Know Thy Vets!
I had an interesting experience this week. I was called upon to find an emergency Animal Hospital in Toronto for a canine in very bad shape.
I thought it might be a dog visiting in Toronto who needed this help. Although, I suppose even with that, it’s a bit unusual to seek advice from someone in Ottawa, four hours away from Toronto. As it turned out, this canine wasn’t visiting, but lives in Toronto. And the request for my help went from Toronto via Facebook to the States and then through that person, to me. Talk about a circuitous route for urgent information.
I’m not sure why this canine’s parents chose this route for information (rather than something more direct). The good news is the dog is now in the right place and recovering well after surgery. The poor darling has a long road ahead of her, but at least the road is one of recovery. The clinic I recomended was a good choice, with great staff. So I am happy about that. We are glad we could help and hope all will continue to go well.
This incident did bring to mind a need to mention the importance of considering potential health care for travelling dogs. You always hope and expect that nothing serious will happen, but I can’t overstate the importance of a “Plan B” just in case something bad happens. Humans don’t always think straight when they get very upset, so it’s doubly important to have done the research and have all needed information in hand before something does happens.
I have talked about Emergency Preparations before, but let’s focus on vets specifically this time.
Most people have a regular vet for their pets. But there is so much more you should have on an emergency contact list. This is true for home and even more so when traveling.
Then initial contact with a new vet is always suggested when things are not in a crisis.
A vet that speaks your language: Whether at home or on the road, it is vital that you find a vet who speaks your language of choice. For us, this means English or French or, if need be, even German. Speaking the same language also means liking the vet, not just communicating with words you both understand. At home, finding a vet to fit the bill should be relatively easy. It can get tricky, however, when traveling. But it is so important to know who to contact if your pet is ill and you may not have much time to do the research when illness or accident strikes.
If you are going to be staying someplace for more than a few weeks, find a vet willing to take your pet as a patient. It’s ideal if you can make initial contact with a new vet when things are not in crisis, so even if your pet isn’t sick, pop in and say hello when you arrive at your location. This will help to ensure you are comfortable with the vet, and that your canine has had a sniff of the place when not in a bad way.
A Naturopathic/Holistic Vet: Depending upon your vision of the world of pet care, you may prefer a holistic vet. We have both types of vets at home – a “regular” vet and a naturopathic vet. In our view, chronic and long-term health issues such as allergies and skin irritations are often better addressed in a naturopathic way. So for us, having both types of vets makes sense. If we travel with the intent of staying in one place for more than a month, we try to also track down a holistic vet in that locale. While these vets are also trained as “regular” vets, they are often not equipped to deal with crises such as emergency surgery. And that leads me to my next point.
Emergency Animal Hospital: Whether at home or on the road for even a weekend, always know where the closest emergency animal hospital is. You want one that is open 24/7 . You also want to make sure that they have an intensive care unit and perhaps a burn unit. Find out if they have a spinal cord injury expert and near drowning experts too. You want to sort out that information when your head is clear. You also want to know how far the hospital is from your home or your rental apartment or hotel. Keep the information on a piece of paper with you at all times so in an emergency, all you have to do is show the paper to a cab driver.
Vet Specialist: Your canine may have a very specific condition. It could be a heart problem or something else. If this is the case, you should probably find a specialist nearby. And if it is safe to travel with your pet, make sure that you know where to go should that particular problem rear its ugly head while on your trip.
Learn First Aid: We are signing up for this in the fall. Since we travel and there are times when a vet is nowhere nearby (such as when we are sailing) , we may need to know how to take care of an emergency on our own. So the bipeds have taken human CPR courses and now, they are going to take a full canine first aid course. They will learn how to place broken bones, how to give my tiny lungs and heart CPR without breaking anything, how to clean my teeth, clean a wound and burn, and much much more. I am grateful to my bipeds for this because it will help all of us remain calm should the worst happen. Clear heads prevail.
In a nutshell: As humans, you have your family doctor and you may have a cardiologist, allergy specialist, chiropractor, gynecologist and other health care providers. You usually know where the nearest clinic or hospital is. Hotels normally have a doctor on call should you have an urgent medical need while staying there. And although you may know it without being aware you know it, you normally know the 911 equivalent when traveling. (If you don’t know, you should find out. It isn’t 911 the world over.)
You owe it to your pet to ensure you have access to the same kind of medical support if your pet needs it while traveling. At a minimum, know where the closest emergency animal hospital is. Locate it, write down the information, and keep the information with you – for you, for your pet and for simple peace of mind.
Know Thy Vets! it’s the most important relationship a travelling dog will have other than the bipeds and travel agent!