How to keep your Super Bowl party from harming your pet

Even the most football-obsessed owners have to remember their pets may need special attention during the Super Bowl, according to veterinarians Debra Horwitz and Marty Becker. The noise and activity, coupled with all the guests and food that often accompany the Super Bowl, can cause stress for pets, and owners should take time to pet their animals, take them out for bathroom breaks, avoid feeding them human food and give anxious pets a quiet room away from the festivities if needed, they advise.

If you’re an American, have eyes and ears, and enjoy eating, then you’re probably celebrating Super Bowl Sunday this weekend — that wonderful time of year when it’s all about delicious finger foods, screaming fans and, yeah, football too.

But while you’re shrieking at the TV and jumping around like you’ve never seen a football game before in your life, your poor, confused pets will be taking the brunt of your excitement.

That’s why animal behaviorist Dr. Debra Horwitz and “America’s Veterinarian” Dr. Marty Becker have partnered with Petco to help you help your pet cope with football fever.


1. Don’t forget your pets’ needs.

Just because the biggest game of the year is on TV doesn’t mean your pet can forgo his bathroom breaks and social needs. Record the commercials — or watch them online later — and use that time to tend to your four-legged friend. You can even take a quick trip to the dog park if you can stand missing a few minutes of the game.

2. Keep the greasy wings away.

We mean from your dog — although it wouldn’t hurt if you banned them from your own stomach as well. Do not be tempted to throw fattening foods to your pets — particularly chicken wings, which they can choke on. And make sure to remind your guests to refrain from the same.

3. Pause and pet.

There are moments during the Super Bowl when even humans can get a tad frightened by the screaming fans — especially when you’re not paying attention (or have no idea what’s going on). So how do you think your pets feel when your neighbor takes a flying leap at the television? Make sure to take a few moments during the game to show your pet some love. The best part? Stopping to pet your dog (or even watching fish swim) can help reduce your blood pressure and decrease cortisol, a hormone related to stress and anxiety.

4. Find a quiet place.

If you find your pet looking anxious, set aside a quiet room for him to retreat. It will calm him down and even give you some relief from the insanity.

Inspection of Chinese poultry-processing plants may signal opening for imported poultry for human consumption

FDA continues to investigate pet illnesses associated with Chinese chicken products.
Jan 25, 2013 DVM News Magazine
The export of poultry from China to the United States is currently prohibited–past food safety concerns, bird flu outbreaks, and even the frequent turnover of Chinese officials are all cited as reasons for the continued ban. According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) spokesman, “FSIS is currently working with the Chinese government to develop a timeline to inspect poultry-processing plants in that country.” Some reports indicate that those inspections could be conducted in late January or early February in an apparent step toward lifting the U.S. ban on Chinese poultry.

Although banned from the U.S. poultry market for people, China does export chicken for pet food. But these products have been problematic in recent years. Since 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has conducted extensive testing on chicken jerky treats of Chinese origin. As of Dec. 17, 2012, the FDA has received 2,674 reports involving 3,243 dogs, including 501 deaths, and nine cats, including one death.

Much to the dismay of affected pet owners, the FDA has yet to indentify a contaminant or cause for illnesses associated with chicken imported from China and therefore will not enact a recall. It has issued a warning to pet owners of the possible dangers of feeding pets products such as Nestle’s Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch treats and Del Monte’s Milo’s Kitchen Home-style Dog Treats. Presently, Milo’s Kitchen’s Chicken Jerky and Chicken Grillers treats are voluntarily recalled due to the unrelated discovery of trace amounts of prohibited antibiotics on these products.

Politically, the planned inspections could relax tense trade relations between the United States and China, which have been embattled in negotiations for the past seven years. China is anxious to export poultry, and the United States is interested in reversing China’s 2003 ban on American beef. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, representing U.S. ranchers and beef producers, estimated last year that the U.S. could be exporting $200 million of beef to China per year if the ban was lifted.

However, it seems one ban won’t be lifted unless the other is as well.

Canine cancer patients might one day help humans

Veterinarians and other scientists have been studying canine cancer patients’ DNA to identify mutations involved in several types of cancer, many of which also affect humans, such as lymphoma and osteosarcoma. The findings will likely lead to better diagnostics and treatments for animals and humans alike. “The key to unlocking some of nature’s most perplexing puzzles in human health has actually stood right next to us, wagging its tail,” said Matthew Breen, a genomics professor at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Santa Cruz Sentinel (Calif.)

By Elizabeth Devitt

Jasper, a 7-year-old rescue dog from San Jose, has a personality that endears him to everyone — even to cats. He also has lymphoma, a cancer that sprouts from the body’s defense system and is similar to non-Hodgkin lymphoma in people.

Right now, Jasper’s treatment plan is based on laboratory tests, ultrasounds and the expertise of his veterinarian, Linda Fineman, a cancer specialist at the SAGE center in Campbell. Although he’s doing well after his first round of treatment, the hardest part is not knowing how long it will help him, said his owner, Catherine Jacobsen.

In the future, however, tests on Jasper’s DNA could determine the best medications for him and show how long they’ll work, according to scientists who study the DNA of dogs. And those researchers are increasingly discovering that cancer and other diseases are caused by the same genetic mutations in pooches and people.

So as scientists develop new therapies for canine cancers, they’re also finding more effective methods to treat similar problems in humans.

“The key to unlocking some of nature’s most perplexing puzzles in human health has actually stood right next to us, wagging its tail,” said Matthew Breen, a genomics professor at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Scientists got a huge new asset when the first national canine tumor bank opened at the end of October, Breen said. Researchers now have a one-stop shopping source of samples from the bank, developed as part of the Canine Comparative Oncology and Genomics Consortium in Bethesda, Md.


Good models

Our four-legged friends are good models for studying human disease because they share our environment, so they’re exposed to the same factors that may lead us to develop cancer, said geneticist Heidi Parker of the National Human Genome Research Institute in Bethesda.

“They’re living life with us and getting old like the rest of us,” she said.

But the shorter lifespan of dogs means they get cancer faster, so scientists don’t have to wait decades to find out which treatments work better, said Michael Kent, co-director of the Comparative Cancer Center at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Centuries of close breeding in canines have made it easier to hunt for genetic links to disease. When breeders select for specific features in dogs — a curly coat or a stout body — they unwittingly choose other traits, Parker said. In time, certain maladies became linked with particular breeds: Dobermans frequently have blood clotting disorders, and dachshunds get day blindness.

Looking for faulty gene

Once scientists find the location of DNA that causes a disease in dogs, they also have a better idea of where to look for the faulty genes in people. With a common genetic basis for disease, researchers can use similar tools to fight cancer in canines and humans.

When Molly got a lump in her mouth, the biopsy for the 12-year-old beagle from Aptos determined it was a melanoma, the most common malignant cancer in a dog’s mouth. Fortunately, there’s now a vaccine to help fight this cancer, said Dr. Theresa Arteaga, Molly’s oncologist at Pacific Veterinary Specialists in Capitola.

Scientists knew that only melanoma cells make a protein called tyrosinase. So a team of researchers that included Arteaga tested a vaccine for dogs that tricked the immune system into attacking the cells with tyrosinase. The vaccine stopped tumor growth. In many cases, it also kept the cancer from spreading.

Same gene

People get melanomas, too. Unlike the cancer in dogs, tumors in humans tend to show up on the skin, but the cancer still uses the same gene for tyrosinase. So after the vaccine was successfully developed for dogs in 2007, those studies led to approval of similar vaccines for clinical trials in people.

Osteosarcoma is another disease in which canine research has already boosted treatment for people. This cancer is common in big breeds, such as great danes and Irish wolfhounds. It usually attacks the leg bones and then travels to the lungs. In people, it’s often a pediatric disease, afflicting fewer than 1,000 patients a year. It’s hard to study in children because so few get the disease, but more than 10,000 dogs are diagnosed with it annually.

Disease spreads

Even after surgery to remove the cancer, osteosarcoma still spreads to the lungs — in dogs and people. Researchers, however, discovered that this cancer changes the DNA of dogs in several ways. With that information, they found more effective cocktails of drugs and lowered the rate of the cancer spreading to the lungs. These findings led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to fast-track approval for similar medications for people, leading to longer life expectancies, said veterinarian Cecile Siedlecki, a cancer specialist in San Leandro who also consults with physicians.

Dog vs. human

Although scientists have studied the similarity of health problems at both ends of the leash for decades, research exploded after the entire genome was sequenced for a boxer named Tasha in 2004 (about a year after the human genome was first sequenced), said Elaine Ostrander, chief of the cancer genetics branch at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda. Results of the Dog Genome Project were stored at a group of institutions, including UC Santa Cruz, and made available to researchers around the world.

Gleaning links to disease from dog genes is like a long, long game of fetch. It’s played with short sequences of DNA. Each snippet of the genetic code is made with combinations of only four building blocks: A, T, G or C. The sequence of those combinations create orders that tell every cell exactly how to make everything the body needs.

If that sequence gets shuffled — mutated — then something gets built incorrectly. Sometimes, those errors cause disease.

Variation search

So scientists search for tiny variations in those building blocks of DNA, called SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms), which show up in dogs with specific traits. Any change at these key locations in the genome are compared with DNA samples from healthy dogs and samples from diseased dogs to find those SNPs linked with the disease. From then on, it’s a matter of finding the genes tagged to the SNPs, explained Breen, of the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

The more tumor samples from dogs that are available for scientists to study, the faster they’ll learn the genetic mechanisms that cause disease, Breen said.

Hundreds of owners have found the courage to get samples taken from their dogs and sent for studies, Breen said. “Their dog might make a difference for the next generation.”

And some of that next generation might walk on two legs instead of four.

To get involved

Registration just opened for the Canine Lifetime Health Project, managed by the Morris Animal Foundation in Denver. The long-term study follows dogs into their senior years. Researchers will gather information about everything from dogs’ daily eating and exercise routines to annual lab tests. Then scientists will sift through that data to link factors like health, genetics and environment to cancer and other diseases. The project is enrolling 3,000 pedigreed golden retrievers, younger than 2 years of age, but any dog owner can join the list for later studies, said project director Mike Guy. Even people without dogs can sign up for updates, he said. For information, go to

The stages of dental disease: From mild to irreversible

Pet dental disease progresses through four stages from mild disease to severe gum disease that may be irreversible, writes veterinarian Karen Dye. Preventing dental disease is the best option for maintaining oral health, notes Dr. Dye. Thorough dental cleanings under general anesthesia are necessary to fully evaluate all oral structures, clean the teeth above and below the gum line, and apply antibiotics and extract teeth if needed in advanced cases. The Culpeper Star-Exponent (Va.)

Most odors from a dog’s mouth come from periodontal disease and bacteria in the mouth.  Plaque and tartar build up along with inflammation cause periodontal disease (the periodontium includes the bone, connective tissue, and gingiva which surrounds and supports a tooth).

Please have your pet examined by your veterinarian to determine the cause of bad breath, but often it is some form of dental disease.  Since most dogs don’t get their teeth brushed daily, plaque and tartar accumulate quickly.  Unhealthy gums (gingivitis) can also result from lack of brushing.  Once the gums are inflamed, it is often appropriate to perform a dental prophylactic cleaning under anesthesia.

There are several stages of periodontal disease, from Stage 1 (the most mild) to Stage 4 (the most severe).  Dental disease affects more than just the teeth and gums.  Over time, bacteria accumulate in the mouth along the gum-line, where they enter the bloodstream.

Once enough bacteria are present in the bloodstream they begin to cause systemic damage, affecting the liver, kidneys and heart.

Bacteria in the bloodstream can also cause sepsis (generalized invasion of the body by pathogenic microorganisms).  Obviously, an additional concern is tooth loss and pain associated with dental disease.  These conditions can take years off your pet’s life.  Most studies show that 80% or more of all adult dogs have periodontal disease and at least 70% of all cats have some form of dental disease.

Dental disease is easily treated if done at the appropriate time.

A dental prophylaxis performed at periodontal disease stage 1 or 2 can help ensure that your pet will not suffer any of the aforementioned conditions.  Once your pet has reached periodontal disease stage 3 or 4, irreversible damage may have already occurred and extracting teeth may be the only option to maintain your pet’s oral health.

Dental extractions are uncomfortable for the patient and can be financially costly for their owners.

Therefore, detecting periodontal disease early and treating early with a prophylactic cleaning are important.Q: What happens during a dental cleaning?

A: At Clevenger’s Corner Veterinary Care, we recommend pre-anesthetic blood work to detect any underlying disease that may affect our anesthetic protocol. Your pet will be under full anesthesia, while being monitored by a trained technician as well as monitored by pulse oximetry machines and Doppler blood pressure.  Core body temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate are also monitored.

Our patients all receive IV fluid support during the dental prophylaxis. The oral cavity will be examined closely for any unusual discolorations or masses. The teeth and gums will be evaluated to determine the degree of dental disease.  The teeth will be checked for fractures, pulp exposure, irreversible gum recession, cavities and abnormal wear.  The tartar will be removed using an ultrasonic scaler as well as hand scaling instruments by a licensed veterinary technician.

Using special curettes, the plaque, tartar and bacteria will be removed from the tooth surfaces as well as under the gum line.

At this stage of the procedure, the doctor will determine if the patient would benefit from additional therapy such as extractions or special antibiotics applied directly under the gum line.

Finally, the teeth will be polished and fluoride applied to help prevent re-accumulation of tartar and bacteria.

If necessary, the patient will go home with pain medication and/or antibiotics.

After a dental prophylaxis, it is important to follow up with home care. There are several options including brushing (the best), oral rinses or water additives, and special dental chews.

It is also quite possible that your pet may need an additional dental prophylaxis in the future.

Hopefully with diligent home care we can increase the time between professional cleanings.

Bully dog snacks loaded with calories, may contain bacteria

Dog treats known as pizzle sticks or bully sticks, made from bull or steer penis tissue, were found to be packed with calories and some were contaminated with bacteria, according to a study led by veterinarian Lisa Freeman of Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. “While calorie information isn’t currently required on pet treats or most pet foods, these findings reinforce that veterinarians and pet owners need to be aware of pet treats like these bully sticks as a source of calories in a dog’s diet,” Dr. Freeman said. Bacteria found on the treats include Clostridium difficile, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and E. coli. U.S. News & World Report/HealthDay News

MONDAY, Jan. 28 (HealthDay News) — Popular dog treats called bully or pizzle sticks may contain more calories than expected and could be contaminated by bacteria, according to a new study.

The treats are made from the uncooked, dried penis of a bull or steer.

Researchers examined 26 bully sticks made by different manufacturers and found that they contained between 9 and 22 calories per inch. That means that the average 6-inch bully stick had a total of 88 calories, which is 30 percent of the daily calorie requirement for a 10-pound dog and 9 percent of the daily calorie requirement for a 50-pound dog.

“While calorie information isn’t currently required on pet treats or most pet foods, these findings reinforce that veterinarians and pet owners need to be aware of pet treats like these bully sticks as a source of calories in a dog’s diet,” study first author Dr. Lisa Freeman, a professor of nutrition at the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, said in a university news release.

“With obesity in pets on the rise, it is important for pet owners to factor in not only their dog’s food, but also treats and table food,” she added.

The researchers also found that about one-third of the treats were contaminated with bacteria. One stick had Clostridium difficile, one stick had methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and seven had E. coli.

All pet owners should wash their hands after touching such treats, as they would with any raw meat or raw meat diets. Very young children, elderly people, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems should never touch or handle raw animal-product-based treats and raw meat diets, the researchers said.

The study was published in the January issue of the Canadian Veterinary Journal.


AHF Pet Therapy teams help a family overcome its fear of dogs

A family therapist contacted AHF to request assistance with a family that had a debilitating fear of dogs. The father had been attacked by three German Shepherds as a child, and has feared and disliked dogs ever since. The children, an 8-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy, picked up on their father’s fear and also became afraid, to the point of panicking and running away whenever they encountered a dog in public. Over the course of six weeks, AHF members educated the family members on dog body language and proper behavior around dogs, and exposed them gradually to selected therapy dogs.

 The dogs chosen to assist had experience working with children, a mellow attitude, and a non-threatening demeanor. Bonnie, a Shetland Sheepdog, is READ certified and works with children on a regular basis. Macy, a calm Golden Retriever, also works regularly as a reading dog, and is very gentle and quiet.  Jake, a yellow Lab mix, has visited many children at school educational programs. His tail wags constantly while he works, and children love his wiry beard. The handlers kept the dogs under strict control, keeping them either lying down or facing away from the children until the children felt comfortable enough to approach them. AHF members involved in the project were Jan Vincent, Daleen Comer, and Diann Frey.

The visits began with minimal contact and a lot of talking about each dog, and progressed to brushing and petting, double-leash walking (handler and child each holding a leash), working with the dog doing tricks, and finally feeding treats.  At the last session, the father shared the news that the children had encountered a German Shepherd while walking, and had calmly passed by. The family is grateful to AHF members and their dogs for changing the lives of the children.

Before adopting, be sure you can afford a new friend, experts say:

It’s essential to understand the costs of pet ownership before choosing an animal, experts say, adding that getting real about costs should stop owners from adopting — and then surrendering — pets they can’t afford. Some 13 million U.S. households acquire a dog each year, but nearly half are taken to shelters within 12 months, according to Owners should be prepared for an initial investment that includes fees for adoption, sterilization, vaccinations and training. However, TV trainer Joel Silverman says families who can handle the costs will find dogs worthwhile: “This is your best friend, right?” U.S. News & World Report


By                            January 14, 2013    RSS Feed      Print 

So you got your kids a puppy for the holidays.  And now, looking at your vet bills, the cost of dog food, and several  pairs of chewed shoes, you may be wondering if perhaps you should have  just bought them an Xbox.

Maybe you should  have. Many pet owners buy a dog without thinking through the financial  costs of their prospective pooch. According to, a news and  information website for canine lovers, every year, about 13 million  American households adopt a dog or a puppy and within 12 months, half of  them have been taken to a shelter.

“I often try and talk people out of getting a pet and [play] devil’s advocate,” says Harrison Forbes, the author of Dog Talk: Lessons Learned from a Life With Dogs, host of a nationwide radio pet show, and a semi-regular pet expert on television, including The Today Show.  “There’s an odd peer pressure, especially in the shelter world, that we  always need to be pumping up the benefits of pet ownership, and that’s  great. I’m fully on board. But it’s like home ownership. Owning a house  and having a dog is the American dream, but you only want to do it if  you can afford it. You don’t want to have to give either up because you  didn’t think it through.”

Robin Ganzert,  president of the American Humane Association, agrees. She is, of course,  unabashedly on the side of the canine: “My dream would be for every  child to have a pet in their lives.” But in the same breath, she also  acknowledges, “So many folks are trying to do the right thing and going  to shelters to adopt dogs, but that doesn’t mean they’re equipped to do  it. They still need to go through the same thought process as you would  if you were buying a dog from an expensive breeder. A lot of dogs are  recycled back into a shelter or abandoned, and it’s not a good life for  them.”

If you have a new puppy and are  overwhelmed by the costs or you’re thinking of getting a dog this year,  here are some factors to consider before you do anything rash, like  replacing your furry pal with a gerbil, or before you get too caught up  in daydreams of throwing a Frisbee at the dog park and watching old Benji movies together.

[Read: 4 Things Your Dog Can Teach You About Starting a Business.]

The lifetime costs of owning a dog. Odds  are, the cost is more than you think. A variety of sources have  different numbers but they’re all high. places the  average cost of owning a dog—over the dog’s lifetime—at $20,000. In  2011, crunched numbers and came up with an eye-popping  $59,668.88 for a mutt over its lifetime, but the study assumed the New  York City-based family would be sending the animal to doggie daycare,  expensive kennels, and would buy virtually every available accessory., which provides tips on raising a dog, suggests a dog  that lives 12 years might cost you anywhere between $4,620 and $32,990.

In  other words, if your car is one broken head gasket from putting you  into financial ruin, now is not the time to get a dog. If you’re doing  OK, well, keep in mind that if a dog costs you $20,000 in the long run,  that averages out to a little more than $1,500 a year—a much friendlier  number.

Set-up costs. If  you’re buying from a breeder, you might easily pay in the neighborhood  of $1,000, or much more. If you’re buying from a shelter, an adoption  fee might be closer to $100. However, you’ll also need to set aside  money for vaccination shots and for the dog to be spayed or neutered (if  the adoption fee doesn’t cover it). Your dog will need some smaller  items such as a collar, a leash, and a dog license.

“The  average cost for supplies to set up a small dog is around $300 to  $350,” says Dawn Burch, the veterinary relations manager for Petco. “The  average cost for supplies to set up a large dog is around $400 to  $450.”

Dogs will be expensive at the outset,  says Forbes. “Fifteen years ago, a lot of shelters’ adoption fees were,  like, $20, and there’s a lot of hard evidence that those low costs  helped make it easier for people to return their pets,” he says.  “Shelters that make you pay $300 to $500 for a dog have way less returns  than the ones who give animals away dirt-cheap. When you shell out some  money on the front end, you take owning a dog a little more seriously.”

Ongoing costs. Food  will be the biggest strain on your wallet, but vet check-ups need to be  factored into the budget. You may need to put your dog in a kennel when  you travel, or you may want to send your canine to a doggie daycare if  nobody’s in the house all day. Of course, there are treats, rawhide  bones, dog beds, sweater vests, pet insurance, and an untold number of  dog accessories you could purchase as well.

Experts  warn not to skimp on food and veterinarian services. “If you go to a  grocery and buy a 30-pound bag of dog food for $10, there are health  consequences for that with increased vet bills later,” according to  Forbes, who acknowledges that consumers often feel they have no choice  but to go for the cheap stuff. “When you have to pay your gas bill, dog  food always ends up being cut.”

Forbes, who has  worked for a number of dog-food brands in the past but is no longer  affiliated with any, says if you’re pressed for cash but want to buy  something relatively healthy, Pedigree, Purina One, and Iams are sound  choices. But he adds that the expensive dog food usually has the best  nutritional value.

[See: 10 Reasons Older People Need Pets]

If  you’re having trouble caring for your dog and think the shelter is your  only option, Ganzert says your local shelter or animal control might be  able to steer you to places that can help you access free or  inexpensive dog food and low-cost vet care.

Training. Raising  a dog on your own can be mentally taxing. Ganzert suggests getting  help, whether through an obedience school in your neighborhood (a  five-week course can cost between $50 to $350) or a guide book. Or you  could opt for the cost-free alternative of watching a dog training TV  show, says Joel Silverman, who hosted Good Dog U on Animal Planet for 10 years and currently stars in the TV show Dog & Cat Training with Joel Silverman.

“One  of the biggest reasons dogs are returned to shelters, I believe, is due  to training issues,” says Silverman, who also cites gifting someone a  dog as a return-to-sender route. He believes dog owners should choose  their pet to ensure a better bond and match.

Cleaning.  You may want to buy cleaning agents, a carpet cleaner, or have a  carpet-cleaning service on speed dial. “Look at your house and home  facility and what’s likely to be impacted, because you’re going to have  accidents the first year,” Ganzert warns.

[Read: 5 Ways to Save on Pet Costs]

And  unless you completely puppy-proof your home, you can expect to  encounter costs to replace items such as shoes, books, and toys.

Economic benefits of having a dog.  Ganzert says furry family members save people more money than they  spend. She cites studies that show dogs help lower people’s blood  pressure, and show that children who are exposed to dogs at an early age  often avoid developing asthma. Kids who have dogs and are walking them  and playing with them are less likely to be overweight, adds Ganzert.

Silverman  sides with Ganzert as far as thinking the positives outweigh the costs:  “These aren’t really major expenses. This is your best friend, right?”

Veterinarian shares the toughest part of her job

Veterinarian Julianne Miller writes that seeing the pain of pet owners who must euthanize a pet because they can’t afford emergency medical care is the toughest part of her job. Dr. Miller points out that good medical care inevitably carries a cost, and veterinarians can’t render services for free, so owners should be mentally and financially prepared for a pet before they commit to ownership. One way owners can be prepared is to purchase pet insurance, Dr. Miller writes. The Arizona Daily Sun (Flagstaff)

As I think about my life as a veterinarian here is Flagstaff, first and foremost, I feel incredibly lucky to be part of such a diverse and wonderful profession in which I get to meet terrific people who love animals. It is also fulfilling to be able to support the local animal charities.

The hardest part of my job is watching the emotional suffering of pet owners as they try to deal with an emergency with their pet. My clinic deals with a large number of animal emergencies and these are highly charged, emotional situations that no owner can possibly be mentally prepared for.

The hardest part of my job is watching the emotional suffering of pet owners as they try to deal with an emergency with their pet. My clinic deals with a large number of animal emergencies and these are highly charged, emotional situations that no owner can possibly be mentally prepared for.

It is the financial toll, however, of these situations that are the most devastating for most owners. Speaking for the profession, most of us did not enter this field to make money but rather to fulfill some deeper need to help and treat animals. Unfortunately, medical care is not free and we must charge for our services, and in an emergency situation, this can be devastating.

If I could give all pet owners one piece of advice it would be that when they adopt a pet they need to be mentally and monetarily prepared for the possibility of an emergency medical situation with their pet. This could mean getting pet insurance or putting money in their budget every month for pet expenses.

Emergencies never happen when you are expecting them and to have to euthanize a pet because of financial reasons is devastating. Trying to emotionally support an owner through this horrible decision is the worst part of my job.

Veterinary care is not free and good veterinary care is not cheap. Make sure you’re prepared for emergency care by budgeting or purchasing pet insurance now and not regretting it later when you need it. Contact your veterinarian to find out more about pet insurance.