Quindecennial at Winterset Veterinary Center

What is a quindecennial? Last 15 years at WVC has been eventful. I never knew there was a name for it but google seems to have the answers for everything. This is something that many clients comment on when bringing their pets to see us, “I know google is not the doctor but I think this is what is wrong.” Much has changed since August of 2007 when I first started working at WVC.  I thought it would be fun to share photos of the quindecennial at WVC. Many names and faces have changed but some have remained the same. Many pets that started as puppies and kittens with me have now reached old age or even passed on. The relationships I have enjoyed with the furry friends and their two legged families have brought me much joy and satisfaction. I have not only watched your pets age but also your children. Many families were busy with school aged children when I began and now like myself have become empty nesters. Through all of these transitions it has been fun to share life with all of you. I hope as you look at these pictures fun memories will come to mind and if the opportunity presents itself, please share those with us. We do consider our clients family and are grateful that you have entrusted us with your most precious family members.

WVC MASCOTS

Hemingway was dropped on our doorstep summer of 2008 with 2 other littermates. He had a sternum that was deformed and so we decided to keep him. We did not know if this would cause health issues for him in the future. He was a polydactyl which means he was born with extra toes. His little buddy, Cheddar, was a stray and only with us a short time because he ran off in the first few months. Hemingway spent days at school, was in the Bridge Festival Parade, got his own Facebook page (still bears his name to this day), and was the official greeter at WVC for years. We lost him in 2020 and were so glad for the joy he brought to our staff and clients over his 12 years.

Cheddar & Hemmingway

A few months after Hemingway’s passing, a client brought in a litter of kittens that needed care. While attending to their goopy eyes and snotty noses, I noted that 2 of the 5 had extra toes just like Hemingway. We were fortunate that they had no problem letting us have those two kittens. We had a naming contest at the clinic and Eian’s family came up with their names, Cheetoe and Furitoe! Furitoe is furrier than his brother. They have been a welcome addition to our daily routine. Since they came to us during Covid, they were able to be in the exam room with clients pets as they were growing up. This has helped prevent running and drama when around all the day to day noises and commotion that comes with a busy practice. They have become WVC’s social media sensation us sharing videos and photos of some of their crazy stunts.

WVC DRESS UP DAYS

A few times over the years we have gone all out to celebrate or boost spirits for our staff and clients. These photos show we do like to have fun while at work. In 2020, the Winterset Park and Rec held “Spirit Week”. We contributed each and every day with new duds during that week. The Bridge Festival Parade and Halloween are other fun opportunities we have enjoyed.

WVC VETERINARIANS

Dr Jim started at WVC in 1988 right after graduation. I joined him in 2007. Here are a few photos from then and now. They say gray hair indicates wisdom, both of us are getting grayer and hopefully wiser each year. Facebook and our website were set up in 2010 and 2012 respectively. This is where most of these photos have come from.

WVC STAFF

This is a look at the quindecennial of staff photos. When we started our social media posts we began updating photos multiple times a year. I think I captured most everyone that has worked with us in the past. It is time for a new photo since the class of 2022 has gone on to college and we have hired new kennel staff. Stay tuned!

WVC LOGO

We decided if we were going to have a social media presence we should have a logo. The logo was created and we now use it on business cards, clothing, letterhead, advertising, etc.

WVC EVENTS

Being in this business we get the pleasure of educating others on pet care and safety. We have judged events at the fair. Given tours to different youth organizations at the clinic. We held a customer appreciation dinner. Held raffles and contributed donations of pet services and products to different auctions. All of these activities bring us closer to our clients and their pets.

WHAT WVC HAS MEANT TO ME DURING THE QUINDECENNIAL

I started at WVC after taking a 10 year break from practice. I was blessed to be able to be an at home mom of 4 kids during that time.  Dr. Jim had just become sole owner after Dr. Ken Henrichsen decided to retire. All my kids were in school and I needed something to keep me busy. He graciously accepted that I would not do large animal but indicated that already a majority of the practice was small animal on a daily basis. I completed over 120 hours of CE in less than a year to renew my inactive veterinary license. I quickly found my rhythm and settled into the daily routine. I recall being overwhelmed by the maturity of this practice. Everywhere I had practiced prior to WVC was a newer or start up practice where so many of the patients were younger. At WVC, there were dogs and cats of all sizes and ages with many clients needing help saying good-bye to their furry friends. That was exhausting and difficult to process since I had not been in that place before. I learned to focus on what was best for each patient. I learned to help the pet’s owners be able to see the peace that comes in those final moments. I learned that just because we can keep them alive for extended periods, that is not always what is best for that pet. Fast forward to today, a quindecennial has passed, now I have seen the full circle. I watched many puppies and kittens grow up and now like myself, many have gray hair, are slowing down, sleeping a lot, and together with their families, we have had to say goodbye. It cuts much deeper now. You have become my family away from home. I cry right along with you. I know it is the right decision, but my heart aches knowing that you will miss that wet nose or nuzzle when you return home without them. I will miss their excitement when I get the squeeze cheese off the counter. I will miss seeing you come in for routine visits but also the opportunity to catch up on what is going on in your life. You see, after all these years of being a veterinarian, I have come to realize we are all looking for a relationship with those we do business with. It is not just about the care or the cost or the staff or the facility. I love the connection to each of you and your furry friends. Thank you for trusting me with your beloved pets and for letting me be a small part of your family as well. I have been truly blessed to be your veterinarian and I hope in some small way you feel our connection too.

All Dogs Go to Heaven

Today was the day. A day that we never want to come. A day that we dread. A day that will never be forgotten. A day when we said good bye to our Bleu.

We do not know all of his story since it began with someone else, somewhere else. In 2013 at Winterset Veterinary Center we were getting calls about these two stray dogs running across Madison County. They were killing and eating chickens outside of St. Charles. They were in a kennel but then escaped from a farm around Patterson. They are at the soccer field in Winterset. Once they got into the city limits is when we got involved. Two male intact purebred Weimaraner’s with orange hunting collars on. One appeared to be at least 1 year of age and the other less than 6 months since he did not have his adult teeth yet. We did not find any microchip or ID tags on either dog. We searched local lost dog sites and reached out to ARL to see if there had been any reports filed. Everything was a dead end. The younger one was gray, almost tan in color. The older one was Blue which is considered a diluted black.

Our family had lost our Chocolate Labrador Retriever a few months earlier. I wasn’t thinking about another dog but this blue dog with the long floppy ears won over my heart. He did not bark in the clinic. He did not jump up on me. He was house broke. He did not chew up his bedding. He was calm but could run fast when given the opportunity. He had short hair and a sweet personality. I decided to introduce him to my family and as they say… the rest is history.

Our youngest daughter JoAnn soon took on the challenge of training him and joined the 4-H dog project at the county level and took him to classes. She took him to dog classes at Dogwood Lodge and he was a quick learner. He was gentle with our cats and never knew a stranger. We were hooked. We purchased a wireless boundary fence and he quickly learned to respect the perimeters. Nothing gave him more joy than getting to go for walks and spending time with his new family. Of course from his days of hunger – he always ate his food in 15 seconds flat. Hardly a chance to taste it or chew it.

He was up for just about anything. He was in the parade for the Bridge Festival one year when Winterset Veterinary Center had a float entry. He was in a costume contest for 4-H. He did a 5K to benefit the dog park. He was good for demonstrations at obedience classes. Whenever he had to do the down stay in competitions, he would completely lay flat and almost go to sleep. Quite comical to say the least. JoAnn and Bleu were a good team. They did win trophies, but all Bleu wanted was attention from his favorite person, JoAnn.

Bleu became my walking partner each morning during the warm seasons and looked forward to this each day. When JoAnn went off to college he stayed with us and missed his snuggles with JoAnn. We traveled to Missouri to visit but each time we left to come home we had 2 broken hearts. The spring of her sophomore year she convinced us he should come and live with her. Her roommates were willing to help care for him and he would be a great “emotional support” dog for all of them. We gave in and he moved into their 4th floor apartment with no elevator. For the next 2 1/2 years he lived with JoAnn on and off. He would spend summers with us since she worked at a bible camp and could not have him with her. The reunions were always fun to experience as old friends were reunited.

Over the last 1 1/2 he started showing symptoms of loss of sensation to his limbs. Back feet first but eventually the front legs were fully involved as well. We had started chiropractic and acupuncture along with other non-traditional treatments at a clinic in Springfield and would continue when he returned home for the summer. This condition was not painful but it became increasingly difficult for him to walk and stand for any length of time. When his breathing became labored and he began coughing, I knew it was progressing to a new level. He also was uninterested in eating his food and struggled to chew his treats that he so loved. His mind was still intact but his body was shutting down. I contacted JoAnn and shared my concerns. I had hoped to keep him going until she got done with summer camp, but when these new symptoms began I knew we had to have a serious discussion. She made arrangements to come home. She spent a day with him just snuggling and being together. His reaction normally to her presence was that of complete euphoria. He didn’t know if he should jump or run or wiggle but his joy was undeniable. When she got home this time, he barely lifted his head. His body was tired and energy level low so a tail wag would have to do. These end of life decisions are the hardest decisions we make for our furry friends. We hesitate to make this decision because we selfishly want them to stay with us forever. Yet we know that is not possible with the physical issues at hand. I have always said a dog’s only fault is they don’t live long enough. We said goodbye and allowed him to leave this earth peacefully and with no more struggles.

I know someday in my heart these special furry family members will be waiting for us on the other side. With souls as pure as theirs surely “All dogs go to heaven!” 

Long ago I ran across the following reading and wanted to share it with my readers. If you have been reading my blogs…..I know you have also lost some faithful companions over the years.

Rest in peace, Bleu!

What is a Comp or a Profile?

These terms can be confusing so hoping to change that for my readers. These terms will be used in human medicine as well.  Both comp and profile are shorter versions of comprehensive metabolic panels that offer an inside look at your body’s chemical balance and metabolism. The values are screening numbers and can be compared from year to year to monitor disease processes. These tests are extremely important prior to elective procedures to assess anesthetic risk. Profiles are used prior to starting long term medications and at times of illness. There are different comp panels that include various lab tests. Our standard panel has 14 different markers and we can add 3 additional tests if warranted. I want to list each of these and give a description of how they are used so you can learn what these mean if your furry friend ever needs a comp or profile.

TPTotal Proteinsum of all proteins in the blood – main two types are albumin and globulins
ALBalbuminmost common protein and keeps fluids from leaking out of the blood and can carry other substances throughout the body
GLOBglobulinthese proteins are formed by the immune system and liver
GLOB + ALB = TPtherefore we can do A/G ratios that can give insight to other health concerns
ALPAlkaline Phosphatasefound in bone and liver so if elevated this is not a diagnosis — other tests will need to be performed — medications can elevate this enzyme also
ALTAlanine Transaminaseenzyme exclusively in the liver cells — when elevated we know we need to focus on the liver.
TBilTotal Bilirubinmeasure of bilibruin in your blood — animals can have yellow coloring of skin, and the whites of the eyes — urine will look dark like coffee grounds — jaundice if elevated and above normal — concern for liver if changes are noted
AMYAmylasethis enzyme is made in the pancreas – with disease or injury to pancreas we see increases of this enzyme in the blood
BUNBlood Urea Nitrogena measurement of urea in your blood — important information about kidney function — if low can be indicative of lack of protein in your diet or liver concerns
CREcreatininehigh levels correlate with lack of normal kidney function — kidney’s filter CRE from your blood and excretes in urine — if kidneys are not working CRE will increase in blood
GLUGlucoseextremely high levels can indicate diabetes — can be mildly elevated if an animal is stressed — low levels can lead to comas and disorientation — in puppies and kittens if their glucose is low — people often assume they are dead because they are unresponsive
Cacalciumdiet can impact calcium levels — high levels can also be driven by cancer and kidney disease — low calcium levels can be seen with low albumin levels caused by nutrition — liver or kidney disease, infections, or other long term illnesses
Phosphosphoruslow levels are often caused by malnutrition over long periods of time — this may be the diet or the lack of sufficient food intake — elevated levels can appear with kidney disease in cats and dogs — the kidneys regulate the phosphorus levels
Na+sodiumelectrolytes such as Na+ are necessary for heart and brain function, fluid balance, to deliver oxygen — it regulates blood pressure, blood volume, and transmission of nerve impulses — changes in Na+ also impact Cl- (chloride levels) another electrolyte
K+potassiumK+ is an electrolyte that is needed to control brain and heart activity along with nerve impulses — it is present in the cells and blood of a pet’s body — low K+ levels are often seen in advanced kidney disease — high K+ levels are seen in cases of urinary tract rupture, adrenal gland disorder, heart arrythmias, trauma, and many other conditions

Add on tests we can consider if needed are as follows:

Cholcholesterolthere are breeds of dogs that may have a genetic disposition to high cholesterol levels (schnauzers, Shetland sheepdog, collies) — high chol could indicate diabetes cushings, or low thyroid levels — low levels can indicate loss through the digestive tract with intestinal diseases or cancer
T-4thyroidelevated levels in pets often indicates cancer of the thyroid gland — it is most common in older cats and rare in dogs — low thyroid levels are rare in cats and more common in dogs — dogs treated for low thyroid conditions usually owners see an increase in their energy level, improved skin and hair, and weight loss
SDMAsymmetric dimethylargininethis test detects kidney disease at an early stage then the creatine level can

These tests can be run daily. Results are available the same day. This allows us to start therapy and treatment as quickly as possible. If you ever have concerns about your pet, please do not hesitate to contact us. The sooner a diagnosis is made the better the outcome for our pets.

What’s a CBC?

Many times our patients are needing us to check blood work. The CBC is an important diagnostic test used to evaluate the blood more closely. I wanted to talk this month about a machine that allows us to run CBC laboratory tests right in the clinic and what those values mean. This photo shows the machine we use to run a Complete Blood Count (CBC). This is a standard test used prior to surgical procedures, during wellness checks, and when we have concerns for illness. The machine takes a sample of blood and sorts out the cells into three different components. We have the White Blood Cell (WBC) count, the Red Blood Cell (RBC), and the Platelet (PLT) Count. All three share different information about components of the blood. 

WBC are made up of 5 different cellular structures. Each of these cell types when counted by this machine make up the WBC. The neutrophils (51-72%) usually are the largest percentage of WBC cells, followed by the lymphocytes (8-35%), monocytes (1-9%), eosinophils 0-9%), and basophils (0-2%). When these numbers are elevated it will raise the WBC count. We then look for the cell causing the elevation. If the neutrophils are up we know that there is an active infection present somewhere in the body. If the eosinophils are elevated we look for evidence of inflammation caused by allergies or parasites. Sometimes these levels can be lower than normal and we would look for viral infections or concerns with the bone marrow itself.  Lymphocytes help develop antibodies to protect against future attacks by the same organism.

RBC are made up of different components that all help our body carry oxygen throughout the body. High RBC counts can most commonly indicate dehydration. Anemia is when our RBC is low. We can have low counts related to blood loss from active bleeding, destruction of red blood cells from diseases, bone marrow or other diseases that prevent production of red blood cells.  Hemoglobin (HGB) binds and releases the oxygen to carry it to all our cells. The HGB will be directly affected by the red blood cell count at times of dehydration or anemia.  Hematocrit (HCT) and Pack Cell Volume (PCV) mean the same thing. This is the percentage of red blood cells circulating in the blood. If we spin the blood the red blood cells will settle to the bottom and the serum will be the liquid at the top. This percentage can give us information to help figure out what disease process may be causing an increase or a decrease in the RBC.  MCV, MCH, and MCHC are also values used within the RBC. They each play a part in the diagnosis of anemia or iron levels within the body.

Platelets (PLT) are responsible for helping to clot our blood. When we get a cut or a scratch the platelets become sticky and gather in large numbers to seal the leak in our blood vessel. This is extremely important to know prior to a surgical procedure. If a pet has low platelets that could affect the amount of bleeding at the time of surgery. 

There are conditions that have an effect on each of these values and even some that can cause  changes in all three. We take into consideration this CBC each and every time we do surgeries or are faced with health concerns of our patients. We ask if you are wanting to do a pre- surgical blood screen prior to anesthesia procedures or if your pet has presented with an illness that needs laboratory work to help diagnose what is ailing them. We also require doing this test annually if your pet is on long term medications. The CBC is one of those tests that we run right in our lab and can have results quickly. 

Next time you bring your pet into the clinic you will know why the CBC is an important piece of information that can help us get your furry friends back home quickly and safely. Happy Spring and hope the April showers are bringing in your May flowers!

2022 February is Dental Health Month

Dentistry equipment is another item we use in the practice routinely. This has been an important tool as most pets have some amount of dental disease by the age of 3. It has been said that without brushing your pet’s teeth at least 4 times a week they will develop issues with tarter and gum disease. If you begin brushing your pet’s teeth at an early age most of them enjoy the flavored toothpaste and attention. I encourage people to start with their puppies and kittens before the age of 4 months therefore they see it as a part of the daily routine and not something to fear.

Interesting enough when I graduated in 1988 from the College of Veterinary Medicine we had very little time spent on dental hygiene. There was an awareness that teeth would need to be pulled or jaws repaired related to trauma or age. We knew that teeth can get bad in a short period of time but the idea of doing regular dental care was less common. Amazing changes have taken place since then.

Veterinary Dentistry has become an area of specialization. Besides doing scaling/polishing/extractions, we now have dogs with braces, root canals, crowns, orthodontic care, etc. These advancements are important to be aware of since years ago, the only option was extraction. Now a tooth can be saved which prevents further decay to the rest of the teeth surrounding the bad tooth. Often when the 4th premolar tooth is removed the pets will no longer chew on that side so tarter build up occurs faster.

It is important to FLIP THE LIP of your dog or cat. Look at the surface of the teeth and determine if dental care is needed. Be certain to look at the front of the mouth but also the larger premolars and molars towards the back. Pets have a salivary gland above those upper teeth and that contributes to the accumulation of tarter. Foul breath can also be an indication of need for dental preventative care. If the odor is not consistent it may be something else that is causing the bad breath. Many pet owners want to believe that bad teeth are the cause of their pet not wanting to eat. Research shows that rarely is dental disease the cause of pets not eating. We see some horrible mouths and those dogs and cats are still eating. 

Dental Machine

Our pets need to be under anesthesia to have their teeth professionally cleaned. An assessment is done of the teeth to determine viablilty of the teeth. Large chunks of tarter are removed with hand tools prior to extractions. This gives visualization of the tooth surface to see if there is any damage to the tooth. The mobile dental machine has dental burrs to help with extractions of multiple root teeth. The 4th premolars have 3 roots and when fractured those roots remain solid so it is necessary to extract the tooth in multiple pieces.  Another area where these burrs are important is when the canine tooth is damaged it aids in extractions as well. The root of the canine teeth are as long as what you visibly see of that exposed tooth.

The ultrasonic scaler is used to remove additional plaque on the surface of the teeth and is followed with polishing the teeth. We have flavored polish that freshens the breath temporarily but if good home care is not continued in a short period of time there will be accumulation of plaque once again.  Many older dogs and cats do not chew their food anymore which contributes to the poor dental health. There are dental chews and other products that can assist in dental health, but only brushing offers the best long term benefits.       

If no home care is done we expect to see dogs annually for dental preventative care. Once a dog starts having accumulation of plaque with further buildup if hardens and mineralizes to form tarter. As tarter builds up if pushes against the gum surface and gingivitis can develop over time. We also see gum recession and exposure of the root of the tooth all of which damage the tooth and lead to extraction. Pay attention to your pet’s teeth. Abscessed teeth are common in both cats and dogs and occur with advanced dental disease. Avoid these problems by having routine dental care done for your pets. Keep their mouth healthy with routine brushing, dental care, and use of foods that prevent tarter and plaque build up.  Doing these things will extend the health of your pet’s teeth. If interested in having your pet’s teeth cleaned we schedule those appointments M-F. The pets come in by 8:30 am and are usually ready to go home anytime after 4:00 pm. They do not need to spend a night with us to have the teeth professionally cleaned. Go ahead and flip your pets lip and see if you need to schedule an appointment with us.

ISO Scanners???

With the start of a new year, we begin a new theme for blogs. Looking back over the past years it does become a little more challenging to discover new things to discuss. Decided to talk about the different tools that can be used to assist us with our daily tasks as veterinarians. 

The first tool that we use quite frequently is an ISO microchip scanner. When microchips were introduced, each company had a chip and a scanner. That was clumsy because scanners would only read their companies chips or certain frequencies. Therefore, a chip may have been missed by a shelter or veterinary office unless they had multiple scanners. The International Standards Organization (ISO) approved and recommended a global standard for microchips. At that time, it was also decided that chips should have 15 numbers and no letters. They would be called universal chips and would be accepted worldwide. All chips would also be read with a forward and backward universal scanner. The ISO frequency is 134.2kHz. There are 125kHz and 128 kHz chips still implanted in dogs. They are not acceptable to travel worldwide but most universal scanners will detect the chip number if the pet is scanned properly. Earlier chips had a tendency to migrate once implanted. The new universal chips will not migrate. If scanning a pet be certain to scan over the entire body just in case they were chipped with an earlier version of microchips.

At this time no company has microchips that have GPS trackers on them. There are collars that come with tracking devices but as for a microchip that is implanted and trackable, that technology is not available. The size of the GPS tracker and its need to be charged does not allow for this to be implanted under the skin of an animal. The following link is one source that is available if you are interested in tracking your dog’s movements. There are usually costs associated with the tracking so be aware of that as you are considering this type of technology. 

https://tractive.com/en/pd/gps-tracker-dog

We can place microchips under the skin above the shoulder blades on any animal during a routine exam. The microchips we provide are from Home Again. Once the chip has been placed, we register the chip with Home Again to safeguard that information is available should the pet ever get lost. It is important that owners update this information should addresses or phone numbers change. We have had situations where a lost pet is brought to Winterset Veterinary Center and we find a microchip number but it is registered to a person in California. We know that animal did not walk from California to Iowa. Updating this information is as important as notifying the Post Office of an address change. In a few situations a pet has 2 microchips. Please register both chips. When a pet is scanned the first number it picks up is the one searched. No one suspects a second chip being present. Therefore you must register both numbers. This can happen from a pet being lost and a chip migrates so it is missed and when adopted out a new chip is placed. I also had a puppy that had 2 chips – both placed from the breeder. Apparently one puppy got two chips and another did not have one. It can happen so just make certain to register both chips if you find out your pet has more than one chip.

Many people fear that the microchip carries important information that could affect ones privacy. This is not true. The only information gathered from the chip reader is the 15 digit number and recently I was able to get the pets body temperature from the chip. That beats a rectal or ear thermometer any day! All personal information is kept confidential by the company that registered your pet’s microchip.

For under $50 a microchip can be placed and registered to safeguard your pet gets home should they ever decide to wander off. We have had dogs all sizes, ages, shapes, and colors, come to us as lost pets. The reunion happens quickly if a chip is discovered.  Without a chip, the distance a dog can travel in a short period of time makes that reunion much less likely. Statistics have shown that 15% of dog and cat owners will lose their pets. Dogs have a recovery rate of 93% but cats are only at 75%. Dogs seem to wander away more than once. Cats not wearing ID collars because they are considered “only indoors” is a big concern. In one study 41% of the owners who were searching for their lost cat reported the cat was indoor only.  Cats wearing a collar with an ID tag is a great method to improve reunion of cats with their owners. All pets should be microchipped as a way to improve a lost pet being reunited with their family.

Any microchip can be registered with the Home Again’s registry if you wish. You can register with multiple registry’s. American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has a microchip lookup online site where you may search microchip numbers of found pets. If you have found a pet you are able to enter the chip number and it will give you a phone number to the proper site so a pet may get home safely. Again your personal information is protected and that of your pet. It is designed to reunite pets with their families as quickly as possible.

All pets should be microchipped if you want to assure they find their way home to you. One is never assured that even an indoor only cat or a tiny dog would not wander off someday. I once had a person ask my why their 8 year old neutered male boxer ran away. He had never done something like that in the past. This owner was worried but also confused about why? I had no answer for him and as you might guess there was no collar or chip with identification on it.

Place a microchip in your pet. Get ID on the collar of your pet. Start kittens with collars at a young age so you can have ID on them as well. Last week I saw a client that had her phone number embroidered on her cats’ break away collars. She is not leaving it to chance. She wants to make certain her cats get back home if they were ever to get lost.

If you have more questions about microchips feel free to contact me at Winterset Veterinary Center during regular business hours or the article below has some additional information about frequently asked questions.

https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/pet-owners/petcare/microchips-reunite-pets-families/microchipping-faq

Please do not let your pet go out unprotected. Their ability to get home depends on you. A microchip is a pet insurance that is priceless were you ever faced with a lost pet.

Months of Animal Blogs in 2021

We began the year with Alpaca/llama’s followed by mini horses, rabbits, cattle, goats, pigs, sheep, and chickens. I was wondering what I should do to round out the year. I decided that even though I do not do a lot of exotics, zoo, or marine species, this would be a good topic for the final month of 2021.

As veterinarians there is no species that we do not see. We may have preferences for certain species but after receiving your DVM degree and passing your state boards you can treat any and all mammals, birds, reptiles of land, water, and air. This carries with it a great responsibility to explore the variations between these species.

At Winterset Veterinary Center we do see a few exotic species for simple procedures on occasion. It may be a bird for wing or nail trims or a pocket pet for eye issues or a reptile for skin lesions We have had skunks, raccoon, possums, and wild birds brought in for certain procedures. An occasional snake or iguana has entered the practice for one reason or another. I will admit that I am more of a fur and feather veterinarian, but Dr. Jim has always been willing to see “All Creatures Great and Small”.

When these unusual creatures come in often their needs come down to basic husbandry issues. Cleanliness of their cages, temperatures that need to be consistent, water sources that are necessary for healthy skin, diets that are complete with the nutrients needed to remain healthy so they live a long life. Sometimes we have to offer the facts that lead to a difficult decision since some have a short lifespan to begin with. Sometimes we will refer if additional diagnostics are needed. The area of exotics has expanded in the last decade and more people are seeking out treatment for their special friends.

I know that my daughter would enjoy snuggling with a snake as much as a puppy. She said the way they will wrap themselves up around her and give the big hugs has always been a physical high for her.  She is the  one furthest to the right in this photo. A friend owns these and she has enjoyed their unique personalities.

I have watched exotic veterinarians on television handle the different species that enter their doors and have learned interesting facts. Since my practice days have mostly been in more rural areas we see less exotics. The neat thing is that regardless of what someone classifies as a pet we are given the opportunity to help them stay healthy and live longer lives. These pets mean as much to their owner as a puppy or kitten does to theirs. We must do everything possible to protect that client- patient- veterinarian relationship. As the song goes…

ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL

ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL

ALL THINGS WISE AND WONDERFUL

THE LORD GOD MADE THEM ALL!

As we say goodbye to 2021, Dr. Jim, our staff, and myself would like to thank you for entrusting us with your pets and livestock. We continue to strive to meet your expectations and retain your loyalty and trust. Winterset Veterinary Center cannot exist without our clients and their critters. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! See you in 2022!

Big Event in September

Allow me to share another milestone in our household. Our son got married this past weekend at a resort in Wisconsin. The weather was perfect and venue accommodating for all family and friends that were able to attend. We were able to spend some quality time with our children and grand-daughter.

JD and Alison will continue to live in the Chicago area once they return from their honeymoon. The ceremony was at 1:00 and the reception started at 5:00 so they could do pictures between. It has been a long time since I was at a wedding where the groom did not see his bride prior to her walking down the aisle. It was emotional for JD (or the sun was in his eyes), but I did see him tearing up. As with all weddings, you hope and pray that these young couples are able to weather the storms that come their way. Marriage is hard but if they commit to working as hard on their marriage as we work at our jobs and other relationships the rewards are endless. My parents have been married next month for 64 years, Dan and I celebrated 37 years in June, so I have high hopes that this marriage will carry on the tradition of until death do us part. Congratulations JD and Alison. We love you both and are excited for you as you begin this journey together.

I was excited that my parents were able to drive from Iowa to Wisconsin to attend the wedding and festivities. They are pictured with our immediate family in this photo. It is exciting that we have 4 generations with the addition of our grand-daughter, July. It is fun to watch my mom in her great-grandma role enjoying the smiles and laughter of July. I think every parent and grandparent enjoys watching others oooh and aaah over their children or grandchildren. It was amazing how many people wanted to hold July that were new acquaintances. Some people are baby crazy even if they get spit up on. Our daughter and her husband have been great about socializing July so she has no reservations with new faces. I am prejudice as most grandparents are, but July is pretty cute and special!

I enjoyed having all 3 of our daughters in the wedding as bridesmaids. Had to capture this moment since that will never happen again. They did not think it was a big deal. As their mom, I felt differently. Alison is now our daughter as well and we all love and adore her. Many fun years ahead for our family as we gain numbers by marriage and births!

We do not have any additional milestones planned for this year. I think the birth of a grandchild and the marriage of our son to his sweetheart Alison is enough excitement for one year. Thank you for letting me share these events with you as they happen. Happy Fall!

New Title – The Best One Yet!

Everyone has told me that being a grandparent is the best. It makes parenting worth the effort when holding your grandchild for the first time. Dan and I got that experience in May. Our daughter, Jaclyn, delivered a beautiful baby girl. We were blessed to get to meet her 5 days later. Jaclyn, and her husband Rich, live out of state so we will need plan for those opportunities to spoil this little girl. We have purchased a pack and play and borrowed a baby swing to use when they come to visit. We have not decided on what names we will want to be called since she may decide for us. I am in love with social media and the ability to see photos and videos of her as she is growing and changing. How blessed we are to have this technology that allows us to be a part of her life even when we are miles apart.

When Dan and I started our family, we lived a distance from our parents as well. I recall finding pleasure in watching our parents enjoy our children and the children interacting with their grandparents. It was a special bond. It continues to be that today. Of course, family are excited to see us, but the grandchildren are still revered as the most “special”! I look forward to each opportunity to spend time with all of them.

It has been fun watching them be smitten with their newborn. I feel she closely resembles her mother as an infant. I may be partial, but comparing baby photos, I am convinced I am correct. Parenting is such an adventure from the moment you hold that baby you are deeply committed to protecting them and loving them unconditionally for eternity. It does not take but a moment to know that this little baby has changed your life forever.

They have a 10 month old Golden Retriever named, Ciggy. There were concerns initially on how he would react to this new family member. Their fears have been erased as you can see. He is calm and patient with her and appears to be anxious for her to start moving around more. He is looking forward to being a big brother to our grand-daughter.

The two cats, Charlotte and Virginia, are slowly accepting the interruptions that come with having an infant in the house. They have taken longer to adjust but are showing more interest in coming around to investigate. I think they have come to terms that just like the puppy that was brought home, this baby will not be leaving anytime soon.

Pets certainly have opinions about the changes in a household. They seem to accept change. Some with ease and others with remorse. There is no way one can predict how pets will react when changes come. The best we can do is try to continue other routines as usual and hope for the best. Rarely do I hear of a situation that did not turn out favorable in regards to a new family addition. It seems that most pets are thrilled to have additional attention and belly rubs. I have heard many of your grandchildren stories over the years and hope that you will be gracious enough to allow me to share about mine!  I am sure she will be the smartest and most amazing of all!

Miniature Horses

Have you ever seen those little horses at a show or in a pasture? They melt your heart and are so adorable. Many people think they are only lawn ornaments with no purpose. That is FALSE! I want to share some information with you that may change your mind about these mini’s. The correct terminology is miniature horse not miniature pony. They stem from over 400 years of selective breeding in the lineage of Quarter horses and Arabians. There are a variety of colors. They must stand no taller than 34” and weigh on average 225-350 lbs when full grown. They can have a lifespan of 35 years. The oldest miniature horse on record lived to be over 50 years of age.

Miniature horses can be used in the show ring. There are multiple classes to show these unique animals in. Halter classes judge on the conformation of the miniature horse. They are shown in classes with other miniature horses like themselves. They can be shown in showmanship classes where the judge is judging how the handler shows the miniature horse. They can do obstacle courses in hand. This means that the miniature horse is led around the different obstacles and is judged on how easily the miniature horse moves through the pattern. There may be bridges to cross, gaits to be changed, backing experiences between poles, and other more challenging obstacles.  There are classes for in hand hunter/ jumper, costume, and liberty. The liberty classes are extremely interesting to watch. They show how responsive miniature horses can be to owners that take the time to train them in this freestyle musical class.

Driving is another common class for miniature horses. They can pull up to 3 times their body weight. The miniature horse should be at least 4 years of age prior to starting these competitions to avoid health risks. They can be entered into many different types of driving classes depending on what your preferences are. The training begins at an early age with ground work and it builds from there each year. There are videos available online to show the different competitions for driving classes. I was surprised to see a barrel race driving class and chuck wagon multi-hitch competitions.

The American Miniature Horse Association (AMHA) was begun in 1978. This allowed competitions amongst those who love this amazing creature. These small equines are very calm and adaptable to many different types of classes. If you would like to learn more about these incredible creatures visit the AMHA.

AMHA – American Miniature Horse Association, Alvarado, Texas

In recent years, the ADA allowed miniature horses to be service animals. In the past only dogs could be a service animal. The ADA has made provisions for miniature horses that qualify in the following areas:

  1. They must be housebroken.
  2. They must be under control of the owner.
  3. The facility must be able to accommodate the miniature horse’s size and weight.
  4. The horse’s presence does not present a safety concern for the facility.

If interested in more information about miniature horses and their service capabilities, you can read more about it at this link. 

Miniature Horses as Service Animals – Anything Pawsable

Miniature horses need to have a balanced diet. They should not be overfed since that can cause issues not only with internal organ function, but also increase chances of lameness. As small equines they require the core vaccinations such as Tetanus, Rabies, Eastern and Western Influenza, and West Nile immunization. It is important to do regular dewormings, hoof care, and teeth floating. They can develop a dense winter coat, so it is important to monitor their weight during the winter months. It can be difficult to see weight loss with that heavy coat. They enjoy hay and grain just like the larger horses but be certain to consult with someone experienced with mini horses to help you know what volume is appropriate for them.

Many years ago when my kids were younger, my father decided to bring these adorable miniature horses to his place. My daughters got to enjoy an afternoon of loving on them. They were so excited to be able to interact with them. We had seen them in pastures before but were never able to interact with them. I could not resist a photo opportunity.

If you are looking for a unique family pet, miniature horses can fit the bill. Be careful though…just like dogs….it is hard to have just one.

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