A Day in the Life of Dr. Casey Kurtz: Toe Nail Trims are the Bomb!

Toe nail trims can bring out the worst in any dog.

Toe nail trims can bring out the worst in any dog.

In my opinion, toe nail trims (TNT, for short, and yes, the acronym should be the first hint) are one of the most common and most annoying services we offer. It takes a lot more skill and patience than anyone would think. Consider how many people say, “My dog will let me do anything, except clip his nails.” Another one of my favorites remains, “Barney is so well behaved, but he doesn’t like his feet touched.” Another quick example of TNT aversion is, “Bingo has never bitten anyone, except when they tried to touch his feet.”

I have personally witnessed several frightening and surprising transformations over the years. A kind and docile Lab suddenly becomes a ferocious, semi-feral canine from the wild. A sweet and gentle Pomeranian magically obtains the strength of Samson and treats those clippers as if we were about to cut his enchanted locks. A sedate and quiet Retriever quickly flips out and gator rolls all the way to the door.

Not to discriminate, our feline patients are also subject to the transformative power of the nail clip. Just recently, we had the cutest, most adorable kitten brought in for an appointment. Everything went well, until the nail trim. She screeched and howled and hissed so loudly that I felt the need to make a disclaimer to the people in the waiting room that we were not abusing any animals in the treatment area.

Now, I am a results-driven person. I have no qualms about sweeping the floor, holding an animal, taking x-rays, or even filling medications if that needs to be done, but the one job I avoid (like cold coffee or meatloaf – I really hate meatloaf) is clipping nails. I consider myself the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. There has never been a nail trim where I didn’t cause bloodshed.

I don’t even clip my own dogs’ nails. I once made the mistake of agreeing to help my parents clip Bella’s (their dog) nails. After my mother explicitly told me she was holding Bella, my mom then let go of her and Bella bit me. Immediately following that brief act of violence (my dad now holding her), I clipped four of five nails on the first paw. Of course, on the fourth nail, I nicked a quick, and Bella went ballistic. Has anyone pricked a finger or seen a nail bleed? It’s quite a large amount of blood. Just ask my dad. He started hysterically yelling, “The blood! There is so much blood! What do we do?” He rivaled Chicken Little with the falling sky.

I learned three valuable lessons that day.  Firstly, I cannot trust my family to competently help with veterinary-related issues.  Secondly, always have some QuickStop (that powder that stops bleeding) on hand, and thirdly, even the family dogs are not immune to the TNT transformation.

I tell this story as a reminder and warning for all.  A simple toe nail trim is not so simple, and cherish those groomers and technicians who hold the mystical secrets and power of the nail trim.

Dr. Casey Kurtz, Associate Veterinarian
French Creek Veterinary Hospital
www.frenchcreekvet.com

A Day in the Life of Nikki Kline: Vacation

vacation dog

It’s vacation time!

As much as we enjoy our job, we occasionally take some time away and run off to new and exciting places. Sadly our own pets can’t always join us, which, at least for me, means that I’m getting a vacation from the “kids”.

My pre-vacation starts with a multiple page list of care instructions for my pet sitter. I should note, she probably would not need any instructions, as she has been watching my crew for multiple years, and they are pretty low maintenance (knock on wood). However, it makes my life less stressful to have: any number I can be reached at, at least two (usually more, I may be a bit compulsive) emergency contacts, all their microchip information, and feeding and medication instructions available. (Just in case my pet sitter comes down with amnesia.) As well as, god forbid, there be an emergency situation, I would prefer her not to need to search through her entire phone and have to guess which other people I have put on emergency standby.

During vacation, I go through a bit of pet withdrawal, because I am used to spending basically twenty-four hours a day with at least some sort of animal around me. What this means for anyone walking by with a pet ( I don’t specify dog, because I’ve also stopped to pet cats, ferrets and other exotics on leashes) is that I’m probably going to be asking them if it’s ok to pet them. And if they aren’t in a rush and I’m not getting to evil of looks from Kyle, I will get at least a few stories about them and play with them for a few minutes.

Also, I’m always on stray watch, which is particularly hard in different countries where they just have random animals wondering everywhere. In Belize, one particular dog chose wisely when picking his favorite chair to lay on, most people would be a bit grumpy if tackled by a 60-ish pound lab mix while sunbathing, but he picked the area with three vet techs who loved the snuggle time (please ignore the crazy tan lines you get when a dog is partially laying on you while sunning).
I also can spot veterinary hospitals like a champ. (This is a much more useful skill when I have one of my pets with me, but my brain doesn’t discriminate.)

Just because I’m not at work doesn’t mean I’m not looking out for a pet’s best interest. I have stalked in and out of restaurants while having dinner to make sure someone wasn’t leaving their dog in the car or tied to a post for more than a few moments. I had Kyle pull over the car to try to catch the cat that looked injured, (but could still seem to run well) and during our most recent trip, I tried to stop someone from putting the pet they brought on the plane in the overhead luggage compartment. (I will happily note the flight attendant was on the dog in the overhead luggage before I needed to say anything.)

Although I love traveling, I’m always excited to come home to my crew and, believe it or not, to work as well. It’s the best feeling in the world when you get home to a wagging tail and purrs when you walk through the door. I’ll even accept Norbert’s constant winding between my legs, begging for pets or trying to trip me with a smile. The first day back to work, I try to catch up on everyone that was in the hospital when I left. I want to see how they are feeling now or check-in on any of the “frequent flyers” to make sure they haven’t decided to have any new issues we will need to know about.

Nikki Kline, Veterinary Technician
French Creek Veterinary Hospital
www.frenchcreekvet.com

Say ahhh … Get the facts on pet dental health

Regular pet oral care is necessary!

Regular pet oral care is necessary!

February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Brushing pets’ teeth and pet oral care is relatively new to the pet owning scene, but don’t underestimate its importance. Periodontal disease is the most common illness found in companion animals. Untreated, it can lead to infection in your pet’s hearts, lungs, and kidneys, and even death.

Many veterinarians offer dental exams as part of an annual wellness check-up. Practice pet oral hygiene at home between visits to keep those pearly whites sparkling and healthy.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

  • Continued bad breath
  • Broken teeth
  • Brownish teeth

CLEANING YOUR PET’S TEETH:

  • Dry dog foods, hard biscuits, and treats or chew toys designed for cleaning
    help scrape the teeth clean through normal chewing.
  • Toothbrushing should be started with the
    pet as young as possible. Begin by getting your pet used to just your finger rubbing their gums.
  • Always use a toothbrush and toothpaste designed for pets or an ultrasoft human
    brush.
  • Gently pull back the lips and tip the head back to open the mouth, and gently brush the teeth on both sides.

A Day in the Life: Nikki Kline – My Newborn Trial!

kitten

The attack kitten

A few months ago Kyle and I were “graced” with the presence of a two-week old kitten. We had been considering getting another cat (although we were thinking adult, who am I to mess with fate), so we decided keep him. Since that period we have gone through multiple different phases of “what was I thinking?!?!?!” He is not my first kitten that I’ve raised from a bottle baby, but I don’t remember it being nearly this hard!
The first two weeks, he still needed all the “hardcore” mommy stuff. Feeding every 3-4 hours didn’t use to be an issue when I was younger. However the 2nd night, as I was sitting in my basement at 3:00 AM bottle feeding him, I was trying really hard to figure out how human moms found this to be good bonding time and how I was going to stay awake for the twelve-hour day that was starting in five hours. He also refused to poop for what seemed like forever when it was time to make him potty. During the day, he was so adorable and snuggly it made up for all the not sleeping nights.
Around four weeks, I started to try to introduce kitten milk in a dish as well as a slurry of kitten milk with canned kitten food…he wanted no parts of it. I, initially, wasn’t too worried about it. Everyone develops at his/her own rate, and I wasn’t going to push him. So I kept offering and bottle feeding, except at 6 weeks, I still managed to have a kitten that wouldn’t lick anything! (and if I let him, he would suck down two bottles worth of food in one feeding). I started getting pushier about the eating on his own, and multiple times, I’m pretty sure he almost drowned in his own food bowl because he wouldn’t lick but would suckle it instead. He also is long haired (yes somehow the girl that said she could never have a long haired cat now has two!), and LOVED playing in the gruel I made him. So he became a pro at almost daily baths. Eventually, he skipped totally over the licking of the milk and went to just straight wet food, except instead of licking or biting it he suckled it and pushed it EVERYWHERE!
I’ve had a bowl of kitten dry food out for him since he started being offered real food, and obviously he had no interest in this because you couldn’t suckle it. My cats eat a mixture of dry and canned, and I decided he was going to follow that trend as well, even if he didn’t agree. So I started trying different varieties, and had the doctors check him to make sure he seemed to be formed correctly. All seemed normal, I tried every combination of food mixture I could come up with and nothing worked, including chicken AND turkey. Until one day, he was sitting on my lap while I was eating Cheez-its (one of my favorite snacks), I accidently dropped and he suddenly woofed it down without a problem!!! So I finally have him weaned over from dry food… with a Cheez- it crumbled in it to just dry food in the bowl.
His newest trait is attack! And he does it well, literally. I can be sitting on the couch and in five minutes he will go from attacking me, the carpet, a toy, the other pets and sometimes even his own body parts. This goes on for hours! Literally 99% of the time when we try to pet him or pick him up he is biting us, fairly aggressively and persistently. When walking our legs are randomly scaled, and the dog can’t even wag her tail without attack. Slink and Norbert are being stalked, pounced and mostly taking solace in the fact he can’t climb everything yet. When he is not in his attack mode, he is curled up usually on my shoulder snuggling and purring away and it makes it all worth it.
Although I don’t remember any of my other kittens putting me through nearly as many obstacles as he has done, in the end with patience and working on “manners,” I’m pretty sure he will turn out to be an adorable, sweet and fun cat (I’m just not convinced this will happen before he is twelve-years-old at this point, haha).

Nikki Kline, Veterinary Technician
French Creek Veterinary Hospital
www.frenchcreekvet.com

Happy Thanksgiving from PVMA

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you’re anything like me, you’re shocked that it’s time for Thanksgiving already this year. In addition to the food and family that I think we’re all thankful for, don’t forget to take a minute and be thankful for your pets who give you unconditional love daily.

Also remember that feeding them from the table or putting human table scraps in their bowls later on is a big no-no. Many foods commonly served for a holiday meal either contain ingredients which can be poison or are dishes that are poisonous in their own right. Giving them a rawhide or other treat intended for animals may help distract their interest in your holiday table.

If you think your pet has been poisoned, contact the Pet Poison Helpline at http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com or 800.213.6680.

From everyone here at the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association, we wish you and yours a truly happy Thanksgiving holiday.

Have you thanked the animal shelter in your neighborhood lately?

Lucky

This is Lucky, a dog adopted from a rural shelter after he was found wandering in the woods on his own.

This week is Animal shelter & rescue appreciation week. November is also Adopt a Senior Pet Month. I love when things come together so nicely. Like we talked about in the last post on Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, there are many reasons to consider adopting a shelter animal. In addition to needing a good home and someone to love them, I genuinely believe that rescue animals are more appreciative. Like the memory of being in a run with a concrete floor and 95 dogs all barking at once or being a cat stuffed in a cage with 10 others doesn’t leave them once they get to their new home. 3 of the 4 dogs I’ve had in my life have been rescues, and they are totally worth it.

Maybe you don’t have time or room for a pet right now. You can always donate to the shelter of your choice whom you think is doing a great job or volunteer your time to help with the animals or answer phones.

To anyone who has adopted a senior pet from either a shelter or a friend, I salute you. These animals often get overlooked when people are shopping for a new pet because who doesn’t love a puppy or a kitten. But senior pets have a lot of love to give too, and you might be surprised how well they will blend into your home. They are already potty trained, leash trained, know at least basic commands and have probably calmed down a lot from their puppy or kitten-hood. In addition, they probably don’t even know why their in a shelter to begin with. Maybe their owner passed away, hit hard times or had to move away. There are many possibilities.

Here are some great links if you want to investigate a little more.

Top 10 reasons to adopt an older dog

Pet statistics in the US

Questions to ask yourself before adopting

It’s Adopt a Shelter Dog Month!

Guinness

Guinness, a former shelter dog rescued by a PVMA employee.

We’ve all seen them … those commercials that show dogs in need of a home that have you reaching for the tissue box. More often than not these dogs appear dirty, hungry, and massively depressed. While it does tug at the heart strings, it might not be the best advertisement for actually motivating someone to go out and adopt a shelter or rescue dog. All joking aside, visiting your local rescue or shelter is a great way to save the life of a dog who is looking for a good home. You’ll gain a faithful companion and I guarantee you they will enrich your life as much as you will theirs. Dogs reduce stress, and there’s nothing better than coming home after a stressful day to someone who is simply thrilled that you returned.

Something else to consider, especially if you’re a first time dog owner, is the cost associated with owning a pet. There are a lot of costs associated including food and snacks, grooming costs or grooming products, vaccinations, regular veterinary care, and possible costs associated with illness and medication or treatments. Then there is bedding, toys … the list goes on. Click here to view the ASPCA’s in depth examination of pet care costs. It’s a great guide! Plus, if you do get a dog, the ASPCA has presents for you! Sign up for their free Pet Safety Pack which includes a window sticker for emergency services and an ASPCA magnet with important information on it.

Maybe you want a pet but don’t know how to judge which individual animal might best suit your personality and lifestyle. Fret no more! Check out the ASPCA’s Meet Your Match page. For both dogs and cats, it gives you tips on decoding personality traits so you can pick the right pet before getting home and finding out it’s not exactly a match made in heaven.

So if you’ve been toying with getting a dog, consider visiting your local shelter or rescue and see if they have a dog that might be right for you. Click here to search on available dogs in a shelter near you.