Top 3 Summer Items For Dogs
Whether you have a few more beach trips coming up, or a family barbeque planned for Labor Day, check out these 3 summer items you may want to invest in for your dog. From fun toys to safety items, the team at Waterhouse Animal Hospital has gathered the top 3 supplies to stock up on as your summer adventures continue in Fresno and surrounding areas.
A Good ‘Ol Fashioned Ball
If your dog loves to swim or play in the water then you’ll probably plan more trips to the lake or nearest beach to escape the Valley heat. Why not turn the water into some playtime fun for your pet? Playing on the water doesn’t create fun for your dog, it’s also great exercise. We suggest adding a ball to the mix. Be sure to use a floating ball, or a tennis ball that does not have teeth punctures, as any holes in the ball will sink in the water.
Doggy Water Dispenser
School may be back in session, but summer isn’t over. As you continue your summer fun adventures and take your doggy pals with you, it’s important to remember to keep your pets hydrated. Using a water bottle with a dispenser attached is a must-have for active pet owners who enjoy the great outdoors. Be sure to give your dog 8.5 to 17 ounces of water per 10 pounds of weight every day.
Have you ever looked out your window and saw your dog soaking up the sun outside? Make sure your dog doesn’t overheat while enjoying the fresh air as the ground in the Central Valley can get very hot. We suggest investing in a cooling mat that can keep your pet comfortable while hanging outside. These mats are designed for outdoors and do not require you to refrigerate them so your pet can have a cool surface to rest anywhere you take it.
Meet Your Waterhouse Team
We thought you might be interested in going behind the scenes and meeting some of the people who make up the Waterhouse team and contribute to your pet’s treatment when you come in.
First of all, a definition, “RVT” stands for Registered Veterinary Technician. An RVT is most similar to a RN (a human nurse), but we can’t call ourselves Nurses because that designation is reserved for human nurses. To become an RVT, a person has to earn a minimum of an associate degree in Veterinary Technology, then pass two board exams — the Veterinary Technicians National Exam (VTNE) which tests candidates on what they know about nursing and medicine. The second board exam is for California technician candidates only and mainly tests the candidates on what they know about the laws and regulations pertaining to Veterinary Medicine in the state of California. Once those board exams are passed, the RVT receives a two-year license. In order to renew an RVT license the technician must earn 20 units in continuing education every 2 years which usually means attending a conference or two every two years. Waterhouse Animal Hospital has RVTs serving in various positions around the hospital so we wanted to get that information out first.
The first thing you should experience bringing your pet to WAH (Waterhouse Animal Hospital) is a welcome from one of our 10 (or so) receptionists. Our receptionists also answer phones. We also have two phone operators whose sole purpose is to answer phones all day – one of whom has 16 years experience as an RVT. Through training and on the job experience, our receptionists are extremely adept at listening for “red flags,” symptoms you mention that may require more immediate attention. Our longest-serving employee is a receptionist who has been at WAH for 18 years, and earned her RVT by training while serving in the Army at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Another of our receptionists is currently attending San Joaquin Valley College to earn her RVT license. The receptionists check you in and charge you out, and prepare the paperwork that accompanies your pet throughout their visit.
Once your paperwork is complete, it is picked up by a “roomer.” Our roomers are an eclectic bunch. Virtually all receptionists, some RVTs, veterinary assistants, and some scribes are trained as roomers. The roomer settles you and your pet into the exam room, collect your pet’s vitals and ask you a few routine questions. The roomer verifies what your pet is being seen for and collects a brief history of your pet’s condition. Once all of these things have been written down on the pet’s paperwork they deliver that paperwork to the doctor’s scribe. Point of interest here is that one of our roomers, who has been with WAH for over 10 years, has been in the veterinary field for FORTY years, 37 as a licensed RVT. That means this one technician has completed almost 400 units of continuing education over her career – what an inspiration!
Next, the scribe receives your pet’s paperwork and relays to the doctor that your room is ready. We have about 10 trained scribes, whose job it is to accompany the doctor into the exam room and take notes of the physical examination – recording all normal and abnormal results. The scribe’s most important role is in collecting a detailed history of your pets symptoms and in recording the treatment plan for your pet. Then the scribe coordinates any tests, radiographs, or other treatments your pet needs with the treatment team in the treatment area. The scribe also acts as your pharmacist if the doctor recommends medicinal treatment. We have 2-3 RVTs who serve as scribes, including yours truly. Because the scribes work shoulder to shoulder with the doctors on every pet in our care, we pick up a lot of knowledge about what ailments different symptoms point to in terms of a diagnosis, we learn a lot about the diagnostics the doctors recommend, what they test for and what certain results point to. And of course, we learn a lot about pharmacology — sometimes we can guess what our doctor is going to prescribe. I like being a scribe because I enjoy working with clients, and mostly because I get to follow individual pets from the very beginning of collecting history, all the way through the resolution of their case. One of our scribes is currently finishing his pre-requisites for Veterinary School (did you know it is harder to get into Veterinary School than it is to get into a Human Medical School? There are far fewer Veterinary Schools than Human Medical Schools so it is much more competitive).
If your pet has to visit “the back” — more precisely known as the treatment area, they will be pampered by the dozen or so RVTs and other veterinary assistants as they are treated. Waterhouse is also a teaching hospital and we regularly have RVT-student interns and occasionally a Veterinary Doctor-student intern. The treatment area is where we provide all of the diagnostics and treatments recommended by the doctor and approved by you. Procedures can be something as simple as trimming nails, cleaning ears, or expressing anal glands to procedures as complex as taking radiographs, collecting blood and urine to send out to the lab. We always get asked how we collect urine. It’s a fairly simple procedure, we have an ultrasound that we lay your dog or cat on. Then we visualize the bladder with the ultrasound probe, once located we insert a sterile needle through the skin and into the bladder and withdraw a sterile sample of urine. I’ve watched this procedure done hundreds of time and I can tell you that the only thing the pets ever react to is the coldness of the alcohol we spray on the belly to improve our visualization of the bladder.
The treatment staff in the back is also responsible for nursing patients who are hospitalized, preparing and monitoring patients undergoing surgery. The treatment staff, mostly consisting of RVTs takes pets out to relieve themselves, places catheters, establishes and monitors fluid rates for pets on IV fluids. The RVTs in the treatment area are also the only ones who are allowed to bandage pets. According to California law, only RVTs are qualified to bandage wounds — even a veterinary assistant with 10 years experience can’t place a bandage, it has to be an RVT.
RVTs also have the option to pursue further education to attain a specialty designation to their RVT status. For instance, we have two RVTs who have specialty designations in dentistry. At last count, only 6 Californian RVTs had the dental specialty and we have two of them. We also have an RVT who earned a specialty in Canine Animal Rehabilitation (which basically translates to “Physical Therapy,” another title reserved for human practitioners). At this time we have two RVT’s pursuing specialties, one in behavior, and the other in nutrition.
Then, of course, come the doctors – without whom none of this magic would happen. All of our doctors are general practitioners with anywhere from 3 to 30 years of experience. Some doctors have specialties (uncertified), but areas of medicine they particularly like. We have one doctor who is our go-to for exotic pets — birds, rabbits, guinea pigs and other pocket pets. Another doctor sees all the pets who are being bred, even those needing Artificial Insemination. One doctor performs acupuncture, another particularly likes cats. All of our doctors are qualified surgeons and perform many different types of surgery in our surgical suite — things like spays and neuters, mass removals, exploratory surgeries, removal of foreign bodies, and the like. There are some surgeries though that require a specialty surgeon, frequently for orthopedic surgeries and we have two surgeons who visit WAH once a month to perform more complex procedures. Specialty surgeons aren’t the only specialists who visit Waterhouse. We also have specialists in dentistry and cardiology.
Last, but not least, is our management team – comprised of a treatment area supervisor, a front office supervisor, a practice manager who oversees the whole hospital, and of course our practice owner, Dr. Cheryl Waterhouse. Dr. Waterhouse is very supportive of the staff and our continuing education, always encouraging us to aim higher. In just the last year we have had one of our receptionists finish school to become a surgical technician, another to become an RN – with one more waiting to take her boards to become an RN. We have multiple employees studying to earn their prerequisites to veterinary school, nursing school, and pharmacology. Dr. Waterhouse generously supports the RVTs in earning their continuing education credits. As a result, the WAH team is highly educated and highly motivated to continue enriching ourselves and to raise the bar for our own achievements.
Ultimately, everything we do and aspire to as a team, we do for you – our outstanding clients. We are truly blessed with phenomenal people to work with and serve. This is just a snapshot of how our team works together to provide the best possible service for you and your pet. We hope you enjoyed the tour!
How to Keep Your Pets Safe and Cool During Summer
Summer is the most anxiously awaited season of the year for pets. The warm sunny sky gives them the opportunity to go outside and get proper exposure to the outdoors. However, too much exposure to heat can be bad for their health.
Pet owners must, therefore, exercise caution during summer and look after their pets so they don’t end up hurting themselves while having fun in the great outdoors. Here we will mention some tips for pet owners to keep their pet safe and cool in the hot summer.
Simple but Effective Tips That’ll Help Keep Your Pets Safe and Cool during Summer
Give Your Pet Plenty of Water
Pets need to stay hydrated just like humans. This is even more important during the summer time when the scorching heat can raise the temperature into three digits. Always make sure that their water bowl is full. A water reservoir is a good thing to have in order to keep the bowl full at all times.
Failing to provide water for them can endanger their health. As in humans, a pet can suffer from heat stroke. The temperatures in their bodies can spike so high that there are impairments of the normal processes of their bodies.
Also, make sure that you provide fresh and clean water. The containers should be cleaned regularly. There are different diseases that your pet can get from contaminated water.
And of course, you need to remember to refill the container. At a very hot day, you will be surprised by how fast the water will disappear. Not only does your pet drink it, the temperature of the atmosphere may also be enough to hasten the evaporation of the water
Do Not Leave Pets in the Car
This is a very common mistake made by pet owners while they are out running their errands. They bring their pets along to give them some outdoor exposure however they end up leaving them in the car when they have to go into a mall or supermarket. This is an example of poor and careless pet care. Leaving the window slightly open does not justify leaving a pet inside a vehicle. The inside temperature can quickly reach suffocating limits and your pet can very well die if you leave him there for too long.
Time for a Haircut!
A very effective pet care technique is to shave your pet as the summer approaches. This applies mainly to hairy pets especially dogs. Trimming your dog’s hair will keep your pet cool and also lessen moisture retention, a cause for infections. It will also prevent open sores and hot spots. Both are very painful.
Take Your Pet Swimming
If you are a dog owner, one of the best things you can do for your pet is to get them their own swimming pool. Even if your dog doesn’t like or know how to swim, they will surely love to get a little wet and cool off. And you don’t have to invest in an actual swimming pool for them. A small plastic swimming pool from the local toy or pet shop will work wonders.
Avoid Exposure to Extreme Heat
As much as we would want our pets to have fun in the sun, too much sun can be harmful to them especially when the temperature is at its peak. Temperature over 95 degrees Fahrenheit is potentially dangerous for a pet’s health. Therefore try to take your pet out at times when it’s somewhat cooler such as during sunset or at night.
Watch What it Eats
Seriously, take note of what it eats! Do not allow your pet to eat food that has been left out in the open for more than 2 hours. This meal might already be contaminated. When your cat has left over food, you should store it in a place that is cool to avoid organisms from growing in it.
One of the cardinal rules of pet care is safety before fun. Pets are a responsibility just like any other family member. Their safety and well being must be insured. By following the above tips, both the pets and pet owners can enjoy a safe sizzling summer.
Understanding Your Dog’s Stress
How often have you heard of an unfortunate occurrence where a dog bites a person, seemingly without warning, and wondered if the “without warning” -part was truly accurate? Not to mitigate the seriousness of the incident, but I wonder often. For some audience participation, add your take to the comments below, I’m genuinely interested in your thoughts.
My name is Jennifer and I’m one of the RVT’s at Waterhouse Animal Hospital, I’m currently pursuing a specialty in Behavior, and this is my new best friend on the topic of stress in dogs — The Canine Ladder of Aggression, produced by the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA). The Ladder of Aggression, as you can see, is a visual interpretation of the many ways dogs communicate stress to those around them — from blinking and licking — all the way up to the dreaded bite. I’d like to talk a little about what training tools and understanding we can take from this graphic. First however, I’d like to give you some facts about dog bites.
According to the CDC, more than 4.7 million dog-bite incidents occur in the United States every year. Of those 4.7 million attacks, 800,000 of these Americans will seek medical attention — half of these are children — and 386,000 of these Americans will need emergency medical treatment.
Dogs bite as a reaction to a stressful situation. They may bite because they’re scared or threatened. They may bite to protect themselves, their puppies, or their owners. They may bite if they’re not feeling well or if they’re startled, and they may also nip or bite during play (which is why rough play should be avoided to ensure you don’t overly excite your animal). —Canine Journal
I find it difficult to believe that 4.7 million Americans are keeping known, aggressive dogs around their homes and children and so I’m inclined to believe that many of these bites fall into that “without warning” category — a designation I’m often doubtful of. Are we missing the warning signs our dogs are sending us? That’s where the ladder comes in, the ladder gives us ways to be mindful of, interpret, and respond appropriately to our dogs warning signs. When we miss the warning signs, or ignore them, we may be inadvertently “training” our dogs to attempt more aggressive behavior. How so, you ask?
Consider this scenario: Meet your new dog, Fluffy Jones. Fluffy is a 4-yr old miniature poodle who loves the grandkids but has been known on occasion to growl at (but never bite) them. Still, you’re a conscientious owner and always keep Fluffy and the kids closely supervised while they play. Perhaps you’re observing the kids and Fluffy one day and notice that Fluffy appears to be pawing at the kids, while turned sideways toward them and licking her nose. How adorable! You snap a cute picture and don’t think twice. You’ve missed the first three signs, rungs, on the ladder — not because you’re a bad dog parent, but you just don’t recognize these as signs of stress. But after enough repetitions of this scenario, Fluffy will learn that these stress signals do not work to bring her the relief she is asking for and will cease to display them. Instead, in the future, Fluffy will skip those first three rungs and go directly to number four — walking away. Now, walking away is still fairly benign territory, but as you can see, you have already narrowed the gap between initial warnings and “bite”considerably.
How could we use the ladder to address the initial situation more appropriately? Recognizing Fluffy’s body language, the slow licking of the nose, yawning, turning head and body away and pawing as a communication of stress, we can then intervene and pick Fluffy up and walk her away from play pile for a non-punishing “time out” until her body language is again relaxed and confident.
I’m a big fan of using the crate as a training tool. I think that when used appropriately it is an excellent piece of equipment for helping your dog live its best possible life. Key to using the crate as a training tool is to always have the crate be associated with positive things. Never use the crate as punishment. Perhaps when the grandkids come over you could move the crate to the general area of play, so that Fluffy can be a part of the action at her own pace, always having a safe getaway if she or the kids start to get over-excited. Furnished with a comfortable pad or bed, a favorite toy perhaps, you could also use the crate as the place for Fluffy’s “time out” space when her body language communicates stress. Toss in some highly valuable treats and place Fluffy in the crate for 5-10 minutes, then open the crate door and let her resume play at her discretion. Teach the grandkids to never bother Fluffy when she’s in her crate.
In doing so you have trained Fluffy to communicate with you, you have reinforced her voice by responding to it effectively. Fluffy is more likely to continue displaying low-level stress warning signs in the future.
Skipping Ahead — Respect the Growl
I’ll admit, when I hear my dogs growling (usually at the cats), my first instinct is to yell “NO!” I think that’s a fairly typical response, because we recognize the growl as a sign of aggression, not just stress. But reconsider that “NO!” (I will too). The growl is the last rung before snapping and biting on the ladder. If you inadvertently train the growl out of your dog, by reprimanding each time he or she displays the behavior, you will have removed the last rung prior to a scary situation — one in which a bite “without warning” is not only credible, but almost inescapable. Don’t take away your dog’s voice. Your dog’s understanding of the reprimand is only, “When I growl, I get in trouble. I won’t growl anymore.”
Your relationship, your bond, with your dog is most similar to that of a parent-child relationship. In order to strengthen that bond, we want you understand your dog’s language so that you can be your dog’s rescuer, not punisher. Growling is your dog’s way of saying, “I’m scared, I’m stressed and feeling overwhelmed. I’ve exhausted myself trying to get you to rescue me.” Certainly we want to be able to fulfill our role as dog protector, so preserving this communication is critical — as is responding to it appropriately. Here again, I think the crate is the ideal panacea to the situation. A growl should be met with an immediate removal from the situation causing stress. Remove your pet with “neutral” body language and tone, toss some treats into the crate (to maintain the crate as a positive zone) and allow the dog to relax for 5-10 minutes or until body language is relaxed and confident again.
As a dog owner, consider printing out the Ladder and posting it on the refrigerator door to remind you to be aware of your dog’s body language and what your pet is trying to communicate to you. Doing so, I believe, will strengthen your bond with your pet and help you fulfill your duty to your dog as its protector. If you know of a pet that has a habit of growling or snapping, perhaps share this with their owner. I hope you found this information useful, I enjoyed sharing with you!
Waterhouse Animal Hospital now provides Behavior Consultations for pets with troublesome habits or behaviors. If you are in need of assistance, please do not hesitate to call our office !
Ginny Rice, RVT
Ginny Rice is our longest-running Registered Veterinary Technician. She began working in a veterinary hospital in 1976- that’s 40 years as a technician! Ginny started off as a pre-vet major at Iowa State University. She graduated with a degree in Sociology and started working in a veterinary hospital. She worked for Dr. Larsen who owned Shaw Veterinary Hospital for 25 years before he retired. Ginny enjoys helping people and is especially fond of cats. When we have a difficult cat, we always can count on Ginny for help. She is a wealth of knowledge about feline behavior. We all love working with Ginny. She loves her job and has no plans to retire any time soon.
Rare Breeds: Meet the Kooikerhondie!
What’s a Kooikerhondje?
The Kooikerhondje or Kooiker for short, is an uncommon breed of dog that originated in the Netherlands several hundred years ago. They were a favorite of Dutch nobility. They are a type of spaniel dog that is orange-red and white in color. The hair on the ears may have black tips. The coat is left in a natural state and is not trimmed as is common in other spaniel breeds. An adult of this breed usually weighs 20-25 lbs and is about 15 inches tall. They were developed to help duck hunters by luring ducks into duck traps on the canals and wetlands of the Netherlands. Modern day Kooikers are more likely to be companion dogs.
We have a client that has one, Remy a 2 year old male. I asked his owner why she chose this uncommon breed. “We researched dog breeds before getting Remy. I wanted a dog that was active but could still be a calm family dog that likes to cuddle. With this breed you get the best of both worlds”, Christina Whipple. The breed is lively, agile, alert and intelligent. There are only a handful of breeders in the United States and breed lovers are working towards registration with the American Kennel Club (AKC). Even without official AKC recognition the breed is very active in dog sporting events. They excel in both Agility and Flyball. For more information about this breed visit www.kooikerhondjeusa.org.
Kittens in the Bathroom
Sometimes, when you’re in the veterinary profession, you end up with kittens in your bathroom. You can also end up with an even number of dogs, but an odd number of legs. The point is, veterinary staff have a habit of collecting the little odds and ends that come in for treatment.
Currently I have two little kittens who were, until yesterday, living in my bathtub. They have since decided that they would rather live behind my toilet. The kittens came in on Saturday with super-goopy-bad eyes (that’s not a technical diagnosis, by the way). They were part of a feral colony that two nice ladies are watching over. But these kittens, with their bad eyes and upper-respiratory symptoms require a bit of a closer eye and three times a day treatment so I volunteered.
My last career, before going into the veterinary field, was teaching. I had been a high-school social studies teacher — but that was before I had kids. Now, I thought, I don’t want a job where I have to bring work home. Of course nobody forced me to take these two kittens home, in fact, the only surprising thing in all of this is that these are only the 2nd and 3rd kittens I’ve brought home in nearly two years working at a veterinary hospital. Usually the pets that need to go home with someone are snatched up long before I get into the queue.
But that’s how veterinary-people are, we’re the ones who grew up rescuing things. In my case it was mostly my dad rescuing things, then leaving on a business trip and putting me in charge of kittens found in parking lots, birds stunned by flying into the sliding glass door — or our cat, Ivan. Somewhere along the line it turned into me being a foster parent for the California Feline Foundation and then various other rescues…toting my fosters to school and back every day. I’ve always had a soft spot for kittens and you’ll be able to watch these two grow up and get better here on the blog, until they have forever homes because I swear I’m not keeping them! (famous last words)
Acupuncture for Active Dogs
With the Pinnacle Pup Run barely one week away, we are still talking about ways to keep your active pet in prime condition. Athletic pets, just like athletic people, are prone to muscle soreness, strained tendons and ligaments, and generalized discomfort from over- conditioning. Perhaps a good night’s rest isn’t enough to keep your pet in top form anymore, age can do that. And perhaps you’re not too keen on the idea of starting your pet on pain medications just yet. We have a solution just for you!
Physical medicine is a branch of medicine that treats orthopedic aches and pains through physical means such as heat, electricity, manipulation of muscles and bones, and more. Typically, physical medicine is used to treat mechanical disorders (ligament tears, back pain, disc disease, nervous system injuries, etc), but it can be used in conjunction with medical therapy to treat other systemic diseases as well.
At Waterhouse Animal Hospital, physical medicine is practiced through acupuncture, laser therapy, and physical rehabilitation. For today, we’ll just focus on acupuncture, which is a unique service offered at our hospital!
Acupuncture involves placing needles at specific anatomic points located on the body. The needles stimulate the nervous system, and increase blood flow to the acupuncture points resulting in therapeutic effects locally and throughout the body. Generally acupuncture is not painful. Placement of needles may induce a tingling sensation or contraction of the muscle that subsides quickly. Patients do not need to be sedated for acupuncture, and owners are welcome to be present for the treatment sessions.
Acupuncture therapy can be used for a variety of different conditions:
- Paralysis of hind limbs
- Back pain
Treatment sessions usually last from 20 – 40 minutes, and the number of treatments depends on the condition. Some acute conditions may resolve with three to four sessions, but typically 5 to 10 sessions are needed to treat chronic conditions. Often acupuncture is used in combination with oral pain medications to achieve the best possible pain control for your pet. Acupuncture is simple and most pets not only tolerate it well, but quickly learn to enjoy the interaction and experience. There are many different uses for Acupuncture, so if you are looking for an alternative therapy to keep your pet healthy, get more information by calling 434-4000 today!
So you’ve got your sturdy leash and harness, your running shoes, and a great trail picked out. You hit the pavement and your Rocket nearly removes your arm from it’s socket as he zooms out in front of you — oblivious to the fact that he’s supposed to be running gently by your left hip. What are you going to do?
I’ve had a lot of dogs, and with every single one I’ve taken them to an organized dog obedience class. Sure, I could train them on my own — I’ve graduated plenty of times, but there’s a benefit in taking the class with other people and their pets. It’s not just the social interaction that your pet needs anyway, but your pet needs to learn how to pay attention to you, and only you, when there are distractions nearby. A pet obedience class, where dogs walk in a circle, heeling, sitting, staying, laying down is a great activity and training tool for your pet.
Training your pet to run pleasantly besides you will take time, and you’ll have enough one-on-one time to train in between obedience sessions. These days nearly every pet store offers some kind of training program and there are dog obedience classes through Fresno Adult School and Clovis Adult School, the latter I can vouch for as being very well run.
Just remember, once you’re out there with Rocket by your side, cruising the trails like a pro –NEVER, EVER let your dog go off-lead, no matter how well-trained they are. Your pet is safest by your side and under your control at all times.