The following is a blog post written by our summer volunteer, Mary Watkins. Mary is applying to vet school this fall – good luck Mary!  

What are whipworms?

Whipworms (Trichuris vulpis) are small intestinal parasites that are commonly found in dogs. They get their name from their appearance, having a skinny head and a thick tail. It can be difficult to detect whipworms because they live in the lining of the large intestine and don’t lay eggs continuously. Because they are smaller and harder to detect than the other common parasites (roundworms, tapeworms, and hookworms), pet owners may not be aware of the possibility of a whipworm infection.

http://drugline.org/

http://drugline.org/

How do dogs get whipworm?

Whipworm eggs pass with the stool. After about 2-4 weeks, the whipworm eggs are capable of infecting a new host. This means that dogs get whipworm by consuming contaminated soil, rather than directly eating their own stool. Dogs will consume the eggs, often while grooming themselves after being in a contaminated area. Regularly cleaning dog feces out of the yard will help prevent whipworm, however as eggs can stay in the soil for up to five years, it is almost impossible to remove or kill eggs in the soil.

http://vetnetwork.net/

http://vetnetwork.net/

What are the signs of infection?

A few whipworms may not cause any symptoms. However, if a dog has a lot of whipworms embedded in its large intestine, this can cause inflammation. The most common side effect of this is bloody diarrhea. The diarrhea can become a chronic problem. Other symptoms include dehydration, anemia, and weight loss, which can be mistaken for Addison’s disease. However, if the cause is whipworms the dog will test negative for Addison’s and make a full recovery once dewormed.

How do vets take care of whipworms?

As stated above, whipworm can be difficult to diagnose because eggs will not show up in every fecal sample taken. Any dog showing the symptoms of whipworm should be treated for whipworm. A second deworming about 75 days later is necessary to fully rid the dog of whipworms, because they have a long maturation period. Some heartworm preventatives, like Interceptor and Trifexis will also deworm for whipworms.

http://www.cliniciansbrief.com/

http://www.cliniciansbrief.com/

Whipworm in cats and humans

Humans and cats can also get whipworms, however, it is a species-specific parasite, meaning that humans cannot get canine or feline whipworms. While there is a species that infects cats, it is very rare in North America. 

https://cdn.petcarerx.com

https://cdn.petcarerx.com

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AuthorPleasant Paws Vet Cares

Cats are the most popular pets in America – with all of the great photos, videos, and memes on the internet these days, I can only imagine their #1 spot is here to stay. 

According to the AVMA U.S. Pet Owner Statistics, cats make up over 50% of the pets in the U.S., but they only account for 20-35% of veterinary visits. Why? For most, just the simple act of bringing the cat out of the house strikes a deep-seeded fear. The thought of claws, teeth, carrier, screaming car ride… it’s enough to wear anyone out. We also have this thought that, especially indoor cats, don’t need regular veterinary care. Cats are strong, hardy animals and don’t like to show that they need help (if they just had thumbs, their food bowls would never be empty again!). In fact, most cat owners don’t notice early signs of disease in cats because cats are experts at hiding illness… they are disease ninjas, if you will.

This is especially true if you have more than one cat – subtle changes in appetite, litter box habits, and activity can go unnoticed as the other cats pick up the slack. Cats have unique problems that can quickly become life threatening but are manageable if found early. From Type 2 Diabetes to Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease, Feline Oral Resorptive Lesions, Hepatic Lipidosis, and Chronic Kidney Disease – most cases seen by veterinarians have been going on for months, but many pet owners have only noticed changes within the previous days to weeks before seeking help. My own cat hid intestinal cancer from me until I suddenly noticed dramatic weight loss – it can truly happen to anyone. Cats are also highly susceptible to stress; when we are stressed, they become stressed. During stress in our lives, it can be easy to miss subtle changes in your cat’s behavior.

Another common misconception is that the only reason to come in to the vet is for vaccines. Most people think that indoor cats aren’t high risk, so there’s no need to be seen after their initial kitten visits. Vaccines are certainly important for their own reasons (ex: rabies is nearly 100% fatal, and one rabid bat in the house legally means euthanasia for any unvaccinated indoor cat), but above and beyond, the physical exam is our most important tool in helping your pet live a long and healthy life. Seeing your pet every year through adulthood and twice a year in the senior years helps us to get to know you, your pet, and what is normal. Subtle changes are found early when your veterinarian and veterinary nurses know your pet well. Regular checkups also give us the chance to check normal blood values on your pet – early detection of liver or kidney disease can greatly extend the lifespan of your cat. Cats may be disease ninja’s on the outside, but their bloodwork always tells the truth. Detecting kidney disease, liver disease, thyroid disease, or diabetes early through preventative screening can help us to make small changes now in diet, supplements, or medications. This can prevent expensive Intensive Care Hospitalizations or in the worst cases, choosing euthanasia in times of a crisis that may have been avoided.

Now we know why they need to visit… but we are still left with HOW? There is a reason that all-too-real cartoons and photos of getting cats into the carrier are so popular.

Here are a few tips for getting your pet used to its carrier prior to the visit:

1)      Start at least 2 weeks prior to the visit. The sooner the better, but even if it’s the same day, these helpful tips can apply! Hard shelled carriers are best, with openings from the top and front that can be taken apart if needed.

2)      Keep the carrier in your cat’s favorite room at all times, make sure it’s clean of all cobwebs and place a soft blanket, bed or towel inside of it to make it more comfortable. Leave it near a sunny window or someplace your cat enjoys spending time – cats love boxes, so they can grow to love their carrier, too!

3)      Place tasty treats inside of the carrier each day. Crinkle the bag near the carrier so that your cat sees you place the treats inside. Place a familiar toy inside of the carrier, or if the top opens, play with your cat in and around the carrier to encourage your cat to come nearer.  

4)      If your pet still won’t come near the carrier, a pheromone spray called Feliway can help make your cat more comfortable. It is a pheromone that cats release from their cheeks when they rub on furniture and people when they are happy. We have sample wipes that you can pick up at any time to help with the trip in – simply wipe the pheromone inside of the carrier and then place the used wipe in the carrier with your pet on its way in to the vet.

5)      For those cats that still won’t come near a carrier or get too stressed in the car, we offer home visits where we can at least visit your pet and prescribe anxiety medications to help with examination or travel.

For the big day:

1)      Avoid feeding your cat for 6-12 hours before your vet visit – this will decrease the chance of motion sickness on the trip in and make your kitty more likely to accept treats or special food rewards while at the vet.

2)      Once you get ready to go in the car, make sure the carrier is on a level surface – placing a rolled up towel in the crease of the back seat can help to level out the seat for your feline friend. A towel placed over the carrier can also help to keep your cat happy and decrease the chances of car sickness.

3)      When carrying the carrier, make sure to keep it level – carry it like a fragile present, not a piece of luggage. A small amount of movement on the outside can seem like a carnival ride to a scared cat inside of a carrier.

4)      If your cat has a favorite toy, hair brush, blanket, or treat – feel free to bring it along with you to your visit to make your pet feel more at home.

5)      If you are committed to the cause, bring your cat in for random, free happy visits – please call ahead so that we can ensure that our cat room is available and no dogs will be in the lobby – we are happy to see your cats for a quick weight check with treats and play time. Random car rides in the carrier can also help.

6)      If you have any troubles at all, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.  Our staff is committed to making your visit as stress-free as possible. We are happy to talk you through these steps or make individual suggestions based on your cat’s preferences. 

Here’s a great video with helpful tips: 

Have a blog topic that you would like to see in the future? Leave a comment through social media or on our website and your topic may be picked for the next article! Thanks for reading!

 

Lindsey Hedges, DVM

Owner, Veterinarian

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AuthorPleasant Paws Vet Cares

This summer has truly flown by. I can't believe we are so close to opening day. Right now, as long as our buildout stays on schedule, we are looking at Thursday, August 14th as our opening day. Less than 3 weeks! 

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A lot has happened within the last week, thanks to the great team we have working with us. TKO Graphix installed our beautiful sign on Thursday; the logo and lettering were hand-drawn (using fancy-pants computer software) by a very good friend of ours, Martín Bañuelos. We have been friends for 15 years now, and I'm so glad he decided to go into graphic design! 

This weekend Ted, my dad, and I finished installing our air diffusers in the ceiling grid! It is coming right along! Here is a picture of my dad in action and my handiwork on one of the diffusers: 

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We also had our first staff meeting this week. We had such an amazing outpouring of interest and support from all of Boone County while searching for our team. We are so blessed to be in such a tight knit and caring community. Our hiring decisions were hard, but we are so excited to have such a fantastic and talented group to get the clinic off the ground. 

Three of our staff members have completed college coursework in veterinary technology. This is the equivalent of veterinary nursing school. Erin, our Registered Veterinary Technologist, completed a 4 year program at Purdue, which happens to have one of the top rated programs in the country.  Kelsey, our Veterinary Technician, just graduated from the Vet Tech Institute of Indianapolis with her associates degree; she takes her boards to become licensed next week. (Good luck Kelsey!) Alissa, our Receptionist and Veterinary Assistant, also studied at the Vet Tech Institue, and graduated in 2012. She has not taken her licensing exam yet but hopes to complete that goal next year. Alissa loves client interaction and education and is so excited to get started.

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Erin and Kelsey are currently attending the American Veterinary Medical Association Conference in Denver featuring lectures by some of the brightest vets and vet techs in the country. In order to maintain their license, vets and RVTs have to complete approved continuing education courses yearly to stay at the forefront of the field. We can't wait to hear everything they learned from this great conference! 

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We also have a very talented groomer, Melissa, who has been grooming for 14 years. She studied at one of the top grooming schools in the country and loves creative styles of grooming (think safe temporary hair dye, nail polish, hair jewels, new styling techniques, etc ). Just after we open, she will be attending a grooming conference in Chicago to "brush" up on new techniques and products. :) Here's a shot of Melissa and Daisy, one of her creative grooming clients that walked with us (aka mostly rode in the air conditioned dog-mobile) in the Boone County Fourth of July Parade. 

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Last but not least, we have a part time receptionist, Ann, who will be working Thursday evenings and filling in as needed. She has some of the most amazing animal stories, and brings a warm excitement to our crew. She has earned the nickname "Mama Ann" at one of her other jobs, and I can certainly see why! :) 

So, mark your calendars, everyone! Opening Day is just around the corner! 

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AuthorPleasant Paws Vet Cares

We have walls, electricity, air conditioning.... It's amazing how fast we are still moving. It has been so nice to be here throughout it all and see the craftsmanship that all of our contractors have put into their work.  

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In other news, we are still recovering from our sunburns from the fabulous Boone County 4th of July Parade. We had so much fun, and we will definitely make it a Pleasant Paws tradition! Next year, we won't forget our sunscreen on the counter and we'll bring A LOT more candy and dog treats! :) 

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Our groomer, Melissa Melvin, even did some creative grooming with a gorgeous little sheltie named Daisy. Her red, white, and blue paws and tail and her little red butterfly jewels were a big hit! 

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Speaking of which, we almost have our entire team together! Erin Coonrod, a veterinary technician that I've known since my Purdue days, joined force with us very early in our project. Her passion is hospice care and lifelong care. Melissa, our groomer, grooms our Newfie and also jumped on board early on. She loves creative grooming and has been grooming for 13 years. Last week, we hired our second technician, Kelsey Guenther. She loves client education and clinical research... and has a bit of a wild past. (Wildlife and zoo animals, that is). We are so excited to have such a wide array of interests with the common goal of providing the very best care and vet experience. We have had a huge interest in our Client Relation Specialist position... Stay tuned for our decision sometime over the next week! We will be updating our "About Us" page with more complete bios very soon. 

With that, the cats are ready for a lap nap, so I'll wrap this up here. Until next time! 

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AuthorPleasant Paws Vet Cares

What a difference 3 weeks can make! Thanks to Hedges Heating & Cooling for the installation of our beautiful ductwork, exhaust fans, and rooftop unit: 

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As Dad was finishing up, the great guys with Kirby Brother's Plumbing came in and worked all weekend to get our rough in completed: 

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They dug these trenches by hand! Everything was quickly approved and filled back in so that we could get framing started. Of course, first the guys had to inspect the work... 

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Very quickly thereafter, walls were up everywhere! 

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The guys from Huston Electric have been here all week installing our wiring and conduit in this sweltering heat. Pictures of their handiwork will be in the next installment of "Let's Make a Vet Clinic." :) 

When we got our approval for funding back in January, I sat down with my boss and let her know of my plans. She and I went to school together and I wanted her to have plenty of notice to find my replacement. At the time, we decided that my last day would be June 14th. The time sure flew by! Last Saturday I had to say goodbye to all of the great people in Lafayette. They gave me a wonderful send off, complete with many perfectly chosen gifts, dinner at DT Kirby's, and a signed picture to hang in my new office: 

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I'm so lucky to have worked with such great people over the last 3 years. I think even the clinic cat, Titan, knew I was leaving. He seemed especially adorable last week:  

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Since leaving, I've been dedicated to organizing, budgeting, emailing, planning, networking, interior designing, and a dash of long neglected housework. From 8 am to 11 pm daily... What a long first week it has been!  I don't mind the hours, though - every day we are closer to opening our doors in the community we love! 

These fancy hard hats were gifts from our general contractor, BuildSmart Construction. 

These fancy hard hats were gifts from our general contractor, BuildSmart Construction. 

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AuthorPleasant Paws Vet Cares

Hello again! It's official, construction has begun! HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) installation is the first up to bat.

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In my eyes it's the most important step - not only to keep the space cool and dehumidified, but because it's being installed by my dad, Bill Hedges. My dad is a licensed HVAC contractor; he's worked with the Indianapolis Public Schools for almost 30 years and finds time to be an adjunct professor at Ivy Tech on evenings and weekends.  I'm so excited to be able to start this journey with my dad. Here's a picture of Dad and one of my stepbrother's friends, Larry, who's helping with the install: 

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My dad has been my number one support from the first moment I decided to be a veterinarian in 2nd grade. He swears he knew from the moment I started crawling and following the dog around, but once I said it out loud, he did everything in his power to make my dream a reality. When all of my friends got jobs at fast food joints in high school, my dad would only let me work at a vet clinic. Little did I know his wisdom at the time... that job was with a nationwide corporation that gave me firm roots in the vet community, leading to vet school recommendations and my first professional position after graduation.  Everything started with my dad's love and encouragement. It's amazing to see how far we've come. 

Photobooth, circa 1990

Photobooth, circa 1990

Note: we were just posing here, so safety harnesses weren't donned. Otherwise, safety first. ;) 

Note: we were just posing here, so safety harnesses weren't donned. Otherwise, safety first. ;) 

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AuthorPleasant Paws Vet Cares

Hello there, this is Dr. Hedges of Pleasant Paws Veterinary Care.  Welcome to the beginning of our big adventure!  I will regularly update this blog throughout our build-out so that you can be a part of our journey.  Once we open, follow our blog for veterinary news and interesting tidbits. To start, here’s a view of the very beginning of our empty space:

Construction is set to start on May 27th – it’s hard to believe we are so close already!  This clinic is a dream that has been evolving since 2nd grade.  In 2nd grade I had to say goodbye to my very best friend, a Saint Bernard mix named Babe.

I cried for days after losing him; he taught me to crawl, protected me while I tried to eat dog food, provided a furry pillow for nap time… I felt like I failed him because he couldn’t live forever. I vowed I would become a veterinarian to try to change that.

As soon as I could get a job, I became a kennel assistant at a hospital in Indianapolis, which evolved into a veterinary assistant position that lasted throughout high school, college, and veterinary school. I worked for a veterinary corporation where I traveled to several hospitals across Indianapolis and filled in wherever needed. As I was finishing my bachelor’s degree at Purdue in West Lafayette, I was accepted into Purdue’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

I went into vet school thinking I would pursue a residency in Internal Medicine after graduation… then second semester I thought I would pursue a PhD to teach and do research… then next year I wanted to become an Anatomical Pathologist… needless to say, I fell in love with many aspects of veterinary medicine.

My clinical year honed my skills and set the path for my future. I had always loved cellular biology (my major in undergrad) and the molecular basis of cancer; when I started my senior year, I was confident that I would pursue a career in Veterinary Oncology. As the year progressed, I found my favorite part of each day was interacting with clients and following up with patients that I had seen in previous rotations. Oncology provided that close interaction between client, patient, and veterinarian, but it didn’t involve lifelong relationships. I developed a new love for general practice – it allowed me to incorporate all aspects of the medicine and science that I love with long lasting client-patient relationships.

After graduation, I worked for the same corporation that had hired me as a 16-year-old kennel assistant. I did not travel far from Purdue; my main hospital was located in Lafayette, but I filled in occasionally at hospitals in Indianapolis to gain additional experience.  It was at this clinic that I was finally able to put all of my schooling to practical use and find my clinical style. I retained my passion for cancer management; through consulting with a local oncologist, I was able to start several patients on oral chemo and manage them successfully. I also learned to fill the need for hospice care when a terminal diagnosis had been made and quality life could still be maintained through pain management and supportive care. I found this often gave the family time to come to terms with euthanasia and deal with the grief of losing their beloved pet. Euthanasia is one of the hardest parts of a veterinarian’s job, but it is also one of the hardest decisions a pet owner ever has to make. Drawing from my own experience with pet loss and grieving, I developed an informal hospice and at-home euthanasia service to help aid clients in making this final decision.

Until vet school, I had never owned a cat, but I quickly found that I loved feline medicine, the true art of cat practice and low stress handling. With positive reinforcement and gentle handling, I was able to ease the stress of exams, vaccines, and sample collection. Puppies that grew up in my care were genuinely excited to come to the vet – and my love for my job continued to grow.

My husband and I had moved to Lebanon just before I started vet school; he worked as a software engineer in Fishers and I was in school in Lafayette, so it was the natural in-between. We quickly fell in love with the community and bought our house here in 2008. When I finally decided general practice was the way to go, we dreamed of opening our own practice and becoming a bigger part of our community. Pleasant Paws Veterinary Care is allowing us to live that dream and follow my passion for lifelong care, cancer management, low stress handling, and hospice care. Thank you for taking the time to be a part of our journey!

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AuthorPleasant Paws Vet Cares
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