Sometimes veterinary medicine can feel a lot like a magic show. You bring in your pet, the veterinarian examines your pet, your pet goes “behind the door,” and magically comes back better. Thankfully, there is actually quite a bit of science to the “magic” that happens to your pet while they are at the veterinary hospital. In addition to the science of the magic, there is also a lot of love that goes into the magic your veterinarian performs to help your pet get better. Although we cannot share everything in this blog, here are 4 secrets to the magic that happens when your pet sees the veterinarian:
- It’s not just about your pet. In addition to looking, feeling, and examining your pet, a good doctor also checks in with you. How are you feeling about your pet? Do you appear worried or anxious? The doctor can tell a lot about what is going on with a pet, just by watching a parent. Doctors, like ours at PAH, also worry a lot about the pet’s family long after everyone leaves the hospital. The “follow up” phone calls and emails are just as much to see how you are as they are to see how your pet is doing.
- Hard news is hard to hear, and hard to give. Veterinarians are 99% of the time also pet owners, and know what it feels like to hear bad news. They deliver bad news on a regular basis and have trained their bodies and minds to react a certain way, both so they can relay all the needed information to you, and to be there to support your emotional needs. That being said, it is still the worst part of the job for any veterinarian or technician, so we may shed tears with you, hug you, or call you later to see if you are ok.
- Pets feel pain. Studies have shown that pets really do feel pain. As advocates, fellow pet-parents, and medical professionals, we want to be sure your pet is as comfortable as possible. Although we can’t speak for every hospital out there, at PAH we will always put your pet’s comfort as our top priority. We use “less is more” techniques for all pet restraints, all surgical procedures are performed with pain medications and anesthesia, and even our treatment area workstations have padded and textured counters so your pet isn’t resting on cold metal.
- Biggest mistake is waiting too long. This is both a secret and one of the things our doctors want to tell every client. If you are concerned at all about something going on with your pet, call and come right down to the hospital. The veterinarian stands a much better chance of saving your pet’s life if they have time to diagnose and deliver treatment. When in doubt call or come in!
Although there is much, much more to the science and love that goes in to veterinary magic, hopefully this little taste will keep you satisfied until next weekend’s post. In the meantime, if your pet is due for their wellness exam, medical treatments, or you have any concerns don’t hesitate to give us a call!
Every once in a while, we wish we could just bury our heads in our work and pretend the world around us doesn’t exist. The recent death of actor Robin Williams certainly made us want to snuggle up with our furry family and friends and ignore the world outside for a moment. For many people Robin Williams was an icon, mentor, and muse. For us, he is a constant reminder of what a good pet owner and pet advocate can look like.
If you are unfamiliar with Robin Williams, here are some interesting facts about him and pets.
-Robin Williams has a precious pug, Leonard, who was often pictured on his twitter account. Details about their relationship and Leonard’s adoption can be found here.
-He supported rescues and spoke about the many benefits of adoption
-He included cats and dogs in his standup routine.
In a hilarious, all be it not-child appropriate, stand up routine, Williams discusses the pretentious nature of cats and the pee-to-claim mentality of dogs. If you are a fan of William’s comedy routines, we definitely recommend Googling “Robin Williams cats and dogs” to find the video.
-He, like dogs, loved a good chew toy.
When leaving the Ellen show, Williams took a moment to show us both his dancing and chew toy skills.
-His movies and acting with animals
Robin Williams was also no stranger to working with animals.
- What Dreams May Come –William’s character is father to a Dalmatian who he is reunited with in heaven
- Infamous “hot dog” impression (a stretch we know, but who can resist)
- His, now very famous, meeting of Koko the gorilla
- His role in “Old Dogs,” although not about dogs, it does have a great title and famous cast.
- 1990’s childhood classic, Jumanji. and the more recent Night at the Museum
While you plan your weekend activities and think about what to do, we encourage you to spend some time with your pets, watch a great movie, and take a moment to remember Robin Williams.
Loss of a loved one is an inevitable occurrence when you share your life with a pet. Working in a veterinary hospital we see it all too frequently. Each person experiences grief in different ways. Although there are stages of grief common for many people, which emotions and for how long they are experienced may differ. Families who are saying goodbye to a beloved pet may experience many of the same emotions in the coming days, weeks, and months, however every individual is different. Although we normally talk about fun things on our blog, we did want to take a moment to recognize the loss of pets.
5 Common Stages of Grief
We purposefully call these the “common” stages as you may experience them and you may not. You may feel something entirely different, grief is different for everyone.
- Denial and Isolation –You may find yourself unwilling to accept that your pet is gone or find it hard to want to be around others after the loss. Over time, our brains cope with the loss and slowly let in the reality of what has happened.
- Anger –For many people this may be the most surprising emotion. As you begin to accept what has happened you may become angry at your lost pet, family, friends, yourself, or for no reason at all. As odd as it sounds, this is a sign that you are healing and progressing forward.
- Bargaining –It is common to feel helpless and uncertain about what to do in a state of loss. To cope with this our minds will bargain the situation. Thoughts like “if only we had gone to the vet sooner” or making deals with a higher power to try and bring back the lost pet are signs that you have moved into this stage.
- Depression –Depression, like all emotions talked about so far, is a normal response to loss. In this stage, you may find yourself sleeping more or less, eating more or less, withdrawing from social activities, or finding less pleasure in activities you use to enjoy. Talking with someone who understands what you are going through can help you process through these feelings.
- Acceptance –Although we would love to say that “reaching” acceptance means you have made it through and can move on with your life, unfortunately that isn’t always the case. The stage of acceptance is simply that your brain has come to terms with the reality that your pet will no longer be in your life. It is still entirely possible that you will feel past stages or other emotions once you reach this point. For some this is the end, and they will move on, either path is completely normal.
The most important thing to remember is not to put expectations, timeframes, or limits on yourself. Grief will look different for everyone. If at any point you feel that the emotions are not normal or you are unable to control them, seek the assistance of a trained professional or counselor.
Who you can talk to
Questions or general support: For questions regarding euthanasia, terminal illness, quality of life, or what it may be like to lose your pet, you are always welcome to call the hospital. As many of you know, the bonds and relationships we develop with PAH families continue well outside the exam room. Our website also has a host of resources and further information to aid in understanding the loss of a pet.
Further Professional support: If you are a feeling as though you can not control the emotions you are feeling, the loss is greater then you can handle, or you would like to seek assistance from a counselor, contact the San Diego Humane Society’s Pet Loss Support Group. They offer day and evening support groups, and can offer further referrals if requested.