Fear Free with a little TLC

If you work in a veterinary clinic then you have likely heard the term ‘Fear Free’ floating around. You may already work in a practice that is Fear Free certified - be thankful! Even if you don’t, you can still practice in every way you can to try to minimize the stress your patients feel when they come to the veterinary clinic. For the newer graduates, you are the advocates! I have been there, in a room with a seasoned veterinarian who didn't believe in Fear Free modalities like pre-visit pharmaceuticals (PVP) and going slow with pets who are scared. Do your part and get them to learn the benefits. Remember, pets are family now. No one wants to see their family member scared. When you send

Tales from the Tail end

I was chatting with our tech yesterday about vet school. I was reminded about when my friend/classmate and I were doing breeding soundness exams in bulls for our third year reproduction class. I was doing an exam on the bull, checking for abnormalities of the prostate, and preparing for semen collection. I was standing behind the bull, and was shoulder deep in his rear end - then he coughed. Imagine a pasture bull, eating wet grass, the pressure from his cough blasted his feces past my arm to the wall behind me. Fortunately, I had turned by head at the right second and missed the getting feces directly into my face, but I got an ear full instead, as well as allll the way down my left side. T

The Perks of Communication Works

I currently work in a corporate-owned small animal practice. There are different perks to working in a practice that is part of a larger company. So far in the less than six months I have worked with VCA, I have attended free CE events twice, once in the first month of working at the clinic, and today, a workshop designed to improve the clinical skill of communication for veterinarians. Based on research that was performed by observing communication between the veterinarian and pet owners throughout VCA clinics, they established skills that improved the satisfaction of the veterinarian and client relationship, which then led to improved client compliance. Dr. Jayne Takahashi was the invited

Dog Pee: the importance of consistency

If you live in a condo, this may be a familiar sight - that dark stain on the carpet is dog pee. I got home from jiu jitsu and got into the elevator close to 2 pm on a Sunday and found this. We have a FaceBook group for my condo, and I didn’t post it there. Usually someone does, which leads to a plethora of comments on irresponsible dog ownership. Consistency is important. Pets do not have weekends. You know your tummy starts growling right before your lunchtime. You know you always have to use the bathroom first thing in the morning. Some dogs will let their owners know when they need to go. My friend’s dog paces around, so even at 2 am when he‘s pacing, she’s up and out the door for him. S

Diabetes in Cats - ear prick for blood samples

I came home from jiu jitsu this afternoon and I was lounging on the sofa in the sunshine. Indi came over to lounge with me, and her little ears inspired me to write this blog! Inspiration can come from anywhere, and these days, most people have their phones on them. It’s easy to type or even do talk to text if you prefer. There are two aims for this blog post, both educational, but aimed at two groups of people: veterinary students and owners of diabetic cats. Diabetes in cats is very similar to type II diabetes in people, there is a diet and obesity component to the predisposition to development of this type of diabetes. Dogs are different, so this post is going to focus on cats. Cats are o

My First Publication

Last year, my first manuscript for my Master's was accepted for publishing. It is very exciting for me! I still have to work on the edits for another one, but I am waiting on my colleague to finish hers to send mine in, since we worked on the same project. Doing my Master's gives me a unique set of skills that may not be available to other veterinarians. Just as a simple example, our clinic switched to a new software for our digital radiographs, I didn't have time to set it up for everyone else. The medical director is part time and didn't delegate the task to anyone, and similarly, our interim hospital manager didn't. It took me about 5 minutes at the end of my day to set up the serve. I th

Still Dental Month! Retained Puppy Teeth

I was thinking again about dental extractions. During the CVMA conference with Dr. Niemiec, there was a lecture on deciduous teeth. He had mentioned that as soon as the adult tooth has started to erupt, and the baby tooth has not fallen out, the deciduous tooth is considered retained. I am still in the system, admittedly, of waiting until that puppy's neuter or spay at 6 months to address retained deciduous canines - it's an add on procedure in our treatment plans for those elective surgeries. I've learnt a lot during these past few months at this new clinic. At my previous clinic, I had a taste of dental blocks and a few easier extractions. Here, I have done several extractions, but deciduo

How I Became a Veterinarian - Part 2

I left off with 2008 - wow! That's 12 years ago?? Hey-zus! Anyway, in the spring of 2008 I took the leap and left the GV Zoo headed towards Calgary. I was determined to establish residency in Alberta. I didn't have any family or friends in Calgary, but I connected with the owner of the Calgary Aradia Fitness studio. I did a quick transition from working in the Vancouver and Cloverdale Aradia locations to working at the Calgary locations. Soon after my arrival in Calgary, I saw a job posting for a relief keeper at the Calgary Zoo (I think at the time they called them Zoo Labourers because they were employed with the City of Calgary and unionized). The gentlemen that interviewed me in Calgary

Liver cancer turned Echinococcus multilocularis hydatid disease

Yesterday we had a lunch and learn, very similar to in vet school where a pharmaceutical rep comes in to teach us about their newest release, in this case it was for flea/tick/intestinal parasite control and we eat pizza. Recently in the news, it was discovered that a woman initially thought to have cancer of her liver, actually had the hydatid form of a tapeworm called Echinococcus multilocularis. If you’re a veterinarian you probably remember studying the lifecycle of this tapeworm. If you’re not then I will briefly summarize for your enjoyment. The primary (definitive) host is usually a canid (foxes and coyotes in Southern Ontario, also in the prairie provinces where I studied veterinary

Reproductive Physiology - LH

I cried this morning. Work is quite overwhelming. My colleague messaged me this morning to tell me her surgery cancelled, so I could stay home and relax, then come in for 1pm. I ended up vacuuming and cleaning the toilet, things that I didn’t get a chance to do on the weekend because I wasn’t home. Today, I cried because I was thinking about how work is overwhelming. We recently transitioned to a new software system for our digital radiology. But, no one was assigned to have it set up. We can still use the x-ray machine, but we can’t back it up to the server, which means I can’t access it on any other computer. This means I can’t do my radiology report, which also means, I’m behind on my med

Do More with your Cat - Toys part 1

Most cat trainers and cat enthusiast will recommend that you play with your cat. There are so many toys out there. Some I have purchased and Indi doesn’t play with them at all, and then there are some she loves to play with. Her and I will post a few of her favourites, as well as some other tips to keep your cat active and happy! Today, Indi is playing with the Yeowww! catnip filled fish. When I was over at my sister’s I found it, because it was lost somewhere in the basement when Indi was over there last time. These catnip toys are some of her favourites.

Coughing Dogs

I was wondering what I should write about today for the ‘case of the day’ and was on a hunt for a newish dog food brand that an owner told me that it was a good diet because it has never had recalls. On went my spiel about grain-free diets contributing to heart disease, and off when her ability to listen. So, I move on. But my search for this diet brought my brain to coughing dogs. I have had 4 to 5 coughing dog cases in the past week. Today’s was a young one, about 18-week-old male intact mini poodle. He started coughing yesterday and the owner thought it sounded like kennel cough. During the history taking, the Mrs. reports that there was some smoking in the home and wondered about this. T

Learn to not be judgemental

It’s Tuesday morning after the long weekend, in Ontario it was family day. I spent yesterday morning visiting with my sister and her family after a ‘sleepover’ with the nieces. It’s back to work today, but I say this post on Instagram and wanted to share. First, the image was blocked due to sensitive content, so I didn’t look at the image until after I read the post - copied below. If you really want to see the original post, I’m sure you can find it on Insta. But the reason I wanted to share the post is because of the script. It talks about how veterinarians need to learn not to be judgemental. • • Posted @withregram • @drgerardopoli I CHALLENGE you not to JUDGE! It’s almost IMPOSSIBLE to

Being an Extroverted Introvert

Being outgoing when you are introverted is a learned skill, something that does not come naturally, and something that never feels completely comfortable. I was chatting with one of our receptionists the other day, who was feeling overwhelmed by the pressures of the job being upfront. I understand, and can relate, because I am inherently an introvert. If you weren’t born with an outgoing personality, then you have to learn it through socialization. I think I may have missed out on some of those skills in early childhood. It’s likely a combination of nature and nurture. Watching my eldest niece interact at the playground in her toddler years made me understand that it is both. We would practi

That Midterm Grade of 57% did NOT ruin me

In first year embryology class, I knew I did not do well on the first exam. I couldn’t really understand what the professor was asking. Under a time crunch I wrote an answer that I thought she was looking for. I was definitely wrong. We got our midterm marks back, and this was my lowest score in vet school - 57%. That’s barely a pass. First year vet med and my self-esteem was already down - just like Dr. Moore Student Vet says, they let me into vet school by accident. Someone compared first year vet med as if you were thirsty for knowledge and when you go to take a drink someone is standing there with a firehose pointing at you. In other words, you kind of feel like you’re drowning. In my sc

Breast Cancer Awareness: Mammary Carcinoma in a Dog

Yesterday evening I was working closing shift. I had a walk-in coughing dog, whom I had seen previously for a corneal ulcer. While I was doing my physical exam on this dog, our technician came in to say we had a dog come in that wasn’t breathing well. I left a coughing dog and went to a dyspneic dog and did a quick assessment of the scene and of the patient, getting a brief history from the owner, and then I strongly advised humane euthanasia. I won’t go into details about everything that happened, because I am still dealing with the trauma myself. My team pulled together and we managed in the end. But I knew I wasn’t going to ‘save’ this patient. This case is a 7-year-old female intact Germ

My Valentine

My hubby is pretty sweet. He’s the best! This morning I woke up grumpy and then I read his little love note. Much better way to start the day! I got home from work and he was cooking up some plantains. He said it’s because I will feel snack-y after work. Love my hubby!

The BEG Diet Debate

This is kind of “old” news now, but the science is still not solid as to why. Why are some dogs that are fed BEG diets (boutique, exotic, grain-free) developing dilated cardiomyopathy?? What’s that you say? It’s like the heart starts to get thin and the heart muscles cannot contract properly, like a saggy balloon. The dilated part refers to the stretching of the wall of the right ventricle of the heart (one of those four chambers if you can recall from high school biology), then the walls are thin and weak. When the wall is weak, the forward flow of blood out of the heart is reduced, and there is backing up of blood on its way to the heart from the rest of the body, leading to congestive hea

Boy Dies after Pitbull Attack - now what?

I heard about this from a colleague at work. Such a sad case, a young boy passed away due to wounds incurred by the family dog. Sadly, for the pitbull lovers, it is a step backwards for folks trying to ensure that there is no breed discrimination. I have met some very lovely pitbull-type dogs. They are also very powerful. It’s impossible to say why the attack occurred since there were no witnesses, but chances are high that the attack was provoked. However, I personally would not leave a child alone with a dog of this size and power. People likely will blame the dog and its breed tendencies - especially the poor recall, or poor ability to listen to the adult in the scenario. Chances are high

Fertility Acupuncture - Day One

Last night was my initial visit at the Toronto Reproductive Acupuncture Clinic. My practitioner was very thorough in collecting a detailed history. I was still in my scrubs as I went straight there from work and didn’t have a change of clothes with me, which was fine since I didn’t think I was too dirty from work. After the history taking, I lay in a warm bed, well, a massage table, and got some needles placed. She did some sites on my feet and legs, then abdomen and then my wrists. One of the needles on my wrist hit the nerve so that was unpleasant, but overall, the acupuncture needles tend not to be painful. She ended with one in between my eyebrows and one at the crown of my head. I lay t

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