What really happens in “The Back” of a Veterinary Hospital?
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Most pet owners have had their animal taken to “The Back”. It’s a mysterious place in a veterinary hospital that most owners have never seen. As the doors close, pets (and owners) may become anxious and nervous about being separated from their loved ones. But what really happens in The Back?

The Back, also called “Treatment,”  is an area of the hospital where in-depth examinations and treatments happen. From a more specific examination to blood draws to anal gland expressions, it is a place for the doctor to perform their service in an efficient and thorough manner.

This is an area of the hospital that is used to examine, diagnose and treat your pet. It is larger than the common consultation room. There are generally multiple exam tables, lab machines, x-ray equipment and other devices that vets use to aid in improving your animals’ health.

In The Back there are also extra veterinary team members that hold animals still while the doctor is assessing and treating your pet. While we would all love our clients to hold their own animals, veterinary technicians are skilled in protecting your pet and the veterinarian from injury.

The treatment area can also be quieter than the rest of the clinic or hospital. This allows the veterinarian to have a closer listen to your animals heart and lungs. Being in a quiet environment may also calm your pet.

Always keep in mind that we want what’s best for your animals; their health is our priority. If you’ve never seen The Back of your veterinarian’s hospital, ask for a tour. Most hospitals are more than willing to show off where all the magic happens.

Keep Calm and Summer On: How to Keep Your Dog Cool, Comfortable and Safe this Summer
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Q: What are top three reasons people bring their dogs to the vet for during the summer?

Once the weather begins to warm up, dogs often develop skin disease. The change in weather fills the environment with pollens, fleas, and ticks which can create an array of problems with dogs’ skin. Pollens exacerbate pre-existing allergies and can lead to secondary skin infections. Fleas, in a similar fashion to allergens, cause dogs to itch and scratch, which creates red skin and patches of hair loss. Ticks are an entirely different beast. After biting a dog for as little as eight hours they can transmit deadly infectious diseases. Fortunately allergies, fleas, and ticks are all treatable or preventable.

Summer is also the time of year when we all get outdoors with our dogs. Whether you and your dog are on a jog, a hike, or swimming in the ocean, overexertion is an all-too-common reason to visit the veterinary emergency room. Humans sweat from pores throughout their entire body, but sweat plays a very small role in cooling our dogs. Instead, they control their temperatures by panting and dilating their blood vessels. These mechanisms of cooling are not as efficient as humans and can quickly lead to heat stroke. To avoid overheating, exercise your dog in the early morning or late in the evening, provide your dog with plenty of water, and make sure the temperature is cool in your home..

Viral infections are another common reason owners bring their dogs to the vet hospital in the summer. As the temperature warms up, we bring our dogs to parks, we go on vacation and board our animals, and local daycares are swarming with puppy energy. The increased contact among dogs aids in the transmission of common viruses that are spread through nasal and ocular secretions. Many of these dogs present to the vet for coughing, runny noses, and acting lethargic. Fortunately, there are vaccines available to help prevent against the common viral infections and your veterinarian will help you decide which are best for your pup based on their lifestyle.

Q: What’s your top three tips for keeping dogs safe during summer season?

The summer months are generally the busiest time of year for veterinarians. School is out, the weather is beautiful, and the dog parks are crowded. Prevention is key to keeping your dogs safe and healthy.

Flea and tick prevention is relatively affordable and easy to use. Today there are three commonly used products: a chewable tablet, a topical liquid, and a long lasting collar. For dogs that swim often, stick with the chewable tablets as they don’t wash off. Topical liquids are a great choice for dogs who spend most of their time on a leash and out of the woods. Collars are just as effective as the chewable and liquid products and last for up to 8 months.

Vaccines are critical in preventing the spread of viruses during the summer months. The Parvovirus, a deadly virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea, is all too common, yet easily prevented with a sound vaccine protocol. Canine Influenza and Kennel Cough are the most common upper respiratory infections seen during the summer months. If you plan on taking your dog to a heavily populated area, always make sure they are protected.

Keeping your dog cool in the summer requires more than a pair of fancy sunglasses and a fedora. Don’t expect your dog to get outside and immediately run a marathon; build up their endurance starting with short, controlled jogs. Take extra precautions if you have a brachycephalic (“smoosh-faced” dog) breed as they overheat very quickly. Provide them with plenty of water to drink or a doggie popsicle after exercise and make sure they have a cool environment for recovery.

Q. What should people think about when traveling with their dog during the summer months?

Just as most of us plan ahead for vacation, you should do the same for your pet. Visiting your veterinarian before leaving the country is almost always a necessity. Many countries have strict vaccine protocols and require an up-to-date veterinary health certificate. Some countries have quarantine periods of up to six months. If you’re staying in the United States, call ahead to your hotels to ensure they are pet friendly.

After packing your suitcase, make sure you pack your dogs’ too. By pre-measuring your dog's food and storing it in plastic bags, you won’t have to stop and shop along the way (pack an extra meal or two to give as treats). If your dog takes medications, make sure you give yourself enough time to obtain refills from your veterinarian or local pharmacy. Don’t forget a water bowl, your dogs bed, and their favorite toy!

Does your dog get anxious or nauseous in the car or on the plane?  Do they pant or pace? How about hypersalivate or vomit? If so, check in with your family veterinarian before traveling and let them know your concerns. There’s most likely a medication can that be prescribed to keep your dog safe and comfortable for all types of travel.

The summer months are an exciting time to be a dog owner. From hiking to swimming and lounging on the dog beach to playing fetch there are plenty of outdoor activities to share. Be safe, careful, and follow up with your veterinarian with any concerns.

 

PeteVet’s Vaccine Clinic


I’ll be hosting Philadelphia's one stop shop for quick and safe pet vaccines. No appointment needed and you won't pay an examination fee.

Proceeds to benefit a local rescue!

Discounts are available on facebook @petespetfacts if you pre-purchase vaccines.

All dog and cat vaccines are available, as well as nail trims, gland expressions, and ear cleanings.

Hope to see you there!

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Peter Lands
Anal Glands: What’s That Smell
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Have you ever seen your pet scooting their butt across the floor? Notice them licking tirelessly at their behind? Got an awful whiff of something as they walked by? If so, then your pet may need to have their anal glands examined by your veterinarian.

Anal glands are scent glands located within the anus at the 4 and 8 o’clock positions. They secrete a creamy substance that is unique to each dog and cat. These glands are normally expressed by contractions of local muscles when your pet poops.

In the wild, animals “express” their anal glands to mark territory. This means a small secretion of anal gland material is left behind for other animals to smell. The odor also communicates information about the health, age, and sex of an animal who left it. Opossums, bears, beavers, skunks and many other carnivores have glands. Even humans have anal glands, however ours are nonfunctional.

You may be asking yourself, Doc, I have seen my dog rub his butt on the carpet what should I do? If your animal has anal gland issues it is best to have them checked and expressed on a regular basis by your veterinarian. If you find your pet needs them expressed very often (weekly or twice a month), a simple weight loss plan or diet change may help reduce the frequency of anal gland problems. If dieting and food change do not resolve the need for constant veterinary visits it may be time to consider removing the glands all together.

What happens if I don’t have my pets animal glands expressed? Imagine a balloon being blown up larger and larger. The larger the balloon becomes, the more pressure builds until finally it pops. Similarly, when anal glands are not expressed on a regular basis, they may overfill, become plugged, and rupture. This is referred to as a ruptured anal gland and generally requires a thorough flushing of the gland and medications to clear any infection and inflammation. This issue is much more common in dogs than cats, though it still occurs with our feline friends.

If you notice your animal scooting on the carpet or licking their butt ask your veterinarian what you can do to improve your pet’s anal gland health.

Peter Lands
Should you Send your Child to Veterinary School?
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Picture this scenario. Your 12 year old daughter who loves to ride horses spends her weekends at the local barn taking care of a beautiful filly. She tells you that she wants to be a horse veterinarian when she grows up. Since she’s your daughter, you want to guide her towards her dream. But should you?

Being a veterinarian is a very rewarding profession as we are able to facilitate the human-animal bond. We are able to work in complex environments and appreciate critical thinking. We take an oath to continue to learn and do no harm. It’s these intangible assets and many others that drive young college aged students toward becoming a veterinarian.

Are the rewards worth the sacrifice in time and money?  I argue, YES - but with the following disclaimer. The vast majority of veterinarians never become wealthy as their salaries are substantially less than human doctors and most other professionals. The average veterinarian makes $88,000 a year, however this salary does not take into account the large amount of debt that veterinarians accrue. This debt service greatly reduces our salary as a large percentage is paid as student debt.

The veterinary field has the highest (yes number one) student debt to income ratio in the country at  2 to 1. This means that for every 2 dollars of debt owed you make 1 dollar. The total average reported debt per student is about $175,000. Some will argue that this number is even higher as veterinary colleges have an incentive to create an appearance of lower debt and some oversea schools will not release complete financial data.

This problem is not going away anytime soon as new schools are being accredited each year and current schools are increasing their class sizes. More veterinarians overcrowding an employment pool gives large corporations and small practice owners the upper hand when negotiating salaries. Additionally, while women make up 75% of the field according the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) they may make 15-20% less in salary per year thus inflating the debt to income ratio.

To make matters worse, a recent study from the AVMA interviewing 10,000 veterinarians found that 15% of men and 19% of women have contemplated suicide and 1.1% of men and 1.4% of women have attempted suicide. Upwards of 25% of males and 37% percent of females in veterinary medicine have experienced depressive episodes since veterinary school, which is about 1 and 1/2 times the rate for the general population across all occupations.

You may be asking yourself, if my daughter is accepted, how will she deal with the pressures of school? Based on a survey of more than 14,000 veterinary students and 4,000 responses not too well. Sixty seven percent of students had experienced a period of depression, and of those, 37% had an episode lasting more than 2 weeks. The most surprising results of this study were that 25 percent of students reported taking medication for diagnosed depression or anxiety.

I can’t help but to think of all of my colleagues who are suffering with significant debt and mental illness. Veterinarians have dedicated nearly a decade of their lives to rigorous schooling only to find themselves 10 years later, knee deep in debt and struggling to make ends meet. Is this field sustainable on its current trajectory? NO. Veterinarians, as a community, must create a professional environment that is both secure and safe; one that will hopefully allow future generations to thrive and flourish.

Veterinary Abdominal Ultrasound: Why you should take your vets recommendation.
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Has your veterinarian ever recommended an abdominal ultrasound? Why does your pet need one? And why is it so expensive?

Abdominal ultrasounds are used to aid in the diagnoses of diseases located in the abdomen. The pets abdomen is shaved, gel is applied and a probe is used to obtain image; very similar to a pregnancy scan. The procedure is non-invasive and takes between 20-40 minutes. But why is it needed?

X-rays are great at showing the size, shape and location of organs whereas an ultrasound shows, more specifically, the architecture of the abdominal contents. This imaging modality lets you look within the kidneys, liver, small intestines and other organs to find very small nuances often missed with an x-ray.

When is ultrasound used? There are times when x-rays alone will not give your veterinarian enough information to make a medical decision. For cats with chronic vomiting or dogs who have severe abdominal pain it's best to re-evaluate with an ultrasound. It's also used to help determine the origin of abdominal masses and to continue looking for a cause of elevations in kidney and liver enzymes. There are many other uses, but in general, ultrasound is another instrument in your veterinarians tool belt that helps with obtaining a diagnosis.

Why is it so expensive? The price tag for an ultrasound ($400-600 per full scan) can make some owners shy away from this diagnostic, but the value is unmatched. Entry level units can cost 40-50 thousand dollars whereas high end units will cost more than 100 thousand dollars. On top of the cost of the machine there is the cost of the staff that is needed to help with the scan (doctor and technicians) and likely medications used for sedation.

But the ultrasound didn't find exactly what was wrong with my pet? This can happen! Remember, medicine is not always black and white. An ultrasound can be suggestive of certain diseases in the abdomen but additional diagnostics may be needed. A CT scan, a surgical exploratory, and an endoscopy (camera into the stomach) are commonly needed after an ultrasound to clarify it's findings.

Remeber to always ask questions and follow up with your veterinarians recommendations. Just as in human medicine, it's never wrong to seek a second opinion when you pets case becomes complicated!

Inappropriate Male Cat Urination: Inflammation or Infection?
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Do you own a male cat? Has your male cat ever urinated inappropriately in your home? Has he ever strained in the litter box and produced only a small amount of urine? Has he ever urinated blood? If the answer to any of these questions is yes continue reading. If the answer is no, well, continue reading anyway because this stuff is cool.

Male cats who urinate inappropriately around the home or litter box may have a disease process called Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease or FLUTD for short. This is an umbrella term for a number of processes that can cause our male cats to urinate blood, urinate small amounts pee, urinate around the litter box, and many others. The most common cause of these clinical signs is Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC), put another way, we do not know the cause. Other known causes include mucous plugs, blood clots, and urinary bladder stones. Interestingly, less than two percent of male cats with these clinical signs will have a urinary tract infection.

If your male cat is exhibiting any of these signs you should see your family veterinarian as soon as possible. Cats who go untreated may develop a urinary obstruction leaving them unable to urinate. Over time their urinary bladder will continue to fill like a balloon until the urine backs up into their kidneys. This may be life threatening and requires immediate medical intervention.

For those male cats who are still able to urinate and have a diagnosis of FIC it is speculated that stress may play a large role in the disease process. While our indoor cats may not appear anxious, worried, or unhappy keep in mind we have taken them out of their natural habitat. Behavior and environmental modifications are often described as destressors.

As you can see, male cats have a unique disease and the veterinary community is still working on an all encompassing treatment. If your male cat is exhibiting these behaviors be sure to discuss them with your family veterinarian.

Home Dental Care for Cats and Dogs

 

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Ever wonder why your veterinarian always mentions your pet’s teeth? Dental disease is the most common disease in pets, affecting 78% of dogs and 68% of cats by the age of three.

Home dental care should supplement dental cleaning at your family veterinarian’s office. The American Veterinary Dental Association recommends general anesthesia cleanings every six to twelve months starting at the age of three years for all cats and medium to large breed dogs. Small breed dogs should begin cleanings at one year of age.

A clean mouth prevents bad breath, discolored teeth, fractured teeth, and many other systemic diseases such as cardiac disease. Despite the advantages of professional cleanings only one third of pet owners in a nationwide study have taken their pet in for a dental cleaning.

Between cleanings the following are recommended:

Brushing

  • Brush your animals’ teeth daily

  • Use dog/cat specific toothpaste

  • Make sure to brush all visible surfaces of the teeth

Treats/Chews

  • Chewing can be effective in maintaining good dental health

  • Enzymatic treats help break down plaque precursors

  • Check out VOHC.org for a list of approved treats by the oral health council

Rinses/Sprays/Gels

  • Chlorhexidine is the preferred primary ingredient

  • Rinses/Sprays should be used on both cheeks

  • Gels should be smeared on the teeth

5 Tips For Walking Your Dog in the Snow
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It’s that time of year. The deep freeze has set in and the temperatures are in the single digits. The streets are full of slush and every surface has been heavily salted. Freezing temperatures cause icicles to form on the tree branches and patches of ice to form on sidewalks. Follow these five tips to keep your pup safe and cozy during walks:

  1. Stay Warm - Dog clothes are not only for Halloween and to look cute, they are also meant to keep pets warm. Sweaters and hoodies come in handy when the temperature drops below freezing. One of my favorite products is Shed Defender, a lightweight spandex onesie that’s easy to put on and great for late fall and early winter weather.

  2. Be Quick - Try shorter walks with purpose. Once your pooch has done the deed, bring them back indoors. Spend extra time playing indoors where it’s warm.

  3. Protect Feet - Rock salt littered over every surface can blister and hurt your dog’s feet, so try protecting them with boots. Most styles and products will suffice so long as they completely cover the paws and paw pads and are not too tight around the ankle. Another option is to cover their feet with wax, balm, or coconut oil prior to a walk. These tend to wear off quickly but are an alternative for those pups who don’t take well to shoes.

  4. Clean Paws- You should also wipe off and dry your pup’s paws after each walk to clean off salt and de-icing chemicals. This will reduce the amount of time their paws are in contact with these irritating elements. Prevention, though, is always best.

  5. Don’t Fall - Be wary of ice. Dogs generally have a better sense of balance due to being on four paws, but they can slip and fall. If this happens take a close look at their mouth, chin, and chest - these are the most common places injuries occur due to a fall.

Always be safe and careful during the winter months. If your dog is up for it and is a breed raised for cold climates and winter weather conditions, let them play in the snow for a short while. There’s nothing more fun than fetch in some fresh powder. Don’t forget to dry them off and warm them up afterwards; maybe an extra treat too.

5 Way to Stay Fit With Your Dog in 2018
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Let’s face it, we all ate too many cookies over the holiday season. Our dad bods are showing through our sweaters and we’re having trouble sitting down without our pants button popping open. Did you know that one in three pets (33%) are overweight and there has been a 150% increase in the number of overweight dogs in America over the past 10 years? Now is the time to make a change for you and your pets! Follow the tips below for a happy, healthy, and fruitful 2018.

  1. Healthy Snacks – Put the apple pie and vanilla ice cream away, it’s time for healthy eating in the new year. Did you know that many human food items kept in the fridge are safe for dogs AND are low in calories? Carrots, celery, broccoli, string beans, and lettuce, to name a few, are great treats for dogs. Just be sure not to add any spices or seasonings. For a detailed, pet friendly, low calorie treat list send me a message.

  2. Take a Jog – Long walks, jogs through the park, or sprints on the beach are all great activities you can do with your dog. Playing tag with your dog or letting them chase you around the yard are high energy activities you can enjoy together. Remember, just as with humans, make sure you slowly increase your dog’s activity from low intensity to high intensity; they need time to get back in shape.

  3. Exercise Together – Aside from strictly cardio activities, you can work on your strength with your dog. Have your dog sit then stand (reward them with a low calorie treat – e-mail me for the list) while you perform a squat engaging the quadriceps, hamstrings, and buttocks. Another example is to have your dog lay down and then jump to give a high five. Combine this with a burpee for 3 sets of 10 and you two will be in shape in no time.

  4. Outdoor Adventure – In warmer weather, take your dog with you for an afternoon outdoor adventure. Try hiking a local state park, swimming in a dog friendly lake, or stand up paddle boarding at the beach. Some dogs can even learn how to surf!

  5. Give to Charity – There are many dog friendly 5ks. Research one in your area, train for the event, and take your dog along for a fun-filled morning.

As you can see, there are many ways to stay active with your dog. For more information or questions about exercising your dog, shoot me an e-mail at petespetfacts@gmail.com.

Peter LandsComment
How to Choose the Right Pet and Breed for Your Lifestyle
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Do you travel often? Do you work long hours? Is your lifestyle active or do you prefer binging on Netflix? These, and many others, are all questions you should consider prior to bringing an animal into your life.

If you are someone who spends long amounts of time away from home or who travels often, a cat may be a great addition to your family. Cats can be unattended for long hours or even days; be sure to provide adequate water and purchase an automatic feeder. They do not need to be walked and most spend up to 16 hours a day sleeping (it’s tough being a cat!)

If you are still intent on bringing a dog into your family, consider your daily lifestyle. If you are always on the go or have a large yard, consider a dog with high exercise needs. Huskies, German Shepherds, and Weimaraners would fall into this breed category. For those of you who prefer lounging, a low energy dog such as a basset hound or a pug will be a better fit.

Shelter animals contain mostly mixed breeds and each dog will have characteristics of their specific lineage. Additionally, when adopting a dog, it may take time for their true personality to show while they become accustomed to a new environment.

Consider the size of the dog relative to your home. Does your building complex have a weight limit or breed restrictions? Do you have time to potty train a puppy?

As you can see, there are many factors to consider when adding a pet to your home. Good luck and feel free to ask any questions.

Winter Warnings for your Pet
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Winter is here and the cold can create health issues for your pets. Follow this easy advice!

Rock salt can get stuck between your dogs toes leading to dried and cracked skin. Using dog boots will prevent this from happening.

Cold weather can exacerbate arthritis. Take your older dogs on controlled walks during the winter months. Don’t overdo it.

Dogs get cold just like people. If your dog is short haired or has a small body mass consider fitting your dog with a winter jacket or sweatshirt. They are functional and fashionable.

Similar to humans, dogs will shiver when they are cold. Use this as a cue to bring your pup indoors and warm them up.

Don't leave your pets in the car too long. Just as pets can over heat in the summer, they can freeze in the winter. If you must make a stop, pre-warm your car and make it quick.

Once inside, dry your pup off with a towel and clean their feet.