Friday, August 2, 2013

Perceptions, misconceptions, and questions

I hear some of the same things from clients over and over again.  Some are things that I would consider common general knowledge, some are things that I think maybe should be common knowledge but perhaps it's only my experience that tells me that.  Either way I will address them now.  Some I may have mentioned before.  But I hear them so often it's worth saying again.

1.  He limps but I don't think he's in pain because he's not crying.  I don't get this one at all.  Seriously, the only reason dogs, or anyone, limps is because they are in pain.  Not crying or whining doesn't have anything to do with it.  If you sprain you ankle, pull a muscle, etc you don't sit home crying all day long.  You limp around and carry on with your day.  Even if you are in pain you can laugh, talk, eat and function as a normal being.  Dogs are the same.  They will happily wag their tail, give kisses, and eat treats all the while hobbling along on an injured leg.

2.  Periodontal disease does not cause pain because he is still eating.  Again, see #1.  Just because your pet is still eating does not mean that his severe dental disease, or even moderate dental disease is not painful.  Have you ever had a toothache?  Did you stop eating?  Probably not.  But you might have eaten differently.  I did not eat hard or crunchy food on the left side of my mouth for the months before I had my wisdom teeth pulled.  But I certainly didn't stop eating.  And I didn't cry all day either (once again, see #1).

3.  He's not eating so he must have a bad tooth.  Now, see #2.  On the flipside, some people believe that the only cause of partial or complete anorexia is a bad tooth.  In my experience it is very rare for a pet to stop eating solely because of one or more bad teeth.  I have however seen them not eat because of significant oral pathology such as electrical burns, ulcerative disease, abscesses, and tumors.  Generally these things are more affecting the gums, tongue and mucous membranes and not so much the actual teeth.

4.  How do I get him to lose weight?  This one really blows my mind.  Apparently people are unfamiliar with the fact that weight loss in pets is biologically the same as weight loss in people.  You must burn more calories than you take it.  Eat less, exercise more.  One might think that this simple answer would be all a client would need.  However, this often leads to more questions that, once again, I would not have considered rocket science to figure out.  Such as...

  • I free feed/leave food out all the time.  Stop doing that.
  • I have multiple pets and they eat each other's food.  Separate them.
  • How much should I feed?  Start with 25% less than you are feeding now and weigh in one month.  Adjust accordingly.  
  • My pet won't eat meals, he grazes.  Put food out 30 minutes.  If he doesn't eat pick it up.  Repeat at next mealtime.  It will only take a few days and the pet will be eating meals.  Works on cats too.  
  • He's always hungry.  So am I.  That doesn't mean I eat candy bars and fast food all day long.  Use healthy treats, lower calorie foods and tough love.  They can't feed themselves, you hold all the cards!

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