Archive for the 'Biography' Category

New Beginnings

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Next week is the grand open­ing of Car­ing Hands Ani­mal Hos­pi­tal in Alx­en­dria, Vir­ginia. As of Wednes­day, May 9th, I will be split­ting hours between Ash­burn and Alexan­dria. This is very excit­ing for me as I have never worked this close to the Belt­way.
The address of the new loca­tion is:
295 S. Van Dorn Street
Alexan­dria VA 22304
Appoint­ments are cur­rently being sched­uled through the Arling­ton location.

Save the Dates!

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

There are some great events going on locally. If you live in the Ash­burn area, Broad­lands Nature Cen­ter (21907 Clai­borne Park­way, Broad­lands) is hav­ing a meet and greet of all of their ani­mals on Sat­ur­day, April 14 at 12:00 pm. They have a wide array of ani­mals that the nat­u­ral­ist, Lisa Matthews, will be show­ing to the audi­ence. I will be there to answer ques­tions about the ani­mals and exotic care.
If you have an inter­est in rab­bits, Bunny Lu is hav­ing an open house on Sun­day, April 22, 2012 from 11–4 pm. Loca­tion: 4280 Pad­gett Dr. Hay­mar­ket. There will be a vari­ety of speak­ers as well as bun­nies for adop­tion. I will be dis­cussing nutri­tion and rab­bit den­tistry. I hope to see you there

Dulles Super Pet Expo March 16–18

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Car­ing Hands Ani­mal Hos­pi­tal will be at Dulles Expo Cen­ter (Chan­tilly, VA) for the Super Pet Expo. Join us this evening and all week­end. I will be at the Expo on Sat­ur­day March 17th. I hope to see you there!

The Other Side

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

Although the pas­sion of my life is exotic med­i­cine, I still find all other ani­mals inter­est­ing. At my pre­vi­ous job, I wasn’t exposed to the cat and dog aspect of med­i­cine because we had a seper­ate floor for exotic appoint­ments. But at Car­ing Hands, I get to work side by side with my cat and dog col­leagues. It has been fas­ci­nat­ing to watch the team work and see the par­al­lels of what we all do no mat­ter what type of pet. Some things I have learned:

1) I don’t know if I would ever get used to deal­ing with anal glands (sacs) if I had to express them. I am great­ful that the ani­mals I work with do not get impacted anal glands. I recently learned cats have anal glands as well and they can have impactions too. Oy Vey–thankfully never a prob­lem for my cats because if they were–well let’s say we will be going to see my vet.

2) I really wish my patients had veins like cats and dogs. Even the small­est cat and dog veins are rel­a­tively large com­pared to my bun­nies and birds. So jealous.

3) If a cat or dog is sick, it is not nec­es­sar­ily about to die. In avian andex­otic med­i­cine, there is alway that risk that the ani­mal will decom­pen­sate before your eyes if they are sick. It has to be at the back of your mind that they are frag­ile and can only han­dle so much stress, ill­ness, han­dling. How­ever, cats and espe­cially dogs have more for­ti­tude than this. Don’t get me wrong, if they are sick, they do need to be seen and treated. How­ever, they can han­dled the pok­ing and prod­ding, the diag­nos­tics and treat­ments that are required to get bet­ter and you don’t need to  nec­es­sar­ily remind the owner every step of the way that the pet is crit­i­cal and may not make it.

3) You can eas­ily take 5 or 6 ml (approx­i­mately a tea­spoon of blood) with­out risk of exsan­guinat­ing the patient. I am usally in good shape if I can get 0.2 ml on a small patient and 1 ml on a large one. If I can get 3 ml on a rab­bit or fer­ret, I am ecstatic.

4) My patients can’t maul me. Yes a larger bird can do dam­age. An iguana once bit through the tip of my thumb (aside from a lit­tle nerve damge, it healed entirely), and a fer­ret can bite. But the level of aggres­sion is noth­ing com­pared to a large dog or a frac­tious cat. These guys can do real dam­age. I am always impressed when these large dogs can be eas­ily han­dled and allow blood draws, vac­cines and other pro­ce­dures to be done. They do not have to coop­er­ate if they don’t want to and we need to always respect that.

5) All pets rec­og­nize their loved ones and are very dif­fer­ent at the vet office vs at their house. No mat­ter the species, the most dif­fi­cult patients turn into lov­ing com­pan­ions when they are with the ones they love. My own cat is a per­fect exam­ple. Shadie is due for vac­cines and I am dread­ing the office visit. He is a great cat that sleeps with me, purrs on my lap, and loves to play with me. But as soon as the cat car­rier is out, he is run­ning laps around the house and yowl­ing once he is in the car­rier. At his last exam, he scratched the tech, hissed and growled dur­ing his blood draw and was a com­plete grump for the rest of the day. A total oppo­site of the lov­ing cat that sleeps on my pil­low at night. So if you ever won­der why we restrain, use tow­els and seem to always be cau­tious around the most lov­ing, docile pets, this is why. You never know how they will react in a new place, with weird smells and strangers hold­ing them. Patient and staff safety has to be a priority.

I have the utmost respect for my col­leagues and what they do on a daily basis. CouldI go back into cat and dog med­i­cine? per­haps. But I do love my spe­cialty  of vet­eri­nary med­i­cine too much to try. And I just don’t know if I can get past the anal glands. So for  now I will keep work­ing my feath­ered, furred and scaled patients.

Comparative Anatomy:Head and Neck

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

There are so many inter­est­ing com­po­nents to a bird that I can devote an entire post to just the head and neck.

The brain is very dif­fer­ent than mam­malian brains. There are homo­lo­gus struc­tures but over­all appear­ance is very different.

Birds have rele­tively large optic lobes and rel­a­tively small olfac­tory lobes which may reflect the rel­a­tive  impor­tance of vision and rel­a­tively poor sense of smell in some birds.

Birds eyes have incred­i­ble vari­abil­ity in size, loca­tion and spe­cific func­tion depend­ing on the type of bird. For exam­ple. Owls are preda­tors and need good depth per­cep­tion so they have eyes in the front of their head like humans. This allows for stereo­scopic vision and bet­ter depth per­cep­tion. Birds that could be con­sid­ered prey species such as par­rots and passer­ines have eyes on the sides of their head. This improves periph­eral vision so they can watch for preda­tors. For great arti­cle on avian eye anatomy and how this affects vision for dif­fer­ent species, please see:

Lets move on to bird beaks/bills. The beak is a more com­plex struc­ture than peo­ple real­ize. The beak has the outer ker­atin layer that is the aspect that we see.This layer is sim­i­lar to our fin­ger nails. Under this is a layer of con­nec­tive tis­sue, blood ves­sels and nerves and then bone. There is the upper beak with an under­ly­ing max­il­lary bone and a lower beak with an under­ly­ing mandibu­lar bone. As a vet, I have seen my share of beak avul­sions. This means that due to some trauma, the upper beak or or lower beak (or both) have been torn off. It is some­times hard for peo­ple to under­stand why this doesnt grow back since they know they have seen the beak tip grow when bro­ken. The rea­son is that the tip of the beak is the end of the karatin layer and the ker­atin layer is regen­er­a­tive. As long as the base of the ker­atin layer near the cere (fleshy aspect near the nos­trils) has not been dam­aged, the outer sur­face of beak will grow out (just like your fin­ger­nails). How­ever, once there is bone involve­ment, there is per­ma­nent dam­age and then this is a more seri­ous situation.

Other inter­est­ing anatomy facts on birds: They have a cleft palate –an open­ing called choana–that con­nects to their sinuses and nos­trils. There tra­chea is made of com­plete car­ti­lage­nous rings so the tra­chea does not eas­ily col­lapse. They do not have an epiglot­tis to cover the glottis–opening to the tra­chea. Unfor­tu­nately this makes inhala­tion of seeds a true con­cern. Bird tongues have a bone to aid their move­ment and manip­u­la­tion of food. They have a less devel­oped sense of taste than humans but they have addi­tional touch recepters. Birds do have ears but they do not have pin­nae or those outer flaps of ears that we asso­ciate ears. The ears are hid­den by the feath­ers on the side of their heads.

Wow, I can keep going on bird anatomy but it is quite exhausting…so I think I will stop here for now. I think next week will have to be a small mam­mal blog week just for some­thing dif­fer­ent  :)