7 Cool Things I Learned This Year That Made Me a Better Vet

Cat Eating Food

Each year, I write about the new stuff I learned throughout the course of the year.

This annual post is usually aimed at the geek in you — and all my interesting findings from 2011 happen to be science-based and fall well within the sphere of veterinary medicine. (Although some of my favorites trend toward the more personal.)

So here, in no particular order, are the top seven veterinary things that inspired me in 2011.

1. Tuna With Lemon Works Best to Tempt Finicky Cats

For some reason, the new tinned tuna “with a hint of lemon” has improved my trapping efficacy. One of my clients suggested it and I’m now hooked. Try it if you’re trapping or looking for something new to help inspire your finicky feline to eat.

2. Liposuction for Lipomas Is Worth Considering

I wrote about this yesterday. Sure, it’s cool and less invasive, but it still begs the question: Is this a necessary procedure or should it be considered a cosmetic one best avoided?

3. Older Dogs Benefit From Rehab

Rehabilitation for pets is quickly gaining more respect and popularity — so much so that general practitioners like myself are turning to rehab facilities for help with our patients.

Although this is great news, it isn’t always a feasible approach for budget-strapped owners. And not every pet needs to attend a fancy facility to take advantage of routine rehab techniques, which is why I’ve started to offer my clients simple exercise tips for older canine patients, in particular.

There’s no reason every pet owner shouldn’t have access to such basic knowledge, especially if they’re motivated to improve their older pets’ mobility, agility and overall quality of life.

4. The Veterinary Services Market Is Booming

A research group recently predicted that the veterinary services market will grow by nearly 3 percent next year, an uptick that's fueled by rising pet ownership. The economic prospects for 2016 are even better, says IBISWorld, a publisher of industry research. The latest report predicts revenue growth for the veterinary market of 3.8 percent per year through 2016 to $35.4 billion.

5. Sand Impaction Requires Emergency Surgery

In the same way that canine gastric dilatation-volvulus (aka “bloat”) almost always calls for emergency surgical attention, goats require the same approach in the case of dire impactions — especially if you live in sandy places like South Florida.

I learned this last month when my goat Tulip’s rumen impaction led to her death within 24 hours of becoming symptomatic. (Ten pounds of sand were recovered with her cremation.) It's sad to have to learn things the very hard way, but that's sometimes how things go.

6. Cat Declawing Should Be Reconsidered

If you read my post last week on the subject, you’ll know I’ve become increasingly intolerant of this procedure — even as a last resort for a destructive cat who'd otherwise have to find a new home or face euthanasia. I haven’t always taken such a hardline stance, but we wouldn’t be interesting if our beliefs and values didn’t evolve over time.

7. Treating Feline Cavities Is Easier With X-rays

I guess I should have known this by now, but I didn’t. Extracting a feline gumline cavity (feline resorptive lesions) is so much easier when you use an X-ray machine. That way, the offended tooth’s crown can be drilled away, which is simpler than making incisions in the gumline — and less painful and cheaper, too.

How about you? Did you learn any cool things this year? Or answer this: What do you wish your vet had learned in 2011?

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