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Monthly Archives: October 2013

Happy Howl-o-ween!

Halloween PupYou’ve purchased the candy, laid out the costumes, decorated the yard, and pulled out the scary soundtracks to greet the trick-or-treaters who will descend upon your home in droves. The only thing left on your list is to review a few tips to make Halloween as safe and fun for your pet as it will be for you (and all those ghosts and goblins on your doorstep).

Keep Away
From candy, that is. Chocolate, xylitol, and other ingredients and sweeteners can be dangerous to your pet. From causing upset stomachs to serious renal failure, the treats that fill your candy bowl can cause great harm to your loved one. Keep them up high so the colorful crinkly packaging doesn’t become a temptation. For a complete list of foods your pet should avoid, check out this list of potentially harmful foods.

Play it Safe
We all love the festive glow of a pumpkin on Halloween. Rather than risk the danger of burning a curious pet, take extra precautions to keep burning candles where your pet can’t see them. Or, you could eliminate the worry altogether, using LED tea lights, strobe lights, glow sticks, or even Christmas string lights to have the festivity without the fuss.

Masquerade Ball
If you can’t resist the temptation to dress up your pet for Halloween, make sure that the costume allows unrestricted movement and breathing. Take time to look over the costume for any choking hazards or dangers and make sure that the costume allows you to use a leash if you plan to stroll the neighborhood. Also, don’t make this a stressful experience for your pet—if they aren’t into dressing as a Chia Pet or an Ewok, perhaps a headband, bandana, or Halloween-themed leash and collar would work instead.

The one thing you should make sure your pet wears tonight (and every night!) is their ID tag. With doors opening and closing all evening long, pets can easily sneak out unnoticed as you’re filling up fancy treat baskets. Check to make sure your contact information is up to date on your pet’s tag, and that their collar fits correctly. Also, keep a close eye on them as you answer your door. For more pet id options, check out our April post from National Pet ID Week.

Frightful Fun
A continual barrage of costumed door-knockers may be a little more than your dog or cat can handle for one evening. If unknown guests cause anxiety, you may want to find a safe, quiet room in your home for the trick-or-treating hours. Break out a special Halloween treat or toy to make it an evening of fun for everyone.

Looking for more Halloween pet safety tips? Check out this podcast by the American Association of Veterinarians (AMVA). Happy Howl-o-ween to you and your pets!

October is National Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month

Adopt A PetWith more than 3.5 million dogs living in shelters, there’s no better time than now to think about bringing home a new addition to your family. National Dog Adoption Month, celebrated every October, turns our focus to these often forgotten animals with a call to open your heart and your home. According to Veterinary Practice News, the rewards are life changing. “Nearly 47% of pet owners said their pet is like a child to them and 42% said they compare their pets to a good friend.” (Veterinary Practice News April 27, 2011).

Aside from bringing home a new friend for life, there are countless benefits to adopting a pet. Many animal shelters and adoption agencies have limited space to take on new pets. By adopting, you’re preserving a life and helping create space for new animals. Not only that, you’re enhancing the quality of life for your new pet.

Saving money is another benefit to adopting. When you adopt a dog, the shelters often ensure that they are up to date on all vaccinations and are either spayed or neutered. When you count the costs of these healthcare measures, it can amount to a huge cost savings. Adoption fees often include a leash, collar, and initial food supplies as well, getting you off to the best possible start with your new family member.

Not only have most pets received their shots, shelter pets are often given health screenings to make sure they are in great health before they are adopted. If a dog has obedience issues or needs training assistance, your local shelter can provide a wealth of resources to help you tackle those areas successfully.

Due to the vast number of pets in adoption shelters and agencies, you have a great selection of types and temperaments. Big to little, young to old you can choose the animal that is just right for you. If you’re looking for a certain breed, there are rescues that specialize in every breed under the sun from Basset Hounds  and Border Collies to Shar Peis and Pugs. For a list of dogs available in your area, check out www.azhumane.org.

Playful Pals

It goes without saying that our pets bring us endless joy, companionship and unconditional love. And laughter. Lots of it. In fact, today we have decided that we just need a good laugh! So check out this video of playful pals, with our feline friends giving our canine friends a hard time!

Click on the image below to go to the video…

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National Veterinary Technician Week

It was 21 years ago that the U.S. Congress voted to declare the third week of October, National Veterinary Technician Week (NVTW). With this act Veterinary Technicians, the preeminent pet nurses working in the treatment area of the veterinary hospital, were celebrated for the tireless work they perform as advocates for animals and caretakers for hospitalized pets.
Vet Tech and Golden Retriever
The week-long celebration, with sponsorship from the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Partners for Healthy Pets, and the Ontario (Canada) Association of Veterinary Technicians, seeks to elevate public awareness of the importance of the veterinary nursing staff. Veterinary Technicians work throughout animal clinics and hospitals providing nursing care, patient assessment, and surgical assistance. Additionally, veterinary technicians work as radiography technicians, dental hygienists, client communicators, educators, medical laboratory technicians, and often as hospital and practice managers. This year’s theme for NVTW is: “Your Trusted Partner in Lifelong Care;’ as advocates for pet health Veterinary Technicians believe an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

“The Credentialed Veterinary Technician is so much more than an assistant to the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.” said Dennis Lopez, M.Ed., LVT, and 2013 President of NAVTA. “The public is often uninformed about the importance of the veterinary nursing staff behind the scenes, working long shifts in the treatment rooms of animal clinics and hospitals. Our view at NAVTA is that the Veterinary Technician is an extension of the Doctor, performing many critical nursing tasks in support of patient care.”

Following a series of legislative changes culminating in 2010, credentialed veterinary technicians (Certified, Registered, or Licensed), are now required to graduate with a minimum of a two-year Associate Degree, perform many hours of clinical externship, and pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) before being allowed to practice. “Credentialed technicians really are the equivalent of a human Registered Nurse,” stated Lopez. “They go through a science heavy education, learn and experience a wide variety of skills, and then have to pass a very difficult national board
exam. However, unlike human medical professionals, the Veterinary Technician must learn the anatomy, disease process, patient care, and nursing skills to practice on 20-30 species. The education and ability to practice is very rigorous.” Most states require the Credentialed Veterinary Technician to maintain continuing education hours and to stay on the cutting edge of veterinary medicine.

National Veterinary Technician Week celebrates these hard-working individuals with activities at educational and college programs, state Veterinary Technician Associations, and at local and national conferences. For more details about veterinary technicians, visit the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America at www.navta.net.

Happy National Veterinary Tech Week!

The German Shepherd

shutterstock_138238115One of the most common service dog breeds, the German Shepherd is renowned for its loyalty, intelligence, and steadfast nature. Ranking second among the most popular dog breeds in the United States, the German Shepherd has long been a favorite among families, dog show enthusiasts, police and military personnel, and the visually impaired.

The German Shepherd traces its roots back about 100 years ago to herding and farm dogs of Karlsruhe, Germany. An amalgamation of herding and farm dogs, the German Shepherd quickly became highly sought after for its intelligence, strength, and magnificence. Their extremely high intelligence and easy-to-train nature makes them a top pick among police, military, and other service-oriented fields. Often picking up new commands with as few as five repetitions, many German Shepherds can easily retain working vocabularies of over 200 words.

Muscular and evenly proportioned, the German Shepherd has a wedge-shaped head that balances nicely with the rest of its body. Most commonly boasting a black and tan coat, their colors can range between shades of sable to all black. Weighing in between 70 and 95 pounds and standing between 22 to 26 inches high, this medium-large breed is highly active, energetic, and consistent, displaying strong protective instincts. They are fiercely loyal to their owners but can be wary (and even aggressive, depending on their training) towards strangers and those who venture into their territory. Their bark has a ferocious quality to it, an indication of their highly defensive nature and possessive tendencies. Trained properly, German Shepherds are amazing companions—watching over children, keeping families safe, and willingly laying down their lives for their owners. Their heroic character and faithful allegiance has earned them a place in many hearts.

There are many examples of the German Shepherd’s rich heroic history. Bruno was a nine-month old puppy who saved the life of an unconscious 11-year-old boy who was thrown from his bike into a ditch. Bruno licked his face until he regained consciousness and pulled him by the collar towards home until someone saw them and came to their rescue. Nellie from Ontario ran over 3 km to get help after her owner was caught beneath an overturned tractor. Hustler saved his Alberta owner after a fall from a horse left her unable to move, fighting off attacks from two vicious coyotes until they were discovered, nine hours later. Moti was awarded the title “2007 Dog of the Year” after taking a bullet to save her family from a hostile intruder. Moti made a full recovery and saved her entire family from harm. Dog of the Year has been granted to German Shepherds numerous times and there are countless tales of German Shepherds have shown their bravery and valor, saving lives and rescuing humans from danger time after time.

German Shephards have captured hearts with their winsome personalities as well as their heroism, often playing leading roles on the silver screen. Hailed as one of the first canine movie stars, Strongheart was brought to the U.S. by two filmmakers and appeared in many movies, including a White Fang adaptation. His legacy is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as is Rin Tin Tin, another famous movie star with over twenty-five movies to his credit. Not only are German Shepherds natural stars, they are also a favorite of celebrities and luminaries throughout history. John and Jacqueline Kennedy’s dog, Clipper was allowed to greet the presidential couple when the helicopter landed on the White House lawn. When asked by the media what he ate, Mrs. Kennedy memorably replied, “Reporters.” Roy Rogers, Jake Gyllenhaal, Bob Hope, Shania Twain, and George Foreman are just a few of the other celebrities with German Shepherds. One of the most popular German Shepherds of late is Dunder, rocketing to fame in one evening after his owner posted a time-lapse video that compiled daily images captured the first two years of Dunder’s life.

From defending families and entertaining crowds to shepherding livestock and detecting explosives, German Shepherds hold a well-deserved place as the second most popular dog in America. To learn more about this amazing breed, talk with your veterinarian or visit the American Kennel Club at www.akc.org.

If a German Shepherd is in your future, there are several rescue organizations throughout the Greater Phoenix area that specialize in this breed. Here are a few organizations that can help match you with the right companion: Saving Paws Rescue, Southwest German Shepherd Rescue, and Arizona German Shepherd Rescue.