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January 2016


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The word even sounds scary, and it can be scary to watch your pet have a seizure.  I live with a dog who has seizures.  Until we could find the right medications and dose she would have seizures about every 3 weeks, and they would be cluster seizures, meaning one after the other up to three at a time.

Touch wood she has been seizure free for over three years.  It’s a distant memory now of witnessing her have a seizure.  It took time and trying different medications and dosages, but we finally got there.

Abby was an owner surrender at the local Animal Emergency Clinic where I work part time.  She was purchased off of Kijiji by a very sweet family.  It was their first dog and they fell instantly in love with her.  Abby is a very sweet loveable dog and everyone that meets her falls in love.  She is a small Shih Tzu and loves children – she will make a bee line to meet kids.

The family had three kids and everything was perfect until they witnessed her having a seizure.  They did not know what was happening.  All they knew, was that their sweet new dog that they had only had for a week, was flopping around on the floor like a fish.  She lost control of her bladder and was frothing at the mouth.  It lasted just over a minute.

They immediately took her to the Emergency Clinic and as they arrived, she had another one in front of the Doctor.  The family loved Abby, but knew that they couldn’t keep her – it scared their small children so much.  They asked that Abby be euthanized.  The Doctor discussed with them their options as Abby was only a year old.  They still did not want to keep her, so I was called to see if I could take Abby.

Abby has been part of my family now for just over 4 years.  We love her, and now that she is on the right medication and dosage, she lives a perfectly normal life.

There are different causes of seizures.  Abby has Idiopathic Epilepsy, meaning basically we don’t know why she has them.   (Pets that seizure can be referred to a Neurologist for an MRI) to see if they can find anything that could explain the seizures.

Living with a dog that has seizures isn’t as daunting as you may think.  Once the medication and dosages are found, your pet can lead a normal life.


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Every time my dog Gryphon poops, he tweets #GryphonWasHere. Now, don’t misunderstand. Gryphon does not carry around a phone and update his status with every bowel movement. He lets the world know the old fashioned way – he expresses his anal sacs.

The anal sacs are two nifty little structures that are located just beyond the anal opening in dogs and cats. If we imagine the anus as the face of a clock, the anal sacs are positioned at 4 and 8 o’clock. They contain fluid that gets released every time feces mosey on down the rectum to the anus, and then out into the great big world beyond. The purpose of this fluid? Simply to mark territory. To tell other dogs and cats, “Listen up, this is my neighbourhood!” (or in Gryphon’s case “Hey everybody, come play with me!”).

Occasionally the anal sacs can become impacted, infected or abscessed. Early signs of trouble can include scooting and/or excessive licking at the hind end. Common causes of anal sac problems include food allergies, seasonal allergies and diarrhea. Some dogs need to have the anal sacs manually expressed on a regular basis to prevent impaction.
Thankfully, most dogs and cats never experience any trouble with their anal sacs, nature’s original form of social media!

My Pet Peeve

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This has been my pet peeve for as long as I can remember working in the Veterinary field.  The clients who think we are just in it for the money.  The client who feels we are just scamming them, charging too much.

Now saying this, we at Brock Street Animal Hospital have amazing clients and patients that do value what we have to offer, and for that I am grateful.   I can count on one hand clients that have voiced their opinion on the cost being too much.   I also work part-time at our local Emergency Clinic, I hear the comments there on a daily basis.  I understand that people are emotional when it comes to their pets, and finances can play a role in heightening the emotions.  But again, we all have to make a living and pay overheads.

I try to explain that we are not government funded, we are private businesses, run by Doctors and staff that have to make a living like everyone else.   We have equipment that the clinic has to buy, the same equipment that they use in human hospitals.  We have fully trained staff that got into the field due to their love of animals.   This does not mean that we should give our services free, or discounted, we still have families to support, mortgages to pay, and children to send off to University.

If we were to compare the care and pricing of our human counterparts, we are so much less, and there is not a wait list like there is if you’re a human.

We take such pride and care for our patients, that price does not enter into our minds when we are presenting a treatment plan.   Vet clinics are just like any other small business, it costs money to run a clinic, pay staff and maintain equipment.

We value what we do and that is why I know I get upset when someone says that we are just in it for the money, it offends me.

Our goal at the end of the day is to help your pet feel better, extend their life and make them happy.

Five Women and a Cat

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It was the last appointment of 2015. There we were – five women and a cat named Valentino. The name Valentino, comes from the latin word “valens” which means, he who has value. It was a most appropriate name for this loving, sweet natured orange tabby cat. Years ago, he’d had a mass surgically removed. The procedure was subsidized by The Farley Foundation, a charity that helps reduce the cost of non-elective veterinary care for disabled people, seniors on social assistance, and abused women entering registered women’s shelters. Like many folks who could really use the financial help, Valentino’s mom was reluctant to accept it; she did not want to deprive someone else that may need the funds more than herself. Her concern for others, was exactly the reason that she so deserved to benefit from this wonderful charity.

The driver paced the waiting room, brought his arm down on the front counter, “Can you hurry up?” he said.
“We’re doing our best.” was the honest reply, although I suppose it would have been most honest to say, No, we can’t hurry up. There is no room for impatience in death.

In the exam room, our ritual played out as we spoke of Valentino’s life – the recent insidious weight loss, the puddles of bloody fluid found around the house that morning, what a great companion he’d been, how many girlfriends he’d had … how many broken hearts he would leave behind. When it was over, Valentino’s mom left the room, the whisper of her wheelchair motor the only sound as she glided through the doorway like a gentle breeze.

The front door of the clinic closed on the end of another year. Two grieving women headed home, while the other three finished their day’s work. Our lives moving on in different directions, but forever bound together by a cat named Valentino.