Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Helping Wildlife ~ Dana Hogg, DVM

Spring is right around the corner, or so the groundhog says! As you start heading outside to enjoy the warmer temperatures, here are few things we can do to make sure our furred, feathered, and scaled friends enjoy it too!


These warmer temperatures mean that we will see an increase in turtle activity too!
  • Please help turtles cross the road in the direction they are heading if you can safely do so.  Oftentimes, females will be moving in search of nesting sites to lay their eggs. 
  • If you see a snapping turtle crossing the road, take special care when handling them. They have long necks and powerful jaws. Using gloves, you should place a hand on their tail base while sliding the other hand under them onto the plastron, also known as their underside. Avoid the first half of their body.   
  • Although we know turtles are cute, please do not keep them as pets. It is extremely stressful for wild animals to be brought inside our homes. There are plenty of captive bred reptiles available if you are interested in adding a reptile to your family.
  • Turtles have established territories and should remain in the area in which they are found. 
  • Be cautious and on the lookout for turtles, rabbits, and other animals while cutting the grass.

Orphaned Animals

Spring brings on new generations of baby birds, rabbits, squirrels and other animals. While some might appear to be alone at times, there is a good chance that one or both of the parents are nearby searching for food and watching over them from a distance. Assess the situation prior to intervening.  If any of these situations apply, the animal should be taken to a wildlife rehabber.
  • If there is any evidence of wounds/trauma, maggots, or broken bones
  • If the parents are known to be deceased
  • If you have seen the baby animal in the mouth of a predator, such as a cat
  • If the animal is cold, lethargic, has decreased responsiveness, or is not fully feathered or furred

Baby Bird (left) vs Fledgling (right)
Fledglings are young birds that are fully feathered and learning to fly. It is not uncommon to find them on the ground. Despite being on the ground, they tend to stay near the nest. The parents will stay nearby and continue taking care of them. Fledglings do not typically need intervention.


Littering is bad--we all know that. Animals can ingest foreign material causing several health complications. While throwing biodegradable items such as apple cores or banana peels out of the car window might not seem equally as bad, it has just as many negative implications. Food attracts wildlife to the roadsides, making them much more susceptible to trauma from vehicles. They do not understand what cars are or how to be safe around them. Additionally, if food attracts a prey species, such as a squirrel, it might additionally attract a raptor or other predator on the hunt, putting both the hunter and the predator at risk for life-threatening injuries.    

Feeding Wildlife

If you enjoy feeding wildlife, please be aware of their unique nutritional needs. Instead of throwing out bread and corn to feed, it would be healthier to consider sharing leftover lettuce, spinach, peas and other vegetables. Bread and corn are low in protein and essential vitamins. Over time, consumption of these foods will add up and can contribute to diseases such as metabolic bone disease and growth abnormalities in young animals.

Glue Traps

Avoid glue traps, as they don’t always just catch the intended animal. They often catch song birds, reptiles, and other small mammals who are attracted to insects on the glue traps. These animals are unable to free themselves, which is very stressful and can lead to severe injuries such as limb fractures, skin issues, mangled feathers, and death. 

Lead Ammunition

We see a lot of cases of lead toxicity in raptors, including bald eagles that unknowingly consume lead fragments in carcasses they scavenge. Switching to non-lead ammunition is the best way to prevent this problem.

Fishing Tackle and Lines

Improper disposal of fishing tackle and lines can negatively affect an animal that gets tangled, punctured, or swallows this equipment. Turtles often present with hooks in their oral cavity, or even worse, in their stomach. 

Waterfowl and other animals get entangled in fishing line, causing constriction injuries which can lead to infection, loss of limbs, and even death. Please be on the lookout for improperly disposed tackle and lines; this will also benefit human and companion animal safety.

Please be kind to wildlife. We share this beautiful world with them. If you feel that an animal is injured, please contact local wildlife rehabbers. When transporting an animal, it is important to remember the concept of warm, dark, and quiet. Being injured and handled by humans is a huge stressor for these animals. Do not interact with them or talk to them. Transport them in a box with appropriate ventilation, and keep them warm. Thank you for your help in supporting local and migratory wildlife this year!

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Friday, February 22, 2019

Shiloh's Core Values ~ Audra Alley, DVM, CVA, DABVP Canine & Feline Practice

A big part of the vision of Shiloh Animal Hospital is to create the workplace of choice for all veterinary professionals (veterinarians, kennel staff, assistants, customer service representatives, technicians, nurses, students, etc.). There is a lot that goes into building that vision. One part of the puzzle was creating Core Values. 
Not too long ago, all of our employees gathered together after work, enjoyed pizza, and brainstormed to come up with the Core Values of Shiloh Animal Hospital. It was really important to do this as a group, and it was amazing to listen to the discussions and the passion for what we do and how we do it every day. Now, every day at 1:07, we have a Core Values meeting where we have the opportunity to call each other out for displaying one of our values. What a great way to not only keep the values in the front of our mind, but also to give each other a pat on the back for living it every day!
I would like to share these values with all of you:
1.      Balance – This represents so many different areas.  This may be balance in our personal vs. work lives, balancing finances with high quality, balancing our time between teaching students and being efficientI could go on and on.

2.      Unity – This represents us truly functioning as a team, both with each other and with our clients.

3.     Strive to Exhibit Emotional Intelligence – Our job requires us to shift gears so many times during the day, from the cutest new puppy to shepherding one of our favorite patients across the rainbow bridge. This requires us to be able to read each other and our clients so that we can react appropriately to be helpful and supportive.

4.      Empathy – Of course everyone here has empathy for our patients, but we also have to be empathetic toward owners and coworkers.

5.       Empowerment – We want to empower staff to do what is right, empower our clients with education to make good choices for their pets, and empower our team to constantly learn, grow, and try new skills.

Creating a workplace of choice is a work in progress to improve, cultivate, and intervene when needed, always keeping that vision in sight. Moving to a new, larger facility splits us up in some ways, but it also encourages us to work even harder as team to provide the best possible care to all of our furry companions and their owners.

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Friday, November 30, 2018

My World Vets Trip ~ Trisha, Office Manager & Technician

I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Peru in September 2018 with a program called World Vets.  The mission is to improve the health and well-being of animals by providing veterinary aid, training, and disaster relief worldwide. With as much as I love to travel, it was something I've had my eyes on for quite some time and finally had the resources to make it happen.

It was a one-week program where we arrived in Cuzco, Peru, after three flights and about twelve hours of travel. The first day was mostly spent acclimating, since it is over 11,000 feet up (quite different than the 300ish feet of the Raleigh-Durham area), as well as waiting for all the team members from various parts of North America to arrive. We had two vet students, two from Canada, two from New York, two from Illinois, one from Oklahoma, one from Nebraska, two from California, one from Florida, and four from North Carolina, plus the extra hands helping from Peru. 

The next day, we had a "group" day, which involved visiting a wildlife sanctuary and rescue for mostly wild animals who could not be re-released. We also visited a open-air market, and I tried Alpaca as an exotic dish! 

The following day was a free day to spend how we desired, but I used it to hike with the group to Lake Humantay (going up to 13,700+ feet). 

It was intense but so very beautiful, and it was a great bonding experience with the group as we encouraged each other to keep breathing. I did make it to Machu Picchu at the end of my stay, which was such an amazing accomplishment as well.

The program included three days as the clinical portion of the trip. Our intent was to help with sterilization of cats and dogs in the Cuzco and suburb areas. This was done in a field setting, which is very different than the pristine hospital setting we practice in here. The first day, we set up in a covered basketball court, and the other two days were under a pop-up tent and unused multi-purpose room. 

The dogs and cats received pre-medication to help make them less anxious, and then we'd handle them to get them shaved and scrubbed for the procedure and to place an IV catheter. Then they'd move over to the surgery table for their spay or neuter; once finished, they would go to the recovery tent for their medications until they were awake enough to go home. It was a bit of a challenge to communicate with the people given the fact that we all spoke English and the predominant language is Spanish, but a few people helped along the way, so I think we mostly got the important information across.

It was the first time I've ever combined work and pleasure. I participate in a lot of community service here in NC, but this was something totally different. By the end of the three days, we fixed 290+ cats and dogs. It was the hardest I've ever worked in this field, and that includes the "crazy" days we have here at the hospital. I literally was sitting in the dirt to place catheters, and we did our absolute best to provide good medicine while other dogs were roaming around leash free under our feet. It was also  very interesting to see the variety of crazy vessels in which pets arrived: lots of backpacks, a few laundry baskets and pillow cases, and even wire baskets.

Something I was not expecting was that almost all the animals were brought in by their owners. I expected the street animals to be feral and untame, but even the animals you saw roaming the sidewalks and pathways almost always have owners. We dealt with the same amount of feisty animals as we would expect here, but it was more due to personality rather than due to being wild. It's more like the "country dog" mindset that you might think of here (where instead of laying in the AC/heat and getting Christmas presents, these animals were fed by a family but left to roam the streets during the day). The mindset of the people was that the animals wouldn't want to be cooped up all day. I see where they're coming from, although my Ruby probably loves her couch an awful lot.

I am so glad that I had the opportunity to take part in this amazing experience. The opportunity to travel is always of interest to me, but the combination of providing community service, utilizing my veterinary skill set, and working rather than just enjoying was such a highlight. I would definitely recommend you consider joining on a future trip, as they take both experienced individuals and also animal-lovers who have a passion to do good.  Visit the World Vets Website for more information.

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Thursday, October 18, 2018

How to Make Your Own Catnip Toy for Your Kitty ~ Rebecca, Technician

Have you ever been interested in making your own catnip toy but just didn’t know where to start? Have you been interested in crafting but want to minimize the cost? Well here’s a helpful guide to a basic catnip kicker toy that you can use as a baseline to explore some more creative designs, or you can just stick with the good ole’ originals!

The first step is gathering up your supplies, which we have some options for. 

Gather the Supplies!

Sewing needles
Scissors (fabric scissors preferred)
Fabric pieces
Polyester fiber filler (or other filler)
Catnip (or bells, crinkly items, etc.)

I used polyester fiber filler for the inside of my toy, but cotton is an acceptable trade out. You can also experiment with using shredded brown paper (the kind you get in shipping containers) for the stuffing purpose. Find some pretty fabric swatches (like this set I found for less than $5), or recycle an old T-shirt, pillow case, or any fabric you can think of that you want to rehome (just watch out for anything that may hang down and be a chewing/choking hazard). Gather some cutting scissors (fabric scissors preferred but not necessary), a needle, and some thread. Finally, you’ll want to add some surprises in your new toy. Catnip is the original flavor (and luckily, I had some spare bags stocked up from purchasing other toys, or you can grow and dry your own!), but you can also try small bells, some crinkle/noise paper, pipe cleaners, feathers, etc.—get creative! 

Start by cutting your fabric into two rectangles about 5”x12”, or customize the size and shape of your new toy. 

Line the pieces back to back with the design facing inward. Thread your needle, and create a knot on the opposite end. 

Starting in the top corner, hand stitch the pieces together starting down the long side, coming around the bottom, and back up. Remember to keep the top open for now! 

Finish up by tying off the rest of the thread with small stitches, then looping the needle through prior to securing. Repeat several times for a good seal.      

Once you have three of the four edges sewn together, then it’s time to flip the toy inside out. Gently fold and roll back from the open section until the design is fully reversed. Don’t worry if you sewed too close to the edges in some areas; we can go back and repair as needed.   

Once the design of the fabric is on the outside, we will want to begin stuffing it. Here I used a combination of polyester fill and catnip, alternating between the two until almost full. 

Once I got to the top of my toy, I noticed a busted seam on one of the sides. It is recommended to repair any busts prior to fully closing in order to allow the most materials in the toy and to keep it looking full.    

For repairing the bust, I typically start with my knot on the thread on the inside of the toy, then loop up and over tightly until the hole is fully covered. Periodically throughout the looping, be sure to fold in the fabric edges to make a nice, smooth seam. Again, you can tie off the thread the same way you did previously.  

Once any holes or bust are fixed, it’s time to close the toy. Fold the top edges in (pin if desired), add any last-minute stuffing or toys, and begin closing similarly to how we closed the bust. 

Start on the inside of the fabric and loop the thread up and over, pinning the two sides together as you come through. Secure once more with multiple knots, then let your kitties play!

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Baking For Dogs ~ Melissa, Receptionist

Not only do I have a love for animals—I have a love for cooking. Specifically baking. I love the fact I can meld the two by making treats for my dogs. And even better, I can use this opportunity to include my toddler and teach him a slew of life skills. Mom win!

I frequently make treats for my four-legged kiddos that include fresh produce from our local farmers market or my garden (my other passion). My dogs love sweet potatoes, apples, carrots, and blueberries, so I incorporate these in their snacks along with other healthy ingredients.

Today I am making apple and carrot biscuits. This recipe is simple and makes a fairly large batch depending on what size cookie cutters you use. You can also roll the dough out and use a knife to cut it into 1 to 2-inch squares instead of using a cookie cutter. My toddler thought it best to use as many cookie cutters as possible…

You will need:
  • A large cookie sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Rolling pin
  • Cooling rack
  • Mixing bowl
  • Measuring spoons
  • Measuring cups
  • Cheese grater

  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour (3 ¼ cups for the dough, ¼ cup for dusting)
  •  ½ cup water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • ¾ cup unsweetened applesauce

To begin, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper. I am using all-purpose flour today, but I have also used whole wheat flour and almond flour, and both work well. Measure out 3 ¼ cup of flour and pour into your mixing bowl. Add 1 tsp of cinnamon and stir well. 

Add ¾ cup of unsweetened applesauce, ½ cup of water, and 1 egg. Mix until well incorporated. Grate 1 cup of carrots. This equaled 1 large carrot for us. Add this to your dough, and stir until completely mixed. Dough will be stiff but a bit sticky. 

Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour and also your rolling pin. Roll dough out to a ¼ inch thickness. You may need to dust your rolling pin throughout the process. Once you have reached the desired thickness, use your cookie cutter to cut out the treats. Place ½ inch apart on your cookie sheet. You can use any size cookie cutters you like. We used small cutters since my toddler likes to feed our dogs treats throughout the day. (No complaints from the girls about that!)

Once your baking sheet is full, place it in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Then, remove the cookies from the baking sheet and place them on a cooling rack. Let them completely cool before serving. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month, though in our house they are gone in about 2 weeks. You can store extra dough in the freezer for up to 6 months.

I hope your pups love these treats as much as mine do. Next time, I will share some treat recipes for our feline friends.

Thanks for reading!

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Monday, August 13, 2018

Caring for Kayda ~ Kristin, Assistant

My cat, Kayda, has been in my life and heart since the day he was born on April 2, 2006. I spent a lot of time with him and his siblings every day at a friend’s house until he chose me for his own by cuddling under my chin when I came to visit. He has been with me through everything since I was a teen. Through many ups and downs, moves, and boyfriends, he has comforted me in times of sadness and brought me so much joy. He has always been a one-person kind of cat and is a very independent guy. 

Keeping him healthy and happy is very important to me, especially now that he is a senior cat. But when you have a cat like him that is scared or even aggressive for their veterinary checkups, things can be a lot more complicated. For a really long time, many doctors were unable to do a thorough exam on him or get blood work due to his fearful and aggressive behavior. He was so fearful that he would even lash out at me if I tried to help hold him for the doctor’s exams. Every doctor was very patient with him and tried to make friends, but he wouldn't have it. His fearful behavior made me feel terrible and stressed, both for Kayda and for the people trying to examine or handle him. Because of this, I avoided taking him to the doctor, which wasn’t what I wanted either, because I wanted to make sure that he stayed healthy.

Then I met a doctor that suggested we try a medication called Gabapentin to help his anxiety for vet visits. Gabapentin is a nearly tasteless, inexpensive medication that is commonly used in the veterinary field to treat pain. In cats, it is highly effective in reducing mild to moderate fear and anxiety, and it can increase compliance of cat owners for veterinary exams. For cats who won’t take oral medication easily, it can be given by mixing the powder from the capsule into a small amount of wet food or tuna juice. 

Before I gave it to him for the first time, I was apprehensive; what if he still scratched someone? But I gave it to him two hours prior to coming in for his visit as directed and crossed my fingers. It was amazing! He was so relaxed and didn't care at all what the doctors were doing. We were even able to obtain a blood sample from him with no issues! He just laid there and ate the treats he was offered with no fuss. I was so happy and relieved. Now I knew I could bring him in for his semi-annual visits and not be worried for him or for the veterinary staff. 

When I take him home after his visits, I just put him in the guest room in his bed, and he naps and relaxes until the Gabapentin fully wears off (I can even sneak in a nail trim during this time!). I was so happy with how this medication worked for Kayda that I recommend it frequently to owners who have similar struggles with their kitties and are looking for advice. There are a few other medications and supplements as well that can be used for cats who are showing signs of stress during veterinary visits. You can talk to your veterinarian to see which option is best for your cat. 

Many cats hide their stress and can have a short and unpredictable tolerance for scary procedures in the clinic. Some cats don't immediately act out with aggression when they're nervous or fearful. Other common signs of anxiety or fear include:

Dilated pupils
Hunched posture or hiding
Ears pinned back 
Increased vocalization

If you see any of these signs or if you have any questions or concerns about how to reduce your cat’s stress for vet visits, ask your veterinarian what they can do for you. It will make all the difference for both you and your pet.

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Friday, July 13, 2018

My Rescued Cattle Dog Experience ~ Melissa K., Assistant

I got Brady about three and a half years ago from a friend. She was on her way home from a run, and this little black and white spotted dog followed her all the way home! My friend could not keep her, sadly, so she shared a picture of "Bonnie" on her Instagram page. 

I came across the photo, showed it to my parents and begged for us to all go and meet her together. When we got to my friends house, this crazy, cute, rambunctious fifty-pound goofball ran toward me. We all fell in love with her immediately! My family and I took her home the same day, and we all went to the veterinarian's the next day to get her vaccinated and to make sure that she had a thorough exam. 

The vet gave her a clean bill of health, and she has now been a part of my family's life for three awesome years. There have been many crazy moments with her in our lives, like when she broke the screen door and ran to the golf course in my parents neighborhood! 

Brady is the first dog I have ever had, and she made me fall in love with taking care of animals. I worked at her doggie daycare for almost a year; she lead me to dog training as well, and now into training to become a Veterinary Assistant. She has guided my life on a wonderful path, and I look forward to every day being an adventure with my crazy, cute Australian Cattle Dog!

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