Saturday, September 21, 2019

Is it Mange or What??

Written by Dr. Gloria Ku

Mange is a scary word because it has connotations of disease, infestation, and being contagious!  So naturally, we all sort of recoil from the thought of it being an issue for our pets.  Turns out there are several types of mange.  The one that we can catch is called Sarcoptic Mange and is thankfully less common than Demodectic Mange.

Mange is caused by a mite, and most mites are associated with a specific species and do not cross over (i.e. cats get cat mites, dogs get dog mites, etc.).  Unfortunately Sarcoptic Mange can cross over, and that’s why we can get it too.  But luckily, it is far less common in our practice than Demodectic Mange. 

Demodex mites cause Demodectic Mange.  These mites are microscopic and live deeper in the skin below the surface, so they cannot be seen with the naked eye.  Cats have their own species of this mite, as do people. Most of the time, in cats and people, the mite is harmless and in relatively low numbers.  Dogs also have their own species of this mite (and therefore it is not contagious to people or cats). Most of the time it is also found naturally on your dog, in low numbers.   But sometimes it can lead to hair loss, secondary skin infections, and itchiness, particularly in young dogs with an immature immune system. 

A diagnosis is usually made with a technique called a skin scraping.  A small amount of the surface of the skin is disturbed with a blunt blade, and the material that is lifted is examined under a microscope.  The mite has a distinctive look and is not hard to find if present.

In young dogs, we  often will treat small lesions with a topical ointment, or if it is more widespread, we can use an oral medication like Bravecto or Nexgaurd for a few months to control the infection until the puppy’s own immune system can control the mite population and the secondary skin lesions resolve.  Some breeds seem to be more susceptible in general, such as Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and Shar Pei dogs.   But it is important to realize that any dog can be affected, especially as a puppy.  In some cases, adult dogs may also have symptoms with Demodectic Mange and require treatment.  In these cases we will often look for other underlying causes for immunosuppression in case that is making the dog more susceptible, and try to treat that as well.  In cases where secondary bacterial infection is present, antibiotics may also be required.   

In most cases, the mites can be treated, and although it may take a few months, the skin and coat should return to normal.  At least in this case, the mites are not contagious, and there is no need to recoil from the diagnosis, should your pet be given one of… Demodectic Mange! 


Saturday, August 10, 2019

Meet Our Team: Veterinary Assistants

Our veterinary assistants are helpful all around the hospital!  You may have seen an assistant helping one of our veterinarians in an exam room. When you board at our hospital, our vet assistants are the heart of our boarding facility--they take care of greeting our clients and boarders, taking care of the pets staying with us, and make sure to get pet belongings together for their trip home.  Vet assistants are also a major help for our technicians as they assist in blood draws, communicating with clients about pet care, keeping our technicians safe with great pet handling techniques, and more!  If the assistants aren't helping in our treatment area or boarding, you may also see them helping to answer phones and charge out clients in our front desk area.  Our veterinary assistants are a very friendly and helpful team!

Why do you like being a Veterinary Assistant?

  • I actually LOVE being a Veterinary Assistant.  I love meeting all of the new furry friends that come visit us here at the hospital.  Also, making sure all of the animals are comfortable and taken care of is very important to me and drives me to be the best veterinary assistant I can be.   -Sami
  • Wearing the same uniform each day makes morning routines easy, haha! But seriously, it's been an amazing experience to get to know our clients and patients that I've met these past 14 years.  This position challenges both mentally and physically which makes each day different and interesting.  I've learned a lot about animal behavior, pet health, and many useful techniques.  And of course, it's so much fun to see new puppies and kitties!    -Danielle
  • Being able to help with sick and healthy patients is very rewarding.   -Laura
  • I like being a veterinary assistant because I have always had a passion for animals.  I love seeing different personalities in different breeds and enjoy working with them.   -Maleah
  • I love working with the animals!  My goal is to make their experience enjoyable.  My heart breaks when my patients are anxious or scared.                     -Rhea
  • I get a closer look on what the doctors and technicians do.  I also form relationships with the animals.   -Sophia

What skill did you learn that makes you feel the most proud of?

  • My favorite skill I have learned at Hatton Veterinary Hospital is being able to assist on surgeries.  This is a skill I take a lot of pride in because it is important that I do my very best and pay attention to many different things in order to ensure the safety of our patient.   -Sami
  • I am one of the assistants that takes care of our Facebook page and helps Dr. Ku with our monthly blogs.  I am proud to be a part of our social media presence!   -Danielle
  • Drawing blood and learning how to take care of patients.   -Laura
  • Throughout my time at Hatton Veterinary Hosptial, I have learned a lot about animals and their behavior.  I am able to identify when an animal is in distress and handle the situation accordingly.   -Maleah
  • Skills learned: behavior and obedience training.  I have gone through many years of obedience training for my own dogs (smart, difficult Border Collies and Australian Shepard) and have learned a lot.  Those skills have helped me understand the behavior of dogs and have make my animal handling skills better.  I've also taken many CE (continuing education) classes on animal behavior which I'm able to implement with my job.  Over the past 19 years of working at Hatton Vet and taking CE classes, I have learned many skills to give my kitty patients a positive experience.  I adopted a kitten a few years ago named Banshee.  We named him that because he would scream for attention.  While growing up, we noticed if he did not want to do something, he would get aggressive with us and try to bite and attack us.  We tried multiple traditional behavior training techniques that were not successful.  After many conversations with Dr. Ku, we figured out a way to correct his behavior enough that I can now trim his nails and he stopped attacking us.  He still has a hard time when he has to come in for treatment, but I am able to handle him.  This experience and my years of training has made me a better kitty handler and I am able to educate my patient's parents on behavior training.   -Rhea
  • How to communicate with the animals and help them have a better experience.   -Sophia

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

  • I would love to travel to Dubai because it's known for luxury shopping, ultra modern architecture and a lively night scene.   -Sami
  • Any Disney Parks!  The dream is to go to Disneyland Paris one the meantime, my Husband and I love going to Disneyland or Disney World--our favorite places to have fun, enjoy good food and escape reality; Hakuna Matata!   -Danielle
  • I would love to travel the world!!!  There is so much to see and explore.                         -Laura
  • If I could travel anywhere, I would go to Paris because I have always been amazed with their sights.   -Maleah
  • Hawaii; I've never been and I want to explore and see all of the different animals.   -Rhea
  • Anywhere in the Caribbean because it's the right amount of tropical and warm weather and I love beaches.   -Sophia

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Meet Our Team: Registered Veterinary Technicians

We are thrilled to have such wonderful RVTs on our team!  Most of our technicians have been working at Hatton Veterinary Hospital for over 20 years!  Our techs are an important part of assisting our veterinarians and caring for many of the pets that come in to the hospital.  If your pet has had surgery, a blood test, anal glands expressed, or hospitalization, one of these great gals have most likely been helping with your pet's care.  Our technicians have a lot of heart and take on a lot of challenges each day--we appreciate them!

What wisdom would you like to pass on to veterinary technician students or new vet techs?

  • Be observant, every doctor does things a little different, all surgeons have their particularities.  Have patience.   -Judy
  • Take the time to be patient and listen to clients, sometimes they just need to feel heard.   -Suzanne
  • Vet tech students: When you are in school, flashcards are your friends! There is a lot of memorization and flashcards are the best way to test yourself.  New vet techs:  Get to know your doctors!  Each doctor is different, and the faster you can learn what they like and how they operate, the easier your job will be.  There is a lot of communication, and you have to know what you should ask your doctor in order to provide the best patient care and most up-to-date client information.   -Katie
  • I got into this career to help animals and be their voice.  I try to stay focused and keep that in mind.  This job can be extremely exhausting and heartbreaking, but for every bad day there is, there's twice as many rewarding days.  Always remember, put yourself in your client's shoes, be compassionate without being too empathetic, and always remember: how would I want my pet treated?   -Lisa

What do you say when people tell you, "It must be so cool to be a vet tech"?

  • It is fun, but everyone has to deal with poop, pee, anal glands, vomiting and trying to communicate with owners.   -Judy
  • It has its moments!  Sometimes it can feel very rewarding, but it also has tough moments that are hard to get through.   -Suzanne
  • "It has its moments.  I enjoy working with animals and helping clients."                          -Katie
  • The job of a veterinary technician can be tremendously difficult, but also tremendously rewarding.  You may be surprised that you do need to have people skills since you will be treating the owners as well as their pets.  You need to embrace learning how to do a lot of different types of things, you learn to love new challenges, you are diligent and careful with details--mistakes can be costly.   -Lisa

In your spare time, what do you like to do outside of work?

  • Spend time with family and church/Sunday school activities (local and national levels).   -Judy
  • Watch sports, go to the movies, chill with my cats.   -Suzanne
  • I enjoy reading, gardening, and needlework.  I also will occasionally paint pottery!   -Katie
  • I love spending time with my daughter and husband, we enjoy vacationing together.  I love taking my dogs on their daily walks.   -Lisa

Monday, June 03, 2019

Meet Our Team: Receptionists

These great ladies are ready to welcome you when your pet comes to visit us!  We rely on our friendly receptionists to greet our clients, answer your questions, and help organize the veterinarians' schedules.  When you come in to pick up medications, check in for exams, come by to drop off your pet for boarding, or call with concerns, chances are that you've been helped by one of these lovely girls.  Our receptionists will do their best to help our clients feel heard and understand who hard it is when your pet isn't feeling well.

Why do you like being a Receptionist?

  • I like being a receptionist because I get to interact with all the friendly clients and their pets.  It is very rewarding to help clients get their questions answered and to greet pets at the front desk.   -Lily
  • I love interacting with clients and their fur babies and really enjoy holding conversations with them.   -Corina
  • I like getting to interact with patients first.   -Tasha

What skill did you learn that makes you feel the most proud of?

  • Multi-tasking!   -Lily
  • I am proud of being able to multi-task.  Being in this field, as in with other fields, it's always a great quality to have.   -Corina
  • Learning how to handle nervous animals.   -Tasha

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

  • I would travel to Costa Rica because there are many animals there!   -Lily
  • I am a huge history geek and would love to visit places like Rome and Egypt, just to make a couple.   -Corina
  • I would travel to Ireland, Scotland because it's beautiful.   -Tasha

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

What's So Interesting About My Pet's Poop?!

Written by Dr. Gloria Ku

Do you ever wonder what makes a stool sample so special?  When animals don’t tell us how they feel, it is often very important for care givers to know what their eating habits are, and what their elimination habits and appearances are.  When working with wildlife for example, this could be the only additional information we might have, besides a visual look at our patient. 

Stool color often reflects closely the type of food animals are eating.  Sometimes, stool will turn darker on the outside where it is exposed to air and remain a lighter color on the inside depending on how long it has been exposed.  If there is blood present with a bowel movement, it is helpful to know if the blood is strictly on the surface or blended throughout the sample.  This can tell us more about where the blood may be coming from along the GI tract.  Very black stool throughout the sample can be associated with blood loss in the stomach which will look black by the time it passes.   Blood loss from the colon tends to be a brighter red and often associated with mucus on the surface of the bowel movement.  

Stool consistency has more to do with how an animal is absorbing moisture from its stool and can give us information about how well its GI tract is working to absorb both fluid and nutrients.  Very soft pudding like stool may be the result of poor absorption of fluid and nutrients from the small intestine, whereas watery stool can reflect rapid transit time associated with more acute conditions, such as when they have eaten something that is spoiled or their body is rejecting.  Hard dry stool may indicate dehydration and constipation.  

Mucus surrounding a bowel movement can often reflect issues associated with colitis, or inflammation in the colon.  This could be stress related and only associated with excitement or anxiety.  When it persists, it could represent inflammation due to food intolerance, allergy, or colonic problems.

All of this information helps us to determine a lot about our pet’s GI tract that may be hard to glean from other tests or physical exams alone.   The gastrointestinal tract has its own separate “plumbing.”

And lastly, although by no means the least important, we can test a stool sample for parasites.  Intestinal parasites can be most frequently acquired from fecal oral contamination, which is exactly what it sounds like.  Parasites can also be contracted from eating prey or undercooked meat, or in some cases from contaminated water sources including rain and irrigation run-off.   Because our pets don’t use a sanitation sewer system, this puts our pets at more risk than most people.  This also puts pet owners at sightly higher risk of acquiring a parasite from their furry friend. 

So please, pick up after your pet, dispose of waste appropriately, and wash your hands before eating!  😉

Monday, April 01, 2019

Easter Blog 2019

Written by Vet Assistant, Danielle & Dr. Gloria Ku

Rover is lying down on his favorite blanket, watching his family enjoy the sunshine outside.  The children are running around, finding colorful ballsRover knows he will get in trouble if he tries to take one of the balls but he doesnt know what is so special about them.  Time passes and suddenly, the hustle and bustle of the day is quieter.  Rover comes across a basket that was forgotten inside the housecandy wrappers and jelly beans hide beneath the plastic green stuff.  With no one watching him, Rover dives into the basket, happily finally getting the chance to have his own colorful ball all to himself!

Its a wonderful time to have family and friends over to celebrate Easter.  Whether its going to a church event or having fun at your neighborhood park, most Easter celebrations might include an egg hunt, baskets of goodies, and chocolate treats.

One helpful command for dogs to learn is the leave itcommand.  Often times, our pets get into trouble when we are not looking, but there are times when we see them perform an act unwanted.  Such as picking up a plastic egg with chocolate in it and trying to eat it.

There are many techniques that can help with training the leave itcommand.  Here are links for 2 styles of training:

We asked Dr. Gloria Ku to answer these following questions:

Pets eating the grassin Easter baskets: Why would it be bad for them to eat the plastic?  Do you recommend using the paper grass instead?

"Paper grass is preferable to plastic mainly because plastic doesn’t breakdown and can more easily cause an obstruction or possible string entanglement of bowel.  With paper, be mindful of dyes used to color the material as well, but it is best if your pet does not consume any of it!"

We know that dogs can swallow tennis balls...can a dog safely digest an egg if they eat it whole?

"Haha, a dog may be able to swallow a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean they can pass them!  Depending on the size of the dog, he or she may be able to digest a hard boiled egg, but if the shell is particularly firm and has not been broken, they may not be able to break it down, especially if they are able to swallow it whole!

Photo Credit: Lisa, RVT (Hooper & Rubicon)
And of course, chocolate eggs can be toxic depending on the size of your dog as well as how much actual cocoa is present.  The sugar and fat associated with a lot of chocolate treats are also prone to causing gastroenteritis, otherwise known as vomiting and diarrhea.  Be aware that your dog’s nose is very good and sniffing out hidden eggs that children and adults may have overlooked.  Please keep track of where and the number of treats hidden so that your four legged friend doesn’t find them later…

With the necessary precautions in place, Happy egg hunting!!"

And just a friendly reminder, if youre thinking of buying a bunny for Easter, please consider adopting—not shopping.  Each year, many bunnies are sent to the shelters after the holiday because pet owners arent aware of how much care little bunnies will need or children get tired of taking care of a bunny and the responsibility fall back onto the parents.  Just like cats and dogs, all creatures we take in as pets need specific care and attention.  

To find out what kind of responsibility is needed for rabbit care, click this link:

Monday, March 18, 2019

What Should I Feed My Dog?

Written by Dr. Gloria Ku, DVM

This is not a simple question, but one we often get, and struggle with just as our clients do.  As veterinarians, we should know more than the average person about how to feed your new puppy, or your mature dog, but that also makes it difficult because there is a lot of information to process in this question!

While ingredient lists are often the first place a consumer will look to assess a diet, it is not the last place one should look.  Ingredient lists can be misleading when we try to oversimplify what they are telling us.  Here is a “glossary” of terms used in the pet food industry:

There are several factors that must go in to deciding which diet is best to feed.  And the choices are plentiful.  Like us, the same diet is rarely the best diet for ALL dogs, but at the same time, there are guidelines that will help you figure out where to start, and it is highly possible that your dog will do well on a diet that the majority of dogs will do well on, statistically speaking.

Factors that I consider critical to the decision are nutritional support [e.g. does the diet meet minimum standards for nutrition established by AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials)] which is an association of local, state and federal agencies that regulate animal feed sales and content.  It is a minimum standard that all diets should satisfy and ”AAFCO Approved” should be part of the label somewhere.  In the past, when generic dog food was first introduced on the market, these standards were not met and deficiencies surfaced causing serious health problems.  This should be the minimum you should ask of your diet.

Beyond the minimum nutritional value, the considerations become more subjective, assuming your pet does not have a specific medical condition dictating a “low fat” or "limited ingredient” diet for example.  For most of us, we are looking for a diet that is humanely produced, has some evidence based research that it will keep our dogs healthy, help them to have normal stools and a nice healthy coat, keep their teeth and bones strong and healthy, one that they will enjoy eating, and we will find convenient to buy and feed, at a reasonable price.  No small order! 

For some it is also important to avoid a lot of additives and preservatives, but there are trade offs to having commercially produced foods without adequate preservation.  With this comes a higher risk of spoilage which can drive up expense associated with how it is handled in manufacturing and delivery, storage, etc.  Raw diets in particular have the added risk of bacterial contamination that can be harmful not only for your dog, but for sensitive family members as well. 

A lot of diets now include supplements like glucosamine for joint health, or increased protein which we often associate as higher quality calories, or “natural” sourced ingredients, or more omega 3’s.  Many of these sound beneficial, and I won’t say they aren’t, but sometimes the marketing is more powerful than the evidence.  In the case of glucosamine, for instance, there is typically not sufficient concentrations to be helpful. Evidence based efficacy, such as actual feeding trials for dogs to prove any benefit, may be lacking altogether.  Often the value of an ingredient is inferred because people have heard that it could be helpful for themselves,  or there was one study that showed possible benefit in another species (like mice or humans) but not dogs.  One has to be a little cautious of this type of data.  “Grain free” is another popular marketing label that has recently been shown to potentially lead to heart disease in some dogs. 

Often larger, more established companies have the advantage of having the resources to do feeding trials and nutrition research. They utilize sophisticated scientific analysis as well as expertise from PhD nutritionists, food science experts, microbiologists and animal science research to help formulate diets that are designed to be nutritionally appropriate, palatable to most animals who are fed it, and convenient for consumers to use.   While there are a host of smaller, boutique companies that also make pet food, many of them do not have the resources to perform feeding trials over many years, or have laboratories that can help with quality control and nutritional analysis.  They will often rely on research performed by or funded by other companies in order to meet the AAFCO minimum standards and have a starting place from which to make other adjustments.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, but just important to recognize. 
Finally there are many who feed home cooked meals to their pets.  While this may feel healthier to some than feeding processed kibble, it is not easy to meet all requirements in today’s world from grocery store ingredients.  UC Davis has a wonderful nutrition department that will help you formulate a balanced diet for your pet, but recipes can be expensive (on the order of $225/recipe) to have formulated.  Beyond that, it is difficult to create a balanced diet, despite the fact that there are published recipes online… As we all know, putting it out there is easy.  Taking responsibility for your pet’s well being is not as easy.

So, at the end of the day, what should you feed your dog??  There is no one answer!  How food is sourced in todays society will definitely affect your choice.  I try to look for a middle ground.  I like the convenience of feeding kibble and I think my dog’s stool is more formed and consistent on kibble.  I like that a trusted company has done feeding trials and has some scientific based evidence that I will be meeting her nutritional needs as a canine. But I confess,  I also prepare organic bone broth and sometimes add a little extra organically humanely raised meat  topper to her prepared food to increase her appetite, and complement her prepared diet.  When I cook for her I add a little black pepper to aid with digestion, celery to help her appetite, turmeric for her arthritis, and lots of love.  All in small amounts., except for the love of course.  I don’t worry about whether the bag says chicken meal or pork by products because as the glossary explains, that just means there is liver and intestines and not just “meat” which is actually more nutritious.  As one nutritionist pointed out, in many countries these are actually what humans also value and consume.  While  theoretically it could include feathers or other “by-products”, these aren’t intended ingredients because there isn’t nutritional value in them, and if you read the glossary, they are intentionally and mandated to be excluded.  If bone meal is her source of calcium that is no worse nor better than ground calcium carbonate from sea shells to me.  If there are preservatives to help her kibble remain fresh and prevent spoilage, I accept that as I often do in my own diet in order to avoid gastrointestinal upset.  Do I want her to live forever, you bet!!

I do encourage you to look at what you are feeding, read the labels and understand their limitations as well, evaluate your dog’s response to your choice and if necessary, change and re-evaluate again.  But do so gradually, with consideration, and with the help of your veterinarian.  We may not know everything, but we have studied this issue at length, and will try to bring perspective and guidance to our answers.  Because we want your dog to live forever too!  :)