Sunday, October 30, 2016

Don't Catch a Tiger By the Tong


            I've never had a phone conversation begin with "The tiger lady" before, so please forgive me for being a little apprehensive. It was the Sunday afternoon of the Van Wert County Fair and the caller was my chief fair liaison, Nick. Apparently, one of the tigers had a small skin lesion behind his chin and his handler wanted to get some medication for him. I knew there were two tigers at the fair this year, but it never dawned on me that they might fall under my jurisdiction as a fair veterinarian.

            I must admit my knowledge of tigers is pretty meager, based mainly on Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and what I remembered from Marlin Perkins. Almost immediately I went into excuse mode.  I cited vague pharmacy laws, claimed I didn't have the proper license to examine tigers, and even asked why her own veterinarian in Texas didn't just call in a prescription. When I realized I was getting nowhere with Nick, I knew to seek out a higher authority. "I'll call Dr. Bonnie Jones," I thought to myself. "She'll know what to say."

            "Let's go see the tigers!" however, was not what I expected to hear.

            The "tiger lady," whose real name was Lisa, was actually very nice and quite knowledgeable. The two white Bengal tigers were brother and sister. At two years of age, "Kadar," the male, weighed 375 pounds. He had a sore, possibly an abscess, in the triangular area between his mandibular rami. His "boo-boo" may have been the result of a little conflict with his sister.

            Lisa invited us into the inner sanctum near the cage. The female was sleeping, and Kadar looked like he wanted to. Lisa said tigers spend many hours each day napping, not unlike their domestic cousins. It was fascinating to be so close to them- their mannerisms and facial expressions were identical to every cat I have ever known. I guess that's because they are just cats, albeit really big ones. A notion then occurred to me. How securely would any of us sleep at night if our own housecats weighed 400  pounds?

            Lisa wanted to show us how she gave the tigers a pill, and retreated to her trailer for a box of raw chicken. She made a slit in a piece of chicken breast, inserted the antibiotic capsule, then using a pair of kitchen tongs, held the chicken through the cage wire.

            Kadar, although initially uninterested, suddenly in one motion leapt up with mouth wide open and snatched the chicken. He was scary fast, and eerily reminiscent of a scene from "Jaws," that is, if that movie had been about a tiger instead of a shark.

            Lisa next inquired if Bonnie wanted to have a go. Of course she said "Yes!" Lisa handed her the tongs loaded with a drumstick this time, and "WHOOSH!!!" Kadar did it again- like a lightning strike.

             I was definitely impressed by the demonstration, but when Lisa gave me the look and pointed the wet tongs my direction, I found myself shaking my head from side to side. "No...No thanks. I'm good."

            Now, I'm well aware of the importance of appearances, and I can understand from my decline of her offer how one could infer that I was afraid of being mauled to death. That couldn't be further from the truth. I wasn't afraid of the tiger. I was afraid of the tongs.

            I've had Salmonella before. It was not the best four days of my life. I lost ten pounds- the hard way. From a pathology standpoint, though, it was an interesting experience. I had never seen my intestinal lining before. Although my infection came from a sick calf, the mishandling of raw chicken is one of the leading causes of Salmonella infections in people.

            Since you now know that I'm a bit of a germophobe and a Salmonella survivor, I'll share these tips: Wash your hands before and after handling any raw meat, clean and disinfect cutting surfaces and any counter surfaces that may have been contacted by the raw meat, cook the meat thoroughly and at recommended temperatures, and for goodness sake, don't put the cooked meat back on the raw meat plate.

            And always remember...if Salmonella comes knocking at your door, don't answer it. On the other hand, if a tiger phones, you might want to pick up. The experience could be "grrREAT!"
By Dr. John H. Jones
Dr. John H. Jones is co-owner of Delphos Animal Hospital which he operates with his wife,
Dr. Bonnie Jones.

Physical and Mental Health for Your Dog


          My dogs mean the world to me. They make my day, especially at the end of a really long work day. With that in mind, I don’t want my schedule as a veterinarian to have a negative impact on them when I’m not home. With this in mind, I have worked hard to come up with a plan to keep them busy while I’m at work.

          First, I turned my kitchen into a safe play area for them. I don’t want them living in a crate all day, but given that the two of them are under two years old, free reign of my apartment is not an option, for their safety nor the safety of my possessions!

          After ensuring the environment was danger-free, I started putting together a collection of food toys for them to enjoy while I’m gone. My dogs rarely eat from a food bowl. When they do, the food is gone in five minutes and then they don’t have anything to do. I fill treat balls with kibble so that while I’m away, they can roll them around to get their meals.

         In addition, I have a collection of Kong toys and ever-lasting treat toys that I fill every evening with a mixture of canned dog food, green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, and their dog kibble. Once they are filled, I freeze them so that instead of being gone in under 10 minutes, it gives my pups something that is yummy and healthy to work on for a  more extended time period. 

         I also use a spare water bowl to freeze layers of water, canned food, kibble and treats together so they have something to work on that keeps them interested for a long time. Since my miniature American Shepherd likes to shred things, another cheap and fun idea I use for her is to put treats and kibble in an empty cereal box that I tape shut. She loves to shred the box to get to the good surprises inside. It does leave my kitchen looking like a cardboard snow storm, but it is worth it to know she is entertained while I’m away and clean-up is quick in the evening.

          So many canine behavior problems, from anxiety to inappropriate social behavior, stem from not having enough things to stimulate them mentally or to help them expend their energy. Having a dog is a commitment...a commitment to their physical health, including good food and veterinary care, and to their mental health.

          Working breeds (German Shepherds, Aussies, Border Collies, and more) will require more physical and mental enrichment than others, as they were bred to do a job. They tend not to thrive well in a home with nothing to do all day. However, ALL dogs need mental and physical stimulation in some manner to keep life interesting and keep them well.

Dr. Jill Dentel is an associate veterinarian at Delphos Animal Hospital.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Worms Crawl In, The Worms Crawl Out

"Fred" & "Pete" Brickner have gone batty for Halloween

                                Halloween is fast approaching and with it comes thoughts of all things "creepy." This time of year also brings an uptick in creepy crawlers, many of the eight-legged nature.  Among our hospital team, I would venture to say up to 50% experience "arachnophobia,"  an irrational fear of spiders. In fact, one of my new roles has become stalking and euthanizing "wolf" and other spiders that my team members swear are "gargantuan," and destined to be on their person...

                                Before entering veterinary college, I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology. This goal path made perfect sense for me.  I was and still am fascinated by all forms of animal life. This fascination carries over to insects and other creepy crawlers in, on and off all living beings as well.

                                Veterinary professionals are unique in that we are charged with caring for animals AND protecting people from "zoonoses" or diseases that are transmitted from animals to humans. Zoonotic diseases include, but are not limited to cattle tuberculosis, anthrax, bird flu, bordetellosis, cat scratch disease, leptospirosis, Lyme disease, Bubonic plague, salmonellosis, tetanus, scabies, and ringworm...just to name a few!

                                Then there is a whole list of "creepy crawlers" in the form of intestinal worms and  protozoans that animals expose their people to on a regular basis.  I cannot emphasize enough the importance of following through with a common, routine request by your veterinarian to collect a teaspoon -sized stool sample from your pet and take it with you to your pet's annual wellness visit.  In fact, I recommend stool exams, plus or minus administration of routine de-worming medication, every three to six months, depending on a pet's parasite exposure risks.

                                Pets with 'high" risk for parasite exposure include those that go or live outdoors, especially barn cats, and hunting, working or farm dogs. These pets definitely should have routine stool exams every 3-6 months AND be on heartworm and flea/tick control products, as recommended by a veterinarian, 12 months out of the year.  This can be as simple as feeding or applying a monthly topical preventive medication ALL YEAR ROUND...yet another situation where  an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

                                So what are these "creepy crawlers," and what can they do to humans?

                                The most common intestinal worms that infect pets include roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms and whipworms. Humans may become infected with three out of four of these parasites courtesy of their pets. If left untreated, whipworms can be deadly for pets, but thank goodness, they do not seem to affect humans.

                                On the other hand, people do become infected by roundworms and hookworms by ingesting microscopic worm eggs in soil, on their hands or other objects, or through larvae burrowing under the skin. Think sandboxes, gardening, litter pan maintenance, outdoor stool patrol, walking barefoot and poor hand washing or hygiene.  

                                Pets may also be infected by three different intestinal tapeworm species: one that is transmitted by fleas (Dipylidium caninum), one transmitted by eating wildlife or raw/undercooked pork or beef  (Taenia), and the third by exposure to livestock  organs or dog feces (Echinococcus). Like pets, humans actually become infected with the Dipylidium tapeworm when they accidentally swallow a flea carrying the Dipylidum egg. This is an important reason to provide veterinarian-prescribed, safe and effective  flea and tick control medications for ALL pets ALL year round!

                                Protozoal infections transmitted by pets to humans include giardiasis and toxoplasmosis. Protozoans are microscopic, one-celled parasites that can be difficult to diagnose on routine microscopic stool exams because they are extremely miniscule, and because they may shed cysts into the stools of infected pets only intermittently. Human giardiasis patients will experience intractable diarrhea, dehydration and weight loss. (Unfortunately, I speak from experience!)

                                Toxoplasmosis, on the other hand, can be most dangerous to pregnant women. This protozoal infection is transmitted through cat feces and may cause serious eye or brain damage for newborns, or developmental, visual and hearing disabilities for children later in life. To prevent toxoplasmosis, pregnant woman should avoid litter pan maintenance, gardening without gloves and consumption of raw or undercooked meats.

                                Please, please, please...when your veterinarian asks you to bring a stool sample from your pet to its annual (or even better, semi-annual) visit, do just that!  These dreaded parasites can cause YOU to have uncomfortable, sometimes difficult to diagnose intestinal problems, serious liver disease, visceral or cutaneous larval migrans, and even blindness from aberrant migration of immature worm stages throughout your body. Don't let "the worms crawl in...or out," of your body!

                                Have a happy, safe, worm-free Halloween!
By Dr. Bonnie Jones 
Dr. Bonnie Jones is co-owner of Delphos Animal Hospital which she operates with her husband, John H. Jones, DVM.  She was valedictorian and Outstanding Senior Clinician of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine Class of 1985.