Friday, October 21, 2016

Veterinary Highlights: Cyborg Dogs? Canine Exoskeleton for Mobility and Rehabilitation

Quite often we joked how wonderful it would be if dogs could be part machine, part animal. Soul of a dog, mechanical body. It would be awesome because if a part of the body had a problem, you'd just change that for a new one. No more sick or disable dogs, ever.

Science fiction or the future?

While a living body is equipped with an amazing power of self-repair, there are limits to what problems can heal or be cured. Perhaps that's where technology can step in, at least until we learn how to heal living tissue better.

A design team at the Colorado State University has a pending patent for canine exoskeleton for mobility and rehabilitation.

You could think of it as  a "smart brace" that not only supports partially paralyzed or weakened hind legs but helps them move. Science fiction or the future?

Certainly very interesting.

Further reading:
Canine Orthotronic Mobility System

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

You Can Do Everything Right and Have Things Go Wrong Anyway

When things go wrong, and a dog gets hurt or becomes ill, doubt and guilt often follow. What did I do wrong? What should I have done differently?

Did I do this to my dog?

Every time I've been asking myself this question. Sometimes the answer was, maybe. If I knew all I know now, could Jasmine's health have been better? Could we have avoided some of the things she had to face? Maybe. We made some mistakes, Jasmine's veterinarians made mistakes.  If all the mistakes could have been avoided, would it have made a difference?

Sometimes things are what they are regardless of what you do.

This is a true story; it happened to a friend of a friend:
He lived outside the city and drove to work daily. One morning his wife woke up in tears, urging him not to take the car to work. "I had a vivid dream in which you died in a car accident," she cried. "Please do not take the car to work today." The friend's friend decided to oblige her. Not because he believed a dream could dome true but to give her peace of mind. He took a train. He arrived in the city. Just as he was walking out of the train station, a passing car lost control and went flying off the road toward the building, pinning the doctor to the wall. He died instantly. Would he still be alive had he not been warned and taken the car? 

With Jasmine, there were things I wish we had done differently. With JD, no matter how much I analyze things, everything was to his advantage.

JD came from a responsible breeder.

We got JD from a pup, hand-picked from a reputable breeder. We wanted the perfect buddy for Jasmine, and we wanted a healthy dog. We also specifically picked parents on a smaller side. His parents were healthy; both had smaller and thinner constitution.

JD didn't get neutered until he was over a year old.

Back then there was no science backing up such decision, but there was enough talk among breeders and holistic vets for us to decide to wait. Unlike Jasmine, who, at vet's recommendation, got spayed very young, JD had the advantage of staying intact until his body matured.

JD was vaccinated but discriminately.

JD got his initial vaccines and one set of boosters. After that, other than rabies vaccine, we chose to titer instead. Because of our dogs' lifestyle we did vaccinate against leptospirosis but that was it. He was getting his rabies vaccine only every three years.

JD had wellness exams semi-annually.

Twice a year JD would get a full physical exam as well as urinalysis and bloodwork done. We also tested for tick-borne diseases and heartworm regularly. He was on heartworm preventive but no other chemicals or meds.

JD was quite healthy, but when he did have an issue, he always got veterinary attention. When we found a bump on his leg, we did everything by the book.

JD was fed high-quality diet.

Even though JD did best on kibble, he always only got top quality food. He got some fresh foods and home-made treats. No junk ever.

JD was slim.

We kept JD at optimal body score condition for most of his life. When he started having hip issues, we got him even thinner yet to help out the joints. He was kept thin, but his muscles were strong.

JD had a healthy mouth.

A dental exam was part of his wellness visits. JD's mouth was healthy, and he got his teeth brushed daily. The one time he had a bad tooth we took care of it properly.

JD got plenty of exercise and time outside.

From day one JD was getting daily walks, time at the farm, and later, time at Jasmine's ranch. He always got a lot of exercise and fresh air. Every since we moved to Jasmine's ranch, he had at least two hours outside daily, accompanying Cookie and myself on our hunting expeditions.

We never used any chemicals around our dogs.

We don't use dryer sheets. I only clean with vinegar or baking soda or, for really tough stains, enzyme-based cleaner. Our guys live as chemical-free lives as it gets in this time and age.

When the swelling on his head cropped up, we did work with a vet.

The diagnosis made sense and the treatment made sense. Everything looked great until it didn't ... When I look back, I can't see one thing we should have done differently. And yet, he was only eight-and-a-half years old, and he's gone. Within twenty-four hours he went from a happy dog to a train wreck. There was no warning. Everything was fine and then it wasn't.

Sometimes, you can do everything right and have things go wrong anyway. Sometimes, you can take the train and still die in a car accident.

Related articles:
Bugs. I Hate Bugs. But They Seem to Have Nothing to Do with JD's Puffy Eye 
The Saga of JD's Puffy Eye Continues
If We Don’t Hear From The Vet Today, We’ll Be There First Thing In The Morning: Jd’s Swelling Keeps Bouncing Back
What Turned out Not Being an Adverse Drug Reaction after all (Part I)
What Turned out Not Being an Adverse Drug Reaction after all (Part II)
What Turned Out Not Being An Adverse Drug Reaction After All (Part III)

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, October 17, 2016

Adoption Monday: Astoria, Rottweiler, New York, NY

Astoria is a lovely 8-year old female Rottie who's been through a lot.

Astoria is up to date on shots and really great with all people. In addition, she does very well with other dogs. If you would like to adopt Astoria, please put your application in here:


Rescue Dogs Rock, Inc., rescues puppies and dogs from high kill shelters, owner surrenders, puppy mill throw aways and medically neglected and suffering dogs and give them the proper medical care, then we do our best to find them the perfect home. We are deeply committed to healing the physical and emotional wounds these animals have suffered.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Prescriptions and Pharmacies, Imodium for Dogs?, and more ...

EPI – Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency: A Lack of Digestive Enzymes

Dr. Christopher Byers/CriticalCareDVM

The pancreas is an amazing organ with two crucial functions. It produces hormones involved in the control of blood sugar levels, and it produces digestive enzymes. Both of these functions are vital for survival.

When the pancreas fails to produce digestive enzymes, food passes through the digestive system undigested. Which means that regardless of the amount of food your dog eats, they are starving. It figures that the most typical symptoms are chronic diarrhea and weight loss. German Shepherds are particularly prone to this disease.

If your dog is having pale, greasy diarrhea and losing weight, do see your vet.

Related articles:
Weight Loss, Brittle Fur, Starving All The Time ... Beaner’s Story (Part I)
Beaner Has Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency: Beaner’s Story (Part II)

Prescriptions and Pharmacies: For Pet Owners (FAQ)


Why do you need a prescription? What's the difference between the brand name, trade name and generic name of a medication? Is there a difference between the brand name version and the generic version of a medication? Where can I get my pet's prescriptions filled? Why should I consider getting my pet's medications from my veterinarian? If I choose to get my pet's prescriptions filled elsewhere, can my veterinarian refuse to give me a prescription? Can my veterinarian charge me a fee for writing a prescription for my pet? My veterinarian is telling me that I have to bring my pet in for an examination before they'll write a prescription or authorize a refill. Why? What are the risks of ordering from an online pharmacy? How will I know if there are problems with the medications I get from a pharmacy?

Find the answers to these, and more in AVMA's exhaustive article on prescriptions and pharmacies for pet owners.

Additional Resources:
Purchasing Pet Drugs Online: Buyer Beware (video)
Online Pet Pharmacies: Protect Yourself and Your Pet: Be Online Pet Pharmacy A.W.A.R.E.

Imodium for Dogs: Is it a Good Idea?

Dr. Jennifer Coates/petMD

Did you know that Imodium is actually a synthetic opioid, which puts it in the same family with morphine, oxycodone, and similar drugs? I did not know that. With this class of drugs, constipation is a common side effect. Loperamide, the active ingredient in Imodium doesn't do much for pain, but it is so notorious with this side effect, that it became the primary reason for its use. I had no idea.

Only once during all the years I've shared my life with dogs, I had Imodium on hand to potentially use to control diarrhea in my dog. It was after Cookie had an adverse reaction to sedation which included liquid gushing from her rectum. This wasn't even diarrhea as you know it; it was quite terrible. Since shortly after Cookie needed to be sedated again for the platelet-rich plasma treatment, I was naturally concerned. We changed the sedation protocol and took other measures to prevent all that from happening. Part of the contingency plan was having some Imodium ready.

An important note here, it needs to be plain loperamide, without any other fancy stuffs they put is some of the OTC Imodium products.

Fortunately, everything went well with Cookie's sedation, and we didn't need to medicate her at all.

Something like this is just about the only situation when I would consider treating the diarrhea directly. By something like this I mean situation when I KNOW what the cause of the diarrhea is and the diarrhea itself is a serious enough problem that it needs to be curbed. I would never use Imodium to randomly treat diarrhea of unknown origin. I would never use Imodium to treat diarrhea without talking to my vet first. Nipping a symptom at the bud doesn't do anything for the underlying cause. That, in my opinion, is very risky right there. Wouldn't do it.

Plus, Imodium can cause some serious side effects such as constipation, severe sedation, bloat and even pancreatitis.

Read Dr. Coates' thoughts on the use of Imodium for dogs.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

What Do I Do when I Run out of Dog Food?

I have managed never to run out of kibble. But with Cookie on the raw diet, now and then I forget to thaw some out for her next meal. It can happen to anybody.

No dog food. Now what?

One thing I would never do is putting the food in a microwave to thaw it out.

To me, that defies the whole concept of feeding raw, or healthy for that matter.

Some foods thaw out quickly or can be fed frozen, such as Nature's Variety Instinct Raw Bites. I like the food; Cookie likes the food, and I always loved having some extra on hand. And PetSmart is supposed to carry it, so it should be easy to get. Unfortunately, PetSmart does have it, but as it seems, nobody other than myself is buying it. Which means that their stock just sits there. You can tell right away because the whole bag is one clump. The last time we bought it when I saw how old it looked, I just threw it out. I suspect it was in their freezer ever since the launch.

Whatever the reason for being out of dog food, what to do now?

One option, of course, is to fast the dog. Many holistic veterinarians recommend fasting a dog at least once a month for a number of health benefits. While I like the idea, my dogs beg to differ so I haven't fasted them except for diagnostics or medical procedures.

One of the things I like to do when I realize I don't have any dog food ready for a meal is to scramble some eggs.

Eggs are easy to digest and loaded with nutrients.

If I have boiled ones, I use those. Poached eggs would work as well. If I can find some left-over veggies, I quickly warm them up and throw the eggs in it. Cookie is willing to eat quite a lot of vegetables this way.

The only time I'd be careful with eggs would be if my dog had present or past pancreatitis caused by fat in the diet. In such case, I'd drop some of the egg yolks and use most egg whites. Cookie, though, probably wouldn't eat that. She's not very fond of the whites.

I like to have a backup stash of canned salmon.

This is the fastest and easiest way to substitute a meal. Open the can, feed it. Again, if I have some left-over veggies, I might mix them into that as well.

Those are my go-to meal substitutes. What are yours?