Friday, 23 September 2011
Who's Your New Helper, Doctor?

The future Dr. Lowe with her Bull MastiffSeveral times per year you may see us pulling into your farm or walking into the exam room with a new assistant in tow.  Just in case you are thinking we are having trouble keeping help and are turning them over on a monthly or even weekly basis, we reassure you we are not having that kind of trouble.  We are just helping out the future for veterinary medicine by taking in veterinary student interns. 

Abilene Animal Hospital generally takes in 12-15 student interns per year for 1 to 3 week blocks.  With Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine just 40 minutes away, you might guess that is where all the students come from.  This is true for about ½ of the students.  The rest come from all over the country.  This year we have had students from Kansas State, University of Minnesota, Oklahoma State, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, Iowa State, and even University of Melbourne in Australia.

What do the interns do?  They observe veterinary practice “from the trenches”, so to speak.  They assist with cases and travel with us to farms so they can see what kinds of things will be expected of them upon graduation.

Why do they come to AAH?  Well, we thought that would best be answered by our most recent student intern, Hannah Lowe who is currently a senior veterinary student at Virginia-Maryland.

AAH:    Where are you from and how did you end up choosing AAH for your internship?

Lowe:   I grew up in a small town in Southeast Virginia known as Sedley.  The slogan for our area used to be pigs, peanuts and pine trees, but we’re probably most famous for jumbo peanuts.  I grew up with horses, and so I’ve always had an interest in equine medicine.  My interest in other large animal species came when I got to veterinary school, which eventually led me to Abilene seeking more exposure to mixed animal private veterinary practice. 

AAH:     What are your plans after graduation?

Lowe:    My current plan is to practice primarily large animal medicine at a mixed animal practice in a rural area.  I would like to be somewhere in the South East, but I’ll go anywhere green grass grows. 

AAH:      What did you like about interning at AAH?

Lowe:    AAH has an awesome dynamic environment as soon as you walk in the door.  Staff and vets are warm and welcoming.   I spent the majority of my time shadowing the large animal veterinarians.  All were very encouraging of student learning opportunities and more than willing to take advantage of teaching moments.  The folks at AAH are passionate about what they do, and as a student it makes a huge difference in the learning experience.

AAH:     Name something you liked/were amused by in the town of Abilene, KS.

Lowe:    I drove up to Abilene from another internship in the Texas panhandle on a Sunday thinking most places would be closed.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself spending the day exploring local attractions and museums.  I visited the Eisenhower Center, Old Abilene Gunfighters, Train Depot, Greyhound Museum and my ultimate favorite- the American Indian Art Center.  If you’re bored, go to the Indian Art Center and talk to the owners and they’ll tell you stories galore—it’s a great history refresher if you like that sort of thing.

AAH:      Anything else you want to add?

Lowe:   Thanks so much to everyone at AAH for taking the time and energy to share their wisdom and expertise with me.

Next time you see us with our latest student intern in tow, be sure to say hello and welcome them to the great town of Abilene! Thanks to the future Dr. Lowe for the interview and we wish her the best of luck on the remainder of her senior year at Virginia-Maryland.



Posted on 09/23/2011 11:18 AM by Dr. Lisa Tokach
Monday, 12 September 2011
Considerations before getting a new pet

Veterinarians sometimes cringe when the latest animal movie comes out launching a new specific breed craze.  For example, when 101 Dalmatians had their recent remake by Disney, we saw a big upsurge in Dalmatian puppies.  No offense to those of you who own and love Dalmatians, but they are certainly not for everyone and when the cuteness of the spots wear off, you are left with a big dog that requires a great deal of time to exercise and train.  We have had similar crazes with Chihuahuas after Beverly Hills Chihuahua and Bull Mastiffs after Turner and Hooch.

Don’t get me wrong, we want people to own dogs.  After all, taking care of them is our business. We just want people to think it through and make a wise decision about what type of pet is best for them.  Here are some things to consider when choosing a pet:


  1. Budget.  First off, you need to consider whether you should consider paying top dollar for a purebred or designer pet or if you could adopt a shelter or rescue animal or a “free” one from the newspaper.  More importantly, however, you need to think about what the cost of upkeep will be for your pet.  Big dogs eat more food and their flea and heartworm prevention costs more because they are bigger.  The initial cost of the animal is only the beginning.  Be sure you can afford to provide for their needs after the purchase. There will be expenses with food, spaying/neutering, vaccinations, flea control, heartworm prevention, grooming and any “toys” you might want them to have. 
  2. Health concerns: You should also be aware that certain breeds of dogs are predisposed to specific health problems.  For example: Boxers are prone to melanomas, Retrievers to hip dysplasia, Bulldogs to upper respiratory issues, Cocker Spaniels to ear infections and immune mediated hemolytic anemia and Great Danes to gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV).  If you want to know the predilections of the breed, call our office and ask.
  3. Time.  In my opinion, dogs require more time than cats; cats require more time than hamsters; hamsters require more time than fish or tarantulas.  Be sure you have time in your daily life to care for your new pet.  Consider how often you travel away from home, how many hours at a time are you gone from your home on a typical day?  Will you have time to feed, exercise and play with your pet?
  4. Lifestyle. Consider your normal activity level when choosing a pet.  If you are somewhat of a coach potato, adopting a greyhound or buying a Jack Russell Terrier is probably not your best choice.  If you are a marathon runner, a Basset Hound will not likely make a good running buddy.  Do you entertain guests in your home frequently?  If so, you should consider a pet that is more social and not highly territorial.
  5. Are you a neat freak?  Dogs and cats shed.  That is a fact of life.  Many a salesmen have tried to promote various shampoos or nutritional supplements that reduce or prevent shedding.  The bottom line is if you have a dog or cat, they will shed.  Some breeds like poodles or Schnauzers do shed less, but the trade off is that their hair grows long and needs to be cut.
  6. Space.  If you live in a small apartment, it would be challenging to own a Great Dane.  Cats out in the country can become prey for coyotes if let outdoors in the night. Tarantulas need live crickets, even in the winter time. All are things to consider when wondering which new pet is ideal for you.

Granted, each animal has its own personality and I’m sure there is a calm Jack Russell Terrier out there (although I have never met one) and I’m sure there are Great Danes who live quite well in small apartments and greyhounds who like to be couch potatoes.  The point is to not get caught up in the latest pet craze and choose a pet that fits you and your lifestyle.

Our family recently went through this process.  After much consideration, we elected to adopt a rescue dog out of Kansas City.  He is a 1 year old yellow Labrador retriever my son has named, Finnick.  I’m sure he will eat us out of house and home, demand more attention than we think we have time for, shed  and slobber all over my furniture, and dig holes in my yard.  However, you cannot look into the eyes of the boy and dog who are thrilled to be new partners in crime and think that any of that will really matter!

Submitted by Lisa Tokach, DVM

 A New Dog

Posted on 09/12/2011 3:33 PM by Lisa Tokach, DVM
Friday, 9 September 2011
Harmful blue-green algae - keep the dogs out of the water!

This summer has been incredibly hot this year and for some the best way to cool down would be to spend the weekend at the lake with your pet, however, you and your pet will not be the only ones in the lakes this season.  Blue-green algae has invaded the lakes of Kansas, so what should you as a pet owner look out for before entering the warm waters of the lake? 

According to the Kansas Department of Wildlife the blue-green algae is not a new comer to Kansas lakes, it has just taken advantage of the hot weather and stagnant water the summer has provided and created algae blooms.  These algae blooms are what is making several Kansas lakes put out advisories and some even warnings.  The blooms release a toxin that is dangerous to fish, pets and humans.  It has made some of the waters of lakes look like they are covered in scum and have a bad odor to them. 

There have been several human related illness due to the algae, 1 confirmed death of a dog and 2 others are being investigated by KSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.  When people are exposed to the toxins associated with the algae they can get flu like symptoms that may or may not include a rash.  Dogs, however may have an array of symptoms that include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and/or difficulty breathing.  Park Rangers are trying to warn swimmers of all current advisories and warnings within the affected areas.  Just recently Milford Lake has closed due to a record high test level in the Wakefield portion of the lake.

So what’s the difference between a “warning” and an “advisory”?  An advisory states that you should not drink the water affected for that area, as well as clean fish properly and only eat the fillet portion of the fish, and they also recommend keeping pets out of the water.  Kansas Department of Wildlife states that in a warning to please stay out of the water this includes swimming, wading, and any full body contact with the water.  They also state not to drink the water, clean fish well, only eat the fillet portion of the fish, and keep all pets out of the water.     

For more information of the warnings, advisories, and closings in your area go to Kansas Department of Wildlife , Parks and Tourism website at

 Submitted by Whitney Gilbert


Posted on 09/09/2011 9:39 AM by Whitney Gilber
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