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Cats are Wonderful

 
 Dr. Majeski and Erika show one way of gently restraining a cat

Dr. Majeski and Erika show one way of gently restraining a cat


 

Ask anyone at Lien, they will agree that I am a cat lady; whether or not I'm classified as a crazy one depends on who you ask, but I embrace the moniker wholeheartedly!  I love cats and am passionate about caring and advocating for them.  Cats are complicated creatures, with many differences from dogs that can make them challenging to handle or care for, so we do many things to make our practice more cat-friendly and fear-free.

I visit the cats in kitty boarding for cuddles daily, sometimes dispensing catnip or letting out the more confident ones for individual recess time.  We have Feliway plug-ins that disperse aerosolized synthetic calming pheromones, and anxious cats are given "privacy curtains" on their kennels to hide behind; the same goes for surgery and dental patients.  I also like to visit those patients to give them some love—most are happy to receive, even when anxious!

 
 Sarah and Erika show how we can restrain without scruffing

Sarah and Erika show how we can restrain without scruffing

 
 Sometimes, when cats get stressed, we wrap them in a towel to make them more comfortable

Sometimes, when cats get stressed, we wrap them in a towel to make them more comfortable

 

Handling and treating cats comes with its own set of challenges - they are often tired of being poked and prodded by doctors, then they have to deal with even more invasive procedures after the exam!  We do our best to bring treatments to an anxious cat, as keeping it in the room can greatly help.  Unlike dogs, cats often give very few or no warning signs before their fuse runs out, and they can strike out fast and hard, so knowing how to minimize stress and maximize safe handling is essential.

We always restrain animals in a gentle and supportive manner - some cats can be restrained by being held on their side by their scruff, while others do better wrapped in a towel, burrito-style.  Most cats are best for blood drawn from a back leg, but some will do very well for a jugular blood draw, usually performed on dogs.  We always prioritize diagnostics and treatments over things like toenail trims and anal gland expressions so that we accomplish the most important tasks in case the cat runs out of patience.

Another aspect of being cat-friendly is premedication.  We have some feline patients who are too fractious (aggressive) to handle or treat, and the mere prospect of wrangling a furious feline to get them to the clinic is enough to deter some owners from annual exams, only bringing the cat in when it is sick or injured.  Believe me, I know the feeling - my Bengals caterwaul and scream on the way to and at the vet, making visits unpleasant for all of us!  In order to minimize stress for the cat, owner, and clinic staff alike while simultaneously maximizing quality of care, our doctors will often prescribe a pre-visit sedative.

Gabapentin, a pain medication with excellent sedative and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties, has become a fast favorite among our doctors.  When assistants and technicians perceive that a patient is particularly stressed, we will often ask a doctor to prescribe a pre-visit medication so that the next visit will go more smoothly.  The combination of sedation and anti-anxiety can calm a cat, preventing the fight-or-flight response that leads to aggression and prevents treatment.

Cats are strange and wonderful creatures, and deserve our love and help.  They are often much more discerning and hard to please than dogs - no offense to either species! - but I think this is what makes them special.  As anyone who has met me knows, I am thrilled to meet every cat, whether or not they reciprocate the sentiment!  I have been sent to the ER with my share of cat bites, but I am not deterred from caring for them to the best of my ability, nor will I ever be.  I am glad to be practicing at a clinic like Lien, where we constantly strive to be cat-friendly and fear-free.

Erika Price, Veterinary Assistant

To see Erika and Mckenzy, a member of our kennel crew, in kitty boarding, visit: www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4BSzaLSZlY&feature=youtu.be

Hands On Experience

Sydney works hard at Lien Animal Clinic

 Sydney does not always love mornings

Sydney does not always love mornings

It is 6:50 in the morning and Sydney gets her fleece on. It's going to be another long day at work for her. She's preparing for a day of ultrasound training, teaching restraints, nail trims, and getting far too many treats.

She comes to Lien Animal Clinic most days with Ayla, one of our Licensed Veterinary Technicians.  Sydney calmly allows us to train and learn new skills as long as we promise to reward her--she also likes her mom to be present when training is in process.

While in school, Ayla used to practice restraints with Sydney (such as holding a dog safely for toenail trims and blood draws, gently laying a dog on their side or back for X-Rays, etc.) so she's become rather use to it.  Since she is accustomed to these procedures, our team has the opportunity to gain hands on knowledge before working with your pet(s).  Even our own Dr. Majeski had Sydney as her patient during her final exam in becoming certified in Ultrasound!  

 

At the end of the day Sydney leaves with a full tummy and lots of love from the staff.

To see Sydney demonstrating toe nail trims visit:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=UciZFffgg0Y

Or to see her showing how a pet is restrained for ultrasound visit:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=7scr91lmL1I

 

 

Thank you Sydney for giving us the opportunity to gain hands on skills!

Ayla Wannamaker, Licensed Veterinary Technician 

How Do You Say “It Hurts” If You Can’t Talk?

Molly was a beautiful Yellow Lab that loved to run and play with her family. But when her owner brought her into the clinic, she was barely able to move. Every step, every movement hurt and she coped by refusing to move. Her veterinarian diagnosed severe arthritis. Molly’s joints were so inflamed that she felt nothing but hurt.

In spite of the best medical care, Molly’s spirit was declining. She had stopped eating and would lie in her kennel looking at me with the saddest eyes. She appeared ready to give up, but her medical team was not. We knew that if Molly was to recover, we had to break her pain cycle.

Veterinary medicine has a legal and ethical obligation to err on the side of the safest treatment, but sometimes the best medicine is not found in books but in a clinician’s heart. Molly’s doctor listened to his patient and put her on a course of the strongest pain medication available to veterinary medicine.

I left our hospital that night broken hearted, not knowing how I would find Molly in the morning. You can imagine the joy I felt when I walked into the hospital and saw Molly prancing in her kennel, eager to go for a walk after eating a good breakfast. She had finally stopped hurting and the spark had returned to her eyes. She went home the next day on a new pain management protocol and continued to improve. While she will never be as active as before, she loves life again and that’s the best result ever!

Animals suffer from pain just like we do, but they say “Ouch” in very different ways. The sooner that pain is recognized and treated, the more likely our pets can return to a good quality of life. As loving caretakers of our family pets, we can learn animals’ unique language of pain and trust our instincts when we see behavior that says our pet is in pain. All pain damages your pet’s quality of life and can be hazardous to its health. Pain causes release of stress hormones, delaying healing and possibly damaging your pet’s internal organs, especially in cases of long-term chronic pain.

Common Signs of Pain in Dogs

  • Decreased social interaction
  • Anxious expression
  • Refusal to move; difficulty rising from a sitting or lying down position
  • Whimpering
  • Howling
  • Growling
  • Guarding behavior
  • Aggression; biting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Self-mutilation (chewing)

 

Common Signs of Pain in Cats

  • Hiding
  • Reduced activity
  • Loss of appetite
  • Quiet/loss of curiosity
  • Changes in urination/defecation habits
  • Hissing or spitting
  • Lack of agility/jumping
  • Excessive licking/grooming
  • Stiff posture/gait
  • Stops grooming/matted fur
  • Weight loss

The good news is that veterinary medicine has many ways to alleviate your pet’s pain.

Once your doctor has diagnosed what’s causing the pain, he or she can prescribe the best medication and the best treatment to reduce that pain. Your pet also may benefit from physical modalities such as acupuncture, laser treatment, medical massage and therapeutic exercise.

Early and aggressive treatment of a pet’s pain can return your furry family member to a great quality of life.

Read Dr. Kraabel's blog to learn more about Gwen: And, Not To Be OutDone

Gwen Francisco, Licensed Veterinary Technician, Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner