Hans and Sienna – Pets of the Month – May 2017

Hans and Sienna

Q: If your cats had to pick 3 things to bring to a deserted island, what would they be?

Hans: “a map of the island, a star chart and 15 yards of 22-gauge bronze wire to keep me company or to mold into a fishing net”

Sienna: “eye liner, earrings and a phone so I can talk to mommy when Hans is boring me”

Q: If your cats had a tagline, what would it be?

Hans: “I’m a philosopher, a realist, but also a dreamer and a lover!”

Sienna: “Some people just like me for my good looks, but there’s a heart of gold under this beautiful fur coat.”

Q: What are your cats favorite TV show?

Hans: “Sienna and I abstain from TV, but we listen to hours of NPR. One of our favorite shows is On Point with Tom Ashbrook. He has a smart and compassionate voice, and although I’ve never laid eyes on him, I’d let him pet me. Sienna and I need to know what’s going on in the world, which can be depressing at times. Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me is our weekly uplift.”

Sienna: “I enjoy watching the birds and cars go by on the eight TVs we have in our home.”

Q: What are your cats currently day dreaming about?

Hans: “Frolicking in an expansive grassy (catnip filled) field with butterflies”

Sienna: “Playing tennis with diamonds and pearls on a court made of crinkly gold foil”

Q: If your cats were to have a career, what would they be?

Hans:  “After five lives spent teaching astronomy at NYU, I’ve decided to focus my next two lives as a botanist before devoting my remaining two lives as the first feline astronaut on the Mars One mission.”

Sienna: “Absolutely without a doubt, a screen actress. Think: Elizabeth Taylor. Obviously!”

Q: Tell us why you have the best cats ever.

Hans: “My mommy is the best because when I want to play hide-and-go-seek she never grows tired of the game. We chase each other all over the apartment. When she goes to work, I wait at the door for her. She built a raised ledge so that I can see her when she walks up the steps. I give her the warmest greeting and let her scratch my back, no matter how long she’s been gone. I enjoy making funny faces and hearing her laugh. We like to dance while listening to her Spotify mixes. Sometimes she lets me sit on the porch with her. I know not to go running, and that’s why she lets me keep her company while she tends to her garden.”

Sienna: “I never pass up the opportunity to cuddle with mommy. She likes to use my belly as a pillow and I purr for hours. I taught her how to play fetch with my favorite toy – a simple straw, or really anything tubular. She doesn’t mind it that I like to follow her around, like everywhere, seriously. I think I’m a good helper in the studio. Sometimes she even takes me on adventures in the cat backpack. We go riding around on her bicycle. When I hear mommy’s alarm go off, I knead her belly to help her get up, since I know how much she hates mornings. We have a special secret language so I can tell her secrets that I don’t want Hans to know. She’s pretty much the best.”

Tips to make an emergency clinic visit less stressful

low stress vet clinic images

No one ever wants to be the one taking their pet to the emergency clinic. During a recent relief shift at a local veterinary emergency clinic, I decided to compile some tips that could help decrease some of the stress, should you find your pet needing after-hours care.  We are fortunate in the Charleston area to have several great emergency facilities available for our pets after regular business hours.  The level of care you’ll find from these enthusiastic doctors and technicians working in a state-of-the-art 24-hour facility when your pet has a serious sudden illness can greatly exceed the care that I was able to provide after graduation while providing “on-call” care for a small animal practice in rural Georgia.  As excellent as that care is and the comfort you can take in knowing your pet is in the right place, seeing your pet sick and in the hospital can be stressful.  

Here are some tips to make your emergency clinic visit less stressful and more successful:

  1. If your pet has a chronic illness, grab his/her medications as you head out the door. 

    Unless your pet has been a direct transfer to the emergency clinic from your regular veterinary clinic or has been seen at the emergency/specialty center in the past, the emergency clinic is likely not going to have copies of your pet’s records from your regular veterinarian.  This includes any medications, any previous laboratory work, and any history of preventative care (vaccinations, heartworm testing, etc.).  I jump with joy when a client starts bringing out her pet’s pill vials from her purse during the exam, as I now know that I am not going to be prescribing any medication that could have a drug interaction with the pet’s usual medications.  Bonus points if you can keep a folder handy with recent laboratory results too, as this could possibly save you some money in diagnostics to be completed.  If laboratory work is determined to be needed to be repeated, those copies of past lab work can also serve as a vitally important baseline to help determine the severity of your pet’s current illness and aid in establishing a prognosis for further treatment.

  1.  Don’t give any medication before arrival without talking to the emergency clinic staff first, even if it is labeled “over the counter”.

    The biggest culprit is usually aspirin; owners seeing their pet in discomfort try to make their pet comfortable by administering an aspirin first and then decide later to take their pet to the emergency clinic when the pain still persists.  I have had a pet present for a mild lameness of minimal concern, only to have to hospitalize her for a potential ibuprofen toxicity secondary to the advil the owner gave the pet at home to to try to help with the limp.  The most frustrating aspect about these human pain medications is that they can have potentially harmful side effects when combined with medications that we would routinely use in the emergency clinic for pain treatment.  Therefore, my treatment options for making your pet comfortable become immediately limited, and I also have to worry about any adverse (especially gastrointestinal) side effects that an aspirin given at home may cause.

  1.  Please, please, please don’t lie!

    I understand that people don’t lie to be mean.  They know something happened at home (the pet ate something dangerous, someone accidentally stepped on the puppy, etc.) and they are embarrassed or afraid to let the veterinary staff know.  Your veterinary staff understands that accidents happen in the home.  Their main goal is to get your pet diagnosed and comfortable as quickly as possible, and the pets can’t talk to us to tell us what medication they got into and ate 30 minutes prior to when you found them sick at home.   Withholding information can be dangerous (and expensive!), because it can take me down the wrong track of accidentally misdiagnosing your pet.

  1.  Keep your pet’s preventative care with your regular veterinarian up to date.

    Over the past six months of emergency clinic shifts, I have treated dogs with deep bleeding wounds secondary to flea infestations, have had to euthanize dogs in congestive heart failure due to heartworm disease, and had to hospitalize lethargic and dehydrated puppies due to having a high burden of intestinal parasites.  All three of these diseases are caused by parasites and are able to be prevented by a variety of parasite preventatives sold by your regular veterinarian at a much cheaper price when administered prior to clinical signs starting.  Another disease commonly diagnosed in the emergency room is parvo virus.  This highly contagious virus can be deadly to puppies.  Treatment in the emergency clinic can be easily over $1,000.00, but the preventative vaccination can be started at your regular veterinarian for under $30.  Spending a little bit of money on preventative care can easily save you hundreds of dollars in the future.

  1.  Come prepared to pay the bill.

    This is always the most delicate subject when I speak with my clients in day practice about the benefits of sending their pet to the emergency clinic for overnight care.  Usually, I am asked if the visit will be “expensive”.  I suppose it all involves how you look at it.  Many clients today are demanding human grade diagnostics and care for their sick pet members.  Veterinary emergency clinics are able to provide something very comparable to human care at an absolute fraction of the cost.  So, a life-saving surgery that might cost my husband $50,000-$100,000 in hospital bills may only cost $3,500-$5,000 for your dog.  This is actually pretty amazing to me.  Still, we all understand that $3,500 can be difficult/impossible for some to acquire in a weekend.  Without the government assistance or health insurance agreements that human hospitals may receive, veterinary clinics must require funds up front at the time of service.  There really is no other way they can operate, pay their hard working staff, pay their overhead, and stay in business.  Acquiring pet insurance while your pet is healthy (before the emergency) is a great idea.  I tell clients you should either do that or (if you are a good planner with excellent self discipline) store a set amount each month in a bank account of some form to save for such an emergency.  If you are going out of town and having a pet sitter watch your pet, arrange an emergency plan with the sitter concerning who is permitted to make medical decisions and payments, should your pet become ill.

I have been asked by some why I continue to relinquish a valuable weekend to go in to work these emergency clinic shifts that can run into the late evening.  The answer is that I love it!  The doctors and technical staff that I have the pleasure to work with there are so skilled and passionate about their jobs that I believe experience alongside them make me a better practitioner while at my day job.  I hope you never need to go to the emergency clinic with your pet, but should you, I hope the advice in this blog help make your visit a little a smoother.

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Janette Blackwood, DVM at Charleston Harbor Veterinarians

Janette Blackwood, DVM

Frustrated with Fleas?!

Downtown Charleston has a problem…FLEAS! The low country is prime real estate for fleas, but downtown has more than its fair share! Many clients have come in seeking relief for their itchy, uncomfortable pets since we opened our doors. Ridding your environment of fleas can be a frustrating endeavor – especially when it is difficult to control the environment outside your home. Strays, squirrels, and the dog next door may constantly infest the area with fleas. There are a few tricks of the trade that can help you get control through!

The need to know info:

1. Adult fleas like to stay on the animal, therefore you MUST TREAT THE PET. ALL the pets!
First, you must prevent those fleas from biting, laying eggs, and surviving on your pet. Fleas will constantly jump on your pet in the yard, during walks, and at the dog park. There are many oral and topical products available. Talk to your vet about the safest and best option for your lifestyle and for your pet. Some pets have an allergy to the flea saliva so even one flea bite can lead to intense itching. Consistent and appropriate flea prevention will help to reduce the discomfort! And if you only treat your dog but your roommate has a cat…your flea problem will continue. Everyone needs safe flea prevention. (Remember – not all over the counter flea prevention is safe for cats – read the label, and NEVER apply a dog product on a cat!)

2. Flea eggs are laid by those adult fleas on your pet and then quickly fall off. They land wherever the pet spends the most time (cushions, bedding, carpets), therefore you MUST TREAT THE ENVIRONMENT. 90% of the flea population is around the home, not on the pet!

a.Remove all toys, clothing, and storage from floors, under beds, and in closets to allow the areas to be treated.
b. Remove pets, pet food, bowls, fish or snake tanks from the area to be treated.
c. Wash and dry all pet bedding, throw rugs, and blankets.
d. Vacuum the environment daily for several days after the home is treated. The goal is to remove as many flea eggs and larvae as possible to prevent  them from hatching into adults down the road. Remember to vacuum under cushions, in corners of the room, and under all furniture. Flea eggs and    larvae like dark, warm areas! Be sure to empty the bag/canister after each vacuuming session.
e. Apply a safe insecticide to the indoor and outdoor environments. Discuss options with your veterinarian or your exterminator. People and pets       should remain away from treated areas until the product is dry. Remember to address those areas where your pet hides or sleeps such as under the bed! Areas of the yard where the pet plays and sleeps as well as areas under porches will need to be treated too.

3. Those eggs that do survive will hatch into larvae which transform into pupae in protective cocoons. The cocoons protect the pupae from insecticides for up to 4 weeks or longer – therefore treatment MUST BE CONSISTENT and on-going. Even after treating the pet and the environment you may see a few fleas as they emerge from the cocoon and hop a ride on your pet! Don’t worry, they won’t last long! Make sure to repeat the environment cleaning in 2 to 4 weeks to capture each and every cycle of the fleas.

-Dr. Kahuda

 

What does your dog like to do?

By: Janette Blackwood, DVMJanette Blackwood, DVM with pup

My first couple of years out of veterinary school, I worked out in a military town in Georgia. One day, I had a client come in with a new adult shetland sheepdog rescued from the shelter. Even though it was about a decade ago, I still remember reading the paperwork filled out by the original owner at the time the dog was surrendered to the shelter. The paperwork had a list of the standard questions you would see on these forms, such as “Is this dog on heartworm and flea prevention?” or “Is he good with small children?” But, there was one question and answer that really stuck out to me, because it really made me think about the bonds (or lack of bonds) that we form with our pets:

Question: “What does he/she enjoy doing?”
Answer provided by owner surrendering pet: “I don’t know.”

The relationship (or lack thereof) between an animal and a pet can be so valuable, that it actually has a medical term taught in veterinary colleges and recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA): “the human­-animal bond”. The AVMA’s website defines the human-­animal bond as “a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviors that are essential to the health and well ­being of both.” The definition further goes on to state that a veterinarian should work to maximize the potential of this bond between their clients and pets. As a new graduate, my mind was constantly in a whirl to make sure that I was keeping my animal patients’ bodies physically healthy. Were all my dog and cat patients on parasite prevention monthly and properly vaccinated to keep them safe from infectious diseases? Were my senior pets comfortable in managing their arthritis? And, were my senior sets treated appropriately for their periodontal disease, so that they would continue to eat without pain? But, reading that question from that shelter’s paperwork really got me thinking about wondering if I was doing enough to make sure that my pets were also happy in their daily lives, thereby building that human­-animal bond.

At the time that I was meeting that newly adopted Sheltie, my own little white, fluffy mutt Radar was a young guy full of tremendous energy. And, even though we had only had him for a few months, I knew for sure how to answer the question: “What does he enjoy doing?” He has always loved the game of chase with anyone throwing a squeaky toy. He loves long walks in any new area; bonus points if there are random tuffs of grass for him to mark as his own. The end to a perfect day full of activity would consist of a quiet evening with a Greenie chew and maybe a little tomato for dessert after eating his dry kibble. And, if you were sitting on the floor, he can always find a way to position himself directly in front of you in the perfect location for a gaining a back rub.

As Radar and I both grow older and life finds me and my family somehow busier than ever, I do have to make myself stop and reassess: Am I still providing Radar what he needs to be happy? He is so quiet; he rarely complains. At these times, I usually stop what I am doing and grab his harness and leash. Then, we head outside for a walk through the neighborhood, making sure to walk a little more slowly in the areas with tall tufts of grass.

If you feel inclined, comment below on what you feels gives your pets meaning and happiness in life. It might give others ideas of activities to do with their pets, especially as the nice weather is starting to return.

Janette Blackwood, DVM

Website to the AVMA description of The Human­-Animal Bond.
https://www.avma.org/kb/resources/reference/human­animal­bond/pages/human­animal­bond­avma.aspx