Category Archives: Mammals

I’m Not Kidding.

There are not a lot of perks to being an exotic animal veterinarian. Yes, there is the satisfaction of helping critters and their owners, and the satisfaction of a job well done. No one, however, is offering me free tickets to Broadway shows, or all-expense paid trips to scenic locales.

(Darn, my mom  was right… I should have been a doctor for humans.)

Given the dearth of swag I am offered at work, a free lunch is always eagerly accepted. I am happy to sit through the most boring or irrelevant information just to have someone bring me lunch. Case in point: my free lunch last week courtesy of Royal Canin. Royal Canin is a pet food manufacturer that makes prescription diets for dogs and cats. Their product line for birds, reptiles, and rodents is, however, rather limited (meaning non-existent). Luckily the rep didn’t seem to know she was wasting her time on me, and I got a free salad out of the deal.

While I and my coworkers sat and munched, the Royal Canin rep began presenting her company’s two new products for dogs with food allergies. I was planning on sitting quietly in the corner and saying nothing until she mentioned the name of the first food: Anallergenic.

Anal what?

Anal what?

Now, no doubt the Royal Canin scientists sitting somewhere in their lab coats thought this a great name – “an”, as in “not”, and “allergenic”, as in “causing allergy”. But really, did the marketing people call in sick that day? Who in their right mind would give a product a name whose first four letters were A-N-A-L?   How were we supposed to sell this stuff with a straight face?

There were a few glances between the staff and I over this faux pas, but we were still happily eating and (mostly) kept our mouths shut. So the rep went on to discuss the next diet she had to offer for dogs with allergies. This one required a lot of explanation. It was a special diet for special owners who wanted to do the best for their dogs.  It was currently available in Europe, but could be made available to those few Americans discerning enough to ask for it. This diet was special because it had all the proteins broken down into individual amino acids.

Now, to me each of those italicized words meant dollar signs, and the words were accruing quickly. So I asked the price. I was unprepared for the answer however, because when the rep said “$100 for a 20 pound bag” I think my jaw hit the table. I would like to apologize now to the person sitting across from me, as I was mid-chew at the time.

Finding out the cost of this food created quite a stir, and derailed the rep’s orderly presentation.  Apparently, however, there was more to disclose, so she soldiered on. She told us about how ignorant pet owners who read the ingredients list on this new food might be turned off, and therefore it would be our job how to explain to them why it was so great. She had our attention again. What was in this stuff anyway? What could possibly be that bad?

mmm... yummy!

Mmmm… yummy!

Chicken feathers. The $100 a bag dog food is made out of chicken feathers.

The selling point: this is a green protein source, and therefore more eco-friendly.

My question to the rep: were the feathers voluntarily donated by the chickens?


If you are unemployed and looking for a job in marketing, please send your resume to Royal Canin. I’m pretty sure they have recently available openings. We in the veterinary field thank you.

Stinky the Rat

StinkyTheRatMeet Stinky the Rat. He is a very cute rat, and wasn’t stinky at all. However, he refused to hold still to have his photo taken, so yes he is a tad blurry.

Mr. Stinky was a itchy rat. You can’t see it in the photo, but he had scratched a sore onto his neck with his sharp little toenails. The culprits? Well, probably a bunch of Radfordia ensifera making their presence known where they weren’t wanted.

What, you may ask, are these unpronounceable creatures? Here’s a microscopic mug shot:


Luckily for us humans, Radfordia mites are generally host specific, meaning they will usually attack only a certain species host. This is a good thing. I did get Sarcoptes mites once from some unknown mammal, and let me tell you, they were perfectly happy to take up residence on my body. But that’s another story.

We started our rat friend on antibiotics for the skin infection and Revolution for the mites, and he is well on his way to feeling better. Hooray for Mr. Stinky!

Pet Rodent Etiquette Tip: Do not call rodents vermin, varmints, or plague-carriers. Their owners don’t seem to like it if you do.

BunnyFest 2013

Calling all bunny lovers! Mark your calendars for the annual Northern California BunnyFest on June 30th! Gray Bunny

Dr. Hilary Stern will be offering $15 complete physical exams during the BunnyFest. All proceeds from the exams will go to The Rabbit Haven, our wonderful local rabbit rescue group.

Go to for more information about this exciting event.

Spaying Chloe the Teacup Pig

Spaying a PigThis is Chloe the pet teacup pig. She is under anesthesia, and having a IV catheter placed in her ear prior to being spayed. We also monitored her temperature, pulse, respiration, heart rhythm, blood pressure, and oxygenation during surgery. She did great, and was up and having breakfast soon afterwards.

Pigs that are not spayed or neutered develop unpleasant behaviors and habits. Unneutered males are smelly and can be quite aggressive. Unspayed female pigs go into heat every three weeks, and get terribly cranky in the process. We recommend spaying and neutering all pot-bellied and teacup pigs that won’t be used for breeding.