Sunday, October 21, 2012



You've got a dog that starts to nervously drool when you get within 10 blocks of the veterinary clinic.  By the time you get to the parking lot, the dog is unmanageable and you cannot even think about getting it out of the car.  Or, your cat hears you talking about "going to the vet" and sees you pull the cat carrier from the closet...and disappears under the king-size bed.  What you need is an alternative to putting the pets into the vehicle and heading to your veterinarian.

Enter the house call veterinarian and their mobile veterinary clinic....

In years past, farm animal veterinarians were the only ones to have a truck that carried their equipment and supplies as they traveled from farm to farm.  Some of them even included the basic necessities for dogs and cats, almost as an afterthought since many farmers also had house pets.  Today's mobile veterinary clinics can be equipped with just about anything needed for medical and surgical treatments.  Pet owners who take advantage of such services swear by them.

House calls a growing trend among veterinarians
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two kids, two pets, two jobs, too much.
That's how it felt to Erin McCarthy when it came time to drag her cat and puppy to the veterinarian. So she jumped on a growing trend among veterinarians and called the vet to her.
House calls are a growing trend among the country's 85,000 veterinarians, said Dr. Bonnie Beaver, a professor at Texas A&M University's College of Veterinary Medicine and director of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.
It's been a life-saver for McCarthy, whose cat Duke was so afraid of the vet he had to be tranquilized to get there. When he was joined by a Shih Tzu puppy, Pooch, they found a vet who makes house calls, Elisabetta Coletti. McCarthy has made liberal use of text-messaging when a house call isn't necessary.  "When Pooch ate a peppermint patty last week, she was there with instant advice that got us through the night," said McCarthy, a teacher in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The trend is a return to tradition, Beaver said: "We used to call them farm calls." While the vet was taking care of cows and horses and other livestock, he would take care of the family dogs and cats too, she said.
"House calls used to be the bread and butter part of our business," agreed Dr. Margarita Abalos, a relief and concierge vet in Los Angeles.  Then clinics and hospitals, where X-rays could be taken and surgeries performed, became the norm.  Now house calls are making a bit of a comeback, at least in bigger cities and higher income areas, said Abalos, who handles several ranch pigs, goats and sheep in addition to smaller animals.  Seeing an animal at its home enhances the bond between vet, pet and owner, the veterinarians say.
It starts with less stress, said Lisa Beagan in Severna Park, Md., the Mobile Pet Vet. There is no waiting, driving, loading or getting hot and cranky for kids or pets, she said.  "For a lot of animals, it's stressful to go into a strange hospital with all kinds of smells. Cats and dogs are so smell-sensitive, it's like getting bombarded with a kaleidoscope of colors. At home, they don't realize they are having an exam or shots," she said.
House calls help vets solve behavior problems, too.  Beagan had a client who couldn't figure out why her cat was peeing outside its box. Seems the litter box was next to the cat's pet door and when it came through the door and went to the box, the flap on the door would hit it on the behind. Removing the flap solved the problem, she said.
Other pet owners may need a reality check.  "I had a client who, bless her, had these fat, fat cats. I had been at her for years to deal with their weight. She kept saying they were only getting a certain measured amount of food each day," Abalos said. So she made a surprise house call. "There were bowls of food everywhere. I caught her red-handed." They were able to start working on the problem together.
Beagan said many of her pets and owners are geriatric and have trouble getting in and out of cars, so house calls help them all.
House calls can cost twice as much as an office visit, but every vet is different. Charges have to be higher because sometimes the vets can only make it to three or four homes in a day and they have to limit client numbers.
In New York, house calls may be as necessary as they are convenient, Coletti said, because many cab drivers won't stop for someone with a dog or cat and many New Yorkers, including Coletti, don't have cars.
Coletti makes her house calls on bicycle, with her cocker spaniel Milo in the front basket and supplies and equipment in a rear trailer.
Coletti helped Carrie Dirks Amodeo through the death of her cat, Delphi, several months ago. At the same time Delphi got sick, Dirks Amodeo had her second son. She had to leave Delphi's care to Coletti.
"She would come after the kids went to bed and take care of the cat, then she'd let herself out," Dirks Amodeo said.
When Delphi had to have surgery, Coletti went with Dirks Amodeo and the boys.
And when the time came, Coletti put Delphi down.
Vets who make house calls say home euthanasia is one of the most important parts of their practices.
"That was so important. We were heartbroken. She was able to come so we could have our time with the cat without being rushed and pulled in a lot of directions," Dirks Amodeo said. "She was as invested in respecting him as we were."

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Does any of that sound familiar to you?  Does that type of veterinary service appeal to you and your situation?  Here are some of the considerations for you to ponder:

Is a House Call Vet Right for you and your pet? 

Having a vet come to you to treat your pets at home is becoming ever more popular. As of February 2007, requests for House Call vets at is up 22% over the same time period last year.

Here are some things to consider  before deciding whether a house call vet is right for you and your pet.
What is a house call veterinarian and how is this different than a traditional vet?
A house call veterinarian differs from a traditional veterinarian in that the vet comes to your home to treat your pets instead of you and your pets traveling to see the vet.
There are two types of 'traveling vets'. One type is a veterinarian that is part of a clinic or hospital, and that clinic provides in-home treatments such as routine checks, heartworm treatments, flea and tick repellent, vaccinations and some also provide holistic and alternative treatments as well. In this case, you might have different vets come to treat your pets at home, since the in-home service is provided by the clinic or hospital and not by a specific vet.
The other type is a mobile veterinarian who has a whole clinic set up in a specialized van. This type of vet can often provide the majority of services delivered by a traditional clinic or hospital including x-rays, etc. and normally has a clinic or hospital he or she works with when there are services required that are best administered in the hospital.
You should ask how the house call vet is set up when requesting they come to you.
Why do people choose house call vets over taking their pet to a clinic or hospital?
Here are some common reasons to choose a house call veterinarian over taking your pets in:  
You have multiple pets and the hassle of getting them all to the vet is too much. It is easier for the vet to come to you to see everyone at the same time.
Your dog or cat gets very stressed riding in the car.
Your pet does not do well around other animals, either because of fright or aggression.
Your pet does not like traveling to see the veterinarian.
Your pet is just too ill or unable to move or travel easily.
Having your pet around other sick animals makes you worry your pet can get ill through exposure.
Your schedule is too tight to get to your vet's office. House call vets can have a more flexible schedule.
You no longer drive and have no way to get your pet to the vet.
Convenience. Since the veterinarian comes to you, you don't have to load your dog or cat into your car and drive, you don't have to wait in an uncomfortable waiting room with other pets, you don't have to keep an eye on your kids, your pets and the other pets in the room.
The number one reason owners and house call vets give in providing their service is the much lower stress level for both the pets and the owner.
Is there a cost difference?
Depending on the veterinarian and the service, there may be an additional charge for house calls. However, this is not always true. Despite the very personalized service, house call veterinarians are not necessarily more expensive than traditional vet. Mobile vets usually have a lower overhead since they don't need to maintain a full clinic. You will need to check prices during your conversation with the house call vet and compare them with a clinic or hospital.
House call veterinarians do have limitations relative to traditional veterinary practices, and there are things you should be prepared for should you choose to allow one to care for your pet.
The first is if you have a pet emergency, it is better to bring your pet into a clinic or hospital right away. There are too many unknowns in an emergency for a house call vet to be prepared for everything that might come up. maintains a list of 24 hour emergency pet hospitals searchable by zip code should the need ever arise.
If your pet requires major surgery and x-rays, most house call vets will request that you bring your pet into a clinic or hospital for these. Again, because of limited space and staffing house call vets have, these things are best done at the hospital.
If your pet requires hospitalization or constant medical attention the vet will make arrangements with the hospital or clinic that they work with for you to bring your animal in so it can have proper after-hours care. Many laboratory tests will take one day to run so the house call vet will normally call you with results (same as a regular visit to a clinic or hospital) once the lab test are done.

Since a house call vet provides personalized service by traveling to a pet's home, the number of patients they can see is less than what can be seen in a clinic or hospital. Sometimes this can create a delay in your pet being seen quickly.
House call vets provide many positives to easing the stress and hassle of a traditional clinic or hospital. The cost for this service might be a bit higher than a regular clinic or hospital, but the convenience may outweigh the costs.
If you choose to work with a house call vet, make sure you check on what services he or she can provide as well as check references of other pet owners who use their services. Also make sure you know what hospital they use for emergencies and other lab or hospitalization work.
To find a list of House Call vets in your area, simply visit :
Mobile veterinarians bring care to pets of the
By C.J. Lin, Staff Writer
When it was time to put her 13-year-old dog to sleep, Yael Pardess could not bear the thought of having it done on a cold metal table at the vet's office.  And it would have been difficult, too. Mika could not walk. Getting her into the car and making the trip would have only further stressed the dog in her final hours.  So Pardess had a mobile vet come to her Mount Washington house.  "It had to be done at home, on the pillow that she knows, with my other dog, with everything that she knows around her," Pardess said. "It was the most peaceful thing that could have been done for her. It was my gift to her."
Veterinarian house calls were traditionally reserved for farm animals, but more and more people are turning to mobile vets for both advanced care, such as euthanasia, to more routine checkups of cats, dogs and other common pets, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
The service offers a convenience factor for those who can't or are unwilling to make a trip to the vet, and it keeps the pets in a familiar environment so that their stress levels don't spike.
"The home turf advantage is great," said veterinarian Chris Cauble of Glendale-based Mobile Vet. "At home, animals are just much different. Mom's there, he smells Mom, knows he's at home, so there's not a lot of change."
One of Cauble's clients include Pardess' next door neighbor, Nathalie Luboff. At 86, she walks with a cane and has difficulty climbing the steep stairs around her home - much like Henry, her 18-year-old cocker spaniel, who is too heavy for Luboff to carry.  Groomers won't take Henry because of numerous warts on his skin, a common problem in the breed. He gets extremely agitated at the doctor's office and at his old age - 126 in human years - he could die while being restrained.  But Henry was quiet as a mouse as he got his eyes, ears and teeth cleaned and vitals checked while sitting on a table in his backyard during a recent visit by Cauble.
"He hasn't figured out yet that we're veterinarians," Cauble said. "He's still in`I'm at home' mode. If we were going to take him to a vet, he'd probably almost have a heart attack."  Henry cried only once while lying on his side as he got the hair around his sensitive paws trimmed, but later fell asleep while wrapped in a towel as his toenails were clipped.
"He goes crazy when he goes to the doctor's office," said Luboff, who had shut her door because she had expected non-stop crying from Henry. "He cries and cries." 
The same is true for many cats, especially the older and fragile ones who have chronic problems such as diabetes and heart disease, said veterinarian Matthew Ehrenberg of Cats Only Veterinary House Calls in Woodland Hills.  "There are cats that you almost can't handle unanesthetized at the hospital," Ehrenberg said. "But when they're at home, they'll sit in my lap."
House-call fees and hourly charges typically add at least $100 per appointment. But the extra expense is worth it for clients - including celebrities and high-powered executives who value time and privacy. Still, others put their animals' comfort as a top priority and favor the undivided attention their pets get from the doc at home.
"It's worth every penny," said Linda Hodges, a cat owner from Studio City. "Think about it, how would you feel? Would I want my doctor to come or do I want to get dressed and schlep over the hill?"
And seeing the animals in their element helps the vets give a better diagnosis, Ehrenberg said.  "If an animal has a behavioral problem and you can actually see them at home and see the way the house is set up, it helps a lot," he said. "No matter how much someone describes something, I'm always surprised by how bad my imagination was."
It was likely the milky sap of the jade plants growing on the hillsides of a La Canada Flintridge backyard that was causing an eye infection in some pygmy goats as they munched away at the vegetation, Cauble determined on another house call. That, or the flies.
No, one of the goats wasn't pregnant, just bloated. But she was in heat. The hard growth on another goat's head was its horns growing back. A Labrador retriever puppy should get along fine with the goats, Cauble said in responding to the owner's concerns.
Cauble, who was the first to start a L.A.-area mobile vet service in 1985, was wrapping up the visit when the house cat wandered by. Her owners had canceled vet appointments because the elusive Siamese mix refused to get in her carrier, and she hadn't seen a doctor in a while.
"Getting her in that box is just a nightmare," said the owner, who didn't want to be identified for fear of violating the city's zoning code for having too many animals. "And I can't imagine getting these four (goats) in a car."
But within minutes, 10-year-old Blackie was wrapped up in a towel and, despite her yowls, had gotten a rabies shot and was checked for tapeworms.
Then it was off to North Hollywood to see a 6-month-old crow, who had survived the West Nile virus but had been left blind. The crow, who was learning to fly, had crashed into its cage and hadn't been eating for days, vomiting whatever food it was fed.  After sticking his pinkie finger down the crow's throat, Cauble found a kink in its neck, but no serious damage. A batch of liquid bird food was whipped up, force-fed with a syringe and tube, and stayed down. Vitamin and calcium shots followed.
The dog, goats, cat and crow made up a relatively tame day for Cauble, who had checked on thousands of rodents and reptiles at a pet importer the day before. And that doesn't compare to the lions, tigers, cheetahs and other wildcats he vaccinates at the Shambala Preserve in Acton. Or his patients at the Los Angeles Zoo, which include elephants, pandas, and even Reggie the Alligator, which he helped catch at a park lake 2007.
About five mobile vet businesses are operating in L.A., with a majority in the San Fernando Valley, according to Cauble.
Despite the ease and appeal of operating out of a truck, local brick-and-mortar animal hospitals said the mobile service is more a complement to their business than competition, according to local vets.  Mobile vets lack facilities for housing the pets after surgeries and for taking X-rays. Often, they'll pair up with a hospital, or refer clients to local businesses for major surgeries.
"It's great," said Amy Worell, a veterinarian at All Pets Medical Center in West Hills. "I think it's all just complementary to a standing business. There's certain people that have enough money, and some people don't want to transport the animals, but there's plenty of business for all people."
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This type of veterinary care isn't necessary for everyone; however, if your situation is such that you would benefit from a veterinarian coming to your door, hopefully you will have access to a house call veterinarian.


The Ohio State Buckeyes remained unbeaten yesterday by coming from behind to beat Purdue in Columbus.  We had to score a TD with just 3 seconds to go in the game and a 2-point conversion just to tie the game...then won by 7 points in overtime.

The Pittsburgh Steelers went to Cincinnati for the Sunday night game and finally put together a complete game on the road.  The win was a big one and brings us back closer to the Ravens.

Desperado and I went to see the movie, ARGO, this week...and were very impressed with the production. 

Helpful Buckeye put together a day trip to Sedona this week for Desperado, a sort of mini-recovery tour following her shoulder procedure.  We ate at a restaurant that was new for us and really enjoyed the outdoor ambiance...the food was special too!  The fact that Desperado was feeling so much better, the weather was beautiful, the meal was outstanding, and the stroll around Tlaquepaque was relaxing...all went together to leave us with a very happy day.

“Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.”
--Guillaume Apollinaire,  French writer, poet and critic

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~

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