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Interested in Becoming a Veterinary Technician?

by Kristen Hicks

Dog and Cat

Do you love animals? Are you the one picking up the strays and rescuing them? Have you dreamed of working with animals your whole life? Why not study to become a veterinary technician? Although by law, veterinary technicians cannot diagnose, perform surgery, or prescribe medication, they are considered the backbone of the veterinary clinic. Our vet techs do much more than just write down your pet’s weight and take the pet’s temperature. Today’s trained vet techs becoming a veterinary technician combines all of the specialties of managing anesthesia and sedation, performing a thorough patient assessment, administering fluids and medications, patient management, critical care, urinary, arterial, and venous catheterization, dentistry, radiology, medical laboratory technology, and medical record keeping into one.

The profession of veterinary technology did not begin to shape up until the 1950’s when the United States Air force developed the first official animal technician training program for enlisted Air Force members. In 1961, the State University of New York at Delhi established the first animal technician training program for civilians. An associate’s degree of applied science was received by 8 students from this program. In 1965, Dr, Walter E. Collins, DVM, spent 7 years creating a model of study for training veterinary technicians.

He is known as “the father of veterinary technology.” At this time, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) decided not to approve of instructional programs for anything less than a veterinarian. However, in 1967, the AVMA revoked this decision and began establishing criteria for veterinary technician programs. In 1977, the first written state examination for licensure as a veterinary technician was administered in New York State. In the 90’s, the need for veterinary technicians increased drastically. With this came an in depth restructuring of licensing, training, and trade organizations of veterinary technology that are still used today.

Veterinary technicians have the option of continuing their education to become certified, or, as in the state of Texas, registered. In order to become registered as a veterinary technician in the state of Texas, there are some requirements that need to be met. First, an associate’s degree of applied science will need to be obtained through a 2 year accredited AVMA program. Once that is achieved, one is required to pass both state and national exams administered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB). In order to maintain a certification status, registered veterinary technicians will have to renew annual registration and will be required to obtain 10 continuing education (CE) hours per year.

Employment of veterinary technicians is expected to grow 52 percent from now to 2020, much faster than the average for all  other occupations. Below is a list of Texas colleges that are AVMA accredited to help start you in the direction of a successful career.

Some local schools also offer Veterinary Assistant programs. These programs are not as extensive as a Technician program and is designed to offer basic assistant education. Completing one of these courses will not result in an Associate Degree. Local educators with Veterinary Assistant programs include:

Fleas: Our Modern Day Vampires!

Close up rendering of a flea

It is almost impossible to escape the popularity of vampires in today’s culture. They have infected our lives, from popular culture to social media, and even into our homes. But these are not the sparkly kind of blood-suckers that need to be invited into one’s home; these will venture in of their own free will, seeking their next meal.

They are fleas.

Fleas are parasitic insects that feed on fresh blood. After taking a blood meal, female fleas can lay 20-50 eggs per day on the pet, and 2,000 in their lifetime.  After being laid, the eggs are usually spread & dropped off into the environment by the pet’s scratching and grooming.  These eggs will usually hatch anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks later.

After hatching, the larva will emerge and try to find a dark place, such as into carpets or cracks in flooring where it will feed on debris & flea feces (“flea dirt”) This stage lasts 5-10 days, after which the larvae will spin a cocoon and enter into the next stage of the life cycle- a pupae.

The pupae growth stage can last 8-9 days, after which the flea waits for certain signals to emerge as an adult. Warmth, vibration, or carbon dioxide in exhaled breath, can signal them that a blood meal is nearby. The pupae is the longest lasting & most resilient stage – they are almost indestructible and can persist in the environment for almost 6 months.

After the adult emerges, they will seek out their blood meal, find a mate, & begin the cycle over again.

Some pets can develop flea allergy dermatitis , where the saliva from a single flea bite can cause severe irritation and inflammation.

The adult fleas you see are only about 5% of the total flea population, so treatments that only take care of the adults are not solving the problem – what is needed is something  that will take care of the life cycle. Getting rid of a flea infestation is not an over-night task. It can take several months to eliminate all of the emerging fleas from the pupae.

Depending on your pets sensitivities and degree of flea infestation, one or more products may be recommended ranging from liquid topical applications, monthly oral tablets, or specially-medicated collars.

In addition, keeping the pets bedding area clean and frequent vacuuming of the house have proven to help reduce flea populations immensely.

If you already have an infestation, go to our Flea Control Handout. If you follow the recommendations on this page, we are confident you will be flea-free in no time.

Dr. Elizabeth Kurdziel

We are proud to announce the addition of our newest full-time, staff veterinarian, Dr. Elizabeth Kurdziel. If you have not had the opportunity to meet with her, keep her in mind the next time you are in the clinic. She would love to meet all of our family members; that is when she is not in the treatment area saving lives.

Pyometra

by Dr. Roger Terrel

radiograph showing a Pyometra in a dog

Pyometra (pus in the uterus) is a condition where the uterus of a female dog or cat becomes infected, resulting in severe illness and often death.  Any animal which has not been spayed and continues to have heat cycles is capable of developing pyometra, but dogs are more commonly affected than cats due to the differing physiologies of their heat cycles. Unlike women, dogs and cats never go through menopause, and continue to cycle, although sometimes irregularly or less often, throughout their entire lifetimes. Risk of developing pyometra is a major reason why it is medically advisable for any dog or cat to be spayed if there are no plans to use it for breeding.

Pets most often develop pyometra several weeks after they have been in heat (estrus). The lining of the uterus is sensitive to the hormonal changes that occur during the heat cycle and the lining of the uterus becomes thickened and engorged with blood as it becomes ready to receive the embryos if the estrus results in pregnancy. If no pregnancy occurs, and bacteria gain entrance to the uterus by way of the vagina, they may colonize the thickened lining of the uterus and cause an infection. Eventually the hollow uterus becomes filled with pus and may swell to ten or more times its normal diameter, basically becoming a bag of pus. When this occurs, bacterial toxins are absorbed into the animal’s bloodstream which are capable of causing illness in every part of the body, particularly the heart, kidneys, liver, and blood clotting systems.

Animals which are developing pyometra usually don’t feel well. Their appetites are often reduced and they may become lethargic and run fever.  Sometimes they vomit or develop diarrhea. Commonly, they may develop extreme thirst and water consumption as the disease progresses. There are two types of pyometra: open-cervix and closed-cervix. With open-cervix pyometra, the pus which forms inside the uterus is able to escape and is noted as a cream-colored, odiferous, and sometimes blood tinged vaginal discharge. Sometimes the pet with open-cervix pyometra will clean themselves by licking so well that the discharge is not visible. Animals with open-cervix pyometra may not initially be as ill as those with closed cervix pyometra, where there is no escape for the pus being produced within the uterus. In this case the animal absorbs more bacteria and bacterial toxins and becomes much more ill. Closed-cervix pyometra is also more difficult to diagnose. Radiographs, abdominal ultra-sound, and lab work (CBC) may be needed to confirm a suspected case of closed-cervix pyometra.  In some cases, the uterus may become so large that it actually ruptures, infecting the entire abdominal cavity, which is almost always fatal.

Dogs and cats with pyometra require emergency surgery to remove the infected uterus and to examine the interior of the abdomen for leakage of the uterine contents. Unfortunately, there are more risks associated with spaying a pet with pyometra than if it were healthy.  Some pets must be stabilized with IV fluid therapy, antibiotics, and other supportive methods before proceeding to surgery in order to make them more acceptable anesthetic and surgical risks. Antibiotics will be given to help with the infection, but are not typically effective if given alone without performing the surgery. Despite appropriate treatment and support, some pets with pyometra do not survive the disease. So, the only guarantee against pyrometra is to have your female dog or cat spayed at an early age, or at least when it is no longer used for breeding purposes.

Paws in the Park Was a Success

City of Pearland Paws in the Park logo

March 23rd & 24th of this year, Claws & Paws Veterinary Hospital® participated in the City of Pearland’s Paws in the Park. This year marked the 19th anniversary of this event, and benefited a local Rescue Organization, Pup Squad Animal Rescue. Events included Dock Diving, as well as demonstrations for US Dog Disc Nationals, Flyball, Agility, Obedience and Grooming. This year, just like in years past, the event began with 1K, 3K and 5K Fun Runs. Participants were able to run with or without their pets.

Claws & Paws Veterinary Hospital® had a great time on Saturday, despite the inclement weather. Sunday was a little rougher with the strong wind and almost unbearable wind gusts. Despite the rough weather on Sunday, Claws & Paws mascot, Clawd was still able to get the crowd to get up and dancing.

We had a great time at the event, and plan to participate next year as well. You ca view photos on our Flickr Photostream of the event at www.flickr.com/photos/clawsandpawsvet, including Dr. Wickel on stage discussing the benefits of Acupuncture with pets, Stacy with Pawsitive Focus discussing In-Home Dog Training, and Clawd getting chummy with HEB Buddy and the City of Pearland’s mascot (also on our Flickr Photostream.

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