Most Valuable Player of the Month for February 2017 – Frank Fiacchino

2/6/17

FRANK AND KIDS
Frank, pictured with his “kids,” Scruffy and Riley.

Frank Fiacchino, one of Family Pet’s Client Care Coordinators, was awarded the FPAH Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the month for February 2017 by last month’s winner, Tony Tramutola.  Frank joined our team in August of 2015 after serving as an Assistant Clinic Manager at the PAWS Chicago Lurie Spay/Neuter Clinic.  In a past life, Frank performed professionally in musical theater.  He subsequently spent many years honing his customer service skills in the hospitality industry.  His love of animals brought him to the veterinary world and we are so grateful to have his talents, patience, and humor here at Family Pet.

 

QUESTION AND ANSWER WITH FRANK

Do you have pets?  If so, tell us about him/her/them.

I have two: 1) Scruffy:  a grey and white 14 year young male Shih Tzu.  I adopted him from my cousin when he was two. [My cousin] was about to have her second child and said having a preschooler, a new born baby, a husband and a puppy was too much. THANK GOD, for my sake, she chose to part with the puppy. 2) Riley:  a gold 7 year young female Yorkshire Terrier.  On Halloween weekend of 2014 I was working for PAWS when Riley was brought in from Tennessee. She was brought in on a Friday to be seen by the doctor on Monday before being put up for adoption. I played with her all day and decided to bring her home for the weekend so she wouldn’t have to stay in a cage by herself. Well it’s been a really LONG weekend!

What is your favorite thing about working at Family Pet?

For 15 + years I worked in the hospitality industry so customer service is something I enjoy as well as its kind of innate at this point. Also, Ever since I can remember I have loved animals. Being a Client Care Coordinator I get to combine those two loves for a perfect blend.

What is the moment at FPAH of which you are the most proud?

I never had the pleasure of knowing Marla Minuskin, one of the original co-founders.  But after I started working at Family Pet, it did not take long to know her spirit is still very much alive here. I have heard many wonderful stories of her from coworkers and clients alike. So when Jane Lohmar , one of the managing partners told me Marla would have really liked me it made me VERY proud.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Spend time with my four legged children, binge watch Netflix and run outside in nice weather!

If you could communicate with our patients, what would you most want them to know?

Not to be scared. I would let them know that they were in good hands with good people that will do EVERYTHING in their power to make them feel better!

What’s the strangest job you’ve had?

I once hosted a live NICKELODEON game show where the prize was getting slimed.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

Flying, I hate driving!

How would you spend one million dollars?

First off I would hire an accountant, because I am awful with money. Then I would have him/her set it up so my Mom, siblings their families and I could live a comfortable life without worrying about money! Oh and I would adopt a TON of dogs!

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Everybody’s perception is different and a person’s perception is their reality.

What is your personal motto or mantra?

Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Tell us something about yourself people would be surprised to know.

I once had a role in a NBC Monday night movie.

Congratulations, Frank!  Frank will pick next month’s FPAH MVP, so stay tuned…

 

Previous MVPs:

Tony Tramultola (January 2017)

Emily Olvera (December 2016)

Janet Laz (November 2016)

Kate Van Eck (October 2016)

Jim Dinan (September 2016)

Katie Doan (August 2016)

 

More about us:

Family Pet Animal Hospital’s mission, vision, and core values

Our Doctors

Our Staff

 

Myths (and Truths) About Grains in Pet Food

by Linda L.

“What is the best food to feed my pet?”

This is one of the most common questions posed to our veterinarians here at Family Pet Animal Hospital. Answering this question has certainly become more complicated than it once was.  Good nutrition for your pet means feeding him or her food that provides the building blocks and energy components that allow him/her to grow, develop properly, and remain healthy and active throughout his or her lifetime. Because every pet is unique, there is no cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The goal is to find the right food for your pet that is nutritionally balanced to produce optimal health.

Navigating through the abundance of information and misinformation, deciphering cryptic pet food labels, and being constantly inundated with food manufacturers’ marketing buzz words can create a lot of confusion. It is important to think of food in terms of providing the energy, vitamins, and minerals necessary for normal body functioning.  Energy comes from proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. In recent years, grains, especially corn, have developed a bad rap. Is there any truth in the claim that a grain-free diet is best for your pet?  We’re here to debunk some of the most common myths about grains (and other ingredients) in pet food so you can make more informed decisions about what to feed your pet.

According to Jennifer Larsen, DVM, PhD, DACVN, an associate professor of clinical nutrition at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California Davis, “Grains, and any other single category or individual ingredients, are neither good nor bad.  Rather, what is important is how the ingredients work together to create the full nutritional profile of the diet.  Likewise, carbohydrates, as an energy source, are utilized by the body the same way regardless of source, such as grain, legume, or tubers, and different sources of carbohydrates also bring other nutrients, such as fiber, fatty acids, and amino acids.  Again, no ingredient has a simple effect since each provides multiple nutrients, and it’s not consumed in a vacuum.”

Let’s talk about the most common MYTHS and TRUTHS about grains (and other controversial ingredients) in pet food.

 

Myth vs Fact - Grains in Pet Food (1)

 

Myth #1:  Dogs and cats did not evolve eating grains and therefore cannot digest them

“In fact, modern dogs have adapted/evolved eating a high starch diet during their domestication,” says Rebecca Remillard, PhD, DVM, DACVN, the founder and president of Veterinary Nutritional Consultations, Inc.  She cites a 2013 study reported in the journal Nature, which states that in a comparison of a domestic dog’s genome versus a wolf’s, the three genes responsible for the digestion of dietary starch were expressed 7-12 fold higher in the dog.  Remillard adds, “…digestibility studies published in the Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition … have clearly demonstrated that both dogs and cats digest better than 95% of the starch in a properly cooked diet containing 50% corn or rice.”

Ann Wortinger BIS, LVT, VTS, is a veterinary nutritionist who has worked in the field for over 20 years.  She notes that with any grain, “when higher levels are included in the diet, protein digestibility can go down… All plants, due to their cellulose layers, have decreased digestibility when compared to meats.  But when ground and cooked, so that the cellulose layer is broken, digestibility is comparable [to meat].”

Myth #2:  Grains are responsible for pet allergies

Despite frequent claims to the contrary, meat ingredients are the more common culprit of food allergies than grains. There is no current evidence to support that pets on grain-free diets have lower incidence of food allergies than pets on conventional diets.  Larsen adds, “… to my knowledge, there is no inherent characteristic of any particular grain that would make it more likely to elicit an immune response.” She states that historically, the most common allergens for dogs and cats are beef and dairy.  While she suspects that this may be changing due to ingredient trends, no change has been recently reported in scientific literature.

While some dogs do have allergies to wheat, Celiac disease (allergy to wheat gluten) is very rare in pets and has primarily been reported in the Irish Setter breed.  Wheat gluten is more than 80% protein, highly digestible, has an amino acid profile similar to other proteins (meat), and enhances the texture of food.  Anyone who has a pet that is a finicky eater can tell you that last one can be a top priority.

Myth #3:  You can determine the quality of a pet food by reading the ingredient list

Remillard says, “Despite aggressive marketing campaigns by various manufacturers and self-appointed websites, the ingredient list according to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) should not impart any information regarding the quality, nutritional balance, or digestibility of the pet food product… The ingredient list was simply not designed, or is not regulated, as a measure of pet food quality.  So the source of the meat or carbohydrates in a pet food is not important to the nutritional profile in a complete and balanced product.”

Does your pet food boast the labels “all natural,” “holistic,” or “human-grade”?  According to AAFCO, the term “natural” requires a pet food to consist of only ingredients that have not been subjected to chemical synthesis.  There are no legal definitions of the terms “holistic” or “human-grade,” therefore under pet food laws, anyone can claim these terms for their food.  These terms may sound appealing but are, in fact, meaningless.

Are all “by-products” bad?  Not at all, in fact, we eat them!  By definition and regulation, by-products are the non-meat parts of chicken, beef, pork, etc. after the meat has been removed.  However, by-products are NOT feathers, beaks, fur hooves, or teeth.  Examples include animal fats and clean internal organs – pork, chicken, and beef liver, heart and kidneys.  All these items have nutritious value and are often preferred over muscle meat by animals.  Other examples are treats we commonly give our pets – bully sticks, raw hides, pig’s ears, cow hooves, trachea, and lamb lung.  By-products are a valuable source of energy, vitamins, and minerals.  And while it may sound good to feed your pet a meat-only diet, muscle meat alone is deficient in many nutrients, which could lead to poor growth, bone fractures, and loose teeth.

Is whole meat better than meat meal?  Here are the AAFCO definitions of what constitutes “meats” and “meals.”

  • Meat – “Meat is the clean flesh derived from slaughtered mammals and is limited to that part of the striate muscle which is skeletal or that which is found in the tongue, in the diaphragm, in the heart, or in the esophagus; with or without the accompanying and overlying fat and the portions of the skin, sinew, nerve, and blood vessels which normally accompany the flesh. It shall be suitable for use in animal food. If it bears a name descriptive of its kind, it must correspond thereto.”
  • Meat meal – “Meat meal is the rendered product from mammal tissues, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices. It shall not contain added extraneous materials not provided for by this definition…. If the product bears a name descriptive of its kind, composition or origin, it must correspond thereto.”

As with all ingredients, if the meat is from a well-known provider and is of good quality, it can be an excellent source of protein.  According to “Myths and Misconceptions Surrounding Pet Foods” on the Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center’s website, “Because of the variation in meal content, and in meat and meal quality, purchasing a food from a well-known company who stands behind their product and has the feeding trials and evidence to support its quality is best.”

We recommend that you look at the nutrients rather than the ingredients in foods.  According to Wortinger, “The body does not care if the meat is chicken, beef, or reindeer; what is cares about is the amino acids included in the food.  The body does not care whether the fat is animal or plant-based, but whether all the essential fatty acids are present.  Look at nutrients, not marketing.”

Myth #4:  Grains are non-nutritive fillers

“I’ve heard concerns about them [grains] being ‘filler,’ which is nonsense,” Larsen says.  Grains are added because they are a good source of carbohydrates, which are essential for growth in puppies and kittens and are an important source of energy for most cells of the body (young or adult).  Corn and wheat, two common grains found in pet foods, are excellent sources of quality protein, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants.  Corn meal, which commonly appears in a list of pet food ingredients, is simply corn minus the water and fat and is highly digestible.  Properly processed and cooked grains are generally well-utilized by both cats and dogs.  Furthermore, the fiber provided by grains is essential for the health of the gastrointestinal tract.

Martha G. Cline, DVM, DACVN, is a clinical veterinary nutritionist at AAHA-accredited Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in Tinton Fall, N.J.  She states, “Although fiber is not a required nutrient, I find that it can be very beneficial in optimizing the stool quality and the overall health of my patients.   Grain-free diets can provide optimal nutrition for cats and dogs, however, diets containing grain can do the same.”

Now What?

We’ve debunked some of the biggest myths about grains and ingredient lists, but you’re still asking, “What should I feed my pet?”    There is no “best” food for all pets because of each pet’s unique factors that determine what is “best” – life stage, body condition, level of exercise, environment, and health status.  The most important considerations are if the food is nutritionally adequate and if your pet is healthy when you feed him or her that food.

All pet food labels in the United States must include the AAFCO adequacy statement.  This statement confirms whether the diet is complete and balanced, for which life stage the food is intended, and how the food company determined that the food is complete and balanced (recipe or analytic testing of the finished product; or feeding trials).  If you are home-cooking your pet’s food, then a diet formulated by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist is recommended so that the food isn’t nutritionally deficient.

Raw diets, produced to supposedly mimic what cats and dogs eat in the wild, have become increasingly popular.  Generally, these raw diets consist of variable combinations of raw meats, grains, vegetables, and bones.  As with grain-free diets, there is no scientific evidence that feeding a raw versus conventional diet is advantageous to your pet’s health.  While we recognize the desire for some people to feed a raw diet to their pets, we stress the importance of understanding the risks.  Raw diets are much more likely to be contaminated with disease-causing bacteria, such as Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.  Exposure to these pathogens has the potential to cause serious illness in both pets and humans.  If you have a household with very young, old, or immunocompromised inhabitants, the risks are even greater.  Anyone feeding a raw diet should follow strict handling guidelines such as these outlined by the FDA:  http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/Transparency/Basics/ucm206814.htm

In summary, no matter how good the company, how pretty the packaging, how yummy sounding the ingredients, the only TRUE test of whether a food is good for your dog or cat is what happens when you feed it.  Don’t let your decisions about pet food be based on marketing messages instead of objective nutritional data.

Additional Resources

Pet Nutrition – Separating Fact from Fiction

Pet Nutritional Counseling

Searchable Pet Health Articles Database

Sources:

Smith, Kelly. “Myth Busters: Corn Edition!” NEWStat. American Animal Hospital Assocation, 17 Jan. 2017. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.

Freeman, Lisa M., DVM, PhD, DACVN. “Pet Food Myth Busters: Answering Common Questions Owners Ask About Pet Food.” (n.d.): n. pag. Clinician’s Brief. 2015. Web. 25 Jan. 2017. <http://www.cliniciansbrief.com/sites/default/files/attachments/Pet%20Food%20Myth%20Busters.pdf>.

“Myths and Misconceptions Surrounding Pet Foods.” The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.

Most Valuable Player of the Month for January 2017 – Tony Tramutola

Tony & FinnTony Tramutola, Family Pet Animal Hospital’s longest standing staff member and one of our Technician Managers, was awarded the FPAH Most Valuable Player (MVP) for January 2017 by last month’s winner, Emily Olvera.  Tony joined the Family Pet team as a teenager back in 1990 just after the practice first opened.  He is an incredibly skilled, no nonsense technician and manager that our doctors and staff call on for assistance incessantly.  Around here, he is often referred to as “Dr. Tony” for his wealth of knowledge and experience.  He may not have a DVM degree but he is certainly invaluable to our team.

His patience and skill with especially scared or aggressive dogs has earned him the title of “dog whisperer.”  Many of our clients request him by name to be the technician to handle their pets when they come to see us, knowing he “speaks their language.”

QUESTION AND ANSWER WITH TONY (he is a man of few words):

Do you have pets?  If so, tell us about him/her/them.

Yes.  Tank is a pitbull mix and full of energy.

What is the moment at FPAH of which you are the most proud? 

Working here for 26+ years.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Playing video games, watching TV, and taking long walks with Tank.

How would you spend one million dollars?

Buy a house and car and eat well.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

When someone says something happened a million times (over-exaggeration).

What would you choose for your last meal?

New York strip steak and baked potato.

Congratulations, Tony!  Tony will pick next month’s FPAH MVP for February, so stay tuned…

Meet Alexander – A Young (9!), Impressive Animal Advocate

12.28.16

alexanderWe’d like to introduce you to Alexander.  At age nine, he’s one of Dr. Jane’s youngest clients and one of the most passionate, blossoming animal advocates we’ve had the pleasure of knowing.  As part of his commitment to animals, he decided to become a vegetarian earlier this year because “he loves animals too much.”  Not only is he a pet owner/lover and a vegetarian, he’s nurtured quite an affinity for a South Haven, Michigan animal shelter – the Al-Van Humane Society – and actively volunteers there when time allows.

At Al-Van Humane Society, Alexander’s focus is on socializing cats and assisting with cat adoptions.  He takes the time to get to know the personalities of the cats at the shelter in order to make effective recommendations to prospective adopters.  He has personally facilitated 86 cat adoptions so far! 

According to Al-Van’s C.A.R.E.S. Campaign information on their website , “In 2012 the Al-Van Board of Directors refined its mission, adopting no-kill best practices to ensure all adoptable animals would be cared for by Al-Van until a forever home was found, no matter how long that took. As a result, Al-Van reached out to our community to become active partners in saving the lives of companion animals. And boy did our community step up! Al-Van has increased its number of foster families, number of active volunteers and number of Meet & Greets held outside the shelter. Best of all- we’ve increased our ‘save rate’ from 18% in 2011 to an all-time high save rate of 90% in 2014.”

Due to the shelter’s increased need for space, Al-Van has purchased an additional building to house the large number of animals in the community that are in need of saving.  The shelter launched the Al-Van C.A.R.E.S (Community And Resources Enhance Shelter) campaign to raise much needed funds to bring their vision for this new facility to life.  A member of the Board of Directors took notice of Alexander’s passion, efforts, and abilities and asked him to participate in one of the planned C.A.R.E.S. campaign videos.  While he was initially nervous about the public speaking aspect of the project, he quickly decided that he “had to do whatever he could to help the animals.”  Check out the video and we’re sure you’ll agree with the doctors and staff here at Family Pet Animal Hospital – Alexander is a wonderful public speaker and we admire his commitment to these animals.

 

The Al-Van C.A.R.E.S. Capital Campaign has set a goal of raising $500,000 to complete the renovations for the new facility.  Over $100,000 has been raised so far but there is much more work to be completed (see here for more details).  If you are interested in donating to the shelter to support their efforts caring for animals in need, or specifically to the C.A.R.E.S. Capital Campaign, check out their donation page here.

All of us here at Family Pet Animal Hospital are so impressed with Alexander’s commitment to animals.  It’s a pleasure to watch him use his talents and passion for a cause we hold dear.  Way to go, Alexander!  Keep up the amazing work!

 

 

Bourbon & Beignet – Rescued by PAWS Chicago from the Louisiana Floods

11/23/16

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Meet Bourbon and Beignet.  They are two of 26 dogs and cats that PAWS Chicago was able to rescue from Southern Louisiana following the devastating August 2016 floods that hit the area. The PAWS team drove 16 hours each way to transport animals from local shelters in Louisiana back to the PAWS Chicago Medical Center.   Shortly after their return, we contacted PAWS to see if and how we could help.  Heart worm is very common in the southern states, and unsurprisingly, Bourbon and Beignet both tested positive.  Family Pet Animal Hospital was able to sponsor both Bourbon’s and Beignet’s heartworm treatment.

A little bit about these wonderful pooches:

Beignet – The best word to describe her is “perfect”.  She is gentle, sweet, tolerant, and laid back. She greets everyone with a low tail wag and soft eyes.  She’s an old soul who always looks a bit like she understands exactly what is going on.

Bourbon – Bourbon is a sweet and loving guy. He likes to jump on everyone he meets because he is just that happy to make new friends. He served as a mentor to younger, more insecure dogs that arrived from the south with him – nudging them along when they were frightened of new city noises. His favorite treats are bread, sweet potatoes and cheese.

We are happy to report that both Beignet and Bourbon have found wonderful forever homes through PAWS Chicago.  Family Pet Animal Hospital was so happy for the opportunity to help PAWS in their amazing efforts in caring for these wonderful pets.

Link to more information about PAWS Chicago’s rescue mission

http://www.pawschicago.org/louisiana/

Happy National Veterinary Technician Week! October 16 – 22, 2016

10/16/16

vet-tech-blog-banner-2

Your pets deserve the best in pet care and it takes everyone on the veterinary health care team to make that happen.  The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) recognized that fact and established National Veterinary Technician Week (NVTW) as the third week in October.  We certainly value our technical team’s contributions every day, but that this particular week to celebrate their contributions to the health and well-being of our patients.

When you and your pet visit Family Pet Animal Hospital, we hope you have an immediate sense of who we are – we truly care about you and your pets and we love what we do.  We pride ourselves on the amazing team members we have that embrace and embody our core values:

  • Ethics
  • Professionalism
  • Empathy
  • Energy & Focus
  • Pride
  • Team Player

 

Veterinary technicians and assistants play a vital role in the care of all our patients (and our clients).  Their jobs are similar to that of nurses in human medicine – to perform technical tasks to support the doctors and provide comfort and support to the patient as well.  Our technicians are trained to provide nursing care, conduct diagnostic laboratory work, aid in medical, dental, and surgical procedures, administer anesthesia, and much more.  We could not do what we do without their talents.

Veterinary medicine and technology is always growing and changing and we strive to be on the cutting edge to provide your pet with the best care possible.  Our technicians’ commitment to continuing education allows us to support the addition and integration of new skills, protocols, and systems to our team because your pet deserves the very best.

We want to express our sincere gratitude to our amazing technicians.  We are so grateful for their tireless work, compassion, humor, and talents.  They are crucial to the delivery of the care we provide to the pets in our communication.  Thank you, Vet Techs, for everything that you do!

Happy National Veterinary Technician Week!

Most Valuable Player of the Month for October 2016 – Kate Van Eck

KEV picKate Van Eck, Assistant Client Care Manager, has been awarded the Family Pet Animal Hospital Most Valuable Player (FPAH MVP) award for October 2016 by last month’s winner, Jim Dinan.  Congratulations, Kate!

Kate joined the Family Pet team as a Client Care Coordinator early in 2013 after working as a technician at Dupage County Animal Control for four years.  For her ongoing commitment to our patients, clients, and team, in a few short years, she’s received multiple promotions – Trainer, Shift Supervisor, and most recently, Assistant Client Care Manager.  Her energy, humor, sparkling personality, diligence, and tireless advocacy for the well-being of all animals make her such an appreciated part of our team.

QUESTION AND ANSWER WITH KATE

Do you have pets?  If so, tell us about him/her/them.

I have a small dog, Franklin, who I adopted from DuPage Co. Animal Care & Control where I worked prior to Family Pet. He and I are celebrating 8 years together this October! When I decided that I wanted to adopt him (after fostering him a few weeks) my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, said we have to make it official. So we went on a walk and picked out the name Franklin (after FDR) and then went and bought him a red, white and blue sweater and collar.

What is your favorite thing about working at Family Pet?

My favorite thing about Family Pet is the people I get to work with. I can’t even begin to explain the amazingly kind, open and appreciative environment that exists here.

What is the moment at FPAH of which you are the most proud?

I do a lot of the training of the new CCC’s and it is such a proud feeling when you see new staff members being able to make sound decisions on their own and establishing friendships with clients.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I love spending time with Franklin and my husband, Bill, no matter what we’re doing. I go to a lot of Cubs games and keep score by hand. I volunteer with Big Brother Big Sister and spend time with my “little” making crafts and exploring Chicago together. I love singing (especially made up songs about Franklin), playing the piano, watching Jeopardy and spending time with my family.

If you could communicate with our patients, what would you most want them to know?

Not to be afraid or weirded out when I squish their faces and give them hugs and kisses because it’s too hard to resist sometimes.

How would you spend one million dollars?

I would use it to fund the sanctuary farm that my husband and I are planning on opening in the next 5 years.

What’s the strangest job you’ve had?

I used to be a performer at Six Flags Great America and would dress up as the Looney Toons characters. The worst costume was Taz. It was 65lbs sitting on your shoulders and you could barely move your arms, but in one show Taz had to play the drums. It was hilarious.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

A family friend wrote in a wedding card, “Remember every day to share a 10 second hug and a 5 second kiss.” It sounds simple, but sometimes the day slips away from us and we forget. We’ve made an effort to share those two things each day, no matter what is going on around us, and it has really helped strengthen our marriage.

If you could host a talk show, who would your first guest be and why?

I would invite Gilda Radner. She really paved the way for women to be perceived as funny, which is my favorite thing to be.

Tell us something about yourself people would be surprised to know.

I was in an a cappella group in college, The University of IL Rip Chords, and we were pretty much *celebs on campus.

*that’s a lie

Congratulations, Kate!  (Kate gets to pick next month’s FPAH MVP, so stay tuned…)

Most Valuable Player of the Month for September 2016 – Jim Dinan

Jim Dinan - Family Pet Animal Hospital MVP 09.16Jim Dinan, Client Care Manager, has been awarded the Family Pet Animal Hospital Most Valuable Player (FPAH MVP) for September 2016 by last month’s winner, Katie Doan.  Congratulations, Jim!  Jim came to the Family Pet team in 2002 with several years of operations management, customer service, and pet sitting experience.  He was promoted to Client Care Manager in 2005, a position he has held ever since.

Many of our clients ask for Jim by name, as they have come to know him over the many years he’s taken care of their needs and the needs of their pets.  He’s an incredibly calm and caring individual that always sets our patients’ and clients’ needs as his top priorities.

Question and Answer with Jim:

Do you have pets?  If so, tell us about them.

Matilda is a 12 year old Doberman mix who is still crazy like a puppy!

What is your favorite thing about working at Family Pet?

The good relationships I have formed with my co-workers.

What is the moment at Family Pet of which you are the most proud?

I recently worked with all of my co-workers to form a social contract for our hospital.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I enjoy cooking, listening to music, and spend too much time on fantasy football.

If Family Pet Animal Hospital had a theme song, what would it be?

The theme song to “The A-Team.”

If you could communicate with our patients, what would you most want them to know?

Don’t worry.  We have your back little buddy!

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

Flying – as I am currently nursing a wounded foot.

How would you spend one million dollars?

Invest it in an S & P 500 tracking ETF.

What is your personal motto or mantra? 

Do more with less.

What would you choose for your last meal?

Steak, medium rare, and greens.

Do you have any strange phobias?

I am afraid of needles and cannot stand giving blood.

What is your favorite junk food?

Pizza!

Congratulations, Jim!  (Jim gets to pick next month’s FPAH MVP, so stay tuned…)

Surprising Misconceptions About Bully Sticks

8/8/16

If you’ve ever fed your dog a bully stick, you know the joy they bring! Dogs certainly love them. But you may unknowingly be adding excessive calories and potential harmful bacteria to your dog’s diet.

Researchers at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University (TCSVM) conducted a study in 2013 to determine the caloric density and bacterial contamination of bully sticks and surveyed pet owners to evaluate their knowledge about these popular treats. The study’s findings revealed that there are definitely some widespread misconceptions. While this study is not new, we know bully sticks remain a common treat given by pet owners and want you to be informed about what you are feeding your dog.

What is a bully stick?

The study surveyed 852 adults and showed that only 44% of the general respondents knew that bully sticks are made from bull penises! Bully sticks are a raw animal-product treat. Surprisingly, the study showed 71% of people feeding bully sticks to their pets stated they avoid by-products in pet foods. Professor of Nutrition at TCSVM, Lisa M. Freeman, DVM, PhD, DACVN, states, “…bully sticks are, for all intents and purposes, an animal by-product.” While by-products are not inherently bad for your pet, the survey results illustrate that there are clear misconceptions about pet foods and treats currently on the market.

A side note about meat by-products:  The phrase meat by-product is widely misunderstood due to aggressive marketing campaigns by many meat-only pet foods in order to create a perception of quality.  The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) defines by-products that are allowable for use in pet foods and treats as the non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals.

Examples include, but are not limited to, livers, stomachs, intestines freed of their contents, kidneys, spleens and lungs.  Bully sticks, raw hide, pigs’ ears, and other common pet treats are also meat by-products. Muscle meat alone is deficient in many nutrients, whereas meat by-products can be a valuable source of energy, vitamins, and nutrients.  There are many high-quality pet foods that include meat by-products, not as cheap fillers, but to increase the nutritional value of the feed with the goal of optimal health of your pet.  (Remember, eating habits are cultural!  Just because you aren’t interested in eating animal innards or other animal parts doesn’t mean they aren’t relished in other parts of the country or world.)  Again, meat by-products are NOT inherently bad for your pet.

Bully sticks pack a big caloric punch!

The TCVSM study tested a random subset of 26 bully sticks made by different manufacturers from retail locations in the U.S. and Canada for caloric content. Calories of the products tested ranged from 9-22 calories per inch. Ultimately, your average 6-inch bully stick would account for 30% of a 10-pound dog’s daily calorie requirements (or 9% for a 50 pound dog)!

According to the American Animal Hospital Association’s (AAHA’s) article about the TCVSM study, “Dr. Lisa Freeman, who was the first author of the study, said owners could be inadvertently increasing their dogs’ obesity risk by regularly feeding them bully sticks.”

The veterinarians at Family Pet Animal Hospital are facing a growing (no pun intended) pet obesity problem. Our conversations with pet owners are very telling – in diet considerations, people often forget to factor in treats, which can be a major source of calories in a pet’s diet.

Bacterial contamination risk

All 26 bully sticks were tested for bacterial contaminants. Researchers reported the following:

  • One stick was contaminated with Clostridium difficile.
  • One stick contained methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
  • Seven sticks were contaminated with E. coli – one of which was resistant to tetracycline.

The AAHA article states, “Despite the limited sample size and the knowledge that not all of the bacterial strains are known to infect humans, researchers recommend that people wash their hands after handling treats like bully sticks that are uncooked.”  Be sure to follow safe handling instructions, such as these guidelines from the FDA.  Households with young children, elderly adults, pregnant women, or those that are immunocompromised should consider the risks carefully.

Other considerations

Our doctors here at Family Pet Animal Hospital have occasionally seen incidences of cracked teeth from bones and other hard treats, like bully sticks. We’ve definitely seen our share of diarrhea or other gastrointestinal upset from bully sticks as well.  The study referenced in this post utilized a small sample size and stated that further research was needed to determine if the caloric content and contamination rate found in the study is representative of all bully sticks. We recognize there are various preferences about what to feed your pet and simply want our pet owners to make informed decisions.

Sources:

(1) Creative Commons Harvey with his bully stick” by Jelly Dude is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Knight, Kalimah Redd. “Misconceptions About A Popular Pet Treat.” Tufts University. TuftsNow, 28 Jan. 2013. Web. 5 Aug. 2016.

“Study Reveals Surprising Misconceptions about Bully Sticks.” NewStat. American Animal Hospital Association, 28 Jan. 2013. Web. 05 Aug. 2016.

Tips for Safe Handling of Pet Food and Treats.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration. N.p., 12 July 2016. Web. 05 Aug. 2016.

 

Most Valuable Player of the Month for August 2016 – Katie Doan

Katie and ArthurWe’ve just launched a new staff recognition program at Family Pet Animal Hospital to encourage peer-to-peer recognition of staff members that embody FPAH’s core values of ethics, professionalism, empathy, energy and focus, pride, and being a team player and work to forward our mission and vision.

We are happy to announce that Katie is our Family Pet Animal Hospital Most Valuable Player (FPAH MVP) of the Month for August of 2016, chosen by Lilly, one of our Client Care Managers!  Katie joined the Family Pet team as a Client Care Coordinator in October of 2010.  She returned to school in 2014 to obtain her Associates in Veterinary Technology, graduated in late 2015, and transitioned from the “front of the house” to the “back of the house,” joining our medical team as a Certified Veterinary Technician.

We are lucky to have Katie, as she is dedicated, intelligent, funny, and always willing to help out all her fellow team members.

Question and Answer with Katie

Do you have pets?  If so, tell us about him/her/them.

Yes, I have two dogs. Arthur is a puppy mill rescue Havanese. He is the dog love of my life and just plain precious. We adopted him in 2013. It was a big victory for me as my now husband didn’t want to get a dog because he has allergies but luckily he met Arthur and also fell in love.  Byrdie is a rescue dog too that was one of the dogs that we vetted and took care of at tech school and I fell in love with her.  She is probably a Chihuahua/ dachshund mix (picture Chihuahua face/ears with doxie body).  She’s a hyper sweetie pie and she came home in 2014.

What is your favorite thing about working at Family Pet?

It is hard to choose just one thing. My coworkers are probably my favorite thing about Family Pet; client care coordinators, technicians, and doctors. We all work as a team and have a good time together too. We all have the same values and the pets we are treating get the best care because of it.

What is the moment at FPAH of which you are the most proud?

Probably September 1st 2015 when I walked into work as a technician after almost 5 years as a CCC. I worked really hard at school to become a certified veterinary technician and I was glad that I was welcomed to the treatment room side of the hospital and that everyone was excited to have me.  That meant a lot to me.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I love to snuggle with my dogs and watch TV, I love reading, and going out to eat with my husband.

If you could communicate with our patients, what would you most want them to know?

That I understand they are nervous and that we are only there to help them and that what I’m doing will make them feel better if they are sick or is in their best interest if there for an annual exam.  Also, I would want them to know that if they stay still, we will be done faster and then they can have a treat 🙂

What is the funniest thing that’s happened at Family Pet?

Oh jeez, I might want to save you all from these stories as most of my funny stories have to do with dog poop.

How would you spend one million dollars?

I would probably pay off my husband and my student loans, pay off our mortgage/home, and buy myself a car. Then I would take my husband on a European adventure since he has never gone abroad.

Tell us something about yourself people would be surprised to know.

I had a temporary position at The Shedd Aquarium after I interned there to raise Magellanic penguin chicks (from eggs, I saw them hatch!). I worked 60 hours a week, midnight to noon for a couple of months. It was the coolest thing I have ever gotten to do.

What would be the title of the movie about your life?

“That WOULD happen to you, Katie”

What’s your favorite activity to do with your pet(s)?

We love to snuggle together. I find myself in a snuggle-fest with my dogs at least once a day and try hard not to move so that I don’t disrupt the adorable-ness.

What is your favorite junk food?

Ice Cream is my favorite food. Period.

Congratulations, Katie!  (Katie gets to pick next month’s FPAH MVP, so stay tuned…)