To be a great veterinarian is one thing, but the ability to maintain compassion and caring sets you apart from the rest.
Having recently moved from Philadelphia to the suburbs with our three dogs, we’ve recently encountered a downside of “country life.” Two of the dogs are completely obsessed with eating acorns, and, unfortunately for us, our new backyard is loaded with them.
Wondering if this is a problem, I visited the go-to place for all things related to pet poisons, http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/ask-the-expert/ask-the-expert-poison-control/acorn, and this is what they had to say:
Acorns (Quercus spp.) contain a toxic principle called Gallotannin. In cows and horses who repeatedly ingest significant amounts, we have seen potentially severe gastrointestinal irritation, depression and kidney damage.
Dogs, however, generally do not forage on acorns as livestock do—and even if they do ingest several acorns, it is usually an acute (single) exposure, not a chronic situation. In these cases, we typically only see mild to moderate gastrointestinal upset, which can include vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal discomfort. However, there is also the potential for mechanical irritation (from the sharp fragmented pieces of acorn), and possible obstruction, should a large amount of acorn material become lodged in the GI tract.
We’d seen some of the “moderate gastrointestinal upset,” usually at 3 am (of course!), and so we decided we’d have to be more vigilant about monitoring the boys’ backyard behaviors. As a result of this, we now more carefully supervise our dogs, stopping them, if we can (they’re speedy!), from eating acorns—or, at least massive amounts of them, but they sure do seem to love them (and be able to sniff them out). We’re doing better, and we certainly know that a little policing now is certainly worth avoiding potential head- and heartache later!
Photo: As good as new. Veterinary cardiologists and criticalists from Hope Veterinary Specialists in Malvern, PA who had reached out to neighboring human Paoli Hospital’s Interventional Radiology Laboratory for help in saving a little Maltipoo’s life, came to visit along with their patient and his owner. In Photo, Caral Wright holds Ziggy, from left, Hope VS’s Dr. Dennis Burkett, Erika Fauth, Cardiology Nurse, Dr. Steven Cole; and Paoli Hospital’s Dr. Atul Gupta and physician assistant Joan Bennett.
DACVECC Veterinarians reach out to neighboring human Paoli Hospital when complications arise.
Caral Wright of Media, PA wasn’t in the market for a dog, but couldn’t resist a classified ad for a five-month-old white Maltipoo. She named him Ziggy. Next thing she knew she was saving the little dog’s life. During his routine puppy check Ziggy’s regular veterinarian hearing a loud heart murmur suspected a congenital heart problem. She sent him to the cardiologists, who also happen to be board certified in emergency medicine and critical care, at Hope Veterinary Specialists (Hope VS) in Malvern, PA to be evaluated.
“Ziggy essentially had a hole in his heart,” explained Steven Cole, DVM DACVECC DACVIM (Cardiology), who along with Dennis Burkett, VMD, PhD DACVECC DACVIM (Cardiology) diagnosed the problem as a patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), a rare congenital heart defect seen in dogs and even more rare in cats. They explained that the connection between the aorta (the major blood vessel supplying blood to the body) and pulmonary artery (the major blood vessel supplying blood to the lungs) should close at birth. This did not happen for Ziggy; without repair he could develop congestive heart failure and possibly die.
The veterinary cardiologists and criticalists repair a dog’s heart much like a human’s, by inserting a single coil or multiple coils into the connection between the aorta and pulmonary artery. The coil and the associated blood clot effectively prevent blood from going from the aorta into the pulmonary artery inappropriately. The coil remains in place permanently, thereby permitting the blood to clot and ultimately seal-off the connection.
During the procedure “before the blood had a chance to clot and secure the coil it slipped and traveled down the aorta, lodging in the vessels leading toward Ziggy’s hind legs,” Dr. Cole recalled. “We knew we had a problem but we also knew we could fix it by retrieving the coil with a snare.”
Hope VS was in the midst of upgrading its interventional radiology laboratory, however, and in the activity surrounding the upgrade an appropriately sized snare could not be found. With Ziggy still under anesthesia the veterinarians acted quickly to find a solution. They called their neighbors at Paoli Hospital, a human hospital in nearby Paoli, PA, and were put in touch with Dr. Atul Gupta, Director of the Interventional Radiology (IR) Laboratory. Dr. Gupta, along with the IR Lab’s physician assistant, Joan Bennett, came to the rescue.
“Dr. Burkett scrubbed out of the procedure and went to Paoli Hospital while Dr. Cole used a second coil to successfully close the ductus. We found several snares similar to what they needed,” said Dr. Gupta. Dr. Gupta quickly reviewed a quick set of instructions and the equipment to help Drs. Cole and Burkett through the case. Dr. Burkett returned to Hope VS, passed off the equipment to Dr. Cole who quickly and effectively retrieved and stabilized the dislodged coil. The procedure was successful and Ziggy lived!
Meanwhile, Caral Wright was waiting and wondering what was taking so long. “The staff at the VRC told me there were complications but assured me Ziggy was going to be fine.”
The veterinarians were able to retrieve the coil and moved it to an area where it could be removed surgically the following day. “Four days after the surgery he was running around like nothing had ever happened to him,” remembers Caral Wright. “I strongly believe I was meant to have this dog and save his life.”
Some exciting changes have been happening here at Hope Veterinary Specialists that we would like to share with you. To begin, you probably noticed our new name and logo, which we think better reflect who we are and what our mission is…improving the quality of life and health of our community, our clients, our patients, our staff, and ourselves. These changes are just the first steps on our journey down the “Path to Hope,”which will continue in a brand new building in early 2013!
As the region’s leader in advanced veterinary medical care for dogs and cats, we want to continue in this tradition and expand our quality veterinary offerings. To this end, we recently launched this new web site and jumped in to social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and even our very own blog), where we will share our growth, our patients’ success stories, and our medical knowledge with our valued clients (you!).
Of course, we will continue to provide 24-hour emergency and critical care 7 days a week. But we are also expanding our community of board-certified specialists, all to more effectively help your pet with his or her healthcare needs. From cardiology to dermatology, internal medicine to radiology, surgery to oncology, we have the skilled doctors and experienced nurses you need to put your mind at ease—and your pets in the best possible hands. Soon, we’ll meet your neurology needs, too, allowing us to truly offer you the very best advanced medical care and options—all under one roof!
In January of 2013, Hope VS moved its doctors and nurses into our temporary location adjacent to our new facility being built. When you visit us you will be able to see the progression as we do or you can browse through the picture gallery. We will be hosting an open house with its completion in early spring 2013. Be sure to sign up on our mailing list to receive an invite to the event!
We hope you choose to join us on this exciting new journey that we affectionately call the “Path to Hope.” In turn, we will keep you updated on all the offerings we plan to unveil—each one meant to better assist and serve your primary veterinarian in the care of your beloved pet!
While we hope you never need us, we’re here if you do.
The Team at Hope Veterinary Specialists, where the hopes for tomorrow reside today
What can an adopted dog bring to your life?
There are as many responses to that question as there are dogs in this world! That’s why—during American Humane Association’s Adopt-A-Dog Month celebration in October —we’re encouraging people to adopt a shelter dog and experience the joy of finding their own answers.
Are you looking for:
- an exercise buddy?
- a best friend and confidant for your child?
- a dog you can train with to learn animal-assisted therapy?
- a partner in agility competitions?
- a constant companion for your favorite senior citizen?
- a fuzzy face to greet you after a hard day at work?
An adopted dog can be all these things —and so much more!
Your local shelter is the perfect place to find dogs of every type, size, age and personality —all waiting for a loving home. Or, if you prefer a particular breed that isnt currently available at a shelter, go online to find a breed-specific rescue group in need of adopters like you.
Find out what a shelter or rescue dog can bring to your life this October during Adopt-A-Dog Month! (From http://www.americanhumane.org/animals/programs/special-initiatives/adopt-a-dog-month/)
Interested? Local shelters include the following, and unfortunately and fortunately, they are all sure to have plenty of canine (and feline!) friends to choose from.
- Chester County SPCA**
- Delaware County SPCA
- Main Line Animal Rescue
- Montgomery County SPCA
**The Chester County SPCA is also running a “Fall in Love” promotion:
Stop by during the Fall in Love promotion to adopt any cat or kitten for only a $20 adoption fee. Includes spaying/neutering, initial vaccinations, identifying microchip, a bag of starter food, a vet visit with one of over 60 participating vets, and unconditional love for life. (www.ccspca.org)
This year, National Veterinary Technician Week is October 14-20, and in honor of that, we thought we’d explain a little about the ways to become a veterinary technician, the different terminology used by those in the field, and what the job entails.
Many people mistakenly refer to veterinary technicians as the “doctor’s assistant.” While at times this can be technically true, it is not fully accurate. For instance, “veterinary assistant” is a separate job title with separate job responsibilities. Additionally, while often a stepping stone to becoming a veterinary technician, it need not be.
There are a couple basic routes that individuals take to become a veterinary technician. For some, on-the-job training is the way to go. Often people who go this route begin working at a veterinary practice in the kennel or at the front desk, move up to become a veterinary assistant, and, eventually, hone their knowledge and skills and transition to the role of veterinary technician. Other individuals choose to take a more formal route. Many colleges offer veterinary technician programs (usually an associate’s degree, though some 4-year schools offer a bachelor’s degree, providing the student the title “veterinary technologist” instead); typically these programs offer standard lecture classes in combination with more practical laboratories and off-site externships, affording students the chance to practice the hands-on skills that are crucial to any veterinary professional:paying attention to the patient, looking for changes that can indicate something going wrong—or right, noticing trends, and synthesizing information from various sources, including owners, veterinarians, the technicians on the previous shift, teachers, and textbooks.
Veterinary technicians may be certified, licensed, or registered (CVT, LVT, and RVT respectively); all mean about the same thing—it just depends on what state a technician lives in. In Pennsylvania, we are certified veterinary technicians, for instance. Up until a couple of years ago, anyone could take the national licensing exam and add that often coveted word in front of their title. Now, however, sitting for the national exam requires a technician to be a graduate of an accredited veterinary technician school.
Adding more terminology to the mix is the fact that some veterinary technicians prefer to call themselves “nurses.”
Veterinary technicians can work in a variety of settings. They might choose to work in a large emergency and referral hospital like Hope Veterinary Specialists. This environment is often faster paced and higher stress; the hours are also less “standard,” as shifts around the clock must be covered. Or, technicians might choose to work at a small, private practice where they grow along with their patients and clients, ensuring pets are up to date on required shots, have preventative testing, and are generally happy and healthy. Other veterinary technicians might choose to work with large animals at facilities such as equine centers or dairy farms. Still others love the challenge of the laboratory environment, working with animals of all sizes. Opportunities may also exist with pharmaceutical and pet food companies.
No matter where they choose to work, veterinary technicians give their jobs their all. While certainly a positive trait, it can lead even the safest technician to not only bites, scratches, and back injuries but also to compassion fatigue. It’s important to keep in mind that the job is not all puppies and kittens. While there are some, days can be filled with aged (or even young) animals with a variety of health problems or with curious and energetic animals who have found their way into the path of oncoming vehicles—or other animals. Some technicians even see evidence of abuse. Also, euthanasia is a frequent, if not daily, occurrence.
But every technician entered the field as a result of their love for animals. Their primary goal is to keep each furry or scaled best friend at his or her best. So, if you see your favorite CVT, LVT, RVT, or technician this week, be sure to wish him or her a happy veterinary technician week! Your appreciation is the icing on the cake.