Being at the vet is a scary place for a lot of pets. We decided to look at the latest research and look at what we could do to make The Pet Doctor a low stress place for pets to receive medical care.
Last year, Fluffy the cat came to visit us. Prior to that visit, it had been 2 years since Fluffy had been to the vet. At the last visit, it took her owner an hour and a half to get her into her carrier. On her arrival, she was petrified by the barking dogs in the lobby and then once we got her in the exam room, she was so upset that it was impossible to touch her. It is because of pets like Fluffy that we decided to rebuild our practice from the bottom up.From the moment we started to plan our new facility, our most important consideration was to do everything that we could to make being at the vet a positive experience for our animal patients.
We started at the front of the building. Our covered entrance gives pets time to settle in before they come into our lobby. Our paint colors are considered to be low stress. Even our flooring is designed with your pet in mind, using materials that are less slippery.
We noticed over the years that certain noises can really be scary for some pets, so we used noise proofing in our exam room walls to help keep pets from hearing that there are other animals nearby. Our cat-only exam room eliminates dog smells and makes it a lot less scary for cats.
In the back of the hospital, the cat wards are divided from the dog wards by a full corridor. This keeps both species more comfortable. All of our treatment wards are laid out so that no pets face each other while in their kennels. This also decreases stress.
When Fluffy came to visit us this time, the difference was night and day. Because she was calmer and not so worried about the sights and smells of the dogs in the clinic, we were able to perform a much more thorough exam. The sad part was that we found terrible dental disease and Fluffy ended up losing a lot of teeth. If we had seen Fluffy more often, we could have caught it earlier and helped prevent tooth loss and a lot of discomfort. When pets are less stressed, their owners are more likely to come in regularly and get their pets the care they need.
It is our hope that our new design will help prevent Fluffy from feeling stressed at the vet and help her to have a happy, healthy life.
Every year I see the advertisement for the low cost vaccine clinic that is offered at a large pet-related event in our area. I have even been approached about being the vet that does these vaccines. I truly believe that this type of service is a danger to our pets and ethically cannot be a part of it. I also recommend to my clients that they do not participate. Here are some of the reasons….
The first reason is that this is a very high stress environment. There are often 30 or 40 dogs in line waiting to get vaccines. There are children running around, a large crowd of people, dogs that may be scared or aggressive, or dogs may even be harboring illness. There can be fights in line and also there is a high risk of the spread of disease due to the close proximity of other dogs.
I also believe that there is no possible way that these pets can get a thorough physical exam in these conditions. I have seen cases where the dogs are run through and get the vaccines in an assembly line fashion, without so much as a glance at their physical condition. I believe that the physical exam is the most important thing that we do. These dogs are not going to have their eyes checked, are not going to have their heart listened to, are not going to have their abdomens palpated. There are so many things that are found during physical exam that are important and I don’t think that there is a vet in the world that can do an adequate job during these conditions.
The part that I hate for pets to miss out on is the educational component of a visit to the vet clinic. How are these pet owners going to find out about heartworm disease and intestinal parasites? How many of these pets are going to suffer from dental disease that goes unnoticed? How many pets are going to suffer from diseases such as low thyroid, diabetes, kidney disease, etc. because they missed out on the opportunity to be educated on the value of routine bloodwork. I understand that everyone wants to save a few dollars everywhere that we can, but discounting the medical care of a pet probably isn’t a savings in the long run.
At The Pet Doctor, we have always done our best to have a culture of kindness and compassion to our patients. Today we are happy and proud to announce that we will no longer be doing declaw procedures at our practice.
In recent weeks, declawing vs not declawing has been a hot button topic in the veterinary world. After some serious soul searching and a lot of research, I have decided that this is the right move for my practice. We have always taken other steps to make our practice a safe and comfortable place for our feline patients. We are a certified Cat Friendly practice and we use stress free handling techniques......stopping declaw procedures seemed like the perfect next step. We are an AAHA accredited practice and follow their guidelines in many other areas. AAHA recently came out with a position statement that they are opposed to declawing cats and we respect and agree with that position.
At The Pet Doctor, we believe that scratching is a normal part of cat behavior. We believe that there are other alternatives besides declawing that work, such as behavior modification, regular nail trimming, nail caps, etc. We want to continue to provide the best care for our best friends and stopping this procedure is the best fit for our practice.
Marcy Hammerle, DVM, DABVP (canine and feline)
There has been a lot of excitement around our practice lately, after hearing the announcement at the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) Convention that Dr. Marcy Hammerle has been nominated as one of just 20 national finalists for America's Favorite Veterinarian!
The America's Favorite Veterinarian iniative is sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, the charitable arm of the AVMA. According to the AVMF, "America’s Favorite Veterinarian provides a spotlight for those entrusted to preserve and protect the health and well-being of our animals. The contest celebrates the extraordinary relationships pet owners share with their veterinarians while recognizing the other pivotal roles veterinarians play in society as medical professionals in animal health research, food safety, public health, government services and academia."
Dr. Hammerle was nominated for this award by a client, who said:
1. Leads with her HEART. I honestly feel like she thinks of my pet as her own.
2. Start-to-finish vet in technical and educational aspects but also compassion.
a. Provides neonatal classes for those with pregnant moms;
b. Wisely & proactively advises treatment for adolescent & adult dogs (traditional and non-traditional);
c. Highly accomplished in geriatric care, enabling the owner to have explored all available options by the time it comes to make that final decision, as well as having a grief room (amazing).
3. Networks with highly skilled surgeons when a patient needs care that she feels needs a referral.
4. Owns her own business----crucial when comparing her to a "corporate vet". Takes her work home with her, enables her to minister to both her four AND two legged patients----she views them as a "bundle".
5. Knows how to hire: staff is a beautiful combination of professionalism and expertise, yet they're soft and caring---remembering each client's name as they come in, and genuinely looking as if they are sad when the patient leaves.
6. The only accredited hospital in St. Charles County.
7. Spends considerable personal resources providing complementary services to rescue groups, and usually becomes the vet of choice in the long-term care of the animal after having been adopted.
8. Provides free pet portraits at Christmas with donations going to rescue groups.
9. She is the WHOLE PACKAGE. Do a secret visit and you'll see why people drive miles to visit her for their pet."
Dr. Hammerle, owner and veterinarian at The Pet Doctor since 2005, said "I am so proud and honored to be a finalist. I work hard every day to be the best vet that I can be. I pursued ABVP diplomate status and AAHA accreditation to be able to give the best medical care to my patients. I try my best to support my pet owners in making the best decisions emotionally, medically and financially for their pets. I work with and donate time to pet rescue to give back to my community. To have all of those efforts publicly recognized means more to me than I can explain."
Voting is now ongoing and open to the public. A full profile of Dr. Hammerle is available on the contest website available here, and includes the story of how and why she became a veterinarian and why she's passionate about veterinary medicine. Don't forget that you can submit your vote DAILY between now and September 1, so please do so and encourage friends and family to do the same. Follow this address to vote or share:
If Dr. Hammerle wins, not only does it support a local business, local pet rescue, the local community and the animals she serves, but Dr. Hammerle will also win a $500 cash prize, a trip to the 2016 AVMA Convention in San Antonio, and a community celebration to recognize the entire staff at The Pet Doctor!
Thank you for your support, and don't forget to vote!
Most often, we are able to perform radiographs in an awake animal without causing any stress or pain. Occasionally a pet may need to have some type of anesthesia or sedation. The need for sedation depends on the comfort level of the pet, the type and severity of an injury and the area that needs to be X-rayed. If the pet is very painful or is very scared, sedation allows us to get the information that we need without causing more stress or discomfort to your pet. The anesthesia or sedation allows the veterinarian to position the pet without having to risk poor quality images (or having to retake film because the dog moved). It can help us to get optimal images without more your pet having any discomfort or stress.
The procedure to get a radiograph of a pet is very simple. A cassette containing X-ray film is placed under the pet on a special table. The x-ray beam is on a mechanical “arm” and is positioned over the area of interest. The radiograph creates images on the film in varying shades of gray based upon tissue density.
Different positions and additional films allow the veterinarian to see different angles of the area. Multiple pictures reveal can show images of a fracture, tumor, obstruction or other health issue not visible in the first film. The process taking radiographs can take 15 to 20 minutes, depending upon how many images are taken. The X-ray film is then processed. The veterinarian then looks at the films to diagnose the problem, and can create a recommendation for treatment.
At The Pet Doctor, we have many different safety protocols in place to help care for both our patients and our staff. There are some safety issues involving the taking of radiographs. There is no danger to your pet during a series of diagnostic radiographs. For our staff members, we need to regularly evaluate their level of exposure to the radiation beam. At The Pet Doctor, we make sure that our radiograph machine is as safe as possible by having it evaluated according to established guidelines. Our AAHA accreditation also requires us to have a radiation safety program in place. This is one more commitment that The Pet Doctor has to providing the highest quality of medicine available.