Judy Morgan DVM Facebook
One Pet At A Time
Our business manager, Pam Young, recently wrote the following article about her passion for fostering animals. It appeared in the newsletter for a non-profit group she works with, Save The Animals Foundation. We at Clayton and Churchtown Veterinary Associates are very proud of the time, energy, and love many of our staff members put into fostering pets in need. We are all in the veterinary field because we love animals and want to help them be healthy and happy. Bringing a homeless animal into your home for the necessary love and sometimes healing they need to find their forever home is not only beneficial to them, but can be a very fulfilling experience for you as well.
Why I Foster
By Pam Young
I’ve often been asked this question by friends, family,and even people I don’t know. Truth is, there is no one, simple answer - there are several. I foster because for every cat or dog I foster, there is room for one more to be cared for at the shelter. I foster because every animal I bring home is one more that isn’t euthanized. I foster because some need that extra TLC, whether for medical reasons, bottle feeding, or just simply stress relief from the noise of being in a shelter. I foster because, for some dogs, a few weeks in a loving home helps us to see their personality more clearly and makes it easier to match them to an adoptive family.
But my #1 reason for fostering is actually far simpler, and a little on the selfish side. I foster because it makes me feel good to help an animal that needs help. There is no way to explain the satisfaction I get from watching my bottle kittens grow and thrive. Or from watching an emaciated, neglected puppy blossom into a robust, happy dog. Nothing pleases me more than when one of my former fosters comes to visit me and is happy and healthy. Sometimes, and this is the best of all, they even remember me! A foster pup from two summers ago still goes nuts and slobbers me with kisses every time he sees me. There just aren’t enough words to describe how awesome that makes me feel!
Now, I realize that not everyone has the time to bottle feed kittens or take care of a litter of puppies. Some people just don’t do well handling medical issues. Not everyone has space in their home for an extra dog, even for a short period of time. For those who don’t have much space or time, I have other ideas. Volunteer at a shelter, any shelter. Take an hour a week to walk dogs and give them time out of their cement run to walk and roll on the grass. Work with a rescue that needs help transporting animals from the rescue to their new homes. Collect towels and blankets for your local shelter or rescue. Bring in treats for the cats and dogs. Any little thing you can do makes a difference in the lives of the shelter animals.
A friend recently sent me a picture of an orange kitten being bottle fed. The caption read, “Keep rescuing animals. You may lose your mind, but you will surely find your soul.” Truer words have never been spoken. I have been crazy tired from bottle feeding, and frustrated when I struggle to place one of my fosters. But nothing can take away the feeling I get from helping these animals. Find your niche, make a difference, and you will understand exactly why I foster.
THESE PESTS DRIVE OUR PETS - AND US - CRAZY
Not only do fleas and ticks cause discomfort for pets and people, they can also spread disease. Fleas help spread the Plague and Bartonella (cat scratch fever). Ticks carry even more diseases, like Lyme, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Tick Paralysis, Tularemia, Babesiosis, and Heartland Virus, just to name a few. People are fearful that their pets will bring these pests into the home and they also fear the animals will become ill from exposure to these undesirable intruders. Unfortunately those fears have driven people to seek methods to keep their pets and homes bug-free which may have serious consequences for the pets. While the majority of pets will not have reactions to most chemical flea and tick preventatives, there is a small population of pets that can have serious side effects, including death. If you happen to be the owner of one of those pets, it doesn’t matter that 95% of the pet population was not affected by the medications.
Recently I was contacted by an owner who used the new flea and tick preventative product Bravecto for her young dog. Within 9 days of being given the product the dog developed anorexia, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. This was followed by elevated calcium levels and multi-organ failure. The pet owner has been diligent in her pursuit of answers. Instead of saying “Bravecto killed my dog” she posed the question “Does Bravecto kill dogs?”. She started a Facebook page asking that very question. Many people have posted side effects and deaths which are very similar to those experienced by her dog Hunter. Not only are these side effects being reported for Bravecto, they are also being reported for Nexgard, which is a similar chewable preventative product. One of the biggest problems with these drugs is that they stay in the pet’s body for extended periods of time. Once you put them in you can’t get them out. Most owners an veterinarians do not associate the side effects with the chemicals because the side effects may not show up for days to weeks after the drug is given. Many times the side effects do not show up until the second or third dose is given. Other problems being reported (as if these aren’t bad enough) include seizures and cancer in previously unaffected dogs. The veterinarians and the drug companies making the drugs chalk it up to “coincidence”, but I am skeptical, to say the least. The drugs are tested on laboratory dogs (Beagles to be exact), so they are not tested across all breeds and ages until they hit the market. So who is the test population? Our pets. Personally, I think these drugs are poisoning our pets and should never have been allowed on the market.
Sadly, we live in a chemical-laden world. The metabolites (chemicals from the breakdown of the drug) are extremely toxic to fish. Dog feces and urine contain the metabolites. Packaging goes in landfills that drain to our waterways. How many fish do we have to kill before we decide this is a bad idea? When did our society become so afraid of little bugs that we need a quick chemical fix to kill them all? Healthy pets will not be loaded with parasites. If we would start feeding real food that is species-appropriate, stop the over-use and misuse of vaccinations, antibiotics, drugs, and chemicals, we, our pets, and our environment would be much healthier. Please join me in the war against the overuse of chemicals.
Protect your pets and don’t give in to the scare tactics of big pharma and the media. These chemicals are dangerous and I will not prescribe them for my patients. I’m sure I’ll be blasted by all the chemical lovers out there, but that’s okay. Maybe I’ve at least gotten you to think about the chemicals you are using.
LOOKING AT LIFE FROM A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE
Lately I have been doing a lot of “giving” in my life. I recently gave out my annual scholarship to a deserving young man who graduated from the high school where three generations of my family graduated. He is not eligible for student loans due to citizenship status, even though he has lived here almost his entire life. He works two jobs, trying to save money for college. He will be the first member of his family to go to college. I also just took in two 14 year-old Cocker Spaniels, abandoned when the owner died. They were suffering from years of neglect with ear, eye, dental, skin, and urinary tract infections, arthritis, limited vision, and deafness. I performed all their medical care as a donation, planning to send them to Monkey’s House dog hospice and sanctuary for abandoned senior pets. I’m not sure they will leave my house; they may live the rest of their life in permanent “foster care” with us. They make me smile every time I pet them or see them trot around the yard or eat a good home-cooked meal. I have agreed to donate my services to Monkey’s House and my better half, Hue Grant, is donating architectural services for building remodeling. I’ve raised money and coordinated volunteers to help with expansion and care of pets for Monkey’s house residents.
Do you want to know the best part of all this giving? Just like the Grinch, my heart has grown so big and is so full, that it feels like it doesn’t fit inside my chest any more. I have discovered what I think I have known all along: TIS BETTER TO GIVE THAN TO RECEIVE. Giving allows us to smile. It feeds our soul. The rewards are so much better than monetary rewards. A life coach recently told me this: We start our life as learners. Then we become earners. And finally we are able to become returners. I am so happy to be in the “returner” part of my life. I am not near retirement yet, but someday I will fill every day with being a “returner”, helping however I can; giving back to those less fortunate souls, whether they have four legs or two.
It doesn’t matter if you can’t donate money. Donate time. Donate your labor. Donate your ideas. Do random acts of kindness. You’ll grow. You’ll experience true happiness. And you’ll walk around smiling, making others wonder what you are up to :)
HOT DOGS: THE DANGER OF HIGH SUMMER TEMPERATURES
Mother Nature can be a cruel beast. She pummels the world with harsh weather, extreme highs and lows that can wreak havoc on our minds and bodies. For the most part, we are shielded from some of her cruelest tricks, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t suffer. This time of year is especially hard as the world has been dormant from a long winter and is starting to wake up with a vengeance. Not only are our sinuses and noses assaulted with pollen from every tree and plant, but the temperature begins to rise precipitously and that is where things really start to go astray.
This rapid rise and change in temperature can be dangerous and even deadly for our beloved pets. Animals haven’t adjusted to the new heat and humidity and can find themselves struggling to maintain their body temperatures. This is when we begin to worry about heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Both of these conditions are a rapid rise in the internal body temperature that can lead to severely debilitating diseases and even death.
Dogs and cats lack sweat glands (except in their feet) and so their only ability to cool themselves is by panting. Sometimes this isn’t an effective enough mechanism to cool the body and the internal temperature begins to rise. If an animal is older, has respiratory issues to begin with, or suffers from other problems, their panting might be even less effective and we can see a quicker rise in body temperature. At the office, we sometimes see animals come in with a core body temperature greater than 106 degrees Fahrenheit. At these temperatures, it isn’t surprising that there can be a lot of consequences including death to these animals.
Some tips to avoid heat stroke:
1) Never leave an animal in a locked car even if the windows are cracked open. Cars can become ovens when left in the hot sun.
2) Never leave an animal unattended outside in the spring and summer for long periods of time.
3) If you have an animal with breathing problems or one that is prone to breathing problems (Pugs, Bulldogs, Pekingese, Shih Tzu, Boston Terrier, or other short nosed breeds), the above is especially true.
Some signs of heat stroke:
1) Uncontrollable panting, even when moved into a cool environment
2) Loss of consciousness
3) Vomiting or excessive drooling
If you see any of these symptoms or have any concerns, please bring your animal to a veterinarian right away. You can begin at home by running cool (not ice cold) water over your animal. Quick and effective cooling is necessary to help try and save your animal.
Even though Mother Nature can be cruel, by knowing her tricks and being able to avoid them, we can all have a happy and safe summer!
Canine Influenza has moved out of the mid-west and has now been found in Texas after a dog traveled from the Chicago area to Houston. How can you protect your dog?
1. Avoid travel to areas where the new influenza virus is suspected to be active (Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and now Texas).
2. Avoid taking your dog to areas where other dogs are present if at all possible: groomer, daycare, training, veterinary office; until the threat has passed over.
3. Ask your veterinarian if they are seeing any symptomatic dogs. Ask them if they have a plan in place to deal with sick dogs with flu symptoms. Ask if they are hospitalizing any sick dogs and if they have an isolation ward. We have a plan at our hospital. We ask if the coughing dog has had any exposure to dogs from the mid-west, if they have traveled to that area recently, or brought any dogs in. We will not allow those dogs into the building and will see them in an area away from our building, with full hazmat gear. They are scheduled at the very end of the day so no other dogs are exposed. All gowns, caps, masks, gloves, and equipment used is disposed of outside the building. We do not have an isolation ward, so we will not hospitalize dogs with influenza, but we have made arrangements with three 24-hour care facilities that have good isolation areas. After all, not only do we not want your dog exposed, we do not want our own pets to become ill.
4. Keep you dog’s immune system as healthy as possible. Include foods that are high in vitamin C and zinc in their diet (beef, cooked oysters, spinach, bell peppers, broccoli, peas, Shiitake mushrooms, blueberries, strawberries, melons).
5. Support the immune system with Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Shiitake mushrooms, Echinacea, or Astragalus.
6. Local honey can stimulate the immune system and also has antiviral and antibacterial properties. It also soothes a sore throat for sick dogs.
7. Grandma’s chicken soup is actually good for treating influenza, especially if the dog is not eating well. Make up a batch to share with your pet (no onions) if he should fall ill.
Are you afraid of challenging your veterinarian’s recommendations? Don’t be. You should be able to have a conversation instead of a battle of wills. Educate yourself before the visit and make a list of questions you would like answered. Discuss your pet’s lifestyle with the doctor, which will help both of you understand which vaccinations are really necessary, if any. Request a titer for distemper and parvovirus instead of automatically vaccinating. Take a stool sample with you and ask to have it checked for intestinal parasites, rather than just accepting a dewormer your pet may not need. Ask which types of heartworm and flea/tick preventatives the practice carries. If you are comfortable with the products they have, purchase from the practice. If they do not carry the preventatives that you feel are safer, ask for a written prescription so you can fill it elsewhere. My personal preferences are Interceptor for heartworms, Frontline for ticks (if you absolutely must use a chemical), and Advantage for fleas only (if you absolutely must use a chemical). The reasons for my choices are given in my book “From Needles to Natural: Learning Holistic Pet Healing”. The annual examination of your pet is very important to have a basis of health status. Don’t skip the exam, even if your pet is not due for “shots”. Make good use of the annual visit to keep your pet in the best shape possible. #veterinaryexam, #goodhealthforpets, #petdoctor
VACCINES: GOOD, BAD, or UGLY
This has been a bit of a frustrating week for me when it comes to vaccines. As a holistic practitioner, I caution people about over-vaccination of their pets and try to be proactive about good health. I started the day with a ten-pound Chihuahua owned by great pet parents. They had been in last week for than annual exam and consented to having titers for vaccine status performed, rather than just vaccinating the dog if he did not need to have a booster. Unfortunately, the titer for distemper came back low, so a vaccine booster was recommended. The dog is six years old and has not needed vaccinations since he was a year old. Five year duration of immunity is fairly typical, so this was not shocking news. The dog was presented yesterday for the booster vaccine. Within an hour his face and ears swelled and the Chihuahua resembled a Shar Pei. The owners rushed him back to the office for injections of antihistamines and steroids, thereby avoiding a possibly life-threatening problem. The good news: he won’t need vaccines for the next three to five years. The bad news: when he is nine or ten years old he may have another low titer. My recommendation is to never vaccinated this pet again, as the risk is too large.
This particular case has an obvious connection to the vaccines, but what about the more subtle cases that may go undetected? A good example came to light this week. We vaccinated a nine-year-old, thirteen pound, healthy cat in early January for Rabies and FVRCP (distemper, upper respiratory virus vaccine). Three weeks later the cat was presented for weight loss and decreased appetite. The caring owners agreed to a full work up, including laboratory testing and abdominal ultrasound. The only abnormalities found was complete suppression of all cell lines produced by the bone marrow (red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets). I was suspicious the cat may have been suffering from vaccine-related disease, but had no proof. But then…another case came across my desk. A woman I had met at an expo in Maryland in January sent me the history on her cat, which was identical to the history of the cat at my clinic. Vaccines (same drug manufacturers) had been given, followed by general lethargy, decreased appetite, and weight loss. Lab results were identical: everything fine except complete suppression of the bone marrow. Both cats are indoor cats and both tested negative for FIV, Feline Leukemia, and FIP. So what is the connection? The thing they had in common was the vaccinations given. One cat in New Jersey, one in Maryland. I called the vaccine manufacturers and spoke with staff veterinarians who were very helpful and offered to pay for more diagnostics for the cats. Fortunately, the cat at my clinic is responding well to steroids being given. The Maryland cat is under the care of a different veterinarian.
And here’s where it gets more frustrating for me. I called the veterinarian in charge of the care for the cat in Maryland. I explained the similarities in the cases and response of the cat in our care. I offered to give her the case number and information for the veterinarians at the vaccine manufacturing sights. I was stunned when the veterinarian became defensive and belligerent, stating she saw no similarities and that she demanded all her patients receive annual vaccinations or they were not allowed to be treated at her clinic. She refused to take the information or provide follow up on the case. She said a lot of negative comments about the owner of the cat in her care, stating the owner wouldn’t follow her directions and got everything confused and doesn’t listen to her. In the client’s defense: she is an older woman who probably doesn’t understand everything being thrown at her and does tend to get a little confused (I’ve spoken with her quite a few times). I can only hope this cat gets the care and follow-up that is needed. I called the owner and told her my suspicions and recommended she get follow-up lab work as soon as possible and to make sure the weight loss and bone marrow suppression are controlled.
No, I can’t prove these problems are vaccine related. But they certainly are suspicious. Yes, vaccines have saved hundreds of thousands of lives, both pet and human. They have their place in our lives, but they must be used judiciously, in healthy pets. All three of these pets seemed healthy prior to vaccine administration, but obviously, something went wrong. How many cases of vaccine-related illness go undiagnosed or unreported? That’s what scares me. So be proactive: insist on titers, don’t over-vaccinate your pets, particularly the indoor cats. Protect your pets; you are their only voice. Don’t be talked into or forced into giving your pets something they don’t need. Talk about individual risk for your pet.
There is a lot more information on individual vaccinations in my book “From Needles to Natural: Learning Holistic Pet Healing”.
Get educated so you are armed for the conversation with your veterinarian. Be sure your pet receives an EXAMINATION prior to vaccination so you know your pet is healthy enough to receive the vaccinations that are needed.
#vaccinations, #petcare, #sickpets
DON'T BE MEAN
Yesterday was a particularly rough day at the office. It seemed that anyone with a gripe about anything wanted to take it out on me and my staff. I’m not sure why people think that yelling and screaming and ranting will result in a favorable outcome. There’s an old saying “You attract more flies with honey than you do with vinegar”. I think more people should pay attention to this adage. I understand people get emotional when it comes to dealing with the health of their pets, but it makes sense to me that being nice to the person that can possibly be the most help to your pet would be a wise decision. I love most of my clients and I have a very soft heart for people struggling to make ends meet and wanting to take the best possible care of their pets. I am not a mean person, but I do have specific parameters that I must follow.
Pets taking chronic medications need to be examined periodically to be sure the medications are not causing side effects or harm to the pet. Part of that examination must include lab work. I don’t hide the fact that I require exams and lab work. Clients know this from the outset. If I require a recheck in three months, the client has three months to set aside a few dollars each week to pay for the follow up care. It should not come as a shock every time we request to see the pet. I am willing to work hard for people who are nice to me and want me to work WITH them in the care of their pets. But demanding, yelling, and slamming doors will never win me over. Rudeness toward my staff is unconscionable.
Everyone makes mistakes and forgiveness should be part of everyone’s vocabulary. If my technician accidentally calls your female pet “him” because she has a masculine name like Phil or Steve, you must be willing to forgive instead of carrying on a rant. If you don’t call ahead for medications it is unfair to carry on loudly because you have to wait for them to be filled. Seriously, do you act like this at the pharmacy as well? If your pet has been vomiting and had diarrhea for three days and you are a thousand miles away from home, wouldn’t it make more sense to go to a local veterinarian than to call me and demand I tell you how to treat your pet yourself? Stop calling and asking Dr. Google and get your pet seen. Their life is at stake.
Be your pet’s advocate and be nice to the staff at the veterinary office. It seems like common sense. And while you’re at it, be nice to your doctor, your hair dresser, the pharmacist, and everyone who works in any service industry. We work hard to serve you and only want the best for you.
I will leave you with this:
IF DR. SEUSS WAS A VETERINARIAN
I won’t dispense it Sam I Am
I won’t dispense without exam.
I won’t dispense it to your dog,
Although you’ll bash me in a blog.
I won’t dispense it to your friend
Who yells at me without an end.
I won’t dispense it for the ear,
For the eyes, or for the rear.
I won’t dispense it though you yell,
How mean I am; the world you’ll tell.
I won’t dispense it to your cat,
To your bird or to your rat.
I won’t give in, I’m standing tall,
Although you’ll whine and cry and call.
I won’t dispense it Sam I Am,
You can’t have meds without exam.