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Veterinarians play with puppies and kittens all day

Updated: Apr 27

Have you ever heard, or said these words? Don’t veterinarians just play with puppies and kittens all day??

I’ve been out in small animal practice for 3 years now. Guess what?! I finally had a day where I could say that, for real!

My first appointment on Tuesday was a cute kitten in for recheck and second booster vaccines. Just a little ball of black and white fluff!

My second patient was the most adorable mini schnauzer in for his first visit. He was so playful. We played, did his exam, deemed him healthy for his booster vaccines.

My next patient was an adult mini schnauzer, but still active. He had a new lump, but otherwise healthy for vaccines.

Next was a walk-in border collie puppy. Newly acquired three days prior, but has stopped eating. Ok, first sick patient of the day. But she was stable. I syringe fed her some wet food, that she definitely didn’t know was food until she thought, hmmm... this kind of tastes good! And ate the rest of the bowl. Ok, puppy, you aren’t going to be hypoglycemic, we’ll get some dewormer for your gas filled instestines, and warn your owner of impending diarrhea. Her fecal analysis came back with giardia and coccidia, but she’s doing well.

Next was a new puppy. Another fluffy, playful and mouthy Morkie patient with those sharp little puppy teeth. Again, healthy and wiggly for vaccines.

Seriously?! How did I get so lucky to have alllll the puppies on this day?

This is an atypical day in the life of a small animal veterinarian.

Take yesterday. I have a 9-year-old female spayed domestic short-haired cat. In for vaccine boosters, but she’s gained weight on her weight loss food. She’s also walking around stiff-legged with painful joints. Then comes the discussion of money. I need to advocate for the patient and her pain that I can see as very obvious, and reportedly she cannot jump up on the windowsill any longer. No, this is not just because she’s obese. First, we need to go to the weight loss restricted diet again. I recommended bloodwork for overall health, which was declined. Then pushed for pain medication in the cheapest formulation I could provide. The owners pushed back as the cost of their cat was climbing. While I understand that a young family will struggle with funds,especially these days during COVID-19 restrictions, we need to come up with a plan that works within the finances. I know that you can find a cheaper weight loss diet, that is still good quality, but she needs pain medication. We finally come up with a solutionfor a cheaper food, so she can have some pain medication.

Another cat, 12-year-old male neutered domestic short-hair, obese with a painful abdomen, not eating and started vomiting. Due to his obese size, I threw the ultrasound probe on his belly, just to make sure that his bladder wasn't the cause of the pain, since that would be considered urgent if he was obstructed. I deemed him without a urethral obstruction. This one is going to require some diagnostics, so we take a blood sample, and schedule him in for x-rays.

Today, we have a 9-year-old cat that ran away from home, gone for two months and just returned, so now I’m talking about hepatic lipidosis and refeeding syndrome. Wetake a blood sample, run it in house, she's anemic, with elevated liver enzymes. Since she's stable and not vomiting, we calculated a feeding schedule to prevent hypophosphatemia and fatal shifting of electrolytes.

A one-year-old female intact large breed dog licking her vulva, and off of food. We’re starting with a urinalysis and culture.

An 8-year-old female intact Shih Tzu with an ear infection, dermatitis, a low grade heart murmur, massively long nails, but she’s just here for vaccines.

So the list goes on and on. Our job as veterinarians does include playing with puppies and kittens, but those animals then grow up to be seniors and geriatric animals with health conditions. Those can be fun too! Working up a problem case, finding answers, and coming up with solutions, it’s all part of the job.

So yes, I chuckle every time someone says, your job must be so fun, playing with puppies and kittens all day! Yup, it sure is. ;)

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