It’s National Dog Day!

In our home it’s always Dog day! But today’s the perfect excuse for all of us dog lovers to brag on ours.

CJ & Esme got to hang out with me at work today, meeting and greeting people and their dogs. CJ loves the people, Esme loves the dogs.

How did your dog(s) spend National Dog Day?

Freddie Mercury doesn’t really give a crap! He knows cats are superior.

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We’ve finally found our niche, Part II … From Urban to Rural with dogs

If you haven’t already, check out Part I before continuing. Or not.

As we turned down our little Neck that would lead us to our new home, my eyes widened and my jaw may have dropped a little bit.  It looked like heaven.  A house here, a field there and there and there, another house here, a thick grove of trees on both sides of the road, a little house there, another field, and then we came upon our little bungalow.  It was, and still is, the cutest little place on a property that is magnificent!  I could hardly wait to let the dogs out to run in this wide open area!  They already had some of that at my parents’ house, but this was home!  They would get to run here every day.  But…

…crap!  There are deer all over the place.  Foxes.  Raccoons, opossums, muskrats (all things my dogs would love to chase!)…and TICKS.  I already knew there’d be fleas and was prepared for them.  But the ticks.  Yikes.

I arrived, with the dogs and cats, to our new home in early December.  The weather was cool here, with highs in the 50s & 60s and lows in the 40s and 30s.  It was really pretty nice considering what it was like when we left Northern Illinois.  There were deer everywhere.  In the midwest we contend with deer all year long.  In California, we didn’t have to deal with deer, or many other wild mammals for that matter, at all.  Those critters stayed in the mountains and foothills near the area we lived.  When we’d go hiking in the foothills we’d come across a jack rabbit here and there, maybe evidence of a coyote, but otherwise all of the wildlife we’d happen upon was avian, arachnid or reptilian.

Neither ticks nor fleas, or mosquitoes for that matter, were an issue for us in the desert.  Probably one of only 4 good things about living in the desert, in my opinion.  We didn’t have to worry about flea and tick prevention, and heartworm prevention was not a top priority either.  I would keep some Frontline Plus on hand to use if I knew we’d be making a trek up the mountains or to the East.  I’d have Heartgard Plus on hand to use if we would be traveling to the midwest.

After being on the Eastern Shore of Virginia for one entire week I learned that I had trained my dogs well in terms of their recall.  Nearly every single time we would let them out to eliminate or explore, there would be some critter worth investigating.  All it took was a “EH!” and they’d stop dead in their tracks.  So the wildlife issue was not an issue at all.  But the tick issue?  We were not only finding ticks on our dogs, but we were picking them of off ourselves every day.  Yikes!  Thank goodness I stocked up on some Frontline Plus before I left California.  It worked well.  I’d find a few well-fed ticks on Chompers and C.J. every now and again, but mostly they were dead or dying.  But they’re still just freaking gross.  Chris found one on him one day in a place that you would’t go searching for one.  It freaked him out so much that he had me shave his head shortly afterward, worried that there might be ticks hiding in his mane.  He had long hair for the majority of our time in CA, got a decent hair cut just prior to his interview here in VA, but he had never ever had a complete buzz cut.  Welcome to the boonies city boy!

Chris already had a job lined up prior to our relocation.  I had sent out resumes to all of the local veterinary clinics once I learned we’d be moving.  I had gotten a response from only one of 5 veterinary clinics on the Eastern Shore before I left CA.  They wanted me to fill out an application.  Chris went and picked one up for me, as I was still in CA and wouldn’t be leaving for a few weeks.  He filled it out to the best of his ability.  When I finally arrived on the Eastern Shore, I called and scheduled an interview at the animal hospital.

Just a few days after I arrived I visited the animal hospital that I had been in contact with.  I had a nice tour of the facility, met all the staff and then sat and chatted with the practice owner for a few minutes.  It all seemed promising, then I was told they didn’t have any positions open at that time but they would keep my application on file for 6 months.  I was a bit bummed, but I still had plenty of unpacking to do to keep me busy for a little while.    It really was a shame because the practice was less than 3 miles from where we were renting.  It would have been an ideal place for me to work!  Alas, I had to keep searching.

A month had gone by and, though I wasn’t desperately in need of employment, I was ready for a job.  I had settled into the house, unpacked what was unpackable for the short term that we’d be living there, learned to navigate my way from home to all of the important places:  DMV, grocery story, post office, hardware store, etc.  I figured out right away that I’d be spending a LOT of time shopping on Amazon.  I continued to look for work that I might be able to tolerate.  My heart and soul wanted to continue to work in the animal care field, but after having been ignored or denied employment at every veterinary facility and animal care facility (SPCA & Animal Control) I started to pick up applications for factory work and retail work. Then I received a call from the animal hospital that seemed interested in me from the beginning.

There was a recent and unexpected opening at the animal hospital and they hit me up because of my experience (ie:  I wouldn’t require much training).  I hadn’t had any other offers at that point so I took the position…as a Receptionist.  Did I want to be a receptionist?  No, because I’m a technical person, not a people-person.  But I did know how to field phone calls and triage patients at the front desk quite well, and I really needed a job so I took it.  The pay was okay, and it was more than the nothing I had been making, so I was all in!

Something was meant to be, because I was a receptionist there for maybe 6 months until I got repositioned as a veterinary assistant.  I double-dutied for the longest time, but now am able to keep to the technical stuff more, which makes me happy-er.  I am still willing to fill in on occasion when needed as a customer service specialist.  Truth is, whether you’re a receptionist, a vet assistant, a licensed vet tech, or a veterinarian…you’re still a customer service specialist!  I just prefer that title to be lower on my list of responsibilities, if you get my drift.  I went into animal science for the animals.

Again, I digress.  So I got a job!  And it was something that made me happy.  I am still there, if that tells you anything.

To be continued…

What Should I Feed my Dog?

The topic of dog food is making headlines again.

Recently the FDA named 16 dog food brands that may be linked to an increased incidence of Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs.  The FDA has been looking into a potential link among certain pet foods and DCM in dogs for about a year now (that I know of).  The naming of dog food brands is huge, but I’m not yet 100% convinced on the data.

In case you’re wondering, here are the foods that were named in the report:

I am a dog lover and I want to do whatever is best for my dogs.  Where I get my information is key.  First and foremost, I never EVER rely on “Google.”  I always look for trusted sources, which include Universities with veterinary teaching hospitals that conduct regular research, trusted veterinary websites like AVMA and VIN, and most importantly I trust my veterinarian.

I’ve been in the small animal care field for over 25 years now and it still makes me cringe when I see the top answers for dog ear problems being ear mites.  Let me set the record straight.  Dogs do NOT get ear mites!!!  UNLESS they are in a house full of cats that have ear mites.  Even then, the ear mites will not survive in the dog (unless the dog is a tiny toy poodle with ear canals as small as a cat’s, OR it’s a cat hoarding situation with a dog in the midst).  The average dog owner should NOT get over-the-counter ear mite treatment to tend to their dog’s ears.  Seek professional advice.  You think a visit to the vet is expensive?  It’s more expensive when you treat via Dr. Google and we have to fix the greater problem you created by trusting something that knows NOTHING about animal health, husbandry or medicine.  This is just one instance of where Googling a pet problem can go wrong in a hurry.  End of that soapbox…

Back to the dog food debacle.  OK, so breeds that aren’t typically predisposed to DCM are now being diagnosed with it.  Is it the food?  Sure, there could be a link (this is why we ask you at every vet visit what you’re feeding your pet), but it could also be coincidence.  The Grain Free movement has exploded over the last 10 years so more pet owners are feeding grain free than ever before.  Am I for it?  Not one bit.  Do I understand it?  Sure.  And it all boils down to my previous soapbox.  

The average person will trust someone on the internet more than they will a trained and studied professional, all in the interest of what?  Money?  People are paying through the nose for the latest diet craze!  Trust?  How can you trust someone you don’t even know?  I don’t trust half of the people I do know, and definitely trust no one on the cyber web.  Lack of trust?  If you don’t trust your health care professional, find one you DO trust.  

And then there are those who will prefer their Breeder’s or Groomer’s advice over a veterinarian’s.  My analogy for this relationship in human terms would be like a hooker trusting her pimp more than her Doctor on how to treat an STD; or someone trusting their hairdresser more than their doctor on how to treat their depression.  Unless your Breeder or Groomer is a veterinarian, or a retired veterinarian, or a licensed veterinary technician, why on earth would you think they know more about animal health and wellness than your vet?  Did they study immunology and have a full understanding as to how the immune system works when it comes to vaccines or disease?  Why would a breeder treat all puppies with an antibiotic for protozoal parasites, increasing the future likelihood of antibiotic resistant parasites, if they were raising the animals in an ideal environment?  I could go on, but I hope you get my drift.

News Flash:  Veterinary health professionals care more about your pet than most human health care professionals care about YOU.  

Again, back to the dog food.  I wrote a post a while back about my opinion on dog food when Beneful was being blamed for everything.  You can read about that here.  My philosophy is the same as it was then.  If you find a dog food that your dog tolerates well, is readily available, and fits your budget, rock on with it.  If your dog doesn’t have a grain sensitivity or allergy, there’s no reason to go grain free.  

I truly believe those who pay attention to what they are feeding their dogs are the only ones reporting when something happens to their dogs.  I also feel those people are relying on sources other than their veterinary professionals about what is best to feed their dog.  They are researching unreliable sources on the interweb, taking advice from a friend or a breeder or a groomer, with all good intention.  Additionally, I think there are more cases of DCM going undiagnosed by those pet owners who don’t have or are unwilling to put forth the funds for a diagnosis.   It’s nothing scientific, but even from my experience as a veterinary professional, a lot of my clients don’t even remember what they’re feeding their dogs.  I often get the response, “oh, it’s one of those expensive, grain free diets.”  Expensive is relative, and grain free means nothing to me.  

Dog owners, pay attention to what exact food you are feeding your dog.  Is your dog doing well on it?  It’s eating well, not having any bowel issues, maintaining a healthy weight, skin and coat.  If your dog behaves abnormal in any way and you have to make a visit to the vet, take note of the exact diet your dog is being fed.  Diet often provides valuable information.