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Questions kids ask a small-town veterinarian

Dr. John Hunt's veterinarian advice, and other common misconceptions that can help you be a better pet owner.

BUCKSPORT, Maine — "Kids don’t have any filters. The way they look at reality is completely different, and that’s the first half of the book," says Dr. John Hunt about his new book packed full of information about pets. 

Dr. Hunt was a veterinarian for more than 30 years in the town of Bucksport. Now he's a teacher and an author, sharing what he's learned through stories. His latest book is called, "Enjoy Your Pets and Don't Forget to Give Them a Hug;" and it starts off with some of his favorite questions he was asked by kids during his many school visits. 

Questions like, "What is the grossest thing about being a veterinarian?"

"I could write a book - and I’m sure my colleagues could write a whole book - on the grossest things," Hunt laughs and answers with things like maggots; abscesses; bones sticking out; or anal glands.

Another popular kid question, "Did you talk to the animals when you took care of them?"

"Yes," says Dr. Hunt. "I always talked to my animals and my pets, it helped to relax the pet and also helped relax the owners. As you know when you go to the vet you’re very nervous, you’re nervous because your dog or cat is there and you’re wondering what the vet is going to do; you’re worried about the money; all of these things."

"When they came in, a lot of the clients I knew personally, so I would start talking to the client and when I got the dog or cat on the table I started talking to them," says Dr. Hunt. "'Okay, take a deep breath.' 'Now let me check your eyes,' 'Let me see what’s going on with your fur,' so I’d be talking to them and it basically kept the dog calm but also kept the client calm."

Dr. Hunt's book is also packed full of helpful information that you maybe didn't even realize you needed, like: Can you get rabies from a dead animal?

"The rabies virus is sensitive to heat so if you see a dead animal on the side of the road and it’s summer, the rabies virus will pretty much be dead," Hunt explains. "If you see it in the winter time, it’s possible for the rabies to survive in a dead animal for a little while. So my word of caution is, if you see any kind of dead animals wild or domestic, don’t touch it. Use a stick or a shovel or something like that."

Dr. Hunt also writes about common misconceptions about household toxins... is it safe to use a Swiffer at home, or is that toxic to pets? Or what about poinsettias? 

"They’re only mildly harmful, so I’d still keep them away from animals and children but they won’t kill an animal. Greenies was a favorite treat, and a long time ago it used to be choking animals. Well, they reformulated them so greenies aren’t as toxic as they say. I took more rubber toys out of dogs' intestines than rawhide. I never took a rawhide out of a dog's intestine ever. A lot of people think they give a dog salt to make them vomit in case they eat something wrong; well that can cause kidney problems and death, so you want to use hydrogen peroxide instead of salt."

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