Tag Archives: animals

National Vet Tech Week

IMG_3939.JPG

Regardless of my current level of satisfaction at my job, I have to say the pride I feel in being an RVT never fades. I love the industry I work in, the camaraderie felt with the other techs as well as support staff and doctors, and the constant challenge that each day brings.

Some of the jobs that fall under my job description aren’t pretty, aren’t desirable, and quite often don’t smell very good. However, no matter what, I know that all the little things that I do will contribute to the betterment of the pet’s life. It does become tedious when you are trying to teach someone how to help their pet and they’re clearly going to dismiss everything you’ve said as soon as they walk out the door, provided they actually listened in the first place. I’ve written previously about the things that irk me as a veterinary professional and those things continue to happen day in and day out. What keeps me in this field is the group of like-minded individuals I get to work with on a daily basis.

Even though many of us are in different stages of lives, we have a common goal of helping animals that bring us together at work.  Through thick and thin we keep a positive attitude, which is so essential in avoiding burnout and compassion fatigue.  Lately in the veterinary world, the number of people succumbing to these things is on the rise and thankfully our clinic has taken this quite seriously.  We are all attending a workshop on mental health next week, and I can’t be more proud that our clinic’s partners are taking such a proactive role in addressing the issue of mental health.  It’s not something a lot of people think of when it comes to our job, but it is very real and it does affect people in a big way.

As much as I may complain about the job of a vet tech sometimes, we do find time to have fun and see the humour in everyday situations.  We can laugh about the tough things from yesterday or about an entertaining animal or client who is booked in today.  We can compare stories or “battle wounds” and make light of the fact that our job can really suck.  Despite that we love it because we are doing what we love, and we should count ourselves lucky as there are many people out there who either don’t love their job or have no idea what they even want to do.  We’ve found what makes us happy.

I certainly feel appreciated during National Vet Tech Week as our clinic owners took the time to show us their appreciation with sweet tweets, and even a little gift.  This really shows us that we are valued members of the team and that our work doesn’t go unnoticed.

From: blogs.oregonstate.edu

From this tech to all the others: KEEP IT UP!  Your efforts and hard work are what keep your clinic functioning, and just know that what you do matters.  Every day you contribute so much to the betterment of the lives of animals and their people, and you should be proud.

Advertisements

Don’t Sass Me! – A Note To Owners With Feisty Pets

Understand this:  Veterinary professionals have a unique “outside looking in” view on how your animal behaves while at the clinic.  Often we can see exactly what is lacking in the dynamic between you and your dog, or read your cat in order to see when they’ve had enough of us.

Having said that, we use this knowledge to help us decide on the best possible course of action to keep you, your pet, and us, safe.  Some dogs are fearful, some are dominant, some couldn’t care less.  Then there are those dogs that do things in the most unexpected of ways.  These are the dogs you don’t see coming, and the ones that veterinary professionals have to be on guard for at all times.

I commonly experience owners who become offended or even get angry when we need to restrain their animal.  What people need to understand is that no matter what, everyone’s safety is more important than your belief that Fluffy is going to be mad at you.  Many people say, “Oh, Fluffy would never bite” or “Fluffy doesn’t need a muzzle”.  Here’s a tip – if we are suggesting it, then yes, Fluffy does need what we call a “party hat”.  The picture below depicts a tech or vet holding a dog in what we call “lateral”.  We hold the down leg to prevent the dog from getting up.  He can breathe and he is not in pain, he is just laying on his side and is being stopped from getting up.  Mean? No.  Useful? Yes.

From: http://www.santarosa.edu

Maybe your pet wouldn’t normally be one to bite, but now we have taken them out of their normal environment with their familiar people and schedule, and brought them to a stress-filled place with other animals and people they don’t know.  Believe it or not, this changes things for your pet.  Their normal behaviour doesn’t apply.  By putting them in an exam room, we’ve taken the flight option away from them, and that leaves fight.  In some cases I have even watched owners who refused a muzzle get bitten by their animal and think it’s completely normal and OK.  Please understand me when I say this – your animal biting someone is NOT OK.  Our job is to keep your animal healthy, not to scar up our bodies even more than they already are.

Just over three years into practice and I already have countless scars that will likely never fade.  Some are there because we were not given permission to muzzle an animal.  As an owner, do you think it’s alright for another person to have wounds and scars just because you find it offensive to put a painless muzzle on your animal?  If your answer is yes, I suspect you may be a sociopath and you need to seek help.

Another point that I must be clear on is aimed at small breed dogs.  Chihuahuas, Yorkies, Daschunds, Shih Tzus,  and other dogs of this type.  Often owners don’t treat these guys like dogs, they more treat them like small children.  This means that they don’t always have the same grasp on basic obedience or “manners”.  This can also mean that we can have a very angry dog once we start to do things like examine ears and teeth or trim nails.  Now this dog, who is not accustomed to doing things it doesn’t want to, is being told to stand still and allow us to do what we need to do.  As you can probably guess, there is probably going to be some attempts to bite, tantrums, and some high-pitched squealing, making it sound like we’re torturing the dog.

From: http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com

Here’s a newsflash to all of the owners who would be offended by us restraining your  little dog at this point – pipe down.  We are not torturing  your dog.  Fluffy has this all figured out since, at home, if he lets out that shrill scream you probably let go and Fluffy gets away scot-free.  Here at the clinic, we don’t fall for this trick and that makes Fluffy miffed.  THAT is why he’s making those sounds, not because we are hurting him.  Either teach your dog that nail trims and exams are not a bad thing at an early age, or accept the fact that we don’t want to get bitten so we’re going to throw a muzzle on your landshark.  Savvy?

From: http://i.dailymail.co.uk

Cats are a whole different ball game.  One must read the body language carefully to try to anticipate aggression.  Sometimes cats give you fair warning, sometimes they must think it hilarious to keep you guessing.  One strategy commonly used with cats is scruffing.  This seems to quiet many cats, and is a way to restrain them without causing them physical discomfort.  Many revert back to kitten behaviour and go very still.  This is not meant to make the cat in any way uncomfortable, it is merely done to make sure we have control over the bitey end.  Whether we need to give a pill, an injection, or just inspect an issue more closely, the scruff allows us to do so safely.  Pet owners should realize this is a very useful tool and in no way means we’re being mean to fluffy.

From: http://consciouscat.net

This may be shocking to you as an owner, but the vast majority of people who work on your pets for a living actually love animals.  We probably have some of our own.  Believe me, the last thing we want to do is cause your beloved animal pain.  In fact, the whole reason you brought him to us was probably to relieve it, no?  We aren’t mean, we are just trying to help without getting hurt in the process ourselves.  Cut us some slack.

If you aren’t sure how to properly prepare your pet for their future vet visits, please contact your veterinarian for information or tips on how to help make the process as smooth as possible.  There are many things you can do, like visit the clinic just to give Fluffy a treat and meet everyone, without anything invasive being done.  Helping them to associate your clinic visit with positive things like treats and affection can go a long way.  Another thing you can do is handle your puppy from a young age.  Lift the lips and earls, handle the paws, even trim little pieces off just so they get used to the sensation.  These things will only take a few minutes out of your day, but can really go a long way to making veterinary visits much easier.

From: http://www.taylorclark.co

As always, feel free to shoot me a message with any questions or comments!

 

Dog Behaviour – Where I Stand

Lately I’ve observed many different dogs with many different owners who exhibit all variations of behaviour while at the vet clinic.  After seeing this and polling owners about the dogs’ daily routines, feeding, etc, I have found that there seems to be a pattern between dogs who aren’t regularly stimulated, exercised, and taught “manners” and dogs who get all of these things.  One side tends to exhibit more bad behaviours than the other, and I think you can guess which is which.

This has prompted me to want to learn more, to expand the small amount of knowledge I gained while in tech school and really understand more about how to help the dogs and, just as importantly, the owners.

IMG_3354-1.JPG

I’ve been looking into ways to specialize through different organizations for technicians.  There aren’t as many options in Canada but hopefully there is an avenue I can explore in order to find the information I’m searching for.

There is one driving force behind this epiphany:  The desire to help these dogs as well as their owners. To be able to give sound, sensible advice to owners who are at their wits’ end as well as have that advice be backed up by training in the area of behaviour.

There are so many people that I see, mostly through the clinic but some just through random meetings, that have issues with their dogs.  Many, at least from first glance, can be attributed to things like lack of exercise or things to keep their brains busy. I don’t feel like this is fair to the dogs.

Like I’ve said before, these animals depend on you for every aspect of their health and this includes daily exercise and mental stimulation. This could include things as simple as spending some time teaching a trick, fetching a ball, or going for a nice, long/walk to learning to do agility courses or tricks with discs.

IMG_3352-0.JPG

I feel strongly that dogs who are not couch potatoes require this sort of thing in order to be mentally and physically healthy. Without adequate stimulation, dogs tend to become hyperactive or destructive. They need an outlet for the energy they’re taking in, or behavioural issues can develop.

We can’t exclude physical issues when it comes to the combination of lack of exercise and overeating.  Obesity is rampant among the pet population.  This page has some insight on the statistics regarding pets in America.

Many people will pass on their bad eating habits to their dogs, resulting in a huge number of overweight and obese pets. I can’t stress enough the toll that this takes on a dog’s body. They can develop diabetes later in life, just like we can, and I am sure that injecting your dog with insulin every day isn’t really your idea of a good time. Joint disease is also exacerbated by extra weight putting excess stress on those joints. Many larger breed dogs are already prone to this, but every extra pound goes a long way to crippling them later in life.

IMG_3353-1.JPG

According to the CVMA, obesity can also put your dog at risk for things like Gastrointestinal problems, increased cancer rate, reduced liver function, high blood pressure, and impaired hormone release.  See more here.  If you aren’t sure how to help keep your pet at a healthy weight, need ideas for stimulation, or if you aren’t sure if you’re doing the right things, your vet is a great resource for information to keep you informed.

If your dog is one who gives you trouble at home or you can’t seem to get them to lose weight, there are ways to help and your vet can help you with that. Also keep in mind, and I can’t stress this enough, that plenty of exercise and play time can go an incredibly long way in helping with many behavioural issues.

It is never a bad idea to do baseline blood work to screen your dog for early signs of different diseases, or just have a visit to make sure you are doing what you can to make your dog’s life as happy and healthy as possible. After all, many dogs are a part of the family and they deserve to live happy, comfortable lives. The only person with the power to give that to them is you.

Feature photo from http://www.petattack.com

Keeping a Positive Attitude When the Day Gets “Veterinary Clinic” Rough

From: http://www.catwisdom101.com

There are days at the vet clinic that never seem to end. You’re missing veins, nobody is cooperating for their exams, owners are being difficult or non-compliant and euthanasias are abundant. How does one keep a positive attitude and bring a smile to each and every client when faced with a day like this? Here are a few ways that seem to work for me:

1. Make light of any situation
I am one of those people who uses humour, or attempts at humour, in any situation that makes me uncomfortable, sad, angry, frustrated. You name it, and I’m trying to be funny. This not only makes my coworkers laugh (sometimes), but laughing and/or smiling allows me to release some of that emotion and to make an otherwise terrible situation seem a little more bearable.

For example, we had euthanized a very large dog that day and had some trouble getting it in the freezer because there were things in there that didn’t need to be. Once I had solved the problem of getting that stuff out and the big dog in, I sent out a clinic-wide email asking people to please remove what they could from the freezer because I wasn’t really into playing “Jenga” in there for long periods of time. It made a few people chuckle after an otherwise crazy day and if I can help to boost morale with cheesy things, then I am gonna lay it on.

2. Allowing someone to “let it out”

The first eleven seconds of this video is what plays in my head all the time.

Every single time I read or hear the words “let it out”, I am reminded of the above scene voiced by the late Robin Williams. It makes me smile a little inside, but I also do this in the literal sense. Whether they need to cry, vent, or they just can’t bear to be present in another euthanasia that day, I like to be that person who listens or fills in whenever needed and I know that my teammates would do the same for me.  Think of your coworkers like you’re all part of the Amigos.

I think voicing your frustrations can be a very good strategy for getting through the day with your sanity intact.  There are certain people I work with who know that when I need to vent, it’s not that I am mad at them or I am being too negative.  They know that I just need to voice my opinion or voice my frustrations and then it’s over and I feel better.  Then I can continue on with my day.  Often you can’t voice what you really think in an appointment because staying professional and courteous is so crucial, so being able to do so can help with getting rid of some frustration.

3. Cut yourself some slack

From: http://redsight890.blogspot.ca/

 

Yes, I get it. You’ve done this job for “x “years and you are more than capable of hitting that vein, or powering through that tough appointment. The sooner someone realizes that perfection is an impossible goal, the sooner they will be less hard on themselves when they’re having a bad day.

Even being as relatively new as I am, I know that there are going to be days when I’m not at my best. Those days are getting fewer and further apart, and that is what I strive for. You’re going to make mistakes, but as long as you make each one a “teachable moment”, you’re on your way to becoming an even better technician (or whatever your title may be).

Being perfect one hundred percent of the time isn’t going to happen because the industry is constantly going to evolve and change.  You can either learn and adapt, or get left behind thinking you’ve seen it all.  Chances are, you haven’t.  Even some of the technicians I respect the most, who really have “seen it all” know that there is always more to be learned, and staying humble really goes a long way.

4. Give yourself a minute

Sometimes you just need a sec.  Take a few minutes to allow your brain to rest, to recharge, and to deal with the craziness.  I realize that there are some days where time is short and there doesn’t seem to be enough of it to go around.

From: http://www.workingnurse.com

I think it is incredibly important to at least have a few moments where you can just sit and release some of that tension.  I recently did some CE on compassion fatigue which I felt was really useful.  Since we are in a field which requires a compassionate and empathetic person, sometimes this can put some strain on us mentally. I intend to write further on the topic, not as an expert by any stretch of the imagination but just put out the information I have gathered so far and possibly inject some of my own experiences in.

Just think, you could have to work with people.

From: http://www.media-cache-cd0.pinimg.com

Don’t get discouraged.  Just know that at the end of the day, you really are doing all you can and you are making a difference in the lives of your patients.  Any client or employer with sense will know that you are only human, and that you deserve respect for the work that you do.

If all else fails, I watch cat videos until I feel better.  This one, for example, had me laughing until I cried.

 

As always, feel free to leave me a comment.  Any positive feedback or constructive criticism to become a better blogger or a better tech would be great!

My Journey for Charity in Northern Ontario: Day 1

I belong to this organization with other techs, vets, and volunteers is one that promotes the health and safety of dogs in the far reaches of Northern Ontario. We visit Native communities in hopes of controlling the population through spay/neuter clinics and education. This is my very first trip with them, and I am pumped!

As I write this I am on a plane from Toronto, ON to Thunder Bay, ON where we will rent a car and continue to Sioux Lookout. The final leg will be completed tomorrow as some of us head by bush plane to Round Lake, and I to Cat Lake.

Friends of Animush (Dogs) is a not-for-profit group of dog lovers out to make a difference. The driving force behind this organization is the constant threat of mass dog shoots due to over-population and the ensuing trouble caused by too many dogs and too few people to care for them. Veterinary care is scarce in these remote areas of Ontario, excepting the groups who travel there to do work like ours.

As a registered technician, my biggest motivation for doing this is the knowledge that I will be using the skills I’ve obtained for a cause that will make the difference to the lives of the dogs and the people of these communities. I can’t wait to start, and to experience what life is like in these remote communities. If I can use what I’ve learned to potentially save lives and create deeper bonds between man and dog, I am happy to brave the bugs, heat, and long hours to make that happen.

Hopefully we will leave a lasting good impression and be able to find homes for the dogs that we bring back with us. The neglected, the injured, and the sick are ones that we try to bring back to Southern Ontario to foster with volunteers until they can be found homes.

Conditions in these areas, I’ve heard, can sometimes be rough and the people living there have many of their own problems to deal with aside from those of their pets. While there are programs in place to help the people, we believe that the lives of the animals also deserve to be made better. I expect an eye-opening, educational experience that I’m unlikely to forget and I hope to be able to share my experiences with all of you!

As internet and time become available, I will try to document my journey over the next week. Tomorrow we arrive at our first community, and I will catch up with you then!

If you are in a position to foster, donate, or provide any services that could benefit the Friends of Animush or the animals we’re fighting to save, please contact me or send us a message on our Facebook page entitled “Cat Lake: Friends of Animush”.

20140706-201142-72702894.jpg

 

If you have a comment or a question about how you can help the Friends of Animush, please feel free to shoot me an email!

 

Common Pet Myths: Busted

There are so many ways people care for their pets and so many old wives’ tales that really need to be put to rest.

First and foremost is something I hear almost on a daily basis and it drives me bonkers. When I ask if their pet is on flea or parasite protection, I’m often met with, “Oh I don’t need that. My pet only goes out in the backyard with me”. Is that right? So your presence alone scares all those little critters away? You’ll have to patent that magical force-field that keeps parasites off your property, you sly devil you. Just put it in a pet food commercial, people will believe anything in those.

Fleas in particular are crafty little jerks and can hitch a ride on anything that comes in contact with the outside environment. Then that person/thing heads on inside and voila! A flea infestation has begun. Stop being so naive.

I understand that not everyone has the same knowledge and education when it comes to parasites but let’s exercise a bit of common sense here.

Another belief that threatens to make me snap on a regular basis is the one where people think over-the-counter flea products are just as good as the ones you can purchase at the clinic. This truly bothers me because I have seen what these products can do to pets, cats in particular. Cats come in having seizures, twitching, and completely incoherent. Dogs more often present with chemical burns. All because they’ve been poisoned by these products and if you had actually seen one of these cases you would wonder how any pet store could sell them in good conscience. See the bottom of the page for statistics.

This isn’t the place the cut corners. These products are dangerous as well as utterly ineffective. The difference between these and veterinary products is that the pet store versions are simply pesticides. The ones carried by your vet clinic have been thoroughly tested for safety and effectiveness and are a no-brainer for anyone with the sense of a billy goat.

I’ll limit myself to one more. It has become apparent to me that people have come to trust commercials for nutrition information rather than people who actually have your pet’s health in mind, instead of trying to sell you second-rate food. They have this annoying habit of bragging that their pet is on a corn-free food with no chicken by-products.

The simple fact of the matter is: there is NOTHING wrong with either of these things. Chicken by-products are merely things like hearts, livers, etc which actually have a lot of nutritional value. The same goes for corn.

I invite you to do your own test at home. Pay attention to the amount of stool your pet produces while on a food from the grocery story versus a food purchased from your clinic. They will be smaller while on the one from the vet. Why? Because your pet’s body is actually using what’s in it, instead of defecating all of the useless bits in the crappy food.

Yes, there are animals who develop sensitivities. Here’s a fact – they can develop sensitivities or allergies to anything they’re exposed to for long periods of time. Stop allowing yourself to be brainwashed by a commercial just because they have a cute kitty telling you he loves it. Leave it to a professional.

If you have a myth that you’d like me to touch on, feel free to leave it in the comments section or shoot me an email. I will do my best to give you an educated, articulate response.

http://humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/flea_tick_OTC_pet_products.html

http://www.hartzvictims.org

http://youtube.com/watch?v=DdG9mcsP21M