It’s National Pet Week!

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We all love our pets, so what better way to celebrate them than now during National Pet Week! Maybe treat them to extra belly rubs, an extra walk or an extra snack – but here in Pennsylvania, there’s another way too.

Years ago, PVMA created our pet photo contest in honor of National Pet Week. Any child in Pennsylvania in grades K-12 can participate. Here’s how it works:

“A MOMENT IN TIME: LOVING AND CARING FOR OUR PETS”

Children can submit a photo which demonstrates the theme “A Moment in Time: Loving and Caring For Our Pets,” and they could win a $50 prize.

  • Photos must be digital, and should be submitted via email to Lori Raver at lraver@pavma.org.
  • Photos should be solely the work of the student
  • Email submissions should include the student’s name, address, phone number, school, and grade.
  • Deadline to submit a photo is May 31, 2016.

PVMA will provide a $50 cash award and a plaque for the first place winner in each grade.

SHOW YOUR FRIENDS WITH OUR ONLINE GALLERY!

Each entry to the PVMA Photo Contest will be added to our online gallery prior to judging in June so you can share with your friends! Submit a photo now!

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A Day in the Life of Nikki Kline: The Kong

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dog playing with the kongMost pet toys have a lot of flash to attract our attention, either squeakers, bright colors or lots of great stuffing that at some point will probably be shredded all over your floor. The Kong, however, is overall kinda plain, a hard rubber cone-shaped thing that is usually either red or black with 2 holes. Yet for me (meaning my sanity, not that I usually chew on one), it was one of the best toys ever invented.

As I’ve mentioned before, Freya was a loving, unruly and hyperactive hooligan when I got her, and needed basically constant amusement. I decided to give the Kong a shot and see if I could get just a bit of down time. So, initially, I used just the Kong treats and shoved them in it. Freya looked at it for a few minutes, licked the top and proceeded to be totally unimpressed. She, at that point, hadn’t realized the “fun” of a challenge to work things out of this magical piece of rubber. I then decided to make it easier and more appealing. I put tiny treats that easily fell out of the hole in it, and surrounded the top with a strip of peanut butter. This attracted her attention, and she, immediately, started licking out the peanut butter, rolling it and dropping it on the floor.

As she decided she liked it more and more, she also became much faster at dumping the treats out of the Kong, and I did not become faster at showering or watching TV. So we decided to up the ante a bit, and I started actually stuffing the Kong with “treats” from top to bottom, and making it a challenge to lick them out. This worked for a while but amazingly she still kept learning faster ways to extract the treats.

I decided it was time for some serious research! In doing this, I discovered there was almost a whole Kong culture, people have put everything in these, and they have whole websites dedicated strictly to Kong recipes. Please note, I’m not necessarily recommending trying all of them. (There were plenty that I referred to as either pancreatitis or diarrhea in Kong form, which isn’t fun for anyone.) But they had some great ideas, and I set off in the kitchen slicing bananas, chopping apples, swirling yogurt and dog food together and in general making the whole kitchen look like it exploded.

For quite some time, I had at least 4 Kongs in my freezer at all times, and she didn’t eat food out of a bowl for several months. We were both excited to see what kind of new and exciting recipe would be coming out of the freezer next.

She continued to become more creative in finding out new ways to wiggle the stuff free inside, and her newest plan was to stand at the top of the stairs and throw the Kong down them, leaving lovely bits and pieces of food everywhere, and finally having it crash into the front door usually creating a “jackpot”. Oddly enough, this was an ok price to pay to be able to shower, get the mail or watch TV without constant bouncing happening around me.

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

It’s National Pet ID Week

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dog and boy

Make sure the family pet can find his way home by using pet identification.

So, it’s Pet ID Week – do you know where your pets are?

Just kidding. But are you prepared if you didn’t know where they were? Someone might have left a door open by mistake, or your dog saw something it wanted like a rabbit or squirrel while you were out on a walk, or it was bored and tunneled under or jumped over your fence – whatever the case may be, you’re pet needs proper identification. That way when a good Samaritan picks up your pet and takes it to a veterinarian, animal shelter, groomer, or elsewhere, you can be reunited with your pet that much sooner.

A scary statistic is that a family pet is lost every 2 seconds across the country. Another one is that a large, healthy dog can run up to five miles. Depending on where you live that could mean a whole lot of traffic or wildlife. To keep your pets safe, here are some methods of pet ID:

  1. ID tags. ID tags which are attached to the pet’s collar include the pet’s name, the owner’s name, and contact information. This method is also nice because the person who finds your pet doesn’t have to take it anywhere. They can contact you directly from the information on the tag. These are inexpensive and extremely helpful, but remember that your pet has to be wearing the collar for it to make any difference.  If you only put their collar on to go outside or for walks, you may want an additional form of protection.
  2. Like microchipping. Microchipping has become very popular in the last few years, and is a good back up plan if your pet escapes without its collar and ID tag. Your pet doesn’t need to be sedated for it to be implanted, and most veterinary practices and animal shelters now have scanners in order to scan your pet and bring up your contact information. Just remember that once your pet has had the chip implanted, you need to register that chip to your contact information, and if your information changes, you need to update that microchip account. Too often people change phone number, email, or move altogether without updating that information and then even though the lost pet is scanned, the person with your pet can’t find you.

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

Happy Thanksgiving from PVMA

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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.

It’s Adopt a Shelter Dog Month!

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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.

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!