Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Groundhog Hunt

There used to be a small hole made by the Groundhog.
Now there is a cave ...
The Groundhog pile is quite large with a number of entrances ...
and dig sites.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Jasmine's IBD: Life with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Part II)

We knew something wasn't right but we didn't know what and the frequent vet visits weren't providing any answers or solutions, other than temporary relief.


Jasmine's stools were mostly soft and often loose.

Usually, though, she didn't go to the bathroom more frequently than would be normal. We thought that was a good thing. We thought that since she went only two to three times a day. We thought it wasn't really diarrhea, just loose stools.

That would go on for a while, followed by frequent potty calls during the night.

That was usually when we went to the vet, yet again.

Jasmine's blood work wasn't showing any clues.

At least that was what we were told. I never saw those results then and I wouldn't have known what I was looking at if I did. Stool samples didn't show anything either, not even the elaborate "collect tiny bits of poop into this container for a week" giardia testing.

Did she actually have giardia at some point? None of the testing showed anything.

The baffled vets prescribed antibiotics, time and time again.

The antibiotics did help. Jasmine's stools would firm up after couple of days of taking them and remained firm throughout the treatment. Sometimes even a while after the treatment. And then they would start softening again.

At that time we had a lawn in our yard. But trying to clean the loose stools from the grass was a major challenge. Between that and the fact that Jasmine's urine would systematically kill the grass, we decided to give up on the lawn and covered the yard with wood chips instead. That made it easier to keep the yard clean.

Slowly but surely Jasmine was getting pickier and pickier with her food.

She started refusing her breakfast all together. Which would be fine, I guess, except the times when she was yet again put on antibiotics which she was supposed to take with a meal, and yes, in the morning too.

She really didn't want to have anything to do with food in the morning. I imagine her belly was feeling crappy. Getting the antibiotic without a meal would make her feel even crappier.

We tried embellishing her food, offering yummier stuffs.

But she just didn't want to eat.

One thing we could almost always rely on was, that for some reason, she always felt better once she got out on a walk. So in order to get her to accept a meal to go with her meds, I'd get up at five in the morning and take her for a walk. After that, she did eat and could get her meds safely.

For some reason a good long walk always made Jasmine feel better.

As time went on, it became more and more obvious that the antibiotics were only a temporary patch.

Knowing what I know now, I would have done things very differently. But back then, all I knew was to take my dog to a vet.

Jasmine's relationship with food kept deteriorating. Often she wouldn't want her dinner either. Her belly would start making all kinds of noises and she'd refuse even the yummiest treats, such as boiled chicken breast, even steak.

The only thing that seemed to always work was a good long walk.

Sometimes she'd throw up some bile, sometimes she wouldn't. But about half way through the walk to stomach got quiet and she started being interested in treats.

Eventually she wouldn't even consider touching dog food.

I got a premix and was adding home-cooked meats just to get her to eat at all. And still no answers.

Most of the time, other than her disinterest in food, things didn't really seem to affect her quality of life. She loved her walks, she loved to play, she looked happy.

Othen than the days when her stomach was clearly not feeling well.

Those times she'd be visibly uncomfortable, drooling and wanting to eat grass. Yet, even on those days, a good long walk seemed to help almost every time.

She wasn't losing weight.

At least not as far as anybody could tell. She was muscular, energetic and full of zest for life. Perhaps I did manage to get enough nutrients into her after all.

And probably also one of the reasons why the vets weren't taking this seriously enough.

I can't believe that this has gone on for five years without a diagnosis.

I would have never let things go on for so long now. But back then I just didn't know better. When the vets kept saying that she just had a sensitive system, I accepted it at that.

Today I would most certainly want to know WHY.

If her system was sensitive, why? Sensitive to what? There is a reason for everything. Where there is smoke, there is fire. And there literally was fire in her belly.

I was happy to finally have a diagnosis. I was not happy that it took so long. And even then it was mostly a coincidence. Looking for a vet certified in stem cell therapy, finding one who wanted to x-ray her whole body and in the process discovering the problem.

If your dog is having any kind of a chronic problem, do insist on definite answers.

There IS an answer to everything. It's just a question of finding it. No diagnosis is as scary as having a problem that keeps getting worse and nobody know what to do about it.

However long it took, Jasmine's diagnosis came before things got REALLY bad.

Yes, I believe it was at a root of a number of other problems, but it never brought her to the brink of death. And IBD can get that bad. You can go and read Leroy's story to learn how horrible IBD can get.

Relatively mild, chronic problems are the worst.

If your dog is really in trouble, having life-threatening symptoms, it is an incentive to get answers. But if the problem is coming on slowly, doesn't really seem so bad,  it begs to be dismissed. Don't.

Don't dismiss the problem and don't let your vet do that either.

"A man can get used to anything; even a noose,"
my granny used to say. 

But that doesn't make it any better for him. And it doesn't make it any better for your dog. It makes me think of the frog and boiling water scenario again.


Just because he doesn't know he should jump out, it doesn't mean it won't kill him.

Yes, all the experiences with Jasmine made me very paranoid about any warning signs I might see in my dogs. But I do believe that it is better to be too paranoid than not paranoid enough.


Related articles:
Symptoms: Recognition, Acknowledgement And Denial 
Why I Dislike Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Jasmine's IBD: Undiagnosed For Five Years (Part I)

Further reading:
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in Dogs
Inflammatory Bowel Disease


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, May 25, 2015

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

Look what an adorable little girl our Mindy is. 


Mindy is guaranteed to steel your heart. 

Mindy is a tiny 3 month old black lab mix. She currently weighs 12 lbs and we think she will end up being small in stature, maybe 30 to 35 lbs full grown...a pocket lab.

Mindy loves to have fun, she'll weave her little body under and around her bigger foster siblings, the best game ever!! (so she thinks anyway). Her foster mom describes her as calm and collected but definitely willing to get a little rowdy, well as rowdy as an 8 pound baby can get anyway. And while all of these things are wonderful, she saves the best for last. Cuddles, snuggles and long naps.


Mindy loves nothing more than to be picked up and placed on a comfy lap to doze and have little puppy dreams. What could be more perfect?

Mindy is gradually learning how to be a big girl, so to speak (cuz she isn't big at all). She is making great progress with her potty training, she isn't completely there yet but she sure is trying.

Mindy has mastered the art of walking like a lady on a leash, she does great! We already mentioned her love of playing with her doggy foster siblings so obviously she is great with other dogs. She is equally happy to share her love and time with kitty cats and people of all ages and sizes.

Mindy is already spayed, up to date on all age appropriate puppy vaccinations, and current on all preventatives. She is ready to share the rest of her life with some very lucky people. We have no doubts that when you meet this little bundle of pure joy, you too will fall into a pile on the floor (to play of course) because puppy love is, indeed, hard to ignore.

***

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 24, 2015

Colitis and Blood and Mucus in the Stool

Colitis refers to inflammation of the large intestine or colon. 

It is a word typically used to describe large bowel diarrhea. It can be caused by stress, infections, parasites or trauma, though allergies or inflammatory bowel disease can be behind it also.

JD got it because he ate some nasty bit of animal left behind by hunters. He recovered on his own with the help of initial fast and bland diet.



***

Dr. Greg Martinez, DVM is a proponent of home cooked diets for dogs. He believes that feeding dogs differently  may prevent or help with chronic medical conditions like obesity, skin issue, ear issues, digestive problems, diabetes, mild seizures, and bladder crystals and stones.

He is the author of Dog Dish Diet, Sensible Nutrition for Your Dog's Health.
You can connect with Dr. Greg on Facebook or Twitter.

Further reading:
What is colitis?

Related articles:
Acute Large Intestinal Diarrhea (Acute Colitis) 
JD's Garbage Gut And Diarrhea

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week:

Canine Non-Core Vaccines

Core vaccines are those that are recommended for all dogs because the diseasse they protect from are widely spread, have no treatment (other than supportive), and are deadly more often than not. These include rabies, canine parvovirus, canine distemper and canine adenovirus. The issue of how often to booster or not aside, I believe that every dog should be vaccinated against these things.


Situation is different with non-core vaccines.

Should one vaccinate against leptospirosis? Or lyme? The answer to that is that it depends. It depends on your area and your dog's lifestyle. While down in Kitchener, we vaccinated against lepto. Yes, I was conflicted about it every year, but eventually we did vaccinate every year. Why? Because lepto is fairly wide spread in the area, our vet did get cases, and our dogs spent a lot of time in the bush and at the farm.

Up here we're told that the two strains present are not included in the vaccine and that the vet hasn't see any cases. They regularly test racoons to get fresh information.

Check out Dr. Dodds' thoughts on the subject.


Bee and Wasp Stings - Be(e) Prepared

Bee, wasp, and yellow jacket season is coming. We've already seen some buzzing around. Cookie already tried chasing some of them, though I'm trying to explain to her that she definitely doesn't want to catch one. To Cookie, the rules are simple. It moves, it begs to be chased. Last thing I want is for her to get stung.

While I hope it will never happen, it is important to know what to do if it did.

Watch out for itchiness, hives or welts, swelling. Mild reactions can be treated at home but know when you need to see a vet right away. With intense reaction such as severe itching, swelling, digestive signs, breathing problems or even collapse, your dog needs veterinary care immediately.


5 Common Pet Allergens

Every other post on my Dog Health Issues group is about likely allergic reactions. Dogs are affected by many of the same allergies we are. Jasmine's list of things she was allergic to was quite impressive, though it changed over time.

The most common allergens affecting dogs are fleas, house dust mites, pollens, molds, and insect bites.

Allergic reactions in dogs

While on the topic of allergies, don't miss out on Dr. Justine Lee's article on the subject. Severe allergic reactions are a common cause for emergency room visits.

Allergic reaction can be triggered by bug bites, vaccines, medications, chemicals, natural allergens such as pollens or molds or anything else under the sun. Sometimes the reaction can be life-threatening.

Collapse, difficulty breathing, shock, and abnormal heart rhythm, require emergency care right away.


Biopsy, biopsy, biopsy!

In order to treat any disease successfully, you need to know exactly what you're treating. This is even more important when it comes to cancer. When there is a lump or bump, there is no point of guessing. Physical examination won't cut it. Somebody needs to look at the cells. This is vitally important. Don't go for the "wait and see" approach and don't accept any, however educated, guesses on what it might be. There is only one way to know for sure and that is by looking at the actual cells.

Fine needle aspirate sample. Photo oncodvm.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Veterinary Highlights: Best Way to Control Brown Dog Tick?

Who doesn't hate ticks? 

Not only they're extremely gross, they spread nasty diseases.

Brown dog tick. Image TickEncounter Resource Center

Brown dog ticks can be a real nuisance.

Desperate measures sometimes go as far as fumigating homes, throwing away possessions or even moving. Pesticides are not very effective controlling the Brown Dog Tick, increasingly so. According to researchers, the brown dog tick is developing resistance to the common treatments.

This makes their control even harder.

Carbon dioxide bed bug traps seem effective for attracting brown dog tick. 

This might hold the solution for getting rid of these pests.

Meanwhile, vacuum is your best weapon.

These ticks like to hide in nooks and crannies where they cannot be found. Unlike other ticks, they can thrive indoors. Giving them no place to breed is one of the best practices for their control.

And there I thought deer ticks were bad.

Did I mention I hate ticks?

Source article:
Scientists zero in on brown dog tick control

Further reading:
UF/IFAS scientists zero in on Brown Dog Tick control
House-infesting brown dog tick becoming resistant to common pesticides, UF experts say
Pest Management University Spotlight: Brown Dog Ticks
Featured Creatures: Brown Dog Tick

Related articles.
Will Ticks Inherit the Earth?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Probiotics, Prebiotics ... What Does It All Mean for Your Dog?

Everybody is talking about probiotics. For a good reason. It used to be something only holistic vets promoted, but more and more research is being done showing their importance.

Image PrecisionNutrition

The gut is the largest immune organ.

It hosts trillions of bacteria. In a healthy gut, these bacteria are friendly and helpful. They assist food digestion and absorption, they interact with the immune system, they synthesize B vitamins, they help break down bile acids and help keeping bad bacteria at bay.

More evidence is surfacing all the time on how important their jobs really are.

There is evidence of their benefit to immune function, weight management, even mental health.

Because these bacteria are living organisms, they are not immune to destruction. A number of things can kill the good bacteria or disrupt the equilibrium in the gut. Antibiotics, poor diet, even stress.

When the delicate balance is lost, all kinds of things can go wrong and not only in the digestive system itself.

That's when probiotics come in.

Probiotics are live microorganisms supplemented to help restore the balance that was lost. Sounds simple, doesn't it? When the good bacteria gets lost, you just replace it? Well, it is not that simple after all.

The gut houses over 700 species of bacteria. It is really its own ecosystem. And research is showing that the structure of this ecosystem varies by species, or even by individual.

Different bacterial species fulfill different functions.

For example, Lactobacilli are the ones producing B vitamins, while Bifidobacterium help break down bile acids ...

Probiotic supplements often contain one or two bacteria species. 

The one I know that has the most contains ten different bacteria species. Is supplementing that good enough to restore the original equilibrium?

Then there is the issue how many of that bacteria actually make it to live another day. Are they alive or viable when ingested? Do they survive the stomach environment and make it to their destination? And if they make to to where they should, will they survive?

That's when prebiotics come in.

Simply put, prebiotics are fermentable fiber. The dog's body cannot digest them, but the microorganisms ferment these and that's what they live on.

Moreover, this fermentation produces short-chain fatty acids, which are important for the health of the gut lining.

Without a supply of prebiotic fiber, beneficial bacteria will not survive.

Whether the bacteria was in the gut originally, or supplemented, it needs to be nourished.

Once I watched a documentary from a health and wellness camp. Part of the process was restoring proper gut microflora. The participants were divided into two groups. One group was supplemented with probiotic, and the other got prebiotic fiber. Then their microflora counts were measured.

The group supplemented with prebiotic fiber showed much higher counts of beneficial bacteria than the group supplemented with the bacteria directly.

For any of these reasons I believe that prebiotic fiber is extremely important.

It might help replenish the various species of beneficial bacteria which got depleted, as long as there are any of them left. And it will facilitate the survival of those you're supplementing with a probiotic.

***

For more interesting information on the subject, check out Radio Pet Lady Network, Pet Food Advisors podcasts #7036 and #7037.
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