Thursday, April 12, 2018

Stress and Anxiety: How do you know when your Dog is Stressed?

We all know about daily stress and anxiety.  We feel it at work, in traffic, at home and even when we surf our social media accounts. What about our dogs?  Do they feel our stress and how do we know when they have their own stresses?   How do we know when they are feeling anxiety and what if anything can we do about it?

Much of what we notice as stress in a dog is expressed in their body language.  When they feel fearful of an unusual situation they express their stress to us and other dogs with their body.  Stressed dogs may take a stiff posture and a wide-eyed look.  They will nervously scan the surrounding area for an escape route or may just turn their head and avoid eye contact altogether.  They will often drop their head, blink excessively, yawn, press their ears back close to their head, and may pull their lips back into a tight lipped “smile”.  This can happen just before a growl or snap.  They will have a tendency to retreat behind their owner (or safe person) if they have that option, or may growl, wag the tail excessively, bark or charge if they feel very threatened or challenged.  

Like us, dogs can also experience physiological symptoms of stress such as panting, trembling and sweaty paws. (I know, we have sweaty hands not paws)  They can also experience loss of bowel control, diarrhea or uncontrolled urination.  If the stress or anxiety bleeds over to their home life, they can lose interest in food, become very clingy or even show destructive behaviors to themselves (licking and chewing their feet or legs) or to objects around the house (chewing or digging).

In order to recognize your dog’s stress or anxiety, you must observe them when they are relaxed and calm.  Get to know their relaxed eyes and ears and their normal behavior when they feel comfortable.  When early signs of stress or anxiety emerge try to remove the stressful stimulus if possible or distract the dog with his/her favorite treats.   Dogs can be trained to accept stressful things, but it has to be done in a gradual, kind fashion using only positive reinforcement.  Clicker training, exercise, consistent routines, healthy diet, and above all, early socialization with other pets, children, strange places and the veterinary hospital will provide a strong base for a dogs future stress levels.  If you missed the socialization window when your dog was a puppy, generally thought to be between 4 and 14 weeks of age, they can still learn to remain calm in stressful situations.  Work with professionals to get the proper training and exposure in a kind gradual manner and be sure that they are not pushed beyond their ability to keep cool. 

Be sure to ask for help from your veterinary team or a veterinarian board certified in behavior medicine before your dog’s anxiety becomes too severe.  There are many things that can be done, to help you and your pet live a low stress, life.  

Monday, July 10, 2017

Put down the cell phone and pick up a leash - Nature calls

I just returned home from a long beautiful walk through Stoney Creek Metro Park with my dog and my adult son.  We have been taking these walks regularly since the weather has improved this summer and they have become some of the best times I have spent with each of them.  My dog enjoys the wide open spaces to wander (on leash of course) and smell what nature has to offer,  and my son and I can talk without having us look at that little flat screened device that we spend so much of our free time staring into.  We actually have conversation that we probably would not have if we were just walking our neighborhood or hanging out at home.  We are able to clear our heads and watch the sun set as we walk the nature trails.

 It occurred to me tonight as we were returning home that everyone could, and should consider visiting the numerous metro parks and nature trails that are available to us in the Metro Detroit area.   It would be of great benefit for our dogs in a physical sense since they need regular physical activity to keep them fit and healthy;  adding years to their lives.  It would also help us humans remain in good physical, mental and relational health and spend less time with our cell phones in our faces. We would enjoy the company of a family member, friend or neighbor.  If you don’t have anyone available to walk with you, just enjoy your dog and your thoughts and say hello to the other trail walkers that pass as you improve your own health.   

Think about setting aside the cell phones and enjoy your time with your pet and family in the parks.  

I have listed some of the many parks that are available to us in this area and I would love it if you would take the time to add a comment below.  Tell me where you walk with your dog and family members, and whether you have any tips for others as they walk and enjoy nature. 

Happy, Healthy walking!

Stoney Creek Metro Park
Red Oaks Nature Center
Licht Park
Shaw Park
Arthur Miller Park
Clinton River Park
Dodge Park
Stage Nature Center 
Halmich Park

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Why do I have to wait, I made an appointment this morning?

Sitting in the reception area and waiting is often boring, minutes seem like hours as you watch people go in and out of that front door.  The waiting can get painful if the chairs are uncomfortable.   What are they doing?  Eating lunch, texting their friends, cruising Facebook, getting a tan??

I have asked myself this question many times as I sit in the waiting room of my dentist's or doctor's office for what seems like hours with no explanation from anyone as to what is going on “in the back”.  What is taking so long?? These appointments are usually made weeks or months in advance.  Why am I waiting?

I heard a client say this exact thing yesterday as I was hustling around the office trying to keep my head above water with the volume of patients, clients, paperwork, phone calls and emergencies.  It made me think that we should communicate better and explain to everyone what can, and is, going on behind the scenes.  As far as they know we are just sitting around drinking coffee and eating donuts.

I get it.  You don't like to wait and neither do I.  Here is what is sometimes going on behind the scenes at a busy veterinary hospital that could cause you to have to wait. 

We book our clients in blocks of 20, 40 or 60 minutes depending on the issue that they are having.  Most of our clients call far in advance, but many call the same day if the pet has an emergent issue.  Often times our receptionists are forced to ‘squeeze’ patients into an already crammed schedule in order to get the suffering pet some help and take care of our loyal clients.  The appointments are often made to adjust to a client's work schedule and availability. 

When the clients and patients get into the office they may need tests run or treatments performed, so we try to get the blood work running or cytology going or x-rays taken while you wait.  Unlike human doctors offices, we run many of our own blood tests, and take the radiographs ourselves.  Sometimes the technicians have several pets waiting for x-rays at the same time, so they have to take them in the order in which they came.  Also, the technicians have their own appointments to see and they have to get to them in between all the tasks that they are performing for the doctors.  The doctors have phone calls to make and records to write up, which are often done after hours. We don’t want to make excuses for having you wait more than a reasonable amount of time, but it helps to understand the inner workings of the veterinary hospital to help understand why we are sometimes delayed.

I hope that you never have to wait for more than 5-10 minutes the next time you have an appointment, but if you are waiting a bit longer than expected, ask the receptionist to give you a heads up as to what is going on, and please know that we are not sitting around with our feet up.  We really are trying to do our best work for you and your pets.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Smelly Dog, Smelly Cat - What is happening in your mouth?

Have you ever looked in your pet’s mouth?  No, Really.  Have you?  Perhaps you have seen yellow or brown stains - tartar built up along the gum line. Maybe you have also seen swollen gums or experienced halitosis.  (Yes, smelly doggy or kitty breath).  The swelling and halitosis are signs of periodontal disease and possible infection.  Periodontal disease often causes pain for your pet but they rarely show any symptoms because they are so brave and stoic.  

Maybe your pet is in pain right now.

If you never brushed or flossed your teeth they would be pretty gross right?  Think about how often you brush (let alone -  floss) your pet’s teeth.   Now think about what their mouth must feel like.................. YUCK!

February is the month that veterinarians set aside to educate and inform people about pet’s dental health. Warren Woods Veterinary Hospital is always looking out for your pet’s overall health and longevity.  Proper dental care has been proven to add years to their lives.  Our veterinarians examine your pet's mouth every time they visit and make proper recommendations about professional cleaning and home care.   Some pets will require professional dental cleaning before starting on a home care routine. Proper brushing techniques can be taught by our technicians and/or dental cleaning treats like OraVet Chews can be added to keep a healthy mouth from developing disease. 

Wednesdays in February we will have programs on our Facebook page featuring our Veterinary Technician Dental Specialist, Casey giving a video lessons about oral health examination, dental radiography and professional dental cleaning for your pet.  We will also be adding information on periodontal disease to our Facebook page and website.  Our YouTube channel even has a video of an actual dental procedure featuring my personal dog, Trent.  (he is super cute by the way)

Take a peek in your dog or cat's mouth today then call Warren Woods Veterinary Hospital for a professional oral exam.  

Let's get rid of that smelly breath forever. 

I have listed the links to our Facebook page and YouTube Channel here so you can easily find them:

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

When a patient dies - do people know?

We had a very emotional week at Warren Woods Veterinary Hospital.  Multiple difficult cases, emergencies and the unfortunate death of an employee's pet leaves us all asking why?  Why do we do this job that is so difficult that we often spend our evenings sleepless with worry.  Sleepless about a sick patient, or what we could have done differently to save a beloved pet.

One incident that occurred this week happened during a small mammal surgery, when one of my most experienced technicians scheduled her pet rat for a routine surgical procedure. Together with one of our excellent doctors, they performed the routine procedure that went very well until the rat was recovering from the anesthesia.  For no apparent reason he suddenly arrested.  They worked and worked to try to get him back but they were unsuccessful.   The technician and doctor were distraught.   How could this happen so fast and why?    

When I heard what had happened,  I went to console and hug my technician who then looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, "Do people know how hard this is on us?   Do they know that we go home and cry and often lose sleep over their pets?"  "You should write a blog about this so people can know."

Working in a busy small animal, avian and exotic practice sets us up for extra difficulty.  Exotic pets are much more sensitive to disease, anesthesia, malnutrition and other health conditions.  Some times the pets get to us when it is too late for us to save them.  When we lose a pet their owners can become angry as they go through the stages of grief and lash out at those of us that are there to try to help them.  This all leads to increased stress that can ultimately lead to depression and burn out.

We want our clients to know that we really do care about all of the patients and even though we look happy when you bring us your healthy pet, we may have just been through something very upsetting and difficult.  We do love our jobs,  and have our fair share of fun puppies and kittens to cheer us up, but sometimes we may just really need a hug.

So please treat your veterinarian, veterinary technician, animal assistant and receptionist with care and love, because they suffer right along with you when things are going badly and they work long hard hours to be there for you and your pet in your time of need.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Click on Detroit 4 the Best - Going for our Third win!

It is here again!  WDIV's Click on Detroit, 4 The Best contest.

Each summer the Detroit TV station WDIV holds their "4 The Best, Click on Detroit" contest to choose the best, or most popular businesses in the greater Detroit area.  Last year Warren Woods Veterinary Hospital worked hard to accumulate votes asking clients and friends to vote for us in the contest. Warren Woods Veterinary Hospital was happy to be awarded FIRST place in the "Veterinarians" category which included over 100 veterinary hospitals in the metro Detroit area. This was our second, first place finish!

The worst thing about winning in 2014 and 2015 is the pressure to try to hold on to that first place spot for this summer.  We asked all of our wonderful clients to vote, comment and vote again, over and over all summer long.  We hope that you are all up for this year's challenge as we try to pull off a third win.

Thanks to all of our wonderful clients, friends and Warren Woods Veterinary Hospital team members for making Warren Woods Veterinary Hospital one of the best in Detroit.  Also, thank you to WDIV for recognizing small business in the Detroit area with this contest.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Is God in our Exam Rooms?

The veterinary profession has unique responsibility, pressure and power built into it,  that few other professions do.  We perform euthanasia.  Frequently, as a normal part of our day.   The pressure in these situations from the initial discussion about euthanasia, to the pet's ultimate passing and the grief that follows;  we endure it from beginning to end.  We console, council, comfort and remember that beloved pet with our clients as they proceed through their grief. We then have to keep it together enough to carry on with the rest of our day.  Almost immediately afterward we proceed to the next appointment and carry on as usual.   This can be very difficult for veterinarians and it happens almost every day in our hospitals.

This got me to thinking one day about whether God is present in the exam room when our pets pass away.  As someone that has been in hundreds of these final exam room visits, I can say that I think God is often there.  I have had situations that seemed impossible to handle with overwhelming grief and even anger of clients that are saying goodbye to a best friend and sometimes child substitute.  Times when I was searching for just the right thing to ask or say to ease someones mind and many times the words come, or the clients feel some calm and relief just being there with the pet.  Not that we hear any audible voices or anything supernatural.  It is just a feeling of pure love between a pet and its owner that reminds me of God's love, non verbal and non judgmental.  I have even had the honor of being asked to pray with clients over their pet at those last moments.  Being involved in something so personal always feels a little intrusive, but in a way is glorious, because I know that others do not get to do this in their work lives.

Whether you believe God is in our exam room or you don't,  I can say that I feel truly blessed to work doing something that has deep meaning and the power to help people navigate one of life's most difficult moments.