The Hard Decision

My dog, Scooby, will be 16 years old in July.  By all appearances, Scooby is a happy senior pup; he’s got skin issues and some gross warts, but he seems bright and alert.  So why am I having quality of life discussions with his vet?

If a stranger looks at him, they don’t know what those close to him do.  They don’t recognize the slow deterioration of his mental state or see the subtle changes in his walk.  There are obvious signs of health issues: his back-end shakes and every once in awhile he stumbles.  I watch the little changes in Scooby and justify them.  “It’s colder today than yesterday, that’s why he’s shaking more.”  Or, “oh, those are just normal signs of age.”  I don’t want to accept that Scoo can’t live as long as I do.  He’s my family and I don’t want to think about the day when I’ll have to say, “goodbye.”

Scoos last picture.jpg

As a member of an incredible animal clinic, I remind myself of the candle we use when a client has made this painful decision.  I think of words I say more than I’d like: this is the most difficult but loving thing you can do for your pet.  When my girlfriend and I walked into the exam room and discussed quality of life with his veterinarian, I repeated those words.  We had no intention of euthanizing Scooby that day or even that month, but we needed to be prepared.  Even as a member of a medical team, I needed an objective point of view.  My partner and I needed to be able to tell a professional our observations and concerns so we could be prepared.  In Scooby’s case, when do we know he’s in pain (and his medications are no longer working)?  Are there specific signs that might tell us we’re dealing with an emergency?  We discussed the details/process of the euthanasia itself.

During the appointment, our veterinarian said something very important.  She told us that she supported us and our decision.  In that moment, I snapped out of client and into medical professional.  I wondered how many clients worry about what we think.  I thought of all the clients who say they don’t know how we do our jobs.  And I remembered the situations when we had no relationship with a pet and had to examine it first.  What must go on in our clients minds?  I want to tell you what my veterinarian told us: we support you.  We are always going to be advocates for the animal first and foremost— that is why we are in this profession.  But through the laughter and tears, we’ll be by your side.

If you or someone you know is preparing for your dog or cat’s end of life, we have resources available:

·       Quality of Life 

·       WSU Grief and Loss

And for those of you who ask how we do our jobs: there are certainly cases and days when these appointments are overwhelming.  We need each other, our loved ones, or a distraction to help us afterward; but we can do it because when we chose to get into this field, we agreed to protect and heal animals through all stages of their lives.  This is one of the most profound stages and we owe it to the pet (and you) to protect them from pain and heal them one last time.

Jordan Bair

Client Services Representative, Marketing Assistant


Why Does My Cat Sound Like An Elephant At Night?

Kitten hiding under bed

You’ve finally fallen asleep and suddenly your little fur ball sounds like an elephant running through the hallways.  How does a 7 pound cat manage to make so much noise?  Why do your feet turn into play toys?

Most of us think cats are nocturnal creatures, but did you know they are actually crepuscular?  This means if your cat sounds like herd of elephants in the dark of evening, you are likely encouraging their behavior.

The word crepuscular is derived from the Latin crepusculum, meaning “twilight.” Crepuscular animals tend to sleep at night, and reserve energy during midday, when the sun is at its peak. These species are active primarily during twilight (at dawn and dusk).

The last thing you want to do at midnight is pretend like this crazy cat isn’t there, but (unfortunately) that’s the best way to curb this behavior.  Getting out of bed and feeding your cat or playing with them only tells your cat that being awake at night is okay.

Here are some tips for keeping your cat asleep at night:

1.       Keep them busy during the day.  If you can’t stay home with them, there are plenty of battery operated toys available.  Be sure to research the safety of these toys before leaving your cat alone with them—you probably do not want to leave your cat with an electronic mouse but a stable toy would be okay.

A general rule of thumb, switch your cat’s toys.  Cats can get bored easily.  If they have a favorite toy, keep it consistent, but rotate additional toys. 

2.       Play with your cat when you get home.  You are their favorite playmate!  Remember, use toys, not your fingers.  

3.       Feed your cat their biggest meal before bed. 

4.       As a last resort, close your bedroom door at night. 


Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tails?

Cartoon: Ever have one of those days when you feel like you're chasing your own tail

Dogs are playful.  Yes, it is possible your dog is literally chasing their tail.  They might be keeping themselves entertained.

Learning about their bodies.  Just like infants, puppies are becoming aware of their bodies.

Rewarded behavior.  If you laugh at, or scold, your dog when they chase their tail, they take this as an opportunity get attention.

Breed specific.  Believe it or not, some breeds are more prone to “whirl!”  German Shepherds and Terriers are more likely to find amusement in their tails.

Medical concerns.  Although it’s usually entertaining to watch your pup chasing their tail, there are times when this behavior requires medical intervention.  A few concerns include:

  • Fleas and/or intestinal parasites
  • Impacted anal glands
  • Arthritis
  • Senior dogs who have not had this type of quirk might be presenting cognitive disorders

Please call us or schedule an appointment on-line if you have any concerns.