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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Featured Doc – Dr. Amanda Simonson

“Always do your best and everything else will follow.” That’s the advice that Dr. Amanda Simonson was given when she first started practicing veterinary medicine and has been following successfully ever since. As one of two veterinarians at Norterra Animal Hospital in North Phoenix, Dr. Simonson’s practice is guided by her desire to give her patients the best possible care, treating them the same as she would her own pets. “Education and communication are the keys to empowering clients to make informed decisions about their pet’s care,” she stated.

For as long as she can remember, Dr. Simonson has had a profound desire to help people. After completing an undergraduate degree at Northern Arizona University (NAU) in psychology, she was preparing to start work towards her PhD. That all changed the afternoon one of her horses became ill. Waiting anxiously, Amanda found comfort in the thought that the veterinarian would soon arrive and take care of everything. As she thought about the significance of the veterinarian’s role in helping heal the horse that she cherished, she had the realization that she could have that same impact on others, helping both people and the animals they hold so dear. She declined the offer to complete her PhD and started down the path to becoming a veterinarian, studying at Colorado State University.

“I love the connection between families and their pets,” she stated. Growing up, Dr. Simonson was surrounded by dogs, horses, and even a baby pig for a short season, “My mom wasn’t real thrilled about that,” she laughed. Now she has a golden retriever and a black lab as well as a horse named Jerry. She loves trail riding in the desert. Whenever possible, she and her husband Dan, two-step children Kailey and Jake, and 1 year old son Lucas spend their free time hiking and engaging in water sports like jet skiing and boating.

Dr. Simonson practiced for almost 10 years at an Arizona Pet Vet sister hospital prior to helping open Norterra Animal Hospital, the newest addition in the Arizona Pet Vet family. “It was exciting to be a part of the space planning and design,” she shared.

A critical part of that design was the creation of a calm, comfortable space for her acupuncture practice. “Acupuncture is a great way to help animals, both in conjunction with traditional medicine or as a sole therapy,” Dr. Simonson explained. Scientific studies have shown that it decreases inflammation and triggers the release of a natural pain control response. “It’s amazing to study the scientific research about what happens in the brain and nervous system when you employ acupuncture,” continued Dr. Simonson, describing her golden retriever, Maggie and the relief she’s experienced through acupuncture therapy.

Looking forward, Dr. Simonson hopes to see the field of veterinary acupuncture expand as more and more clients become educated on its benefits. She’s also excited about the recent advancements in technology, especially in the area of digital dental x-rays. “With a majority of tooth disease hiding under the gums, we have a whole new window into what is going on now,” she explained.

“Being a veterinarian is a fantastic career with amazing experiences,” Dr. Simonson concluded. “I can think of nothing that would give me greater satisfaction than making a difference in the lives of my patients and their families.”

Top Pet Names for 2013

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” penned Shakespeare in his famous play, Romeo and Juliet. The bard was right—no matter what you call your new dog or cat, they will still be as lovable as ever. Yet, we still want to pick the name that best suits their personality and features.

Just like parents-to-be pore through baby name books, there is a lot that goes into finding just the right name for your new pet. Sometimes owners will choose names that describe a particular feature of their pet, like Almond, Goldie, Buttercup, Curly, or Freckles. Other times, owners will pick names that have historical or literary ties like Achilles or Balzac. If you’re looking for inspiration, we have a few tips to help you find just the right name for your pet.
1. Choose a name that your pet will easily recognize. Experts recommend that you stick to names that are one to two syllables to make it easy to call out. Also, make sure it is a name that you’re comfortable using in public. A humorous or off-color name may not be as cute when you’re shouting it across the dog park.

2. Try to avoid names that sound similar to commands like No, Stay, Sit, or Fetch. Calling your dog Joe, Jay, Spirit, and Fletcher may cause unnecessary confusion.

3. Select a name that will grow with your pet. Tiny or Kitten may quickly become passé as your pet grows into a large adult.

4. Start with a hard consonant. In a noisy environment, names that start with hard consonants like T, K, or M are easier to hear, making it much more likely your pet will recognize and respond to your call.

5. Don’t rush into choosing a name. Sometimes it is better to wait a few days before selecting a name so that you have a chance to study your pet’s personality and get a better sense of who they are as a pet.

If you’re looking for inspiration, you may want to check out the most popular pet names from 2013. According to Rover.com, the top dog names for 2013 are Max and Bella. Compiling their first gender-distinctive list, they shared the following list of popular monikers:

For the Boys:
1. Max
2. Charlie
3. Buddy
4. Jack
5. Cooper
6. Rocky
7. Riley
8. Toby
9. Bear
10. Harley

On the Girls’ Side:
1. Bella
2. Lucy
3. Bailey
4. Daisy
5. Lily
6. Molly
7. Lola
8. Maggie
9. Sadie
10. Chloe

There are a few similarities on the cat side, with some new names clawing their way onto the list (although not in the top 10 quite yet). Katniss (after the heroine of the new Hunger Games movie, Catching Fire), and Loki and Thor from Marvel’s recent Thor and Avenger’s movies. According to Yahoo.com , here are the top ten cat names for 2013.

1. Oliver
2. Max
3. Tiger
4. Charlie
5. Simba
6. Milo
7. Smokey
8. Leo
9. Jack
10. Kitty

1. Bella
2. Lucy
3. Kitty
4. Luna
5. Chloe
6. Molly
7. Lilly
8. Sophie
9. Nala
10. Daisy

Perhaps you’re looking for something a little more wild? If so, here are some of the wackiest names for 2013 according to VPI.com.

Wacky Cat Names:
1. Cheeto Burrito
2. Fuzzbutt
3. Mama Pajama
4. Lady Fluffington
5. Nut Job
6. Stinky Baby
7. Doctor Whiskers
8. Rum Tum Tugger Too
9. Fatness
10. Pizza Guy

Wacky Dog Names:
1. Sir Knuckles da Dragon
2. HotRod Whoofington
3. Captain Underpants
4. Stinky Monkey
5. Taco Salad
6. Dallas Cowdog
7. Hunk Heartbreaker
8. Ice Bingbing
9. Potato Chip
10. Bunny Money Dogg

Choosing a name for your pet is an exciting and fun process. We hope these tips and top ten names have given you some ideas as you endeavor to find just the right name for your new pet. Now we’d love to hear from you. What did you name your pet or pets and how did you go about selecting a name for them?

Featured Doc – Dr. Mike Kiedrowski

Dinosaurs completely fascinated Dr. Mike Kiedrowski as a young boy and he dreamed of devoting his life to the study of these “Great Lizards.” You can only imagine his utter devastation when he found out, at age seven, that dinosaurs were dead. After overcoming the devastating news) Dr. Kiedrowski emerged with a new vision: to study the current reptiles and amphibians of today as a herpetologist or to become a veterinarian. Those two aspirations led him to become the first “reptile and amphibian nut” veterinarian in the Greater Phoenix area, with an interest in exotic pets as well.

In college at Northern Arizona University, Dr. Kiedrowski was pursuing five majors: zoology, chemistry, physics, math, and business, still deciding whether to pursue herpetology or veterinary practice. When he was accepted to the veterinary program at Colorado State University at Fort Collins his senior year, the decision became clear and he followed the path to becoming a veterinarian. His love for reptiles remained strong, however, and Dr. Kiedrowski continually sought out ways to incorporate herpetology into his studies and practice.

In his early days of marriage, Dr. Kiedrowski and his wife (who shares his love for reptiles) traveled around the country doing reptile shows. With over 180 adult snakes, three dozen turtles and tortoises, and a separate building for breeding mice and insects to feed their diverse tetrapods, the couple had an incredible array of animals. In a single season Dr. Kiedrowski hatched out over 1,500 reptiles. Dr. Kiedrowski’s favorite creature is the San Esteban Island Chuckwalla, or Sauromalus varius (which means flat, speckled lizard). Dr. Kiedrowski became enamored with the largest member of the chuckwalla species through a professor at Colorado State who was researching this highly endangered San Esteban Island dweller. Due to their endangered status, it took him over ten years to find one for sale legally. Before long, Dr. Kiedrowski had become one of the most successful private breeders in the world, working with the Population Management Plan in the United States for this calico-colored vegetarian lizard and distributing them to zoos around the country.

With two children, ages eleven and fourteen, there is less time to roam the country educating people on reptiles. Their home still boasts a reptile room that houses sixty snakes, two dozen lizards, and a dozen turtles and tortoises but the family spends more time outside boating, waterskiing, camping, and hiking with their three golden retrievers. Twice a year, the Kiedrowski’s host a massive airsoft party at their home, setting up an elaborate course with 120+ barricades, bunkers and other obstacles. Over 150 friends and family members rotate through their home for the multi-week event, perfecting their aim and having the time of their life. “I hope to have about 85 years on this planet and I intend to enjoy every minute of them,” affirmed Dr. Kiedrowski.

Outside of airsoft challenges and reptilian care, Dr. Kiedrowski enjoys playing the thrill of a good pinball game. Since playing in tournaments in his younger years, he now plays primarily at home one of the thirteen machines he has collected over the years. His favorite is the American-made, one-player 1976 Gottlieb El Dorado–a highly challenging edition with an asymmetrical playfield that relies on both the angle of the playfield and the speed of the ball curving around a corner to take out your goals. With non-resettable targets, this frustrating yet captivating game takes a few minutes to learn and a lifetime to master.

Dr. Kiedrowski’s passion for life and love for animals is evident in everything that he does. Working closely with Arizona Game and Fish, the local parks department, and zoos as well as pet owners of every kind means he never knows what is going to come through his door each day, from Gila monsters, alligators, toads, and lizards, to dogs, cats, and even ravens and hawks. “Every day brings something different,” shared Dr. Kiedrowski. “The most rewarding thing is helping animals that truly give unconditional love to their owners, dedicating each day to giving animals and their human companions a better life–what more could you ask for?”

Featured Doc – Dr. Mark Ketcham

Dr. Mark Ketcham launched the Fletcher Heights Animal Hospital in the year 2000, fulfilling his lifelong dream of owning his own veterinary practice. Awarded his Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State University, Dr. Ketcham received his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Illinois and went on to practice as a veterinarian in central Phoenix for several years before opening his own practice. Fueled by a passion for helping animals, Dr. Ketcham enjoys providing people with the information and advice they need to prevent illnesses, treat health issues, and make informed choices about their pets.

Interested in science, medicine, and animals from a young age, Dr. Ketcham’s love for veterinary medicine was a natural blend of all three interests. “I was always bringing home injured animals,” Dr. Ketcham remembers, “from birds and turtles to injured seagulls and turtles.” Driven to find help for these creatures, Dr. Ketcham grew quite connected to the area wildlife rehabilitators and veterinarians, frequently seeking their help with the animals he rescued. When not rescuing animals, Dr. Ketcham spent his boyhood days on the beaches of Long Island, boating on the Great South Bay, listening to summer concerts at Jones Beach, and fishing, crabbing and catching Blue crabs.

Growing up, Dr. Ketcham had quite a number of pets in addition to the animals he rescued. Aside from an assortment of fish and the rabbits that he bred and raised, Dr. Ketcham’s favorite animal was a rescue shepherd mix named Poppy. He can still recall those kindergarten memories of his mother leading him through the house to surprise him with Poppy – rescued by Dr. Ketcham’s grandfather from roadside abandonment. “We spent hours together exploring Long Island where I grew up,” Dr. Ketcham recalls, thinking back on the many memories the two shared during Poppy’s fifteen years.

Today the Ketcham’s home is still full of pets. His wife, Greta (who is also a veterinarian), and their two daughters have a sixteen-year-old domestic shorthair tabby named Pippi and a black standard poodle named Zuch Noir. Earlier this spring, after researching the best exotic pet for their family, the Ketcham’s brought home five dwarf female rats, all from the same litter. “The girls love them! Rats are very friendly, social animals,” shares Dr. Ketcham, “they do best when you have more than one together.”

Aside from caring for and playing with their beloved pets, the Ketcham family spends much of their time outdoors. With both daughters on the competitive swim team, many evenings and weekends are dedicated to swimming practices and meets. During the off-season, the family enjoys vacationing in Southern California, visiting family in Chicago, and visiting Flagstaff, where four-mile hikes and visits to Sedona round out their days. Dr. Ketcham, an avid Star Trek fan in his youth, also loves watching movies with his family, with Pirates of the Caribbean topping the recent favorites list.

Dr. Ketcham relishes staying up on the latest trends in veterinary medicine, frequently attending professional scientific conventions and continuing education programs. Keeping pace with expanding medical knowledge, Dr. Ketcham’s practice has enhanced their focus on dental health, offering modern advanced digital dental care. “Dental health is one area that the public isn’t widely aware of,” informs Dr. Ketcham, “yet proper dental care is an integral piece of a pet’s overall health.”

One of the things that excites Dr. Ketcham is how cutting-edge technology has transformed the services available at Fletcher Heights Animal Hospital. “Stem cell therapy is one of the most exciting things we’ve seen,” reveals Dr. Ketcham, explaining the process of collecting fat cells and reinjecting the isolated stem cells into damaged areas within an animal’s body. “These basic primordial cells have the ability to transform into specialized cells enabling the body to regenerate and repair itself.”

Dr. Ketcham grew up wrestling and playing football – from PeeWee league to Varsity. Facing those sporting challenges has given Dr. Ketcham a special appreciation for his coworkers at Fletcher Heights. “I work with a highly skilled group of nurses and technicians here,” he shares. “Each of us has a critical part to play and together we make an outstanding team.”