Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Partners in Pet Care

Partnering with
Professionals in Caring For Your Ill Pet
Author, Jan Casey

“When it rains, it
pours.” I don’t know to whom to attribute that quote, but I’m pretty sure it
was someone who dealt with pets in some manner. Several weeks ago I had a
series of discussions with dog owners I highly respect regarding serious health
problems just discovered in their pets. Descriptions of the different issues
were followed by the same question: “ do you know of any resources where I can
learn more?” At the same time, my own three legged wonder mix, Dodi, was
diagnosed with hypothyroidism. I started researching every article I could find
on the topic. Why do we do this? We all have veterinarians we love and trust.
Why don’t we just sit back and accept what we are told?

There are many people
who place all trust in their chosen professionals. These people don’t ask
questions, accept what is told to them even if they don’t understand, and
follow instructions without question. Maybe professionals like to have this
kind of client as they certainly must be easier to deal with. What about the
other kind of owners, the ones who, like me, respect and trust our vets, but
still ask questions, still seek more information, still look for more or
different answers? Are we thorns in our vets’ sides? Maybe, but I like to think
our vets understand our need to be partners in the care of our pets.

What are we looking for?
Perhaps we want to know what caused the problem, was it something we could have
prevented? Our research can lead us to theories, but we’ll probably never have
definitive answers for our individual cases. Genetics pops up as a component in
many health problems. Our attempts to produce “the perfect dog,” seem to have
increased their health problems. Canine health registries have been developed
to certify our dogs are free of orthopedic problems, heart problems, eye
problems, yet we see an increasing number of breeds developing cancer at
earlier ages or born with breathing problems that are life threatening. In
recognition of the problems being created by man, the British Kennel Club is
announcing reforms: (

Perhaps genetics had
little to do with the problems. Could the cause be environmental? Not all of
our dogs are purebred, but they all face challenges in the quality of their
environment. We start researching toxins our dogs encounter. The EPA is now
reviewing all spot-on flea and tick meds:
. What about the sprays we use on our yards for weed and pest eradication (
)? How about the additives put on kibble to make it more appealing in taste
(remember the food recall of 2007? It is still happening:
)? What about over-vaccination? Vaccines are highly potent and linked to
serious, adverse side effects. Yet, many pets are still subjected to yearly
vaccinations though every three years is legal and recommended by the
American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital
Association, the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, the
World Small Animal Veterinary Medical Association, and more (
Wouldn’t we all get yearly MMR vaccinations if the yearly vaccine made us more

We want to know more
than just what caused the problem. We also want to know what we can do to help
our pets. We trust our vets have been well-trained in treating a wide range of
problems in dogs using conventional medicine. However, complimentary and
alternative medicines and treatment modes are becoming more accepted by the
public and we want to know what else might be available using non-conventional
methods. Unless your vet is a holistic vet, alternatives to conventional care
will be left to you to research. Whole Dog Journal has excellent
articles covering a wide range of treatments - both conventional and
alternative - for many ailments. A sample of articles on cancer care can be
found at

We know that the food we
put into our bodies affects our health and dietary changes are sometimes
necessary when we become ill. The same is true for our pets, so we seek
information as to how to feed them to optimize their health. There is an
overwhelming amount of information out there. Investigate as many viewpoints as
possible. One of the most comprehensive sites for a variety of information is
. A more concise site is
. carries a good selection of books that address nutrition for
dogs. It may be easier to contact a specialist. Just as a dietician can help
design a meal plan to help a human with health issues, a canine nutritionist
may save you hours of research and help you avoid costly mistakes. The
University of Tennessee School of Veterinary Medicine recently offered a public
seminar on animal nutrition by Dr. Bartges, hopefully more will follow.

Partnering in the care
of your pet may seem like a foreign concept to some and an unquestionable
necessity to others. Those of us in the second group are thankful to the vets
who accept and appreciate our need to be involved, to address our fears and
concerns in a constructive manner. Luckily, the news was good for most of the
dogs involved in the health issues mentioned earlier in this article. The owners
still continue their research, but it gives us peace of mind. After all, is it
really possible to know too much about our pets’ health?

Jan Casey is a
reward-based trainer in Florida
at Courteous Canine, Inc.
and owner of Smiles and Wags Pet Services Mrs.
Casey is a member of the Association of Animal
Behavior Professionals.
Casey is a columnist for the Cookeville,
Herald-Citizen Pet
and Kid's Korner .
This column was originally written for the Herald-Citizen

My family lost Brave to cancer in Jan 2010.

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