Posts Tagged ‘veterinary office visit’

Advocacy Aids

Monday, May 16th, 2011
 

Photo © Susannah Kay

I use the term Advocacy Aids to describe a set of health forms I’ve created to help you excel as your pet’s medical advocate. Where can you find them?  It’s easy.  Simply go to www.speakingforspot.com and look for “Resources” in the red horizontal main menu.  The first item in the Resources pull down menu is Advocacy Aids.  I invite you to download, print, copy, and use them to your heart’s content.  Feel free to share with others as well.  By the way, while you’re there  please check out my new website! 

The Advocacy Aids include: 

Health History Form:  This form provides an easy way to keep track of your pet’s vaccinations, test results, prior medical issues, surgical procedures, and adverse reactions to medications or vaccinations. 

Current Medications:  List all of your pet’s current medications (including supplements, flea and tick control products, and heartworm preventive).  Be sure to bring along a copy to every hospital visit. Your vet will be profoundly grateful and this paperwork will help you both catch any prescription errors. 

Current Health Issues:  This form helps keep track of all of your pet’s current medical issues.  It’s helpful to maintain a written list so none of the issues will be overlooked or forgotten. 

Medication and Treatment Schedule:  This template is wonderfully helpful if your pet requires medications/treatments multiple times daily and/or at different times of day.  I’ve provided you with the same template we use when treating animals in my hospital.  On my website you will find a sample template form that I’ve filled out (so you can see how it works) as well as a blank template for your use. 

Emergency Contact Information:  You will want to have ready access to this completed form in order to avoid spending time tracking down necessary information while in the midst of an emergency. Be sure to provide a copy to the person caring for your pets when you are away. 

Contingency Plan: Use this form when you are going out of town and may not be one hundred percent reachable.  The form lets your veterinarian know which trusted person you’ve designated to make medical decisions about your pet should you not be reachable.  Distribute a signed copy to your pet-sitter/boarding facility and your veterinarian. 

Veterinary Office Visit:  This form will help you keep track of the purpose of your visit as well as important questions to ask your veterinarian. 

For those of you with pets other than dogs, please forgive me as many of the forms contain the word, “dog”.  Feel free to cross this word out and substitute in any species you like!  After you’ve had a look at the Advocacy Aids, please let me know which ones you like and think you will use.  If you can think of other Advocacy Aids, please don’t be shy.  I would love to hear your ideas. 

Best wishes for good health, 

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of  Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook 

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

A Truly Hands-On Physical Examination

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Have you ever gone to the doctor and realized after the visit that those healing hands never actually touched your body? C’mon now, that’s not okay!  Nor is it okay for your veterinarian to skimp when it comes to examining your pet.  In veterinary school, we are taught to perform a thorough physical examination on each and every patient.  It would be a travesty to miss a new heart murmur or enlarged lymph node on a patient that presented for limping.  The sooner abnormalities are detected the more likely we are to gain an upper hand.

 

Listed below are the elements of a thorough physical examination for your dog or cat.  Bear in mind, it takes no more than a minute or two for a seasoned vet to competently complete the following (by the way, it helps if you are not talking when the stethoscope is being used!):

  • Assessment of overall alertness and appearance
  • Evaluation of gait
  • Evaluation of the skin and haircoat
  • Measurement of body weight, temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, and capillary refill time (the time it takes for the gum line to become pink after it has been blanched by finger pressure)
  • Examination of the eyes, ears, nose, and oral cavity
  • Palpation of lymph nodes
  • Palpation of the thyroid gland (specific for cats)
  • Auscultation of the heart and lungs (listening with a stethoscope) on both sides of the chest
  • Palpation of the abdomen
  • Rectal examination (specific for dogs that are middle aged and older)

Vets perform physical exams differently in terms of order of events.  No matter in the least as long as everything is included. And please remember, such thorough exams are not to be reserved for only the annual office visit. If your kitty is vomiting or your dog has an ear infection, you should expect the whole shebang (although your dog or cat would probably prefer a mini-exam).

Is your veterinarian “hands-on” and doing one heck of a thorough job when it comes to the physical exam?  Please share your experiences.

Best wishes for good health,  

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook  

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

Making Veterinary Hospital Visits Less Stressful for Your Dog

Friday, April 30th, 2010

There’s no question that trips to the veterinary hospital have the potential to wreak havoc on a dog’s psyche and bring out the worst in their behavior.  Normally outgoing dogs may become timid, and confident dogs may become fearful. A dog that would never growl or bite in their home environment may bare his teeth when being handled by strangers in the veterinary hospital setting.  Such behavioral changes are typically stress or fear induced. By doing some advance work with your dog, you can help create positive rather than negative behavioral responses to veterinary hospital visits. This becomes a win-win situation in that the experience will be less stressful for you and your dog and there will be a greater likelihood of successfully performing diagnostic tests and providing therapy without the need for sedation or anesthesia.

 

I asked Chicago based professional dog trainer and behavior specialist Jennifer Hack of Dynamic Dogs, Inc. (www.DynamicDogsChicago.com) to provide some guidance for making veterinary hospital visits as stress-free as possible. Here is her sage advice:

On the way to the vet

Before you leave the house, grab a handful of special favorite treats and a regular leash  (extendable leashes are not good for control).  Dogs who get into the car expecting a negative outcome will often exhibit immediate anxiety.  To prevent this, socialize your dog often and take your dog to fun destinations as well, and he will be much less anxious than if his only car rides take him to the vet.  Your attitude will also make a huge difference- the more confident and calm you are, the safer your dog will feel. Additionally, take your dog along for a “just for fun visit” when you pick up food, products, or prescriptions.  Do such practice runs at a time when the staff can greet your dog and give him treats.

The waiting room

If your dog is anxious (whining, barking, etc.), do not reinforce the behavior by attempting to comfort him or pet him.  Instead, find something constructive for your dog to do that will earn your praise.  Rather than sit and let the anxiety build, you may want to do some obedience work with your dog around the room- you only need a small area.  It may be difficult to overcome the distractions, but it’s good practice.  Teach your dog a “look” command.  Start by holding a treat next to your face and say, “look.”  After three seconds of eye contact mark the behavior by saying “Yes!” and give the treat.  Build up the amount of time longer and longer before you reward, and eventually you can phase out the lure and your dog will be focusing on your face.

Remember courtesy to others in the waiting room.  Not everyone’s dog is well socialized with other dogs or humans, and they may be ill, so always be aware of what your dog is doing and do not allow them to approach, sniff, or invade the space of other dogs or cats.  When seated, keep your dog directly in front of on a down-stay by your feet.

Behaving for the exam

Accepting handling and examination is essential for every dog, from puppies to adults.  From a young age, condition your dog to accept handling from head to toe, and make it fun.  Start by doing the handling yourself, and then if possible, have several other people practice handling your dog gently as a vet would.  You can also practice with your dog on a table, doing the following:

-Mouth: When routinely praising and petting your dog, don’t avoid their mouth.  Touch their muzzle often and gently rub their gums.

-Ears: Gently massage the base of the ears and practice looking inside.

-Front Paws:  Start by holding your dog’s paw and then praising and rewarding with a treat. Then touch each nail individually and feel between the toes.  To keep your dog from pulling away, have him “sit” and “stay” first.

-Abdomen: With your dog in a standing position at your left side or on a table, massage your dogs rib cage and his abdomen and hips, lifting up each rear leg and also touching the rear paws. 

Teach your dog the command, “over.” In addition to all the basic obedience commands, teaching your dog “over”, to lie down on his or her side, is useful for exams.  Start this when your dog is feeling relaxed and go at your own pace.  From a down position, slowly roll your dog over and praise and reward. 

Uncomfortable procedures

Often while your veterinarian is examining your dog, you may be holding your dog’s head.  Keep one hand on the collar holding your dog steady, and one hand on the neck.  Talk to your dog and give hearty praise in order to distract him while he is receiving a shot or having his temperature taken.  The more confident and calm you feel, the more comfortable your dog will feel.

To muzzle or not to muzzle?

A muzzle is a misunderstood tool.  There is a stigma that muzzles are only for incorrigible dogs, or that wearing a muzzle is somehow traumatic to a dog.  In reality, we must admit the fact that any dog, no matter how socialized or nice, has the physical capability to bite, especially when feeling frightened, vulnerable, or in pain.  You want to take every opportunity to prevent bites- better safe than sorry!  If you have any reason to believe your dog may bite during a veterinary exam, based on previous history or body language, request that your dog wear a muzzle.  I prefer basket-style muzzles because they allow the dog to open their mouth, pant, and feel more comfortable, rather than the cloth-style that holds the mouth closed.  You can condition your dog to wearing a muzzle at home for short periods of time; that way he won’t view it as a negative occurrence.  If you feel your dog may have an aggression issue, find a professional trainer who is also a behavior specialist.

If you would like to contact Jennifer Hack, you may email her at Jennifer@dynamicdogschicago.com.

Best wishes to you and your four-legged family members for abundant good health, 

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association 2009 Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, 2009 Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, 2009 Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life

Website: http://www.speakingforspot.com
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook 

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller.

Reviews of Speaking for Spot

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

Written reviews of Speaking for Spot have recently been published in The Cavalier Wag, the newsletter of the Bay Area Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, The Berner Beat, the newsletter of the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Northern California, Yodels, the monthly newsletter of the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Southeast Wisconsin, and The Alpenhorn, the official monthly publication of the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America.

The BARK magazine included an excerpt from Chapter 4 of Speaking for Spot on 10 tried-and-true secrets to making every visit to your dog’s veterinarian exceptional for you and the entire office staff.  Claudia Kawczynska and her staff will feature a full review of the book in the upcoming December 2008 issue of The BARK.