Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Angus' Dog Fight And The Consequences

by  Krista Magnifico, DVM

Angus is an older Jack Russell Terrier who came to see me one Sunday. He was a quiet, timid, handheld package.

Angus had been in a dog fight and was the apparent loser. 

I will admit that most of the dog fights I see are JRT's, and in almost all of the cases it is an older Jack who lives with other Jack's. Almost invariably the victim is the source of the instigation and the subsequent fight. The older dog challenging the younger kid but miscalculating their size, skill, agility, strength, and swiftness.

Jack's are highly energetic, possessive, fierce little dogs. 

They love their parents, bond very closely with them, but have a low threshold for other dogs. And, in most of the cases I see the bruised battered Jack lives with other Jacks whom they squabble with every so often over some possession. And every so often that squabble erupts into a battle of bites. They fight quick  and dirty. A grumble turns into a snap and two seconds later someone is bleeding and limping. I have sewn up more Jacks than any other breed combined.

Such was the case with Angus.

Like a true lifelong fighter, Angus has a graying muzzle, a few scars, scratches, and a look of pain and humility in his eyes. Clearly this isn't his first encounter with a disgruntled roommate, and clearly he needs to rethink his self entitled crown.

When I first assessed Angus my first impression was he was incredibly painful. 

He also refused to use his back right leg. These are signs of an injury that should be seen immediately.

Angus also had a large swelling to the abdomen at the top of his right leg.

Of all of his puncture wounds, lacerations, and battle wounds this was the one I was most concerned about.

Here are some of the things that you should seek immediate attention for if your dog has been in a dog fight:
  •     Trouble breathing. Always an emergency.
  •     Trouble standing, or walking.
  •     Cries or snaps when touched.
  •     Blue tint to tongue or gums.
  •     Reluctant to lay down, sit down, or move.
  •     Limping.
  •     Seizure. Always an emergency.
  •     Bleeding that will not stop with gentle pressure for 5 minutes.
  •     Large and/or deep wounds.
  •     Injuries to the eye, mouth, throat, chest, or abdomen.
That wound on his right side looked like this on the x-ray. 

The right side of the film is normal. The ribs run down the right side to the body wall and then to the pelvis. The left side however has a bulge of soft tissue to the left of the side of the pelvis.

That bulge the to left of the pelvis is Angus's intestines. 

They  have escaped the confines of his abdomen from a rent (tear) in the abdominal wall.

If left untreated the intestines can strangulate and this will lead to death of the intestines and death of the rest of the dog.

Hernias can occur anytime there is a whole in the abdominal wall. 

We see them most commonly in the area of the belly button, inguinal hernia, or associated with a congenital abnormality. They should always be corrected surgically if any abdominal contents can slip out of the abdomen.

Angus had his abdominal hernia closed the next day. He was kept on pain medications and antibiotics from the time I saw him through the first two weeks post-op.

He made a full recovery and will live to see another kerfuffle. 

This time hopefully only a verbal match.

If you have a question, concerns, or just want to share your pet knowledge with our pet enthusiasts please visit Pawbly.com. We are a free pet community with a big heart.


Krista Magnifico, DVM owns a small animal hospital in northern Maryland, where she practices everyday. She wants to make quality veterinary care available to everyone, everywhere at any time; trying to save the world 1 wet nose @ a time.  Her blog is a diary of he day-to-day life & the animals and people she meets. 

Dr. Krista is also the founder of pawbly.com, free pet advice and assistance.

To contact her, you may leave a comment on her blog, email her or catch her on Twitter or Facebook.

Articles by Dr. Magnifico:
Don't Make This Mistake: Ruby's Death To Heat Stroke 
Parvo: Cora's Story 
Jake's Laryngeal Paralysis
The Tip Of The Iceberg: The Unexpected Dental Dilemma
The Ear Ache That Wasn't Going Away: Tottsie's Story
Cody's Eyelid Tumor
Ruger's Mysterious Illness
The Day The Heart Stood Still: Timber's Story 
Different Definition Of Comfort Food: Levi's Story 
Savannah's Pancreatitis  
Histiocytoma: Rio's Mysterious Bump
Von Willebrand's Disease: Greta's Story 
Alice's Heart Murmur  
Jekyll Loses His Tail Mo-Jo 
Pale Gums Are An Emergency: Bailey's Story 
To Amputate Or Not To Amputate: Heidi's Story
Lessons From A Real-Life Veterinarian 
Charlie's Life Saving Lipoma Surgery  
Understanding and Diagnosing The Limping Dog, Why To Probe The Paw

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 20, 2014

Adoption Monday: Lady, Shepherd & Labrador Retriever Mix, Deerfield, NH

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

Lady is a 6-8 years young shepherd mix.

Don't let her age fool you: Lady can play like a puppy! 

But because she is a MATURE Lady, she settles down nicely too.

Lady is crate trained, loves people and dogs, and would fit in nicely in any home. 

If you're looking for a new best friend, but don't want to start "from scratch", she's your LADY!

Lady is spayed, house trained and current on routine shots. Want more info on Lady? Call Mary's Dogs: or send along an email: marysdogsrescue@gmail.com

Ready to bring Lady home? Tell us about yourself and your interest in Lady in the adoption questionnaire. Check out all the wonderful dogs on Mary's Dogs Facebook Fan Page.


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.

Don't forget to check out Mary's Dogs Shop where you can shop dog and support their work!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Why Do Dogs Dig?

As I was standing there for about forty minutes, watching Cookie trying to make her way into a mouse hole, it inspired this post.

Why do dogs dig?

Whether we might object to them doing it or not, the reasons are perfectly logical.

I cannot speak on behalf of ALL dogs but I can tell you our dogs' reasons for digging. All legitimate reasons if you ask them.

1. To bury something

Our guys never tried to bury food items outside. In fact, Jasmine was the only one who would bury things.

Frequently, on our walks, she'd find various treasures. Mostly gloves, sometimes other things depending on the place and season. She took it as her duty to take care of these treasures and put them where they belong - underground.

She was very meticulous about it. Not any spot would do. There were times she'd start burying an item and then change her mind and went looking for a new spot. It would take her on average at least half an hour to find just the perfect location.

She also kept a list of all the items and when there was an opportunity she'd check on them to make sure they are still good and safe. When they weren't, she'd dig them out and find a new place.

It was one of her regular activities during our walks and and the friends' farm. There it was a daily job, because they aren't very careful about their gloves and leave them laying around haphazardly. So many gloves to be taken care of, so little time ...

2. To dig something out

Other than Jasmine's maintenance of her treasures, digging something out—namely mice and other little critters, is Cookie's specialty, though JD is taking a lead from her lately.

Cookie typically has little success with this endeavour, but it is not for lack of trying.

She actually does catch mice quite regularly but when they come out, not by digging down to their hiding spot. That doesn't slow Cookie down, though. Just on our last outing of the day, she saw a mouse dash for cover in its hole. She then spent almost an hour trying to dig her way to it.

Cookie is very determined with this too. She'll keep digging until she gets what she's after or has to go home. So far she's always had to go home; poor girl.

3. To make a cool spot to rest

All of our dogs, with exception of Bruin would do this. There is nothing better on a hot day than to find a nice spot in a shade and dig a cool hole to lay in.

If it doesn't make sense to you, try it. I'm telling you, no air-conditioner will do a better job. The ground is always nice and cool, particularly in the shade, and particularly deeper down.

There are certain spots which are particularly favored for this, and each of them features its own custom-made Grand Canyon.

4. Because it's fun

Some sandy or muddy spots seem to be particularly suited for this purpose. Perhaps it's the way it feels to the paws. All of our guys would get all excited and start digging, just before they go nuts playing and chasing each other.

There is clearly no other purpose to this than fun.

How to stop a dog from digging?

I usually don't try. Why spoil the fun? If they make a hole some place where I don't want one I just bury it later.

The only exception is when Cookie starts digging hard at the roots of a tree (trust me, she'd rip out the roots in the process). In those cases, telling her "let's not hurt the tree" actually seems to work. I know, right? But it does.

For those with fancy flower beds, there are a number of great articles on how to make a designated area for dogs to dig in. I think that's a great idea. Make a doggy "sandbox", have your cake and eat it too. Everybody wins.

Related articles:
From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
Creative Solutions And An Incidental Product Review
Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization  
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed  
Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat 
Observation Skills Of Dogs  
If You Want Your Dog To Do Something, Teach It  
Tricks? It's Not Just About The Tricks 
What Constitutes The Perfect Dog?
Are Dog Training Classes Really For The Dogs?  
Look Where You Want To Go: Finding My Reactive Dog Training Zen Zone? 
Dog Training And Emotions 
Dog Training And Emotions: Postscript
Dogs Love Sentences In Question Form?
Not All Dog Trainers Were Created Equal Either 
A Thought On Separation Anxiety
Happy One-Year Adoptoversary, Cookie!
About Freedom, Trust And Responsibility: A "Pilot Study"
So, We Have A Bear 
About Happiness: What Makes Your Dog Happy? 
Our Example Of The Use Of "Look At That" (LAT) 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Post-Surgery Seroma In A Dog



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.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Veterinary Highlights: Skull Shape Risk Factors For Neurological Diseases

Some time back we were following the story of Ella, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who was suffering from syringomyelia.

Syringomyelia is a painful neurological disease which can occur as a complication of trauma, inflammation or a tumor. However, the most common cause is dogs is hereditary skull malformation, Chiari-like Malformation (CM). It is very common in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels but it can affect other toy breeds.

A study, conducted at the University of Bristol's School of Veterinary Sciences identified the head shape characteristics associated with these diseases.

The idea is to enable selection away from these condition.

Two significant risk factors were found.

The extent of  the broadness of the top of skull relative to its length, also referred to as brachycephaly, and the distribution of doming of the skull.

The study suggests that brachycephaly, with resulting doming towards the front of the head, is associated with CM/SM.

Will all breeders (finally) take a hint?

Source article:
Skull shape risk factors could help in welfare of toy dog breeds

Related articles:
The Dark Cloud Of Syringomyelia: Fight For Ella 
Ella's MRI Results And Update
Fight For Ella Continues
Syringomyelia Awareness: What is Chiari Malformation?
Syringomyelia Awareness: Teddy’s Story

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Primer On Melanomas

Written and reviewed by John A. Bukowski, DVM, MPH, PhD
and Susan E. Aiello, DVM, ELS

Malignant melanomas are common in the mouth and on the skin and digits of the feet.  

Tumors may be found on haired or hairless skin, and they may appear pigmented or non-pigmented. 

The tumors may grow rapidly, ulcerate, or bleed. 

Clinical signs of malignant melanomas in the mouths of dogs include lack of appetite, bad breath, or difficulty eating. 

Malignant melanomas can spread, or metastasize, to almost any area of the dog's body, and other clinical signs depend on the area that is affected. For example, metastatic melanoma in the lungs may cause trouble breathing.

Primary treatment for the melanoma in dogs is surgical removal of the lump. 

Melanomas on a dog's digit usually require amputation of the toe.

A biopsy of the mass is needed to grade the tumor, ie, to determine its aggressiveness.  Your veterinarian may also recommend blood work, x-rays, ultrasound, and examination of lymph nodes to help determine a prognosis.

Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or immunotherapy may be recommended.


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