Showing posts with label Friendship News. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Friendship News. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Amelia's Kittens

Friendship was very proud to send eleven of our team members off to veterinary school last fall.  Below is a report from Amelia who was the indispensable assistant to our Chief of Primary Care, Dr. Kuehn.  We all miss Amelia very much (especially Dr. Kuehn!) but it certainly sounds like she is making the most of vet school - Enjoy!

Kittens are very fragile creatures. They are born unable to see, hear, or eliminate on their own. When orphaned or separated from their mothers prematurely, they require very involved care. At many shelters, kittens prematurely separated from their mothers are not prioritized and may even be euthanized because of the intensive care they need and the number of older cats also looking for homes. When I began veterinary school this past fall, I became involved with a club called the Orphan Kitten Project, which fosters these babies while they are so helpless (requiring bottle feedings every two hours at first), until they are old enough to be adopted.
When I received the carrier containing my first two foster kittens, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. These little guys only weighed 10 ounces and fit into the palm of my hand. I had never seen kittens so small. They looked like little aliens. The woman who kept them for a few days before me described one of them as “feisty and demanding;” I wondered vaguely if they were giving me an evil kitten. But after a day of caring for them, I was completely hooked. Watching them grow was incredibly rewarding; each day they accomplished new feats that were impossible for them only the day before (climbing over baby gates, climbing up my entire body to sit on my shoulder, leaping onto anything really).
A few days later, one of my kittens got really sick. She began to vomit suddenly and then went completely limp, like a rag doll. Feeling the profundity of my ineptitude and lack of experience weighing heavily, I decided to rush to the nearest emergency hospital. When kittens are so small, they can crash very quickly and there’s often nothing anybody can do. The technicians quickly took her to the treatment room. Unfortunately, there were many animals that arrived in emergent situations at the hospital that night, and we had to wait in the exam room for several hours, while the veterinarian came in and out three or four times. She offered a plethora of diagnostic tests and treatment options, all of which I have heard explained to clients many times (as a prior veterinary assistant at Friendship Hospital for Animals). Even though everything was incredibly familiar, it was overwhelming to decide what to do for her. On one side, I had my boyfriend muttering at me not to spend any money on a kitten I don’t even own. On the other side, I had a near-death kitten trusted to my care, and felt devastated at the thought of not doing everything I could for her. Even though I knew she was receiving excellent care at the hospital, I wondered if she was cold or lonely in the treatment room.

Fortunately, kittens can recover almost as quickly as they become sick. My little baby was back to her normal, rambunctious nature within a few days. Being a client rather than an employee at a veterinary hospital in an emergency situation taught me the most valuable lesson I have learned in vet school so far: as a veterinarian, regardless of how many times you have seen a particular situation or disease, every single patient is completely unique. Likely, it is the first time the client (owner of this patient) has experienced anything like this situation. While these realizations may seem obvious, they are vital lessons that should be kept at the forefront of a veterinarian’s minds every day. With this knowledge, a veterinarian can provide guidance to clients in a truly compassionate and understanding manner, and I hope to be able to do the same.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Frank's Big Scare

I apologize that it has been awhile since my last post, April was a crazy month and I am still recovering from it.  The 8th Annual Fashion forPaws Runway Show was on April 12th and it was a huge success.  The event raised over $425,000 that will directly provide care and medical attention for the 43,000 animals that the Washington Humane Society cares for each year.  Frank was a star of course and I was honored to speak at the event this year as Executive Committee Chair.

Our delight in the Fashion for Paws afterglow was put out quickly when Frank became sick a few days after the event.  I first noticed that he was eating a bit slower than usual and he seemed tired out on our walks.  When he didn’t get up for his treat one morning I knew something was really wrong and we rushed him right into Friendship.

Dr. Calabro who is one of Friendship’s two amazing critical care specialists examined Frank and found him to have a low grade fever and back pain.  Screening bloodwork was submitted and he was started on intravenous fluids and pain medication.  Friendship’s radiologist Dr. Hankin performed radiographs and an abdominal ultrasound to rule out an infection of the vertebrae called discospondolytits as well as look for any additional underlying abnormalities.  Thankfully these were all normal.  We also submitted tick titers to make sure this wasn’t from an infectious cause such as Lyme disease or Ehrlichiosis. 

Being a good dog for his IV fluids
His bloodwork came back with a slightly elevated white blood cell count indicating systemic inflammation.  Additionally his platelet count was low; platelets are the blood cells that are responsible for clotting blood.  The decreased platelets could be from an infection destroying his platelets or again systemic inflammation.  We added doxycycline to his treatment and he spent the night in the hospital.  If his symptoms were due to a tick borne infection it should resolve quickly on the doxycycline.

The next day his fever had come down a bit, he was eating well and seemed to be feeling better so we took him home.  Over the next day he was fine but still acting very quiet and not himself.  I brought him back to the hospital about 36 hours after discharge to have his bloodwork rechecked.  Friendship’s other criticalist, Dr. Gonzales took a look at him and found that in addition to back pain he was now painful in his neck and multiple joints.  The follow up bloodwork showed that his platelets had not improved at all and his white cell cont was now higher.

At this point my husband and I were beside ourselves worrying. Frank is only 4 years old, how could he get this sick so quickly and how could we not know what was wrong with him.  Our next step was to have Friendship’s orthopedic surgeon Dr. Glassman evaluate his joint pain and take samples of joint fluid to see if there was evidence of infection or inflammation in his joints.  Frank had to be sedated for the joint tap procedures, as it is painful to enter the joint and collect the samples.  Analysis of the joint fluid did not show any abnormalities so we returned to looking at his neck and back pain as the primary problem.

Waiting in Dr. Talrico's exam room
The next day we headed out to Southpaws for a neurology consult with the amazing Dr. Talrico.  The very first day Frank was sick Dr. Calabro discussed his case with Dr. Talrico who thought it sounded like a textbook case of Steroid-Responsive Meningitis-Arteritis (SRMA). The cause of SRMA is unknown but it is auto-immune in origin meaning that for some reason the body creates inflammatory cells that attack the central nervous system.  After a complete neurologic exam Dr. Talrico recommended a CSF tap that would hopefully confirm her suspicion of SRMA.  For this Frank was put under general anesthesia and a needed was passed between the vertebrae in his neck to collect the fluid that surrounds his spinal cord.  He recovered well from the procedure and we headed home to wait for the analysis of the spinal fluid.

Here is where medicine can get frustrating; the results from the CSF tap were suggestive of SRMA but not definitive.  Unfortunately we can do all the testing in world and still not have an exact answer of what is causing the problem.  In this situation it is critical to work with a doctor that you trust and has experience with the suspected disease process.  Veterinary medicine is often a puzzle; you have to take the history, exam findings, test results and response to treatment and piece them all together to get an answer.

 Dr. Talrico felt given his clinical signs and the results from all of his testing that we caught the disease very early in its progress.  This was actually good news because it meant with aggressive treatment Frank has a much better prognosis for complete remission with no future relapses.  We started steroids that day and within a few days he was feeling much better and his platelet count was almost back up to normal.

This is not a disease he will ever be cured of and it always has to be in the back of our minds as he can relapse at any time.  Frank cannot ever be vaccinated again as this could over-stimulate his immune system resulting in a relapse.  I am most worried about not being able to vaccinate him against leptospirosis.  I can monitor his immune protection against rabies, distemper and parvo viruses with titers but not with leptospirosis.

My family is so thankful for all the amazing care Frank received during this ordeal and that he is back to his normal crazy/loving/adorable/playful self.  Drs. Calabro, Gonzales, Galssman, Romsland, Hankin and Talrico are brilliant veterinarians and dedicated themselves to helping me figure out what was going on with Frank.  All of the technicians that took care of him while he was in the hospital were gentle and caring.  I am lucky to count all of these wonderful people as my friends and am grateful for Friendship and the excellent care that is available to all of us here in DC.  So go home tonight and give your pets a big hug and a kiss, each day we have with them is truly a gift that should be treasured.

He has a new haircut to even out all his shaved areas and is feeling much better!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Friendship steps up to help out DC’s inured Snowy Owl

Last week two police officers rescued an injured Snowy Owl they found at 14th and K Streets after she was thought to have been hit by a Metrobus.  Initially she was brought into the National Zoo and examined by one of the staff veterinarians there before being placed in the care of DC’s only wildlife rehabilitation center City Wildlife.  Once at City Wildlife they collected blood to assess her general health and submitted a DNA to determine the sex - turns out she is a girl!

City Wildlife also wanted to take x-rays to confirm suspicion of a broken toe as well as take full body x-rays to look for any other abnormalities.   Unfortunately they didn’t have access to an x-ray machine – until Saturday when Friendship offered to let them use ours.  She was brought in and whisked back to x-ray where they were able to perform the necessary tests. 

The owl at Friendship waiting for her x-rays
City Wildlife reports that she is doing well and acting much more like an owl.  She has started eating and seems much more bright, alert and responsive.  Thankfully we have an organization like City Wildlife available to help out the wild animals who live among us here in DC.  They opened their doors less than a year ago and have been critical in caring for orphaned or injured birds, mammals and reptiles.  From the majestic Snowy Owl to the tiniest hummingbird we are luck to have City Wildlife caring for these animals!

In other news Friendship kicks off out free lecture series next week at the Tenly-Friendship Library.  Here is a list of upcoming dates and topics:

February 10th –Veterinary Toxicology

Dr. Kimberly Schultz will discuss common household items, foods and plants that can be toxic to your dog or cat and what effects they may have.  Learn how ingesting these items can alter your pet’s organ functions, and what kind of veterinary care you should seek.

March 17th – Managing Your Pet’s Lumps and Bumps

Dr. Dana Kuehn will talk about different types of lumps and bumps common in dogs and cats.  She will discuss diagnostic testing that can be performed, as well as the treatment options available.

April 21st – Canine behavior, Training and Enrichment

I will present a lecture on how to be your dog’s best friend!  From getting started early with proper training techniques, to engaging in activities that will challenge them both physically and mentally – come learn how to give your dog an enriched and happy life!

May 19th – Veterinary Oncology

Dr. Chand Khanna and Dr. Courtney Mallett will discuss the goal of The Oncology Service – to preserve, lengthen and improve the quality of life for dogs and cats that are afflicted with cancer.  Dr. Khanna travels the world giving lectures on cancer in our pets, this one is not to be missed!

June 16th – Pet Allergies and Common Skin Conditions

Dr. Nicole Cohen and Dr. Schuyler Matthiesen will present a lecture on common pet allergies and how to care for them.  From Spring and Fall allergies, to the persistent hot spots, join us for an overview on managing allergies and common skin conditions.

September 15th – Caring for Your Senior Pet

Dr. Lynn Logan and Dr. Becky Bolch will discuss how to care for your pets, as they enter into their senior years.  They will cover topics ranging from managing mobility to altering lifestyle and diet.  Join us for this talk about how to enhance your pet’s quality of life as they get older.

If you have any topics that you would like to see in upcoming lectures please post below in the comments.  We hope you can join us!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Yappy Hour Success!

The Yappy Hour this past weekend was a huge success!  We raised an impressive amount of money for Fashion for Paws and everyone seemed to have a great time.  A big thank you to Friendship, Happy Paws, Hello Cupcake, Barkley Square and Something Sweet for their support and generous donations.

Photos courtesy of James Robertson

Frank welcomes one of his supporters

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Nola's story

In case you were not familiar with all of the amazing work that the Washington Humane Society (WHS) does for the animals of The District, the following story about a cat named Nola is just one example of why we need them in our community.

Nola was brought in to Friendship for emergency care after a Humane Law Enforcement Officer responded to a call in Northeast DC.  A woman had found her curled up on her front porch with severe wounds and smelling of burnt hair.  Her whiskers were completely singed off, the tips of her ears were deformed from severe burns and the right side of her body was hairless and covered in an open wound.  It was presumed that someone had intentionally set her on fire.  What is truly amazing is that despite this horrific act of cruelty she was purring nonstop, wanting only to curl up in someone's arms.

Nola responded very well to treatment and is now safely living with a wonderful foster family while she continues to heal.  I am constantly amazed by the ability animals have for unconditional love and forgiveness.  It is because of this unending capacity for love that I became a veterinarian and why I believe so strongly in WHS's mission. The animals they protect do not have a voice, therefore it is our moral responsibility to stand up and speak for them.

Watch Nola's story on 9 News Now:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fashion for Paws Update!

Fashion for Paws is now one month away and fundraising is in full swing.  As of this moment in time Frank and I have raised the most money out of all the other models, we are at $10,150!!  Frank is so close to his dream of runway domination and earning the coveted title of "Model Washingtonian of the Year"but we need your help to keep the momentum going.

A huge thank you to Happy Paws, Friendship, BVNS and all my wonderful clients, Polite Puppies, friends and family whose generous donations have made this possible.

There are still many opportunities if you want to get involved.

Stop by Friendship and enter our raffle for a chance to win:

  • Friendship $150 gift card
  • Weekend sleepover with play days at Happy Paws
  • 6 months of food from Royal Canin
  • Gift basket full of Nutramax products
  • Canine Wellness gift basket
  • Feline Wellness gift basket

Join Friendship and Happy Paws on March 19th for Yappy Hour at Pete's Apizza!  

For just $10 guests will take home a Friendship tote bag filled with goodies, a chance to enter the raffle and all the free pizza you can eat.  This dog and family friendly event is not to be missed.

Pete's Apizza
March 19th
5-7 pm
4940 Wisconsin Avenue NW

Attend the Fashion for Paws Runway Show

The main event will be held on April 9th at the National Building Museum.  Tickets and tables are still available but selling fast so get yours now.

For more information about Fashion for Paws, to buy a ticket or make a donation please visit

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pet obesity in the news

Pet obesity is a serious medical issue that can result in a myriad of health problems including diabetes, heart disease and joint disease.  The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention just released a new study that reveals more than half of the dogs and cats in this country are overweight.  Frank and I spent this afternoon with Fox 5 and ABC 7 to help spread the word about the dangers of pet obesity.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Washington Post Article vs Client Privacy

This past Monday, in what I can only assume was a slow news day, a column in The Washington Post seemed to question Friendship's handling of a request for a patient's vaccination information.  Click here to read the full article.

A woman who was not the owner of the dog called Friendship to request the information after she had been bitten.  The bite occurred while the dog was being walked by the pet sitter.  Friendship refused to release the dog's vaccine status without the consent of the owner but did offer to contact the owner, which she declined.  The Post's article indicates that she did call the police but also declined their offer to help her.  Had she reported the bite to the authorities, as the law dictates, they could have easily obtained the dog’s vaccine status. She apparently chose not to do so and, instead, contacted the Washington Post.

When I spoke to columnist John Kelly last week he told me the woman "didn't want to get the dog in trouble" and that was why she decided not to report the bite.  Informing animal control about a dog bite, especially in this situation, is essential.  If the dog really just walked up and bit her as the woman described then there needs to be a record of this.  What if this happens again?  What if it is a child's face next time?

I am in no way saying that this dog is vicious, in fact I don't think I have ever met a mean Greyhound.  This was most likely an isolated incident, but if a pattern of aggressive behavior develops there should be a record of it.

In addition, a dog owner needs to be aware if his or her dog is involved in a bite incident, be it with a person, wildlife or another dog.  When I questioned Mr. Kelly how it was that both the woman who was bitten and the pet sitter were unable to get in touch with the owner to discuss the event he was only able to say that "the owner was out of town".  In the age of smart phones, email and Facebook surely they could have contacted the owner.  If one of my dogs were to bite someone while I was away I would want to be notified immediately.

My discussion above is really immaterial, here is the bottom line: at Friendship, we value the trust our clients instill in us and part of that trust requires us to keep all client/patient information confidential.  It has been and always will be our policy to not disclose information unless specifically asked to do so by the owner of a patient, another veterinary hospital or other law enforcement organization.  

Apart from my position as a veterinarian, as a dog owner I support Friendship's policy and I would think the majority of our clients do too.  Please feel free to post respectful comments below.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Frank on Fox 5 for Fashion for Paws

Frank and I were thrilled to be on Fox 5 this morning for their "Ask a Vet" segment with Annie Yu.  Frank is working hard at raising money for Fashion for Paws and this was a great opportunity for him to get the word out about the event.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fashion for Paws!

Today marks the start of fundraising for Fashion for Paws.  Sparkle and I had a great time last year and raised over $8000.  This year I will be walking the runway with Frank who is already planning his outfit, but we need your help to make this happen.  There are many ways you can contribute:

  • Join us on March 19th for a Yappy Hour at Pete's Apizza
  • Buy a ticket to the event and see Frank strut down the runway in all his glory
  • Purchase an ad for your business to be displayed in the official program book
  • Stop by Friendship and enter our raffle for the chance to win many great prizes
  • Make a direct donation by visiting my fundraising website

In case you are not familiar with the event, Fashion for Paws in now in it's fifth year and has raised over one million dollars for the Washington Humane Society (WHS).  Friendship is the emergency hospital for WHS and I have personally treated many of the abused and neglected rescued by WHS Humane Law Enforcement Officer.  This has given me a first-hand view into the critical work that WHS provides for the animals and people of our community.

All proceeds from the Fashion for Paws Runway Show directly benefit the more than 30,000 homeless, lost, neglected and abused animals WHS cares for each year.  Your donations will also support vital programs such as Humane Law Enforcement, Humane Education, low cost vaccination and spay-neuter programs, Dog Tags and the WHS Behavior and Learning Center.

I would greatly appreciate any help, this organization and the amazing work they do is very close to my heart.  To make a donation please visit my fundraising page or post a comment with any questions and I will be happy to get back to you.

Thank you!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Does sharing the bed also mean sharing diseases with your pet?

I was on Fox 5 today to discuss a recent study out of California that shows sleeping in bed with your dog or cat may lead to disease.  This is an interesting topic as surveys indicate that more than 50% of pet owners let their dogs and cats in bed with them.

The study describes various cases of pet owners contracting horrible diseases like the Plague, MRSA, Cat Scratch Disease and Salmonella.  While this information is scary one must also keep in mind that many of these diseases can be avoided with proper veterinary care and good hygiene.

The Plague and Cat Scratch Disease are caused by bacteria that live on fleas; while Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are transmitted by ticks.  If you eliminate the fleas and ticks on your pets, you make a big dent in possible exposure.  The very best way to accomplish this is with a topical, spot-on treatment such as Frontline or Revolution applied every month.

MRSA is very frightening since it is a bacteria resistant to most antibiotics.  The good news here is that pets are very unlikely to cause an initial infections humans.  In fact, our dogs and cats should be worrying about what we bring home to them as humans can transmit the bacteria to pets in the house.  If you or someone in your home has had a MRSA infection you should be aware that pets can serve as a reservoir and reinfect humans.

The best way to avoid food borne bacteria is not to feed a raw food diet since cooking is the most effective way to rid food of these bacteria.  When you feed a raw diet you are potentially introducing Salmonella or E. coli into your home and yard.

The take home message from this study should be that an adult with a healthy immune system, that practices good personal hygiene and provides proper veterinary care for their pet is very unlikely to contract any of these diseases; even if they sleep in bed with their pets.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Yappy Hour - Success!

Photos courtesy of James Robertson

This past weekend Friendship and Happy Paws hosted our first Yappy Hour at Pete’s Apizza.  I was thrilled when more than seventy people turned up with their dogs to enjoy a slice of pizza and the wonderful fall weather. 

For a small donation to Friendship’s Fund for Humane Education attendees were given a Friendship tote bag filled with goodies and a chance to win a Friendship gift card or a play day with sleepover at Happy Paws. We collected nearly $500 in donations to the Fund, which serves to support WARL in educating area children about proper treatment and care of animals.  I had a great time catching up with Friendship clients outside of the hospital and I got to see many of my Polite Puppies participants.  It was a wonderful afternoon and there will definitely be more Yappy Hours to come!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

It is official, I might be truly crazy

If anyone out there thought I was insane before with all the animals I have please let me solidify this feeling with the announcement of my new puppy -- Frank!  I did not seek out a new addition to my already full house but I have been thinking for some time that Poppy would enjoy a larger dog to play with as her version of play with the Lilly, Sparkle and the cats really amounts to torture for them.

Out of the blue a ten week old labradoodle puppy needed a home and I knew he would be the perfect fit for me.  I brought Frank home Tuesday night and he and Poppy have not stopped playing since.  I have never seen her interact this way with another dog before and it makes me so happy that they have found each other.  As for the other animals, the cats really couldn't care less and the little dogs are happy to play with him on their terms.  This mean five minutes of play before they get bored and jump up on the sofa to avoid him.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Happy September!  I apologize for my recent lack of posting but I took a little summer vacation from blogging during August.  I am very excited to report on my fall project with Poppy – agility class!

Agility is a sport in which you guide your dog over a variety of obstacles while being judged for time and accuracy.  It is a great way to strengthen the bond between you and your dog while stimulating them mentally.  Many high-energy breeds like border collies and Australian shepherds are much happier when they have a job to do.  Running around an agility course expels excess energy while looking to you for commands on where to go challenges them mentally.

So far we have been having fun at class and I think Poppy is starting to get the hang of it.  It is also entirely possible the she is tolerating the agility part so she can get an unlimited amount of cut-up hot dog bits.  We have a long way to go before we actually compete in an event but working together is what's important.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"How to be Your Dog's Best Friend" at DC's West End Library

I am very excited to be speaking as part of the “How to be Your Dog’s Best Friend” panel at the DC West End Public Library tomorrow evening. I have posted a preview of the topics I plan on covering, each one of these is a vital component of wellness care for your dog.

1. Vaccine recommendations

It is very important to make sure your pets are up to date on their vaccines. I will discuss the vaccines that the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that all pets receive; these are called core vaccines as well as a few non-core vaccines I think are important.

All pets should be up to date on their rabies vaccines. This is part of the law for good reason, rabies is just about 100% fatal and not protecting your pet against it puts everyone in your family at risk. All dogs should also be vaccinated with a distemper/parvo/hepatitis combination vaccine. This group of infectious diseases can cause gastrointestinal, respiratory and neurologic problems that are often fatal.

So let’s talk about some of the vaccines that people may not know much about. These are not considered to be necessary for every animal but based on lifestyle instead. Leptospirosis is a bacteria transmitted via the urine of an infected animal, most commonly wildlife such as rats, opossums and raccoons. These animals urinate in standing water or moist soil, your dog then comes along and drinks the contaminated water and contracts the disease

Though Lepto can be treated with antibiotics, if the infection is not caught early enough it can permanently damage the kidneys and/or liver, resulting in organ failure. In some cases, the disease is too advanced by the time we catch it and ends up being fatal.

If you are putting your dog in a kennel or taking her to the groomers it is usually required that your dog be vaccinated against “kennel cough”. Kennel cough is a collective term for a highly contagious group of viruses and bacteria that cause irritation in the upper respiratory tract. It is important to realize that the vaccine only protects against the Bordetella bacteria, one of the many infectious agents that can cause “kennel cough”. If your dog is exposed to one of the many other viruses or bacteria that cause upper respiratory symptoms they can still get sick even with the vaccine. In addition even if a vaccinated animal is exposed to the Bordetella bacteria the vaccines does not prevent disease, it will only reduce the severity of clinical signs.

2. The importance of spaying or neutering your pet

I cannot stress this enough. In my opinion, spaying or neutering is the single best thing you can do, not only for your own dog but also for the millions of homeless animals living in shelters. Along with eliminating the chances for many types of cancer developing, spaying and neutering can prevent many behavior issues. I have said it before and I will say it again: female dogs in heat are messy and it is always embarrassing to have your male dog humping someone’s leg.

3. Heartworm and flea/tick prevention once a month every month

Heartworm disease is a parasitic infection transmitted when an infected mosquito bites your dog. While it’s true that infected dogs can be treated, the treatment itself is very dangerous—and can even be fatal. Left untreated, heartworm disease will kill a dog.

Protecting your dogs against fleas and ticks is important as well. Tick borne infections such as Lyme disease, Erlichia and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are transmitted when an infected tick bites your dog. The best way to ward these infections off is with topical flea and tick preventatives like Frontline, Advantix, Revolution, or Advantage Multi. In a temperate climate like ours, these should be applied once a month, every month.

Fleas can be extremely itching and irritating to both you and your pets. Some animals are allergic to fleas and one bite can lead to a significant skin infection. Once a flea infestation invades your home it can be very difficult to clear it out. The best bet is to prevent that from happening by applying the same topical medications that protect against ticks.

Luckily, prevention is easy: just a pill and a topical medication once a month. If only everything were that simple.

4. Avoiding obesity

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that 42% of dogs and 53% of cats in America are overweight. What’s worse is that an additional 10% of dogs and 19% of cats are considered obese. This means that over 50% of dogs and nearly 75% of cats are at increased risk for diseases that may be preventable. And if that’s not enough to get you motivated, consider this: one study found that dogs kept at a healthy

weight live on average two years longer than their overweight counterparts!

The best strategy for keeping your pet slim is to prevent weight gain in the first place. Never free feed. Instead, always measure out the amount of food you offer your pet. Also try to limit the treats you give to 10% of your pet’s diet. Feeding table scraps is strongly frowned upon. Give too many table scraps and your dog may end up with diarrhea or pancreatitis which can result in a hospital stay. Your pets already love you unconditionally; giving them treats doesn’t make them love you more.

5. Dental disease

Dental disease is one of the most common disorders diagnosed on wellness exams. It is estimated that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats over the age of 3 year old suffer from some degree of periodontal disease.

While a dental cleaning results in whiter teeth and fresh breath, the main benefit is to your pet’s overall health. Consider this: every time your pet chews bacteria is showered into the bloodstream. This then lodges in the kidneys, liver, lungs and heart causing damage and disease. In addition, open fractures, tooth root abscesses and worn teeth are painful and can act as a constant source of discomfort for your pet.

Rather than wait for a problem to develop, it is best to perform a dental cleaning when only mild gingivitis and/or tartar are present. This will maintain good dental health and prevent disease before it becomes a problem, which results in saving you money and more importantly keeping your pet as healthy as possible.

I realize a dental cleaning is not only expensive but it can be scary to put your pet under anesthesia. While anesthesia is daunting, at Friendship we do everything we can to make it as safe as possible with aggressive monitoring while your pet is under anesthesia. At Friendship we are convinced that the low risk of anesthetic complications is far outweighed by the benefits of good dental health. After your dental cleaning we will work with you to keep your pets teeth healthy and prevent tartar buildup. Schedule a dental cleaning and start enjoying those doggie kisses again.

Monday, June 14, 2010

New Interns!

I can’t believe how fast time goes by! This week Friendship will welcome six new doctors into our 2010 intern class and it amazes me that another year has flown by already. I am reminded of my first day four years ago, fresh out veterinary school and completely terrified. There is no way I could withstand the rigors of the program today, a straight week of 14 hour overnight shifts - No thanks! That challenging year was well worth it and I can say with complete confidence it has made me a better veterinarian.

Friendship is one of the few veterinary hospitals in the area qualified to offer an internship program for recent veterinary school graduates. It makes huge contributions to our patient care and to those fortunate veterinarians participating in the program. Internships are highly competitive. Only the most talented and motivated of new graduates seek advanced clinical training. Friendship accepts only about one out of every five applicants to its internship program. We are proud of our program and I consider myself lucky to have completed it.

Unlike medical doctors--who are required to do an internship plus a residency before beginning to practice--most veterinarians enter general practice immediately after graduation and begin practicing medicine. Alternatively, a new graduate can apply for a position in an elective, year-long program of post graduate clinical training, working side-by-side with senior veterinarians with years of experience. These programs are provided by veterinary colleges or busy, multi-doctor hospitals like Friendship.

For the fortunate graduates who are accepted, this is an exciting opportunity to obtain an enormous amount of clinical experience while also being mentored by more senior veterinarians. These programs are completely optional and very demanding. At Friendship, our interns work grueling hours and commit an entire year of their lives so that they can become even better doctors. Some go on to complete residencies in the specialty of their choice, while others, like myself, enter general practice.

From time to time, I have heard pet owners say, "I don't want an intern working on my pet." My response is: Our interns are the best of the new vet school graduates. Not only have they just spent four years learning the latest advances in veterinary medicine from specialists at their respective schools, but they benefit from the fulltime mentoring of Friendship’s highly experienced senior veterinarians.

So let’s give a hand to these doctors for their enthusiasm, dedication to veterinary medicine, willingness to learn from their colleagues, and their desire to be the best veterinarian they can be. To learn more about our current inters please visit the Friendship Hospital for Animals website.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Canine Cancer Awareness

In an effort to raise awareness about canine cancer Friendship has partnered with Morris Animal Foundation, Blue Buffalo Food and Petco in an event this Saturday. We will be at the Petco on Connecticut Avenue from 10 am to 2 pm to answer your questions and concerns regarding cancer in pets.
As a pet owner who lost a dog to not one, but three types of cancer--lymphoma, melanoma and hemangiosarcoma--I know firsthand how devastating, confusing and overwhelming this diagnosis can be. The only possible shred of good news is that you have the warm, caring embrace of the Oncology Department at Friendship available to you.

Dr. Chand Khanna--who may just be the most amazing person I have ever met--leads this team of dedicated doctors and veterinary technicians. In addition to being double board-certified in internal medicine and oncology, Dr. Khanna runs multiple labs at the National Institutes of Health and founded Animal Clinical Investigation. Through these organizations he performs ground-breaking research in both animal and human cancer. Equally important, he is a personable, compassionate and caring individual. His entire team--including doctors Tony Rusk, Alexandra Sahora and Kristen Weishaar; his assistant Tracey; and the veterinary technicians JT, Rebecca and Amy--understands what a scary time this is for your and your pet.
Managing cancer is complex, expensive and at times confusing (even for me with Westin). Dr. Khanna and his team will go out of their way to answer all your questions and concerns and are always available to the emergency doctors at Friendship if something happens after hours. They do their very best to make treating your pet’s cancer as comfortable as possible for both you and your beloved pal.

Though most cancers in companion animals are, unfortunately, not yet curable, many are now treatable thanks to devoted doctors like Chand Khanna and organizations like the Morris Animal Foundation. We are making great advances in managing cancer in our beloved pets and one day we will find a cure. I treasured each day I had with Westin and consider myself blessed that she had Dr. Khanna and the oncology service at Friendship looking after her.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Polite Puppies!

The first Polite Puppy class was this past Sunday at Happy Paws and I feel that it was a big success. There was an environment of controlled chaos as puppies leaped and twirled at the end of their leashes trying to play with each other. Once everyone settled down we started by discussing behavior modification (my favorite topic) and that for everything a dog wants in life they must sit and wait for you to offer it to them. We went over how to teach sit, stay and look at me, these are the essential commands that every dog should know. I also encouraged owners to practice restraining their puppies at home which will make the puppy's trip to the hospital much more enjoyable.

After covering behavior we moved on to my recommendations for how to keep your dog happy and healthy. I demonstrated the appropriate use of Gentle Leader Head Collars and the Gentle Leader Easy Walk Harness for those puppies that drag their owners around. One of my goals with this class is to banish Prong collars which cause me to wince every time I see one on a dog. In my opinion these horrible contraptions are cruel, painful and ineffective. Without appropriate training most dogs eventually get used to the sensation of metal spikes poking into their necks and continue to drag their owners down the street.

I touched on nutrition and the importance of feeding one's dog a high quality food appropriate for their dog's lifestyle. What owners need to be aware of is that many of the boutique brands of dog food are formulated to be "all life stage diets" which essentially means it is puppy food. Many people feed these high calorie diets to their couch potato dogs and are confused when they start to gain weight. We also discussed the pros and cons of raw diets and the health risks associated with themFinally I went over toys I like such as the Kong and how chewing on a tennis ball will ruin your dogs teeth. The puppies were definitely exhausted when they left and I hope the owners took away some helpful tips on keeping their new family members happy and healthy. The next Polite Puppy Class will be Sunday, May 23rd.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Allergies affect your pets too!

Fox 5 was kind enough to have me on this morning to discuss allergies in pets which can be a frustrating problem for both pets and their owners. Dogs and cats are affected by the same allergens that plague humans. The difference is in how allergies are manifested in our pets. While we can see red, water eyes, sneezing and coughing more commonly skin issues are the problem.

Allergies in pets usually present as itchy skin, ears and feet that can quickly lead to infection. When the skin’s natural environment is disrupted by constant scratching this allows bacteria and/or yeast to proliferate causing a superficial infection. This infection itself can then cause itching making the problem even worse. If you see red, irritated skin, small bumps, crusts on the skin or hair loss this may indicate infection is present and a visit to the hospital is necessary.

If your pet is itching without an infection present, you can try giving an antihistamine such as Benedryl, Claritin or Chlor-trimeton. You should check with your veterinarian about how much to give as doing is much different in dogs and cats than humans. Also be sure not to but a product containing pseudoephedrine or any other additive as this can be very toxic to pets.

Omega-3 fatty acids can be extremely beneficial in treating skin issues. As I have said before I feel all pets should be on this supplement. Not only will the omega-3’s condition the skin but they also provide strong anti-inflammatory effects to help calm irritate, itchy skin. Read more about the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids by clicking here.

Another allergy that is not such a big deal in humans but can be torture for pets is an allergy to fleas. Some dogs and cats are so sensitive that just one flea-bite can drive them crazy and the itching that follows can result in a serious skin infection. Thanks to the effectiveness of medications like Frontine and Advantage this is relative easy to prevent.

If your dog or cat is itchy you can try giving an omega-3 fatty acid or using a soothing shampoo, if the itching continues make an appointment to speak with your veterinarian about a treatment plan.