Keep your felines safe during Cat Health Month


CatHealthFebruary is Cat Health Month. Use these resources from PVMA to keep America’s number 1 pet happy and healthy all year long.

Things to Consider Before Getting a Cat fact sheet
Think you’re ready to get a cat? Use this fact sheet to see if you’ve considered all the factors.

Feline Lifestyle Assessment
Having a complete picture of your cat or kitten’s life can help your veterinarian provide better treatment and recommendations for your cat.

Feline-ality Cat Personality Matching
Use this tool from the ASPCA to assess your preferences and expectations when thinking of adopting a new cat.

Bringing Home a New Kitten
A new kitten can be exciting. Start life with your new friend off on the right foot with proper veterinary care, nutrition, and socialization.

kitten jumping

The Importance of Preventive Care
Think your pet only needs to see the veterinarian when something’s wrong? Learn how regular visits can prevent illness instead.

Traveling and Moving With Your Cat
Traveling with cats is legendary – for all the wrong reasons. Learn how to make is less stressful and safe.

Cats and Lilies fact sheet
In addition to other plants, lilies are particularly poisonous to cats. Learn how to prevent accidental ingestion and what to do if it happens.

Spaying and Neutering
Did you know? Spaying and neutering prevents pet overpopulation while also keeping your cat healthy. ​


It’s National Pet Week!


11Historically, the first week of May is National Pet Week. This week was designed to create awareness about responsible pet ownership. Having a pet is really like having a furry (or scaly, or whatever) child, and the responsibilities are many. It’s a true commitment and if you’re not sure you’re up to the challenge, you’re probably not. Here are some things to think about. Responsible pet ownership means:

  • providing proper food, water, shelter, and exercise
  • providing adequate veterinary care, including preventive care and regular check-ups
  • not giving an animal as a gift to someone who doesn’t want a longterm pet or who can’t handle the responsibility or afford the costs associated with a pet

Here at PVMA, we run an annual photo contest in the spirit of National Pet Week. Open to all Pennsylvania schoolkids, this year’s theme is “A Moment in Time: Loving and Caring for Our Pets.” The contest is open until May 31, so if you know a kid who love animals, have them take a photo and send it in before May 31 to You can check out the photos we’ve already received here.

For a heartwarming story of responsible pet ownership, read this photo essay on the rescue of a golden retriever named Bran.

A Day in the Life: Dr. Casey Kurtz – Flea-nial!


itchy_dogFleas, fleas, fleas! (I hope this isn’t like Beetlejuice). I see cases almost everyday, and despite all the chemicals, insect repellents and bug bombs out there, fleas not only persist, but they also flourish. Where do they come from? Are they the spawn of Satan? Are they magical creatures sent from another dimension to mess with our minds? I know ecologically they have a job and a place in the environment. For instance, they do help to enrich and maintain specific soil environments. (Please don’t ask me what those soil characteristics are.) Personally, I wish they would enrich someone else’s soil far away from my patients and me.

It used to be more of a summer issue, but, truthfully, with all the warm winters we’ve had, I see fleas even in the winter. It does not matter if it is a house with only dogs or only cats. It does not matter if your animals never go outside. It does not matter if your dogs are treated and your cats are not. Anyone and everyone’s pets can get fleas if they are not treated with flea preventatives. They commonly come in through the basement or the attic. Fleas are everywhere. They are pervasive!

The two tell tale signs exist (this is the magician’s secret, so hold on for the spoiler alert). The first sign involves hairloss and scabs centered around the back part of the animal just in front of the tail. A second symptom is that your pet will be sleeping and all of a suddenly jump up and start biting at him/herself. The presence of flea dirt, which looks like pepper on your pet’s skin, is also a big hint.

Once your pet is infested, they will rarely go away without using a topical or oral flea preventative. Fleas are like that crazy relative that brings three suitcases for a weekend visit and then stays for months. Given that half of the flea life cycle is spent partying in the environment away the pet, it can take a good three months of continual household and pet treatment to be flea free. They even live in the vacuum cleaner bags (or sweeper bags if you are from Western PA).

What products actually help? I truly think consistency is much more important than the actual product. (I must make the disclaimer that I am not getting kick-backs from any of these companies…if I was, I’d be driving a much faster car!) Also, this is just my opinion, others may disagree with me. For fleas AND ticks, Vectra, Advantix, Advantage and Frontline Plus do the job. Revolution works reasonably well for fleas and also helps with mites. Orally, Sentinel and Comfortis quickly kill adult fleas.

Now for the naughty list; I have seen multiple failures with Pet Armor, which was marketed as the generic Frontline, and it is the ORIGINAL Frontline, NOT Frontline Plus which is what has been used for years. The other products that I STRONGLY avoid are anything made by the Hartz company. Many patients have had severe, life-threatening reactions, and the product often fails to control flea population. Tossing change into a fountain and making a wish may be just as effective. Hartz must have a good marketing department and an even better legal division.

Well, I guess I’ll step off my soap box long enough to wish everyone a healthy, flea-free season. Feel free to ask any questions … that is … if you’re itching for more!

Casey Kurtz, VMD, is a veterinarian at French Creek Veterinary Hospital

A Day in the Life: Dr. Casey Kurtz


What’s in a name?

milkbonesWhen you stop to think about it, the lengths dogs will go to for a Milkbone are amazing. Sit, stay, lie down, paw, speak, dance, stand, laugh at all my jokes…the list goes on.  And all for a 4.5 cm long x 1 cm deep x 2.8 cm at the widest part, hard, tan-colored, bone-shaped, card-board smelling piece of food. (I recently examined a Milkbone, and the Shroud of Turin has nothing on it after my investigation)

The package information gives no clue to the power a single biscuit holds. Sure, there are Snausages and Pupperoni, I get this, they’re fragrant and greasy, and yet, the Milkbone remains the most recognized and widely used treat. “Treat,” even that euphemism underlies the Milkbone’s role in training and reward.

If only people could be moved by so little. If only, we could be “trained” with such a small incentive. I can see it now; open the door for someone, grab a Milkbone, how about calmly waiting in line, what, another Milkbone, and sitting in rush-hour traffic, here’s a Milkbone. The possibilities loom infinite. What couldn’t be settled over a Milkbone? (Congress would definitely be able to balance a budget…)

What I love about dogs is that eventually, after all the training and Milkbones, (and blood, sweat, and tears…ours, of course) they learn! They will perform without the obligatory treat every time. Eventually, making us happy, and thus, the “good dog” is the reward. (I still recommend a Milkbone from time to time to help keep it real) Perhaps, we should take a page from our dogs. Why can’t we do things just because it makes others happy? Are we too focused on ourselves? Do all of our actions have to benefit us?

As I was thinking these grandiose thoughts of kindness and brotherhood, a car not only swerved in front of me and almost hit me, but the driver also proceeded to flash me a vulgar gesture when I honked my horn as a warning. As I clenched the steering wheel and muttered a few well-chosen phrases, I could only think … Milkbone anyone?

Dr. Casey Kurtz is a staff veterinarian at French Creek Veterinary Hospital in Pottstown, PA

It’s National Veterinary Technician Week!


The below post was written by one of our members, Vickie Byard, CVT, VTS (Dentistry), and the original can be found at But since it is National Veterinary Technician Week, she asked us to share. Enjoy!

It’s National Veterinary Technician Week!

I arrived home last night around 9:30 pm from 3 days in lovely Reno, Nevada while presenting, moderating and purely enjoying myself at the Wild West Veterinary Conference.  Not only did I bring home a plethora of precious and memorable moments, but I also brought home a souvenir….a cold.  Therefore, I sit here in my office typing through a Nightquil haze.

What was that experience like?  Well, I have been very excited about this specific trip for months.  I was traveling with Tasha McNerney, BS, CVT.  She is a technician that works with me clinically at Rau Animal Hospital and she is a trainer for PetED Veterinary Education and Training Resources.  She is the new In-patient Supervisor and her special interest is in all things anesthesia.  She has been the energy behind the extraordinary anesthetic protocols and anesthetic training at our practice.  She, too, had a goal of growing her career into teaching on a larger scope and her aspirations are coming true, rapid fire.

TashaAs we were flying out, I was well aware of the gift I was experiencing.  I remember the day we hired this young lady, as a technician assistant, beginning her veterinary technician training, teaching at the school after graduation and her never-ending honing of her skills.  With the support of the practice owner, she has single-handedly taken our anesthesia department to unexpected heights with unparalleled standards of care.  Now, I was on a flight to Nevada where she will be spreading that knowledge to others from all over the country.  What an honor it has been to walk with her as she realized her dreams.

This made me drop into an awareness.  I realized that all of these accomplishments have been done while managing her day-to-day life, marriage, new home, pregnancy, new baby and more life.  My awareness deepened to the rest of the practice team and what was crystal clear is how the entire team of technicians perform their day-to-day work in spite of life; day care, illnesses, moving, relationship break-ups, elder care,  new apartments, single motherhood, broken hot water heaters … life.

Then my focus broadened to the fact that nationally, technicians  perform with dedication and loyalty for compensation not worthy of their efforts.  So, why do these spectacular people keep coming back?  They do it because they know they were born to do this work. They were called to help those that can not help themselves, the animals.  They are not what the public perceives; a glorified poop scooper and animal handler.  They are the people that placed the arterial line that helped save some battered dog’s life.  They are the people that kept the rat pain free and healthy while it was employed to help produce the medication that saved someone’s child’s life. They are the people that maintained the health of the Belgian Malinois named Cairo that helped the Navy Seals in Operation Neptune Spear. They are frequently unsung heroes.

I have witnessed technicians hand feeding a patient that bit them only an hour before. I have come into work only to find that a technician came into the practice at 2 am to check up on a patient needing overnight care whose owner could not afford a 24-hour facility.  I have seen technicians drive to the homes of disabled clients to drive them to their vet appointments. I have seen technicians foster pets that have been abandoned. I have seen technicians miss appointments and dates because there were surgical complications negating their ability to leave on time. I have also seen technicians hold each other up, in good times and bad.  I have witnessed technicians working an extra shift because another tech has a concert to go to, or an unexpected funeral.

As I stood in the NAVTA (North American Veterinary Technician Association) and VSPN (Veterinary Support Personnel Network) Technician Reception, I was so aware that, despite the fact that I was surrounded by strangers from around the country, I was in the company of 400 or more of the most incredible and loving people that do the most incredible and loving things on a day-to-day basis. My heart expanded as I looked into their faces knowing that each and every one of these people have made sacrifices to do that which they have been called to do.  I was overwhelmed to be in the presence of such humility.

Veterinary technicians not only work in veterinary practices.  They are technician educators. They are the caretakers of the animals used in laboratories, in zoological parks, in the military and they often volunteer their time at shelters, fostering rescued pets or traveling to countries at their own expense to provide veterinary care to animals that would never otherwise receive care.  Veterinary technicians wear many hats.

As I sit here, nursing this head cold, I find it is hard to feel sorry for myself when I have been blessed to be a part of such an inspiring group of people.

There is a ancient Sanscrit word.  It means, the Spirit within me salutes the Spirit in you.  That is how I would like to close.  To all technicians this week; “Namaste’”!

Because they love animals

Smart Leonard

Smart Leonard

Here at PVMA, it’s that time of year where we honor some of our best and brightest with a PVMA member award. They come with many names – distinguished veterinary service, veterinarian of the year, lifetime achievement – but it all boils down to the same thing: honoring someone who went above and beyond the call of duty. Historically, the job of veterinarian has been ranked as one of the most respected and trusted in the country. Lately, with the evolution of big box stores and online alternatives, that seems to be changing. To counteract this, I thought I’d mention a few of the reasons I think we should – literally or figuratively – thank a veterinarian.

A lot of times, the perception can be that veterinarians are doctors, therefore they must charge too much and they make lots of money. It’s true, they are doctors, but their extensive education to learn about many species, not just one, comes at a price. Most veterinarians graduate with upwards of $300,000 in education loans, and jobs in the field pay nothing like jobs do in human medicine. It’s like having a mortgage without a house. Why do they do it? They love animals.

Taking your pet to the veterinarian’s office can be stressful if your dog or cat isn’t too happy (or way too happy!) to see the other animals in the waiting room, let alone the staff. You see the waiting room and the exam rooms filled with other pet parents and their offspring getting check ups, vaccinations, and other routine items. But what about the animals who don’t have a family? The ones that get hit by a car or are found in the bushes, sick or injured, and are brought to a veterinarian. They treat those animals too, often without payment. They won’t tell you that. They don’t get credit for that. Why do they do it? They love animals.

Our member awards make me think not only of our 2013 recipients but of recipients from years past whose deeds are still relevant and noteworthy. I think of the veterinary practice who not only treated a K9 officer injured in the line of duty but gave his owner free veterinary care for life after his police partner passed away. I think of the veterinarian who mentored a neighborhood kid in his practice. They started out cleaning kennels, but he infused in them such a love for the profession and each animal that they went on to graduate from veterinary school.

NAVSThen there’s the doctor who went to a fundraiser in his own town to benefit Native Americans and casually inquired about what type of access to veterinary care Native Americans had who live on reservations. Upon hearing the answer ‘little to none,’ he started his own program of volunteers which still travels twice a year to multiple Native American reservations to provide veterinary care for free.

I’m reminded of the veterinary student who was so moved by the poor veterinary standards in Haiti that – as a student – she began a volunteer group to educate locals and provide veterinary care to those who live on the island.

So despite the white coat, veterinarians are people just like you and me. Owning a pet is very rewarding but can come with its share of hassles. Veterinary check ups, purchasing licenses, pet food, flea and tick prevention, etc. But next time your veterinarian recommends something to you or challenges your way of thinking, just listen. They do what they do because they love animals.

PVMA’s Digital Photo Contest Drew Some Great Entries


National Pet Week is an annual event which is celebrated across the country to bring awareness to veterinary medicine and to encourage responsible pet ownership. It’s celebrated any number of ways – veterinary clinics having barbecues, providing coloring sheets and games for children, community outreach and more. Here at PVMA, we host a digital photography contest. Students from across the state are able to submit a photo which depicts the theme “A Photo Shot of Love.” Sometimes getting a great shot is about being in the right place at the right time, but the variety of subject matter is creative and fun. Take a look at a few of our favorite winning entries below, or you can view the entire winner’s gallery on our website. We look forward to next year’s contest!

Taken by Isel P. of Pittsburgh – 6th grade

Taken by Samantha B. of Royersford – 9th grade