Lessons From A Real-Life Veterinarian

by  Krista Magnifico, DVM

Can you imagine how effortless life would be if all of the mistakes we all made were accumulated, documented, taught, reviewed, and then cataloged  We would all be able to saunter serendipitously through the sunny side of life?

Why shouldn't it be that easy? 

I mean we all essentially have the same challenges, the same basic  path through life, we should all get together sit down to discuss the challenges life has thrown us, the big and little tumbles, and help each other avoid them.

Fashion, hairstyles, cooking, relationships, kids, the list is endless. Gosh, I am almost euphoric thinking about how blissfully simply it could all be.

In my own little way I am going to try to spare you from a few of the tragic mistakes I have made.

Call it my personal testimonial for your benefit. Here are some my personal suggestions for a long, happy, healthy life.

1. OK, sunblock is a necessity. 

You will grow old and your skin will age you faster than anything else. Wear it everyday religiously and never use a tanning bed.

2. You should recycle everything at least every three years. 

Head to toe. That includes hairstyle, all garments, and shoes. Truly. (Admittedly, I don't live by this, but I am not sincerely proclaiming myself to be fashion-forward, just fashion-aware).

Our own "7 loaves of banana
bread chow hound" bulimic.
That's all I can say about the human side. The veterinary side, well, that I can talk about for years. For me to tell you all that you need to know on the dog side we need a big pot of coffee, a table full of snacks, and a thick college ruled notebook.

With every medical problem that crosses my threshold I decide whether it is an indigenous problem or an environmental insult.

You see we human beings can muddle up any perfect system.

For instance, we might forget to lock up 7 loaves of banana bread and your puppy sees opportunity to score, so he does. Lesson learned, if you think your puppy might disappoint you, don't give them the opportunity to do so. Those 7 loaves of banana bread cause the delicate pancreas to go into overload, it swells, it hurts, and it causes your dog to vomit until they are emptying their own juices onto the floor. The pendulum shifts and the body starts to shut down sacrificing itself to preserve its most valuable asset the heart, lungs, and brain. without immediate medical intervention they may die.

3. If your dog doesn't stay in your allocated protected home they are at risk to nearly every imaginable fate. 

Theft, and possible horrific consequences, trauma, and it's expensive and possible fatal consequences, and your dog, like it or not, is seen by the rest of the world as just another cog in the intricate blood thirsty food chain. Lesson learned; Keep your dogs close to your hip at all times.

4. If the label says "Do not use on cats." It is not a suggestion. 

It should say, "This is very likely to kill your cat."

5. If the vet warns you to never use scissors when cutting out mats, don't.

She is kindly trying to tell you that every person that brings in a dog that she has to sew back together has told her the same thing, 'I'm always very careful."

6. Your dog is a life-long ever changing, ever challenging responsibility.

With this comes great joy, great love, health and longevity benefits to you, and expense and ultimately loss. The success of their ability to thrive is up to you. Get lots of advice, socialize them from the first moment, and ask yourself everyday if your companionship builds a stronger safer life for them and the rest of the community.

7. If you have a concern that your dog is not safe around others (insert anything into 'others') then get help immediately. 

Don't wait until someone, or something is hurt.

8. All things are possible with love and kindness.

Let them guide you every step of the way. Alright, that lesson is for all of us.


Krista Magnifico, DVM owns a small animal hospital in northern Maryland, where she practices everyday. She wants to make quality veterinary care available to everyone, everywhere at any time; trying to save the world 1 wet nose @ a time.  Her blog is a diary of he day-to-day life & the animals and people she meets. 

Dr. Krista is also the founder of pawbly.com, free pet advice and assistance.

To contact her, you may leave a comment on her blog, email her or catch her on Twitter or Facebook.

Articles by Dr. Magnifico:
Don't Make This Mistake: Ruby's Death To Heat Stroke 
Parvo: Cora's Story 
Jake's Laryngeal Paralysis
The Tip Of The Iceberg: The Unexpected Dental Dilemma
The Ear Ache That Wasn't Going Away: Tottsie's Story
Cody's Eyelid Tumor
Ruger's Mysterious Illness
The Day The Heart Stood Still: Timber's Story 
Different Definition Of Comfort Food: Levi's Story 
Savannah's Pancreatitis  
Histiocytoma: Rio's Mysterious Bump
Von Willebrand's Disease: Greta's Story 
Alice's Heart Murmur  
Jekyll Loses His Tail Mo-Jo 
Pale Gums Are An Emergency: Bailey's Story 
To Amputate Or Not To Amputate: Heidi's Story 

Do you have a story to share?

Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!

What were the first signs you noticed? How did you dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

Email me, I'll be happy to hear from you!


  1. I'm obsessive about sunscreen, to the point where my friends and family tease me.

    Ugh, that image with the scissors and the mats. So awful! But I have used scissors on mats before, so I know that makes me guilty as well. Probably will think twice about doing it ever again. Yikes.


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