We adopted Hunter, a 15yr old German Shorthair Pointer Mix, in 2017 from Great Plains Pointer Rescue. I can not say enough good things about that group ( www.greatpointers.org/ ). We instantly felt a strong connection with the gentle giant. He came to us with medical issues that were to be expected in a grandpa pup. For nine months we did not really notice the side effects of a very loud murmur. He had amazing joints. He was selectively deaf. He did not show obvious signs of Lyme disease although his antibody levels were quite high. He enjoyed frozen poop - his & rabbit pellets the most. He could be equally excited to take a walk or a nap - your preference. I had a sense he had been well loved before & that some unplanned circumstance took him away from his owners. He knew what the bank drive-up meant (insert head sticking from the back seat & out my window..."see me? treat?"). He did the same thing at Starbucks. He had REALLY worn teeth (which can happen with a lot of fetch from a gritty tennis ball). Hunter had great manners. I could let him walk up to any animal or person, and I knew he would be gentle to all creatures.
Our 9 month ownership of the gentle giant was amazing, but it did come to an end. One week before Hunter got sick I had a dream that we had to give him back. I woke up extremely depressed, but I tried to talk myself out of the obvious - Hunter was going to be going back to his original family soon. He was over 15yrs old for goodness sake! When Hunter got sick he slid downhill quickly. I was torn between trying to find out 'the why', trying to keeping him comfortable, and sorting through 'the when'. I thought about taking him into a traditional clinic for xrays etc, but I decided (after many tears, deep breaths, and a good chat with Marc) that is not what Hunter would want. Knowing why he was going to die was not going to change things. I cancelled all of my appointments & stayed next to Hunter all day. He seemed comfortable, but I knew it was the quiet before the storm. In the evening I woke Ethan & Marc up so that we could say goodbye together. I already knew that letting a pet go is the most important part of pet ownership, but it is one of the hardest choices we will ever make for our pets. Many times I, as a veterinarian, feel a relief for my patient(s) & their family once an animal is at peace. I must admit that I did not have that feeling with Hunter. I knew the instant that we brought him home we were on borrowed time. When the time came I needed to fast-forward my emotions, and I was not prepared. I was sad to lose him, and I had to work really hard to remind myself that we were lucky to have him for the limited time that we did. We loved Hunter like we had had him since he was a puppy. I am thankful he trusted us to shape his retirement. He taught me what it is like to lose an animal quickly. I can work clients through this process, and now I have the experience to be better at it for myself.
"It matters not wheter medicine is old or new, so long as it brings about a cure. It matters not whether theories are Eastern or Western, so long as they PROVE to be true"
-Dr. Jen-Hsou Lin
I challenge all owners of animals with chronic diseases to seek integrative veterinary care with an open heart & open mind. Once root issues are dealt with symptoms are more likely resolve. One cannot keep chasing fires unless the cause of the fire is also addressed. I worked for 6yrs trying to just put out fires, and thankfully I was shown one therapy that required some thinking outside of the box. I had a patient who had had back surgery, & he was crying/ wining despite my therapy of pain meds & sedatives. A quiet veterinarian at the large referral hospital I worked at got into his cage & did something that caused the dog to fall asleep. When I asked her later on she said she had performed acupuncture. I feel bad that the daschund had to deal with my strictly allopathic (traditional) training, but it was because of that one treatment my iron heart began to soften. I accepted there was a lot more out there that I didn't know. Chinese medicine has been in use for over 3,000 years (acupuncture, Chinese herbs, food therapy etc). Allopathic medicine started in the early to mid 1800's. If a pet needs an antibiotic I will prescribe it. If an animal needs a vaccine I will give it. If an animal has had years and years of traditional medications & therapies I am likely to start with TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). I am very fortunate that the clients who seek out my opinion are open-minded when it comes to their pet's treatment plan. What I want folks to know is that regardless of the treatment I choose I have their pet's best health in mind. As long as we can all work as a team there are good chances that we can get animals feeling better again. If you have reservations about my therapy suggestions - tell me. If a treatment plan resonates with you - I want to know. My goal would be to assist in finding true health for my patients in whatever way makes the most sense to a patient's long-term health. I would be doing my job if I saw my patients less frequently once they are feeling better. Thank you to my clients who accept me for who I am & my training. I have your pet’s best interest at heart.
After a one month unplanned medical leave I had to make some rather dramatic decisions regarding the structure of my business. Decisions were made keeping my family & my health in mind. I have chosen to continue to offer housecalls and wellness clinics, but I did cut back the number of locations that I will travel to. I live north of Ames in Nevada. A trip to Des Moines is easily a 100 mile round trip, and the driving became too much.
For the month of October my hours are as follows: Tu/Th/Fri 9-11, 2-6, Wed - Bone-A-Patreat in Des Moines 11-6 by appointment, Sat October 10th Bone-A-Patreat in Des Moines 10-5 by appointment, Sunday October 11th Wholesome Pet Essentials in Ankeny 12-4 by appointment, Saturday October 24th Bone-A-Patreat in WEST Des Moines 10-5 by Appointment. I am closed on Mondays. Housecalls to Central Iowa are available on nights and weekends (and after wellness clinics) by appointment.
Thank you to the clients who have been patiently waiting for me to return. I am back - better than ever. I also apprecite the respect regarding the change in my schedule. The human critter below is my main focus in life. This is a picture of Ethan & our new kitten, Bobbie Ray. This cat is so bonded to my son that he could really care less if my husband or I are trying to love on him.
With my new schedule I can take my son to school, pick him up, and & can take him to his 'ninja' classes. It is the little things in life. ;)
I saw a tiny puppy at the park last night, and I polled my clients via my Facebook page: “When is it safe to take a puppy to the park?” I am going to refer to my good friend,VeterinaryPartner.com. I will give you a link below. The major thing I worry about at parks & other public places is parvo virus. If/When I have my next puppy he/she will not be setting foot off my property until 4mo of age (or until I have had a blood test drawn to see how high their titer is for parvo virus). I think it is ok to go to socialization class & places where I can prove without a doubt that the animals around us who will be sniffing noses & pooping on the floor have had their parvo vaccine. I would want my puppy's immune system to be developed a bit more before challenging it. It may sound extreme, but I have seen puppies die of parvo virus. It is also very expensive to treat (IV fluids, prescription medications to try to halt vomiting & bloody diarrhea, sometimes plasma transfusions...). Last year I heard from a family who had two puppies die of the virus. The dogs were in their yard, but they escaped. Within one week they were both sick. I don't want to be a party pooper, but a puppy’s immune system may not be fully developed by the time they get their first vaccination. A lot depends on their age & what the mom passed along in her milk. It can be hit or miss. Happy Spring!
On September 28th a rabies clinic was performed at the Perry Dog Park to benefit the Humane Society of Perry. 90 animals were vaccinated with the help of many volunteers.
On September 16th a wellness clinic was held at The Pet Project Midwest to help families in need. This was an amazing experience for myself as well as the preveterinary students and additional volunteers who helped with the event.
I have had this question come up recently, and it is a good one. I will try to be as honest as possible, and if you notice something that I missed please let me know. Here we go...
I think the most important thing that an animal needs is a really good food. If corn is on your current label lets talk. I see many dogs with recurrent ear infections & anal gland issues (to name a few), and when we get the animal on an appropriate food things typically get better. Even if you are purchasing your food from a pet health food store there is a chance that something may need tweaked. If you know me you know that I took a food therapy course from the Chi Institute. You can use food as medicine.
Dogs (and rarely cats) can get heartworm. We have it in Iowa. Even if your animal 'doesn't go out much' they can contract this severe illness. For <$10/mo you can prevent heartworm infection. Many vets are recommending year around meds based on the American Heartworm Society recommendations (https://www.heartwormsociety.org/). If you are giving meds at least May/June to Nov that is pretty good for Iowa. The one benefit I really see for year around meds is to prevent intestinal parasites. Humans can get roundworms from pets (rare...but it can happen).
What vaccines are needed? First off...I am not the vaccine police. I am willing to review your wishes & what your animal likely needs. I do not see dogs & cats as 'cookie cutters' when it comes to vaccine plans. If you want a refresher please check out the vaccine blog in the veterinary care section. By law dogs and cats are required to have rabies. Cats in my practice receive the 1yr purevax rabies vaccine. I can use the 3yr Imrab product if requested. It does carry a 1-10/20,000 risk for a vaccine associated cancer. Cats should likely receive a 'distemper' vaccination as a kitten. Boosters are based on their environment. I do not give cats feline leukemia vaccines unless they are indoor/outdoor cats. FIV - 'feline aids' - I do not recommend this vaccine. You can find great information on all vaccines at www.VeterinaryPartner.com. I recommend dogs receive at least 1-2 distemper/parvo boosters as puppies. After that we either check a titer or vaccinate every three years until 8yrs of age. Leptospirosis? Do your homework - www.VeterinaryPartner.com. I could go on and on, but it is easier if you do a little reading on your own. Lyme? I think your money is better spent on topical preventative. Ticks also carry a million co-infections that there are no vaccines for.
Other things that are important:
-behavior...if you are having issues let me know. You are not alone if you are having issues with your furry friend.
-a loving home (very important) :)
-lots of attention & exercise (have you tried a laser pointer for your cat?)
-enriched environment (especially for indoor cats): treat balls, automated feeders to spice up their diet life, perches to look outside, etc etc etc...
-natural therapies as needed: ie: acupuncture, VOM - Veterinary Orthopedic Manipulation, food therapy, & herbal supplementation
I consider myself a holistic veterinarian. I will be honest and open when it comes to your pet's care. My clients are involved in the decision making process when it comes to their pet's care. I see pets in their homes & at the eight wellness clinics that I have around Des Moines, Urbandale, Altoona, Ankeny, & Webster City. If you have any questions for me please do not hesitate to e-mail me (AbbysRoadVet@gmail.com) or text/call my cell (515-290-3598).
-Abby Strobbe, DVM
Meet 'Spot'. He was pretty excited to see that there were treats waiting for him when I arrived at his house to trim his nails and visit with his cat friends. He plucked the treats right from my 'doctor bag' (also know as the Mary Poppins bag). I really enjoy housecalls because the animals are so relaxed.
I am really getting excited for the rabies clinic at the Perry dog park tomorrow. The hours are from 11-1:00. Last year I vaccinated 75 animals. I am hopeful that the weather is a bit cooler so that we can help even more pets. I have a group of four to five pre-veterinary students who are coming along to help. I am hopeful that they will see that there are many facts to veterinary medicine. Not everyone has to wear a white coat and work within a building to help. The vaccine carries a suggested donation of $10 & all of the money is going back to the shelter. Good things can come in small packages. I will keep you posted on how things go.
Dr. Strobbe lives with her husband-Marc, Son-Ethan, Ray, Candy Eyes, Daddy Sheep, and all the rest of the critters on a farm in Central Iowa.