Tuesday, March 23, 2010

First blood draw

Here in New England, as in many part of the United States, we have a problem with heart worm....transmitted by the mosquito. Dogs are put on preventative medication during mosquito season. Some people use it year round if they live in warmer climates, but in NE we have cold enough temps for at least 4 months of the year that those darn bugs disappear. Dogs must have a blood test to determine if they are negative for heart worm before being put on the preventative.

So last week Melissa had blood drawn for the first time. As with everything else that Melissa is experiencing in life I wanted this to be as pleasant as possible. A needle into a vein...how pleasant can that be? I certainly was not going to practice with real needles! But what I did do in preparation was to practice at home. We practiced with me holding her the same manner as needed for the blood draw. I wanted her comfortable in a sit with my arms around her....and having her leg held with some pressure.

Her sits have been coming along nicely, sitting still for any period of time did take a bit of practice. But we practiced on sitting for duration, then added my arm around her, and finally my other hand picking up her leg. A dollop of peanut butter in her mouth while my two hands were busy helped make a nice association with all the handling and sitting still.

The vet clinic I use is super. They feed treats, they get on the floor with the dogs, they take their time with the animals and make it a really nice experience for them. All my dogs LOVE walking into the building. And so, Melissa sat still while the vet tech held her leg, I put an arm around her shoulders while my other hand gave Melissa some chunks of liver to chew. The vet drew the blood. Melissa was perfectly still until after the needle was withdrawn at which point she stood while pressure was put on the sight. Another piece of liver helped keep her remaining still for a few extra minutes.

Good girl puppy Melissa!


  1. So simple, but who among us would have thought to do that? Thanks, Chris!

  2. Thanks Joy,

    I like to think of things from the dog's view: strange people, tile floor, holding still while in a sit, strange smells, leg being held etc. If the dog can't sit still at home, he is less likely to sit for any length of time in a different place. I like to break things down to help them be successful. Melissa had been to the vet many times just to be weighed and to get treats and pets; and then she walked out. Fun visits. She had walked on many different surfaces, and had met many different people, some even holding her while she was in a stand. Putting it together while she was in a sit, took some practice which we did at home and about town. So basically the only 'new' item introduced was the feel of the needle which she handled well.
    I see too many dogs and owners get into a struggle with their dogs. I believe in building a trusting relationship that will last a lifetime. Chris