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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