I was pleasantly surprised to hear from a few owners/handlers after the last newsletter. I chatted with a few to answer some questions and I’m always so happy to connect with you about your dogs. Never hesitate to reach out if you need help or just would like to run something by me. You can contact me here: nedswish.com/ask-the-vet
Have a safe holiday season!
COVID and Veterinary Clinics
You may have noticed how busy your local veterinarian is, and perhaps you’ve had the misfortune of needing to visit an emergency clinic recently and noticed the same at that facility. Veterinary clinics are insanely swamped right now all across the country. Our clinic in Kamloops, BC has about a 3-4 week wait for a non-urgent appointment, which is just unheard of until COVID. We don’t have an emergency clinic, so each of the clinics in town takes a day each week to be on call. We are run off our feet on those days seeing all of the urgent and emergent issues for pets in Kamloops and our surrounding area. I’ve also heard that many emergency clinics have a 4-6 hour wait to be seen. When I used to work emergency it would maybe be an hour wait max. The specialists that I work with are also booking weeks to months in advance for an appointment.
So why is this? It is due to COVID and the interesting fall out from that. For one, many clinics had to shut down elective procedures like spays, neuters, vaccinations, health checks etc early on in the COVID shut down. We were playing catch up on those for a long time. Like other areas, our team members have had to stay home and wait for COVID results before being able to return to work. If we don’t have our full team, we can’t complete all of our tasks for the day, so we end up having to cancel surgeries or reschedule things to another week, creating a new backlog. Because most clinics went to curbside service and no owners were allowed in the building, this greatly slowed down the pace at the clinic and requires more staff to help handle our animals. So when we could previously have seen 30 animals per day for example, during the curbside service maybe we could only see 75% of those animals, creating yet another back log. Additional cleaning measures have been implemented like every other business/medical facility has had to do. This also adds to the staff workload and the time between patients. However one of the biggest impacts has been the massive influx of puppies and kittens. People are getting new family pets at a rate that I’ve not seen before. These animals all require their puppy/kitten series of vaccines and also all need to be spayed/neutered. In addition, the number of dogs being bred is creating that many more c-section or breeding related illnesses that we need to attend to.
This is creating anxiety and stress for the veterinary team as we know how much your dogs mean to you and want to be able to see every animal when an owner calls, but logistically it just isn’t possible right now. Maybe 2021 will be a bright new chapter!
As winter approaches, or has hit us in some areas of the country, just a few reminders about pitfalls around the holidays and the cold season.
- Antifreeze is super toxic to dogs
- “Death by chocolate” takes on a new meaning when you are a dog
- Christmas decorations do not look as good on the inside of your dog as on the tree
- Frostbite affects some very unfortunate areas such as ear tips, tip of the tail, paws and for the intact boys, their testicles. Ouch!
- Ice is slippery. Ice is really really slippery when you are an older dog, especially one who thinks he is still a puppy and runs and falls with his legs splayed out to the side. It looks comical but it really can cause some significant soft tissue and joint pain.
- Offering fatty treats, intentionally or accidentally when there is a counter surfing incident, can often lead to an upset stomach and a very inflamed pancreas known as pancreatitis
Disease Highlight: GDV
GDV is short for Gastric Dilation Volvulus. Gastric means stomach, dilation means expanded or blown up (bloated) and volvulus means twisted. So many of you might know this disease as “bloat” or “twisted stomach”. This is different than “food bloat”. We had a dog out east and one out west dealing with each of these issues this past fall. Both have done very well since their ordeals thankfully!
GDV is a life threatening emergency that requires surgical correction ASAP. Food bloat isn’t usually life threatening and will often self-resolve. However both can look similar on initial inspection. The dog who had food bloat this fall appeared lethargic, had a big abdomen and looked nauseated. GDV dogs are often trying to vomit but can’t, have a big abdomen and lethargic. So it can be hard to tell the two apart, so you should take your dog into the clinic to have him checked out. The first thing your veterinarian will do, once in the clinic, is to take an x-ray of the abdomen. This will diagnose a food bloat or GDV. In the one dog’s case he was taken to the emergency clinic by his owner and the x-ray showed a massive food bloat. In his case, he was hospitalized with pain medication and intravenous fluids and went home the next day. If this had been a GDV case like the dog out east, the dog would have headed into surgery. In surgery the stomach is deflated, untwisted and then sutured to the body wall, so that it can’t twist again in the future. If you do not get your dog to the vet ASAP, GDV can be fatal.