Tag Archives: dog doctor
Dogs never cease to amaze me. They seem to be full of joy. They live life to its fullest. And they are always present in the moment; not sad about yesterday or worried about tomorrow. But, there have been some dogs that I’ve known in my life that continually surprised me and make me wonder if there really is more to their thinking than we believe.
I’d like to share with you real dog story about one of
my own very special dogs.
It was during a routine doctor’s visit with my Doberman, Jasmine that the vet noticed a small lump on her shoulder. He biopsied a piece of it and it turned out to be soft tissue sarcoma. In a “normal” dog the course of action would have been pretty straightforward; remove the cancer and the surrounding tissues with the intention of making the margins big enough to stop the spread of the disease.
But Jasmine wasn’t “normal”. Jasmine had cardiacmyopathy. Her left ventricle was enlarged and her heart would beat erratically when she got excited. Jasmine was on 5 pills a day to stop her heart from going into arrhythmia.
It certainly didn’t seem to me that Jaz knew that she was sick. She woke up every morning happy and lived each day to its fullest completely unaware (or unconcerned) that today might be the day that her heart stopped beating.
Jasmine had two favorite things in life: chasing her Frisbee and running at full speed with no particular destination. It was amazing to see. She was so elegant and graceful as she flew down the beach. She would run ahead of me in the woods and then a few minutes later come barreling up from behind. It was just beautiful to watch her running full steam around the cranberry bogs at what appeared to be 100 miles per hour. The route was a mile around and she lapped me! Her cardiologist had recommended that I leash walk her only; that I restrict her exercise and crate her during the day to force her to rest. But Jasmine LOVED to run! I couldn’t lock her up. I decided early on after her diagnosis that I was going to let her live life the way that she wanted to live it.
The one thing that Jasmine didn’t like was water. She would sometimes step in but never past her ankles. We lived on a pond, there was a swimming hole in the bogs, and we were just a few miles from the ocean. I gave her plenty of opportunities to swim. But no matter how hard I tried I could not get this dog into the water.
After much discussion and many sleepless nights the doctor and I decided to go ahead and operate to remove her cancer. The veterinarian told me that we were spinning the roulette wheel. Would the anesthesia and the stress from the surgery cause her heart to go into arrhythmia? If we didn’t go forward with the surgery would the cancer seep into her brain and cause her tremendous pain before it killed her? It was not an easy decision to make.
The night before Jaz’s surgery we went for one last run in the bogs. She was doing her thing and having an absolute blast, oblivious to the events of tomorrow. I was crying the entire walk wondering if she was still going to be around the next day and if she’d ever run again. She was so full of life and pure joy. Was I making the right decision?
The time came for the surgery. My vet is the most wonderful man. He later confided to me that he was as worried about poor Jaz as I was. He hadn’t slept the night before either. As a professional courtesy he let me stay during the operation. I can still see Jasmine staring into my eyes, clearly afraid, as she fell asleep and they began the procedure.
The doctor said that it was the fastest surgery that he’s ever performed. In and out as quickly as possible so that Jasmine wasn’t under the anesthesia for more than 15 minutes. I was the last face she saw when she fell asleep and I was the first face she saw when she woke up. The doctor gave me the good news. He believed that the surgery was successful and that the cancer was completely removed. I was hugely relieved.
Now I really did have to keep Jasmine calm. She had 27 stitches, two wicks to drain the fluid and I had to keep a T-shirt on her as she was healing to keep the wound clean. Again, try to tell Jasmine that she was sick and needed to take it easy. Two days after the surgery she was bringing me her Frisbee to throw! If I had just had surgery I would still be complaining about it and telling everybody about it years later!
For two months I kept Jasmine as calm as possible. That was quite a feat in and of itself. Finally we got the news from the doctor that it was O.K. for Jaz to go for a run.
She was literally popping out of her skin when I took out her leash and we headed for the bogs. All the way down the driveway, across the street, and into the cranberry bogs she was trembling with anticipation. As soon as we arrived at the path I took her leash off. At first she just looked at me not sure if she was really allowed to go. I told her “Free”. She hesitated for only a brief second but I could see the joy in her face as she turned and flew ahead of me.
But instead of running around the bogs Jasmine ran straight for the swimming hole. She walked down the bank and wadded up to her ankles as usual. But she didn’t stop there. With no hesitation Jasmine stepped out into the pond and started swimming as if she had swum every day of her life. She was 8 years old and had NEVER been over her head in the water. But today she swam out to the middle, back to the shore, out and around again. It was amazing to see. And she was loving it!
I don’t know what changed, what convinced Jasmine to finally decide to swim. I can only imagine that she did know that she was sick. She did know that the surgery was dangerous. And that the stress that we both felt and the long recovery taught her that life is short. You have to do now all of those things that you were afraid or unwilling to do before.
A little over a year later Jasmine’s heart stopped beating. She wasn’t running or swimming or chasing her Frisbee. She went out first thing in the morning before breakfast, happy as usual, and never came back in. But in during that last year she lived a life full of joy, passion, and laps around the swimming hole.
Do you have a real dog story about a dog that you’ve known? I’d love to hear. Please comment and share below.
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Here Dawn shares her final but crucial step
How to de-stress a visit to your dog’s veterinarian
Teaching your dog obedience can be extremely useful during trips to the vet. Not only does it give you better control over your dog in a public situation, it gives your dog something to focus on during its examination. If your dog is in a SIT position, he is less likely to jump around and to try and avoid what needs to be done. He will be focusing on his SIT, and hopefully, focusing on you!
I couldn’t agree more. When you teach your dog the language of the obedience commands he learns self control, it helps him to over come his fears, and gives him a job to focus on. Many people don’t understand the concept of obedience training. It is not just tricks. It is a language to communicate. You can read more about how important obedience training is in my article “Dog Behavioral Problems?-Don’t Play Whack-a-Mole”.
Thank you Dawn Geremia for sharing such useful information to help both owners and dogs to have less stressful visits to the dog veterinarian!
How does your dog behave at the vet’s? Have these tips been helpful? Please comment and share below.
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Yesterday Dawn Geremia, certified dog trainer and guest blogger shared tips on how to prepare for your dog’s veterinarian appointment in the post “It’s time to See the Dog Doctor”.
Today, she gives us advice on how to help your pet during the actual appointment with your dog’s veterinarian.
Success at the Vet’s Office
So, now you’re off to your veterinarian’s office for your pet’s appointment! Once there, many owners like to restrain their dogs while they are on the exam table. Many times, this can be extremely helpful to the veterinarian or to the person performing a procedure. However, if not done correctly, the improper restraint of an animal can cause more harm than good. Many dogs when under stress or in pain, are likely to snap when having even routine procedures done at the vet’s office. When a dog is restrained properly there should be a high level of safety provided for the veterinarian, the person restraining the dog, and the dog himself.
If you are an owner who prefers to restrain your own dog, please keep these helpful hints in mind the next time you visit with your vet!
- First and foremost, remember to always remain calm in the exam room with your dog. Dogs are extremely intelligent animals and can take subtle cues from you that you may not even know you are giving. If you are nervous, most likely, your dog will be nervous. However, if you remain calm and relaxed your dog is more likely to remain relaxed.
- When restraining your dog on the exam table you should have the dog in a firm, but comfortable position. The most practical position is to wrap one arm under or over the dogs’ mid section (depending on the size of the dog) and wrap your other arm around the chest of the dog, also using this hand to restrain the head. Pull the dog close to you. In this position, it should be virtually impossible for him to bite you while restraining, or the person performing the procedures. This position will also prevent your dog from jumping off of the exam table which could cause damage to him. If, at any time you are uncomfortable or you just don’t want to restrain him, request that a technician or an assistant help during the office call. They are trained for this and can usually restrain even the squirmiest of dogs!
- While your dog is being examined or treated, do not sweet talk or pet a dog that is growling at the veterinarian or staff. By petting him, you are reinforcing that negative behavior; you are not calming your dog as you might think. Instead, give a firm “No” and reward him with petting when the growling has stopped.
- If the safety of the veterinarian, the staff, or yourself is in question, you may want to consider using a muzzle. As I said, many dogs who are not normally aggressive may try to snap when under stress or in pain. A muzzle does not hurt your dog in any way. It offers some added protection to everyone that needs to approach your dog, including you, the owner. Muzzles can often benefit the dog, as well. Once muzzled, many dogs tend to relax to the point where an exam or a specific treatment can easily be performed. It is as if they know they can’t “win the battle”, so they do not even try. They accept what needs to be done, and they let it get done.
- Practice, practice, practice at home! Don’t wait until you are at the veterinarian’s office to try these things. While you are at home, hold your dog in the restraint position for a few seconds at a time, release and praise. Extend the amount of time you hold your dog as he begins to tolerate it. If your dog needs a muzzle at the vet, buy one for home, and practice. Put the muzzle on for a split second, remove and praise. Again, increase the time as your dog begins to tolerate the muzzle. Always stay calm, and keep the practice sessions short and fun.So, the next time you pack up and head out, remember, keep calm, stay relaxed and be prepared! It can be an enjoyable experience.
Everything gets better with practice.
Practicing at home before visiting your dog’s veterinarian will help both you and your dog to feel more comfortable.
If the only time that your dog is restrained or muzzled is when he is at the vet’s, then both of you will be even more stressed out.
Tomorrow Dawn will share with us the final, but crucial step, to helping your visit to your dog’s veterinarian be stress free.
Has your dog had to be restrained at the veterinarian’s? I’d like t hear about your experiences. Please comment and share below!
Dawn Geremia is a certified pet dog trainer and veterinarian technician. She owns First Friend’s Dog Training and is the author of “Dogs, Diapers and Beyond: How to Help Your Dog Accept Your Newborn”.
More about Lisa Flynn on Google+about Dawn Geremia.
For many dogs a trip to the dog doctor is a major source of stress
But a visit to see your dog’s veterinarian doesn’t have to make your dog drool, growl and shake. By following the advice of certified pet trainer, Dawn Geremia, you can help your dog feel more comfortable when it’s time to see the vet. He may even come to like all of the treats and attention!
Success at the Vet’s Office
Whether your dog is young or old, big or small, before you take him to his next vet’s appointment there are many things you can do to help make the experience go smoothly. By practicing these simple procedures at home, you can greatly reduce the stress level of your dog while visiting with the vet.
- The first exercise is to play with your dog’s feet. While your dog is relaxing, calmly begin petting him. Slowly and gently move down one of his legs. Pay special attention to the foot; touch each toe and each toenail. Touch all of the pads. This may tickle so be prepared for him to pull his foot away! Spread the toes apart and touch in between each digit. If you are successful with the first foot, move on to the next until you have massaged all four. This exercise will come in handy should your dog need a simple nail trimming or something more involved such as the repair of a pad laceration.
- While practicing at home, you can also manipulate your dog’s ears. Gently massage the ears from the base all the way to the tip. Once your dog accepts this, begin massaging the inside of the Pinna (the flap). Do not put anything into the ear as you may cause damage. This massaging technique will help accustom your dog to the sensation of a routine ear examination and cleaning.
- Another area of your dog which needs special attention is his mouth. Many veterinarians will perform an oral exam on your dog. They will inspect your dog’s teeth, gums, tongue, and overall appearance of the inside of the mouth. This procedure can help detect abnormal tissue growth, tartar buildup, gingivitis, broken teeth and many other ailments of the mouth. Begin this exercise at home by gently stroking your dog’s muzzle. Slowly lift his lips on both sides of his mouth and gradually introduce slight pressure to his teeth and gums with your fingertip. Once your dog accepts this procedure, move on to opening his mouth. Do not hold his mouth in an open position for longer than a second or two. You just want to open it gently and slowly, and then allow him to close it immediately.
- Finally, pay special attention to the tail. Amongst other things, manipulation of the tail will allow your vet to take your dogs temperature, perform a rectal exam, and examine a female in heat. Begin by gently stroking your dog’s tail from base to tip. Then apply slight pressure by squeezing the tail as you move from base to tip. Once this is accepted, lift his tail by grabbing the base and slowly lifting. Only lift the tail until it is level with the dogs back. Raising it any higher can possibly cause damage.
While performing any of these exercises, always remember to keep the workouts short and fun. Stay calm and don’t forget to praise, praise, and praise!! Your dog should enjoy these workouts, as should you!
I will continue to share Dawn’s tips to help your dog’s visit to the Veterinarian to be a pleasant experience in the next two upcoming blog posts. Stay tuned to learn how to restrain your dog during the exam and the best way to communicate with your dog when he is nervous.
How does your dog act at the vets? Is he nervous or
does he love the dog doctor?
I’d love to hear about your experiences with your dog’s veterinarian visits. Please comment and share below
Dawn Geremia is a certified veterinary technician and worked in a CT animal hospital for 8 years. Dawn received her “Master Trainer” Certificate from National K-9 School for Dog Trainers where she studied puppy development, behavior modification, obedience training, tracking, soft-mouth retrieval, kennel management, scent discrimination and handicapped assistance. She continued her education by attending the No Limitations School, Mid-west Branch and is now recognized as a Certified Remote Collar Specialist. She states that “This method of training allows my clients to accomplish things they never thought were possible.”
Dawn is also the author of “Dogs, Diapers and Beyond: How to Help Your Dog Accept Your Newborn”, is a member of the International Association of Canine Professionals, the National K-9 Dog Trainers Association, and continues to learn by attending seminars, lectures and conferences throughout the year.
You can find Dawn Geremia and her beautiful dog “Dahlia” at First Friends Dog Training
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