Thursday, January 20, 2011

American Pets Are Fat

American dogs are fat.  90% of the dogs I see in the clinic could stand to lose at least 5 pounds, and practically all the dogs I see have a weight gain over last year.

Like their owners, American dogs eat too much and don't get enough exercise.  And just like their owners, the ultimate results of being chronically overweight can be the same:  Diabetes, joint problems, breathing problems, heart disease.

I noticed Science Diet has a type of "Jenny Craig" program for dogs - pre-packaged portions in a box.

The host of TV's The Biggest Loser has come up with her own weight-loss program for pets, after being informed that her Boston Terrier could stand to slim down.

"Everyone wants to fix the problem without having to change habits," she said.

I agree.

Fat dogs and cats are SO alarmingly common that many people who have pets in the normal weight range come to the clinic with concerns that their pets are too skinny.  Of the 10% of people who have animals with a healthy weight, more than half of them will express concerns that they think their companion isn't eating enough, isn't eating a food with a high enough calorie content, or that something must in some way be wrong with them because they believe their pets are underweight.  What's even more shocking, to me, is the fact that all of them, upon being assured by a veterinarian that their animals are at a great, healthy weight, express disbelief.

It's interesting to me that in a culture where body image issues are so prevalent, and we have more people than ever being diagnosed with eating disorders because they think they are too fat is the same culture that can look an obese pet and see nothing wrong.


The flip side of the problem is the fact that pet food companies try to make a One-Guide-Fits-All feeding table on every formula, and it doesn't work that way.  It causes confusion, which often leads to overfeeding.

I hope the Biggest Loser Pets program raises awareness about pet obesity.  So many companion animals could be living much longer, healthier lives with less money spent on chronic health problems if their average weight was, well, average.  It's really very sad to me when I see someone who has an obese Labrador and they proudly announce, "My dog weighs 140 pounds!"  As though it is something amazing, to be boasted of when really the poor dog is about 70 pounds overweight and can barely move.  The American Bigger is Better myth pervades, and it is costing our pets years off of their lives.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Oldest American Domesticated Dog Was Dinner

Samuel Belknap was looking for food and diet data of ancient peoples when he made an unintended discovery:  The fossilized remains of the New World's oldest domesticated dog to date.

The skull fragment and foot bone of the dog was part of someone's dinner 9,400 years ago in what is now Texas.

The remains lead researchers to believe that the dog was cared for by people before it was butchered for food, meaning that it was domesticated.  Analysis at the University of Oklahoma confirm that the remains are indeed dog, not wolf or fox.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


During my month-long hiatus from the blogging world, I noticed something at work.

We were getting a lot puppies from a place I'd never heard of before.  

As it turns out, a new puppy selling store has opened in the farmer's market down the street.  I'm not sure if they are referring customers to us or if people are just finding the closest veterinarian within a ten-mile radius and we're it, but for some reason a high number of them are coming through the clinic.

The puppies we've seen so far are in good health.

The myriad of breeders the dogs are coming from are all from PA, and mostly from Lancaster.

One year after the legislation meant to shut down the puppy mill capitol of the world, the puppy mill capitol of the world is still producing puppies.  It doesn't logically follow that just because all these dogs are from Lancaster, they must be coming out of puppy mills, or at least not out of puppy mills as most of us who are aware of them think of them.  For all I know, the puppy millers have just downgraded their operations.  One of the other tricks they use is to use family members as owners.  "Oh, I don't own any dogs.  These are my son's dogs.  Those are my daughter's dogs.  Those are my wife's dogs.  Those are my dad's dogs."  And so it goes.  There are loopholes in everything.

What really bothers me is that a lot of people who put their voices against the PA puppy mills have gone silent, thinking that last January's law had solved the problem.

So what now?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I Love Scrubs

One benefit about working in a medical field is the attire.  You get to wear the comfiest clothes ever to work.  I'm a big fan of sweats and PJ pants around the house, but I get uncomfortable even just running to the convenience store in them.  Scrubs have the same comfy quality as PJs, but you don't feel like a slob walking into the bank wearing them.

It's great.

I'm also a big fan of pockets.  I love pocketses.  My one girly guilty pleasure is purses and bags, because I cannot resist a bag of nifty pockets.  I just can't.  I'm a stasher, what can I say.

I have a pair of Dickies scrubs with just a giant cargo-style side pocket on the right side. Love those, except that I feel like I'm reaching halfway down my leg for my pen.  I like scrub tops with the big wide double pockets in the front.  Not a fan of the shoulder pocket.  It's pretty much useless.

Unfortunately I live about spitting distance from a hospital, so there are many stores also within spitting distance where I can indulge my new scrub habit.  I went to one the last week of December with some gift money, fulling intending to buy a pair of Grey's Anatomy scrubs (oh yeah, they have those).  I couldn't find a style I liked in a color that I liked in my size.

I was really disappointed, until I turned around and saw a rack with a neon NEW sign on it.  A brand called Wink was hanging on them.  I went over to inspect them, and I ended up buying a pair.  It was the pockets that did it, I'm not gonna lie.  The Wink Origins Charlie style top has the big double lower pockets I like, with an outside pen loop AND a mesh pocket within one of the pockets.  Guess what that's for.  If you guessed dog treats, you're right!  The Romeo style pant has six pockets - a cargo style on the leg and regular hip pockets like a regular pair of jeans.  And inside the cargo pocket is ANOTHER mesh pocket.  So I have options on where I'm stashing treats.  I can put moist treats in my cargo pocket for small dogs and larger biscuits in my shirt mesh pocket for larger dogs.  They're the best things ever.  Seriously.  

I just thought I'd let you guys know, because I know that among you, there are trainers.  Casual trainers of only pet pups, slightly more serious trainers of foster and rescue dogs, and possibly a few professional trainers, too.  Those pockets are seriously handy.  Really.  Think about it:  Treats in the mesh pockets, poo pick-up bags in one of the outer pockets, cell phone and you're ready for a really productive walk.  Without having a silly bag hanging off of your waist that you never use the drawstring on anyway because the clip falls off when you try to pull it.  I know.  I've used them.  They're dumb, although in theory they sound good.

So even if you DON'T work in a medical setting, consider some scrubs.  They're cheap (compared to most clothes) and they're great for all sorts of things.  I clean the house in the ones I don't use for work anymore.

Oh, and randomness:  I discovered roundworm eggs on a fecal flotation today by myself.  This is a first.  Usually the slides have nothing exciting on them and the ones I don't look at have all the good stuff.  This time I pulled the slide, and found the good stuff.  Eureka!  

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Shibas With Cones

Last week, I had the most horrible sinus infection.  I'm not entirely sure it has gone away, but it couldn't possibly get any worse than last week without my face exploding.  I was constantly torn between taking this generic sinus decongestant/pain reliever that makes me really spacey, or just trying to tough it out at work.  I'm still not sure which was worse, putting all of my concentration into remembering to think, or putting all of my concentration into pretending the pressure and pain behind my cheekbones wasn't threatening to lay me out.

I forget things at work enough as it is, but the day I took the generic green sinus pills, at one point Dr. W asked me why I was staring at a fecal flotation that was running and I honestly couldn't tell her.  I wasn't thinking about anything at all. My mind was just blank.  I was literally in the middle of talking to her about something and then stopped to stare at this poo test on the counter and just went away.  It's not like this stuff has codeine in it or anything.  It's 325 mg of acetaminophen and 5 mg of phenylephrine HCl.  I don't understand why it does that to me, but there you have it.

I would have gotten back to blogging last week if it hadn't been for said sinus infection.

Wednesday was the worst day.  I'm thinking it had something to do with the barometric pressure and the snowstorms we've had blowing through my area recently.  Whatever the reason, Wednesday really popped me good.  I was much better Thursday, and then Friday it started back up again with a vengeance.

By Friday afternoon, I was REALLY glad to be getting off of work and looking forward to getting everyone home, Kitsune walked and fed, and begging my SO to let me pass out again, like he angelically let me do Wednesday.

I got Kitsune out for his late afternoon/early evening poop walk.  He seemed to be straining a little bit, and then squealed as he passed the feces.  Then he snapped his head around to inspect his back end as if it had bitten him or something.  When he turned so that his rear was facing me, I noticed blood on his butt.


On Sunday, I had expressed his anal glands, to my delight.  (Hey, it's the first time I've ever done it.  I knew the theory of it, I'd just never actually done it before.  I was all kinds of proud of myself.)  I saw him dragging his butt on the ground and knew it had to be done, but I also knew that we had no openings at work the coming week and I wasn't about to drag him over to the specialty center just to have someone express his anal glands for me.  It was me or nothing.

Now, I've never had a dog that needed anal glands to be expressed.  Kitsune is my first.  (He would be.)  Really only the left side was full, the right was fine.

After the deed had been done, he didn't go flop bott anymore, but apparently the episode had widened his licking horizons.  Previously, he had given himself small lick granulomas on the outside of one of his back paws, and the inside of both front paws.

Friday he must have spent all day trying to give himself one on his butt, because after I'd called work and apologized profusely for interrupting their break, explained the situation, and was told to come in, Dr. W stuck her fingers up my dog's butt and declared that neither glands were abscessed, impacted, or had weird drainage.  His butt was just raw.  We were sent home with some steroidal ointment and a cone to prevent unwanted attentions to the area.

After our experiences with the Gentle Leader, I wasn't looking forward to putting an e-collar on Kitsune.  I anticipated a wrestling match to get it on, and then hours of Kitsune trying (and probably sometimes succeeding) in removing it.  Instead, I got this:

After that, Kitsune pretty much gave up on the idea of getting the cone off, and went back into my bedroom to lay in a pile of my dirty laundry and sulk.  While sulking, he wouldn't even pick his head up to look at me when I spoke to him.  He'd glance at me, but acted as though he'd decided to just lay down and die.  After about two hours of that, he couldn't take it anymore and got up.  He seemed to decide to just act like the cone wasn't there, which was interesting as he went crashing and bashing through the house.

By Sunday afternoon I'd decided that the crashing and bashing was deliberate.  Kitsune seemed to be taking every available opportunity to smash the ends of the cone into things.  A sneaking suspicion that he's smart enough to know that with enough smashing eventually it will break crossed my mind.

This evening, I caught him licking his butt.  With the e-collar on, he had figured out how to lick his butt.  Oh, the determination of Shibas.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Back From Christmas Break

So, pretty much as soon as my SO got out of classes for winter break, I found myself with no time to blog.  At all.  One of our best friend's birthday is in December.  My SO's stepfather's birthday is in December.  My dad's birthday is in December.  Our son's birthday is five days before Christmas.  It's a crazy month for us.

So I apologize in advance for the blogless month of December.  Assuming this blog is around next year, you can pretty much expect the same.  I certainly don't have time to sit down and type anything, and I'm not expecting anyone else to take time out of their holidays to sit and read my ramblings.  We'll just take a break and see ya next year.

I feel like I should have given everyone a heads up, though.  Sorry 'bout that.

Everyone that I speak to recently has one question foremost on their minds:  How do you like your new job?

I like my new job.

I'm not so sure it likes me back.

I'm not even sure I can begin to explain why that is.

I feel like I mess up so much I make more work for my co-workers, and that it irritates them.

I hate being That Guy.

I feel like there's a million things to remember at once, and I can only seem to ever remember two or three of them at a time.  And that might be okay, if it were the same two or three things consistently that I remember.  But it's not.  Ever.

I always seem to say or do the wrong thing.  Sometimes I do the right thing at the wrong time.  Which I guess makes it the wrong thing anyway.

Poor Dr. W.  I know I drive her absolutely nuts.

For 99% of my working career I've worked in the pet industry in some capacity.  I was a manager in a pet supply store that didn't sell animals for many years before I worked in one that did.  For most of that time, people were telling me I should get a Real Job.  Forget the fact that I was the youngest manager at the pet supply store.  That's fine, but when are you going to get a Real Job?  People always followed that up with something in the veterinary field.  "You'd be so good at that!"

It turns out that in reality, I'm not that good at it at all.

So not only do I just suck at my job, which sucks in general because it has such a huge impact on your life, but I also feel like I'm disappointing a lot of people who wanted me to do this.

I'm not giving up yet, I'm just sayin'.  I may not be the right person for this job.