It’s finally December and what an exciting year it has been at Wilderness Animal Hospital. We celebrated 50 years in business serving Maple Valley. We also finished a major remodel, updating our facility to give the best care to our patients for years to come. If you haven’t visited us in a while, please stop by to see how things have changed. You can even have a cup of coffee or hot cider on us!
Today I’m reflecting on how being a veterinarian has changed over the years having been doing this for 27 years. I’m a student at heart and love that I have to keep learning and improving my skills to keep up with the current level of care. In a way I’m an addict for knowledge. I love the information age and how almost anything you want to know is at your fingertips.
I love that I can be in the exam room and find out about a product an owner is using on their pet or what’s in the food they are feeding. It’s so useful that I can go to Veterinary Information Network (VIN) anytime night or day and get up to date recommendations, information on diseases and consult with specialists and colleagues on difficult cases. It is a real game changer in the veterinary industry and improves the quality of care veterinarians are able to provide.
The challenge is all the information available isn’t always correct or useful. Everyone jokes about Dr. Google. And I will admit, there are times when the words, “I read it on the internet” would raise my hackles. But there is a lot of good information available and there have been many times that pet owners have provided information that was useful. It seems people are becoming more aware that not all information you can find on a internet search is useful, but sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between good and bad information.
The biggest down side I have seen to Dr. Google, is when a pet owner finds information they feel is valid and begins treatment on their pet that may be harmful and delays a call or visit to the vet. One of the most common problems I see is owner’s giving their pets over the counter pain medication, especially aspirin, which can cause some serious problems to their pets and make it more difficult for the veterinarian to safely treat the pet because of potential interactions with other medications. Dogs and cats metabolize drugs very differently from humans. Aspirin stays in their system much longer and causes severe side effects. A dog on daily aspirin almost always has stomach ulcers. Worse yet, aspirin severely affects a dog’s ability to clot their blood up to 2 weeks after the last dose. Aspirin also prevents use of other medications due to untoward drug interactions. There are much safer dog specific pain medications available, but they do require a visit to the vet to evaluate the dog and discuss the best treatment plan. For dogs with arthritis usually multiple therapeutics are recommended, including anti-inflammatory drugs, joint supplements, fatty acid supplements, weight management, cold laser therapy and low concussion exercise regimens.
My advice is two-fold. First, before you give any medication to your pet, call a veterinarian. Then you can at least find out if what your doing is going to be a risk to your pet before you do it. Secondly, go to websites that offer advice that is trustworthy. On my website, I have listed websites that offer good information. The top two websites I recommend are veterinarypartner.com ( a sister site to VIN for pet owners) and healthypet.com (sponsored by the American Animal Hospital Association.)
Hope everyone and their pets have a happy and safe New Year. Remember there are fireworks on New Years Eve- keep your pets in a safe, quiet place.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me at [email protected]. You can also go to our Facebook page or wildernessvet.com.