Sunday, January 25, 2015

Distance Is a Relative Concept

We consider distance an objective value. We measure it as the amount of space between things. We measure it in inches, yards, miles ... or their metric equivalents.

That is as objective as it gets, isn't it?

A mile is a mile is a mile is a mile.

This kind of reminds me of an old joke, though:
"What is heavier? A pound of feathers or a pound of steel?"
A pound is a pound is a pound, right?
Would you still think that if you dropped either of those on your toe?

Cookie got me thinking about these things.

When she goes exploring in the bush and gets 300 yards away, I am on pins and needles. It is further than I'm comfortable with. Does SHE think she's gone THAT far? Nope, she does not.

I got thinking about it and I figured out why.

For me, to make it 300 yards through the bush and snow would take a LONG time. 

For Cookie? Cookie's top clocked speed through the bush is 20 miles an hour. That is 35,200 yards. That is 586 yards a minute.

Cookie can cover 300 yards in 30 seconds!

Is 300 yards still far away then? Not really, is it? That makes distance very relative. Relative to how fast one can cover it. It becomes a matter of how fast, not how far.

Just check out the distance between Cookie's leaps.
Looking at it that way, I have to give it to Cookie that keeping under 300 yards is indeed staying close around.

From her perspective anyway. My idea of staying close around SOMEWHAT differs from hers. I'm measuring it by how fast I COULD get there.

The mismatch in our athletic abilities is a source of dilemma. For me. 

It's not that Cookie doesn't come back. But what if something happened out there, all those 300 yards away? How fast could I get there to help?

On the other hand, Cookie craves the freedom to explore the bush.

She thrives on running around following animal tracks and whatever else she finds so desirable out there. We don't want to take that away from her. After all, what else would we have 80 acres of property for?

I came to two conclusions.

The only meaningful way of measuring distance is in time units. And I have to seriously work on running through the bush faster.

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  
Tricks? It's Not Just About The Tricks 
What Constitutes The Perfect Dog?
Are Dog Training Classes Really For The Dogs?  
Look Where You Want To Go: Finding My Reactive Dog Training Zen Zone? 
Dog Training And Emotions 
Dog Training And Emotions: Postscript
Dogs Love Sentences In Question Form?
Not All Dog Trainers Were Created Equal Either 
A Thought On Separation Anxiety
Happy One-Year Adoptoversary, Cookie!
About Freedom, Trust And Responsibility: A "Pilot Study"
So, We Have A Bear 
About Happiness: What Makes Your Dog Happy? 
Our Example Of The Use Of "Look At That" (LAT) 
Why Do Dogs Dig?
Who Is In The Wrong?
Your Dog Wants To Follow You. You Just Gotta Be Going Some Place
We Still Have Two Dogs: A "Pilot Study" Part Two  
Early Winter Safety: Exploring New Territories
Cookie Is Okay. We ... Might Be, Eventually. (Don't Try This At Home)
One Thing I Love About Winter: I See What They "See" 
Give Your Dog What They Need, Get What You Want
Cookie, The First Of The Great Hunting Rottweilers 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Tapeworm Life Cycle

Cookie's snacking on squirrels backfired. Cookie has a tapeworm! More on that on Tuesday. Meanwhile, I found this great video showing the life cycle of a tapeworm. It's good to know one's enemies, right?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Veterinary Highlights: Rabies Booster Response

One reason I keep out guys up to date with their rabies vaccination has nothing to do with immunity and protection from the disease. It has to do with protection from legislation and what would happen if my dog's was late on the booster and got exposed to a rabid animal.

It has to do with the required six-month quarantine.

Having a dog sentenced to a six-month post-exposure quarantine is both financial and emotional disaster. And for many dogs, a death sentence.

The light at the end of the tunnel?

New research done at Kansas State University found that dogs with out-of-date vaccines respond to rabies booster shot the same way as dogs current on their vaccines.

This could mean only a 45 day at-home observation instead of six-month quarantine.

This might lead to changes in the veterinary industry and save lives.

Source article:
New research on rabies vaccines alters a common misconception

Related articles:
Rabies Challenge Fund

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Primer on Oral Tumors

Written and reviewed by John A. Bukowski, DVM, MPH, PhD
and Susan E. Aiello, DVM, ELS

Oral tumors are common in dogs and range from benign masses such as viral papillomas to very aggressive malignant tumors. 

Malignant oral tumors frequently recur and spread to other parts of the body, even with aggressive therapy.

Benign papillomas are pink swellings on the gums or other parts of the mouth and have a "wart-like" appearance. 

Most malignant tumors appear as swellings on the gums that often ulcerate, bleed, and become infected. 

Other common signs include drooling, bad breath, tooth loss, and facial swelling. Many pets have difficulty chewing, swallowing, and eating. Nearby lymph nodes may be swollen and painful.

Tumors in the back of the throat are particularly painful and can prevent swallowing.

X-rays and CT scans may be useful in detecting whether tumors have invaded the bones and in guiding surgery. Loss of bone next to the tumor usually indicates malignancy, but a biopsy is needed to confirm the specific type of tumor.

Benign viral papillomas usually regress on their own without therapy. 

Most other oral tumors are treated by surgical removal. Malignant tumors are often difficult to remove completely, and large pieces of the jaw bone may need to be removed. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other more specialized treatments may be useful.

Surgery usually improves survival time if there is no evidence that the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or lungs.


Visit WebVet for a wealth of information about the health and well-being of pets. All medical-related content on WebVet has been veterinarian approved to ensure its timeliness and accuracy.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

How Far To Take It When The Dog Isn't Sick?

Routine blood test we ran as part of Cookie's regular wellness exam showed elevated ALT. Because she looks happy and healthy and the number was nothing crazy, we decided to wait and see whether it returns to normal in a few weeks.

Last Friday we ran the blood work again.

The ALT remains unchanged. It didn't get higher, it didn't get back down to normal. Cookie remains to look happy and healthy. So now what?

Because of the prior elevation, they included a liver profile in addition to comprehensive blood work to check liver function.

Other than the ALT everything else looks normal.

  • It is possible that this is normal level for Cookie
  • It is possible that it is caused by something outside the liver, such as low grade duodenal or pancreatic inflammation (Cookie did have pancreatitis a bit over a year ago)
  • It could be portal vein hypoplasia (PHV) which means that the blood vessels in the liver are reduced in number, resulting in reduced blood flow to the liver
  • It could be primary low grade hepatitis, which is inflammation of the liver. If that was the case we'd have to figure out why.
Possible further diagnostic include:
  • Liver ultrasound with biopsy to observe vasculature (PVH) and rule out primary hepatitis
  • Treating empirically with 4 weeks metronidazole and retest
  • GI function test (cobalamin, cPLI, folate)
  • Monitoring and retesting annually (which is something we do anyway)
The vet noted that in conversation with an internal medicine specialist, many would consider this elevation to be an individual anomaly (normal for her) in light of the absence of clinical signs. PVH is possible, but not common in large breed dogs. If the owner is concerned however, non-invasive diagnostics (ultrasound only etc) could be undertaken to rule out these other conditions.

Because the liver could be affected by something such as low-grade chronic pancreatitis, testing the GI function makes sense to me to either discover the culprit or rule it out.

We also had Jasmine's vet review the results.

He feels that unless there are any signs of illness that at this level of the ALT he would not explore further other than regular re-tests. He also feels that it is possible that this level is normal for Cookie. No other values point to an unhappy liver.

A side note:

The earlier blood work also showed elevated eosinophils, a type of white blood cells. Both Cookie and JD had the same elevation. The primary suspect were parasites, even though none showed in the stool. We treated with Panacur and Cookie's eosinophils are back to normal. 

There is a possibility that this is behind the ALT elevation and didn't have time to resolve.

I have to say that I don't like it when the blood work shows an abnormality.

Though it is not all that unusual that on a full blood panel a test value might end up outside the normal range. It happened on Jasmine's blood work a number of times that one value or another was off.

But that's just it. In Jasmine's case, it was a different value every time. This one popped up twice consistently.

I think that testing the GI function makes sense to me.

Ultrasound, while non-invasive, requires shaving of the belly. In the temperatures we've been having, running around with a bare belly doesn't sound like a good plan. And putting a sweater on Cookie? The way she runs through the bush it would probably last five minutes if that long.

Putting Cookie through invasive diagnostics while she doesn't seem to be sick at all doesn't make much sense. Or does it?

What would you do?

Related articles:
Incontinence? Cookie's Mysterious Leaks
From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
And So It Begins Again(?) Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie 
I Didn't Know I Could Fly: Why Cookie Wears A Harness Instead Of A Collar
C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Chews For Dogs CAN Be A Choking Hazzard 
Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie: The Knee Or The Foot? 
Creative Solutions And An Incidental Product Review
Too Young For Pot: Cookie's Snack With A Side Of Hydrogen Peroxide  
Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization  
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed  
Putting The Easy Back Into Walking
Cookie's Ears Are Still Not Happy 
The Threat Of The Bulge Is Always Lurking 
Today Is Cookie's Three-Months Adoptoversary  
Cookie Meets The Electric Horse Fence And Her First Chiropractic Adjustment  
Why Examine Your Dog's Vomit? 
Why Is That Leg Still Not Happy? Cookie's Leg Keeps Getting Sore 
Cookie Too Is Insured With Trupanion
Does Being Insured Mean Being Covered? Our First Claim With Trupanion
Is Cookie's Leg Finally Getting Better?
Is Cookie Going To Be Another Medical Challenge Or Are We Looking To Closely? 
The Project That Is Cookie: Pancreatitis Up Close And Personal  
Pancreatitis: Cookie’s Blood Work   
Another Belly Upset: Pancreatitis Again Or Not?  
Happy Birthday, Cookie 
Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat 
Don't Just Stand There, Do Something? Cookie's Mysterious Bumps 
Cookie's Mysterious Bumps Update
One Vomit, No Vomit 
Happy One-Year Adoptoversary, Cookie!
Cookie's Leaks Are Back: Garden Variety Incontinence Or Not?
Cookie's Leaks Update 
Don't Panic, Don't Panic: Know What Your Job Is 
The Continuing Saga Of Cookie's Leeks: Trying Chiropractic Approach 
Cookie's Minor Eye Irritation
Regular Wellness Exam: Cookie's ALT Was Elevated 
Cookie's Plantar Paw Pad Injury 

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, January 19, 2015

Cold? What Cold? Keeping Pets Warm In The Winter

Felissa Elfenbein of Two Little Cavaliers has organized a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers Winter can pose to our dogs. 

That is a great idea. Yes, dogs can get frostbite, suffer from hyperthermia and in some really sad cases even freeze to death. Can you imagine?

In her post she's sharing tips on keeping dogs warm indoors which is also important though we do not have this concern for a number of reasons. Our dogs are more than warm enough indoors, even though we keep the thermostat at about 18°C. At night they sleep with us so all they have to do is to cuddle up closer.

I know for a fact that they are comfy enough cuddled up at ambient temperature of -3°C. 

Our guys are equipped for cold with their double-coat. And while it doesn't look thick at all, it is. We never realized how thick their undercoat really is until Jasmine had half her body shaved for surgery for the first time. There was at least an inch and a half of undercoat we never knew about.

That said, what would happen if the power went out? Presently we have oil heater but without power it would not run.

I always envied people with fireplaces. So it happened that we were never lucky to have neither a fireplace or a wood stove. Maybe in the future. For now, we have a generator on hand which should keep the heat running. And if all else failed, we do have an emergency kerosene heater. Those things work quite well.

Living in northern Canada, indoor temperatures are the least of our worries.

This Winter was particularly generous and we even got a few days of -40°C with windchill. That is damn cold. You see, around here we consider -10°C a t-shirt weather.

While we're still not overly worried about core temperature, this is definitely time to worry about the extremities - feet and ears. Even Cookie couldn't take it for more than 5-10 minutes at a time. We spent most of the day inside, played games, and did a number of very short trips outside.

When it warmed up to about -36°C, Cookie could stay out frolicking with me a little longer.

We did make sure to remain close around the house so we could terminate the outing immediately once Cookie started lifting her feet in discomfort.

To help protect the feet we use Musher's Secret. We did consider booties repeatedly, but with the way our guys are we are still not sure whether it would be more hazardous than helpful.

Extremities is about all we have to worry about with our guys who are quite well equipped for cold weather.

With some other breeds, particularly those with only short thin top coats, such as Boxers, keeping them warm with a sweater or a coat is a smart thing to do. Even in the t-shirt weather.

Around here, once it warms to up to -20°C, all bets are off. The guys find that comfy while very invigorating. The main thing to watch then is that they don't overdo it will all the running and playing.

And, of course, as I mentioned earlier, -10°C is a t-shirt weather.

I can see that with all that running she does, Cookie actually does manage to get hot. And so do we when we have to wear bit pants because of the deep snow.

So it's all relative, like everything else.

What is cold for each individual dog varies on the breed and their exposure to such environment. Being outside a lot, our guys prepare for cold weather by growing thicker undercoat. If we lived down South and suddenly came up here, I'm sure the guys would be freezing too.

The important thing is to know your dog and their threshold.

And if it would be too cold for them, yes, dress them up.

Special consideration needs to be made for dogs who normally live outdoors/in the yard.

Yes, they can acclimate but within reason, depending on their breed and on the weather. Please do know when it's too cold for them to remain outside and bring them indoors.

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