PetPoint Summit 2014 Highlights

This past weekend, over a hundred animal welfare professionals flocked to Chicago for the 4th annual PetPoint Summit.  Offerings included workshops in basic and advanced functionality, Q&A’s, lectures and personal training sessions. Several product announcements occurred, including new PetPoint modules and new microchip technology. Just like a Kickstarter fund, PetHealth is still looking for funds to pay for the development of these new features. Early adopters will get access to the features as they are made available, get significant discounts on pricing, and have lower prices locked in for 3 years. Let’s take a look at some features which are now available, and which ones will be available in the near future.

Advanced Productivity

Logo-DMSFile storage: In addition to the standard three images and video which can be added to an animal, it will now be possible to attach other types of files. A new tab is now available for purchase, which will allow you to upload up to 250 files per animal. Finally we can attach vet records, lab results, scanned letters or other documents, and even .ZIP files. There is a maximum of 5MB per file, and a total of 1TB per organization. For those of you not technologically savy: 1-2 page PDFs are 200KB, high definition pictures are 2,000KB, and a large veterinary textbook is 5,000KB (5MB). Most standard files will be less than 5MB, and 99.9% of organizations will not exceed the 1TB (1000GB) data cap.

E-signature: Closely related to the ability to store files, is the ability to store e-signatures. Signatures can be obtained through touch screen devices (tablets, smartphones) or standard credit card signature pads. E-signatures can be used for adopters, consent forms and payments, allowing receipts and contracts to be e-mailed rather than printed. This can be particularly useful for saving medical or veterinary staff signatures, which can be printed out on vaccine or medical records.

Mobile Animal Inventory: PetPoint is finally going mobile! This new features will not be a traditional app one which can download onto your device from the Apple or Google Play stores. Instead, PetPoint will be available as a mobile web app. A mobile web app is a website, which is accessed through a browser like a normal site, but when the device which accesses the site is below a certain size or resolution, the website will automatically switch to the mobile web app view. This is similar to a mobile responsive website, which resizes and changes appearance to look better on a small screen. A mobile web app is designed to look like a native app (the kind you download), but to exist within a web browser. Through this app we can expect new features including taking pictures and videos with your phone that are automatically added to an animal’s file, to-do lists for daily rounds, and increased ease of real time updates.

Advanced visual calendar: The scheduling module is getting a facelift, including a basic visual calendar for ease of reading. Scheduling is also getting new features such as find next appointment, automated reminders, and a public consumer portal for self-scheduling of appointments. The scheduling module enhancement will be useful for those wanting to organize fosters, spay/neuter, vaccine, and other appointments or clinics.

Pricing: The Advanced productivity suite will be $2,000 – $3,000/year, but can be purchased as individual features. File storage alone will be $1,000/year, file storage and electronic signature $1,500/year. An additional TB of data storage will be $400/year.

My verdict:  Features I am most interested in are the file storage and mobile web app. Adding vet records, test results, x-rays, and other documents to the digital record has been sorely needed. The price is high, but provides adequate storage for most purposes. The mobile web app makes me excited, I love the idea of using PetPoint while on rounds. However, the app is a LONG way off, and PetPoint’s web design and UI have not impressed in the past.

Clinic Services Suite

CaptureMore and more shelters are also creating or are affiliated with clinics that provide low-cost veterinary services to the public. Shelters are also often involved with outreach, vaccine or spay neuter clinics. Worse of all, some shelters have to use two software products: one for the shelter and one for the “private practice” side of the organization. PetPoint’s new Clinic Services Suite will allow for standard features such as annual client vaccine reminders, integration in the scheduling module, invoices, multiple or recurring debit/credit card payments.

Other enhancements we can expect in the future include body system (SOAP) checklists, standardization of procedures (allowing tasks, medication, exam, and food to all auto-populate), reactivate canceled treatments, and skip treatments. Exciting news is that records transfer will now transfer ALL exams and treatments between organizations, rather than only basic information.

Some features will be Clinic Services Suite exclusive, while others will trickle down to Enterprise, Professional and Lite versions. This module requires a $2,500 deposit, and will be $5,500 – $6,500/year when complete. There is 25% discount for those wanting to sign up now, but many features are not yet available. Some feature overlap with Advanced productivity means that you’ll get a significant discount if purchasing both modules.

My Verdict: With a very large price tag on top of your Enterprise or Advanced Productivity modules, I think this module will be a hard sale for PetPoint. I personally don’t use public clinic features, but understand the need in certain organizations. Other new features tied in with the development Clinic Services Suite, such as the standardization of procedures, reactivation of canceled treatments, and complete records transfer will be of more use to the general PetPoint user. Again, this module is a long way off, so early adopters may not be getting much bang for their buck… yet.

Allflex T-chip

image004On Monday Allflex unveiled their new microchip product, the T Chip, a microchip with functions as a built in thermometer. The microchip can be read as a regular chip, but will also provide a temperature reading at scanning. Certain compatible scanners require a software upgrade (available online) in order to read the temperature. The temperature you take will be lower than a rectal temperature, as the chip is on the periphery, rather than in the core of the animal. This superficial temperature reading is subject to high variability due to environmental factors (e.g. dog walking outside in the fun). Temperatures also have high individual variability, and taking multiple readings is essential in order to interpret the results, which can downloaded off the scanner into an Excel spreadsheet.

My Verdict: A novel idea, my personal concern with this product is the utility within the shelter. While hands-off, one person monitoring is a nice thing to strive towards, most shelters don’t microchip animals upon intake. Animals coming through the door are the most likely to be or become ill, while those who are at surgery and get the microchip are less likely to need the chip. The (significantly) increased cost of $8.95 is another issue which I cannot see in the shelter setting. This premium product also has limited application once adopted, since owners and most veterinarians will not have a compatible scanner. Unfortunately, I’d be more interested in paying a premium on a GPS product than a T-chip.

For more information about products and services, please visit the PetPoint and or PetHealth Inc. websites for more information. Please click for the official suite brochure:

Rethinking community cats

Have you ever passed by a cat outside and wondered whether it was lost or just an owned cat enjoying the outdoors? In some instances, the cat may be neither and instead a “community cat”.  Community cats are cats that may be stray, feral, or loosely owned outdoor cats. These cats are “owned” by a community of people, rather than one individual person. Members of the community provide their care by providing food, shelter and in some instances veterinary care. Many animal welfare organizations have recognized these efforts and offer resources and assistance to ensure the care and management of community cats. Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend “Rethinking the Cat”, a daylong symposium in Syracuse, NY dedicated to community cats sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States and Petsmart Charities.

outdoor cat 1


The session began with an inspiring lecture by Christy Rogero of Pets For Life Philadelphia and Camden at HSUS. Christy’s passion for pets and people led her directly into underserved areas of these cities where her goal was and continues to be sharing information with community members that will help provide care to their pets. Emphasizing the need for animal welfare organizations to develop trusting relationships with the members of these communities, Christy highlighted personal stories of challenges and triumphs. She reminded the audience that although community cats may appear to be un-owned, community members often feel a strong attachment to these cats. It is therefore very important that members of animal welfare organizations introduce themselves and clearly explain their intent to help community cats.  By doing so, community members are more likely to be supportive of the animal welfare agency’s efforts and may even be willing to lend a hand. The result will be greater success at providing care and management of community cat populations.

feral cats eating


Dr. Cynthia Karsten of the Koret Shelter Medicine program at UC Davis College of Veterinary Medicine discussed the effects of traditional community cat population management methods on the cats, shelters and the communities from which the cats come. Removal of community cats has historically been expensive and ineffective. Admitting community cats into shelters may contribute to overcrowding, leading to increased disease transmission. Dr. Karsten advised returning healthy community cats to the locale in which they were found, as even in harsh climates these cats are capable of survival. Returning community cats after they have been neutered and vaccinated will contribute to the health of both the community cat population and the shelter.

cat buried in snow


Dr. Michelle White of Cornell University gave several tips on how to engage local veterinarians in the management of community cats. Dr. White suggested animal welfare organizations reach out to veterinarians who are openly supportive of humane community cat management. Veterinarians may be willing to help by providing individual animal care, population level care or spay/neuter services. Establishing medical and surgical protocols in collaboration with the veterinarian will strengthen the relationship between the animal welfare organization and the veterinarian. Lastly, Dr. White stressed the importance of determining surgical and medical capacity, after-hour care and fees with the veterinarian ahead of time to ensure a smooth process.

feral cat and kittens

“Rethinking the Cat” provided an excellent opportunity for animal welfare organizations to learn and discuss innovative methods for community cat care and management. If your animal welfare organization is thinking about becoming involved in caring for community cats please visit the following links:


HSVMA RAVS: Life changing

Monstro waiting to be neutered in WA RAVS clinic

Monstro waiting to be neutered in WA RAVS clinic

I’ve been participating in a wonderful and compassionate organization known as RAVS since 2010. RAVS, an acronym for Rural Area Veterinary Services, is part of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association and brings veterinary services to rural communities. Community members not only face financial impediments to veterinary care, but geographic location often makes it impossible to visit the veterinarian. I could rattle on endlessly about RAVS – the setup, the breakdown, the locations, the people. But it would be much easier for everyone to visit their website at and

photo 2(1)

The Maggie Mobile pulls ‘The Rig’ in WA sunset

What I would like to share is the impact it’s had on my life. I’ve been a veterinary technician for 20 years. When I was in college, the average number of years a tech worked in the veterinary field was 5 years. For a variety of reasons that number really hasn’t changed. Up until 2010, I had worked primarily in emergency and critical care. I was feeling burned out, underappreciated, and looking for a career change. Then I did a RAVS trip. Never before had I witnessed what a dramatic effect a team of veterinary professionals and students can have on a community and their pets. Through this sense of accomplishment, I was able to recommit to my profession. And there are hundreds, if not thousands, of stories just like mine.

Omak Longhouse

Omak Longhouse

I was reminded of the impact RAVS has on the animals it serves just this past August. We were doing a field clinic in Washington State on the Quinault Indian Reservation. Hunter, a 5 or 6 year old Boston Terrier, came in to be spayed. She was 8 weeks postpartum and it was suspected she was still hemorrhaging from her uterus. She was weak, anemic, yet still a great mom. In surgery, the bleeding was confirmed and her uterus was very friable. Dr. Paul Breckenridge, an experienced RAVS staff veterinarian, performed the spay without complications and stopped the bleeding. On recovery though, Hunter appeared restless and panting. She seemed to be exhibiting signs of hypocalcemia. It was unusual considering she had had the puppies 8 weeks prior, and being a MASH style clinic we did not have the means to test her calcium level. But that’s just one more thing RAVS teaches you – troubleshooting. Without knowing what her calcium level was, we definitely did not want to give her injectable calcium due to potential cardiac side effects (as in the heart stopping). But then Windi Wojdak, the director of RAVS, suggested we try some oral supplementation. So we pulled out the TUMS and gave her a slurry. Within the hour, Hunter was resting comfortably in her cage. Hunter’s visit to the RAVS clinic saved her life.

Hunter with her student anesthetist, Leah

Hunter with her student anesthetist, Leah

Not only did RAVS change my life on a conscious level, but it did so in a very literal sense as well. Through RAVS I met my current boss, Dr. Elizabeth Berliner, Director of Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell University and RAVS junkie. Because of her, I was afforded the opportunity to step outside of emergency and critical care and try out shelter medicine. Yay Shelter Med!

Diary of a bottle feeder

20140905_194356_AndroidBottle feeding is a lifesaving intervention, one which requires time, dedication and patience. There is a plethora of resources available on the subject, and I personally recommend the Maddie’s Institute webinars from 2013. You can read many fact sheets about how big the kitten should be, the volume of their stomachs, the correct ambient temperature, etc. True, there are a lot of technicalities when rearing kittens, but what I’d like to share with you today are some pearls of wisdom about the daily grind of feeding kittens.

Mix up only as much KMR as you can use in 12-24 hours... that's a lot in my case!

Mix up only as much KMR as you can use in 12-24 hours… that’s a lot in my case!

Tip 1: Scheduling. Very young kittens need to be fed every 2-3 hours, with larger ones being able to handle up to 8 hour stretches. You will get a sense for your kittens’ schedule based on how much they eat at each feeding and how active they are between feedings. If you find that they aren’t eating much in one session, then consider waiting an extra hour between feedings to see if that will increase their appetite. Make sure you can accommodate the feedings in your daily schedule. I recommend staying up late, with a last feeding at 10-11pm, and waking up once at 2-3am, then doing a morning feed at 6-7am. Do what feeds right for your schedule and remember to get some shut eye!

Tip #2: Mixing KMR. While it is best to mix up your KMR or milk replacement as fresh as possible, this is a great way to shave off time. I mix my milk once or twice a day in a large batch, then I just refill bottles as needed. I thoroughly wash and dry all my bottles once a day. When mixing up the KMR, add your powder to a large mason jar, cup or bowl. Slowly add water while mixing with a spoon to form a paste. This makes it much less lumpy than adding the powder to the water. In order to get perfect KMR I strain it in a fine mesh sieve several times to remove all lumps. Pre-fill all your bottles so that you are ready to go at 3 and 6 am (in my case that’s 4 full bottles). Invest in a small funnel to fill your bottles without any drips!

With my less preferred tapered nipple I will cut straight across to make it blunter, and then make my X cuts

With my less preferred tapered nipple I will cut straight across to make it blunter, and then make my X cuts

Tip #3: Nipples. The perfect KMR will be rejected by a kitten if your bottle’s nipple is the wrong shape, size or diameter. There are many products available on the market, and it takes some trial and error to get it just right. The best nipples are short and rounded, such as this one from PetAg or this one from Hartz. I don’t like the long, taper, triangular ones such as this one from Four Paws. That being said, the opening itself is more important than the shape of the nipple. The goal of cutting the “X” in the nipple is to make sucking easy so that you aren’t tempted to squeeze the bottle. You are better off making a hole too big, rather than too small. When turned upside down the bottle should steadily drip, and when smashed into a kitten’s face it should make a mess. The messier the nipple the more likely the kitten is to latch on, that little drip at the end is great for encouragement.

Tip #4: Cleaning, feeding, cleaning. Every kitten must be stimulated to go the bathroom before feeding, which inevitable makes a mess. There are several ways to do this. You can use a wet cloth or paper towel to stimulate them, or if you are budget like me then just use your gloved fingers. I hold the kitten over a towel, let them go, and then clean up their rears with a paper towel. If they are having diarrhea then I will use a paper towel, as I don’t want this to drip onto my towel (regular feces I can spot clean afterwards). This allows me to quickly do numerous kittens and reuse the one towel. After feeding kittens are inevitably dirty again, use a wet paper towel or rag to clean their faces and paws. This is very important because the milk will cause awful mats and crusts in their fur. Even worse their litter mates may try to suckle on the dirty kitten, which can lead to serious trauma and even death if unchecked. A clean kitten is a happy kitten–never let your kittens get dirty!


Note dirty kitten bucket and feeding platform. Supplies on right including warm water for keeping KMR toasty and for cleaning kittens.

Tip #5 High volume set ups. Create a space for yourself to maximize efficiency in kitten feeding, as you will save a lot of time if you can keep an area set up for your kittens! I use a three tiered approach, as seen in the picture, I have a station for cleaning, for feeding, and then the primary enclosure. Kittens are moved from the primary enclosure and placed in the large floor Tupperware and are pottied. This catches all their mess and holds kittens waiting to be fed. The kitten to be fed is then placed on the Tupperware lid, and is then moved back up to the main cage. The lid I keep on my left, so that once the feeding kitten is latched on, I can hold that bottle with my left hand. I can use my more dexterous hand to use a second bottle to feed an eager kitten inside the Tupperware simultaneously.

Note that all my supplies are on my right (I am right handed), and I have trash and spare everything within reach. I prefer to feed sitting on the ground so that I can utilize maximum floor space. I use a bowl of hot water to warm my KMR straight from the fridge, and by the time I am done feeding it is the perfect temperature to clean kittens with.

Using this set up I can do seven kittens in under 30 minutes, what time-saving tips have you picked up over the years? Please share below in the comments section!


When I was seven years old my parents let me pick a puppy from the shelter. I practically chose the first puppy I saw and she was my best friend for just short of 16 years. But within a few weeks of her adoption she chewed all of the hair off of a spot on her chest. We brought her to the veterinarian and within a couple minutes of him disappearing to the dreaded “back room” he returned with a small (but enormous by 7 year old standards) bloody bug on a piece of gauze. It was the coolest thing I ever saw and the next day I wanted to be a veterinarian.

The insect

Cuterebra refers to a group of large parasitic flies that undergoes parasitic larval development in rodents or rabbits. As such, adult female flies lay their eggs around the entrances to dens, nests, or along runways used by their host species. However, cats and dogs can become accidental hosts when they brush against the eggs. Eggs in the fur will hatch after being stimulated by the host’s body heat. The insect will then enter into the host either through the mouth, nose, or open wounds. Once inside the host, the larvae will travel to a species specific location in the subcutaneous tissue (space between skin and muscles). The insect will form a breathing hole through the skin, and within 30 days it will mature and exit from the host where it will enter the soil in order to pupate into an adult fly.

Clinical findings

Typical infections manifest as an approximately 1 cm fistulous swelling in the head, neck, or trunk. Cats will aggressively groom the area and it may or may not be painful depending on the presence of secondary infection. Aberrant migrations manifest as abnormal signs in the area of migration which can include the brain, spinal cord, eyes, nasal passages, and or pharynx. Ocular migrations can manifest as chemosis, blepharospasm, uveitis, or blindness. Nasal or pharyngeal migrans can manifest as upper respiratory infection, nasal discharge, or coughing. Neurologic migrans are more often observed in free roaming cats in late summer. Signs can include depression, seizures, lethargy, central blindness and vestibular disease. Neurologic manifestations are often preceded by an episode of violent sneezing weeks to months before signs develop.


To remove the larva, carefully probe and enlarge the breathing hole with a pair of small (e.g. mosquito) hemostats. Covering the bot with lubricant for 10-15 minutes may facilitate bot removal as it encourages the bot to seek air. Do not squeeze the larvae as rupturing it can cause a chronic foreign body reaction or secondary infection. After removal, flush the wound with sterile saline and debride if necessary. The wound should be allowed to heal open, no stitches are required. Antibiotics may be required in severe infections, but after removal of the larvae many animals heal quickly. When the bot cannot be removed, treatment is more challenging. Ivermectin has been used for cats with CNS cuterebriasis, but in some instances progression occurs too quickly.


Cuterebra are fairly common external parasites of domestic animals, especially cats and kittens in summer. Identification and removal of the bot is essential for successful treatment. While most animals present with draining wounds, keep cuterebra in the back of your mind for unusual neurological or ocular cases. Have you seen any interesting cases of cuterebriasis? Post your brags and horror stories below, and we’ll see you next week!