Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Read All About It ~ Heather, Technician & Blog Editor

While my paths in life lead me from all angles into veterinary medicine, my degree was actually in English writing and rhetoric. I loved reading and writing from a very young age (almost as much as I loved bringing random stray and injured animals into my parents' home), and little has changed into adulthood. 

Many books that I read focused heavily on animals (surprise, surprise). Some of my favorites included Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls (hence my inevitable adoption of Clementine, the redbone coonhound princess), Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (funny coincidence on that name, no?), and Charlotte's Web by E.B. White (I was obsessed with that one; see image of 7-year-old me singing to Wilbur's cardboard cutout).


In more recent years, my favorites have included Marley and Me by John Grogan (butchered by Hollywood in movie form) and A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron (less butchered by Hollywood in movie form, but still butchered). 


One book in particular that stands out as one that really gives you a behind-the-scenes view of veterinary life is Tell Me Where It Hurts by Dr. Nick Trout. I could not put this book down, and you won't be able to either.

"From the front lines of modern medicine, Tell Me Where It Hurts is a fascinating insider portrait of a veterinarian, his furry patients, and the blend of old-fashioned instincts and cutting-edge technology that defines pet care in the twenty-first century. 

For anyone who’s ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at your veterinarian’s office, Tell Me Where It Hurts offers a vicarious journey through twenty-four intimate, eye-opening, heartrending hours at the premier Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston. You’ll learn about the amazing progress of modern animal medicine, where organ transplants, joint replacements, and state-of-the-art cancer treatments have become more and more common. With these technological advances come controversies and complexities that Dr. Trout thoughtfully explores, such as how long (and at what cost) treatments should be given, how the Internet has changed pet care, and the rise in cosmetic surgery.

You’ll also be inspired by the heartwarming stories of struggle and survival filling these pages. With a wry and winning tone, Dr. Trout offers up hilarious and delightful anecdotes about cuddly (or not-so-cuddly) pets and their variously zany, desperate, and demanding owners. In total, Tell Me Where It Hurts offers a fascinating portrait of the comedy and drama, complexities and rewards involved with loving and healing animals."
 If you're at all curious, go pick up a copy. You won't regret it! On my list next is one called Lily and the Octopus by Stephen Rowley. In this case, I did judge a book by its cover.

Read any good animal books lately? Feel free to share with us! We're always looking for more. 

Comments? Questions? Reply to this post below! We would love to have your input on any and all of our posts.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Pet Myths Debunked ~ Heather, Technician & Blog Editor

Both on the job and off, we hear a lot of "facts" about animals thrown around and readily accepted, especially on the internet. Let's take care of a few of those right now, shall we?

MYTH #1: All orange cats are male, and all calico cats are female.

(Dr. Alley has seen FOUR female orange cats in the last two weeks alone!)

While there is some truth to this, there are definitely exceptions. "The gene that codes for orange fur is on the X chromosome. Since females have two X’s and males are XY, this means that a female orange cat must inherit two orange genes (one from each parent) whereas a male only needs one, which he gets from his mother...In other words, orange cats always come from mothers with an orange gene, but female orange cats also require a father with the same gene. That’s why orange cats are usually male."

As far as a male calico, they do exist, but they are far more rare. "The XXY combination is a genetic rarity that occasionally shows up in cats (people, too). And if both X chromosomes carry the calico blueprint, you’re looking at one rare cat: a male calico. Such XXY animals are called Klinefelter males, after the doctor who first described the condition. If you have a male calico and think you can make money breeding him, you probably won’t. Though lovely, the cats are usually sterile."

MYTH #2: Dogs feel "guilty" when they misbehave.

(This face doesn't mean what you think it means.)

Your dog has no concept of the emotion that we label as guilt. Countless studies performed with dogs and their owners (including situations in which the dog was acting "guilty" prior to the owner even finding a problem) have concluded that "any appearance of guilt or contrition in dogs is the result of the animals having adapted to live with humans over thousands of years". While their mannerisms are very similar to ours in these situations, they are simply acting on instinct based on prior events--"guilty behaviors could simply be the result of a learned association between a stimulus...and impending punishment."

MYTH #3: Cats and dogs act out of spite when angry at their owners.

Similarly, cats and dogs do not act out of spite. Every behavior has an explanation, whether that is inherently obvious or not. In the case of cats, spraying behavior is both a way to communicate and a way to reaffirm their claim on territory if there has been a recent stressor present in the household; it can also be indicative of an underlying medical issue. With dogs, the cause of inappropriate urination or defecation is often a medical issue requiring veterinary care; it can also be directly related to stress and anxiety. 

MYTH #4: A dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s mouth.

While human mouths are no picnic, to be sure, dogs quite literally eat poop, and most people do not brush their dogs' teeth nearly as often as is recommended (twice daily--just like us!). As such, they are natural breeding grounds for bacteria and parasites. The reason that a dog licking a wound helps speed healing is "not because dog saliva is like antiseptic. It’s because a dog’s tongue is rough, and that helps to remove contaminants from an open wound."

These are just a few of the countless myths that we hear with regularity. Read more here!

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