Monday, May 6, 2013 was my first day at a new place of employment, Mishicot Veterinary Clinic in Mishicot, Wisconsin. I am blessed to have this opportunity to start fresh and have more time to spend with family and friends, while still making a difference in the lives of the people and animals around me.
As with any “first day,” I was nervous and excited to start. The day was pretty routine with exams, vaccines, ear cytology (checking ears for infections with yeast and bacteria), and meeting new people. The unusual part came when a cat presented with hematochezia (bleeding from the butt). When a person brings their pet to a veterinary clinic, they often call with what they think is going on, but that does not always line up with what is actually happening. When little Chilay arrived, she was extremely dehydrated and had a discharge from her back end that was full of blood and pus. After doing some testing it was determined that Chilay needed to go to surgery. What was found surprised me! A mass in her intestines ended up being a tapeworm that was eating into her intestines and causing a partial blockage. This is what we call a parasitic foreign body – not good to have, but pretty interesting to find. Unfortunately, due to the damage to her intestines, I had to remove a portion of her intestines and suture them back together again (pictures below).
After surgery, I called Chilay’s mom to let her know what we found. Needless to say, it was a surprise for everyone. As it turns out, Chilay was a stray that three weeks ago found her way to a bar and a new home. Was her new family prepared for the financial side of a major surgery? No. Did they go forward anyway because they loved her and had taken on the responsibility for her health? Yes! This warms my heart. One of my goals with this blog is to share the wonderful things that happen in veterinary medicine, but also to help teach prevention of major problems. So what do we know, or should we learn, about a new animal coming into your family?
1. When a new animal comes into your life, it is always important to have a complete physical examination done.
2. Check for and treat for parasitic infections – fleas and intestinal parasites are two of the most common parasites that we see. Checking stool/fecal/poop samples are the easiest way for check for many intestinal parasites, although there are different types of tests that are done on stool to find different types of infections.
3. Cats should be checked for feline leukemia (FeLV) and feline immune-deficiency virus (FIV) – this is done by blood test. Both of these diseases are spread between cats from close contact – fighting, grooming, and so forth.
4. Dogs should be tested (depending on where you live or where the dog came from) for heartworm disease, Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, and Ehrlichiosis – these are also a simple blood test. Heartworm is carried by mosquitoes and the others are carried by ticks. These are the most common to check for in Wisconsin, but other areas of the country have other diseases to check for, so please speak with your veterinarian!
5. Vaccinations. This is a very controversial topic between people when it comes to both human and veterinary medicine. I encourage appropriate vaccination for your pet. The recommended vaccines will depend on lifestyle of both you and your pet. I will save this topic for another time.
6. Microchips. When you have a new animal come into your home/family, the animal should be checked for a microchip to see if there is someone who is looking for them. Once the cat or dog is “yours,” then I do recommend having them microchipped so that if they do get away from you (slipping between your feet when you come into the house with groceries or getting lost after you have been in a car accident or some other experience) then they can be returned to you as well. Many of the microchip companies will also help you find a lost pet or provide assistance with medical emergencies – like when your dog ingests your medication.
7. The most important thing with bringing a new pet into your family is to remember that you are responsible for them now. To love them, to protect them, to provide them with medical care – both prevention and treatment.
I hope that today you snuggle those you love a little closer and remember that every day is a gift to cherish and to share love and light.
Bless you and enjoy each day as a new beginning!