It’s been a while since I’ve done a Pet Doctor Barbie post. It’s past due for a new episode, yes? I think it’s time for Pet Doctor Barbie to meet one of her self-appointed arch nemeses, Pet Food Dude.
Hi Mrs. Sandford, good to see you and Muffin. It’s been a while!
I’m really glad you’re doing housecalls now. I want to get Muffin’s bump looked at again.
OK, I’ll just look at my notes here- 1 cm, top of head…mm hmmm… So where we left it one year ago was that you were going to go talk to your husband and then we were going to aspirate it.
Oh….yes. It’s grown quite a bit since then. We really need –
Yes, I wanted to talk to you about that. I’m a bit upset that you didn’t mention last time how his kibble might have caused this.
We don’t really understand why cancer occurs, Mrs. Sandford. The important thing now is to take care of this mass. I’d hate for you to blame yourself because of your food selection.
I don’t blame myself. I blame you. How much do you make from Big Pet Food anyway?
Actually nothing. But aren’t you feeding a boutique brand anyway? You told me last time you were feeding…let me check…organic grain free non-GMO preservative free all natural Wolf Chunks.
Yes, and you told me to stop and to go back to that one full of corn and despair!
Actually, no, I said Wolf Chunks were fine if that’s what you wanted. But about that mass…
I’ve been using turmeric on the advice of Pet Food Dude. Do you know Pet Food Dude? Can I borrow your computer? This guy knows all your tricks.
Sure, have at it. May I ask what tricks you are referring to?
Vaccines. Pet food. You know. Poison. They are full of free radicals that are overpowering the antioxidants and preventing cellular apoptosis no matter how many carrots I add.
Here’s his site. He knows your medicine is a lie and you’re really just after our money.
I’m going to log on and see what the forums say about your “cancer just happens” line. Oh wait….shoot. My membership is expired. Can you hand me my wallet?
Oh, I think I’ve seen his site. Is he the one who sells supplements and seminars on dog juicing?
Yes! He’s a pioneer. OK, credit card updated, I’m in.
OK, here we go: Have I at any point in the past fed kibble from Big Pet Food or gotten Muffin vaccinated? Yes, 10 years ago. So they say here that this is why he has cancer and it isn’t responding to the turmeric. They also said you would say exactly what you said about it not being their fault, and not to fall for it. What do you have to say to THAT?
Mrs. Sandford, I need to level with you here.
It really doesn’t matter to me what you’re feeding Muffin. I am glad you care about him and want to do what’s best for him. I do too! I promise! I’m having a really hard time talking to you when you’re typing at someone who is convinced I’m out to hurt you both. Right now I am just really worried about the size of this mass on his head. I think we need to get him in for a full evaluation ASAP.
*tap tap* I’ll think about it. I haven’t tried coconut oil yet.
May I ask why you even had me come out?
I just wanted this all on DropCam- see it over there? It’ll be on Pet Food Dude’s YouTube tonight. He’s doing a “Vets Revealed” bit. Well, since you didn’t do anything I’m sure you aren’t expecting payment. You can see yourself out.
As a veterinarian, I’ve seen lots of cancers: lymphoma. Melanoma. Osteosarcoma. Hemangiosarcoma. Mast cell tumors. Wait, those are just my own dogs I’m talking about. When I factor in my clients, I think I’ve seen it all.
Dogs get cancer, at very high rates: about 50% of senior dogs die of it, if the statistics are to be believed. Why? Well, if you read overly simplified, graphics-intensive websites by people who really don’t know what they’re talking about, they will tell you that they know why cancer happens: GMOs. Preservatives. Kibble. Microwaves.
I wish it were that simple. It’s not. And the reason that line of thought drives me nuts is that it has sent so many lovely people into spirals of depression when their dog dies and someone on the internet convinced them it was their fault because they, the owner, did something terrible like feed their dog kibble or use a plastic bowl. People end up in therapy because of things like this.
Cancer is not a singular diagnosis; the type and breath of neoplastic disease means there’s often little resemblance from case to case; a transmissible venereal tumor bears very little resemblance to a splenic hemangiosarcoma. If we could pinpoint cancer to one cause, we’d all be rich. And yet, with all this secret knowledge, overall cancer rates aren’t budging.
Because I love a breed known for having one of the highest rates of cancer (is it the fact that Golden Retriever owners feed worse food overall? Or is it genetics?) I watch Brody pretty closely. Knowing that 60% of Goldens get cancer in their lifetime, I spend a lot of time inspecting him for lumps. As we speak, the largest observational study of its kind is currently underway to help us better understand what’s going on. In the meantime, you do the best you can but truthfully, there’s not a whole lot of ability to predict and prevent cancer. Even for the people who home cook organic food (sorry. Do it because you want to, not because it will make your dog live forever.)
You can save money (and life expectancy) by doing some simple things:
Knowing he is an at-risk breed, I do what I can to try and keep Brody healthy. When he gained too much weight on his food, I got the weight off. Obesity is thought to be a risk factor for cancer. Just as importantly, I get his bumps evaluated and when I find one, I don’t mess around.
The dog eats like a king; I give him the good stuff because I care about quality ingredients, though not enough to condemn people who can’t afford it. But even with his high end diets, at age 6, he’s on his second cancer. The first one, a melanoma, was excised two years ago and has yet to recur- because we caught it early. And now we have this: a little teeny ear lump.
I thought it was no big deal, but I got it evaluated anyway. See? We vets do it too. A lump is a lump is a lump. Until you get it microscopically evaluated, you just don’t know. I just got the call last week: it’s a mast cell tumor.
I’m thrilled we got this diagnosis
Am I thrilled Brody has a mast cell tumor? Of course not. They stink. Despite the fact that the visible mass is only half a centimeter, this type of tumor has tons of microscopic disease and is notorious for requiring huge surgical margins for a complete excision. For that little tiny tic-tac mass on his ear, he is very likely going to need to lose his entire pinna. (I’m getting a surgical consult this week.)
However, losing an ear is minor compared to where these things end up when people wait. You can lose an ear, but you can’t lose an entire head, for example. This is small beans compared to what lots of pets need to go through later in the game when masses grow. If we get a complete excision, this should be a closed case. And guess what? It’s so much cheaper than tons of radiation and chemo and massive surgeries. Win-win for the dog and your wallet. I’m not happy he has it, but I’m happy I know now, early.
Why wait? Aspirate that shizz!!
What one thing can you do to guarantee your pet won’t get cancer? There isn’t one.
What you can do is maximize their chances of survival and recovery: Don’t mess around. Dr. Sue Ettinger, veterinary oncologist and all-around brilliant person, has an initiative called Why Wait Aspirate that is as simple as can be: when a vet tells you that a lump is ok to “just watch”, what does that mean? When do you do more than watch it? Here’s Dr. Sue’s guidelines*:
ASPIRATE OR BIOPSY IT!
Easy peasy, no pun intended. Of all the things you can do to help your pet live long and live healthy, none matters more than early detection.
*Photo Credits: Calendar by Michael Hyde, Flickr Creative Commons license; Peas by Isabel Eyre, Flickr Creative Commons License
If you have ever had the good fortune to go on safari, you know that everyone talks about the “Big 5″: rhino, lions, elephants, cape buffalo, and leopards. The term was coined by game hunters and refers to the difficulty in getting all 5 because of their ferocity when cornered, but now is mostly used by safari operators as a virtual checklist of animals one must see in order to consider it a successful outing.
When I was working on the book, I tried to pick out a combination of stories that laid the foundation for life in general practice. Along the way, I discovered some of the stories that I thought were so hysterical and weird has happened to EVERY SINGLE VET I know. Now that I’ve been out for a long enough period, my classmates and I can all nod our heads like the sage old people we’ve become and say yes, we’ve earned our stripes, done that.
So in honor of this, I present to you the Big 5: You know you’re a vet when edition. Once you’ve experienced the Big 5, you know you’ve made it.
1. The undercover detective dog
Dogs eating underwear is like the giraffe of the veterinary world: yeah, you see that everywhere. No big deal. The rare and treasured lion of the underwear eating world, on the other hand, is the dog who manages to not only eat something unpleasant, but bust a cheating boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse in the process. Dogs who poop out a red thong that doesn’t belong to the wife. Dogs who vomit up a condom wrapper. Interestingly enough, the dog is almost always the closer companion of the wronged party. They know. They always know.
Family picture of three lions. Taken in Masai Mara national park, southwest Kenya.
Animal rating: lion. It’s messy, it gets your adrenaline going, and you are so glad you are in the car and not out there with the lion when they go in for the kill.
2. Involuntary nude client exam
No veterinarian wants to see a naked client. This is why we are veterinarians and not physicians. Nonetheless, with the MD shortage out there and the easy access to veterinarians, it is only a matter of time before a client tries to slip in a totally inappropriate question while you’re examining a pet, complete with stripping. In my case, it was a woman who pulled her shirt down and asked me to examine her breast. I consider myself lucky: a colleague once had a client ask her about hemorrhoids and was halfway to dropped trousers before she got him to stop.
Animal rating: Leopard. It sneaks up on you. You can usually chase it away by yelling.
3. The accidental grope
Physical examinations are, by their nature, very hands on. Most clients get this, but on occasion there will come one who refuses to let their pet out of their protective embrace. Usually the pet in question is a small, heavily haired squirrelly dog. There is only so much you can do when a chihuahua is placed squarely in a woman’s bosom before getting an unintended handful of human. This can vary in embarrassment level from mildly mortifying to near criminal, depending on the client, the location of the pet, and their outfit. Lesson learned: any male clients in running shorts must place the pet on the table, no exceptions.
Animal rating: elephant. Fine from a distance, dangerous up close.
4. The client who makes ass-umptions
I don’t think we spend a disproportionate amount of time dealing with pet’s rear ends: anal glands, rectal exams, fecal exams are but a small part of the work we do- but for some reason some clients get it in their heads that 99% of our interactions with a pet is via their rectum. “Oh no!” they say, when we get the thermometer ready. “Gird yourself, Tommy!” etc etc. These same clients have a hard time believing that medications are administered in any manner other than per rectum. Here’s the kicker: You don’t get to check this item off your list until you’ve been asked about whether each of the following is administered in this manner: Advantage, dewormer, antibiotics, pills of any kind, chlorhexidine scrub.
Animal rating: cape buffalo. Comes in herds. You never know what they’re thinking.
5. Face full of anal glands
You are a seasoned practitioner. You know all the tricks about how to angle your thumbs and cover your target area with a paper towel. You know to evaluate glands by feel, how to note the tell-tale pressure of an impacted gland that is prone to blow. It will never happen to you, you say. You are careful.
It will happen to you.
It will happen to you in a moment you let your guard down, when you’re looking over your shoulder to answer a question and the glands sense an opening. You won’t see it coming. One minute you’re chatting about someone’s tapazole refill, the next moment you’re standing over the eye flush station screaming for Altoids and crying. Two hours later, you will relay the story to your family at dinner with great relish, laughing while the waiter makes a moue of horror and rushes away as quickly as possible. Because that is how vets roll.
Animal rating: rhino. A rare and memorable interaction you are unlikely to repeat but will talk about forever and ever.
How long does it take the average vet to complete the Big 5 Vet Safari? Did I miss any? I’m sure I did.
It’s pub day! The book is out at long last! I really hope you all enjoy it- All Dogs Go to Kevin has truly been a labor of love. (That link goes to my new website. Did I mention I have a new website? It’s been so busy around here I think I forgot.)
Last weekend I went to Warwicks to sign the preordered books. Brian and the kids were at ComicCon, so I went to Warwicks by myself. It was a short task, no more than 20 minutes, so I couldn’t figure out why I was so bummed about going alone, and then I realized ohhhh. It’s another one of those moments.
The thing I will miss most about my mom is not the big celebrations, the ones everyone goes to: holidays, book signings, that sort of thing. It’s the little celebrations, the moments no one else would think mattered, but she always did. If she were around, she would never have let me go alone. She’d go with me, we’d get lunch, then she’d talk me into shopping for a little while in downtown La Jolla. But she’s not here, so my twenty minute task was just that- 20 minutes in a little bookstore office with a Sharpie feeling terribly sad.
I’m trying not to let my sadness get in the way of being happy, but it’s so hard not to have her here. We have a series of white rosebushes in our backyard that bloom almost year-round, and I really like them because they remind me of my parents’ yard. Plus, it made it really easy to send random nosegays to teachers and the like since they were always blossoming, scattering white petals all over the grass like confetti. Mom loved them too, of course.
Brian- not so much. He’s been threatening to pull them since we moved in. He’s been talking about it again the last few weeks, and I made him promise to leave me at least one or two, for Mom, and he said, “OK.”
This afternoon he had someone come over to give us a quote for doing some of the backyard work. I peered through the window to make sure Brian saw me giving him the evil eye- not ALL the rosebushes, ok??- and I noticed something I had never seen before in all the time we’ve been here:
Someone’s been painting the roses red.
The roses stay, obvs.
It’s funny how the moments that impact are not the large and grandiose gestures, but the fleeting surprises that hit you like a much needed breeze. How I can be sad about a less than perfect rose in my garden when so many people in this world know nothing but weeds? Mom’s here in every sunset and every butterfly and her love feels no less potent for the lack of her physical presence.
It’s a beautiful day here in San Diego. The book is out and it’s my fourteenth wedding anniversary- a date traditionally marked by ivory but now the theme is “animals.” Mom sent flowers. How can I complain?
I am becoming increasingly convinced the communication gap between veterinarians and clients is the number one problem we’ve failed to solve. We’re just not on the same page a lot of the time, it seems, and it makes me sad. I can’t read a single article online without coming across “veterinarians are money grubbing pigs that suck” (true blog title) and someone else saying “if you can’t afford x/y/z/q you shouldn’t have gotten a pet, jerk.” I feel as though this is perhaps a bit extreme, but it’s what happens when we don’t work together to identify our goals.
Common Fallacies of Bad Client Interactions
(In just as many cases, the vet on the left is an associate up to his or her ears in student debt and just trying to make it through the day without getting yelled at one more time, and the client on the right is a stressed out single parent who just spent a grand fixing her car.)
Much of this angst comes from the pervasive assumption that in all cases we will do everything we can medically, no matter what, which was fine a while back when “everything” meant “antibiotics” but as veterinary medicine has advanced, has come to mean “MRI, spinal tap, radiation.”
This assumption, of course, carries over from human medicine: if you’ve got the insurance, you’re getting the treatment. Everyone’s happy, right? Right?
Not so much. Satisfaction with a medical course of action relies on multiple factors.
Sometimes getting to “Everyone Happy” (Square B) is impossible. D’s not so bad either, but A and C are no-fly zones.
Human Medicine Satisfaction
I would argue that satisfaction with outcomes is directly correlated to the balance between the amount of treatment pursued, and its benefit.
So really, the goal here isn’t to push everyone towards the far extremes of treatment; it’s about getting to that center line of balance. In human medicine this change is slowly creaking along with things like hospice care, which moves people from C to D in low treatment benefit situations, and increased access to insurance coverage, which moves you from A to B in high benefit situations. With Mom, we were squarely in the D category, and while we’re not HAPPY, it’s a hell of a lot better than if we had treated her to death.
So how does this apply to veterinary medicine? It’s similar, except we tend to find ourselves walking a line most strongly related to finances.
Now, since we have no ability to magically divine which people are up for specialty treatment and which people are not, we always offer all the options to clients- as we should. There are people who spend thousands, lose their pet, and are still ok with the outcome- but they were also very clear on the risks and made an informed decision. Many clients, it seems, feel as if they are not.
So what do we do to improve outcomes? In my experience, the best way to move the dial from A to B is pet insurance, at least for emergency situations. There are few situations more likely to prompt a Facebook mob than a pet who died a preventable death because the owner couldn’t afford treatment and the ER vet wouldn’t do the treatment for free- nor should they. Owners need to shoulder some of the responsibility here of financial preparation, and if they refuse to take even basic steps to be prepared, maybe they really are a crappy client.
And conversely, moving the dial from C to D involves good veterinary communication, and a willingness to understand that lots of factors go into the decision about whether or not to seek treatment. If a veterinarian talks a senior on a fixed income into a kidney transplant for a 15 year old cat in renal failure, after she expressed concern about paying her rent for the month and her own upcoming surgery- maybe they really are a money grubbing vet.
But I like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Clients and vets both have work to do here. And I believe with all of my heart that the better we get about empowering clients to make informed decisions, the more that will carry over into human medicine- which is a wonderful thing.
I realize this is a vastly oversimplified explanation of some really complicated issues, but hey, we have to start somewhere. Whatever it is we’re doing now sure doesn’t seem to be working too well.
Oh my goodness. One week from tomorrow and it’s going to be one of the most important days of my life: right up there with graduating, getting married, having my kids.
I will be an official published author. Aieeee!
I dreamed of this long before I thought about going to veterinary school, back when I was seven and I pulled every book off my shelf and artfully arranged them around the house playing bookstore ( Or was it library?)
When I sat under the kitchen counter reading National Geographic.
When I perched at the bus stop reading Piers Anthony, hoping today was the day the other kids at the bus stop would forget to throw spitwads at me.
To me, writing is transcendent: a waystation to another place or time where your life ceases to be front and center, if only for a moment. If you are fortunate and have chosen your book well, you return slightly better than when you left. If you are seeking respite when your choices are limited, books are a way to travel, to find camaraderie, to escape. Reading and writing are two sides of the same coin.
When I started writing, it was almost a compulsion, banging away at my dad’s IBM 5150 about unicorns or Weird Al or whatever it is that interests 10 year olds. It might have even been a story about Weird Al riding a unicorn, I don’t know. I printed the stories out on the dot matrix printer and presented them proudly to no one but my mother, who always said they were excellent even when they weren’t.
I thought we were tres sophisticated, since we didn’t use typewriters. After that, we progressed to Macs, which were even more amazing save one little blip:
These were the computers I used in high school when I was editor of the school paper, a job which taught me two things:
Writing can be tremendously powerful
I enjoy poking the badger (still do)
As the years have passed, the computers have gotten better but two things never changed: my desire to write and my mom’s support.
Authors are my heroes, and to be allowed into even the peripheral orbit is an honor I can’t describe. Well, I could, I guess, but you know what I mean. When I got the very first draft of my book, bound in blue construction paper and full of typos, my mother was frothing to read it and I said no, you have to wait until July 14th like everyone else.
Fortunately, I changed my mind.
She read it in a day and called to tell me all the things she thought about it, which were beautiful and joyful and redeeming. I am so glad my first review was from her. She told me once a few years back that she always wanted to write a book.
“About what?” I asked.
“Hobos,” she replied.
“Hobos?” I asked, completely confused.
“Yes, hobos, you know, the guys who rode the rails?” she asked.
“Any particular reason why?” I asked, since as far as I knew she had little experience with rail riding vagabonds from the Great Depression Era, though my Uncle Steve does come close.
“Nope,” she said.
And here I always thought I got my weirdness from Dad.
Nonetheless, it is her love of the word, the countless hours on her lap being read to and carted back and forth from the library, that comes to fruition next week. Obviously, I want the book to be successful because that’s the only way you get to write other books, and I already know what the titles will be because I am always dreaming and wishing and writing things in my head as I walk around.
I want it to do well, because I’m proud of it and I want others to enjoy it too. But even if that never happens, if this is as good as it gets on that front, I will never be prouder than I was the moment Mom teared up and told me how much she loved my book. And that, all by itself, is enough.
Perhaps you are the magnanimous sort. “Dr. V,” you say, “I ordered the book but I don’t need the free Halo or Sleepypodstuff or PetHub tag or Dog + Bone collars or Groom Genie or any of those items you are giving away, not even the awesome little activity book with coloring pages and a word search featuring ANALGLANDS and DEMODEX.” You are an ascetic. You don’t have a pet. You’re decluttering. OK, I get that.
But surely you aren’t opposed to a donation in your name, right? I have a treat for you.
Newflands is a New Zealand company, started by a veterinary nurse (don’t give me a hard time, that is what they are called in New Zealand) who was looking for an ethically sourced, sustainable brand of fish oil for her dogs. With none to be found, Fiona started her own brand, and Newflands Hoki Oil was born.
We all know that fish oil is a well-utilized and effective essential fatty acid supplement, with a high ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids. Hoki is a fish native to the waters off the coast of New Zealand, but starting this summer it will be available in the United States through Newflands.
Newflands founder Fiona Robertson wanted to support my book campaign with a donation that would also give back to the community, so she suggested a donation of Hoki oil products to a US Charity. We selected Vets’ Pets, a program run by Angels for Animal Rights NYC helping veterans with low cost pet food, supplies, medicine, and deployment support. For every preorder Charity Treat, Newflands will donate a bottle of Hoki Oil to Vets’ Pets to support this wonderful program.
See? Win-win. A book for you, a donation for them. What could be easier?
by Dr. V | Friday | July 3, 2015 | Comments are off for this post
It’s summer- heck, the fourth of July is one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, and you know what that means. Traffic. Sitting on the road. Making sure your pet doesn’t get carsick. That sort of thing.
Carsickness aside, the biggest risk to pets with travel is the danger of an unsecured pet- for the pet himself, and for you. Unsecured, a pet is a projectile during an accident, and even in minor crashes there is a very high rate of injury when pets escape and run into traffic. Even a secured pet might not be as safe as you think: there is no standard safety requirement for pet harnesses in cars, and many of them offer little more than a false sense of security.
I’ve often sung the praises of Sleepypod on the blog, and I do it because I believe in them. They don’t advertise here, they don’t pay me, and they don’t need to. Anyone who goes through the trouble of putting their harness through certified crash testing is aces in my book. The independent Center for Pet Safety has certified their products up to 75 pounds, which is a huge accomplishment.
The Auto Treat is a big one: A $50 off coupon towards the purchase of a Sleepypod harness or carrier, both of which I displayed to an entire school full of smokey hyperventilating parents when I had to evacuate the pets during the wildfires last year. I didn’t have time to stuff a freaked-out cat into a rigid carrier but this is a soft one you can plop the cat on top of and zip up around them, and THANK GOODNESS for that. Did I mention I love their products?
If this weren’t scoring enough, the Auto Treat also comes with an adorable car magnet from PeaceLovePaws!
by Dr. V | Thursday | July 2, 2015 | Comments are off for this post
We are almost to the end of our treat selections and they are going fast! All you need to do is order 2 copies of the book and you get a treat- it’s like free goodies from heaven!
Today’s treat comes to you courtesy of Halo Pet Food, a long-time friend of the blog. They are ingredient-focused, with an emphasis on no chicken meal, by-product meal, or rendered meat.
You may be familiar with the brand as a highly philanthropic company, with their freekibble.com site donating hundreds of thousands of meals to pets in shelters. These things make me very happy.
As a thank you for those who preorder All Dogs Go to Kevin and choose the Treat to Eat, you will get a coupon for a free bag of Halo dog food up to $18 in value! One present for a friend and one present for your dog or cat. What beats that? (Sorry, couldn’t get a meet and greet with Ellen, but that would probably beat this. Barely. 😀 )
July is Lost Pet Prevention Month, and that’s a huge deal. After all, the fifth of July is the single busiest day of the year for shelters, due to a cross-the-country habit of loud explosives sending panicked dogs and cats screaming out the door the night before.
If you think your pet is a flight risk, there’s still time! Talk to the vet about anxiety prevention measures before you need them. Acepromazine, that old stand-by sedative, is actually a terrible choice as it does nothing to alleviate the underlying anxiety; we have all sorts of better drugs in our arsenals now like clonidine and trazodone, but it’s best to have tried them out ahead of time and be aware of how your dog handles them before the explosions begin.
Should the unthinkable happen, here’s a few tips for getting your pet back asap:
Have a current picture readily available on your cell phone.
Use redundant identification measures. When your average person comes across a pet running down the street, they’re much more likely to make a quick phone call than take them to the local shelter to get identified with a microchip, so have both and make sure they are up to date. I can’t stress that one enough.
PetHub Premium Digital ID Tags
In addition to being microchipped and (sometimes) GPS tracked, Brody wears a digital Pet ID tag from PetHub and has done so for a few years now. The genius of this tag is the QR code, which links to a free online profile with multiple contact numbers (who doesn’t have 4 ways to get a hold of them these days?); the tollfree number allows people without readers to call and instantly get the same contact information and let the person know if the pet has a medical condition.
I mustache you to help me get home, good sir.
PetHub has generously offered fifty Premium ID tags as part of our treat preorder campaign! In addition to the tag of your choice you get a year of the spiffy premium service, which includes extra bennies such as instant found pet alerts, scanned location information, and shelter alerts. It’s good stuff, and easy as pie to implement.
The Tagging Treat is still available for All Dogs Go to Kevin preorders! Are you ready?
How to Claim a Tagging Treat
1. Preorder 2 copies of All Dogs Go to Kevin (if you want them signed, get them from Warwicks)
2. Head over to the Treats Page and select “Tagging Treat”
3. Follow the instructions, including proof of purchase for 2 books
4. We’ll follow up in the coming weeks to confirm the order!
A few weeks ago, while my publicist was asking online dog lovers if they might be interested in reviewing my book, he came back with a question:
“Do you recommend Science Diet or raw?” he asked.
“It’s really not an either/or thing,” I said. “The book doesn’t talk about nutrition at all.”
“Well, one of the people we approached said they only write about things from a raw food perspective,” he said.
“Oh, then they don’t want my book,” I said. “It’s just from a dog lover’s perspective.” And that was that. Because here’s the truth, which is going to probably cause a few people’s heads to explode: when it comes to my belief about the omnipotent power of food, I’m an agnawstic.
This belief started, as many things do, with my own experiences with food evangelism: Atkins, paleo, etc, wash, repeat. For one brief, terrifying month my husband dropped down the rabbit hole known as “extreme diets.” Now, I can’t blame him for trying- I’ve tried them too over the years, but he’s never been on board. After years of ignoring my attempts at zoodles, banana “ice cream” and other current food trends on the paleo circuit, he announced one day he was “going keto.”
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“Less that 20 net grams of carbs a day,” he said. “I heard it’s great for detoxing.”
“Did you find this on reddit?” I asked. He didn’t answer.
For the next 30 days, I learned what it is like for someone to be discovering enlightenment. He would follow the kids around the house asking them if they had any idea how much sugar was in their ketchup, pouring verboten salad dressings down the drain, and meaningfully wait until we were all in the room at the same time before turning on “Food Inc” on Netflix.
He preached fire and sugarstone, swallowing almonds with one hand while tossing pretzels in the trash with the other. He was flush with the light, or maybe just a little zany from ketotic acidosis, who knows. He says he felt great. He was online talking to people who gave up dairy, sugar, alcohol, gluten, fruit, potatoes, and on life in general and were now convinced their nuts were causing inflammation when he finally broke and had a fudgesicle. Now we are living a life of moderation together, and it is wonderful.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I think the idea of knowing what you are eating, and preparing it yourself, is a mighty fine thing. I try to avoid bread and pasta and sugar in favor of veggies, water instead of soda, but the last two months it was ALL CHOCOLATE AND CHEESE AND WINE and I didn’t feel bad about it at all. I have permission to meander in my choices. Good nutrition matters, but it isn’t the only thing that matters.
Life is balance, right? I eat well mostly and exercise a lot and don’t smoke and try to get enough sleep. Know who else did that? My mom. All my grandparents lived to 90 and she got brain cancer when she was 67 and she did everything right. It doesn’t mean I’m going to start lighting up. The CFO of Rady Children’s Hospital was killed a mile from my house during my mother’s memorial service while he was out riding his bicycle, being healthy. Sometimes shizz happens, and while diet matters, it’s no more a guard against bad luck than any of those other multitude of things in your life like genetics and a careless woman in a Range Rover.
Which brings me to what I refer to as “blog chum,” the words I always hesitate to type lest it attract a group of angry club wielding acolytes the way blood draws a Great White: Dog Food. I don’t care what you do with it. There. I said it.
You can feed a crappy kibble and your dog might live to 20 or he might look like he got run through a wood chopper.
You can feed a high quality kibble and your dog might live to 20 or he might get cancer when he’s 2.
You can feed raw poorly done and your dog might live to 20 or he might look like Casper when he’s 4 months old because he got nutritional hyperparathyroidism.
You can feed raw that someone balanced for you and your dog might live to 20 or he might get kidney failure when he’s 7.
That’s the way it works. Food is one piece of a really complicated puzzle, and anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something. (Probably dog food, magazines, or coconut oil.)
Now clearly, my education (paid for without the aid of Big Pet Food, by the by) and my experience lead me to recommend that with which I am familiar- that would be commercial dog food- but if you want to feed your dog raw and you swear it’s the most amazeballs choice ever and your dog is the healthiest dog who ever walked the face of the earth, go forth and be happy, because I really don’t have the energy to fight over any of the following:
who taught me
who bought me
who sends me places
how much I make off selling food
If you want my opinion, I’ll give it, and I think it’s an educated one. I’ll listen to what you have to say, though I may not agree. If you have decided that my views on that one topic mean my years of experience and knowledge about all things animal health related are bunk, well, we might as well enjoy a lively discussion about the upcoming primaries while we’re at it because might as well go out with a bang.
And then I will go make a healthy chicken salad and wash it down with a glass of wine, because that’s what agnawstics do.
by Dr. V | Sunday | June 28, 2015 | Comments are off for this post
When you live with a Golden, you get very accustomed to fur tumbleweeds skittering across the floor, wet footprints marking the tile, and a standing order for lint rollers. It just comes with the territory.
I’ve also become somewhat of a connoisseur of brushes; brushes for removing undercoats, for dematting, for general purpose grooming. So when I was sent an unassuming Groom Genie to test out, I figured, “here we go, another one for the grooming bin.” Then I tried it.
I don’t know what wizardry went into its construction, but this little brush is the bomb. Its handleless shape is meant to mimic you stroking your dog or cat, adding to its calming properties, but the real genius is in its bristles. Its bristles are different heights and have enough give so that it works by detangling without pulling. Brody leans into it and does that happy “hrrrmmm mmmmm hmmmm” groan when we pull it through his fur, even the long feathers that tend to get tangled.
My initial response was to run it through my daughter’s tangly hair, but before I could do that they also sent me a Knot Genie (the human version) to try out. My sister and I took turns grooming each other like ecstatic chimpanzees before declaring both of them the bees knees. It was the only brush that could detangle my mom’s hair without hurting her after 10 days of being unable to touch it due to her surgery, and for that alone I say, THIS ROCKS.
The Paw Sponge is part two. Do you ever do that thing during rainy season where you have to cordon off the back door and tackle the dog, trying your best to wipe all the mud from between his toes with a dishtowel before he goes prancing over the carpet? Or those little wipes that only slick the mud around?
The Paw Sponge is an elegant solution: a mitten-like sponge that slips over the paw. Squeeze, twist, clean. I’ve also started recommending them for dogs with pododermatitis who need regular cleanings with diluted chlorhexidine or other medicated shampoos. This is one of those “Why didn’t anyone think of this sooner?” dog devices.
Between the Groom Genie and the Paw Sponge, the Neat Treat package will keep your pup looking his finest for all those summer parties. Yours FREE for all those generous All Dogs Go to Kevin preorders. 😀
The Neat Treats are limited quantity, and only available until July 14th- so if you want one, grab one fast!
How to Claim a Neat Treat
1. Preorder 2 copies of All Dogs Go to Kevin (if you want them signed, get them from Warwicks)
2. Head over to the Treats Page and select “Neat Treat”
3. Follow the instructions, including proof of purchase for 2 books
4. We’ll follow up in the coming weeks to confirm the order!