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February 24th, 2012

My tech­no­log­i­cally adept hus­band cre­ated a QR code for me. QR stands for quick response code. These days, most smart phones have a QR reader that allows you to scan the code. Sim­i­lar to a bar code, it then pulls up what­ever infor­ma­tion it is linked to. In my case, the code is linked to my blog as well as
Car­ing Hands web site


Caring Hands Update

February 15th, 2012

Car­ing Hands Ani­mal Hos­pi­tal is grow­ing! Soon there will be a new addi­tion to the Car­ing Hands Fam­ily. Alexan­dria, Vir­ginia will be home to a brand new clinic. I will soon be divid­ing my time between Ash­burn, Vir­ginia and Alexandria,Virginia. I am still try­ing to fig­ure out how I will split my sched­ule but I am very excited. I have quite a few clients com­ing from Mary­land, DC, and North­east Vir­ginia so I think that this loca­tion will help cut down on travel time. Stay tuned for the grand open­ing infor­ma­tion and location.

The Other Side

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.

Unsung heroes

February 4th, 2012

I thought I would blog a lit­tle about what keeps a vet clinic run­ning. Yes you need the vet, the sup­plies, and of course the clients. But with­out the licensed techs, assistants/nurses, and receptionists-we would fall apart. They are the ones that con­sole, teach, pro­vide com­fort, effi­ciently answer phones, make appoint­ments, run labs, run anes­the­sia, make sure pay­ments are made, make sure ani­mals are fed, watered, cleaned, and keept the vets on sched­ule. There are so many more things they do on a daily basis that a list could take up the whole post, so I will spare you.
If any­one is think­ing about becom­ing a licensed vet tech, it is a great field with high demand.  There are many pro­grams now avail­able, either on-line classes or at local col­leges. There are pre-requisites to get in to school though. Most are high school level classes but you most likely need a col­lege level chem­istry class before vet tech school or dur­ing. Talk­ing to my assis­tants that are in school, they rec­om­mend tak­ing it prior so that you do not have to add that to your course load. It is also very help­ful to have vet­eri­nary related expe­ri­ence as well as a prior degree. The two year pro­grams are intense and recoure course­work in phys­i­ol­ogy, anatomy, phar­ma­col­ogy, radi­ol­ogy, den­stistry, anes­the­sia, sur­gi­cal prep and assis­tance, ani­mal nurs­ing, and phar­ma­col­ogy. You need to also get prac­ti­cal expe­ri­ence in a vet­eri­nary office in large ani­mal field and small ani­mal. And then you have to take the exams for licens­ing for state/national accred­i­ta­tion. There is plenty of infor­ma­tion out there for peo­ple inter­ested in this field.
Whether you are a licensed tech, a nurse/assistant, a recep­tion­ist, office man­ager, or ken­nel assis­tant, I want to thank you for every­thing you do.

Ferret Time

January 20th, 2012

It has been a while since I blogged about a spe­cific species and my good friend has recently reminded me that fer­rets could use a lit­tle more air time. So here it goes…

There are some com­mon mis­con­cep­tions regard­ing fer­rets includ­ing that they are a type of rodent. This is not the case. Fer­rets are in the weasel fam­ily, aka Mustel­idae. Fer­rets are related to otters, skunks, weasels, and pole­cats. In fact, fer­rets have odif­er­ous scent glands sim­i­lar to a skunk  that have to be removed prior to enter­ing a home but they can still carry a nat­ural musky scent. Fer­rets are true car­ni­vores with a high pro­tein and low carbohydrate/fiber need. They need good social­iza­tion espe­cially as kits (babies) to pre­vent issues of bit­ing later on. They need plenty of sleep and ide­ally at least 4 hours of play time a day. They can learn how to walk on a leash, use a lit­ter box, and get a long with cats and dogs. They are play­ful, joy­ful, affec­tion­ate creatures.

In gen­eral fer­rets have a 7–9 year lifes­pan but after the age of three,they are con­sid­ered senior pets. If you are famil­iar with fer­rets, you are prob­a­bly aware of the mul­ti­tude of dis­eases that they are pre­dis­posed to. Almost every fer­ret will even­tu­ally be diag­nosed with one or more of the fol­low­ing: Adrenal dis­ease, insuli­noma, lym­phoma, and/or heart dis­ease. Many of these dis­eases can be man­aged to help improve a fer­rets qual­ity of life, but it is not cheap and often an older fer­ret requires alot of med­ical care at home and at the vet. Because of this, many shel­ters are over run with fer­rets because peo­ple buy the adore­able juve­niles but are not pre­pared for the expense and ail­ments that come with time. Most peo­ple aren’t even aware that fer­rets should be vac­ci­nated yearly against rabies and dis­tem­per, let alone have yearly to bi-yearly blood screen­ings. Also, fer­rets love to chew soft rub­bery­ob­jects and the eat­ing of for­eign bod­ies is a com­mon enough prob­lem in the young­sters which requires sur­gi­cal inter­ven­tion.
I hope peo­ple are not dis­suaded by this post from adopt­ing (ide­ally from a shel­ter) a cute, smart, enter­tain­ing fer­ret. But I do want peo­ple to know what to expect. I highly rec­om­mend doing some research on spe­cific food and cage setup rec­om­men­da­tions as well as cre­at­ing a sav­ings account for the med­ical care. You can get pet insur­ance for fer­rets but check into what is and is not covered.

Check out these sites for great resource information:

Amer­i­can Fer­ret Association:www.ferret.org

As much as this infor­ma­tion comes from my vet­eri­nary knowl­edge, I am also speak­ing from expe­ri­ence. I have had so many won­der­ful expe­ri­ences of own­ing fer­rets of my own. I have also expe­ri­enced the dif­fi­cul­ties of man­ag­ing adrenal dis­ease, insuli­no­mas and lym­phoma (amongst 5 dif­fer­ent fer­rets). I hope this pro­vides some insite into the world of fer­rets. They are not like cats or dogs, but are crea­tures unto themselves.

 fer­ret exhibit­ing hair­loss asso­ci­ated with adrenal disease.