Happy Grand Manan-Iversary! <3

Happy Victoria Day! I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday :) We are just popping in to announce the WINNERS of our Grand Manan-iversary giveaway, and also to share some words and photos about our Grand Manan love! So here are the winners, and read on for a bit of nostalgia from us!

From Instagram: @lobsterbrat (Candice Green)

From Facebook: Tiffany Ingalls

 CONGRATULATIONS!!! We will reach out to you, but in case we don't find you, please contact us to give us your contact information so that we can add you to the system and put your credit on file for whenever you want to use it! It does not expire, and you are welcome to gift it to someone if you want to at some point :)

Thank you all SO MUCH for joining in our celebrations and following us along on this journey to improving the availability of veterinary care!

Now on to some reminiscing:

I cannot believe it has been one year since we made the wonderful decision to start hitting the water once per month to go to one of my absolute favourite places – Grand Manan, NB. It has been a whirlwind, and we cannot say enough about how much we love going there. Not only do we love the place, but we love the people (and the pets of course!)

Numerous times while on the island we have been offered meals, snacks, warm drinks, cold drinks, (alcoholic drinks  haha), and even a place to lay our head if we were spending the night! But beyond all of that, we just always receive such a warm welcome into everyone’s homes.  And most importantly, we never stop appreciating you entrusting us with the care of your furry family members.

I just want to share with you some photos from some of our trips to Grand Manan over the last year. There are many many more photos, and many MANY more memories as well. Thank you all so much for your patronage. We hope we will be serving you for years to come <3

Katie, Will, and Megan - The Seaside Team

Heading on Over <3

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 Megan was, in fact, with me on this trip but didn't last too long outside, as the open water does make her a bit queasy - but she loves Grand Manan so much that she quite cheerfully endures it!

Megan was, in fact, with me on this trip but didn't last too long outside, as the open water does make her a bit queasy - but she loves Grand Manan so much that she quite cheerfully endures it!

 Checking out the other boat during the "two ferries" part of the season!

Checking out the other boat during the "two ferries" part of the season!

 One of our monthly Grand Manan reminder announcements!

One of our monthly Grand Manan reminder announcements!

Some of our beautiful patients <3

Just a few more of our favourite shots <3

 Sometimes we come to Grand Manan even when we aren't working :)

Sometimes we come to Grand Manan even when we aren't working :)

 Mary loves herself a good Whistle Road sunset!

Mary loves herself a good Whistle Road sunset!

 Heres to many many (many) more trips to Grand Manan for both work and fun (often at the same time!)

Heres to many many (many) more trips to Grand Manan for both work and fun (often at the same time!)

Why Continuing Education is Important!

Hey Guys! 

Just over a week ago I had the pleasure of attending the Atlantic Provinces Veterinary Conference, in Halifax!

 

It is always such an amazing experience, no matter where you go, to meet like minded people. We refer to these conferences as “continuing education” and today I want to talk to you a little bit about it, and why it is important, particularly in a field like veterinary medicine!

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Any medical field is always rapidly changing. There are always new techniques, and there is always new information. You’ve all heard it before: you never stop learning! The main goal of continuing education is to help everyone advance. It is important to continue to learn in order to become more effective, efficient, and connected.

 

At these conferences, veterinarians have a first hand opportunity to learn about new surgeries, treatments, technologies, and products that have entered the market. They also get to talk with many of their colleagues, and to pass on knowledge they acquire to other vets to help them become the best doctors they can be. Continuing education allows one space for everyone to get together, catch up, and share things they’ve learned. Guest speakers are usually specialists in their fields, and have so much to offer!

 

The conferences are not just for veterinarians, however! Technician lectures at conferences like the APVC often focus on techniques, diagnostics, and procedures technicians routinely perform. Having a strong team that can communicate well, and are all as advanced in their fields as possible, makes for a very happy workplace.

 

I attend APVC as a “tech,” so that I can attend lectures that may be beneficial to my career and my current position with Seaside Home Veterinary Care. Officially, I am an assistant, (shhh, don’t tell) and most of the lectures geared towards my credentials are focused on "front end” (i.e.: reception) staff, and practice management! This year I chose some lectures that were very fun and informative technician lectures (911, The 5 Most Common Emergencies, Otitis (Ear Infections) - Never Ending War Problems), but the most important ones I attended were about making connections with our clients, and how we can help the business become more cat friendly!

 

Starting with the communication information: the front end staff at a stationary clinic put up with a lot. They have stressed owners, stressed animals, and stressed vets and techs. In this profession it is IMPERATIVE that we never let an upset in OUR day, have any sort of effect on our client’s days! We all have basic communication skills, but we can always improve on how we form relationships with people. We care about our clients so much, and ensuring that at the end of the day they are happy with the service we provide for their pet is so so important. Some of the most important things I’ve picked up in communication lectures are based on knowing it is okay to say “I’m sorry.” Owning up to your mistakes is such an easy way to repair a relationship with someone. Honesty is the best policy, and there is never any shame in a good ole I’m sorry, as long as you mean it. And in the same vein: honesty is important. If clients have questions about their pets, their medications, their bills, we want them to know that they can always come to us! There are no dumb questions, and we will always be transparent with you.

 

Now onto the kitties!

 Some of my favourite lecturers added lions to jazz things up ;) Obviously I was hooked.&nbsp;

Some of my favourite lecturers added lions to jazz things up ;) Obviously I was hooked. 

 

Being a house call service, we see a lot of pets who can’t get out of the house for one reason or another. A little over half of our patients are cats, so we see quite a few kitties! There is a HUGE stigma surrounding cats, which I talked a little bit about in a previous blog post. (Things You Don’t Want to Ask Your Vet). Our goal is to help alleviate this stigma, and show the world that it is unfair to make a judgement based on an animal in the scariest times of their life! You all know I am a cat person, and love my boys more than anything in the world. But when it comes to doing Bensen’s anal glands... forget about it. Cats tend to be more independent than dogs, so we see a lot more reaction from them than the typical dog. The thing about animals we seem to struggle to remember is that they have no idea what is going on. Their reactions are based on pure emotion with no understanding of the situation they are in! Imagine if your doctor came in, grabbed you, weighed you without your permission, then jabbed you with a needle! It’s scary! Understanding that their reaction is based on how they are feeling is the key to eliminating the stigma surrounding cats. 

 

Every time I attend any sort of continuing education, I come back feeling full to the gills with knowledge and hoping I can help make some person or animal’s visit a little easier. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to make your lives a little easier, we’re always eager to learn 😍

 &nbsp;Enjoying my breaks on the Halifax Waterfront!&nbsp;

 Enjoying my breaks on the Halifax Waterfront! 

Realizing your worth.

Hey guys!

 

Megan here! I have been working for Katie now for over a year. You guys have been through it all with us! I was lucky enough to start in the business after most of the kinks had been worked out, and we have chartered new ventures since the beginning for sure. Grand Manan, a blog, Pet of the Week - the business has definitely grown into a beautiful thing! (I mean it’s not often people can say they LOVE going to work!) 

 

In this blog I wanted to take a second to reach out and do some credit giving and credit taking, because once you stop trying to be humble, things can really come into perspective. This is something I’ve learned greatly in the past little while, and I want to share this lesson with you all! 

 

First of all, thank all of you. Our clients treat us with respect, and understand the importance of health care for their pets. You are all so incredible, because you strive to understand the work each person in this business puts forward, and how we want to make sure you know that you and your pets all come first to us. Often, we are greeted with “no rush, whenever works best for you, I know you are busy,” and other things along the same lines. Thank you so much for appreciating the hours Dr.’s Katie and Will dedicate outside of working hours to your pets. The appreciation from you when we do something as simple as a follow up call, or share photos of your beautiful pets is what makes this business such a happy place to be. So truly, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you. Give yourselves all a hand for being so amazing!

 

Second, I want to just give a shout-out to Katie, and all she is doing. As most of you know, right now she is on maternity leave with their newest addition! What most of you might assume with Katie, is she is always here, behind the scenes, keeping up with what is going on. Not only is she an incredible veterinarian, but an outstanding business owner, boss, and mother! (And she’s doing it all at once!) Imagine having an infant, a two-and-a-half year old, AND a business to run! I know I couldn’t do it. Besides that she is always there for me when I am run down, and will step in to answer emails and Facebook messages when Will and I are on the run! Katie, give yourself a pat on the back (with all the free hands you have) for being a business owner, boss, and mom that everyone should look up to. THANK YOU! 

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Third, Dr. Will! He is doing an amazing job running this business while Katie is out. It is awe-inspiring. He still helps at Kannon Animal Hospital part time, and the rest of the week he is hardcore dedicated to making this business FLOAT! It’s amazing how fast he's caught on to the way Katie does things, and I don’t believe there would be anyone better to step in and fill Katie’s shoes for this business. Will and Katie both have incredible compassion, love, and drive to make sure this business baby succeeds. Although he is quiet, he always ensures that whoever is talking his ear off knows that he is listening (usually that is me). Will has brought a different perspective to the business, because although he and Katie share a similar compassion and drive, they each see things differently. He has employed new features of our software, and has definitely given organization a new face! So thank you, Will, for being the absolute best fill-in boss I could ever ask for! 

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I appreciate how Will and Katie both make sure that I am learning as much as possible. Who else has a boss as amazing as either one of these guys? I mean, I ask more questions than a 4 year old, but not once have either Will or Katie been tired of explaining countless things to me. 

 

So lastly, I am going to give myself some credit. I have been letting things slip a bit lately and Katie has reminded me of my worth. If you are working for a small business, or any business, remember everything you do IS important! If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be part of your job! Nobody is paying you for fun, keep that in mind when you’re wondering how important you might be to your business. I have a bad habit of underestimating my worth in this business. I have to remember, I am here for a reason and I wouldn’t be it if wasn’t necessary! 

 

So thank you to everyone in this post, it’s been a whirlwind year and a few months. I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. 

 Violet making an appearance!&nbsp;

Violet making an appearance! 

Return from Africa, Part 2!

Hey Everyone!

So my return to South Africa was everything I had hoped! I got to see all kinds of my favorite babies, who are now mostly grown! I also made the decision to look into going to vet school, largely thanks to Katie telling me to find what makes me happy and supporting me through my crazy need to fly across the world for a month!

So, without delaying any longer, here is one of my “Return From Africa Part 2” blogs! Pictures included.

As always, please let us know by commenting or sending us a message if you have any questions!

This post is going to be an update on some of the babies you have met in my previous blog posts.

Skylar the Serval:

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This little dude has grown so much, he is now a handsome serval cat who enjoys catching birds, his blue ball (thank you Global Pet Foods) and feathers on the end of a string. Skylar is now an ambassador serval, and is on the tour circut at the rehab!

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Stompie the Honey Badger:

Stompie always was and still is a fan favorite. He is the goofiest, most intelligent, hilarious little guy. He’s growing like a weed, and is so strong it’s unbelievable. He is happiest chasing people around his enclosure, stealing cleaning supplies, and playing with his indestructible toys (thank you Ali du Toit)

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Adara the cheetah:

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You may have seen pictures of me with a baby cheetah that was bred and hand-raised on the rehab. He is now working as an ambassador cheetah, touring around and teaching people about this incredible animal and how endangered they are. I was able and honoured to participate in some training with him while I was here this time! There is a photo here with one of his main handlers, Martial.

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Of course coming back means a whole new round of babies and some adults to look after! Introducing for future special case blogs:

 

Ruby the Grey Duiker

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Allira the Caracal

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 Nala the Serval Kitten

Nala the Serval Kitten

 Janie the Bushbuck

Janie the Bushbuck

 Olivia the Banded Mongoose

Olivia the Banded Mongoose

FIV/FeLV Testing - What is it and why do we recommend it?

A very important thing that we are proud to play a role in for the SPCA  in Saint John is testing cats for two prominent viruses that exist in our area. We go to the shelter once per week to test kitties so that adopters can be as sure as possible that they are taking home a healthy cat, or that they are at least aware of the health status of their new family member.

 The SNAP tests and blood samples&nbsp;

The SNAP tests and blood samples 

We are also very excited to introduce you to three beautiful cats currently at the Saint John Animal Rescue League (SPCA). They are looking for homes and are affected by one of these viruses.

Meet Teddy, Lucas, and Champ. They have all been exposed to the FIV virus. We are showing them to you because people may think this makes them unadoptable, but this is far from the truth! They are lovely cats and in the right home, can live long and fantastic lives! Please read below about FIV and the other virus, Feline Leukemia Virus.

 Teddy!

Teddy!

 Lucas!

Lucas!

 Champ!

Champ!

How many of you have taken your kitty into the vet and had the veterinarian (or someone else at the clinic) bring up the notion of doing SNAP testing on their furry feline? Calling it SNAP testing is a quicker way to talk about it since the diseases we are testing for when we do it are a bit of a mouthful! The two in question are:

FIV: Feline Immunodeficiency Virus                                 FeLV: Feline Leukeumia Virus

 As a veterinarian, I often find this discussion to be a tough one to have with clients. I am sure that a couple of questions immediately run through their heads:

1.     Why should I test them for some random disease? There is nothing about them that suggests that they are sick!

2.     Isn’t this overkill when I’m already spending all this money on having them examined and vaccinated, and they seem fine?

3.     What are the chances they would have either of these diseases if I just got this cat from someone who only had other healthy cats?

These are all completely reasonable questions, but not ones that people ask out loud very often, so I’m hoping to explain this a bit to help people understand the importance of testing for these diseases, especially if you are bringing a new kitty into your loving household <3

First I will tell you a bit about each disease. Let’s start with FIV.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is often referred to as “kitty AIDS”, and this is not a bad comparison. The correct comparison would be to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), as opposed to AIDS, but the virus itself behaves very similarly to HIV in people. Important to note though: YOU CANNOT CONTRACT FIV OR HIV FROM YOUR CAT. It is only contagious between cats, as it is a feline version of the virus.  FIV is transmitted between cats via fighting/biting, blood transfusions that weren’t checked for FIV, or sexually. 

A cat being FIV positive means, in simple terms, that your cat has a weakened immune system at all times, and just as is the case with HIV in humans, FIV can progress to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) as a result.  This means your kitty is more sensitive to bacteria, viruses, parasites, and just getting sick in general. It also means that they are not very good at fighting off these illnesses, since their immune system is sub-par. It can potentially mean that your kitty’s life is shortened, but nowadays lots of FIV+ cats are able to lead long full lives with the disease with proper monitoring and with some adjustments made to their lifestyle. This is one of the reasons why it is good to test for it, but I’ll summarize more of that at the end J There is no cure for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is often referred to as simply “Feline Leukemia”, which makes it sound a bit like it is another way of saying cancer, but FeLV is NOT the same as regular “Leukemia”, per se. Feline Leukemia Virus predisposes your kitty to developing leukemia (among many other diseases), but it is not the same thing as leukemia.  Much like FIV, FeLV is also a virus that results in a very compromised immune system in your kitty. It also is known to specifically predispose kitties to developing various types of cancer. Once again, it is by no means transmissible to humans, but it is far more contagious between cats than FIV. FeLV is spread via saliva so even sharing the same food or water dish as an FeLV+ cat could result in another cat becoming infected as well.

There is no cure for Feline Leukemia Virus, but it is possible sometimes for a cat to become transiently infected, and for their body to manage to clear the virus. During the time that they are temporarily infected, they are still able to transmit the virus to other cats, and they will still test positive on a “SNAP” test. If there is concern that they may be transiently infected, a more involved form of testing can be done, or the SNAP test can be repeated several weeks later since they will normally clear the virus within 16 weeks if they are going to do so.

Summary and Comparisons

 So as you can see, these diseases are pretty serious stuff.  And if the infected cat is not currently suffering from a secondary consequence of the virus, they may seem like a completely normal cat. This is why screening is so important.  I am going to highlight a couple key differences between the viruses, and then fill you in on some things you should do differently if you find out you have a “positive” cat.

Transmission: FIV is transmitted primarily through bite wounds, so does not spread as readily through households, but tends to spread rapidly outdoors since outdoor cats often scrap with one another. The risk of spread in a household is increased with the addition of new cats since this will often spark conflict between existing household members. FeLV can spread much more rapidly both in households and in the outdoor cat population since it is spread through saliva. This means it can spread through grooming, sharing food and water dishes, sneezing, etc. It would also spread through the same methods as FIV (biting).

Consequences of Disease: Both diseases result in immunosuppression and cause your cat to be more susceptible to any illness or infection they may encounter.  Feline Leukemia has the added common consequence of predisposing to different types of cancer, particularly leukemia and lymphoma. Both diseases allow the possibility of your cat living a long and full life, but require increased monitoring and some lifestyle changes in order to increase the chances of this.  Both diseases have the possibility of drastically shortening your cat’s life if they suffer from secondary disease as a consequence of their infection.

Vaccinating: You cannot vaccinate a cat for FIV. There have been vaccines created in the past, but they have not had good results in terms of effectiveness, and also make it more difficult to test for disease as the vaccine interferes with test results. You CAN vaccinate for FeLV. The vaccine is not 100% effective, but is a good preventative measure for cats with risk of exposure.  It does not interfere with testing for the disease.

 So a good way to summarize then is probably to answer the original question of WHY do we want to test when they don’t seem sick, and what are these lifestyle changes I keep referring to throughout this post?!

The question and the answer were both in that paragraph. The reason we want to be screening for positive cats is so that we can take the appropriate steps to allow them to live the longest and healthiest lives possible, even if they do happen to suffer from one of these diseases. 

Lifestyle Changes

If you discover that your cat is positive for one of these diseases, there are a few things you will want to do, with some differences depending on which disease you are dealing with:

1.    Keep your kitty indoors!

-       Two major reasons for this are: avoiding the disease spreading to other cats in the outdoor cat population; and protecting your cat from encountering things that could make them sick since they are immuno-compromised (other sick cats, bad weather, cat fights, etc).

2.    Avoid unnecessary introduction of other cats

-       If you know you have an FIV or FeLV positive cat in your household, “closing” the population is a good idea. One common exception is: if you already have an FIV+ cat, sometimes people will accept another known FIV+ cat into their household since this cat will have a harder time finding a home, but won’t run the risk of being infected by your cat.  However, any big change like this could result in stress, which can cause illness flare ups so it may be best to keep the population closed once you are aware either disease is present. As previously mentioned, FeLV spreads a lot more readily, so more precautions need to be taken if you have one KNOWN FeLV positive cat in your household.  You should test all other cats in your household, and you can do your best to separate cats, and also vaccinate the negative cats as a precaution.  If you have one FIV+ cat in your household, and the others are negative, it is not likely the disease will spread to these other cats unless they are very prone to fighting/biting one another.  

3.    Yes, still vaccinate your cat!

-       You should still vaccinate your cat, with the exception of the fact that there is no value of giving the Feline Leukemia Vaccination to a cat that is FeLV positive. FIV+ cats can still be vaccinated for FeLV, however, and cats positive for either disease can still receive core vaccines as they normally would.

4.    Have frequent veterinary check-ups and act fast when there are signs of illness

-       It is important to watch FIV and FeLV+ cat’s health a little more closely in order to catch things early. Since their immune systems are not as good as your average cat, illnesses can progress more rapidly. Blood work screening and general check-ups one to two times per year are a great idea when possible.

5.    Stay on top of parasite control

-       It is even more important than it is in regular cats to stay on top of deworming and flea protocols, as FIV and FeLV positive cats are more likely to become stressed and rundown when dealing with parasite infestations. 

6.    Stick to regular diets – no raw

-       There are lots of pathogens that naturally exist on raw meat, and our immune-compromised furry friends are not able to deal with them in the way that other “normal” animals may be able to. It is important to stay away from these types of diets in FIV and FeLV+ cats.

7.    Keep stress low

-       Whatever you can do to keep things low stress for kitties with these diseases will help them to lead longer healthier lives. It’s just like how we are more likely to get colds and flus when we are stressed, only they have an added layer of likelihood to get sick!

That may seem like a lot of instructions, but it is a small price to pay to follow these guidelines if it means that your cat may get to lead an almost completely normal life! I believe, also, that it explains why it is such an important thing to know the FIV and FeLV status of your cats. It may feel like a bit of a financial burden at the time, but the test is quick and easy, and could prevent a lot of issues down the road if you know ahead of time that you are dealing with one of these diseases. 

 A very relaxed Teddy

A very relaxed Teddy

One wonderful and important thing around here in Saint John, NB, is that our local SPCA Animal Rescue tests ALL of their cats before they are adopted out to homes! We at Seaside Home Veterinary Care actually go right to the shelter ourselves to perform the testing, so that you can be assured when you adopt a kitty from there that you are not introducing either of these viruses into your household! It is an amazing thing that they do this, and one more reason to choose to adopt your next furry friend from the SPCA!  

The SPCA also occasionally is in search of good homes that have no cats, who are willing to adopt FIV+ cats.  Since this disease does not spread nearly as easily, occasionally we will come across them coming into the shelter and love to have the option to find a no-cat household for these cats to call their own.   Please let them know if you would be open to being informed if we came across a cat like this :).

This blog post may be a bit of an information overload, but hopefully it helped to explain anything you may have been wondering about these diseases! Please let us know, however, if you have any more questions or would like to talk about having your own cats tested for FIV or FeLV!