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            The Rest of the Tail - Fall 2017

Lake Chatuge Animal Hospital         ‚Äč                   www.lakechatugeanimalhospital.com

Tri-County Animal Clinic                                 www.tri-countyanimalclinic.com  


Were you there for the 6th Annual Pet Celebration at Historic Hayesville Square on Saturday,       September 23rd?   If not, you missed a fun time with Drs. Hilty Burr , Jim McClearen and Lynn      Stevenson and  staff from Lake Chatuge Animal Hospital and Tri-County Animal Clinic.  The event was also again sponsored by Pam Roman and Clay County Chamber of Commerce

It was a full day packed with activities and demonstrations emceed by DJ Dan and Dr Burr.  We saw this year’s Obedience Class led by Linda Vanderlaan graduate 20 participants, showing how well they behaved and what they learned in 8 weeks.  Mitzi Shepherd led the rally obedience class with          participating pairs vying for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and honorable mention positions. There were several medical service dogs and their owners that included Maria McLeod and Grady (Seeing Eye Dog), Bill Buck and Elsie (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), Pat Werdin and Reddy (locomotion and balance), and Kate    Martin and Ozzy (autism) who explained and demonstrated the valuable and necessary services these remarkable pets provide for them.   Ed Abel of PAWS Pet Training provided tips and advice that    included canine fear aggression anxiety.   There was also a two-hour live feed reenactment of Ask the Vet radio show on 102.7FM hosted by Kenny G and Drs Burr and McClearen that featured many guests and live demonstrations that included Joan Crothers of Operation PUP, Kirsty Waller of Valley River Humane Society, Bill Buck of Paws4awarrier, Judy Balter of Affordable Pet Care out of Atlanta, Dr. Brian Roberts (Medical Director) of Mountain Emergency Animal Center in Blue Ridge who provided pet CPR demonstration,  Lynna Shepherd who presented dog bite prevention techniques, Steve Clark of Cupid Falls Farm who explained his Great Pyrenees small ruminant protecting working dogs, and Mr. Abel’s fascinating career in animal behavior. Sherriff Vic Davis, and deputies Heath Woodard /K9 Phantom & Chris Harper / K9Sara of Clay County Sherriff’s department demonstrated their drug   detection capabilities.  Father George Choyce of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church provided A Blessings of the Pets. Participating rescue/humane society groups that benefited set up creative booths and provided homeless pets available for adoption.   The silent auction tables were FULL of wonderful items and many high-priced  items drew the crowd’s attention in a live “Dutch” auction.  And, of course, there was reduced cost pet vaccinations, music, pet parade/costume contest, pet talent show, pet product artisans/vendors, and the much-loved Wiener Dog Race.

We express our sincere thanks to over 70 businesses and individuals who provided donations, the    overflow of people and their pets that were in attendance for making the Pet Celebration possible that celebrated the human / pet bond and the pure joy the bond provides, and that raised significant funds for our area rescue/humane society groups.

                                                                  Pictures at Pet Celebration by Gina Gomez Photography 

       All in a Day’s Work at a Veterinary Hospital

What’s it like to work at a veterinary hospital?  It’s great….you get to sit around all day, cuddling      puppies and kittens!  REALLY?  No, not really.  Working here at LCAH is hard work and long hours.  But it comes with a satisfaction that you are making a difference in the lives of pets and their owners.

Let me give you a “bird’s eye view” of what each position involves.  In general, staff members arrive at or before 7:15 a.m. and usually do not leave before 6:30 p.m. – sometimes later.  That is a very long day.  Sometimes, you work a half day, coming in later after lunch or leaving early.  Rotation schedules include Vet  Assistants on call weekends, Kennel Staff  caring for pets on Saturdays/Sundays and Receptionists working half-day Saturdays.

Kennel Assistant:  Take dogs out at least twice per day for a walk and to relieve themselves, poop pick-up, clean kennels, apply fresh bedding, feed boarders, empty litter boxes, update records daily for boarders,  record special instructions for feeding and medications, general clean-up of laundry and dishes, baths, toe nail trims, anal sacs expression, basic grooming, help vet assistants, and more…

Vet Assistant:  They are the doctors’ right hand, keeping track of appointments and what has been or needs to be done for each pet, record information in the patient’s computer chart, general assistance,  draw blood, get poop/urine samples, clip nails, express anal sacs, take temps, surgery prep and  set-up, monitor vitals, assist dentals/sonograms, take x-rays, give injections, run lab tests, fill prescriptions, order inventory, do laundry, organize surgery packs, help kennel assistants and receptionists., and more …

Receptionist:  Greet client/pets with welcoming smile, answer phone, schedule appointments, obtain and enter client information into computer, scan records to computer, comfort clients at loss of loved pet, check in/check out pets, keep track of records, clean up accidents in the lobby, assist clients/pets in or out of car, and more …

All staff:  Inventory assignments, general cleaning and anything else that needs to be done…

So you see that there is a lot involved in working here at LCAH.  It takes special people who are dedicated, dependable and hard-working.  All of us together strive to make you feel part of our extended family by serving you and your pets.  And, we love doing it….well, maybe not the poop part!

Rabies: a major public health threat to your pets and family          

The cornerstone of rabies control is the vaccination of cats and dogs. There are approved 1 year and 3 year vaccines.  Towns and Clay counties have recently confirmed rabies cases in raccoons and cats which led to major public awareness campaigns for both counties.

West NC and north GA is considered an endemic area for rabies especially in wildlife.  This puts our pets and families at great risk.  Rabies is transmitted from infected animals to essentially any mammal via saliva, usually as a result of bite wounds.  It is state law that all dogs and cats are current for rabies vaccination because vaccinated pets provide a barrier of protection to humans from wildlife.  The most common wildlife carriers of rabies in our area are raccoons, skunks, and foxes.

Rabies also occurs in dogs, cats, cattle, horses, goats, sheep, swine and ferrets.  In recent years, cats have become the most common domestic animal infected; and there have been confirmed feline rabies cases in Clay County that resulted in several people requiring post exposure rabies vaccine treatments.  Cats are at higher risk because many cat owners do not vaccinate their cats which are exposed to rabid wildlife either outdoors or when infected bats get into the house.

Symptoms of rabies are varied, including aggression, profuse drooling, difficulty swallowing, staggering, paralysis, and seizures.  Aggression is common, but    infected animals can also seem friendly.  It is commonly reported that infected wild animals may lose their natural fear of humans, and display unusual behavior such as nocturnal animals observed wandering about during broad daylight hours.   There is no effective treatment once the clinical signs appear; and rabies   infection can only be confirmed after death through microscopic examination of the animal’s brain.  Worldwide rabies is responsible for 59,000 deaths in people with most cases due to rabies transmitted by dogs where canine vaccinations programs are insufficient.

The good news is rabies is entirely preventable through vaccination.  Effective vaccines are available for dogs, cats, ferrets, horses and certain livestock.  Rabies exposure is reduced by not letting pets roam free.  It is best to keep cats and ferrets indoors and supervise your dog when outdoors. Spaying and neutering decrease roaming tendencies and prevents birth of unwanted animals.  Remove garbage and don’t leave pet foods outdoors as this attracts wild and stray animals; and protect your home and other structures from bats.  It is imperative to never handle unfamiliar or wild animals because even friendly appearing ones may carry rabies.

*This article published in “Pet Vet” column / Cherokee Scout

Dog Obedience – What did you miss?

You may have missed the pet obedience class that started in early August and graduated at our Pet Celebration on September 23rd but participants showed what they accomplished in 8 weeks and it was truly amazing. 

There are different techniques used to train dogs but the most important aspects are to be consistent and practice, practice, practice.  Unless you, as the owner, take the lead, your dog will look elsewhere or assume the lead.  Your dog will feel confident if he/she knows you are the leader and can depend upon you for  instructions.  That includes the rest of the family, and friends as well – everyone must follow the same protocol so your dog does not become confused.

Dogs are creatures of habit and if you allow bad behavior in one area, they will continue to exhibit that behavior wherever they go.  If your dog is allowed to jump up on a friend, he/she is likely to repeat the action with others.  All family members must follow the rules because dogs are smart and will learn with whom they can misbehave.  Don’t forget to instruct your children also when you are training your dog.  They need to learn how to give proper commands and, with your   supervision, you can monitor how your dog obeys the “smaller humans”.

Here’s an interesting concept:  In a dog’s mind, whoever eats first is the dominant one.  You might want to feed your pets after the family has eaten – if you can stand the pleading eyes and/or begging.   This might be another area for some training.

Being a leader is making the decisions and following through.  For example: when to go for a walk, where you will go and at what pace.  If your dog is walking you, the roles have been reversed.  Exercise is extremely important in maintaining a well-behaved and healthy dog.  If you can help your dog burn off the extra energy off-leash before you take your daily walks or start your intensive training, you will find him/her more cooperative and attentive.

When you give your dog a command, don’t continue to repeat the same command over and over if it is not obeyed the first time.  You will be training him/her to ignore you.  Give the command one time and then assist your dog by physically helping him/her to understand what you are asking.    When    necessary, place your hand on your dog and gently apply pressure to obtain the position you are looking for – like “SIT” or “STAY”.   

Watch your behavior also so that you are not reinforcing undesirable actions.  If you provide positive attention by petting your dog when he/she whines, you may be   implying that whining leads to affection and attention.  It is just another area in which to watch for miscommunication.

Remember to give praise and treats along WITH discipline.  Your dog will be happier in the long run and so will all those around him/her.


Fleas and Ticks in the Fall

Fall is a beautiful time of year with the change of colors and cooler air.  It’s a great time to be outdoors.  But, if you plan on spending time outside, you should also plan to look for adult deer ticks and fleas.

Ticks have a two-year life cycle and from October through mid-November adult ticks are still actively looking for that last blood meal before they overwinter.  They are not particularly picky about where it comes from, just that they have easy access.  Unfortunately, for our pets and us, adult deer ticks can carry disease organisms such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis or ehrlichiosis.

Adult stage deer ticks become active every year after the first frost. They're not killed by freezing temperatures, and while other ticks enter a feeding-dormant stage as day-lengths get shorter, deer ticks will be active any winter day that the ground is not snow-covered or frozen. If this surprises you, remember this fact, especially during a January thaw or early spring day.

The life cycle goes something like this:  eggs hatch in July, seek out a host in  August (usually a small rodent), larvae feed on rodent then go through winter and emerge in the spring as a nymph, nymph attaches to second host to feed from May-July, nymph molt into adults in October.  Now that you know that ticks are still active during the Fall and Winter, too, how wise would it be to stop those monthly treatments for your pets? 

When the central heating comes on,  out come the fleas.  Fall is the key season for flea control.   With its cooler daily temperatures, this season favors longer term flea survival and development. So it’s a key time to consider flea control, and be ready to deal with them when they jump onto your pet..                                                                      

Adult fleas seen on your pets are just the tip of the iceberg making up 5% of the problem. The remaining 95% (eggs, larvae and pupae) live hidden in nooks and crannies inside the home, or outside in shady, damp places. Favorable conditions inside the home mean that fleas can successfully develop all year round.  If there are moderate temperatures and continued humidity outside, the life cycle can continue its momentum into the Fall months. Eggs laid by fleas living on   untreated pets or wildlife fall into the environment where they can develop into larvae, pupae and finally into the adult fleas that re-infest our pets.

Many people believe that fleas are killed by cold weather. They think that if they keep their pet inside, the animal will not be exposed to fleas. Because fleas in various stages can survive cold weather, fleas are often brought into the house on shoes. When people walk through grass or soil where flea eggs, larva or pupa are dormant, these dormant stages can be tracked into the house where warm conditions cause the fleas to mature as adults.  So cold weather alone is not a reliable flea control.

Please remember to continue your chosen tick and flea prevention all year  round and avoid re-infestations during the Fall and Winter months.  We can recommend different products to help you with your desire to keep your pets pest-free for the least amount of time and effort on your part.  You can take your pick from spot-on, oral or collars.  There are rebates and/or free doses available only through vets to help lower your costs.  Remember also that heartworms can be transmitted during winter too during warmer spells that are common  in our area, and infective stages of intestinal parasites (eggs) are not killed at all by cold weather.  The standard of practice is to use year-round parasite control and prevention.  Choose wisely for convenience and safety and your pet will be truly grateful.