Pets are apart of so many families lives. We asked  Dr. Cheryl Sammons – mom and veterinarian – her opinions on pets, kids and motherhood.

Cheryl Sammons, DVM

Dr. Sammons is the owner of South Franklin Animal Hospital in Franklin, Tennessee.

 

1.  What three things do you wish every mom would know about animals?

 Moms need to know that it does not matter how old your kids are, a dog or pet is ultimately your responsibility 100%; do not feel guilty because the pet will love you {mom} the most of anyone in the house; and having pet hair on every piece of clothes you own is a fashion statement.

2.  From your experience as a veterinarian and as a mother yourself, do you think kids benefit from having pets?  Why or why not?  

Kids benefit in so many ways from having a pet, the lessons they learn are many and are god given.  Unconditional love, support, and presence is a gift that a parent can give to a child with a pet in the house.  Animals also have been proven to help with anxieties, stress, blood pressure, ADD, and other psychological problems.  Kids learn responsibility and sense of something more than “ME” syndrome. Pets teach everything from reproduction, body parts, birth, to death. This is becoming a more important lesson as I practice the art of medicine and death. Kids learn so much from loving a pet, being part of the decision and process of letting it go when it is time, and celebrating that pet’s life and then loving again.

3. What about kids that have allergies to pet dander?  What pets do you recommend, if any?

Kids and pet allergies are over diagnosed and used as a scape goat. I am sure just like pet’s that are allergic to human dander, people have pet dander allergies, but this is never a 100% of the allergy diagnosis and most likely not big enough to get rid of an animal. It has been proven with all allergies that early exposure will desensitize to that allergy.  There are certain breeds that are less allergenic. Not sure there is a “true” hypoallergenic animal but thoughts are that poodles, the rex cats are less dander producers. Frequent bathing in a recommend shampoo is very helpful.

4. Kids and pets seem to go together is some areas and not in others.  What situations must families consider when thinking about getting a pet? 

When ready for a pet in the house, I recommend to make a list of what would work in your life style. Then you can research specifics on certain breeds or mixes that fit your life. The biggest mistake young people make is not looking into the future life style they may have with a pet. If you know you are going to have kids, consider a breed good with children. Self education is key and remember a large breed, depending on the breed, does not necessarily need a lot of room. I have seen English Mastiffs that top out at 200 pounds be very comfortable in a high rise apartment. This is a breed that is lazy and does not need a lot of room.

5. Given the current economy and its minimal rebound, what should every pet owner consider working into their budget?

Regardless of economy, pet owners will spend for their beloved pets. I think the focus currently in the veterinary world is pet insurance. To offer high quality care and to be covered in an emergency, pet insurance is the key. There are many types of insurance and just like human insurance, you have to read the fine print. At our hospital, we have found two insurances that stand at the top and that is what we recommend. We definitely have seen that if insurance was pulled when the pet was young, certain very common conditions would have been covered. The most common illnesses pets present to the hospital for are diarrhea, ear infection, skin allergies, ACL ruptures, arthritis. Some insurance are even covering euthanasia and cremation.

 6. As a working mom, what has been your greatest joy?  Challenges and how did you meet them?

God blessed me with being a veterinarian and a mother of two children. Early in my career, the stress was overwhelming trying to keep working and balance young kids.  Daycare for my kids was a huge guilt lesson for me. I always felt terrible, that my kids where the first at daycare and the last to leave daycare.  I also know that there where times and years that I could not keep up with the newest medicines and techniques in my field.  I do feel that having kids and being a mom has made me a better veterinarian and ability to relate to my clientielle.  I know that my kids ultimately respect my love and passion for my career, and have learned a lot about finding a career that you love.  I hold my head high, knowing that my kids are proud of their mom, the animal doctor.

7. What words of experience would you offer to a new mom and/or moms considering entering the veterinary field?

I highly promote this profession to any young lady looking to go to veterinary school. The challenge of preparing and getting accepted to veterinary school, and then going through the minimum of 4 years of vet school, will be the most stressful, exhausting physically and mentally, and life changing event. This will fully prepare them for the challenges post school with practice, family, kids, and life. The profession is wonderful for women, who can work part time, relief time, or flex time. Women also bring to the profession the loving, soft, communicative touch that is needed. Also, women serve as wonderful role models to the younger generation of veterinarians or staff.

8.  What is your favorite part of your job?  What is your favorite part of being a mom?

For me, I love all aspects of veterinary medicine. I love that I am my own boss and make my own decisions. I love that I am free to network, research and draw up a treatment plan for my patients. I love that I can serve as a role model to my children and to other young people. I love that I am a dermatologist to surgeon. I love everything from anal sacs to the time I can sit with my client and celebrate the memories of a pet’s life.

For me I love being a mom because it is a honor from god to create a life and then help mold that life into an adult. I have loved every stage of momhood, from nursing my children, watching them go to kindergarten, to cheering them in their sports. I love that my kids will always be a part of me and will always be with me in this life.