Saturday, August 29, 2015

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Is It Ever OK Not to Be Nice? Why Veterinarians Lie and more ...

Is It Ever Okay to Not Be Nice?
by Dr. Joanne Intile/PetMD

The simple answer to this question is no. It's never okay not to be nice. But that begs the question what constitutes being nice? If it means kind, thoughtful and compassionate, then absolutely so—it's never okay not to be nice. If it means avoiding to voice true and honest advice, then being nice can be harmful.

Sometimes the hard truth is what one needs to hear. Sometimes one needs a kind, thoughtful and compassionate slap in the face. Most of the time, though, we should take a good look at where the other person is coming from. Life is full of choices. There are very few ultimate truths and ultimate solutions; if any.

Most of us make our choices with the best intentions. We make our choices based on our past experiences and what we believe is the right thing to do. For that, we all deserve other people being nice. Kind, thoughtful and compassionate. But sometimes we also need people to speak up when it matters.

Being nice doesn't mean letting people jump off a cliff just because we don't want to disagree with them. But sometimes it maybe means letting people jump off a cliff because we understand why they need to do it.

On the other hand, it's never okay to be nice if it means letting a dog suffer.

Read Dr. Intile's thoughts.




Three Reasons Why Veterinarians Lie
by Dr. Patty Khuly/Dolittler Blog

"Veterinarians lie. All the time. In lots of ways. We don’t necessarily mean to—except when we sometimes we do. But does this make us bad people? Bad doctors?"
~Patty Khuly

Do I want to be lied to by my vet? I don't. I don't lie to them and I want the truth from them too. I find that really important.

Do I want my vet to adore my dog? Yes, I do. If it took a little white lie, so be it. But seriously, my dog is totally adorable.

While lies? I'm down with those.

Other than that, I want my vet to be honest with me. Always. Please. If you don't know, tell me. If you're not sure, tell me. If you are sure, also tell me. If you disagree, tell me. It's about the health of my dog.

Read Dr. Khuly's thoughts.



6 Subtle Signs Your Dog Is Carsick... And the Hidden Trigger Behind It
Dr. Karen Becker/Mercola Healthy Pets

We never had a dog get carsick. We never had a dog who didn't love going for rides. Could there be a correlation?

Just like people, dogs can suffer from motion sickness. I still remember the ferry ride across the channel on my way to England. About fifteen minutes in, half of the people's faces turned green and they made a mad dash for bathrooms. I thought it was interesting how it hit all of them at the same time. I was lucky; I just had a heck of the time trying to walk anywhere without falling. The ferry is huge and you wouldn't expect it to move much. But the weather was bad and water pretty wild.

In dogs, the signs if impending evacuation of the stomach content include yawning, drooling, whining, uneasiness or listlessness.

However, in most adult dogs, carsickness can have nothing to do with the motion but rather with stress and anxiety. I can relate to that too. There was a time I could not get on a bus without getting sick. Except I already got sick before the bus even left the station. That clearly didn't have anything to do with its motion.

Check out Dr. Becker's carsickness prevention tips.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Veterinary Highlights: Gene Therapy for Dogs Born Color Blind?

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and  Michigan State University are conducting a study on use of gene therapy to reverse inherited form of color blindness in dogs, achromatopsia (rod monochromacy or total congenital color blindness).


The viral-mediated gene replacement therapy treats day blindness in affected dogs.

So far, the treatment demonstrated functional rescue of cone cells in almost 100% of treated eyes.

Apparently, it is important that the cone cells are not fully degenerated for the treatment to work.

The treatment consists of two phases - first some of the light-sensitive cells are partially destroyed, which then allows for new growth. This is followed by gene therapy to replace the mutated gene.

Very interesting research.

Source article:
Dogs’ Born Blind Regain Vision

Further reading:
Penn-Michigan State Team Develops Novel Gene Therapy for Achromatopsia
Kom├íromy ​Comparative Ophthalmology Laboratory​ Research

Thursday, August 27, 2015

What’s in the Poop? (Part I)

The longer I’ve been a dog mom, the more attention I’ve learned to pay to poop. It started with Jasmine who had ongoing poop issues from the day she came to us. After years of being left in the dark, she was finally diagnosed with IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease). Every time her stool was normal, it made my day brighter.

Purina Fecal Scoring System

Why does it matter what poop looks like?

Our guys get a bad poop every now and then. This is more of a reflection of what they got into than an actual health issue. If the abnormalities continue though, I look into figuring out what’s behind it. When the stools are consistently or chronically abnormal, you need to investigate.

What I consider ideal poop could be best described as hand-rolled chocolate cookie dough—brown, well-shaped, firm but not hard, kind of segmented.

What’s in the consistency?

To some degree, consistency can depend on the dog and their diet. However, stool shouldn’t be consistently too hard or too loose. Which brings me back to the cookie dough.

Diarrhea is a more common problem than constipation for dogs. In fact, people often think that their dog is constipated when in fact they have diarrhea. Lots of straining with nothing coming out can be a sign of large bowel diarrhea as well as constipation. It is important not to try to treat constipation without having a solid confirmation (pun kind of intended).

Constipation may simply be caused by insufficient fiber and water intake but can also have a more serious underlying cause.

With Jasmine, I kept a detailed chart where I entered day-to-day information, including her stool quality and number of bowel movements. There are official fecal scoring charts out there, going into various amount of detail. For Jasmine, I was using 5 values with 5 being ideal and 1 being watery (Jasmine didn’t have problems with constipation). The most typical scoring system goes to 7 with 1 being constipated and 7 being watery. (I came up with my own scoring back then before I knew there were systems in place already)

Nothing – it’s not good when a lot of straining and hunching doesn’t produce any poop at all. Your dog could be constipated or even blocked up. As mentioned above, though, severe diarrhea and colitis can cause similar symptoms. In either case, see a vet.

Small, dry, hard pellets – yes, that’s constipation.  A couple of times Cookie got hard stools from eating too many bones and not enough vegetables. I immediately corrected that and things went back to normal. Constipation can have serious causes and effects. If Cookie had hard poops for more than one or two bowel movements and it didn’t resolve with adjusting her food, I’d take her to the vet.

Firm but not hard, dry logs that look segmented
– that’s good poop in my books. With Jasmine, every time she had a poop like that, we celebrated.

Moist and soggy but still formed – this kind of poop gets me in an alert mode. Something isn’t quite right. JD and Cookie get these every now and then with the next poop being normal again. Something didn’t sit right but all is now good. When Jasmine got these, it meant her IBD was starting to act up. If my dog had these type of stools consistently, I’d investigate.

Pudding
– poop that loses its form once it hits the ground; there is texture to it but it doesn’t hold shape. The gut isn’t happy. When it continues for more than one or two bowel movements, it’s time to do something. Could mean intestinal parasites, such as Giardia, intestinal infections (bacterial, viral or fungal), immune/inflammatory disorders, metabolic diseases (e.g., liver failure), heart disease, cancer, and more.

Watery – the gut is really unhappy. When Jasmine got these, her gut was in trouble. Large volumes of watery diarrhea, with or without blood in it, can be an emergency particularly in smaller dogs and puppies.

Stay tuned for other aspects of poop, such as color, coating, etc.

Related articles:
Symptoms to Watch for In Your Dog: Diarrhea
A Tale of Many Tails—and What Came Out From Underneath (part I)
Acute Small Intestinal Diarrhea
Acute Large Intestinal Diarrhea (Acute Colitis)
hronic Large Intestinal Diarrhea
Chronic Small Intestinal Diarrhea

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

My Love Is Still Sleeping At My Feet: An Unexpected Update

by Penny

I came upon this blog several months back. I hadn't been here for awhile and my immediate thoughts were so happy to see how active it still is, to know that Jana is as passionate about dogs as I am. I looked around and read about Jasmine. Tears of sadness that the battle was lost. I then searched for the story of My Love. It took me right back to those tough days, recovering from CCL complications and why I found the Dawg Business blog the first time. So much info shared here. It was good to know I wasn't alone in my struggles to get My Love well.

I sent an email with a couple pictures and an update. It had been 5 years an My Love was doing well for 14 1/2. We had done PRP therapy (platelet rich plasma) earlier this year for his not unexpected arthritis and he had responded well.


Was walking and even running easier and was taking less pain medication.

Jana responded that she did remember me and My Love and if I wanted to write more of an update she would gladly post it. I sat down quite a few times to do so but the words just weren't there. Several weeks passed and I knew why.

Overnight, everything changed.

Almost from the beginning I have always called him My Love. He truly is just that, my one true love. I wish for everyone to have that one pet that you find yourself so connected to like I am to My Love. My heart dog, my animal soul mate. Ive heard it referred to in many ways. It really is a special connection.  The lessons he brings into my life are never ending. The challenges, physical and mental have been many. Traveling my path in life, the heart break, the failures, loss, sadness, triumphs and success. He has been an integral part of that. Yes he is a dog but he is My Love.

I came home from work early evening. It wasn't uncommon these days that I wasn't met by a wagging tail at the front gate as My Loves hearing is limited. He sleeps hard. But he usually gets up when I enter the house.

He was laying in his chair with his eyes open but he didn't move at all. 

I greeted him with a couple of pats on the head and went to let out his brother and change clothes. When I returned I realized he still hadn't moved at all so I sat and started to check him from head to toe. His left front leg, elbow area, the one with the worst arthritis, was warm and slightly swollen. Everything else seemed OK so no need to get to the ER vet right away. We had a similar episode 2 years earlier with this same leg. I helped him out to do his business that evening and put him to bed checking on him through the night. At 8AM and one second I had my vets office on the phone.

By morning the swelling had increased and he was now lethargic. 

He refused to walk, crying in pain when I touched his leg. I carried him to my car and straight to my vets. He had a fever.  X-rays and a CBC. We decided this was another immune mediated arthritis attack on a very bad elbow. I was sent home with Clavamox and Prednisolone. My vet, Dr. N, carried him out to my car and we came home.

The next few days were horrible. 

The swelling was getting worse. His entire leg was close to three times normal size. The pressure in there was severe. He refused food, was barely drinking water and wasn't walking.  I had to carry him out to the yard. I am not a huge fan of Prednisone but in this case I knew it would be beneficial for the inflammation. The problem was he has been on Meloxicam an NSAID for a long time and he needed a few days for this to get out of his system before I could give him the steroid.

I spoke with Dr N. He told me if it was his dog he would take the chance and give the Prednisone.

The risk of him taking Prednisone and Meloxicam together was gastric perforation. In other words, it could blow a hole in his stomach and this most certainly would mean death. It was hard for me to hear my vet tell me to take this chance and maybe kill my dog. I waited 24 hrs. He was getting worse not only the swelling and pain but he was mentally shut down.

I was losing My Love. 

I gave the Prednisolone with Pepcid. I prayed.

Slowly the swelling started to subside. 

He took a little food and was drinking. He still refused to use that leg but at least was now hopping on the other 3. We went back to Dr N office after 10 days for a recheck. He was eating, drinking, peeing, pooping now, but not using that leg. Still extremely painful.

He then told me after almost 13 years of taking care of My Love, getting him through so many issues over those years, he didn't have anything else to offer. 

He's a very kind and compassionate man. I know that hurt him. My heart sank a little. The reality of possibly losing My Love had become real. But I wasn't ready to give up.

I asked him what his thoughts were about acupuncture and he said yes I should try.

He's known of good results so he started giving me names of other veterinarians that he knew offered it. Most were far away from me. Then it dawned on him. He was going to be away from the clinic and the vet that he uses for coverage does acupuncture. They would call and see if she would see him. They messaged me the next day and my appointment was set.

Alternative Measures

I try to be prepared  for most things so I went looking and discovered the vet we would be seeing had a website. She was a CVA (Certified Veterinary acupuncturist) and also studied TCVM  (Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine) which is something I knew very little about. That was a good thing actually, as I felt we may have even more options.

We met with Dr. T exactly 24 days after I found My Love unable to walk.

He was still not using that leg.

The first thing I always observe is how my dog acts around someone new. If he's uncomfortable that's a deal breaker. That wasn't the case at all. We both liked her right away. She is so kind and calming. She had the luxury of being able to read his history since she was filling in at his clinic.

She asked other questions to fill in the blanks she needed from a holistic point of view. We talked about acupuncture and how the results could be remarkable, mediocre or negligible.  I appreciated the honesty and was willing to commit to 4-6 treatments. I had nothing to lose. He sat like a champ during that first treatment, curious about what was going on.


Acupuncture with stimulation and laser. 

He seemed to like it all so we set another appointment for the following week.

After 3 sessions with Dr T. She was able to get most all of the swelling out of the leg and he started using that leg again. 

I was very pleased with those results. During this time we also had conversations about nutrition as his body condition was looking poor. He was losing weight every week. Using her recommendations I started to make some changes in his diet. I always fed high quality dog food but now added whole foods. Meat, veggies and fruits. Also added bone broth and a Chinese herbal blend.

He can't catch a break

Just when his leg was starting to do well My Love began having theses coughing spells and then reverse sneezing. It was odd. Almost like he was choking. I took some video of what he was doing to show both vets.

We did another X-ray to check for megaesophagus or any kind of tumor. Sent it to be read by a radiologist. It didn't look like megaesophagus, which left two possibilities, either laryngeal paralysis or Myasthenia Gravis. The Myasthenia Gravis test was sent off to UC SanDiego and when the radiologists ruled out a tumor we planned a day to sedate and check for laryngeal paralysis a few days later.

Laryngeal paralysis now referred to as GOLPP.

I read everything I could. It's such a horrible condition, almost cruel as essentially the cartilages that open and close for air intake become frozen in one place. It makes it hard for the dog to breathe and there is also risk of aspiration since theses cartilage should close so food passes down the esophagus and not into the airway.

It is a polyneuropathy so other symptoms such a rear end weakness occur. We sedated My Love and took a look at his cartilages.

One side had no movement the other side still fluttered a bit. 

I wasn't surprised as during that week he had more symptoms appear aside from the coughing. Choking every time he ate or drank. His bark got hoarse. Lots of muscle atrophy. He was very unsteady in the rear, falling on occasion from being weak. He was also down to 43 lbs, an all time low weight. During his years he maintained 52-54 lbs. My heart was breaking.

Was it time?

I shed many tears after that day. Most friends told me I was being cruel that I needed to do the right thing and let him go. I even talked with Jana about how she knew it was time. She told me he would let me know. I have always thought that. Sleepless nights. This really hurt. On July 7 I sent the following to Dr N

Doc,

My Love has now lost strength in his hind legs. He is falling down. He is tired and life seems so hard. I know you are going to be gone until next week. I will nurse him and spoil him until you are back but if his quality of life doesn't show signs of improving I need to to do the right thing for him and let him go. It is difficult watching the struggle and just not fair. You have done all you can and so much more. The last thread of hope is a positive Myasthenia Gravis test but I am not counting on that. My heart breaks. I'm sure yours does too. If you can find a few minutes today to call me that would be appreciated.

He called. We talked. I cried some more.

Two days later, July 9, My Love's rear legs gave out.  

Dr T was again filling in at my clinic (there are no accidents) so off we went.

I carried My Love in. She did his treatments and he walked out. Dramatic but the next day he was down again. Another acupuncture/laser treatment. Walking again. The weekend was better but because she was available I took him again Monday for another treatment.

The rest of the week My Love stayed mobile.

I started to notice him making improvement. When Dr N returned, he called to let me know he was available if I needed him. He was a little taken aback when I told him My Love wasn't ready to go.

Every day he was a little better physically and mentally. 

Even the GOLPP symptoms have decreased. I certainly was amazed. Dr. T saw him again on July 23 and he actually was running and was a very happy-go-lucky dog again. Even she was pleasantly surprised and pleased and when she sent Dr N a report from that day he called me. I told both of them I knew he was feeling much better. I had been using roast beef slices from the deli to wrap his medication in. I had just brought home a newly purchased pound of this roast beef. I thought I had put it back in the fridge after he took all his pills. I went outside and when I came back in I noticed an empty bag on the floor. When I picked it up I realized it was a deli bag....with the roast beef label. I checked that date. Today. My Love counter-surfed for the first time in many months, stole that bag and enjoyed a pound of deli roast beef.


All I could do was laugh. Dr T and Dr N laughed too!

It's been 3 months since this roller coaster ride of one crisis after another started. With the help and support of my two veterinarians Dr Tom Newland  and Dr Tabitha Thompson,  My Love is not just surviving, but a thriving senior citizen.

Dr Newland has cared for my animals for 12 plus years now. To have him recommend another vet and be supportive of their alternative care shows what his heart is all about. Dr Thompson has been invaluable in this recovery and still ongoing. I am learning so many new things from her. It's such a treat to be empowered with knowledge that makes sense to me. My Love actually enjoys seeing her as she makes him feel so good! I feel fortunate to have found her.

My Love is  14 1/2. I know I don't get him forever. 

More things will come up. I take each day and am thankful for my time with him.  I am cooking for both my dogs these days. Even baking homemade treats. I am open to more new alternatives. I have a wonderful supportive team. I thought the lesson was to expect the unexpected. While that is true and pertains to the last few months I realized what the true lesson was the other night. I have been experiencing some personal challenges with my life path aside from My Loves issues and while simple this is what I so needed to be reminded:

Never give up!

More gray hairs. A little slower. We swim and play with toys together. The weight is returning. My Love not ready to go. My Love is still sleeping by my feet. Happy tears.

Penny

I would like to make a side note regarding holistic medicine. I have used many holistic methods over the years for myself. Some have helped and some haven't. When it comes to our dogs, alternative treatments are worth exploring but it's important to have someone with the proper knowledge and training guide you. 

In this age of unlimited information available on the web, it's tempting to try anything and everything on our own. The latest and greatest. It's supposed to be all natural so what's the harm? That is OK for yourself because you have the ability to know what you're feeling and if something is helping or hurting. Our pets cannot vocalize what is happening. If they are hurting or nauseous or dizzy or ... you get my point.  I have seen so many online posts about giving a dog or cat something "natural" and now they are behaving strangely or seem to be in distress.

I can't stress enough the importance of at the least consulting with someone who is experienced in whatever modality you wish to try. Holistic veterinarians, in my opinion, have the advantage as they are DVMs- Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and have added holistic therapies and treatments to that training. Holistic encompasses many things. Don't be afraid to ask questions until you are satisfied. Results. I found some great ones. Hope you do too!

Related articles:
My Love Is Sleeping at My Feet: ACL Surgery Complications


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, August 24, 2015

Adoption Monday: Fiesta, Rottweiler & Boxer Mix, New Milford, CT

Fiesta is a beautiful little girl; I'd grab her in a heartbeat. Can you imagine her and Cookie? They even have the same tongue!


Fiesta is a rottie/boxer mix and is just a doll.

She is still a youngster, less than a year, and will need some work like basic manners and leash work. Fiesta likes to play with some of the dogs in the rescue and would not mind a kitty friend, either. On a whole, she is a great girl!

Fiesta would like a home where she can blossom into the amazing girl that she can be!

Fiesta is spayed and current on vaccinations.

***

The Animal Welfare Society of New Milford, is an independent, non-profit, non-destroy organization founded in 1965. Our mission is to aid and find loving homes for abandoned and abused cats and dogs in New Milford, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Roxbury and Washington, Connecticut.

We maintain our own shelter housing 80 cats and 20 dogs (and the occasional rabbit) and place approximately 350 animals each year.

The shelter is supported by the generosity of private individuals and local businesses, dues from our annual Membership Drive and special fundraising events held throughout the year. If you are interested in donating or purchasing an item from our shelter wishlist, please visit the you can help page of our website.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Dogs, Porcupines, Wasps and Learning

After Cookie got stung by a bald-faced hornet, I was wondering whether she was able to learn anything from the encounter.

Could she have learned from something like that?


As a life's lesson it would have been perfect. Cookie only got stung once; normally the wasps fly out in troops attacking again and again. Getting just one sting was a miracle. The perfect scenario. But has she learned?

Did she even have time notice what happened?

It happened so fast. Has she seen what it was? Has she heard what it was? I couldn't see the nest myself, until I went back to investigate.

Reading all the stories about dog encounters with porcupines, the odds of a dog learning from such things seem low. At least they don't seem to ever learn when it comes to porcupines. Regardless of the painful result, they will try again and again.

However, it does appear that Cookie did learn from her experience with the hornet's nest.

When she sees a bee close buy, she'll jump of to a side, freeze and then walk away. The other day we were walking through some tall grass and Cookie was leading the way, while I was peering for dangers so hard my eyes almost fell out.

We got to a spot where she walked in a little bit and stopped. Then she back out and chose a different way. I didn't see any nests or hornets; perhaps it was just enough bees feasting on the last flowers of the season. Sometimes you can hear a loud buzz as they are all over clover flowers.

One way or another, Cookie found it suspicious and chose not to go there.

Good girly. Has she learned? Kind of looks like she did. I certainly hope so.

What about your dog? Have they learned from a painful encounter?

Related articles:
Summer Dangers: Cookie Gets Stung by a Bald-faced Hornet
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