with each new beginning there will be an end. I just have to get out alive, and still care about the person I carry through every journey. My patients need the exact same commitment from me.

To every vet reading an obit to some soul who fell along this journey I hope that you remember compassion matters most while we are still trudging away from fates indifference.

I am grateful to be challenged. I am grateful to know who I am. To be able to walk away because there is a problem I can tackle better from the outside without fear of alienation, castigation, and recourse. You can be stripped and beaten but you decide if you walk away to hide, or to be who you were born to be. I'm here exchanging exoskeletons on the dawn of a new year ripe with possibilities, burgeoning on the eruption of the rebirth of humanity or demise of trust in loves endless hopeful potential.

At the end I am going to try to be grateful that life wasn't easy. I am most grateful that I am not hoping or expecting that it will get easier. To fear that wishing for easier is going to cost me more than I can die with. I can at least leave without feeling pushed out of the nest. I can leave for another quest, a higher purpose, a better resolve to a problem that fear prohibits my peers in facing. I am not going to read one more obit for one more vet that says "I never knew she struggled so much". This profession of excuses to protect us from feeling responsible eats us away.

I hear you. Each person out there struggling silently.

I would much rather stand with the masses I serve, the patients I hope to help than the hateful crowd whose infighting, neglect and sheer indifference marks time by obits to each other. Never in my life have I been treated so hatefully by strangers. I am not denying my contribution in the passion that emotional ties to our pets elicits, but, the problem of our societies hate and misery lies within our ranks as much as it lies outside of them.

Gratitude for the really difficult times of 2017 lies within my family too. This family extends from those who have known me through every year and decade to those who share their family with our Jarrettsville Vet family every day. If I have to carry a torch to find more compassion whilst feeling alone and damned I can only do so because I have them to remind me that I am not alone. Alone is a terribly heartbreaking place to be. Courage, determination, and conviction cannot offset crushing despair from loneliness.

Farewell 2017. I have few parting words to leave you with, therefore, I will greet 2018 with optimism, eagerness, and gratitude. I don't have to sum you up to want to leave you behind. I can just march forward less inclined to slow down to answer the demands of the angered mob, and more determined to build something worth preserving.

Here's my To-Do list for 2018;
1. "Get Out Alive" series. A blog, a plan, a schematic for the most common conditions that cause economic euthanasia to be chosen.
2. Storylines. We share, you learn, pets win.
3. Veterinary Patients Bill Of Rights.
4. Build a grassroots network unlike any before, more powerful than corporate controlled greed allowing the chasm between available and affordable pet care to grow wider and deeper. (This might be more than I can accomplish in one year).

Be who you are. Be not ashamed to be different, and always be kind.

For more information on me, and my vet clinic, Jarrettsville Veterinary Center, please see;

Here is our complete Jarrettsville Veterinary Center Price Guide for 2017

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

New Trainers

Shuffling toward the finish line. That's me; Stumbling. Swaying. Faltering.

I remember vividly watching the marathon runner on tv who collapsed mere feet before the finish line. Then by some miraculous intervention random runners, all strangers, scoop her up and carry her over the line. I am that runner. I'm exhausted.

I get home, I collapse, and I ask myself "if I ever want to put those trainers on again?" And yet, I am a creature of habit. A kinetic soul meant to wander. I cannot sit along the sidelines. I do not know where else to go and there is this nagging yearning to not walk away from the problem. I am here to  solve it.

It's Thursday morning. I need to go to work. I need to fix a broken leg on a kitten no one wants. No one would otherwise be responsible for. And, I need to convince myself to be happy about it.

I'm not really happy about it. It weighs on me. It eats me. It is what everyone else calls collateral damage to investing more than the bank account has available for withdrawal, and compassion fatigue. I know it well. Its the shadow that lurks behind me.. toe to toe, and it keeps me moving forward.

There is an endless need, and a short supply to meet it. It is an opportunity for ingenuity and innovation. If I can just find someone to carry me to the finish line. Maybe the new me on the other side of December will have new legs and trainers?

More information on me, this blog, and who we are at Jarrettsville Vet can be found here: is about saving lives, and providing options with data. Let the data set the standard of care and integrity via transparency be the guide.

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