Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Vet Care

The wolves of Speedwell have received excellent veterinary care over the years.  We would like to show our appreciation for our dedicated veterinary professionals and provide an inside look at some of our more recent check-ups.

Passing the torch

For many years, we have relied on the hard work and dedication of our local veterinarian team - Dr. Bill and Dr. Chris.  We now welcome the expertise of Dr. John Bergman, who specializes in veterinary care for exotic animals like wolves.  Thank you to Dr. Bill and Dr. Chris for your many years of dedication to the sanctuary, and thank you also to Dr. Bergman for joining us!

The doctor's office

A traveling veterinarian has to have all the necessities easily accessible on the go.  With an office in the back of his truck, our vet is always ready for any sort of checkup or treatment that might be needed.  

Routine checkups

During routine checkups, our vet takes an observational walk to look at all of the sanctuary's residents, a few of which are given a full exam.  Checkup exams include checking their heart, lungs, and other organs, checking their teeth, and doing x-rays and blood work if needed.

My! What clean teeth you have!

Wolves rely on their teeth for survival.  The quality of a wolf's teeth can tell a lot about their age, their health, and even a little about their history.  For example, in the wild, the best way to age a wolf is by checking the quality of their teeth and a 7-year old wild wolf typically will have broken or missing canines, ground down molars, and could even have some structural damage to their jaw.  Our vet is sure to check the wolves' teeth during checkups.  Many of our wolves have very strong, clean healthy teeth, even our elders who are 17 years old!  Much of this is due to their diet of all raw meat, which is often provided with the bone intact.  Crunching up the bones helps to prevent tartar buildup and is a great source of calcium.


Keeping nails filed down is very important to the wolves' health as well.  The majority of our wolves and wolf-dogs take good care of their nails on their own, scratching on bark and treading across their natural terrain in their enclosures.  During first-time exams and routine check-ups, our vet is always sure to check the patient's nails and do a little clipping if needed.

Nap time

Routine checkups can sometimes require sedation, especially if blood work or x-rays are needed.  During checkups, the wolves and wolf-dogs here at the sanctuary receive a low dose of sedative mixed with a few other medicines that help to counter any negative side effects.  While they are sedated, we keep an eye on their heartbeat and oxygen levels and cover their eyes to help them have a more restful sleep.  Once the exam is over, they are gently carried back to their territory on a gurney and woken back up.

Spay and Neuter

All of our incoming rescues are spayed or neutered, unless they are past the age of breeding when they arrive.  In the past, we needed to transport any rescues requiring surgery to the local veterinary care facility a few miles away. One of our future projects that we hope to accomplish will be an on-site veterinary care facility where we will be able to perform surgeries and offer a sterile, climate controlled recovery environment for the wolves.  In the meantime, with the help of a portable anesthesia machine, we are able to prepare a temporary indoor area where surgeries can be performed if needed.  

Thanks Doc!