Monday, April 29, 2013

My cruise pet - the animals on a Cruise Ship!

All of my pet owners who visit Russell Vale Animal Clinic, would have known that Dirk (my vet nurse and life partner), my younger two children (Sean & Paige), and I recently went on holidays in April.

We went on a cruise! Yes, an animal - free,  all - in - one holiday on a boat in the Pacific!
"We're all going on an Autumn Holiday - cruising around for a
week or two" 

Whilst this is being posted now, in late April, and I have been back for a few days,  I actually wrote it all on the boat! So here it goes.

As I am writing this, I am on the Atlantic Deck, near the Shanghai Lounge, in an armchair facing the ocean.  The day I am writing this is the 18th of April 2013.

I love being a vet and doing all of the things I do, which have made a difference in a pet's life... and by default, in the lives of their loving pet owners too.  The thought of being without a pet can be difficult to bear when we have to face the terminal illness, or their death.

But my work isn't all about death, but about the celebration of life - enjoying each day, and being grateful that we have been given the joy of being with animals.

To look into an animal's eyes, and see the life, the spirit within them, to connect with that, to "lay hands" as I call it, to feel their joy, their hurt  ... (well I could go on) is a gift which I wish upon everyone.

But like some have the gift to sing, or play instruments, or build houses, I (like many of my veterinary friends) have the gift of pet whispering.

I am getting off topic - soz!  The love and respect for animals can make me get carried away when I write.

Back to being on a cruise - We chose it as a family holiday as I love the ocean, and I hate to cook and clean.
Just watching and enjoying the beauty of a sunrise.
But there are no pets.  Good, I thought - a real break for my life - a chance to sit back and reflect on life. A chance to reconnect with my family, and just a chance to "just be". 

No matter where I was, animals were all around me.  Truly amazing!

On the deck that I am sitting on right now, is some amazing artwork.  Animals were the inspiration for many of this artist's work.  How I wish I could draw my love for animals like this gifted artist did.

I visited the Pharoah's Lounge last night, as my family and I have on many nights for the shows - the walls were adorned Egyptian style - with Egyptian symbols - many of which were animals.

When I was sitting up on the deck trying to not get sunburnt ( a tomato red Dr Liz, is not a pretty sight), there were conversations around me by loving pet owners, wondering how their pets were back home.

When we visited Mystery Island, an apparently uninhabited island (although with all the mod cons such as village shops and toilets ), my daughter, Paige, spotted a resident cat - a very friendly Tom Cat tabby.

On Lifou island, the dogs wandered through the village stalls, and mingled amongst the tourists.  Friendly, inquisitive, and generally happy and social.  You wouldn't see such things in our "civilised" Australia in tourist shops or markets.

In Noumea, the first stop we made was to the Aquarium, learning about Mangroves, Nautilus, and tropical fish and coral (which is an animal too). We sat there for a while, grateful for their beauty.

Each night of the cruise, we would return to our quaint, windowless cabin (yes, we couldn't afford the room with a view), and we would find a new "pet" - there, made just for us - our own personal pet to go to sleep with each night.

These pets were fashioned out of the humble bath towel (and some face washers), with some cardboard squares for eyes or noses.   I don't know how long they take to create, and I don't know how it all started , but I do know that I, like many other passengers I am sure, await in expectation of what our next "pet" is going to be.

Each night, we would name them, and they would sit patiently, looking at us with their big eyes, listening to what we have to say.

Each night, we would say Good night to our pet, as we would to our own family pet, climb into bed, and have sweet dreams.

For this is what our pets do give us - a sense of purpose, importance, understanding, gratitude, trust, loyalty - and let us not forget - absolute unconditional love - well the list could go on!

Even in the villages, where the dogs and cats roam free, who intermingle amongst the chickens, pigs, children, babies - there is an understanding that village life would not be the same if they did not have animals.

As Noah took the animals into the Ark to protect and save them, so should we unto our hearts!

Thank you Jose and Carnival Spirit for an amazing holiday, and our "cruise pets".

Monday, April 22, 2013

Are you a responsible Pet Owner? Am I?

Are you a responsible pet owner? Am I?

Lab Checked! Ha!
Well, it was a question I asked myself, when I took my vet hat off, and my pet owner hat on. Why?  Because, if I am going to talk about responsible pet ownership, I better make sure that, when the bullshit is all dusted off, am I or my family, responsible pet owners?

So, I started with my pet health checklist, which goes through the 7+ tips to perfect pet care.  So, my pets are vaccinated, are wormed, flea controlled, microchipped etc. 

I then went onto my emergency pet plan, which is always important to keep updated each 3 months at least, or at the worst, each year with your  pet's annual vet check.

What is the essential part missing out of these?  It is budgeting for your pet's veterinary needs -  everyone complains that vets are expensive, but so is buying a car if you crash yours (that is why you have insurance), and yet, many people don't consider pet insurance for their pet, and many don't put money aside to cover the vet bills.

Emergency Pet Plan includes
a Fire Alert on the house!
And then I have to wonder,  as a vet, I see some pets owned by people,  who claim to be responsible pet owners, and, they, then get huffy with us when we go through the pet health checklist with them, and the answers are usually "don't know", or "don't care".  As for what these people think about their pet, it is either " don't care" or "love them so much", but often times, I don't know which.

So, I then pondered, is loving your pet enough to make you a responsible pet owner, even if you don't do anything of the worming, fleaing or microchipping?  I don't think love, the love that the a small number of owners often talk about, is enough. 

Just to make it clear.... I don't care how much you love your pet, if you allow them to walk around with severely arthritic joints, too painful to move, or leave them to die at home, because you are opposed to euthenasia, or with rotting teeth and gums, because you wouldn't dream of subjecting your baby to an anaesthetic. Because if you allow any of these (and other) situations to occur, then, you may love your pet, but you are not a responsible pet owner. And if I could charge you with subtle cruelty to animals, I would.  But, as a society, we only recognise the obvious cruelty - the failure to feed, or provide shelter.

Responsibility is... not allowing your
cat to lounge around and watch TV!
Ok, so how did my family and I stack up as responsible pet owners?    Overall, not too bad!  The only two parts where we fell down, was keeping our cats in at night time and, sadly, budgeting time and money in the event they need something major, like a specialist! 

As for keeping them in at night, we do try, but only Pusski and Dash sleep at nighttime at home, and Pandora, 9 times out of 10, she is locked up too.  Fitzgerald Darcy, our problem child, does as he chooses, and comes in and out at night time.

We are not perfect, we are human.  As are you.    But it isn't easy, this responsibility stuff.  It takes a bit of effort, an ongoing effort, and that is where your vet can help you!

A check up each year, makes sure that you are kept up to date on all of the preventative things that you need to do, such as the latest worming, heartworming, flea control, vaccination protocols.... the whole lot.   It also means that we, as vets, can do the check over, and find stuff, that you, as an owner, may not see -  after all, how often do you really check the state of your pet's teeth?  or their weight?  or scan their microchip and check the databases for accuracy? 

So, if I honestly thought about all of the things that really annoys me about pet owners, it is that some fail to realise the importance of the annual vet check.

It works both ways too..... say, your pet visits your vet each year (or even each 6 months) on a regular basis.   And, say, your pet is unwell, and you need to be seen urgently, or you are running low on funds, and can't quite afford the vet visit on that day.  

If you are a regular client, then many vets will be flexible in the payment department, or supply of prescription medications in an emergency. If your pet visited Russell Vale Animal Clinic every year, and if, for some reason, you needed some help, then we would help you, because you are family.


And that, my dear friends,

that is the benefit you get

from being a responsible, caring, pet owner.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Astonishing Secret - The Rash is Back

Ding Dong the Rash is back!

Which old rash?

The itchy rash!

"I am not rashy, I am naturally red"
This Astonishing Secrets blog is about itchy rashes  (well, any rash really, whether it is itchy or not)
and.... any rash on your pet of course.

Astonishing Secrets is all about the things you can do to make your pet more comfortable before you can arrange a vet visit to get that rash properly sorted.

Strange, but true, but most vets have received calls from upset owners because their beloved pet is constantly licking, slurping, rubbing their back on the brick wall, or otherwise acting in a way that is annoying everyone, and that means no one is getting any sleep. That is, we do know what you are going through, and we do want to help.

And some pets show irritated skin in ways that even surprise me.. a few weeks ago, I saw a 12 year old dog come in because her back leg was twitching when brushed. That was it.

 And when I saw what the pet was doing, this poor girl was just exhibiting the normal itch response with the
"Just there, that's the spot"
back leg moving as if to scratch.  A typical sign of an itchy pet.

As a vet, who sees itchy dogs and cats almost daily, I feel your pain, every vet does.

What are some things you can do to make your pet more comfortable before you get him into a vet?  (And please, take your itchy pet to see a vet so a proper diagnosis can be made, a treatment plan started, and, well, your pet back to normal, and not singing songs from the Wizard of Oz.)

One of the most important steps you have to take, is to understand that fleas and insects cause 70% of the problems in itchy pets, and that is one of the first steps you need to take.

Things to collect or have on board or be prepared to get:

  1. Quality Flea Control
  2. Antihistamines
  3. Safflower Oil or Omega 3/6 supplements
  4. Sensitive Skin Diet
  5. Vinegar (white vinegar)
  6. Cortisone cream
  7. Alpha - Keri  Oil (dogs only)
  8. Antifungal/Antibacterial shampoo
Now you may or may not need every item on the above list, so before you go start collecting, starting thinking about your pet really needs.

Now there are some things that, for me, are unconditional - this is quality flea control.

If I have an itchy pet, I don't care whether you can or cannot see fleas, you need to treat for these little
Fleas are so ugly, they have a face only
their mothers could love.
creepy crawlies.... and it is not up for debate.  

I prefer to use Bayer Advantage each 2 weeks for 4 doses, then monthly.  This is suitable for both dogs and cats.  For cats, well, I would use the flea treatment fortnightly throughout the spring/summer months switching back to monthly for the autumn & winter. (I receive no commission for stating this, and these products are widely available).  In dogs, the alternative is Comfortis tablet monthly.

Antihistamines may or may not help, but they usually do not hurt.  The ones that I usually start with is phenergan, Polaramine and Claratyne. For more information, my website has more information.

Omega 3/6 supplements may help, and this is where quality does matter - if you are going to use these supplements, then you need to buy a higher quality brand.

A sensitive skin diet are very common now, as itchy pets are very common.  There are alot of brands available, and, to be honest - ask your vet.  They know which one they find works best for them.

Vinegar - yes - vinegar.  White vinegar, if diluted 50:50 with cool boiled water is ideal to soak itchy feet in, as well as to wipe out ears to keep them clean.  An old remedy, but a goodie.

Cortisone cream is very helpful in the longer term management of itchy skin.  If your pet is getting itchy rashes that keep on coming back, then let's face it, it is never going to go away, unless you find out what is making your pet itchy, and avoiding it. Now, there are some over the counter human ones which you can  use but you need to be careful in cats, so always check with your vet first.  The better ones though are available from your vet directly, and that is why a vet check up is always necessary.

The right shampoo choice
is not as easy as using what works
for someone else. Your vet nurse
can help you choose the right
shampoo for your pet.
Now, as a vet, I often see dog's who are overwashed. Fortunately, overwashed cats are not a common Alpha-keri-oil is an absolute god send, even if it  does make some dog seem like they belong in the 1930's with their greasy look. But if it is not itchy, then a temporary greasy look is worth it, don't you agree? How often to use it?  I would start with once a week and go from there.
feature (can you think of a good reason why?). What can be done for these overwashed, very dry, very elephant skin type dogs? I am a big fan of conditioning rinses for dogs.

Now that I have complained about overwashing, I am going to talk about washing your pet.  Now pet shampoos fall into several categories.  I don't make shampoos, and I am not going to do any shampoo bashing either.  I can only talk about the shampoos which I have used in my itchy pets, and what actually helps them.

Need some specific information on shampoos? It's all here.

Recurring rashes in our dogs and cats have a reason, and your vet should be your first person that you ask for help.  Really, you shouldn't be reading this, you should be in your vets consultation room, getting them to work for you, to make a diagnosis on your pet's skin problem, and then a treatment plan on how to manage it.

But if you are expecting a cure for a recurring rash, to be honest, most times it doesn't happen.  Sometimes it does, but only if we are lucky in nailing what caused it in the first place (for example, if the dog is allergic to chicken, then avoiding all chicken foods, or if they are allergic to fleas, keeping them on fortnightly flea control).

As a vet who sees itchy dogs (and cats) regularly, I do feel your frustration when "the rash is
Your vet is your pet's best friend (next to you). Geez, I love
my job! 
back", but I always work hard to

  • perform a complete examination, then
  • perform a complete skin examination (plus any tests that may be needed), then
  • discuss with you what treatment options are available, or
  • discuss with you further diagnostic tests to better identify the cause of the recurring problem.
I hope I have helped you and your pet, and given you a bit of an understanding on how to better manage your itchy pet. Make your vet work... let them help you and your pet, as after all, we can only be as good as you let us be. 

Important disclaimer:  This is about things that YOU can do to keep your pet comfortable BEFORE you  can get to see a vet, it is not about avoiding the vet altogether.  The reason is that, as a vet, we have access to alot of knowledge on diseases, and diagnostic tests, aswell as a knowledge of what medications are available, that can help your pet.  Yes, it may involve drugs, but if your pet needs them, then they need them. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Subtle Cruelty to Animals

On the weekend, I saw part of the movie of Black Beauty (due to work I didn't get a chance to see the whole movie).  As a general rule, if I know that I am going to watch movies like this, then I need to make sure I have a good supply of tissues or hankies, and don't need to be seen in public for a while.  Needless to say, I get very emotional watching movies or shows about animals, whether it is a happy tale, or if there is animal cruelty involved.

The cruelty in the movie, Black Beauty, was obvious.  You could see the overworked horses, the emaciated state they were in (I mean as part of the character - I am sure that no horse was allowed to get to that state in the movie... at least I hope not)... this cruelty was part of the story.  And, also the overwhelming mutual respect and love between man and animal.

(when I refer to man, I mean the human race kind of "man", not the male species per se.... even if its not politically correct - don't be offended please).

As a vet, I regularly get phone calls from well intentioned people who are uncertain of what to do when they suspect cruelty in a neighbour's pet.  Well, the right thing to do is to contact the RSPCA and the Police, as they have the legal powers of entry to help the poor pet.  And sadly, these same people often don't ring the authorities, as they don't want to get involved.

“My doctrine is this, that if we see 
cruelty or wrong that we have the 
power to stop, and do nothing, we 
make ourselves sharers in the guilt.” 
― Anna Sewell

But this blog is not about the obvious cruelty cases... the ones that make it into the newspapers for a day.  I want to bring to light the subtle cruelty to animals, the little things we don't do or the care the pet is denied for one reason or another by the pet carer.

Yes, it is true - as most murders in people are committed by a family member, so is most cruelty to animals.

 And, it is this subtle cruelty that, as a vet, I see ( almost) daily.  In many of the cases I am going to be speaking about, are pet owners who I have not seen before, or haven't seen in years (so if you are one of my regulars, or one who regularly sees any vet, I am not talking about you). Equally, if you are a loving pet owner, but literally on no money at all (well, it would be unlikely you would be reading this, and thus unlikely to be offended), but if you do the absolute best that you can, if you do seek veterinary care, but albeit the cheapest in town, you are still trying to do the right thing. I am not talking about you either.

The majority of loving pet owners that I see do not fit into this blog post at all.  The majority are absolutely wonderful, awesome, caring people, who look at their pet as a member of their family.  These pet owners know that even though they think their pet is healthy and OK, they want a professional to check them over regularly to make sure.

The other day ( that is, ages ago) , I examined a 12 year old female dog.  She was not desexed, not vaccinated, not on any heartworm prevention, but she does get the occasional worming tablet and flea spot on.  Her last vet visit was about 5 years ago (as best as the owner can remember), and this was her first visit with me.  It was a very difficult consultation, as the owner kept on proclaiming her love for the dog, and how the dog was perfectly healthy, and that there was nothing wrong with her, other than the fact she had a skin infection on her lower leg.

Several times I heard "she is perfectly healthy" and "there is nothing wrong with her" as I was performing my full physical examination of this beautiful dog (she was indeed a beauty).  And for the number of times the owner had stated "she is perfectly healthy" I was able to match that with the number of abnormal findings.

Now I don't believe the owner had intended to be cruel, or neglectful.  But I do believe the owner was subtly cruel to her dog.  She had denied it regular veterinary checkups. She denied it basic preventative medicine (to keep it healthy).  She had given it food, water and shelter (and lots of love).... but these are the basics of survival.   In our Australian society, our pets should not be receiving just the basics.  We are fortunate enough to give them more than that.

And, really,  it is cruel to deny our pets the veterinary and preventative care that is available to them.

This is why, I think, vets get a bad reputation - the pet sees a vet rarely, so when it does get examined, multiple problems are identified, the cost to get these things sorted explodes into alot of money, the owner is angry because they are in denial, and the pet is the ultimate victim, as the problems identified never get sorted out, or done half heartedly.

In the case of this beautiful dog, it wasn't about the money.  This owner has a comfortable lifestyle. It was, however, about the value the owner placed on her dog, and on veterinary services in general. She didn't value her dog (although she did love it), and she didn't value veterinary care either (but she doesn't have to love us).

This is subtle cruelty - she denied her pet the veterinary and preventative care that it required, and that was available to her in our society.

Now I am a practical person, and I have travelled and observed vets and veterinary facilities in other countries. If we were on a remote island of a pacific island, where the closest vet or animal care is 2 days away, then I can understand the lack of regular vet visits. But in a city like Wollongong, where our vet numbers per population is high, there is no need for neglect.

I don't judge people by the clothes they wear or the car they drive (I can't because I have no fashion sense and my car is old, and I hope people don't judge me badly because of that) .... but I do judge people on how well they care for their pets, and this care has to include regular veterinary visits and preventative care.

To stand by and say nothing, makes me as guilty as those who do nothing.

Back to my "perfectly healthy dog" that had alot of problems.... I'll go through some of the things I found during the check up...

  • Undesexed female dog - the older she gets the more at risk she is of developing a pyometron (infection of the uterus) and breast cancer.  
  • No Heartworm prevention - the owner declined a Heartworm test to check on her status, but the area she lives in is a high mosquito area, so the risk is real.
  • No flea control - well, the flea control this gorgeous girl received was occasional -once each few months when the owner remembered. But she did have purple spray on her because she had skin sores. (what the? )
  • the skin sores (which is what she came in for) was flea bites - and we are fortunate in Australia to have many safe flea control products. And they are affordable. 
  • a severe ear infection to the point of almost having a completely closed canal.  This did not happen overnight, but occurred over years of no treatment.
  • severe dental disease (the breath was horrendous), and there was pus around the gums, the gums were swollen and bleeding easily.  
  • her ankles and wrists (hock and carpus) were swollen with restricted movement, consistent with moderately severe joint disease. 
  • her back nails were worn down abnormally, with loss of muscle in her back legs - this is due to her dragging her feet, and with a poor shuffling gait, as it is too painful to walk normally. 
and there was more, but I am sure you now get the idea of a subtle cruelty.  The owner didn't intend to bring the dog in for a full check up, she just wanted some ointment for the skin sore.

And the owner didn't want to discuss the other things found in the examination either.  Part of me understands that, in that it is human nature to live in denial of the truth, but the majority of me, doesn't get it.

How could the owner expect me to not do my job?  Surely they had an expectation or an understanding that a veterinary consultation involved a full check up?  Or even if they didn't know what to expect, wouldn't you think they would be grateful and appreciative that their pet also got a full check up also?

I am sure you will agree that  if you love and care for animals, then you are the advocate for that animal's welfare.  And denying that there is a problem is not being a good advocate, or a good owner. 

How much easier life would be for me, if I just hand out the ointment or the itch injection or the antibiotics, or whatever it is the owner says, and look the other way.

Problem is, I can't look the other way.  The day I do is the day I become one of those money grubbing vets who agree to anything the pet owner wants, and neglecting what is the best thing for the pet.

Unfortunately, until society recognises that subtle cruelty exists, then vets will continue to see cases like this one, and not be in a position to do anything, other than be an advocate for the animal (and get a bad reputation for doing so).

 As a vet, all I can do is keep the conversation going with the owner, and hope that one day they understand the importance of a vet being a part of their pet's lives. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Astonishing Secrets: The Annoyance of Flies & Fly bite Dermatitis

This is another one of my Astonishing Secrets series, and this time, I draw inspiration from those big March flies that were trying to eat me alive on the weekend, coupled with the increase in the numbers of dogs I see with dermatitis on ear flaps.
"I can see where that mossie bit you.  It is just here!"

This Astonishing secrets series is all about helping you, the pet owner, until you are able to get you and  your pet into a veterinary hospital.  Vets are there to help you, but we can only do that if you let us.

It is April now in Wollongong, and one would think that the issue of flies and mosquitoes would not be a real issue, after all, it is autumn.  But, it has been unseasonally warm (almost boiling in some areas, like Victoria), and with this, it is perfect breeding weather for biting things.

To my surprise, we are seeing an extra-ordinary number of dogs with "Hot spots", especially on the head and tail base (tell tale areas for insect bites), and the odd one with the fly attack on the ears.

Mosquito Bite Hypersensitivity usually looks like this, which
can mimic many other diseases also.
And cats are not alone either... we have seen several cases of cats with Mosquito bite hypersensitivity. In
cats, this often looks like tiny ulcers on the nose, eyelids, ears, and face. It is frustrating to treat, as keeping the cats indoors doesn't always help either - as mossies can sneak in too!

How do we treat these conditions?  Well the first thing to do is to recognise them.

It isn't a matter of matching the pictures to the disease, as veterinary work isn't that easy. Our role as loving pet owners, and as veterinarians, is always think about the welfare of the pet.... always.

Hot Spots on dogs are due to many things, and the location  on the body is often a clue to what could have caused them - for example - around the head or neck it is usually ear infections or insect bites.  Around the bottom - well insect bites, worms or anal gland problems. But these are generalizations  and our pets nor their diseases, like to be lumped into a square box... life isn't like that.

The treatment of fly or insect annoyance is really really easy.  Seriously.  Avoid the flies and mosquitoes.

It's not that easy, though is it.  Which is why you are reading this.

Situation A - you can see the flies buzzing around, or your pet has had a previous problem with it. - This is the prevention side.

1. Check out the expiry date on your fly products - if they are out of date, do not use them at all.  Some products become more toxic the older they are, and some just become ineffective.  Throwing the bottle out and buying fresh stuff is cheaper than the vet fees if your pet starts seizuring or has a nasty reaction to it.

2. Get into the habit of spraying your pet daily with the fly repellant stuff (or using the ointment mentioned below).  These things only work if they are used properly and regularly.

For dogs, you can use Advantix spot on (made by Bayer) or Permoxin rinse (by Dermcare-Vet).

For cats, you can use Buzz Off ointment by Value Plus.

Now hopefully, your pet won't have any skin problems as a result of the insects, and they'll be frustrated and bite something else.

Situation B -  Your pet already has skin problems as as a result of the "Fly worry"

These are harder to manage because

  • The biting insects causing bleeding sores which attract more biting insects
  •  The bite itself can be itchy, so the pet scratches, licks and chews.
  •  If the pet is allergic, then it will be really really itchy
  • Broken skin allows bacteria to penetrate the skin layer and contribute to infections, being fed on by the blood and trauma from scratching, licking and chewing.
The advice below I will give is suitable for dogs and cats only.  It is not suitable for other pets at all.

1. Make a warm water bath.  In it place nothing... that is right, no salt, no iodine, no chlorhexidine.... nothing.  We just want to make up a warm water compress to place onto the scabby sores on the nose, or ears or elsewhere.

2.  Clip up the hair if you need to - this is especially important if there are sores in areas around the neck or where there is a thick coat - the thick coat will trap the bloody moisture, and make it worse.

3. Use a product called Buzz off, made by Value Plus Australia (I receive no commission or bonuses or anything for saying this).  It is a antiseptic and Fly repellant cream and it can be applied to broken  skin.  Obviously, it can't go near or in eyes, so be careful on how you apply it onto cat's noses. 

But, in Situation B, you are going to need a vet visit pretty darn quickly - there are medications your pet needs to help things heal faster and better.  Your pet may need antibiotics, antibiotic cream (not just antiseptic cream), anti-itch tablets, or medicated shampoos.  Honestly, until your pet is examined, I don't know what the best combo of treatments is needed for your pet. 

That is where your vet can help you - it is our skill, knowledge and experience in what is the best
combination of therapies that work best for your pet's environment, skin and coat type and (obviously) finances.  You can spend alot of money trialling stuff from the pet shop, which may not work, and go to a vet and get the prescription stuff that does.

Has this helped you?  Please let us know, as all of us at Russell Vale Animal Clinic want to help all pets as best as we know how.