The other day my brother came out to Abbotsford to visit me so I could examine his border collie, Haille, who by the way is also a Fraser Valley Animal Hospital rescue. Being my brother I’m sure is not always an easy job, but I’m pretty sure he figured that his life on easy street had changed long ago when our mother returned from the hospital with me in her arms! So yes he too has fallen pray to the words of…”so we had this dog left at our hospital….” Anyway on this particular visit tagging along with him were my fantastic little niece and her cousin, Nicole. “Nicole wants to show you pictures of her new pet hamster,” my brother informed me. “Great. Let’s see the little guy.” I said once I was finished getting blood for Hail’s senior panel. Being born the tail end of the boomers, or early generation X depending on what dates you use for these groups, I expected this little dark hair girl, who had been intently watching everything going on in our treatment room, to pull out some 5×7 snap shots out of her small flowered purse. Being of the latest generation Z, Nicole reached into her purse and pulled out a sleek black shiny I-touch. She promptly started a running commentary about each picture as she slid her small fingers across the I-touch’s screen while I thought to myself of course what 8 year old would actually carry snaps, that is so old school.
The world is changing so very quickly. I am the age of records, Supertramp, and snapshots. I never came home from school to warm a snack in the microwave and actually had to stand up and move across the room to change the T.V. channel. Though the change in technology all around us is so very blatant, my job too has changed over the last 20 years. We now use lasers to evaporate small lumps, do minimally invasive surgeries, such as spays with laparoscopy, there is acupuncture (though that is probably technically old school),we have digital radiographs and our ultrasound unit is now housed in a small laptop size machine. There are new medications sitting in our pharmacy shelve; who would have guessed 20 years ago that I would be able to deworm a cat with some drops on the back of the neck! Though some changes have made it easier to medicate our pets, some changes are even more important. I think about how much safer the flea products are today and how we understand and control an animal’s pain so much better now. We no longer tell our owners as they pick up their dogs after they had surgery “oh it is good if they hurt a little that way they will stay quiet.” Wow today looking back I cannot believe we used to say that. Yes veterinary medicine is evolving and so very quickly it is a full time job keeping up.
One area that I think has changed significantly is post-surgical care and the use of physiotherapy techniques to help with recovery. When I was in school it wasn’t even mentioned. Now after an injury or surgery owners are sent home with a 4 page hand-out about exercises and stretches to do at home. Do you remember Abby from a previous post? Well it has been about 5 weeks since Abby had surgery for her torn ACL (cruciate ligament in her knee). Twenty years ago our take home instructions after surgery for a torn ACL was one line, “Don’t let your dog move”. Dogs were kenneled, leashed and otherwise restrained for 3 months. Now we do physio; ice, passive range of motion exercises, massage, heat, stretching and then followed up with special exercises to increase leg strength. There are underwater treadmills, lasers, ultrasound and electrical stimulation all for our pet’s rapid recovery. Abby, my sweet gentle girl, visits us every week for treats and re-evaluation; we check her range of motion, knee stability, muscle mass and pain. She then gets to spend time with Robyn for her treatments based on my evaluation; we decrease inflammation and pain with a round of laser and help rebuild the joint with Cartrophen injections. To help her muscles we regiment her exercise and start her on figure 8s, sit to stand, pole walking all to ensure she is building muscle mass. And then to end the day Mom is taught to stretch Abby’s muscles. Yes you read that correctly. We make sure Abby’s muscles are stretched. Such a common sense treatment and yet 20 years ago this was never part of my take home regime.
I am proud of where veterinary medicine has gone and how our care just continues to improve. Our pets have never had it so good and I see it only getting better!