Meet Version 1.1 of VETS Dermatology

The coolest Veterinary Dermatology App just got bigger, better . . . and FREE!

Hundreds of high resolution images to educate clients regarding mites, fleas, yeast, bacteria, lumps & bumps and more.

See it in action at the link below, or simply go the App Store and type in “VETS Dermatology”.  It’s Free!

High Flying Fun on the Kohala Zipline

Zipline Hawaii Big Island Canopy tour

The author, Kim, smiling big at the end of the journey!

At first, I was very nervous.

When the idea first came up about zipping between trees (at speeds up to 40 mph) while being suspended 100 feet above the ground— well, for some reason that sounded a little crazy.

Leisl– “Teller of Bad Jokes”, Excellent Guide


Our two guides, Liesl and Peter put us at ease— sort of. They were very focused as we geared up with a full harness, hard hat and prayer book of our choice (just kidding about the prayer book.)

Peter- beneath that calm, competent exterior is a mad man.

Peter- beneath that calm, competent exterior is a mad man.

It was a fifteen minute drive up the hill to get to the canopy. Along the way, we passed grazing cattle, beautiful green countryside, and the location of an epic battle between King Kamehameha and invaders from another island. As we ascended the hill, our guides entertained us with historical facts (some of which were true), bad jokes (I’ll just blame Leisl for those) and an enthusiasm that was contagious!

One guide would zip to the end of the line and wait for us, while the other would attach all of the equipment to the cables and make certain that all was connected before we each took our turn.

The first two lines were short and helped us to get comfortable with the harness and the very important concept of braking!  At that point, we had the opportunity to chicken out if we wanted to, but I was already hooked.  This was going to be a blast.

Zipline Hawaii Big Island Canopy tourThe platforms were large (they can accomodate 10 people safely) and built with minimal disruption to the trees. At all times, we were either tethered to the zip line or to a cable around the tree— so that we couldn’t plummet 100 feet down into the lush, green growth below.  (Not that I was worried about that 😉 )

At first, all I could focus on was the nextZipline Hawaii Big Island Canopy tour platform. But after a while, I started to look around. Below us was untouched forest. There was a babbling brook that meandered back and forth, large ferns and even evidence of ancient hawaiian raised gardens— the rock borders are still in place.  This was really cool!

The zip lines became longer and faster, and when that wasn’t enough adrenaline, then came the suspension bridges.  Nothing like looking down between your feet and seeing . . . . that “down” was a long way down there!!!

Now that's a looong way down!

Look Ma, I’m at the top of the trees!!

Finally, we reached the last platform and it was time to return to solid ground.  We had a great time in the canopy and, as you can see, our guides took some great pictures during the expedition.

If you’re on the Big Island, I definitely recommend the Kohala Zipline! In fact, I think you should go to the Big Island just for the the Kohala Zipline— it’s worth it!

Kim Klingborg, Zipline Addict

Proof that we survived

Just horsing around

A whimsical blog by Don Klingborg, DVM (with superb editing by Sophie Klingborg)

Q.  When is a horse not a horse?        Answer: When it’s a fish!.

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One of the photos above is of a horse (Genus Equidae) (in this case named “California Chrome”) and the other is a seahorse (Genus Hippocampinae) (in this case I’ve named her “Buttercup” in honor of Dale Evans’ horse- remember Roy Rogers?).

While there is no triple crown for seahorses (nor, sadly, was there for California Chrome), there are more than 30 seahorse species within the genus and they are all threatened due to habitat degradation and consumption to feed an Asian market for “traditional medicines”.

And then there is the Sea Dragon (Genus Phycodurus), a very strange critter indeed. The photo below is a Sea Dragon with no plant material in this picture.

Untitled 5Seahorses (map on left) have a wide area of habitat,

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Sea Dragons (map on right) not so much.



Seahorses are a fish, a carnivore and range from 1.5 to 35 cm “tall” (0.6 to 14 inches). They have a life expectancy of 1-5 years. The males have a brood pouch where the females deposit their eggs and then the male fertilizes them and sustains their “pregnancy”. The photo below is of a male “giving birth”, something our female friends have been waiting for for a very long time.Untitled 7

Poor swimmers, they rely on their tail to “hold on” in rough water. The fin on their back provides the propulsion, the ones on the back of their head steer

Untitled 8They have no teeth and suck their food (plankton and small fish or crustaceans). Their stomach is underdeveloped and they are essentially sustained by their intestinal tract however need to continuously “graze” since they can’t consume a meal, store it in their stomach and digest it later.Untitled 9

The Sea Dragon (a weedy variety below) is also a fish and can range up to 35 cm (~14 in) in the leafy variety, and 46 cm (18 in) in the weedy variety. They are perfectly camouflaged for their habitat in seaweed and kelp forests off southern Australia. They are related to the sea horse, and both are related to pipefish.

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Their tails are not able to grip like those of the seahorse, so they simply “go with the flow” when the waters get rough.

The males are also responsible for bearing the offspring, and while they lack the pouch found in the seahorse they have a spongy brood patch under their tail where the female deposits their eggs. After four to six weeks of “pregnancy” the offspring are released and “on their own”.

Hopefully your interest is piqued, and a great afternoon awaits you at the Seahorse Hawaiian Foundation. Located just south of the Kailua-Kona airport, this group has been breeding seahorses and other endangered reef species (including Sea Dragons) for many years. As I recall they were once focused on the aquarium trade and have morphed their goals toward conserving genetic diversity, propagating endangered species and repopulating areas that can sustain these fragile creatures.

The tour is educational, fun, and when we did it three years ago we were able to have the sea horse “grab” our finger with their tail and “hang out together ” for a while – very cool. I can’t promise you that but I can promise you an aquarium room with many interesting and colorful species on display, plus a worthwhile educational program.

They won’t put together a tour for us only (we tried, they declined), but they do offer tours daily at noon and 2 pm and we think you’ll find it fun and informative. Their gift shop is cute and our granddaughters sure enjoy the T-shirts purchased there.

Check it out at the Ocean Rider Aqua Farm (, 73-4388 Ilikai Place, Kona, Hawaii (just south of the airport, same side of the road. 808-329-6840 for tour times and tickets).

Just 1.2 miles south of the Kona Airport exit, off of OTEC Road (also called Natural Energy Road). The road goes toward the beach, and then makes a 90-degree turn at the beach to the right (north) and you’ll go past the Wawalaloli Beach Park and see the entrance on your left. Go down toward the beachfront and you’ll see the signs on your right.


Ancient Hawaiian rock carvings- the Petroglyphs

The ancient Hawaiians left behind a record of their lives by carving shapes and figures in the ever present lava rock.  These petroglyphs vary from region to region and are considered to be sacred sites by many.

There are several protected petroglyph fields on the Big Island of Hawaii, and one of the most accessible is directly across from the Marriott Waikoloa hotel & Queen’s Marketplace and adjacent to the Kings Shopping Center.

It’s not a long walk on a (somewhat uneven) pathway that has been created in the rock.  Wear shoes for this short hike and you’ll be a happier person.



About 1/4 of a mile down the path, you’ll begin to see a few petroglyphs here and there.  Trying to make sense of them can be a topic of endless debate. As the hike continues, you’ll see more and more rock carvings.


Since the Hawaiian language didn’t exist in written form until the 1820s, perhaps these petroglyphs were a record of life’s major events– births, deaths, wars and celebrations?





If you’re staying on the Big Island near Waikoloa, come check out the petroglyphs. You’ll find yourself strolling through Hawaiian history and the entire hike is less than a mile long!


(The Marriott Waikoloa is the 2014 site of the 30th Muller-Ihrke Veterinary Dermatology Seminar and the 15th Veterinary M-E-D* Seminar (*Internal Medicine, Endocrinology, Infectious Disease), November 1 – November 9, 2014.

Hanging out on the Big Island–Gill’s Lanai and Pololu Lookout

by Jon Klingborg, DVM

One of the best things about mornings-only lectures at a VETS conference is getting to choose your own adventure every afternoon.

After a great time in the canopy thanks to our new friends at Kohala Zipline, we decided check out the town of Kapaau and the surrounding area.

Our first priority was to eat, and we were fortunate to find Gill’s Lanai.  Word on the street was that if Gill’s had mahi mahi for the Fish & Chips then it couldn’t be missed.


Now Gill’s Lanai is appropriately named, it’s basically a one room restaurant where you walk inside to order and then dine on the “covered patio” (which, as you undoubtedly know, is the English phrase for lanai in Hawaiian.)IMG_1458

Gill’s Lanai is located  on the right hand side of Highway 270 in the town of Kapaau. I
don’t want to jinx you, but “you can’t miss it.”  As you can see, it’s centrally located. 😉

I did have the Fish & Chips– and appreciated that the seasoned coating on the mahi was very light. This wasn’t one of those heavy beer-battered deep fried coatings that made you drink a gallon of water for the next eight days. Instead, Gill’s seasoning on the mahi complemented the moist, tender, flaky and succulent fish beautifully.

Others in the group enjoyed the Fish Tacos, the Lobster Tacos and even a Hot Dog.  All meals were prepared fresh and were equally delicious (even the hot dog was great.)  I also enjoyed a mango smoothie, which was incredibly refreshing on a warm Hawaiian day.  There are no pictures of the food because: 1) I think that posting pictures of food can be annoying, 2) it’s food– it really can’t be appreciated until you taste it, and 3) we were hungry.

nkohalamapAfter lunch, we continued the journey to the Pololu Valley Lookout . . . just a few miles further down the road in North Kohala.

It was a scenic drive made more interesting by glimpses of the untamed Big Island coastline and the occasional home, barn or church.

At the end of the road, you’ll find a parking lot and the Pololu Valley Lookout. Turn to the right and you’ll see that the Pololu Valley looks as though it was carved out of the surrounding jagged rock by a giant plow.


Look to the left, and you’ll notice that the Pololu Valley leads straight toward the ocean.  From this vantage point, there is a steep hike down to the water below, if you should wish to take it. I followed the instructions, and since this is the “Lookout” point, I chose to look out and not hike out.  Rumor has it that the black sand beach below is gorgeous, but swimming there is strongly discouraged.


Ah, another glorious afternoon in Hawaii.  Now, it’s time to head back to the hotel and drink a Lava Flow!  


The Incas and Machu Picchu


The Land of Four Quarters…Tawantinsuyu

 by Don Klingborg, DVM

The Incan empire, created in less than 100 years, governed more people and landmass than the Ming Dynasty, Ivan the Great, the Great Zimbabwe, the Ottoman Empire, the Triple Alliance (Aztec’s) or Europe during the late 1400’s/early 1500’s.  Thupa Inca’s conquests and governance, by every measurement, rivaled Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan.


Across their 100-year reign the Incas managed to unify the political, religious, economic and art systems of multiple cultures, build more than 25,000 miles of paved roads with drainage systems and successfully occupy ecosystems ranging in altitudes from sea level to 14,000 feet.

Their social/economic system included no money and no markets. Knots in fabric represented their recorded language.  Considered the best-known example of “vertical socialism”, they managed to eradicate hunger and “successfully” integrate multiple cultures using a system that relocated whole populations to distant areas.  (Their system relied on hegemonic governance that keeps the internal affairs of conquered areas in the hands of the original rulers who became vassals of the Incas.  The alternative system, territorial empire building, relies on direct occupation with the conquering armies, eliminates the old rulers and annexes the land and people.  The hegemonic system is by comparison very inexpensive to maintain but less tightly controlled.)


How did this mighty people, then, with a local army 50 times larger than the invasion force led by Pizarro (totaling 168 mercenaries), lose on a day in 1532 without inflicting a single casualty?  Reading about the battle and the tactics are interesting, but even more interesting for me was pondering how this civilization fell so far so fast?  There are many stories including giving credit to the use of steel for weapons (Europeans) rather than art (Incas).  Most historians today suggest the Incas lost primarily due to factionalism and disease.

When Inca kings died their culture considered them to simply be transformed into another form.  They mummified them, continued to care for them, and their assets remained as their property to use for their support in perpetuity.  The mummies would be placed outside to enjoy the sun during the day, moved back in at night, and were often taken to battle at some distance so that they might continue to participate in “life”.  The new kings, therefore, had to make their own way, build their own alliances and win their own followers.  The majority of these new kings are thought by many to have come from brother-sister couplings as the family blood was considered the “pure” lineage.  A few kings evolved from children born to non-sister family members.  As soon as a new king was identified there was a pattern of slaughter of brothers and the brother’s offspring to minimize the threat of being overthrown.

It seems likely such a system would lead to “rocky transitions” of leadership, divisive outcomes and the factionalism that plagued them especially at the time of Pizarro’s invasion.

Next, the Inca military was rigidly structured and original thinking was not encouraged.  While the Incas had the weapons and geography necessary to successfully fight the Spanish, they were reluctant to alter their traditional methods.  Had they changed tactics many historians believe they would have won easily.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the European “invasion” of the Americas introduced a number of diseases including smallpox, influenza, typhus, diphtheria, measles and hepatitis.   A smallpox epidemic hit the Incas in 1524-25 (you can follow the progression of smallpox from a Caribbean island to Central America and from there north and south as carried by asymptomatic carriers—with the first epidemic affecting the Incas 8 years before the first arrival of Europeans in Peru), resulting in half or more of the population dying.  Among the deaths were the reigning Inca (king), his heir, other close family members and the main generals of the army.  A civil war followed this loss of the political elite that led to more losses of leadership and factionalism (the Inca king and potential heirs tended to share their seed liberally resulting in potentially hundreds of offspring making claim on the throne).  Pizarro’s timing was perfect!


While the fight for the empire continued for another 40 years after the initial battle, disease continued to decimate the native populations.  Additional smallpox epidemics occurred in 1533, 1535, 1558, and 1565.  Add epidemics of typhus in 1546, influenza in 1558 (with smallpox), diphtheria in 1614 and measles in 1618.  The historian Dobyns calculated that in the 130 years following the first contact between the Americas (North, Central and South America) and Europeans about 95% of “Americans” perished as a consequence of disease.  If his estimates are right, 100 million Americans died from disease between 1492 and 1630.

IMG_0352 Cusco, the capital of the Incas, is at 11,000 feet while Machu Picchu is at ~8,000 ft above sea level.

Machu Picchu is thought to have been built as a royal retreat and sacred center in the mid 1400’s.  The uncertainty is associated with our failure to decode the Inca system of writing ((“khipu”—which uses knotted strings) and defacing of stone imprints by the Spanish conquerors.  Most of the written history of this time and the Inca’s comes from the conquerors recording their version.


Machu Picchu is very special because there is no evidence the Spanish actually found it and subsequent human populations have not inflicted significant damage.  Machu Picchu was essentially “lost” to the jungle for ~350 years before an American explorer, Hiram Bingham, found it in 1911.  Surrounded on three sides by a river (far far below), the city is frequently bathed in a mist. Centuries of jungle growth enveloped the structure that includes fields, housing, storage, temples and an impressive water system.  What you see is only 40% of the building that occurred, with 60% underground forming the foundations and drainage for the structures and walls.  The weather is milder and wetter than Cusco.


A Trip to the Stars—At the Mauna Kea Observatory on the Big Island

 by Jon Klingborg, DVMIMG_0539

 It’s a bit of journey to the top of the Mauna Kea volcano, but well worth it. Mauna Kea is the highest point in the Pacific Basin and the perfect place for watching the stars.  At nearly 14,000 feet above sea level, it is above 40% of the Earth’s atmosphere. It’s a bit of a trek, but well worth it!


         As you can know, the higher you go, the colder the air gets. By the time we arrived at summit, the temperature had dropped from the tropical 75 degrees at sea level to only a few degrees above zero.  Thank goodness the tour company was prepared and provided well-insulated suits for all of us.  We were quite comfortable while we looked out from on top of the world.

         About two hours into the trip, we stopped for a break and to eat dinner.  I had the barbeque chicken and it was delicious.

         An hour later, we took another break at the Museum & Shop just “down the road” from the observatories. As we continued to gain altitude, it soon became apparent that we were going to be above the clouds.

 IMG_0533        Finally, we’d arrived at the summit in time for sunset.  We parked right next to one of the observatories, which was in the process of repositioning a giant telescope, so it grumbled and rumbled as the entire circular building turned.

  Looking out at the view, you can see other observatories perched at the topmost points of the volcano.

          Sunset brought more spectaculars view as blue sky gave way to black.

          Heading back down the volcano, we stopped off at a turn out where our guide set up a telescope. There, we were able to stargaze in a small group.  We were actually able to see the red spot on Jupiter with perfect clarity.  AMAZING!ob3


The author having a bad hair day, with his mother– who never has a bad hair day.

Another stop at the Museum & Gift Shop, and then it was time to head home. We arrived late that night (10 pm), with a feeling of awe and contentment that cannot be described.