I Am a small animal GP veterinarian. AMA
I have seen a few ask reddit threads geared toward veterinarians but most of the comments are from pet owners, get techs, or friends/family of workers in the vet field so figured I'd offer this direct from a vet.
I'm a small animal general practice veterinarian in New England working at a family owned practice. This means I see cats, dogs, and most small mammals. I don't see reptiles, birds, or farm animals.
I've been out of school almost 5 years. I went to Tufts for vet school and before that did 4 years of undergraduate with a double major in chemistry and biology. Tufts trains vets in all aspects of veterinary medicine so south I haven't worked with farm animals or birds/reptiles I still had training with them. During my training I also did internships with a corporate vet practice, research animals, and zoo animals.
My main interests and continuing education had been focused in animal behavior, dentistry, and cat medicine
Ask me anything!
Edit: Thank you so much to everyone who participated! You guys have all given me more hope and appreciation for the amount of respect owners and the general population have for vets! I hope my answers were helpful but please always talk to your own vet about any questions as there is only so much advice I can give without knowing your pet's medical history and doing an exam. I'm going to try to get to the questions I missed over the next few days but this definitely blew up more than I expected. Thanks again!
As the other vet already commented, if it's that hard to manage and painful/traumatic to your cat to clip then I would absolutely consider amputation and think it is worth the discussion with your vet. I would also recommend x-rays prior of both the foot and the lungs to check for other issues and to help with surgical planning.
Why is my pug an asshole?
Lol cuz pugs.
I say this as a pug owner myself
Are you doing okay?
I am!! Thanks for asking! Hope you're doing well! I will say it's always good to check in with your own vet. Many of my colleagues are not doing well and suffer from severe depression and high suicide risk. We get a lot of harassment daily from pet owners and unfortunately the negative comments always tend to stick and linger more than the positive ones, so be sure to treat your vet like a human and be kind!
If you haven’t joined the “Not One More Vet” Facebook page, it comes highly recommended.
I joined it briefly. I found other pages to vent and discuss with vets. That page is a great resource for some but I honestly found it even more heartbreaking and depressing to see how many of my colleagues are struggling mentally and see no hope in the world or get no joy from the profession any more. It was making me view the profession differently so I had to leave.
we have a rescue (been with us for almost a year) and she's submissive by nature; she's the most gentle soul, no triggers, not reactive, has zero aggression, rarely barks, independent (she's perfectly fine on her own and will come around for pets when she wants it but when she's done with that, she'll just leave). The thing is, sometimes she sits there and "looks" so sad; sometimes her head is lowered and ears down. There are times when we call her she'll approach us slowly with her tail slightly lowered. We always praise her (she really is the goodest dog) and I'm wondering if that's just how submissive dogs are? Is there anything we can do to show her that she's so loved?
also: she's walked 3x/day min 30mins each time; fed 2x/day, vet says she's in perfect health/weight etc and we play with her outside. Lots of love when she wants it and we let her come to us when she wants pets...although sometimes we can't help it bc she's just so darn loveable but we make a point not to be in her face all the time. She has no problems laying/sleeping on her back (belly up) so I know she feels safe here.
Sounds like your doing everything right. It's hard not to, but you shouldn't anthropomorphize animals. A dog that looks sad may just be relaxed. I'd recommend reading up on dog behaviors and body language since you may get better about her behaviors if you know what they all mean :)
so how small are you ?
Haha I'm actually the smallest vet at my practice so the title fits both ways! Many of the other doctors ask me to perform the rectals since I have the smallest fingers and they think it would be the kindest thing for the animal. Not the kindest thing for me though...
Hahaha oh my god. What a unique special skill/quality.
I feel bad for you, but also I just love that your practice prioritizes the animals’ comfort that much. Y’all seem like good vets.
Haha yeah we try to utilize our strengths and weaknesses. I get the doctors with bigger hands/fingers back when I have a giant breed dog and I can't reach the prostate with my small finger.
Sorry. My last piggy question. If you get bit by a piggy and it draws blood do you just take care of it like any other wound. Wash well, antibiotic cream ... and watch for infection?
Unfortunately this happened to me today.
Yes, just clean well with soap and water. I worry much more about cat bites which can cause serious infections.
(Quick backstory: we had an 18 lb Maine coon cat who developed cancer, dropped to 9 lbs, stopped eating, and we put him to sleep. We only did palliative care. I still feel guilty that we should have given him more time )
Do you ever judge pet parents for their decision to put a pet down? How do you, as a vet, know when a pet parent should put their pet down? I know it’s left up to the parent, but what factors are most important?
The only time I've judged pet parents about euthanasia timing is when they've waited FAR too long and the animal has been clearly suffering. I'm talking owners that are either in denial or embarrassed to bring their pet in because they've never been to a vet, but by the time they come to me it can't walk, hasn't been eating for weeks, covered in it's own excrement and possibly even worse.
Other than that I tell owners with sick/terminal or old pets that you obviously know then best and when you feel it's time it are thinking it might be time, then it is time. I never judge if owners don't want to do everything, as long as whatever they choose does not cause the animal to suffer needlessly.
For owners that are struggling to decide if it's time I have then make a list of what makes their pet happiest, at least 3 favorite things. If they are no longer able to or want to do two of those three then it's time. That or mark a calendar of good and bad days, if the bad start to become more often than the good it is time.
Just stopping here to say thank you for these tips on how to decide when it’s time to let go. My beloved pit has cortical cerebellar degeneration, and while I still feel she is happy and loving life, I am constantly worried I won’t know or won’t be able to admit when her quality of life is just too low. But this is very helpful, and I feel good about knowing she can still do three of her favorite things (eating anything and everything, snuggling, and going outside to enjoy the sunshine).
If you see this comment, I’m also really curious to know the truth behind grain free diets. I have read so much conflicting information, and while I initially thought grain free was right for my dog due to digestive issues she had on other foods, I always have that fear that I could be hurting her and not know it. My dog at 5 years old is, sadly, very unlikely to make it to old age as it is due to her condition, but I definitely don’t want to be doing anything that could hurt her chances even more. Any insight is greatly appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge.
Thank you for your kind words! So I'm very wary of grain free diets as I've personally diagnosed a number of dogs with heart disease because of them. We still don't fully understand why it is happening and it's not just grain free diets, some are more boutique brands or exotic ingredient diets. Tufts nutrition team has a great website for pet owners called petfoodology so I would check that for information and blog posts! That being said, if it's the only diet she will eat or do well on and she had other issues you're managing then it may not be worth changing the diet as the great disease does not seem to affect all dogs. I would check with your vet and their recommendations.
I've also always heard the phrase "better to put them down a week early than a day too late".
Animals don't fear/dread death like humans do, instead they fear pain and suffering. It's always better for their last memories to be pleasant rather than them being afraid. If they have a chronic worsening condition that they're on medication for take them to the vet when you notice discomfort, if there is nothing more the vet can do to make them comfortable it's far better to put them down ASAP when they're 'just' uncomfortable as opposed to waiting for them to be in pain. Ideally you don't want their last memory on earth to be a painful one, far better it be a slightly uncomfortable but happy one.
Not a vet, but I'd much rather see people let go a little sooner than absolutely necessary than see an animal that's clearly been suffering for days or weeks.
I know some people that live out in the country and euthanize their own animals when they need to. They have horses and when they can they have the vet come to them. But they live 6 hours away from the nearest vet, and that's if the vet comes directly to them instead of stopping off elsewhere first. If one of the horses breaks a leg they know how to euthanize with a gun (with horses I believe it's a gunshot to the temple). It's an instant death despite not being pleasant for the shooter, and far, far better than having the horse thrash around in pain for 6 hours until a vet arrives to do the job.
They'll do it with their dogs and cats as well, not over a broken leg because dogs and cats can recover easily from broken limbs (horses it's a literal death sentence, even if you were willing to spend $100,000 you'd have a <1% chance of the animal surviving after months of pain and suffering). But if their dog or cat is obviously dying (severe injury, old age, etc.) they'll shoot it rather than making a 6 hour drive for the vet to give it a shot to euthanize.
They don't like doing it, they love their animals; they're just willing to sacrifice their own feelings and shoot the animal themselves rather than make them suffer for a minute longer than is necessary.
yes, I think its important if you're remote or have a farm with large animals that you are prepared to do this if needed. Its hard on vets to have to rush out when clients can be hours away and knowing the animal is suffering the entire time, sometimes the animal doesn't even make it by the time the vet gets there.
My vet had me do the 3 favorite things list for my dog and then silently judged me when I told her one of my boxer's top 3 was eating toilet paper tubes. She lived to be 13 so they couldn't have been too bad for her.
Eh a little cardboard never hurt anybody
Hi Dr. My family has a 6lb maltese who just turned 10. The dog does not. stop. gnawing on his paws. What could be the reason for this? He gets feisty when I try to touch them, and sometimes can be docile and will lick my hand if I massage the paw a little.
Paw chewing is most commonly a sign of allergies or anxiety. If dogs chew or lick their feet enough they can cause a secondary infection or severe inflammation called pododermatitis. I've seen dogs unable to walk because their feet are so sore and infected. If the hair around his paws are stained brown from licking, or the webbing between his toes is red/shiny/painful then he should see a vet to discuss possible causes and treatment options.
My long haired cat pukes up hairballs often, is there any scientifically proven hairball reducer? I do brush him and feed him wet and dry food diet.
Backstory, when we adopted him as a tiny kitten, he was listed as a domestic shorthair...I feel bamboozled! But we love him, hairballs and all
Honestly I've had good success with patients and my own pets on hairball control diets. Usually science diet or royal canin help the most anecdotally. I also recommend laxatone gel. If they won't eat it on their food you can put it on their paw so they want to groom it off.
The Hill's rx GI Biome food is magical. I had to surgically remove a hairball obstruction from my ragdoll's small intestine last year, and I fed him the dry and canned versions during his recovery. He had normal, comfortable poops and a good appetite within five days post-op! I also have a German Shepherd patient who got violent gastroenteritis on anything he ate, but he's been on the GI Biome dry for about six months now, and he has been perfect.
Yes I love this diet!
I have a beautiful rescue cat (who was a foster fail) but unfortunately I don’t know his age. When we began fostering him, the rescue couldn’t tell much about him other than his medical needs and such; nothing on an age however. I’ve done some research online to see if I could determine his age but I really have no clue. If I took him to a vet would they be able to do an assessment and give me an age estimate? I know it’s a silly thing to want to know his age but I would just love to know as much about him and hope to give him a healthy long life. Thanks!
Aging an adult cat can be very tricky. Sometimes we can tell by teeth and dental health as well as lens clarity in the eyes, but it will still be a fairly wide range since genetics and other life factors can cause poor dental health at a young age or excellent dental health at an old age. Still worth having then checked out by a vet though so they can try and identify and issues early and discuss best ways to set him up for success in the long run!
We adopted a Boston Terrier puppy this week, I believe he’s about 14 weeks old. Long story short, he had to have one of his hind legs amputated is there any recommended therapies we can do at home to help him with stability and strength in his remaining hind leg? He gets around just fine but isn’t always the most stable and struggles with stairs.
He's so young, at this point his bones and muscles will be growing and adapting for him to compensate for the missing limb. Puppies in general aren't the most adorable when they're young, so he is likely still just figuring the world out. Once he's full grown biggest things will be to keep him at a healthy weight and consider just getting him started on a joint supplement early to help protect the remaining joints as much as possible.
The typo "puppies in general aren't the most adorable when they're young" is hilarious coming from a vet...
Oops!!! I don't even know how that happened. "Aren't the most coordinated" I'm using swipe on my phone keyboard to type faster so I'm sure there are tons of stupid typos in here
Do you see guinea pigs? Do they need yearly check ups?
I do, and I always recommend it to help monitor dental health, weight, and overall physical health and discuss husbandry. Of course it depends on your relationship with your guinea pig though and how far you're looking to manage preventative care. Otherwise just be sure to bring them in if there are any changes at all in their daily habits. Prey animals like guinea pigs are built to hide any signs of illness so you need to be very in tune to their normal behaviors and catch any subtle changes early if you want to treat issues before they are major and very severe.
Wow. Thank you for your reply!
Do you have a recommendation for guinea pig insurance?
I wish I did! I don't honestly deal with insurances that often, that's my front desk staff. They change often and I'm not even sure if any that cover pocket pets. I usually recommend owns look into trupanion and healthy paws for best coverage in a young healthy animal though
I just want to say thank you for including guinea pigs in your care- I had a guinea pig about 13+ years ago and he was fine and healthy until the day he wasn't... it was so hard for my family to find a small animal vet in our area, let alone one that knew enough about guinea pigs, so that by the time we found a vet he was too far gone :( I'm glad there are vets like you around to help prevent the same thing happening to other piggy owners.
This is definitely the hardest part about owning small mammals! There are but enough vets that will see them. I always feel terrible when I'm out of the office and one of my small mammal patients get sick since I'm the only doctor in my office that sees them, so we need to send them elsewhere. It stinks. I hope vet schools well push more training so more graduating vets are comfortable with them.
Where do you personally draw the line on life-saving measures vs. palliative care? I've been "lucky" so far that euthanasia has been the obvious choice for all of my dogs so far, but I am facing the choice of possible spinal surgery for my 8 y/o dog as a treatment for lameness (which has been mild so far). My gut is telling me that something as invasive as spinal surgery would be extremely traumatic for an animal who doesn't know what is happening or why. I sort of think pain management and physical therapy is the better choice, though it will probably shorten his life. Then I feel like an asshole.
I know vets don't like to advise their patients' caretakers on such personal decisions, but what would you say to an anonymous stranger?
Honestly there is so much that goes into that kind of decision. As much as we don't like to admit it personal finances and ability for proper after care are definitely something to consider. In the case of spinal surgery you also may still need long term physical therapy and pain management. It also depends on the rest of your dogs health and stress at the hospital. 8yo is still pretty going for most breeds, but for others it's near the end of their life.
All of that being said, I put off doing an aggressive surgery for my cat for chronic eat infections (total eat canal ablation, or TECA) because I was worried about his age and the healing process, but I finally but the bullet when he was 10yo and he was literally an entirely different cat after one we removed a source of chronic pain and inflammation. I felt so guilty for not doing it sooner and didn't really realize how much pain he was in until after the surgery.
What are the best "inside jokes" that small animal veterinarians tell each other?
Oh man there are so many... Most are pretty morbid or immature to be honest. Plenty of poop/rectal jokes. We laugh a lot about clients that insist on feeding their dogs the best food and homecooking diets and such, but then they go outside and eat shit..
We also dig a lot on human doctors and nurses (mostly in good fun). I think there are a lot of medical jokes that overlap between human and animal medicine. Some abbreviations like for euthanasia, TTJ= transfer to jesus
For more fun stuff, lately everything has been curbside where animals come in to the hospital but clients stay in their cars and then we go over the exam findings by phone. Since we don't have to worry about what we say in front of clients we're usually just all gushing over how stupidly adorable the really fat cat is and using a "chonk" scale to describe them. That or just all taking turns cuddling the puppy and smothering then with cuddles while some owners are insisting from outside that their pet is really anxious without them...
How do you handle discrimination against small animals at your practice?
Here's an example of what I mean, I was just sharing this story today so it's fresh in my mind.
I have six guinea pigs who are my absolute world. They're really smart and loving little companions. I used to see a regular vet but eventually found a board certified exotics vet an hour away (the only one around here). One day I saw that one of my pigs was dragging her back legs. My regular vet would have closed by the time I got there and so I took her to the old vet. I thought I was losing her and was absolutely sobbing.
A man in the waiting room tried to comfort me about my "cat". (I use a cat carrier for them.) When I said it was a guinea pig his whole attitude changed. He laughed at me and said "It's just a guinea pig. People eat those." I said "People eat cats too and yours looks scrumptious!" The staff overheard and said it was okay for him to say that because it was "just a guinea pig" but saying that about a cat was rude and if I said anything again they wouldn't see us.
This is just one of many examples of people treating small pets as disposable. I've also gone to vets that just prescribed any old antibiotic and the diagnosis was far off. (Diagnosed with bumblefoot when in reality it was a bladder stone.) It's actually really sad. Even some vets don't care.
Sorry to hear you had to deal with that. I used to get similar reactions when I hospitalized my rats. Unfortunately lots of people feel that animals they paid little for aren't worth managing medically which is ridiculous. I got many pets for free and would never think they deserve less care because of that. Many of my staff currently own or have owned small mammals and so are very sympathetic toward them and their owners, though there isn't much we could do if another client made a statement like that other than brush him off.
What is the best way to introduce a puppy to a 13 year old cat (girl, sterilized, never had babies, never lived with another animal)? She’s not scared of dogs, our neighbors had dogs and she would “confront” them so just sit staring at them or walking around. She doesn’t like human kids, always hisses at them. But if other people come over she’s curious but not very friendly. Just observes from distance, doesn’t hide etc. Is there any chance she’d get along with a puppy? Or should we resign from a puppy?
She probably will never enjoy the company or play with the puppy, but could learn to coexist with one. Usually my biggest advice for introducing any new pet to a cat is to be sure that cat has a safe space where only they are allowed to escape the chaos of the rest of the house and from other animals. This is also a good place to have an extra litter box and water so if the cat is too nervous to leave they have access to what they need and won't have accidents in the house. Never force interaction, allow them to warm up with time and draw their own conclusions. Also honestly if the cat swats at the puppy, let it happen, it's a good learning experience for the puppy as long as the nails are but long enough to do serious damage.
Omg are you me? Lol. I've also done extra study in feline medicine, dentistry and feline behaviour! Hello from Aus 😁
Awesome! We need more vets interested in behavior and kitties! I was seriously considering jumping ship and going to work in New Zealand or AUS with how covid was going in the US, but then ended up buying a house and committed to staying here
Do you have any advice for people who adopted adult dogs fron the shelter and want to help them be the best they can be? I keep reading about socialization windows and all sorts of puppy-centric information, and feel like I missed a critical part of my dogs lives.
You can definitely still train an adult dog even if they're past the age for key socialization, it will just take longer and require a lot more patience. If you're referring to a specific pet, what kind of dog and what issues are you noticing? A lot of time the trick is to find what your dog really likes and responds to fit positive reinforcement. Some food are food motivated, others like toys, attention, specific pets or cuddling etc. Once you know this you can grade each positive reinforcement from smash reward to high reward and use the small reward regularly for easy-to-grasp behaviors, and the high reward stuff for more stressful situations or behaviors you're struggling to enforce. There is a lot or there in desensitizing as well if they are scared or nervous of something. However if you trust this process or do it incorrectly you can make matters worse. If in doubt always reach out to a certified trainer to help!
You mention an interest in animal behavior. How far do you think veterinary knowledge has progressed in this area? As with physical ailments, pets definitely can’t tell you what’s wrong or why they’re acting a certain way. (I work with a rescue, and as you might figure there’s definitely some with behavioral issues... they often end up in rescue for a reason.)
I think we know a fair amount. There is an entire boarded specialty in animal behavior which is like the equivalent to a psychiatrist and they know about many training techniques and medical therapies to help with different behavioral diseases. We're also paying more attention to it as a profession and trying to be more aware of body language during appointments, but there it's always still a lot more to learn!
what's your favourite animal? do you have a fav specifically to your line of work
I'm a sucker for cats. I love how different their personalities are and think they aren't given nearly enough credit. I also have learned to handle them in the office to make their visit as low stress as possible and it's made working with them such a joy. I also love ferrets and rabbits.
I just found out my dog has cancer and will need to be put down relatively soon. How do pets handle euthanasia? Are they scared? Is it painful? What about if their owners are not there? I really really want to be there for my puppy but I'm worried the vet will make me stay in the car because of the pandemic. Any words of advice?
I would discuss this with your vet since every vet has a different protocol with euthanasia, especially with the pandemic. This is the one scenario we allow owners into the hospital with their pets currently. I typically like to make things as low stress as possible. If your dog is anxious at the vets giving oral medication at home prior can help calm them, and then I give an injectable sedative as well prior. If you're worried about going to the hospital there are also many vets doing at-home euthanasias now, including an entire company dedicated to it called Lap of Love.
Hello, my adorable cat is 23-24 years old. She doesn't seems to have health issues, she is blind since 1 years at least, but that doesn't stop her to goes upstairs, downstairs, eating, climbing on furniture and jumps on me. Anyways since probably 2-3 years she started to develop like a "small ball of flesh or tumor I dont know on her beautiful cheek, it not painful at all, and doesn't seems to grow, it's probably 2-3 centimeters since, well always. Anyways back in the days I call to the vets to explain the situation and they told me that they rater not take her to remove it since at that ages the anesthesia might just kill her. Was that a good advice?
If it's just a fleshy growth that isn't painful or bothering her than it is likely not removing. I don't consider age a disease and she alone is not reason to avoid anesthesia but with age comes many possible diseases and great issues so you need to be very thorough working up geriatric patients prior. You also need to be wary off longer healing time after. By the sounds of it I would leave it alone as well. She's an old lady but the oldest cat on record lived to 38yo so you never know!
My question is this:
I have always wanted to be a vet but I ended up pursuing a different career due to circumstances that are not part of our discussion now. Animals are my passion, they always have been. I am going to assume you too absolutely love animals, since you chose this career.
The older I got, the more I realised that I don't have the stomach to be a vet and it was actually good that I pursued another profession. As passionate as I am about animals and as much as I adore them, I cannot stomach seeing them sick, wounded, diseased or deceased. I can't, I break down, my insides hurt, my heart feels like it will explode from grief and sadness. It's too much and it's beyond my powers to handle.
How do you handle this? Is it something that is taught or is it something that you become accustomed to after a while of seeing animals in bad condition? Or do you just never get used to it but it's part of the job and you have no choice? Thank you for your response. :)
So this is a factor in all medical professions. I love animals, but I also love medicine. I went into the vet profession because it joined my love of the two, but my backup plan was to be a pediatrician or other human medical doctor. I always tell people interested in the profession that you must love science and medicine as much or more than animals. I have a general curiosity and interest in working up cases and problem solving. It's never a great feeling when a case is not going as expected or you do everything right and the animal still dies, but it is part of the job and you learn to disassociate your patients some from your own pets/animals that you love. I love my patients, but I can only love them as much as their owners do and sometimes owners can't or don't want to do everything. Then there are other times that doing everything just isn't fair to the animal if it's suffering or stressed at the hospital. Really the worst feeling is when an owner just doesn't care as much as you do. When you're faced with a very treatable disease but the owner doesn't care to treat or just wants a magic shot to solve a chronic problem (sometimes because of something they caused, like chronic joint disease from obesity).
There are times the job is absolutely heartbreaking but those are the times I'm working closely with owners and patients I love and it just doesn't work out at we hope or I diagnose a terminal, untreatable disease. I'm these cases though the right owners are happy to have answers and happy for honesty and guidance and still work with us to make their pet as comfortable as possible during the time it has left.
What keeps me up at night is when I do everything and owners still blame me for the pet's loss or for having to charge them even when the outcome wasn't what we hoped when sometimes that's just life...
Thank you for your response.
See, this is something I can't do. I absolutely love science and medicine (veterinary medicine, not human medicine) but I love animals more. It sounds really unfair that they blame you when you did all you could and you need to charge for those services. Either way, I have utmost respect and admiration for vets, a whole lot more so than human physicians.
Thank you! It means a lot!
My cat has OCD & she constantly grooms herself. She has short hair but the volume of it causes her to vomit. I've been feeding her Blue Buffalo indoor hairball formula. Since the hairball additive didn't help I went back to indoor formula. Between her eating to fast & grooming she still throws up. She's her normal self the rest of the time. What should else I do?
Is she always vomiting hairballs when she vomits, or is it something just food or bile? There are bowls and yours too help force pets to eat slower which can help. Diets higher in fiber are also beneficial for cats. Finally looking for other causes of pain or stress. Most cats over groom from pain, allergies, or stress and may need further testing and allergy or anxiety medications.
I have a male rabbit that refuses to eat hay or vegetables, and when I let him out of his pen to play, always tries to eat dog food kibbles if he can get anywhere near the dog's food. His teeth have become overgrown and I have taken him to the vet to have them filed down more than once. Should his teeth be removed? I give him fruit juice to drink because I am worried about his nutrition. He also has dandruff. I have other rabbits that are litter-trained, fixed, and free-roaming in another part of the house who don't have any health problems. They love hay and vegetables. I moved him because of this problem.
Fruit juice is far too sweet for rabbits. And if he has access to other tastier food then he will refuse his hat and vegetables. Is be as strict as you can with limiting his access to other food types and be sure you're offering only a limited amount of pellets per day. Everything else they eat should be fresh salads/veggies and hay. Harry and fiber intake needs to be 90% of their diet. Also some rabbits are just predisposed to dental disease. If it's a chronic problem you should discuss the pros and cons of dental surgery with your vet
My latest rescue is down to five teeth. He doesn't eat hay. (He was shot in the face and abandoned at the base of one of our mountains, which are chock full of mountain lions. The bullet moved his lower jaw, so all of his teeth maloccluded. How a 5 lb mini Rex - who was 2.4 lbs when I found him in the shelter - managed to keep himself alive while bleeding from the face and unable to eat is beyond me.) At any rate, if you want a sounding board if/when you and your vet decide that incisor removal might have to be a thing, feel free to hit me up. Are you on the r/rabbits sub? Disabled Bunnies on FB is a pretty good group, too.
Both Oxbow and Sherwood have nutrition support supplements available. Supplementing with Oxbow's Critical Care or Sherwood's SarX would help with nutrition, but won't do anything for keeping his teeth in check. Have you tried kiln dried pine blocks, willow or dried apple wood toys, etc? Have you tried other hays like Oat, Meadow, and Orchard Grass? Different cuts of Timothy? Most commercially available Timothy is 2nd or 3rd cut; maybe your bun would like 1st cut?
Another of my rescues - all 3 of my housebuns are rescues - had never had veggies before. He still won't eat much in the way of veggies, but he does like aromatic herbs like parsley, cilantro, and basil. Have you tried tempting your bun via his sense of smell, rather than his sense of taste?
Are you sure bun has dandruff, and not mites?
Apologies for intruding on your convo, especially if you've already tried all of the above. At this point in the rescue game, I've dealt with every bun issue except cancer, so thought I might be of help. Sorry, doc, for hijacking your AMA!
all good advice here ^! :) I typically don't encourage cat/dog owners to get advice from the internet, but with exotics you can find very experienced owners/rescuers and very dedicated people on the internet looking to help!
Am I weird for having my rabbits microchipped? Lol
If there is any chance of them escaping then no, but realistically rabbits that escape aren't as likely to be found and caught. I have had owners find and bring in domestic rabbits from outside though so it's not impossible.
Any ideas on what causes mood changes in puppies?
My puppy is about 6 months old and has some of the gone through a phase where he refuses to leave the downstairs, before he would always come up to my bedroom on the top floor and just bask in the sun while I worked. For some reason now he is always sitting in our TV room. he also has started becoming very scared of noises that never frightened him before. He's a hound retriever mix.
I believe he might be going through a growth spurt based on online sources, but one other thing that's strange is he has stopped devouring his kibble, and now takes his sweet time when eating it. Any ideas?
I think part of it might be this extreme cold we're having in the New England area, he hasn't had his usual exercise.
Some puppies normally go through a period of heightened anxiety/submissive behavior as they grow, usually around 6-9 months. It's basically the age that they learn some things are scary or bad. As long as it's not getting worse or affecting they're regular activities I would just keep working on training at home and keep things consistent since dogs like consistent, reliable schedules. If it gets worse consult a trainer or vet
My inlaws had a maltease and a minpin. Everytime they went to the vet, they had to get muzzled. Reason being was that the vet always got bitten by smaller breeds, and larger dogs were the nicest. He never wanted to chance it, so most small dogs automatically got muzzled. We eventually went to another vet.
My question: Which breeds have been the bane of your existence?
Edit: I use "had" because they both perished the exact same time due to a horrible accident.
Honestly a lot of small breeds can be easily stressed out while at the vet, but we do Fear Free handling and that seems to help a lot and I'm not even really concerned about getting bit by a small dog since I learn to read their body language and trust my techs with their restraint.
I personally get very frustrated with large guard dog breeds since too many owners have no idea how to train or handle these dogs. The most common that comes to mind are German Shepherds. When in the hands of a skilled owner these dogs are awesome love bugs, but far too often they are big babies that can be very dangerous when anxious and not trained properly. Same is true for some Great Pyrenees, Cane Corso, Dogo Argentino and Rottweilers. If I get the slightest side eye from these dogs they get a muzzle because they can do serious harm if they feel cornered or scared. With covid a lot of these dogs actually do better since they come in without the owner and don't feel like they also have to protect their owner while also being scared.
What species of cat or dog do you think is the cutest?
Dog: corgi puppy, cat: all of them. Ugly cute: bambino cat
I have a long haired cat that was adopted from a shelter 3 years ago.. so it’s difficult to figure out her age. She’s straight up not eating or drinking. She’s lost half her body weight in the last 6 weeks give or take.
I took her to our vet.. labs show she is anemic (hgb 8.3 hct 26) and has elevated liver enzymes.. he didn’t give me the numbers. WBC is wnl. No masses, lumps, nodules.. noted jaundice in her mouth. She’s low energy, but not outright lethargic. She doesn’t have any overt signs of pain.. purring and sweet still. No loose stools, no vomiting, no skin issues..
He gave her a decent sized fluid Bolus that was absorbed within 4 hours, dexamethasone injection and an Rx for liquid abx. Check back in 2 weeks..
I have given her everything I can think of to get her to eat.. we have 6 cats total.. there are water dishes and dry food scattered all over our house.. along with 6 litter boxes. Wet food of various brands, changed the dry food, soft treats, human type tuna, rotisserie chicken, Turkey, roast beef, ice cream.. (I know, but I am desperate) but she sniffs and turns away from everything.
What’s the prognosis for something like this?? And what else could I tempt her with?
Sounds like she needs further testing (I'd recommend an abdominal ultrasound) and possibly more aggressive intervention like hospitalization and a feeding tube of you're willing to go that far. Many cats can stop eating for a number of reasons, but once they do they can go into hepatic lipidosis as their liver cannot tolerate the amount of fat their body is breaking down. This causes a snowball effect and progress very quickly and lead to death if you do not intervene aggressively or quickly enough.
Thank you so much. I’ll follow up with our vet. It seems like this has gone very quickly.. on Christmas she was climbing on the table to get lobster tails.. and within a month is skin and bones.. with zip for appetite.
I'm so sorry! I hope you get answers and get her eating again. If you vet hasn't prescribed an appetite stimulant I would also ask about that. I usually recommend a transdermal mirtazipine which you can apply to the ear flap and can help make cats hungry enough to eat when they're sick
Transdermal mirtazapine is amazing. Really helped my cat. I have a human friend on regular mirtazapine for depression and he says it makes him gorge on food. Funny that they prescribe it for cats just for the side effect.
yeah my doctor had offered it to me as an antidepressant and I just laughed saying I'd be 300 pounds if I took it.
What is one thing you wish people would know/understand about their pet?
They aren't people as much as we may want them to be. They have their own needs and desires, their own body language and stressors, and they take time, money, and patience to care for properly. They also feed off our emotions. If you are anxious about bringing your dog to the vet you will teach your dog to be anxious about the vet.
What are your thoughts on the industry and overall honesty amongst vets? I’ve been to a few vets for my dogs because I find it incredibly hard to find a trustworthy vet that is knowledgeable. One vet couldn’t diagnose my dog’s allergy correctly and we spent $3000 for 6+ office visits and meds. Another vet made me feel like he was trying to make as much money as possible by pushing unnecessary office visits (one charged $72 for each office visit) and trying to have us buy meds directly from him when they were all almost double the price of Chewy or 1800 pet meds.. They both had 4.7-4.8 stars on Google reviews with a couple hundred reviews so my experience with those vets is all the more confusing.
Many vets cannot compete with prices offered by online pharmacies. We physically cannot buy the quantity needed to get such a cheap price and rely on a percentage markup just to help cover overhead. We also see counterfeits coming from some online pharmacies so it's recommended to get the products directly from a vet for the most reliable/safe product. Some vets are definitely better than others. We're all human, but I don't know many that are intentionally dishonest it trying to swindle clients. Most vets are just trying to offer best practices which may mean frequent rechecks until an issue is solved or lots of initial testing. Honestly I find vets that undercharge and under test are typically old school, jaded, and aren't as up to date with the medicine and misdiagnose issues more frequently. The key is to just be as honest and realistic with your vet about your expectations and finances. We always offer the gold standard plan, but could come up with plan b or plan c that isn't as ideal but could possibly get us to the same outcome for cheaper.
My 7 yr old beagle mix has had a cough for most of his life. Recently, the vet said it was kennel cough and prescribed amoxicillin. 2 to 3 days after the script ends the cough is right back and no other antibiotics have helped it. What else could it be?
You should go for a recheck and likely need chest x-rays. It could be chronic bronchitis/asthma, heart related, or other primary airway disease. If it improved on antibiotics there could also be a chronic more resistant infection that needs stronger antibiotics or a longer course. To determine this a tracheal wash and culture is usually performed..
What's the smallest animal you have consulted?
Mice I think... only 20g. When I was in school we worked on some insects or birds that we're smaller. Got to treat a hummingbird before but not recently
What's the best way of telling a puppy that "you did bad, don't do it again"?
Take away what ever it is they want when they're acting out. No attention, no toys, no treats. Dogs don't really understand the word "no". Some can eventually learn tone of voice, but some dogs like any and all attention, even negative, so if you yell at it for doing something bad you are still rewarding it by giving them attention.
ahhhhh the farm visits at Tufts. Ever get sick from the cows? Our class had many
I was lucky to not get sick. Had a few classmates that got cryptosporidium while on ambulatory and had a rough time
we had a betting pool on who would get sick first. Great school I need to go back and visit eventually
I'm not sure when you were there last, but they completely redid the small animal hospital as I was graduating. I've been wanting to see the new building but will have to wait until post covid
My 1.5 year old standard Aussie was neutered Monday (5 days ago.) The vet nicked an artery during surgery and he was bleeding a lot the night of the surgery and a bit the morning after. He hasn’t bled since, and seems to be feeling and acting like his normal self. Today though, I noticed his scrotal sack looks pretty big, red and swollen. Is this a cause for concern? Is it supposed to look like this? This is my first dog so I have no idea and I’m worried. Can’t go to the vet as it’s the weekend. Thanks so much
If it's red and swollen go to an ER. Most likely this is a scrotal hematoma. Some can be managed medically but others can need another surgery.
Thank you so much for the answer. So it feels soft, it’s not hard or tough.. are scrotal hemotomas usually soft?
Could be a small one or starting to get bigger. I'd worry if it's dark red/purple, hot or painful to touch or hard. Either way not something someone over the internet can diagnose, sorry.
Do you plan to pursue board certification in feline medicine? It’s always great to see more cat specialists (my wife is one).
I've considered it, but I'm not sure the time and money investment will really pay out for me. I might eventually go a different direction (practice ownership) first before doing more specialized work. I actually sometimes dream of working at a cat only hospital, but I like working with exotics as well and I think I would miss seeing dogs eventually. Instead I've just almost exclusively gone to AAFP conferences for my CEs the past few years and most of my clients can tell immediately how comfortable I am handling cats and discussing their medicine compared to some other vets.
I have a bull terrier/pit mix who is fear reactive only outside of the vet (she loses it and starts barking in fear), but the moment she gets inside, she's totally fine (after Trazodone). She's not responsive to toys or treats. She's also fine in our backyard with strangers as well as inside the house. She's on Prozac daily and gets Trazodone before her appointments because she submissive-pees herself otherwise. Is there anything else I can do for her so she's not so stressed out every time she has to see the vet?
Our hospital typically recommend these type of dogs come visit the hospital regularly without any kind of shots or appointment. Just take them for a walk around the hospital or have someone bring them inside for a weight check. In the beginning if she's that anxious you'll need trazodone and possibly even stronger anxiety medications to facilitate the training and desensitization, but the more she goes and nothing bad happens the more she'll adjust. Eventually she should be comfortable enough to take treats while you're there and that should speed up the process. I would call and ask your vet if they would allow out recommend a process like this. They may want to have you give acepromazine or xanax prior to visits if the trazodone and prozac aren't enough
What is the job market like for a vet? Would you recommend it to others? Easy or hard to find a job? Is the pay commensurate with the education expenses? Thanks!
Currently with covid vets are in incredibly high demand, so very easy to find a job! The pay varies a lot by location and the debt is very high. Do NOT go into this job for the money.
How do you feel about raw feeding cats?
It's risky and takes a lot of money and dedication. If you want to feed raw you should consult a nutritionist for a diet plan and expect to get your meat freshly slaughtered from a butcher. Usually rabbit is recommended. You can not buy meat from a grocery store as this is packaged and intended for cooking and increases risk of salmonella and e. Coli exposure as well as parasites. Also there is some debate now as to who not just cook the meat and feed it? Raw does not offer any different benefits as long as you provide all the right parts. To get cats to eat raw you also need a meat grinder and include bone and other parts to be sure it's balanced. Basically if you're not 110% dedicated I don't recommend it.
What is student loan repayment like for the average vet?
I'm in the US and most of my peers graduated with 250+k in loans since each year was about 70k when I attended. Most of us cannot afford to pay monthly on a 20yr or 25yr plan and instead do income based repayment which means your loans grow more in interest before you can pay down the principle and then after 30yr the remaining loan is forgiven but you pay income taxes on that amount. I was lucky to have a full scholarship for undergrad so all of the money my family and I saved for college went toward vet school. I still graduated with over 100k in debt but was able to afford the $1000- $800/mos payments with a normal repayment plan and so I didn't need to worry about IBR
What warnings or encouragements would you give to somebody thinking of going into this field?
There is a lot more to the field then playing with animals. You still are mostly dealing with clients and people all day. You need to really like medicine and science as much or more than animals and you need to be a good communicator. It's a lot of work and a lot of debt for not much pay off compared to the human medical professions. Definitely work in a vet practice and as many other animal related positions as you can before committing financially to vet school. I'm preparation for vet school take as many science courses as you can in undergrad and make your course load challenging. Whatever you face in college will be nothing compared to your workload in vet school so be sure you're ready for the challenge. You also need to learn how to balance your life and take time outside of school for hobbies to be able to succeed mentally as a vet. Too many of my colleagues pour their entire life into the profession and then burn out or become jaded.
How much do you make?
I started out at 70k/yr with over 100k in debt. Now I'm five years out and just went up to 115k/yr and have 60k in debt. I can make a bonus at the end of the year based on the hospital production. I believe I make above average for my area but I work in a very affluent town at a very well run hospital.
oi mate, thanks for your ama, lots of great stuff answers here, keep fingers crossed for your career and kudos for helping our little fluffy brothers. few years ago i'd ask you lots of stuff concerning vet job but i've been with my pets through such hell that i can only say - i admire what you do, my respect to you sir.
well apart from that, i wasn't goin to post anythin here but, hell, i'm actually a bit worried right now so and thing is kind of a fresh , i'll give it a shot - i have 2 wonderfull maine coon fluffs, both of them would say hi but apparently they prefer to stay dormant for most of the
day life - so i'll say it for them - hi
one of them developed kind of a watery-eye thing over the last 24 hrs. there's no color of that fluid, did some quick research and seemslike it's pinkeye. question's here - is there chance it'll go by itself? i already started to think how to reschedule my monday to bring her to vet to check this out but even so, i was wondering, from your experience, how often that watery/crying eye thing appear and what that can mean? she's keeping her normal behavior so far, no issues noticed with that, just that bugging eye uhh.
once again, great stuff, kudos
If she starts to wince with that eye or the discharge gets worse and turns thick yellow/green she should be seen. If its just watery and she is using the eye fine otherwise and not bothered by it you can probably monitor it over the weekend and call your vet on Monday just to see what they recommend. Some cats get mild viral flare-ups that cause eye discharge or just irritate their eye but sticking their face somewhere stupid and it can clear up on its own, but any signs of pain or infection (green/yellow color) should be checked.
Hi I have a rescue cat (formerly feral but now very friendly) and she got recently diagnosed with dermatitis allergies(?) And got prescribed apoquel.
I apply revolution plus on the back of the neck every month for the past 5-6months, but I think my vet still suspects fleas for some reason. Is it possible that she could still have fleas on her body even with flea meds? Have you ever seen indoor cats with fleas even after applying meds on the cat? Thanks!
Flea allergy dermatitis is extremely common in cats, and some cats need VERY aggressive flea prevention to manage it. I have some owners apply revolution every two weeks to start and see if this helps before going to once monthly. That being said if you're using Revolution Plus monthly this is one of the best products on the market for it. If you don't live in an area that is flea heavy (southern US) then you may need further work-up or want to consider consulting a dermatologist if the Apoquel isn't working. Apoquel will treat the symptom of itching/scratching from the allergy but it does not manage the underlying cause and primary immune response as well. It just helps very slightly with the inflammation. Your cat may need stronger medication or a multi-modal approach.
I also suspect they lace temptations with crack. Cats are known drug addicts
Fun AMA! I have loved all my vets throughout my life. I rescued a 12yo cat from the shelter last year, and he throws up like all the time. It used to be daily when I was feeding him tiki cat wet food but the vet said to switch to a bigger brand so I got hill’s wet food but he still throws up probably once a week+. I’ve taken him to two vets who said they saw no problem with this. Should I keep asking? I don’t have a lot of expendable income for monthly vet appointments to be told everything is fine, but it can’t be good for him to throw up like that?? I feel so bad :[
Have you tried a diet for sensitive stomachs? Some cats just vomit a lot, but if its not hairball related then I worry about dental disease, sensitive stomachs, food allergies, GERD etc. If he's not losing weight and still eating well its unlikely a major issue if you're limited financially, but I would consider continuing to try a different diet. Some cats need limited ingredient protein based diets (Purina has a sensitive skin and stomach that is salmon and rice based), or need high fiber diets. Hill's Science Diet GI Biome works great for GERD and colitis. Beyond diet changes though GI issues can be expensive to work up and get to a diagnosis.
Do you think it’s weird that a lot of veterinarians eat their patients?
Nope, for a more detailed response I replied to a similar question about vegans in vet med. For a brutally honest answer, I had some very long exhausting days working farms in vet school, dealing with asshole bulls and cows, and all I craved after was a juicy burger.. Also the formaldehyde smell in anatomy lab makes most people hungry. When you're thinking about lunch while dissecting the intestines of a horse nothing else can really bother you..
Why might cause a cat to chronically lose their voice a bit? Like go hoarse.
This depends on their age, breed, and how often it happens. Some cats vocalize more with age and attention which can cause a hoarse voice. Sometimes it's just change in vocal cords and use as they get older, but other cats can have vocal changes from hyperthyroidism as the thyroid gland sits up against the larynx. Other cats have chronic upper airway disease that can cause some changes around the sinuses and after the voice. Finally some cats just learn to change the sound of their meow based on what you respond more too.
Cool AMA! Thank you for stepping up :) My question would be: how much training did your education provide on nutrition, specifically for cats? And was this education in any way shape or form influenced/sponsored/provided by pet food manufacturers? The reason i ask is because i only recently after an expensive surgery for struvite crystals learned how horribly inappropriate dry food/kibble is compared to the biological needs of a cat. They should eat meat and meat only, but we literally feed them 0% meat. Instead we give them cheap plant based stuff with just enough added essential amino acids for them not to (hopefully) die on the diet. There are plenty vets who warn against dry food, but still so many "normal" vets seem oblivious or comfortable recommending dry food/kibble- when there are no benefits yet so many dangerous downfalls. Dry kibble is literally like trying to modify old worn rubber-tires with just enough nutrition to sustain a human nutritionally... a pointless exercise yet we do it on our cats.
I will also add that so much is changing constantly with our understanding of nutrition in all species. We definitely understand dogs more than cats because they are the easier species to do research on and for a long time were more profitable. Any blog or food company that slams any particular type of food for how bad it is, or acts like there have it all figured out is lying. It's an ever changing learning process and at least the bigger companies are constantly adjusting their diets based on up to date research rather than following marketing trends, this is why most vets still recommend kibble because it is easier for 95% of pet owners and the brands they recommend are still very reliable.
At Tufts we received two semesters of nutrition classes from boarded veterinary nutritionists and would also work with the nutritionists during clinics to come up with plans for both hospitalized patients and long them plans for cases being discharged. I've also focused most of my continuing education on cats and much of that involves cat nutrition. The only "kickback" I've ever received from any pet food company is a free pen/frisbee/useless piece of junk from their booth at a conference, and a 10-20% discount on their brand of food if I buy it for my own pets.
The reason we recommend a lot of big brand diets is because they have the most money to do solid research into their food. It's true cats are obligate carnivores and require a much higher protein diet than kibble can offer, however that does not mean there is no place in their diet for kibble. I typically recommend feeding a majority of canned food and supplement with kibble for dental health and personal ease. The reality is most owners can't or won't feed an ideal home cooked or balanced diets and most of these diets fail anyways according to research because if you don't do it right the cat (or dog) will only way what they want and not get a balanced amount of nutrients there need. I feed my own cats a mix of purina, fancy feast, science diet, and tiki brand items, must cans or purees with a bowl of kibble. I also encourage others to feed cats and dogs in a way that is more natural to them using food toys to make them work and "hunt" for their food.
My mom has a cat that's been messing in the house for years and can't seem to stop. She isn't super old and she doesn't have a bladder infection. My mom always cleans it and has tried various products. Daisy isn't afraid of the dogs at all either. Why would she be messing in the house? Even when my mom had litter trays out she would still do it.
There are a lot of stressors in indoor cats that we aren't great at identifying and can cause bad urinary habits. I would check out The Indoor Cat Initiative by The Ohio State on types of stressors for indoor cats and troubleshooting bad urinary habits. I would also be sure you've talked to your vet about possible causes and if its behavioral consider anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medication. Prior to medicating though be sure the litterbox is in a non-threatening area of the house that has more than one way to enter/exit as cats do not like to use a litterbox if they feel like they can be cornered in their by other animals.
Hi there! My staffy X has just been diagnosed with pannus. She's been given the steroidal drops but they said it was 'significant' and if it doesn't improve within a week, we will have to go to an eye specialist. If you've had any experience with pannus, is it at all reversible? Thank you!
Most often it is a lifelong condition and there are a few different underlying causes from neurologic disease to autoimmune. If you're vet is recommending an ophthalmologist then I would definitely consider that second opinion since they know the most up to date medications and research for these issues. My pug has KCS and has done well with both cyclosporine and tacrolimus drops, but his is autoimmune, not neurologic.
Why are vets generally not vegan? It's a little like MDs eating their patients or using them as clothing..
I don't think that's a very fair comparison. A large part of training with vet med includes agriculture and farm animals. We are also involved in food inspection and safety services. We know what is involved in raising and slaughtering animals for food or clothing. A lot of my classmates were vegetarian or vegan, but plenty came from 4H backgrounds and support farming. Veterinarians as a profession first started with farming and agriculture well before people owned companion animals. I honestly felt better about eating meat once I better understood good farming practices and supporting local farms. I think if you want to reduce your carbon footprint that is a fine reason to be vegetarian/vegan, but if you want to do it because of animal welfare you should learn more about farming practices first and perhaps choose to support the right farms and sources instead.
Grassfed or factory farmed, they are killed all the same. But I appreciate the honesty response, I have veterinarian friends and the discussion is pretty much the same as your response. I just see it differently.
I'll say there are things far worse then a quick and painless death. As someone who does a lot of quality of life management for senior pets and many euthanasias, if an animal bred for any purpose had a good life and a quick death then that's the best we can hope for.
I have a 6-year old polydactyl rescue cat. His front right paw has a whopping 7 toes, with one completely non-functional “toe”/claw. It just sort of hangs off the side of his paw, and doesn’t support any weight. That nail is very deformed, with a large quick. It grows very quickly and if we don’t clip it regularly enough, it will grow into the pad of that toe (which is also very deformed and calloused- almost as hard as the nail itself).
We manage to clip the rest of his nails without much problem, but this one he won’t let us touch. We usually end up holding him down to do it, which is traumatic for all of us. It can also catch on things easily and rip away completely.
My question is: even though we would NEVER declaw our cat, does it make sense to have this single claw removed? Or would that be even worse than the current situation? Thank you!
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