Saturday, January 31, 2015

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week

Heartworm Disease in Dogs – And The Epic Tale of a Worm Named Laverne
The most inspired article on heartworm disease ever.

Learn about heartworm infection and life cycle in a fun way.

There is More Than One Way to Treat Your Pet's Pain
How multimodal pain management can help your dog. Alternative treatments for pain in pets.

We ourselves have seen Jasmine benefit from this approach. For her it was even more important because she could not have NSAIDs.

Sick Sinus Syndrome (SSS)
Vital article for all Miniature Schnauzer lovers. Learn about this inheritable disease.

Do Biopsies Cause Cancer to Spread?
Could getting a biopsy of your dog's mass cause cancer cells spread through the body?

How confidently can you diagnose your pets "bump" by a photo online?
Not even a board-certified oncologist can identify a mass by simply looking at. Let alone by looking at a picture. Should you try to identify your dog's lump by comparing it to photos you find online?

Friday, January 30, 2015

Veterinary Highlights: New Way To Diagnose Kidney Disease Early

The standard tests to diagnose kidney disease are urinalysis and complete blood profile.

Dogs with chronic kidney failure may have anemia, abnormal electrolyte levels and elevated blood pressure.

Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine levels in the blood are evaluated to assess kidney function. BUN is rather ambiguous and can be elevated for a number of reasons. It is not really representative of kidney function. Elevated creatinine is a good measure of kidney function but typically 75% of kidney function has to be lost before creatinine levels go up.

Considering that early diagnosis is ideal, wouldn't it be nice to find the problem long before that?

So far, urinalysis, namely urine specific gravity, combined with protein found in the urine seem to be the best tool for early detection.

A new blood biomarker has been identified.

Researchers at Oregon State University, IDEXX laboratories, and Hill’s Pet Nutrition have identified a blood marker—symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA) that can detect impending kidney failure 17 months ahead of traditional blood tests.

Early detection means early intervention and better outcome.

This summer, Idexx labs should be adding SDMA to routine blood panels.

Source article:
A Better Method for Diagnosing Kidney Disease in Pets

Related articles:
Kidney Disease – Say What? 
Is Your Dog Showing Signs Of Kidney Disease? How Is It Diagnosed?
What Happens In The Dog's Body When The Kidneys Fail To Function Properly?
What's In The Blood? Blood Testing And Interpretation
What's In The Urine? (Part II: Urinalysis)

Further reading:
New IDEXX Test Detects Kidney Disease in Cats and Dogs Months or Years Earlier than Standard Screening Technologies
Kidney Disease In Your Dog: Chronic Renal Problems
Tests used to Diagnose Kidney Disease in Dogs
Chronic Kidney Disease and Failure (CKD, CRF, CRD)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Symptoms to Watch for In Your Dog: Diarrhea

No doubt. You're unlikely to miss your dog having diarrhea.

It isn't a matter of careful observation, rather, it's a question of what to do about it.

The first thing on your mind is probably how to stop it. But while sometimes diarrhea develops for a straightforward reason, such as garbage gut, it can also be a symptom of a more complicated situation. In these cases, treating the symptom will not cure the disease.

To top it all off, diarrhea can be caused by problems that don’t originate in the gut itself.

Focus too much on the diarrhea and you’ll miss what’s really going on.

When your dog gets diarrhea, it is important to consider the big picture. 

How bad is the diarrhea? Is there also vomiting? Is the dog lethargic? Not interested in food? Does the dog look or act sick?

Note: A sick puppy is always an emergency. Don’t put your puppy’s life at risk by trying to treat them at home without first having them examined by a veterinarian.
Think back.

Did your dog get into something they shouldn't? Eat something unusual or suspicious? Did you start a new food or medication? Have there been any major changes in your dog's life?

Abrupt change in food, food items your dog isn't used to, garbage gut, even stress, excitement and strenuous exercise can result in diarrhea.

When JD got diarrhea we definitely had a suspect. While on a walk he snatched and ate part of an unidentified carcass. Because we did have a suspect and he looked normal otherwise, we decided to try a 24-hour fast  followed by bland meals to see whether his gut will settle down. It did.

Note: A fast is usually only necessary when a dog is vomiting, not with diarrhea only. There is no harm in a 24 hour fast (as long as water is always available) and it can decrease the amount of diarrhea (which is helpful, no doubt), but if a dog really wants to eat, there’s no harm in letting them do so (except maybe to the carpets.) It made sense to us to let his gut rest, though, so that's what we did.

Acute diarrhea from a dietary indiscretion should start to improve within 24 hours.

JD's did last 48 hours but because it was not an emergency and it was on the weekend when the vet was closed, we decided to wait another day. If it hadn't resolved by then, we would have taken him in. Also, if his overall condition had gotten worse (he started vomiting or looking sick) we would have taken him in.

On the other hand, on the day Cookie clearly didn't feel well, if she had just one episode of diarrhea, we would have taken her in.

Severe, explosive, unrelenting diarrhea is an emergency.

Stool with blood in it calls for medical attention. Digested blood makes the feces appear black and tarry.

If your dog continues to have diarrhea for longer than a day or two, you need to see a vet. I would not wait any longer than that.

Just once we waited longer, only to regret it. With her IBD, Jasmine had diarrhea fairly often. She was typically put on metronidazole, which is an antibiotic but also decreases inflammation in the gut. Every now and then Jasmine's diarrhea would resolve on its own. Hoping that it might do that and trying to avoid yet another course of antibiotics, we decided to wait a second day to see if things improve. By then end of the day she had blood in her diarrhea.

Large or small intestinal diarrhea?

Small intestinal diarrhea tends to be the worse of the two. The main job of the small intestine is digestion and nutrient and fluid absorption. When it's not working properly it not only results in diarrhea but dogs may also not be getting the nutrition they need.

Common causes of small intestinal diarrhea can be quite scary, including parvovirus. Other possibilities include other viral infections, parasites, bacterial or fungal infections, poisoning, an abrupt deficiency in glucocorticoids (Addison’s disease),  pancreatic disease, garbage gut, inflammatory bowel disease, cancers, systemic disease (e.g. liver or kidney failure), and hemorrhagic gastroenteritis.

With small intestinal diarrhea, your dog might not have to go more than two to four times a day but they will produce huge amounts of very wet stool. If there is blood in the stool it will be dark, digested blood. With ongoing small intestinal diarrhea, your dog can start losing weight.

A dog with acute large intestinal diarrhea will need to go frequently, usually in a hurry. He is likely to strain while defecating and pass smaller volume of feces at a time. There can be fresh blood or mucus in the stool. There is no loss of nutrients and a dog with ongoing lower intestinal diarrhea will generally not lose weight.

Large intestinal diarrhea can be caused by parasites, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, cancer, bacteria, fungal infections, garbage gut and other dietary issues.

When dogs have conditions that affect both the large and small intestine, a combination of symptoms can be seen.

When to take a dog to the vet?

Diarrhea is such a common problem that most people want to treat it on their own. After all, we don’t see the doctor every time we get diarrhea. Many home remedies, such as a 24-hour fast, bland food, and adding fiber or probiotics to the diet can be helpful. But diarrhea is not a disease, it is a symptom of one. Trying to treat diarrhea without understanding the cause behind it is often counterproductive and can be dangerous.

The first step is figuring out what caused it.

To recap, diarrhea can be caused by any of the following things (and more!).
  • Dietary indiscretion
  • Diet change
  • Foreign body/obstruction
  • Food allergy or intolerance
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Bacterial infections
  • Viral infections
  • Fungal infections
  • Toxins
  • Pancreatic disease
  • Auto-immune
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Cancer
  • Addison's disease
Do you still feel confident that you can always deal with your dog's diarrhea on your own?

Related articles:
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
Gastroenteritis is when ... 

Veterinarians Answer: 10 Main Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog 
Symptoms: Recognition, Acknowledgement And Denial
Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Excessive Panting
Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Excessive Drinking
Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Bad Odor 
Symptoms to Watch For In Your Dog: Excessive Drooling  
What Can Your Dog's Gums And Tongue Tell You? 
Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Coughing 
Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Excessive Head Shaking  
Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: What Is That Limp? 
Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Nose Bleeds (Epistaxis)
Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Unexplained Weight Loss
Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Loss Of Appetite  
Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Lethargy 
Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Fever (Pyrexia)
Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Regurgitation
Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: Changes in Urination/Urinary Accidents 
Whats In The Urine? (Part I: What You Can Notice On Your Own)
What's In The Urine? (Part II: Urinalysis)
Don't Panic, Don't Panic: Know What Your Job Is 

Further reading:
Diarrhea in Dogs
Acute (Sudden) Dog Diarrhea
Diarrhea in Dogs

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cookie Has Tapeworm Infection

Hunting and snacking on rodents has backfired. Cookie has tapeworm infection.

In theory, we knew this could happen. In practice, this is really our first experience with intestinal parasites. Jasmine did have roundworms once when she was little. Other than that, our dogs never had this issue. But life up here, in the wilderness, is different. Places to see, critters to hunt and snack on.

We cannot practically prevent Cookie from hunting the little critters and we couldn't take that fun away from her anyway.

That means we have to become much more vigilant and get on parasite watch and see what we can do in terms of natural prevention.

Cookie did not have any symptoms.

It was sheer luck we found out when we did. So it happened that after major snow fall we got a warm day when the snow partially melted and then froze with a thick hard crust. Because this is unsafe to let Cookie running through that like a fool, she's doomed do leashed walks and runs until the snow melts, hardens all the way through or gets thick enough cover of fresh stuff on top of it.

I was taking her for her morning walk when I noticed something below her bum.

It was not snow. It was not moving and kind of looked like a piece of thread and later it was gone. That's what I concluded it was - a piece of thread from something.

Later that day I noticed another one, at about the same location. That, I thought, was strange. And I couldn't really figure out where all those pieces of thread would be coming from. As it was at the beginning of the walk, by the time we came back home I forgot all about it.

The next morning I saw one actually crawl out of her bum.

Ok, this was alive, moving, crawling out of her bum. This was a worm! Kind of looked like roundworm but it was kind of short for that. Also, even though it looked white, it was kind of semitransparent.

This is exactly what I saw. Photo and video by Artem Castillo

Tapeworm didn't even cross my mind.

I was under the impression that the segments would look like segments. Kind of like a grain of rice, as it is often described. I didn't expect it to be this long and squirm around.

This is what I would have expected to see. Image Little Creek Veterinary Clinic

It wasn't until I discussed it with Dr. Krista who pointed me in the right direction that I confirmed that it indeed is tapeworm.

Called up the vet and they prepared the meds for Cookie. She got her first dose yesterday.

Not knowing how long Cookie has had this, I got also wondering whether this could have been behind Cookie's elevated ALT.

Most vets whom I asked said it would not. Jasmine's vet, though, said that if it is a flea-transmitted tapeworm it wouldn't but if Cookie has a large tapeworm burden that may have caused the elevation.

I always thought that tapeworms come either from fleas or uncooked pork.

Turns out that there is more than one kind of tapeworms and all kinds of ways a dog can contract them.

Dogs most commonly acquire Dipylidium caninum that does come from ingestion of fleas. But dogs who have access to various small mammals can also get other kinds. I always thought tapeworm was a tapeworm. Apparently not.

They can also be found in all kinds of places, such as body cavities, liver, even connective tissue.

That's life in the wilderness for you.

Cookie is being treated and I'll be looking into ways of prevention. And well be keeping even closer eye on the poop. Until now, when it was good and solid, we didn't examine it further. Now we're gonna have to.

I'll be also kind of curious to see whether getting rid of this might get the ALT back to where it belongs.

Further reading:
Tapeworms in Small Animals

Related articles:
Incontinence? Cookie's Mysterious Leaks
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 
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?

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, January 26, 2015

Adoption Monday: Tank, Terrier Mix, Eatontown, NJ

Tank is a 2-year-old Terrier mix who was too rough for the granddaughter in his home.

He leans up against for affection and pets. Tank very gentle taking treats.

Tank is house trained and knows basic commands. He is very smart.

Thank likes other dogs.

For more photos and videos visit Tank's page atThe Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.


The Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was founded in 1945 to care for the community’s homeless, neglected and abused animals. 

The MCSPCA is not affiliated with any other shelter or welfare organization. They are not affiliated with, nor do they receive a majority of their funding from the Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA, the New Jersey SPCA or the Associated Humane Societies, Inc.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Distance Is a Relative Concept

We consider distance an objective value. We measure it as the amount of space between things. We measure it in inches, yards, miles ... or their metric equivalents.

That is as objective as it gets, isn't it?

A mile is a mile is a mile is a mile.

This kind of reminds me of an old joke, though:
"What is heavier? A pound of feathers or a pound of steel?"
A pound is a pound is a pound, right?
Would you still think that if you dropped either of those on your toe?

Cookie got me thinking about these things.

When she goes exploring in the bush and gets 300 yards away, I am on pins and needles. It is further than I'm comfortable with. Does SHE think she's gone THAT far? Nope, she does not.

I got thinking about it and I figured out why.

For me, to make it 300 yards through the bush and snow would take a LONG time. 

For Cookie? Cookie's top clocked speed through the bush is 20 miles an hour. That is 35,200 yards. That is 586 yards a minute.

Cookie can cover 300 yards in 30 seconds!

Is 300 yards still far away then? Not really, is it? That makes distance very relative. Relative to how fast one can cover it. It becomes a matter of how fast, not how far.

Just check out the distance between Cookie's leaps.
Looking at it that way, I have to give it to Cookie that keeping under 300 yards is indeed staying close around.

From her perspective anyway. My idea of staying close around SOMEWHAT differs from hers. I'm measuring it by how fast I COULD get there.

The mismatch in our athletic abilities is a source of dilemma. For me. 

It's not that Cookie doesn't come back. But what if something happened out there, all those 300 yards away? How fast could I get there to help?

On the other hand, Cookie craves the freedom to explore the bush.

She thrives on running around following animal tracks and whatever else she finds so desirable out there. We don't want to take that away from her. After all, what else would we have 80 acres of property for?

I came to two conclusions.

The only meaningful way of measuring distance is in time units. And I have to seriously work on running through the bush faster.

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) 
Why Do Dogs Dig?
Who Is In The Wrong?
Your Dog Wants To Follow You. You Just Gotta Be Going Some Place
We Still Have Two Dogs: A "Pilot Study" Part Two  
Early Winter Safety: Exploring New Territories
Cookie Is Okay. We ... Might Be, Eventually. (Don't Try This At Home)
One Thing I Love About Winter: I See What They "See" 
Give Your Dog What They Need, Get What You Want
Cookie, The First Of The Great Hunting Rottweilers 
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