Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Daisy & Her Treasure ~ Maria, Lead Receptionist

Jingle, jingle jangle! What’s that movement I see? 
It’s Daisy, our sweet Havanese, snooping under our tree. 
As she pokes her head out and starts to prance around, 
It’s clear to see there’s something stuck between her tail and the ground. 
Is it a string, a ribbon, a piece of garland? Oh, no. She’s a pup with much more class. 
It’s a sharp silver hook with a hot pink ornament made of glass. 


Whew! It was actually quite funny looking. However, 'tis the season for lots of hidden dangers and new and exciting objects. There are hooks and glass balls, bells, yummy smelling pine cones, ribbons, and of course, candy canes wrapped in cellophane. Each intriguing item carries its own threat. 

But what about when company comes a-knocking? Let the hunt begin! For more hidden dangers, that is! There are pill boxes, hearing aid batteries, inhalers, and wallets to be eaten! Boxes of chocolates from Grandmas and Grandpas who need to spoil us, and don’t forget about the ½ full cups of caffeine laying around. 

This is my favorite time of year! There are so many warm and fuzzy memories to be made with family and friends. Let’s just all remember to take the time to comb your home of hidden dangers so that your fuzzy Fido or feline stays safe. 

Comments? Questions? Reply to this post below! We would love to have your input on any and all of our posts. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Part One: What it Means to Responsibly Care for a Dog ~ Samantha Moynan, Guest Blogger

This week on the Shiloh Speaks Blog, we've decided to feature a blogging client of ours, Samantha Moynan, who recently wrote a post on animal behavior and what it means to be a "good" dog owner. Read on below, and visit Samatha's blog here
I have, extremely recently, been faced with the overwhelming lesson of what it means to responsibly care for a dog. I made the decision to have my veterinarian euthanize the love of my life, my best friend, and my spirit animal – Johnny. What may come as a shock to some, is that I had to make this decision when Johnny was five and a half years old, due to increasing aggression.
I rescued Johnny when he was seven months old. He was scrawny, his nails were too long, he was shedding too much, his eyes were on the sides of his head (hammerhead dog), and he looked defeated in a crate where he hung out on the weekends waiting for the love of a home. He looked at me with piercing green eyes as he layed there, unmoving, and I was instantly attached. As soon as I got him out of the crate, he was a new dog – super excited, jumping around, ready to go. I told the lady who ran the rescue that I wanted him, but she said I could not take him until I had a note from my apartment complex saying they allowed the breed on his paperwork – an American Staffordshire Terrier mix, Amstaff for short. If you have experienced the world of bully breeds, an Amstaff is never allowed to live anywhere. I went home and got angry with anyone who told me I would just have to find another dog that I liked. Silly giver uppers. When you know something in your soul, you have to go for it. Giving up on little hammerhead green eyes was not an option. I formed a plan and decided to call the rescue woman back, pitching my idea. She agreed and with overwhelming joy I showed up to meet her in the middle of nowhere to get my very specific buddy.


I worked at a dog daycare at the time and was friends with two certified dog trainers as well as being surrounded by co-workers who knew and understood dogs. I was ready for this. I was going to do this the right way. Step one – socialize. So, I started bringing Johnny to work with me. What a dream. Wasn’t I the best dog owner ever? I could bring my new BFF to work with me every day and he got to play with friends and go home exhausted.

Lesson learned: Not every dog can mentally handle the stimulation of a yard full of dogs. Johnny was fine for months but eventually, it was too much for him. He started acting out and his anxiety manifested in aggression. Although, an overall minor aggression in the big picture of Johnny’s life, it was painful and upsetting. Johnny could not play in a big group of dogs anymore and I was saddened that I would have to leave him at home while I worked all day in a place that had a ‘bring your dog to work day’ every day. Once this happened, I jumped right on the dog training* bus and was ready to face this new issue head on.
After working with a trainer, and now a person very dear to my heart, Johnny had a few really good, incident free, years. For a while, I took him everywhere with me – we road tripped together, we went to dog friendly breweries or shops together, we visited friends together. Anywhere he was allowed to go, he went with me and I often chose to stay home with him rather than go somewhere he could not.
Lesson learned: Positive Reinforcement training builds confidence in your dog and deepens your relationship. The trust that Johnny had for me began from the start but strengthened tremendously during the training techniques and years to follow. Johnny felt like more of a person than a dog to me. We understood each other. He trusted me with every piece of himself. It was up to me to always do what was best for him, no matter what.




Then, within the past year, signs started showing up again. Some were subtle. A great infographic to refer to for some insight is below.
But shortly after, some of the signs were more obvious – growling, snapping, hunting, biting. He was becoming anxious, but this time it was worse. The training was not working anymore. Removing triggers did not work. Removing stimulation was not working. Something had changed in his brain and it was out of my control. This is the part I have the most difficult time grasping. I have never accepted anything as out of my control in my entire life. Until now. And that left me with both the biggest choice and no choice at all.
All I’m going to say is, within a week of each other, Johnny got in two dog fights very different from each other. Both unpredictable and unique to what I had ever seen him do before and both with dogs he had a history of friendship with. After incident one of that week, I had an instant gut feeling that I would have to put Johnny down. I had NEVER even considered that before, yet all I could hear in my head was “Oh my God, am I going to have to put Johnny down?” so I finally said it out loud. My partner was shocked to hear those words come out of my mouth and even curious as to why THAT was the incident, of all the questionable actions, that changed everything in my mind. My answer is that I don’t have much of an answer other than a deep, gut instinct and the sudden awareness that he was no longer as predictable as he used to be to the person that knew him best – me. This all happened so fast that I was simply devastated and at a complete loss with this thought weighing on me night and day. I had zero acceptance of a life without Johnny and I think that is why incident two rolled around six days later and sealed the deal. There was no denying it after incident two. There was a brutal understanding of what love, safety, and surrender meant. Every reason I had to keep Johnny alive, was a selfish one.
The thing is, with Johnny, I never gave up. Johnny had a history of dog aggression that was managed quickly at a young age. Even when it seemed to start showing up again in the last year of his life, I swooped in and got into management mode immediately. Even after he had bitten a person and gotten in a minor dog fight, I still did not consider euthanasia. I researched the exact scenarios, I called my dog trainer, I contacted another dog trainer I knew and trusted, and I set up a plan to manage this with my knowledge of the exact triggers and a responsible approach. The hope in dog aggression cases, is that if it is predictable, there is a potential that you can safely manage it so long as the dog and the owner’s quality of life is considered. I never, ever gave up on him. But, I did surrender when it was the responsible, selfless, and loving choice to make.







I knew Johnny like you know a piece of yourself. I spent the past five years knowing him, snuggling with him, observing him, training him, playing with him, adventuring with him, testing what worked and what did not with him, and dedicating my life to making sure he was taken care of. But at the end of the day, Johnny was an animal – a topic I will cover more next week.
Johnny pulled me through some massive years of heartache. He gave me a reason to get out of bed some days when I may not have otherwise because I knew I had to feed him and let him out, no matter what I was going through. He licked away countless, countless tears. He was the perfect snuggler, especially when I needed it most. He was hilarious and holds the title of Number One Bootscooter in the World. He was my first priority, always, and love of my life. I did the absolute best I could have possibly done.
Of all the losses I have suffered in my life, this one has by far been the most painful. Yet, it has also been the most powerful lesson in both trusting myself and surrendering.
None of this was Johnny’s fault, or mine.

*Side note about dog training: I am huge advocate for Positive Reinforcement Training and for a lot of informational links on that you can click here. Had I taken an alternate approach in training, such as treating aggression with aggression or dominance training, I wholeheartedly believe Johnny would have gone downhill fast, rather than giving me five full, beautiful years.

Comments? Questions? Reply to this post below! We would love to have your input on any and all of our posts. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Read All About It ~ Heather, Technician & Blog Editor

While my paths in life lead me from all angles into veterinary medicine, my degree was actually in English writing and rhetoric. I loved reading and writing from a very young age (almost as much as I loved bringing random stray and injured animals into my parents' home), and little has changed into adulthood. 

Many books that I read focused heavily on animals (surprise, surprise). Some of my favorites included Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls (hence my inevitable adoption of Clementine, the redbone coonhound princess), Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (funny coincidence on that name, no?), and Charlotte's Web by E.B. White (I was obsessed with that one; see image of 7-year-old me singing to Wilbur's cardboard cutout).

 
  

In more recent years, my favorites have included Marley and Me by John Grogan (butchered by Hollywood in movie form) and A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron (less butchered by Hollywood in movie form, but still butchered). 

 

One book in particular that stands out as one that really gives you a behind-the-scenes view of veterinary life is Tell Me Where It Hurts by Dr. Nick Trout. I could not put this book down, and you won't be able to either.


"From the front lines of modern medicine, Tell Me Where It Hurts is a fascinating insider portrait of a veterinarian, his furry patients, and the blend of old-fashioned instincts and cutting-edge technology that defines pet care in the twenty-first century. 

For anyone who’s ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at your veterinarian’s office, Tell Me Where It Hurts offers a vicarious journey through twenty-four intimate, eye-opening, heartrending hours at the premier Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston. You’ll learn about the amazing progress of modern animal medicine, where organ transplants, joint replacements, and state-of-the-art cancer treatments have become more and more common. With these technological advances come controversies and complexities that Dr. Trout thoughtfully explores, such as how long (and at what cost) treatments should be given, how the Internet has changed pet care, and the rise in cosmetic surgery.

You’ll also be inspired by the heartwarming stories of struggle and survival filling these pages. With a wry and winning tone, Dr. Trout offers up hilarious and delightful anecdotes about cuddly (or not-so-cuddly) pets and their variously zany, desperate, and demanding owners. In total, Tell Me Where It Hurts offers a fascinating portrait of the comedy and drama, complexities and rewards involved with loving and healing animals."
 If you're at all curious, go pick up a copy. You won't regret it! On my list next is one called Lily and the Octopus by Stephen Rowley. In this case, I did judge a book by its cover.


Read any good animal books lately? Feel free to share with us! We're always looking for more. 

Comments? Questions? Reply to this post below! We would love to have your input on any and all of our posts.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Pet Myths Debunked ~ Heather, Technician & Blog Editor

Both on the job and off, we hear a lot of "facts" about animals thrown around and readily accepted, especially on the internet. Let's take care of a few of those right now, shall we?

MYTH #1: All orange cats are male, and all calico cats are female.

(Dr. Alley has seen FOUR female orange cats in the last two weeks alone!)

While there is some truth to this, there are definitely exceptions. "The gene that codes for orange fur is on the X chromosome. Since females have two X’s and males are XY, this means that a female orange cat must inherit two orange genes (one from each parent) whereas a male only needs one, which he gets from his mother...In other words, orange cats always come from mothers with an orange gene, but female orange cats also require a father with the same gene. That’s why orange cats are usually male."

As far as a male calico, they do exist, but they are far more rare. "The XXY combination is a genetic rarity that occasionally shows up in cats (people, too). And if both X chromosomes carry the calico blueprint, you’re looking at one rare cat: a male calico. Such XXY animals are called Klinefelter males, after the doctor who first described the condition. If you have a male calico and think you can make money breeding him, you probably won’t. Though lovely, the cats are usually sterile."

MYTH #2: Dogs feel "guilty" when they misbehave.

(This face doesn't mean what you think it means.)

Your dog has no concept of the emotion that we label as guilt. Countless studies performed with dogs and their owners (including situations in which the dog was acting "guilty" prior to the owner even finding a problem) have concluded that "any appearance of guilt or contrition in dogs is the result of the animals having adapted to live with humans over thousands of years". While their mannerisms are very similar to ours in these situations, they are simply acting on instinct based on prior events--"guilty behaviors could simply be the result of a learned association between a stimulus...and impending punishment."

MYTH #3: Cats and dogs act out of spite when angry at their owners.

https://consciouscompanion2012.com/2013/08/05/was-it-for-spite-think-again/

Similarly, cats and dogs do not act out of spite. Every behavior has an explanation, whether that is inherently obvious or not. In the case of cats, spraying behavior is both a way to communicate and a way to reaffirm their claim on territory if there has been a recent stressor present in the household; it can also be indicative of an underlying medical issue. With dogs, the cause of inappropriate urination or defecation is often a medical issue requiring veterinary care; it can also be directly related to stress and anxiety. 


MYTH #4: A dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s mouth.


While human mouths are no picnic, to be sure, dogs quite literally eat poop, and most people do not brush their dogs' teeth nearly as often as is recommended (twice daily--just like us!). As such, they are natural breeding grounds for bacteria and parasites. The reason that a dog licking a wound helps speed healing is "not because dog saliva is like antiseptic. It’s because a dog’s tongue is rough, and that helps to remove contaminants from an open wound."

These are just a few of the countless myths that we hear with regularity. Read more here!

Comments? Questions? Reply to this post below! We would love to have your input on any and all of our posts.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Lumps & Bumps ~ Heather, Technician & Blog Editor

As a veterinary professional, one of the most frustrating things to see on social media is a person seeking medical advice for their pets from people who are not veterinarians. While these people often mean well, they are in many cases doing far more harm than good. This is especially true when it comes to growths. 

Abnormal growths on animals are very common, but there are innumerable different types, and recommended treatment varies greatly between them. Lipomas, for instance, are benign fatty tumors that are typically not removed unless they grow large enough to begin impacting an animal's quality of life. By sharp contrast, malignant growths can appear and spread very quickly, and often complete excision is recommended as soon as possible upon identification. Nobody can tell you conclusively what a growth is based on a photo


The only way to determine the nature of a growth is to aspirate it (insert a small needle, withdrawing cells) and examine the cells under a microscope. Even this technique is sometimes inconclusive, then requiring a biopsy (removal of a small portion of the growth or the entire growth) and microscopic examination by a pathologist. 

Very small MCT pictured, center
Yesterday, my Clementine was diagnosed with a mast cell tumor. These can be particularly scary, since they can appear like many other growths and are somewhat unpredictable. Mast cell tumors are made up of mast cells, which are granulocyte white blood cells that play a large roll in the immune system and contain large quantities of histamine, heparin, and proteolytic enzymes. When irritated or removed, mast cell tumors can release these contents into other parts of the body, causing significant side effects. Notice how small and insignificant the growth (pictured left) on Clementine appears. Had I ignored this or gotten advice online suggesting that it was anything other than a mast cell tumor, we might not have diagnosed it quickly enough to make a difference.


Complete excision can be curative, but extremely wide margins (removal of healthy tissue around the mass) are necessary to accomplish this. In her case, the tumor is very small and was found quickly, so we have high hopes for a good overall prognosis.

When you find a new growth on your dog, it's always a good idea to call your veterinarian and schedule an appointment for an examination and potential fine needle aspirate and cytology. Be sure to note when you first noticed the growth, and monitor it for any changes in size, shape, color, or texture. Be careful not to irritate the growth by touching it excessively, and never attempt to drain or remove a growth at home. 

Comments? Questions? Reply to this post below! We would love to have your input on any and all of our posts.




Wednesday, July 12, 2017

What is a Vet Tech? ~ Trisha, Technician

Particularly when at networking events or anytime outside of the field, people tend to ask, “What do you do?” and I get to talk about being a Veterinary Technician and the Office Manager at Shiloh Animal Hospital. If the person I’m talking to is an animal person, then they probably have a vague idea what the former involves. However, I also get some people who are not, and they often ask what the job entails. Within the same conversation, I have gotten “it must be awesome to play with puppies and kittens all day” as well as “it would be so hard to have put the animals down,” but there’s a lot more than just those two extremes.


There are movements right now to standardize the title of Veterinary Technician to Veterinary Nurse across various accreditation programs and states. Both are actually the same and are the supporting role to the doctor/veterinarian. Some people choose to attend school for a two-year associate’s degree for this job, while others learn all their skills on the job. 

Either way, some of the actual skills that we have include proper restraint of animals for physical exams or procedures, radiography or x-rays, obtaining lab samples (ear swabs, fecal samples, and urine), drawing blood, placing IV catheters, running labs (CBCs, urinalyses, and cytology), monitoring patients while under anesthesia, filling prescriptions, educating and communicating with clients, dietary consulting, grief support, upkeep of medical records, obtaining patient histories, scheduling appointments, administering medications (orally, rectally, intravenously, intramuscularly, subcutaneously), performing sedated dental scaling and polishing, walking dogs and clean kennels, administering vaccines, and probably more that I just can’t come up with right now. And all of these also tend to be at various levels of cooperation from the cats and dogs who might not understand what we’re trying to do – skill, strength, and stamina end up being key. If you translated all the various roles we serve the animals and converted them into the human health field, we would have an insane amount of schooling behind us, since everything in human medicine is so specialized, but we do it all – on multiple species.

At Shiloh Animal Hospital, the vet techs are typically the first face (and the last) you’ll see in the exam room. We develop and foster relationships with both the pets and owners. Combined with the rest of the team (doctors, assistants, receptionist, managers, etc.), we strive to partner with you to provide long and healthy lives for your cats and dogs. Our goal is to hear your concerns and develop a treatment plan that is individualized to the needs of you and your pet. If you don’t like a plan or need to be more cost conscious, we do what we can to offer alternatives that might better suit your needs. But we advocate for the best health of your pet and attempt to do so with as little stress as possible while keeping you a part of the decision making process.


I love the job since my duties vary every day, and it comes with a variety of challenges as well as rewards. We try hard to leave “on-time”, but sometimes things happen that require staying late or an extra shift. And even though we all love animals, having good people skills is a must. I love seeing the healthy pets for their preventative visits as well as seeing pets overcome their injuries and sickness. But you’ll also be there when it’s time to say good-bye. This job is not for the faint of heart but is truly where I have found my calling at this point in my life.

Comments? Questions? Reply to this post below! We would love to have your input on any and all of our posts.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Fireworks Minus Fear ~ Heather, Technician & Blog Editor

My newest foster dog, Electra, is a big, strong, stocky pitbull. She's also one of the biggest babies you'll ever meet.


Electra had some prior injuries that she had to have surgery to correct, and she's now receiving physical therapy treatments twice weekly. Being a two-year-old, previously untrained, excitable pittie, she has understandably needed some help with this in the form of medications that allow her to calm down. 

For anyone who is the parent of an anxious dog, you are likely familar with her list of medications, including Zylkene, Trazodone, Fluoxetine (Prozac), and Gabapentin. We also have Adaptil diffusers plugged in everywhere she goes. For the purpose of keeping calm at home with my other dog, in her crate, and at the vet in physical therapy, this combination has worked wonders for her. One thing it might not be enough to tackle, however, is the upcoming canine terror that is the Fourth of July. 

Noises in and outside of the home have been noticeably frightening to her, particularly since she's used to a shelter environment, not a house in the country. She's not alone! At least one third of all dogs in the United States suffer from noise aversion.


Noise aversion can present itself in many forms, including pacing, restlessness, lip licking, trembling, shaking, panting, hypervigilance, cowering, hiding, furrowed brow, ears back, freezing or immobility, abnormal clinginess, refusal to eat, yawning, or vocalizing. The medications mentioned previously can be helpful, but some have to be in the system for hours or weeks prior to being effective and are primarily sedatives. 

Sileo is an oromucosal gel that can be applied to the gums only 30-60 minutes prior to a loud event such as fireworks or a predicted storm, and it lasts for 2-3 hours. It is the first and only FDA-approved treatment for canine noise aversion associated with fear and anxiety. Dexmedetomidine (the active ingredient) calms your dog by preventing or reducing specific reactions in the nervous system related to noise. 

Should Electra need extra help when those fireworks start on the 4th, this is what I'll be reaching for. If you think Sileo might help your dog, don't hesitate to ask us about it, and don't forget to keep your pets safe inside this holiday with identifying information on their tags in case they get spooked!

Comments? Questions? Reply to this post below! We would love to have your input on any and all of our posts.