I Saw RED at the 40th annual Minnesota Association of Veterinary Technicians (MAVT) Conference

by DFS-Pet-Blog on February 24, 2015

Certified Veterinary Technicians, in order to maintain their certification, need to complete a certain number of hours of continuing education (CE).

MAVT is the Minnesota Association of Veterinary Technicians, a professional organization for vet techs.

MAVT is the Minnesota Association of Veterinary Technicians, a professional organization for vet techs.

CE credits can be earned in a number of ways, including online courses, reading and reviewing professional papers, and attending conventions that offer a variety of classes on a variety of interests.

I attended the 40th annual Minnesota Association of Veterinary Technicians Conference in Minneapolis this year, held at the Hilton on February 6-7.

I saw red because technicians were asked to wear red to celebrate this annual conference.

These conferences always include so many classes, so much information that I want and need to communicate to pet parents like me.

It’s always exciting to walk in and see the hundreds of veterinary technicians attending!

It’s always exciting to walk in and see the hundreds of veterinary technicians attending!

First, I attended three hours on easing the hardest time in a pet parent’s life – the decision and act of euthanasia.

The speakers were veterinarians and social workers from a company that specializes in end-of-life decisions for pets, including hospice and euthanasia. This is a time when being a veterinary technician is both at its best and at its most difficult.

I also attended a seminar on Rabies presented by the State Public Health Veterinarian at the Minnesota Department of Health, a dynamic speaker.

I reviewed what I know about Rabies and learned some important facts.

  • Rabies affects mammals only, mainly terrestrial carnivores or bats.
  • Worldwide, rabies is carried by dogs; regionally, in the USA, rabies is mainly carried by skunks, raccoons, muskrats, or bats and each variant affects each species differently.
  • In Minnesota, the Post-exposure Prophylaxis (PEP, what humans and pets need to get after they are bitten by a suspected-rabid animal) is no longer 17 shots in the stomach.
  • Bats do not interact with the public generally. However, there are rabid bats, so three bat situations to be concerned about (and call your local health department or doctor about) are
    • A person has been bitten or has had any physical contact with a bat ( not just flying around)
    • A bat in a room with an unattended child, or in a room with someone who cannot adequately communicate whether or not there was physical contact
    • A bat in a person’s bedroom when they wake up
  • Most zoo animals have been vaccinated for rabies (contact your zoo for details).
  • Each locality has different rabies rules regarding rabies exposure, treatment, and quarantine. Please speak to your local board of health for details.
Frank, my cockatiel, helped me appreciate birds and know how important it is to inform bird parents about their care.

Frank, my cockatiel, helped me appreciate birds and know how important it is to inform bird parents about their care.

Saturday was my avian day. I write about birds, both pet birds and wild birds, and share my life with a cockatiel named Frank, so this important subject is close to my heart. Some facts I learned that might help pet parents include:

  • There are over 10,000 different avian species and over 200 different species of pet birds.
  • Birds can contract their pupils voluntarily.
  • Most psittacine (parrot) wounds are wing tip injuries, since there is not a lot of soft tissue in wings.
  • The most common pet bird  injuries:
    • Keel (breastbone) injuries from falling on tile floors
    • Animal bites, mostly cat bites
    • Crop burns (mostly when babies from making formula too hot)
    • Constriction injuries (from getting tangled in toys)
  • Prey species (psittacines, finches, and most common bird feeder birds) have feathers that easily come out so they can elude capture. Predator species (think raptors, like eagles or red-tailed hawks) have more securely seated feathers.
  • Do not put bird medications in their water; you can never be sure how much of the medication birds will get.
  • It is important to train a pet bird to be restrained before you have need to restrain one to give it medication.

Backyard chickens

Backyard chickens are becoming more and more important to me. My neighbors have chickens, and I write about them. Most people do not do enough research when they pick up a cute chick at a farm store. The speaker, a veterinary technician, did a full three months of hard research on coops, husbandry and breeds before she even thought of picking up her chickens from a hatchery. Here are some interesting facts she shared with us:

  • Eggshell color is entirely determined by breed.
  • Setting up a coop depending on breed(s) you keep. For instance, if you have Silkies (or any breed with feathered legs), keep a lot of straw on the floor.
  • Some bantams are smaller types of standard chickens, while some only exist as bantam species.
  • There are several different chicken comb styles that range from almost no comb at all to a huge flashy comb. Comb types include Single, Rose Comb, Cushion Comb, Pea Comb, Walnut Comb, Strawberry Comb, Buttercup Comb, Carnation Combs.
  • Small combs are less likely to get frostbitten than large, floppy combs (keep this in mind if you plan to keep chickens over the winter in a cold climate).
  • Chickens eat everything – they are “gleeful omnivores”. When a hen catches a spring peeper (a tiny frog), she will often run around announcing her prize with the flock running around after her trying to steal it from her.
  • Providing ventilation is most important for chicken coops, because of the ammonia in their waste and the moisture they produce when they breathe.
  • You can feed food scraps to your chicken, but they do not care for onions or citrus. Also, do not make this their only source of food, as they will pick through for (usually unhealthy) foods they like and will not get complete nutrition.

All in all the conference was a joy to attend. I had a chance to speak to some veterinary technician colleagues, and learned a lot in the process. Being a veterinary technician is a wonderful profession. Vet techs help care for your beloved pet, explain things to you, help you solve pet problems, take blood for testing, clean your pet’s teeth, help out in surgery, triage your pet in an emergency, and help you solve some pet problems, among many other pet-related tasks. I’m so proud of my colleagues that work day to day with pets and other animals.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Robin Slayton April 27, 2015 at 10:03 am

Barb, I really enjoy reading all your articles(especially, anything that includes your newfs and pics”). I’ve often entertained the thought of going back to school to learn to be a vet tech. Then I’ll talk myself out of it, thinking that at nearly 50(still grappling with how that even happened! Where have the years gone!) perhaps I’m a bit too old! Actually enjoy hearing and learning about the chickens, even though I doubt I’d ever want any-still “traumatized” from an uncle thinking I’d enjoy getting the eggs from their henhouse! Not!
While this doesn’t pertain to this article exactly(couldn’t find how to email you directly), I had asked you before about Joyce(who I’d gotten a puppy from in 2003) and really do appreciate your effort in helping me. I haven’t heard from her, I hate being a pest, but if you have any other thoughts on how to reach her, I’d really appreciate it.
I look forward to reading your next articles!
Thank you, Robin

Barb S. April 28, 2015 at 9:10 am

Hi Robin,

Thanks for the comment. It’s never too late to become a veterinary technician, so if you want to do it, go for it!

You’re not a pest, either, I get it and will remind her.

Take care.


Robin Slayton April 29, 2015 at 12:01 pm

Barb, Thank you! I really do appreciate your help. Robin

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