Old Dogs New Tricks

Like most medical professionals, a veterinarian’s education is far from over the moment they graduate. Indeed, it’s just beginning. Not only do we need to continue to learn and refine the skills we’ve already acquired, the continuous and exponential increase in knowledge requires us to practice in a perpetual state of evolution.

I graduated from veterinary school in 2002. I still feel like a new grad sometimes, but in the grand scheme of things I might as well be a dinosaur. Some of the things- OK, lots of the things- that were taught to me as cutting edge that short time ago have been long supplanted by medicines and techniques bigger and better. I will never forget the conversation I had with a new grad over the use of steroids in shock cases- she looked at me like I was Fred Flintstone taking a chisel to a patient for a craniotomy. This field evolves fast.

Our state, like most, has a continuing education requirement. In California, one must accrue at least 36 hours of approved continuing education every licensing period (which is every 2 years.) There’s lots of ways to go about acquiring this knowledge, and this year I’m doing it my very favorite way: at the Western Veterinary Conference in Vegas. I’ve skipped it in favor of smaller, more local venues the past few years, but with a sister who lives there and is willing to let me impose, and the shiny siren call of 4 solid days of OMG I NEVER KNEW THAT at stake, I just couldn’t resist.

I had a neurology professor in school, a New Zealander whose name I don’t even recall, who was, I think, one of the most incredible teachers I’ve ever had. Of course I didn’t know it at the time and I hated neurology so I spent most of his classes struggling to stay awake because it was dark, and PowerPoint will do that to a person. But so much of what he said burrowed into my subconscious and stuck.

One day he said to the bleary eyed students, “You all can’t wait to graduate and get to work. But 6 months from now you’re all going to wish you were back here, with all these professors at your disposal. LEARN WHILE YOU CAN. You have no idea how good you have it right now.”

There will be lectures on pretty much every topic under the sun and I have made it my goal this weekend to try and map out which lectures I want to attend the most. All of them. Anyone have any topics they are dying to learn the latest on? I’ll do my best to report back.

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  • Lisa W

    I hope you have a blast!

    One of these days I hope someone will be able to solve the mystery of Bailey’s sudden final illness, but I may be wishing for too much. So in the interim, perhaps doggie allergies? Both of mine are allergic to dust/human dander (oh, the irony) and it’s really difficult to stay on top of something like that, even with allergy shots and a Dyson! Any tips would be appreciated.

  • Allergies! That’s the only problem plaguing Minnie and Mack, even after many rounds of drugs and trips to VET and Allergy VET! and special diets.


  • I love learning too — it feels like brain exercise!

    If you should happen to hear anything new about canine diabetes, I (and Frankie) would be most happy if you shared…

  • georgie

    Stage 1 renal failure in dogs. Georgie was just diagnosed with this. She is 13 and has had Addisons for seven years. What new stuff has come up with how to slow progression of renal failure while giving the dog good quality of life?

  • Vanessa

    Anything new with regards to shelter medicine would be fabulous! Particularly combatting URI in felines and Parvo in puppies. Additionally, any advances in Heartworm treatments would be of interest.

    • Megan

      As a newly minted shelter vet, that’s of interest to me too ๐Ÿ™‚ I’d also love to know of any new advances in the diagnosis and treatment of PDD in parrots, but I doubt I’ll get any of that info from you at Western hehe. I’m always wanting to know more about dentistry and techniques in that area, as well as diagnosing and treating pancreatitis, especially in cats. IBD and other chronic GI conditions also interest me. I’m also big into nutrition and nutritional therapy as a compliment to medicine, as well as some of the alternative medicine advances – herbal therapies, accupuncture, etc.

  • I hope you have a great time!! it sounds like it will be a great opportunity to learn a lot of new, cool stuff.

    if you hear anything about heart murmurs or kidney disease in canines, as well as food allergies, I’d be curious to hear what you learn.
    and of course, can’t forget the behavioral stuff–i’m always curious about how to train your pets to stop doing something undesirable (e.g. Apollo peeing on everything, or the dog to stop eating the cat poop, etc.) and also understanding the underlying cause of the behavior as well.

  • Tabitha W

    I am interested in holistic treatments and how vets and clinics are incorporating them into their practice. Also, Anything on sinus infections and sinus trouble in cats.

  • Megan

    I was going to try and make it to Western this year, but with my employment woes, it wasn’t in the cards. However, the happy coincidence of AVMA being in St. Louis this year and the fact that I now live there means that’s the conference I’ll be attending. I’m also planning on going to a weekend dentistry CE event put on by Pfizer at my vet school this spring. Lots’o’learning!!

  • Suzanne

    Sounds like fun.

    I would want to know more about cats with thyroid and kidney function problems.

    Actually, I think I’d want to know even more some of the more ‘natural’ ways to manage animals. Seems like that would be a timely topic

  • lin

    Anything new or upcoming on feline pain management? Anything cat-related really.

  • Abby’s mom

    If you learn anything about feline behavior, my nervous cat and I would highly appreciate the info. Hope you have a great time and learn lots at the conference.

  • Thyroid and kidney problems in cats. Also, the latest and greatest holistic info for cats and dogs. Thanks for asking………..enjoy……….learn much! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Olga

    Canine epilepsy! Any new and promising medications?

  • Hey cool site. I have a blog about vet med and dog agility. I’d love it if you want to add me to your blogroll. Thanks,

  • I’m with the first group…allergies in dogs.

    Mine is allergic to everything possible from food to grass and most shampoos.

    In addition to shots…now at once a month…he takes Loratadine once a day, twice a day during the peak allergy season. Only shot he gets is Rabies 3 yr. His titers show good immunity.

    Do they know anything new about shots and reactions to them…which ones to avoid at all costs?

    Are there newer allergy pills safe for dogs? He started Loratadine when it was experimental, so he’s been on it awhile.

    Anything your ears overhear or you learn in seminar we’d love to have you to share.

    BrownDog’s Momma