Monday, November 28, 2011

Charlotte Mobile Vet for End of Life Care Jennifer Hawthorne


Lap of Love has been in Florida since 2009 but only this summer grew to North Carolina where we now have 3 veterinarians offering pet hospice and in home euthanasia services.  Dr. Jennifer Hawthorne was our first veterinarian in North Carolina - Charlotte area and is our next vet to 'spotlight'! 

Dr. Jennifer was born and raised in Roper, NC. A teeny town in eastern North Carolina. She now lives in Charlotte with her husband and 19 month old son. 

I had to look it up cause I never heard of Roper - it's where the 'A' bubble is!

Dr. Jennifer and Marty
She has 4 furry children as well. Two cats - Marty and Isabelle. And two dogs - Tucker and Lacy.

NC State is where she went for both undergrad and vet school. 

When asked what her favorite breed of dog is - she said that she likes hounds!  And if she could own an exotic animal - it would be a Tortoise. 

Dr. Jennifer and her husband love to travel to the mountains and the beach when they can. 

Her favorite part of being a veterinarian is when she can help an animal in whatever way that may be. And if she could be anything other than a vet - she would be a stay at home mom! :)

Fun fact: Dr. Jennifer used to show horses - Western Pleasure - but now hardly touches them. 

Dr. Jennifer services the Mecklenburg, Cabarrus and Iredell counties including Charlotte, Concord, Kannapolis, Huntersville, Mooresville and more.

To contact Dr. Jennifer Hawthorne:
(704) 659-1500

Click the states below for a list of veterinarians near you:
North Carolina

Posted by: Mary Gardner, DVM

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mary Gardner Remembers Neo

Mary Gardner's Pet Memorial for Neo

Today is one year since my Doberman Neo passed due to complications from cancer (Cushings).  Although a very sad day to remember, I would like to use this day to remember my boy for the sweet, gentle blessing he was in our lives.

It all started back in 2000.....
A doberman?    Oh heck 'NO'!    I had just lost my 12 yr old Samoyed to an infection following a dog attack by a Rottweiler and at the time  Rottweiler = Doberman!    "Well - if we are going to get one - he needs to be raised with my new Samoyed puppy so there are no future problems."   

And so begins my LOVE of dobermans - red ones in particular!

Neo was born Christmas day 1999 and was a little fire cracker.

He instantly won me over!  And as for getting along with his new sister... well there was no separating the two! 
Neo and Rissa as puppies
Two great minds
So pretty and handsome
Furry pillow!
"What are these stupid bows?"
He also LOVED his pal Herbie!

This is when Herbie was bigger than Neo
And Neo grew! They loved to snuggle

In 2003 we all moved up to Gainesville for Vet School! 
He liked the rural living! 
In the U-Hal on the way to Gainesville
Neo and Serissa loving the G-Ville Life
Neo stood/slept by my side the entire way through school.
Study Break

He even came to school with me a few days to try to figure out his few 'issues'
He was an attentive student
Neo and a tech... such a ladie's man
What issues you ask... well he had:
  • OCD and liked to chew on his leg
  • Low Thyroid
  • Food allergies (he could only have fish)
  • Cancer on his toe (needed that removed)
  • And Dog Aggressive... loved people though
    Nasty Skin issues - we figured it out though! Food Allergies

I survived Vet School!  
And we moved back to South Florida. 
Enjoying Markham Park

He was such a good furry cousin!
His most favorite thing to do however, was to go camping in Georgia with dad! 


But us ladies did love him! 

Serissa, Mary and Neo
Dr. Kim Simons and Neo - that was his 'vet' (the best)
Mary and Neo 
 (I have to admit - seriously good hair day)

Neo after a CT - still a little loopy
 Neo got cancer when he was 10 but he had a great 9 months after diagnosis and did awesome with surgery and chemo. 
To learn more about Neo's fight against cancer - Click Here.
Neo after surgery - sleeping off the anesthesia

To learn more about Cushings - the type of cancer Neo had - Click Here.

He will always watch over me & 
I look forward to the day we meet again!

Posted by:
Mary Gardner, DVM

Friday, November 25, 2011

Does Euthanasia Hurt My Dog or Cat

Answering Some Common Questions About
Veterinary Euthanasia

Veterinarians are often asked “Will euthanasia or the medications used hurt my pet?”  We understand that the stress of deciding when to put your pet to sleep is overwhelming – but to add on the thought that it hurts – can really put pet owners into a state of confusion.  Dr. Cherie Buisson offers some answers.

Euthanasia is a Greek word meaning "the good death".  It is a gift that we are able to give our pets - to suffer ourselves so they can be released from suffering.  Naturally, people have a fear of euthanizing their pet and agonize over whether they are doing the right thing.  Two of the more common questions we are often asked are "will it hurt?" and "how long does it take?"

Photo Curtosy: Tampa Tribune (Dr. Dani McVety)
With Lap of Love, euthanasia is not painful and typically more peaceful than most people expect.  Why?  Because in almost all cases, we give our patients an injection of a sedative before euthanasia.  This injection is given either under the skin (like a vaccination) or in the muscle. The sedation typically does not hurt – we use teeny needles – similar to a vaccine needle.  

Before humans are given anesthesia for surgery, they are also given a sedative. And we do the same for your patients. The wonderful combination of medications we use give them a sense of relaxation and in many cases can make them unconscious (some dogs will even snore!).  

Some pets may be able to move a bit while under sedation and even have their eyes half open, but they are not awareIt takes about half the dose of our sedation to make our patients unconscious.  It takes more to stop their body from moving without their knowledge.   (For instance, I have a friend who had anesthesia for a tooth removal.  While he was under anesthesia, he moved around and kicked one of the nurses.  He doesn't remember a thing about it.)  It is similar to when your dog cat (or even yourself) moves/twitches in their sleep.  It is just a natural reflex.

Once they are in a relaxed state, we can take our time administering the euthanasia solution. The actual administration of the solution is not painful – it does not sting or hurt.  In dogs, it is typically given in a vein and they do not feel discomfort. However, in elderly or sick patients and in cats, being able to find a good vein can be difficult.  Rather than poke and prod, the euthanasia solution may also be administered centrally (for example, into the abdomen).  This is also painless as our patient is already sedated.  

The drug used for euthanasia is an overdose of a barbiturate (a type of anesthetic) called Pentobarbital Sodium. (Many of us are asked if it is like what was used with Michael Jackson – and although not the exact drug (Proprofol) – it does work the same way).  It stops brain function – so the pet passes while they are sleeping and will not ‘know’ what is happening. 

How long does the euthanasia appointment take? The Lap of Love veterinarian is usually with you for less than an hour.  Most appointments last 30-45 minutes.  Sedation may take seconds or up to 20 minutes depending on how ill the pet is at the time.  Actual administration of euthanasia solution takes only seconds.  It can be followed by an increase in breathing, then breathing stops.  

Photo Credit - DVM News Magazine
The heart stops a few seconds to minutes later.  Our patients may hiccup, give a big stretch, have a final deep breath or make slight noises during this time.  These are all natural reflexes and is perfectly normal.  They happen with natural death as well.  If the solution is administered centrally, it may take longer.  Sometimes 15-20 minutes can pass before the heart stops completely – but the pet is sleeping the whole time and is in no discomfort or pain.  This is a great time to cuddle with your pet and tell them how much you love them.  Many owners are grateful to have a chance to hold their pet again knowing they are not in any pain.

Euthanasia is the most difficult decision we face as pet owners.  It is also the most generous – especially when your pet’s quality of life is diminished or they are suffering.  Be kind to yourself and be sure to ask questions.  This is your beloved family member, and it's good that you don't make this decision lightly.  If you truly love your pet and only want what is best for them, you will make the right decision when the time comes.  Be sure you talk with family members and your veterinarian.  No one should have to go through this alone.  We have some wonderful resources at to help you with your decision.  And of course, our veterinarians are always willing to lend a hand/and an ear!s.

Please explore our website or contact your local Lap of Love veterinarian to ask any questions you may have about hospice and euthanasia.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Broward Country Pet Hospice Euthanasia At Home


When I started Lap of Love in South Florida over a year ago, I never could have imagined what a needed service it was in the area. Then I soon realized... I needed help... South Florida is BIG - especially when you are talking Miami Dade to Palm Beach county - and fighting traffic on 95, the Turnpike and the Sawgrass Expressway!  

Luckily I found Dr. Nicole Sabo and she has been with us for 6 months now - time has flown.  Dr. Nicole is the 3rd veterinarian to be apart of Lap of Love - the first two are myself and Dr. Dani McVety.  :)

Dr. Nicole Sabo and her dog Chuchi 
Since she has been with us for the longest - I thought she deserved to be the first 'Veterinarian Spotlight'!

Dr. Nicole has lived all over! She was Born in Baton Rouge, LA then moved to Texas, then Holland, then Connecticut (spent most time there), then New York then Ohio, then New Jersey, then Philadelphia and now calls Ft. Lauderdale, Florida home! (Whew - I'm tired just reading that)

Like most people, the 'sunshine' brought Dr. Nicole to south Florida. :)  She says that it seemed like people down here really had a large variety of fun stuff to do all the time, not just in the summer. And we do!

Dr. Nicole is also an Emergency Vet (mostly overnights) in Palm Beach Florida. She likes ER work because she never knows what's going to come in the door next - anything from a laceration to a puppy with worms to a vestibular cat. She likes diagnosing/working up diseases, and on ER she gets to be a mini-"House" (Great Show - they need one for vets!)

Dr. Nicole loves being apart of Lap of Love. She says that the owners are all so sweet and thankful,  "It's nice to be around people who care so much about their animals."  And she also says that she loves working with all the other Lap of Love veterinarians!  (we are a cool group if I do say so myself)

Here she is with a Goat!
Odd fact: If she could own any animal (besides the typical domesticated species) she would own a chimpanzee! 

Dr. Nicole has only fond memories all her experiences working with us.  The one that sticks out in her mind the most however is when she was leaving a family's home and their 8 month old boxer scooted out the open door, bolted over a fence and through a field at lightening pace - of which she found her self running after! It finally came home.

Athena stalking something!
She also succumbed to a cute little kitty needing a new home at a client's house. The client had found an outdoor cat that recently gave birth and well... Dr. Nicole couldn't resist.  She named her Athena. Little Athena has a foot fetish - she loves cuddling, batting at, attacking, licking - anything really, as long as it involves feet!! 

She also has mini-wrestling battles with Dr. Nicole's little dog Chuchi where it's a pretty even match (so far.... we'll see what happens once she's full grown). She also loves climbing up and down the blinds :-( but Dr. Nicole says, "She's so cute, I forgive her!"
Love Birds!
I've received so many lovely emails about Dr. Nicole - here is once that I just got this weekend, "Dr. Sabo and her assistant were professional and compassionate. Thank you for being there for us, so that we could punctuate a noble life the way we wanted to."

Thank you Dr. Nicole for helping so many families! 

Dr. Sabo helps families in Broward and Miami Dade counties including North Miami, Aventura, Hollywood, Davie, Cooper City, Coral Springs, Weston, Davie, Ft. Lauderdale, Plantation, Pembroke Pines, Tamarac, Wilton Manors and Oakland Park.

Posted by:
Dr. Mary Gardner


Sunday, November 20, 2011

When to put your dog down

When is the right time to put your dog to sleep?

One of the most difficult decisions people have to make when they own a pet is when to have that pet put to sleep.  Many phone calls I receive start off with, "Dr Gardner, my family says I should put my dog down but I just don't know if it is the right time."

To help people evaluate when the 'right time' is - I start off with learning what disease the pet has. Every disease will produce different symptoms, effect quality of life differently, carries a different life expectancy, etc.  For example, Congestive Heart Failure may shorten the life span of a pet faster than arthritis. 

Next I find out what is currently being done for the pet in terms of treatment and home environment. All too often pet owners are reluctant to bring their pets to their regular veterinarian when they are old because they are concerned about the expense and also that their doctor will suggest euthanasia before they are ready.   That is where hospice comes into the picture.  Pet Hospice is a philosophy that aims to allow the pet to spend as much quality time at home as possible before euthanasia or natural death occurs. It typically does not include a lot of tests, bloodwork, xrays, etc. But rather focuses on treating symptoms short-term to give families more time with their loved ones. 

Arthritis/mobility is the most common reason people call me. After a hospice visit, many pets do well on the medications I prescribe (ex: pain medication and anti-inflammatories) and also with some simple modifications to the house to help the pet feel better. (Click here for some ideas)  Another mis-conception  many people I hear from have is that they don't want their dog or cat all 'drugged up'.   The medications we use are very similar to what humans use.   If I were to have a headache or my knee what hurting me - I'd reach to my medicine cabinet... and I wouldn't be all 'drugged up' the rest of the day. :)  (NOTE: DO NOT give your pet human medication without first speaking to a veterinarian. Many of our medications can be fatal in other speices)

Another common disease is Kidney (Renal) Failure. Patients with Kidney Failure can greatly benefit from administering fluids under the skin every day. This is a daunting task for some owners but once they do it two or three times, it becomes second nature.  

Click Here to go to enter our Common Disease page which has information sheets on many of the diseases our pets suffer from.

Quality of Life Scale

Last, I go over the Quality of Life scale (click here for scale) that we have created. Or use our free online Pet Hospice Journal This helps owners evaluate their pet objectively and will help guide them in determining when the right time is for the pet and the whole family.

It is never an easy decision and it does carry guilt at times. Remember that euthanasia means, 'A good death', it is very peaceful and it is a gift that you can give your pet when they are suffering. 

Please explore our website or contact your local Lap of Love veterinarian to ask any questions you may have about hospice and euthanasia.

Posted by:
Vet Mary Gardner DVM
Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice and Euthanasia

About Lap of Love:
Lap of Love is a group of compassionate veterinarians that provide peaceful veterinary hospice and euthanasia in the home. We empower owners to help care for their geriatric or terminally ill pets in an environment most comfortable for them.  

Dr. Mary Gardner with Hospice Patient Koleman