This Session: February 21, 2021
Questions and Answers from Past Sessions
February 21, 2021
How did I start Jackson’s Veterinary Services?
Upon completing vet school Tuskegee, I went back to my hometown. You see, I came from a country town where dogs stayed outside, dogs ate whatever humans ate. The town wasn’t up to par with standards in veterinary medicine. There was no real advocate to tell pet owners what to do.
So, two weeks after graduating, I wanted to be that advocate. All I had was a tent, cooler, vaccines and a table. I started running a pop-up veterinary clinic in Mansfield and Shreveport Louisiana. Very quickly my schedule became full. I realized I was doing as much as I could, but the pets needed more.
Then, something happened that I couldn’t ignore. Out of 20 dogs that I tested for heartworms, 18 were positive. It broke my heart. I quickly made an estimate that 85% of the dogs in my community likely had heartworm disease. And it was so easily preventable if the pet owners had the knowledge beforehand.
Seeing heartworm disease in so many dogs made me want to do more. First, I tried to partner with other clinics. But long story short it was an epic fail. So the only thing left to do, if I wanted to be an advocate for better pet care, was to start my own practice.
I was nervous about asking for a bank loan, and I was nervous about borrowing more than I needed. Also, I wanted to make prices affordable in my community. That means I couldn’t get expensive equipment or pay rent at a physical location. So I went and got a trailer. And I just started building and putting stuff together. It turned into something big! The pets love the unit.
What animals do we see?
All animals. For example: dogs, cats, sheep, horses, pigs, goats, cows, snakes, bearded dragons, and more!
My child is interested in having a pet...
We love giving children exposure to pets. If you know a child that loves pets but you’re not sure if they are ready for that responsibility, send us an email. Kids can come see behind the scenes to get a better idea of what having a pet is all about. Exposure is key to having a pet going forward.
What’s the most important care for dogs?
Brush their teeth. You should be brushing your dog's teeth every day! And then get a dental cleaning every 6 months. It’s not enough to add minerals to the water or give them dental chews. The most important care for your dog is brushing their teeth. Your dentist tells you to brush every day - I’m here to tell you that dogs need the same!
If you are letting your dog lick you on the mouth, this is another reason to brush their teeth. Dogs don’t have hands so their mouth is their hand - and you know they do everything with their mouth. Keep it clean. Start brushing tomorrow!
There are some major consequences to dental disease. Bacteria can get into the bloodstream, and this can lead to organ failure. A prolonged history of bad dental hygiene leads to heart murmurs. When a pet gets a heart murmur, this will have complications for the rest of their life.
Advice on Nail Trimming for Dogs
Nail trimming is not difficult, but it is a sensitive issue for many dogs. Nail trims done incorrectly are traumatic for dogs. They have a pain threshold called demarcation which is a hard line between what they feel and can’t feel. As long as you trim correctly, there will be no feeling. But if you go beyond, it becomes immediately very painful.
If you are trying to trim nails on your own, please know what you are doing. Get a professional as needed. Hurting your dog causes trauma and then going forward you have a dog that doesn’t want you to touch their feet. It’s difficult for everyone. Again, think about the past - they might already have trauma and anxiety about it.
Advice on Ear Cleaning for Dogs
Clean your dog's ears as often as you would clean your own. Don’t go too far into the canal. I do not recommend using q tips. Instead, use cotton balls. Do not dig into the dog's ear. They are sensitive and it hurts. If the ear appears like it needs more cleaning than you can handle, contact a professional. Cleaning your dog’s ear is important as bacteria buildup can cause infection.
Do you do ear cropping?
We typically do not recommend ear cropping. We also do not do this procedure unless medically necessary. When a dog’s ears are cropped for vanity, we see too many ear infections as a result. In the case of a dog that has a really long ear - which can house excess moisture - only then may it be medically necessary to crop the ear. Ask us if you need professional help!
How much does it cost to properly care for a dog?
There are so many variables for this. Nevertheless, get an estimate by finding out following costs: vaccinations, deworming, fecal testing, heartworm test, spay/neuter.
For example, if you had a puppy: In their first year it would be $200 - 350 every month. This adds up to over $1000 in just their first 6 months. We do not suggest getting a puppy if you cannot afford this. You also have to include food, cages, training. If you are not prepared for these expenses, having a puppy is not appropriate for you. Moreover, when dogs are not cared for they are subject to disease which further adds to the cost.
Dogs need things! They cannot survive on their own. They are much more similar to humans than some may realize.
What are microchips?
Microchips are a form of permanent identification. It’s like a social security number for your animal. Importantly, it does not track the animal. It only allows the animal to be connected to the owner when it does get lost. The microchip must be registered for it to be fully functional. When a pet is lost, we scan the microchip and contact the manufacturing company. Thus, if it’s not registered, there will be no one to contact.
Microchips are not GPS devices. You cannot locate the dog directly through a microchip.
Some advanced microchips I use for my dogs - can take their temperatures. This way, I can prevent rectal temperatures as it adds to your pet’s stress during the vet visits.
Horses need to have identification too. They typically cost $40 or so.
Job shadow Jackson’s Veterinary Services!
If you have someone over age 18 that wants to shadow a veterinarian, send them our way! We are always happy to introduce new people to veterinary medicine. Just send us an email to <[email protected]>
January 24, 2021
Why do we perform fecal testing?
A vet performs fecal testing to check for intestinal parasites in an animal. It is a preventative measure because parasites are not only harmful for the animal, but can also be transmitted to humans. Importantly, the test does not find parasites themselves. We are looking for the eggs that can hatch into infective larvae (worms).
Animals can pick up parasites from common grassy areas. Not all parasites can be seen, which is why we check for signs of them in the stool.
Take a preventative measure for parasites by visually inspecting feces. Ask us for help on identifying the signs. Remember, pickup feces as soon as possible after it hits the ground. Why? If you have one animal with parasites, the eggs in feces can hatch and infect other animals when they come in contact with it.
What if my pet has parasites?
We will offer deworming, which is the process of administering a medicine that will allow your pet to shed common parasites. The parasites and their eggs are shed when your animal defecates. Once the animal has been dewormed appropriately parasitic prevention is recommended to prevent further parasitic infections. Repeat fecal testing is also recommended to ensure that the animal has no further intestinal worms.
How do I prevent parasites in my pet?
The only way for your pet to be free of parasites is monthly prevention using certain medicines. There are many options, please ask and we can explain which is best for your pet.
Note, if your pet is not good at taking pills, we don’t want to send you home with something that can’t be used! There are different modes of administration for parasite prevention. Just ask and we can find the best one for your pet.
Are rabies vaccines required?
Yes. In Davidson County TN, rabies vaccinations are required for both dogs and cats. In addition, you must also register and get tags for your dog or cat. Since rabies vaccinations typically last either one or three years (depending on the vaccination administered), there are 1-year ($8.00) and 3-year rabies tags ($24.00).
It is the owner’s responsibility, not the vet, to register and purchase tags online:
Rabies vaccination is required by law. The Nashville Health Department states:
“It shall be the duty of every owner to have his dog or cat vaccinated against rabies after the dog reaches three months of age, the cat six months of age. Regardless of the type of licensed vaccine used or the age of the animal at the time of the first (primary) vaccination, the animal shall be revaccinated one year later. Following the first two vaccinations, booster vaccinations will be due at either one or three year intervals in accordance with the approved duration of immunity of the specific vaccine used and the species vaccinated.”
Signs of a urinary tract infection (UTI)
When a female is constantly licking their vaginal area, it is not normal. Have her examined immediately. A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) typically changes the pH of urine. Prolonged UTIs can cause urinary stones to form. This will become a serious issue for your pet. Skin folds ( recessed vulva) can also be the cause of recurrent urinary tract infections and excessive licking of the vaginal area.
Our practice does not recommend cranberry juice to prevent urinary tract infections. There are better ways to prevent a UTI, ask us for recommendations.
Male UTIs are not as common of a concern. However, male dogs can get stones, and when they do, it can be life threatening. They can get a urinary obstruction and cannot urinate. If a male dog has difficulty urinating, please have him examined immediately.
Why is Heartworm prevention so important?
Heartworm disease is very serious. If contracted, your dog will need treatment for 1 year and costs can go up to $2000 or more in total. The disease comes from an infected mosquito. One mosquito can infect multiple dogs. Most vets agree: you cannot prevent contact with an infected mosquito, but you can prevent the development of disease in your dog.
The seriousness of Heartworm comes from the worm’s ability to cause permanent organ damage. It takes 7 months to 1 year from the initial mosquito bite, to develop the disease! This is why all dogs should be on a preventative medication. To do this, first set up an appointment with us to get testing done. We want to see 2 negative heartworm tests, each 6 to months apart.
Symptoms of Heartworm are excessive coughing, difficulty breathing, lethargy, exercise intolerance, inappetance, losing weight, and more. If your dog is experiencing these symptoms, please get an exam immediately.
My dog is scooting across the floor!
Your dog’s anal glands are full - and this is not normal. To explain, dogs have two anal glands that sit at the base of their rectum that are filled with watery fluid. When they defecate, their stool pushes against the glands to excrete fluid. It serves a purpose of marking territory.
When a dog’s stool is too soft (i.e. loose stool or diarrhea) for a period of time, it does not express the anal glands normally. Thus, the glands get full and this becomes uncomfortable. This is when they start scooting across the floor in an effort to express their own glands.
Anal glands should not be left full. If this is happening to your dog, we can do it for you. The procedure is called anal gland expression and it is safe. We check to see that the fluid coming out has consistency like water. However, it can come out like toothpaste and this is a sign of something more serious. Obesity, food allergies, and other issues can also cause your pet to scoot on the floor.
Separation anxiety: what can I do?
Anxiety in pets can be managed very easily if the pet is well trained. Using commands that the pet is familiar with decreases their stress level and allows them to focus on the command instead of the scary environment. Please note that if you are asked to leave the room it is not done in a disrespectful way. Sometimes the pet owner’s presence can make their pet’s anxiety worsen. They typically hide under your leg and/or they don’t want a stranger to touch them (in your presence).
At our exams, first we allow them to get familiar with the clinic - on their own. They get to walk around, they get to be independent away from you. Second, we create a training session with basic commands so they get comfortable interacting with a stranger. Finally, they feel reassured to approach us and we can perform the exam as needed.
If you have a pet that struggles with anxiety, we are the clinic for you!
How do I reduce anxiety in my pet?
Take the time and effort to increase your pet’s independence. This will take training and it’s not going to be easy for them to have time away from you. But, to reduce anxiety they cannot be with you 24/7. You must create space for your pet.
The best things to do when your pet vomits or has diarrhea
Bring in a sample. This is the best thing you can do, because we can directly test the material. We can most easily determine if it is a life-threatening issue or longer term health complication.
Take pictures. We can determine a great deal from seeing things like color and consistency. A photo or video is a lot more accurate than just a verbal description.
Prepare a very thorough health history. Tell us what you know, regardless of how embarrassing it may be. The less we know, the more diagnostic tests we must perform - costing you more money.
*It is not normal for cats to vomit. An occasional hairball is one thing, but if your cat is vomiting more than once a week it can be a sign of something more serious.
Stages Of Life: Best Practices for Vet Care
Puppies and Kittens: Get the proper core vaccinations. Canine Parvovirus in particular is highly contagious and deadly in puppies. Multiple viruses can cause upper respiratory infection in cats that can spread to other felines very easily. Additional Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia can easily infect healthy cats from an infected one.
Middle-aged: Get an exam every 6 months, and the proper vaccinations every year.
Senior pets: In addition to an exam every 6 months, blood work and Xrays once a year. Diagnostic tests like bloodwork and Xrays can detect the presence of chronic diseases before they severely limit your loved one’s life. In addition, cancer can be detected earlier rather than later in some cases.
How old should a puppy be before using a leash?
Start at 8 weeks for all training. Start by placing the leash on them and let them drag it around the house. A tip from my experience, train before they eat. If you let them eat, they will go to sleep and not have any interest in training ( treats)! While I personally don’t have the time to train anymore, I can direct you to the right resources. Just email <[email protected]>