The future of dogs adopted during COVID-19
Ashley Bourgeois, DMV, DACVD: Do you think dogs adopted during COVID-19, or â€œpandemic puppiesâ€ like mine, do you think they will suffer from greater anxiety? We talked about self-harm and acral licking granulomas, which may be related to primary behavioral problems. Do you think this will be a problem for the future? I’m sure it’s going to be “it depends”. What are the things that you are going to look for knowing that this is going to be a big deal? Should they work with a behaviorist? Potentially a dermatologist? A combination of the two of us? What recommendations would we use, and I think we’ve covered some of them already, to prevent that from happening?
Christopher Pachel, DVM, DACVB, CABC: The biggest thing that comes to my mind is to stay alert without worrying. In other words, if your dog shows us that we have the ability to handle the daily changes and you’ve started doing a few outings, you might have returned to the gym, maybe you haven’t. done, but maybe you did – you are now away from the house for an hour or two at a time, and you have your webcam or your nanny camera on, and your dog is sleeping on the couch or he is sleeping in his kennel, and life is good. Fresh. You probably have nothing to worry about, at least from what we’ve seen so far. We will want to do spot checks to make sure everything continues to run smoothly. It’s about maintaining that awareness and not making assumptions. Even if you, as the owner, know this dog better than anyone, each animal is its own living, breathing creature with its own agenda, its own emotional responses, and its own learning story. I want to make sure we’re preparing them to be as successful as possible without giving ourselves a heavy load of work that doesn’t need to be there.
If you find that you are someone who may not have a good grasp of how to read a dog’s body language and communicate using it, there are some amazing resources out there to educate you. If your pet is showing a level of distress, or if we start to see an increase in licking, and you are wondering, “Is this stress?” Does it itch? Where are we going with this? You can start digging into some of these contextual clues to the story that you and I discussed today to guide you.
If you are unsure, see your primary care veterinarian and let them guide this process for you. Or contact one of us. You and I have both had instances where a customer has walked in, we will take about 30 seconds to look at the animal and say “Not that!” You might need me, but I’m not your man right now. Let’s stop right now and get you the help you need. I can do this knowing the behavior side as well as I do, and you do the same for dermatology. What I love about collaborations between our professional interests, both in friendship and in these professional spaces, is that we can have this conversation so that any of these pandemic puppies who are going to be in distress, get the help and support they need to navigate this next chapter, whatever that sounds like.
Ashley Bourgeois, DMV, DACVD: Yes. That’s great. This was an informative discussion we had, in general, about the importance of this multimodal approach from a dermatological and behavioral perspective. You mentioned supplements, pheromones and a lot of different things that show the intersection of our 2 specialties. I’d like to give some final thoughts and then if you don’t mind, get some final thoughts from you.
For me, what we see are a few different key things that keep coming back. History is very important whether you are talking about dermatology or behavior. In these itchy allergic dogs, the story is going to be extremely important, and that includes rechecks. The story of what happened since they last saw you. What worked, what didn’t. The other great thing: a multimodal approach is important, so make sure we’re working with customers to get them to understand. We explain to them why topical therapy is important, why cytology is important. Why do I charge for cytology almost every time they’re here? They need to understand why we would want to use this. Make sure they know why we would be using itchy medicine. Why are we considering long term therapy?
All of this doesn’t have to happen on the first exam. I always tell clients when we’re done talking, â€œI send you a ton of information. It’s a lot to come and see us. This includes the continuing education of your client. Sometimes they forget what you talked about the first time, or things have changed. Making sure that we continue to educate them becomes really important.
These are some of my big things: the story is super important. A multimodal approach. Meeting the client where they are, whether from an educational perspective, needing to hear things over and over again. Or meet them where they are in their life until they change. Maybe what could happen 6 months ago cannot happen now, but maybe it will happen in 3 months. These are all the things we need to be prepared to adjust to when dealing with these chronic illnesses, like an itchy dog. What are your final thoughts?
Christopher Pachel, DVM, DACVB, CABC: My brain wants to say, â€œDitto. I also have a few more things, but I love the number of thoughts on how we practice, even though our specialties are so different, there are so many similarities in the way we practice. I would say a couple of things: advocacy is one of them. I say this from different angles, especially for the pet owner, to advocate for their pet’s needs, whether it’s itching or inflammation.
We can do things; we can improve that. Whether it’s an anxiety or a stress component, there are things we can do to improve it. I know you and I deal with customers every day who come in thinking, â€œI’ve done it all. No, you didn’t. I guarantee you no. I guarantee you no. You might have done a lot of things, and I absolutely want to honor that. We can take this advocacy to try to do well with this animal and create some additional awareness. What is happening? What options are there? What does history tell us about the additional options that still lie before us?
Finally, be flexible to a certain extent. Again, this is based on what you were saying, I don’t know what the outcome of an individual case will be. I have a lot of case stories. I have worked with thousands of animals over the years. Probably tens of thousands at this point, and I still don’t know what’s going to happen to your dog. Let’s do our best to assess and defend everyone’s needs: those of the client, the vet, the animal, mine, all that. Then let’s see where that takes us with this collaborative partnership, and we’ll re-evaluate and adjust based on what happens. We’re in the same boat as long as we’re both ready to go.
Ashley Bourgeois, DMV, DACVD: I like this. As always, it has been such a pleasure to discuss such an important topic, a topic that we both see a lot and that is very common for our GPs to see. Of course, Dr Pachel, thank you very much for being here and having this discussion with me. To our audience, we hope you found this DVM360Â® Information the discussion is rich and informative. It’s something that fascinates us. This is something important. Hope you have gathered some good information from us today.
Transcription edited for clarity.