Quality over quantity has always been a model that I have followed in my career as a veterinarian and pet owner. I believe that pets are a part of the family and should be treated as family members. If I give my pets the best quality of life I can give them, then the quantity of years they are with me will automatically be longer.
As a veterinarian, providing the highest quality medicine for my patients is more important than cutting corners and trying to save money. Therefore, I have committed myself and my staff at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic to provide the highest quality care for our patients.
I am going to discuss what I feel is the best medicine when it comes to general surgeries and routine care. An office call and exam charge covers the cost of a licensed veterinary technician taking a thorough history, weight and temperature, and answering any general questions the owner might have. The doctor examines while the technician restrains the pet to ensure that the owner does not get injured.
Veterinarians hard at work.
A thorough physical examination should include a good look at the eyes, ears, nose, and palpation of the throat, all lymph nodes, and abdominal organs. The doctor should run their hands over the pet's body searching for any unusual lumps or wounds followed by a complete auscultation of the heart and lungs. You are paying not just for a vaccination but for the licensed technician and doctor's time to ensure that your pet is thoroughly checked for any underlying issues. This might be a heart murmur, an ear infection or a suspicious lump that might go unnoticed if a thorough physical examination is not performed.
Not all veterinarians perform the same standard of care for a pet undergoing anesthesia. A pet should be thoroughly examined prior to surgery and blood work should be done to ensure that the pet can safely handle the anesthesia. The blood work should check the pet's kidneys, liver, blood sugar level, red blood cell count and white blood cell count.
An EKG should be done prior to anesthesia to check for any heart arrythmias. The EKG should be kept on the patient through all aspects of the surgery from sedation, to surgical preparation, and through the entire procedure.
Other important means of monitoring your pet throughout the surgery include body temperature, blood pressure, blood oxygen, and carbon dioxide output. These are all important to keep your pet safe under anesthesia. A trained staff member should be available through the entire procedure to monitor these values and alert the veterinarian if there are any abnormal readings.
Besides proper monitoring, each pet should have proper sterile preparation of the surgical site, their own sterile surgical pack, and the doctor should surgically scrub and use sterilized gowns/gloves to ensure that the pet is not at risk for infection. Each pet should be intubated with an endotracheal tube to administer oxygen and the anesthetic gases. This ensures an open airway which is especially important in brachycephalic breeds like the pug or bulldog that already have respiratory issues.
We at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic practice all of the above techniques as if you yourself were having the surgery. We also believe in providing the best pain management protocols for your pet. This includes an injection for pain prior to surgery, local anesthetic blocks to numb the areas being operated on, and pain medications to go home with the pet. Each pet wakes up comfortable and calm with minimal pain.
So please, take all of the above into consideration when choosing a veterinarian. Check to see what their protocol is for doing surgery on your pet. Stop in and visit the clinic and ask to take a tour of the clinic. See how you are greeted and how friendly the staff is with you. If you are treated well, then you know that your pet will be treated well. If the hospital is clean, then you know your pet will be kept clean and cared for during their stay with us. Check out the clinic's website and look at pictures of the hospital. Read about staff members and services provided. We at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic are committed to providing the best care possible for your family pets!
Dr. Rebekah Frost is a veterinarian at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic. Send comments on this column to firstname.lastname@example.org