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
Urination

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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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Caring for an Older Dog ~ Fonda, RVT

It is amazing how fast time goes by! Our third black labrador, Sam, is eleven and a half years old, and he has been a wonderful addition to our family. He is Mr. Easygoing--a laid back (almost to a fault) gentle giant of a dog. Not to mention he is so very handsome. 

Our daughter, Hannah, has had a black lab in her life since she was born twenty-nine years ago. After our second lab, Molly, passed away, we were so lost without her. It was only a few months before we were driving to Charleston, SC, to pick up this cute lug of a puppy. Hannah was just finishing her junior year in high school.


Now we are sharing Sam with our grandbabies! Little did we know at the time that Sam came into our lives that he would be loved by Sadie and Briggs as well.


 


Caring for an aging dog has once again become part of our lives. These dogs have brought so much joy with them; their unconditional love and devotion is unlike any other, and now Sam deserves the care he needs to make life more enjoyable for him.

Sam has developed arthritis in his joints over the last year as well as a heart murmur of unknown origin. Dr. Alley and Dr. Kleisch have helped me to navigate through this with suggestions on medication and with regular examinations to check his progress. As with any aging dog, in the day to day care, it is important to limit activity that can cause pain or more joint injury. We only take short trips outside now that the weather is warmer, and he gets lots of fresh cool water to drink. Good nutrition also plays an important role in keeping him healthy in addition to giving medication as prescribed by his vets. 



This big black bear of a dog gets lots of time with us, lying at our feet during dinner or while we play cards. Sam is the first thing that Sadie asks for when she comes to our house. He is part of our family. It is always my prayer that I have the wisdom to know when he is no longer comfortable and life has become to hard for him to endure. Until then, we will cherish every moment of our time together. 


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Monday, May 14, 2018

Vet School Experience ~ Sage, Assistant


There’s a common myth that veterinary school is harder to get into than medical school, but in reality, the percent of applicants that end up matriculating is comparable for both. 



There are 30 accredited vet schools in the US, with several others overseas that offer the same accreditation. With a rough class size of about 100 students at each school and 29,805 total applicants in 2014, it’s certainly a competitive process. In addition to a strong academic resume, the average applicant has 1000-2000 hours of “veterinary experience,” which is different from “animal experience” in that it has to be under the direct supervision of a veterinarian. Therefore, volunteering at shelters, showing horses, animal husbandry, etc. does not count towards veterinary hours. I know that 1000-2000 hours may seem preposterous, and believe me, I wholly agreed at the time that I decided to pursue vet school during my junior year of college, when I had accumulated a staggering 9 and 1/2 hours and felt fully ready to apply. But, alas, I knew my chances of getting in were slim to none, which brings me to Shiloh where I have spent my gap year.

            My first summer working at Shiloh, I was also working on my applications. As the weeks went by, I would slowly add new skills under the “experience” section. First came restraint, then subcutaneous injections, in-house lab work, monitoring anesthesia, drawing blood, and so on. I remember the first time I answered the phone and encountered a pet owner who was understandably very upset because her dog was hurt. I quickly put her on a brief hold and ran to ask one of the doctors all of her questions. After work, I timidly added “client communication” to the list. That summer I watched the list grow with pride, but looking back now, the importance of getting experience in the field far exceeds the concrete skills that can be boiled down to a bulleted list.

            Although I had an idea of it before, Shiloh is where I truly saw that working with animals means working with people. I can’t lie and say that this was an epiphany I came up with on my own, as Shiloh’s mission statement is printed in large font on the wall of the treatment area for everyone to see. “Partnering with people to provide long and healthy lives for their pets.” I see every day the importance of open, honest communication between the veterinarians, the staff, and the owners in providing the best care for the animal.

            This past year has also shown me how tough this career can be. I’ve seen the delivery of difficult news and the anguish of heartbreaking goodbyes. I’ve seen notes from the doctors sent at midnight, or even 5 o’clock in the morning, because they do not really leave work when they walk out of the building. But I have also been lucky enough to be surrounded by three doctors and the rest of the staff who have families and lives outside of work, and I understand the importance of finding balance between the two.

            But I think that the most important thing that I have gained this past year is confidence in myself. Not only just confidence in those concrete technical skills, but confidence that this is what I am meant to do – and the confidence that I have the ability to do it. And, of course, I have the incredible staff at Shiloh to thank for this. But I also would like to thank all of you for welcoming me in, allowing me to partake in your pets’ care, and for teaching me so much along the way.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Reducing Vet Visit Stress ~ Alison, RVT

Maintaining great veterinary care for my pets is very important to me. However, having an overly excitable and dog-aggressive dog can make a trip to the vet a stressful experience for both parties. 

Before I started my career in the veterinary field, our “routine” veterinary visits were exhausting for the both of us. My 75 pound pit bull, Dexter, would become over-stimulated and unresponsive to commands as soon as we would enter the lobby; even weighing him was out of the question. We would immediately be ushered into an exam room where he would continuously bark until the veterinary technician or veterinarian entered the room. I would have to help restrain Dexter for his exam, and services were usually done as quickly as possible. By the end of these visits, I was usually sweating and visibly embarrassed. 

Since entering the veterinary field and becoming a veterinary technician at Shiloh, I have learned many different techniques to help make our visits to the vet a much less stressful experience for everyone involved.

The first tool that I use to make our trip less stressful starts before we even get into the car. I give Dexter a prescribed dose of a pre-visit pharmaceutical called Trazodone, which has a mild sedative effect but does not knock him out. I give this an hour before we leave so that the medication will have taken effect before we reach the vet. 

Once we have arrived, I call the front desk to let them know that we are there, and they let me know if the lobby is clear to minimize stimulating interactions. For Dexter, being seen in the treatment area during low-traffic times as opposed to being seen in an enclosed exam room is a better option. 

During the exam and other services, I feed him peanut butter, which is a welcomed distraction. Our veterinary visits have become considerably less stressful, and it makes me a happy dog mom to see his tail wagging in place of his previous signs of fear and stress.




Working with many different clients and pets has shown me that this can be a familiar scenario for many pet owners, but it does not have to be a permanent one. There are many approaches and techniques that can be used to minimize and reduce stress. Different examples are medications, pheromones, treats, and low-traffic appointment times. Start a conversation with your veterinarian to identify the specific tools that will best suit your pet. For Dexter and me, a little pre-planning and communication with the veterinary staff has turned a stressful situation into an enjoyable experience. 

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Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Toddler Diet ~ Meredith, Technician

"Breeze wants a bite!" Kenleigh says.



There's not a meal that goes by that we don't hear that.
Having a toddler can be challenging in and of itself, but adding a dog to the mix can make it even more fun. Teaching a toddler what "people foods" are OK for a dog is very important, and allowing your toddler give your dog a snack occasionally can be a good lesson in proper pet interaction. However, there are certain foods that can be toxic or otherwise dangerous or upsetting to dogs and should be avoided.

Among these foods are chocolate, coffee, caffeine, alcohol, avocados, macadamia nuts, grapes, raisins, yeast dough, xylitol, onions, garlic, milk, and salt.



Excess human food can cause gastrointestinal upset and warrant an otherwise unnecessary trip to the vet. We experienced that not too long ago when "somehow" Breeze got a little too much pork roast and ended up with diarrhea. Dr. Alley prescribed a gentle antibiotic for a few days along with a bland diet, and then she was back to normal.


Encourage your toddler to feed dog treats with adult supervision, and make sure that they always ask if certain foods are OK when feeding anything else.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Meet the "New" Doctor ~ Shana Silverstein, DVM

I joined Shiloh Animal Hospital this October, and I wanted my first blog to be a piece in which readers could get to know “the new doctor.” 



I was always attracted to a clinical career in veterinary medicine, starting in grade school. From an early age, I recognized that a strong clinician enjoys not only the intellectual challenge of medicine and surgery, but the interpersonal daily interactions that allow me to educate my clients on everything from preventative medicine to discussing options for diagnostics and treatment during times of illness.

I was raised in northern NJ, though you'd never know it since I have worked so hard to lose that accent! I attended Cornell University where I got a BS in Biology, and I remained there to complete my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. While a veterinary student, I was a student housing supervisor as well a Big Sister and one of the original group of students to create and receive training for the Cornell Pet Loss Support Hotline.

I always had an interest in alternative medicine. My "senior seminar" case was a research project about a resuscitation acupuncture point. After practicing traditional medicine in Massachusetts and Arizona, I moved to NC and began practicing in the Triangle in 2008. It was then that I met Dr. Alley and was inspired by her integrative approach to veterinary medicine. It spoke to the balance of the strengths of traditional Western medicine while complimenting with Eastern medicine.

In 2012, I pursued veterinary acupuncture training at the Chi Institute. I also have a passion for behavior, dentistry, and preventative medicine. My daily goal is to empower owners to take part in their pets' care, from puppies and kittens to geriatrics.  I enjoy educating staff and clients alike, as well as preschool groups, scout troops, etc. Most of all, I love building long term relationships with my clients and their pets.

I have been blessed to be married to my husband, Tom, for 16 years. We have a son in 8th grade, a daughter in 5th grade, one rambunctious pittie, and two tolerant cats. There is also a tarantula in the house that I prefer not to think about. I enjoy singing in a local chorale and am active in my synagogue.

I am thrilled to be joining the Shiloh family and to be working with such a talented staff, and I look forward to meeting many of you in the months to come!

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