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Latest health and behavior news and advice from the veterinarians at Tufts University.

News & Views October 2014 Issue

They Can’t Tell Us

Coping with the pain of a urinary stone.

Two or three years ago, I suffered debilitating pain from a urinary stone. There was no position in which I could get comfortable, and going to the bathroom provided false hope of any kind of relief from the pressure. One night, around midnight, after literally writhing in bed for a couple of hours, I went to the emergency room. They took a CT scan, located the stone, told me it was small enough to pass on its own, told me how long it would take to pass (anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 days) and, most important, gave me morphine to ease the pain.
Through all of it, I was able to describe what I was feeling, understand what they were telling me about the situation, complain to my wife (who let me go on about how what I was going through was as bad as labor) — in general, communicate with those around me.
Dogs don’t have that luxury. They have to suffer without understanding what’s happening, even when you’re trying to help them. Nor can they explain their pain, or even vent about it. That’s why it’s so important to take changes in their mood or affect seriously. As you’ll see on page 6, a dog’s loss of appetite — and pep — could be signs of her own urinary blockage. The sooner you get her tended to, the faster her discomfort, or outright pain, will diminish.
These days, you can often opt to have your dog’s pain treated right at your doorstep. Mobile veterinary offices that come to people’s driveways or curbsides are growing in popularity. These camper-size vehicles are equipped pretty much like regular vets’ offices — albeit in more cramped style. Your dog can have his wellness exam, dental surgery, and many other procedures all without going through the ordeal of heading to the often dreaded vet’s office, where a bunch of other scared dogs in the waiting room are giving off all their fear pheromones that alert the newcomer about what a “bad” place they’re in.
Of course, veterinary vans offer you something as well: convenience (albeit at a bit of a premium). Check out this month's story.

More and more veterinary offices are coming to people's pets rather than the other way around.


Also, this month: examining separation anxiety, and how to help a dog get past it. It’s no small matter, as almost one out of five dogs are reported to have it. In the throes of their panic when they’re home by themselves, they rip apart couches, destroy doors and screens, alienate neighbors with incessant barking, and ruin carpets and floors by eliminating out of fear. Apartment renters can even be threatened with eviction. For successful treatment of canine separation anxiety (and a look at unsuccessful treatments that keep being advised despite their inability to help), take a look at our article.

Happy tails to you,


Lawrence Lindner
Executive Editor

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