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Kingstonist’s Wizard of Paws: The doctor has become the patient

Veterinarian Dr. Ryan Llera immediately post-operation after having hernia repair done at the Shouldice Hospital near Toronto. Submitted photo.

I recently had surgery done on myself; nothing major, but it’s given me a different perspective when it comes to how we take care of our own veterinary patients. I just spent three days at the Shouldice Hospital near Toronto for a hernia repair. Overall, things were good, but I had some observations to share.

The doctor’s observations

Pain medications – When we prescribe pain meds, it’s for a reason. Even though your pet may not show any obvious signs of discomfort, they will benefit from the pain control they get from those medications on a regular schedule. For the most part, they let us decide at the hospital when we wanted to take more pain medication. If I skipped or went too long without, it was obvious. Don’t skip or stop the pain medications too early for your pet because you think they are fine. Trust me, they will appreciate it.

Nursing care – Overall everyone was pretty good. Except for one nurse who we’ll call Nurse Ratchet. Showing a complete lack of bedside manner, she proceeded to rip off bandages and treat the patients as though we did not know how our own bodies felt when it came to questions about our pain level, appetite, or general feeling. In a complete opposite to this, you will not find any veterinary technician or nurse who does not have the skills of empathy or compassion, AKA a bedside manner. They are always on their A game.

Recovery – I was able to go home a day early on the condition that I understood what I was getting into and that I followed the discharge instructions. Unfortunately for our pets, sometimes they just don’t know better and therefore it is on us as their people to help them in this time, including following all instructions. If we say don’t let them off leash or don’t bathe them, we mean it. Not following these instructions can lead to complications in recovery, including a slow down to the return of normal life, or, in many cases, a need to re-operate.

Dr. Ryan Llera two days post-operation at the Shouldice Hospital in Markham. Submitted photo.

I’m back home and on the mend. I am listening to the doctor’s instructions even though I am back at work and I hate that I can’t even pick up my kid. I’m really hoping that none of my happy patients jump on me to show their love even though it is nice to know they care.

So please forgive me if I don’t pick up and cuddle your pet or get down on the floor with them; I’m just listening to the doctor’s orders.


If there’s something you’ve often wondered or questions you have about regarding pets, let us know by email at [email protected].

*Please note that specific medical questions about your pet cannot be addressed and you should speak with your personal veterinarian.


Dr. Ryan Llera is a small animal veterinarian at the Kingston Veterinary Clinic. Though originally from Florida, he married a Canadian (who is also a vet!) and they share their home with two cats, two dogs, two horses, and a rabbit. Dr. Llera also contributes writing to various other animal and veterinary related blogs. You can find more of his writing at www.DRRYANLLERA.com, or see what else he is up to on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Disclaimer: All columns are personally written and my opinion, and may not necessarily reflect those of current or former employers.

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