Saturday, April 25, 2015

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week:

Canine Influenza – What You Need To Know!

Probably the most comprehensive article on the subject I've seen so far. Provides information about what canine influenza is, how it spreads, clinical signs, diagnosis and treatment.

Canine Influenza Outbreak: Is Your Dog Safe? 

For a short, sweet and to the point version, check out Dr. Andy Roark's Cone of Shame video. One crucial take home point? If you suspect your dog got influenza, give your vet heads-up instead of just showing up. This will allow them to prepare and minimize risk to other dogs.

Understanding Your Pet’s Blood, Tissue & Urine Laboratory Results

I always like to take a look at all my dogs' lab results. I want to see what's going on with my own eyes and understand what is going one. If you're like me, this article will give you good basic understanding what the lab results values mean.

Skunk Spray Health Effects and Getting Rid of the Smell

Having your dog sprayed by a skunk is an extremely unpleasant situation. Particularly when they manage to shoot through the door right into the house.

With Jasmine, we dodged the bullet couple of times, when she was trying to convince a skunk to play with her. While unimpressed by her advances, neither of them ever sprayed her.

However, besides being a stinky annoyance, skunk spray can actually make your dog sick.
"Skunk spray has even been used as a biologic weapon — to disperse crowds and to cause injury." ~petMD
Find out how can skunk spray affect your dog.

Should I let my pet die at home?

I admit I only know a few people who ever did or considered doing that. While letting your dog die on their own sounds kind of good, it might not always be the best thing to do for your dog. When Jasmine was really miserable, in pain, and with no good prognosis, we decided to set her free. Letting her suffer for no other reason than allowing nature take its own course was not acceptable to us.
"Contrary to what you think, it really is a gift to be able to prevent your dog or cat from reaching that point of shock and dehydration before humanely putting them to sleep," ~Dr. Justine Lee.

I have to agree with that.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Veterinary Highlights: Top 10 Most Common Pet Toxins of 2014

Perhaps in a wild dogs and wolves figure it out which things they should stay away from. But they are living in our environment, exposed to foreign, and often yummy tasting, things can make them very sick or even kill them.

It is up to us to keep such things away from our dogs.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) released a list of the toxins that were the biggest culprits in 2014. The APCC handled more than 167,000 calls involving pets exposed to possibly poisonous substances in 2014. Which items are on the top 10 list?

No big surprises there.

  1. Human prescription medications
  2. Over-the-counter medications
  3. Insecticides
  4. Household items (paints, cleaning products)
  5. Human foods toxic to dogs
  6. Veterinary medications
  7. Chocolate
  8. Toxic plants
  9. Rodenticides
  10. Lawn and garden products

Most of us know what things are toxic. Let's do a better job of keeping them away from our dogs.

For searchable database of more than 275 toxins and other helpful information, you can download free APCC by ASPCA mobile app. Good one to always have handy.

If you have any reason to suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.

Source article:
Ten Most Common Pet Toxins of 2014

Thursday, April 23, 2015

What Happens in a Dog's Body with Hypothermia?

by Jennifer Coates, DVM

Normal body temperature for dogs is around 100.5-102.5°F (38-39.2°C). 

Hypothermia sets in when the body loses heat at a faster rate than it can generate heat. In dogs, I consider a body temperature of under 99°F (37°C) to be evidence of early/mild hypothermia.

We normally think of exposure to cold environmental temperatures, particularly combined with windy and/or wet conditions, as the cause of most cases of hypothermia, but in the veterinary setting, anesthesia and surgery are most typically to blame. Some anesthetic agents disrupt the physiologic processes that regulate temperature and cause blood vessels to dilate thereby increasing heat loss. Surgery often involves exposing internal organs to colder than normal temperatures, blood loss, and the administration of cool intravenous fluids. Certain diseases (e.g., shock, poisonings) can also lead to hypothermia in dogs.

Whatever the cause of hypothermia, it will cause considerable damage to a dog’s body if it is not reversed. 

Let’s take a look at exactly why hypothermia is so dangerous.

In the initial stages of hypothermia, the body tries to conserve what heat is present by shunting blood towards the body core and away from the skin and extremities. 

This is accomplished by narrowing the blood vessels (vasoconstriction) on the body’s surface. While helpful in a big-picture sort of way (e.g., survival), it also predisposes the dog to frostbite if environmental temperatures are low enough.

At the same time, dogs will start to shiver and their muscles become tense. All this muscular activity is the body’s way of generating extra heat, but it can also get in the way of the dog’s ability to move in a normal manner.

As hypothermia progresses, shivering becomes more violent and dogs will become sluggish and confused.

And then… the shivering stops. 

This is an indication that severe hypothermia has set in. Essentially, the body has used up all the energy it has available to warm itself and a downward spiral is underway. Metabolic and physiologic processes that rely on heat slow down leading to changes in body chemistry. The heart rate decreases, arrhythmias can develop, breathing slows, and the brain no longer gets the oxygen and energy it needs.

Stupor leading to coma and eventually death is the result.

Severe hypothermia is not without a silver lining, however.

At these low temperatures, cells within the body and especially the brain need far less oxygen and energy than do warm, metabolically active cells. Therefore, circulation can stop for a relatively long period of time and a veterinarian may still be able to revive the dog using methods that warm them from the inside out (e.g., warm intravenous fluids, CPR using warm/humidified air, and infusing warm fluids into body cavities).

Paradoxically, warming a severely hypothermic dog from the outside in (e.g., using hot water bottles) can actually worsen their chances of survival.

To paraphrase my colleagues in human medicine, no hypothermic dog should be considered dead until the patient is “warm and dead.”

Get your dog veterinary care as quickly as possible if they are suffering from hypothermia, even if you can’t detect a heartbeat and breathing.

With hypothermia, miracles really can happen.

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? 
What Happens in a Dog's Body with Severe Vomiting? 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Addison's Disease Awareness: Valentino's Story

by Deanna Lee

Valentino came into my life in Feb 2007 when he became my foster after a close call at a high kill shelter—I was the third foster to be "recruited" after the first two had turned him down because he would be a long term foster due to his poor condition.

Valentino was half an hour from being euthanized. 

He was an emaciated stray, missing most of the hair on his sides (his skin was a bright shiny pink!) and a strip of blond hair like a mohawk down his back, weighing barely 30lb—he is now a healthy 55lb. It took 3 months to restore him to health and put some weight on him.

By that time, I had become a foster failure and Valentino was all mine! 

He slept most of those first 3 months between meals and going potty before he seemed to have recovered.

We started going to a dog park regularly and he loved chasing after tennis balls. For a couple of months he seemed like the ever-ready bunny—never wanted to stop playing.

On a few occasions, he would chase the ball 5-6 times and then come lie down next to me and didn’t want to play anymore. 

When we got home, he would just lie in the car and refuse to get out—that's what I thought at the time, not realizing he had no more stamina or energy left ...

He started having symptoms of lethargy, lack of energy and inability to get in/out of the car for a couple of months and while he never lost his appetite completely, he started picking at his food trying to eat.

I knew something was wrong, but each time I reported his odd behavior to our vet at the time, she dismissed his behavior as "acting out". No tests were ever suggested.

Ten months after being rescued, Valentino collapsed completely and it took me several hours before I could get him out of the car after going to the dog park.

Our journey with Addison's disease began. 

Valentino's vet couldn't "fit" us in for another week so we went to a friend's vet— this new vet, whom we had never seen before, even carried Valentino from my car to the office and back to the car to go to the specialty hospital for the ACTH.

This vet acknowledged that he had never diagnosed AD before and was not familiar with its treatment and deferred to the IM specialist.

He referred us to for treatment, yet he suspected Addison's immediately after his initial exam.

While I was at the specialty vet clinic, a friend was researching canine Addison’s disease online for me and found the Addison’s Dog support group at yahoogroups and it was a welcome lifeline!

It was confusing for the first year because I was reading things in the group that were different from what the IM specialist was telling me.

I later came to the realization that people in the online community were much more knowledgeable about canine Addison’s than even many IM specialists and vets in general since they live with their Addisonian dogs 24/7 and see subtle changes in their sense of well-being and the effects of too much or too little medication.

It's hard to know if Valentino’s AD might have been waxing and waning from when he first became my foster, as he had been so ill and emaciated when I first got him. 

After his collapse he spent two days at the specialty hospital and few days later he felt well enough to try to abscond with the Christmas duck that was draining in the kitchen sink (he is rawfed and obviously could not resist a plump raw duckling!) Luckily he was nabbed en flagrante as he was heading out the doggie door and the duck survived to be served for Christmas dinner as intended! And yes, he did get some of the duck for his Christmas dinner as well.

Valentino was started on florinef/compounded fludrocortisone at .4mg (lower than recommended for his weight) and 2.5mg pred in 12/07 and stayed at that dose for a year as his electrolytes were perfect.

After a year, his electrolytes went out of control and within the next six months, he had weekly increases in his florinef until he arrived at 2mg and his electrolytes were still not under control. 

(He may have originally only needed .4mg as his adrenal glands were still normal size via ultrasound and may have still had some function left that first year.)

One of the patterns I've noticed over the years though, is that many dogs started on a lower dose of florinef/fludrocortisone than the recommended .1mg/10lb and on a higher dose of pred is that they end up playing catch-up later and it's seems harder to get their electrolytes under control, which ended up being our experience.

It should also be noted that florinef/fludrocortisone is a human medication and some dogs are not able to metabolize it efficiently and need increasingly higher doses or need to use the monthly injectable med – Percorten-V.

We found a vet 1.5 hrs away who was willing to work with us and start Valentino’s Percorten-V dose at 1.8ml, which was considered the "low dose" in 2009 (0.75mg/lb vs 1mg/lb standard dose), the standard dose was 2.2ml (I remember thinking I wouldn't even get 2 doses out of each vial at a monthly cost of about $100 just for the Percorten!) Over the years, we slowly reduced by 10-20% at a time. We started at 1.8ml in 7/09 and did not even get to 1ml til 9/10, .75ml in 6/11, .5ml in 10/13, current .4ml in 9/14.

We were all a lot more conservative back then and we did not have enough info on going to lower doses ... except through the experiences of other members of the group. 

It was all new territory! 

If Dr Julia Bates’ low dose study had been available in 2009, we could have started at .95ml and gotten to Valentino's lowest effective dose that much sooner and not only would Valentino have felt better all month long between shots, but we would have saved a thousands of dollars on both Percorten and monthly lytes testing as a bonus over the years.

I can't say enough about the difference being on lower doses has made in how Valentino feels throughout the month with his electrolytes staying pretty close to the mid-range between doses. 

He spent years doing "ok"— mopey, lethargic for two weeks after each shot, feeling a little more perky about a week before his next shot was due, then feeling lethargic again when he got another shot— but now he's doing "great" all month long on a much lower dose of percorten!

Along with the most recent Percorten reduction, I've also been able to reduce his pred to .5mg - he'd been hovering between .75mg in the winter to 1.25mg in the summer for years. We have also switched to liquid prednisolone as his liver enzymes became slightly elevated and he had started to shed a lot more.

PS - Valentino's plight as a sick, unwanted stray was the inspiration for my deep commitment and involvement in animal welfare issues in San Antonio! How many dogs just like Valentino have died because there was no one to step up for them before the mandatory 72 hr stray hold period expired?


Do you have a dog diagnosed with Addison's? Is your dog unwell and nobody can figure out why?

Addison dogs Facebook support group is comprised of individuals from around the world who are striving toward healthy, active lives for their canine friend(s) with Addison’s disease. They seek to improve wellness for the whole dog—including body, mind and spirit.

Addison Dogs also works to educate and support the companion animal community about Addison’s disease in dogs. The goal is to foster open communication about the variety of options available to the caregiver of a dog with Addison's disease.

Related articles:
Addison's Disease Awareness: What's Wrong With Hannah? 
Addison's Disease Awareness: Gracie Lou Clough's Story

Further reading:
So Your Dog Has Addison's Disease
Addison's Disease (Hypoadrenocorticism)

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, I'll be happy to hear from you!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Adoption Monday: Aiden, Hound & Labrador Retriever Mix, Southington, CT

Little Aiden loves to live life in the moment and has enjoyed every precious minute since coming into rescue. He used to think life consisted of a small enclosed area with a hard floor....not any more!!

Aiden is all about learning to be a big boy now and his heart is soaring pretty high these days.

Aiden has quite a unique story. One of the will to live and ultimately survive. At 8 weeks old and just in foster, he contracted parvo. He was the only one who survived out of 3 pups. After two weeks of hospitalization he finally got to come home. Poor Aiden survived but had lost so much weight during the ordeal. Happily after two months of rehab, Aiden is a robust happy healthy boy who will be around for many years to come.

Initially Aiden stayed in his foster mom's big bathroom while she worked. Foster mom was amazed that he never chewed anything up, only played with his toys. If shoes were carelessly left, he dragged them to his bed but NEVER chewed them up.

Aiden has proven himself to be such a responsible puppy, that he now has free run of the house while foster mom is at work.

He is non destructive and potties outside by way of a doggy door. He adores his foster siblings and loves to run around and play with them. He is one of the most affectionate pups foster mom has encountered. He loves to snuggle on the couch and yes he sleeps in the bed cuddled up with foster mom (maybe just a little spoiled but hey he deserves it!) He freely gives kisses and hugs to all. There just isn't a human, dog, or cat that he doesn't love or get along with. This happy go lucky baby loves toys of all kinds to run around or play tug with. He enjoys chewing on hoofs when it's time to settle down.

Aiden is working on basic commands (he would rather play though). His easy going nature and puppy antics always elicit a smile or a good laugh.

Aiden, being the responsible and above average puppy that he is, has already been neutered, is up to date on all vaccinations, and is current on all preventatives. He is ready to join his forever family (and foster mom will cry...a lot...when he leaves).

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, April 19, 2015

Stopping Play on Cue

Always having one dog older than the other, being able to put an end to too much play without hurting anybody's feelings was always important to us. Being able to get the dogs stop playing while not discouraging them from play in the future or making them feel they're in trouble is important.

We typically use redirection. I love Donna's technique, though.


Donna Hill, Donna Hill B.Sc. B.Ed., has a degree in zoology and a teaching degree. She has 20 years experience in adult and child education and enjoyed teaching people how to observe animals in nature as a nature interpreter, field biologist and train-the-trainer for presentation skills and now applies her knowledge and skills to help people and their dogs. She helps people with disabilities to train their own service dogs and has experience working with autistic and developmentally delayed teens. She uses plain English to explain what you are doing and why and also provides analogies you can relate to. She was also a Girl Guide and earned the highest honor as well as worked in the Tourism industry as a information counselor. She loves to share key information with people!

Visit her blog at Online Clicker Training Tutorials & Coaching.

Check out her two Youtube channels supernaturalbc2009 and supernatural 2008 for more awesome videos. Her motto is "Yard by Yard, Life is hard. Inch by Inch, It's a Cinch!" Break everything down into it's simplest parts and it's achievable!

Don't forget to visit Donna's FB group Observation Skills for Training Dogs or connect with Donna on Twitter.
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