Posted by: My Personal Vet | August 16, 2010

California DMV

California Driver Handbook update

An Animal Safety Warning is being included in the California Driver Handbook. Assemblymember Anthony Portantino (La Cañada Flintridge) and the Department of Motor Vehicles want people to remember that leaving a pet in a closed car is unsafe. They will be adding a warning to the California Driver Handbook and California will become the first state to add language about animal safety in its 2011 Driver Handbook. It will warn drivers that it is against the law to leave an animal in a vehicle in unsafe conditions. If the animal is injured or killed, the penalties are: up to $500 in fines, 6 months in jail or both.

Posted by: My Personal Vet | August 10, 2010

Adult Cat and Dog Vaccinations

A Quick Reference Guide

Clients ask us all the time, “What vaccines do my pets need?”  For each pet, we customize all aspects of their care; vaccinations included. You will be asked about each pet’s personal circumstances so Dr. Sharp can determine which vaccines are truly necessary. Because her decisions are based on your answers and your pet’s health, the answer to that question won’t be the same for everyone. What we can tell you is which diseases are in our area and what factors Dr. Sharp weighs when making her recommendations.  Keep in mind that year to year recommendations may change, too!

A Few Decision Factors:

  • How many cats do you have? Do any of them interact with outdoor cats?
  • How often has your cat become ill? Is your cat ill right now?
  • What have they been vaccinated for in the past? Any vaccine reaction?
  • Do you ever board your cat when you leave town?
  • What breed is your dog?
  • What vaccines have they had in the past? Have they ever had a vaccine reaction?
  • Where do they visit and what do they do? Do they travel? Go to the beach?
  • Are they currently healthy?

Adult Feline Vaccinations

Rabies – Legally, although strongly recommended, this vaccine is not required in California but may be required by local laws. If your cat bites anyone (including at the vet office) a 10-day isolation may be imposed. There are two versions of this vaccine: 3-year and 1-year. The 3-year version of this vaccine is a known to cause fibrosarcoma. The newer, 1-year vaccine appears to be significantly safer. Because the 1-year uses a much lower volume of the vaccine and has no adjuvant, it poses a lesser risk for cancer. Dr. Sharp uses only the 1-year injection.

  • Length of Protection: One Year

FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calici, Panleukopenia) – This vaccine protects against 3 viruses. It covers throat, nose, mouth, and low white blood cell viruses. Seen frequently in kittens, these diseases can cause mouth ulcers, chronic sneezing, and eye diseases. Panleukopenia is very serious in kittens. This vaccine has been changed from every 1-year to every 3 years because it’s been found to last at least that long. This may be extended in the future.

Length of Protection: Three Years

FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus) – FeLV is quite common in our area and we do often recommend vaccinating cats that have access to the outdoors. The vaccine does pose a risk for cancer at the injection site so the pros and cons need to be discussed with your vet.

Length of Protection: One Year

Other options based on exposure and illness: FIV, FIP, Chlamydophyla, Giardia, Bordetella vaccines.

Adult Canine Vaccinations

Rabies – Rabies vaccinations are required by law in California and in order to license your dog in Santa Cruz. This is true for any dog over 4-months old. You can test for antibody levels in the blood. But most, if not all, authorities will not accept the results in lieu of vaccination.

Length of Protection: Three Years

DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza) – Parvovirus (usually just called Parvo) is common in our area and is still being seen this year! Parvo is no longer a guarantee of death but is very expensive to treat and is highly contagious; even to cats! All of these diseases are important to be protected against and can be fatal. The vaccine is extremely effective and all have extremely low reaction rates. The duration of these vaccines is known to be up to 9 years and antibody levels can be tested. Titer testing (checking for antibodies) is not entirely accurate but if the levels are high, they are assumed protected from the disease.

Length of Protection: Three Years (But there are options for testing)

Leptospirosis – Carried in urine and water, this is a spirochete(image) that is contagious to other animals and humans. There are many serovars (variations); one type can quickly cause devastating kidney failure and may result in lifelong kidney disease or death. This vaccine is most frequently the cause of a vaccine reaction. Unfortunately, this disease is very frequent in the Santa Cruz area. And protection does not last very long – although it was recently extended from 6 months to 1 year. This is also should be discussed thoroughly with your veterinarian.

Length of Protection: One Year

Bordatella – Also known as Kennel Cough, this is used to protect dogs who have lots of contact with other dogs– so think about classes, boarding, veterinary hospitals. It causes coughing which is how it spreads . A current strain has developed that is much more serious and, as always, secondary pneumonia is a concern. The length of protection on this vaccine has been extended from 6 months to 1 year.

Length of Protection: One Year

Other options based on exposure and illness: Lyme, Giardia, and Snakebite.

Summary

To keep your pet healthy, have an open discussion with your veterinarian to decide what is best for your situation and their care.

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About the Author: Joanna Doubleday

Joanna came on board with My Personal Vet as Practice Manager in August of 2009. She brings with her a crazy Tonkinese cat named Bella, her Catahoula puppy Dexter, and over 10 years of     experience in customer service and business management.  She has worked in a variety of settings including several years in both healthcare and hospitality.

Born and raised in Santa Cruz, she’s passionate about giving back to her community. She has done work on My Personal Vet’s behalf for Second Harvest Food Bank and the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce since joining our team.  She is also continuing her education at Cabrillo College in pursuit of degrees in business and health services.

Have something you’d like her to write about? You can email her at joanna@mypersonalvet.com

Posted by: My Personal Vet | August 7, 2010

Today is Service Dog Day!

A little refresher course

Do you know that a Seeing Eye Dog is not the same as a Guide Dog for the Blind?  A Seeing Eye Dog is reared and trained by Seeing Eye and Guide Dogs for the Blind is another group that does wonderful work.  There are many different organizations that train for assisting people with vision loss but these are the ones that people confuse the most.  There are also TDI dogs (Therapy Dog International) and CCI dogs (Canine Companions for Independence).  If you Google Therapy dogs or Guide Dogs, you will see there are many different places that work to allow people more independent lives.

Some possible careers for these special creatures are:

  • Dog Guide
  • Mobility dog
  • Seizure Alert
  • Medical Alert
  • Whatever you need them to do dog

They can be trained to get help, indicate the fire alarm is ringing, pick up pens, turn off lights, and to get help if their person has a medical condition.  There is a wide variety of skills that can be trained to fit with their natural talents.  There are even dogs who can sniff and react to cancer cells.  They are truly special.

Testing can be interesting.  I had a foster Border Collie who learned quickly and seemed like a good candidate for a hearing impaired person.  Tequila (which probably isn’t the best name for a service dog anyway) was tested to be a sound alert dog.  Horns and various noise makers were set off.  To pass the test he didn’t need to do anything special.   What they wanted was a dog that, even if he jumped at first, was curious and went back to see what was going on .  He wasn’t afraid but he wasn’t that interested, either.  He wanted to go herd my sheep, instead.  Oops.  Not the right job for him.

When the dog (I’m really only covering dogs but other critters assist also) gets old or doesn’t feel like working any more or any variety of reasons, they are either retired or get a “career change”.   Career change dogs may not have made the final test to join the working world.  They are fabulous pets because they’ve been socialized well and trained well.

How to assist the assistance dog while they are working:

  • Treat the dog like a person who is concentrating very hard to help someone not get hurt.
  • Always ask permission to interact with the dog in any way.  The dog needs to concentrate and the person can choose whether to allow it or not.  Do not be offended if they decline your request. This is their assistance dog and needs to be treated as a working extension of themselves.  Don’t feed, pet, touch, make noises, or distract in any way.
  • This also means do not let your dog run loose around a working dog.  It hinders concentration and has seriously harmed people who were relying on them.
  • Their dog is not in a show.  Respect the dog for being so talented.  Treat it and the person with respect.  Don’t assume they want to talk about the help their dog gives them.
  • As a vet, I also need to follow rules about not touching or giving treats until permission is given.
  • I especially need to be very careful what medications I use and be crystal clear with the owner — the dogs need all their senses or the owner needs full knowledge of possible side effects so they can make arrangements in advance.
Posted by: My Personal Vet | July 25, 2010

High Blood Pressure

Is high blood pressure a “silent killer” in cats and dogs?

Actually, yes.  It’s a very real concern for cats and dogs.  Different than humans, though.  In humans, it can be “primary” – meaning exist without an underlying cause.

In cats and dogs, primary hypertension may not exist.   You have to look for another disease causing the problem.   Since high blood pressure can cause serious health issues,  it’s important to find that cause.   Routine exams, every 6 months, are the best time to measure and test for developing diseases.

Causes of hypertension

Bad things that can happen

  • Retinas can detach causing immediate blindness
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Death

Monitoring

Frequent monitoring is important.  But cats and dogs generally get tense in a veterinary office.  Or the trip can be traumatic   —  either for the animal or the human.  To measure blood pressure, they need to sit still while people shave their paws and hold their leg or tail.  It takes a while and their blood pressure will goes higher.  Home monitoring is a much better solution.

Tabba the cat

Tabba is really really fussy going in a car and at the vet – she is all teeth and claws.   Watch how she is at home while I take her blood pressure:

.

www.veterinarypartner.com

www.cat-world.com.au

www.winnfelinehealth.org

Posted by: My Personal Vet | July 21, 2010

Grief

Goodbye Kitty

Last night a very loved cat passed away.  I was there, I’m his vet, I made the recommendation, I helped him leave.

He had spent the weekend at the emergency hospital being cared for by the best.  Although still ill, yesterday he went home to continue trying to recover.  Last night, it was time to leave.  Why, then, do all parties feel guilt?

His parents are very loving people who regularly help others, volunteer locally, and care with all their hearts for all creatures — including the skunk who has taken residence near them, the deer who eat all their flowers, the squirrels who run rampant, and all the local birds.  They are fabulous.

Yet they are wracked with guilt about getting mad when he bit them!  And maybe not loving him enough or feeding him the right food or being there for him.  And I’m upset because I couldn’t heal him or care for him more effectively.  I’m not sure what we want to have done.  And I’m really not sure why guilt should even be part of “the grieving process”.  What does that mean anyway?  Why are there steps to grieving?  Can’t we just be really sad and miss the creature great or small?  Why all the doubt and guilt and regret?

It’s sad enough without the self-incrimination.  Or, does the self-incrimination relieve the pain of aching loss?  Even if just for a minute?  I don’t know.  I do know they loved him with all their hearts. I do know I did my very best.

Posted by: My Personal Vet | July 16, 2010

Ouch, Ouch, My Hands Hurt!

A Lesson in Bite Prevention and Inhibition

By the end of week two, I was exhausted. All of the midnight (and 2am and 3am and 4am) potty breaks finally caught up with me and then…the teething started. Dexter seems to have an uncanny ability to decipher between approved and unapproved chewing items. He’s an expert at finding the best stick in the pile and yet (surprisingly) chooses to leave my wicker couch and micro-suede chaise alone. I almost shouldn’t talk about it…I might give him some good ideas…

Unfortunately, at this point in time, my hands seem to land in the “approved” category. Why chew on a toy when Mommy’s meaty digits are right there?! I tried to grin and bear the pain of razor-sharp puppy teeth through the week, attempting to shove squeaky chew toys in place of my fingers, and then it happened: I broke down. I melted into a puddle of tears, stomping my feet like a 3 year old, “MY…HANDS…HURT!”

Clearly, it was time to consult Dr. Sharp. She quelled my initial fears right away…just because he’s trying to eat me alive, doesn’t mean that hes going to grow up to be a mean and aggressive dog. I also didn’t want to spend all my days yelling “NO” at my pup. Granted, I was certainly prepared for some chewing; he is a puppy after all. Much to my surprise, she said that “it’s better that he bites a little bit than not at all.” I’m sure that she could hear the confusion rattling around in my brain at that point and so she guided me to the holy grail of positive training:

Karen Pryor’s Clicker Training website: http://bit.ly/bT5cIM

In order to access the full article, you have to sign up but considering that the information is priceless and the cost is nothing, I highly recommend it. The site is full of great information about training dogs, cats, and other animals too!

I have to say that these tricks have worked great with Dexter! He’s not perfect, but far more often than not, we can play and roughhouse without finger casualties and I can actually see him really think about what he’s sinking his teeth into.

Get yourself a clicker and try it out!

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About the Author: Joanna Doubleday

Joanna came on board with My Personal Vet as Practice Manager in August of 2009. She brings with her a crazy Tonkinese cat named Bella, her Catahoula puppy Dexter, and over 10 years of     experience in customer service and business management.  She has worked in a variety of settings including several years in both healthcare and hospitality.

Born and raised in Santa Cruz, she’s passionate about giving back to her community. She has done work on My Personal Vet’s behalf for Second Harvest Food Bank and the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce since joining our team.  She is also continuing her education at Cabrillo College in pursuit of degrees in business and health services.

Have something you’d like her to write about? You can email her at joanna@mypersonalvet.com

Posted by: My Personal Vet | July 9, 2010

Critters for Carol

Mopey?  Grumpy?  Just need cheering up?    Babies critters do it for me but any ones that make me smile will do.

Does this cheer you up?

Posted by: My Personal Vet | July 3, 2010

Santa Cruz Treibball not just for Border Collies

Herding deluxe.  And no sheep to haul around.  This is a dog sport that’s catching on.  A local trainer, Sandi Pensinger, has set up classes and is teaching local dogs this new challenge.  It’s sort of a herding practice and you really have to know your distance commands.  Since I’m always recommending more training, check it out!

Here’s a video of Skipper.  He made is up on his own.

Here’s a dog video of how it’s really played: Treibball demonstration

Check out  Sandi’s Dog Training Website to learn more.

Posted by: My Personal Vet | July 1, 2010

Do Border Collies Like to Herd?

Have you ever wondered if Border Collies love to herd?  Or are we, again, just making them work for us?

You’ll get the answer here.  This is taken about 3 miles away from the ranch where I take my Border Collies to herd sheep and goats and ducks.  It doesn’t adequately display her enthusiasm but gives a hint.  She is so happy and ecstatic it rubs off on me every time.

You know when you do something and you forget all about your cares and worries?  This is one of them for me.  Outside, raining or sunny, it’s just her and me doing something together that we both enjoy.  Fabulous!

What do YOU and your pup do for quality time together?

Quality Time with FlyGirl (video)

Posted by: My Personal Vet | June 28, 2010

Homecoming King

Raising a puppy is no small task, but done the right way, all of the hard work pays off, resulting in a loyal and loving companion.

Now, I’m no expert, that’s for sure…but I happen to be employed by one! So I want to take you along for the ride (bumps in the road and all) as I raise my puppy from the perspective of a first-time puppy owner, a veterinary practice manager, and a Member of My Personal Vet. You will witness the ups and downs, tears and laughter, an occasional icky poop story, and tips and tricks from Dr. Sharp.

Meet Dexter.


Dexter Osiris Lubarsky, born March 12, 2010, came into our lives and our home on his 7 week birthday. He’s a Catahoula Leopard Dog (aka Catahoula Hog Dog, Catahoula Cur), reigning from the Catahoula Parish in Louisiana. For us, he’s a perfect breed: full of energy, likes to be busy, very short hair to keep Lance’s allergies under control, very loyal, great with families, loves water…did I mention likes to be busy? But for some families, he would have been a nightmare! As easy as this cute face makes it look…choosing the right dog for your home and family is a difficult thing!

Impulse Shopping…

Great for shoes, power tools, and ice cream…not so good for animals! Getting swept up in the moment when choosing a dog (or cat) can result in big problems down the road for you and your new-found friend. Each breed of dog and cat has its own distinct temperament, needs for attention and activity, and tendency towards different health problems. Doing your research and thinking ahead will help you make more practical decisions when choosing your new best friend — not emotional ones. Once you’ve decided that you want to bring a new dog into your home, be sure to ask yourself these important questions first:

  • How active are you?
  • How long are you away from home on an average day?
  • Do you travel? How often?
  • Do you have any small children? How many? How old?
  • Are you sensitive to dog hair/dander?
  • Have you ever owned a dog before?
  • Do you have other animals in your household?
  • Do you have an enclosed outdoor area?

CLICK HERE for a Great Survey from IAMS to help you decide!

Lemon Check


As much as we were already set on this seemingly-perfect puppy, we needed to make sure that the was healthy enough for his homecoming. Dr. Sharp came to the house of the original Mom and Dad to take a look and a listen to make sure that everything was in good working order. This initial exam answered important general health questions:

  • Do his heart and lungs sound healthy?
  • Does he have a cleft palette?
  • Is his umbilical cord healing properly?
  • Have both of his testicles descended?

It also gave Dr. Sharp the opportunity to check for breed-specific issues. Being a blue-eyed Catahoula (aka Glass Eye), the chance that Dexter had been born deaf was higher than that of his brown-eyed siblings and of other breeds. A thorough check of his sight and hearing was certainly in order.

Most importantly, Dr. Sharp was able to give her unbiased opinion about whether or not Dexter would truly be a good fit for Lance and me by watching him interact with us, his mom and dad, and his siblings.

After two very long weeks of research and preparation, the seal of approval was stamped: Dexter was our Homecoming King.

Know How to Get Your Home Ready for a New Pet? Tune in Next Week!

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About the Author: Joanna Doubleday

Joanna came on board with My Personal Vet as Practice Manager in August of 2009. She brings with her a crazy Tonkinese cat named Bella, her Catahoula puppy Dexter, and over 10 years of     experience in customer service and business management.  She has worked in a variety of settings including several years in both healthcare and hospitality.

Born and raised in Santa Cruz, she’s passionate about giving back to her community. She has done work on My Personal Vet’s behalf for Second Harvest Food Bank and the Santa Cruz Chamber   of Commerce since joining our team.  She is also continuing her education at Cabrillo College in pursuit of a degree in business and health services.

Have something you’d like her to write about? You can email her at joanna@mypersonalvet.com

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