Friday, August 31, 2012

Is Graffitti Art?

There are some that would argue that Graffitti is Art, and others argue that it is straight out vandalism.

And I am sure that there are some that say it is a means of self expression, and is important to one's self and one's perception of the world.

There are many places I see around town where there are walls designated specifically for Graffitti Art. In these situations, it is Art.   
But how is defacing a building that doesn't belong to you considered Art? or creative?


These pictures are not "creative" they don't give me a sense of joy or happiness, and they are not telling me a story or taking me on a journey, like Art is supposed to do.

What is on my building doesn't even look pretty.  It is horrible.  I mean - lime green?  Really! 

The sad thing is that instead of taking time to look after our animals, we (meaning Dirk) have to go scrub this shit off our building.    The one thing about Graffitti that everyone can agree on - is that it breeds like rabbits. If you leave it alone, it will  multiply and multiply, and then you get graffitti grandkids, which are totally out of control pictures which look even worse than the parental graffitti and grandparental graffitti.

I can understand the desire to communicate via drawing, as it can be a very fulfilling method of expression, but I don't understand this out and out vandalism.

The ultimate sadness is that the people (not sure if they are kids... it might not be) who are doing this really don't care about our community, and don't really care that their actions does impact people in a not a very good way.

So, Graffitti is not Art when it destroys or damages another persons property.  That is vandalism.  If you had the time and energy to do this, then get the time and energy to get a job. 

Vandals, leave us alone.  We are tired of it. 


Sunday, August 26, 2012

A cure for Thunderstorm fears?

What a hopeful title - that there is a cure for the fear of Thunderstorms.  I have been doing a bit of online research into this, coupled with the knowledge that I already have, and have decided that... like any other fear, there is no cure for it. 

There was a lecture I attended that said that there are over 40 therapies for thunderstorm this got me thinking, as I didn't realise that there were so many... so I started the list... I do need help as I am no where near the 40.
  1. Crate training - safe space
  2. Noise proof room
  3. Flooding
  4. Desensitizing and Counter conditioning (should I cheat and make this two items).
  5. Thundershirts
  6. Thundercaps
  7. Homeopet Anxiety
  8. Rescue Remedy
  9. Sedatives such as acepromazine or valium
  10. Psychoactive medications such as Prozac
  11. Staying home and sitting with the dog/cat
  12. Vitamin B
  13. Tryptophan/vitamin supplements
  14. St Johns Wort
  15. Dog Appeasing Pheromone, (Adaptil) Cat Appeasing Pheromone (Feliway)
  16. ?
  17. ?

Now that is what I came up with in a few minutes.  I will add more when they come to me.  But the list being so exhaustive tells me one thing - it is a complicated problem which we still don't understand the right solution to.

And reading the comments of pet owners online about the problems they have with their pet, is they want something that is going to work the first time that they ever use it, perfectly.  That is, their expectation is that when they use something, their dog will be perfectly normally and act normally.

This brings on a funny story ... a few years ago, a client requested some sedatives for her dog on New Years Eve, as previously he goes crazy, he paces, whines, salivates etc... those who have anxious pets know what I mean.

  This year, she wanted something to settle him down.  So I dispensed medication for him. A few months later when I saw her I asked her how her pet went.  She complained that the medication didn't work at all for her pet.  I said "I am very sorry to hear that, what actually happened?"

Her reply was "Nothing.  He acted like he normally does." 

"Oh," I said. "So he was stressed despite the medication. That is most unusual, and I am really sorry that it didn't calm him down."

Her reply floored me. "No, he just acted normally. He played with his ball, ate his food, did all of the stuff he would normally do. But he wasn't sedated at all. He didn't lie down to sleep, until his usual bed time."

Well, in my opinion, the medication obviously achieved what I expected it to achieve - which was the dog was calm despite the fearful noises of fireworks around him.  The client however, was not happy about a calm dog, as she expected a sedated dog.

What people need to realise is that the fear that a pet experiences has developed over time, and there is nothing that is going to eliminate that fear in a single step.  But, what we can do is edge the pet closer to normality but making it seem that the "scary thing" is not so scary, each time they experience the "scary" event.

As an example - say the first few times you use something, such as Adaptil, during a scary event, your pet may not be outwardly calmer.  But inwardly, a memory is being laid that perhaps the fearful thing is not so fearful after all.  And each time one of those newer memories are being laid, the older more fearful memories become weaker.

This is desensitisation. I know, but not in the traditional sense. We traditionally used CD of noises, but we know that fails in some cases as pets generalise their fear to the smell and the feel of a thunderstorm, not just the noise.

 There is no quick fix, no magic potion, no pixie dust or magic wand I can wave to fix the fear that a pet feels with thunderstorms or fireworks.

But there are solutions, usually a combination of things, that need to be applied each time possible, to make your pet learn to cope. And they are in the list of 40 (if I can find that many) things that are listed above.

The only quick fix is euthenasia, and in many cases, this is the best solution for the absolutely fearful, anxious dog.


Friday, August 24, 2012

My pet freaks with storms and fireworks

It is 3 pm on New Years Eve.  It is a Saturday, and the vet clinic closes at 12 noon.

So, already, we are three hours past closing, when all we want to do, is to go home, and catch up on whatever cleaning, cooking needs doing, and more importantly, say hallo to our ever suffering family.

And the phone call comes in.  "My pet freaks with fireworks, and I need something to help him be quiet. He is like this every year, but normally I am home, so its not a problem. I need some sedatives for him for tonight"

What gives?  You know your pet freaks out. They do it every year. So why decide at the last minute to consider getting something to help them.

So I check the records, and realise that we hadn't seen this pet at all. Not ever. Not even for a weigh in. The dog is 7 years old.

"Who is your normal vet?" I ask innocently enough. 

"Don't have one. Dog is not sick. Never goes to the vet.  I just need some sedatives for him."

You don't want to know the language that then occurs, when the advice is given to the pet owner that as all sedatives are prescription drugs, the pet needs to be examined by a registered veterinarian first, before we could prescribe something. And the owner is not prepared nor willing to allow an examination.

This scenario happens every so often for any medication that a pet may need, where the owners are not aware of the legal requirement of a valid vet- client-patient relationship.  What this actually means is that we need to know that we are actually prescribing the right medication for the pet, as it is illegal to prescribe anything without a diagnosis or presumptive diagnosis.

Such abuse (or bullying, as I liken to) hurts, as vets care about the needs of all animals, whether they are under our direct care or not.  And we don't like the thought of not releasing medications if the pet actually needs them. 

Sedatives can kill pets if they have an underlying heart condition, or at a risk of epilepsy. Some other sedatives need to be dosed to the pet's needs (that is, the dose is pet dependant not weight dependant). What if we gave into the bullying? 

Now that we are heading into thunderstorm season, as well as fireworks on/off... now is the time to speak with your vet about what can be done to help your pet.

Don't leave it until the last minute, and don't leave it so that you have to rely on drugs alone to dope your dog out for the night. 


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Today I was a....

Whenever I have days where the expectations of clients gets on top of me, I play a game.

I won't go into client expectations as such, but basically, clients either expect us to know everything and fix everything, or they expect us to know nothing, and come in prepared with their Dr Google diagnosis.

Back to topic - whenever I have days where the clients expectations are just getting me down, I play the game of "Today I was a...."  and the blanks are the different jobs I did during the day.

It was a few weeks ago that the client expectations got me really down, but it really hit me today by a random comment by a client. Like so many other vets, we relieve many moments of our working day, and find it hard to let things go, so things can hit us weeks later.

Today, this particular moment (it was a comment made in passing to me) came up and hit me right between the eyes.  So, I played "the game".

Today I was a
- immunologist - I assessed a pet's immune status, and determined its need for a vaccination.

- Dermatologist - I examined pets with low grade dermatitis of varying causes.

- Reproductive surgeon - I desexed a male dog today - a common enough procedure, but this dog had a retained testicle, so we had to do an intricate approach into the abdomen to try to find it.  A successful outcome.

- An anaesthetist- I had to examine the patient, and assess its drug requirements for the surgical procedure, and induced anaesthesia.

- Venepuncturist - I took a few blood samples today ( called "pull some blood" or a "blood draw")

- Laboratory technician - I set up our in house laboratory equipment, and did  routine "pre-anaesthetic profiles" on my patients.

Pathologist - I had to interpret the various blood results -Some were normal, and some weren't.

Endocrinologist - I have a patient with Addisons disease (like JFK), and he was due for his routine monitoring, and review of his medications.

Oncologist - This same patient with Addisons disease, also has multiple lipomas, which we had to review, and asssess.

Veterinary dentist - I looked in a pet's mouth and assessed it as "yuk" - not scientific, but it needs a good examination under anaesthetic, dental radiographs, and then the clean, and possible extractions. (I'll play that veterinary oral surgeon role another day).

and the day is not over yet..... It's a good game, as when clients make me feel like incompetent, I play this game, and realise that I'm not.   I am alot of things (as above), but incompetent is not in the list.

To all of you pet owners out there out there, go and give your vet a big  hug and let them know that you appreciate them (or even better, take in yummy food).

 In this day of "client expectations", we forget about the simple act of appreciation.

Leo fast asleep with his sheep - he positioned himself this way - not a set up

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cats Vs Dogs and Dental Checks

At Russell Vale Animal Clinic, we love all animals, but we mostly see, by the nature of what people have as pets in our area, cats and dogs.

A few clients have guinea pigs, rabbits, rats, mice, and snakes.  The ones with snakes know to take these beautiful creatures elsewhere, as whilst I love reptiles, they do require specific veterinary knowledge which I know enough to know that I don't know enough.

So, as an interesting excursion into what constitutes my client base, and as it is AVA Pet Dental Month, I thought I would have a bit of fun (as I like to do).

Hills Nutritional Products are happily sponsoring Pet Dental Month, with blow up teeth (not teeth you blow up, but plastic blow up teeth), and they gave me two white cut out cardboard teeth.

Well, I have named one Cat and one Dog.  Dirk has gone on and written the names of pets that in the past six  months have either had specific pet dental examinations or  an anaesthetic for dental work, and have written their names on these teeth - dog names on the dog tooth, and cat names on the cat tooth.

Cats and Dogs have fought for years over who is the most important and most valued.  I had always thought Cats, but these "teeth" are telling me a different story.

Only 3 cats were brought in specifically for dental check ups and dental work in the past two months, whereas for dogs it was over 10.

Love the view from my vet clinic window?  I love trees and natural stuff.... back to the point - Cats are losing, and I don't get it.

So come on cat lovers of the world, we need more cat names on our "teeth", and more cat bums on our consulting room tables, otherwise they will lose the "Cats Vs Dogs" battle.

National Pet Dental Month runs all throughout August, with  many participating vets all around Australia.
And if you are a country other than Australia, ask your local vet - All vets care about animals, and want to keep them healthy.  I am sure they offer a similar thing at other times of the year.  I know in the US it is February, does anyone else know of other countries?

We can't walk into your place, grab your pet and walk it in... this is up to you, so walk into your house, grab your pet and bring it in!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

You gotta love Pet Dental Month

Every month is Pet Dental Month at Russell Vale vets as we always have on offer free dental checks for all dogs and cats, whether they are patients of ours or not.

And our regular visitors get friendly txt reminders on their pet's dental checks too.

But for most other vets around Australia, August is National Pet Dental Month where they are also offering free dental checks and promotions to encourage pet owners to get their pet's teeth looked at. I think this is an absolutely awesome plan... but then I am a vet!  How many pet owners take up the offer?   Not as many as we all like.

I was shocked to find out that the percentage of pets with dental disease in 2011 is worse than it was in 2008 (based on US studies).  This could be because vets are being more proactive in dental work, and owners are being more vigilant in presenting their pets to the vets for teeth examinations, or it could be that things are actually getting worse.

I know that the number of dental cases I see are actually down, because we are very very active in preventative dental care, such as brushing pet's teeth.  I wish I had a dollar for every person who rolled their eyes at me when I talk about brushing pet's teeth.

Again, at last nights webinar, the dentist made the comment "not brushing your pets teeth between dental visits is the equivalent of you not brushing your teeth between your dentists visits."  The thought of not brushing my teeth for six months makes me want to gag!

But no bones people!  Please don't give your pet bones at all. Not for teeth. I saw a 4 year old dog yesterday for dental work which regularly gets bones (against my advice).  She had beautiful white teeth but a bad smell.  Radiogrpahs showed advanced disease around 8 teeth, and we had to extract 6. 

So brush your pet's teeth every day.  If you don't know how, then come visit us at Russell Vale vets, or if you are out of my area, then ask your local vet.  The ones who are smart know how to brush teeth, and will show you which toothpaste to use.

Really, brushing teeth is the way to go ..... all of my happy pets with healthy teeth AND gums  can't be wrong!