On giving veterinary advice online

I know it’s tempting when you have a veterinary question “Hey! I know a vet online! I can just ask them,” because it’s so easy to type out a question, especially anonymously, and media like Tumblr makes everything feel casual. Phoning a clinic might seem scary, especially talking to staff or vets there that you’re not familiar with, and messaging a blog seems like a lower stress alternative.

But I often cannot and should not help you.

If you message me because your dog is lethargic, I have no way of knowing whether it’s merely tired, or whether it has a bleeding abdominal tumour and will be dead by the morning. I’d only be guessing, even with years of training and experience. And if I guess wrong…

There are regional differences in diseases. I’m not even going to be thinking about tick borne infections for a sick dog, because that’s not what I see. My diagnostic ability is very geography specific.

It’s not legal for me to dispense specific veterinary advice outside my state of registration. If I don’t know where you are my advice more likely to be bad. I can’t write you a prescription either.

I’m very reluctant to contradict a vet who has actually seen the patient. Aside from being poor form and potentially bringing my profession into disrepute, hearing second hand information is highly likely to be inaccurate. No offense intended, but pet owners commonly relay information about what their previous vet did or said wrongly, and I can’t reliably draw a conclusion from that.

And I do not want to encourage people to think that sending me a question is a viable alternative to asking their own vet. Whether this is about food, treatments or, especially, emergency and time sensitive advice. The treating vet is already a wealth of knowledge, you should be asking their clinic about ongoing care and follow up questions after surgery, not somebody who is, let’s be frank, a complete stranger on the internet.

There is huge potential for online veterinary advice to do harm, which is why professions like mine are regulated.

I don’t want to close my ask box. I also don’t want to just be ‘mean’ and delete questions that are not appropriate, but also don’t want to clog the blog with 'call your vet’. Sometimes I do provide a short, curt answer encouraging people to call their vet. Sometimes well meaning people will add commentary to that post, which defeats the purpose of encouraging that person to call their local clinic. I know it feels good to answer questions, but there are legal liability issues that I just don’t want to deal with. I have to watch my back, and budding vetlings out there will need to do the same.

It is often safer for both myself and the patient for me to say call your vet.

I’m not doing it to be mean. I’m going it to be safe.

If you take wrong advice from the internet over advice from a consulting vet, there is a huge potential for harm. I cannot, and should not, shoulder that moral responsibility, and you don’t get to absolve your responsibility by shrugging your shoulders and saying “Well, I asked Dr Ferox.”


Welcome to JTV Pokecenter! Please ensure your pokemon are in a carrier, on a leash, or in their pokeballs at all times. Thank you!

Your friendly neighbourhood veterinary clinic is probably the closest thing in real life to a pokemon center, eh? So here are some pics of a few of my patients re-imagined as pokemon. I’ve been meaning to do a mashup like this for a while, but now seems a particularly relevant time.

(And if you ever visit our little clinic with your real life critters, I’ll check out your pokemon as well for free! ;) )

anonymous asked:

I have a demon character with horns. Can horns break? If so, is it painful? can it heal / grow out? Thanks, and love your blog!

An excellent question my friend. It depends on what sort of horns we’re talking about.

(Ram Image Source)

Animals with true horns, which are mostly ruminants like the ram and friends, which is also the classical demon look, have a core of living bone in the center of the horn. The outer layer is composed of thick keratin, but it is the shape of the living bone core that dictates the shape, size and direction of the horns. The living bone core is often much smaller than the keratin component.

(Goat skull showing bone core of horns)

The keratin has no nerves and little blood supply. The living bone core has a whole bunch of nerves, an impressive blood supply (it is bone after all) and if you break the horn too close to the skull then you will also have a big whopping hole into the frontal sinus.

This would be at least as painful as breaking one of your bones.

Horns can certainly heal, but they often heal in a not quite right manner. If you haven’t completely fractured off the living bone then the shape template for the new horn will be different. If your character has lost the living bone core, but still retains the germinal layer of cells around the base, then they can develop scurs.

A scur is like a remnant horn growing without a template. They often occur when de-horning hasn’t quite been done right or after trauma. They have an unpredictable shape, can grow in any direction, and are frankly quite annoying.

(A particularly funky scur)

These are often tipped (cutting off a portion near the end) and sometimes have no blood supply. They have no feeling, and can twist around to grow into other areas of the animal’s head.

There are other structures animals have which we often refer to as ‘horns’, even though they’re not true horns like these.

(Rhinoceros image source)

Rhinos do not have a living bone core in their horn. You can cut off parts of these horns, they’re made of keratin and can be thought of similar to a very fancy finger nail.

But uh, don’t be tempted to do it like the poachers do it, where they cut a straight line including both horns and part of the skull. That is going to be the equivalent of fracturing a true horn at the base and entering a sinus (or nasal cavity in this case). I’m not posting those pictures on here.

But lastly, another anatomical feature we humans sometimes think of as ‘horns’ are antlers.

Antlers are dead bone with no covering when mature. They are shed every year. When they are mature they have no feeling and no blood supply except at the very base. While they are growing they have a good blood supply,  but when mature they are inert. Antlers don’t grow bigger as such, they are shed each year and regrow, sometimes into a bigger or more pronged shape, depending on the species.

So take your pick. I don’t know which sort of horns your demon has, but I hope that’s answered your question.

doctorrichardstrand  asked:

i can't remember if this is still the q tax but: i learned that horses are more horrifying on a biological level than i thought! so i know that in quite a few dog breeds, partially or all white coats are linked with deafness/blindess. why is this only in certain breeds (dachshunds, dalmatians, etc) and not others? is this seen in other species?

Simply put, there are multiple different genetic mechanisms that can result in ‘white’ dogs. Some of these genes result in a lack of pigment in the fur only, but other genes are associated with issues like undersized eyeballs, or lack of pigment in the inner ear.

We don’t know all the genes that cause whiteness in dogs, but if it helps to simplify it think of white dogs like this:

  • Dogs that have colour, but have white on top
  • Dogs that have no colour (or patches of no colour)
  • Albino

Pigment isn’t just for decoration. An animal needs pigment in areas like the eye and inner ear to function. On the skin areas that are devoid of pigment are just white, but if you happen to have a white patch in your retina or inner ear you might be partially deaf or blind. This is why sometimes, some white dogs are associated with deafness and blindness. Some individual white genes are also associated with deformities of particular organs (eg eye), or a potential increased cancer risk.

Dogs that are actually coloured dogs with white over the top (eg White shepherds, Samoyeds, Maltese) typically have black (or brown) noses and pigment around their eyelids.

Dogs which genuinely lack pigment (either completely or in patches), often don’t. Their eyelids and nose are more likely to be pink.

These two pictured dogs are both white, but genetically very different and consequently have different risk factors.

Problems associated with lack of pigment are also seen in other species to varying extents. Lethal White Foals is probably the best known example.


Based on the UK vaccination recommendations. 

anonymous asked:

Hi doc, could you do a breed analysis on the Japanese Spitz? I'm a veterinarian myself, but since this breed is a rarity in the clinic in my country, I don't know much about its health issues - and online literature is non-existent. P.s. I have a Japanese Spitz myself (patella lux included ;))

I an give them a whirl. They’re not that common, 5 years ago I wouldn’t have seen any, but there seems to be one local suburb in particular where they are quite common. I don’t have as much experience with them as other breeds, but here’s what I do see.

As usual, please note the disclaimer. These posts are about the breed from a veterinary viewpoint as seen in clinical practice, i.e. the problems we are faced with. It’s not the be-all and end-all of the breed and is not to make a judgement about whether the breed is right for you. If you are asking for an opinion about these animals in a veterinary setting, that is what you will get. It’s not going to be all sunshine and cupcakes, and is not intended as a personal insult against your favorite breed. This is general advice for what is common, often with a scientific consensus but sometimes based on personal experiences, and is not a guarantee of what your dog is going to encounter in their life. 

Originally posted by spartathesheltie

These fluffbuckets look like a cross between a Samoyed and a fox. They’re very pretty dogs, providing you can keep their coat in good condition.

Patella Luxation is very common and individuals vary in how severe their luxation is. This condition causes the kneecap to pop out of place and causes varying degrees of lameness and pain.

Dental Health is a common issue. Some of these dogs have such badly infected teeth and gums that they are basically walking around with a sewer, ad for whatever reason they’ve developed a fussy habit when it comes to chewing, so ongoing dental care at home becomes a challenge.

A lot of these dogs that I see are getting home-cooked meals instead of more usual dog food. This is probably a cultural thing, but does contribute to the dogs being fussy and probably contributes to their bad teeth.

They are prone to watery eyes and I have seen a few with entropion, where the eyelids roll inwards to rub fur against the eyeball. They may have a inherent tear duct problem, but I also wonder if there’s any relation to infected tooth sockets in the upper jaw.

Ear infections are more common than expected in this breed even with sensible, upright ears. This may be related to allergies.

Coat maintenance is really important for these dogs, like their bigger cousins the Samoyed. There are quite a number of them which have had to be shaved because their fur has matted down to the skin, resulting in tugging, pain, and hot spots.

But there isn’t that many of them about. It will be interesting to see how these dogs mature over time. I see pyometras more than I’d like in this breed, but that seems  to be because of a cultural reason resulting in these dogs not being desexed as often as I’d life.

Please, stop.

“Hey! How are you going? I just have a quick question regarding [insert pets name here].”

“Long time no speak. My dog hasn’t eaten in 6 days and has had vomiting and diarrhoea for 5 of those days. What should I do?”

“Hey, just a quick one but I really want to let my cat have kittens just once so she can experience motherhood, is 8 months too young to let her mate?”,

Please, stop. 

Please, if you have a friend you rarely chat to, a friend of a friend of a friend or an extremely distant acquaintance who is a vet/student/nurse/tech etc, it is really not okay to ask for free advice. It is actually disrespectful.  

Most of us (including myself) are obliging and willing to help because that is the nature of our profession. Though I tell you, if you haven’t bothered to say hey prior to Mitten’s getting into a cat fight at 2am or if you haven’t cared to check in and see how life is going before Charlie started coughing 2 days ago, it is not okay to ask for that free advice.

You usually message us in the middle of a busy day or you message late at night when we are settling in, trying to unwind from a 15 hour hectic day of sick animals and devastated/angry clients. A Facebook message or text pops up from someone we haven’t spoken to in 5-10 years. I get it, you are desperate. Most want to know if they should take their pet to a vet or not. My honest answer is, if you are desperate enough to ask someone you rarely know or haven’t spoken to in a while if you should seek medical attention for your pet, then you more than likely need to. If you are unsure, it is best to call an emergency clinic and ask for advice.

Be mindful. Veterinary medicine already consumes our lives. It bombards us in all aspects of life. I will reply and help as much as I can without physically seeing your animal, but keep in mind that I am most likely replying to you when I am shoveling food into my mouth in the 2 minutes I have spare to eat during a shift or I am in the middle of spending some rare, free time with my loved ones. I will always advise to seek veterinary attention because if you are that concerned to message me, best bet is that your pet requires it.

All we ask is to please be mindful. 

anonymous asked:

(1/2) When does one determine if they should question their vet? I've had my horse under a three vets. My second vet had diagnosed the horse with Cushing's disease because he want shedding his hair well, and he was put on meds. I moved to a new state a few weeks ago and the new vet, an older man, said he didn't look like he had Cushing's because of other factors that were overlooked. He said my horse should have had a blood test for a diagnosis, not a look over guess.

(2/2) So I have been giving this horse unnecessary medications and wasted my money on it. I’m not saying that the vet that first diagnosed him was bad, but now I’m wondering how to avoid another misdiagnosis for my future animals.

I have Noped On Out of horses, but I’m sure there was a blood test (and possibly a urine test). Treating and diagnosing Cushings can be a big deal in any species

A vet should be quite happy to run a test. It’s usually harder to convince someone to do the appropriate testing in the first place.

 A vet should also be happy to answer questions and explain why they have chosen a particular action. We should be practicing evidence based medicine, therefore we should be able to back up our decisions.

If you’re not sure about something, you should be comfortable asking your vet questions about it. Asking questions, especially before you fork out a lot of money, is good for your peace of mind.

It’s not really your job to avoid a misdiagnosis though. It’s really more our job. If in doubt you can always seek a second opinion.

About the alien in your garage... part 1

Alright authors! Let’s say your protagonist has come across an alien life form and they’re pretty sure it’s injured. Being the Big Hero of the story they elect to take it somewhere safe from the Evil Government to nurse it back to health. Say, for argument’s sake, in their garage.

But even if our Hero has some medical or veterinary training how do they go about treating such a patient without accidentally writing a medical torture story? Pet owners often poison their pets by accident with over the counter human pain killers, so how can you actually treat your injured alien?

Keep reading

Day 1.

I walk into my first shift as a veterinarian. My. First. Ever. Shift. My first ever shift as a vet and an emergency one at that (I also questioned why I decided to make being a new grad harder for myself). I walk in wearing my brand new, freshly ironed scrubs with my stethoscope hanging around my neck, my new name tag pinned perfectly on my top depicting that “yes, I am a doctor now” (despite the fact I do not feel like one) and my Mini Vet Guide tucked securely in my left pocket. I spent a majority of the day studying (read: freaking out followed by spending 3 hours laying in my bath reflecting on why I stupidly decided to become a vet), with a feeling of absolute and utter raw fear building in the bottom of my stomach. To say I was petrified was an understatement.

“Your first consult is here”, says the vet on shift with me. I swear if there were ECG leads hooked up to me in that moment, the trace would depict a sudden surge of tachycardia (on top of my pre-existing, anxiety induced tachycardia). I stare blankly at the computer screen, the consult note says “acute onset vomiting and diarrhoea”. In that moment, everything I know about vomiting and diarrhoea vanishes. Great. All I want to do is run. 

I walk out to the waiting room. “Hello, my name is Olivia and I am one of the emergency vets, I believe your little one isn’t well”. Introducing myself for the first time as a veterinarian to a client and patient has got to be the most surreal experience. I still sometimes feel like I am still a student in first year, learning the basics of anatomy and physiology. I still cannot believe that I have made it through those 6 grueling years and am standing here today in front of my first patient. 

I get a thorough history, perform my physical examination and explain to the owners that I am going to grab a blood pressure and temperature in the treatment room. I walk out the back, my patient in my arms, and feel like I am in another world. It is up to me to decide what to do with this sweet little dog. I have to decide if I want to admit to hospital, what to treat with and what the plan is going to be. It is all on me. I finally decide on my treatment plan, and it is announced that my second consult is waiting - a dog with a fishhook in his leg. Onto the next one. 

I have been thrown into the deep end working in emergency. I feel as though I am doggy paddling my way through it. I ask a heap of silly questions, I second guess myself constantly,  I do dose calculations 4-5 times just to be sure that I am not under or over dosing a patient. I constantly run my treatment plans past someone more senior. All I want to do, is the best I can for my patients. 

I survived day 1. I am now at day 22 and am still surviving. 


The computer said my next patient’s name was Lucifer, and that he was a domestic. Not that an unusual name for a pet, I have to admit.

“Come on in. Do you have Lucifer hiding in that box for me?” I say. A gentleman dressed all in black with a rather spiky aesthetic and a selection of piercings comes into my consult room and opens the box.

He places a perfectly black rabbit on the table.

Honestly, I had been expecting a cat.

Turns out Lucifer is his new rabbit. He’d insisted on taking it from a friend who wasn’t taking care of it a few months ago.

Lucifer, for his part, had decided the table was too scary and that his dad’s leather clad armpit was the best place to be.

To my surprise and delight, our new goth rabbit owner is doing everything right. Perfect diet, read up on rabbit health, vaccinating, enrichment, the works.

He even started a vegetable garden to grow treats for the rabbit, or as he put it, “tributes for lucifer.”

blacklakecat  asked:

I thought tortoiseshell cats were cats with nearly all black or blue and red, apricot, or amber speckles. Aren't calicoes predominantly white with black or blue and red, apricot, or amber patches? Torbies = tortoiseshell with tabby markings, right? What are calicoes with tabby markings? Tabicoes?

Tortoiseshell can be a cat with any mix of the black and ginger genes. Calico refers to cats with the above pattern that also have large patches of white. Colour dilution modifiers can affect any base coat colour.

Tortoiseshell is just a colour. That colour can be modified with markings such as tabby, dilution or white patches, but underneath it all that’s still tortoiseshell. ‘Torbie’ is a strange portmanteau that I had not heard before, and to my knowledge is not in common use.

All these cats are torties.

But if they have enough white, they can also be called calico.

If they are calico then they are also tortoiseshell.