A follow-up to New Graduate Problems, which I published in Nov ‘13. Which means I’ve been doing this crazy job full-time now for an entire year.

People often comment and say, ‘it must be hard being a vet, having to put down all those animals’, and it certainly is. But, after having a particularly harrowing week, I thought I’d highlight a few of the other day-to-day difficulties faced by the vet crew that you might not have thought about.

Please, be kind to your vets and vet nurses. :)

Veterinarians aren’t greedy; they make less than most pharmacists, almost all human physicians and almost all dentists. Their hourly rate is lower than your plumber’s. They went to school for half their adult life not because they want to be rich, but because they care about your pets.

Liane Ehrich, Vet Tech, for the examiner.com.



Bloating Akita caught on film. 

A must watch for dog owners. Know the signs; it could save your dog’s life.  

Single most important thing for a veterinarian to remember about the species they are treating

As vets we have to retain an awful lot of knowledge about a bunch of different species in our brain, but I could only impart one factoid onto a new vet for each species, these would be it.

Dog: Everything that can go wrong will go wrong, in a German Shepherd

Cat: Species most likely to send you to the hospital.

Horse: Species most likely to send you to the morgue.

Cattle:  Hygiene and lube.

Sheep: Not little cows!

Goats: Not funny sheep!

Deer: Don’t. Just shoot them.

Birds: No diaphragm, if you squeeze them they will die.

Raptors(eg eagles) : Much easier to handle with a sock over their head.

Chickens: If it’s egg bound there is no such thing as too much lube.

Water birds: Projectile feces. Aim with care.

Rabbits:  Drug sensitivities

Guinea Pigs: Lethal penicillin

Rats & Mice: It’s going to be a tumor.

Snakes: Don’t leave them in a cage. They get out.

Lizards: 90% of the time it’s a husbandry problem

Aussie mammals: Don’t wrestle wombats, you can’t win.

Fish: You can MacGuyver an anesthetic rig from two buckets, some tubing, a straw, a clean cat litter tray and some alfaxan. Do not use electro-cautery on a wet fish.

Ferrets: Most of their problems are from the same area; the kidneys, adrenals and ovaries seem to be part of a club to cause havoc for this species.

Pigs: Wear ear muffs, because they scream like you wouldn’t believe, and remember that they’re bred for meat, which is muscle and they know how to use it.

This is not an attempt to condense veterinary medicine into a few dozen sentences. But if you can only remember one thing, make it a useful one.

Traps for new vets

There are certain pearls of wisdom that you really want to hear before you have a chance to make these mistakes yourself. Note: This list is by no means exhaustive.

  • When expressing anal glands, do not stand directly behind the animal and do not talk. Keep your mouth shut, do not talk.
  • Always check the animal’s sex before calling them into the exam room. Some people like to give their male pets strongly feminine names and enjoy getting upset when you assume ‘Susan’ is a girl.
  • Never say “At least he doesn’t have a tumor” until you have finished your physical exam.
  • Goats and valium do mix.
  • Book double consultation times for clients that may not be to comfortable with English. Best case scenario is they bring a friend or relative to translate for them, requiring the whole conversation to happen twice. Worst case scenario is that you end up communicating via charades.
  • Mast Cell Tumors look like everything, and anything. It might not be a lipoma.
  • Cats will heal just about anything if you put their pieces close enough together. (If they don’t, look for FIV or FeLV). To think of it another way: Cat’s are nature’s jigsaw puzzles.
  • All dogs bite. That’s how they eat. The breeds most likely to send veterinary staff to hospital for serious dog bites are actually Labradors and Golden Retrievers, simply because you don’t expect them.
  • Don’t use the smallest possible catheter when trying to hit a vein. They’re flimsy and they suck. You can place a 22g in a kitten. You really can.
  • If you’re not sure, and need time to think in front of a client, either put your stethoscope on, listen to the heart/abdomen and shut your eyes or if dealing with cattle, put on a rectal glove, get in there and look as though you’re concentrating hard. Nobody likes to interrupt.
  • If you think a client is using a euphemism for genitals, ask them to show you what they mean and henceforth use correct anatomical terms.
  • You can always use your first principles
  • Don’t say “I don’t know” unless you follow up with “But I have a plan to figure it out.”

One day, there will be a part 2 to this post.

Hans needs your help! Please share!


Hans is a 9 year old Miniature Pinscher. Around Thanksgiving, he began exhibiting some worrisome symptoms that gradually worsened. Three weeks later, he went for an emergency vet visit after he spent the night gasping for breath.

After having bloodwork and xrays done, we found that Hans had nearly 2 pounds of fluid (approximately 25% of his body weight!) resting around his heart and lungs. He was prescribed a few medications to control the symptoms (Enalapril and Prednisone).

A few weeks later, Hans’ symptoms reemerged after coming off of his medication. We had a bile acids test done on his liver, and the results came back abnormal (i.e., his liver is not functioning at a normal level, and allowing proteins to leak, which causes this accumulation of fluids).

In order to find the cause of this liver abnormality and provide the best treatment for Hans, the next step is to have an ultrasound guided biopsy done on his liver. Since Thanksgiving, all of the tests and vet visits have totaled at just over $600, which we have put on a credit card. The biopsy is estimated to cost us approximately $500, and we will be having it done in the second week of March. We are trying to raise $1,100 in order to pay off our credit card, and pay for the biopsy.

We love our sweet boy, and he is young enough that we want to find out the cause of his condition instead of just throwing medicine at his symptoms. However, we are both recent college graduates with student loan bills and only one income, making providing the best treatment for Hans financially straining.

We appreciate any and all donations. Thank you!


#HeforShe for Vets

View blog on WordPress; image credit: Liv @ why-i-am-a-vet-student

If you have been on the internet in the last few days then you’ve seen Emma Watson’s inspiring and poignant speech in her new role as a goodwill ambassador for UN women. In her speech she calls out for men to take up their end of the bargain in the fight for female equality and empowerment. It’s an inspiring speech and if you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch it [here]. After signing up to the #heforshe pledge I started thinking to myself what role sexism played in my life and I kept coming back to my place as a future veterinarian.

 Anybody in vet school across the world can attest to the fact that more females are entering the profession than ever before. In my class alone, 85% of the students are female, and this is universal across western countries with a similar trend across the world. This is in stark contrast to the male-dominated profession that has been the norm historically. There are a whole assortment of theories as to why this is the case, and these range from increased academic commitment of females to more males pursuing high-income professions. In the end though the ‘why’ isn’t the important part, it’s how it’s approached which is the issue.

 I remember that in my first years of vet school, on visits to clinics in regional Australia, that I was treated differently to the female student I conducted the visits with. It wasn’t every clinic, and it certainly wasn’t every vet, but it was enough to be noticed. Comments like ‘Geez it’s great to see some male vet students coming through’ were fine – we are definitely few and far between! It was comments like ‘you had better pull this calf instead’ (when my partner had grown up on a dairy farm and was definitely far better at pulling calves than I was -and still is) that really stuck out. When it REALLY got uncomfortable was when I heard numerous theories about the failure of the profession due to there being too many women unable to run businesses. As a young student I listened to these comments come from good vets, employers, pillars of their communities, and I found it more perplexing

Keep reading

To anyone considering declawing their cat and those who find to problem with declawing,

Please watch the Paw Project. Declawing is extremely harmful to cats. Declawing does not simply remove the nail, it removes the last segment of the cat’s toes. In an attempt to regrow the nail, declawed cats’ toes often have small nail particles growing in their toes and as you can imagine, it is extremely painful to the cat. Additionally, while one may think that declawing will make a cat more “friendly” (because it cannot scratch), cats will often resort to biting. 

Anyways, the Paw Project can articulate all of this and more better than I can so please head over to netflix and watch it now!