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                    [post_date] => 2018-09-20 13:16:19
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                    [post_content] => Across Ethos hospitals, we perform aIMG_8753 wide range of board certified veterinary surgeries: orthopedic, oncologic, emergency, ophthalmic, neurologic, minimally invasive, and many more. Whether you're dropping your pet off for a common procedure such as a TPLO or mass removal, or a more advanced one such as a spinal surgery, it can be nerve-wracking for pet owners to leave their pet at a hospital.
But rest assured, your pet is in good hands.
Here is a glimpse behind the scenes into all the care our patients receive when hospitalized for surgery.

Planning: Before Your Pet Arrives

We understand that each dog or cat is unique and requires an individual plan for the procedure and hospitalization. The surgeon and anesthesia team, including our board certified anesthesiologist and high-level veterinary technicians, carefully review the medical records from the past including any recent appointments with us. If previous anesthesia has been performed here or elsewhere, these notes are carefully assessed as part of the work-up. A highly detailed and individual anesthesia protocol is created by the team to provide the safest possible anesthesia dosing for your pet. We take into account your pet’s signalment (age, breed, sex), history, physical exam findings including attitude (e.g. calm, anxious, stressed), surgery to be performed, current medications, and any other underlying diseases (e.g. heart murmur, liver or kidney disease etc.).

Drop-off: All Questions & Concerns Addressed

Drop-off for surgery patients is between26230664_1478901638894240_8095041948416249396_n 7-8 a.m. the day of surgery, or earlier if requested. Upon arrival, you must check in at the front desk and fill out a drop off form which includes questions regarding any new health updates/medications, special requirements or requests during their stay, and your contact information. Next, one of our veterinary technicians meets with you and asks you a few additional questions and make sure you have all your questions or concerns answered. Once we have obtained all our information and you feel comfortable with the plan, we assist your pet to the surgery area.

Pre-Op Exam: One Last Check

Once a pet has been checked in and comes to the surgery area, the surgeon and anesthesia team performs a physical exam on your pet. The surgeons also review the information provided on the drop-off form and if any new health concerns are noticed or any additional information is needed, the surgeon will call you prior to the planned procedure.

Flow of the Day: Triage

Most days of the week, multiple pets are scheduled for anesthesia and surgery. The surgeon and anesthesia team assesses each individual anesthesia candidate and determines the order of the day. Patients are triaged based on the urgency of their illness or injury, where emergent cases are prioritized. All patients are equally important to us and the order of the day is planned to facilitate every pet’s needs to provide optimal care.

The Procedure: A Team of Teams

We understand that having your belovedIMG_8857 pet undergo anesthesia and surgery can be stressful. In general, dogs and cats tolerate anesthesia very well. At our hospitals, we believe anesthesia and surgery is a team approach and we have designated pre-operative technicians, anesthesia technicians, and scrub-in technicians all being supervised by the attending surgeon and anesthesiologist. We have a highly advanced anesthesia monitoring system to be able to monitor all important parameters to provide the safest anesthesia possible. To decrease potential painful stimulus from surgery, we give all surgery patients pain medications prior to surgery (preemptive pre-medication), during surgery (if needed) and post-operative based on the individual need. We also use local nerve blocks when possible to eliminate pain sensation from surgery site. We make our absolute best effort with every patient to make anesthesia and surgery as stress-free and pain-free as possible.

Recovery: They Will Always Have a Friend

After the surgical procedure is done,bo insta-08 the patient is taken out of the operating room to start their recovery. During the initial recovery phase, the pet is always closely supervised and a veterinary technician is always by their side until they are safely awake and calm. Then the patient is moved to either the wards or ICU depending on health status, type of surgery, and level of monitoring required. In ICU or wards, your pet continues to be closely watched for their remaining stay. We have 24-hour care and monitoring of all our inpatients. Even after hours, we have multiple doctors and technicians assessing and monitoring the recovery of your pet. Every patient gets their own individualized treatment plan, including medications, written by the surgeon. Pets are offered food and water when safe to do so and dogs are walked outside according to the doctor’s orders.

Updates: Keeping You in the Loop

One of our biggest goals is to provide pet owners with frequent updates on their beloved pet who has been hospitalized. If you have questions or concerns prior to anesthesia and surgery, we address those questions to our best capability before the procedure. If you want to be informed when your pet’s surgery is about to start, we would be happy to give you a quick phone call at that time. Under normal circumstances, the surgeon will contact you after the surgical procedure has been performed and your pet is recovering from anesthesia. After this first phone call, it is our goal to provide you with updates two times daily until your pet goes home. During the update calls, we discuss how your pet is recovering, the plan for your pet, the anticipated day and time to set up the discharge appointment to go home, and if you want to schedule any in-person visits.   We know how stressful it can be to leave your pet behind, but we want you to know that they receive the best care possible and lots of love while they're with us. And soon enough, they will be back home with you.  

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Torn Cranial Cruciate Ligament in Dogs: Diagnosis, Surgery, Recovery Going, Going, Gone: When Your Pet Eats Something They Shouldn't A Day in the Life: ER Vet Tech Here are My Promises: A Veterinarian's Thoughts  [post_title] => Veterinary Surgery: Behind the Scenes  [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => veterinary-surgery-behind-the-scenes [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-09-20 13:16:19 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-09-20 17:16:19 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.ivghospitals.com/?p=10986 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 10965 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2018-09-17 11:50:42 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-09-17 15:50:42 [post_content] => There are two annual vaccines recommended to those who own a ferret.

Distemper

This is the same disease as in dogs. In ferrets it causes neurologic disease and it is usually fatal. It is important to use a vaccine specifically designed for ferrets whenever possible due to the higher rate of serious vaccine reactions seen in ferrets getting canine vaccines.ferret

Rabies

This vaccine protects against this fatal neurologic disease that is prevalent in New England. This disease can also be spread to humans and is fatal for humans. Rabies vaccine is also required by law in Massachusetts and will help with looser quarantine restrictions if your pets bites someone. There are few brands of rabies vaccine approved in ferrets, so it is very important to make sure you get the proper vaccine in order to get a Rabies Certificate. [post_title] => Vaccines in Ferrets [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => vaccines-in-ferrets [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-09-17 13:15:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-09-17 17:15:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.ivghospitals.com/?p=10965 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 10962 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2018-09-17 11:24:10 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-09-17 15:24:10 [post_content] => Vaccines are an important part in prevention of disease for your pet pig. Your pet’s vaccines are determined on an individual basis based on individual needs, but in general we recommend the following:

Parapleuro Shield

Parapleuro Shield is a combination vaccine that covers for several of the most common and most concerning diseases in pigs. It is given as a series of 2 shots initially, then boostered annually for protection. It specifically offers protection from the following:

Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a disease that can be found in any standing water outside. It is very common in his area and is spread through urine from local wildlife. The vaccine offers protection from 5 different strains of this disease.  It is given as a series of 2 shots initially, then boostered annually for protection.

Tetanus

Pigs are very prone to tetanus and it can be fatal. Tetanus toxoid is given as a series of 2 shots initially, then boostered annually for protection.

Rabies

Rabies is found in many wild animals in the Northeast. Rabies vaccine can be given to pigs, and likely helps provide protection from this disease that is fatal to mammals (including humans). It is very important to note that there is no rabies vaccine that is tested and approved for use in pigs, so we will be unable to issue a rabies certificate for your pet. In the event your pig is bitten by a wild animal or bites a human, quarantine is up to local authorities. Since the vaccine is not approved, your pig will never legally be considered vaccinated, but it may be taken into consideration when outlining quarantine restrictions by some officials. [post_title] => Vaccines for Pot-Bellied Pigs [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => vaccines-for-pot-bellied-pigs [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-09-17 13:04:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-09-17 17:04:49 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.ivghospitals.com/?p=10962 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 10927 [post_author] => 25 [post_date] => 2018-09-13 14:17:05 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-09-13 18:17:05 [post_content] =>
Welcome back to our pet recipes series!
For September, we are paying tribute to the apple picking season that is upon us by making:

Wholesome Apple Bites

20180912_164306 This delicious vegan recipe is just the treat to get your pups in the mood for early autumn! Whether you go on an annual apple picking adventure, or you take advantage of local farmers markets with fresh produce, this recipe is a healthy, yummy treat to help you use up that big bag of apples.  

Ingredients:20180912_160112

(Note: for a gluten-free option, you can use oat flour)   

Instructions:app

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix wet ingredients in a bowl and slowly add flour while stirring. Dough should be firm but still slightly sticky.
  3. Roll small quarter-sized balls of dough and spread evenly on a lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake for about 8 minutes or until golden brown.
 

Enjoy!

Tested and approved by CoCo Bean, Sebastian, Miss Piggy, and Smeagol! [playlist type="video" ids="10945,10944,10943,10942"]
Stay tuned for next month's October/Halloween-themed recipe!

More from Ethos Pet Kitchen

Chewy Blueberry Peanut Butter Cookies [post_title] => Ethos Pet Kitchen: Wholesome Apple Bites [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => ethos-pet-kitchen-wholesome-apple-bites [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-09-13 14:17:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-09-13 18:17:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.ivghospitals.com/?p=10927 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 10844 [post_author] => 25 [post_date] => 2018-09-11 08:52:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-09-11 12:52:52 [post_content] => Dogs have cleaner mouths than humans. Cats always land on their feet. These and many other myths about pets have been circulating for many years, and some have real staying power. You may have heard some of these before, or perhaps they are all new to you. We're here to separate fact from fiction when it comes to myths about our pets!  

Myth #1: Dogs see in black & white.

Truth: Dogs can perceive color, but not every color, and as a result, they do not see color as vibrantly as we do. Dogs can only see shades of blue, yellow, and green and their vision is blurrier in brighter light. They make up for their sight disadvantages with their incredibly strong sense of smell, though.

Myth #2: A dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s mouth.

Truth: Not quite. Dogs’ mouths contain almost as many bacteria as humans. It’s difficult to determine which is “cleaner” because the bacteria found in a dog’s mouth are different than the bacteria in a human’s mouth. Luckily, though, most of the bacteria found in dogs’ mouths can’t transmit disease to humans due to being species-specific.

Myth #3: A wagging tail means a happy dog, and a purring cat is a happy cat.

pet myths-05 Truth: Purring generally means a cat is happy, but it can also mean they’re stressed, sick, or in pain. Some believe that it is a self-comforting mechanism that help cats rest and repair. Similarly, a wagging tail on a dog generally means they’re happy, but can also indicate that they’re nervous. Researchers found that a dog’s tail wagging to the right indicates positive emotions (content or excited) while wagging to the left indicates negative emotions (stressed or anxious).

Myth #4: It's okay to skip flea and tick preventative during the winter.

Truth: Fleas can live outdoors in temperatures as low as ~33 degrees, and ticks become active in temperatures above ~40 degrees. Since our Northeast winters often fluctuate in temperature, veterinarians recommend that dogs stay on flea and tick (and heartworm) medication year-round. This really is a case where "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." 

Myth #5: Dogs eat grass only if they are sick.

pet myths-03 Truth: Eating grass doesn’t always mean your dog is sick (though sometimes it does). Dogs eat grass for many possible reasons such as to improve digestion, to fulfill a nutritional need, or just because they’re bored or they like the feel and taste of it.

Myth #6: Cats always land on their feet.

Truth: Although felines possess the “air-righting reflex” which allows them to correct their bodies as they fall so they can land on their feet, don’t always count on them doing it unscathed. If the height of the fall is too low, they will often land on their side. If the height of the fall is too high, they may land on their feet but suffer serious internal or bone injuries.

Myth #7: Female dogs should have one litter of puppies before they get spayed.

pet myths-09 Truth: There is no evidence to support that having a litter of puppies before getting spayed reaps any long-term health benefits for female dogs. In reality, spaying a dog before her first heat cycle actually decreases many health risks such as developing mammary tumors or uterine infections.

Myth #8: There are hypoallergenic dog breeds.

Truth: There is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. Most people think that allergies come from a dog’s fur, but it actually comes from a protein in a dog’s saliva and urine that sticks to dogs’ skin and sheds with their fur. Dogs who have hair (instead of fur - Poodles for example), or dogs who don’t shed are better choices for people with allergies.  In these breeds, the allergy-causing protein isn't released as often due to the dog not shedding as much. So, "hypoallergenic dogs" shed fewer allergens into your home and the air, but they aren’t actually hypoallergenic.

Myth #9: Dogs feel guilt.

pet myths-01 Truth: Dogs can feel primary emotions such as happiness, sadness, and fear, but there is no evidence to support the fact that they feel secondary emotions like shame or guilt. When dogs appear guilty, it has been thought that it is a learned response to a human reaction. They respond to what their owners are doing, but do not know that they did something wrong and therefore can’t feel bad for it. Interestingly, it is believed that smiling is also a learned human response in dogs.  

Sources & More Information:

 

Related Blog Posts:

Fleas and Ticks and Mosquitos, Oh My! Using Preventatives to Protect Your Pet The Weird Things My Cat Does: Explained Dr. Google and Your Pet: A Tricky Relationship [post_title] => 9 Pet Myths: Debunked! [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 9-pet-myths-debunked [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-09-11 14:12:03 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-09-11 18:12:03 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.ivghospitals.com/?p=10844 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 10782 [post_author] => 25 [post_date] => 2018-09-06 14:06:26 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-09-06 18:06:26 [post_content] => We’ve all been there, and we know we’re not supposed to. But in the internet age, it's hard to fight the urge to pick up your phone to Google what that lump could be, why your cat is losing weight, or why your dog has had diarrhea for the last 3 days. The internet can be your friend in some cases, providing you with guidance and helping you make informed decisions. But it can also be your enemy, providing you with incorrect, incomplete, or irrelevant diagnoses and treatments. It also causes pet owners to become pet doctors, but the problem is:
Pets can't tell us what they're feeling, so owners only see what's on the surface.
Because of this, pet owners don't get the whole story and will not know about any internal issues that can only be determined through an exam, imaging, lab work, etc. Here’s what a couple of our Boston West specialists have to say about our good frenemy, Dr. Google:  

Expert Opinion: Pedro Bento DVM, DACVIM (SAIM)

There are many reasons why internet-based medical advice is ill-advised and sometimes detrimental to your pet’s health. Dr. Google is not the only potential bad source of information. More and more forums, even Facebook, are being used as a source of bad advice.
Many common clinical signs, such as decreased appetite, lethargy, or weight loss are caused by various disease processes, not just one.
It is rare that one single finding provides a diagnosis. Thus, diagnosing our dogs or cats is made by integrating various pieces of information: All of this information (and more) is evaluated by a veterinarian to reach a diagnosis. In more complex cases, this cycle may recur multiple times. For a non-medical person, it is very easy to find information that is not applicable or relevant to your pet. This can lead to self-medicating him/her, delay in seeking medical care, and distrust between pet parent and veterinarian when the latter doesn’t agree with the online findings. Occasionally, we even see owners where their pet has a severe disease, they refuse all diagnostics, and elect for euthanasia based on what they saw online. Anyone can write anything in the online world. This doesn’t mean it’s true.
The outcome of a pet with a certain disease doesn’t guarantee the same outcome in another patient.
There are patients that die of relatively “simple” diseases, while others can survive despite a very poor/grave prognosis. Furthermore, the internet cannot distinguish between true versus false information, let alone if it applies to your pet or not.
The popular results on your browser don’t necessarily contain correct or the best information.
Ultimately, trying to obtain medical information online is not a substitute for health care. While online information can help make informed decisions, it must be used in conjunction with your veterinarian. In addition, make sure to find trustworthy sources of information. These include government websites, medical societies, specialty colleges, colleges of veterinary medicine, veterinary journals, and peer reviewed articles.  

Real Stories: Katie Sakakeeny, DVM, DACVECC

The Ice Cube Scare

Around 2 years ago there was something posted on Facebook that circulated as an advertisement to NEVER feed your dog ice cubes- it could cause bloat and GDV. This created a lot of panic and we received all kinds of phone calls around that time from panicked dog owners. There is absolutely no scientific evidence to support that this is even close to a true statement. Advice: Don’t trust everything you read on the Internet.  

The Pancreatitis Problem

Many people will Google the treatment for pancreatitis, and often times the owners are misinformed that "resting the gut" and withholding any kind of nutrition is the correct way to treat pancreatitis. This treatment has fallen out of favor in both human and veterinary medicine, and there IS evidence to support early enteral nutrition in both dogs and cats with pancreatitis if they can tolerate it. Advice: Don’t attempt treatment at home unless approved by your veterinarian.  

Breeder Warnings

Often, we get secondhand warnings from owners that their breeder told them their dog can never have a certain type of anesthesia or analgesia. While there is some validity to specific breeds having sensitivities to certain drugs (like sighthounds to barbiturates), most of the time there is no research or evidence to support these claims as well. Advice: Consult with your veterinarian before making any breed-specific medical or lifestyle decisions you heard from a breeder.  

Inducing Vomiting at Home

I fear that many people Google the dose of H202 (Hydrogen Peroxide) to give to their dog to make them vomit at home to avoid a trip to the ER. There is evidence to suggest that the H202 may do more harm than good, and there are additional risks associated with doing this at home. My preference is to always have a pet brought in to the hospital, and if we choose to make them vomit, we have safer agents and are better able to monitor and address complications quickly. Advice: Call your veterinarian immediately before inducing vomiting, or go straight to an ER.   The lesson here is that Dr. GoogleCat On Desk with Green Cup is not Dr. Licensed Veterinarian. When in doubt, give your veterinarian a call to discuss your pet's symptoms, your options, and the urgency and severity of your pet's condition. If you need us, we are here 24/7/365.  

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Welcome to our new pet recipes series!
We're focusing on easy, healthy, yummy recipes that your pets will LOVE! For our first recipe, we are celebrating the end of blueberry season and summer by making:

Chewy Blueberry Peanut Butter Cookies

20180830_181425This simple, gluten-free, vegan cookie recipe is a healthy and delicious option for pets. With blueberry season coming to a close, we wanted to make the most of the remaining fruit we had. These cookies are an easy alternative to some of the commercial products that are currently available for pets. Both gluten-free and vegan means that these cookies work well into many pet’s diets.  

Ingredients:20180830_174532

 

Instructions:20180830_180757

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Allow your pups to taste test blueberries for freshness.
  3. Mix blueberries, oats, and peanut butter in a bowl.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Roll dough into small ½” round balls and place about ½” apart on baking sheet.
  6. Bake for ~7 minutes or until golden brown
 

Enjoy!

Tested and approved by Sebastian, Smeagol, and Miss Piggy. [playlist type="video" ids="10767,10765,10757"] Also tested and approved by Sylvester the rat. 20180830_181519 [post_title] => Ethos Pet Kitchen: Chewy BPB Cookies [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => ethos-pet-kitchen-chewy-bpb-cookies [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-09-13 14:09:24 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-09-13 18:09:24 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.ivghospitals.com/?p=10740 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 10713 [post_author] => 25 [post_date] => 2018-08-28 10:54:20 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-08-28 14:54:20 [post_content] => Old dog in veterinary clinic Many dog owners have seen reports of Canine Influenza, or the dog flu, hitting Massachusetts and are wondering what, if anything, we should be doing to prevent this in our pet dogs. Don't panic just yet, here's what you should know:  

Is it an Outbreak?

Not yet. First, it's important to keep everything in perspective. There has been a grand total of one case diagnosed in the state of Massachusetts. There have been 5 confirmed cases in Connecticut. That doesn't mean we shouldn't be aware, take preventative action, or should blow this off as nothing significant. But it is not, as yet, an outbreak or an epidemic. There have been outbreaks in several parts of the country, and they all started with just a case or two.  

How Contagious is it?

Influenza in dogs is just as contagious as in humans. It can be transmitted via airborne secretions or direct contact, so it doesn't take much to contract it. With that being said, if your dog leads a sheltered life and doesn't interact with any other dogs, including neighbor dogs, he or she is probably not at a high risk.  

What Should I Look Out For?

If your dog or a dog that your dog has interacted with shows any of the following symptoms, contact your veterinarian or go to the nearest veterinary ER:  

Should I Vaccinate My Dog?

Owners may wish to consider vaccinating if their dog does interact with others - either casually, via neighborhood contact like walks or dog parks, or in larger social situations like kennels and daycare. It's easy to imagine influenza spreading in these environments. One person brings their dog to Connecticut, New York, South Carolina, or Chicago on vacation. They contract influenza but it takes some time to incubate. That dog comes back to the MA area, and goes to play at a dog park with your friend's dog, then your friend's dog comes to your house for your weekly playdate. So now your dog may be exposed to influenza before the first dog ever even showed signs of the disease.
There is a bivalent vaccine available for the two canine strains; if you think your dog may be at risk, talk to your veterinarian about getting your dog vaccinated.
Be aware, be safe, and use your best judgement. Happy fetching!  

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Realizing Something Is Off

My family had rescued Lily when sheIMG_0866 was just 8 weeks old from the local shelter, and she had lived a quiet, independent, indoor-cat life for those 13 years. My mother was her favorite person and though Lily didn’t like my sister or me very much, we loved her unconditionally. Our beautiful Lily became sick when she was 13 years old. Like many cat owners, we had fallen behind on bringing her to the vet and didn’t think much of it because she was always seemingly happy and healthy. But one day, she suddenly looked a little bonier and her eyes a little less bright, so it was time for a trip to her vet. A senior blood panel at her regular vet showed that she had early kidney disease and hyperthyroidism. Neither of these diseases are curable, but they are commonly diagnosed together and they are manageable. We started a treatment plan of two doses of transdermal Methimazole every day to regulate her thyroid level and a special prescription diet to manage her kidneys.
It was expensive to keep up with, but worth it for our girl.
Lesson #1: Especially as they age, take your cat to the vet annually even if you think they’re healthy. Always watch him/her closely for any changes in appetite, water intake, weight, and other behavior changes. The sooner you catch something, the better chance they have.   

The Calm Before the Storm

Then there was a period of about aIMG_7534 2 year and a half where everything was just okay. We gave the medication in her ears every day, she happily ate plenty of food, we brought her in for bloodwork rechecks every few months, and she gained a lot of weight back. She even became much more social than I had ever seen her; it was like she was a brand-new cat!
For a moment, we forgot she had any chronic illness at all and we carried on blissfully.
Lesson #2: Enjoy them while you can. Accept that the end may be near and prepare yourself for that, but just relish any time you have left with them while they’re still themselves. Time is always fleeting.  

The Crash… 

And then things fell apart. During oneIMG_8946 of her regular visits, her doctor noticed that her breathing was irregular and after an ultrasound, they found fluid in her chest and possibly around her heart which is life-threatening and needed to be seen by a specialist immediately. Lily went to Dr. Prahl in Internal Medicine at Bulger Veterinary Hospital to have the fluids removed. The procedure went well and she went home later that day. But later that night, her breathing worsened and we found ourselves at the closest ER, Mass Vet, at 11 o’clock on a Tuesday night. To keep things short, Lily was hospitalized for 3 days for kidney failure treatment, lung cancer assessment, fluid removal, and oxygen support. The option for humane euthanasia was on the table, but we were just not ready to let her go. She saw six different doctors during her stay and went through Dr. Sosa in Cardiology, Dr. Davies in Critical Care, Dr. Tromblee in Radiology, and Dr. Frye, Dr. McDermott, and Dr. Walker in Emergency. I got multiple update calls every day and visited her through the glass of an oxygen box.
She had times where she was looking great, and times where they weren’t sure if she was going to make it.
Finally on the morning of day 3, she was discharged and came home. Lesson #3: Pet hospitalization hurts your emotional health, and your wallet. If you don’t have pet insurance, be aware that something like this can cost you upwards of $2,000. There are many things to prepare for when you have a senior pet, and this is just one possibility.       

…And Burn

Lily couldn’t get around much soIMG_1329 we set up camp for her in our kitchen with beds, blankets, bowls, and her litter box to make her comfortable. Some days were good and some days were bad, she ate and then she didn’t, and sometimes she made it to the couch and sometimes she couldn’t make it to the litter box. At this point she only weighed 5 pounds, while she had weighedIMG_9364 12 pounds her whole healthy life. We knew she wasn’t our Lily anymore. All parts of her personality were gone, and we could tell her body was just surviving. We waited for her to peacefully pass away in her sleep, but the day never came.
Her body kept fighting, but she was long gone.
Lesson #4: Pet hospice is the most difficult part for them and for you. The best thing you can do for them is just be there. Sit with them, pet them, talk to them, because they are in there somewhere. They need you now more than ever. Be strong for them.  

A Pet Owner’s Hardest Decision

And so, we chose euthanasia. EvenIMG_9436 though I have always supported and “appreciated” euthanasia, it’s different when it’s your baby and it was very difficult for me to come to terms with ending her life for her.
But now she was suffering, and that was on us.
One week after her 15th birthday she slipped away, weak and effortlessly, in an exam room in my mother’s arms; in the arms of her favorite person. It was a long journey and like everyone always says, “she lived a long, happy life.” I will forever be thankful for the many years I had with her and for all the veterinarians who extended her life far beyond what would have been possible without veterinary medicine. Still to this day, I look to her spot in the window and think of my beautiful Lily. Lesson #5: You know your pet better than anyone. If you think it’s time to let go, then it probably is. If you’re struggling with the decision to euthanize, reach out to your veterinarian for guidance and support during this difficult time.  End Note: When we bring a pet into our homes, we all sign up for the heartbreak at the end. The end-of-life stage is the hardest part. It can be expensive, and it’s emotionally and physically exhausting. Every pet is different and will follow a different path, some rockier than others. Keep in touch with your vet, plan ahead, and savor every moment. It’s never enough time for us, but it’s all the time in the world for our pets; and it’s always worth the many years of happiness they bring us.
Rachael & Lily, pre-diagnoses, 2016   Rachael & Lily, pre-diagnoses, 2016            

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We start and end our days caring for beings that can’t speak for themselves.
We see animals at their very worst, and without being able to communicate with them we must help figure out what is wrong and how to treat and give them comfort. As an ECC (Emergency & Critical Care) technician, it is our job to make sure the pets in our hospital receive the best care possible, 24 hours a day, through all their treatments, hospitalization, and discharge.   In the ICU, we start our day with rounds. During this briefing, we give a medical history of our current inpatients to a team coming in for a brand new 12-hour haul. They are relieving the previous crew, who may be coming off the 12-hour overnight shift themselves. After going through each case and updating each other on treatments, behavior, food preferences and so much more, it is treatment time. While our team in the ICU focuses on getting treatments done for patients that have been admitted to the hospital in a timely manner, our ER team is taking care of incoming patients. The ECC team comes together in unison to perform vitals, bloodwork, radiographs, and blood pressure screenings and assist with wound repairs, placing IV catheters, urinary catheters, central lines and anything else our patients need to make sure they get the best patient care we can provide. At times, our department will collaborate with other services such as Internal Medicine or Radiology in order to diagnose and treat appropriately. Our patients may stay for a few hours or a few days, but whatever the case, we want to make a positive impact on their lives and on the lives of their humans. At times when the outcome is sad, we feel the weight of the world on our shoulders as our clients leave with a heavy heart. We all have our favorite or most memorable patients, but all our patients get treated with the same respect and love they deserve.
We may leave our hospital after a long shift, but every animal stays in our hearts and on our minds.
We are dedicated to our jobs, our patients, and to each other. Anyone walking through our doors will see the teamwork, respect, and passion for the beautiful beings we are fortunate enough to care for.  

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But rest assured, your pet is in good hands.
Here is a glimpse behind the scenes into all the care our patients receive when hospitalized for surgery.

Planning: Before Your Pet Arrives

We understand that each dog or cat is unique and requires an individual plan for the procedure and hospitalization. The surgeon and anesthesia team, including our board certified anesthesiologist and high-level veterinary technicians, carefully review the medical records from the past including any recent appointments with us. If previous anesthesia has been performed here or elsewhere, these notes are carefully assessed as part of the work-up. A highly detailed and individual anesthesia protocol is created by the team to provide the safest possible anesthesia dosing for your pet. We take into account your pet’s signalment (age, breed, sex), history, physical exam findings including attitude (e.g. calm, anxious, stressed), surgery to be performed, current medications, and any other underlying diseases (e.g. heart murmur, liver or kidney disease etc.).

Drop-off: All Questions & Concerns Addressed

Drop-off for surgery patients is between26230664_1478901638894240_8095041948416249396_n 7-8 a.m. the day of surgery, or earlier if requested. Upon arrival, you must check in at the front desk and fill out a drop off form which includes questions regarding any new health updates/medications, special requirements or requests during their stay, and your contact information. Next, one of our veterinary technicians meets with you and asks you a few additional questions and make sure you have all your questions or concerns answered. Once we have obtained all our information and you feel comfortable with the plan, we assist your pet to the surgery area.

Pre-Op Exam: One Last Check

Once a pet has been checked in and comes to the surgery area, the surgeon and anesthesia team performs a physical exam on your pet. The surgeons also review the information provided on the drop-off form and if any new health concerns are noticed or any additional information is needed, the surgeon will call you prior to the planned procedure.

Flow of the Day: Triage

Most days of the week, multiple pets are scheduled for anesthesia and surgery. The surgeon and anesthesia team assesses each individual anesthesia candidate and determines the order of the day. Patients are triaged based on the urgency of their illness or injury, where emergent cases are prioritized. All patients are equally important to us and the order of the day is planned to facilitate every pet’s needs to provide optimal care.

The Procedure: A Team of Teams

We understand that having your belovedIMG_8857 pet undergo anesthesia and surgery can be stressful. In general, dogs and cats tolerate anesthesia very well. At our hospitals, we believe anesthesia and surgery is a team approach and we have designated pre-operative technicians, anesthesia technicians, and scrub-in technicians all being supervised by the attending surgeon and anesthesiologist. We have a highly advanced anesthesia monitoring system to be able to monitor all important parameters to provide the safest anesthesia possible. To decrease potential painful stimulus from surgery, we give all surgery patients pain medications prior to surgery (preemptive pre-medication), during surgery (if needed) and post-operative based on the individual need. We also use local nerve blocks when possible to eliminate pain sensation from surgery site. We make our absolute best effort with every patient to make anesthesia and surgery as stress-free and pain-free as possible.

Recovery: They Will Always Have a Friend

After the surgical procedure is done,bo insta-08 the patient is taken out of the operating room to start their recovery. During the initial recovery phase, the pet is always closely supervised and a veterinary technician is always by their side until they are safely awake and calm. Then the patient is moved to either the wards or ICU depending on health status, type of surgery, and level of monitoring required. In ICU or wards, your pet continues to be closely watched for their remaining stay. We have 24-hour care and monitoring of all our inpatients. Even after hours, we have multiple doctors and technicians assessing and monitoring the recovery of your pet. Every patient gets their own individualized treatment plan, including medications, written by the surgeon. Pets are offered food and water when safe to do so and dogs are walked outside according to the doctor’s orders.

Updates: Keeping You in the Loop

One of our biggest goals is to provide pet owners with frequent updates on their beloved pet who has been hospitalized. If you have questions or concerns prior to anesthesia and surgery, we address those questions to our best capability before the procedure. If you want to be informed when your pet’s surgery is about to start, we would be happy to give you a quick phone call at that time. Under normal circumstances, the surgeon will contact you after the surgical procedure has been performed and your pet is recovering from anesthesia. After this first phone call, it is our goal to provide you with updates two times daily until your pet goes home. During the update calls, we discuss how your pet is recovering, the plan for your pet, the anticipated day and time to set up the discharge appointment to go home, and if you want to schedule any in-person visits.   We know how stressful it can be to leave your pet behind, but we want you to know that they receive the best care possible and lots of love while they're with us. And soon enough, they will be back home with you.  

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