Posts Tagged ‘dogs’

Advocacy Aids

May 16, 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
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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.

Medical Alert for Those Caring for a Diabetic Dog or Cat

November 7, 2009

If your four-legged family member is diabetic and the insulin product you are administering is Vetsulin®, please pay close attention.  The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine is alerting veterinarians that problems with this product are being reported. Apparently, as Vetsulin® sits in storage, the crystalline zinc crystal component (which is supposed to comprise 70% of the solution; the remaining 30% is the insulin) can increase above 70%.  This leads to a slower onset of action of the insulin and, potentially a longer duration of action both of which can result in unpredictable fluctuations in blood glucose values (values that are too high or too low). 

The manufacturer of Vetsulin®, Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health is unable to assure the FDA that each batch of their product is stable.  This company, along with the FDA have requested that veterinarians closely monitor their patients receiving Vetsulin®.  

There is absolutely no need to panic.  However, if your dog or cat is receiving this product, I strongly encourage you to discuss the following with your veterinarian: 

  1. Symptoms to be watching for that might indicate your pet’s blood glucose value is too high or too low
  2. Monitoring of blood glucose values
  3. Whether or not your pet should be transitioned to a different brand of insulin 

At the time of this writing, this problem has not been addressed on the Internet/Schering-Plough Web site (www.vetsulin.com) but I expect information will soon be forthcoming.  

For more information about Vetsulin® concerns visit www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/NewsEvents/CVMUpdates/ucm188752.htm.

Wishing you and your four-legged family members good health,

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine 

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. 

Join our email list – http://speakingforspot.com/joinemaillist.html

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross

What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

September 24, 2009

It began as a simple request from my incredibly talented friend, Leira.  She is directing a production of The Wizard of Oz at our local junior college, set to run around Thanksgiving.  Knowing that I am well connected in the dog world, she asked for my assistance in finding a suitable Toto.  She told me that any breed or look would do as long as the dog was small enough to fit in a basket and was well trained.  

I reassured Leira that I would be able to readily recruit a few suitable candidates to audition for her.  I let my dog training buddies know, put out word at the dog park, and solicited all of my more than 100 dog-loving coworkers.  My notions of being a successful talent scout were quickly dispelled.   I heard the same response over and over again-  “I’d love for my dog to be Toto, but he’s not really well trained,” or  “I know a dog who would be the perfect Toto, but she’s doesn’t really obey commands.”  I should have considered things a bit more carefully before reassuring Leira that I had the role of Toto covered.  My experience tells me that the vast majority of little dogs are not well trained.  It’s not that they are not smart- in fact the opposite is usually the case.  They are so smart that it is more about them training their humans than the other way around!  

I approached Leira with my tail between my legs and let her know that I’d struck out.  I should have kept my mouth shut after saying, “I’m sorry.” Rather, the part of me that hoped to “fix” the situation blurted out, “You can use Nellie if you want.”  What in the world was I thinking! Nellie is an 11 or so pound Terrier mix who was delivered to my hospital a couple of years ago by a good Samaritan.   He’d found her wandering the streets. She was a skinny little ragamuffin- in heat, terribly underweight with horrific skin disease, and her body was peppered with BB’s.  The second I looked into her eyes, I was smitten. I took her home just to “try things out.” It took just a night to know she was ours for keeps.  She is the very first little dog we’ve ever shared our home and hearts with and yes, she is our very first dog that has not been taught all of the basic obedience commands.  She is lovely, kind, adorable, and sweet in every way, but we simply never “trained” her.  Somehow, just as for all those other “little dog people” it simply seemed that such training wasn’t really necessary, that is until now.  I have until mid-November to teach my little Nellie to play a convincing Toto.  Come by my house these days and you are likely to hear a high pitched “Dorothyesque” voice shouting, “Toto come!”  Oy Vey! What have I gotten myself into!?

Wishing you and your four-legged family members good health,

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine 

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. 

Join our email list – http://speakingforspot.com/joinemaillist.html

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross –

Differing Perspectives on the Same Observations

September 13, 2009

I’ve received many wonderful emails in response to my interviews on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. The stories I’ve heard about peoples’ pets run the gamut from delightful to heart wrenching. Many listeners described crying while driving- I certainly hope Terry and I were not responsible for creating any collisions!

I’ve also received emails from a handful of folks who were put off by the Fresh Air interviews. The content of Anne’s comments (printed below with her permission) is representative of what these disgruntled listeners had to say:

“I’m annoyed at how dogs have become soooo important over the past 10 years or so. They’re just pets! Just animals. Clearly all this elevation of dogs is a by-product of a society in trouble. Never would I have imagined that dogs would be referred to as ‘family members’ or ‘surrogate children.’ NEVER!! Back in the day, the dog was just the ‘family dog’, not ‘the dog family member.’ It was like, ‘Yeah, there’s the dog, so what?’ No thought was given to brushing its teeth, worrying about dog cancer, or feeling guilty if we went on vacation and left the dog at home with a neighbor to look after it. I recently read a book about an African village, and the hard life they have, and the poverty. I found it so shameful that they live like that, while America’s dogs are often dressed in designer clothes, waited on hand and foot, given the best medical care, the best food, cooed over, etc. What the hell has happened to Americans? We’ve gone nutty! Dogs are just dogs, driven by selfish instinct to look after its own interests.”

As easy as it would be to ignore such “fan mail,” I truly believe that Anne’s comments are worthy of consideration. Given what I do for a living, I have certainly grappled with what I believe Anne is questioning. Is it reasonable to invest so much, emotionally and financially, in our pets when there is so much human suffering in the world? After all, the amount of money spent on one of our four-legged family members during the course of a year would represent a fortune to someone who is impoverished. Wouldn’t “shut in” senior citizens relish the affection and attention we lavish upon our pets?

While I agree with Anne’s observations- yes, many people consider their pets to be “family members” and yes, there is a great deal of human suffering in the world- I disagree with her notion that doting on our pets detracts from our willingness and ability to give of ourselves to others. I contend that the opposite is true. Many studies have documented that the human-animal bond positively impacts peoples’ psychological well-being. People whose “emotional bellies” are full rather than empty are more inspired and capable of giving their time, energy, and financial resources to others in need. One need not be a scientist to know that pets bestow a unique brand of sweetness and joy upon our lives; they keep us grounded even when insanity abounds. As I state in the introduction of Speaking for Spot, “Today the human-animal bond is stronger than ever. Perhaps, the more tumultuous the world around us, the tighter we cling to our beloved pets. They soothe us with their predictability and unconditional love, and they consistently give in excess of what they receive.”

Loving our pets does not make them more important than humans, nor does it “replace” our ability to tend to the needy. Rather, opening our homes and our hearts to animals makes our own humanity more accessible. Temple Grandin got it just right when she titled her newest book, “Animals Make Us Human.” Our love of animals doesn’t fill up our hearts- it makes our hearts grow bigger.

Wishing you and your four-legged family members good health,

Dr. Nancy Kay

Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine

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.

Join our email list – http://speakingforspot.com/joinemaillist.html

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross –

The Wisdom of Knowing…… or Not

July 15, 2009

Our puppy Quinn came to us via a local rescue organization.  Apparently, he was next in line for the needle at an overcrowded shelter in Bakersfield.  Although he has been part of our family for six months now, I remain clueless about his breed ancestry.  This is unusual for me- I’m like one of those people who guesses people’s weights at the circus.  Only, what I’m good at guessing is which breeds have gone into the making of a mutt.  I can watch the dog for a minute or two, then accurately size up his lineage. Quinn, on the other hand, has me completely bamboozled.  Sometimes I think he’s a Chihuahua-Border Collie mix.  At other times there’s a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Papillon, or Sheltie looking at me.  And, every once in awhile, he’s got Basenji written all over his sweet face.  I’ve included some Quinn photos so you can have a look for yourself.

I’ve been toying with the idea of obtaining a DNA determination of Quinn’s genetic makeup. I have first hand experience with a DNA testing company called Wisdom Panel™.  Some of my clients have used their service, and I recently gave a Wisdom Panel™ screening to one of my nurses as a gift to use on her adorable mutt named Izzy.  All that’s needed is a small blood sample. DNA is extracted from the blood cells and screened for 157 American Kennel Club breeds. While the testing is far from perfect, it does seem to provide some useful information, especially when one of the parents happens to be a purebred.

So, what’s the downside to running the DNA test?  Yes, there is some cost involved, but the truth of the matter is, finally having an answer would eliminate all the fun of conjecturing about who Quinn’s parents are!   His appearance inspires curiosity.  When Quinn and I are out and about, guaranteed most passersby will ask, “What kind of dog is that?”  My response is usually, “He’s a bona fide mutt from Bakersfield,” or “I haven’t a clue!”  If I’m in an impish mood I might even make up a ridiculous answer such as, “He’s a fox!” or “Why this is a Romanian Burrowing Ferret Hound.”

Any response I choose invariably ignites more conversation. The person who asked the question and I conjecture about “what” Quinn is based on his appearance and temperament.  We then transition to conversation about their dogs’ pedigrees and personalities, both past and present.  By the time the discussion ends, Quinn and I feel as though we’ve made a new friend.  What would happen if Quinn’s breed origin was known and I answered their inquiry with, “He’s a Spaniel Chihuahua mix”?  I doubt that the ensuing conversation would be nearly as lively and entertaining.

I will continue to carefully observe Quinn’s conformation and behavior as he transitions into adulthood.  Whether or not I ever learn more about his pedigree, I do know with certainty is that my little Quinn is 100 percent cute!  And that just may be all I need to know.

Feel free to send me your best guess about Quinn’s pedigree (http://speakingforspot.com/contact.html).  If ever I do decide to run the Wisdom Panel™ I’ll let you know if you were close!

Wishing you and your four-legged family members good health,

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine

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.

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross –

Dogs, the Opiate of the Masses

July 13, 2009

 I facilitate a Client Support Group at my veterinary hospital.  We meet regularly to provide support for those struggling emotionally with the illness or loss of a beloved four-legged family member.  The last session had most of us in tears.  Some in attendance just listened; others bared their souls, talking about feelings of heartache, guilt, emptiness, and loneliness.  The mood was somber and supportive. 

Two darling dogs, Hannah and Coco had accompanied their moms to this particular session.  Throughout the evening, these mischievous girls let us know in no uncertain terms that they were interested in meeting each other. At the end of our meeting we turned Hannah and Coco loose and watched them run, spin, pounce, posture and play.  It was unadulterated exuberance and delightful mayhem!  During this brief doggie romp, I looked around the room and was tickled to see huge grins on the faces of everyone in the room. It was as though everyone had received a drug that transformed expressions of pain and sadness into undeniable joy.  The change in the room was stunning and profound, and provided, for me a unique feeling I shall never forget.  While in the midst of this magical moment, the thought that swirled through my mind is the title of this blog, “Dogs, the opiate of the masses.” 

Wishing you and your four-legged family members good health, 

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine 

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. 

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross

Traveling with Spot

May 23, 2009

Speaking for Spot has taken me on quite a journey!  My book has opened doors to many fabulous invitations and opportunities. Here are a couple of examples.  Three weeks ago I was honored to give the keynote address at the Bergin University of Canine Studies commencement ceremony.  Located in Santa Rosa, California, this organization’s stated mission is advancement of the human-canine partnership through research and education.  Bergin University is the home of the Assistance Dog Institute in which dogs are trained for a variety of service jobs.  At the graduation ceremony I attended, three dogs began a lifetime of assistance work and companionship for three individuals with physical disabilities.  A fourth dog joined a family to assist with the needs of an autistic child.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the house!  In the course of my speech I discussed how my work and the work of Assistance Dog Institute both advance the human animal bond- we simply approach it from different angles.  While they train dogs to become advocates for their humans, I train humans to become advocates for their dogs. 

This past weekend, I paid a visit to the Argus Institute in Fort Collins, Colorado.  This organization recently celebrated its 25th anniversary.  The mission of the Argus Institute is to strengthen veterinarian-client-patient communication and support relationships between people and their companion animals.  Not only do they provide a tremendous support system for people experiencing grief about the loss or illness of a beloved pet, they also provide a comprehensive curriculum on client communication for Colorado State University veterinary students.  Believe it or not, most vet schools provide no formal training in client communication.  I was tremendously impressed by what I saw and learned at the Argus Institute and was privileged to provide a lecture while there on the topic of “How Veterinary Clients’ Expectations Are Changing.” 

I invite you to learn more about these two wonderful organizations by visiting www.assistancedog.org and www.argusinstitute.colostate.edu

Dr. Nancy Kay – Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine 

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. 

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/Nancy-Kay/105415179814?ref=share 

Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross – http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?story

How to Trick a Tick

March 25, 2009

How to Trick a Tick

 

I recently learned a fabulous new trick from Jessica, a nurse at my hospital.  I was in our treatment room preparing to remove a tick from the base of my dog’s ear.  Lucky dogs, Nellie and Quinn got to tag along with my husband and me on a recent horse camping trip. Quinnie, the more adventurous of the two returned home with a tick.  When nurse Jessica observed me in the treatment room with thumb forceps in hand (my tick removal instrument of choice), she asked, “Would you like me to show you how to spin a tick?”  I’d never heard of such a thing, but I offered forth the mighty Quinn and invited her to demonstrate.

 

Here is what Jessica did.  She placed her index finger on the tick and then rotated her finger counter clockwise in small steady circles.  I liken it to using your index finger to perform light pressure circles on the end of your nose.  Low and behold, within approximately 20 seconds the tick, completely in tact, detached itself from Quinn (my boy thought he was receiving a massage).  After performing this magic, Jessica assured me with utter confidence that it “works every time.”

 

I was thrilled by what I saw.  Not only had this “old dog” learned a new trick, I was delighted by the prospect of employing a tick removal technique that is comfortable for the patient and avoids leaving tick mouthparts behind (a source of chronic irritation for the patient).  The next time you discover a tick on your dog or cat, I encourage you to don a plastic glove (prevents tick-borne infectious diseases from entering your body via a skin crack or abrasion) and try this “spin the tick” method.  Please let me know if it works for you.  By the way, spinning clockwise or counter clockwise should do the trick!

 

 

Quinn (left) and Nellie (right).  Photo by Susannah Kay

 

 

Please visit 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.

Wishing you and your dog good health,

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross – http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?story Id=102105836

TTouch – Linda Tellington-Jones

November 29, 2008

Linda Tellington-Jones is a legend amongst people who love and care for animals. She truly understands what makes them tick, not just from an intuitive standpoint (although her intuition is remarkable and powerful), but from a scientific point of view as well. Linda is world renowned for TTouch, a form of bodywork that evolved from her time spent working with Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais. The Feldenkrais Method teaches mind-body integration for the human nervous system. Over the course of several years, Linda applied what she learned to hundreds of horses and observed remarkable improvements in their behavior, balance, and ability to learn. Her work became known as the Tellington Touch Equine Awareness Method, or TTEAM. Her work didn’t stop there. Linda learned that dogs could be helped by many of these same techniques. She has authored several wonderful books all of which provide clear, easy-to-follow instruction for anyone interested in learning the Tellington Method. Linda travels worldwide giving instructional clinics.

I recently had the pleasure of auditing a Tellington TTEAM horse clinic in Northern California, close to where I live. I was profoundly inspired by what I observed. There were approximately 25 participants including people with their horses, teachers, and Linda herself. What an inspirational woman! After the hundreds, perhaps thousands of clinics Linda has taught, I anticipated she might be supervising rather than actively teaching. Boy was I ever wrong! Linda was a completely “hands on”, patient, enthusiastic, compelling instructor. She has the energy of a twenty-year-old and that energy is contagious to her students (the energizer bunny has nothing on this woman!).

The clinic participants and their horses literally blossomed before my eyes. There was Jonelle’s mare, so “out of her mind” and difficult to control that Jonelle was afraid to even lead her from paddock to arena. Within just a couple of days, they were a team- the mare calm, in fact, downright peaceful, and Jonelle’s fear was gone. Darran was there with her new horse who could not hold his feet still because of pent up anxiety. Within a few days, she was able to ride him at liberty (no bridle) around the arena because he had transitioned to such a state of calmness.

I particularly enjoyed my time spent chatting with Linda. Here is what I learned. She has traveled the world and lived in some of the most beautiful places imaginable. She has interfaced with people from every walk of life and her stories are fascinating. She’s a definite “people person.” Her interactions are relaxed and comfortable and she’s a good listener- clearly something animals sense about her as well. In summary, Linda Tellington-Jones is a true master at teaching techniques that improve the quality of life for animals and the people who love them. It simply doesn’t get much better than that!

Dr. Nancy Kay meets Linda Tellington-Jones
Dr. Nancy Kay meets Linda Tellington-Jones

Linda Tellington-Jones (left), Dr. Nancy Kay (right)

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Please visit www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Dr. Kay’s book. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog. SPEAKING FOR SPOT is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller.