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

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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

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A Day in the Life of Nikki Kline: Vacation

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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

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

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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

A little bit of everything

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japaneseboyI’ve got more than one timely thing I want to touch on, so I’ll just touch on them all! (After all it’s Friday, I can do what I want.)

This Sunday, September 28, is World Rabies Day. While most of us in the US get our dogs and cats vaccinated and then think that rabies is mostly left to the odd wildlife creature, in poorer and less developed countries, rabies is a real threat. Especially to children who are more likely to get bitten. In the Pan-American region, Haiti in particular has a big rabies problem in dogs that roam freely, and the sad fact is that with vaccines, it’s 100% preventable. Click here to learn more about what’s being done from the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) and make a donation if you so choose. A $20 donation buys the vaccine for 50 dogs – that’s a lot.

September is also Disaster Preparedness Month. Disaster preparedness can take many shapes, but in terms of PVMA, we’re thinking about having a plan for the whole family – including pets – if a disaster would happen. Make a plan of where you would stay if you had to leave your home and had to take your pets with you. Do you have their medications? Do they fit in the car? Do you have a pet-friendly place you can stay? Things we take for granted everyday can suddenly become a huge problem during an emergency. Click here to view our disaster preparedness fact sheet and get some ideas of where you need help.

Friday fun! Here are some random things that I like and hope you will too. Have a great weekend!

September is Happy Cat Month!

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Tabby kittenNo grumpy cats here!

September is happy cat month, and the CATalyst Council has some great tips for keeping your cat smiling all year long.

Go to the vet! It’s no secret that cats receive significantly less veterinary care than other pets, in part because it can be such an ordeal to get them there. Cat-friendly practices can share tips with you on making the trip less stressful for you and your cat. See if there is one near you here.

Preventive care. Even cats that stay inside can wind up with parasites that are carried in accidentally by other family members. Work with your veterinarian to come up with a treatment plan.

Get them microchipped. If your cat would get lost, there’s no better way to make sure they get returned to you than to have them microchipped. It’s important to remember to register the microchip with the tracking company once it’s implanted, and be sure to keep your information up to date if you move or your phone number or email address change.

Play! A cat with toys is a happy cat, plus it can help keep them out of trouble. Try more than one type of toy to see which kinds are their favorites.

Get to work. Training your cat basic commands or even a few tricks can be fun and stimulating for your cat, plus your getting to spend some quality time together.

Don’t overfeed. Feline obesity is a growing problem (no pun intended), and having an overweight cat can cause health problems. Consider toys that release small bits of food as the cat plays with it, or moving their food dish so they have to use their hunting instincts to locate it.

Keep the cat carrier out. If your cat only sees the cat carrier when it’s time to go to the veterinarian, they might not look upon it fondly. Keep it out with the door open where the cat can access it at any time. Put a blanket and toys inside to encourage them to spend time in there at their leisure. Hopefully with repeated access, it won’t be so scary when it’s time to travel.

Get some fresh air. Whether you let them roam the yard while you supervise or you invest in a harness and leash for a walk, any cat will benefit from a little fresh air and exercise.

Get a scratching post. Scratch the post, not your furniture! Stretching and scratching are normal behaviors – definitely provide an appropriate place for them to do it.

Get some company. Consider going to a local shelter and adopting a buddy for your cat. Having a playmate can help keep them happy and occupied during the day, and can encouragev exercise if they like to romp around together.

There are lots of great resources available for cat owners. Here are a few that we like.

Fun with preventive care!

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Attack-of-the-cute-animals-13I was going to write a detailed post about preventive care and the importance of regular veterinary visits for your pets (to prevent bigger issues down the road), but then I thought, what the heck! It’s Friday! Let’s have a little fun. (With some preventive care facts thrown in.)

  1. Microchip, microchip, microchip! If you pet gets lost or stolen, any veterinarian or shelter can scan the microchip and reunite you with your animal. Always remember to update your personal information with the microchip company if you move or change emails/phone numbers. And who wouldn’t want their dog returned if they acted liked these guys!? (Warning: you won’t make it through without at least one belly laugh and one awww…)
  2. Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate! While it’s critical for every pet to get a rabies shot, I especially cringe when I hear cat owners say, I don’t get the shot because my cat doesn’t roam around outside. Even if your cat only walks around a fenced in yard or got outside once accidentally, you don’t know what – or whom – they been exposed to. Always get preventive shots as your veterinarian recommends. Keep your cats healthy and they could act like this.
  3. Make sure your pets stay at a healthy weight. Obesity is not only a problem for humans, but can also cause health problems in pets including diabetes and organ failure. Throw balls, go for walks, whatever you and your pet enjoy to work a little exercise into each day. Keep your pets and they could perform one of these stunts.
  4. And last but not least, love them. Just look at how much they love you.