Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Keep Your Pet Safe This Summer

It’s summertime, summertime, sum, sum, summertime!

Here are some tips to guarantee you and your pet a happy and safe summer together:

Never Leave a Pet in a Car Alone
Why, with so much media attention, do owners continue to leave their pets in cars?  People just don’t realize how fast things can go terribly wrong.

According to AVMA, the temperature in a hot car can rise 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. Another 20 minutes, another 10 degrees.  So if it’s 80 degrees outside, and the interior of the car is already at 70 degrees, after just half an hour, your pet is in a 100-degree environment.

The bottom line – if you are making multiple stops at multiple locations, drive solo.  Your dog will bark “thanks.”

Make Sure They Have Shade & Lots of Water

While we humans enjoy a day in the sun, we understand the need to protect ourselves from harmful rays.  Our pets need protection, too. Make sure your pet has a shady spot if your summer fun includes having her outside for an extended period of time.  FACT: Dogs are prone to skin cancer, especially of the ears and nose.  Skincancer.org suggests sunscreen and UV-protective clothes

Always provide plenty of fresh water.

If your dog joins you for regular runs- enjoy! Just remember that summer heat can be dangerous for your dogs. Only run early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the stifling midday heat. Check the pavement, road, or sidewalk you’ll be running on by placing your hand on the ground. If it’s hot to the hand, it’s hot to the paws.

Consider a plastic pool and let your pal play in the cool water. 

Recognize Heat Exhaustion

Heavy panting, dry or bright red gums, thick drool, vomiting, diarrhea, or unstable legs require quick action.  Dip his body in cool (not cold) water. No tub? Drape a cool (not cold) damp towel over his body, and re-wet as needed. Massage his legs to help with circulation. Provide lots of drinking water.  Call your veterinarian immediately.

ID Tags

With all that added outdoor time, summertime can lead to a pet wandering off.  Make sure your pet’s ID tag is up to date with your current phone number. If your pet is microchipped, make sure your information is up-to-date with the host company.   Tags and microchips offer the best chance of reuniting pets and owners

Plenty of Parasites

Summer equals an increase in the bug population.  Make sure to use a flea treatment recommended for your pet’s age and overall health.  If your pet spends a lot of time outside during the summer, routine baths and bedding washes will ensure no flea friends make their way into the house.

Tick, tick tick.  And we don’t mean clocks. Frequent inspections, combing and paw checks will help you stay on top of any bites that may occur.

Public Enemy #1-Mosquitoes!  They can carry infected larvae which can turn into heartworms. Heartworms can be detrimental, even deadly to your pet.  Be sure to ask your vet about which heartworm preventive is best for your pet.

Summertime is our favorite time; you want to include your pet in the fun.  As long as you keep your furry friend’s health and safety top of mind, you’ll both shine this season!



The content is not medical advise, nor is it intended to be a substitute for veterinary treatment or care. First, consult with your veterinarian before use.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

RVing: Not Just For Humans Anymore

Headed to the Grand Canyon?  Maybe it’s the Delmarva Coast for fun at the beach. For many of us, there’s no question about bringing the 4-legged family member along for the vacation.  Before you begin, think back to the day you brought him/her home.  Plan on a period of adjustment to the smaller spaces, the unfamiliar noises and everything else that comes along with RVing.  We’ve put together a list of helpful tips to make the trip as much fun for your furry friend as it is for you. 

  1. Get your pet acquainted with the RV a few days before leaving by
    1. bringing him/her inside and letting him explore the space on his/her own.
    2. having pet bowls, litter box, toys, etc set up as it will be on the road so they can get familiar with where those things will be.
    3. taking them on a quick ride to introduce them to the motion and sounds of an RV.
  2. Plan for plenty of stops for your pet when traveling. Consider a pet pen that you can set up at each stop that will allow some time for exercise, a breath of fresh air and no leash. Keep a leash handy for walks and bathroom breaks. 
  3. Bring your pet’s favorite items from home such as treats, toys, beds and blankets. The familiar items and scents will help them better adjust to life on the road.
  4. Make sure your pet is up-to-date with vaccinations before departing. Have all paperwork available and organized. You may travel in areas that could expose them to new illnesses and viruses. Talk to your vet before leaving about any appropriate additional preventative measures.
  5. When planning a trip, make sure to book at a pet-friendly campground. There are plenty of online resources (state specific, AAA, etc.) to aid in your search.
  6. Be mindful of the weather, especially in extreme climates like the desert or mountains. Your dog or cat can get overheated or chilled quickly, so watch them closely and find ways to help keep them comfortable and healthy.
  7. Consider finding the closest pet care facility to your campground in case of health emergencies, and make sure they have a proper ID tag attached to their collar in case they wander off.

Try to stick to the normal routine when it comes to meals, walks, bedtime, etc.  Pets are creatures of habit and will adapt to a new space quicker if simple schedules are kept the same.
The above tips are some tried and true methods of keeping your pet happy and healthy along the way, but they are certainly not the only approaches RVers have come up with to help pets adjust. Each pet has a different personality, and with these tips, you and your pet partner will enjoy life motoring down that lonesome highway.




The content is not medical advise, nor is it intended to be a substitute for veterinary treatment or care. First, consult with your veterinarian before use.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Dog Bellies - To Rub or Not to Rub

Every dog owner and dog lover has seen a dog go nuts at having their belly rubbed.  If you have a dog that can’t resist a belly rub, it might interest you to know there are actual scientific and behavioral reasons behind it.

What is your dog showing when he requests a belly rub?

Your dog displays certain behavioral traits by asking for a belly rub. 



Here is what’s really happening:

Ecstasy
Of course, you knew this but it’s always nice to know for sure.  The kicking of the legs, the goofy, funny expression on their face and the absolute bliss demonstrated by your dog spells it out clearly.  Just like human nerves and neural connections are stimulated during a massage, your dog gets the same pleasure.

Science
Science also plays a role in why your dog likes tummy rubbing, and his appreciation for the rub is linked to the reasons he enjoys all types of petting. According to centralbarkusa.com, dogs have a specific brain neuron that responds to the stimulation of hair follicles which means when you rub his tummy, the stroking of his tiny belly hairs is actually providing a specific type of stimulation in your dog’s brain. This neurological stimulation is only possible through stroking, which makes petting, like belly rubs, uniquely satisfying.

Loyalty & Submission
Dog owners and Dog lovers know this –a dog allowing you to rub their stomach is a dog showing they feel a special connection with you.  Dogs are generally vulnerable in the rolled over the position.  This position can cause them to compromise their authority among other animals, and allow others to take over.  When a dog allows you to rub their belly, they’re showing they trust you completely. It is also an offering of love and connection.

Everyone knows dogs are the most loyal friends you can ever have. And they display it in different ways. One of the ways a dog restates his loyalty to you is by asking for a belly rub.

Because a belly rub signifies a special connection and level of trust between a dog and its owner, asking for a belly rub is also a sign of loving submission and loyalty. They want you to know they trust you and are ready to be vulnerable with you.

How to give your dog the perfect belly rub—do’s & don’ts
While a belly rub should always be administered if a dog is asking for one, there are some important dos and don’ts as well.

Never be too forceful
Studies show that if a dog rolls over on his back to offer you his belly, this is a sign of trust. But if a dog rolls over on his back instantly as soon as you walk closer, it is not a sign of trust but a sign submission which can be slightly different.
In such an instance, make the dog feel comfortable and regain his trust by talking to him –but don’t belly rub.

Be sure the dog is comfortable
It is important to check if your dog is enjoying the belly rub.  You will notice dogs often tend to viciously kick their legs while getting a belly rub. And this may lead you to believe this is an ecstatic response and increase your intensity of belly rubs.

However, this is not always true. Dogs kick their legs during a belly rub out of a physiological response that originates out of the tickling sensation they are experiencing. It is something involuntary and not in their control. So it is always important to check if the dog is still feeling comfortable with a belly rub and you are not over-doing it.

No roll over...no belly rub
And lastly, if the dog is not rolling over on its own, don’t force him or her.    In other words, the dog makes the call!


The content is not medical advise, nor is it intended to be a substitute for veterinary treatment or care. First, consult with your veterinarian before use.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Stress-Free Moving—Pet Style

According to University Hospitals of Cleveland, OH, moving ranks in the Top 5 stressful events that we will face.  But moves can be stressful for our pets, too. If you feel anxious, your pet may mirror that emotion and become extra sensitive.  Some pets will absorb their caregivers' emotions: if you feel anxious, they may be jumpy and extra-sensitive; if you feel frenzied, they may feel insecure. Out of control?  They may want to stay in bed or run under a bed.
Pet transition tips & tricks


Bring favorites. New home equals new bed, new toys, new collar, etc...right?  Wrong!  Pack a pet's favorite bed, crate, toys, food and water dishes, treats and more. Try to place them in the same places as they were in your previous home. Familiarity will help your pet feel in control and at home more quickly.

Be consistent. Keep to the routines your pet has come to expect for feeding, walking, playtime and bedtime. If your dog or cat is used to roaming the property untethered, consider a short-term leash for safety and to help them become familiar with the new boundaries.

Maximize safety. During the packing stage, the actual move and the transition in the new home, plan for your pet's safety. Some animals will be upset and scared once the boxes and suitcases take over familiar areas. They may hide or run away. Set aside a safe place where they can't get lost or hurt. Make sure your pet has identification and your contact information, and that you have copies of veterinarian records. Learn about any aggressive animals or risks in the new home, yard and neighborhood

Minimize anxiety. Beer or wine won’t work.  Some animals just need to be near you no matter what you're doing. Others may do better away from the moving madness. Consider a “safe room” or a little pet vacation away from home.   The more secure they feel, the better they'll ride out the craziness.
Most of all...

Be patient. Give them time.  Let them sniff around, and safely explore.  It’s OK if they want to hide for a while, as long as they remember the relief rules.  Promise—they’ll come out when they are ready.  Be prepared to accept their behavioral changes, including eating, barking, spraying, etc.  Yes, there may be some short-term “potty" issues.  You may see a little more protection mode.   Just like you, they need time to get used to their new home

Give ‘em a whole lotta love. A bit of extra loving will go a long way as they come to feel at home in their new surroundings. Unexpected or unwanted behaviors are likely the result of uneasiness with the change.   Difficult behaviors don't mean the pet is bad and can't change. This, too, shall pass.  Take a breath and remember all of the love of a few days ago.  Take a breath, have a seat and remember that this is all temporary.  Soon, all will be right in your home sweet home.




The content is not medical advise, nor is it intended to be a substitute for veterinary treatment or care. First, consult with your veterinarian before use.

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Whys and Wherefores of Cat Color Changes

It’s a day like any other day, except that your once cream-colored cat has taken on a brownish tone. Don’t panic, just yet.   Skin and hair color is determined by melanocyte cells in the skin and hair follicles. Those cells produce melanin which in turn produces the color. Remember what you looked like last summer; after a day at the shore? When your skin is exposed to the sun, those cells are stimulated to produce more melanin. But what can cause color changes in your cat?
 Genetics
Cats come in a kaleidoscope of colors; or lack pigment altogether in the case of albinos.    In fact, did you know that the coloration patterns in “pointed” breeds of cats (Siamese, Ragdoll, Balinese, etc.) are temperature dependent? The production of the pigment is dependent on the action of a particular enzyme and the action of that enzyme is temperature dependent. That’s why the warmer parts of a Siamese cat’s body are lighter in color while the cooler parts (like the face, feet, tail and ear tips) are more darkly pigmented.  The scientific name is Wilson’s Syndrome, according to technology.org.
Environment
Given the temperature dependent color of pointed breeds, they are especially prone to color changes associated with temperature variations that stretch out over time. Move to Arizona and you’ll likely see the points turn lighter.   And be prepared for coat color changes if your animal is shaved for surgery.  The first hair re-growth, on less insulated skin will likely be darker; subsequent hair growth should return your pet to the original color.  (Medical, Genetic & Behavioral Risk Factors of Siamese Cats by Ross D. Clark DVM)
Black cats often turn a reddish color when exposed to the sun.  If you fear it’s something more, have your vet run tests to determine if their diet is deficient in amino acids or something else.  Diet deficiencies are easily reversed with the right food balance.
Diseases
Vitiligo is a hereditary disorder in cats that causes white areas to appear as the cat matures. These spots typically occur around the nose and eyes, but are not cause for alarm.  Color changes have been reported in cats post-stressful situations (pregnancy, serious illness).   For more information related to diseases in cats, see peteducation.com

As a rule, pigment changes in your cat are most likely due to benign conditions that do not cause serious consequences to your cat’s overall health. However, underlying illness or poor nutrition needs to be addressed.  Your veterinarian will ask you questions as part of your cat’s evaluation.  Diagnostic tests may be necessary and, should the problem be more than benign, the owner and the doctor should respond appropriately.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always contact your veterinarian — she or he is your best defense to ensure the health of your pet.


The content is not medical advise, nor is it intended to be a substitute for veterinary treatment or care. First, consult with your veterinarian before use.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Today - February 20th is National Love Your Pet Day


Break out the treats.  Head to the pet store.   Visit the local shelter.  Today is National Love Your Pet Day.   The purpose of this holiday is to encourage pet owners to spend some time with their pets and show them the love and affection they deserve.  Dogs, cats, turtles, lizards, fish; it doesn’t matter.  It’s the day to show them just how much they mean to you.

No one knows exactly when it started but according to our research, wide-scale celebration began in the early 2000s. 

The stats will surprise you

In 2017, U.S pet owners spent almost $70 billion dollars worth of products for their pets (American Pet Products Association).  Compare that to the $41 billion spent in 2007. Want to know more about the pet industry in the United States? Then check out the following pet statistics:

Number of Households That Own a Pet (By Type. In Millions)
Dogs:     60
Cats:      47
Fish:       14.2
Birds:     8.0
Reptile: 4.7
Horses: 2.6

Number of Animals Owned in U.S (In Millions)
Fish:       158.8
Cats:      94
Dogs:     90
Birds:     20.4
Reptiles: 9.4
Horses: 7.7

The benefits will blow you away

Strengthen a child’s immune system  ̶ Studies have shown that children who live in homes with pets miss less school due to sickness than children who grow up in pet-free homes.

Lessen the chance of developing allergies Contrary to outdated myth, children in households with pets are reported to have fewer allergies.  Nowadays, several studies have shown that children in pet-friendly households lower the chances of developing related allergies by as much as 33% (National Institute of Health). You’ll want to introduce the kids to the animals as soon as possible.  If a person has already developed an allergy, the allergy can’t be reversed. 

Heart health—Another benefit to owning a pet may be improved heart health.  Studies have shown that owning a pet can lower blood pressure, triglyceride and cholesterol levels; all are contributors to the risk of heart attack

Overall fitness—This one’s so obvious.  You walk your dog 3X daily; you walk off excess weight and boost your metabolism.  The pooch is happy and you get healthy.  Win-Win! 

Don’t worry; be happy—Yes, they can be expensive.  Certainly they can be a pain in the neck.  In spite of it all, pets have been shown to turn a bad day into a beautiful one.  That’s why their presence in hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities is ever-rising.   

Make new friends, keep the old—Pets are instant icebreakers; people are just more willing to stop and chat when they see a person out with their pet.  And you’d be amazed by how often friends stop by for pet play dates.  Just one more reason to make a dog, cat, reptile or bird a part of the family. 

Celebrating National Love Your Pet Day

Stop by your local pet adoption center.  Volunteer, foster or adopt.  Animals provide love and companionship each and every day.  February 20th is your chance to return the favor. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Paying Off Loans: What Every Veterinarian Needs To Know

A veterinarian’s main concern is caring for animals. Pet owners, animal lovers, and farmers depend on these specialists to uphold animal health and well-being. Government relies on vets for research into disease, food safety and drugs. 

The last thing the student or newly-graduated vet wants to think about is paying back loans. 
Much like human medical school, veterinary school costs are staggering.  According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), 2016 veterinary graduates have a mean student debt of $141,000. 

Fortunately, there are programs that can help with educational debt—veterinary student loan forgiveness and repayment programs.  Here are just a few to consider:

U.S. veterinary student loan forgiveness and repayment programs

The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP), authorized by the National Veterinary Medical Services Act (NVMSA), helps qualified veterinarians offset a significant portion of the debt incurred in pursuit of their veterinary medicine degrees in return for their service in certain high-priority veterinary shortage situations.

To receive this award, you must agree to serve at least three years in a region with a veterinarian shortage. The type and amount of work you do for the yearly award depends on the area where you work. Note that this program focuses primarily on veterinary medicine for livestock raised for food.
 You may receive up to $25,000 of your student loan debt per year. 

For more info:  nifa.usda.gov

State-by-state veterinary student loan repayment assistance programs
Some states (not all) offer repayment assistance.  Note that even in states where legislation was enacted to establish these programs, funding needs to be appropriated. You’ll need to contact the specific programs to find out if they are currently funded and operational.

For more info: avma.org

Army Health Professions Loan Repayment Program
The Army offers a loan repayment program for a variety of health professionals, including veterinarians. Both active duty and reservists are eligible. 

If you are on active duty, you can receive up to $120,000 over three years through the Active Duty Health Professions Loan Repayment Program. If you’re in the reserves, you can receive $50,000 in student loan repayment over three years.

For more info:  military.com OR goarmy.com

Faculty Loan Repayment Program

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) offers loan repayment to those interested in pursuing a career as a faculty member at a health professions school.  The Faculty Loan Repayment Program (FLRP) helps recruit and retain health professions faculty members by encouraging students to pursue faculty roles in their respective health care fields.

Loan payment assistance up to $40,000; Funding to offset the tax burden may be possible.

For more info:  bhw.hrsa.gov

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program forgives the remaining balance on Direct Loans after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer.  Eligible jobs are available for veterinarians in government, nonprofit, and military organizations.

For more info:  studentaid.ed.gov

Veterinary medicine is a fulfilling career; the chief reward is the contribution to animal health.  We suggest that you explore all repayment options, including private funding and debt consolidation.





Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Wonderful World of Wildlife Rehabilitation – Part I

There’s so much more to being a wildlife rehabilitator than a simple love of wildlife.  Wildlife rehabilitators provide treatment and care to injured, sick or orphaned native species until they are well enough to be released.

Responsibilities
According to the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (NWRA), the primary duty of a wildlife rehabilitator is to examine injured wildlife and provide medical care and therapy to help them recover to the point at which they can be released. Typical duties may include feeding, cleaning cages, record keeping, accounting, fundraising, answering phone calls about injured animals and educating the public.
The wildlife rehabilitator should have a good working knowledge of wound management, fluid treatment, the nutritional needs of various species, and humane restraint and capture procedures.
Depending on their geographic location, rehabilitators may work with many species including deer, raccoons, woodpeckers, eagles, hawks, pelicans, herons, turtles, snakes, seals, hummingbirds, ducks, owls, bats, frogs, ferrets, geese, and swans.
Career Options
Wildlife rehabilitators can work for various governmental agencies, nonprofit groups, zoos, and humane societies.  They may also have another primary occupation, working as a veterinarian, veterinary technician, zoologist, or biologist.
Rehabbers can elect to specialize or work with a variety of species.  Some rehabilitators are involved with specialized emergency response teams that travel to areas where animals are in distress. The areas to which they are dispatched often include locations affected by oil spills, hurricanes, or wildfires.
Here’s a bullet list of the career opportunities available for wildlife rehabbers, courtesy of the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council:

  • Wildlife rehabilitators
  • Marine mammal strandings
  • Education Coordinators
  • Wildlife Rehabilitation managers
  • Volunteer coordinators
  • Museum educators
  • Raptor rehabilitators
  • Animal care technicians
  • Nutritionists
  • Wildlife educators
  • Oil program coordinators
  • Animal hospital managers
  • Veterinary directors
  • Veterinarians
  • Veterinary technicians


Training & Licensing
Wildlife rehabilitators must be licensed by the state and/or federal government to work in the field. There are many rules governing the care and capture of wildlife. You will need to get in touch with the appropriate agency to obtain the necessary permits. The best place to start seeking advice on the permit issue is generally the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Many wildlife rehabilitators have a degree in biology, animal behavior, animal science, or zoology; though a college degree is not required to work in this field. They also usually initially intern with experienced wildlife rehabilitator to gain a good foundation of hands-on experience. Volunteering with a wildlife veterinarian or at a large wildlife rehabilitation facility is also a great way to learn.
The International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC) offers professional certification to those who pass the Certified Wildlife Rehabilitator (CWR) exam. Recertification is required every two years and is achieved through continuing education credits at seminars, conferences, and training classes.
Salary
Many wildlife rehabilitators work from home and receive little or no financial compensation. Volunteer positions with nonprofit organizations are also common.
For wildlife rehabilitators that are employed by an organization, salary is usually in the $25,000 to $35,000 range. Ask someone in the field and you’ll hear “I’m not in it for the money. The reward is in the release of a healthy animal.”
Salary can vary widely, depending on experience, geography, skill sets, etc.  SimplyHired.com reports an average salary of $51,000 for managers and/or directors; Indeed.com cites salaries as high as $90,000.
Employment Outlook
Wildlife rehabilitation is one of the more recently established animal career options and has expanded to include more paying positions in recent years. According to NWRA surveys, demand for wildlife rehabilitation services has steadily increased throughout the years and is expected to continue to grow.
Next Month: Dealing with Sadness, FAQs, etc.


The content is not medical advise, nor is it intended to be a substitute for veterinary treatment or care. First, consult with your veterinarian before use.