Heart BEATS: “This Veterinarian Never Takes a Holiday, Especially Not on the Fourth of July”
The Fourth of July is no fun for many pets, and few know more about that than a veterinarian. Although I “play one on TV” for Good Morning America and The Dr. Oz Show, I’m still a practicing veterinarian with more than three decades of experience. And I’ve spent many a Fourth of July taking emergency calls. Here are a few I remember:
- Schipperke with severe lacerations on the face and legs. The dog was so terrified of fireworks it ran though a plate glass window.
- Labrador Retriever with three fishing hooks he had swallowed. The family left the bait dangling on the rods while they went to eat. Rather than just cutting the lines — which I’d have done — they brought in three rods and reels. The line went down the pie hole of the Lab.
- Miniature Schnauzer with severe pancreatitis. Everyone at the family picnic thought it would be fun to give the bearded beggar lots of fatty scraps from the steaks.
- Pekinese with eye injury. Children were holding sparklers away from their faces, but right in the face of the little dog who was following them. And with eye issues to start with, this dog was lucky not to have lost an eye.
- Min Pin with no muscle control. They thought the dog might have been poisoned, and in a way it was. College kids thought it was funny to give the dog beer. Do you know how little alcohol it takes to get a tiny dog drunk? Not funny. Not funny at all.
- Pug who was fighting for air. The dog started out with a handicap, being born brachycephalic like all other Pugs, Bulldogs and so on. Then, he was overweight, had been stung by bees and had a tremendous allergic reaction. To make matters worse, the family was camping and a long way from help for a life-or-death problem.
This is in addition to cuts on foot pads (they bleed like crazy), heat prostration (overweight, out-of-shape dogs taken on long summer hikes), foxtails and cheat grass inside ears and feet, hit by cars, dog fights … the list goes on and on.
I’m not working this Fourth, but the veterinarian in me (not to mention the never-off-duty attitude of my dog-trainer daughter, Mikkel) will be working overtime to keep our pets safe and relaxed. Here’s our line-up of Fourth Phobias:
- Noise phobias. Of the six dogs (our four, plus the two grandPugs), only one, our little Pom/Yorkie/Chihuahua cocktail Quixote has noise phobias. He’ll be wearing Adaptil (pheromone from CEVA) like cologne and will be sedated for the entire holiday with alprazolam (generic Xanax). No dog should have to suffer untreated over the Fourth with summer thunderstorms. It’s inexpensive and easy to help them.
- Trick of the treats. We don’t give any fatty trimmings off any of the meat. Nor chicken skin from our KFC (our once-a-year Fourth of July tradition). In fact, I put the fat and the skin inside a sealed container in the garbage. We do cook turkey hotdogs just for the dogs, however.
- Fireworks. We make sure the dogs are safely put away before we do any fireworks, and we won’t be taking them to watch any of the fireworks shows in our community.
- First aid kit. Make sure you have a pet first aid kit with you at all times. If the camping family had had one, they could have given that Pug some Benadryl.
I’ve traveled to more than 70 countries in my lifetime; my wife, Teresa, to more than 60; our 26-year-old daughter Mikkel more than 50; and our 22-year-old son Lex more than 40. And we can tell you this for sure: We do live in the greatest country on earth.
As always, we will be thanking God for being born here and letting us raise our families here. Because of high-tech veterinary care, advanced nutrition, great preventive health care products and owners who consider them part of the family … our pets are blessed to live here too.
Happy Fourth of July!