Friday, November 27, 2015

Veterinary Highlights: Vaccine for H3N2 Influenza Virus Available

This Spring, new strain of canine flu, that has originated in Asia, has made its way to American continent. With dogs' immune systems unprepared, many dogs got sick, some of them died.

Existing canine flu vaccines haven't been shown effective.

This month, USDA has issued a conditional product license for Merck Animal Health's H3N2 Canine Influenza Virus vaccine.

We live in a remote area where risk of exposure is low. We're not going to rush to get our dogs vaccinated, also because the vaccine is very new.

If we lived in high populated area, though, I'd be happy to know that it is available now.

Source article:
New Canine Influenza Virus vaccine for H3N2 available

Related articles:
Canine Influenza Outbreak
Blood Test for the New Dog Flu (H3N2) Available

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Primer on Diaphragmatic Hernia

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

The diaphragm is a muscular partition that separates the abdomen and the chest. A tear in this thin muscle is called a diaphragmatic hernia or rupture.

The most common cause of diaphragmatic hernia is blunt trauma, such as being hit by a car or falling from a high place.  

A congenital diaphragmatic hernia that results from defective development of the fetus is seen in puppies.

Once the diaphragm is torn, abdominal contents are able to enter the chest cavity.  

This compresses the lungs and prevents them from fully inflating, causing respiratory distress.  The abdominal contents can also press against the heart and cause abnormal heart rhythms.  Fluid can leak into the chest cavity, further worsening heart and lung function.

Signs depend on the size of the tear and the amount of abdominal contents that move up into the chest cavity. 

With small tears and most congenital hernias, there may be no obvious signs.  However, in most cases, the dog may have some breathing difficulties, especially during stress or exercise, and mild gastrointestinal upset.  In severe cases, the dog may have much more trouble breathing and abnormal heart rhythms.

Diagnosis is based on history, physical examination, and x-rays.  Sometimes, ultrasound or special x-ray dye studies are needed.

Treatment requires surgical repair. In cases of recent trauma, the dog must be stabilized before the hernia can be corrected.  Prognosis after surgery is initially guarded because of the seriousness of the operation and the risk of complications.

Congenital hernias in females are often discovered and repaired when the dog is spayed.


Visit WebVet for a wealth of information about the health and well-being of pets. All medical-related content on WebVet has been veterinarian approved to ensure its timeliness and accuracy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Figuring out What Might Be Going on with Cookie's Legs: The Diagnosis

Most of the sinister reasons why Cookie's legs weren't working the way they should were more or less ruled out. We were awaiting the appointment with orthopedic specialist hoping that we'll get some definite answer(s).

Cookie in pursuit of a chipmunk

The specialist examined Cookie thoroughly.

She translated our description of the events as Cookie not being able to get her hind legs under her. In retrospective, that could be a good way to describe it. It is important from diagnostic point of view.

In physical examination, both iliopsoas muscles were sensitive touch and particularly to stretching Cookie's hind legs backward.

On that note, the stretching of the legs was causing Cookie enough pain to cry, yet the vet went on doing what she was doing.

I was taken aback and didn't really know what to do about it as it wasn't clear whether it was or was not necessary for the diagnosis. I stood there, screaming inside, praying it's over sooner rather than later. The vet finished just when I was going to make her stop.

Knowing now what the diagnosis is, I DO NOT feel it was necessary. Jasmine's vet diagnosed the same type of injury on Jasmine without causing any pain whatsoever.

I will not allows this to happen ever again, that's for sure.

I asked around and apparently such things happen often with orthopedic surgeons. I don't find it acceptable. Jasmine's vet is not a specialist but is able to diagnose things just by feeling the resistance and subtle signs of pain. He never made Jasmine cry no matter what he was diagnosis, except when her neck was bad and she cried even when nobody was touching her.

I feel I failed Cookie by having allowed that.

In retrospective, if we just made the trip back South to see Jasmine's vet we could have had the diagnosis without causing pain to Cookie. Next time we should probably just do that.

Besides that, the specialist did a rectal exam to feel for pain in lumbosacral spine, fortunately there was no pain there other than the obvious pain in the butt. There were no signs of any back pain, no neurologic deficits in any of Cookie's limbs and no issues with her joints. All joints checked out. Those were all good news.

The diagnoses was suspected bilateral iliopsoas injury.

She used the term suspected because I guess MRI would be needed to confirm that conclusively.

She said Cookie was going to have be on strict rest for one to three months. Whoa. Cookie is a dog who needs three hours of exercise and play daily. Because we did feel she should be taking a bit easier since the last event, we cut down to two hours and she was already bouncing off the walls at that! I expressed to the specialist than this was not going happen unless Cookie was sedated.

It didn't seem to surprise her much and she recommended a medication to use for that.

I will write about the medication later. I avoid using drugs for my dogs with all my might but I knew that without some chemical help Cookie was going to be frustrated, miserable, depressed and out of control--complete danger to herself. She needed help to remain at peace with the sudden lack of activity because the main part of her treatment was to be strict rest.

I also agreed on short-term NSAIDs until we were going to work out an integrative approach with Cookies primary vet.

The specialist agreed that it will be good to continue with Cookie's regular chiropractic treatments.

Typically, iliopsoas injuries come secondary to another orthopedic problem. In Cookie's case this would be the situation at her pelvic region.

She recommended a physiotherapy consult which we had already all planned. I was very happy to find out that by leaving our old place we didn't leave the possibility of hydrotherapy. There is a place up here, at reasonable distance, which does physical therapy and has underwater treadmill. It's about an hour and a half drive each way but that's not really that much further from how far we normally travel(ed) to any of our vets.

The diagnosis made sense to me. The needed treatment--strict rest, nearly broke my heart for Cookie.

But we gotta do what we gotta do to get her back to doing what she loves.

Cookie's primary vet was kind of surprised by the diagnosis, unfamiliar with this issue. That's not too strange, many vets are not familiar with this and it's rarely diagnosed. Rarely diagnosed, though, doesn't mean a rare condition.

The specialist is quite confident that not only the physical exam but the presentation match this diagnosis quite well.

Thinking about it armed with this knowledge it is adding up.

What the heck are iliopsoas muscles?

I've looked at tons of picture but all of them make it hard to really picture how the muscle goes.
This genius depiction by keeps the illustration very simple and awesome.

Iliopsoas muscles are also referred to as hip flexors or groin muscles. Their main function is to flex the thigh at hip joint. In other words, they work when the leg moves forward toward the body. Which would explain why with this injury Cookie would have a hard time getting her legs under her.

There isn't much good literature on this type of injury in dogs.

But Jasmine's vet is familiar with it, and through Jasmine so were we.

This injury is most typical in sporting and working dogs. But Cookie works at least as hard as an agility dog, probably harder, particularly given the terrain she runs through. Overall, it's all adding up to this diagnosis.

So that's what we're working with now.

Further reading:
Iliopsoas Muscle Injury in Dogs

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

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, November 23, 2015

Adoption Monday: Wilbur, Labrador Retriever & Flat-coated Retriever Mix, Burbank, CA

Wilbur is a sweet lab, flat-coated retriever blend who is slowly coming out of his shell.

He lived under a house for almost 1.5 years after his person died - neighbors fed him. In his foster home, he is blossoming and can't stop wagging his tail. His coat gleams and so does his heart.

Will you find a place in your heart and in your home for Wilbur?

Wilbur s neutered and current on vaccinations.


The Animal Protectorates (TAPS) facilitates the direct protection of animals in every possible way;  provide sponsorship for, and financial support to programs and organizations involving animal welfare;  provide outreach and education to promote an increased awareness of animal cruelty;  encourage every citizen to become active,  involved and responsible animal guardians; promote the legal re-classification of animals to a category other than property; and, to carry on other charitable activities associated with these goals as allowed by law.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Genetic Wisdom?

Just yesterday there was a post on Pet People FB group, one in the dog shaming category but cute. The caption with the photo said, "I bark at doorbells on TV. We never had a doorbell!"

My response to that was, "Genetic wisdom." 

I said that mostly to be funny but I also kind of sort of meant it in a way.

As it turns out, I might have been more right than I thought.

So perhaps the pup was never exposed to real doorbell, his parents might have. And perhaps that's the reason he's reacting to the sound of doorbells on TV. Or perhaps he just doesn't like the sound.

Always give your dog the benefit of the doubt.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Online Pharmacies, Pet Parents and Veterinarians Relationship, and more ...

Big Box and Online Pharmacies, and How to Be Sure Your Pet’s Med’s Are Safe
Dr. Dr. Jessica Vogelsang/petMD

I am paranoid about everything that could hurt my dogs. Medication errors can certainly be one of them. When the orthopedic specialist Cookie was seeing last Sunday was going to write a prescription for a new drug to a pharmacy, my protective radar came on. "How will we determine whether the prescription was filled properly?" I asked. It was a first time ever using this drug for any of my dogs. I didn't know what it's supposed to look like, I didn't know what to expect in terms of effects ... "I could get you some from here, then," she replied.

Yes, that's what I wanted. Getting the drug directly from the hospital. At least the first time.

That day, over dinner I was catching up with my veterinary Twitter feed and just that day there was a story of a major pharmacy screw-up where they dispensed an NSAID instead of an appetite stimulant ... to a cat with kidney failure! It was a small yellow pill. It was supposed to be oval-shaped. They gave a small yellow pill but it was round. The drug couldn't have been more opposite of what the cat was supposed to be getting. One of the worst mistakes that could happen.

I love being able to grab a prescription from a pharmacy instead of making the trip to the vet. When it's a medication I'm familiar with. I can then check whether it looks the way it should. And I'd know whether it's doing what it should. One time we got Metronidazole from a pharmacy which looked different than what we've been usually getting. I was immediately on the phone with our vet to have it cleared up before I'd give it. It was fine but I was able to make sure.

Using online pharmacies can get even trickier. Ordering meds online, are you getting the right medication? The right dose? Was it stored properly?

Personally I don't like taking chances. I like to get our meds either from a vet or, if I'm already familiar with the medication, from a local pharmacy in some cases.

Is it OK to get your dog's medication from places other than your vet? Is it safe? It might be. Would you know?

Read Dr. V's thoughtful article on the subject.

Why Human and Veterinary Pharmacies Are NOT Created Equal
Dr. Patty Khuly/Dolittler Blog

And here is the article I mentioned above. I found it the night after I decided that I'd rather get Cookie's prescription directly from the clinic rather than getting a script to a local pharmacy. Because mistakes happen. And how would I tell with a new drug I've never even seen before?

If you're a fan of House MD, you might remember an episode with a similar story. The pharmacist dispensed gout medication instead of cough medication. It almost killed the guy.

There are enough potential side effects with drugs to worry about as it is. Why throw another variable into the mix?

What Is the Prognosis for Dogs With Severe Internal Bleeding?
Dr. Eric Barchas/dogster

The logical assumption would be that the prognosis depends on whether or not the bleeding can be stopped. Makes sense, no?

But it also depends on what caused the bleeding in the first place. If the bleeding was caused by a splenic tumor there is an important additional criteria to the prognosis. Was the tumor benign or cancerous?

Dr. Barchas talks in detail about what the possible causes and prognoses of bleeding splenic tumor are.

Pet Parents and Veterinarians: Time to Re-evaluate the Relationship
Dr. Ken Tudor/petMD

I know my own relationship with veterinarians has changed dramatically over time. And not just because of our bad experiences but also because of my new understanding of how to best advocate for my dogs. I have taken on an active role in my dogs' care and health management. And as hard as I work on resolving any medical issue that crop up, I also learned about the importance of wellness and prevention. After all, isn't it better to try to prevent illness in the first place?

Not everything can be prevented but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. Starting from adequate exercise, quality nutrition and, yes, regular wellness exams. Do not skimp on wellness exams.

Do you only take your dog to the vet when there is a problem?

Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison’s Disease): A Great Pretender
Dr. Christopher Byers/CriticalCareDVM

If there is the ultimate chameleon of a disease, Addison's disease must be it. Which, unfortunately, often makes it hard to get diagnosed. Just recently a friend was battling with her dog being sick and getting sicker and not being able to get any answers. It took quite a long time until her dog was finally diagnosed with Addison's disease. Many of the symptoms associated with Addison's disease can be symptoms of just about anything else under the sun.

Symptoms can occur suddenly and can be life-threatening. Addison's disease is the result of abnormally low production of hormones responsible for regulating water balance, electrolytes and sugar in the body. Proper levels of these things are crucial for the body to be able to function.

Want to learn more to understand Addison's disease? Read Dr. Byers' article.

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