Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Tadpole Hunt

Wait, where you're going? I gotta check on my tadpoles.

I can see them. Have to time my pounce right.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Annie's Lost Battle with IMHA

by Alison Kaylor

My little maltipoo of 11 years and 11 months,  Annie (Snanniebug) was my biggest joy. She was a healthy little pup, had a great appetite and was full of spunk ... until one morning ...

I noticed she had no interest in her breakfast, and few of her morning antics were not present. 

That made me nervous, knowing that Annie loved to eat! Trying not to be too alarmed, I went off to work and came home at lunch with some El Pollo Loco chicken thinking this will wet her appetite.

Annie’s brain was interested in the chicken but she couldn’t stomach it. She took only a small bite.

Her gums were pale too. I thought she was dehydrated.

It was evident that Annie needed to be checked by her vet so I took her in that evening.

The vet suggested Annie could be dehydrated which can cause a lack of appetite. In my opinion, her behavior was a little odd as well, which I conveyed to the doctor.  He offered to run some blood work and after talking with him further, he made me feel comfortable enough to take her home to see how she does through the night with the fluids he gave Annie as that could be the solution.

The next morning I woke up to see Annie had wet my bed but the wet spot had a tinge of red.  

I immediately rushed Annie into the vet closest to my home (VCA Saddleback Veterinary Hospital, Lake Forest, CA).  Dr. Heathcock examined her while I went to work and bad news prevailed when I received a call from the doctor in the early afternoon.

She informed that Annie had IMHA and tried to explain the disease and its complications.  

I still didn’t fully understand the severity of this disease.  She told me she would start Annie on steroids that I would continue to give Annie once I picked her up the same evening.

When I arrived at the vet I was called into the exam room so Dr. Heathcock could talk with me in private.

She brought Annie out and it was so obvious my poor baby was so tired and lethargic!  

Dr. Heathcock was very sincere and advised I euthanize Annie due to the progression of this disease which had taken a toll on her in such a short time.

I was devastated! I couldn’t fathom giving up and was in complete shock. As an alternative, the vet suggested to take Annie into the Southern California Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Irvine, CA.  She called the specialty hospital giving them notice I was on my way there with Annie and updated them on Annie’s condition.

The intake veterinarian made me comfortable giving me a great deal of hope by informing that their specialty center had a very high recovery rate with IMHA patients – 90% by which she then disclosed, however, there are those 10% of their patients that don’t survive.

Annie was admitted on a Wednesday evening.  

The staff advised me to visit Annie as much as possible and bring some food each time in attempt to persuade her into eating. The SCVSH had started blood transfusions for Annie as well as immunosuppressants.  Her Pack Cell Volume was extremely low  - “12”. Blood transfusion bumped it up to 15.

Annie continued getting blood transfusions.  

Annie’s  highest PCV number while hospitalized was “18” I believe on day 3.

It was so sad to see this sweet little dog fighting for her life. 

Each day Annie seemed to feel and look worse, with jaundice very evident throughout her body. I continued to ask the doctors for their support and advice as to how much time I should give this disease to turn around the chances of that happening.

The lead Critical Care doctor (Dr. Tracey Rossi) informed that it takes a minimum of 3 days to see any results from immunosuppressants before they catch up to Annie’s immune system, thereby suppressing the antibodies attacking Annie’s healthy red blood cells.

Initially, when I visited Annie, she cried when I was leaving.  After the 3rd night during her hospitalization she didn’t respond.

I feel I should have listened to Dr. Heathcock at VCA Saddleback.

Annie’s 5th night at the specialty hospital was the night Annie was clinging for life and I was literally clinging for hope on a very thin thread. I wanted my Annie’s health back and Annie wanted to live!

After seeing Annie that evening,  I told the doctor on duty I will not let my dog continue to suffer. 

She said to go through the night and then make a decision in the morning.

I went home, and at 12:30a.m. (Tuesday) morning, I received a call from the veterinarian on duty telling me Annie’s condition had declined and she was having difficulty breathing. I told the doctor to immediately euthanize Annie. She then asked if I would like to come down to the hospital to visit Annie for the last time (which was approx. 20 - 25 minutes from my home with no traffic). I didn't want Annie to suffer a minute longer and explained to her that I already said my goodbyes to my precious little girl earlier that evening.

I had to ask myself if putting Annie through so much misery was the humble thing to do despite the 42% survival rate – long term more like 20%.

Finding out about Annie’s condition I was so caught off guard.

I had very little time to research the disease. Had I known what Annie was going to have to go through, I would have made a different judgment call prior to Day 5 (1/2 hr into Day 6) of Annie’s ordeal.

I hope more awareness is raised and more published stories are available as well as studies on this horrific disease (IMHA) to educate everyone who owns a fur baby.

Dog's lives are much shorter than human's; their quality of life needs to be top consideration (even for 1 week).

Related articles:
Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA): Reader Stories (Part I) 
IMHA Is Not To Be Taken Lightly: Know The Symptoms
Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde: Razzle's Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA)
Battling IMHA With Integrative Veterinary Medicine (part 1)
Battling IMHA With Integrative Veterinary Medicine (part 2)
I Am An IMHA Survivor! Dylan's Story
Liver Tumor? IMHA? Daphne's Story (Part I)
IMHA Complications: Daphne Didn't Make It 
Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA): Reader Stories (Part I) 
Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA): Reader Stories (Part II) 
Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA) Survivor: Pete's Story
Whitney's Lost Battle With IHMA Complications   
Pale Gums Are An Emergency: Bailey's Story 

Further reading:
Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA)
Anemia Related to the Immune System in Dogs
Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA) in Dog

Monday, May 18, 2015

Adoption Monday: Rory, Black Labrador Retriever Mix, Southington, CT

Rory is sweet and funny and he always tries to do the right thing 

Rory is a beautiful bundle of puppy joy. 

Rory is a smart fun loving little tyke sure to melt your heart and bring infinite smiles and bouts of laughter for many years to come. He is already house, potty, and crate trained with very good indoor manners.

Rory boy loves loves to play in the water, so if you are searching for a water loving companion then he is definitely the water baby for you.

Toys are a big time favorite of this adorable little boy and he very much enjoys playing games with his humans or other canine companions. He loves big and little people alike, so he is obviously very people oriented.

Rory is respectful of the resident kitty in foster. So what do you do, as an adorable sweet fun loving pup, when play time is over? Well for's snuggle time!!!

Rory loves to curl up with his people after a long day hard at play.

Rory is neutered, up to date on all vaccination, and current on all preventatives. The only thing missing in his YOU!!


Best Friends For Life is a privately run, 501 c3 non profit organization, privately funded NO KILL dog rescue. They operate on a strictly volunteer basis out of foster homes.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Word on Compensation

I get to write about myself because I believe it is relevant to dogs as well. Sue already wrote an awesome article about compensation but this is my recent personal experience.

I don't get hurt often.

When I do get hurt it usually resolves quickly or it's a part of a body I can get around. This time I hurt my knee. So it happened that my leg bent in a direction it's not supposed to.

It didn't hurt terribly but it felt like suddenly there were more parts in the knee than there are supposed to be.

In order not to injure it further, I favored the leg for couple of days.

My client and friend, yoga guru, says one should favor anything for more than three days. I favored the knee for two. After than, I have very little idea how the knee is doing because of how unhappy my calf got.

I didn't have a leg to stand on.

Yes, I'm trying to be funny but it's true. Standing is the worst. The calf is really not happy, particularly when the leg is straight (such as when standing) and having to carry any weight.

I figured I should try to start walking normally to restore the equilibrium.

I couldn't believe how quickly I actually forgot how that's done.

It's like my brain doesn't know how the leg should move, though the pain doesn't help. I tried various meds but nothing really helped. I think that finding the normal way of using the leg is the only solution to the problem but surprisingly that's quite difficult.

I reached out to Sue and she gave me some physical therapy pointers.

Also finally found a product that brings some relief; menthol analgesic gel. That seems to take some edge of it. Meanwhile, I'm doing my stretches, massage and trying my hardest to use the leg properly.

As it turns out, limping is an art I'm not good at.

Every time the body is trying to compensate for something, other parts suffer. With me, all it took was two days. Must be some kind of record.

The bottom line, I think, is to do one's best not to compensate.

Or at least for as short of a time as possible. That's where pain relief, effective healing strategies and physical therapy come in. The sooner things can get used properly, the better.

And when compensation cannot be helped, the compensating body parts need extra love and attention.

Did you ever hurt other parts of body compensating for an injury?

Related articles:
Compensation: An Attempt To Restore Harmony

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Best Practices after Your Dog's Surgery, Getting Free Veterinary Help and more ...

Best Practices After Your Dog’s Surgery 

Having your dog undergo any kind of surgery is always scary. What happens after surgery is just as important as the surgery itself. It is important for things to heal properly and avoid injuries. Post-op rehabilitation period can make or break the success of any surgical procedure.

I still talk to many people who bring their dog home after surgery without any instructions whatsoever. If your vet doesn't give you any instructions, demand them. You need to know what to watch for, how to care for the incision, what your dog is or isn't allowed to do and what type of physical therapy they'll need.

My Top Ten Tips on how to convince your vet to help you even if your wallet is empty

Too often people turn to the internet for help with a dog in real trouble citing they cannot afford to take them to the vet. Some things can be treated at home but some things cannot.

What to do if your dog needs medical attention but there is no money in your wallet? There are organizations that help out with vet bills, but what if you don't qualify? Dr. Krista offers ten awesome tips to convince your vet to help you even if you have no money.

Bugging out: How to Keep Flying Insects Off Your Pets

One great thing about Winter is that it's a bug-free season. With Spring, the bugs start coming out. Up here it's the black flies first, followed by mosquitoes and deer flies. The black fly season doesn't last long but they try to make up for it in veracity. We're still experimenting with best ways of keeping the blood suckers off our dogs, and not as importantly, off ourselves.

Dr. Khuly has some great suggestions on protecting dogs from the buzzing nuisance. I'm quite interested in the Lemon-Eucalyptus oil products. Just learned about it and apparently it's supposed to be much effective than DEET, which I would never put on my dogs and I don't like using on myself because of second-hand exposure.

Antifreeze antidote withdrawn

I'm not very happy about this one. The only commercial antidote for ethylene glycol poisoning is off the market. There are alternatives but not as good.

5 Best Treatments For Your Pet's Allergies

It seems that every other dog is allergic to something. Jasmine had some environmental and some food allergies. We were considering immuno therapy but as things worked out, never got to actually try it.

JD and Cookie seem to be doing well so far. Some dogs, though, go through hell and back with allergies.Dr. Patrick offers five great tips on how to keep allergies at bay.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Drought Causing Higher Concern with Foxtails?

Foxtails can be quite dangerous. Apparently, due to the California drought, they have become a concern early and the number of injuries has increased in the region.

VCA San Francisco Veterinary Specialists' own ER doctor, Dr. Allegra Bush, explains the dangers of foxtails for your dog on KRON 4 News.
Posted by VCA Animal Hospitals on Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Puddles: Potential Health Hazard for Your Dog

by Nancy Kay, DVM 

There’s a lot to be said for a vigorous walk with your dog after a heavy rainstorm. The landscape appears refreshed, the air smells great, and you and your dog get to unleash some cabin fever!

As fun as it is to watch your dog splash and play in the puddles you encounter on your walk, some caution is advised. Depending on the surrounding environment, those pools of standing water can harbor some health hazards.


Leptospirosis organisms are bacteria that thrive in wet climates. Wild animals, particularly deer and rodents, and some domesticated animals (cows, sheep, pigs) can be leptospirosis carriers. Although infected, these mammals maintain good health while shedding leptospirosis organisms in their urine.

Dogs can contact leptospirosis by drinking from water sources contaminated with urine from an infected animal. 

Puddles that have formed from rain runoff certainly qualify as such a source. A study of the prevalence of canine leptospirosis in the United States and Canada revealed that disease prevalence correlates with the amount of rainfall. The more rain, the more dogs diagnosed with leptospirosis.

Not all dogs become sick when exposed to leptospirosis, but for those that do, the results can be devastating.

Leptospirosis most commonly causes kidney failure. Associated symptoms include lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. The liver and lungs are also targets for this disease. The diagnosis of leptospirosis is made via blood and urine testing. Successful treatment consists of antibiotics and supportive therapy such as supplemental fluids.

The leptospirosis vaccination does a good job of protecting against this disease. Talk with your veterinarian about whether or not this vaccine makes sense given where you live and the nature of your dog’s extracurricular activities.


Giardia are microscopic, protozoan organisms that live within the intestinal tracts of a variety of domesticated and wild animals. The infectious (contagious) forms are shed within the feces and readily contaminate water sources. This is one of the main reasons it is recommended that hikers and backpackers drink only filtered water. A 2012 study documented that dogs who attend dog parks are more likely to test positive for giardia than those who do not attend dog parks.

The most common symptom caused by giardiasis in dogs is diarrhea. 

Vomiting and loss of appetite may also occur. The diagnosis is made via stool sample testing. A handful of medications can be used to rid the intestinal tract of giardia. Metronidazole and fenbendazole are the two most commonly used. The diagnosis of giardia in one dog may warrant treatment of the entire household herd, as giardia is highly contagious from dog to dog. It can also be transmitted to other species, including cats and humans.


Consumption of only a very tiny amount of antifreeze can have devastating consequences for dogs. Ethylene glycol, the active ingredient in antifreeze, causes acute, often irreversible kidney failure. Symptoms typically include lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weakness, and ultimately coma and/or seizures. The diagnosis is made based on history, urine and blood testing, and often a kidney biopsy. Unfortunately, even with aggressive and expensive therapy, most dogs suffering from antifreeze toxicity don’t survive.

Until relatively recently, antifreeze had a sweet taste rendering it all the more enticing to dogs and children. 

In 2012 antifreeze manufacturers were forced to add a bittering agent to their products. Even with the addition of a bitter taste, vigilance is required to prevent antifreeze toxicity. A small amount of antifreeze within a puddle may not be enough to deter a thirsty dog from drinking.

Antifreeze sources include open product containers and antifreeze leaks from the undercarriage of vehicles. When with your dog, be sure to avoid puddles that have formed in and around parking lots.

Take home message

My goal in telling you about the potential perils of puddles isn’t to convince you to confine your dogs indoors. Heck, my dogs hike off leash with me daily, rain or shine. Rather, my objective is to increase your awareness so that you will be mindful about where your dog drinks when out and about with you (no parking lot puddles!). I encourage you to maintain awareness of the symptoms of leptospirosis, giardiasis, and antifreeze toxicity so that, if observed, you will seek veterinary attention right away.

Does your dog have exposure to puddles?


Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

Did you get your copy of Speaking for Spot yet?

If not, go get the book. It's likely the most important dog book you'll ever read.

Articles by Dr. Kay:
Reasonable Expectations: The Ability to Discuss Your Internet Research With Your Vet
Finding Dr. Wonderful And Your Mutt's Mayo Clinic: Getting Started
Even The Best Veterinarian Can Make A Mistake
A Different Way to Spay
Making Tough Medical Decisions For Your Dog: Lily's Story
If You Don't Know What A Lick Granuloma Is, Count Your Blessings!
Anesthesia-Free Dental Cleaning 
Talking Teeth 
Urinary Accidents
I Can't Believe He Ate That! Foreign Body Ingestion 
What Caused Murphy's And Ruska'sPneumothorax?
The Whole Picture: When The Test Results Don't Match What's In Front Of You 
Stop that Scratching
Veterinarians And Vaccines: A Slow Learning Curve
What is a Veterinary Specialist? 
Veterinary Specialists: Oncologist 
Veterinary Specialists: Cardiologist 
Veterinary Specialists: Internist 
Veterinary Specialists: Neurologist
Veterinary Specialists: Surgeons
Nutritional Management of Canine Epilepsy
Have a Miniature Schnauzer? Know about Sick Sinus Syndrome (SSS)  
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