October 15 to 21 is National Veterinary Technician's Week

preview full National Veterinary Technicians Week

National Veterinary Technician’s Week takes place the third full week in October, which starts this year on Sunday, October 15 and runs through Saturday, October 21. It’s an opportunity for our veterinarians and support staff, as well as our clients, to let vet techs know just how much we all appreciate them. We would be lost without the hard work and dedication of Lacey, Emily, Missy, Jessica, and Jennifer. 
 
The veterinary technicians at Grantsburg Animal Hospital and Wild River Veterinary Clinic aid in your pet’s care by preparing and giving vaccines, taking your pet’s vital signs, preparing laboratory samples, and much more. However, the most important thing our vet techs offer is comfort and compassion for pets who may feel anxious about the visit.
 
How This Appreciation Event Got Started
National Veterinary Technician’s Week is the brainchild of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians. The organization started the event in 1993. Almost 25 years later, the goals of the campaign remain the same. These include:
 
-Ensuring that pet owners understand the role of veterinary technicians in promoting good health and longevity.
 
-Making sure that veterinarians and other clinic staff understand the immense value of skilled veterinary technicians. That’s something we have always known at our two clinics.
 
-Providing pet parents and clinic staff with the opportunity to recognize outstanding technicians for their compassionate care of animals and the relationships they have developed with clients.
 
No Two Days Are the Same in the Life of a Veterinary Technician
When it comes to caring for animals, having the day not go as planned is more of the rule than the exception. Our technicians must remain flexible to deal with emergencies, procedures that took longer than expected, scared pets that try to run off, and much more. Nevertheless, a typical day in the life of our veterinary technicians might look something like this:
 
A client comes in with his dog for a preventive care exam. Our technician greets him and then brings client and dog back to an exam room. The first thing she does is ask if there have been any health changes since the last appointment. If so, she records that information for the doctor.
 
Lacey, Emily, Missy, Jessica, or Jennifer then weighs the dog, takes her temperature, and records any other important vital signs. The technician briefs the veterinarian on details provided by the client and of her own findings so far. She then assists the doctor with the remainder of the appointment, which typically includes securing and comforting the animal so he can complete the necessary procedures.
 
Educating clients on pet care is another essential role of our veterinary technicians. You will receive information on best practices for pet care at home as well as details on specific procedures your pet may need. Much of the work that our staff does happens when clients don’t see it. Some of these duties include cleaning up potty accidents, preparing pills to fill a new prescription, and cleaning exam rooms. 
 
Feel Free to Express Your Appreciation
It doesn’t have to be National Veterinary Technician’s Week to let our staff know how much you appreciate their efforts. You can say thanks anytime you want. We also want to let you know how much we appreciate our clients and the trust you have placed in us to help care for your beloved pets. 

Photo Credit: Thinkstock / Getty Images

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September is Happy Healthy Cat Month

Healthy Cat Month
 
One of every three households in the United States includes a cat. When you consider their playful, affectionate, and independent natures, it’s easy to see why. Cats have a way of making us laugh with their crazy antics and can dramatically increase our sense of well-being. In return, they depend on their human family for health and happiness. The CATalyst Council sponsors Happy Healthy Cat Month each September to raise awareness of how people can give their cats the best possible life.
 
Tips to Ensure Your Cat’s Health and Happiness
Cats sometimes seem to have a logic all their own. The CATalyst Council came up with these tips to help you understand and provide a comfortable environment for your pet:

Hiding places: Cats need a place to retreat when they feel stress and just enjoy having new places to curl up and take a nap. They also desire privacy at times. Cat furniture with built-in hiding places can help to meet this need. 

Mental stimulation and physical activity: A bored cat can become overweight and depressed, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of money on cat toys. Waving a piece of string in front of your cat or tossing a toy mouse helps get him moving and makes him solve problems as well. It also gives you the chance to interact with your cat and deepen your bond.
 
Scratching opportunities: Your cat isn’t trying to destroy your furniture when she scratches on it. She is simply releasing her natural instinct to scratch. You can protect your furniture by placing several scratching pads around the house and redirecting your cat there when she starts to scratch. If the scratching gets out of hand, try placing soft claws over your cat’s claws to protect your furniture and other items.
 
Nutritious foods: Learn to read pet food labels so you understand whether the product offers quality nutrition or mostly fillers. It’s also important to limit treats and not give your cat food meant for humans.
 
Consider an indoor only policy: Cats who remain indoors avoid fights with other cats, picking up various diseases, and getting hit by a car. Creating an enriching indoor environment will help decrease your cat’s interest in going outside. If you do let your cat outside, make sure you supervise him and keep him contained in a fenced-in area. Since even indoor cats can sneak out, we recommend getting microchip identification for all cats.
Schedule Regular Preventive Care Exams
 
According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, veterinary visits for cats decrease substantially after the first year of life. However, adult cats need regular check-ups just as much as kittens do. Cats between one and seven years old should come in at least once a year and older cats should visit us bi-annually. These appointments are just one more way you can ensure that your cat remains happy and healthy. To schedule an appointment, contact Grantsburg Animal Hospital at 715-463-2536 or Wild River Veterinary Clinic at 320-629-7474. 
 
Photo Credit: Olezzo / Getty Images
 

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It's National Disaster Preparedness Month

National Disaster Preparedness Month
 
The recent images from the Texas and Florida floods and the Montana wildfires are heartbreaking. Streets overflowing with water, burning forests, entire families displaced, and rescued pets sent to shelters in other states are hard for us to grasp so far away. At a time like this, it seems only fitting that the Centers for Disease Control sponsors National Disaster Preparedness Month every September. The organization urges all Americans to pre-plan for natural disasters caused by severe weather, acts of terrorism, and other causes. This requires a bit of extra effort for pet owners.
 
What to Include in an Animal Disaster Kit
While you might view yourself as calm and collected, it’s hard to think of gathering supplies for your pet with a disaster on its way. That’s why the CDC recommends preparing a disaster kit before you need to use it. For pets, it should include the following:
 
  • Your pet’s regular food placed in airtight container
  • Bottled drinking water
  • Bags for waste
  • Extra litterbox and litter for cats
  • Grooming supplies
  • Your pet’s regular medications
  • A carrier for each pet
  • A leash and/or harness
  • Your pet’s favorite pillow, blanket, or other bedding
  • A few toys
  • Your pet’s vaccination records
  • Written care instructions that direct others how to care for your pet if you become separated
Other Disaster Planning Tips to Keep in Mind
If you have put off getting a microchip for your pet, consider how handy it would be in a natural disaster. Your dog or cat could lose his tag and collar easily amidst all the stress and chaos. If he has a microchip, anyone who finds him can take him to the nearest animal shelter or veterinary clinic to scan for your contact information. It’s also important to label the carrier for each pet with his name, your name, and a telephone number.
 
The extreme stress of a natural disaster can cause some pets to run towards danger instead of away from it. Even a normally obedient dog or cat could take off the other direction when you call her. The best way to avoid this is to keep a harness or leash by each exit in your home. This keep your pet with you and under your control.
 
Listing where you would seek shelter in a disaster is also an important part of planning. It makes it easier to evacuate quickly when you know where you’re going. Pet owners should also include the names and addresses of animal shelters where they can bring their pets temporarily if they’re unable to stay together. If the disaster is not so severe that you must leave home, create a safe space for your pet in one area until things get back to normal.

Natural Disasters Are Breeding Grounds for Disease
When disaster strikes, people only think about escaping it. They’re not necessarily considering how quickly disease can spread due to things like stagnant water and exposure to hundreds of other people and animals. 
 
If your pet is behind on vaccines, we urge you to contact Grantsburg Animal Hospital at 715-463-2536 or Wild River Veterinary Clinic at 320-629-7474 to schedule an appointment. It’s also essential for your pet’s well-being to get regular preventive care exams. Both of these make it much more likely your dog or cat won’t become seriously ill in the aftermath of a disaster. 
 
Photo Credit: Jetvic / Getty Images

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Feline Calicivirus: The Human Equivalent of the Common Cold

Feline Calicivirus
 
Feline calicivirus is a highly contagious upper respiratory infection (URI) that unvaccinated cats can easily transmit to one another. If you’re bringing home a new kitten and you already have cats in the house, it’s important to isolate them from each other until the kitten receive a calicivirus vaccination. You may need to keep them apart for as long as one week for each cat’s protection.
 
The symptoms of calicivirus range from mild to severe. Very young kittens and cats with a compromised immune system are more likely to develop severe symptoms. Although calicivirus can be serious in some situations, your cat can’t transfer it to humans.
 
How This URI Spreads
Calicivirus is most common in crowded living conditions such as an animal shelter or boarding facility. For this reason, catteries require all cats to have a calicivirus vaccine. In fact, it’s part of a series of core vaccines for cats due to how easily it spreads. Unsanitary conditions can also create a breeding grounds for the spread of calicivirus. Yet another way this virus spreads is when an infected cat exchanges bodily fluid with a non-infected cat. Typically, this occurs due to contact with eye discharge or sneeze droplets.
 
Common Symptoms of Calicivirus
Nasal discharge, eye discharge, and frequent sneezing are the most obvious signs that your cat is unwell. Other indications of this virus include:
  • Lack of appetite
  • Low energy
  • Squinting
  • Drooling
  • Difficulty chewing food completely
  • Pink eye
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Breathing difficulty, including noisy breathing
This URI can make your cat feel miserable, so be sure to provide prompt treatment. Fortunately, death from feline calicivirus is extremely rare. 
 
How to Help Your Cat Feel Better
Just like the common cold in humans, no cure exists to eliminate calicivirus once the symptoms have started. You can help your cat feel more comfortable by doing the following:
  • Gently wipe discharge from the eyes with a damp towel
  • Minimize stress in the household while your cat recovers
  • Bring your cat into the bathroom and turn on the shower so he can breathe in the hot steam. You should not bring him into the shower, however.
  • Make sure that your cat continues to eat. Cats rely heavily on their sense of smell and may show no interest in eating when nasal discharge prevents them from smelling. You may have to temporarily feed your cat foods with a stronger odor or speak to our veterinarian about prescription cat food.
Be sure to keep your cat indoors while she’s recovering from calicivirus because she can easily spread it to other cats. The good news with calicivirus is that it responds well to supportive care. If your cat doesn’t seem to be recovering at home, contact us for an evaluation. 
 
Moderate to severe cases of this URI may require medications and treatment such as IV fluids or eye drops. As with all illnesses, prevention is the best treatment. If your cat never received a calicivirus vaccine or it has been more than a year since the last one, check with us to see when the next one is due.
 
Photo Credit: zlyka2008 / Getty Images

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