Sunday, September 25, 2011

A 16-year-old Golden Retriever with thyroid tumour and a 10-year-old Shih Tzu with oral tumours.


"It is best to ask the family to wait outside," I said to Dr Vanessa who wanted to catetherise the vein to euthanase the old Golden Retriever in the presence of a family of around 8 sad members inside the consultation room.

Earlier, a lady had phoned about the cost of euthanasia and subsequent preparations for cremation. As Dr Vanessa was very busy on this Sunday Sep 26, 2011 such that she had no time for lunch, I spoke to the lady. If Dr Vanessa answered every phone query, her cases would be delayed and it would be past 7 pm before anybody can go home on this fine Sunday. We close at 5 pm on weekends and from Min, I was told that last Sunday's cases were completed at 7 pm. I was not around and so did not know why but this would have to do with the vet's management of case flow, answering of client queries and surgeries being done on a Sunday.

Anaesthesia and surgeries do take up some time and there were two (dental extraction of a foul-smelly old Jack Russell Cross and skin wart removal of a Shih Tzu) on this Sunday. In between consultations, the vet may have to answer phone calls and if this can be done by an experienced receptionist, it would be fine but sometimes the technical questions may be best answered by the vet.

In this case of the Golden Retriever, it would be much kinder to euthanase as he was not eating and had lost weight. The dog did not want to get up to walk to the consultation room but was finally persuaded to do so. I could see that it was very emotional situation especially for one lady who had spoken to me earlier.

The best way to handle such a case is not to euthanase the dog in front of all grieving members of the family. Some dogs react to the lethal injection by screaming and some lose control of their bladder and bowels or vomit. Such a scene is not pleasant for the owners. So I advised the family members to leave the consultation room and go outside as the old dog could sense their grief, in my observation and might be more stressed.

In this case, the owners said good bye to the dog and waited outside the Surgery. I advised a Domitor+Ketamine IM sedation first and euthanasia injection after 10 minutes. The dog passed away peacefully. The lady who cared most for this dog came to say good bye.

I was at the reception area when somebody inside the consultation room bashed his fist at the wall separating the reception area and the consultation room. A dog had been euthanased by Dr Vanessa and the family members of parents and adult children were inside.

"What's happening to your clients inside the consultation room?" I searched for Dr Vanessa who was inside the Surgery to do the dental scaling and extraction. "I just heard a loud bang against the gypsum board wall." This wall is not solid brick wall and I can't afford to let clients bang till it collapses.

Dr Vanessa did not hear the loud bang. She said: "They are waiting for the cremation man and are preparing prayers for the euthanased dog." I had not seen this case. The father brought in some leaves and I thought a pineapple. The cremation man came and I quickly got him into the consultation room. Dr Vanessa came soon. Later the father told me that the dog had oral tumours which could not be cured.

Regular dental care and scaling usually prevents oral tumours but few Singaporean dog owners bother with dental health of their dogs. More are getting dental check up and scaling done on old dogs. The best is to get dental check up yearly but older dogs are generally left alone after the initial burst of attention when they are puppies.

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