7 Facts about Veterinary Technicians

7 Facts about Veterinary Technicians

My husband went to the emergency room last week. He was taken in while working for severe dehydration and possible heat stroke. The paramedics took his vitals and administered a bag of fluids and an anti-nausea injection. When he got to the hospital, he sat in a chair for about an hour until a “room becomes of available.” He sat in this chair behind the registration desk for almost an hour with no further monitoring from anyone – a nurse, doctor, or anyone. He naturally has high blood pressure, and his blood pressure upon arrival was 170/80, which is close to a hypertensive crisis. We finally went into a room, where an RN took his medical history and listened to his heart, but that was it. About 45 minutes later, the doctor finally arrived. Twenty minutes or so later, the RN came back for labwork and to run a second bag of fluids. About another hour later toward the end of the second bag of fluids, the doctor came back in to say his labwork looked great, and that she did believe he was just severely dehydrated with a possible heat stroke. The RN then took his vitals again, and we left.

 During this experience, I noticed 2 main things that bothered me. 1) You are surprisingly very alone in a hospital. We even rang the call button once, and it took someone 5-10 minutes to come to the room. 2) Communication is almost nonexistent. The RN started disconnecting his fluid line and getting blood without even saying a word. She didn’t say how long the labwork would take to get back until I asked

Disclaimer: I understand that veterinary technicians are different from human nurses, and I understand there is a huge difference between veterinary medicine and human medicine. This is is based off my experiences and observations.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I absolutely understand human medicine and human hospitals function very differently than veterinary hospitals. I understand there are so many more rules, regulations, and laws to follow. I understand they are governed by insurance companiess and big pharma and lawyers, unlike veterinary hospitals. I truthfully don’t mind the wait time. I understand how triage works, so I am happy to wait while other people more critical are being cared for. I understand that in the grand scheme of things, severe dehydration is not that big of a deal or a life-or-death situation. But still, my husband was sick, and all of the staff is employed to care for the patients – I mean, that’s their job. 

This probably irks me more than most, because even though I haven’t worked in a veterinary hospital setting in some time, I am still through and through a veterinary technician. That was my first real adult job, and it really did shape the way I approach medicine in general. Being a veterinary technician is an incredibly hard and demanding job, and no, we don’t play with puppies and kittens all day. Being overworked, understaffed, underpaid, underappreciated and yelled at on a weekly (if not daily) basis is pretty much par for the course. In case you aren’t sure what exactly entails being a veterinary techinican, keep on reading because I have some interesting facts for you. 

7 Facts about Veterinary Technicians

1.) As a veterinary technician, our job is to ensure your animal does not feel alone.

We understand animals get freaked out by the weird smells and sights at a veterinary hospital, so we check on them constantly to make sure they are doing okay. If I have a spare minute and your pet is friendly? Then yeah for sure, cuddles will happen.

2.) Anytime you drop your pet off for the day, I can assure you that your veterinary technician is setting a timer to make sure that she checks on your pet frequently, and she is likely taking vitals at least 3x during their stay.

If your pet is there for surgery, his vitals are being checked constantly.

3.) Your veterinary techinician is truly looking out for your pet and acting in their best interest.

If you have an experienced veterinary technician, they are well versed in common illnesses and injury and corresponding treatments. Your veterinarian and veterinary techinician truly make up a team often bouncing ideas off of each other. Your veterinary technician is the one that has eyes on your pet more often than not, so if they notice your pet seems painful or in worse condition, they immediately ask the veterinarian about further treatment.

4.) Our communication skills are top notch.

Disclaimer: I know, everyone’s communication skills differ, and typically that is a skill that every single soul on this planet can always improve upon. For the most part, we are good at communicating with other staff and with clients. When performing procedures in the room with a client, we talk you through the procedure before taking action, so that you understand what is happening. This also provides you the opportunity to speak up to let us know if your pet has some sort of special need – for example, let us know if they prefer their blood being drawn from a back leg versus a front leg. I usually also tell clients exactly what tests we’re performing, but if I forget and a client asks, I am more than happy to explain it.

5.) We’ve all gotten in this field because we truly love animals and want to help them.

We all have animals at home. We all try to treat our patients and clients as if it was us in that situation. I do my best to provide great customer service, because that is how I want to be treated when I take my own dog to the vet. If I say I don’t have the answer but promise to get it and call you back, you can expect a phone call usually within an hour or two. If you would prefer to wait in the car or an exam room instead of the lobby, I will do my best to accomodate you so both you and your pet are more comfortable and relaxed. If you are a “frequent flyer” because your pet is seriously sick, I’ll call just to check up and see how your pet is doing.

6.) Your veterinary techinician is performing the job of many. Your veterinary technician acts as a: nurse, phlebotomist, pharmacist, anesthesiologist, x-ray technician, dental hygeniest, and janitor. And, I’m sure you already know this, but in case you don’t, in many states, veterinary technicians barely get paid over minimum wage for all of this.

Veterinary technicians can attend a two year school program to become a credentialed veterinary technician; however, school typically costs anywhere from $5,000 – $18,000, and in some states, it still only results in a minimal pay raise.

7.) The veterinary industry is brutal, and veterinarians have the highest suicide rate of any professional occupation.

We often work long days and almost never leave work on time. We see sadness and death on a daily basis. When you couple this with angry, yelling clients, it can really be rough. In my opinion, there also seems to be more drama and bullying in a typical veterinary hospital than in most normal workplaces.

So next time you take your dog to the vet, please be patient and kind. Please understand that yes – we cannot dispense ear medications from 2 years ago if your dog has not been in since for a physical exam even though he is shaking his head. Please understand that we too have regulations we must follow; they’re just different than human medicine. Please understand that yes – we do need to do biannual bloodwork if your pet is on a longterm medication such as an NSAID or thyroid medication; your pet cannot speak, and we have no other way to make sure that his internal organs are functioning properly. Please understand that we are doing our best to do 20830329 tasks at the same time while upholding quality care so that your pet, and everyone else’s, can all be cared for.

 If you have an awesome veterinary hospital and team, please please please thank them. A simple “thanks so much for everything you do!” DOES go a long way.

 It can be so hard to find a good vet, especially for a reactive dog. Tell me in the comments – how did you find your current vet? What are some things they do that you love?

 

My Reactive Dog Lunges and Barks (and that’s okay)

My Reactive Dog Lunges and Barks (and that’s okay)

Now, don’t get me wrong. Do I want my reactive dog to lunge and bark? Absolutely not. But will there be times in life that he will? Unfortunately, yes. 

Buster is reactive to both people and dogs, but really, our main issue is dogs. When Buster is reacting to someone or something, he typically lunges and barks, as most reactive dogs do. Like I said, don’t get me wrong. My goal as a dog trainer and owner of a reactive dog is to do everything in my power so that we have a nice walk or hike with 0 reactions. I could go into all of the science with you, but long story short, the more that a dog reacts, the more likely he will continue to react in the future. Plus, his reactions would likely escalate and become worse as time went on. Also, if you are actively working on reactivity, a reaction can unfortunately send you backwards in the progress you’ve made. 

The thing is, many people don’t understand reactive dogs. They will say things about how a dog should stay home if he can’t behave nicely in public. Let me just put it to you bluntly – that’s a load of crap.

3 Reasons that Reactive Dogs NEED to get Outside and be Active

 

  1. Reactive dogs require exercise, just like any other dog.
    I would even be happy to argue that reactive dogs require MORE exercise than an average dog. As the old saying goes, a tired dog is a good dog.

  2. In order to do any sort of training, your dog has to get outside.
    How else are you supposed to work on desensitizing your dog to his triggers?

     

  3. Reactive dogs are still good dogs.
    They are still someone’s pet or family. They deserve to get outside into the world and explore new environments and surroundings with their people. Besides, I’m pretty sure we would call animal control if we knew someone was keeping their dog cooped up inside of their four walls all day every day.

When I take Buster out, I employ a lot of strategies so that we’re prepared and hopefully have as few reactions (the goal is always 0) as possible. (And spoiler alert – at this point in the game with all the hard work we’ve put in, Buster is usually the quietest dog around.) It can feel like a lot of work. It can be overwhelming and stressful at times, but that’s the cross I bear to make sure that I have a well-trained dog.

8 Tips for Walking a Reactive Dog so he doesn’t Lunge and Bark 

 

  1. Always carry high value treats on you.
    Leave the kibble and “healthy” treats at home. Bring the good stuff – cheese, freeze dried liver, boiled chicken, etc.
     

     

  2. Walk at “odd” hours.
    You obviously want to beat the crowds to limit your chances of incidents, so usually very early mornings or very late evenings are best.

     

  3. Scope out the area.
    Are there a ton of cars? Does the trail have 500+ reviews on AllTrails? The more people, the more you have to worry. Maybe try to find a quieter place.

     

  4. Stick to trails and parks with wide open spaces.
    This way, even if you do encounter an off leash dog, you’ll have plenty of space to move so there are 0 reactions.

     

  5. Always scan the area.
    You don’t have to look like a scene out of the Exorcism or anything with your neck constantly moving, but beware of the area and the people in it. Are there people coming up behind you? Are there people approaching ahead of you? Do these people have a dog?

     

  6. Teach your dog an emergency U-turn.
    If people are approaching but there is no one behind you, great! Do a U-turn and go back from where you came until the coast is clear.

     

  7. Use proper desensitizing and counter-conditioning techniques.
    Reward your dog for looking at his trigger and not reacting. Always remember to give your dog more space than you think he may need, just to be on the safe side.

     

  8. Lastly, if all else fails, and a reaction is imminent, just hold onto your dog and get him out of there as quick as possible.
    Do not yell at him, because I assure you that will do nothing. Once you’re safely out of the situation, take a few minutes to stop and breathe. Both you and your dog need it!

Unfortunately, there will be times that your dog will react. You’ll be on a narrow path with no where to go. You’ll run across a loose dog that the owner can’t recall (oh how I could go on for DAYS about how much this annoys me). You’ll run across a dog that escaped from his harness. The sad truth is that while you do everything you can in your power to protect your dog, unfortunately, the people you are passing may not know or understand reactive dogs, or worse, they may truly not care.

So I’m here to tell you to get outside with your dog. Do your absolute best to be prepared so your dog doesn’t react. Work with a trainer so you can learn tools and skills to help manage your dog in a bad situation. But, if the unavoidable happens, it’s okay. If he lunges and barks, it will be okay. You will be okay, and your dog will be okay. You did the best you could, and I’m sure that walk or hike that you just get finished was still well worth it for both you and your dog’s health.

Does your dog bark and lunge? What are your best tips for avoiding those incidents? What do you do if you feel like a reaction is unavoidable? Tell me in the comments!

 

7 Tips for Traveling with Your Reactive Dog

7 Tips for Traveling with Your Reactive Dog

Do you have any fun trips planned before summer is officially over? Or maybe you’re like me, and you actually prefer to travel when the weather is cooler in the fall. Either way, these tips will have you covered!

Buster is now 7 years old, and we have traveled together his entire life. In the past few years, we have made it an effort to travel even more than usual! To be honest, I’m mostly a homebody, but I love going on adventures with my dog! 

We also went to Maine for the first time ever back in 2017, and we have been back multiple times since! Maine holds a particularly special place in my heart, and let me tell you, I truly hope to call that state home in the next 1-3 years. But, until then, we will keep traveling there as often as possible!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I get a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you make a qualifying purchase. 

TIPS FOR TRAVELING WITH YOUR REACTIVE DOG

1.) Confine your dog inside of your vehicle.

Don’t let your dog run around loose in your vehicle. This can cause major safety concerns not only for your dog, but also for the driver and any passengers. It’s much safer if your dog is confined while traveling. There are a variety of options – ranging from expensive crash tested crates like this one from Variocage and crash tested seatbelt restraints like this one from Sleepypod. You could even use a normal soft travel crate, or even a regular plastic or metal crate, but just be aware that they might not provide a lot of protection in the event of an accident.

As an added bonus, a lot of reactive dogs actually travel in the car much better when they’re confined in a crate. They can’t see any triggers outside of the window to react to! You could even drape a sheet or towel to cover the crate, which may actually make your dog feel more comfortable and sleep through the entire car ride.

2.) Try to coordinate potty breaks with the food/fuel stops you’ll already be having to make.

If you can, I highly recommend coordinating your dog’s potty breaks with the stops you’ll need to make for fuel and food. I know though – sometimes nature calls! Traveling with a dog can easily add 1-2 hours onto your trip time  when you add up all the potty breaks, so try to coordinate it with the already necessary stops to save some time.

 

3.) Make sure to pack your dog’s normal food, along with his food and water bowls.

Traveling for even the most well-traveled dog can be a little stressful, so make sure you bring all of the normal stuff your dog is already used to, including food. The last thing you want is to have buy a different kind of food on the road because you forgot to pack some! That can result in tummy ups

4.) Make sure to bring at least 1 durable puzzle toy that can be stuffed with food and frozen.

 You could bring something like a Kong Extreme or the West Paw Toppl. These provide entertainment and can help release some energyy. You can simply stuff your dog’s normal food in them, fill with water, and freeze, or you can stuff with something yummier like peanut butter or yogurt.

5.) Always travel with a dog first aid kit.

As the old saying goes – “better safe than sorry.” You should always travel with a first aid kit for your dog, but we’ll hope that you never need to use it! The good news is that a lot of things can do double duty for humans and dogs, so if you get scratched up, you can patch yourself up with items in this kit! If you’re not sure what your dog first aid kit should include, you can download my free checklist here.

I keep a larger first aid kit in a tupperware in my car at all times, and I travel with this much more portable dog first aid kit in my backpack throughout when we go on hikes, etc.

6.) Always travel with your dog’s Rabies certificate, vaccine records, and an In Case of Emergency sheet.

Again – better safe than sorry! This information will be incredibly useful to first responders in the event of an accident.

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7.) Some reactive dogs can benefit from a calming supplement while traveling.

Some reactive dogs have a harder time traveling than others. Buster is quite used to it by now, but I do still ocassionaly use this Richard’s Organics Pet Calm. This is an all-natural product that relieves stress. I notice a huge difference in Buster when I use this! It really seems to take the edge off. Alternatively, you could also try CBD oil.

FREE BONUS!

I’ve created a free resource so that you can stress less and focus your time and energy on having a fun adventure with your dog! Click the image below and you can download my Dog Friendly Travel Checklist & Tips. It also includes a printable In Case of Emergency sheet, so that you’ll have everything you need to travel and have a great time with your dog!

Tell me in the comments below – where are you headed with your dog? I’d love to hear about some of your favorite places to travel to. What are some of your favorite travel tips? 

Easy, Homemade Dog Treats with only 2 Ingredients

Easy, Homemade Dog Treats with only 2 Ingredients

Whether it’s your dog’s birthday, or maybe you just have some extra time on your hands, or maybe you just want to make homemade dog treats instead of buying them from the store, pretty much every dog owner has wanted to make their own dog treats at some point or another.

If you Google, there are literally hundreds of recipes. There are even homemade dog treat kits and electric dog treat baking machines!

Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link, which means that I get a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you make a qualifying purchase. 

If you want quick an easy treats, this is the recipe for you! Bonus – this recipe easily makes about 500 treats! You read that right – 500 treats! In order to make the treats, you will need this silicone baking mat. Using this mat is what allows you to get 500 treats at one time! Now, the cool thing about this mat is that it is actually made to collect grease from meat you cook in the oven. So, it actually serves two purposes! (Just obviously discard the grease if you do choose to use it for cooking your meat and wash it well before making dog treats.) 

Why should you make these treats? 

NO ALLERGENS

Buster is practically allergic ot everything under the sun. Even when I buy dog treats for him at the store, there are only a few different treats that he can have, sadly. These homemade dog treats are made with only two ingredients, so you won’t have to worry about any allergy issues!

QUALITY INGREDIENTS

Even when we buy good dog treats at the store, it can still be hard to tell exactly what is in them or the exact quality of the ingredients. These homemade dog treats only have 2 ingredients, and you can even opt to purchase organic options!

QUANTITY

I don’t even know what else to say here. You get 500 treats for only about 5 minutes worth of work! These treats will keep for several weeks in the fridge, so you don’t have to worry about them going bad. These are perfect to have on hand. Who knows, maybe you’ll feel inspired and motivated to grab a handful and have a training session!

I know your dog will absolutely love these, but if you make them, will ou please do me a favor and leave me a comment below and let me know what you and your dog think? I’d appreciate it!


Easy Homemade Dog Treats with 2 Ingredients

This is a quick and easy recipe for 500 homemade dog treats using only 2 ingredients.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time28 mins

Equipment

  • Pyramid pan

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup coconut flour
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter, creamy
  • 1 1/4 cup water

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a large bowl, mix the flour and peanut butter together.
  • Slowly add in the water until you get the consistency of pancake batter. This was about 1 and 1/4 cups of water for me.
  • Spread the batter onto the pyramid pan sheet with a spatula. Gently use the edge of the spatula to ensure there are no airbubbles in the pyramids. You also want to ensure there is as little batter as possible connecting the treats.
  • Bake until done, about 28 minutes.
  • Once cooled, gently shake the pyramid pan onto a cookie sheet. All of your treats should easily fall out!
  • Store leftover treats in the fridge.
    easy homemade dog treats

Notes

The batter in this recipe makes enough to fill the two pyramid pans, which is about 1,000 treats. These will easily keep for 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator, but if you only want to make one pyramid pan's worth of treats, then cut this recipe in half. 

5 Tips to Train Your Puppy

5 Tips to Train Your Puppy

It seems that this general time of year is the puppy time. With the holidays just finishing up and spring on its way, I bet a lot of you have puppies in your lives or are considering getting a puppy. Is a puppy the right answer for you? Puppies are hard work; there is no doubt about that. There are lots of accidents, lots of sleepless nights, lots of bite-y behavior, and lots of rushing outside to potty train in bad weather. But, those negatives can absolutely be outweighed by the joy and satisfaction from training a dog from puppyhood to adulthood, if that’s your thing. If you are seriously interested in dog training, are a dog trainer, want to compete in sports with your pup, then a puppy may be the right answer for you. For most people that just want an excellent family companion that isn’t quite as much work, then likely, adopting a young adult or even a senior dog is probably the better option. Whether you’ve decided to get a puppy or an adult, these 5 training tips will be applicable and help you in your journey with your new dog.

5 TIPS TO TRAIN YOUR PUPPY

#1 – Crate Train

Crate training is essential for any and all dogs. I guarantee you will need to crate your dog at least one time within his life – whether he’s kenneled while you’re on vacation, has to be hospitalized, needs to be contained when you have family or friends over, etc. It is so much easier if you have already exposed and trained your dog to love his crate.

Here are a few general tips to crate train your dog:

  1. Never, ever use the crate as punishment. Do not put shut your dog in the crate after yelling at them for doing something wrong.
  2. Always give your dog some sort of safe chew inside the crate. I recommend the Extreme black Kongs, either Large or XL. You can fill them with some peanut butter, canned food, pumpkin, kibble soaked in water or broth, etc.
  3. When you first introduce the crate, only keep your dog in there for short periods of time with the aforementioned chew. Gradually increase the time the dog is inside the crate over several weeks.
  4. Only open the crate when your dog is being quiet. If your dog is whining or barking, wait for just 1-2 seconds of quiet and then open the crate.

#2 – Muzzle Train

Similar to crate training, it always a good idea to muzzle train all of your dogs. All dogs have teeth, which means that all dogs have the ability and potential to bite. In an event of a true emergency, it is much easier for veterinary staff to administer emergency first aid if your dog is muzzled. Your dog will also be less stressed if they are already familiar with the muzzle.

 Here are some general tips in muzzle training your dog: 

  1. Choose the right muzzle. I recommend a basket style that allows the dog to pant, drink, and take treats.
  2. Start slow. Allow your dog to sniff the muzzle on the ground. Hold the muzzle in your hand, and give your dog a treat for simply sniffing or getting near the muzzle. Eventually, work up to placing the muzzle on their face for 1-2 seconds while treating.
  3. Using spray cheese or a wet food mixture in a squeeze tube may be easier to squeeze through the muzzle instead of trying to shove small pieces of hard treats inside.
  4. Allow your dog to wear the muzzle occasionally in other places outside of the vet or other “scary” situation. For example, allow your dog to wear the muzzle for just 1-2 minutes on a leisurely walk or while inside the house training.

 

#3 – Clicker Train

Clicker training is a beautiful thing! The clicker enables very clearly defined communication between you and your dog. The click should be applied at the exact moment the dog does the behavior you are looking for, and the dog learns exactly that! After you click, you will reward your dog. The dog learns that the click means he did the correct thing. This very clear communication allows other aspects of training to happen quicker and faster.

Here are some general tips for clicker training your dog: 

  1. The mechanics can be challenging, so learn them on your own without your dog. I recommend holding your clicker and treat and demonstrating on yourself. Learn to click at the correct time. For example, go from a standing to seated position on a chair, and learn to click the second your butt hits the chair.
  2. Get used to holding the clicker, leash, and treats without your dog so you are comfortable.
  3. Practice holding the clicker, leash, and treats with your dog inside the house or in your fenced in backyard before you try to go on a walk.
  4. You will need to “load the clicker” with your dog, and teach your dog what the clicker means. Likely, your dog already knows how to sit, so just start using the clicker the moment your dog’s butt hits the ground. Do a few repetitions for a few days, just so you can teach your dog what the clicker means.

#4 – Train a Collar Grab

 There will be times in life that you will need to grab your dog by his collar, likely for his own safety. From a dog’s perspective, this can be a terrifying and threatening thing! They are happily wandering around and all of a sudden a human hoovers over them and applies pressure to their neck. Many dogs will instinctively react negatively to this and could potentially even bite. You want to teach your dog that collar grabs are not scary or threatening, and in fact, mean food is coming!

Here are some tips for teaching a collar grab:

  1. Starting inside in a familiar room, simply extend your hand towards (but do not touch) your dog’s collar, and give your dog a treat. Repeat several times for 1-2 days.
  2. Once your dog is comfortable, extend your hand, lightly touch your dog’s collar, immediately remove your hand, and reward your dog. Repeat several times for 1-2 days.
  3. Once your dog is comfortable, extend your hand, lightly grab your dog’s collar for 1-2 seconds, let go, and reward.
  4. Once your dog is comfortable, grab your dog’s collar lightly and walk 1-2 steps while luring with food, and then reward.

#5 – Train a Recall

If you only teach your dog one thing, let it be a recall! Every dog needs to know a recall, and in some cases, it could actually save his life.

Here are some tips to train a recall:

  1. Pick a word (also known as a cue) that you only use for recall and don’t often use in everyday language. This will maintain clarity for your dog. Many people use the word “come” or the phrase “come here,” and while that may work, I would recommend a unique word if possible.
  2. Train the recall inside your house in a familiar environment before trying it outside. Start small – only call your dog from a few feet away before widening the distance.
  3. Train your recall outside in your back yard from square one from only 1-2 feet away, no matter how well your dog is doing inside.
  4. Make sure you aren’t only using the recall to call your dog to you to end fun behavior. For example, if you allow your dog off leash, don’t only call your dog when you are getting ready to leash him up to put him in the car to go home. Call him to you at least 2-3 times throughout the walk just to give your dog a treat and let him go back off on his merry way again off leash.

Do you have a new puppy or dog? What are you working on? If you follow my tips and start training these five behaviors, let me know how it works out for you!