Uncategorized

One Month in to Vet School

CSU PVM CubeThe first few weeks of my first year of vet school have passed by in a whirlwind. I moved on August 12th; one week later, I was at orientation with 137 colleagues, another week, and we were deep in the throes of anatomy, histology and immunology.

One of the neatest things in the past few weeks was the orientation at Pingree Park, where we quickly got comfortable with each other with team building exercises that included shoving each other through spider webs, and building a mouse trap by consensus. Day two, the CEO of the American Animal Hospital Association spoke to us about Professionalism, and we talked about Feelings. I had my first glimpse of the caliber of my colleagues.

Another favorite event leading up to our first week of lecture was the coating ceremony, where we received our lab coats for Anatomy. During the ceremony, they read a short biography about each student. It was certainly humbling – one person already has their PhD, another worked to rehabilitate Michael Vick’s dogs, another gathered squirrel feces for the NIH, and yet another was the reigning 200 meter dog paddle champion at his local pool! It seems that I am in pretty great company.

The first week of lecture was no filler – we jumped right into hind limb anatomy, the histology of the integumentary system, and the innate immune system. At the end of this second week, we were asked to fill out a form that asked what we were most surprised about after the first week of class. For me, it was the amount that we had learned already, and the enthusiasm of our professors, the staff, and every single vet student I’d met. I’ve spent my off time making sure that Cao’s getting enough enrichment, going to wet labs – I got to practice artificial insemination of mares and  physical exams on camelids and a goat – and climbing up Colorado’s rocks.

Vet students go hiking.

Now, after a month of classes, we’re three exams in (including a three hour Anatomy exam). I was elected SCAVMA rep for our class, and if I wanted to, I could be going to a different club activity almost every night of the week. I love vet school even more than I imagined I would. The unifying theme for our class has to be everyone’s gratitude – we are all so excited to be here. Well that, and we all love goats.

She is lying on the absolute highest point. Naturally.

She is lying on the absolute highest point of Greyrock. Naturally.

Standard
Animal Care, How To:

How to Move with Your Pet

How Cao feels about moving: worried and shed-y.

How Cao feels about moving: worried and shed-y.

Cao has been stress shedding profusely since she saw the first cardboard box come out. This is probably the most organized move I’ve ever done, and while it means that I’ll show up for vet school knowing exactly where my Veterinary Virology book, Carhartt bibs, and shampoo are, it also means that the stress of packing has just been spread out over a longer period for both me, and Cao.

Here are some ideas on how to minimize the stress of a move on your and your pets:

1) Start acclimating your pet to kennel travel.

Not everyone wants their pet to be kenneled while driving, but it add another arrow to your quiver of skills, both for moving, and in the case of an emergency. Begin the process well before your move by procuring an adequately-sized, hard sided kennel. The ASPCA has a great resource for how to crate train your dog over a weekend. Then, move the crate to the vehicle, and practice crating while on the move (but never leave your pet in a hot car). If you’ve got a kitty, it’s a good idea to harness train them as well.

2) Bring some easily accessible familiar items.

Your pet should have a designated space during the move – a bed, blanket, kennel, etc. Work with your pet to establish it as “their place” at home. A favorite toy can provide some security as well.

Smorgasbord (You're welcome, Nature's Variety).

Smorgasbord (You’re welcome, Nature’s Variety).

3) Now’s not the time to change foods.

Make sure you have enough of your pet’s current food to last for a week or two after arrival – or check with local pet supply stores to make sure it will be available there.

4) Enrich!

The day before the move, block out some time for you and your pet to get some exercise. A llllooooonnnngggg walk for you and your dog, or some laser/feather flinger time for your kitty. It’ll provide some normalcy, tucker them out a little and help them (and you!) relax. I’ve also increased Cao’s bone time. The day of the move, make sure their morning activities are as uninterrupted as possible.

5) Paperwork.

Request veterinary records for your animals from all vets you’ve seen. To cross interstate borders, your animal should have proof of current rabies vaccination. In case of emergency boarding, I recommend that dogs are currently vaccinated for Bordetella and canine distemper, and cats should be vaccinated for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and feline distemper. Keep the phone number of your current vet handy, and research veterinary options in your new hometown – it’s a good idea to establish a relationship with a vet before a crisis occurs.

6) Pet-proof your travel plans.

Make sure you’ve budgeted time for walks, confirmed that pets are welcome at any hotels along the way, and brought along a cat litter box, if necessary (Xerox box tops work great as a portable, disposable solution.)

Cao's suitcase.

Cao’s suitcase.

7) On sedation…

I think that most travel anxiety can be eliminated with a combination of careful acclimation and exercise, but if you and your vet decide that sedation is required, make sure that you do a test run with the drug at home before the move. You do not want to discover that your pet reacts poorly 150 miles from the nearest vet, or in the middle of the night at a hotel.

Now, to continue packing, while Cao sighs heavy-heartedly. T minus 44 hours! Got some additional advice for moving with pets, or other good resources? Leave it in the comments!

Standard
Animal Care, How To:

How to Assemble a Canine First Aid Kit

Canine First Aid Kit

Earlier this week, some friends and I went camping in the Crazy Mountains. There was a 3:5 ratio of canines to humans (unusually low for our group of friend) – still, we managed to talk about our pets for around 75% of the time. One of the topics covered? Our need for canine first aid kit. I decided to reference the list that Dr. Gustafson and I had compiled a year ago when we considered creating our own for the clinic.

The list below should provide you with a starting point for putting together your own first aid kit.

I’d also recommend visiting with your veterinarian about how to use each of the items below at your next wellness visit.

1. A Thermometer
A healthy dog’s body temperature is between 100°F and 102.5°F ( 38°C to 39.2°C). Don’t forget, temperature is taken rectally!

2. Tweezers

3. Blunt-end Scissors
For trimming hair away from wounds, and cutting wraps.

4. Triple Antibiotic Ointment
The same stuff you use on yourself!

5. Sterile Saline Solution
For irrigating eyes and wounds. NOT contact solution or other eye drops.

6. Electrolyte Tablets (Canine Specific)

7. A 10cc Syringe
For irrigating wounds

8. Alcohol Wipes
For cleaning wounds. Steal ‘em from your own first aid kit.

9. Hydrogen Peroxide
Make sure to store in a light-proof container. Hydrogen peroxide can  be used to induce vomiting, but this should only be performed with the direction of your veterinarian. Can also be used to clean wounds.

10. Sterile Gauze Pads

11. 4″ Cotton Roll

12. 2″ & 4″ Vetwrap
Any self-adhesive works. Be sure not to wrap too tight, and to remove immediately if swelling occurs on either side of the wrap.

13. First Aid for the Active Dog, by Sid Gustafson, DVM

14. The numbers of your veterinarian, the nearest emergency vet, as well as a list of any medications that your dog takes.

In addition to the items above, talk with your veterinarian about including:

13. 81mg Enteric-coated Aspirin
Or another fever-reducer/NSAID more appropriate for your dog.

For a great article about assessing the seriousness of your dogs condition, check out Examining Your Dog: Determining the Seriousness of Injury and Illness, an article by Dr. Gustafson.

Any additions or experiences compiling your own canine first aid kit? Share in the comments!

Standard
Pet Projects

Weekly Pet Project: Paws up!

Cao conveniently and compactly stacks her paws for examination.

Cao conveniently and compactly stacks her paws for examination.

If I lived in a major city, I would probably be one of those people who wiped their pet’s paws at the door. You see, I have this thing about bringing feces into the house. It’s pretty specific to human and canine feces, although I’m impartial to raccoon as well. Herbivore manure? No problem. When I worked as a wrangler, I relished watching the faces of children register that everything they were walking on was probably poo.

Pardon me for the tangent – the reason I brought up paw wiping is because one of the best things about paw wiping would be that I would routinely get a good look at my pet’s paws. Most pet owners that I know (other than my dear friend Jessica, who routinely smells her pet’s feet) rarely get a good look.

This week, I’d like you to pick up the foot and get down. Take each of your animal’s feet/hooves and examine them. Look for cracking, uneven wear, signs of compulsive licking/stomping. For dogs and cats, look between the pads. Examine each claw. Horse owners should explore all around the frog and coronet band with their hands (no tools!). The hoof wall should be smooth and regular. Feel the different textures of the hoof/paw, and take note of any areas to watch. Don’t attempt to clip/trim anything – just look.

Flat works well when examining dogs.

Flat works well when examining dogs.

Acclimating your pet to extensive foot examination  sets them up for successful trips to the vet, as well as increases your ease of handling were there an issue that needed to be treated. Routine foot handling means that when it becomes necessary to trim claws/hooves, you’re only asking them to let you perform one unfamiliar task. This time of year in Montana, we see abscesses when awns or cactus needles become wedged between the pads. Examining your pet’s paws after a stroll through the grass/field of prickly pear could prevent one!

If you’re able, start handling your animals’ feet in a variety of settings from the time their young. This is one area where equestrians have proven themselves ahead of the curve, probably because the stakes are a little higher when picking up the leg of a 1000 pound animal. If they can do it, you can too!

Got a great paw/hoof photo? Share below!

Standard
Animal Care

Hot Hot Heat!

Summer has reached it’s peak here in Montana, with temperatures in the 90s, even up here at 5500 feet! We took a trip to Missoula this past weekend, and despite the high temperatures and the action campaigns by every animal care/advocacy group I know of, I STILL saw dogs left in cars in the broad sunlight.

One of the great things about living in a place where people are so connected with their animals is that people tend to want to take their animals with them everywhere. Lucky dogs get taken on hikes, vacations, to float the river, or maybe they just come to town for a quick trip to the groomer, or a wellness visit at the vet. Unfortunately, that also means that our canine companions might suffer if we feel we the need to multi-task, running into the grocery store to grab some last minute grub to grill.

There’s just no reason to take the risk of leaving your dog in the car. To help us understand why, Dr. Ernie Ward recently posted this video about what it’s like to be locked in a vehicle for 30 minutes with the windows cracked.

If you’re skeptical, I suggest you subject yourself to the same conditions you expect your dog to endure, much like Dr. Ward did. If you need to find a fur coat, check your local thrift shop.

Alternatives to leaving your dog in the car while you run in:

- Train your dog to tie, then tie them outside in the shade (bonus points for providing water)!

- Ask if leashed pets are welcome inside! (Not likely for food/eating establishments, but worth a try everywhere else.

- Get a friend to walk them outside!

- Skip the errand, take your pet home, and come back later.

Other ways to help prevent heatstroke in pets:

- If you’re a shop owner, consider posting a sign that says “leashed pets welcome!” Increased business, free pets, and it feels good to know that you’re keeping pets cool.

- If you see a pet locked in a car, call the non-emergency number for your local police. I recently checked with my local police department to see if this was correct protocol, and they confirmed. This goes for children as well. Do not feel guilty about making the call – animals die of heatstroke in cars daily.

- Not willing to make a call? Print out the file below, cut it in half, and carry it with you to place under the windshield wipers of cars with dogs inside. If you choose this option, I suggest monitoring the vehicle until the owner returns to make sure that the situation doesn’t become serious.

HOT DOG

If you decide to remove the dog from the vehicle because it is visibly distressed, make sure that you have witnesses that can confirm that you weren’t trying to steal their leftover wrappers, and for your safety.

Still not convinced that leaving dogs in the car is a bad idea? Maybe you’ve heard about children dying of hyperthermia when left in vehicles. If you haven’t, this article is enough to turn your stomach, and has some significant information about just how quickly cars act as greenhouses.

I promise the next blog post will be more fun.

Standard