Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Veterinary Technicians - Trusted Partners in your Pets' Care

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Dear Listeners, Viewers, and Readers:

Tonight, in honor of last week's veterinary technician week, we are showcasing the unsung hero of veterinary medicine, the veterinary technician.  Like their RN human medical counterparts, veterinary technicians are the work-horse of the veterinary hospital, in charge of client communication, administration of treatments, laboratory procedures and diagnostics, rehabilitation, nad much more.  Unlike their RN counterparts, veterinary technicians must be educated and proficient in multiple areas of medicine, including orthopedics, clinical pathology, internal medicine, rehabilitation, radiology, and dentistry...essentially, like the veterinarian that takes on multple areas of expertise, the veterinary technician must also be able to navigate through multiple branches of medicine. 

Below are the talking points for tonight's episode.  Remember, we are back to live broadcasting by both video and audio streams, so in addition to e-mailing us ( questions and comments to be addressed on the air, you may call in live as well.

Thanks for all your support and for caring about what I have to say!


Roger Welton, DVM
Episode talking points:
1) Veterinary Technicians and veterinary assistants are an essential part of many successful veterinary practices. Their primary goal is to assist the veterinarian to ensure the best possible outcome for each and every patient.

2) In helping the doctor, technicians and assistants are called upon to be a nurse, laboratory technician, radiology technician, anesthetist, surgical nurse, grief counselor, patient comforter and client educator.

3) Veterinary technicians can also be found in research laboratories, educational centers, zoos, the military and pharmaceutical companies.

4) The first Veterinary Technology program was actually started by the Air Force in 1951.

5) A Certified, Licensed or Registered Veterinary Technician has completed a minimum of two years of schooling at one of the more than 160 accredited veterinary technology programs across the United States. A Veterinary Technologist has completed a four year, bachelor’s degree program.

6) In both cases, state veterinary practice acts require take and pass a credentialing examination. This ensures the veterinarian and the public that the student has entry level knowledge of the tasks they will be asked to perform in the hospital.

7) Veterinary assistants are also highly skilled individuals in the veterinary practice. They may receive their training through online courses, high school programs or even through a college certificate program. Many experienced veterinary assistants are simply trained “on the job”.

8) Veterinary technicians can also become specialists in areas such as dentistry, anesthesiology, emergency and critical care, behavior, equine medicine, surgery, nutrition and even internal medicine.

9) Each year, the second week in October is recognized as National Veterinary Technician Week. This week celebrates the commitment that veterinary technicians and assistants give to veterinary medicine and the hard work that they do each and every day.
Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website

Monday, October 15, 2012

Are our cats plotting against us?

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Listen to internet radio with Roger Welton DVM on Blog Talk Radio
Dear Listeners, Reader, and Viewers,

I am very excited about this episode, as I will be returning to my live format, BUT, in addition to addressing you live and taking live calls again, we are adding live video streaming to the mix. 

As many of you are aware, I have another YouTube based show called The Web-DVM that was embedded here in addition to my podcast, where I posted scripted video news stories every other week.  As many of you also have correctly observed, I have not done many of those as of late.

The truth is, I really did not enjoy that venue very much...I do not really like reading off of a teleprompter, I am not very good at it, and as many who know me well have observed, nothing of my real personality comes through that style of media.  As a close friend of many years simply and bluntly put it, that show made me come off looking like I was constipated.  :)

At any rate, while I have a great podcast following, I also have a very substantial video following that I must recognize.  Some prefer to listen, while others are more visually stimulated, preferring to see the speaker's body language and expressions to put the words in a better context for them.  With the live streaming, I intend to reach both my podcast fans AND video fans all in one shot, with one broadcast.

For those that prefer to listen or watch by archive (and there are many of you) since you can catch the show at your convenience, that will not change...both video and podcast episodes will still be archived within one hour of wrap for your convenience.  While this blog is the easiest place to catch either or, you may also catch the archived video webcasts and podcasts at, and, respectively.

Regarding the topic of this upcoming show, I leave that to your imagination given the cryptic title, so tune in to find out!  

As always, thank you for always caring about what I have to say. :)


Roger Welton, DVM 

Episode Talking Points:  

1) Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite the can infect almost all mammals and birds. Experts in zoonotic diseases estimate that about 50% of humans worldwide have this parasite.

2) The parasite is considered to be a significant concern because of its zoonotic potential. A recent study that links the presence of toxoplasma to a greater suicide risk in women has alarmed many people.

3) T. gondii has a life cycle that involves two hosts. First, wild and domestic cats are the definitive host, meaning that the parasite reproduces and is shed into the environment only through felines.

4) Cats originally become infected after eating a prey animal already infected with toxoplasma. An interesting note is that the majority of cats will only shed the oocysts (eggs) of the parasite into the environment for a short (8-21 day) period of time.

5) However, cats that are under-nourished, infected with other parasites or under stress can reshed these oocysts at later times. This makes the feral cat population a concern for the spread of this parasite.

6) Other mammals and birds can become infected from ingesting the infective oocysts. The parasite then travel via blood and lymph vessels to other tissues, such as the brain and large muscles. Here, the parasite becomes a cyst and can cause significant health problems for immune-compromised people or pregnant women.

7) Once shed into the environment, the oocysts require about 24 hours to become infective. This is important because daily cleaning of a cat’s litter box along with routine hand washing can greatly reduce any risk of contracting the parasite.

8) Although our domestic cats are often implicated in the transmission of toxoplasma, people can also become infected through eating inadequately washed raw fruits or vegetables, eating raw or undercooked meats and shellfish or even through contamination while working in the garden.

9) The study about female suicide risk did not appear to address how the women may have been infected with toxoplasma, only that antibodies to toxoplasma were present.

10) It should also be noted that many people have antibodies to toxo but don’t have any sort of active disease or suicidal tendencies.

11) The important thing to remember is that although this is a very concerning disease, there are a few simple steps that cat owners can take to minimize the risk.

12) First, keeping cats indoors will greatly decrease the potential for infection. Since cats generally obtain the parasite through their carnivorous activities, indoor cats that don’t hunt are at lower risk.

13) Next, as mentioned above, clean the litter box at least once daily. The oocyst of the parasite requires 24 hours to become infective so a daily scooping of the litter will decrease your risk AND also make your cat happier with a cleaner box!

14) Finally, follow good hygiene practices…wash your hands after handling your cat and/or the litter box and relegate the cleaning duties to someone who is generally healthy. Immuno-compromised individuals (young children, the elderly, pregnant women, etc) will be at higher risk for contracting toxoplasma and develop more severe symptoms.

15) It is NOT necessary to get rid of your cat based on this one study. Ask your veterinarian for more details about toxo and steps you can take to help prevent the disease. He or she is well-trained in understanding zoonotic diseases and will help you understand the risks.

Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Jerky Treats for Pets Continue to Cause Problems

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Dear Listeners, Reader, and Viewers,

Tonight (9 PM EST), I will be discussing ongoing problems with the ever favorite jerky type meat treats available for pets.  Despite their pupoluarity, since 2007, they continue to be linked to serious pet illness and even cases of death.  I also will be announcing my return to live podcasting with a new twist, so please be certain to tune in and find out what exciting new changes are in store for this new season's shows. 

To offer a bit of background for this episode, please refer to the talking points below.  In addition to this list of talking points for tonight's episode, there are important links available that are relevent to this evening's topic:

1) Pet owners and veterinarians are increasingly concerned about an on-going issue with types of dog treats. Chicken jerky treats have been implicated in severe illnesses and even deaths of some pets.

2) People like these sorts of treats for their pets because of their limited ingredient list and the fact that dogs seem to absolutely love them!

3) From 2007 to date, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received more than 2200 reports of sickness in dogs, including approximately 360 deaths. Although a single brand is not to blame, almost all reports are associated with products that are made in China.

4) Symptoms of illness include: vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. Increased water consumption and increased urination are also noted in many cases.
5) Despite many warnings to the public, the treats are still available for sale and pet owners are often unaware of the dangers.

6) These treats are still on store shelves because, despite rigorous testing, a contaminant has not been found. FDA labs have ruled out bacteria, molds, heavy metals and even adulterated ingredients as the problem. Without knowing what is causing the sicknesses, the FDA cannot compel the manufacturers to recall the products.

7) Pet owners are becoming more and more vocal through social media about their concerns. Additionally, several lawsuits have been filed and the US Congress has expressed their interest in finding a resolution to this matter.

8) As with any illness, if your pet is experiencing vomiting or diarrhea, please contact your family veterinarian for advice and treatment. They are your best source for factual information and are well-equipped to help make sure that your dog will receive the highest level of medical care.

9) An unfortunate fact in all of this is that many of the reports sent to the FDA are from people who have never taken their pet to the veterinarian. This is not only potentially disastrous for the dog, but also makes it difficult to truly pinpoint the problems.

10) The bottom line is that you should avoid using these treats for your pets. Try substituting carrots, green beans or even pieces of kibble from their normal diet. You can also find recipes for making your own jerky treats online.

11) In addition, veterinarians and pet owners should report any suspect cases to

12) For up to date and accurate pet health information, visit the Veterinary News Network ( and VetNewsOnline ( on Facebook.

Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website