I said Elsa’s heartworm treatment went easier than her spay appointment, but I just meant the ride there. The treatment itself was unnecessarily nerve wracking.
As I think it is appropriate to do, I informed our vet of her behavioral history and that she is fearful so special precautions have to be taken at this point in time. I thought to say she would not bite since at no point had she shown any propensity to do so, but that’s not really a fair assessment of any dog. Any dog can and just might bite, it depends on what gets them there. I did stress that despite some precarious positions she had been in, so far she had not so much as bared a tooth at me. The snaggle tooth is just kind of always bared.
I’m not sure if I contributed to the paranoia by thinking it is important to disclose behavioral inclinations, but either way paranoia crept into someone on staff and caused undue stress all around. I dropped her off shortly before 7 AM and then headed into work. She received her first shot of Immiticide immediately in the morning and was to stay over night and receive the second shot the following morning. By 11 AM when I checked my phone on my break I already had a frantic voicemail from a vet tech telling me Elsa was so stressed out that it would be best if I just came and got her right then and brought her back for the next shot the next day, give us a call, thanks.
Er.. what? My initial reaction was to go off the rails and get all worked up. My sweet scared lady was super stressed? I’m at work for another 5 hours but I need to somehow go rescue her RIGHT NOW? Then, as often my reactions are timed, rage set in. Wait a minute, this is a vet clinic and they don’t know how to respond to stressed dogs? They want me somehow leave work in the middle of my shift to pick up, drive home, drive back again the following day and then BACK home again a stressy dog that is even more stressed by car rides that is ALSO currently under going serious treatment? Why I oughta. I had a brief rage fest in my car and then called the clinic back.
I’m pretty certain I was a bit snarky in my return call. I can’t with any certainty relay EXACTLY what I said, but I know I started the call with a deep inhale followed by “Yeah.. I got a call..” but I was more than slightly miffed so we’ll have to give me a pass or something. I was immediately put on hold until a vet could answer my questions. Thankfully, the vet was more than slightly miffed at the notion someone suggested I pick up a dog in the middle of HW treatment. In fact, all she requested to know via the phone call made to me was if they could have my permission to sedate Elsa as she was a bit stressed in her kennel. We weren’t entirely certain how that morphed to OHGODPICKTHEDOGUPNOOOOOW and she assured me Elsa was doing little more than running to the back of the kennel and making bird noises (my words there, because that’s what they sound like. Yelling birds) which spooked whoever had to call me. I was also assured that they would never ask an owner to transfer a dog mid treatment. I gave permission to chill her out, every thing went fine, and I picked my lady up the following afternoon.
One of my major complaints about the animal care industry as a whole is the inability to read a dog’s body language. My second complaint would be those in the industry afraid of being bitten/clawed/body fluided on/etc. No one wants any of those things, but they ARE going to happen, so do your best to avoid them and get over it when they do. The biting part though, a lot more of that could be avoided with a little behavioral brush up. Dr. Sophia Yin should be your own personal animal Jesus if you’re involved in the veterinary field, especially her low stress handling techniques: http://drsophiayin.com/
I think we can all agree that it’s easier to get through things if you’re not stressed- human and animal alike. You ARE more likely to cooperate for a physical at the doctor’s office if you’re not afraid, on all fours on a table, ball gagged and in a headlock, yes? Well so is your dog. We have to meet with our vet staff in the middle. On our part it’s important to be forth coming about what your dog’s behavior, and physically work on those things at home. There is no bad age to start working on accepting body handling, but man is it ideal with a puppy. There are even youtubes, people! Youtubes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0xY4K4FTtw
Also a good idea to acclimate your dog to the office itself. Drop in before the appointment days and let them scope out the place. Positive familiarity with the surroundings and staff.
If your dog needs to be muzzled, muzzle your dog. On a whole we’ve been conditioned to fear muzzles and not want to use them. Muzzled dog = that dog bites. In reality, a muzzle is a tool no more frightening than a bike helmet. I don’t want to crack my head open riding down the road, and I don’t want my veterinarian or vet tech bitten if my dog has not reached a point where they can handle necessary actions. DO condition your dog to accept wearing a muzzle. YOUTUBES: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGLKrQaabRI
And most importantly, don’t panic. We have a neat vet with a staff we like, so we keep going back. Your vet staff is capable and good at what they do, and if they aren’t the good news is it’s OK to never go back and find someone who is. You’re in it for your dog and I know lots of neat vets who are too.
Elsa came back from her HW treatment to a 30 day quarantine. Minimal activity, no free running around nonsense, and 30 days of doxycycline. The first week of doxy went down easy and then suddenly she realized she had some choice in the matter of taking the pills. I think the hidden pill progression went from canned food to pill pockets to cheese to hot dogs to smothering them in peanut butter and putting them as far down her throat as possible.
Towards the end of her quarantine she became a bit more cheeky than her pre-HW treatment self. I don’t think dragging out a stinky rolled up carpet to roll on it was what the vet meant by minimal activity: