One of the low points of dog ownership is when your best buddy falls ill and your vet tells you that confinement is necessary. As a dog owner, I know how stressful this can be not only for you, but also for your dog.
Unfortunately, not all veterinary clinics in the Philippines are capable of delivering excellent care to confined dogs. Many vet clinics in the country are very small operations without the necessary systems and resources to ensure your pet gets round-the-clock care. Just because your vet is very competent does not mean that the clinic he works for is equipped to deliver the needed care for confined animals. These are two separate things and the sooner you realize this, the better.
The other thing to remember is that dog care is a 24/7 job. Vet assistants are humans with limitations, and no matter how caring they are, they do not know your dog the way you do. This is why you have to do your part. Think of them as the equivalent of nurses in human facilities — they want to do their best, but do not know the patient as much as you do.
Having gone through the challenge of having my dog confined, let me share a few insights to help you and your dog deal better with ths situation, if and when it happens.
Visit your dog. Just as you would visit a human family member during a hospital confinement, so should you visit your pet. Some vet clinics have visiting hours. Some vets don’t exactly relish visitations (and if your vet is this way, go find another one), but remember that your presence gives comfort to your dog. In fact, your presence is vital to your dog’s recovery. Some veterinary clinics have suites where you can spend the night with your dog. If you can get this option, you will be doing your dog a huge favor.
Check out everything while you’re visiting. Just as you would check if your human relative is being well cared for by nurses, so should you check if your dog is well cared for by vet assistants. Check him out — is his IV line working? (Make a note each time you visit; take photos if necessary — some dogs move so much, affecting their IV lines) Is he clean or lying on a pool of vomit? Is his water fresh? Does he have water at all? If you see something amiss, don’t hesitate to point it out.
Ask for regular updates. You should receive updates on your dog’s condition regularly. Ideally, you don’t need to ask for this, but if your vet clinic fails to do so, then be the one to ask. A text message is fine, but a call is better. This would also give you an idea if your dog is receiving the care that he needs, or if no one is really in charge of the situation at the vet clinic.
Ask questions. You’ll want to know what exactly is happening to your dog. You would like to know if your dog is eating well, moving his bowels regularly, and if he is getting any better. You would also like to know if tests have been taken and how your dog is doing. Tell them to check with you before undertaking any procedure.
Observe. If your dog is going to be staying overnight at the clinic, check out the facility. You want to see that it is secure. Ask who will be staying with the confined pets throughout the night. If you are not comfortable about what you see, check out other facilities or discuss this with your vet. Personally, I would rather take home my dog and care for him personally than leave him in a clinic where I have questions about facilities and care.
The best time to look for vet clinics capable of handling confinement cases is when your dog is not sick — this way, you can see for yourself what each clinic has to offer. If I can cite a recent example, I remember dropping by a pet supplies store that was also a pet clinic around 6PM. The staff were all preparing to go home. I saw there were some shihtzus in the confinement area, and asked the staffer who among them would be spending the night at the facility. She said no one was staying for the evening. I asked about the shihtzus and she said there was a CCTV so that they could be monitored. Needless to say, I will never recommend anyone to go to this clinic.
Don’t lose heart, though. I have also had a very good experience in some facilities. In fact, I have noticed that there are more vet clinics offering improved services for a confined pet.
Remember that your dog is voiceless and that he only has you to speak for him. If you feel things are not going right when he is confined, speak up and be his advocate.