Sunday, May 31, 2015

I Am a Helicopter Dog Mom

"Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they hover overhead." ~Wikipedia

I am a helicopter dog mom. I do hover overhead all the time. I am only happy when I can see what my dog is doing at all times.

I'm happiest when I'm close enough to be able to take photos of her adventures.

I don't necessarily intervene but I am not happy when I don't know exactly where my dog is and what they're doing.

There were conversations at the farm that got interrupted because Jasmine wandered around the house. I didn't have to follow her. She spent all weekends at the farm, was a smart girl and knew what she was doing. The odds of her getting herself into trouble were microscopic.

And yet, whoever I was having a conversation with had two choices. Either walk around the house with me or put the conversation on hold.

Yes, I do recognize it's obsessive.

Doesn't mean I can really help it. It's simple. When I can't see my dog, I suffer separation anxiety. Not because I fear they might not ever come back, but because I fear they might get in trouble and I wouldn't be there to save them.

I was so happy when I found out that helicopter parenting might be actually good for dogs!

What a relief.

With Cookie it's not that simple. I'm only happy when I can see her. But she needs to run through the bush, chasing things. I'd be happier if I had her literally glued to my hip. But her happiness wins. I let her run, explore the bush and chase stuff because it makes her happy.

Today she chased off some hawks that were hovering above her property. She gets very upset with them; probably because they are snatching her mice.

I wish I was an actual helicopter.

One of the little ones out there now, very fast and very agile. Then I could buzz over her head no matter where she goes.

Becoming a werewolf would be awesome too.

One of those that can change back and forth at will. Then I could run with her through the bush, help her chase things and protect her from any threat. Such as the black bear who's back snooping around. We've been seeing signs of his presence and the other day he just happened to be waltzing across the street when I came out on a deck.

Until then I just have to suck it up.

Such as when she's digging a tunnel in a groundhog pile. What if the thing collapsed on her? What if the groundhog bit her? What if she tripped over one of the logs?

My mom had a mother like that; wasn't allowed to go anywhere, do anything. I am not going to do that to Cookie. Much.

"Kids have to play," our granny used to say. We loved her for it. She understood that it means that we'll get dirty, break something every now and then, or might get hurt. 

Meanwhile, I'm just happy that my neuroticism is actually, scientifically, good for her. 

Though I bet she would disagree if I wasn't biting my lip much of the time.

Fortunately, other than requiring an outlet for her wild side, she actually enjoys all the attention and care. So at least I get to make up for the horror of letting her run free, out of sight, after we come back home. Everybody is happy then.

I guess life is all about finding the balance between what we want, and what the others want.

Are you a helicopter pet parent? Do you allow your dogs do things outside your comfort zone?

Source article:
Helicopter Parenting Might Be Good for Pets

Further reading:
Helicopter parenting better for pets than for kids

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  
Distance Is a Relative Concept  
Dog Communication: Be Good to Cookie or She'll Tell on You
The Benefit of the Doubt  
Putting The Guilty Dog Look To Rest?
The Stench of Fear: Is There Good and Bad Timing for Vet Visits? 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Diabetic Emergencies, Chronic Kidney Disease and more ...

Preventing and Handling Diabetic Emergencies

Just recently there was a post on the Dog Health Issues group from a concerned owner who's do was just recently diagnosed with diabetes and they were still figuring out the care and ironing out the kinks. They could smell ketones in the dog's breath and the vet was closed.
With a diabetic dog, monitoring and management are the key to dog's longevity and quality of life. While the whole proposition is quite scary, the management is relatively simple once you get it all figured out.


The most critical complication to watch for is hypoglycemia. Other diabetic emergencies, that can indicate an impending emergency include appetite changes, vomiting or diarrhea, straining to urinate or blood in urine or ketones detected during testing.


Is Peanut Butter Safe For Dogs? Please Beware – Some Could Be Deadly!

I like to give a bit of peanut butter to our guys from time to time and they love. While high in calories, you figure it's a yummy, nutritious snack. But one cannot let their guard down for a moment these days. A new line of nut butters was introduced to the market that now uses the artificial sweetener, xylitol, on their products.

Xylitol is making it to all kinds of products where you wouldn't look for it. I have already became quite paranoid, studying the labels of every little thing. Yet, I admit I had to go and double-check the peanut butter I got for my dogs.

The best rule is to read a label on EVERY product you are about to give your dog, no matter how unreadable and small the type. (I actually have a magnifying glass specifically for that reason, because often the text is impossible to read.)

If you can't find the information on the label, look for it on the internet. If you cannot find it anywhere, just don't use the product. Be safe.


Chronic Kidney Disease in Dogs and Cats

Finding out that your dog has kidney disease is very scary. I'm sure there would be a million questions on your mind. It is, however a common health problem of older dogs. It is progressive and cannot be cured but there are options for slowing the progression.

Understanding the situation, what the treatment options are and what is the prognosis is always important with any disease.


Preventing Overvaccination

Vaccinating is important. But how much vaccination do our dogs need and how often? And why does it matter?

Watch Dr. Patrick Mahaney's interview on the subject.



Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Jasmine's IBD: Life with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Part II)

We knew something wasn't right but we didn't know what and the frequent vet visits weren't providing any answers or solutions, other than temporary relief.


Jasmine's stools were mostly soft and often loose.

Usually, though, she didn't go to the bathroom more frequently than would be normal. We thought that was a good thing. We thought that since she went only two to three times a day. We thought it wasn't really diarrhea, just loose stools.

That would go on for a while, followed by frequent potty calls during the night.

That was usually when we went to the vet, yet again.

Jasmine's blood work wasn't showing any clues.

At least that was what we were told. I never saw those results then and I wouldn't have known what I was looking at if I did. Stool samples didn't show anything either, not even the elaborate "collect tiny bits of poop into this container for a week" giardia testing.

Did she actually have giardia at some point? None of the testing showed anything.

The baffled vets prescribed antibiotics, time and time again.

The antibiotics did help. Jasmine's stools would firm up after couple of days of taking them and remained firm throughout the treatment. Sometimes even a while after the treatment. And then they would start softening again.

At that time we had a lawn in our yard. But trying to clean the loose stools from the grass was a major challenge. Between that and the fact that Jasmine's urine would systematically kill the grass, we decided to give up on the lawn and covered the yard with wood chips instead. That made it easier to keep the yard clean.

Slowly but surely Jasmine was getting pickier and pickier with her food.

She started refusing her breakfast all together. Which would be fine, I guess, except the times when she was yet again put on antibiotics which she was supposed to take with a meal, and yes, in the morning too.

She really didn't want to have anything to do with food in the morning. I imagine her belly was feeling crappy. Getting the antibiotic without a meal would make her feel even crappier.

We tried embellishing her food, offering yummier stuffs.

But she just didn't want to eat.

One thing we could almost always rely on was, that for some reason, she always felt better once she got out on a walk. So in order to get her to accept a meal to go with her meds, I'd get up at five in the morning and take her for a walk. After that, she did eat and could get her meds safely.

For some reason a good long walk always made Jasmine feel better.

As time went on, it became more and more obvious that the antibiotics were only a temporary patch.

Knowing what I know now, I would have done things very differently. But back then, all I knew was to take my dog to a vet.

Jasmine's relationship with food kept deteriorating. Often she wouldn't want her dinner either. Her belly would start making all kinds of noises and she'd refuse even the yummiest treats, such as boiled chicken breast, even steak.

The only thing that seemed to always work was a good long walk.

Sometimes she'd throw up some bile, sometimes she wouldn't. But about half way through the walk to stomach got quiet and she started being interested in treats.

Eventually she wouldn't even consider touching dog food.

I got a premix and was adding home-cooked meats just to get her to eat at all. And still no answers.

Most of the time, other than her disinterest in food, things didn't really seem to affect her quality of life. She loved her walks, she loved to play, she looked happy.

Othen than the days when her stomach was clearly not feeling well.

Those times she'd be visibly uncomfortable, drooling and wanting to eat grass. Yet, even on those days, a good long walk seemed to help almost every time.

She wasn't losing weight.

At least not as far as anybody could tell. She was muscular, energetic and full of zest for life. Perhaps I did manage to get enough nutrients into her after all.

And probably also one of the reasons why the vets weren't taking this seriously enough.

I can't believe that this has gone on for five years without a diagnosis.

I would have never let things go on for so long now. But back then I just didn't know better. When the vets kept saying that she just had a sensitive system, I accepted it at that.

Today I would most certainly want to know WHY.

If her system was sensitive, why? Sensitive to what? There is a reason for everything. Where there is smoke, there is fire. And there literally was fire in her belly.

I was happy to finally have a diagnosis. I was not happy that it took so long. And even then it was mostly a coincidence. Looking for a vet certified in stem cell therapy, finding one who wanted to x-ray her whole body and in the process discovering the problem.

If your dog is having any kind of a chronic problem, do insist on definite answers.

There IS an answer to everything. It's just a question of finding it. No diagnosis is as scary as having a problem that keeps getting worse and nobody know what to do about it.

However long it took, Jasmine's diagnosis came before things got REALLY bad.

Yes, I believe it was at a root of a number of other problems, but it never brought her to the brink of death. And IBD can get that bad. You can go and read Leroy's story to learn how horrible IBD can get.

Relatively mild, chronic problems are the worst.

If your dog is really in trouble, having life-threatening symptoms, it is an incentive to get answers. But if the problem is coming on slowly, doesn't really seem so bad,  it begs to be dismissed. Don't.

Don't dismiss the problem and don't let your vet do that either.

"A man can get used to anything; even a noose,"
my granny used to say. 

But that doesn't make it any better for him. And it doesn't make it any better for your dog. It makes me think of the frog and boiling water scenario again.


Just because he doesn't know he should jump out, it doesn't mean it won't kill him.

Yes, all the experiences with Jasmine made me very paranoid about any warning signs I might see in my dogs. But I do believe that it is better to be too paranoid than not paranoid enough.


Related articles:
Symptoms: Recognition, Acknowledgement And Denial 
Why I Dislike Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Jasmine's IBD: Undiagnosed For Five Years (Part I)

Further reading:
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in Dogs
Inflammatory Bowel Disease


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!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week:

Canine Non-Core Vaccines

Core vaccines are those that are recommended for all dogs because the diseasse they protect from are widely spread, have no treatment (other than supportive), and are deadly more often than not. These include rabies, canine parvovirus, canine distemper and canine adenovirus. The issue of how often to booster or not aside, I believe that every dog should be vaccinated against these things.


Situation is different with non-core vaccines.

Should one vaccinate against leptospirosis? Or lyme? The answer to that is that it depends. It depends on your area and your dog's lifestyle. While down in Kitchener, we vaccinated against lepto. Yes, I was conflicted about it every year, but eventually we did vaccinate every year. Why? Because lepto is fairly wide spread in the area, our vet did get cases, and our dogs spent a lot of time in the bush and at the farm.

Up here we're told that the two strains present are not included in the vaccine and that the vet hasn't see any cases. They regularly test racoons to get fresh information.

Check out Dr. Dodds' thoughts on the subject.


Bee and Wasp Stings - Be(e) Prepared

Bee, wasp, and yellow jacket season is coming. We've already seen some buzzing around. Cookie already tried chasing some of them, though I'm trying to explain to her that she definitely doesn't want to catch one. To Cookie, the rules are simple. It moves, it begs to be chased. Last thing I want is for her to get stung.

While I hope it will never happen, it is important to know what to do if it did.

Watch out for itchiness, hives or welts, swelling. Mild reactions can be treated at home but know when you need to see a vet right away. With intense reaction such as severe itching, swelling, digestive signs, breathing problems or even collapse, your dog needs veterinary care immediately.


5 Common Pet Allergens

Every other post on my Dog Health Issues group is about likely allergic reactions. Dogs are affected by many of the same allergies we are. Jasmine's list of things she was allergic to was quite impressive, though it changed over time.

The most common allergens affecting dogs are fleas, house dust mites, pollens, molds, and insect bites.

Allergic reactions in dogs

While on the topic of allergies, don't miss out on Dr. Justine Lee's article on the subject. Severe allergic reactions are a common cause for emergency room visits.

Allergic reaction can be triggered by bug bites, vaccines, medications, chemicals, natural allergens such as pollens or molds or anything else under the sun. Sometimes the reaction can be life-threatening.

Collapse, difficulty breathing, shock, and abnormal heart rhythm, require emergency care right away.


Biopsy, biopsy, biopsy!

In order to treat any disease successfully, you need to know exactly what you're treating. This is even more important when it comes to cancer. When there is a lump or bump, there is no point of guessing. Physical examination won't cut it. Somebody needs to look at the cells. This is vitally important. Don't go for the "wait and see" approach and don't accept any, however educated, guesses on what it might be. There is only one way to know for sure and that is by looking at the actual cells.

Fine needle aspirate sample. Photo oncodvm.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Probiotics, Prebiotics ... What Does It All Mean for Your Dog?

Everybody is talking about probiotics. For a good reason. It used to be something only holistic vets promoted, but more and more research is being done showing their importance.

Image PrecisionNutrition

The gut is the largest immune organ.

It hosts trillions of bacteria. In a healthy gut, these bacteria are friendly and helpful. They assist food digestion and absorption, they interact with the immune system, they synthesize B vitamins, they help break down bile acids and help keeping bad bacteria at bay.

More evidence is surfacing all the time on how important their jobs really are.

There is evidence of their benefit to immune function, weight management, even mental health.

Because these bacteria are living organisms, they are not immune to destruction. A number of things can kill the good bacteria or disrupt the equilibrium in the gut. Antibiotics, poor diet, even stress.

When the delicate balance is lost, all kinds of things can go wrong and not only in the digestive system itself.

That's when probiotics come in.

Probiotics are live microorganisms supplemented to help restore the balance that was lost. Sounds simple, doesn't it? When the good bacteria gets lost, you just replace it? Well, it is not that simple after all.

The gut houses over 700 species of bacteria. It is really its own ecosystem. And research is showing that the structure of this ecosystem varies by species, or even by individual.

Different bacterial species fulfill different functions.

For example, Lactobacilli are the ones producing B vitamins, while Bifidobacterium help break down bile acids ...

Probiotic supplements often contain one or two bacteria species. 

The one I know that has the most contains ten different bacteria species. Is supplementing that good enough to restore the original equilibrium?

Then there is the issue how many of that bacteria actually make it to live another day. Are they alive or viable when ingested? Do they survive the stomach environment and make it to their destination? And if they make to to where they should, will they survive?

That's when prebiotics come in.

Simply put, prebiotics are fermentable fiber. The dog's body cannot digest them, but the microorganisms ferment these and that's what they live on.

Moreover, this fermentation produces short-chain fatty acids, which are important for the health of the gut lining.

Without a supply of prebiotic fiber, beneficial bacteria will not survive.

Whether the bacteria was in the gut originally, or supplemented, it needs to be nourished.

Once I watched a documentary from a health and wellness camp. Part of the process was restoring proper gut microflora. The participants were divided into two groups. One group was supplemented with probiotic, and the other got prebiotic fiber. Then their microflora counts were measured.

The group supplemented with prebiotic fiber showed much higher counts of beneficial bacteria than the group supplemented with the bacteria directly.

For any of these reasons I believe that prebiotic fiber is extremely important.

It might help replenish the various species of beneficial bacteria which got depleted, as long as there are any of them left. And it will facilitate the survival of those you're supplementing with a probiotic.

***

For more interesting information on the subject, check out Radio Pet Lady Network, Pet Food Advisors podcasts #7036 and #7037.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Annie's Lost Battle with IMHA

by Alison Kaylor

My little maltipoo of 11 years and 11 months,  Annie (Snanniebug) was my biggest joy. She was a healthy little pup, had a great appetite and was full of spunk ... until one morning ...


I noticed she had no interest in her breakfast, and few of her morning antics were not present. 

That made me nervous, knowing that Annie loved to eat! Trying not to be too alarmed, I went off to work and came home at lunch with some El Pollo Loco chicken thinking this will wet her appetite.

Annie’s brain was interested in the chicken but she couldn’t stomach it. She took only a small bite.

Her gums were pale too. I thought she was dehydrated.

It was evident that Annie needed to be checked by her vet so I took her in that evening.

The vet suggested Annie could be dehydrated which can cause a lack of appetite. In my opinion, her behavior was a little odd as well, which I conveyed to the doctor.  He offered to run some blood work and after talking with him further, he made me feel comfortable enough to take her home to see how she does through the night with the fluids he gave Annie as that could be the solution.

The next morning I woke up to see Annie had wet my bed but the wet spot had a tinge of red.  

I immediately rushed Annie into the vet closest to my home (VCA Saddleback Veterinary Hospital, Lake Forest, CA).  Dr. Heathcock examined her while I went to work and bad news prevailed when I received a call from the doctor in the early afternoon.

She informed that Annie had IMHA and tried to explain the disease and its complications.  

I still didn’t fully understand the severity of this disease.  She told me she would start Annie on steroids that I would continue to give Annie once I picked her up the same evening.

When I arrived at the vet I was called into the exam room so Dr. Heathcock could talk with me in private.

She brought Annie out and it was so obvious my poor baby was so tired and lethargic!  

Dr. Heathcock was very sincere and advised I euthanize Annie due to the progression of this disease which had taken a toll on her in such a short time.

I was devastated! I couldn’t fathom giving up and was in complete shock. As an alternative, the vet suggested to take Annie into the Southern California Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Irvine, CA.  She called the specialty hospital giving them notice I was on my way there with Annie and updated them on Annie’s condition.

The intake veterinarian made me comfortable giving me a great deal of hope by informing that their specialty center had a very high recovery rate with IMHA patients – 90% by which she then disclosed, however, there are those 10% of their patients that don’t survive.

Annie was admitted on a Wednesday evening.  

The staff advised me to visit Annie as much as possible and bring some food each time in attempt to persuade her into eating. The SCVSH had started blood transfusions for Annie as well as immunosuppressants.  Her Pack Cell Volume was extremely low  - “12”. Blood transfusion bumped it up to 15.

Annie continued getting blood transfusions.  

Annie’s  highest PCV number while hospitalized was “18” I believe on day 3.

It was so sad to see this sweet little dog fighting for her life. 

Each day Annie seemed to feel and look worse, with jaundice very evident throughout her body. I continued to ask the doctors for their support and advice as to how much time I should give this disease to turn around the chances of that happening.

The lead Critical Care doctor (Dr. Tracey Rossi) informed that it takes a minimum of 3 days to see any results from immunosuppressants before they catch up to Annie’s immune system, thereby suppressing the antibodies attacking Annie’s healthy red blood cells.

Initially, when I visited Annie, she cried when I was leaving.  After the 3rd night during her hospitalization she didn’t respond.

I feel I should have listened to Dr. Heathcock at VCA Saddleback.

Annie’s 5th night at the specialty hospital was the night Annie was clinging for life and I was literally clinging for hope on a very thin thread. I wanted my Annie’s health back and Annie wanted to live!

After seeing Annie that evening,  I told the doctor on duty I will not let my dog continue to suffer. 

She said to go through the night and then make a decision in the morning.

I went home, and at 12:30a.m. (Tuesday) morning, I received a call from the veterinarian on duty telling me Annie’s condition had declined and she was having difficulty breathing. I told the doctor to immediately euthanize Annie. She then asked if I would like to come down to the hospital to visit Annie for the last time (which was approx. 20 - 25 minutes from my home with no traffic). I didn't want Annie to suffer a minute longer and explained to her that I already said my goodbyes to my precious little girl earlier that evening.

I had to ask myself if putting Annie through so much misery was the humble thing to do despite the 42% survival rate – long term more like 20%.

Finding out about Annie’s condition I was so caught off guard.

I had very little time to research the disease. Had I known what Annie was going to have to go through, I would have made a different judgment call prior to Day 5 (1/2 hr into Day 6) of Annie’s ordeal.

I hope more awareness is raised and more published stories are available as well as studies on this horrific disease (IMHA) to educate everyone who owns a fur baby.

Dog's lives are much shorter than human's; their quality of life needs to be top consideration (even for 1 week).


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) 
Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA) Survivor: Pete's Story
Whitney's Lost Battle With IHMA Complications   
Pale Gums Are An Emergency: Bailey's Story 

Further reading:
Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA)
Anemia Related to the Immune System in Dogs
Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA) in Dog



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!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Word on Compensation

I get to write about myself because I believe it is relevant to dogs as well. Sue already wrote an awesome article about compensation but this is my recent personal experience.

I don't get hurt often.

When I do get hurt it usually resolves quickly or it's a part of a body I can get around. This time I hurt my knee. So it happened that my leg bent in a direction it's not supposed to.

It didn't hurt terribly but it felt like suddenly there were more parts in the knee than there are supposed to be.

In order not to injure it further, I favored the leg for couple of days.

My client and friend, yoga guru, says one should favor anything for more than three days. I favored the knee for two. After than, I have very little idea how the knee is doing because of how unhappy my calf got.

I didn't have a leg to stand on.

Yes, I'm trying to be funny but it's true. Standing is the worst. The calf is really not happy, particularly when the leg is straight (such as when standing) and having to carry any weight.

I figured I should try to start walking normally to restore the equilibrium.

I couldn't believe how quickly I actually forgot how that's done.

It's like my brain doesn't know how the leg should move, though the pain doesn't help. I tried various meds but nothing really helped. I think that finding the normal way of using the leg is the only solution to the problem but surprisingly that's quite difficult.

I reached out to Sue and she gave me some physical therapy pointers.

Also finally found a product that brings some relief; menthol analgesic gel. That seems to take some edge of it. Meanwhile, I'm doing my stretches, massage and trying my hardest to use the leg properly.

As it turns out, limping is an art I'm not good at.

Every time the body is trying to compensate for something, other parts suffer. With me, all it took was two days. Must be some kind of record.

The bottom line, I think, is to do one's best not to compensate.

Or at least for as short of a time as possible. That's where pain relief, effective healing strategies and physical therapy come in. The sooner things can get used properly, the better.

And when compensation cannot be helped, the compensating body parts need extra love and attention.

Did you ever hurt other parts of body compensating for an injury?


Related articles:
Compensation: An Attempt To Restore Harmony

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Best Practices after Your Dog's Surgery, Getting Free Veterinary Help and more ...

Best Practices After Your Dog’s Surgery 

Having your dog undergo any kind of surgery is always scary. What happens after surgery is just as important as the surgery itself. It is important for things to heal properly and avoid injuries. Post-op rehabilitation period can make or break the success of any surgical procedure.


I still talk to many people who bring their dog home after surgery without any instructions whatsoever. If your vet doesn't give you any instructions, demand them. You need to know what to watch for, how to care for the incision, what your dog is or isn't allowed to do and what type of physical therapy they'll need.

My Top Ten Tips on how to convince your vet to help you even if your wallet is empty

Too often people turn to the internet for help with a dog in real trouble citing they cannot afford to take them to the vet. Some things can be treated at home but some things cannot.

What to do if your dog needs medical attention but there is no money in your wallet? There are organizations that help out with vet bills, but what if you don't qualify? Dr. Krista offers ten awesome tips to convince your vet to help you even if you have no money.


Bugging out: How to Keep Flying Insects Off Your Pets

One great thing about Winter is that it's a bug-free season. With Spring, the bugs start coming out. Up here it's the black flies first, followed by mosquitoes and deer flies. The black fly season doesn't last long but they try to make up for it in veracity. We're still experimenting with best ways of keeping the blood suckers off our dogs, and not as importantly, off ourselves.

Dr. Khuly has some great suggestions on protecting dogs from the buzzing nuisance. I'm quite interested in the Lemon-Eucalyptus oil products. Just learned about it and apparently it's supposed to be much effective than DEET, which I would never put on my dogs and I don't like using on myself because of second-hand exposure.

Antifreeze antidote withdrawn

I'm not very happy about this one. The only commercial antidote for ethylene glycol poisoning is off the market. There are alternatives but not as good.

5 Best Treatments For Your Pet's Allergies

It seems that every other dog is allergic to something. Jasmine had some environmental and some food allergies. We were considering immuno therapy but as things worked out, never got to actually try it.

JD and Cookie seem to be doing well so far. Some dogs, though, go through hell and back with allergies.Dr. Patrick offers five great tips on how to keep allergies at bay.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Drought Causing Higher Concern with Foxtails?

Foxtails can be quite dangerous. Apparently, due to the California drought, they have become a concern early and the number of injuries has increased in the region.

VCA San Francisco Veterinary Specialists' own ER doctor, Dr. Allegra Bush, explains the dangers of foxtails for your dog on KRON 4 News.
Posted by VCA Animal Hospitals on Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Puddles: Potential Health Hazard for Your Dog

by Nancy Kay, DVM 

There’s a lot to be said for a vigorous walk with your dog after a heavy rainstorm. The landscape appears refreshed, the air smells great, and you and your dog get to unleash some cabin fever!


As fun as it is to watch your dog splash and play in the puddles you encounter on your walk, some caution is advised. Depending on the surrounding environment, those pools of standing water can harbor some health hazards.

Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis organisms are bacteria that thrive in wet climates. Wild animals, particularly deer and rodents, and some domesticated animals (cows, sheep, pigs) can be leptospirosis carriers. Although infected, these mammals maintain good health while shedding leptospirosis organisms in their urine.

Dogs can contact leptospirosis by drinking from water sources contaminated with urine from an infected animal. 

Puddles that have formed from rain runoff certainly qualify as such a source. A study of the prevalence of canine leptospirosis in the United States and Canada revealed that disease prevalence correlates with the amount of rainfall. The more rain, the more dogs diagnosed with leptospirosis.

Not all dogs become sick when exposed to leptospirosis, but for those that do, the results can be devastating.

Leptospirosis most commonly causes kidney failure. Associated symptoms include lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. The liver and lungs are also targets for this disease. The diagnosis of leptospirosis is made via blood and urine testing. Successful treatment consists of antibiotics and supportive therapy such as supplemental fluids.

The leptospirosis vaccination does a good job of protecting against this disease. Talk with your veterinarian about whether or not this vaccine makes sense given where you live and the nature of your dog’s extracurricular activities.

Giardia

Giardia are microscopic, protozoan organisms that live within the intestinal tracts of a variety of domesticated and wild animals. The infectious (contagious) forms are shed within the feces and readily contaminate water sources. This is one of the main reasons it is recommended that hikers and backpackers drink only filtered water. A 2012 study documented that dogs who attend dog parks are more likely to test positive for giardia than those who do not attend dog parks.

The most common symptom caused by giardiasis in dogs is diarrhea. 

Vomiting and loss of appetite may also occur. The diagnosis is made via stool sample testing. A handful of medications can be used to rid the intestinal tract of giardia. Metronidazole and fenbendazole are the two most commonly used. The diagnosis of giardia in one dog may warrant treatment of the entire household herd, as giardia is highly contagious from dog to dog. It can also be transmitted to other species, including cats and humans.

Antifreeze

Consumption of only a very tiny amount of antifreeze can have devastating consequences for dogs. Ethylene glycol, the active ingredient in antifreeze, causes acute, often irreversible kidney failure. Symptoms typically include lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weakness, and ultimately coma and/or seizures. The diagnosis is made based on history, urine and blood testing, and often a kidney biopsy. Unfortunately, even with aggressive and expensive therapy, most dogs suffering from antifreeze toxicity don’t survive.

Until relatively recently, antifreeze had a sweet taste rendering it all the more enticing to dogs and children. 

In 2012 antifreeze manufacturers were forced to add a bittering agent to their products. Even with the addition of a bitter taste, vigilance is required to prevent antifreeze toxicity. A small amount of antifreeze within a puddle may not be enough to deter a thirsty dog from drinking.

Antifreeze sources include open product containers and antifreeze leaks from the undercarriage of vehicles. When with your dog, be sure to avoid puddles that have formed in and around parking lots.

Take home message

My goal in telling you about the potential perils of puddles isn’t to convince you to confine your dogs indoors. Heck, my dogs hike off leash with me daily, rain or shine. Rather, my objective is to increase your awareness so that you will be mindful about where your dog drinks when out and about with you (no parking lot puddles!). I encourage you to maintain awareness of the symptoms of leptospirosis, giardiasis, and antifreeze toxicity so that, if observed, you will seek veterinary attention right away.

Does your dog have exposure to puddles?

***

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook


Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

Did you get your copy of Speaking for Spot yet?

If not, go get the book. It's likely the most important dog book you'll ever read.

Articles by Dr. Kay:
Reasonable Expectations: The Ability to Discuss Your Internet Research With Your Vet
Finding Dr. Wonderful And Your Mutt's Mayo Clinic: Getting Started
Even The Best Veterinarian Can Make A Mistake
A Different Way to Spay
Making Tough Medical Decisions For Your Dog: Lily's Story
If You Don't Know What A Lick Granuloma Is, Count Your Blessings!
Anesthesia-Free Dental Cleaning 
Talking Teeth 
Urinary Accidents
I Can't Believe He Ate That! Foreign Body Ingestion 
What Caused Murphy's And Ruska'sPneumothorax?
The Whole Picture: When The Test Results Don't Match What's In Front Of You 
Stop that Scratching
Veterinarians And Vaccines: A Slow Learning Curve
What is a Veterinary Specialist? 
Veterinary Specialists: Oncologist 
Veterinary Specialists: Cardiologist 
Veterinary Specialists: Internist 
Veterinary Specialists: Neurologist
Veterinary Specialists: Surgeons
Nutritional Management of Canine Epilepsy
Have a Miniature Schnauzer? Know about Sick Sinus Syndrome (SSS)  

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Interpreting Lab Results in Context: Cookie's Elevated Kidney Values

It has been my experience that often one value or another can be off on blood panel. With Jasmine, every other panel had something out of range. The question is what to do when that happens? Investigate, figure it out.


It's good to note any values out of normal range but also trends over time.

Values that are off are easy to spot. Then the task is figuring out why they are out of range; what does it mean. Depending on the value and how far out of range it is it might be important or it might be just a fluke. Jasmine would have one value or another out of range every now and then. As long as it was a different one each time and corresponding results were normal, we didn't worry about it too much, though we always investigated and brainstormed to understand why that might have happened.

With Cookie's elevated ALT there were two considerations. Firstly, elevation of that particular liver enzyme needs to be taken seriously, and secondly, it remained elevated from one blood work to another. That's why we pursued further diagnostics.

On Cookie's last blood draw the ALT dropped back down to within normal range.

"The liver enzymes are looking good," the vet said, "we got something new here."

Just to keep me on my toes, I guess, both Cookie's BUN and creatinine were above normal range. "Crap, what now?" I thought to myself, not happy having those two in the red.

BUN and creatinine are values associated with kidney function.

The BUN (blood urea nitrogen) is more ambiguous and can be elevated for a number of reasons. Jasmine's would be slightly elevated every now and then but her creatinine always remained normal. On the next blood draw, her BUN would be back to normal.

Elevated creatinine is much more scary.

But Cookie didn't look like a dog with kidney problems.

There were no signs of a kidney issue and the TCVM exam also didn't show anything of concern. "I'm not feeling what the lab work is saying," the vet said.

However, elevation of these two values is to be taken seriously.

It could have been from dehydration (Cookie's tongue did confirm that she was a bit dehydrated), because she had high protein snack earlier (we were just curious about the ALT so didn't bother to fast her for the blood test). Cookie was also quite stressed this time.

Nothing else on that blood panel was off. We concluded that they kidneys ought to be fine but to be on a safe side, decided to follow up with urinalysis.

Meanwhile, as I came home I pulled out Cookie's previous blood work to look for any gradual increases in her creatinine levels.

Trends can reveal brewing problems before they get into the red.

Particularly with something such as creatinine it's good to look at trends. Even if the values remain within normal range but are gradually increasing, it is something to take seriously.

Cookie's previous results did not reveal any upward trend.

Date Lab Creatinine Normals
8/23/2013 IDEXX 112 29 - 135
3/6/2014 IDEXX 107 44 - 133
10/23/2014 Walden 87 27 - 124
1/14/2015 Walden 97 27 - 124

That was a good sign. I still couldn't help being nervous about what the urinalysis might reveal.

Urinalysis is non-invasive and a great way to assess kidney function.

We collected Cookies first morning urine.

Our trusty urine picker-upper.
Works really great, though not originally intended for that purpose.

For some tests, the fresher urine the better. But for checking kidney function, it is the first morning urine one needs, freshness is secondary to that. I looked nice and golden in the jar, that was a good sign also.

I was very happy to get the call from the vet's office that the urine is normal.

It didn't reveal any kidney problems, or any other problems.

Finally I could truly celebrate the fact that her ALT went down again, and that the kidney blood values were not elevated because of unhappy kidneys. Must have been the dehydration after all.

So that's a load off my shoulders.

I hope the girly gives me a little break in worrying for a while now.


Related articles:
What's in the Urine? (Part II: Urinalysis)
What's in the Blood? Blood Testing and Interpretation

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?
Cookie Has Tapeworm Infection 
Cookie's Elevated ALT: The Ultrasound and Cytology  
Cookie's ALT Update 


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!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Stench of Fear: Is There Good and Bad Timing for Vet Visits?

With exception of Roxy, our guys always loved going to the vet. Even Jasmine, with all the bad stuff she's gone through. She didn't like needles or thermometers but she loved seeing the vet (and staff). None of our guys were ever fearful of the vet's office, on the contrary, rushing us on the way in.

I can smell things you cannot see.

I never gave a second thought to timing considerations.

We'd typically go first thing in the morning for practical reasons such as urine analysis, or because we wanted to see the vet as soon as possible. Only for physical therapy we had afternoon or evening appointments.

It has never crossed my mind that something like that could matter.

Until Cookie's last appointment. We took her in for an integrative consultation to figure out the best way to get her liver happy. The appointment was at 4PM, almost at the end of the day.

The guys were excited to go in, as always. They were happy to see the vet, as always.

Then the technician walked in to draw Cookie's blood. Cookie took one look at her and started barking. The technician was surprised, "You don't want to be friends today?" They've met before and all was good and friendly in the past.

The vet asked me if Cookie was a sensitive girl.

"Yes," I answered, "she's quite sensitive, why?"

As it turned out, just before walking into our exam room, the technician was handling/restraining a dog who got attacked by some other dogs. The dog was out of his mind with fear and anxiety, spreading alarm pheromones all over.

Apparently, Cookie immediately picked up on that.

The technician offered some treats and Cookie stopped barking. However, didn't want to come anywhere near the technician nor she wanted to stay in the exam room all together.

All she wanted to do was to get out of there.

Even after the blood was drawn. The vet was doing her integrative exam and Cookie let her do it politely but her eyes were on the door.

We were going to discuss some stuff first before continuing with the exam but I asked whether all the hands-on stuff could be done right away. The discussion could wait until Cookie got to get our of there.

I have never seen her so unhappy about being anywhere.

Once the exam was done, hubby took Cookie away and the vet and I finished our discussions. It got me thinking. Cookie is a confident, happy girl but got completely thrown off by the scent of utter fear from the other dog.

Makes me think what happens to dogs who are already fearful or anxious.

How much more profound effect something like this would have on them, already expecting horrible things happening and then having the evidence of a dog in anguish right under their noses?

I realize these things are not happening all the time but I imagine that stress does accumulate through the day, leaving its traces everywhere.

From now own we'll stick to first appointments in the morning as much as possible.

What about you? Did you notice that afternoon appointments might inadvertently end up more stressful for your dog? Do you think it might be because of things that happened through the day and left their traces?

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?
Cookie Has Tapeworm Infection 
Cookie's Elevated ALT: The Ultrasound and Cytology  
Cookie's ALT Update 

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  
Distance Is a Relative Concept  
Dog Communication: Be Good to Cookie or She'll Tell on You
The Benefit of the Doubt  
Putting The Guilty Dog Look To Rest?

Should People Have To Pass an IQ Test before Getting a Dog?