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 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soon to be Africa Bound! What you need to know about Wildlife Volunteering

Volunteering with Wildlife: The Do’s and Do Not’s

Hey Guys! I am writing today about a subject you all already know is very close to my heart. Volunteering with wild animals! Today I am going to write specifically about Africa, and what to look out for if you want to plan a volunteering trip!

If you’re anything like me, you want to do what is best for animals. Looking deeply into projects before you book your trip is incredibly important to make sure you aren’t accidently supporting a front for canned hunting (3). Businesses that make profits on their animals prey on the naivety of foreign volunteers, as it is easy to hide what is really going on. I have almost fallen victim to this trap myself, and urge you to book your trip only after thorough research and be confident in where you are going.

Accredited rehabilitation centres and sanctuaries have very specific rules:

1.     Minimal person-animal contact unless strictly necessary.

2.     No animal is kept there without cause.

3.     No breeding for anything other than conservation purposes (i.e. white lions).

4.     No “cub cuddling” or photos with “trained adult animals.” (1)

5.     No exploiting animals.

This is an example of partnering with a breeding program to repopulate endangered lappet faced vultures. They are external body cavity vultures, meaning they break the skin and muscle and bones away so smaller vultures and other scavengers can eat from the carcasses. They are critical to wildlife in Africa. 

This is an example of partnering with a breeding program to repopulate endangered lappet faced vultures. They are external body cavity vultures, meaning they break the skin and muscle and bones away so smaller vultures and other scavengers can eat from the carcasses. They are critical to wildlife in Africa. 

Number 1:

In a rehabilitation centre, there is more lee-way in this than at a sanctuary. As many of you have seen my photos with the animals I have cared for, I will explain the difference between a necessary contact and an unnecessary contact.

The rehab centre I visit is largely made up of orphaned wild animals. If you have been keeping up on our blogs, you may have read my first one about Africa, and how the choice is often to euthanize the orphan, or raise them with as much human contact as possible to ensure they don’t go into a camp (2) for as long as possible. For animals that need to be taken care of continuously, it is impossible to rehabilitate them to release, so they are often housed in sanctuaries.  Animals that are rehabilitated but unable to be released are often relinquished to species specific sanctuaries after their rehabilitation stint is finished.

People should have little to no contact with any animals that do not strictly require human intervention.

Number 2:

The point of a rehabilitation centre is ensuring that any animal with a fighting chance is given one. The purpose of a sanctuary is to make sure that animals who cannot survive in the wild are properly cared for. This being said, these are not zoos where a perfectly healthy animal is brought in and kept. If an animal can be released or relocated, they are.

Animals should not be at a true rehab centre permanently unless there are extenuating circumstances.

The oldest lions at the rehab in their HUGE enclosure. Matimba & Tamu

The oldest lions at the rehab in their HUGE enclosure. Matimba & Tamu

Number 3:

This one is a big one. If there are more than a couple babies at any time at a rehab centre, the likelihood that it isn’t a breeding operation is small. Animal sanctuaries and rehabilitation centres are occasionally asked to partner with repopulation projects (Rhino911, The Cheetah Sisters) and this is done in a manner where babies are born and raised with their mothers, with no human intervention, and released into the wild when they are old enough. Projects like The Cheetah Sisters are important because the wild cheetah population is disastrously low. However, breeding cubs to be cuddled does not allow them to develop into adults who can be released. In a place that is not a rehab or sanctuary, you may be told that white lions are endangered, and this is untrue. White lions are just lions with a genetic defect that does not occur in nature. Volunteering at a business where there are tons of babies taken away from their mothers, or there are several pregnant mothers is most likely a tourist trap with a back operation in canned hunting (3).

Always research where you’re going, animals should not be taken from their mothers and raised by humans.

Number 4:

Establishments who offer cub petting, cuddling, or bottle feeding are NOT rehab centres or sanctuaries. If at any given time there are several babies needing to be cared for who are not orphans, the practice is preparing for canned hunting. Any true rehab centre or sanctuary will not have new cubs unless there is a fluke pregnancy in a rescued female, or an orphan. Any place with white lion cubs is not a true rehab centre unless there is an extenuating circumstance. White lion cubs are a genetic mutation and are NOT natural, they do not occur in the wild as the gene is recessive. Every white lion cub will have genetic defects. Sanctuaries like Big Cat Rescue (4) and Black Jaguar White Tiger (5) will give examples of these genetic mutations, and how they are not naturally occurring. Another red flag to look out for is if there is advertising for a “liger,” as these are entirely man made creatures, and have never been recorded to occur naturally in the wild.

Be sure to look out for red flags, anything that makes you think twice about booking it, is most likely shady.

Saturn, one of the breeding cheetahs/ambassadors for both Moholoholo and the cheetah sisters project! 

Saturn, one of the breeding cheetahs/ambassadors for both Moholoholo and the cheetah sisters project! 

Number 5:

Exploiting animals (6) is a confusing subject to talk about. If you see the bottom of this page, you will see what the definition of this is considered in wildlife standards, as well as see the opposing, ambassador animals (7). Examples of red flags on this subject are: using specific animals as attractions, i.e. baby animals who are not trained but are small enough to not do anything, animals who have learned tricks, or are used in shows, animals you have to pay extra to see or have an experience with, the list goes on.  Once again using your common sense in these situations is so important, if something makes you think “maybe I shouldn’t do that,” you are probably right.

If you think an animal is being mistreated, abused, or taken advantage of-stay as far away as possible and report it if there is an option to.

Woody the blind spotted owl. 

Woody the blind spotted owl. 

A business that is NOT a rehab or a sanctuary would most likely have:

·    Several babies of any given species

·    Small enclosures, with more than one animal

·    Offer “bottle feeding baby ____”

·    Anyone able to pet the animals, feed the animals

·    Pregnant animals

·    Perfectly healthy non-human imprinted animals

·       Several species all in view

·       Experiences you can pay extra for

·       Animals exotic to the area, (i.e. in Africa, tigers are not a native species)

Some good sites to go through if you are looking to book a true conservation/rehabilitation/sanctuary trip:

1.     ACE: African Conservation Experience. Based out of England, very helpful and knowledgeable of every project they work with.  Accredited.

2.     Go Eco: A little more expensive, but helpful when planning an incredibly eco-friendly trip. Accredited.

These are 5 important points I wanted to talk about, in anticipation of my leaving for Africa in exactly one month! I am headed back to my one true love, Moholoholo, for one month over Christmas. I am currently accepting donations for medical supplies on my GoFundMe page listed below! Let me know if there are any questions you have, or if you are curious about volunteering! Send us a note on our facebook or email! Thanks for reading guys. <3

Megan

https://www.gofundme.com/back-to-africa-supplies-cost

Layla, an orphaned leopard cub, getting some human interaction before she heads to a leopard specialized sanctuary where she will no longer interact with humans at all. 

Layla, an orphaned leopard cub, getting some human interaction before she heads to a leopard specialized sanctuary where she will no longer interact with humans at all. 

(1) Trained Adult Animals: Animals who are not used for education but for personal gain.

(2) Camp: Large, spacious enclosure with no human contact

(3) Canned hunting: a type of hunting where the animal is raised captive, and trapped within an area, normally partially sedated, and is hunted and killed for sport.

(4) Big Cat Rescue: A Tampa, Florida cat rescue that takes on all kinds of “domesticated” wild animals and allows them to live out their lives with minimal human contact. www.bigcatrescue.org

(5) Black Jaguar White Tiger: A Mexico and USA based cat rescue that also rescues all kinds of domesticated wild animals, from circuses or shows, and allows them to live out their lives with minimal human contact. www.blackjaguarwhitetiger.org

(6) Exploiting animals: using an animal for personal gain, usually involves abuse or mistreatment.

(7) Ambassador animals: Animals without choice, human imprinted from babies. Used for education purposes, only trained using positive reinforcement. They cannot do tricks, or shows. Used only as examples for people.

 

At Home Pet Care- Number 1! Thera Paws Animal Massage

Hey all! We are doing a new segment on other at-home pet services that we think can benefit our clients who love their house calls! The first in the series is Thera Paws Animal Massage, run by RMT and Certified Animal Massage Therapist, Josh Fry! I did an interview with him, and got the rundown on his business!

fb_header.png

 

Megan: Explain your business to our clients:
Josh: I work with animals that need therapeutic help-recovery, arthritis, age care, etc.  I work on animals the same way as I work on people. I find out where they are ailing, and help to get them back to as normal as possible.

M: What made you interested in this field?
J: I have been a RMT for the last 5 years. 1.5 years ago a human client I was working on suggested I start working on animals. Looked into it, and thought it was a good idea. There is a market for this business, because animals are family, and being able to help them is incredibly important to their people. Being able to help both people and animals when I come into their house is nice.

 
M: What about your business benefits those seeking at home care for their pets?
J: First and foremost, decrease in stress in the animal. Going to a strange place and having a random person massaging them is stressful. Seeing the animal in their natural habitat is also important for proper treatment. It is good to be able to see how they are sitting, walking, and moving about in their own environment. Watching them move around in their home helps create their treatment plan for both myself and their owners.

M: What can a client expect from a general appointment with you?
J: First I have the owner fill out a health history form-pertinent health information, pain, past surgery, infections, temperament, activity level, etc. Next, we schedule a time to meet owner and meet the animal. At this appointment I ask more thorough questions. Find out what the goals are, for example a dog may have a limp from a past injury, but it isn’t the focus of the owner if there is something more critical for them. Once the animal is comfortable with me, I do an exam with manual palpation, to find sore spots.  I use an app to slow video time and see gait changes, compensating, stepping only on certain spots on paws, etc. I figure out where they are uncomfortable. I try to get them used to being touched in an area that may be tender or sore, and that they may not like. Once I do an exam and a session working with the animal, I make up a home care plan to give homework for owners between treatments with me. Basically I do an assessment and see if anything needs to change at home-for instance sleeping position, long walks. It can be easier for owners to work on massaging a place that an animal is uncomfortable with me touching.

5. Can clients come to you/are you solely mobile? (like us!)
Clients can come to me, I have a space I can use in SJ-must be booked ahead of time. Ideally see them in their own environment to see how they are behaving normally!

M: Tell me about yourself, and how your personality helps forward your business:
J: All I really want to do is help people, and now that I am able to do what I want with my life and help animals as well. People's animals are so important to them that helping them is forwarding happiness in their people. I think this helps me in my business because I truly love what I am doing, and spreading the happiness!

M: Tell me your favorite part about working in this field:
J: It is new experience for me because of the anatomy of each animal. Each new animal is eye opening, as they all move differently. I grow a new appreciation for how tissues move and how each animal moves differently.

M: Tell me your favorite part about being mobile:
J: I get to travel! I get to see different places, and see the seasons change across the problem. I get to meet a lot of different animals.

M: What is your range:
J: Within NB honestly. If I can make it work I will. Travelling further obviously means a higher cost, but if there is time to plan it I would go anywhere to help. The travel cost is split between groups of people who may be far away. Like if you get a group of people and animals together, and my travel time to your location is an hour, the cost is discounted.  


M: Do you think being mobile sets you apart/explain:
J: Yes, not just because I am mobile, but because the business is different and unlike anything we have in the area. There are spas and the like for animals, which is nice, but I wanted to get more into the anatomy and movement to relieve pain and help in recovery.

M: How can clients get in contact with you, and get more info?

J:

Website: www.thera-paws.com (Click the name to go to the website)

Phone: 1-506-650-6443

E-mail: info@thera-paws.com

Anything additional you might like to say:
One of the main questions I get is “Why would I pay you to "pet" my pet?”
To this I would say, although it is uncommon, doesn't mean it isn't effective. Everything was once uncommon! If you’re skeptical, give it a try!

 

We love working with Josh, and think that his business can help immensely with some animals and their pain. Use any of the info above to get in contact with Josh and learn more about how he can help your furry friends!

Megan

facebook.png

Being a Momtrepreneurian (A Mom-Entrepreneur-Veterinarian)

With a new baby on the way for my family, so many different things about this subject are always running through my mind. This post is a little less animal and veterinary focused, and a bit more personal, so feel free to skip this one if that is not your cup of tea!

The Current Fam (minus the kitties!)

The Current Fam (minus the kitties!)

My husband, and your soon to be local house call vet extraordinaire, will tell you that I always have said that, for some reason, I really wanted to be an entrepreneur. My biggest issue was that I did not know exactly what I meant by that, as owning a full size veterinary clinic did not feel like the path I was looking for.  I am not the most patient person when it comes to waiting to figure things out, so I spent countless hours thinking both in and outside of the veterinary field for an idea that would feel right.  And just like “they” always tell you it will happen, one fateful day it finally dawned on me – my favourite appointments to see are house calls…what if ALL I did was house calls?!

With a lot of support and encouragement from more people than I can count, the birth of that idea got me started on this entrepreneurial journey that I would not trade for the world.

But back to the real subject of this post – how has this helped, or hindered, my ability to try to be a good mom, a good vet, and a good business owner? I am going to try to make it simple by breaking it down into each category.

IMG_8260.JPG

How can I be a good business owner?

It is surprisingly true how somehow owning your own business feels a little bit like having another dependent. Without you, it can’t run. If you don’t continuously nurture it, its development will be affected. If you don’t continuously pour resources, both financial and emotional, into it, it will suffer noticeably. 

Trying to be a good business owner is doing your darnedest, always, to not just stick with the status quo. To take those spare moments, when maybe you’d like to be taking a breather, to brainstorm things you can improve, or new things you can do to spread the word, or even to catch up with accounting…haha.  The bonus about all of this work, though, when you’d like to probably be playing, is: if you have chosen to build a business that you truly care about, you want to do these things! You should, of course, sometimes choose to play instead, but at least some of the time you won’t feel like you are doing these things because they are your job. You will be doing them because you’ll be excited to see the ways that it pays off, and you will take pride in seeing your dependent flourish as a result of your concerted efforts!

IMG_8445.JPG

Probably one of the hardest lessons to learn is: no matter how successful your business is, sometimes your efforts do not pay off immediately. Sometimes you are struggling to keep up with bills, and doing something that is costly, but you truly believe is worthwhile, and it will seem like its not working for a long time before you can see the benefits.  If you truly believe in what you are doing, don’t give up when there are not immediate results, but also try to look at things as objectively as possible (ask for opinions!) and be willing to adapt and change to things that may work better! Being open to change and growth makes all the difference!

Repping my business with a hat knit by my wonderful mother-in-law!

Repping my business with a hat knit by my wonderful mother-in-law!

How can I be a good veterinarian? (or whatever your primary role is outside of “business owner”)

For me the answer to this is simple: I am so much happier being a vet in this particular way, that I know it is making me the best veterinarian I can be.  When I used to work exclusively in a clinic, that particular environment did not allow me to use my strengths in the profession as much as I think I needed.  What I love about house call practice is getting to spend lots of time with my clients, getting to know them and my patients. I love seeing pets in their own environment. I love helping people who would otherwise have difficulty getting their pets into a clinic.  This is not to say that vets who work in clinics wouldn’t value these things as well, but it truly feels to me like the environment where I get to engage in one of my favourite things: getting to know people.

This is just one small part of being a professional and a business owner at the same time, however. The real question is, how do you find the time to do both?

This comes down to a couple of big things: good time management, and GOOD HELP!!

I don’t think I can stress either of these things enough. Time management is not an easy thing for everyone (including myself), but it is integral to work very hard on this. In order to essentially have two full time jobs, and still have work-life balance, you need to establish boundaries for your time, and structure for the time you have dedicated to work.  Make lists, get good software or calendars that remind you of the important things you need to do, keep track of everything you do get done, and establish routines and protocols for how things work so you’re not always scrambling to figure these things out. And again: ADAPT. If something isn’t working, find a better way to do it. If you notice the same issue coming up repeatedly, take the time to figure out why, and fix it! This kind of problem solving can seem time consuming, but the time it saves you to fix the problem makes it MORE than worth it.

Some of my GREAT help - Megan!!

Some of my GREAT help - Megan!!

Good help is probably one of the most important things across the board. It does not save anyone time, money, or sanity to try to do everything yourself.  It is hard, when I already compared your business to another child, to hand off responsibilities to other people when you have ideas about exactly how you want things to work.  But that’s why you need to be really specific/choosey/smart about who you get to help you! And once you find that person, TRUST them. If you give them responsibility and trust, when you have the right person, this will help them grow as well and they will love your business like their own.  The investment is well beyond worth its weight in gold to have someone do the things that can be delegated so that you can focus on the things that you need to be doing. This helps me to be a better veterinarian as well, because if I can delegate other important tasks to someone I trust, then I can put more time into growing as a vet and making sure to do that aspect of my job to my full potential. 

IMG_5964.JPG

And most importantly to me – How can I be a good mom?

This one is probably the hardest for me to qualify because I think, like any mother, I always feel like I could be doing better. My daughter, Maria, is my deepest pride and love and joy. I am so happy to have a job that I enjoy, but there is always a large part of me wishing I could spend every waking moment that I have with her.  Alas, I must work, and so this is more about finding the best way to be the best mother I can be while doing so!

Interestingly, time management and good help are two of the mainstays for this advice as well. A third that I’ll add though that is equal parts incredibly difficult and incredibly important, that I still have not perfected, is establishing boundaries. 

The advice about the first two points here is similar to the previous section, as both are meant to make sure you use the time that you are actually working as efficiently as possible (leaving as much time as possible free for your family). If you have good systems in place to try to finish work on time, within working hours, and you are able to delegate tasks that don’t need to be done by you, then you can take those spare moments to steal time with your family when possible. Meaning, for example: if I have a random afternoon where I don’t have any appointments booked, I can choose to assign some tasks to my wonderful assistant, and spend the afternoon with my girl. Take advantage of unexpected freedoms! As I mentioned before, some of these moments should be for business focus, but some of them should be for “play” and family time as well!

IMG_7820.JPG

Now, on to boundaries.  It is a major struggle, when you own your own business, to not worry about hurting your growth and success by having to say “no” sometimes.  If I tell this client that we are too booked to see them today, will they just go somewhere else and never try me again? If I don’t reduce my prices for this person, does that mean I don’t care? Does it mean I’ll lose this client, and I won’t find any others? If I’m not available outside of working hours to help people, will they not see my service as valuable?

I could go on all day with the things that run through my mind on this subject. But it comes down to this: the most important thing in my life is my family. I started this business so that my quality of life and the time I spent with my family would be improved. This mentality has helped me so much to make decisions in terms of boundaries. Every day I work harder and harder towards making sure that when I’m home, I’m home. When my working hours are over and the phone is off for the night, I’m present with my family.  I do not receive notifications from my Facebook page, my e-mail, or the work phone once we are “closed”. I do not want to look back at my babies’ childhoods and feel like it was a blur of trying to work and focus on them at the same time.  There are exceptions to this, as sometimes I have so much work piling up that I do have to work into the night, but this has improved as time has gone on. It’s a work in progress.

The final motherhood point I’ll make kind of seems like the opposite of what I just said, but if I am lucky enough to steal an afternoon with my baby, I do have to repeatedly remind myself that even if I do have to have some work distractions during this extra time, it is still better than not having the freedom to seize those opportunities to get that extra time with her.  My time off needs to be my time off, but my bonus moments during the workday are just that – bonuses, and I’ll take them, and cherish them, however I can get them!

IMG_6016.JPG

Being a Momtrepreneurian has been a major learning experience for me, and I think has allowed me to be the best Mom, Vet, and Business Owner I can be, but I am always trying to improve! I frequently have times where I feel like a failure, but I haven’t doubted this path since I started on it. Being a mother of two and handing over some of the reigns to my wonderful husband will be a whole new adventure for me though, so we’ll see how well I do putting some of these things into practice when I am a bit more on the sidelines! 

I’d love to hear any tips and tricks any other business owners have or any input on any of it, for that matter J Hopefully this different type of blog post is some food for thought for those interested! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

IMG_5797.JPG