National Veterinary Technician Week

(Kapoodle) Hey Kit!  How’s it going? I’ve been a bit lonely lately, what with the kids back in school and all.  All this talk about homework and studying hard so that they can get a good job has got me to thinking…what is a “good” job?  I’m pretty happy with the work I do here so I guess I have a good job, it never hurts to consider your options though.

(Kit) A good job?  Please Kapoodle, tell me exactly what kind of “work” it is you do?  All I see is a bunch of laying around and knocking things over.  Why are dogs so clumsy anyway?  You could learn a lot from a cat you know!  The only time I knock things down is when I want to, usually when my humans are late with dinner.

(Kapoodle) What do ya mean, I don’t do any work?  I fertilize the yard, I help clear the table and wash the dishes when my family is finished eating, and…all that knocking stuff down gives them something to do so they don’t get bored.  I’ve often heard my people say “Thank goodness Kapoodle spread these tissues all around, I didn’t know what I was going to do with that extra 5 minutes!” Next week I’m going to do some gardening.  You wait and see how excited they’ll be?!

Anyway, I got to thinking about what other jobs are out there that might be fun and then I ran into my friend Hairy Pawter.  You know Hairy, he’s the Puli with the crazy dreadlocks.  Well, turns out Hairy was over at Harbour Cities Veterinary Hospital the other day for his yearly check up.  He said there was quite a commotion going on because one of his favourite people, Toni Martin, was receiving an award from the Eastern Veterinary Technician’s Association.  Toni is what they call an RVT, or Registered Veterinary Technician.  Now, you’re probably wondering what that means, I know I was.  The closest comparison I can give you is that an RVT is a lot like a human nurse.  The main difference is that RVTs need to be skilled in all aspects of patient care such as medicine, surgery, radiology, dentistry, diagnostic testing (like looking at poop, which doesn’t sound so bad to me), etc.  Hairy said that over the past few years Toni has taken blood from him, trimmed his nails, given him medication (that he really didn’t like), took pictures of his stomach that time he ate the corn cob and couldn’t stop throwing up, and lots of other things.  He said that Toni was responsible for carrying out a lot of the veterinarian’s treatment plan. 

It was starting to sound like an interesting and difficult job so I looked into what kind of education is needed.  It turns out there is a Veterinary Technician program right here in Nova Scotia through the Dalhousie Agricultural College.  The program takes two years to complete and involves spending some time at the Atlantic Veterinary College in PEI as well as in a regular veterinary clinic.  Students who graduate from this, or any other accredited Veterinary Technician program, can write an exam to become “registered” and carry the title of RVT.  Then, every year they have to take some continuing education courses to stay current and maintain their registered status.  It’s great to know there are some standards in place to ensure those caring for us are well trained!

It sounds to me like technicians are the veterinarian’s right hand.  I bet it is a really challenging and rewarding career.  I guess that would make it a “good” job.  It also sounds like a lot more work than pulling up tulips and sorting through the garbage.  I think I’ll keep my job.  Afterall, what would my owners do with their extra time if I wasn’t here?

On the road again… Happy Tails on the Trails, Rails and in the Air

“Where are we going?  Is it the last train to Barksville? Are we flying to Meow-mi? I do hope we are going to Paw Springs”, said Liz Claybone, the beautiful Cocker Spaniel, as she and Catrina, the elegant Russian blue cat, were chatting about their summer vacations with their families.  They were very excited that their families are planning to take them along on their trips – they used to always be left home but now, they travel much more.  “Why was it that in the old days, we never got to go anywhere?”, asked Liz.  “Times have changed”, purred Catrina.  “So many more humans want to take their pets with them now – and it is a lot easier than it used to be.  There are a few important things to know though, to help make the trip better for the humans and for us,” she continued.  “I like everything to be purrrrr-fect”.

Here are some of her tips:

Where are you going? – “Lots of hotels, beaches and parks like us – and we can go there any time and we might even be allowed to run around without a leash.”  Liz Claybone added that she had been to a few places where leashes were required – and even some where pets were not allowed at all!  Seriously!  She was quite miffed about that but said that she was so glad that her humans checked first so there were no surprises – it would have been awful to go to a park and then not be allowed in!  That is when some humans forget about what happens when pets are left in cars… it can get much too hot.  That’s another whole story…

Catrina, who has travelled across Russia and to many other countries, said that it is also important for humans to check on customs or immigration rules.  That means knowing about the rules when you cross a border into another country.  Not every country has the same rules about pets as Canada and so humans need to know these rules.  Catrina was stuck in quarantine once because her humans didn’t have all the paperwork they needed – “Quarantine means you have to stay with the government people for awhile until they are sure you are not sick – it was just awful… I missed my family – it was worse than being stuck in Siberia” she said!  Fortunately, her humans learned about checking with the consulates of other countries she has visited.  They knew about the vaccines she needed – and had all the paperwork ready.  They also learned about parasites, those awful little bugs, which are different in other countries.  Liz said that on one of her family’s drives to Paw Springs in California, her dog food was taken at the border because her humans didn’t have the label from the bag to show the ingredients and country of origin.  Very important!  “They forgot that paperwork but they did have my rabies certificate”, she said.  “Fortunately, they remembered to take me to the vet to get that before we left or who knows what might have happened!?”

Bring your ID – Always keep an identification tag with up to date contact information on your pet’s collar and consider microchipping them in case they lose their collar.   Liz and Catrina said they both have microchips – “I was surprised”, said Liz – “it didn’t hurt a bit!  I saw the veterinarian coming with that needle and was worried but it was fine.  And my owner’s information is on a computer database and so if I get lost anywhere, a veterinarian can wave a magic wand over me and find out everything.  It is great!”  If you’re heading far from home, it’s a good idea to also attach a temporary tag with your cell phone number and address of your destination. It wouldn’t hurt to keep a photo handy.

Secure them for the ride – Airlines, trains and ships have rules about shipping crates for cargo or “in cabin” carriers. Liz said that it is so important to check their policies and make reservations early.  Once, she said, we got the airport, and my crate was not suitable.  We had to get a new one right away.  Another time, the airline said that only one animal could be in the compartment at a time – “fortunately,” said Liz, “it was me!” 

Catrina said that she heard about a dog who was hurt in a car accident from flying through the air from the back seat – he hit the dash and he hurt a human too!  “How awful”, said Liz.  “I have a sparkly harness that has a slot for the seatbelt to go through,” she said.  “And in some vehicles, I take my carrier and nap in there – totally safe for me and my humans.” 

Keep them comfortable –Try to arrange as direct and short a journey as possible. The danger of flying is mostly the time spent on the ground while we wait to be loaded or unexpected delays. It can get really hot or really cold during these times. Most airlines will post recommendations for food and water. Liz said that her owners always freeze some water in her dish overnight so it won’t spill during loading and it melts when she needs it.

Stress and anxiety; to medicate or not to medicate? – Liz said she does not like to have any medication before flying – it makes her groggy and a bit uncoordinated and she hates that.  It also made it hard for her to breathe properly.  She says that it is always best to avoid sedating your pet for travel. 

Catrina said that her owners have discovered Feliway and she loves it!  It is a calming pheromone (that is, a smell that she notices) and she loves having it sprayed in her carrier before she travels – even in the car to go to the vet.  She also has a Thundershirt for anxiety.  She told Liz that these tight shirts make you feel like you are being gently hugged and it feels so good!  She said her humans got one for her at PetFocus and they have them for dogs too!

Consider leaving us behind – Even though pets love to be with their humans, sometimes it may be best for your pet to be left with a trusted friend, relative or boarding kennel. “Oh, so true,” said Catrina.  “Sometimes I’d rather just stay in one place and look out the window.   The cat condos at PetFocus are so great… I love staying there,” she said. 

Happy trails!!!

Additional information: Travel products www.aspca.org/shop; Canadian Food Inspection Agency www.inspection.gc.ca; www.thundershirt.com; www.feliway.com; www.dogappeasingpheromone.com

Meow, Me-OUCH! My Teeth hurt!

Crunch, crunch, “ouch!” crunch, crunch “OUCH!!”  Hi it’s Kit here.  This was me a few weeks ago when I was having lunch with my Pomeranian friend Zsa Zsa Dogbor.  Eating had become painful and was losing its appeal.  I didn’t know what was wrong but Zsa Zsa had an idea.  She felt the same way a few months ago and it turned out it was her teeth!  She suggested that I visit Dr. Woodbury and have a dental exam done.  The next day I got the news: I had a resorptive lesion, and infected gums.

“Oh Dear!” said Zsa Zsa when I told her that evening. How did Dr. Woodbury diagnose your problem? 

“Well”, I told her, “It was a wonderful visit, and thank goodness I went in”

“Cindi the Dental Technician met me at the door. After listening to my story about how painful my mouth was, she took me into the office and had a chat with me. She placed me on the exam table, turned on the light and then lifted my lip to look at my teeth.  She winced when she saw what a state my teeth were in.” 

“She told me that my bad breath was not just because I ate that piece of salmon I snuck off the owner’s plate the day before. It was much more than that.  Cats and dogs should not have bad breath, and because I did, it indicated I had infected gums. My infected gums were red and red gums HURT.”

“Then Dr. Woodbury came in to see me. He wrinkled his brow and he patted my head

 “Poor Kit’ he said “You must be in a lot of pain. It has been a few years since you had a dental cleaning. That’s what happens when you don’t have yearly dental check ups. Bad things happen to a pet’s teeth the same way they happen to other parts of a pet’s body. It’s easy to tell when a paw is sore because you start to limp. But when a tooth is sore, it’s not as obvious. You did the right thing coming in to see me today.’”

Zsa Zsa Dogbor looked very concerned when she heard what Dr. Woodbury said. 

“What did he do next?” she asked

“Well”, I told her, “He suggested that I have an anesthetic (so it wouldn’t hurt) and that he clean my teeth and get all the tartar off. Then he said he would do some x-rays so he could see underneath my gums to see if there were problems there that couldn’t be seen just by looking.” 

“So I came back in the next day and Dr. Woodbury and Cindi the Dental Technician gave me a full dental procedure. When they got a closer look at my mouth, they were able to diagnose tooth resorption. This is when a tooth is dissolving in the tooth socket. To stop the pain and cure the infection, they took out the tooth and they cleaned the socket really well. Now the infection will go away and I won’t have any more pain.”

Zsa Zsa was wide-eyed and looking at me with great concern. 

“I’m so glad that you are not hurting anymore Kit. It must have been a relief to get that taken care of. It is horrible to have a tooth ache.”

I nodded. “Thanks’ Zsa Zsa.” I said. “It was a relief to no longer have a tooth ache, but as it turned out, having an infected tooth is also serious for other reasons.  Dr. Woodbury explained that if I hadn’t gotten rid of the infection in my tooth, the infection could have spread to other parts of my body and infected my brain, my lungs, my liver, my kidneys or my heart!” That could have been a life threatening problem!”

“Oh Kit!” exclaimed Zsa Zsa with tears in her eyes. “Thank Goodness you caught it in time! I would be heart broken if anything happened to you! You’re my best friend!”

I smiled at Zsa Zsa showing her my sparkly white clean teeth. 

“Aw, gee Zsa Zsa, I love you too.” 

I told her “That’s why I wanted to thank you for sending me to Dr. Woodbury. I also want to remind you to get your dental check up done soon as well. Dr. Woodbury told me that up to 50% of cats suffer from tooth resorption at some time during their life. I know you are a dog and not a cat, but it is still really important that you go.  Periodontal disease is the most common condition diagnosed in both cats AND dogs! AND, up to 70% of dogs and 80% of cats have infected gums by two years of age! Even if you don’t have brown tartar on your teeth, your gums could be infected. So you need to make sure you get your dental check done every year. You know the old saying: ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’.

“I’ll make my appointment right away” she told me. “It’s Dental Health Month!” It’s a perfect time for me to phone PetFocus and get Dr. Woodbury to examine my teeth right away.”

It’s the Whole Kit ‘n’ Kapoodle!

Kit:  Hey Kapoodle! Guess what? We are going to be VIPs! That means Very Important Pets! We will have our own blog and it’s going to be fantastic. We will talk about all the interesting things we do when our humans aren’t around, and we won’t even get sprayed with the water bottle for it. In fact, we will share some great tips that other humans might enjoy about what we eat, how we stay healthy and even some of the naughty things you get into! Oh! I smell catnip! Woo Hoo!

Kapoodle:  That sounds like so much fun, Kit! I can just imagine that if we do well on this, we can have all the treats that we want, oh, and car rides galore. We can also talk about all our closest friends, right? They get into all sorts of trouble and that might be helpful to talk about – like eating things that they shouldn’t and not looking after their teeth properly. I can’t wait to get started Kit!  I am so excited, I could… oh oh… I think I just did… ooops.

Kit:  That is so like a dog.  You just can’t handle excitement. Well, let’s just move along and introduce ourselves – I am Kit, the gorgeous and highly intelligent mascot cat from PetFocus, and that guy over there is, well, clearly a dog.  Yes, I admit it – he is my friend, Kapoodle, and we are going to be your guides to having happy healthy pets!  Check back with us in a week or so to see what pearls of wisdom we have to share.