Truth of the matter

suz face

As many of you know, I have been at Snelgrove Veterinary Services in Brampton, Ontario since 1992. Over the last 22 years I have seen many changes in the veterinary world.  I have spent many hours practicing vet medicine from a solo practitioner to an associate of many.  I love my job. I can’t imagine ever doing anything else.

Recently I hear a lot of complaints, from ” Wow, you really cut your hours back.” , to “You’re not working very much anymore?”, to “You better not be leaving, or retiring any time soon.”.   I have joked around and replied with “I put my hours in, now it’s time to ease up a bit” to ” early retirement” LOL!!

So now for the ‘Truth of the Matter’.

For the last 5 years or so I have had a myriad of symptoms, varying in degree and consistency.  The doctors have placed titles on my symptoms from chronic fatigue syndrome,  vertigo, immune mediated to arthritis.  It was for these reasons and these reasons alone that I indeed ‘had’ to cut my hours back.  The fatigue was not just “Oh I’m tired.” but it was a crippling exhaustion where I could not hold my shoulders up or even hold a conversation. I could sleep 14 hours and still have a 3 hour nap and be exhausted.  The joint pain felt like broken glass and traveled from joint to joint and the back pain was excruciating.

I went to every naturopath, homeopath and energy healer around. As well, I  saw osteopaths, had acupuncture, Bowen treatment, Chinese medicine and massage.  I tried diets, EMF units, vitamins, supplements and everything in between.

It wasn’t until I went to a pain specialist and he looked at my file and said “I bet you have Lyme disease!!!”   I thought ‘yeah, right!’  As far as I know I’d never been bitten by a tick, never had a typical target lesion and really I didn’t think it was all that prevalent around here.  However, I appeased this doctor and did the California Igenex test and low and behold I was positive across all 3 tests!!!

Wow! Lyme disease!!!

Finally an answer for all my obscure symptoms, that was good, I guess? Now for the downside. Doctors in Canada are not allowed to treat people for Lyme. That’s right, I had to drive to Plattsburgh, NY to see a Lyme-literate doctor for treatment.  And wow, what a treatment!!! Multiple antibiotics, including an anti malarial drug, vitamins and a strict no sugar, no yeast diet.

And so the journey begins. So far I am 3 months into treatment and not feeling a whole lot different. But as my doctor said, I’ve had this for a long time and it will take time to heal.  The other issue is that ticks are like the sewers.  Not only do they carry Lyme but other exciting organisms like Babesia and Bartonella. Be sure to watch not only your pets for unsuspected ticks but yourself too!!!  This is quickly becoming a true problem in Ontario for us and our pets. And that is the ‘Truth of the Matter’!

Written by Dr. Suzanne McQueen

Hook, line and sinker!

How to choose the perfect dog.

The first time I saw a Hungarian Vizsla, I was hooked!!! I started researching and finding out anything and everything about the breed. I wanted to make sure that my lifestyle would fit with what they would need.

They are a very active breed and need a lot of exercise. Would I be able to give that?

They are known as the Velcro dog. They will need you around. They do not like to be left in a crate for long periods of time nor in a backyard alone.

They need daily stimulation and learning. Will I have time for that? To be able to take it to obedience classes and possibly more??

Am I ready for a 15 year commitment?

Do I have room for a large breed dog?

Can I afford the veterinary bills that will come with owning a dog and the unexpected bills?

Does this breed have any particular health problems?

After going through what I though was a pretty good check list, I answered yes to most of them, except having the room. I was living in an apartment at the time. Not that you can’t own a dog in an apartment but I decided to wait until I purchased a home with a backyard.

For the next 5 years I researched the breed. I found a breeder that I liked and started visiting her and meeting litters and the potential parents of my soon to be puppy.

I eventually got my Vizsla. It has been 6 years and I couldn’t ask for a better dog. I guess I can say that I have fit into his lifestyle more so than he fit into mine. 🙂 We both couldn’t be happier, at least I think he’s happy. LOL

If you are looking for a dog, the most important thing I could say is research, research, research. If you know you want a pure-bred, then choose one that fits your lifestyle, not one that’s the complete opposite. Make sure you are ready for a 10-15 year commitment and you know all the vet bills that come with owning a pet. Call veterinarians in your area and get an idea of what the first year may cost and for routine visits thereafter. Think about the unexpected. What if my pet gets sick or injured? Can I afford that? Think about pet insurance or a separate bank account just for “what ifs”. Just think before you get a pet. Don’t get one on a spur of the moment kind of thing. I can guarantee that if you choose wisely and do your homework that you will have picked the perfect companion.

Happy researching!!

Sincerely Kristy and “Floyd”

When did my dog get so old?

Every November we promote our seniors. November is traditionally “Senior Month.” At Snelgrove Veterinary Services, we do this by offering special bloodwork panels for our senior patients, both feline and canine. This helps our doctors determine if there are any changes going on that should be addressed. Liver and kidney functions are looked at, as well as a complete blood count which could indicate possible anemia and thyroid function. After the blood results are reviewed, the doctor will decide if a change in diet or medications should be considered. Our doctors and staff go one-on-one to help educate our clients on how to help our senior’s live a happier and more comfortable life.

As the old saying goes, “If they’re happy, we’re happy!”

I was so honoured that my dog Andy was chosen as “November’s Senior Month” mascot. Her picture was displayed on the monitor in reception and in previous blogs with information on the importance of “Seniors”. Every so often I would glance up and there she was. Awww yes, my beautiful girl!! Then I realized that living with a senior pet is not about just one month out of the year, it is an everyday experience.

Where did the time go? When did she get so old?

Just like everything else in life, time flies by in a blink of an eye. Our pets, both cats and dogs show subtle signs of aging. Most of these signs we really don’t notice until later on when things become more apparent. Then we think back and realize that this had been going on longer than we thought.

We sometimes misinterpret signs of pain/discomfort/illness by thinking they are finally settling down. Everyone loves a dog that is content to lay at your side and just hang out. One that has matured and no longer jumps up, racing around barking at everything and everyone. Cats that no longer walk all over you at all hours of the night, just because they can. Waking you up whenever they please with a case of the “night crazies.”  Racing from one room to another. Again just because it’s fun. We love when they become of an age when all the training and time spent is finally paying off. We now enjoy our “Best Friend” like never before! They have become that “he/she is such a good cat/dog.”

Now all of a sudden your dog is reluctant to jump into the car. Hmmm, this is different. They never did that before. After some coaxing and a couple of tries they do it. So, we carry on. We come home from work and that happy face and wagging tail is not there to greet us. We look around and to our surprise find them sleeping. We think, “that’s ok, they’re getting old.” Getting up is more difficult. Some lameness but once they get going they seem fine. At bedtime they stand at the bottom of the stairs, watching us go up, reluctant to climb. Before, they used to charged up ahead of us. We would find them standing on the bed with that big smile as if to say, “hurry up!” Dinner time is not so exciting, and food is left behind. We think, “oh well, they’re not as active so maybe not as hungry?” They no longer sit in their favourite chair looking out the window. They now lay on the floor. Walking through the house was always difficult as they were always under foot. Now we go from room to room without getting tripped up. We don’t see our cats on the counter as often trying to steal the dinner preparations. They are no longer in those high places peering down at us as, now we are searching everywhere for them. They seem to prefer under the bed, behind a piece of furniture or in the basement. Litter box habits have changed. Using the litter box more or not using it at all. They are laying down more than normal. The list goes on and on.

Maybe this is not just “old age.”

Maybe it is something else.

Our “Best Friends” are heroic and never want to disappoint us. They choose not to let us know anything is wrong. They will compensate as best as they can until it becomes so apparent –  YES!  something is wrong. It could be pain or even worse, something more serious.

It is important to do annual examinations and blood work, to ensure that they are healthy. More importantly if they show signs of behaviour changes during daily routines, this may be a sign of  something else and should be looked into.

Getting old is not easy for us. And let me tell you, it is not any easier for them. It is up to us to ensure that they remain healthy and happy. Living with a “senior” is truly a daily responsibility. They are most likely on medications and it is important that we comply. They need our assistance with stairs and getting into vehicles. They deal with hearing and vision loss. It takes them longer to walk from room to room and keeping up with us.

It must get very frustrating for them.

They just get to their destination and lay down to watch what we are doing and we leave and go somewhere else. They get up to follow us and soon all we are doing is passing them back and forth. We need to slow down and be there for them. There is a lot we can do for them. There is a large variety of medications and foods available to help keep our “Best Friends” more comfy and happy.

For dogs there are tools we can use. Like harnesses, floor mats and car ramps. Harnesses are great for grabbing and giving that little extra needed pull up the stairs or guiding them up the ramp into the car. Floor mats on hardwood, laminate and ceramic tiles gives confidence to walk without slipping.  Putting pet steps at the bottom of beds or that favorite chair for easier access. Beds outdoors for support on those ageing limps and elbow calluses. For our felines, we can put chairs near those higher perches to assist them to those places they love to go. Bring a litter box upstairs for them. Lift them up and help them down if we see they are about to jump. Carry them from room to room when we know they are going to follow us.

With a few small changes we now have given them freedom to again enjoy all their little pleasures. They feel better about themselves and truly enjoy being part of the family again. We are all they have and we are truly the center of their existence.

Watching Andy grow old and keeping up with her daily challenges makes me love her all that much more. I am so grateful that I can help her with all the wonderful products and medications that are available. The most important thing to remember is to be patient and wait for them. They are doing their best. Hug and kiss them more and tell them you love them. They believe in you and need that reassurance. Remind them you will always there for them no matter what. That is all they ask from us.

Thank you for reading my blog.