Monday, September 3, 2012

Internship Reflection

As stated throughout my blog, I’ve really enjoyed my internship.  I learned and experienced so much, and enjoyed every moment of it.  In reflection, there are several things I’ve realized after working at a Veterinary hospital.  The hospital that I worked at was a large, 24-hour emergency hospital, which was also associated with a kennel next to it, so we had to deal with more than an average/normal Veterinary hospital does.  Some surprising things I discovered during my internship were:  1) how many strays there are; 2) the amount of people who didn’t realize how much attention, money, and/or care an animal needs; and 3) the realization that these two issues actually overlap.  In addition, I also learned that being a Veterinarian is more than just taking care of animals; it also requires a great deal of counseling  of families.  I discovered that being a Veterinarian (and working in a Veterinary hospital) provides you with:  1) a greater sense of empathy towards both the animals and the owners, 2) the realization that no matter how much you would like to save every animal, it isn’t always possible; and 3) the acceptance that, sometimes, the right decision isn’t always the easiest decision to make.

As I noted above, I really can’t believe the number of strays there are.  We had so many stray cats and kittens at the hospital that we had to begin putting their cages in other areas of the hospital because the designated Stray Cat Room was filled to capacity.  As far as stray dogs, most of the dog runs and cages at the hospital were filled with stray dogs.  On top of all the strays housed just at the hospital, the kennel next door was also filled to capacity with stray cats and kittens, along with a few stray dogs as well.  The amount of strays there are is a serious issue in the animal world, with the fact that they keep reproducing, which causes the stray population to grow even larger, and causes diseases to spread even more.  During my experience this past summer, I unfortunately witnessed the euthanizing of many stray cats and dogs, even ones that were perfectly healthy and loving.  While I understood why it was being done (for disease, aggression issues, or because there just wasn’t enough room to house all of them, especially if no one was adopting them), it was always a sad and unhappy time.  There were even a few times that I teared up when it was a dog or cat who had been with us for a while and was perfectly adoptable—except for the fact that no one seemed to want them.

I also couldn’t believe that most owners don’t realize how much effort and money goes into the care of a pet.  Anyone who has a pet needs to be able to dedicate the time to taking care of their pet, loving and playing with their pet, and be able to attend to their pet’s medical needs.  It’s almost like having a child.  The most important thing that people need to do if they have a pet is to put the pet’s needs and best interests ahead of their own.  I couldn’t believe the amount of people that came into the hospital who either didn’t have money to have a needed medical procedure done, or the amount of people who put their own selfish desires ahead of their pet’s needs.  Working at the hospital and being involved with these situations really caused me to become even more aware of the issue of animal rights.  When most people think of animal rights, they think of animal abuse; however, it also involves what’s best for the pet.  People need to understand that what’s best for the pet HAS to come before the owner’s own interests.  Where’s the pet’s say in the situation?  Unfortunately, they have no say.  They rely on their owner to make decisions for them, and hope that each decision made will be what is best for them.  This is where the issue of animal rights comes into play, and I never realized how much of an issue/occurrence these kinds of problems are.  If the animal can’t even trust their owner to look out for them, then who can they trust?  Seems like all too often the animal can only painfully wait to pass away on their own.  Pets rely on their owners, so their owners should do what is best for them; just like they would do what is best for themselves or their children, when in a similar situation. 

I did find that the two issues I spoke about in the previous paragraphs do overlap with each other.  There are a lot of people who get pets without putting much thought into what it will take on their part to take care of that pet, and then end up just releasing them into the wild.  We knew this was the case with some of the strays that we received at the hospital because the animal would have a microchip implanted in them or a collar with tags still on them.  When we contacted the owner to tell them we had their pet, the owner would refuse to take them back.  This really shocked and saddened me!  People who do this don’t care about their pet, and they also aren’t helping the stray pet cause either.  Since the owner decided to not take responsibility for their animal, they should, at the very least, have the decency to take their pet to a shelter or adoption agency where they can release their ownership of the animal, so it can be put up for adoption.  Releasing their pet into the wild does the pet absolutely no good since they have no idea how to survive, because they’ve been dependent on people.  It really shocked and saddened me that people would actually do such a thing.  It really helped open my eyes to the fact that people will try to take the easy way out of a situation, without considering the consequences and effects of their actions.

A lot of the things discussed in the previous paragraphs also have some things in common with each other.  For instance, we had to do a lot of counseling of families based on a decision they needed to make or one they had already made.  We also had to inform families about all the things that are required by them in order to have a pet, because most families/owners don’t realize the time, money, attention, etc. that goes into having a pet; besides informing them about food, behavior, medical issues/fixes, etc.  We needed to do this because we wanted the pet to be in good hands and taken care of properly.  We also spent a lot of time comforting owners after they found out that their pet had a serious condition, that they might have to euthanize their pet, or after the euthanization decision had been made.  These decisions are always hard to make, and, thus, shows that the right decision isn’t always the easy one.  I remember how heartbreaking it was for my family when we had to finally put our Peekapoo (Pekinese-Poodle mix) to sleep, since she was such a loved and treasured member of the family.  When the decision was made to put her to sleep, she was very old and had all sorts of issues, including renal failure.  As hard and heartbreaking as that decision was, we knew that it was the right thing to do for her because she was in a lot of pain at an old age.  Everyone who works at the hospital either currently has pets or has had them in the past, so we all know how hard this situation is to go through.  This was why we always tried to make time to comfort the families who had made the decision to euthanize, as well as assure them that as hard as the decision was, it was the right thing to do for their pet.  We also spent a lot of time talking to people who were undecided about euthanasia or surgeries, discussing why the Veterinarians believed that decision to be best one for the pet.  The final decision was always still up to the owner, of course, whether we agreed with it or not; but we tried to comfort and inform them as much as we could, hoping that the owner would make the decision that was best for their pet.  As much as some owners really irritated me in the way they treated their pet or with the decisions they made, some owners really touched my heart with the amount of love, care, and devotion they had towards their pet.  It’s times like those which I just spoke about that were always really heartwarming to see and be a part of, and made my time at the hospital very rewarding.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Days 47-50: Cysts, Bite Wounds, Birthing

Nothing too much happened throughout most of the days between days 47-50 besides the basics (nail trims, ear cleanings, simple doctor appointments/checkups, etc.), so I combined everything that happened during those four days into one post.  Anyway, during these days, the only real/major issues we had were a Poodle mix named Sammie with a couple of strange cysts on his body, a Saluki named Loy with a bite wound, and a pregnant/birthing Pomeranian named Bolla.  Sammie’s surgery was fairly simple; Dr. Lou surgically removed the two cysts, and when we opened them, the first cyst (the larger one that was on his head) was simply made of skin cells, and the second cyst (smaller one on his back) was filled with pus and dirt (a cottage-cheese like substance), so it was basically a large pimple.  Loy had been bitten by another dog, so Dr. Lou cleaned his wound, inserted drainage tubes where needed, and stitched up the smaller areas; a normal procedure for a dog with a bite wound.
The large cyst on Sammie's head.

The smaller cyst on Sammie's back.

Dr. Lou lasering off the cysts.

The area on Sammie's head all stitched up after the cyst was removed.

Dr. Lou lasering off the cyst on Sammie's back.

Loy recieving a light dosage of anesthesia before Dr. Todd fixes his bite wound.

Dr. Todd placing the drainage tubes through the wound, and sewing up the smaller parts.

Loy, the Saluki.

The biggest issue/emergency we had was with Bolla, the Pomeranian who was pregnant and giving birth to her puppies.  This pregnancy was the third of three unwanted pregnancies (another reason to spay your female dog!), yet for some unknown reason, the family still hadn’t gotten her spayed.  She came in with an already-born puppy, and with a puppy stuck in the birth canal.  Because of this, Dr. Todd performed a C-section on Bolla.  The one that got stuck in the canal was dead (there was a lot of greenish-black fluid around this puppy, and it smelled really bad, as of dried blood; Pat said that those signs are a sure sign that the puppy is, unfortunately, dead), but the other two puppies (there were four puppies in total, including the dead one) were fine.  This situation was especially cool for me because this time, I was able to help clean the puppies and get them to breathe.  As soon as Dr. Todd cut open their sacs and pulled them out of their mom, Pat wiped them off and got rid of the sacs, and then Jen and I wrapped them in towels and quickly (yet gently) rubbed them and turned them over while wrapped in the towel to get them to start breathing and crying.  It took a few minutes, but after they began to breathe and cry, Pat used a bulb syringe to suck the excess fluids from their nose and mouths so they could breathe clearly (as well as so they wouldn’t choke on those fluids while trying to breathe).  After we further wiped them off, we placed them into an incubator with their first-born sister (they were all girls).  Dr. Todd then completed the C-section by spaying the mom (automatically done when performing a C-section), stitched her up, and then placed her in a cage in the recovery room.  I wrapped her in some blankets and gave her a little pillow so she would be warm and comfortable when she woke up, since she would most likely be freezing after waking up from the anesthesia.  After a while, once she was fully up and functioning, we were able to place the puppies into the cage with her so they could be with their mom, and also begin nursing.  We kept monitoring her and her puppies throughout the afternoon, and they were all doing perfectly fine.  Around evening time, her family came and took her and the puppies home.  It was a really meaningful way to end one of the last days of my internship!
Bolla when she first came in, with her first-born little girl (dark brown, by mommy's tummy).

Dr. Todd beginning the C-section.

Pulling out one of the puppies (it was the one that got stuck).

Cutting open the sac.

This one was the dead puppy; it looked very strange, and like I said it was covered with a lot of greenish-black fluid and smelled really bad.

Pat wiping the puppy off and getting rid of the rest of the sac.

The next puppy.

The last puppy, which was also the one I rubbed, and helped breathe and clean off. 

Mommy all wrapped up and warm after surgery.

Mommy with her puppies.

Mommy and puppies going home.

The last day of my internship was a really sad day for me.  I brought in a thank-you cake for everyone to enjoy, and they ordered pizza for us all to enjoy as well.  I hated saying good-bye and leaving everyone, and I especially hated saying good-bye to all the animals, specifically the stray kittens and dogs that I had bonded with and grown attached to over the course of my internship.  I really, really enjoyed the whole learning and hands-on experience; I find it almost unbelievable the amount the hospital taught me and allowed me to help with in the few months I was there.  I’m really going to miss working there, but I am definitely going back during my school breaks to either work as a part-time Technician, or as a volunteer (whichever one works out best).  Either way, I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to have/do this internship, and I’m so thankful towards the hospital for taking me in and mentoring me; I’m extremely happy (and almost disbelieving) with how much learning and hands-on experience I was able to achieve.  I definitely know now that being a Veterinarian is the occupation for me, and I’m not going to let anything prevent me from achieving that goal.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Day 46: Puppy Issues/Questions and Necessities

Today, in addition to having Technician appointments and Doctor appointments, I went into a patient’s room with Dr. Kris.  The client had just adopted a new Golden Retriever puppy (whom she named Jagger), and she brought Jagger in for his first checkup as well as to ask Dr. Kris questions about his behavior and relationship with her other dog (named Jake).  Jagger is about 8 weeks old, and his owner said that if he isn’t sleeping, he’s extremely hyper (like a normal puppy).  She said that most of Jagger’s energy is directed on her, which has been wearing her out lately.   She also stated that recently, Jagger has started to focus a lot of energy on Jake as well, and she’s worried about how their relationship is going to play out.  Jagger has been taking toys from Jake and starting to snoop around/eat from Jake’s food bowl, but other than that he’s been fairly mellow (i.e. he’ll be hyper one minute and then sleeping the next), and Jake hasn’t retaliated yet when his toys or food have been taken.  Dr. Kris said that of course, all of this can obviously still change; Jagger is still a young puppy and could become even more hyper, and Jake can still decide one of these days that he won’t tolerate Jagger taking is things anymore.  She said that when Jake decides that, he’s most likely to do a warning snap at Jagger to get him to back off, and usually, that will work and Jagger will stop what he’s doing for a little while.  Right now Jagger doesn’t really understand right from wrong/what he can and can’t do, and the fact that his owner and Jake and his only playmates make it more difficult and tiring for them as well.  The owner said that she is going to take Jagger to a doggie day care for half a day for twice a week so he can be socialized with other dogs.  On a health note, Jagger looked perfectly healthy after Dr. Kris checked him over; he has already received his distemper and parvovirus vaccines as well as his booster shot, and he received his Kennel Cough vaccine today.

One of the major that Dr. Kris focused on during this puppy conversation/explanation was food.  Since Jagger is hanging around Jake a lot (and his food bowl) and taking his toys, Dr. Kris said that this could cause Jake to get very protective of his food (she said that dogs get more protective over their food rather than anything else because they know/realize food is a scarce resource).  Therefore, not only will he get protective of his food when Jagger is there, but whenever anyone is by his food bowl (again, there aren’t any problems so far, but if this behavioral cycle between Jake and Jagger continues, Jake’s behavior could change to something like this).   Of course, Jake is on adult food and Jagger is on puppy food.   Dr. Kris said giving a little bit of extra-yummy food with their regular food will help both dogs understand that it’s a good thing when someone is by their food dish, rather than making them feel like they have to protect their dish.  She also said to leave them alone while they eat, and then take their dish away after eating for the same reason; so that they don’t ever get the feeling that they need to protect their bowl.  Since Jagger is a pretty new member to the family, she told the owner to start having Jake and Jagger eat in separate rooms for a while so that again, they don’t get protective of their food, and therefore don’t hurt each other.  Once both of them are on dog food, she said that they can eat in the same room again.  All of these steps can help prevent conflicts and ill-feelings between the two dogs, but Dr. Kris also warned and said that if they do have any conflicts or spiffs, not to interfere and let them sort it out themselves because they will then need to learn how to deal with and understand each other.  The only time the owner should interfere is if it looks like one of them (more so Jagger, since he’s the puppy) is going to get hurt, but since Jake knows Jagger is just a puppy, he shouldn’t try to do anything to harm him other than to warn him to stop whatever he’s doing; therefore, Dr. Kris simply advised to her to keep an eye on them just in case, but to not interfere unless it starts to get serious.
Jagger, the Golden Retriever puppy. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Day 45: Laceration Repair, FLUTD, Anorexia, Azotemia, Entropion

                Today we had some Tech appointments and some Doctor appointments, but nothing serious or ‘strange’, per se (mostly animals with cold-like symptoms, a cut on a toe, or just needing nail trims; smaller things like that).  However, we had more patients staying with us in the recovery room today than we have in a while.  The first new patient we had was a Domestic Short-Haired torti cat named Sprinkles who had received laceration repair (fixing a jagged wound) during the previous night.  She was sleeping a lot throughout the day, so she seemed to be recovering fine; she went home during the early afternoon.  Next to Sprinkles was Gabe, another Domestic Short-Haired black cat, who has FLUTD (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease--that covers a wide range of urinary tract issues, but in this case, Gabe had bladder stones).  Dr. Kris performed surgery during the afternoon, and he is recovering fine.  Next to Gabe was another Domestic Short-Haired black cat named Chico, and next to Chico was yet another Domestic Short-Haired black cat named Max (whom I called Maxie).  Chico was in for the same problem as Gabe, but he had received surgery last night and was solely recovering and resting up today.  Maxie was here to medical board for the week while his parents were out of town.  He has Diabetes, and he also has no teeth (I’m not sure why he needed all his teeth removed)!   He was a very enjoyable patient/boarder though, always wanted to play and be pet, and whenever we would say “Max!” or “Maxie!” he would answer us back with a cute little meow.  He was such a sweetie!  At the end of the row next to Maxie was a Chihuahua named Coco, who was in the hospital being treated for Anorexia and Azotemia (in addition to not eating/not being hungry, she was also accumulating urea [nitrogenous waste products that are the breakdown product of protein metabolism in mammals and should be passed in urine] in her blood). She just transferred here this afternoon from another hospital, so I’ll have to check on her tomorrow to see what’s going on with her and see how she’s doing.  Lastly, the corral was housing a bulldog named Buddy for the day, who was receiving a dental as well as eyelid surgery.  He had what is called Entropion, which is where the edges of the eyelid (either upper or lower; in this case, it was his lower) turn inward, which causes the lid and the lashes to rub against and irritate the eye.  Dr. Karen performed the surgery (she just needed to remove part of the lower eyelid), and he rested a lot after his surgery was done, and he went home sometime in the evening.

Sprinkles, The DSH Torti cat.  The stitching and drainage tubes can be seen on her side where her laceration was repaired.

Gabe, (one of the) DSH black cats that had FLUTD.

Flushing Gabe's cathater before removing it to perform the bladder stone surgery.

His little bladder.

The BB pellet-like stones that were in his bladder.

Flushing one more time before stitching him up, to make sure all the stones are out.

Finalized stitching.

Chico, the other DSH black cat with FLUTD.

Maxie, the DSH black sweetie.

Coco, the little Chihuahua with Anorexia and Azotemia. She also has her little teddy bear with her for comfort!

Buddy, the bulldog with Entropion issues.  This picture was taken before the surgery, and as it shows, his right lower eyelid is droopy while his left  lower eyelid is right up against his eye.

His eyelid being fixed/stitched up after part was removed (the lower eyelid can be seen as 'droopy' agin in this picture, like his right lower eyelid is).

The few pieces of his lower eyelid that were removed.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Day 44: Small Car Accident, Baby Squirrel, NubNub Tail

                Today we of course had some Tech and Doctor appointments, and in the afternoon we had an emergency for a Maltese mix named Lucy that was hit by a car.  Luckily, after Dr. Roberta checked her over and performed some tests, it was found that there was no serious damage externally or internally to Lucy besides a few cuts here and there as well as a few gashes/abrasions on her thighs. One of the abrasions was larger than the others, and it needed to be cleaned and stapled shut (the other abrasions were small enough that they just needed to be cleaned).  Dr. Roberta first gave a Metacam injection to help with pain relief, then applied Tritop ointment to protect from bacterial infections on her skin, and lastly gave Lucy a Polyflex injection to help fight against skin bacterial infections.  After giving the injections and medications, it was time to focus on closing the larger abrasion.  Since it was such a small ‘procedure’, it wasn’t really necessary to put Lucy under anesthesia.  When Dr. Roberta tried to get the first staple in, Lucy yelped and jerked her leg back, so the staple didn’t go in all the way.  Lauren was holding Lucy, and I was scratching Lucy’s head and talking to her in order to try and distract her, as well as to try and help her feel more at ease.  It took a few more tries, but Dr. Roberta was then able to staple the abrasion closed.
One of Lucy's gashes.

The largest gash all stapled up.

Lucy, the Maltese.

                There were also two small yet interesting things that happened later in the afternoon today.  The first was that a client found a baby/just born squirrel (at least, we were all fairly sure it was a squirrel) while taking a walk, and so they brought it in because they weren’t sure what to do with it but didn’t want to leave it for dead at the place where they found it.  Unfortunately there really wasn’t anything anyone could do, especially since no one really knows anything about squirrels and no one really knew what was wrong with it; so, I’m not sure what happened with the squirrel.  The second was that one of the new stray cats that had arrived a few days ago had to get his tail surgically removed; the nervous system in his tail was dead, and he couldn’t move his tail anymore nor could he feel anything in his tail.  Because of that, the doctors removed it last night, but I didn’t know that had happened.  I don’t know what caused his tail to end up like that, but it was just an interesting thing to see a cat with a nub for a tail!  He’s also going to be put up for adoption soon; he’s a sweetie, so hopefully he’ll find a nice home soon!
The baby squirrel.

The kitty's nubnub tail!

The nice stray cat.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Day 43: Foreign Body

                Today, in addition to Tech appointments and Doctor appointments, we also had a foreign body/bladder stone surgery on a Lab mix that was performed by Dr. Kris.   I say it was a foreign body/bladder stone surgery because Dr. Kris wasn’t sure what it was going into the surgery; looking at the X-rays, she knew that something was in the bladder, and at first she thought it was a large clump of bladder stones.  However, once the surgery was underway, a piece of bone was what was pulled out.  We have no idea how it got there, and we never will.  But this was definitely an interesting surgery with an unexpected result!
Beginning to open the bladder.  Dr. Kris is inplacing 'safety sutures' (looping a thread through both sides of the bladder and securing them to the sterile sheet with forceps) with in order to prevent the bladder from moving during the procedure.

The piece of bone that was taken out.

The stitched up bladder after the piece of bone was taken out.