Sunday, March 31, 2013

How Well Do You Speak Dog?

These awesome videos are originally the find of Mel from No Dog About It. I am happy to include them here also, because I feel there is still a shortage of good visual references of dog body language.

Do you see anything familiar? Have you learned something new?

Friday, March 29, 2013

Veterinary Highlights: DNA Vaccines?

Where do you think the future of vaccines might be going? Using vaccines based on actual infectious agents is logical and has been working for our dogs for a long time, though there are risks associated with it, like with everything foreign introduced into a body.

Could a vaccine be created without the use of the actual viruses or bacteria?

The future might belong to DNA vaccines.

DNA vaccines are not a new idea, but remain a controversial one. So why consider it at all?

Playing with live, thought weakened, viruses is in a way like playing with fire. All is good, until things get out of control.

DNA vaccines, as you'd imagine, contain only DNA and not any actual infectious agents. Instead of sending the actual criminal, it's like sending a mugshot only. "Watch out for any guys who look like this." Just like the police, the immune system would receive the mugshot and be ready in case the real criminal showed up. Though, clearly, it's not exactly like that, because there is still the physical presence of the DNA that gets introduced into the body.

Sounds good on paper, doesn't it?

Resulting vaccines should be more stable at a wide range of temperatures and new vaccines could be created faster in response to rapidly emerging new threats.

However, only one DNA vaccine has been licensed for the use in dogs so far, the melanoma vaccine. Why is that?

Perhaps because playing with fire is easy enough, even kids can do it. Starting a fire isn't really the trick, controlling it is.

There is a good reason we don't want our kids play with matches.

The further we move away from the natural—in this case simply meaning "as found in nature"—the further we move into the realm of unpredictability.

The precise metabolic machinery that leads to a favorable immune response is not fully understood.
So far, with some modifications, we were really just copying what happens naturally.

There are many variables to be dealt with. So should we really play with things we don't fully understand? Or should we try to get better understanding first?

I think we ought to play, that's how we learn. But let's play responsibly.

Because I don't think that they all do [play responsibly]. Monsanto for one. Let's play and learn but let's not forget Jurassic Park.

Would I consider the melanoma vaccine for my dog?

Yes, I would consider it. Would I consider DNA vaccine against, say, Parvo? No, I don't think I would at this time.

Source article:
DNA Vaccines: The Future Of Disease Control

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Primer On Bites, Puncture Wounds, And Abscesses

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

Bites and puncture wounds can both lead to abscesses.

Puncture wounds can be caused by fights with another animal, stepping on a nail or other sharp object, or even running into a broken branch or stick. These problems are most common in dogs that roam free outside.

Unlike simple lacerations or abrasions, bites and punctures tend to carry material into the wound, which can seal over and trap bacteria inside.  

When this happens, the wound often becomes infected and can develop into a large, pus-filled abscess.  Punctures that penetrate completely through the wall of the chest or abdomen are rare, but they are especially serious problems that require emergency treatment and surgery.

Abscesses are especially common in fight wounds.  

Numerous bacteria are found in the mouth, and they are carried deep into the skin and underlying tissues by the teeth. The small wounds left by the bite on the skin surface seal over quickly, trapping the bacteria deep inside. Within a day or two, a large pus pocket develops, which may be warm and fluctuating to the touch.  Yellow, gray, or greenish pus may ooze from the wound, and the pus pocket may rupture spontaneously after several days.

The signs of illness depend on the area affected and the nature of the bite or puncture.  

Punctures on the foot or leg can cause lameness and swelling of the limb. Nearby lymph nodes, such as those in the neck, the front of the chest, or behind the knee, can become swollen in response to infection.

Your veterinarian will examine your dog closely, looking for any signs of a puncture or bite wound, including a deeper abscess.  In some cases, x-rays may be recommended to look for foreign material and to gauge the depth and severity of the puncture or wound.

Antibiotics are needed to fight infection. Anesthesia and surgery are often necessary to open, drain, and flush out the abscess.

In some cases, your vet will place a drain in the wound to prevent the skin opening from sealing over and to allow continued drainage during healing.  Warm compresses can be used to stimulate drainage and blood flow. Puncture wounds on the feet often respond well to foot soaks in warm, antiseptic solution.


Visit WebVet for a wealth of information about the health and well-being of pets. All content is rev

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tackling The Veterinary Terminology: Prefixes (spondylo-)

Remember the Spelling Bee? Big words are easier to tackle when you understand how they're put together. Veterinary terms are composed in the same way. Just like with other words, the main parts of a veterinary term are a prefix, a root, and a suffix. The difference is that they typically come more directly from Greek or Latin.

A prefix is placed at the beginning of a word to modify its meaning by providing additional information. It usually indicates number, location, time, or status.
spondylo- [spän′də lə] - from Greek - vertebra(e)

Since I mentioned cervical spondylomyelopathy (Wobbler syndrome) last time, why don't we examine what the prefix spondylo- stands for.

When you find the spondylo- prefix at the beginning of your veterinary term, it means that the problem involves vertebra(e).

(Vertebra being the bones or segments forming the spinal column)

Cervical spondylomyelopathy, then, means that it's a disease which involves both the vertebrae and spinal cord of the neck. In this case, malformation of the vertebrae, or disc protrusion(s), push on the spinal cord and/or nerve roots, causing neck pain and/or neurological signs. The typical symptom being the characteristic wobbly gait, thus Wobbler syndrome.

Spondylopathy is any disease affecting the vertebra(e). We discussed this under suffixes.

Other term which you might encounter is spondylitis, inflammation of the vertebrae. This one is usually caused by infection, typically bacterial. For example, diskospondylitis, inflammation of the intervertebral disk and adjacent vertebrae.

Spondylosis, on the other hand, is a degenerative condition, caused by aging or injury. Resulting abnormal bony growths/bone spurs, the result of the body trying to fix itself, can actually lead to fusion of the adjacent vertebrae.

Spondylosis. Image Puppyer

To best remember the difference between spondylitis and spondylosis, one is inflammation, usually due to infection, and the other is presence of abnormal bony growths.

Note the difference: arthritis is inflammation of the joints. It could be caused by infection but usually is of degenerative/wear and tear origin. Spondylitis is inflammation of the vertebra(e), just about always caused by an infection


Related articles:
Veterinary Suffixes (-itis)
Veterinary Suffixes (-oma) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-pathy)  
Veterinary Suffixes (-osis) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-iasis) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-tomy) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-ectomy)  
Veterinary Suffixes (-scopy) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-emia)
Veterinary Suffixes (-penia)
Veterinary Suffixes (-rrhea) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-cyte) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-blast) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-opsy)
Veterinary Suffixes (-ac/-al)

Veterinary Prefixes (hyper-) 
Veterinary Prefixes (hypo-)
Veterinary Prefixes (pyo-) 
Veterinary Prefixes (myo-) 
Veterinary Prefixes (myelo-)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I Always Thought That A UTI Would Scream It's Presence

I always thought that a UTI (urinary tract infection) would scream it's presence loud and clear.

Frequent urination, but usually small amounts at the time, difficulty urinating, urine dribbling, urinary accidents, smelly urine, maybe some blood in it ... you know, what you picture when you're thinking about a UTI.

As it turns out, a UTI doesn't have to come screaming with any of those.

Firstly, there are things that can cloud the issue, such as if your dog is on steroids.

Being on steroids on its own causes increased drinking and urination. 

How would that be different from a urinary tract infection? On steroids, Jasmine would pee somewhat more frequently, quite large volumes each time. With an infection, you'd expect smaller amounts more frequently. But with Jasmine, this was not the case.

Being on steroids increases the chances of your dog getting an infection, a UTI being one of them.

So now you have a situation which makes it more likely for your dog to get an infection and makes it harder to tell what is going on at the same time.

Here is how it played out with Jasmine.

While on the steroids, her drinking was somewhat increased but nowhere near to what I expected. Her urination also increased but more in volume rather than in frequency. She'd typically ask to go out once or twice more often that normally.

Once she was weaned off them, we assumed this to go away but didn't expect it to go away over night.

Couple days after she was off the steroids Jasmine started drinking more than usually; even more than when she was on the steroids. That was strange and alarming, so I talked to the vet about it right away.

He said we should start with urinalysis to see what might be going on.

He did mention UTI but it was not adding up with the symptoms to me at all. She was not showing any of the typical symptoms ...?

After a day and a half of increased drinking, it suddenly stopped and went back to normal. False alarm? Body adjusting to getting off the meds?

After another talk with the vet we all figured it was a false alarm.

"We don't need to do the urinalysis if she's not sick," he said.

Was she sick or wasn't she?

Jasmine was still urinating somewhat larger volume and the urine looked somewhat more dilute than normally, but not more than when on the steroids. So the question was, how long should it take for things go back to normal? Blood work would show a dog on steroids for between two weeks to a month. For the sake of the stem cell therapy it is recommended to wait 45 days, so clearly, the body might not be back to normal before that...

Jasmine also had some stomach upsets and stool trouble before, which was believed to be an effect of the meds, perhaps this was part of that also?

The symptoms were as vague as you can come up with.

Jasmine seemed kind of under the weather.

There was nothing one could put their finger on. Her appetite was lower that I'd expect, and no, it wasn't because she was so hungry while on the steroids. I wasn't comparing her appetite to that on steroids, but to that before. It was still lower than that.

Mostly it was just a feeling I had, that something wasn't right.

Could it all be just her coming of the steroids? Perhaps. But a worried mom that I am, based on the funny feeling, I decided to do the urinalysis after all.

And what do you know, the urinalysis results did point to a UTI quite clearly.

Seriously? With such a lack of the signs you always read about? Frankly, though, I was glad it was something simple; I was worried about her kidneys.

Jasmine was put on antibiotics, the signs had resolved and the follow up urinalysis says the infection is gone.

So it seems there is one we can cross of the board. Her blood work also didn't show anything alarming. I am still keeping a watchful eye on Jasmine.

Did you dog ever had a UTI with vague symptoms? How did you figure it out?


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Haunted By A Stinky Vacuum?

I remember a discussion we had on twitter, about stinky vacuum cleaners. It seems, that no matter what brand you have, it will get stinky sooner or later.

I am not completely sure whether this is just a problem of households with dogs.

But we get haunted by the stinky vacuum.

I've gone through a several, different kinds. Some designed specifically for homes with pets, some designed with fancy filters. The only kind I haven't tried yet is those with water filtration. Those, I suppose, should theoretically remain odor-free.

I also admit that I haven't met a vacuum which I wouldn't hate emptying.

What's up with that? We live in the age of technology and we can't invent a vacuum the emptying of which would not be a total messy nightmare? I guess not. (again, I cannot speak for water filtration vacuums)

Vacuuming with a stinky vacuum cleaner, besides the stink itself, just doesn't feel right. You can't help to think about what kind of nasty mess you are dispersing in the air along with the stink.

Then our vacuum died and hubby brought in a replacement, refurbished Filter Queen.

Ok, I didn't really like the looks of it and emptying it isn't any more pleasant than with any other vacuum.

But three years going and no stink!

The filtration system looks very simple, almost crude. No fancy this and fancy that. But it works!

I don't know how much a new one would cost, but we got ours for couple hundred bucks, because it wasn't new.

If you too are haunted by stinky vacuum, get Filter Queen. Truly.

Oh, and if you're worried about suction, Filter Queen sucks. In a good way. After all, if a vacuum doesn't suck, it blows.


This post is not sponsored in any way, I just wanted to share my joy of vacuum cleaner that doesn't stink, no matter how much mess you put through it.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Angry Vet On Leptospirosis

by Dr. Robert Foley, DVM

As a sad reminder of the dangers and reality of leptospirosis, we had two cases of acute renal failure in otherwise healthy young dogs. 

One of these dog’s kidneys completely shut down and would not respond to treatment. She was euthanized humanely. The other dog, I am pleased to report has responded, and is now home and expected to make a full recovery.

This post is dedicated to Sandy, our unfortunate patient who died far too young:

A differential that is high on the list when an acute renal patient presents is leptospirosis.

Leptospirosis is a bacteria that affects primarily dogs that drink water contaminated with the urine from rodents and mammals like raccoons.

Once infected, your dog can become sick, sometimes gravely sick, with kidney and/or liver failure.

Symptoms can include drinking and urinating excessively progressing to scant or no urine production, vomiting, anorexia, and lethargy. Response to antibiotic therapy is possible if instituted early.  If there is resistance to antibiotics or if antibiotics are instituted too late, progressive organ failure can lead to death. It must also be noted that leptospirosis can be transmitted from pets to humans.

Our recent exposure to this bacteria re-raises some of the questions with which we at Angryvet frequently wrestle. 

While we do carry the leptospirosis vaccination, we don’t recommend it as one of our core vaccines. We offer it to people whose pets have exposure to wildlife and who feel that the benefits of the vaccination outweigh the risks.

The leptospirosa vaccination typically contains four (at least) serovars/strains. 

Scanning electron micrograph of Leptospira interrogans serovar copenhageni.
Image: Medical Books Online

The problem is that there are hundreds of serovars, and immunity against one serovar does not necessarily predict immunity against another.

In theory, the strains chosen are strains that are known to occur in a local area. This is typical of the flu shot given to people where scientists try and predict which flu strain will be out during a particular season and subsequently which strain(s) will be put into the vaccination. These predictions often fall short in providing protective immunity.

Canine leptospirosis vaccinations are not changed with such frequency, so we can expect vaccination immunity to frequently fall short.

Also, predictably, the immunity that is obtained to any strain is fleeting (sometimes 9 months or less). This is because the immunity from bacterial vaccinations is different from the immunity from viral vaccinations. It necessitates the activation of various cell-mediated immunity pathways (natural killer cells, etc.) and not the humoral immunity (antibody production) activated by viral vaccines.

Also, and perhaps most importantly, the leptospirosis vaccination is most frequently associated (anecdotally) with vaccine reactions in the patient.  

These reactions are sometimes severe and can necessitate emergency treatment.  Reports of death, while rare, can occur.

One of our patients, the one who died, tested NEGATIVE for leptospirosis.  

A negative test does not guarantee that he did not have it. The tests can provide false negatives. Interestingly, this dog was vaccinated against leptospirosis recently. This means that either the vaccination failed or that her renal failure was caused by something else. Contaminated dog food from China remains a distinct possibility.

The other dog, who tested POSITIVE for the disease, was not vaccinated.  

A positive test does not guarantee that she had an active leptospirosis infection that triggered her renal failure. The test can also show false positives. The likely scenario is that leptospirosis was indeed responsible for her renal and hepatic failure. She is, fortunately, making a nice recovery.

With all of that said, vaccinations can be very effective biological weapons against disease.  When one determines whether to use a particular vaccine they should ask …
  1. How effective is the vaccine?
  2. How safe is the vaccine?
  3. How long lasting is the immunity that is conferred by the vaccine?
  4. How likely is it that the animal will be exposed to the disease with which we are concerned within her environment?.

Leptospirosis is a very difficult vaccination to weigh in on. 

In some heavily endemic areas, where outbreaks are frequent, recommending the vaccine may be much more clear-cut. Conversely, if an animal is paper trained or is indoors (or mostly indoors), the decision to not vaccinate may be easier.  It has been suggested that certain breeds like Dachshunds are more susceptible to reactions.

In my particular area of Long Island and Queens we do see some outbreaks. 

We offer the vaccine to new patients and provide the information to the owners as to the safety and efficacy of the vaccine to allow people to make their own decision for their own pet.

I do not personally vaccinate my dogs against leptospirosis.

As data changes so too may our recommendations…


Articles by Angry Vet: 
Really Angry Vet: Winston's First Seizure  
Ruptured Cruciate Ligaments And Early Spay And Neuter  
Itching For A Diagnosis
Angry Vet On Ear Infections (Part I) 
Angry Vet On Ear Infections (Part II)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tackling The Veterinary Terminology: Prefixes (myelo-)

Remember the Spelling Bee? Big words are easier to tackle when you understand how they're put together. Veterinary terms are composed in the same way. Just like with other words, the main parts of a veterinary term are a prefix, a root, and a suffix. The difference is that they typically come more directly from Greek or Latin.

A prefix is placed at the beginning of a word to modify its meaning by providing additional information. It usually indicates number, location, time, or status.
myelo- [mī′ĕ-lō] - New Latin from Greek - having to do with a spinal cord or bone marrow

This suffix is dangerously similar to myo-, and I imagine they can be easily confused. I know I had a hard time before I figured out what's going on with these two.

No, it's not like tomato, tomahto, all the same. These prefixes might look and sound similar but mean different things. Myo- refers to muscles, while myelo- refers to spinal cord or bone marrow. 

Once you get over that bit, the rest is straightforward again.

Though I was curious how did bone marrow and spinal cord ended up in one bag.

Turns out, that the original Greek word meant marrow. As medical terminology was developing, spinal cord got thrown in the same bag in the days when there was still little understanding of the function of both the spinal cord and the marrow. They had to call it something and it made sense at the time.

After all, both of them are kinda the stuff inside the bones, right? So there is no deep secret to it.

As for some  examples, you might encounter following medical terms. 

Myelitis, inflammation of the bone marrow or spinal cord. Myelogram, imaging of the spinal cord. Myeloma, a tumor of the bone marrow. Myelopathy, any disease of the bone marrow or of the spine, such as degenerative myelopathy, or cervical spondylomyelopathy, aka Wobbler syndrome. (Btw, are you noticing the parade of suffixes we've already discussed?)


Related articles:
Veterinary Suffixes (-itis)
Veterinary Suffixes (-oma) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-pathy)  
Veterinary Suffixes (-osis) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-iasis) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-tomy) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-ectomy)  
Veterinary Suffixes (-scopy) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-emia)
Veterinary Suffixes (-penia)
Veterinary Suffixes (-rrhea) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-cyte) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-blast) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-opsy)
Veterinary Suffixes (-ac/-al)

Veterinary Prefixes (hyper-) 
Veterinary Prefixes (hypo-)
Veterinary Prefixes (pyo-) 
Veterinary Prefixes (myo-)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA) Survivor: Pete's Story

by Jenny MacKay

It was the evening of Monday, October 24 2011, when my husband, Mike, and I first heard the term IMHA

We searched the internet for everything we could find and what we learned filled our hearts with fear... but we hoped for the best.

This is the story of Pete's illness and recovery

Mike and I adopted Pete, a Basenji Corgi mix, from the BC SPCA Sechelt branch in April 2010. Pete was 10 years old, had serious allergies and eczema caused from the stress of being in a shelter environment; he had such a sweet temperament and obviously needed a loving home - it only took 5 minutes for Pete to steal our hearts.

Over the next year and a half Pete became, and still is, an integral part of our lives. He spends his weekdays in the office with Mike and the rest of the time snuggled next to us on the sofa, going for walks on the beach, or hogging as much of the bed as he can while we sleep.

Forward to Sunday, October 23, 2011, we left Pete at home happily snuggled in his bed, then returned 2 hours later to find a very different dog. 

He stood in the corner, his head lowered; we called his name several times and, when he finally turned toward us, he had trouble walking. His back legs buckled under him.

Something was dramatically wrong. 

We stayed up all night and watched Pete closely. In the morning we took him to the Urban Animal Hospital, they examined him, took a blood test, and advised that given the symptoms it might be something called IMHA but results of the blood test would confirm.

They sent us home and advised us to call if anything changed. 

We diligently monitored his behaviour and for a while he seemed to stabilize. However, within hours everything changed - Pete once again lost mobility and in the space of an hour he could no longer walk. We rushed him to the Vancouver Animal Emergency Clinic.

Following another blood test they diagnosed with IMHA - Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia

Pete was immediately admitted and put on several IV drips; the vet provided an overview of immediate treatment- the various costs and options (we are so thankful we had pet insurance with Trupanion). Then came the worst news, the vet explained in depth what IMHA is and cautioned us that even with early detection and appropriate treatment 80% of dogs diagnosed with IMHA do not survive beyond hospitalization. If they do fight the good fight and are able to go home the survival rate beyond 6 months is only 20%.

Pete stayed in the Animal Emergency Hospital and we walked back to the car with an IMHA pamphlet in one hand and Pete's leash in the other, not knowing if he would get the chance to wear it again.

IMHA is a life threatening hematologic disease. It is a disease in which the body's immune system attacks and kills its own red blood cells; without an adequate number of red blood cells the body becomes starved of oxygen and cannot survive.

The causes of IMHA remain largely unknown, with 75% having no found causation at all. 

While some cases may be triggered by an event such as cancer, vaccination, or infection, these do not explain why or how the immune system misdirects and harms the body it is meant to protect.

IMHA occurs more often in middle aged dogs 3 - 8 years old, and in females rather than males. It is a rapidly life threatening disease that even with appropriate treatment is often fatal.

Because IMHA is not well understood there are no known cures or preventive measures.

IMHA comes without any early warning signs. Once the typical symptoms present themselves your animal is already very ill and must get medical attention immediately.

Typical symptoms of IMHA include:
  • Pale or yellow tinged gums
  • Yellowed eyes
  • Dark or pinkish/red urine
  • Tiring easily or weakness
  • Lack of appetite, lethargy, or rapid breathing

**NOTE: IMHA is a very aggressive disease. It is possible for your pet to show no signs, then for the disease to take full hold within as little as 4 hours!

IMHA Resources: University of Prince Edward Island and Pet Place Canada

Following a very long night at the Animal Emergency Hospital we arrived home mentally and physically exhausted, went to bed but couldn't sleep. 

Early the next morning, groggy and tired, we readied ourselves to make the trip back to the hospital for an update on Pete's condition.

When we arrived the vet warned us that Pete had become very ill during the night and we should prepare for the worst. The vet took us to the back room where Pete was. Walking past all the other hospitalized animals, we readied ourselves.

Pete had an IV in each leg and the symptoms we read about had revealed themselves in Pete. 

His skin and eyes were bright yellow with jaundice; he didn't even have enough energy to raise his head.

When he saw us, he could only move just the very end of his tail... all his efforts to wag his tail were barely perceptible.

I have never before felt so helpless and hopeless in all my life.

Pete's case was very serious; they performed a full blood panel testing and his red blood cell count (RBC) was 12, a normal range is between 40-55. The vet recommended immediate blood transfusion, and reminded us that the procedure was not guaranteed to save his life, that he may require multiple transfusions, and that it would be very expensive. Even without knowing what his response would be or the survival rate, so long as it wouldn't cause Pete any additional pain, we would do anything and everything we could to save his life.

We visited Pete in the Animal Emergency Hospital 3 times a day for the next 7 days. Mike visited in the morning, I visited at lunchtime, and we both went together in the evening after work - staying as long as we could, begging for just a few more minutes after visiting hours closed.

Over the course of those 7 days Pete's condition fluctuated - improving, worsening, stabilizing, and around and around. 

The whole time he kept getting yellower and yellower - the jaundice was getting worse as his RBC was improving at glacial speed. He received all his nutrients, food, and medicine from an IV.

Each time we visited we tried to persuade him to eat; we took purred salmon, white rice, eggs, chicken stock, liver... all his favourites, but to no avail. Pete was just too sick to eat. He was losing weight rapidly. If he couldn't eat then we would do everything else we could think of to make him comfortable. We took his blanket, toys, even our own sweaters - in the hopes that he would recognize our smell and make his feel a little less lonely in the times when we couldn't be there with him.

One evening, when we were visiting the vet told us that she'd never seen it before but was convinced that each time we left Pete cried himself to sleep. It broke my heart. To be honest, it still does...

Mike and I grieved and hoped, hoped and grieved - with the exception of visiting hours when we saw Pete there was no joy in the world and time seemed to stand still.

Following the blood transfusions Pete showed very slow signs of recovery until finally he was stable enough to come home. 

He'd lost 30% of his body weight and much of his muscle mass, he couldn't walk for more than a few minutes at a time. It was still another week before he would eat on his own, and until he could we fed him from a syringe, ounces at a time, every hour. Pete's appetite slowly came back and within 3 weeks his appetite had returned.

Pete's release included a heavy regime of medications required every 4 hours; the vet warned us that because the medication was so strong and hard on the system that the medication might be as dangerous to Pete as the IMHA.

We kept him with us at all times so we could monitor his health. IMHA is a very tricky disease that has no cure, and only sometimes can it be managed. Relapses are always possible, and quite common, and happen without warning.

For the next 4 months Pete received weekly blood tests to monitor his RBC. 

The first few weeks nothing changed much, then slowly the RBC crept up. He was, and continues, to be on a daily regime of medications. Some suppress his immune system, while others promote the healthy growth of new red blood cells.

For the first two months the medications are not effective as they need to build up in the system before they can affect any change.

Yet, while they are ineffective in fighting the disease, they bring powerful and scary side effects. 

Pete suffered severe thirst. He couldn't drink enough water, always panting, and with that came round the clock visits to the little doggie room for bathroom breaks. Pete developed ulcers on his tongue and had multiple stomach troubles.

One of the medications suppressed Pete's immune system, as this was the crux of the disease, and as a result he was very prone to illness and infection from any cuts or sores. Each blood test the vet needed to work around the previous injection as each took weeks to heal.

More troubling, given his lack of immunity, he developed a serious skin infection and lost most of his fur. 

Given it was winter and he was still underweight, poor Pete was always trembling from cold. Pete accumulated quite the collection of sweaters, booties, and blankets.

While we waited for the medications to take effect, we tried everything we could to speed up and assist his recovery. 

We took him for holistic therapy, gave him vitamins and supplements, herbs, changed his diets, and many other things.

We lived our lives in weekly installments, always holding our breath for the results of the next weekly blood test. 

Slowly, Pete's personality came back. On Christmas day Pete was inundated with gifts from friends and neighbours, and for the first time since October he played (if only very timidly) with his toys.

During the first few months of recovery Mike had to carry Pete to the office, a walk he would normally look forward to twice a day every day. Pete spent his days relaxing under Mike's chair and receiving visits and best wishes from everyone in the office. It took 2.5 months before Pete could walk the whole 30 minutes to the office. 

In late February 2012 the vet gave Pete a 4 month clean bill of health. 

His RBC had gone up to 50. It would not be for another 3 months that Pete would have to endure another blood test. Even though the vet reminded us that the possibility of relapse was always there, and that Pete would be on medication for the rest of his life, we all slept soundly for the first time in 4 months. Mike and I were forced to the far edges of the bed while Pete slept in the middle; that night I even appreciated his snoring. 

On October 24 2012 it was a year since Pete's struggle with IMHA. 

He beat the odds, and is a healthy, energetic and happy dog.

In February 2013 Pete returned to daycare 1 day a week. He was so happy to see all his dog and human friends at Sit Doggie Daycare!

Pete survived the most dangerous first year with IMHA - I strongly believe his will to survive was no match for the disease.

IMHA cost 7 days in the Animal Emergency Hospital, 2 blood transfusions from a Boxer named Beau, 7 days of non-stop IV's, and 4 months physical rehabilitation. It still carries daily medications - this will never go away. And despite all this, it wasn't enough to dampen his spirits.

When we tell this story to others we often hear that they wouldn't spend such a large amount of money or expel that amount of emotional upheaval to control an incurable disease, or they wouldn't be able to watch their pet so ill. Yes, emotionally and financially it was very difficult.

We owe our ability to give Pete all the medical attention he needed to our Insurance provider, Trupanion.

They reimbursed us quickly so we could fund the next course of treatment.

As for the emotional side, it still makes me sad to think of it and even writing this story is hard, reliving those worst moments, but it's an important one to share so others who might be fighting this disease can take a little comfort from this happy ending. And for those who have not heard of it, maybe reading this story will help them recognize the warning signs in their pet.

Most importantly I tell everyone that when we adopted Pete from the BC SPCA, we made a commitment to him - to look out for him, protect him, and love him like a member of the family. It just so happens Pete is the only family member with fur. 

I would like to thank all the staff at the Urban Animal Hospital and the Animal Emergency Hospital - both located in Vancouver, Canada, and the blood donor dog Beau - without which Pete would not be with us. I would also like to thank all our friends for their support and kindness.

I don't know what the future holds for Pete but I do know that every day with him is something to be thankful for!

**This article has been written from my own experience and research. I am not a vet; please consult your vet as soon as possible if you believe your pet is ill. 
Jenny Mackay – - Owner, House of Pete


Related articles:
Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA): Reader Stories (Part I) 
IMHA Is Not To Be Taken Lightly: Know The Symptoms
Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde: Razzle's Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA)
Battling IMHA With Integrative Veterinary Medicine (part 1)
Battling IMHA With Integrative Veterinary Medicine (part 2)
I Am An IMHA Survivor! Dylan's Story
Liver Tumor? IMHA? Daphne's Story (Part I)
IMHA Complications: Daphne Didn't Make It 
Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA): Reader Stories (Part I) 
Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA): Reader Stories (Part II) 


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Primer On Anemia

What is anemia and what can cause it?


Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of 

You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Primer On Coccidia Infection

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

Coccidiosis is an infection of the intestinal tract in dogs and cats that's caused by coccidia, which are single-celled parasites.  

The immature forms of coccidia are called oocysts, and they are passed in the feces of infected dogs or cats. The oocysts then develop through a process called sporulation and become infectious after they have matured.

Coccidia. Image Utah State University

How are coccidia different from other intestinal parasites?

Intestinal parasites such as worms are complex organisms that live largely within the open tube of the digestive tract.  Coccidia are single-celled organisms that live and reproduce within the walls of the digestive tract.

Dogs and cats become infected directly by swallowing oocysts that have sporulated and matured, or by eating the feces or intestines of infected wildlife such as rodents.  

Pet stores, boarding kennels, and other areas that may have large amounts of fecal contamination are common areas for coccidiosis.

Most dogs and cats infected with coccidia do not show any signs.  

However, puppies, kittens, and older pets can become sick from infection because of weak immune systems.  Diarrhea is the most common sign.  Vomiting is rare.

Coccidiosis is diagnosed by identifying the oocysts on a microscopic examination of a fecal sample.  

Infected pets are treated with a sulfa-type antibiotic.  Re-infection is common, and disinfection of the environment is important for control.


Visit WebVet for a wealth of information about the health and well-being of pets. All content is rev

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tackling The Veterinary Terminology: Prefixes (myo-)

Remember the Spelling Bee? Big words are easier to tackle when you understand how they're put together. Veterinary terms are composed in the same way. Just like with other words, the main parts of a veterinary term are a prefix, a root, and a suffix. The difference is that they typically come more directly from Greek or Latin.

A prefix is placed at the beginning of a word to modify its meaning by providing additional information. It usually indicates number, location, time, or status.
myo- [mī′ō]/my- (before a vowel) from Greek - muscle, having to do with muscles

The medical prefixes have less elusive meanings than suffixes. What you see is what you get.

When you see this prefix, it means it has to do with muscles.

Simple. For some examples, the one you probably hear about most often is dilated cardiomyopathy, enlarged heart, a disease of the heart muscle. Myopathy by itself means a disease of the muscle(s).

Myocarditis, then, if you remember from the suffixes, mean inflammation of the heart muscular wall, myocardium. Myosarcoma is a cancer of muscle tissue.  Myoparesis is a weakness or slight muscular paralysis. Myoplasty stands for a surgery where typically part of one muscle is used to repair tissue somewhere else, while myotomy means cutting of a muscle. Myositis is inflammation of a muscle(s).


Related articles:
Veterinary Suffixes (-itis)
Veterinary Suffixes (-oma) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-pathy)  
Veterinary Suffixes (-osis) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-iasis) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-tomy) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-ectomy)  
Veterinary Suffixes (-scopy) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-emia)
Veterinary Suffixes (-penia)
Veterinary Suffixes (-rrhea) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-cyte) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-blast) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-opsy)
Veterinary Suffixes (-ac/-al)

Veterinary Prefixes (hyper-) 
Veterinary Prefixes (hypo-)
Veterinary Prefixes (pyo-)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Diagnostic Tests Are Only As Good As Their Interpretation: R.G.'s Hind End Lameness

This case is quite close to my heart, as we just recently dealt with spinal issues as well.

R.G., a German Shepherd, suddenly became lame on her rear end.

She got an MRI done and her parents were told that she had a herniated discs of the lower spine.

A second opinion orthopedic surgeon confirmed the diagnosis and recommended surgery.

Because this kind of surgery is quite invasive and risky, R.G.'s parents decided to try conservative management first. 

R.G. was treated with acupuncture, chiropractic, physical therapy and hydrotherapy for three months. Unfortunately, she continued to get worse and ended up in a doggy wheelchair.

Her parents decided to get a consultation with a neurology specialist.

When the neurologist reviewed the MRI, it turned out that R.G. did not have a disc problem at all, but a cyst on her spinal cord instead!

Without surgery, the cyst would put increasing pressure on the spinal cord and R.G. would continue to deteriorate. With a surgery to drain the cyst, R.G. should not get any worse and fifty percent chance of improvement.

In hopes to keep R.G. from getting worse, her parents agreed to the surgery. Perhaps, R.G. could get some mobility back too.

The surgery went well and R.G. regained some mobility!

She still needs a lot of physical therapy but she started to walk without her cart! Hopefully, over time, she will keep improving.

How much shorter her recovery might have been was the MRI read correctly the first time? How much time and resources were lost and how much suffering could have been avoided?

What would have happened if R.G.'s parents did not seek a third opinion?

Original story:
Misdiagnosis…Listen to Your Gut Instincts!

Labels: ,

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Dog Gait In Slow Motion

Great video showing dog walk, amble and trot.

Video by Care Animal Clinic.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Trupanion Upgrades Their Coverage

After a long evaluation of pet health insurance options, we have decided to insure JD with Trupanion.

It was the most no-nonsense policy we found. 

The one dilemma we had was whether or not to add the Additional Care Package, because while the Core policy covered pretty much everything, hip dysplasia would be covered by the additional package only.

Frankly, with all the ongoing medical expenses we have with Jasmine, we felt we could not afford the additional care package.

What were the odds that JD would need hip dysplasia treatment at one point or another? Hip dysplasia is not a bug which your dog could catch later in life. As the puppy is growing, the hips either develop properly or they don't. JD is five years old, you'd think by now we'd know whether or not he has it.

Here is the catch, though. While severe dysplasia will become apparent quite quickly, what if the joint was just a little bit off? Something like that would not become apparent until later in life, with progressive degenerative damage to the hip joints. Short of taking x-rays, there is no way of knowing for sure.

It was a big relief to us to see that hip dysplasia is now covered in the core package.

Their Additional Care Package got quite extensive too. It now covers just about anything you can think of, such as acupuncture, behavioral modification, bone marrow transplants, chiropractic care, colloidal silver treatments, gold seed therapy, herbal therapy, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, kidney transplants, naturopathy, physical therapy, platelet rich plasma injections, stem cell therapy, shockwave therapy and polyethylene glycol medication.

Now I just wish we could afford to include that as well.

Further reading:
Trupanion Coverage is Now Even Better
Coverage for Additional Care Package

Related articles:
Getting On The Pet Health Insurance Wagon: Does Being Insured Equal Being Covered?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Veterinary Highlights: Digital Dental Radiography

The importance of good oral care for our dogs goes way beyond healthy mouths.

Healthy mouths are important for healthy bodies.

But how healthy is your dog's mouth? A study in the American Journal of Veterinary Research found that almost 30% of dogs whose mouths were clinically normal actually had significant problems under the gumline. What can be hiding from plain sight? Root abscesses, fractures, jaw bone loss and even cancer!

How do you treat something you can't see?

You can't. First you have to find the problem, then you can treat it. That's where radiology comes in. However, the traditional way of taking oral x-rays is quite cumbersome.

But what if you could replace dental x-ray film with digital sensors?

Oh yeah, baby. Now a full set of mouth radiographs can be done easily in less than 15 minutes. And that's not the only advantage!

Source article:
High Tech Vision Looks Deep Into Your Pet’s Mouth

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Indianapolis Vet On The Nose Bleeds Nightmare

by Dr. Greg Magnusson, DVM

Generally speaking, dogs don’t get nose bleeds as often as people do. 

Bumps on the dog nose do very little internal damage, and injury related bleeds are super uncommon. So when a dog’s nose starts dripping blood, there is often cause for concern.

The worst part about nose bleeds in dogs though, isn’t the various and sundry causes (which I will list in a moment) but the fact that your veterinarian rarely has any effective tools to help stop the bleed.

Think about it – with humans, your doctor might tell you to put some pressure on the nose, lean forward a bit, then maybe hold an ice pack over your face for a few minutes until the bleeding stops, right?

With a dog, the moment we start fussing with the nose, trying to stuff things inside the nostril, or holding pressure over the nose, the dog usually freaks out, which makes them throw their head around, which makes the bleeding worse.

So the problem with dog nose bleeds isn’t even just figuring out the cause of the bleed (which is complicated enough!), it’s the damage they do spraying blood everywhere while you’re trying to get the bleeding to stop. 

It’s frustrating for the vet and owner, messy as all get out, freaky for the dog… just a nightmare.

Many times the only effective treatment for an ongoing nose bleed is to heavily sedate the dog so that she stops sneezing blood everywhere, giving the poor vessels inside the nose time to clot. And then crossing our fingers that it doesn’t start right up again when she wakes up.

I mean, nobody ever dies of blood loss from a nose bleed, but you wouldn’t know it from the visuals.

Primary differential diagnoses (causes) for epistaxis include clotting problems (any mouse poison ingestion in recent history?), foreign bodies stuck up inside the nose, weird rare fungal infections, severe dental disease / tooth abscess or the worst (and most common) cause of them all, a bleeding tumor.

First-line diagnostics include a full CBC/Chemistry/Thyroid profile, clotting function tests, and often nasal CT or rhinoscopy +/- biopsy. All of which are expensive, time consuming, and the list of differentials is ugly.

All this from a “simple” nose bleed.

Obviously, if your dog has a nose bleed, see your veterinarian immediately.


For more in the veterinary nightmares series visit Leo's Pet Care blog.

Reprinted with permission from Leo's Pet Care, 10598 N College Ave # 200, Indianapolis, IN 46280 | |

Greg Magnusson, DVM describes himself as Leo's daddy. Public educator, mender of wounded bodies, healer of troubled souls, veterinarian in Indianapolis at Leo's Pet Care - out to change the world for one little boy...
Contact Dr. Magnusson via his Leo's Pet Care Facebook Fan Page or @IndianapolisVet on twitter.

Articles by Dr. Magnusson:
What's In The Blood? Blood Testing And Interpretation  
Everything You Never Wanted To Know About Anal Glands 
What Causes Bladder Infections in Dogs?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tackling The Veterinary Terminology: Prefixes (pyo-)

Remember the Spelling Bee? Big words are easier to tackle when you understand how they're put together. Veterinary terms are composed in the same way. Just like with other words, the main parts of a veterinary term are a prefix, a root, and a suffix. The difference is that they typically come more directly from Greek or Latin.

A prefix is placed at the beginning of a word to modify its meaning by providing additional information. It usually indicates number, location, time, or status.
pyo- [pī′ō]/py- (before a vowel) from Greek - pus

Not pretty but straightforward. Medical terms starting with this prefix indicate presence of pus. Pus is a byproduct of the immune system, namely white blood cells, at work against an infection.

Pyoderma is a common disease of the skin that emits pus; caused by a bacterial infection. Pyometra is a severe, life-threatening disease. Technically, the word means presence of pus in the uterus. Practically, it is a severe bacterial infection of the uterus, which can be deadly.  

Pyothorax is an accumulation of pus in the chest cavity in response to a bacterial infection. Pyuria is the presence of pus in urine, indicating active inflammation in the urogenital tract. Pyuria can actually be both infectious or noninfectious.

Obviously, the way to deal with pus is by dealing with the underlying infection. 

Sometimes, such as with the pyothorax, draining of the pus can be part of the treatment.


Related articles:
Veterinary Suffixes (-itis)
Veterinary Suffixes (-oma) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-pathy)  
Veterinary Suffixes (-osis) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-iasis) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-tomy) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-ectomy)  
Veterinary Suffixes (-scopy) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-emia)
Veterinary Suffixes (-penia)
Veterinary Suffixes (-rrhea) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-cyte) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-blast) 
Veterinary Suffixes (-opsy)
Veterinary Suffixes (-ac/-al)

Veterinary Prefixes (hyper-) 
Veterinary Prefixes (hypo-)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Gus' Missed Diagnosis

Every dog can pick up an unwelcome deer tick here and there. Gus caught a number of them during one hiking trip. The ticks got discovered and identified after they returned back home.

About a month after the ticks hitching a ride on Gus, he started looking a bit "off".

He was more tired normally, his appetite decreased, and he was exhibiting shifting lameness on his front legs—major Lyme disease red flags.

Gus' blood test for Lyme came back negative.

However, his symptoms kept getting worse. Another test for Lyme and other tick borne diseases. A test for Leptospirosis. All negative. The only idiosyncrasy in Gus' blood work was moderate anemia. Gus was never anemic before his tick encounter!

Should Gus get treated for Lyme disease even though his tests were negative?

Gus' vet did not want to treat based on symptoms in the light of two negative tests.

Two weeks later, Gus ended up at the emergency hospital. His platelets were so low he almost bled out. His joints were so painful that he could barely move, his spleen was enlarged ...

At that point it wasn't even clear whether Gus might have Lyme disease or Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA). The treatment for IMHA is high doses of steroids to suppress the immune system. What would such treatment do to a dog suffering with a Lyme?

Gus was tested for Lyme disease once again and this time it came back positive.

Finally, after all this time of suffering, Gus could get the treatment he needed.

Should Gus have been treated based on his history and symptoms in spite of the negative test results? What would you do?

Original story:
Misdiagnosis…Listen to Your Gut Instincts!

Related articles:
Lyme Is Lame (Pun Intended)
Lyme Disease: Treating Lab Results Versus Treating The Dog 
The Ticking Bomb


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bacterial and Fungal Pneumonia


Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of 

You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Veterinary Highlights: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Goes To The Dogs

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been used in human medicine to treat conditions such as non-healing wounds, traumatic injuries and serious infections.

Now, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is going to the dogs.

Hyperbaric capsules have been used to treat animals bitten by rattlesnakes, hit by cars, and those with infected wounds or wounds that won't heal.

This treatment is very new to veterinary medicine, but it seems very effective for treating trauma and injuries.

Typically, blood flow to the diseased tissue is compromised which in turn decreases the amount of oxygen available for tissue healing. Hyperbaric therapy is able to increase tissue oxygen levels in diseased tissue which improves and speeds healing, improves the body's ability to fight infections, and reduces inflammation and swelling. 

Because there is little research on benefits of this treatment for pets, this summer, The University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine will begin clinical trials to determine its efficacy.

On the coolness scale, very high in my opinion.


HVM's List of Veterinary Partners That Have a HBO Chamber
  • Veterinary Helathcare Associates, Winter Haven, FL, 33884 - (863) 324-3340
  • Holistic Veterinary Care & Rehabilitation Center, Oakland, CA, 94611 - (510) 339-2600
  • VCA Advanced Veterinary Care, Fishers, IN, 46038 - (317) 578-4100
  • Pet Emergency & Specialty Services of Jupiter, Jupiter, FL, 33458 - (561) 741-4041
  • Saint Francis Animal Hospital, Jacksonville, FL, 32207 - (904) 674-7223
  • Animal Emergency & Critical Care of Brevard County, Melbourne, FL, 32935 - (321) 725-5365
  • University of Florida School of Veterinary Medicine, Gainsville, FL, 32608
  • Homestead Animal Hospital, Homestead, FL, 33030 - (305) 247-3845
  • Critical Care & Veterinary Specialists of Sarasota, Sarasota, FL, 34231 - (941) 929-1818
  • Lakeland SPCA/McClurg Animal Medical Center, Lakeland, FL, 33813 - (563) 646-7722
  • Ravenwood Veterinary Clinic, Port Orange, FL, 32129 - (386) 788-1550
  • Peace Love Pets Veterinary Clinic, Long Island, NY, 11725 - (631) 499-3300
  • Calusa Veterinary Center, Boca Raton, FL, 33847 - (561) 999-3000


Source article:
Hyperbaric oxygen chambers used to treat family pets with swollen tissues, infected wounds

Further reading:
Human Treatment for Pets
Putting The Pressure On Disease