Vedder Mountain Veterinary Clinic




                                  Subtitled: how to keep your veterinary bills down! 


      Had Benjamin Franklin, the famous American who “tamed lightning” been alive during the time of my writing of this article I like to think that he would have approved of my use of his wise and familiar saying in the veterinary context.


     A very large proportion of the preventative measures I am about to list below apply to all companion pets, furry, feathered or otherwise. By adhering to these measures you can significantly improve the likelihood that you will have a pet that lives a long and healthy life that is much less burdened by experiences of injury or disease.


    I will start each point defending against common myths that many people cling to about the authentic value of these measures.  


           Myth 1: “My new puppy or kitten has been dewormed and received his first shots and looks healthy and therefore don’t need a physical exam”.



     The importance of a complete physical exam of newly adopted pets cannot be overemphasized. This enables vets to pick up on the presence of any pre-existing problems and also allows for exchange of valuable information regarding optimum nutrition, parasite prevention and other preventive measures to address the immediate and future needs of the newly adopted pet.


            Myth 2:  “Ruff looks healthy, seems happy, is eating well, and is                                               not due any vaccines this year therefore why waste money and time taking him to the vet?” 


      It is important to have your pet of any age examined by a veterinarian on a yearly basis and even more often in the case of pets that are middle-aged and older.  This is because pets age at a rate that is significantly faster than do humans. Physical examinations allow for identification of dental, ear or other lurking diseases that you may have missed. The great majority of health problems are better addressed at an early stage rather than later on, often when other complicating factors have developed.




             Myth 3: “I have heard a lot on T.V. (or read online testimonials or my favorite pet store has been promoting…) “X” Brand of food being the BEST there is!”



         It is well worth your time to research your pet’s nutritional needs to become as informed as possible. Don’t fall for the most expensive fad diet but at the same time; don’t reach for the cheapest on the shelf either.  Like people, a pet’s overall health status is influenced significantly by what he or she eats daily.  Your vet, a trained professional can offer you the best guidance.  There is no “Best” pet food” on the market for any individual pet just as there is no single best food for humans.



               Myth 4:  “Fluffy is always with me on a leash on walks and is very healthy and is rarely in contact with other dogs so she doesn’t need any vaccines.  Or “Rover has had his puppy series and now that he is an adult dog he doesn’t need them anymore”.



     It is very important to have your pets vaccinated against infectious diseases on a regular basis (ferrets too!) Vaccines provide effective protection against common infectious diseases, which can be relatively easily acquired during daily activities such as when your pet contacts contaminated soil, grass or contaminated air droplets. Also, it is important to be aware that young animals, especially those a year or younger, cats and dogs older than 8 years old and animals with compromised immune systems are all at a higher risk of acquiring infectious diseases than the general pet population. .


               Myth 5:  “Frisky” is always in our fenced yard or with me on outings so he is safe from loss or harm.”



     Money spent on microchip and tattoo and identifier collars and tags is money very well spent!  One can never second-guess all emergency situations.  For example, pets can escape through undetected holes in fences or improperly latched gates.  Also, they can jump out of partially open car windows and also, on occasion be stolen. 



              Myth 6: “Ranger loves to ride in the back of our truck and is very smart about not trying to jump out”.


        Truck bed harnesses and crates are measures that are essential to protect pets during transport. Unexpected sharp stops and turns can easily result in unsecured pets suffering from dragging incidents resulting in severe injuries, prolonged suffering and occasionally even death. This applies to pets transported inside vehicles as well.  Seat belts and harnesses are designed to protect your pet and any passengers as well from the possibility of your animal passenger being catapulted forward or even out the window of your car in the event of a car accident or unexpected sharp stop. 


             Myth 7:  “Rambo would never jump up on to the kitchen table or counter, even to steal a very tempting treat ”(or crack open a prescription pill bottle and sample the contents!) 


     For all kinds of pets of any age it is very important to be vigilant about pet- proofing your house to avoid serious and sometimes tragic outcomes.  This includes protecting your inevitably enterprising furry or feathered friend from accessing electrical cords and toxic household chemicals, plants, and human medications. Included in a list of common hazards are household cleaners like laundry and dishwasher soap, toilet bowl cleaners, and carpet cleaners.  Also included are recreational drugs such as marijuana, beverages with high caffeine content and e-cigarettes and their refills.  


          Myth 8:  Never assume that little Hamish, who has been vomiting off and on for a few days or has blood in his stools, is o.k. because he still seems bright and alert and still wants to eat.  Or, if Buster seems unusually quiet and withdrawn to assume that he   is just “depressed” from loss of a family pet or favorite person or “getting old”.


     The longer a problem exists it is generally more difficult and costly to address.  Age alone is not a disease!  




           Myth 9: “Pets do not experience dental pain the same way humans do.”


      This is definitely NOT SO!   All animals are programmed with a survival instinct that ensures that they do not appear vulnerable to outside threats.  Further, they need to eat to survive. Therefore, pets in general put up with dental pain, which may be considerable, and continue to eat and get on with their life because they have no other choice. 


      Unfortunately for pets, it is another common misconception that a non-anesthetic procedure involving hand-scaling of teeth is adequate to address a pet’s dental needs,   In fact, within the veterinary community, hand-scaling alone is considered to be beneath the standard of care expected of a veterinarian.  An apt analogy to explain this view is for an individual to attempt to improve a car with a rusted body by painting over the rust with new paint! Although after a hand-scaling your pet’s teeth may look shiny white and appear to be in great shape overall, what is lurking under the gum line where rotten ( and very painful!) roots may be found remains as potentially a much more serious problem to be addressed.



            Myth 10: “Pets do not have emotional needs or feel emotions like humans do.  They strictly act on instinct and as long as they have food and shelter they are happy.”


             Definitely, this is not true!      



           Love and play with your pet routinely.    This will help you to be in tune with his physical condition.  A daily play routine will please your pet and keep his life more exciting and as a bonus, it will provide health benefits to you as well!








    Cold Laser Therapy is being used therapeutically worldwide in the human field as well as very broadly in the veterinary field.  It is a treatment modality that is very safe, effective, cost efficient and portable. It is reported that many professional football teams transport this technology with them to assist in the treatment of muscle and bone injury that may occur during any of their games.


      The term “Laser”, is an   acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation,   This treatment modality provides proven benefits to humans and pets in pain management, wound healing and as an anti-inflammatory mediator.   An excellent source of a multitude of studies of Class 1V technology can be found online at  


     The following cute image is of Chester, a very personable miniature Schnauzer, wearing mandatory specialized eyewear to protect his eyes from the laser light. 


     Chester was suffering from serious gangrenous wounds sustained from an unprovoked dog attack.  Cold Laser Therapy and an appropriate antibiotic facilitated uncomplicated healing.






      Most scientists of our time agree that animals and birds are capable of feelings rather than just functioning as programmed creatures that react in a pre-determined way to their surroundings.   As MRI and CAT scan technology continues to advance even staunch skeptics do in general agree that brain structures responsible for higher brain functions in animal brains are often quite similar to that of human brain structures.


   With this exciting concept in one’s mind, it is easy for a pet-owner to incorrectly assume that their pet’s actions parallel their own behavior and reactions.


       Taking dogs as an easy example of this incorrect assumption, they are not little people; rather, they act and think quite differently from humans. People can dress them up like humans and carry them around in backpacks or push them in baby buggies, but dogs do not think or act like humans because a dog thinks and acts like what he is… a dog.


     As a case in point, take, for example the situation where an owner comes home after attending to some errands to find his sofa cushion torn to shreds and his front door baseboard in jagged splinters.  To assume that this behavior is from retaliation to “get back at me for leaving” is a mistake. More likely, the destructive act has been a result of a pressure-cooker effect on the pet from to pent-up emotions such as frustration, anxiety or simply boredom. Or even, as could easily be the case in a young dog it could have been due to a compulsive need to help relieve pain from his teething process.


     Although many pet owners are convinced that when they arrive at the “crime scene”, be it damaged property or “doggy do” on the floor  and see their pet assuming a seme-crouched, defensive pose with  his gaze averted, that he is feeling guilty about his act.  Actually, this is not the case. This situation is a good example of how a dog’s thought processes differ from a human’s.   When a dog appears to be looking “guilty” after a destructive act he is actually showing a fear response from his prediction of events that are likely to immediately folow his owner’s angry look.  Since dogs, like young kids, live their lives very much in the present, he or she is not capable of making a mental connection beween his act that may have happened some time ago and your current angry look.  Rather, he has learned to be fearful when seeing his owner looking this way, perhaps from some kind of punishment closely matched to this look that has occurred in his past.


      Similarly, a cat that urinates or defecates on a bed or on a carpet is not expressing his disdain about you being absent from his presence (despite all appearances that he chooses the most opportune time to match with when you are bringing home guests), but rather, this action is  most likely due to one or more quite common reasons such as a health problem, anxiety issue, or physical disability  Some examples of causes of  inappropriate elimination behavior in cats include a urinary tract disorder, a strained relationship with other pets or people in the household, an unappealing litter box or litter fill, or as is  often the case with older cats, physical difficulty accessing his litter box in time.   In any case, this action would not be one motivated by intentional revenge.   



   So, to conclude, in contrast to humans who unfortunately do tend to hold grudges and  feelings of resentment, pets are much  better off in this regard, escaping health problems such as  high blood pressure and heart disease caused by brooding over past unchangeable events.



Google search

                     Live in the Moment

Living in the moment may be one of the most important lessons we can learn from our pets. In a study called "A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind," Harvard psychologists conclude that people are happiest when doing activities that keep the mind focused, such as sex or exercise. Planning, reminiscing, or thinking about anything other than the current activity can undermine happiness.


( Live in the Moment is  from Google Search)

1.                          Slideshow: 20 Things You Can Learn from Your Pets - WebMD                                          

                                                                     " I DIDN'T MEAN TO! HONEST!"

   "     CHASE - A 9 YR OLD                   Photo                           American Staffordshire  Bull Terrier)




     It is with pleasure that we present our most interesting case of the month to our readers and friends.


     Our choice is Jackson, an adult male grey Persian cat, a stray of unknown background until a compassionate family adopted him about eight years ago


     Jackson had shown up at the doorstep of a very kind-hearted and charitable family early in March 2007 and was welcomed into their household despite (or perhaps because of!), a very seriously injured right eye, numerous heavy hair mats of his bib and chest areas, greasy skin and an overall unthrifty condition. He was obviously the kind of cat used to toughing it out in tough times yet still, he presented himself as a gentle soul who trusted humans implicitly.



    Jackson’s eye was so badly damaged that it was pushed backwards into his head and pus in his eye socket obscured a deformed, collapsed globe underneath the pus.  It is reasonable to assume that his eye injury was associated with a very intense dispute with another cat over territorial rights some time in his recent past. As a hardened road warrior, it also seems reasonable to assume that he had bravely stood his ground but unfortunately the head on conflict had resulted in the sacrifice of his eye.



      A very short time after the family welcome into their home Jackson was brought to our clinic for a physical examination. The adventure of his first visit to our clinic did not appear to cause Jackson to become defensive or fearful, just a little wary.  He seemed to accept this circumstance as if used to trudging through his life’s tall grass and determined to make the best of it, no matter what came his way.  


   At the time of his assessment it was immediately apparent that Jackson’s eye was not salvageable by any medical or surgical means and that total eye removal (enucleation) was the only humane way to deal with his evident and significant eye pain. We performed this procedure a short while after his visit and also neutered and dematted him and cleaned his teeth as well.


     Jackson responded very well to his loving care over many years. Then, one day he was brought to us because his observant owners had noticed some vision problems and an unusual look to his remaining left eye.  This problem warranted a thorough evaluation by a specialist, even more so because this was Jackson’s one and only eye, so an appointment was arranged for Jackson to be examined by the West Coast Veterinary Eye Specialists.


      The specialists diagnosed a chronic eye inflammation that had recently led to a cataract and early glaucoma (increased eye pressure).


     A cataract is a loss of transparency in the lens resulting in progressive loss of vision as the transparency loss worsens. Normally, the lens of the eye is as clear as glass.   A poorly transparent lens can be compared to how one’s vision would be impaired looking through a misty window. (Approximately 2.5 million Canadians have cataracts of varying degrees of severity).


   Chronic eye inflammations are fairly common causes of cataracts in cats.  Inflammation of the inner structure of the eye is often associated with viral and infectious causes such as Feline Leukemia, Feline Infectious Peritonitis and Toxoplasmosis. This inflammation can be quite painful as it advances in severity.   Since Jackson was originally a stray of unknown background, he likely was exposed to one or more of these infectious agents some time prior to his arrival at his owners’ front door.


     Although, as in dogs and humans, cataract surgery in cats is involving replacement of the cloudy lens by an artificial new one is an option in selected cases, the specialists did not recommend this procedure for Jackson because his chronic eye inflammation and secondary glaucoma reduced the likelihood of a positive outcome.


      Instead, the specialists recommended a number of eye ointments and drops to be administered up to three times daily for as long as possible, with total blindness very likely to ensue in the foreseeable future despite these efforts.  


     Now, two years later, thanks to the very compassionate family members who have diligently maintained Jackson’s medication schedule over these past two years, Jackson still has enough vision to be often seen striding along his family’s fence line on “patrol duty” ensuring that no intruders are lurking about.

















     Try some boisterous play with him, or maybe a tickle or two… 


     A host of well-respected researchers of animal behavior, psychologists and neuroscientists from all over the world have successfully convinced the scientific community that dogs and some other non-human species of animals (like rats!),  will indeed laugh during play or chuckle and laugh even if they are just being  playfully tickled!


     A dog’s laugh sounds similar to a breathy pant without cadence that can be intensified to a more guttural Ah …Ah sound.  (For those desiring a virtual experience, a visit to and search for “dogs laughing” will prove to be worth your while).


        In humans, laughter therapy has been well-researched and is considered to be a natural form of medicine that provides benefits to a person’s physical, emotional, and social well being. These benefits are so significant that laughter therapy is considered to be an effective therapeutic tool that health care professionals can pull out of their toolbox to assist troubled individuals suffering from a variety of psychological disorders.  It can also be used to help people cope during particularly stressful times in their life.


    If one considers human laughter in simple terms, it is a visual display of an emotional response that is usually very positive, generally indicating joy and happiness.  It sends a message of acceptance and trust in a social group, which is definitely an advantage, in evolutionary terms, allowing for peaceful group relationships.


      It can easily follow that non-human animals laugh in a similar way to communicate their desire for non-threatening social interaction and to be part of the group. In fact, it is now established by well-documented research that dogs, like humans, do indeed benefit from dog-laughs.  Studies have indicated that recorded dog-laughs played to dogs in a shelter setting, can relax and calm them and encourage dog play.   This benefit is so significant that for a number of years numerous shelters housing relinquished or lost dogs have been using recorded dog laughs as a tool, since calm, playful dogs are less prone to injury and are more adoptable.


       So, this begs the question of whether dogs are capable of other emotions that parallel human feelings, at least in a rudimentary way.


     Universally, scientists of animal behavior of modern times are now modifying their concepts of animal minds in ways that would astound scientists of previous eras. As late as the last century, for example it was commonly believed that animals and birds functioned totally at an instinctive level, with no capability to experience cognitive thoughts or emotions.




     Now, in our 21st century, the majority of animal behavior researchers support the belief that companion pets and many types of non-human animals and birds are feeling, sentient beings rather than  just living creatures that are  pre-programmed to react in a pre-determined way to a positive or negative stimulus.   As technology advances in the fields of diagnostic imaging, even staunch skeptics are realizing that brain structures responsible for higher brain functions in many higher level animal brains are often quite similar to that of human brain structures.


    Take, for example, the fact that the scientific community now agrees in principle that pets can experience some degree of sadness and grieve over the loss of a favored household companion or the loss from their lives of a primary care-giver.  This “elephant in the room” concept comes as little surprise to the great majority of pet owners, some of whom may have experienced first hand their pet seeming to grieve or have shared experiences with other astute pet owners that have experienced pet grieving behavior.


        Of course, there is always a degree of anthromorphizing that can enter into a discussion of cognition and abstract thinking capabilities of animals and birds, however, as diagnostic imaging technology becomes more refined from year to year it is becoming clearly evident that the bold black line defining animal thought processes as separate from those of humans, is now being erased and redrawn.                                       

       (To view more articles like these feel welcome to send us a friend request at Leslie Ross Dvm-vmvc and like us on Facebook on our Vedder  Mountain Vet Clinic page)



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