Monday, January 30, 2012
When everyone is special, no one is special
These days, everyone is special, right? Awards ceremonies for children's activities have become nearly meaningless, because EVERYONE gets an award. Even my own kids have told me they think it's a complete waste of time and stupid, and that no one ever gets to feel special, because the people in charge are always saying how special everyone is. But for some reason, some people really like that feeling of being somehow special, so much that they project it onto their pet. Not just their pet, actually - their entire breed.
Now, don't get me wrong. It's true that each breed of dog or cat or horse or sheep or whatever has its own set of interesting qualities that set it apart from the other breeds of dogs or cats or horses or sheep or whatever - otherwise, they wouldn't be separate breeds. And obviously, some people will prefer one type over another type, and that's great. What really drives me nuts though is the people who make this big fuss over how SPECIAL their breed is when it comes to: anesthesia, vaccines, antibiotics, parasites, or other medical issues. Because 99% of the time, it's complete bullshit. Seriously.
When is it NOT complete bullshit? Well, ok, Greyhounds. Greyhounds sometimes develop perioperative hyperthermia, possibly related to anxiety. Greyhounds and similarly very lean sighthounds used to have bigger issues with general anesthesia when the main drugs used were injectable barbiturates. So, if you walk into my clinic and you have a greyhound who needs general anesthesia, and you say "Oh, doctor, I just can't allow that, Greyhounds are special and they can't be anesthetized, how could you not know?" I am going to mentally *headdesk* while I bite my tongue, and then I will take a deep breath and smile and explain the GREAT NEWS that we have actually advanced quite a bit beyond the injectable barbiturates that used to be such a problem, and that we have new and better balanced anesthesia protocols these days, and we can use anxiolytics to manage the perioperative stress, and honestly, you don't need to panic. Hopefully, you'll be pleased to have learned this, and we can proceed.
There are also a few other breed-related laboratory idiosyncrasies that sometimes come up, and of course there are different inherited disease and so forth, but honestly, this "special" business is something else.
Examples of some of the complete bullshit I have heard:
1. "My puppy can NOT have a leptospirosis vaccine. My breeder has been breeding MaltiFlufferPoos for 25 years, and she knows. Lepto vaccine will KILL my puppy and I refuse to allow it. This breed is just very sensitive to the vaccine and when you give it to them they swell up and get bloody diarrhea and die." I will mentally translate this to "my breeder once had a puppy experience anaphylaxis, freaked out, and refused to ever give the vaccine again. Hey, maybe if she's really high volume, it happened twice." I will try to explain to you that there is no one particular breed that DIES from lepto vaccines more than any other, but most of the time people with this idea drummed into their heads won't listen to me. Also, FYI: MaltiFlufferPoo is not a breed.
2. "I refuse to allow you to give any deworming medication to my puppy. The breeder told me that Garbage Hounds are very special in that they react badly to all dewormers, and we need to let him develop his own immunity to the worms." I have no reasonable explanation for this. Maybe the breeder had a bad experience deworming a group of puppies one time? I have a hard time believing that, most common dewormers have a wide safety margin. I find it extremely frustrating, especially when there are children in the home who might be at risk for developing a larval migrans syndrome.
3. "My dog is not just a small dog like all the other small dogs you see routinely. He is a very special nano-teacup miniature micro yorkie. He has to get only 1/4 the dose of all vaccines." No, sorry. The immune system does not work that way. The dose of vaccine is not up for debate. We are giving the entire vaccine, or we are not vaccinating your dog here today. Also, there is no such thing as a nano-teacup miniature micro yorkie. I don't care if you paid $3500 for it, it's not a real thing. By the way, since we're on the subject, I know you said the breeder told you it's normal, but - hydrocephalus is actually not normal and your puppy looks like a conehead.
4. "Doctor, my kitten is a Bengal. You may not know this but they are very special cats. They require a 70% as fed protein diet made up of mostly raw meats." Hate to break it to you, but no, the nutritional requirements of the Bengal is not markedly different from the nutritional requirements of other domestic feline housepets.
5. "My Devon Rex is non-allergenic." No it isn't. While there is some variation in amount of dander that a pet leaves lying around and of course the volume of hair falling off it will play a role, an allergic individual may still react to your cat, because it is a cat, and it has a salivary protein called FelD1, and it grooms itself, and that stuff dries on there, and then flakes off into the environment. FelD1 levels can vary per individual cat and on a population level some breeds may make more than others but there are no standard breeds of cats that do not have any. Sorry.
What kinds of "special" breed stories have you heard?