Saturday, February 13, 2016

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Veterinary Diagnostics, Led Poisoning, and more ...

This is why veterinary diagnostics aren’t a waste of money
Dr. Marty Becker

Diagnostics tests can be a big dilemma and I don't even talk about costs. The bottom line is that diagnostic tests exists because there is a limitation to what the eyes can see, the hands can feel and the ears can hear. And short of cutting your dog open to take a look with one's own eyes, your vet just cannot see inside your dog. And there is time and place for exploratory surgery too when all else fails and isn't conclusive enough.

Image The Downs Veterinary Practice

There are some questions one needs to ask themselves before deciding on a diagnostic test.
  • Can my dog be successfully diagnosed without further diagnostics? And since you're asking yourself this question the answer is probably no.

  • How invasive is the test? Some diagnostics are less invasive than others. Some can be as easy as a simple blood draw. Some might require anesthesia, some might require poking junks out of your dog's body.

  • Is there a less invasive test which can provide just as much information?

  • Is what we learn going to change the course of the treatment? This is an important question because what is the point of putting your dog through all that if it's not going to change anything. For example, when Jasmine's neck went bad, we were quite certain we wouldn't have put her through surgery. We could do MRI to see what exactly was wrong but what would that change? Doing the MRI would have only made sense if surgery was one of the options we were considering.

  • Would it make sense to do a therapeutic trial first?

  • Is the chosen diagnostic the best one to really understand what's happening with the dog?
    For example, if there is suspicion of cancer, you could have your vet do all kinds of things but half of those may or may not be useful. It is best to consult with an oncologist first, before running a battery of tests, spending all that money and potentially leaving yourself with no money for the actual treatment.
I am not likely to say no to diagnostic tests. In fact, sometimes I might insist on them. It is always important to weigh what is to be gained or lost by doing them.

One thing that's never happened to me was my vet trying to rip me off by suggesting diagnostic tests. Before you say either yes or no to diagnostic tests, learn about the test and the reason your veterinarian wants to run it.

And talking about diagnostics, why doesn't every vet hospital have a thermal camera by now? It seems like there is a lot of information that could be gained without even touching the dog and it's not THAT expensive. Just wondering because I'd really love having one used on my dogs.

Lead Poisoning in Dogs and Cats
Dr. Jean Dodds/Dr. Jean Dodds' Pet Health Resource Blog

My dad used to work as a typesetter at a print shop. He worked with lead a lot and lead poisoning was a clear and present danger. Lead is toxic to dogs just as well as it is to us. Chronic exposure leads to accumulation of lead in the body. Acute toxicity usually happens from ingestion of lead found in objects.

Lead mimics calcium and zinc and it's therefore absorbed by multiple organs causing damage. Lead poisoning can be fatal.

What you need to know about paw licking in dogs
Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM

Jasmine had periods of time when she'd lick her paws excessively. Even though we kept going back to allergies as the root of some of her problems, including the paw licking, it never really added up. She was not an itchy dog. When she did start licking her paw(s), I'd immediately went to investigate and many of the times she already had an infection going on right there. I'm talking about hours, not days. I strongly believe she was licking because of the infection, rather than the infection happening from the licking.

She also had times when she'd lick her paws like there was no tomorrow for not discernible reason at all. This was typically during her episodes of pacing and panting. Sooner or later she'd just go crazy licking her paws. There was nothing visibly wrong with them at those times at all. And yet somehow they were driving her nuts.

Again, allergies were on the table as a cause of all that. But it was never confirmed and none of the treatments, including steroids, made any difference.

Only much later her neck went bad. Really bad. But we knew all along she had some anatomical abnormalities there, they just never seemed to had been bothering her.

After all was said and done, I am convinced that the neck was indeed an explanation to both the episodes as well as the periods of crazy paw licking. Not allergies.

That is not to say that allergies cannot cause paw licking. But what if there is something else to blame?

Friday, February 12, 2016

Veterinary Highlights: Trupanion Moves to an Electronic Claims System

After all our expenses with Jasmine's veterinary care, we got JD insured back in 2012.

I think that today, with all the treatment options available, pet health insurance is the only sensible way to go about it.

Of course, not all insurance plans were created equal. We chose Trupanion because of the extent of their coverage.

We insured Cookie right away when we adopted her. We had made a number of claims since and Trupanion has been true to their promise all along. But there is always hustle with paperwork, isn't it?

We have it set up that Trupanion makes payments directly to my bank account. 

So that part works well. But our veterinary hospital still has to gather up all the invoices and fax or email all that. With Trupanion's new app, this should be much easier now too, which is great. Every saved step in the process gets the money into my account faster.

Pet health insurer Trupanion has moved to an electronic claims system for veterinary practices that install the new Trupanion Express Web-based application.
Posted by Veterinary Practice News on Monday, February 8, 2016

Now I just wish they organized they paperwork a little better. So far, every invoice and every item gets their own claim number, even though they all come with one claim. I think that is pretty silly. I even got a confirmation for each of these items mailed to me separately, even on different days. I don't see why it has to be itemized in this way, if it all falls under one claim. But that's just an administrative glitch.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Gut Feelings and Second Opinions

by Nancy Kay, DVM 

I am a “regular” at the local corner coffee stop, so much so that my drink is often ready for me before I’ve had a chance to order it.  Amongst the eclectic group of shmoozers gathered most mornings are the schmoozers’ dogs. 

That morning while waiting for my coffee, Molly, a massive Rottweiler mix, greeted me. 

As usually, her voice and body language told me in no uncertain terms that she expected me to toss her a cookie (a bin full of dog biscuits resides beneath the shelf holding Half-n-Half, sugar, and other coffee accoutrements).

I noticed that Molly’s demands were less vigorous than usual.  

My veterinary antennae began to quiver and I paused for closer inspection. I was aghast to see one of Molly’s eyes almost closed and filled with pus; the other had a completely cloudy cornea. 

The owner observed my startled expression and explained that she had taken her darling Molly to see the vet three times in the past couple of weeks. 

In spite of treatment with various ointments, her eye problems were clearly worsening.

I bit my tongue for approximately one millisecond before my concern for Molly forced me to question, “Have you considered getting a second opinion?”  The owner responded that the thought had crossed her mind, but she’d not acted on this impulse- she didn’t want to hurt her veterinarian’s feelings.  After some serious coaching- 

“A second opinion results in a new diagnosis as often as 30 percent of the time.” 

“Veterinarians are used to people desiring second opinions.”  “What’s more important, Molly’s health or your vet’s feelings?”-

The owner agreed that it was time to contact our local board certified ophthalmologist.

Is this story unusual? 

No, but I wish it were. When it comes to our own health issues or those of a beloved four-legged family member it’s not uncommon that, even when our gut tells us it’s time to consider a second opinion, we ignore the feeling.  I believe that this gut feeling, sixth sense, intuition, or experiential wisdom- whatever one chooses to call it- is a true gift.  In fact it is one of the few things that actually seem to improve as we age. All we need to do is pay attention to this gift rather than ignore it. 

Second opinions are invaluable for our health and our peace of mind.  

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Molly and her eyes will be sparkling and bright the next time I see her.  


Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

Did you get your copy of Speaking for Spot yet?

If not, go get the book. It's likely the most important dog book you'll ever read.

Articles by Dr. Kay:
Reasonable Expectations: The Ability to Discuss Your Internet Research With Your Vet
Finding Dr. Wonderful And Your Mutt's Mayo Clinic: Getting Started
Even The Best Veterinarian Can Make A Mistake
A Different Way to Spay
Making Tough Medical Decisions For Your Dog: Lily's Story
If You Don't Know What A Lick Granuloma Is, Count Your Blessings!
Anesthesia-Free Dental Cleaning 
Talking Teeth 
Urinary Accidents
I Can't Believe He Ate That! Foreign Body Ingestion 
What Caused Murphy's And Ruska'sPneumothorax?
The Whole Picture: When The Test Results Don't Match What's In Front Of You 
Stop that Scratching
Veterinarians And Vaccines: A Slow Learning Curve
What is a Veterinary Specialist? 
Veterinary Specialists: Oncologist 
Veterinary Specialists: Cardiologist 
Veterinary Specialists: Internist 
Veterinary Specialists: Neurologist
Veterinary Specialists: Surgeons
Nutritional Management of Canine Epilepsy
Have a Miniature Schnauzer? Know about Sick Sinus Syndrome (SSS)
Puddles: Potential Health Hazard for Your Dog
What Is Glomerular Disease?
Leaky Dogs: A Primer on Urinary Incontinence  
Eight Tips for Coping With Your Dog’s Age-Related Hearing Loss

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Therapy Bliss

I'm not sure but I think Cookie is really enjoying her massage and stretching after her walk in the hydrotherapy unit.Happy dog ❤️
Posted by Touch Animal Rehabilitation on Monday, February 8, 2016

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury: Battling the Zoomies

Plans are great as long as everything goes according to them. Which in real life doesn't happen all the time.
Where is the mousie?

After initial strict rest the plan is to gradually keep increasing the amount exercise Cookie gets while incorporating some physical therapy along with that.

As far as plans go, it's a perfect plan. Allowing the muscles to heal and then working them back up to their top condition.

With the help of the Trazodone, things go according to plan most of the time.

Just the fact that Cookie doesn't either jump out of her skin, explode, or become completely depressed with such major exercise (and fun) restrictions is a miracle and testament to the drug doing its job.

But every now and then the circumstances happen to be just so that all control goes out the window and Cookie loses it.

Full blown attack of the zoomies.

The fact that she is on the lash at all times has little bearing. She is perfectly capable of bouncing at the end like a kite in a hurricane. And so far, every time she did that she set herself back.

She did this first thing this year and we are still dealing with the injury she was able to sustain then. She did that couple more times since but the outcome wasn't as bad those two times. But we are still, understandably, very concerned about these things.

The most likely scenario involves very cold temperatures, cold wind, and or fresh snow.

Sometimes that's just something that must happen, I suppose. She was getting them last winter too and was getting her 3 hours of walking and playing every day. It was obviously not from her not being able to drain enough energy.

Except last winter it didn't matter and she could lose it all she liked.

The main question remains, how does one prevent, or stop the zoomies at their tracks.

Obviously, the best recommendation for prevention includes lots of exercise and mental stimulation. Right now she cannot get anywhere near as much exercise as she'd like or needed but that's why she's on the Trazodone to keep her calmer. But there is a limit to what the Trazodone can do and zoomies are no match for it.

We play games, training games, she gets her entertainment bones and food puzzles ... No amount of play in the house has ever been enough for her--I know that from some of the really cold days last winter when it was just impossible to go for a walk and we played indoors.

Another recommendation was to ask her to do something incompatible with having zoomies.

To her, everything is perfectly compatible. She'll do it at the speed of light so she can return to being crazy as soon as possible.

Apparently there isn't any zoomies off-switch any of my training friends know about.

There is only one thing that I've tried that works most of the time, even though there is no guarantee she won't get back to her zoomies later.

"Where is the mousie?"

I bend down and look at a spot on the ground and ask this question. That switches gears in Cookie's head she she'll leap at the spot looking for a critter. If all goes well and there has been one around recently, she'll start digging and looking and forgets about her zoomies.

So that has been our best strategy so far.

Do you know of any sure-fire zoomies off-switch?

Related articles:
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 
Incontinence? Cookie's Mysterious Leaks 
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 
How Far To Take It When The Dog Isn't Sick?
Cookie Has Tapeworm Infection 
Cookie's Elevated ALT: The Ultrasound and Cytology  
Cookie's ALT Update
The Importance of Observation: Cookie's Chiropractic Adjustment
Sometimes You Don't Even Know What You're Looking at: Cookie's Scary "We Have No Idea What that Was" 
Living with an Incontinent Dog 
Summer Dangers: Cookie Gets Stung by a Bald-faced Hornet 
To Breathe or Not To Breathe: Cookie's Hind Legs Transiently Fail to Work (Again)
Figuring out What Might Be Going on with Cookie's Legs: The Process 
Figuring out What Might Be Going on with Cookie's Legs: The Diagnosis 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Trazodone  
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Other Medications 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Laser, Hydrotherapy and Chiropractic 
Cookie's Recovery from Iliopsoas Injury: ToeGrips 
It Never Rains ... Cookie's New Injury 
Mixed Emotions: When What You Should Do Might Not Be What You Should Do for Your Dog 
Cookie's New Injury Update 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury: The Symptoms

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, February 8, 2016

Adoption Monday: Birdie, Labrador Retriever & Setter Mix: Deerfield, NH

Check out this beautiful girl at Mary's Dogs Rescue and Adoption!

Birdie is searching for a place to rest her cute noggin.

Birdie is about 2 years old, but don’t you worry- She still loves to play. Playing is the best thing in the world!

Birdie is also excellent at relaxing and snuggling, if that is more your style.

A family would make Birdie's heart sing with joy!

If you ready to wake-up to a wagging tail each day, please contact Mary’s Dogs and as for Birdie.

Would you like more information Birdie? Maybe you're ready to bring her home? Email or submit an online questionnaire at which OFFICIALLY gets you on the path to bringing home your new furry family member!

Birdie is house trained, spayed and current on vaccinations.


Mary’s Dogs rescues and re-homes dogs and puppies from Aiken County Animal Shelter, a high-kill shelter in South Carolina, USA. They also serve as a resource to communities in Southern New Hampshire and pet owners nationwide by providing education and information on responsible pet ownership, including the importance of spay/neuter, positive behavior training, and good nutrition.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

How Far Would You Go for Your Dogs?

by Jerry Rade

With Cookie’s iliopsoas injury we have been prevented from going out for our long daily walks. 

Last Winter the guys had so much fun!

I really miss taking JD and Cookie out off-leash and watching them run and play in the snow. For the last few months I have been taking Cookie out for short, controlled, leashed walks but it’s not what we really want to do. That is not what Cookie wants to do either.

The importance of taking care and following a good rehabilitation program cannot be overstated. 

We need to let the injury heal and then work the muscles back to full strength gradually. As the saying goes, “plan the work and then work the plan”.

So, once a week Cookie and I head east for a 2-hour drive for physiotherapy, including underwater treadmill, stretching exercise, and laser therapy.

Another day per week we head north for an hour drive for laser therapy.

A third day we head north again for laser therapy and chiropractic care.

In between are the on-leash walks, which are getting a bit longer every week.

While Cookie and I are away Jana takes JD out for long walks where they pack down the snow into usable trails for Cookie and I to use.

Since I’m retired there is more time available for me to do these things. But then I think back to the care that Jasmine needed, I used to travel the same distances while working a full time job. We always found a way to schedule things so we could provide our friends with what they needed.

So how far do we go for our dogs? As far as needed. That’s what they would do for us…..

Articles by Jerry Rade:
The Ups And Downs Of Dog Ramps
Living With The Dog Mamma: (Part 1) The Rest of the Story
Living With The Dog Mamma: (Part 2) A Dog In The House  
Living With The Dog Mamma: (Part 3) Maybe Having A Dog In The House Isn't Such A Bad Idea After All  
Living With The Dog Mamma: (Part 4) The New Puppy
Living With The Dog Mamma: (Part 5) Big B
Living With The Dog Mamma: (Part 6) JD 
Living With The Dog Mamma: (Part 7) It's A Male Thing 
Living With The Dog Mamma: (Part 8) Females Versus Males 
Living With The Dog Mamma: (Part 9) You Can Train A Woman
Retirement By Mr. Dawg Momma 

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