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

Expert Advice June 2017 Issue

Making Medical Care Easier

Ways to help your dog lean into medical and wellness procedures rather than pull away.

This poor Cinderella had to put up with my forcing pills down her throat.

I know I’ve told you guys a couple of times already that our shiba inu Rosie takes a drug called Proin twice every single day. It increases the tone of the sphincter in her bladder so she doesn’t dribble urine in the house by accident. Normally, we have no problem getting it into her. We call out, “Rosie, Franklin, it’s time for your meds!” and both dogs come running, Rosie to get the pill wrapped in a tight little wad of American cheese and Franklin just for the tiny wad of cheese. (“There ain’t no way I’m not gettin’ in on some of that,” he told us early on.)

Once in a blue moon, however, Rosie refuses to take the pill, gently but resolutely turning her face away. (Franklin never refuses.) Who knows why? Maybe she has a tummy ache that day. Maybe she wants it wrapped in Camembert. Whatever the reason, on those rare occasions, I’ve pried open her mouth with my fingers and tossed in the cheese as far as I could. She manages to spit it out two or three times, but finally I’m able to get what has become a slimy mess down her throat by forcing her mouth shut after mechanically opening it against her will and gently massaging her neck. I always feel bad about it but figure, what other choice do I have?

As it turns out, I have a really good one, and it won’t leave Rosie feeling I physically abused her (as I have, although with good intentions). It was taught to me by the head of the Tufts Animal Behavior Clinic, Stephanie Borns-Weil, DVM, and I’m going to try it the next time Rosie turns up her sweet little nose.

Another medical situation that creates difficulties for Rosie is going to the doctor. She absolutely dreads it, and it’s all the more pitiful because unlike Franklin, who couldn’t rely on subtle gestures to save his life and therefore whimpers and pants and paws us when he’s upset, Rosie just lets out a little cry while trembling in the waiting room. It breaks my heart. But Dr. Borns-Weil has solutions for making Rosie’s visits to the vet easier, too, and one of them even involves Franklin.

To learn her tips for helping a dog feel like a participant in her medical care rather than a victim of it, turn to the article beginning on page 1.

Happy tails to you,

Lawrence Lindner
Executive Editor

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