Get a FREE VISIT from I Love Your Pet!

With summer vacations coming up, I'd like to offer you a free visit! To qualify, just download the Nextdoor app and use it to let others know you support I Love Your Pet!

Just follow the directions below on your phone, tablet, or sign up online. The app is FREE & safe and will only take a few minutes of your time!


1. To join Nextdoor on your web browser, go to nextdoor.com, enter your email address, street address*, and zip code, and click GET STARTED.

OR

2. To join Nextdoor on your iPhone, Android, or tablet:

- Go to the App Store & search for "Nextdoor" & download (green background with a white house)
- You can either sign in with your Facebook account, or create an account. There will be step by step directions & you will have to confirm your residence by phone number, credit card, or postcard which is FREE & SAFE. You may have already received an invite from me.

3. Once you join Nextdoor, create a new post (in the app, there will be a square in the top right corner with a pencil) and click "Message" to share something with your neighborhood.

- Choose your neighborhood + Nearby (which will post in surround neighborhoods as well)
- FOR THE SUBJECT LINE type PROFESSIONAL PET SITTER & VET TECH
- In the message area copy and paste this:

Are you looking for an in-home pet sitter for your travels and live in Baton Rouge or nearby? I highly recommend Hannah Haley with I Love Your Pet. Hannah has 7 years of experience as a sitter & veterinary technician and she cares for all types of animals! Your pets will be less stressed in their own environment and their routine is minimally interrupted. Visit www.iloveyourpet.net or email hannah@iloveyourpet.net for more information!

- To attach a picture to your message, right click and "save" the I Love Your Pet logo picture below or press and hold the picture to save to your phone. There will be a camera for you to attach the picture to your message.

- Click next and post in the "recommendations" section.
- Finally, take a screen shot or picture of the post once it's posted in Nextdoor and email to hannah@iloveyourpet.net and a free visit will be credited to your account for your next scheduled dates.

That's it! It's that simple! 

**This offer is valid from June 28, 2016 to December 31, 2016. ONE FREE VISIT PER CLIENT ($20 value) VALID ONLY IN BATON ROUGE, PRAIRIEVILLE, GEISMAR, ST. GABRIEL & SUNSHINE, LOUISIANA. Valid for current and new clients. Proof must be provided for the credit to be applied. NOT VALID for past visits**

Who doesn't love free money?! 

Who doesn't love free money?! 

For more educational blogs, posts, and pictures of animals; follow & like I Love Your Pet on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

I Love Your Pet offers pet care services in the convenience of your own home by an experienced veterinary technician! Contact hannah@iloveyourpet.net to book your future vacation & weekend pet sitting services. Currently serving the Baton Rouge & nearby areas.

Posted on June 28, 2016 .

What Is Von Willebrand's Disease?

A Rainbow of Doberman Pinschers, all adopted through Doberman Rescues. Photo Courtesy of The Eiler Rescue Crew located in New Orleans, La

A Rainbow of Doberman Pinschers, all adopted through Doberman Rescues. Photo Courtesy of The Eiler Rescue Crew located in New Orleans, La

Von-What Disease? If you've ever heard of Von Willebrand's Disease, the first breed you think of is a Doberman Pinscher. But did you know other breeds are affected, and humans can also be diagnosed with this disease?

Von Willebrand’s disease (vWD) is the most common inherited bleeding disorder of both man and animals. It is caused by a deficiency in the amount of a protein needed to help platelets (a blood cell used in clotting) seal broken blood vessels. The deficient protein is called von Willebrand factor antigen. It takes its name from Dr. Erik von Willebrand, who first described the condition in 1926.

Which breeds are most commonly affected by VWD?
About 30 different breeds are known to be affected but the Doberman Pinscher is the breed most commonly associated with this disease. Of 15,000 Dobermans screened, more than 70% were found to be carriers of the disease. Fortunately, most of these are not clinically affected (i.e., we see no evidence of bleeding). However, the number of Dobermans with a history of bleeding appears to be on the rise. Although Dobermans are commonly affected, they usually have the mildest form of the disease. The average at diagnosis for this breed is about four years of age.

One study showed that 30% of Scotties and 28% of Shelties had abnormally low concentrations of von Willebrand factor. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and Scotties are affected with the most severe form of the disease.

Simone, Lena, & Mumford

Simone, Lena, & Mumford

As many of you may know, I recently adopted Lena, a 6mth old Doberman Pinscher, from Gulf Coast Doberman Rescue. I have always wanted a Doberman, and she was the perfect puppy and fit into the family. Lena (formerly Ridley from GCDR) was found as a stray on Grand Isle. A stray?! I know! No one ever claimed her and thus went into a foster home before I adopted her. Lena was too young to be spayed when I adopted her, so we waited a few months. In the mean time, I had her tested for VWD prior to her spay. Unfortunately, Lena came back as a heterozygous VWD Type 1 Carrier with an abnormal 45% Von Willebrand Factor (normal range is 70% to 180%). Because of this, it was suggested that Lena be spayed laparoscopically with a plasma transfusion prior to surgery. A plasma transfusion given prior to surgery provided Lena with enough Von Willebrand Factor (vWF) that she needed in order for her blood to clot efficiently. 

Lena on the surgery table during her spay

Lena on the surgery table during her spay

What are some of the signs of VWD?
Many dogs with VWD never show outward evidence of having the disease. Others may hemorrhage from the nose, vagina, or urinary bladder or oral mucous membranes; prolonged bleeding after trauma or surgery is common. Females may bleed excessively after giving birth. In affected dogs with uncontrolled hemorrhage, death may occur.

How is VWD diagnosed?
A screening test, called the buccal mucosal screening time, may be performed in the veterinarian’s office. Prolonged bleeding on this test can raise the suspicion of the disease, especially in breeds known to be at risk. Occasionally, BMBT's and clotting profiles (PT/PTT) are normal and a dog can still not have enough vWF. This was the case for Lena, as both were normal. For owners who wish to confirm the diagnosis, it is possible to determine the exact amount of von Willebrand protein present in the blood.

Recently, a DNA test by VetGen gives a more accurate answer that will categorize vWD into clear, carrier, and affected. Test results will come back as "clear," "carrier," or "affected." Clear means both vWf genes are normal, carrier means one is normal and one is defective, and affected means both genes are defective. It is important to realize that this DNA test is very different from the old protein-based factor assay. The DNA test is definitive and final, a lifelong, permanent determination of the vWD status of each dog tested as contrasted to the factor assay, in which the levels could change drastically over time. We can now say in hindsight that the old test probably correctly identified some affected Dobermans (values under 20), but it is completely unreliable for carrier detection.

Owners of Dobermans often report that the pet has undergone routine spay, castration, ear cropping, and tail docking as a pup. An uncomplicated recovery from such procedures does not eliminate the possibility that a dog may be affected; some dogs do not become obvious “bleeders” until later in life which is why its very important when owning a breed pre-disposed to vWD you have them tested.

A laparoscopic spay on Lena being performed by Dr. Frederick McMullan at All Pets Hospital

A laparoscopic spay on Lena being performed by Dr. Frederick McMullan at All Pets Hospital

Are there any situations which pose an increased risk if my dog is affected?
The avoidance of certain medications is critical for the dog with VWD as some drugs that may precipitate a bleeding crisis in a dog with vWD. Emotional stress is thought to precipitate bleeding in humans with the disease. The subjective nature of such a finding makes it difficult to know if there may be a similar association in dogs, although this remains a possibility.

Should I breed my dog if they've tested as carrier or affected for VWD?                                   VWD is NOT a desired trait and can be passed down to offspring. While I am a strong advocate of rescue and spay/neuter, if you choose to breed your Dobermans or breed predisposed to VWD, having them tested prior to producing any offspring is HIGHLY recommended. The Doberman breeder and owner should view vWD as a significant health risk, and a fault, and strive to get rid of the mutated gene.  

The problem facing the Doberman breeder is that it appears that only 15 to 20% of Dobermans are clear of the vWD gene. If one breeds mostly clear to clear, it narrows the breeding pool so much that there is risk of losing some of the Doberman's genetic heritage, i.e., some of the genes determining valuable positive characteristics of the Doberman might be lost, or highly diluted. Therefore, as a first priority, we advise breeding clear to clear and clear to carrier, at least for the next two or three generations. Over time, as the frequency of clear dogs increases, it should be possible to breed mostly clear to clear, and to eventually eliminate the mutant vWD gene. As a second priority, we suggest that it is reasonable to breed carrier to carrier, if an acceptable clear dog is not available for breeding. This type of mating will produce 25% clear, 50% carrier, and 25% affected, on average. The puppies should be tested and the affected puppies not used for breeding.

Breeding carrier to affected and affected to affected should be avoided if at all possible. The first breeding produces 50% affected on average, and the second produces 100% affected animals. In my opinion, there should be two initial objectives of the Doberman vWD breeding program. One objective should be to produce as few affected animals as possible, because each is a health risk. That doesn't mean we believe affected Doberman puppies should be put down. Most of them can live normal lives. If possible, we believe it would be a good idea to neuter affected animals. The second objective of the breeding program should be to gradually reduce the gene and disease frequency. The kinds of breedings involving the mating of an affected, as listed at the first of this paragraph, tend to increase the disease gene frequency, whereas clear to clear and clear to carrier breedings tend to decrease frequency. This information is provided by VetGen.

What can be done to treat dogs with VWD?
In an emergency situation, transfusion of blood or fresh frozen plasma may stabilize the patient. The dog donating blood may be treated with a drug called DDAVP prior to blood collection; this will raise the level of von Willebrand factor in the donor’s blood, an obvious benefit for the dog with VWD.

Some dogs with VWD are able to increase the amount of protein in circulation after the administration of DDAVP, although the response is variable. At this time, it is not recommended to use this drug on a regular basis. The drug is expensive, and not all dogs will respond to it.

Lena did fantastic for her spay and is recovering well at home with Nurse Simone by her side

Lena did fantastic for her spay and is recovering well at home with Nurse Simone by her side

If I own a Doberman or a breed predisposed to VWD that has always been healthy, should I do something?
Since many Dobermans or predisposed breeds will never have bleeding problems, any recommendation to do routine testing is debatable. However, identification of dogs that have abnormal bleeding times can be very valuable if surgery is planned. Additionally, knowing that your dog is a carrier of VWD can be very important if an injury occurs or emergency surgery is needed.

For more information on VWD, speak to your veterinarian! I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding VWD to the best of my ability. Lena is doing well post spay. She also had a gastropexy done at the same time-  stay tuned for my next blog on what a gastropexy is and the benefits!

Lena relaxing on the couch the day after surgery

Lena relaxing on the couch the day after surgery

For more educational blogs, posts, and pictures of animals; follow & like I Love Your Pet on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

I Love Your Pet offers pet care services in the convenience of your own home by an experienced veterinary technician! Contact hannah@iloveyourpet.net to book your future vacation & weekend pet sitting services. Currently serving the Baton Rouge & nearby areas.

 

Posted on June 22, 2016 .

Honduras Mission Trip Recap

A Honduran boy waiting for his puppy to have surgery

A Honduran boy waiting for his puppy to have surgery

Dear Friends & Family,

Wow! The week in Honduras was absolutely amazing! God taught me so much through this mission trip, my team, and the people and animals we ministered to in Honduras. One thing God taught me was humility, making me less aware of myself and teaching me to attend to the needs of others. During our trip, we visited four different villages. Each day we would set up our surgery tables, deworming stations, and a tent for shade. The animals and Hondurans would pour in almost immediately. Our team dewormed over 315 animals and spayed/neutered 50 animals including dogs, cats, pigs, horses, and even rabbits! Animals also received flea/tick prevention and even some vaccines. We were able to take samples and analyze them each day back at the HOI Ranch for research purposes. We were also able to play games with the kids and educate the families about animal care.

My life will never be the same because of this trip and I want to say thank you for your prayer, encouragement, and/or financial support. Without your partnership my mission trip might not have been possible. Thank you for investing in me for the Kingdom’s sake! I know that God wants me to be bolder about sharing my faith – not just in Honduras, but right here in Baton Rouge.

May the Lord bless you and your family for blessing and being a part of God’s transformation of not only my life, but many of the Honduran people and animals in Honduras. Please don’t stop praying for them. Pray that they would hear and accept the gospel and pray for protection for those that have recently accepted Christ. Pray also for the scriptures to be translated to the Honduran language so that God’s Glory would continue to be made known among them. I am hoping to attend many more future trips with Christian Veterinary Mission to make a difference in the life of other people and their animals.

 

In Christ,

Hannah Haley

 

Posted on May 9, 2016 .

Easy Homemade Dog Treats

Do you want to make homemade dog treats for your fur babies?  I have a perfect recipe for you, this one is easy and healthy! It also has hidden ingredients to freshen your fur babies breath. Shh…they will never know!

 

HOMEMADE PEANUT BUTTER AND BANANA DOG TREATS

  • 1 banana, peeled
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup dried mint
  • 1/4 cup dried parsley
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 300°F. Put banana in a large bowl and use a spoon or potato masher to mash it thoroughly. Add oat flour, oats, parsley, peanut butter and egg and stir well to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes.

Roll mixture into 24 balls, using about 1 tablespoon dough for each; transfer to a large parchment paper-lined baking sheet, put in a mold, or use a cookie cutter. If you do not have a mold or cookie cutter,  use the back of a spoon or the heel of your hand to press each ball into a (1 1/2- to 2-inch) coin. Bake until firm and deep golden brown on the bottom, 40 to 45 minutes. Set aside to let cool completely.

Storage note: It’s best to store these in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Or, freeze them to give to your pal later; just be sure to thaw the treats before handing them out.

Nutritional Info Per Serving: Serving size: 1 each, 45 calories (15 from fat), 1.5g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 10mg cholesterol, 10mg sodium, 6g carbohydrate (1g dietary fiber, 1g sugar), 2g protein

Source

Posted on April 14, 2016 .

An Open Confession

Veterinary technicians are highly trained and dedicated members of the veterinary team. Veterinary technicians are the backbone of a practice. They are a huge part of providing the best care possible to pets. They are responsible for the care and nursing of sick or injured patients, performing laboratory testing, taking radiographs (X-rays), assisting with anesthesia, administering medications and therapies to patients, and performing dental cleanings. They are also hugely involved in the education of pet owners on various topics, Veterinary technicians play a tremendous role in the day-to-day functioning of a veterinary practice. They are an essential part of keeping the hospital running smoothly and are very important in caring for the pets that come into the doors of the hospital.

This is an open confession to every veterinary technician I have ever worked with or work with. We are not perfect, but we sure do strive to do our best. We all have our weak moments, bad days, but must remember that we are the unsung heroes, the client counselors, veterinary emotional support offerers, and in general people without whom these clinics would fall to pieces.

  • I ate the last brownie. I’m sorry. I know now you probably hadn’t eaten in 10 hours and really needed it to keep going. I also know you figured it out and let it slide.
  • I actually wasn’t being helpful when I said I would clean that kennel and got side tracked. Thank you for being gracious. I saw you go back in later and do it correctly.
  • When you couldn’t hit a vein and asked me to and I said “Try again! Practice makes perfect!” that was only because I knew if you couldn’t hit it, there was no way I could.
  • I now know that your gentle suggestions are not really suggestions. I should have listened the first 10 times you were right.
  • If it were not for you I would have walked into 100 exam rooms with my poop on my shoes that I didn't even see.
  • When I left the room after that really hard euthanasia to see the next appointment, I went into the bathroom to cry and left you alone with the single mom and young child to console because you were better at that stuff than me.
  • For all the times you took care of me and looked out for my well-being, I rarely did the same for you. If I did, it wasn’t enough.

As I look in horror at a vein that will not cooperate while flying solo on a weekend, I need you.

When I see a little kid going straight for the syringes and I only have two hands when I need four, I need you.

When there is an eighty pound dog that won't walk on a leash and I can't pick up by myself, I need you.

When a scared cat will not cooperate for a blood draw, I need you.

When it’s been a rough day and I could use a friend to talk to, I need you.

Being a vet tech means embracing a lot of challenges – but reaping major rewards. Thank you for all that you do. You make a difference, not only in the lives of animals, but for other techs, doctors, and clients.

 

For more educational blogs, posts, and pictures of animals; follow & like I Love Your Pet on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

I Love Your Pet offers pet care services in the convenience of your own home by an experienced veterinary technician! Contact hannah@iloveyourpet.net to book your future vacation & weekend pet sitting services. Currently serving the Baton Rouge & nearby areas.

Posted on February 12, 2016 .

Honduras Mission Trip with Christian Veterinary Mission!

Dear friends, clients, and family,

I want to share with you a challenging ministry opportunity that God has presented to me. From March 12-19, 2016, I will be traveling and living in Honduras with a team organized by Christian Veterinary Mission. Through our short-term mission trip, veterinarians, vet students, and vet technicians will make a positive impact in the lives of animals and people in the community.

I would love for you to be a part of my support team! First, you can help support our team in prayer as we prepare for our trip, our travel, safety in our work, and that our ministry will be productive. Another way you can be involved is to help provide financial support. We need to raise $3,000 each for the cost of the trip, which will include housing, airfare, food and water, immunizations and special medications we need for our protection.

You can send a check to this ministry on my behalf by simply making a check out to Christian Veterinary Mission and on the memo line write my account number (UCVSTM1858). You will receive a letter for a tax-deductible donation for this year. Their address is:

You can also donate on my behalf by going online to www.cvmusa.org and then to Support > Short Term Missions. Click on the “Individual” button. Fill in the Designation box with a drop-down menu to "other” (at the bottom of the list). A white box will appear, and please enter in my account number (UCVSTM1858) and write in my name, Hannah Haley - ST Missions in that box. CVM will make sure it gets designated to my trip. Please let me know if you have questions.

Please pray for us as we seek God’s will. We intend to be carriers of His Word and bearers of your love. As we partner together, He will bless you. Thank you for your support and prayers!

In Christ,

Hannah Haley

Note: Should a cancellation or special circumstances impact this trip, all donations will still be used for the purpose of supporting the ministries of Christian Veterinary Mission. 

For more information visit the Christian Veterinary Mission website!

Posted on December 13, 2015 .

Meet My New Foster Reese

Meet my new foster, Reese, isn't he beautiful? Reese is a 7 month old purebred sable colored cocker spaniel who was surrendered by his owner who could no longer care for him. He is the total package-house & crate trained, sweet & loving, smart & easy to train! Unfortunately, Reese has a rare problem with both of his knees called laterally luxating patellas. The patella, or kneecap, is part of the stifle joint (knee). In patellar luxation, the kneecap luxates, or pops out of place, either in a medial or lateral position. Medial luxations are more commonly seen, but lateral luxations only occur in about 5% of dogs. 

Early detection and correction is the best way to prevent severe lameness, arthritis, and dysfunction. If not surgically corrected now, Reese will most likely become lame and arthritic by the young age of 2. Treatment involves surgically replacing the kneecap into the groove, and preventing it from popping in and out.

The orthopedic surgeon has recommended Reese have both knees surgically repaired at separate times. His first knee surgery and neuter is scheduled this week. He will be on crate rest for 4-6wks and then undergo his second surgery.

Reese will be available for adoption after both surgeries and crate rest are complete. If you can donate towards his veterinary care, click here! 

 

Posted on November 6, 2015 .

The Potentially Deadly Treat You May Be Giving Your Dog

Puppies are notoriously aggressive chewers, but some dogs never grow out of chewing. If you want to save your shoes or furniture from untimely destruction, you probably offer your furry friend rawhide treats to alleviate their tendency to chew.

But could you be unknowingly putting your dog in danger? Here are some of the hidden dangers of feeding rawhides and some alternatives to appease your little chewer while keeping him safe.

Rawhide Manufacturing

Rawhides are made from the inner layer of cow or horse hides (source). By the time they make it to the store, they are clean, usually white or brown, hard chews.

But what goes into making these chews? Pet nutrition blogger Rodney Habib describes the chemical-laden manufacturing process used for preserving and cleaning the hides. Things like hydrogen peroxide and bleach are commonly used, as well as artificial colors and preservatives like sodium benzonate, according to Habib.

To avoid chemical byproducts, it’s important to do some research. Read labels or even call the manufacturer to ask what preservatives they used. Your typical manufacturer is going to use a chemical preservative to make sure the rawhide doesn’t spoil. They don’t necessarily have to say what chemicals were used on the label. Unless we know it doesn’t contain chemical preservatives, we should assume it does and avoid it.

Look for labels that say “preservative free,” or otherwise indicate no chemical preservatives were used to manufacture the rawhides. Family farms who slaughter their own cows and dry their hides naturally in the sun are ideal. 

Rawhides aren’t inherently evil.

In fact, rawhides can keep an aggressive chewer captive for hours—but make sure you monitor their intake and limit their chewing to an hour a day or less if they can tear through an entire rawhide in that time. And always, as with any bone, toy, or chew treat, supervise your pet and make sure they are an appropriate size for them.

Dangers of Rawhides

Apart from the chemicals used to preserve most rawhides, there are some other risks with feeding these hard chews to your pet: mainly choking, getting lodged in their throat, or even causing a gastrointestinal obstruction. All are dangerous and potentially deadly situations.

Getting access to a rawhide lodged in their throat is extremely challenging. The best way is with an endoscope but if one of the edges scrapes the inside of the esophagus, whatever is in the esophagus will leak out in small or large volumes, which can cause irritation and infection, too. 

If your dog does start to choke, try to pull the piece of rawhide out. It’s better to pull it forward than push it down. But even if you can remove the rawhide yourself, you should still take your dog to the vet because you may have created some damage in the back of the throat.

Gastrointestinal obstructions are life threatning. As a veterinary technician, I have seen many of foreign body surgeries, most of which were some sort of rawhide, bone, or object that a dog should have not eaten. Not all rawhides are evil, but they certainly are not my favorite chew treat and especially not for teeth cleaning purposes.

Teeth-Cleaning Myths

Most pet parents think rawhides are great for cleaning their dog’s teeth. While there is some validity to that, there are better options for keeping your dog’s chompers clean and their gums healthy.

Chewing on a treat does not equal a toothbrush. Ideally, you should be brushing daily and working with your vet for treatment like anesthesia teeth cleaning when necessary.

Studies show there is a correlation between canine tooth decay and the type of food they eat, especially kibbles and certain carb-heavy treats. These leave more easily fermentable carbohydrates on the teeth that bacteria can grow on.

Alternative Options

There are a number of safe, healthy alternatives to rawhides, and I prefer products that have been proven to work by the Veterinary Oral Health Council.

  • Virbac Enzymatic Oral Hygeine Chews: These have enzymes that break down tartar but they are made with beef rawhide, so if you have a pet with a sensitive stomach, this may not be your best option. These are a great choice if you do have an aggressive chewer and are going to choose some type of rawhide.
  • Virbac C.E.T. Veggiedent Tartar Control Chews: These are personally my favorite, and are approved for pets with food allergies. They are vegetable-based chews that work with a dog’s chewing action to freshen breath, reduce plaque, and decrease tartar formation. For them to be effective, they must be given on a daily basis.
  • Milk-Bone Brushing Chews: These chews help provide an easy and effective way to take care of your dog's teeth. These daily dental treats are clinically proven to reduce tartar and fight bad breath and are VOHC approved! 

Ideally, we would all brush our dog's teeth, but for some, this isn't realistic. These are just a few of the products out there that are clinically proven. For a full list of products awarded the VOHC seal of approval, visit VOHC Products. Most dental chews need to be given on a daily basis to work and studies show they must chew on the treat for 3-5 minutes total. Depending on how severe your pets teeth are, they may need a professional dental cleaning before you begin them. A clean slate is easier to work with! Dental tartar is a mineral deposit that can turn to stone on teeth if left there long enough, at which point the only way of removing it is an ultrasonic or hand scaler. Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian today to have an oral health exam and pick a plan that's right for you and your pet!

The Bottom Line

Redirecting your dog’s natural tendency to chew by offering a tasty treat can save your furniture or shoes from destruction, but you need to make sure you know your chews are SAFE. Always monitor your dog with any chew toy and take and throw away the small pieces as he gets to the end of the chew to prevent choking.

 

The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help.

 

For more educational blogs, posts, and pictures of animals; follow & like I Love Your Pet on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

I Love Your Pet offers pet care services in the convenience of your own home! Contact hannah@iloveyourpet.net to book your future vacation & weekend pet sitting services. Currently serving the Baton Rouge & nearby areas.

Posted on August 15, 2015 .

Top 10 Reasons Why Being A Vet Tech Is Hard Work

What is it about being a veterinary technician that makes the job so hard?

#10 EUTHANASIA – Let’s just get this one out of the way. Euthanasia is hard. Is it the hardest part of our job? Nope, not nearly. What non-veterinary people may not understand is that more often than not,euthanasia is a gift we give to an ailing patient. Relieving pain and suffering is our calling, and there is some comfort in watching a struggling old patient stop struggling and be at peace. That having been said, comforting the humans is hard as hell, because we know exactly how you feel, and it hurts. More than one veterinary technician graduate has dropped out of the profession after having to put down their own pet. Being reminded of that pain day after day is simply too hard for most people.

#9 PAIN – Pain is a part of life, right? That’s easy enough to say, but watching a helpless animal be in pain is a whole new ball game. Bad enough are the pets who quietly hide their suffering. But the cases that really tear at your heart are the pets who know they hurt, but don’t understand why, and they’re scared, and there’s nothing you can do to explain it to them. And there’s always some small part of you that thinks the animal is blaming you for their pain, even though it’s not really your fault they got sick.

#8 FEAR – Every day, animals come into the clinic scared for their lives. They have no concept of what a hospital is, or that we’re here to help. The sounds are strange, the people are strange, the smells are strange, and people are touching, lifting, poking, prodding. Until you’ve worked on a pet yourself, you don’t really understand what it means to have to do painful things to an animal for their own good, and have them look at you with those fearful eyes. They really do think you’re trying to kill them, and it’s heartbreaking.

#7 BITES AND SCRATCHES – …don’t usually hurt physically nearly as much as the pain you feel inside your heart, knowing you got scratched or bitten by an animal you love, and were just trying to help. The flip side of #8.

#6 MUSS AND FUSS – It takes a special kind of crazy to devote yourself to animals. These goofy, furry, noisy, messy critters we love so much. It’s odd for a veterinary professional to understand why someonewouldn’t want fur all over their house. How could you not love taking your puppy out every two hours to potty train it? To a veterinary technician, cleaning up a sick pet’s mess makes them feel more sorry for the pet, than for themselves having to clean it up. That’s a special kind of love right there.

#5 BREEDERS – There are two kinds of breeders; some breeders go through the pain, agony, and expense of breeding dogs because of their undying devotion to, and love of a particular breed. These angels have devoted entire lifetimes to creating and molding hundreds of breeds of wonderful, functional, loving, sound, well-built, exquisitely diverse dog and cat pets and working animals for hundreds of years, and brought joy to my profession. They know it’s expensive, and difficult, and rarely profitable, but they do it anyway. And then there’s the breeders who do it for money. It’s tough for a veterinary technician who knows the shelter is full of unwanted pets to smile at breeders and do their job. Luckily, the public is becoming wise to their puppy-milling ways, and rescue, foster, and adoption are becoming more and more common. Don’t shop, adopt!

#4 PATIENCE – Now, we’re starting to get into what’s really difficult about the veterinary profession. Coming up with a treatment plan that looks good on paper is easy. Performing those treatments on your pet, often when they’re in pain or not feeling so hot, is tough. Messy and difficult treatments are what separates the pet owning wheat, from the chaff. So veterinary technicians are often put in the middle, guiding and encouraging pet owners to follow through with treatments. Often, the pet owner has other commitments, and they’re forced to do silly things like go to work and raise children instead of taking care of their pet all day and night. I’m kidding, of course, but in all seriousness, when a pet comes into our office over and over again with a repeat problem that could maybe have been prevented with some time and effort at home, it’s frustrating. Frustrating for the owner, frustrating for the staff. Dealing with that mutual frustration on a daily basis, and keeping everybody on task and focused on the pet’s best interests, without placing blame, takes a special kind of patience that only the most dedicated veterinary technicians are born with.

#3 UNDERSTANDING – Some people still think all pit bulls are just naturally mean. That all Golden Retrievers make good family pets. That bad dogs always come from abusive homes; therefore any puppy that comes from a loving home will automatically train itself to be a good family pet. That chihuahuas are supposed to live in hand bags. That male cats are better, that female cats are better. Oy vey! These biases are very prevalent in our society, and by and large, they’re all wrong. Every day we see clients who are convinced their pet will be one thing and it becomes another. 90% of what a veterinary technician does all day long, then, is share the vast knowledge prior generations of veterinarians and vet techs have learned in the school of hard knocks, so owners don’t have to make the same mistakes of their predecessors. If teaching doesn’t bring a technician joy, having the same conversations day after day can lead to burnout. Every day vet techs are faced by people who have been given incorrect information by someone else, and have to persist on behalf of the animal, sharing knowledge with patience and understanding, to correct that knowledge. Veterinary technicians are truly the most patient, understanding, caring people you will ever meet.

#2 PERSISTENCE – Further to #3… teaching clients who don’t know something but are willing to learn is hard, but it’s incredibly rewarding. What’s infinitely more difficult and soul-crushing, though, is a case where the owner starts to wonder if the pet is worth the bother. Frustrating, dragging cases where the client just wants Fido to “get better”, or if its a behavioral problem, to… well, to quit doing normal cat or dog things that normal cats and dogs do, and quit causing trouble. Loving animals means accepting their flaws and limitations, in sickness and in health, it’s not all puppies and kittens and purrs and wags. Many veterinary technician wannabes enter vet tech school thinking every day is full of hugs and puppy breath. Turns out talking to people is what we do all day, often when they’re worried about their furry family member and conversations are difficult.

#1 OVERWORKED, UNDERAPPRECIATED and UNDERPAID – Pretty much summarizes the entire veterinary technical profession. The entirety of veterinary medicine is under funded. That’s what happens when your profession has no medical insurance coverage, no government assistance, no public funding whatsoever, and every dollar that comes into this building has to come directly out of an owner’s pocket. Sadly, that chronic lack of cash flow trickles down and keeps vet techs working for barely higher than minimum wage. Being a veterinary technician is a career of choice, a career of passion, hard work and sacrifice, but I can assure you, nobody is in it for the money.

So essentially, a veterinary technician is a patient, understanding angel, who is also good at persuading people to do things when either they or their pet would rather not, and get paid peanuts to do it.

And bless their hearts, they love every second of it.


For more educational blogs, posts, and pictures of animals; follow & like I Love Your Pet on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

I Love Your Pet offers pet care services in the convenience of your own home! Contact hannah@iloveyourpet.net to book your future vacation & weekend pet sitting services. Currently serving the Baton Rouge & nearby areas.

Posted on May 18, 2015 .

Protecting Your Pets: Heartworm Disease

Lala is a 9-year old Terrier/Retriever mix available for adoption through Companion Animal Alliance in Baton Rouge, La. She is house, crate trained, and knows basic commands. Lala is spayed, microchipped, current on vaccinations, but she is heartworm positive. She was brought into the shelter as a stray - but it was quite obvious someone had owned her before. Lala is currently in a foster home brushing up on her manners but is looking for her forever home.

Lala is a 9-year old Terrier/Retriever mix available for adoption through Companion Animal Alliance in Baton Rouge, La. She is house, crate trained, and knows basic commands. Lala is spayed, microchipped, current on vaccinations, but she is heartworm positive. She was brought into the shelter as a stray - but it was quite obvious someone had owned her before. Lala is currently in a foster home brushing up on her manners but is looking for her forever home.


It is mid April in South Louisiana which means the swamps of the south are a breeding ground for mosquitos. Not only are they an annoyance, but they also carry the microfilariae (babies) of heartworms.  As the weather gets warmer, mosquitos are more prevalent, as is heartworm disease.  For this reason, April is Heartworm Disease Awareness month.  According to the American Heartworm Society, there have been cases of heartworm disease reported in all 50 states, but veterinarians in Louisiana reported some of the highest number of cases nationwide.

So what is heartworm disease?  And who is at risk?  Heartworms are tiny worms that live in dogs hearts and lungs, causing high blood pressure and blocking blood vessels that can result in death (not unlike a heart attack).  Mosquitoes transmit heartworms between animals. When an infected animal is bitten by a mosquito, young heartworms called microfilaria are carried in the blood. In 10-14 days the microfilaria mature into infective stage larvae. At this point, when a mosquito bites a host, the larvae are transmitted. It takes about 6 months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms, which are able to reproduce. This is why the American Heartworm Society recommends testing all dogs for heartworms starting at 6 months of age.

In the early stages of heartworm disease, young healthy dogs show very few symptoms. That’s why routine testing is so important. Extremely active dogs, those with severe infections, and those sick with other conditions can have a mild, persistent cough, get tired quicker after normal activities, have a decreased appetite, and begin to lose weight. Cats and ferrets can also contract heartworm disease; however, heartworms typically don’t mature in these animals and treatment options are limited. This is why utilizing prevention products is important.

Even in areas and seasons where mosquitos are rare, veterinarians usually recommend year round heartworm prevention.  One mosquito bite can transmit this potentially deadly disease. Prevention is generally well tolerated, and is much less expensive than treatment for heartworms. Preventions are most commonly given as a monthly chewable tablet, topical, or  6mth shot. Talk with you veterinarian about which preventative is best for your pet.

Many owners ask about natural preventatives for heartworm disease.  While natural preventions are desirable, they are not effective when challenged with an infected mosquito.  In fact, some “natural” preventatives, such as garlic, can cause toxicity.  Instead, FDA-approved heartworm preventions are available with a veterinary prescription. The FDA tests deworming medications for safety and efficacy, which are the active ingredients in heartworm preventions. 

It can be difficult remembering to give heartworm medication monthly.  Here are a few solutions to consider:

  • Use your reminders in your phone to send yourself a message to give heartworm prevention on schedule.

  • Give your heartworm prevention on an easy to remember day, such as the first of the month, or when you pay your monthly bills.

  • Discuss all forms of heartworm prevention with your veterinarian.  Long lasting injectable preventions are also available.

Lala is proving to everyone who’s met her that age is only a number.  Lala loves endless games of fetch and is skilled at jumping into the air to catch tennis balls.  It’s a guarantee that the human playing with her will tire first. Lala also loves toys, rolling around on the floor to show her excitement, car rides and snuggling on the couch. Don't miss out on this spectacular girl!

Lala is proving to everyone who’s met her that age is only a number.  Lala loves endless games of fetch and is skilled at jumping into the air to catch tennis balls.  It’s a guarantee that the human playing with her will tire first. Lala also loves toys, rolling around on the floor to show her excitement, car rides and snuggling on the couch. Don't miss out on this spectacular girl!

What happens if a dog does contract heartworms?  Veterinarians can utilize protocols approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association to treat the disease. Depending upon the severity of the infestation and the health of the dog, treatment can have varying impacts.  Heartworm Treatment can cost up to $1,000 or more which makes giving a monthly preventive a bargain in comparison. Treatment requires painful, arsenic-based injections to kill the heartworms present inside the lungs and heart. In addition, this is followed by a 1-3 month period of limited physical activity and possible health complications. Surgery may be required for dogs burdened with large amounts of worms. The longer the worms are in the heart, the more damage they are doing. Contact your veterinarian to discuss treatment options.

Remember: It is much easier to prevent heartworms than to treat them!


For more educational blogs, posts, and pictures of animals; follow & like I Love Your Pet on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

I Love Your Pet offers pet care services in the convenience of your own home! Contact hannah@iloveyourpet.net to book your future vacation & weekend pet sitting services. Currently serving the Baton Rouge & nearby areas.

Posted on April 14, 2015 .

How To Avoid Easter Pet Emergencies

Many pet owners don’t give a second thought to their pet’s safety on Easter Sunday. And why would you? For many, the holiday is synonymous with fluffy bunnies and baby animals of all shapes and sizes. Yet many of the traditions we hold dear on Easter can easily lead to pet emergencies, if you’re not aware of the risks.

While it’s not necessary to raise the threat level to red (or ‘Easter pink’, for that matter), you should be aware of what dangers your pet may face on this holiday. From chocolate bunnies and Easter lilies to plastic grass, and even Easter eggs, there is ample opportunity for your pet to discover mischief of some sort or another this weekend.

Easter Pet Emergencies Caused by Chocolate and Xylitol

One of the most common causes for pet emergencies over the Easter weekend is chocolate and Xylitol.

The theobromine in chocolate is highly toxic to most animals, especially dogs. Even a small amount can be fatal, depending on the cocoa content and the size of your pet. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is to pets. The effect of chocolate poisoning can range from an upset stomach to cardiac arrest, and is not something to be taken lightly.

Candy and treats containing Xylitol can also be fatally toxic to pets. These treats are often labeled as “sugar-free”, although Xylitol can be found lurking in other treats as well. This sugar substitute can cause pancreatitis, and is often fatal to our four-legged friends, if ingested.

Easter Pet Emergencies Caused by Easter Eggs

Whether you have real dyed-eggs, or plastic eggs, do your best to keep them away from your pets. In moderation, it is safe to peel a hard-boiled egg and feed it to your cat or dog when it is fresh, but do not feed them eggs that are old just to get rid of them.

Eggs rot quickly and can cause intestinal problems, including:

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Gas

  • Bloating (which can be fatal for dogs)

  • Discomfort

  • Colic

The problem with plastic eggs is two fold – the eggs themselves, and the treats hidden inside. In most cases, the eggs can pop open from the press of a paw or a quick bite, resulting in your pet discovering an exciting, but potentially deadly, feast inside.

It’s also possible that your pet may decide to treat the plastic egg as a chew toy, which can result in an internal obstruction, possibly resulting in an emergency surgery. If you suspect your pet has ingested a plastic egg (or the goodies inside), contact your veterinarian for further instructions.

Easter Pet Emergencies Caused by Easter Grass

The colorful grass used as bedding for candy and eggs in Easter basket attracts the attention of cats and dogs, especially those who tend to nibble on the real stuff.

Sadly, plastic grass is a common cause of intestinal blockage around Easter. In severe cases, surgery can be needed to remove the blockage from your pet’s digestive tract.

Make sure you keep all the baskets up out of the reach of your pets, and if possible, switch to pet grass, or a shredded paper grass instead.

A Word About Giving Easter Pets

Little chicks, bunnies, and ducklings are cute and lovable. But, if you plan on giving one to your children as a special Easter gift, be sure you understand that the animal requires a lot of love and care. It is important that the animals have a place to sleep, eat, and roam.

Ducklings and chicks need to be kept warm in the beginning, but grow quickly and will need a place outside before too long. Ducks need a place to swim, but only after they have feathers. Bunnies can be litter trained and make wonderful house pets if given the chance.

As with all animals, you need to be ready to provide Easter pets with a forever home and the care they deserve.

Emergency Pet Care in Baton Rouge, La

While I don’t want you to end up rushing your pet to the veterinarian on Easter Sunday anymore than you do, you can rest assured that if your pet needs emergency veterinary care on a holiday that Sherwood South Animal Hospital and LSU School of Veterinary Medicine are open 24/7 if needed.

Hope you all have a Happy Easter and stay safe!

 

 

For more educational blogs, posts, and pictures of animals; follow & like I Love Your Pet on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

I Love Your Pet offers pet care services in the convenience of your own home! Contact hannah@iloveyourpet.net to book your future vacation & weekend pet sitting services. Currently serving the Baton Rouge & nearby areas.

Posted on April 4, 2015 .

Pet Dental Care That Will Have Everyone Smiling!

Taking care of our oral health is such a normal part of our everyday routine that it can be easy to forget that our pets rely on us to help them with their oral care.

We all know the drill. Flossing and brushing happen in the wee hours of the morning before our coffee or after a long day at work and it may not even cross our minds to check the mouths of our pets. According to the American Veterinary Medical Associationover fifty percent of our pets will suffer from some type of oral health issue with their risk increasing as they age. Estimates show that the cost to fix these issues is over three times the cost of prevention.  For most pet owners, the idea that their four legged buddies might suffer pain is all they need to know to act.

So what are some practical things that we can do that will fit into our daily routines to help ensure the oral health of our pets?

Learn what is normal and what is not normal inside your pet’s mouth

If you haven’t done so already, speak with your vet about what your pet’s mouth and teeth should look like. Then, after you know what to look for, incorporate inspections into your pet care routine. During these inspections, be sure to smell your pet’s breath as changes in this area may aid in the identification of oral hygiene issues or possible illness. This can be done once a week or you can chose to make it a regular part of your day. Generally, with time and a soothing touch, a pet will acclimate to this process and be a willing participant in this new routine.

Learn how to properly brush your pet’s teeth

There are many options, but none are as good as brushing your pet’s teeth. Idealistically, this would be done daily just as with our own teeth. There are some wonderful video tutorials for both dogs and cats online that are only a few minutes long. It’s important to brush with pet approved toothpaste. Don’t have time to run to the store? No problem. There are multiple choices online. You can have a kit delivered right to your door that contains a toothbrush designed for your pet as well as toothpaste in delicious flavors including beef, poultry, and mint. Now we all know that life happens, there won’t always be time to brush. Don’t worry, there are many things that can be done to supplement a tooth brushing routine.

Supplement with other options

Professional cleanings: On average, most pets should have at least one professional cleaning a year. This is usually done by your vet under general anesthesia, but for those animals who cannot be anesthetized, there are other options which your vet can discuss with you.

Plaque remover water additives: While this may sound a bit alarming, many pet owners successfully use water additives to help with pet oral care (these usually have the added benefit of helping with bad breath). These water additives cost mere pocket change per dosage and are well worth the benefits. Simply add the recommended amount to fresh water daily and you and your pet are all set. Check out this C.E.T. Aquadent rinse made by Virbac. 

Plaque removing foams and gels: These foams and gels are also easy to administer to your pet. Some people use them instead of pet toothpaste as they find that their animals think they are getting a treat. Many choose to use a “finger brush” instead of a toothbrush or if you simply don’t have time, you can squeeze a bit onto your finger and let your pet lick it off.  A regular human toothbrush is not adequate for our pets since their teeth are designed differently, and can easily be chewed and swallowed without proper supervision. C.E.T. makes pet approved toothbrushes to fit their needs.

dogbrush.jpg

Oral care dental wipes: Wipes epitomize convenience. These can be stowed in a suitcase for a weekend trip, used to get those hard to reach spots in a pet’s mouth, or used for an older dog or cat who may need a gentle touch. If you're traveling with your pet and forget, a soft wash cloth will work as well.

Oral hygiene rinse: For those pet owners who are confident enough, this product is an amazing option for supplementation with brushing. We all know the many health benefits of rinsing after brushing so it isn’t hard to understand why this same practice is beneficial for our pets. Virbac C.E.T. also makes a great oral hygiene rinse.

VOHC Approved Dental Chews: There are a wide variety of dental chews out on the market, but few have the VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) Seal of Approval that are proven to work. Virbac C.E.T. chews or veggie-dents are two of the chews I recommend. Milk Bone recently came out with an over the counter dental chew that have received the VOHC seal of approval. 

As you can see, there are many options when it comes to making sure that our furry family members enjoy the comfort and happiness that comes with a healthy mouth. Always remember to speak to your vet about your pet’s individual needs before implementing a new care routine. However, once you have the green light, you and your family will be feeling good about your decision to have this additional way of showing your pets how much you care.

Virbac C.E.T. products can be purchased through your veterinarian, online pharmacy, or pet store.

Did you know? February is Dental Awareness Month, and many veterinarians are giving discounts for professional dental cleanings this month only! Contact your veterinarian today to schedule a consult and dental cleaning!


For more educational blogs, posts, and pictures of animals; follow & like I Love Your Pet on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

I Love Your Pet offers pet care services in the convenience of your own home! Contact hannah@iloveyourpet.net to book your future vacation & weekend pet sitting services. Currently serving the Baton Rouge & nearby areas.

Posted on February 21, 2015 .

Does My Pet Need Dental Care?

Pets need good dental care for the same reasons we do. Even though people brush their teeth twice a day, it is still recommended that we get our teeth cleaned and examined by a dentist twice a year. Our pets can’t brush their teeth, and many pets go a lifetime without even one dental checkup.

Do you know how your teeth feel just a little fuzzy in the morning? That fuzzy feeling is because of plaque that has built up on your teeth overnight. Brushing your teeth in the morning removes the plaque, and your teeth go back to feeling normal. In our pets, this “early morning” plaque is never removed. More layers of plaque build up, and over time harden into tartar. Tartar is a great place for bacteria to hide and multiply. The bacteria in the tartar can cause your pets to have bad breath. These bacteria can also cause infections in the gums (gum disease), and can even get into the blood and cause infections in other parts of the body.

As bacteria causes gum disease, your pet’s mouth can become very painful. It can be difficult to notice signs of mouth pain in the early stages of gum disease. As the gum disease progresses, the pain may get so bad that your pet actually stops eating. If you notice any of these 5 things in your pet, it is time to bring him in for an oral exam, and maybe a full dental cleaning:

  1. Bad breath. A little bit of doggy breath is normal, but worsening breath can indicate infections in the mouth.
  2. You can see tartar build up on the teeth.
  3. The gums are dark red, or bleeding (even just once in a while).
  4. Your pet has stopped playing with his favorite chew toys or doesn’t like to catch for you anymore. Signs like these can be early indicators of mouth pain.
  5. Eating dry, crunchy foods can be hard on painful mouths. As gum disease progresses, you may notice that your pet is eating much slower, dropping food, prefers soft food over dry kibble (if he is used to eating kibble), or has stopped eating.

Be sure to check out this article to find out what happens during a dental cleaning.

February is National Pet Dental Month. If your pet’s teeth haven’t been examined recently, now is the time to do it! Contact your veterinarian today to set up an appointment!

For more educational blogs, posts, and pictures of animals; follow & like I Love Your Pet on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

 

I Love Your Pet offers pet care services in the convenience of your own home! Contact hannah@iloveyourpet.net to book your future vacation & weekend pet sitting services. Currently serving the Baton Rouge & nearby areas.

Posted on February 7, 2015 .

BREAKING: Pit Bull Blog Goes VIRAL!

 

BREAKING NEWS! How Dangerous Are Pit Bulls? Blog goes VIRAL!

Thank you all for the wonderful feedback on my blog about Pit Bulls featuring the exclusive interview with Dr. Kulinski from the hit TV show Pit Bulls and Parolees!

Scene Magazine, Louisiana's Entertainment Magazine, has featured the blog on Scene Today!

Villalobos Rescue Center has also shared the blog on their Facebook with over 12,000 likes, 4,000 shares, and 500 comments!

The more we can get the TRUTH out about Pit Bulls, the more we can debunk the myths that surround the breed!

If you haven't read the blog yet, check it out here and feel free to share to help raise awareness about Pit Bulls!

 

For more educational blogs, posts, and pictures of animals; follow & like I Love Your Pet on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

I Love Your Pet offers pet care services in the convenience of your own home! Contact hannah@iloveyourpet.net to book your future vacation & weekend pet sitting services. Currently serving the Baton Rouge & nearby areas.

Posted on January 30, 2015 .

How Dangerous Are Pit Bulls?

A Veterinary Expert Offers Insights Into America's Most Controversial Breed

                            Artemis is available for adoption through Villalobos Rescue Center in New Orleans, La

                            Artemis is available for adoption through Villalobos Rescue Center in New Orleans, La

No other dog has had more media coverage in the last 15 years than the Pit BullThe Pit Bull is, without a doubt, a breed surrounded by controversy and misinformation. In fact, one of the most common misconceptions is this: it’s not really a dog breed at all.

Pit Bull is actually a general term that means different things to different people. To some, it’s simply a synonym for the American Pit Bull Terrier. To others, it refers to a group of breeds that includes the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and possibly other dogs with similar features.  

The debate over pit bulls is as contentious as any political debate. And it's tough not to be emotional about the topic if you've owned one or two, or if a loved one has been involved in a bad incident involving a Pit Bull. One side says Pits are dangerous and should be banned. The other side says they are loving, safe dogs and it's the owners who are to blame. To help you look past the noise and learn the truth about pit bulls, I interviewed Dr. Kristen Kulinski, a respected veterinarian well known for her appearances on the Animal Planet television show Pit Bulls and Parolees.

Dr. Kulinksi with Slick from Villalobos Rescue Center

Dr. Kulinksi with Slick from Villalobos Rescue Center

Before her work with the hit Animal Planet show, Dr. Kristen Kulinski was born in Buffalo, New York and now lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She holds Two Bachelor's Degrees: Biology & Psychology (Neuroscience) from The University of Virginia; a Masters of Science (Animal Science, Equine Endocrinology) from Louisiana State University; and received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at LSU in 2006. Dr. Kulinski currently owns and works at Cypress Lake Animal Hospital in Prairieville, Louisiana.

We discussed the continuing controversy that surrounds pit bulls and her professional experiences with them.

HH: Many of my readers know you as the veterinarian for Villalobos Rescue Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. They have seen you on the TV show "Pit Bulls and Parolees" on Animal Planet. What have you learned about the breed since working with them on a regular basis?

KK:  I'll be honest, I was not a huge fan of the breed prior to working with Villalobos.  I had a very scary incident with a pit bull that got out of a cage and attacked another animal at another hospital where I was working at the time.  I was alway a little wary of the breed because of this incident.  But, after working with them I now realize that it is extremely rare for a pit bull to behave like that dog did, and usually the ones that are very animal aggressive have been rescued from fighting situations. I can say now that I do love the breed after working on them for the last four years.  They are the most resilient animals I have ever come across, and on the whole they are incredibly sweet, kind, and loving animals.    

HH: What have you learned about working with the media while working on the set of "Pit Bulls and Parolees"?

KK:  I think the media is so fixated on the negative things about the breed, It is nice to see a show that focuses on the positive. The camera crews and producers have been pretty great to me.  They really haven't tried to sway the way I say or interpret things, and just want my honest reaction. Tia Torres is about as real as it gets; I have a tremendous amount of respect for her. What you see on TV is exactly how she is: hardworking, kind and fair.   

HH: Are there any misconceptions about pit bulls that you have had to clarify for the producers/creators of "Pit Bulls and Parolees"?

KK:  The show had been on for several years before I became a part of it, so I think they were more the teachers in this instance. They have definitely changed my perception of the breed. 

tia torres jolie.jpg

HH: Although it's illegal, how common is dogfighting in Louisiana? How can concerned citizens help to eliminate dog fights and the gambling that surrounds it?

KK:  I would hate to guess the numbers, but it seems that there are a lot of pit bulls that do end up in the rescue and in shelters that have wounds consistent with fighting. Obviously there are probably areas that have more concentrated problems with it, but it definitely is a problem that does exist in Louisiana. I would say that if you think that there is illegal dog fighting happening in your area, call the local police and report the incident. They can't do anything if they don't know that it is happening. I have met so many animal loving police officers! It is not difficult to get them interested in helping!

HH: Once a pit bull has been trained to fight and has participated in dogfights, is it possible to rehabilitate that dog for adoption? What guidelines for adoption are recommended?

KK:  I am not a dog trainer, but I will always be less likely to place a dog from a fighting ring in a home that already has pets. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. I have seen dogs that come from known dog fighting rings that thrive in homes with many other animals, but as a rule I would be uneasy with them in that situation until they had extensive behavioral evaluation. You always want to put the dog in a situation that it will be successful in, and for many of the dog fighting dogs, this means they may need to be the "only" pet in the household. I do think that rehabilitation is possible, but working with a dog trainer, and avoiding situations that would initiate a fight are two of the most necessary parts for success.  

HH: Is it dangerous to adopt a pit bull that has an unknown history and parentage from a rescue or shelter rather than buying from a breeder?

KK:  There is some uncertainty that comes with adopting an animal of any breed and trying to get it to fit into a new situation. Most of the pit bulls that are considered "adoptable" at the rescues have had extensive behavioral evaluation. They often have detailed instructions on or what they need/don't need in their environment. No other breed is held to such high standards. Potential adopters need to pay attention to those recommendations. 

The one benefit that you do get from getting a puppy from a reputable breeder, is that you know the parents; their demeanor and their health history. If you start with a young puppy you also have the control on the experiences the puppy has early in his life, which will help develop their adult behavior. I have seen puppies that have grown up in loving homes become aggressive later in life, so I do believe there is a bit of genetics involved too, although environment has a far greater effect in my experience. There are NO genetic traits of any breed that are 100% guaranteed.  

I pulled Jolie from Companion Animal Alliance on 8/12/12. She was dropped off at the shelter as a "stray" the night before, and despite her horrible condition she was eating well. The volunteers at CAA realized that she needed more medical treatment then the shelter could provide. Realizing that she would likely be euthanized, I contacted Dr. Kulinski at Cypress Lake Animal Hospital, and asked them to take her in. Cypress Lake then contacted America's Dog Pit Bull Rescue, who agreed to take over her care, and to help her find a home if she survived. Jolie is doing well and is now in her forever home. Her story went viral, and eventually aired on "Pit Bulls and Parolees." You can watch the YouTube video here.      - Hannah

I pulled Jolie from Companion Animal Alliance on 8/12/12. She was dropped off at the shelter as a "stray" the night before, and despite her horrible condition she was eating well. The volunteers at CAA realized that she needed more medical treatment then the shelter could provide. Realizing that she would likely be euthanized, I contacted Dr. Kulinski at Cypress Lake Animal Hospital, and asked them to take her in. Cypress Lake then contacted America's Dog Pit Bull Rescue, who agreed to take over her care, and to help her find a home if she survived. Jolie is doing well and is now in her forever home. Her story went viral, and eventually aired on "Pit Bulls and Parolees." You can watch the YouTube video here.      - Hannah

HH: On average (estimated), how many pit bulls, pit bull mixes, and other bully breeds do you see a week at your clinic?

KK:  On a busy week, we probably see 20-30 pit bulls and/or mixes a week.  

HH: Are pit bulls as bad as the media portrays them?

KK:  No. Honestly, there are far more breeds that I worry about biting a human. I have been bitten quite a few times at work, and never once by a pit bull. Pit bulls are extremely easy to work with and the vast majority are not human aggressive. I think the problem lies in that the media chooses to cover the worst bites and only those done by pit bulls. When an attack does happen the damage can be severe because pit bulls do have the ability to disfigure and/or kill a human solely because of their size.  Another type of large breed dog (ex: German Shepherd or a Rottweiler)  is just as capable of causing severe damage, but these bites rarely are covered by the media.  

HH: Do you think dog abuse, irresponsible and neglectful owners contribute to the bad rap of pit bulls?

KK: Absolutely. I think that "bad people" are definitely responsible for "bad" dogs. Lack of education of how to handle the breed and of course abuse can detrimentally effect any animal. 

HH: Are pit bulls born aggressive?

KK:  I think there is a extremely small percentage of dogs that are genetically born with aggressive tendencies, but this includes ALL breeds. You also have to keep in mind that the most aggressive dogs in dog fighting rings are the "winners" and hence the dogs that are bred. If there is a genetic predisposition, I think that this would be where we might be likely to see it expressed the most. 

                                            Cougar, a pit bull for adoption at Villalobos Rescue Center

                                            Cougar, a pit bull for adoption at Villalobos Rescue Center

HH: Do pit bulls have locking jaws?

KK: No. There is no evidence that pit bulls have any special biting ability. BSL discussions and facts can be found on the following sites:  

Both sites research showing that the "fear" of the breed is not supported by facts.

HH: In your opinion, are pit bulls a good breed to choose if you have children? 

KK:  Yes, I think the vast majority are wonderful caring animals. But as with any breed, you have [individual] dogs that do not like children (I have a Labrador that is not fond of children). I think that the owners need to be responsible and use common sense. Children can terrorize dogs (I know they don't mean to), by pulling on them, for example. I think that it would be best not to leave children alone with any animal, especially when the two are still figuring each other out. The only way to guarantee that a child is not bitten, is to not place the dog with the child in a situation that something could happen. 

HH: Are pit bulls dangerous to other animals?

KK:  I do not believe that the breed is any more dangerous to other animals than any other breed. I do see some animal aggression in the pit bulls that I deal with from rescues, but many of these dogs have been in the position that they had to fight or kill for food in order to live. Many pit bulls live in multi dog households and never have a problem. Once again, I truly believe this is more an individual dog issue than a "breed" issue. There are a few pit bulls I know personally that get pushed around by much, much smaller dogs. I won't name names because they would be embarrassed! 

                                                             Dr. Kulinski intubating a dog before surgery

                                                             Dr. Kulinski intubating a dog before surgery

HH: Do you recommend spaying or neutering a pit bull? What are the benefits of spay/neuter?

KK:  I'm a big fan of spaying and neutering ANY breed! Our shelters are always full. We don't need any more unwanted dogs out there! Not to mention there are health benefits to spaying and neutering. For instance, spaying a female before her fourth heat cycle has been shown to decrease the chance she will get mammary (breast) cancer. Spaying also eliminates the chance of developing infections and other problems with her reproductive tract. In males, neutering does decrease aggression and also reduces the chance of your male dog developing an enlarged prostate and the problems that go along with that. It also eliminates the chance of testicular cancer.  Castrated male dogs are also less interested in finding "girlfriends" and tend to stay at home more. All of my animals are spayed and neutered. If you don't plan on breeding I would strongly encourage spaying or neutering your animals. I think the benefits far out weigh the risks. 

HH: Is there anything else you would like to add about the breed?

KK:  Pit bulls are one of the most resilient, trusting, loving, intelligent and forgiving breeds in my opinion. I have watched several pit bulls live through unspeakable horrors (abuse, starvation, neglect), expecting them to become aggressive once they were stronger.  Almost all have proved me wrong and have blossomed into wonderful pets that bond even more intensely with their new families. Their will to survive is unparalleled; often living through trauma that most other animals would have succumbed to a long time ago. As a doctor they are the perfect patients; they have a strong desire to survive, but also are so easy to handle and treat. I love the breed and I'm glad I gave them a second chance to be part of my life. I think that if you use common sense and put the right dog in the right situation; a pit bull could become one of the BEST things that could ever happen to you.

For more information on the work Dr. Kulinski does with pit bulls and other animals, visit the official website of Cypress Lake Animal Hospital, their Facebook page, and look for her appearances on Animal Planet on the hit show "Pit Bulls & Parolees".

Tia Torres at Cypress Lake Animal Hospital with Jolie, the rescued Pit Bull that was treated by Dr. Kulinksi.

Tia Torres at Cypress Lake Animal Hospital with Jolie, the rescued Pit Bull that was treated by Dr. Kulinksi.

 

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I Love Your Pet offers pet care services in the convenience of your own home! Contact hannah@iloveyourpet.net to book your future vacation & weekend pet sitting services. Currently serving the Baton Rouge & nearby areas.

 

 

Posted on January 28, 2015 .

How To Make New Year's Eve Safe For Your Pet

It's almost New Year’s Eve and the world is coming together for the most exciting party imaginable! As we get ready to ring in 2015 with a loud, colorful display of festive fireworks, we need to remember to keep our furry friends safe. The sparkling, popping, and crackling of fireworks can make many pets agitated and scared. Without proper care, they can become lost. Here are a few helpful tips to keep your furry friend safe this New Year's Eve:

  • Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with identification tags with current information. Dogs should wear nylon or leather collars only. Never place tags on training collars or “choke” chains. And, cats should wear break a-way / safety collars. Microchipping your pet is always highly recommended. Verify with the microchip company that your information is up to date.

  • Keep your pets indoors in a quiet safe bedroom with plenty of fresh water and give dogs several safe chew toys. Dogs who are crate trained will feel safest in their kennels. Cats will do best in a bathroom or utility room with food, water and their litter box. However, if your dog is comfortable in a room with a television then turn the TV on and the volume up and they won't even hear the fireworks. Fireworks really terrify our canine friends because they have sensitive hearing and the explosions are magnified.

  • Resist the urge to soothe and comfort your agitated pet as this can actually reinforce their stressed behavior. Instead, stay calm, unemotional, & practical when dealing with a pet who is upset by loud noises.

  • Frightened outdoor dogs have been known to jump high fences and dig holes to escape the sound of fireworks. Indoor animals should be kept away from large glass windows or doors because when scared they are capable of crashing right through.

  • Make sure to keep all alcohol, festive foods, chocolates, floral arrangements and party decorations away from your pets. Alcohol can be dangerous and deadly while balloons, streamers, party hats, and confetti can become lodged in your pet’s intestines, causing an intestinal blockage. Chocolate is especially toxic to both canines and felines.

  • If your pet has extreme fears or anxiety with fireworks, contact your veterinarian as a light sedative may be necessary to keep them safe and comfortable.

I hope you have a Happy New Year and I look forward to another great year! 

Check out these Top 10 New Year's Resolutions for Your Pet (AND YOU!) By Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

 

I Love Your Pet offers pet care services in the convenience of your own home! Contact hannah@iloveyourpet.net to book your future vacation & weekend pet sitting services.

Posted on December 28, 2014 .

Top 5 Feline Christmas Gifts

While everyone is out and about buying the hottest gadgets and styles of the holiday season, let’s take a moment to show our appreciation for our furry feline friends, too! Sure, when you bring something new into the house, your cat(s) may not like said item very much. But, with a little time, and some positive reinforcement, your kitties will love their new gifts. Let’s get started!

5. Indoor Grass
Cats seem to LOVE grass when they are exposed to it. They chew on it, roll in it, and most of all nap in it! You can find indoor grass pretty much anywhere these days, and it will allow you to know what your kitty kids are being exposed to: grass, dirt, water, NO pesticides or other harmful chemicals that we sometimes find on our lawns. Be mindful that your indoor/outdoor cats may use this as a natural potty, so before you let them play in it again, always check to make sure there are no accidents that need to be cleaned. All you need is a nice planter, sunlight, and water. Your cats will have their own private lawn to explore and love!

4. Window Perch
How often do you come home to find your cats resting in the windowsill? Do they bypass the windowsill and go for the back of the couch or lounge chair? Do you spend countless hours with a lint roller removing the hair from the furniture or dusting the hair from the windowsills? STOP! Here is your solution: this windowsill perch from K&H Pet Products is wonderful! It saves you the trouble of cleaning all the hair from your own furniture. But even better than that, it is insulated and warms your kitty! The orthopedic sleeping mat is engineered to set itself automatically between 12- and 15-degrees above the ambient room temperature, and even adjusts to your cat’s body temperature as he lies on it. How awesome is this? Your cats are sure to love you for this one!

3. Heated Beds
As if a heated window perch wasn’t enough, how about a heated, hooded, kitty cave?! You can find so many cat beds with heating pads built in, but think about how often cats try to bury themselves in a blanket. Check out this heated bed for a great Christmas idea. Perfect for those cold winter nights!

Ethan is a senior cat that was surrendered to the shelter by his owner through no fault of his own. He is a very loving and affectionate cat that LOVES to be petted and craves attention. He also does not mind being dressed up as you can see. If interested in adopting Ethan, contact the Terrebonne Parish Animal Shelter! 

Ethan is a senior cat that was surrendered to the shelter by his owner through no fault of his own. He is a very loving and affectionate cat that LOVES to be petted and craves attention. He also does not mind being dressed up as you can see. If interested in adopting Ethan, contact the Terrebonne Parish Animal Shelter

2. Heated Play Dens
Are you seeing a trend with most of these items being heated? That’s because I am hoping we are going to have a cold winter again like last year and we want our pets to stay warm and cozy with us! Cats love something warm, and while you're away and your pet sitter is caring for you cat(s), they have something to keep them warm through the cold months. So, the cat condos are pretty awesome, right? How about a heated play den? A surefire way to keep your cats entertained and warm all at the same time!

1. A New Life
What better way to wish a cat a Merry Christmas than with a new, loving home? Visit your local animal shelter or rescue organization to help a cat in need this holiday season. Every cat deserves to be loved, and bringing home a new cat will bring you so much joy! Not only do you get to have a new kitty for Christmas, but your new kitty has a new, loving home! **Remember, cats are for life and should never be given as a gift unless the whole family is in agreement to providing the new cat with their forever home.

 

I Love Your Pet offers pet care services in the convenience of your own home! Contact hannah@iloveyourpet.net to book your future vacation & weekend pet sitting services.

Posted on December 15, 2014 .

BLACK FRIDAY SPECIAL!

BLACK FRIDAY SPECIAL!!!! Book your pet sitting services TODAY & TOMORROW ONLY for the months of December & January & receive $10.00 OFF your invoice...that's right, free money!

FREE IN HOME CONSULTATION FOR ALL NEW CLIENTS!

Just mention the I Love Your Pet Black Friday Special and contact hannah@iloveyourpet.net today! 

Offer valid ONLY for November 28 & 29, 2014 and is open to current and new clients. This offer is NOT valid for dates already booked before November 28. Stay tuned for future deals.

 

I Love Your Pet offers vacation & weekend pet sitting services in the convenience of your own home! Currently serving the greater Baton Rouge area including Prairieville, Gonzales, and St. Gabriel. Let's talk specifically about where you pet is located!

Posted on November 28, 2014 .

Thanksgiving Pet Tips

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It’s that wonderful time of the year where friends and family gather to consume large quantities of food, socialize, watch football, kids play, teenagers text and dogs hope the aroma from the kitchen is a hint of a bounty for them. Many well meaning dog lovers can’t resist the soulful eyes of the family dog begging for food so offer up some goodies. Some dogs are experienced beggars as they have learned tenacity works.

Most of the problems pets face during this holiday can be easily prevented.

Here are a few tips to make your Thanksgiving pet-friendly:

Don’t share human food with pets. Avoid sharing what’s on your Thanksgiving plate. Although it may seem mean to withhold fatty meats, turkey carcasses, gravies, or baked goods from your pets, feeding animals “people food” often results in problems ranging from mild gastrointestinal upset to severe pancreatitis and even potentially life-threatening obstructions. The fat, sugar and chocolate in baked goods can also pose serious problems. Adding a teaspoon of white turkey meat, broth, or regular canned pumpkin (Fruitables seems to be a safe pet favorite in our house!) to your pet’s food should allow you to share the Thanksgiving experience with your pet in a safe way.

Remember chocolate is toxic to animals. Cacao beans (one of the main components of chocolate) contain theobromine, which is a chemical compound that’s toxic to animals. Theobromine stimulates the central nervous system which increases heart rate and blood pressure. Theobromine can last in a dog’s system for up to 18 hours, but symptoms of toxicity usually appear within 12 hours or less. Signs of chocolate poisoning include: vomiting and diarrhea, excitement, nervousness and trembling, excessive thirst and urination, muscle spasms and seizures, coma and death. Chocolate with higher quantities of cacao is more dangerous. For example, unsweetened (baker’s) chocolate contains eight to ten times the amount of theobromine as milk chocolate.

Keep turkey bones away from dogs. Turkey bones are hollow and easily splinter into sharp pieces. The splinters can lodge in your pet’s throat or intestine or cause punctures to the intestinal tract and create blockages. They may stay lodged in your pet’s body for days before there are symptoms. Signs of serious problems may include loss of appetite, depression, vomiting or diarrhea. Sometimes bones will pass on their own, but other times, surgical removal is necessary.

Be aware of how house guests affect pets. House guests, even of the canine variety, could upset your pets. Cats may choose to hide, and dogs may become fearful or aggressive (especially around other dogs in competition of food). Consider creating a dedicated safe zone for your pets until the new sounds, smells and activities of the holiday are over.

Make sure garbage cans aren’t easily accessible. Always secure garbage cans that have food scraps and bones inside. Otherwise your pets may opt for a dumpster dive that could have dangerous consequences.

Watch out for salmonella. Undercooked turkey or turkey that has been sitting out could be infected with salmonella, a bacterial organism. The cooking process usually destroys all the organisms, making the turkey safe to eat. But if the meat sits out at room temperature for too long, the salmonella organisms can return, multiply and cause contamination. Pets may become ill if they eat any of the turkey that has been sitting out.

Check your pet’s registration and identification tags.
 With house guests coming and going, it’s common for doors to be accidentally left open, giving pets an opportunity to go on unsupervised adventures and get lost. I highly suggest having your pet microchipped as its permanent identification that can save their life! 

 

I Love Your Pet offers pet care services in the convenience of your own home! Contact hannah@iloveyourpet.net to book your future vacation & weekend pet sitting services. 

Posted on November 23, 2014 .

5 Cold Weather Dog Myths

The cold months of fall are upon us, a time of year when we start to think about hunkering down for the winter. You want to prepare your dog just as much as you want to stock up on hot chocolate and logs for the fire, but there are a lot of myths out there about what you can and can’t do for your dog during the colder months. Let's dive into and debunk these untruths. Here are some of the most common myths:

Myth: My dog is safe in the car during cooler months.

FACT: It is never safe to leave your dog alone in a car, period. Just as a car can magnify heat in the summer sun, it can function as a refrigerator on cool days. Leaving your dog alone also subjects them to other dangers like kidnapping. Even the five-minute store run can put your pet at risk.

Myth: Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes go away in the fall and winter

FACT: Although fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes may not be able to survive extreme winter temperatures, the cold may drive them towards the warmth of your home. In the south, we have mosquitoes usually year round. Surviving bugs may latch on to your pet for warmth and survival, making them just as much of a threat as they are during warmer parts of the year. Continue to protect your pet as you do in the spring and summer months by using monthly heartworm and flea/tick preventatives. 

Myth: My dog’s pads protect them from all elements of weather.

FACT: The fatty tissues in the pads of your dog’s feet do not freeze as quickly as other tissues, protecting them against many cuts, scrapes and scuffs that often come along with the outdoors. However, these tissues do not mean your pet is always protected. Ice, snow and other debris can accumulate or get stuck between your dog’s toes and pads, causing irritation. Be sure to clean your dog’s feet when they come inside, and for extreme conditions, consider protective booties. 

Myth: Dogs are more resistant to cold.

FACT:  It's a common belief that dogs are more resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur, but it's untrue, says the American Veterinary Medical Association. Dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside. Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather. 

Myth: My dog should gain some extra pounds in the cooler months to help keep warm.

FACT:  You should never intentionally try to help your dog gain weight just because of the cooler months. Keep their diet the same during fall and winter months, and make sure they get regular exercise with indoor games and brisk walks. Although some dog’s weight may fluctuate throughout the year, you want to stimulate your pet’s mind and body all year round. 

 

I Love Your Pet offers pet care services in the convenience of your own home! Contact hannah@iloveyourpet.net to book your future vacation & weekend pet sitting services. 

 

Posted on November 10, 2014 .