Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Grocery Bag Is Not An Open Buffet: What Was In JD's Vomit

At about five in the morning I was woken up by hubby rushing JD to the yard. When I asked what was happening, I was told that JD was trying to throw up.

As a good dog mom, after JD came back in, I went into the yard to look for and examine the puke.

Me? I know nothing about that.

I was looking for chunks of wood, because that's what I'd typically find under circumstances such as these. There were none. There was nothing overly suspicious, other than what at first appeared to be undigested strips of chicken meat. At least that's what it kind of looked and felt like. When I tried to pull them apart, though, they wouldn't, which didn't make any sense. I bagged the puke and went back inside, reporting my strange findings.

"I think I know what it is," said hubby sheepishly.

"Huh? What do you think it is?" I asked.
"I think those are pieces of plastic," hubby replied.

That would explain why it was so strong that it couldn't be pulled apart. It would not explain when and where JD got the opportunity to munch on any. When I asked, hubby was reluctant to tell me. Eventually he came clean.

JD ate a package of beef kidney on the way from the store. 

Including the plastic it was wrapped in. At least he left the tray and the sheet they put at the bottom.

"Wait a minute, you brought home the organ meats two days ago," I turned to hubby.
"Yeah. I figured I'd rather not tell you not to worry you."

Well, that was potentially thoughtful, because I do worry about things a lot. Or hubby just didn't want the guys get in trouble with mom.

In this case it was a shame, because if I knew, this would be one of the times when making him throw up would have solved our trouble.

Later that morning JD ate his breakfast and overall seemed fine.

The whole gang left to spend another day at the horse farm. As I was left alone in the house, I got thinking and went to look for poop. I was so focused on the vomit earlier, it didn't occur to me but now it did. There was no morning poop in the yard.

That was slightly suspicious.

JD is quite a pooping machine and poops every morning. However, I decided not to panic just yet.

Unfortunately, when they are at the farm, it is quite hard to keep track of the dogs' elimination. Sometimes they do it during the morning walk, but sometimes they don't. Hubby didn't see JD poop during the day, which didn't really give much information to go on. I was hoping in the evening we'll see some poop.

But we didn't.

None in the evening and none before bed. Now I was getting nervous. Did some of the plastic make it through and caused a blockage? How much did he actually eat and how much came out the front end?

It was time to dissect the vomit.

I started pulling out the strips of plastic and washing them. It looked like hardly any. When I started straightening the little pieces out, though, it turned out being quite a bit. That was hopeful. How much plastic was on the package and how does it compare with what we got?

So we unwrapped a different kidney, laid the saran wrap out and started matching our pieces.

It was quite a bit but it seemed there was still enough missing.

How much does the saran wrap shrink exposed to stomach juices for two days?

The texture was harder and seemed thicker. But could we rule out a good amount of it missing conclusively? And why still no poop? Could it be he had diarrhea during the day and there is nothing left to come out? Or is there something stuck?

I decided to put JD on a fast, in case he did need some further diagnostics or intervention the next day.

Plastic can do some pretty nasty things.

Finally, in the morning, JD pooped and it was normal and healthy.

Next time, man, if you're gonna steal food, at least take it out of the package first!

Related articles:
Why Examine Your Dog's Vomit?
What’s In the Vomit? 

Do you have a story to share?

Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!

What were the first signs you noticed? How did you dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

Email me and get your story published.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Adoption Monday: Chance, Labrador Retriever & Hound Mix: Deerfield, NH

Check out this awesome boy at Mary's Dogs Rescue and Adoption!

Chance is a sweet adult guy who is the perfect sizer for a family. 

Chance was, like many other dogs in the south, heartworm positive at the shelter and has been treated. He will arrive in NH in May looking for his new family.....could that be you?

Chance is neutered, house trained and current on routine shots. Want more info on Scooter? Call Mary's Dogs: 603.370.7750 or send along an email: marysdogsrescue@gmail.com

Ready to bring Scooter home? Tell us about yourself and your interest in Scooter in the adoption questionnaire. Check out all the wonderful dogs on Mary's Dogs Facebook Fan Page.


Mary’s Dogs rescues and re-homes dogs and puppies from Aiken County Animal Shelter, a high-kill shelter in South Carolina, USA. They also serve as a resource to communities in Southern New Hampshire and pet owners nationwide by providing education and information on responsible pet ownership, including the importance of spay/neuter, positive behavior training, and good nutrition.

Don't forget to check out Mary's Dogs Shop where you can shop dog and support their work!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tricks? It's Not Just About The Tricks

I used to think very little about teaching my dogs tricks. I figured I didn't need my dogs do these things. Teach them what they need to know and that's it. What are tricks good for? Showing off at parties?

Little I realized how much we've been missing.

I also didn't realize that to a dog, learning any behavior is really a trick and it is best taught that way. Do you think that a dog knows the difference between a sit being a serious business and sit pretty being a party trick? They might notice the difference in your attitude, though.

Based on your attitude, which one do you think they enjoy learning more?

So I concluded that from now on, any behavior I want, I'll teach it as a trick. It is so much more fun for both parties that way.

But there is more.

By learning tricks, dogs learn learning.

I notice with Cookie how much faster she picks up every new thing we're working on now. She is also more likely to offer different things to see which one will get her a reward. First she'll try the things she already knows, then she might throw in something new. When she gets really excited, she will try everything at once, which is pretty funny.

Learning tricks exercises the brain

When presented with a challenge, I can clearly see Cookie thinking. It is so precious to watch. She might come over to me and sit - nothing happens. She offers a paw - nothing happens. Then she remembers "Oh, I'm supposed to go put the paw on the target thingy."

It's a bonding time and teaches her that paying attention to me means good things.

Our training sessions are high quality time for both of us. We go for walks and play games, but this to Cookie is a type of game too and she loves it.

And she has a lot of fun with it.

It is clear from her excitement. And no matter how tired may be after a day at the farm, she still looks forward to her training games with mommy. She won't pass on it. It became a part of our daily routine.

Related articles:
From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
Creative Solutions And An Incidental Product Review
Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization  
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed  
Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat 
Observation Skills Of Dogs  
If You Want Your Dog To Do Something, Teach It 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Veterinary Highlights: Worms And Germs Map

A comprehensive veterinary disease reporting, mapping and trending source system is now out there. And, unlike many others, this one is for Canada too. Yay!

This can become quite an awesome tool.

Of course, such map can only reflect diseases as they have been diagnosed and reported. So if the dogs don't get to see a vet when sick, don't get diagnosed, or cases are not properly reported, it could lead to false sense of security.

But let's be optimistic and hope that won't happen that much.

Worms and Germs Map is an interactive, real-time disease mapping system designed to track selected infectious diseases of companion animals (including horses). It is a companion to the educational site WormsAndGermsBlog. Both were developed by Dr. Scott Weese of the University of Guelph and Dr. Maureen Anderson from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

I hope this map will get used to its full potential.

Source website:
Worms & Germs Map

Thursday, April 17, 2014

What Does The Thyroid Gland Do?

by Jennifer Coates, DVM

A while back we talked about sick euthyroid syndrome – a condition that complicates the diagnosis of hypothyroidism in dogs. But once it has been determined that a dog truly has hypothyroidism, the question of what the thyroid gland does and how the body is affected by its dysfunction must be answered.

Thyroid gland: Image Pets Adviser

What does the gland do?

The thyroid gland is located in a dog’s neck, one segment on either side of the trachea (windpipe) and makes hormones – primarily thyroxine (T4), but also 3,5,3’-triiodo-thyronine (T3), reverse T3, and other metabolites. T3 is the more potent hormone and is not only produced directly by the thyroid gland, but is also derived from T4. These hormones are made from the amino acid tyrosine and are bound to iodine (this is the only place iodine is utilized in the body).

Thyroid hormone secretion is regulated by a negative feedback mechanism of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis (from the brain to the thyroid). This means that when there is a decrease in T4, more T4 is made. Conversely, when there is an excess amount of T4, less is made.

What do the hormones do?

On a molecular level, thyroid hormones bind cellular receptors (intracellular DNA-binding proteins), enter into cells via membrane transporter proteins and interact with specific sequences of DNA to modulate gene expression – in other words, turn some genes on and other genes off.

On a physiological level, thyroid hormones have numerous effects in many, if not, all areas of the body. While their absence or excess may not be life threatening (well, not immediately anyway), maintaining appropriate levels is certainly important for good quality of life. Some known effects of thyroid hormones include:

  1. Metabolism – thyroid hormones help to regulate body temperature, and can stimulate fat and carbohydrate metabolism. This results in increased fatty acids and glucose in the blood. When the hormone is deficient, as is the case in a hypothyroid dog, the blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels become elevated.

  2. Growth and brain development – normal growth and brain development in young animals is dependent on thyroid hormones. A thyroid deficiency results in growth-retardation and neurologic impairment.

  3. Cardiovascular effects – thyroid hormones cause an increased heart rate, cardiac output, and blood flow to many organs.

  4. Central Nervous System – thyroid hormones cause agitation and anxiety in excess, and sluggishness and dullness if deficient.

  5. Reproductive System – fertility is affected by lack of thyroid hormone

  6. Many other effects - such as maintaining healthy skin and good muscle tone

You can see why having appropriate amounts of thyroid hormones is critical to the well being of dogs. 

Thankfully, treating hypothyroidism in dogs is about as easy as it gets. Simply give synthetic thyroid hormone as prescribed by your veterinarian and follow the monitoring schedule that he or she recommends (it can take some time to find the right dose and a dog’s needs may change).

If despite this, your dog’s condition does not improve, the initial diagnosis of true hypothyroidism versus euthyroid sick syndrome needs to be revisited.


Jennifer Coates, DVM graduated with honors from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in 1999.  In the years since, she has practiced veterinary medicine in Virginia, Wyoming, and Colorado.  She is the author of several books about veterinary medicine and animal care, including the Dictionary of Veterinary Terms: Vet-speak Deciphered for the Non-veterinarian

Dr. Coates has recently joined the PetMD team and she is now writing for the Fully Vetted column; great blog, do check it out.

Jennifer also writes short stories that focus on the strength and importance of the human-animal bond and freelance articles relating to a variety of animal care and veterinary topics.  Dr. Coates lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with her husband, daughter, and pets.

Articles by Dr. Coates:
Kidney Disease – Say What? 
What Happens In The Dog's Body When The Kidneys Fail To Function Properly? 
Heat Stroke: What Happens In The Dog's Body?  
The Perplexities of Pancreatitis
The Other Side Of The Coin: The Cost Of Defensive Medicine
To Neuter Or Not To Neuter… That Is The Question
Don’t Forget the Physical Therapy
Common Misdiagnoses (Part 1)
Common Misdiagnoses (Part 2)
Picking the Right Dog to Breed
When Is It An Emergency?
Dog Allergies: Common, Commonly Misdiagnosed, or Both? 
Why Does The Spleen Get No Respect?
Protect Your Dog From Snake Bites 
More Creepy Crawlies
Why I Dislike Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Salmonella – A Significant Problem, Or Not? 
What’s In the Vomit?
Cortisol: What Happens In A Dog’s Body When It Goes Awry?
What Happens In The Dog's Body With Zinc Toxicity? 
What Happens In The Dog’s Body: Xylitol Poisoning 
What Happens In The Dog's Body: Insulin  
When Is Hypothyroidism not Hypothyroidism? 
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