We would like to take this opportunity to welcome all of you to our latest online feature. We are including all current and potential Best Care clients, as well as the usual suspects (trolls, bots, Russian spies, not to mention Skynet and the NSA guys), when we say please read and enjoy the following…
You are fortunate enough to behold the inaugural edition of the Best Care L Street Online Gazette blog, or BLOG blog , if you will. The purpose of BLOG blog is to provide you with helpful information about a variety of pet related topics, presented in a casual, conversational, and (hopefully) occasionally amusing manner. We hope you will find this interesting enough to keep reading, and check back periodically for new installments. Who knows? I might even be able to think up a catchier title.
And now, some very important disclaimers:
We know your pets are extremely important to you, and we as veterinary professionals, do not take that lightly. There may be some light-hearted, irreverent or sarcastic remarks that get past the editor. These are for literary purposes only. This blog is meant to educate and entertain, not offend. We do not mean to disrespect pets and the people who love and care for them.
We appreciate and respect the people who perform research and publish their findings, and we do not take copyright infringement lightly. The BLOG blog will try to use current data when possible, and will attempt to cite sources. We apologize in advance for any instances that are overlooked.
While the BLOG blog may resemble an interaction with your veterinarian, it does not represent a valid veterinarian-client relationship. If you have specific questions about your pet, please contact your veterinarian. The BLOG blog can only offer general advice meant for the general public.
Finally, don’t believe everything you read on the internet. We will try to keep things factual, but typos happen. Spellcheck doesn’t care if you use the wrong word, as long as you spell it correctly. If you happen to see something that doesn’t make sense, contact us so we can rephrase it and/or correct any errors that may have occurred. If you were an English major (or a Journalism major who worked as copy chief for a major national magazine), and come across grave grammatical errors, please contact us immediately. Thank you.
Next, with apologies to Mick Jagger, please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Dr. Debbie Appleby. I am one of the veterinarians practicing at the Best Care location on L Street in Omaha, Nebraska. I graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1998, and worked at another clinic in South Omaha for many years before joining the fantastic Best Care team 2 years ago. I can currently be found at the clinic on Mondays and Tuesdays. If this little literary venture finds its audience, I hope to delight you on this website on a regular basis – monthly at first, then as often as my schedule and your appetite dictate.
Also, my personal scope of practice is limited to dogs and cats, so my topics will be limited to those species. We do have vets on staff who see a wider variety of animals. For example, the brilliant Dr. Brunssen tends to most mammals under about 200 lbs and our awe-inspiring Chief of Staff (practice owner) Dr. Bosilevac will see almost any pet you can bring to the clinic (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians etc.). Of course there are exceptions, so if you insist on keeping dangerous animals like lions, tigers, bears (oh my), venomous snakes, primates, Africanized honeybees, wolverines, large crocodilians or killer whales, I’m afraid we can’t help you.
And now, without further ado, I would like to introduce to you the concept of “Fear Free”
According to their website (fearfreepets.com), from which I shall be borrowing quite heavily in the following paragraphs, “Fear Free’s mission is to prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety and stress in pets by inspiring and educating the people who care for them”. This is truly a noble goal, but perhaps you are wondering how one would go about it. I am hoping to help clarify that by explaining some particular steps we take in our clinic. I am also hoping you will join me on the quest for the best possible vet visit by taking a few small steps before, during and after your appointment.
As we all know, doctor visits are not fun. The tedious paperwork, the uncomfortable waiting room, hospital gowns, more waiting, the discomfort and embarrassment of being poked and prodded, and perhaps a needle stick for a blood sample or vaccination. Lurking over all of this is an oppressive black cloud of potential bad news. Unfortunately, your pet has probably had a similar experience, minus the worry about a bad diagnosis – that’s all yours. Our mission is to minimize the necessary unpleasantries and provide an overall favorable experience. In short, we want your pet to think of the vet’s office as the fun, fun snackey place, not the bad, bad needle place.
So how do we go about this? The obvious answer is snackeys. No, I did not spell that wrong. I may not have a trademark on it, but snackey (plural snackeys) is my own descriptive term for delightful tidbits offered to pets in the veterinary scenario. Neither I nor Google have any knowledge of another definition. If there is an obscene definition in a language other than my native English, I offer my sincere apology. Snackeys are yummy treats to reward cooperative behavior, and encourage more of it. Yummy treats help distract your pet from the bombardment of unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells. Yummy treats help your pet create positive memories of our interactions. While we don’t condone feeding your dog a diet of non-stop snackeys on a regular basis, a visit to the vet should be viewed as a special occasion, and therefore an acceptable excuse to cheat on one’s diet. If your pet is on a special diet, please, please, please bring lots of approved treats that we can give them during their visit.
There are also some other, perhaps not quite as obvious, techniques we use to minimize the fear, anxiety and stress a vet visit may precipitate. These include minimizing time in the waiting room, the use of calming pheromones whenever possible and gentle handling techniques with the least restraint necessary to perform a procedure safely.
If, despite our best efforts, your pet is still too stressed to allow completion of a necessary procedure, we can call upon the miracle of modern chemistry. This often requires you to return on a future day, usually after giving an oral tranquilizer at home. We know this is a major inconvenience for you, and would not ask it of you if it wasn’t very important to your pet’s well-being. If we can provide a neutral (or preferably positive) experience, it will help decrease the fear, anxiety andstress of future visits. This will benefit you, your pet and us in the long run.
To learn more about “Fear Free”, and check out other helpful articles about a variety of animal behavior topics, go to their website, FearFreePets.com and look under the pet owners tab.
Here are a few suggestions for making your visit to the vet clinic as pleasant as possible:
Do not feed your pet before the visit. An empty stomach will increase the appeal of the aforementioned snackeys.
Transport them safely. I am not questioning your driving skills. I am merely recommending that small pets ride in a carrier, and large dogs are restrained with a seat belt harness so they are not roaming around in a moving vehicle. In the car, free-ranging pets can potentially climb on the driver or get into the footwell. This can be a dangerous distraction. Also, unrestrained pets are at higher risk of injury in case of a sudden stop. Again, I am not doubting your driving skills. It’s that other guy you must watch out for – you know the one. He’s texting, trying to find the cigarette he dropped between the seats and eating a cheeseburger, all while trying not to spill his beer. Staying out of his haphazard path is hard enough without a dog on your lap or a cat on your head. If you need to transport both a Rottweiler and a cooler full of food, it is best to separate them before you leave. Waiting until you are driving on the highway, and then turning around to chastise the dog and save your lunch is extremely dangerous to all pedestrians, not just beloved-national-treasure best-selling authors.
While in your car, you can also make the trip a little less exciting by staying calm and playing quiet music (preferably classical). There are much better times to play Pantera at full volume and scream along with Phil. (I will now pause while some of you use You Tube to get a history lesson about “Cowboys from Hell”.)
Upon arrival at the veterinary clinic, we will escort you and your (still restrained) pet to the exam room as soon as possible. The waiting room can be a stressful place, as it is often filled with the sights, sounds, and scents of other animals. Dog owner – even if your pet is usually friendly to others, the others may not be feeling friendly at that particular moment, and we don’t want any friendly overtures turning into altercations. . Cat owners – just as you (presumably) wouldn’t want to sit in a small room with Hannibal Lecter leering at you, your cat does not want a large dog snout thrust up against its carrier.
Once in the exam room, it’s ok to let your pet check the place out. Open the door to the carrier and give your cat the option of exploring. Drop the leash and let your dog wander around and sniff and sniff and sniff. Also, to the best of your ability, Reeelaaaax. Take a couple slow, deep breaths. If you are nervous and upset, your pet will sense your tension. Bad vibes can be contagious, even between species.
When the vet personnel come in the room, we will usually want to talk to you about your pet’s condition and observe them before the laying on of hands. This is a good time to relay pertinent information about your pet’s disposition and previous veterinary experiences. This is helpful for us to know, even if the circumstances are not identical. We try to tailor our approach to your pet’s needs, including, but not limited to, the behavior they are displaying in the exam room.
Don’t forget that is your pet has special dietary restrictions, please bring a large supply of approved snackeys from home. We want to reward them profusely without upsetting their delicate nutritional balance. If your pet is not on a special diet, plan on them getting lots and lots of our snackeys, possibly including peanut butter, during their visit. If you are one of those unfortunate people who have a violent allergic reaction to peanut products, inform us immediately!
There can be occasions when your pet is very upset, and we cannot proceed safely without the use of a muzzle. This is absolutely NOT a poor reflection on you. It is not your fault. We know your dog is not like this at home. This is a very different situation, and your dog may act very differently than he does at home. In fact, if all dogs acted at home the way some of them act at the vet clinic, cavemen would have given up on domestication thousands of years ago. We do our best to minimize the stress, but we still need to take appropriate precautions.
At the end of your visit, you always have the option of settling the financial aspect in the exam room, or leaving your pet in the room while you go to the desk or taking your pet out to the car first, then coming back in alone. Any of these options is fine for us. Just let us know how we can make you and your pet the most comfortable (or least uncomfortable). We’re here to help however we can. That’s what we do.
This concludes the premier edition of BLOG blog. If you have read my ramblings thus far, I commend you. I now dub you “Bored Surfer” and will refer to you as such in the future. We hope you will return to view future installments, like the next one, scheduled for Feb 2. In the meantime, stay safe and warm, don’t drink any anti-freeze, keep the litter box clean and work hard on that New Year’s Resolution to tell the world how much you love your veterinarian.
At this point, I would like to introduce my witty and whimsical sign-off, but my Muse has not yet issued it. So you will have to settle for the following:
I hope you were half as entertained reading this as I was writing it.
Farewell, Bored Surfer, and best wishes for 2019.
Deborah J. Appleby, D.V.M.