All of us at Mid-Peninsula Animal Hospital wish you and yours the happiest of New Years!
All of us at Mid-Peninsula Animal Hospital wish you and yours the happiest of New Years!
JN.1 — it looks like a short version of January 1st, doesn't it?
Alas, it is a new Covid variant that's on the uptick — increasing quickly enough to warrant a heads-up. Granted, for humans, we are in the middle of a seasonal uptick in all upper respiratory disease cases locally. However, JN.1 Covid cases are indeed rising noticeably.
On the animal front, it's also important to watch our furry friends for any upper respiratory symptoms. In particular, there is one affecting dogs of note since it can progress quite quickly. We want you to know what to look for and be ready to take it seriously, just in case.
Symptoms of respiratory illness in dogs include: coughing, sneezing, difficulty breathing, nasal or eye discharge and lethargy.
If your dog shows symptoms, contact us during regular business hours, or contact other emergency services outside of regular business hours. Don't panic, but don't 'wait and see,' either. By way of prevention, perhaps for the next few months, avoid crowded dog situations, when possible.
Back, on the human front, it's important to keep yourself, your family and your friends safe. Even though an infection may be mild, evidence suggests that repeated infection increases the chance of "Long Covid" or having debilitating symptoms for six (6) months, or even longer. San Mateo County Health Department encourages us to take all the preventative actions that are available:
1. Vaccination – If you haven’t already, getting this year's updated Covid and Flu vaccines is key. The current Covid mRNA multivariant vaccine has been shown to significantly boost virus-neutralization antibodies including against JN.1. Contact your local health care provider, CVS, Walgreens or other pharmacy.
2. High-Quality Masks – Wear N95 masks in public spaces, especially crowded ones like airports.
3. Minimizing Exposure – Reduce your exposure to crowded places, generally. For example, try to avoid dining in public indoor spaces during the next few weeks while the seasonal rates are peaking.
4. Testing – New combination Covid-and-flu tests are free from the government right now.
Bonus points: To further mitigate risks, perhaps also consider using a portable HEPA filter in common areas when gathering indoors. These devices effectively filter out virus particles.
To be clear, none of the current outbreaks are anywhere near the same as the 2020 holiday season. For our animals, they have you to pay good attention to them. For ourselves, a good vaccine, a good mask and a little care can go a long way. As we head into the new year, may you enjoy the holiday season in the best of good health.
With tomorrow as "Giving Tuesday," you might be interested in an update about the Ukrainian animal rescue organization that caught our eye. Last year around Thanksgiving, we had just seen the most amazing behavior from dogs in Ukraine lining up patiently for their turn at a food station. It was profound image.
The food station had been set up by Nate Mook, the former CEO of the non-profit World Central Kitchen started by Chef Andres, and a few early volunteers. Nate firmly believes in diving in and doing the work without delay, and then creating a way for people worldwide to support it. Some in our fantastic community of clients did just that.
We recently caught up with Nate, who shared that they are now a bona fide foundation, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) called Hachiko UA Foundation. Their core volunteers service 120 feeding stations, with an extended network in 236 cities in six regions, and an even broader network of more than a thousand home shelters and recipients. Add to all that thousands of medical treatments.
Now that's a lot of work to get done in a year -- coordinating, getting the resources, building teams and networks, etc. -- particularly in the middle of a war. Nate even gave us a sneak peak of the website they're working on, saying, "We haven’t yet fully launched it, but the website is here: https://hachikoua.com/."
From the many photos on the new HachikoUA.com website, a couple really cute ones caught our eye. Apparently the profound image from last year wasn't an absolute one-off; apparently Ukrainian dogs will line up like polite society and wait their turn for dinner:
Some cats, on the other hand, are trying to use their smarts and independence. Notice the gray one by the orange stripe at the top, as if to say, "I know they pour it from this corner here." And a couple cats below watch as if they agree that's the spot:
We're really proud of our community for the support provided so far. When we spoke to Nate, he asked us to pass along a message, saying, “Please be sure to thank them for me! As you can tell from our feeding stations (functional but not fancy), we’re stretching every dollar. Right now we’re scrambling to create kennels for the winter that are also functional but not fancy. We’re super grateful to anyone who wants to be part of it, and help fund this work.”
At Mid-Peninsula Animal Hospital, we tend toward the most direct, boots-on-the-ground kinds of emergency response that clearly stretches every dollar and squeezes every penny. We're gratified to watch it grow from last year as a powerful idea turned nascent initiative, into an operation true to its roots and still squeezing every penny. If you're looking for a worthy candidate for your "Giving Tuesday," we submit Hachiko UA Foundation for your consideration.
There are so many things we are thankful for this year, but topping the list are our wonderful patients and clients.
As the days get shorter, we all enjoy cuddling up with our furry canine and feline companions even more. Just as a reminder, keep your pet treats lean and healthy.
If you have the time and want to make a special holiday treat, the ASPCA® Pet Health Insurance folks published a delightful set of recipes for healthy homemade treats for pets.
We wish you a wonderful holiday filled with the warmth and happiness of the season.
What happens when you combine a world-renowned Veterinary Dentist, our local DVMs, RVTs and Assistants, and follow it up with a family-friendly party on a Sunday afternoon?
You get world-class continuing education (CE) on veterinary dentistry and you even get a little fun! The incredible event, called "Scrubs 'N Suds CE," features two hours of intensive hands-on training, followed by a tremendously informative lecture on geriatric dental care. It then opened up for family and friends (and a few neighbors) to join a party!
The amazing Scrubs 'N Suds CE featured educator, Dr. Brook Niemiec, who chairs the dental guidelines committee for the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA), and literally writes books on the subject. Dr. Niemiec holds board certifications from the American and European Veterinary Dental Colleges, and is a named Fellow of the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry. He is one of fewer than 10 veterinarians worldwide to hold all three of these certificates. Clearly, he is one of the world's leading authorities in veterinary dentistry. He is also a very enthusiastic and renowned educator.
Mid-Peninsula Animal Hospital proudly got behind Scrubs 'N Suds CE by sponsoring the event along with industry leaders Boehringer Ingelheim, Idexx, Hill's, Zoetis and Covetrus. Participants, coming from as far as Martinez, enjoyed our facilities for the hands-on labs, and we turned our garage into a festive event space for the lecture and party.
Ultimately, Scrubs 'N Suds CE made it fun and easy for DVMs and RVTs to fulfill CE requirements, and do so locally without the time and expense for travel. We were delighted with the awe-inspiring instruction and impressed by the extraordinary participants who paid such close attention. Learning can be very exciting.
Continuing education is important, and required by the California Veterinary Medical Board (VMB) to maintain professional licenses. The Scrubs 'N Suds CE curriculum provided VMB-approved CE instruction for an important aspect of veterinary care.
While veterinary dentistry for horses has been practiced for centuries, it only became a specialty for small animals in the late 1980s. In veterinary schools, veterinary dentistry is routinely taught only as an elective. CE is crucial for learning and staying up to date with advances in veterinary dentistry. The opportunity to learn from a wonderful, world-renowned expert, and to do so in such an intimate setting, was extraordinarily inspiring.
The model of following CE with a party that includes family proved simply brilliant. Family members got to see more of what goes into veterinary work. Colleagues got to bond, or catch up, in a relaxed environment. Nobody had to go home and make dinner.
Scrubs 'N Suds CE provided an incredible event that ensured our animal patients get the most up-to-date, modern dental care (win), our professionals gained skills and fulfilled their CE requirement (win), and our clients can rest assured knowing we're staying on top of it (Big Win!). Ultimately Scrubs 'N Suds CE was a "Win, Win, Win" and a Party!
Can you imagine being reunited with a pet more than a half decade after losing them in a wildfire evacuation?
Mike Dewald of KCBS Radio recently reported a truly amazing story about a cat, presumed lost in the Tubbs fire in 2017, who was reunited with its family six (6) years later! Even more miraculous was that the cat survived in spite of a medical condition that had left him with only four teeth.
The animal had been microchipped. We encourage microchipping, though many people don't understand how it works. It's not the same technology as a Tile or an Apple AirTag, which lets you track location. Instead, it's a teeny, tiny little chip about the size of a grain of rice, which can be read with a hand-held scanner at any animal hospital or animal rescue center.
The tiny microchip is implanted just under the skin, usually between the shoulder blades, using a needle. It doesn't require anesthesia. From there, just register your contact information, and that's it. If you move, you'll want to update your contact information.
If you want to actually track your animal using an app, then you can couple a microchip with an AirTag or Tile collar. Your contact info on an ID tag or engraved AirTag collar can make it easy for a neighbor to get in touch. That said, collars come off, which is why we encourage microchipping.
The flip side is getting any found cats scanned. We reached out to Mike Dewald and he sent over other versions of the story, which included interview material with Forgotten Felines of Sonoma County, who facilitate such reunions. Mike pointed out that "the organization also recommended getting cats scanned as it can accelerate reunions like this one."
"That cat could have been home much quicker than it was in this particular case," said Pip Marquez de la Plata, Executive Director of Forgotten Felines of Sonoma County. "That little, tiny piece of equipment is really magic in terms of getting your animal back."
While it could have happened sooner, we're touched that Ozzie with his four teeth, after six years did finally get home. It's a potent reminder. You can make a special appointment to microchip your pet, or if you have an annual pet exam coming up you can just ask your vet to microchip them at that time (it's really that easy).
At Mid-Peninsula Animal Hospital we're passionate about emergency preparedness. We encourage being "Pet Ready" for earthquakes and other disasters, which these days includes wildfires. Our takeaway message is simple: as we all prepare our defensible space, make sure your pet is microchipped.
A high-pressure system is building in through April, cutting off the Pineapple Express that brought a constant train of atmospheric rivers this winter. In the wake of all that water, we expect to see a dramatic spike in mosquitos spreading heartworm.
If you're a long-time pet owner, you know the drill – make sure the heartworm prevention medication for your furry friend is up to date and administered, and get rid of any standing water around the home.
If you are a new pet owner, it's useful to understand why all this heartworm discussion is so important. Put simply, heartworm can be a matter of life and death, and prevention is absolutely key. If you have a few minutes, you might want to read our information page on Heartworm, an earlier blog post or both.
Cats cannot be treated for heartworm infection, which makes the strongest case possible for prevention. Indoor cats and indoor dogs are still at risk. Dogs can be treated, but by the time the mosquito bite turns into symptoms, adult worms have developed and populated blood vessels near the heart and non-trivial damage has been done. Plus, treatment is expensive, not without risks and difficulties, and by no means guaranteed.
Heartworm prevention medication comes with essentially no risk to your pet. If your pet's been seen in the last year, reach out to us and we can take care of you. If your pet's not been seen in the last year, now is the time to get that appointment on our books. We're still working our way back to normal from the global pandemic and our calendar is still pretty slammed. Right now, the lead time to get in is running about four to five weeks out. With a 4-5 week lead time, it's easy to see why Heartworm, usually on our minds later in the spring, is on our minds now.
We'll leave it to meteorologist to define mid-latitude cyclones, bomb cyclones and what qualifies as an atmospheric river. Some say California got 31 this winter, but while they figure it out, we all know it was a lot of water. Considering such an actively wet winter, what's coming is not rocket surgery – it's mosquitoes spreading heartworm. It's time to get rid of any standing water around the yard even in the smallest container, and time to make sure that heartworm prevention medication is up to date and administered monthly.
Spring has sprung and with it new data, allowing us to change our masking policy from "masks required indoors" to "masks recommended indoors." This is progress; but we're also happy to accommodate those who are immunocompromised or just "not yet ready" by offering the same drop-off service we all used at the height of the pandemic.
Recently, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced updates to several state public health officer orders that have guided Californians on how to best protect themselves and their families throughout the pandemic. Moving forward, COVID-19 vaccines, testing and treatment will continue to be available through providers and some pharmacies; and you can still visit MyTurn to locate these services.
The CDPH guidance encourages indoor masking, and we concur. As such, we especially recommend using masks indoors if you're vulnerable, live with people who are vulnerable or suspect you might be feeling a little bit "off" yourself that day. Of course, if you have symptoms, you can always switch to a drop-off appointment, even same day.
After a long, wet winter, which started with our community facing a triple whammy of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), Covid and Flu, these updates are most welcome.
Given all of the improvements to the numbers we see in the data, we think it's appropriate to move from indoor masking as a requirement to a recommendation. We hope enough people will stay current on vaccination to continue this path. That said, we recognize that health trends aren't like a light switch. We also recognize some folks may feel uncomfortable, and prefer to stay socially distant, or may face personal circumstances requiring they take extra care. And that's okay. We will continue to offer drop-off appointments to accommodate anyone.
Still in all, we think it's a wonderful moment. We welcome it and welcome spring in all its glory.
Joyful reunions are wonderful, and can remind us of what really matters. The residents of Pajaro, who had to evacuate with no notice and only the clothes on their backs, certainly have our hearts.
Many had no choice but to leave their pets behind; we're sure most never imagined they'd be away for this long. We're heartened to learn of the efforts from SPCA Monterey County in rescuing animals and working to reunite them with their people.
It's a potent reminder that disasters often happen with no notice. It's also a reasonable reminder to take the time beforehand for emergency preparedness with your animals in mind. You may or may not be near a levy or a landslide, but we all live in earthquake country. To save you time, feel free to use our Pet Ready! checklist with links for additional helpful info.
It's also a dramatic reminder that pets can get separated from their humans. If you haven't already, you might want to consider having the microchip implanted the next time you're in to see your vet. The microchip itself is an extremely small electronic chip, encased in glass, and the whole unit is about the size of a grain of rice. It won't let you (or anyone else) track your animal; people who want tracking often get a special collar for a Tile or an Apple Tag or similar device.
Instead, the microchip is placed directly in the animal's body and only gets activated when a scanner passes over the area. To learn more, feel free to discuss with your veterinarian. The American Veterinary Medical Association provides a nice FAQ on the microchip topic.
Finally, it's also a reminder of the wonderful work that local organizations can facilitate. Hundreds of individual volunteers came together for rescue, care and reunion, but it's SPCA Monterey County who made it all work. Unlike SPCA "chapters," SPCA Monterey County is a completely independent organization with everything made possible by their donors.
During this crisis, they're also providing evacuated pet owners with the pet food they need. Often during local emergencies, such as wildfires, we will facilitate pooling resources with our clients, and work with our vendors to stretch those resources, to achieve a similar result. In this case it felt like duplicate effort. Instead, for anyone so inclined, we would suggest supporting SPCA Monterey County efforts directly, and perhaps specify "for Pajaro" in the comments field.
But whatever you do, please take a moment to appreciate your furry family members and include them in your preparedness efforts. When it comes to emergency preparedness, please let us know if we can help.
You might assume that all animal hospitals are accredited, but here in the United States only about 12-15% are accredited. Most human hospitals are accredited. Such is not the case for animal hospitals.
We are very pleased to share that Mid-Peninsula Animal Hospital has successfully passed our periodic evaluation for accreditation from the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). It is a real team effort and we're grateful to everyone who pitched in.
This was the most challenging evaluation because of Covid. But, it's important and foundational to who we are. Plus in the end, it brought us all joy and satisfaction to have passed once again.
Accreditation is an extensive process. The evaluation is very rigorous each time, with new standards added as the profession advances. We undergo evaluation on nine hundred (900) standards: patient care, emergency protocols, pain management and other important areas of your pet's health.
Our commitment to AAHA standards contributes to better outcomes and improved care. It contributes to excellence in preventative care for patients, including better education and support for the pets' families.
We're fortunate to have state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, which we couple with well-defined, written protocols and investment in our own continuing education to stay up to date on the latest. Our caring team of experts, at all levels, focus on doing what's best for your animals always.
AAHA accreditation shows we proudly meet highest professional standards which promote best practices for patients, families and our team members. It's not a process one person can complete -- the whole team gets involved. We really appreciate our entire staff for pitching in.