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


Brush up on some 4th of July safety tips for pets


4thFor many of us, celebrating the 4th of July means backyard barbecues, drinks, and
fireworks. While this can make for a fun holiday for neighbors, friends, and family, it can potentially be bad news for your pet. While it may seem like a great idea to reward Fido with scraps from the grill or take him along to watch fireworks, in reality some festive foods and products can be hazardous to your pets.

Party Food
Probably the first thing most people think about when they think of Independence Day is an outdoor barbecue. Grills, tables, and plates full of burgers, hotdogs, potato salads, baked beans, and baked goods. All of it is delicious, and it’s probably no shock that your dog thinks so too, but some of it could really hurt him. Rule #1, of course, is to know where your dog is at all times, and if necessary, keep him in the house.  It only takes a minute for Fido to jump up and snatch something – or several things! – off the picnic table. You also have to beware of who is feeding your dog and what. Some folks just can’t eat a plate of food while a dog with pleading eyes rests its head on their knee and feel the need to share a little bit of whatever they’ve got with your pooch.

The reality is that dogs’ bodies don’t react to food the way humans do, and even one meal full of foods they don’t normally eat can cause digestive upset and diarrhea. The situation is even more dangerous for a pet with any type of special nutritional needs due to allergies or disease. What’s more, most people don’t know that food like onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes, salt, and yeast dough can all be toxic to companion animals. (I dare you to name one person who hasn’t shared a piece of bread or rolls with their dog. I certainly have.)

It’s Cocktail Time
Never, ever leave alcoholic drinks unattended with pets around. Alochol has the potential to poison pets at an alarmingly speedy rate. If your animal ingests alcohol, it could become very intoxicated and weak, severely depressed, or even go into a coma. It can also cause respiratory failure in severe cases, so keep an eye on those cocktails.

While fireworks are fun and definitely a major part of this holiday, they can be very frightening for pets who don’t know where all the noise is coming from. Since you can’t allay their fears with an explanation, their fear turns to panic the longer the fireworks continue. And if you’re out in the community at a crowded location to watch them, the panic gets even greater. The best idea is to leave your pets at home, in an escape-proof area.

A few other no-no’s for the holiday

  • Never put glow jewelry on pets – the luminescent substance can cause excessive drooling & gastrointestinal upset
  • Citronella candles & other products can cause stomach irritation and even central nervous system depression if ingested. Even inhaling the oils from these products can cause aspiration pneumonia in pets.
  • If applying sunscreen to pets for a day out, be sure it is labeled specifically for use on pets. The ingestion of regular sunscreens can lead to a whole host of health problems, including vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive thirst.
  • Keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pet’s reach. Some matches contain chlorates which can damage blood cells, and ingesting the fluid can irritate the stomach and depress the nervous system.

imagesCAEIA5UJSo despite all the warnings, have fun with your pets this 4th of July! There are plenty of ways to include pets in your celebrations, both indoors and out. With just a few preparations and a little oversight, everyone can have as much fun as this little guy.