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Thursday, August 29, 2013

How to Reign in Dr. Google

While the economy may be on its' way out of a recession, many clients are still hesitant to spend their discretionary income. These financial challenges, coupled with the availability of information on the internet is hurting veterinary clinics, both emergency and general practice. Clients will Google many diseases/problems prior to bringing their pet in. Often they will explain, "well I googled it and I got so worried I came in right away." Unfortunately however, more often they will explain, "Well on Google it said to wait a few days..." For better or for worse, many people choose Dr. Google first and their veterinarian second.

So how do we as doctors and as a profession combat the ease and affordability of the internet? Communication, as usual is the key. Here are some resources to consider:

1. Partners for Healthy Pets-  the face of the Partnership for Preventive Pet Healthcare, a committee of the non-profit American Veterinary Medical Foundation that was created to ensure that pets receive the preventive healthcare they deserve through regular visits to a veterinarian. This alliance of more than 20 leading veterinary associations and animal health companies is committed to a vision of improved overall health for pets.
Partners for Healthy Pets supports the mission, vision, and objectives of the Partnership through the provision of tools and resources that enhance the overall vitality of pets and veterinary practices, the delivery of preventive healthcare services, and communication with pet owners
about the value of routine care.

Our Goals: We are dedicated to helping veterinary professionals provide the best preventive healthcare by:

  • Addressing the increasing prevalence of serious diseases and the declining health of our nation's pets
  • Enhancing pet owners' perceived value of preventive veterinary care
  • Ensuring regular veterinary visits become the norm
  • Increasing the understanding of the veterinarians's central role in the health and happiness of pets
  • Making increasing preventive healthcare of cats a priority

2. Direct clients to some good websites/resources, before they start searching.
At their first visit hand them a resource list for reputable websites. Some of the ones I like include:

  • run by VIN with approved content this a great, free resource for clients
  • Let clients know they can call with questions anytime for free. You may even consider setting up an email account that either a technician or trained client service representative runs and answers in 48 hours.
  •  is run by Ocean County Veterinary Hospital in New Jersey and has great articles on pet health care.
  • Direct clients to your state VMA (veterinary medical association). Many of them have great client resources. 
3. Encourage clients to purchase pet insurance and wellness plans. Studies have shown that clients that subscribe to these programs, see their veterinarian more often. By increasing office visits, we ensure their pets health and have time for communication.

4. The simplest answer is to warn clients. Help them understand that while the internet is a great resource, nothing can take the place of a physical exam of their pet. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Veterinary Nutrition Myth 4

Myth 4: Raw meat diets are healthier.
  •          There is currently no scientific evidence to suggest that the benefits of a raw diet outweigh the potential risks.
  •         Potential risks of a raw meat diet include: gastroenteritis (vomiting and diarrhea) from high dietary fat and/or bacterial infection from Salmonella or Clostridium, sepsis, and fractured teeth from large bone fragments.
  •          Up to 44% of commercial raw pet diets are contaminated with Salmonella, which can be shed in feces and cause disease in pets and can also be transmitted to humans.
     While yes this is what our pets would eat in the wild, they were not our pets then. They lived shorter life spans and no one worried if a bone got stuck in their throat causing airway obstruction or esophagitis. We do and these diets are not the best for our pets who we wish could live forever.

So what should you feed your pet?

The best resource for nutritional information is your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can consider your pet’s current health status and lifestyle to offer the most appropriate suggestions on selecting a brand and type of food.  Veterinarians have access to the latest nutritional research and will select a pet food company based on: where the food is manufactured, the company’s quality controls, and whether the company conducts research to make continued improvements to their diets. Veterinarians are trained professionals with your pet’s best interest in mind.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Surf the internet, but don't rot your brain

Do you ever feel like time gets lost while watching s sitcom or surfing the internet aimlessly? I know I certainly do some days. As I am internet researching for my blog and my career, I have found that having a plan seems to be helpful in avoiding the aimless searching. Try making a list of what you want to accomplish and give yourself a time limit to get it done.  90 minutes to 2 hours is usually a good block of time. It is reasonable amount of time to block off your schedule, keep your focus and get something done.

That being said if you want to escape why not do it productively. I found this article (link below) helpful about 13 websites that will make you smarter.

Sitcoms are there to entertain and help you forget your day, the internet can serve that purpose too and may even make you smarter.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Veterinary Nutrition Myth #3: False- animal byproducts=poor quality food

Myth 3: Avoid Animal Byproducts, it means poor quality food.

  •         The American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) that oversees pet food ingredients defines a meat by-product as “the non-rendered clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals.”
  •          By-products in pet food are animal organs, such as liver, lungs, bone that the animal would likely ingest in its wild state and are higher in essential nutrients and palatable.
  •         Hooves, horns, teeth, hair, feces, and roadkill do NOT constitute “meat by-product.” These elements are not included in high quality pet food.
  •          If you are against animal by-products, than you should probably avoid Fido’s favorite raw hide, pig ears or bully stick, as these items are by definition by-products.
  •         Inclusion of these animal materials also reduces waste by allowing the entire animal to be used for the nutrition of humans and pets.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Client's Perspective

Working in emergency small animal medicine, we ask every client to sign a CPR/DNR form when the patient is admitted to the hospital. For those that do not know it is a consent that if the animal goes into cardiac or respiratory arrest, do they elect euthanasia or that CPR be performed.  This form is a blessing and a curse. It allows us to act on the clients behalf for the pet.  There are times though when it can be a very frustrating document.

Sometimes the owner will become very emotional about this form (especially if the pet is sick), and it can hold up the treatment process. Sometimes, the owner has limited funds for treatment and diagnostics, yet will request CPR. Many times owners do not understand that, unlike in people, statistically only 2-5% of animals that arrest walk out of the hospital.

This morning two of my own fur babies were dropped off for a dental and I had to sign this form. I quickly realized how hard it must be when a pet is sick (especially critically ill suddenly). In an already stressful situation the client is told that their pet could arrest, and by the way do want to euthanize or have CPR performed. Today, I struggled myself with what I wanted to do. In the end, I decided on CPR because they are very healthy and the one time CPR is typically effective is when arrest occurs secondary to anesthesia. My cats made it through their dental unscathed, but I have a new appreciation for the horror that come with filling out the DNR form.

This experience will make me more mindful in the future of how to approach this form in a way that can make the client's more comfortable. Sometimes it is important to put ourselves in our clients' shoes in order to evolve our profession and become more empathetic. Time to brainstorm how...

Friday, August 9, 2013

5 Myths of Veterinary Nutrition- Myth 2

I know many people out there have been eagerly awaiting the second popular myth of veterinary nutrition today. So without further adieu:

Myth 2: Grain-free is the way to be.        

  • Many grain-containing diets are comparable in nutritional profiles to grain-free diets. Many grain-free formulations use tapioca, pea, or potato in place of corn meal or oats. However, potato and tapioca often contain less protein and more sugars than grains themselves, such as corn meal.
  • Grains are an uncommon source of food allergies- see above under the corn myth for more information.
  • Diets that contain grains do not automatically lead to obesity; any diet if fed improperly can contribute to obesity. Many grain-free diets are also calorie dense, and as a result can contribute to weight management issues.
  •  Low carbohydrate diets have not been proven to be of benefit in diabetic dogs, nor have they been proven to cause diabetes mellitus in dogs.
  • It is important to focus on the overall dietary quality and the overall nutrient profile versus concentrating on an individual ingredient. Unfortunately, it is difficult to assess the nutritional profile due to current minimum label requirements. (Which is why your veterinarian may be your best resource on choosing a diet!)

·        Overall, grain-free may be the right choice for your pet if your dog has an intolerance to grains or a need for a low carbohydrate diet. But remember, that grain-free diets do not necessarily offer health benefits over grain-containing diets.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Never work a day in your life when you do something you love

When I was in veterinary school, I thought for sure, the second I was finished, I would feel that my new career was a dream come true and not actual work. While it was in many ways a dream come true, when I was first starting my internship I was in survival mode. When I started to practice after my internship, I was a little nervous and excited, but it still felt like work. Honestly, at times I would rather be hiking or kayaking, then be a veterinarian.

My recent position with VPI, presenting on how pet insurance works and can benefit the profession at the veterinary colleges, however is entirely different. No matter how tired I am when I leave for these quick trips, I return energized for days at a time. I love working with students. I absolutely had a blast presenting on a topic I believe in. There is no where else I would rather be.

The networking opportunities continue to expand as well. Just yesterday, I was asked by the dean of Western if my clinic would host externs. In addition, I have the opportunity to work with Dr. Jim Wilson, JD ( who has made a career out of bringing business and legal acumen to the veterinary profession.

While I enjoy the challenge and caseload of emergency medicine and I look forward to my new position as clinic manager of an ER clinic, I cannot help but daydream about how to earn my entire income from helping veterinary students and advancing the profession.  For most of my life I have attacked any opportunity that has sparked my interest, which has led me down the path I am currently on. I am so excited to see how this journey unfolds, finally understanding how if you do something you love you will never work a day in your life; in fact you feel energized.

Friday, August 2, 2013

5 Myths of Veterinary Nutrition: Myth 1

For the next few posts, I will be posting myths of veterinary nutrition that are plaguing our practices, causing dietary intolerance in our patients, and just plan are not true, regardless of what the Blue salesperson in Petsmart will have you believe. (He is not a veterinarian or a nutriton expert)

Myth 1: Corn is a “filler” that is not digested and is bad for my pet.

  • A “filler” is an ingredient that does not have any nutritional value or benefit.
  • Corn (and other grains) contributes protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and when properly prepared, is a highly digestible (>97%) carbohydrate source.
  • People have attributed food allergies to corn. Documented food allergies are quite rare (~1% of all all skin disease), When they do occur, most are caused by animal-based protein ingredients, such as beef, dairy, or chicken rather than by plant-based ingredients.