Saturday, February 28, 2015

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Nutrigenomics, Medical Causes behind Weight Gain and More

Does Your Veterinarian Owe You a Guarantee? 

Is there any way veterinarians could offer a guarantee of services when dealing with a complicated living organism? Surely it would be nice. But is it possible? Would it be just an empty promise? See what Dr. Intile thinks on the subject.

7 Medical Causes Behind Weight Gain 

There are times, though where weight gain has a medical cause. These include pregnancy, fluid retention, parasites, endocrine disorders and some medications. The article includes bloat as well—that causes appearance of SUDDEN expansion of the abdomen.

Can hyper dogs become happy dogs?

A complaint of dog's hyperactivity needs to be viewed in context. Is the dog really hyper or is their activity level beyond the owner's coping abilities? Those can be very different scenarios.

Whether or not a dog's behavior is normal, owner's expectations are key to keeping the dog as opposed to surrendering them as unmanageable. Education is a key.

The Natural Approach to Canine Arthritis

Jasmine and drugs didn't mix very well. We had to seek natural and alternative ways to deal with her arthritis and other ailments. I am very happy that we explored those alternatives as they worked really well for Jasmine, kept her healthier and allowed her to enjoy full life. Dr. Patrick Mahaney shares his recommendations to natural approach to arthritis in dogs.

An Explanation of Nutrigenomics

I first encountered this term during my Integrative Canine Nutrition course. Nutrigenomics is the science examining how nutrition affects gene expression. And you still don't know what I'm talking about, do you?

If we compared the a body's cell to a kitchen, the DNA would be a fancy cookbook, containing recipes for everything and anything you might wish to make. But as with a cookbook, you wouldn't make all the meals all the time. You make them to order. There are a number of things which control which meals are made. Nutrients present in the body have influence on the recipe selection.

Of course, the cell doesn't make meals, it makes proteins. The function of proteins in the body goes far beyond being building blocks of tissues. Proteins are workers that perform most of the daily tasks in the body. Each of them made for a specific task. If the protein is missing, the task cannot be performed. If they are too many of them, they might get carried away while looking for something to do.

For example, a certain type of proteins are the clean-up crew to take apart damaged cartilage. If too many of them are made, they will start taking apart cartilage which had nothing wrong with it too. That makes existing arthritis worse. Omega-3 fatty acids actually help put a cap on the number of cartilage clean-up workers, preserving cartilage that is still healthy. Let me know if you can make sense of this.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Veterinary Highlights: Biological Trigger for Bone Cancer in Dogs Found?

Why only some cancer cells form tumors?

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) might have found the answer. Their recent study discovered a connection between increased expression of a particular gene and bone cancer.

There are several hundred genes that express differently in tumor-forming and nontumor-forming cells.

One protein (Frizzled-6), however, was present in substantially higher levels in cells that did form tumors. 

This protein involved in communication between the outside and the inside of a cell. When the communication goes awry, it might contribute to tumor development. Whether or not glitch in expression of this protein is solely responsible for tumor formation or it is just one piece of the puzzle remains to be found.

While this discovery will need more research, it might eventually provide another target for therapy.

Source article:
Study reveals possible biological trigger for canine bone cancer

Thursday, February 26, 2015

What Happens in a Dog's Body with Severe Vomiting?

by Jennifer Coates, DVM

We all know that vomiting is bad, but many dog owners don’t understand exactly how much damage severe or prolonged vomiting can do to a dog’s body.


Severe vomiting causes direct loss of water from the body but equally important is the fact that it prevents dogs from holding down and absorbing water that they try to drink to correct the problem. This combination quickly leads to dehydration, particularly if it is accompanied by diarrhea.

Dehydration has damaging effects throughout the body including:
  • Abnormal mental activity leading to confusion, depression, etc.
  • Inability to form tears, which can cause corneal damage
  • Low blood pressure that can result in organ damage and failure (especially the kidneys)
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Seizures
  • Permanent brain damage

Dehydration can cause shock and death when a dog’s blood pressure becomes so low and the blood becomes so thick (viscous) that adequate amounts of oxygen and other vital substances cannot be delivered to tissues throughout the body.

Electrolyte Loss

Sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate, and phosphate are examples of electrolytes without which cells cannot function normally.

Profuse or prolonged vomiting results in a significant loss of electrolytes. Electrolytes play many roles in the body. For instance, sodium is needed to generate the electrical signals that allow parts of the body communicate with one another and potassium helps regulate heart rhythm.

Acid-Base Imbalances

Vomit contains gastric acid, which is made, in part, of hydrogen ions. Losing hydrogen ions causes the body to become more alkaline. Since chemical reactions are designed to take place in a relatively narrow range of pH, alkalosis (as this condition is called) has a widespread effect.

The most obvious symptom is often muscle twitches. Interestingly, the body tries to compensate for alkalosis by slowing down breathing. This leads to an accumulation of carbon dioxide in the blood stream, and since carbon dioxide is an acid it can help correct the body’s pH.

Aspiration Pneumonia

The tube that leads to the lungs (the trachea) lies right next to the opening through which vomit enters the mouth. The epiglottis is designed to prevent anything other than air from entering the trachea, but it doesn’t always perform perfectly in cases of extreme vomiting. The presence of vomit in the lungs is irritating, interferes with the normal exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, and provides the perfect environment for a bacterial infection to flourish.

Damage to the Esophagus

Stomach acid is powerful stuff. The lining of the stomach is built to handle it but the esophagus is not. When the relatively delicate lining of the esophagus is repeatedly exposed to stomach acid it becomes inflamed and may develop ulcerations, both of which can subsequently interfere with its ability to move food and water into the stomach. Sometimes dogs will begin to regurgitate due to this esophageal damage after they have stopped vomiting.

Occasionally, the damage can be so severe that it results in a tear in the esophagus. This allows vomit and other material to flow into adjacent parts of the body. Esophageal tears are fatal without aggressive treatment.

The take home message? Severe or prolonged vomiting always warrants a veterinary visit.


Jennifer Coates, DVM graduated with honors from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in 1999.  In the years since, she has practiced veterinary medicine in Virginia, Wyoming, and Colorado.  She is the author of several books about veterinary medicine and animal care, including the Dictionary of Veterinary Terms: Vet-speak Deciphered for the Non-veterinarian

Dr. Coates has recently joined the PetMD team and she is now writing for the Fully Vetted column; great blog, do check it out.

Jennifer also writes short stories that focus on the strength and importance of the human-animal bond and freelance articles relating to a variety of animal care and veterinary topics.  Dr. Coates lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with her husband, daughter, and pets.

Articles by Dr. Coates:
Kidney Disease – Say What? 
What Happens In The Dog's Body When The Kidneys Fail To Function Properly? 
Heat Stroke: What Happens In The Dog's Body?  
The Perplexities of Pancreatitis
The Other Side Of The Coin: The Cost Of Defensive Medicine
To Neuter Or Not To Neuter… That Is The Question
Don’t Forget the Physical Therapy
Common Misdiagnoses (Part 1)
Common Misdiagnoses (Part 2)
Picking the Right Dog to Breed
When Is It An Emergency?
Dog Allergies: Common, Commonly Misdiagnosed, or Both? 
Why Does The Spleen Get No Respect?
Protect Your Dog From Snake Bites 
More Creepy Crawlies
Why I Dislike Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Salmonella – A Significant Problem, Or Not? 
What’s In the Vomit?
Cortisol: What Happens In A Dog’s Body When It Goes Awry?
What Happens In The Dog's Body With Zinc Toxicity? 
What Happens In The Dog’s Body: Xylitol Poisoning 
What Happens In The Dog's Body: Insulin 
When Is Hypothyroidism not Hypothyroidism?

Related articles:
Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: Vomiting

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Change In Behavior? Pay Attention: Kenzo's Story

Brewing medical issues don't always come marching in with a huge nobody-can-miss banner. Often the signs can be very subtle, such as a change in behavior or routine.

In Kenzo's case, the only sign that something has changed was the fact that his house mate started bullying him.

Not really that surprising as she is young and always testing the boundaries. It was the fact that Kenzo suddenly let her get away with it that was suspicious.

If your dog starts acting differently, start with a vet visit.

Kenzo's tests came back all negative, which was great but didn't explain the change. It was discovered, though, that he had some mild arthritis in his front left leg.

Indeed, a couple of days on pain killers got him back on track.

Next time his house mate tried to boss him around, she got told and normal course of things was restored.

Kenzo was started on long-term arthritis management, including supplements and acupuncture.

But that was not the end of it.

Even before it seemed that Kenzo's voice was changing. His bark sounded more hoarse. His lungs and heart checked out and it got dismissed.

As his arthritis pain got better and he became more active again, it became quite clear that his breathing wasn't quite right.

With everything else ruled out, the only diagnosis left was laryngeal paralysis.

Larynx, or the voice box, is part of the respiratory system that regulates the passage of air into and out of the trachea and allows vocalization. It controls the air flow and keeps food out of the windpipe. With laryngeal paralysis, the muscles that open the larynx begin to lose their ability to function normally. That, among other things, results in difficulty breathing.

It's been deemed idiopathic in origin. However, according to Bryden J Stanley, Associate Professor, Surgery Section Chief Michigan State University Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, it is all part of a bigger neurological problem. To better describe the condition, it was renamed to Geriatric Onset Laryngeal Paralysis Polyneuropathy (GOLPP).

Geriatric Onset Laryngeal Paralysis Polyneuropathy is a progressive degeneration of nerves.

To make a definite diagnosis and decide whether surgery is a good solution for Kenzo, it would require consultation with a specialist. They are searching for a specialist or a vet with extensive experience with this condition.

How much testing should Kenzo be put through in order to confirm the diagnosis?

That is always an important question. The only time it makes sense to put a dog through such an ordeal is when the results would positively affect the treatment and prognosis. If further diagnostics aren't going to change what you're going to do, why pursue them?

The current plan is to go with the working diagnosis of GOLPP--adjust Kenzo's routine and start physical therapy.

There is no sense in losing valuable time and quality of life when further diagnostics won't change anything.

Here is hoping that Kenzo's GOLPP progresses slowly or that they've already seen the worst of it. Here is hoping that good things sometimes do happen to good dogs.

Source articles:
Nothing To Show For
About Laryngeal Paralysis, Idiopathic, and GOLPP

Further reading:
GOLPP Dogs (formerly "idiopathic laryngeal paralysis")

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 23, 2015

Adoption Monday: Alba, Rottweiler/Labrador Mix, Page, AZ

Alba is a medium sized Rottie mix looking for a new chance at love. 

She has been at the center for over 1 year and really wants a home!!

Alba would be fine as an only dog or with another companion dog---she just wants to live in a house! 

Alba snuggles into her straw bed and loves it when volunteers bring her a fresh, warm blanket. Such a sweet girl--she's been starred as special needs only because she has been at the center for so long.

Please call 928-640-1500 for information or stop by to give Alba some extra attention.


Page Animal Adoption Agency is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that provides animal adoption, education, and low-cost spay and neuter services to Page, Arizona, and the surrounding communities.

Page Animal Adoption Agency began about four years ago as a small group of people who wanted to reduce the number of unwanted pets being euthanized in the city shelter. Now, they are in the process of renovating a building donated by the city to turn it into an Adoption Center of which Page can be proud. Through fundraising efforts and generous donations, that goal gets closer every month.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

What Is Opposition Reflex?


Donna Hill, Donna Hill B.Sc. B.Ed., has a degree in zoology and a teaching degree. She has 20 years experience in adult and child education and enjoyed teaching people how to observe animals in nature as a nature interpreter, field biologist and train-the-trainer for presentation skills and now applies her knowledge and skills to help people and their dogs. She helps people with disabilities to train their own service dogs and has experience working with autistic and developmentally delayed teens. She uses plain English to explain what you are doing and why and also provides analogies you can relate to. She was also a Girl Guide and earned the highest honor as well as worked in the Tourism industry as a information counselor. She loves to share key information with people!

Visit her blog at Online Clicker Training Tutorials & Coaching.

Check out her two Youtube channels supernaturalbc2009 and supernatural 2008 for more awesome videos. Her motto is "Yard by Yard, Life is hard. Inch by Inch, It's a Cinch!" Break everything down into it's simplest parts and it's achievable!

Don't forget to visit Donna's FB group Observation Skills for Training Dogs or connect with Donna on Twitter.
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