Showing posts with label vets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vets. Show all posts

Monday 25 November 2013

The Cat is the Veterinarian's Client

I think people forget that the veterinarians real client is the cat when a cat's owner turns up with her cat for treatment.

OK, it is obvious that a cat cannot enter into a contract with the vet. The cat's owner does that, which places her in the position of guardian and caretaker. It is a position of trust and bounded by morality. There are no professional rules to follow for the cat's owner. She just has to do her moral duty towards her cat. The moral duty may extend to a duty under statute if she acts in a criminal way towards her cat. I am referring to cat abuse.

The cat is the vet's client when treating a cat.

The veterinarian has a professional duty of care towards the cat and this is through the cat's guardian the cat's owner. The vet must also follow professional guidelines and his oath.

Sadly, from my perspective, almost all the vets in the USA are in breach of this simple duty of care when declawing cats because it is not done for the cat's benefit or welfare but for the cat owner's convenience. In fact they are probably in breach of the criminal code but are protected by convention. At the same time the cat's owner has acted immorally and in breach of common sense principles that she must act in the best interests of her cat.

I think it pays to dwell on that simple but shocking fact.

Veterinarians can do more to educate cat owners about declawing

Veterinarians don't do enough to educate their clients on the difficult matter of declawing. Specifically, they can underplay the severity of the operation and can even deliberately mislead the cat's owner.

Some veterinarians call a cat's claws "nails" for example. This hints at human nails. They are largely made up of the same substance "keratin" but they are attached to the digit in a completely different way. Then they say "removing the nails" when describing declawing is no big deal especially if the cat is very young. Poor kitten, I say.

This sort of talk is hightly misleading. Even advocates of declawing, the people at the AVMA, cannot deny that this is neither ethical nor does it adhere to the AVMA policy on declawing.

I say the AVMA are advocates of declawing. They would deny this and state that declawing is a last resort. Yet, they stand by and do nothing when vets mislead clients and declaw cats when it is obviously not a last resort but for the convenience of the cat's owner; to protect furniture. The AVMA's passive, accepting behavior of their vets obvious breaches of the guidelines supports declawing.

The human nail is not attached to the hand or foot by a bone. It is attached by tissue: the matrix and nail bed. You may have had the experience of losing a nail because it was hit by something. It just falls off.

Human Nail showing that it is not attached to bone

The claw (not a "nail") of the cat is embedded into the last phalange of the cat's toes. This phalange is a complete bone structure that is very similar to the last bit of bone after the last joint of our fingers. The claw has to be attached to the toe so solidly because it is used very vigorously. An example is climbing. You may have seen cats climb brick walls using their claws and hanging from curtain poles and such like by their claws.

Cat Claw showing how it is attached to solid bone,  a part of the toe of the cat. The picture shows an actual claw+bone that was declawed. You can see the blood.

A vet cannot remove the claw without removing all of the last phalange of the toe. Declawing is an operation that is an amputation and it is done ten times in one go (five toes of each front paw). No surprises, therefore, that the cat would be in agony but for a ton of painkillers.

So, when vets write stuff like this:

The claws of animals, like the fingernails of people are modified hair. When the front claws of cats are removed at an early age (less than six months of age) it is a minor procedure. No worse than circumcising a baby.

He is lying and misleading. My words are strong but they have to be because this vet is in breach of his duties.  A vet is in a position of trust towards his client and let's remind ourselves that the client is the cat. The cat's owner is also a trustee, a guardian and an agent on behalf of the cat. Misleading the cat's owner is a breach of trust.

I have heard other vets use the word "nail" in place of "claw". I can only conclude that it is a deliberate ploy to underplay the severity of the declawing operation that is called: Onychectomy.

The quote is from Dr Hine's website. He is a well known vet with a website that gets lots of visits. Therefore he is misleading a lot of people. There is no doubt in my mind that he has caused a lot of cats to suffer unnecessarily. He should be ashamed of himself and someone at the ineffectual AVMA should have reprimanded him by now.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

American Veterinary Workers Against Declawing

The American Veterinary Workers Against Declawing Facebook community is fantastic. It is for American veterinary workers who are working in, or have worked in, the veterinary business. It is brave of people who currently work in the business to publicly fight against declawing. I admire them tremendously.

I particularly like the concept of people inside the business working for a better service for cats. Vets have to admit that the declawing process is not for the benefit of cats. It can't be, can it? So working to stop declawing is working towards a better service for cats.

I would hope that there will a gradual shift - and it will be gradual because declawing is an entrenched problem - towards a more enlightened attitude within the profession through the efforts of this Facebook community.

I find Facebook hard to navigate so I am unable to discover who started the community. Whoever she or he is deserves a big pat on the back and a cuddle! :)

If you have time please visit their Facebook page and click on their like button. The Facebook like button will take over our lives one day!

They have some excellent links to webpage on their Facebook page. One is The Future of the Veterinary Profession by Michael W. Fox, BVetMed, PhD, DSc, MRCVS on the website of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. I don't know how this association squares up with or is related to the AVMA. As far as I am aware, Michael Fox is a well known advocate for ethical veterinary behavior. I admire him.

He makes some very good points in his article. One is that he sees vets torn between the calling of a vet - to help animals - and the need to make a good living from working as a vet. In the desire to make money, which we cannot criticise the vet for, he or she drifts into areas that are opposed to his or her calling. Mr Fox says that these conflicting objectives can be reconciled. Of course he is correct. All the vets in Europe manage to resolve the problem so why can't American vets?

I don't think it is pure financial greed that leads American vets to declaw. It is partly a mentality that sees declawing as acceptable: humans can do what they like with animals because we are superior etc. that kind of argument.

Which brings me nicely to another point that Michael Fox makes. The interests of the human should not automatically be considered more important than those of the cat. A true respect for the cat would prevent declawing. I genuinely feel that it is time for the human to move on from what I consider unenlightened and old fashioned views about them and us, animals and humans. We are all together on the planet trying to survive and we are equal in that onerous task.

In declawing a cat a vet has three competing interests and motivators. The person who owns the cat requests or agrees to the operation. That person is seen as the client. If the cat was seen as the client and the person seen as the cat's guardian and not the owner, it would alter the relationship between cat and vet to the point where declawing would become impossible. The first two competing interests are then (1) what is right for the cat (2) what is right for the cat's guardian. These should not be competing because a guardian should have the interests of the cat at heart.

The third interest is that of the vet. He needs to make a living. He can do it just fine without declawing cats. He should be prepared to take the plunge and stop it. He would find new ways to raise revenue and in the long term he would see that he had a better life. He will certainly see that he will have no mental conflict between his calling, his original driving force and what he does now, mutilate cats against the welfare of the cat.

Thursday 3 May 2012

Veterinarians Dealing With Cat Euthanasia

A really good and experienced veterinarian is essential during the time when decisions have to be made about the possibility of euthanising your cat companion. Whereas on rare occasions a person may have to deal with the death of their beloved cat, a veterinarian will be routinely involved in advising clients about euthanasia. People don't have the experience of dealing with euthanasia because we don't euthanise people, or at least it is extremely rare.
My Darling Girl - Her Last Hour
My darling girl about to be euthanised.

These are big decisions as almost everyone who losses a cat companion will be sad and some will be devastated. In fact in an Australian survey it was found that 40% of people who had lost a pet were devastated.

You can imagine therefore the great difficulties that pet owners go through leading up to euthanasia. It might be a period of months while efforts are made to recover the health of the cat or dog, with the constant threat of euthanasia hanging over every decision.

The process of euthanasia being a new process for some pet owners, an experienced vet is essential to advise when best, in the interests of the cat companion, euthanasia should be considered. It is a decision that depends on the cat's health but the decision is also made upon the life experiences of the vet. That is why I believe the best vet to advise under these circumstances is not a young vet.

I am sure that veterinarians have a wide range of perspectives on euthanasia. It is a question of timing. There is a lot of emotion involved and the client (the cat's human caretaker) may ask the vet to euthanise a cat that is healthy. How does a vet deal with that?

Many people are frightened to discuss their sadness due to the loss of their pet or discuss their anxieties leading up to the death of their cat companion for fear of being ridiculed. Once again a good and open minded vet will be helpful.

People appreciate vets who can provide clear information on euthanasia and also provide the options available whilst listening to the client.

A sensitive vet will ask if the client would like to leave the consultation room while euthanasia takes place. The vet will also, perhaps, bill the client later by post rather than in the usual way on leaving the clinic.

There is also the question of how to proceed immediately after euthanasia. A good veterinarian should have a business relationship with the nearest good crematorium and be able to make arrangements on behalf of the client. Those arrangements should include the option to individually cremate the cat while the former cat's caretaker waits. If you want to keep you cat's ashes you need to ensure that you are keeping her ashes and not the ashes of something else.

The only way to find to a good veterinarian is to suck and see. You simply have to try someone else if you can see euthanasia on the horizon and you are unhappy with your current veterinarian.

Associated: Humanely Euthanize A Cat -- How can I tell when a cat is in pain?

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Cat Dental Cleaning Procedure

Brushing Truman's teeth - Photo by John Morton
Unfortunately, cat dental cleaning procedure requires a general anesthetic. There are therefore cat dental cleaning risks because general anesthesia of cats carries risk of injury and possible death.

A general anesthetic is essential for the veterinarian to fully assess all the teeth and to clean below the gum line.

Before a general anesthetic cats should be evaluated to minimize the risk. This includes a physical examination and basic blood and urine analyses.

What is the risk of injury or worse for a cat when under a general anesthetic? The risk is surprisingly high. I was in a veterinarians the other day and a fellow customer was having his cat's teeth cleaned. He was anxious as he had been told that the risk of death was 1 in 100 (1%). 

Gaynor J.S.; Dunlop C.I. Wagner A.E. et al. (1 January 1995). Complications and mortality associated with anesthesia in dogs and cats, concluded in their study that there was a 1 in 9 chance of "complications" and a 1 in 233 chance of death. 

In this study: Brodbelt DC, Blissitt KJ, Hammond RA, et al. (September 2008). The risk of death: the confidential enquiry into perioperative small animal fatalities, the risk of death was put at:
  • for sick cats 1 in 71 (1.4%)
  • for cats generally 1 in 895
Well, there you have it. For the sake of clean teeth you have quite a real risk of death. Like all these things it is a balancing act of risk versus benefit. See also feline gum disease.

Friday 7 October 2011

Should veterinarian be capitalized?

No, neither the word "veterinarian" nor the shortened version, "vet" should be capitalized (capitalised) in modern English. By "capitalized" I mean the first letter of the word is in upper case. The first letter of words should be capitalized under certain rules. These rules have evolved over the years. English has become much less formal.  Accordingly, the rule on capitalizing the first letter has become less demanding.

Animal doctor (veterinarian) with young cat in vet clinic. Photo: Pixabay.
Animal doctor (veterinarian) with young cat in vet clinic. Photo: Pixabay.

Places and geographic terms are started with an upper case letter. "New York" is one example. "London" is another and "North America" is a typical example.

The word "veterinarian" describes a profession, no more. You wouldn't call a train driver a "Train Driver", would you? The fact that a veterinarian has a better status (some would say) in society does not make any difference.

Two last points. The word "vet" can also mean a person who has retired from the armed forces (short for "veteran"). It is better therefore to spell out the entire word on the internet so that Google can understand its meaning.

The word "internet" can be spelled with a capitalized first letter - "Internet". But modern English, particularly internet English favours ease and speed hence lower case.

Here is an example in a sentence. "My veterinarian is very good with cats. His veterinary practice is just down the road".

Sometimes people refer to veterinarians as "animal doctors". Veterinarians themselves like to be referred to as doctors because they feel that they have the same status as doctors.

Michael Avatar

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Monday 12 September 2011

An Exceptional Veterinary Surgeon

September 2011: Jallal Kaal is a Libyan veterinary surgeon. He was trained in Dublin, Ireland. He is a magnificent veterinarian. There are very few like him.

Many people with cats and dogs understandably fled the Libyan capital, Tripoli, when fighting started there at the end of the violent revolution overthrowing Gaddafi. Some, perhaps many, left behind their companion animals. I don't know if I could do that but under extreme circumstances I might discover that I can.

However, Jallal Kaal, without initial payment or payment at all, has saved these abandoned companion animals and at great risk and cost to himself, reunited them with their human caretakers. I am in awe of this guy. It is the kind of behavior that soars above all the bloodshed and mess.

People abandoned their pets in different ways. Some begged Dr Kaal to take care of their pets until they could return. Some got to the airport and phoned from there to ask Dr. Kaal to pick up their cats from their home. Yet others phoned him from the USA or Europe!

It appears that every time the good doctor responded positively and did as asked. He protected the animals and cared for them. When there was no room left at his clinic he asked friends to home them temporarily or he went around to the abandoned home and fed them.

Some pet owners returned to collect their pets and I hope pay Dr. Jaal. But for many animals Dr. Jaal had to prepare the certification necessary to ship them out of the country. That meant vaccinations and microchipping etc. in complying with international pet travel. It is quite complicated and time consuming.

To give a flavor of his heroic behavior, he made 12 journeys of 15 hours each in a van packed with companion animals when taking them to Djerba airport in Tunisia.

I bet this vet doesn't declaw! I bet it is not even on his radar. He says, "I was involved in another kind of war - one to save animals."

Well done Dr. Jaal. You deserve all the praise you can get.

Michael signature

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Veterinarian Advice Online

Veterinarian advice online usually if not always takes the form of articles written by a veterinarian or answers to questions that are in the form of an archive. The question and answers may suit your predicament but they may not. Anyway you need a diagnosis first.

What I mean is there are few if any websites where you can telephone a veterinarian or interact with a veterinarian by word, during which the veterinarian provides an answer that is exactly specific to and tailored for your animal's health.

The reason for this is obvious. Firstly there is the issue of paying the veterinarian. This creates a few complications because the veterinarian will not know for sure what to charge as he or she needs to see, touch, listen to and perhaps test the cat or dog to properly diagnose the illness if the animal is ill.

The best that a vet can do is provide general and qualified advice. By qualified I mean he or she will say "subject to a proper in person diagnosis" or something like that.

I would favour a site that I have just bumped into today despite it being around for four years. It tells us how large the internet is these days. It is called vetfone. They are based in the UK.

You can telephone a veterinary nurse anytime day or night 24/7. They provide a fixed fee service for £9.50 or a charge by the minute at £1.53 per minute. Very reasonable charges.

I like this service because veterinary nurses will have a good grasp of the kind of information that you are likely to be able to communicate over the telephone. As I said there is a limit to what you can do over the phone in the way of veterinarian advice so there is little point paying a veterinarian for qualified and limited information.

It makes good sense to call a vet and get some information that can carry you and your animal forward until a proper and full diagnosis can be made, if required.

This is their website.

Michael Avatar

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Monday 16 May 2011

Californian veterinarians have no right to complain about unlicensed providers

The California Veterinary Association (CVMA) are complaining about unlicensed animal healthcare providers. This is in response to the increase in people who are not qualified veterinarians providing animal healthcare services such as dental cleanings without anesthetics as I presume they are unqualified to anesthetize an animal. These unqualified people also provide services such as "physical therapy"(not sure what that is) and chiropractic services (spinal adjustment - never heard that being performed on animals particularly companion animals).

The point that I want to make is this. The Californian vets haven't a leg to stand on. They have no right to complain. It is the pot calling the kettle black.

The CVMA cynically defended at every possible stage the ban on declawing in eight cities in California. They did this with poor tired arguments that fail to stand up to scrutiny. They would support the declawing of cats to their last drop of blood while being totally blinkered to the fact that the process is in breach of their oath, the foundation stone of their work. Declawing is more than that. It is a cynical abuse of trust and a money spinner that greedy vets hang on to. It is outdated. It is morally wrong - obviously.

The Californian vets have chucked out any moral standing. As they are mutilating cats for the mere convenience of the cat's owner, they have forfeit the right to criticise and complain about unlicensed practitioners some of whom may be better than them.

Of course care should be exercised when seeing an unlicensed animal healthcare provider but the same can be said about vets! There are a lot who have casually sliced of the tip of the toes of thousands of cats with a guillotine, a device that one vet says is blunt and hard to use precisely that may leave bone fragments in the mutilated toe.

Shut up California vets! You have lost your right to criticize. Change your ways. Get real. Become moral. Wake up and start educating cat owners in how to care for cats without chopping off the last joint of the toes.

Then you will regain the moral high-ground and only then will you have the right to look down on unlicensed healthcare providers.

Michael Avatar

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