The very thought of euthanizing a pet makes our heart sink to the pit of our stomach. When our beloved pets are elderly or ill, we have the enormous responsibility and great gift of deciding when it is the right time to let them go. Euthanasia is a gift to pets and, sometimes, can feel like a curse to owners.
Most of our furry companions are aware that their time to say goodbye is approaching before you do. Of course, this does not make it any easier on the owner. Our pets often times recognize our sadness, conflicted grief, and concern and worry that they might be the cause of our sadness. During the euthanasia process it is important to interact with your pet to comfort them and reassure them that they will always be remembered fondly.
Owners often apologize for crying over their pets, but we as a veterinary profession want you to know that crying is allowed and welcomed. We at Dupont Veterinary Clinic are also pet owners and understand how difficult it can be to see our loved ones suffer. This is a time for pet owners to grieve and remember their loved one’s long and happy life that they have shared together.
The vast majority of pet owners opt to stay with their pets for the euthanasia process. If you can, we highly recommend accompanying your pet through this difficult process. As a veterinary profession it is our responsibility to comfort your loved ones as they pass on when you as the owner cannot do so; however, pets are much more comfortable and relieved when their owners are present. Pets are much more confident when their owners are there to reassure them. If you can find the strength to be there with them during this difficult transition, please let your love, your touch, and your presence be the last thing your pet experiences.
During the euthanasia process, you are welcome to bring treats, tell stories, laugh, cry, and celebrate your friend’s life. Surround yourselves with their favorite blankets or toys. Share your favorite stories of your loved one about that trip you took together or their favorite toy, trick, or past time. This is going to be one of the hardest days of your life, but it does not have to be for your best friend. The more you celebrate your pet’s life, no matter how long or short, the easier it will be to continue to live your own after this difficult transition.
This moment between you and your pet should be just that, entirely about your lives together. Prepare yourself ahead of time to understand the process if possible. Speak with your veterinarian or veterinary technician prior to coming to the clinic to have them discuss the steps with you so you have a better understanding of what is to come.
Each relationship between pet and owner is different, just as every euthanasia is different. While it can be incredibly difficult to cope with and experience euthanasia with your pet, we at Dupont Veterinary Clinic hope to guide you and your furry family member through it as seamlessly as possible. As I heard a veterinarian once say, “We love animals so much, we are willing to experience pain right down to our souls in order to keep them from hurting. What greater gift to give a friend than to suffer in their place?”
By Ashley Dawes, DVM
You arrive at Dupont Veterinary Clinic nervous about how your appointment is going to go, because your pet has been vomiting all night and has been unusually tired at home. You know it is important to see your veterinarian, but you are worried about your pet’s anxiety level since he or she is not a big fan of visiting the vet. Your pet’s constant whining and pacing in the waiting area is adding to your increasing level of stress.
You are put at ease when you are greeted by our friendly and enthusiastic receptionist who knows your pet by name. The recognition and the familiarity comforts you some and you start to feel a little bit better.
You are escorted back to an exam room by a veterinary technician that asks a series of questions about your pet and the reason for your visit. You answer the questions to the best of your knowledge, but are anxiously watching your pet’s mounting level of tension.
The veterinarian enters the room in a few minutes and performs a full “head-to-tail” physical exam and discusses your pet’s clinical signs with you. The doctor recommends lab work and radiographs (x-rays) to help determine the cause of your pet’s clinical signs.
The doctor is starting to help ease your anxiety when they mention that they are going to take your pet to “the back” or to “the treatment” area to run these additional tests. Your heart sinks as you relapse back to your anxious state.
“What does the doctor mean by “the back”?,” you anxiously wonder. “Is my pet going to be alright on his own?”
The majority of pet owners have heard the phrase, “the back,” during one of their visits. We are providing full disclosure to our clients to help them understand why this part of the exam is necessary.
Here is a photo of our actual treatment area, where there are three extra exam tables with surgical lights (better light than in the exam room), water, extra supplies for blood draws, bandaging, diagnostics, etc. There are more technicians here to help your doctor run blood tests, take care of your pet, and even to help with x-rays. The treatment area allows the staff to work together as a team to tend to your pet much more efficiently. The treatment area is often a busy place, but it can also be quickly converted into one of the quietest rooms for those extra nervous pets. With better lighting, bigger exam tables, and more staff to help your doctor, this is why the treatment area can be superior to the exam room when helping treat your pet.
Some pets are actually calmer away from their owners, which makes it easier to perform a thorough physical exam, draw blood, or provide the treatment that they need. This allows the veterinarian and veterinary technicians to accomplish tasks more efficiently and safely, while reducing stress for your pets.
If your pet needs to come to “the back” for x-rays this is another room off of our treatment area (far back right in the treatment area photo) that is quieter and darker for the highest quality x-rays. Here is a photo of our x-ray area where your pet will be escorted.
In our treatment area we also have a full lab, where we can run the majority of your pet’s diagnostics, such as in-house lab work or cytology (to look at ear infections, masses/growths, skin infections, etc.). Here is a photo of our lab area (back right of the treatment area photo) where your veterinarian and veterinary technicians will be busy running your pet’s diagnostics to more efficiently and effectively diagnose your pet.
We at Dupont Veterinary Clinic hope that by providing full disclosure and visuals of our treatment area, owner’s minds will be put at ease when their pets need to be escorted out of the exam room for further treatment or diagnostics. We aim to provide the highest quality of care for your pets as we know they are an important part of your family… and ours!
By Ashley Dawes, DVM
Are your pets getting cabin fever? Here are 5 quick tips on how to keep you and your pets active this winter.
- Hide and Seek
Position your dog in a different room in the house, preferably with a staircase or a couple rooms between you and them. Then call your pet to come and find you and reward him with a treat when he finds you. Each time your dog (or cat!) finds one family member, the other person changes location so your dog has to seek them out again.
- The Searching Game
Hide your pet’s favorite toys with treats inside or even just treats around the house and then prompt your dog to go search to find them. Here is a short video on how to train your pet to search for treats. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSa3JMjq5EI )
- Teach Your Pet New Tricks
Keeping pets mentally stimulated is very helpful in beating the winter doldrums. There are endless tricks and training sessions that you can do from home. Start with simple tricks, such as “stay” or “shake,” then move on to more complicated tricks like “roll over” or “high five.” Keep training sessions to about 15 minutes so it is fun for everyone. Teaching your pet new tricks helps encourage good behavior and helps you bond with your pet.
- Make Mealtime Fun
Pets like to scavenge to look for their food. Try offering his meals in a feeding toy rather than just in a food bowl. They will not eat as quickly and it will help to keep them busy.
- Create an Indoor Agility Course
Build obstacles for your pet to navigate, like an agility course, with household items. You can use chairs as weave poles to navigate around, place a blanket over the tops of chairs to create a tunnel for your dog to run under, or a hula hoop in your hands for your pet to jump through. Train your pet to run through the course with a hand target and use a lot of treats and praise as a reward. These obstacles encourage your pet to be more active and help you bond with your pet too.
We at Dupont Veterinary Clinic want to encourage healthy relationships between pets and their owners. Cold weather and short days make it easy for us and our pets to become a bit lazy in the wintertime. We hope these 5 tips help you and your pets stay busy this winter.
By Ashley Dawes, DVM
We at Dupont Veterinary Clinic want to make sure that owners are well educated so that they and their pets can live long, happy, and healthy lives together. Here is a list of the most common veterinary myths associated with pet health care.
- A cold, wet, dry, or warm nose indicates something about the pet’s health.
While there may be a few circumstances where a pet’s nose may be able to offer us useful information, most of the time they do not. Veterinarians do not rely on this information at all when taking your pet’s history or performing a physical exam.
- A pet that eats grass outside is sick to his stomach.
While some dogs that have an upset stomach may feel an urge to eat or chew on unusual objects, a dog that eats grass is not always ill. Some dogs simply like to play with grass and chew on it for fun!
- Eating ice cubes or snow kills dogs.
Dogs do not bloat from eating ice cubes, snow, or drinking ice water. In fact, giving them ice water or ice cubes can help cool them down on a hot day. Bloat is most commonly seen in deep-chested, large breed dogs and can be caused by genetics and/or food and gas build up in the stomach. Freezing toys or treats for dogs, especially puppies, to chew on can help to keep them occupied while you are away.
- A dog that scoots his hind end on the ground has worms.
Scooting is usually caused by an impacted or infected anal gland or localized skin infection. Pets can, on occasion, scoot on the ground if they have tapeworms because the segments that they shed on their hind end can be itchy or irritating.
- If my dog is inside a fenced-in yard, or mostly indoors, they cannot be exposed to mosquitoes and contract heartworm disease.
Mosquitoes can get inside fenced-in yards and can even get inside your house; therefore, even mostly indoor dogs need to be on heartworm prevention too. The same goes for fleas and flea prevention as they can hitch a ride on your clothes or shoes and be introduced into your house.
- Grain free or gluten free diets will fix my pet’s allergies.
While there are some dogs that may be diagnosed with a grain allergy, gluten allergies in dogs are exceedingly rare. Dogs can have food allergies or environmental allergies that cause them to have red, irritated, and itchy skin. If you think your pet is experiencing an allergy contact your veterinarian at Dupont Veterinary Clinic to have them examined.
- My dog eats his own feces so he must have a nutritional deficiency.
This statement is simply not true as some dogs find this smelly snack to be a delicacy!
- Dipping your pet in motor oil can cure mange.
There are dips that can be given to bathe pets in to cure mange but motor oil is not one of them. In fact, motor oil can be really harsh on a pet’s skin and coat. If you think your pet has mange, please speak with your veterinarian about the best treatment for them.
- Pets need to lick their wounds in order for them to heal.
Licking a wound is great to clean off debris from a fresh injury, but continuous licking worsens inflammation and infection. This is why E-collars are used. It is especially important to keep pets away from a surgical incision as they can reopen the site and cause a serious infection.
- Sibling pets do not need to be spayed or neutered because they will not mate.
Animals do not have any taboos against this and will mate if given the opportunity.
If you have questions about your pet’s health, give us a call at (260) 637-7676. We are here because we want to help keep your pet healthy and foster the bond your family has with your pet.
By: Dr. Ashley Dawes
How Do I Choose The Best Food For My Pet?!
Walking into a store to choose a pet food for your dog or cat can at times be overwhelming because of the wide variety of brands and options. Feeding a high-quality, well-balanced diet is one of the best things that you as a pet owner can do for the health and well-being of your pet. The right food will help keep your pet’s coat shiny, strengthen their immune system, and keep his digestive system in good health. If your pet has any health concerns, please contact your veterinarian at Dupont Veterinary Clinic for advice on what diet would be most appropriate for your pet. We hope to help you sift through all of the brands and advertising to find the perfect food for your loved one.
What do I look for?
Knowing what ingredients make up the best dog food is a key first step before selecting a diet. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has created guidelines for regulators to manage claims a pet food company can make on its label. Looking for the AAFCO label on a pet food brand certifies that the pet food has followed regulations and has to exceed certain expectations prior to being packaged and being put on a shelf. Ensuring that the food you are feeding is complete and balanced for a particular life stage, such as puppy, adult maintenance, or mature senior, is also important because this indicates that your pet is getting more of the ingredients vital for their stage of life.
What’s in a name?
Under AAFCO guidelines, if a food is labeled to contain a single ingredient it must contain at least 95% of that ingredient, excluding water. If the food advertises a combination of ingredients, that combination has to make up at least 95% of that food. For example, if that food claims to include only chicken, then under AAFCO guidelines chicken must make up 95% of the food. Under AAFCO guidelines a food label containing the words dinner, platter, or entrée means that the food must contain 25% of the named ingredient. If the name states “with” a specific ingredient, such as “with rice,” only 3% of the named ingredient is required. In addition if a product is advertised to contain specific “flavors” the food only needs to contain a detectable amount of the ingredient.
Reading the food label
Deciphering a pet food label can be almost as confusing as picking the appropriate food off of the shelf! Look at the list of ingredients and keep in mind that the ingredients are listed by weight. Ingredients that contain a lot of moisture, such as beef, poultry, chicken, or fish, are more likely to be at the top of the list. Nutrients that are further down the list may be just as important; however, they may weigh less because the water has been removed for a dry pet food.
Is grain or gluten bad for my pet?
Unless your pet has been diagnosed with a food allergy, these ingredients do not need to be avoided. Grains are contained in numerous pet foods and are an excellent source of carbohydrates. Grains are easily digested and used as an energy source. Some pets are allergic to grains; however, allergies to meats (protein) are much more common than to grains. Gluten allergies in people are fairly common and is known as Celiac’s disease, fortunately, gluten allergies are very rare in dogs. There are a very select few Irish Setters or Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers that are sensitive to gluten, luckily these cases are very few and far between.
Ask your vet’s advice
We hope this article helps you to sift through all of the different brands of pet food and gives you a better understanding of what to look for in a food for your pet. If you are unsure of how to decipher a pet food label or if you are uncertain if a pet food is appropriate for your pet, call Dupont Veterinary Clinic at 260-637-7676 to speak with your veterinarian. We want to help you choose the best food possible for your pets so they can live a long, happy, and healthy life.
By Dr. Ashley Dawes