Animal Rights vs Animal Welfare

What is the difference between animal rights and animal welfare? I was asked this once in a vet school interview. How do you make the distinction? Is this another ethical and moral debate, or is it really all that clear cut? What spurred this post was reading about the death of animal activist Regan Russell who was run over by semi-truck that was delivering pigs to a slaughterhouse. News is always sad when a life is lost, and a life of a woman who was only trying to save other’s lives, even if they were non-human lives, becomes an even sadder tale. Animals Rights versus Animal Welfare Animal rights in its simple form means for animals to share the same rights as people. As such, animal right

Compassion Fatigue: when good turns bad

Well, you know how I had some really great days in the last couple of weeks? I spoke too soon. This past week drained me. I was wondering why I was so exhausted this weekend, and why the weekend was just not long enough to rejuvenate me. Then it hit me, realizing it was compassion fatigue. I had a patient come in with an acute abdomen. This patient I had seen many times, and I knew he had a liver mass that was quite large. I ended up in a 3-way call with the pet parents (husband and wife). I had given them three options: 1) humane euthanasia, 2) go home to spend time with the family with some pain medication, or 3) refer to emergency for continued care. I was stuck in between them as they co

Ethics of Euthanasia

I was thinking about euthanasia when I was writing a previous post. I always strive to assess the animal's on-going quality of life, because while veterinarians have an obligation to provide humane euthanasia in the event that an animal is suffering, we also have to be able to live with that decision when we end an animal's life. This can cause stress which leads to insomnia, which can spiral if not handled properly. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association has ethics guidelines and position statements regarding our obligations. We had Dr. Terry Whiting come to our college to speak on his own struggles with euthanasia. I am the veterinarian that refuses to euthanize healthy animals. I als

Indi's Review: Cat Scratching Post with Hanging Butterfly Toy

Indi's Review Score on the 'as is' product 2/5 My Review Score 1/5 I purchased this scratch post to replace one that Indi had previously, which lasted 6 years. Indi has a preference for rope type scratch posts. When she first went to use it, due to it's light-weight and round bottom it started to lean over so she couldn't really get the job done. I then fastened the post to the old base and it works. Indi has had it for one month now, and you can see that she already has ripped apart the top. It's not going to last 1 year, let alone 6. It is currently rated a 4 star out of 5 on Amazon and labeled Amazon's Choice. I was looking for a portable post that could fit into luggage and was a bit tal

When a long week is a good week

It’s been a long week, but also a good week. Do you remember that border collie puppy from a previous post? Well, she’s fluffy and spunky and was ready for her booster vaccines. It’s always nice to see them bounce back into happy puppy life! Speaking of, I had another tinier puppy patient who had vomiting, diarrhea and stopped eating. His tiny puppy belly was bloated, so we took an x-ray for peace-of-mind, since I wanted to be sure there wasn’t something stuck, or an obstructive lesion like an intussusception. Fortunately, the x-rays didn’t show a surgical concern. He also bounced back and the puppy is at home with his happy owner. He did test positive for Coccidia, so I prescribed some medi

Mystery Case: Vomiting in a 12-year-old MN DSH

Do you recall that 12-year-old cat that I briefly mentioned last week? Well, we had taken a blood sample, and performed some x-rays. The history was, he vomited and was eating grass and vomiting that. Then he stopped eating, was lethargic, but had a painful abdomen. When the owner went to pet his belly, he got mad. On physical examination, he was obese, normothermic, euhydrated, no string under the tongue. He had a painful responsive to palpation of the right cranial abdomen, not on the left, but the caudal abdomen he was also reactive. I needed to figure out if the vomiting was gastrointestinal or secondary to something else. Due to his obesity and painfulness, I wanted to rule out urethral

Large Dog Spay

Viewer discretion advised. Oh, did you already see the photo? Well, I am a veterinarian, so at some point you are bound to see something like this! Anyway, I just wanted to say, I performed my largest dog spay. In the interest of confidentiality all you get to see is the internal organs. She was a mature dog at just over a year of age, and over 100 lbs. This was the largest uterus I have taken out that wasn't diseased. It took me a long time, and a lot of ligation of pedicles, checking the gutters for bleeding, and even making more ligatures more for my peace-of-mind as that last thing I wanted was a post-operative complication. It's taken be almost 3 years in general practice to get to this

Puppies Purchased During COVID

By now I am sure you have already seen the news, that over 500 puppies were shipped from the Ukraine, stuffed in crates, with images of the crates wrapped in plastic wrap. There are definitely unsuspecting new puppy owners in Toronto. I have met them. I have seen their new puppies. I ask questions of the new pet parents. Where did you get your puppy? From Kijiji? It was delivered to you and you met at a gas station? I am NOT kidding. Your puppy's vaccine certificate is not Canadian. Some owners actually had no idea. So how do you choose a puppy when you wish to add to your family? If you wish to have a purebred anything meet the breeder. Meet the parents of the puppies. Ask a lot of question

Social Anxiety in Puppies During COVID

How many of you are working in a companion animal practice? Are you in a jurisdiction with a high restriction during COVID-19? This is us in the GTA. Pet parents bring their new fur babies to the clinic and their babies come into the clinic without their family. Many people felt that getting a puppy during COVID was the perfect idea. You'll be home to train them, potty training made easier, and teach them all the tricks to be a good housemate. I have started to witness a major downside to this situation: social anxiety in young puppies. I saw 11-week-old puppies so scared of our staff that you thought they saw aliens. Young pups should be happy, enjoying life, playful, and curious. While new

Signs of Fear: Whale-Eye

The term whale-eye is used to describe when a dog has very wide-eyes that you can see the whites (sclera) of the eye. Fearful dogs will demonstrate this. If they are scared, uncomfortable, fearful, then you may see this. As you start to approach them their eyes will start to gradually get wider. They have a heightened sense of arousal - their sympathetic nervous system has kicked in high gear and their adrenaline is elevated. Some are frozen in fear. Some will scramble their little legs to get out of your reach. Most of them will not resort to biting. Puppies learn very early who they can trust, and who may cause danger. They are unlikely to bite you, unless they do not have a way out, and y

Social Distancing and Being a Veterinarian

Sometimes, you just need a friend to chat with and a drink in hand. During COVID restrictions I’ve been doing my part. Staying 6 feet away from people, and if I can’t, then wearing a mask. My friend's dog does not understand the meaning of social distancing. In the clinic, I wash my hands between every patient. While the risk is very low that a dog can act as a fomite to carry COVID on their fur, we cannot afford to take any risks. Veterinarians receive a small amount of training in Public Health, but it's an important part of our training. We learn about zoonotic diseases, these are diseases that can be passed from animals to people. Every wellness visit has a discussion of risk factors for

Summer Nights as a Veterinarian

How many veterinarians finish their medical records during their scheduled work day?! Kudos to you! I salute you! I am not one of those... Here I am, Friday evening. I had to pick up groceries on the way home, COVID style, click and collect, because I will pay $3 for someone to pick the groceries for me and not stand in line. The hubby wanted something from the liquor store, which meant another trip out after I got home with perishables, and showered the COVID off me. So it’s now after 8, and I am just settling down after dinner to finish my medical records. I am so fortunate to have my new cozy corner on my balcony to relax, have a drink and type. I need to take advantage of these summer ni

Dual Degree Programs: Re-post article

In 2015, I won a Merck Animal Health Veterinary Student scholarship. What an amazing achievement! 2015 also marked the 50th year of WCVM - also amazing! Well, it's been 5 years, and I look back at that achievement and where I am today. As most of you know, I am in the midst of trying to conceive. It means having to put my career goals on hold. I just have to keep in mind that it will be all worth it! Life is a journey, not a destination. Here's an excerpt from an article that was written when my college found out I had won this award. Double-degree student wins Merck award Serena Caunce is working on not one but two degrees at the same time. The 34-year-old student will earn her Doctor of Ve

What makes a good egg?

Some women consider freezing their eggs while they are still young — but how do we know what makes a good egg versus a bad one? This blog post was originally posted on my college's website (WCVM Today). During my summer between first and second year I received a scholarship in the Merial-Merck Veterinary Scholar's program (it has since changed to the Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Scholars Program). As part of our summer research, we were asked to write an article. In it, I interviewed my mentor PhD candidate Dr. Fernanda Dias. Dr. Dias now heads the laboratory at the human fertility clinic in Saskatoon (Aurora Reproductive Care). I thought this was a good time to dig up this article from t

Sonohysterogram

I got a call from my fertility clinic yesterday. The medical secretary was in an panic and mentioned that she hadn’t sent me the instructions for the sonohysterogram - something about the software not sending. I was confused, because I had the instructions. Either way, I confirmed with her that I had started the antibiotics on Sunday, two days before the sono, as instructed. We were to refrain from unprotected sex until after the procedure, I’m guessing so that they don’t send an embryo into your abdomen. I’m lucky that today is my day off work, so I can relax. I’m finding that work days have been so busy lately that I haven’t really had time to process this journey towards becoming a mom.

Black Lives Matter

I consider myself extremely fortunate. I grew up in a predominately Caucasian community and can count on ONE hand the number of racial slanders I received IN MY LIFE. I never saw my own white privilege, because I’m Japanese-Caucasian, having already some of the features that make you Asian. But I identify as Canadian - what I see as a mixed bag of cultures. My “white privilege” was only shown to me when I traveled to India six years ago. It was an identity crisis for me. People in India saw me as white, not as Asian. That meant that they gave me more attention, both the “good” i.e. more respect than the darker skinned women, and the unwanted stares and solicitations. Because I was Canadian,

Indi's Reviews

Indi and I are going to start a few posts on Indi (or veterinarian) approved products. We started doing some videos early on as I thought videos would be great. But to be honest, I'm not that great on camera - though I think Indi is ;) So, I've added a new link on Indi's page for all of the product reviews. Just remember that I have signed on for Amazon Associates, so Indi will get a kick back for any purchases through the links. I hope these are helpful! Indi's Review Scores: 1) Down right useless, do not purchase this again ma. 2) I sniffed it, smelt funny, patted it and haven't touched it again. 3) I don't mind this. I wouldn't say it is my fave or anything, but it'll do. 4) Not bad, not

Veterinarians play with puppies and kittens all day

Have you ever heard, or said these words? Don’t veterinarians just play with puppies and kittens all day?? I’ve been out in small animal practice for 3 years now. Guess what?! I finally had a day where I could say that, for real! My first appointment on Tuesday was a cute kitten in for recheck and second booster vaccines. Just a little ball of black and white fluff! My second patient was the most adorable mini schnauzer in for his first visit. He was so playful. We played, did his exam, deemed him healthy for his booster vaccines. My next patient was an adult mini schnauzer, but still active. He had a new lump, but otherwise healthy for vaccines. Next was a walk-in border collie puppy. Newly

Tooth Resorption in Cats

During our wellness appointments, we perform a full physical examination to ensure that the pet is healthy on that day to receive its vaccines. On this particular day, just like any other, I am seeing a 9-year-old female spayed domestic short-haired cat who is also bordering the morbidly obese line, never really surprising. What did shock me was that her gums were so inflamed that the lower canine teeth have made indents into the gums on the upper canine teeth. This is what I call classic for alveolar osteitis. This is also a severe case of it. You can see that the base of the tooth, where the gum and tooth meet, shows that the tooth is being extruded from the cat's mouth. Here's a photo of

What Does it Mean to be a Veterinarian?

A Veterinarian is an Animal Doctor, right? Yet, our profession is quite vast! The underlying theme is within our Veterinary Oath. When I write, I am usually writing from personal experiences. I started my veterinary career in research, completing my Master of Science degree, and contributing knowledge to the scientific community hence advancing medical knowledge. Next, I went into general practice, practicing as a small animal veterinarian to promote animal health and welfare, but to also prevent and relieve animal suffering. A small yet important part of that is also public health awareness when we discuss zoonotic pathogens, diseases that you can get from your pets or perhaps your pet brin

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