Friday, November 09, 2018

Emergency Kit Ideas for Your Family & Pets

Is your family ready for emergencies or evacuations?  If you have to leave your home in a hurry, do you know what to grab at the last minute?  Everywhere around the world, many people have had to make these decisions when Mother Nature threatens their family and pets.  You never know when an emergency will happen.  However, if it’s possible to take preparations beforehand, here are some helpful lists of things to consider for your families’ (human & pets) emergency kit(s).

The AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) recommends you pack:

Basic electronics
Pack an extra phone charger in case you’re fortunate enough to have electricity, and a portable battery pack in case you’re not. Also stash a long-lasting LED flashlight. Pack a small hand-cranked or battery-operated AM/FM radio (with extra batteries).
Personal needs
While getting ready for a typical day, list every toiletry you use, then buy a travel-size version of each. Pack backup eyeglasses, as well as a first-aid kit, baby wipes and a multipurpose tool with a knife and can opener.
Pack a few days’ worth. Include layers you can add or remove, plus lightweight rain gear and waterproof boots.
Your meds
Pack about three days’ worth of each of your prescriptions, which should last until you can get to a pharmacy that’s open. If you need larger items, such as an oxygen tank, make sure you have a portable version.
The perfect bag
Think small and portable. A backpack is ideal, but a lightweight suitcase with wheels will also do. Just remember, you may literally be running with it.
Fill a zip-top waterproof bag with photocopies of your birth certificate; driver’s license; Social Security and Medicare cards; power of attorney and will; any marriage, adoption or naturalization certificates; proof of address; insurance, medical and immunization records; and information about your credit and ATM cards.
Food and drink
Bottled water is essential. Granola or energy bars are great because they are small and filling, and they come in a variety of flavors.
In addition to enough money for a few days, include small bills and a roll of quarters. If you need to buy something out of a vending machine, you don’t want to start asking equally desperate strangers for change.

Reviewing the CDC website (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), they have this list posted on their website for pet disaster kits:
·         Photocopied veterinary records
o    Rabies certificate
o    Vaccinations
o    Medical summary
o    Prescriptions for medications
o    Most recent heartworm test result (dogs)
o    Most recent FeLV/FIV test result (cats)

·         Photocopied registration information (ex: proof of ownership or adoption records)
·         Pet description(s) (ex: breed, sex, color, weight)
·         Recent photographs of each of your pets
·         Waterproof container for documents
·         Microchip information (ex: microchip number, name and number of the microchip company)
·         Your contact information (phone numbers and addresses for your family and friends or relatives you may be staying with)
Water, Food, Medications
·         2-week supply of food for each animal stored in waterproof containers
·         2-week supply of water for each animal
·         Non-spill food and water dishes
·         Manual can opener
·         Feeding instructions for each animal
·         2-week supply of any medications (if applicable)
·         Medication instructions (if applicable)
·         1-month supply of flea, tick, and heartworm preventative
Other Supplies
·         Leash, collar with ID, and harness
·         Litter and litter box (cats)
·         Toys
·         Appropriate-sized pet carrier with bedding, blanket, or towel
·         Pet first aid book and first aid kit
·         Cleaning supplies for accidents (paper towels, plastic bags, disinfectant)

 Visit their link:
for helpful checklists & boarding information documents.



Question:  Dr. Ku, what kind of advice can you give to pet owners about stressful situations such as emergencies and how to help calm the pet?

Answer:  "Staying calm yourself is the best way to help your pet, and yourself.  Remember to breath!  If you have anxiety medication for your pet for thunderstorms or fireworks, these may be helpful for emergency situations and can be given to them for initial transitions especially.  If not, the most important thing you can do is project calm and stability to your pet and trying to avoid as many transitions as possible depending on the situation.  If you have a crate for your pet, put them in it sooner rather than later, and leave them in the car while you pack up your other belongings.  Be sure they have water if it is hot, and clean air to breath (especially in a fire situation) wherever you leave them, and that they will not overheat while unattended.  Just like with young children, our pets take their lead from us.  As their providers, we can help them through any situation best by being level headed and prepared.  And taking few seconds to take a few deep belly breaths will do wonders to calm any situation down.  😉" -Dr. Gloria Ku

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

What's So Important About Doing Labwork?

Written by Dr. Gloria Ku
Sometimes it feels like we are always being asked to do a blood test or have a urine test and if you have ever had these tests done for your pet, you know that labwork can be expensive.  When our pet is ill, we understand the need to look for abnormalities and markers to help us guide our treatment and assess the severity of the problem.  But when our pet is healthy or feeling fine, is it really necessary?

From a veterinarian’s point of view, the more information we can gather about your pet, the more we understand and can accurately assess their overall health.  Unlike people, your pet will usually only tell you when something bothers them enough not to eat, to cause them to vomit, or urinate on your dining room floor, or limp..

But problems can start before symptoms are obvious. And if detected earlier, very often we can do more to alleviate the problem.  On top of that, our pets age much faster than we do.  By age 3, my young puppy is already equivalent to a 21 year old, and by age 5 she is middle aged at what is equivalent to 35.  By 8 years of age she is equivalent to 56, and by 10 she is 70.

Between the ages of 35-70, people have likely had multiple opportunities to have bloodwork and urine tests done by our physicians to help us evaluate our health.  Ideally, we would like to have a little data to compare back to by the time your pet reaches 10 as well.

What we are looking for are signs of organ disease (e.g. kidney, liver, pancreas, etc.), infections or conditions that may be low grade and undetected because our pet doesn’t exhibit outward symptoms (e.g. urinary tract infections, blood born parasites, bladder stones, etc.) and imbalances that may be developing (electrolyte or mineral imbalances, hormonal imbalances, etc.).  Sometimes we also need to be sure they are healthy enough for anesthesia for routine dental work or to have a growth removed, for instance. 

If you aren’t sure if it is necessary, it is always best to ask how important it is and why.  That is really the only way to know what the risks of not testing are, if any, and whether the benefits are worth the cost.  Each situation is unique and we are happy to help you make the best decisions you can regarding your pet’s care. 

Saturday, September 01, 2018

What Should I Feed My New Cat?

Written by Dr. Gloria Ku

Over the years, feline dietary recommendations have certainly evolved, and we can expect that to continue.  Although that makes recommendations more difficult to follow, it is the result of continued experience and research.  We now have more data to understand how cats metabolize foods, and what medical conditions can be more readily affected by diet. 

We have always known that cats are more strictly carnivorous as a species, compared to dogs or humans.  There are some essential amino acids that they require from their diet (such as taurine, carnitine and arginine), that they cannot synthesize on their own.  They also differ in their metabolism and utilization of glucose such that they need about twice as much protein than do dogs or humans to meet their energy needs.  Since these metabolic pathways are already in play, extra carbohydrates or sugars are not necessarily utilized in lieu of protein for energy as in other species.  Excess carbohydrates generally will lead to obesity, and sometimes liver or gall bladder disease, pancreatitis and diabetes. 

A few other differences in their metabolism make our human feeding patterns create a slight mismatch in their metabolism.  Domestic cats, while no longer wild, have been domesticated from ancestors who fed on about 8 small prey meals/day.  It takes about 10-15 attempts to catch each prey, so a large part of food consumption centered around the catch as well.  Wild cats are also not as socially interactive around mealtime, whereas people are more likely to want to interact during meals.  Our schedules also lead us to prefer to feed our cats twice a day.  In an effort to meet the demands of a cat looking for 8 small meals, we leave them food all day, which allows them to eat more than they need, without the effort required to capture prey.  And if they want to interact and play (or “hunt”) we mistakenly interpret that as “feed me” and do that instead. 

It is not hard to see why so many domestic cats are overweight.  Commercial foods are relatively easy to feed, but many of our dry diets are not as high in protein as cats need.  In order to create a “dry” food, more carbohydrate needs to be added to keep it “dry” and crunchy.  While this may make feeding more convenient and sometimes help with lowering plaque and tartar accumulation, it deviates from what nature has provided in the past.

We can break down the components of food scientifically.  We can test feed animals to establish minimum nutrient standards for vitamins, minerals, protein, etc. But when a client asks me what to feed their cat, they aren’t asking “what is the minimum I can feed to keep my cat healthy?”  What they really want to know is “what should I feed to keep my cat as healthy as possible for as long as possible?” 

The answer is as variable as when a person asks their doctor “what is the best diet for me?”  The truth is there is no perfect answer.  In general, veterinarians think we have been feeding cats below the optimum protein level for their species, and many diet companies are starting to respond to that.  Many veterinarians are suggesting canned food to compensate for this problem as canned food in general has a higher percentage of protein vs. carbohydrate than dry.  With the exception of kidney disease (which is certainly a concern for many cats as they age), most cats will benefit from a relatively high protein diet.  I would suggest looking for dry food with at least 30-40% protein for most healthy cats, and/or feeding primarily canned food as canned formulations in general will meet this goal.  (The protein percentage listed is somewhat confusing in canned vs. dry food because of the amount of weight associated with water in canned food). 

An average rodent meal is about 30-35 kcal, and the average 10-11 lb. cat needs about 240 kcal/day.  This amounts to about 8 small rodent sized meals, or approximately 10 kibble/meal or about 1/6th of a can/meal, on average.  For individual animals, their activity level can cause that amount to vary.  For example, if your cat sleeps all day, they may actually need less food to maintain their ideal weight. 

While commercial diets may have limitations, the advantages may still outweigh the disadvantages.  Nutritionists are still trying to work out the best balances.  Ingredients can vary based on source and processing.  But the minimum standards are assessed in most commercial diets, and met if they are “AAFCO” approved.  This is important because without meeting even the minimum standards, health issues are more likely to occur.  Home cooked diets or diets formulated by companies that do not get their products evaluated for minimum standards can be deficient and lead to health concerns sooner. 

There are many diets available to choose from and looking at labels can be helpful.  If your pet has a specific health condition, I suggest you consult with your veterinarian.  Hopefully these guidelines will help you in deciding what and how much to feed your new cat!

Meanwhile, here are a few links to examples of feeding/activity toys that may be fun and healthy for your new cat:

For some of you who want more information, the following is a lengthy detailed chart of protein and carbohydrate nutritional composition of a large variety of canned cat foods, put together by a very dedicated feline practitioner, Dr. Lisa Pierson.  While her opinions on feeding may not fit exactly with your own, or your veterinarian’s, philosophy, I include it here for informational purposes as the nutritional content information can be very helpful for individuals who are watching these factors closely.

If you are interested in more information about specific nutritional questions or home cooked recipe formulations, I would suggest the UC Davis VMTH Nutrition Department as a good resource for you through your veterinarian.  They can tailor a diet to your pet’s specific health needs and modify it as time and conditions change through their life. 

Choice and variety are so prevalent down the cat food aisle.  This can be both a blessing and a hardship for us all!  Feel free to consult with your veterinarian further as often opening this door leads to more questions, not less.  But that’s what leads to better information and more appropriate new questions.  Thanks for continuing the journey to happier and healthier kitties! 

Monday, August 20, 2018

Happy 25th Anniversary, Hatton Veterinary Hospital!

In late August of 1993, Dr. Peter Hatton opened the doors to Hatton Veterinary Hospital.

Old sign in front of hospital
Prior to Dr. Hatton building and opening Hatton Veterinary Hospital, he worked at and co-owned Greenhaven Veterinary Hospital in the Greenhaven/Pocket area.  Some of our current staff, Dr. Laura Takata, Dr. Gloria Ku, and RVT (Registered Veterinary Technician) Judy, had also worked at Greenhaven Vet for many years before coming over to Hatton Vet.

When Dr. Hatton first opened his practice here in Elk Grove, some of our current staff, RVT Suzanne, RVT Lisa, and Vet Tech Assistant Rhea, were among the few who were working in the early years.

We asked them to elaborate on their years here at Hatton Veterinary Hospital.  In 25 years, there are a lot of memories amongst our staff…

DR. LAURA TAKATA: Veterinarian

When did you start working with or met Dr. Hatton?
 I started working with Dr. Hatton (and Dr. Sahara)  in 1985 at Greenhaven Veterinary Hospital when I did a preceptorship before my senior year of Veterinary School. They were kind enough to give me the opportunity to work with a great team, and  they hired me upon graduation in 1986.

When did you start working at Hatton Veterinary Hospital?
I started working at Hatton Veterinary Hospital in 1994, a year after it opened.

What inspired you to work with animals? 
When I was in middle school, I knew I wanted to work in a medical/science field. While I was in high school, I began to explore the possibilities and found that I really loved working with animals. For many years  I put in my hours cleaning kennels, walking dogs, working at the zoo, fish and game and wildlife care . As I  gained the confidence that I might be able to go to Veterinary school someday, I really began to focus on that goal.  I  wanted to be able to know as much as I could about the diseases affecting our pets, and wanted to be able to provide the best care to them. I feel a deep connection to animals and to their humans.

What is your favorite story or most memorable moment since working at Hatton?
 I honestly can’t pinpoint a single most memorable moment. There have been so many special pets and moments. I feel very lucky to have such great clients and pets to work with . Every special thank you from them means so much.  We have a beautiful cat quilt on the wall which was made by a very special client who passed away.  Her husband felt she would want us to have it, so we have displayed it ever since, sharing her talents and love  with all who come to visit us.  Our dedicated clients are the reason we are here!

DR. GLORIA KU: Veterinarian

When did you start working with or met Dr. Hatton?
In 1989, I worked with Dr. Hatton while doing my summer internship at Greenhaven Vet Hospital during my senior year in veterinary school.

When did you start working at Hatton Veterinary Hospital?
June 2003

What inspired you to work with animals?
The challenge of working with animals inspired me.  It is not only the science of medicine and disease, but also learning to communicate with different species that don't speak English.  Our pets are so trusting that I wanted to be able to help them and families have optimum experiences together.

What is your favorite story or most memorable moment since working at Hatton?
Most of our pets have originated from work situations, but one stands out especially today, because she is still with me now.  I first met “Flora” when our staff caught her running around the hospital and the field across the street on Labor Day 2005.  She was very friendly and quite happy to be “found.”  She had a microchip but it wasn’t registered and had been placed by Sacramento City Animal Control, so we took her there on the next business day where she was held for 4 days in hopes of her owner finding her there.  No one called.  On her last day before she would have been put down, as the shelter was particularly full that week, I called to check on her.  When I heard that she wasn’t reclaimed, I convinced my husband to come take a look at her and see what he thought.  She had been so friendly when I first met her and her colors matched one of our dogs (black and tan).  We certainly didn’t need another dog because we still had two young large dogs at home, but we had recently said good bye to two of our older pets and we felt like we could handle it.   When we got to the shelter, the dogs had been kept 4 or 5 to a pen because they were so crowded.  He pointed to each dog in the pen asking if that was the one, before I meekly confessed it was the last one, hiding in the back.  But when we brought her out, she lit up again as I had seen her at Hatton’s 4 days earlier.  Now she is probably about 15 years old and enjoying her senior years as an only child.  Kids have left, dogs and cats have “left”, and for the first time, she is “Queen Bee” at our house.  She earned it!  Thanks for finding us at Hatton’s, Flora!! 😊

JUDY: Registered Veterinary Technician

When did you start working with or met Dr. Hatton?
I started working with Dr. Hatton in 1976 at Greenhaven Veterinary Hospital.  I watched Dr. Sahara and Dr. Hatton build the Greenhaven Veterinary Hospital and when Dr. Hatton built Hatton Veterinary Hospital, I came to Elk Grove to work at his practice.

When did you start working at Hatton Veterinary Hospital?
October 1993

What inspired you to work with animals?
I wanted to work with and help care for small pets.

What is your favorite story or most memorable moment since working at Hatton?
I like working with our clients and patients, especially with reconditioning.  A Chihuahua named Lola came in weekly for us to get her desensitized with being here. We were not able to touch her at all.  We used a lot of peanut butter as a treat for her.  With our help, we are now able to pick her up with some “complaints.”

SUZANNE: Registered Veterinary Technician

When did you start working with or met Dr. Hatton?
September 1993 (about 2 weeks after the practice first opened).

What inspired you to work with animals?
I have always had a love for animals and wanted to help them.

What is your favorite story or most memorable moment since working at Hatton?
Evacuating animals by rowboat during the flood of 1996 and Lisa’s car floating around in the parking lot!

LISA: Registered Veterinary Technician

When did you start working with or met Dr. Hatton?
In October 1994, I started out as an ROP (Regional Occupational Program) student.  On my 2nd day, Dr. Hatton offered me an employee position.

What inspired you to work with animals?
To be honest, cats inspired me to work in the veterinary field but I have always known that I wanted to work with animals.  I grew up with a love of animals as my home was always filled with pets.  I have always been passionate about science.  I have always known that I would love and enjoy helping animals in need to love, aid care and support.

What is your favorite story or most memorable moment since working at Hatton?
In 2005, a mama cat with her newborn litter arrived at our hospital.  Someone in the past had borrowed on of our extra carriers here, put the mama cat and her kittens in the carrier, and then slipped the carrier into someone’s car at the nearby gas station!  When the owner of the vehicle saw the carrier in their car, they saw that our “Please return to Hatton Veterinary Hospital” label was on the carrier and brought it to us.  Mama cat was a great tortoiseshell cat.  She had 6 kittens that we took in and we instantly fell in love with mama and her babies.  3 of the kittens went to Hatton Vet employees.  I have the black and white domestic short-haired named Danica.  She is 13 years old now.  The last 3 kittens were adopted out to a few clients.

RHEA: Veterinary Technician Assistant

When did you start working with or met Dr. Hatton?
I started volunteering at Hatton Vet in my senior year of High School, through the ROP program.  Dr. Takata interviewed me and offered me a volunteer position.  I met Dr. Hatton after starting my volunteer position.

When did you start working at Hatton Veterinary Hospital?
September of 1999 as a volunteer and then in October 1999 as a part-time employee.

What inspired you to work with animals?
My Grandma had a farm for most of my childhood so I grew up having many types of animals around me.  She and I would buy fertilized chicken eggs then incubate them and raise them.  My Grandma raised pigs, sheep, chickens, a horse, cockatiels, love birds, an ostrich, cats and dogs.  I gained a lot of animal experience and bonded with them.  I think the love and bond I formed with animals for many years made me want to be a Veterinarian.  I can remember being in the 2nd or 3rd grade and my teacher asking everyone what they wanted to be. I always replied, “A Veterinarian.”  I’ve always wanted to work with animals.

What is your favorite story or most memorable moment since working at Hatton?
Being here for over 18 years, it’s hard to narrow down a single story with all these memories.  We had this chinchilla that came in with a broken hind leg.  Dr. Ku and I were able to bandage the leg, and fitted him with a homemade cone on his head.  Yes, a cone can be used on all types of animals.  We saw him multiple times for rechecks and he was healing as planned, except for his decreased appetite.  Since I have chinchillas, I gave the owners some advice on what my “Chicka Girls” liked.  He began to eat better and was thriving!  Right before he had his bandage taken off, he broke the same leg again, but in a different spot.  This was a bad spot to break as it could not be healed with a splint and bandage.  This now required surgery with a specialist.  The family decided to do surgery and amputate his leg.  He made a full recovery and was a happy 3 legged chinchilla!  It was a great, fulfilling experience to help him through his healing process.
(To read the blog about this Chinchilla’s broken leg, click here: )
I like learning how to work with each patient and learning about their quirks.  I don’t want their experience to be traumatic so I work hard to gain their trust and make them as comfortable as possible in order to accomplish the treatments needed to help our patients.  We get to know families and their pets, especially if we have seen them ever since they were a “baby”.  Unfortunately, it is hard for us to see beloved pets get older or sick and even harder to help them through their last days and then saying goodbye.

Pictures of Dr. Hatton building Hatton Veterinary Hospital.
(Click on picture to see larger image.)


Hatton Staff Boat Outing & Picnic 1995

Staff & Family Holiday Party 2002
Staff & Family Holiday Party 2006

Monday, July 02, 2018

Meet Gracie the Russian Tortoise

Gracie lives with one of our technicians, Lisa, and her family.  This little tortoise came into Lisa’s family in July of 2002.  RVT Lisa explains, “she was found in my best friend’s backyard.  We scanned her for a microchip (yes, tortoises can have chips) and placed found signs all over the neighborhood.  No one claimed her so we adopted her.”

According to PetMD, “Born at about an inch in length, these tortoises may reach 8-10 inches-long when they are mature, with females being slightly larger than males.
The Russian Tortoise’s carapace (top part of the shell) ranges from a tan to yellow to olive color, with brown to black markings. The plastron (bottom shell) is either solid black or has blotches of brown or black. Their tail tip is hard and bony and longer in males, and their skin is tan to yellow colored. One unique feature that makes Russian Tortoises stand out from other tortoises is the presence of four claws on each foot – hence, their other known name, the “four-toed tortoise.”

We asked Lisa a few questions about Gracie:

Do you have a funny or interesting story about Gracie?

When I first brought her home, I brought her to work to get checked over.  I put her in a bath tub full of water because that’s what I thought you did for turtles.  Well, she’s not a turtle, she’s a tortoise—they can swim and she did but they prefer to live on land.  Needless to say, I should have noticed that she did not have webbed feet—that would have been my clue that she was a land tortoise. At the time, I did not know much about turtles or tortoises. 

What did you learn about Russian Tortoises that you didn’t know before?

Hibernation is an amazing thing!  Every year, it amazes me that Gracie digs herself a hole in her outdoor pen about 1 foot deep, then starts hibernating in November and usually wakes up in February.

Do you have any additional information or stories you’d like to share?

§  In 2018, we have had Gracie for 16 years; their lifespan is 40 years.

§  She is a very easy companion.  She enjoys her head rubbed.  When you do this, she extends out her neck and you can tell she loves it!

§  Turtles and tortoises can transmit salmonella so you need to make sure you wash your hands after handling.

§  We built her a pen in our backyard and that’s where she lives.  Her backyard habitat is a pen made out of chicken wire buried a foot into the ground so that she cannot dig out and we have a cover over it so that she is safe from predators like raccoons.

§  Gracie is a vegetarian.  Her favorite foods are organic mixed greens, green beans, mixed corn/peas/carrots, Fuji apples, and strawberries.  When she eats strawberries, they stain her lips and it looks like she is wearing lipstick J

Thank you Lisa for sharing Gracie's story with us!