Dr. Jeffrey Lukken’s patients can’t tell him where it hurts.
“They don’t talk but they use claws and teeth sometimes,” Lukken jokes.
Come July 1, Lukken will celebrate his 35th year practicing veterinary medicine at Lakes Veterinary Hospital (LVH) in Battle Lake.
Lukken is a doctor on the go. Not only does he see dogs and cats as part of his hospital work, he also spends part of his time treating cattle and some of it testing fish.
His work with canines and felines involves a lot of preventative medicine. Vaccines are available for Lyme disease. Both Lyme disease and anaplasmosis are tick-borne diseases.
LVS recommends some very effective flea and tick preventative medications. It also has effective heartworm disease preventative medications.
A few winters back when Minnesota was without its usual coating of snow, LVS saw a huge outbreak of deer tick disease in dogs and for 45 straight months their owners were bringing in their pets for treatment. It is a prime reason why Lukken considers it very important to use flea and tick prevention year-round.
Spaying and neutering pets is also a part of veterinary work but the current crisis has led to some changes of operation at the hospital. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, only sick and injured dogs and cats with medical conditions are being treated. Yet Lukken is a big believer in wellness exams for dogs and cats. He considers preventative measures and regular exams to be the best way to keep pets healthy.
“We’re limiting the number of people we have coming in,” Lukken said, adding that the LVH personnel are using personal protective equipment to protect their clients as well as staff members.
Pets are picked up outside the hospital by staff members and brought into the facility while their owners remain behind.
Lukken’s many decades of experience with dogs and cats have given him certain insights into what these animals like - one of those things is having a routine.
“Dogs and cats are creatures of habit,” Lukken observed. He has also seen many different personality types.
Lukken spends plenty of time on the farm helping livestock. He occasionally does surgery on cattle and also conducts examinations.
The calving season has been underway for beef and dairy producers so Lukken has been making house calls on Holsteins and Angus who might be having delivery problems. Many of these calls have been nocturnal ones. Lukken has found how a midnight call to help a cow with a delivery can lead to a mighty stretch the following day.
Lukken’s work with fish is not with clown fish or guppies. He is looking for problems in bait fish - fatheads, shiners and sucker minnows that might have viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS), a deadly infectious fish disease caused by Piscine novirhabdovirus.
The work Lukken does is for bait wholesalers who ship out large quantities of minnows. As a resident of Otter Tail County, he is strategically located for this work, working out of one of the largest lake counties in both Minnesota and the United States.