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Abstract

Objective—To identify predictors of grief and client desires and needs as they relate to pet death.

Design—Cross-sectional mail survey.

Sample Population—177 clients, from 14 randomly selected veterinary practices, whose cat or dog died between 6 and 43 days prior to returning the completed questionnaire.

Procedure—Veterinary practices were contacted weekly to obtain the names of clients whose pets had died until approximately 200 clients were identified. Clients were contacted by telephone, and a questionnaire designed to measure grief associated with pet death was mailed to those willing to participate within 1 to 14 days of their pet's death. The questionnaire measured potential correlates and modifiers of grief and included three outcome measures: social/emotional and physical consequences, thought processes, and despair. Demographic data were also collected.

Results—Approximately 30% of participants experienced severe grief. The most prominent risk factors for grief included level of attachment, euthanasia, societal attitudes toward pet death, and professional support from the veterinary team.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Bivariate and multivariate analyses highlighted the impact owners' attitudes about euthanasia and professional intervention by the veterinary team had on reactions to pet death. Owners' perceptions of societal attitudes, also a predictor of grief, indicate that grief for pets is different than grief associated with other losses. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;217:1303–1309)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Summary

Postoperative complications (POC) that developed in dogs and cats that underwent elective ovariohysterectomy, castration, and declaw at a veterinary teaching hospital were determined by examining the computerized abstracts of the medical records and by examining a random sample of the paper medical records.

When the computerized abstracts were examined, POC were found to have occurred in 62 (6.1%) of 1,016 dogs. One dog died and 6 others developed major complications. Postoperative complications were found to have occurred in 38 (2.6%) of 1,459 cats. Two cats died and 1 was euthanatized. Four other cats developed major complications.

Complete paper medical records for 218 dogs and cats were examined. When the paper medical records were examined, the proportions of dogs and cats with POC were 19.4% and 12.2%, respectively. These proportions were 4 to 7 times higher than when the computerized abstracts were the data source.

Results of this study indicate that the frequency of clinically relevant POC of elective surgeries in dogs and cats is substantial. Examination of the computerized abstracts of medical records at this hospital allowed us to rapidly identify cases that could be included in the study but the frequency of POC would be significantly underestimated if paper records were not also assessed.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Summary

A retrospective, epidemiologic field study was performed to determine whether calves that were transported greater distances from the auction market to the feedlot were at significantly higher risk of developing fatal fibrinous pneumonia (shipping fever). The study involved all 45,243 spring-born steer calves that were purchased from auction markets and moved into a large commercial feedlot between September 1 and December 31 over a 4-year period (1985–1988). For all 4 years of the study, the distance calves were transported from the market to the feedlot and their shrinkage or subsequent death loss from fibrinous pneumonia were not correlated. The risk of fatal fibrinous pneumonia for calves arriving from nearby markets was just as high as that for calves transported much greater distances. The results suggested that calves can be purchased from more distant markets without having to discount their price for higher expected death losses. Differences between short and long hauls explained/little, if any, of the variation among truckloads of calves in the risk of fatal fibrinous pneumonia.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Summary

A retrospective, epidemiologic study was performed to quantify the mixing of calves from various sources at auction markets, and to determine whether mixing at the markets and the risk of fatal fibrinous pneumonia (ffp) at the feedlot were associated. In this study, 32,646 spring-born steer calves that entered a single large feedlot during the fall seasons between 1985 and 1988 were traced back to their originating auction market, and sales tickets were used to measure the number of farm sources that contributed to each truckload of calves. Individual cow/calf producers contributed a median of only 2 calves/truckload arriving at the feedlot in this study. An average truckload of 60 steers comprised calves from as many as 20 to 30 farms. The degree of mixing varied little over time and could not, therefore, be used to explain the large variations in ffp risk during different months and different years of the study. However, variation in the degree of mixing of calves from various sources at the markets evidently was responsible for differences in ffp risk among truckloads assembled by different buyers. When truckloads were grouped by buyer, ffp risk and mean number of calves per source were negatively correlated in 1986 (r = -0.67, P = 0.099), and in 1987 (r = –0.90, P = 0.002). These variables also were negatively correlated in 1988 (r = –0.56), although the correlation was not significant.

The positive linear relationship between mixing of calves in truckloads supplied by different buyers and subsequent ffp risk suggested that veterinarians and feedlot owners should more aggressively observe and treat calves from truckloads that were highly mixed. However, the finding that mixing was constant over time, while ffp risk varied significantly within and between years, indicated other important factors also were responsible for the variation in disease prevalence.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association