Phase I: I Think I Want A Puppy

Fox Tale’s Take the Money and Run (aka Capone) fell into my lap–so to speak–and I truly believe he was destined from the beginning to be with me. I first met him (and his littermates) when they were merely 3 days old and weighed a whopping 1.3 lbs.  Their mother Faith came to Animerge when her owner became concerned during Faith’s recovery following a recent bloat surgery. The puppies were too young to be separated from their mother, and therefore, came to Animerge as well.

Fifteen days earlier, I had lost my heart and soul dog Caleb unexpectedly. The entire staff at the hospital knew my emotions were still incredibly raw, so when this litter of brindle and fawn Dane pups came in with their mother, my coworkers hoped these little bundles of joy would help heal my heart.

When I first met Faith’s owner, Diane, she was standing at the front desk of the hospital, anxiously waiting to hear how her dog was doing in the back triage area. I instantly felt as though I knew this stranger in front of me–as if we had met before some place. After getting the necessary information about Faith and the puppies, we started talking a little more informally. I noticed her riding boots, as well as the familiar smell of horses and hay on her jacket. When I inquired about them, she stated she in fact had horses, and we had actually once kept our horses at the same barn, but had never met. She mentioned a few names in the Dane world, many were people I consider friends and regularly spent time with. She explained how much time and effort went into this particular breeding to bring this very special litter into the world. We quickly realized we had so many things in common, and our paths had crossed so many times yet here we were standing face to face for the first time in the middle of a crisis.

The puppies stayed with Faith for 3 days in the hospital while she recovered, not something as an emergency hospital we typically do, but this wasn’t your typical situation either. The new family left Animerge (healthy and happy) on New Year’s Eve, with just enough time to watch the ball drop. On her way out, Diane quietly mentioned how she may not know how just yet, but some how, some way, she would make sure the perfect Dane made its way into my life again. She left me with her name and number on a slip of paper before leaving.  The thoughts of adding a puppy so soon after losing Caleb, sent a rollercoaster of emotions through my body.  Although I felt I wasn’t even close to adding another dog into my home, never mind my heart, fate had a different plan for me.

I asked myself repeatedly, do I really need another dog in my house? The obvious answer to most people was: NO. I work long hours at the hospital and already had 3 dogs and Mrs. Meowington at home. But I’m 32 years old, I have a great career, and take great pride in the care of my “furry kids.” A very close friend of mine said to me “Kara, if getting a puppy makes you happy, then do it. Do what makes YOU happy. Life is too short, just get the dog!”  She was right, if I wanted a new puppy because, well because it made me happy, then I was going to get a puppy! Fast forward to March and here I was bringing home this 25.5 pound Dane pup who was 10 weeks old with a grin that spanned from ear to ear. But was I really prepared for what was to come?

-K.L. Mitchell

Below are some photos from K.L.’s first encounter with Capone and his litter mates as well as a photo of his first day in his forever home.

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Leptospirosis and What You Need to Know

As a good pet owner, you never miss your pet’s yearly exam with the vet. You stay up to date with the newest types of flea & tick product, never skip his monthly heartworm preventive, and of course, run a complete blood panel every year. But what about vaccines? Does your dog really need all those shots every year? I mean, your dog never leaves your fenced in yard, and you only let him play with healthy dogs at the park, so surely he can’t be exposed to something as dangerous as leptospirosis…right?

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic bacterial infection that can be potentially life threatening. It most commonly occurs in mice, rats, foxes, raccoons, opossum, deer, dogs, horses, and cattle and is transmitted by direct or indirect contact with an infected host. Direct transmission can occur via bite wounds or by coming in contact with contaminated urine. Indirect transmission occurs when one is exposed to contaminated water, soil, food, or even bedding. Leptospirosis is frequently seen in the spring and early fall when the wet soil conditions and warmer temperatures allow the organism to survive best. However, in some temperate regions, lepto may be diagnosed year-round.

The leptospirosis vaccine, which is typically given yearly, had practically eradicated the disease. However, it has resurfaced in more recent years probably due to different strains of the bacteria, as well as decreased client compliance with standard yearly vaccination protocol.

The following symptoms may occur anywhere from 4-12 days after exposure to the disease:
–          fever
–          stiffness
–          lethargy
–          vomiting and/or diarrhea
–          loss of appetite
–          coughing and/or difficulty breathing
–          in severe cases, jaundice (or yellowing of the mucus membranes) may be seen

If you are concerned that you or you pet have been in contact with a diseased host or contaminated water and are displaying clinical signs, seek professional medical attention promptly for blood tests. For more information please go to: www.cdc.gov/leptospirosis/pets/<http://www.cdc.gov/leptospirosis/pets/>

So at your pet’s next exam, make sure you ask which vaccines you pet needs based on the region in which you live. Remember—we are on your side, and here to help your pet live a long and very healthy life!

-K.L. Mitchell

K.L. Mitchell and her Great Dane puppy Capone.

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Be Prepared for a Pet Emergency

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines emergency as a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action. It sounds scary doesn’t it? Now think of an emergency with your pet, did your anxiety just double? It doesn’t have to if you are prepared for worst-case scenarios that may include your pet.

Know where the closet emergency veterinary hospital is located and what services the offer. What sort of specialty medicine do they offer there? Do they have adequate 24 hour care if needed? Do they have payment plans or other financing options available? Seeing the hospital and meeting some of the staff BEFORE there is a medical emergency can help ease your mind. Once you have chosen an emergency hospital, save their information in your cell phone, and place the same information in an easy-to-spot place in your house incase you are not home during the emergency.

People often call our hospital asking if they should bring their pet in to be seen. My answer is often, “If you are worried enough to call, you are worried enough for your pet to be seen.” Sometimes it’s a minor issue, but sometimes it’s a life threatening issue. Either way, our techs and vets would rather see you fifteen times for something simple, than for you to not come in and have a devastating outcome.

There are a few things you can do at home to assess if your pet is having a medical emergency. Just like humans, every animal is slightly different. It is best to know your animal’s “normal”, so in case of an emergency, you will be able to determine if they are within normal limits for them. Remember, you know your pets best, so if you are uncomfortable with the way they look, bring them in! Nobody ever asks for an emergency to happen, but if you and your pet are prepared, it becomes substantially easier to deal with.

Normal Ranges for Dogs:

  • Respiratory Rate (at rest): 10-35 breaths per minute
  • Heart rate (at rest): 60-160 beats per minute
  • Temperature: 100.0-102.5 F

Normal Ranges for Cats:

  • Respiratory rate (at rest): 20-42 breaths per minute
  • Heart rate (at rest): 140-220 beats per minute
  • Temperature: 100.0-102.5 F

If your pet shows any of the following signs, bring them to the closet emergency veterinary hospital immediately: pale/white/blue/ purple or bright red gums, trouble breathing, uncontrollable bleeding, obvious broken bones, uncontrollable vomiting, sudden collapse, or seizures.

Consider making a basic first aid kit as well as an emergency preparedness kit for you pets. Having these important items handy will be very helpful in case of a natural disaster (see our next blog for information on disaster preparedness for pets) or other unforeseen emergency. Most items needed for your pet’s first aid kit can be found at your local pharmacy. You might also want to speak to your veterinarian about keeping some basic prescription medication in your first aid kit (i.e. medications for sedation, anxiety, allergic reactions, anti-vomiting/diarrhea, etc.) Be sure to contact your veterinarian before administering any medications–even over the counter items!

Basic Items for your Pet First Aid Kit:

  •  Gauze: for wrapping wounds or muzzling an injured animal
  •  Nonstick bandages: to control bleeding or protect wounds
  •  Adhesive tape: for securing the gauze wrap or bandage
  •  Unopened bottle of hydrogen peroxide (3%); to induce vomiting (always consult with your veterinarian before inducing vomiting!)
  •  Hand sanitizer: to clean your hands before and after treatment
  •  Digital thermometer: to be used rectally
  •  Triple antibiotic ointment: for small cuts or scratches
  •  Saline: to flush any wounds, or rinse the eyes of debris
  •  Betadine or Nolvasan (diluted): to clean minor wounds
  •  Scissors; to cut any bandages
  •  Disposable gloves: to protect yourself from any bodily fluids
  •  Bed sheet: to be used as a stretcher to help transport the injured animal
  •  The name, number, and address of the local emergency veterinary hospital
  •  ASPCA Poison Control: 1-888-426-4435

– K. L. Mitchell

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Tis The Season!

The holidays: love them or dread them they are approaching quickly. I am sure your list of things to do is growing by the minute. Order the holiday turducken: check. Deck the halls with every sparkly thing you can find from Home Goods: check. Remind Aunt Barbra it’s her turn to pick up Grandma Hattie from the airport this year: check. Keep your sanity through the holiday . . . hello?  Sanity? Hello–and we have a runner!

But, if you’re like me, the gift giving is the best part. Seeing the smiles on your friends’ and families’ faces when they open the gifts you have carefully selected, makes the stress of the holiday’s almost worth it (almost…). I always try to make sure I include everybody in the family on the gift buying extravaganza. That’s right, the dogs, cats, horses, and even my sister’s hamster get something. Working odd hours (usually 5pm-3am) and sleeping during the day, makes it hard for me to hit the local malls for unique gifts, so I rely on the wonderful internet to find something for everybody on my list.

 Want a gift that keeps on giving for Max? Try a Bark Box. Once a month a box full of toys, all natural treats and snacks arrive at your doorstep, all appropriately sized to fit your dog. He will think Santa Paws has come just for him, even in July! Get started at: www.barkbox.com

I have plenty of “stable friends” that spend more time with their Mr. Ed than their husbands, and these noble steeds deserve to be treated as well! Snaks Fifth Avenchew has a great variety of horse treats to please even the pickiest of lips. From “Pony Cannolis” and “Pony Pop Tarts” to “Birthneigh Cupcakes” and “Pony Pops,” this company is sure to bring lots of happy whinnies from the barn. With such a large selection, you will have no problem filling up the stockings that hang from their stalls. See their product list here: http://snaks5thavenchew.com/

 Mrs. Meowington, my lovely cat (who is convinced she’s a dog) never misses an opportunity to rip into the boxes under the tree weeks before the holiday. So finding a gift that would keep her occupied Christmas morning isn’t an easy feat. Thankfully, I found the FroliCat Pounce Automatic Cat Teaser. Long name, amazing results! This snazzy new toy has Mrs. Meowington occupied for hours and can be found online through many different retailers.

In the upcoming weeks, take time to sit back, relax, enjoy a cup of eggnog by the fire and grab a few sugar cookies. As stressful as the holidays are, they are meant to be spent surrounded by the ones we love and hold near and dear–two legged and four. Oh, and hopefully you will have found your sanity by the time the New Year rolls around. Happy holidays from my family to yours!

– K. L. Mitchell

K. L. Mitchell and her dog Caleb.

K. L. Mitchell and her dog Caleb.

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Fun Fall Activities for Fido in New Jersey

Ah, yes, autumn is finally here! Growing up in New England fall was my season. High school football games, apple picking, hay rides, and lots of haunted areas to check out with friends. I loved hitting the trails on horseback, with dogs in tow, enjoying the ever changing colorful foliage. Now that I live in New Jersey, not a lot has changed. I still enjoy all that autumn offers, but with hectic work schedule, my time off is precious and usually spent finding activities to do with my pack of FIVE dogs. I try to find events and local places where my fur-kids are all welcome, making it one heck of a family adventure!

Who doesn’t love apple picking on a Saturday afternoon? Alstede Farms located in Chester, New Jersey offers the ability to bring your pooch with you. Visit with their livestock, peruse through their farm store for homemade baked goods, or maybe hop a ride on the hay wagon! Be sure to check their website for their complete pet policy: http://alstedefarms.com/

Perhaps the quiet hush of woods is where you would rather be. Check out Kittatinny Valley State Park. Located in Sussex County, the park has trails that lead all around the area. It’s a great wooded hike, and you can easily spend hours hiking all of the different trails. Or, if it’s closer, check out Round Valley Reservoir in Hunterdon County, which offers miles of trails with beautiful scenery. Either way, be sure to bring plenty of water for you and Fido, and always inspect your dog (and yourself) for ticks and burrs once you get home.

If enjoying a glass of vino with Spot at your feet is more your style, swing by Working Dog Vineyards. Established in 2001 in Robbinsville, New Jersey they offer a variety of red, white, and sweet wines all grown in their vineyards and often have live music to enjoy. It’s perfect place to go and unwind after a long week of work. Visit their website for a list of up coming events: http://www.workingdogwinerynj.com/

I can promise I will be out and about this fall taking in all the amazing sights, sounds and tastes that New Jersey has to offer–with all 5 dogs leading the way!!

– K. L. Mitchell

K. L. Mitchell and her dog Caleb.

K. L. Mitchell and her dog Caleb.

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Making a Difference

After a particularly long shift (I lost track of time around hour 13, I think.) I stopped at the local grocery store on my way home.  While standing in line with my few random items, the woman behind me asked what I did for a living. I kindly said, “I’m a veterinary nurse at an emergency hospital.” She then exclaimed, “Oh my! You look like you’ve had a long night of snuggling with puppies!”  Looking down at myself, it occurred to me I was still in scrubs and covered in who knows what. My hair was a mess, I had multiple unknown stains/spots (blood, urine, feces, drool…the possibilities were endless!), and my jacket was one giant hairball. I smiled at the thought of snuggling with puppies all night, but unfortunately, that was far from the truth.

I have had an interest in veterinary medicine and animals since I was a young girl. I would come home with a slew of different animals–much to my mother’s chagrin. Wild rabbits, frogs, or baby birds I wanted to nurse back to health. She put her foot down when I came home with the lightening bugs in a mayonnaise jar and let them loose in the house. So I was forced to work on my Barbie’s mighty steed, which was often found with band aids on his legs, or my sister’s teddy bears that needed their “heart rates” checked. No matter what it was, I wanted to fix it. When I got to high school I thrived in science. I loved my A&P class working in the lab for hours after school dissecting things and making slides of different organs. I loved learning how and why things worked the way they did. All through college, I was able to work with a few different large animal veterinarians who only encouraged my love for animal science. But it was here I learned the veterinary medicine wasn’t always about fixing things. It was about being a problem solver, figuring out the puzzle and sometimes, just being a shoulder to cry on.

What I wanted to tell the woman behind me at the store that morning was that I wished my night had been filled with puppy breath and wagging tails. But in emergency medicine, it is often the worst case scenarios we see day in and day out. On that particular night I had triaged a dog that had suddenly collapsed at his home. After running diagnostics, the vet on staff had to explain to the owner that his dog had a pneumothorax, which is when air accumulates between the chest wall and the lungs, making it impossible for his dog to breathe. Without emergency surgery, the dog would not survive. The owner chose to euthanize–to humanly end his poor dogs suffering.  I held the dogs paw until the very end, petting him and telling him how much he was loved. I didn’t know the man or his dog, but I knew their pain.

As a veterinary nurse it is something we all go through. We struggle with abuse cases, the parvo puppies, the hit by cars, and the old animals whose bodies just can’t go on. We are there to hold a client’s hand when they say goodbye to their furry family member of 10+ years, or help them find the finances to pay for surgery. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of days where we have happy puppies and purring kittens. Days where we laugh about a strange foreign body pulled from the intestines of a dog or cat (we’ve seen it all: women’s undergarments, jewelry, rocks, baby pacifiers, bouncy balls, pieces of shoes, holiday ornaments, even needles and batteries!). I have gone home many nights with the patients of the past day weighting on my mind. But would I change it for the world? Never, I know my calling in life is veterinary medicine. So when I walk into public after a long shift, with endless stains on my scrubs and messy hair and bags under my eyes, I smile. I smile because no matter how hard the shift was, I made a difference to somebody last night–even if it wasn’t full of wiggly puppies.

– K. L. Mitchell

K. L. Mitchell and her dog Caleb.

K. L. Mitchell and her dog Caleb.

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Why Emergency Veterinary Medicine?

cat, xray, things pets shouldn't eat, pet emergency, emergency vet

Emergency Veterinary Medicine:  Pictured above, X-ray of a feline patient who swallowed a needle.

Veterinarians that work in an emergency veterinary hospital see a variety of patients. These patients include critically ill or badly injured animals who require immediate care; as well as, patients who require special medical attention but do not need immediate life saving care. Often, it is the responsibility of a veterinary technician to sort or “triage” these cases into two groups: patients who need to be taken to the hospital’s treatment area prior to the owner completing the check in process, and patients who are stable and can wait with their owners while they complete the check in process. The patients who are triaged to the back examining area can be further subdivided: patients who need immediate life saving care and patients who are stable, but are injured. These patients may be bleeding, require monitoring and/or bandaging.

The patients who do not need immediate treatment will be checked in by a veterinary technician who will make an initial assessment, take the weight, vitals (temperature, pulse, respiratory rate, mucous membrane color, hydration status), and a full patient history including the presenting complaint. From there, the vet technician will report the case to the attending emergency veterinarian, who will treat the patient. We see patients with a wide variety of complaints, including but not limited to, vomiting, diarrhea, appetite loss, lethargy, weakness, limping, pain, eye problems, and painful ear infections. After the doctor has evaluated the patient, each patient will receive its own specialized list of diagnostics (if needed) and treatment plan.

Treatment plans vary for each patient. Plans can be as simple as outpatient treatments (cleaning and bandaging wounds, injections of medications, topical therapies), a written prescription for oral medications, or instructions for at-home care. Courses of treatment can also be very complex. Some patients require multiple days of monitoring, hospital care with injectable IV medications, and a number of assorted treatments. Some patients even require around-the-clock nursing and critical care.

In an animal emergency hospital, checking in, triaging, bandaging, performing diagnostics, and treating patients often happens quickly and sometimes simultaneously. This requires a group of well trained, compassionate, and resilient veterinary staff members to provide an excellent standard of care while keeping everything organized, and ensure that each patient is getting the care it needs. The staff at AnimERge is well versed in the art of providing professional, personalized care to meet the needs of its patients and clients 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Article by Kasia Ruggiero, Spring 2016.  For updates from our techs and vets, visit our Facebook page.

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Before an Emergency Happens

first aid dog

At Animerge, we pride ourselves on always being here when your pet needs us—24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, for the past twenty-six years!  However, as a seasoned emergency practice, we strongly recommend all pet owners are prepared in case their pet needs our emergency services.

Ways to Prepare

The best time to plan for an emergency is before you have one!  Consider these four tips to help make an emergency situation a little less stressful for you and your pet.

  1. Make Your Phone Smart!

Add our phone number and address to your phone’s contact list now.  That way, in an emergency, you will not waste precious minutes having to search for it online.  By saving our address, you will be able to get directions on your cellular device by clicking the address saved with the contact information–instantly–to get you here no matter where you are.

Here is all the information you will need to add:

Name: Animerge

Phone Number: (908) 300-5050

Address: 21 Route 206, Raritan, NJ 08869

If possible, it is always best to call ahead so our staff can best accommodate you and can give priority to any life-threatening situation.

  1. Know the Way

If you have never been to Animerge before, take a moment to watch the quick video on our “Contact Us” page.  This video will show you how to get to Animerge from the Somerville Circle.

  1. Prepare Your Pet Carrier

Inspect your pet carrier or pet vehicle restraints.  Make sure they are in good

working condition.  If using a carrier, place a clean towel into a plastic bag (to keep it clean until needed) for quick use in case you need to leave quickly.

  1. Copy Your Pet’s Vet Records

Keep a recent copy of your pet’s vaccination records in an envelope with your pet carrier, in your car’s glove compartment, or take a picture of them with your phone and save the picture to your email, Google Drive, or Cloud.  Be sure to update these copies annually.  Having these records on-hand can save time and money avoiding duplicate vaccinations or blood tests.

  1. Apply for Care Credit

In an emergency situation, the last thing anyone wants to worry about is finance.  Consider applying for Care Credit now to help finance unforeseen emergency charges.

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