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Nov 10

Vet Tech Math Quiz #1

As a veterinary technician, you will undoubtedly come across math conversions or other calculations when administering medications. Here is your first question:

The doctor comes to you and tells you that the patient has a bite wound and will require antibiotics. A common antibiotic, cefazolin, is administered to help fight infection.  The patient weighs 44 pounds.

Question 1: How much does the animal weigh in kilograms?

Question 2: Cefazolin is administered at 22 mg/kg. How many milligrams total should this animal get?

Answers along with solutions to follow in next post.

Nov 10

Veterinary technician tip #1: Just go apply

Many prospective applicants ask me what it takes to become a veterinary technician. The first order of business is to find out if the profession is for them. The best way to do that is to simply apply to be a veterinary technician.

Always apply as a vet tech, even if you have no experience. If you apply at a general practice, there’s a good chance that you’ll get the position. Many GP’s will do on-the-job training.

If you don’t get the vet tech position, you can still get a tech assistant position. The tech assistant usually transitions into the vet tech position after proving yourself at the lower position.

Three important characteristics veterinary hospitals look for in a potential veterinary technicians:

  1. Reliability
  2. Work ethic
  3. Initiative

This may vary from hospital to hospital but if you at least have these three, you’ll have upped your chances of getting a vet tech job.

Nov 10

Hot Spots: A Typical General Practice Case

A typical general practice case you might see is an animal with hot spots.

DEFINITION: HOT SPOT – An area on an animal that has been licked over and over often causing skin infections. Hot spots can be located anywhere on an animal that can be reached with the tongue.

When a case like this comes into the hospital, the doctor will do a physical exam and request certain diagnostics.

DEFINITION: DIAGNOSTICS – Various tests to be done to help determine a diagnosis.

It is the technicians responsibility to restrain the patient while the exam is being performed. In addition to restraint, the tech will also perform diagnostic testing for the doctor. The most standard diagnostic testing includes blood work (CBC/CHEM and PCV/TP) and radiographs. These tests are run to rule out other problems that might be going on with the patient before treatment can take place for the hot spots.


CBC (complete blood count) indicates electrolyte imbalances, present infection, and anemia.

CHEM (chemisrty) indicates organ malfuction and/ or disease

PCV/ TP (packed cell volume/ total protein) indicates anemia and dehydration

RADIOGRAPHS (xrays) diagnostic imaging

the above are not complete definitions of each diagnostic.

Once the diagnostics have been completed, and it’s been determined that the animal is stable enough for treatment, the doctor will give orders to treat the patient.

Treatment for hot spots include shaving, cleaning, and applying antibiotic ointment to the affected area(s). The MOST important treatment to prevent worsening or re-occurance of hot spots is to place an Elizbethan-collar on the patient to prevent licking or scratching the wounds.

DEFINITION: ELIZBETHAN-COLLAR (e-collar or cone) a collar that is worn around the neck, in the shape of a cone, that prohibits licking.

Before the patient is discharged from the hospital, it is the responsibility of the tech to fill any prescriptions and provide the owner with detailed discharge instructions. Discharge instructions explain to the client what procedures were performed, how to keep the area clean, and how to administer medications.

In most cases, treating hot spots are very straight forward and often heal with very few complications.

Nov 10

STORY: Kitty Eats a Needle!

It was around 1 A.M. and I was fast asleep. My cell phone rings to the tune of Darth Vader’s theme in Empire Strikes Back. The hospital is calling, and I’m the vet tech who’s on-call that night for emergency procedures.

I arrive at the hospital 15 minutes after getting the call. The internal medicine doctor who’s on call with me arrives 15 minutes later.

The 24 hour emergency staff has already performed the physical exam, x-rays and blood work. The owner’s of ‘Lunar’, a sweet three year old black and white cat with long white whiskers, thought all she ate was thread. Upon looking at the xrays, it revealed ‘Lunar’ had also eaten a needle.

The first thing I do when I arrive is prepare the endoscope.

DEFINITION: Endoscope - An imaging instrument. A long tubular camera that’s inserted into the mouth, through the esophagus and into the stomach.

This procedure was performed on the wet table.

DEFINITION: Wet Table – A table that’s attached to a sink where exams and procedures are performed.

The doctor feeds the endoscope down into the stomach and locates the needle as it’s ready to go into the small intestine. To pull the needle from the stomach, the doctor then uses another instrument called alligator forceps. Through cautious handling by the doctor, she pulls the needle slowly back up trying to avoid puncturing anything along the way. As I hold my breath, she carefully continues pulling as it slides against the walls of the of the stomach then the esophagus and out through the mouth without injuring any tissue. Lucky for Lunar, her parents (owners) were quick to bring her into the hospital. If another half hour had passed, Lunar would have woken up with an incision from surgery.

This was a pretty routine case for me as I monitored ‘Lunar’s’ anesthesia and vital signs. Thankfully, we never went to surgery, so it was back to bed for me. We were very happy with the result.

‘Lunar’ had no complications and was discharged by 9 A.M that morning.

Nov 10

Vet Techs At Your Veterinary General Practitioners Office

The Veterinary General Practitioner, or GP, is your animal’s primary doctor. You would see this doctor for your annual checkups, vaccinations, dentals, etc. The GP can also perform minor surgeries such as spays/neuters, bloats, and fracture repairs. This list is not all inclusive. If an issue comes up that’s too complicated, then you’ll be referred out to a specialist.

Veterinary technicians at the GP do things like monitor vital signs, administer drugs (SQ, IM, or IV), place catheters, draw blood, take x-rays, and provide general medical care and attention.


  • SQ – Subcutaneous
  • IM – Intramuscular
  • IV – Intravenous

It’s the techs that will also take the animals out for walks throughout the day, feed them, and do hourly treatments if necessary. Basically, they monitor the animals all day.

Nov 10

Want to be a Veterinary Technician?

This blog will share some insights on what it takes to become a veterinary technician…at least a vet tech at the animal hospital I work at in Los Angeles.

What does a vet tech do?

Generally speaking, a vet tech is an animal nurse. What they do depends on what type of technician they are. Many technicians work at general practice (GP) clinics. The GP is similar to your primary care physician.

Then there are specialty technicians that work in different departments…

  • Surgery
  • ICU / Critical Care
  • Internal Medicine
  • Treatment
  • Emergency
  • Oncology
  • Radiology
  • Physical Therapy
  • Ophthalmology
  • Dermatology
  • Cardiology

That’s just to name a few.

We’ll begin to define the functions of the different types of technicians. Hopefully this will give you clarity on what a vet techs do.