• Becoming a Certified Veterinary Technician

    I became a Certified Veterinary Technician (C.V.T.) because I realized I have this obsession with animals. Sounds odd but if you ask any other technician, I can assure you that they will say the same thing. While pursuing my degree I realized I couldn’t learn enough about the subject matter. Biology and anatomy became fascinating to me. The way that different body systems work together with each other is so much more intricate then I could have imagined. Clinical pathology pretty much introduced me to a whole new world under the microscope. Reading a blood smear can tell us a surprising amount of information about the health status of an animal.

    I’ve been asked in the past, “So why didn’t you become a nurse for humans instead?” And that is simply because, animals don’t have a voice. They can’t tell you when they are sick, where it hurts, if they are being abused or even if they are hungry. I love standing up for them. However, this field definitely has its down sides too, such as being urinated on or getting discharge from a pyometra on your face. Although that can all be tolerated when someone’s pet (a.k.a. family member) has been helped to feel better. By aiding them, you have remarkably improved the quogyality of life for that pet and person.

    I can assure you, getting this degree is no easy task. It took a lot of hard work, dedication and the complete loss of a social life for two years. While studying to become a C.V.T. you will learn about multiple species and how they are different. You also learn a lot about the roles of a radiologist, a pharmacy technician, an anesthesiologist, a dental hygienist, surgical assistant and even at times a grief consoler. In many cases these tasks will fall on your shoulders. Who else can say they have done all of that in one day?

  • Does Fluffy Need to Go to the ER?

    Since warmer weather has started to creep out from behind the clouds, we all will be coming out of hibernation to enjoy it. Unfortunately, with better temperatures comes greater risk for Fluffy.
    Here is just a short list of things that have an increased chance of happening in the warmer months. Of course, if you are ever concerned about your pet, don’t hesitate to call your local twenty four hour animal hospital to find out what move you should make next.

    Hit by a car

    If your pet has been hit by a car, bring them right away. This is also true for any kind of serious trauma that can happen. You need to take extra caution when approaching your pet after the trauma occurred. Immediately after they can be confused or in pain and this may cause them to be fractious and bite you. Even the nicest dogs and cats have been known to do this.

    Even if your pet seems to be okay, you don’t know what has happened inside of your pet’s body so some diagnostics such as x-rays are definitely needed to make sure there were no internal injuries. While a radiograph or another type of imaging is definitely warranted, they may not always show what is truly going on internally. It is possibly that signs of an internal injury may not show up until hours after the incident has occurred. So if you do end up taking Fluffy home for the night, he needs to be closely monitored and rechecked right away if any other abnormality is recognized.


    If it’s too hot out for you, it’s probably too hot out for your pet. All you need to know to avoid heat exhaustion in your pet is to use common sense. Only let them outside to use the bathroom. Always make sure there is plenty of water available for them to drink. Do not leave them in your car while you run errands. You can check your pet’s body temperature at home rectally if you have a thermometer available. A normal temperature in a dog or cat ranges anywhere from 99.0°F to 102.5°F.

    You should be even more wary of hyperthermia if you have a flat faced breed, a small breed, and geriatric-aged dogs. If you do decide to take your pet on a quick walk or a car ride on a hot day and later they appear restless, panting relentlessly, start having diarrhea, or just generally not acting like themselves, bring them in right away.

    Dog Fights

    A laceration or open wound created from another dog, or any other animal for that matter, has a greater chance to get infected. That tooth or claw has so much bacteria on it which is then introduced into the wound when it is made. Even if it looks minor, your best bet is to just get it cleaned and have your pet put on some antibiotics just in case. Also, if Fluffy is only a small dog (10 lbs or less) and was attacked by a much larger breed there is the possibility that much worse injuries could have occurred. Similar to when a dog gets hit by a car, it is always warranted to get further testing done to make sure all of your pets’ insides are ok.
    Labored Breathing

    If you think your pet is having even the slightest bit of trouble breathing, just bring them in. Respiratory issues are not something you want to mess around with. When they are severe enough, time can run out pretty quickly. Respiratory distress can be caused by several things as well. Causes can range from a viral or bacterial infection, asthma, laryngeal paralysis, and even congestive heart failure. Check out their gum color. Is it blue? Then do not wait another second!

    Toxin Ingestion

    First, if your pet has ingested absolutely anything out of the ordinary, call a veterinarian. Even if you think what your pet ate is non-toxic, still call just to be 100% sure. If it truly is something toxic, a lot of times a drug can be given to make your pet vomit up the toxic substance. Far too many times I’ve seen week long Tylenol or pain medication toxicity cases come in because the owners didn’t ask what they could give their dog to help its limping leg. Not to mention all the anti-coagulant rodenticide toxicity cases after it’s too late and your pet has bled out in the ER. Even when it comes to things such as sewing needles, chicken bones, or a piece of toy they decided was appetizing, just give us a call. We will help you.

    Stay Healthy Together

    Hopefully this helps you to care for your pet for years to come, keep them a healthy member of your family!

    Jessica Rozak works at an emergency care facility as a CVT in Illinois.

  • Fuzzy Companion Health Tips for Winter

    Pet health animals winter northwest Indiana

    Just a couple things to keep in mind during the cold weather to keep your pets comfortable and healthy. First things first, your pet should be kept inside. Especially young and geriatric dogs and all cats. Young and geriatric animals have a hard time thermoregulating (maintaining a normal body temperature). They may even require extra measures to keep them warm; sweaters, heating pads, etc. Cats are just a bit more sensitive to the elements. Even feral or outdoor cats may take shelter in your car wheel wells or seek warm areas when the temperature starts dropping. How long your pet can stay outside depends on your pet. Your pet should be slowly acclimated to the cold and then depending on how they handle it can stay outside for increasingly longer periods of time. Bear in mind if it’s really too cold for you to tolerate being outside, it’s probably the same for your pet. Frostbite can happen to your pets too! Pay attention the paws and the tips of their ears, those are usually the first affected areas. 

    In August of 2015 the state of Illinois passed legislation that makes it illegal to leave your pet outside in extreme temperatures which entails both hot and cold weather. While I don’t think there are any laws like this in Indiana quite yet, you can still report pets that you think are being neglected to the local authorities. Again, they are prone to the same health issues that we are when exposed to these extreme temperatures.   

    With cold weather also comes the increased use of rock salt and antifreeze. Antifreeze is very, very toxic to animals. The lethal dose is small and it gets into the blood stream rather quickly. Should they actually come in contact or ingest it, treatment absolutely needs to be started ASAP. Symptoms usually start with vomiting, drinking a lot and urinating a lot and then shortly after neurologic signs can start appearing; stumbling, knuckling on their paws, and seizures.

    Rock salt can burn your pet’s paw pads and ingestion of a lot of rock salt can cause electrolyte imbalances. After bringing your pet in from a walk it is recommended to wipe their paws off to get any excess salt off and so they can’t lick it off. Pet safe rock salt is available for purchase. If your pet will tolerate it, winter boots can be useful, it can help avoid them from stepping in salt to start with, keep their paws warmer and help prevent the paw pads from drying out. 

    Remember to keep pets away from poinsettias and chocolate during the holidays too. If you have any questions at all about what is best for your pet, the staff at your local animal hospital is always there to help! And with the rise in 24 hour emergency animal hospitals, there is always somebody to call no matter if something happens at 3pm or 3am.