Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top Ten Popular Articles of 2015

When I take a look at the list of most popular posts, I doesn't surprise me. 

I encourages me to finally finish my book on Symptoms to Watch in Your Dog. I was crazy busy with work but I'm getting close to finishing it.


One thing that concerns me that it seems people mostly seek these articles not looking for understanding but rather for easy, quick, home fixes. While there are many things that can be treated at home, there are also many that do require veterinary attention. Knowing the difference is what's important. But too many people are reluctant to see a vet.

Couple of articles on dog knee injuries, namely those on post-op care also made the list. 

This year, we'll be kicking off with articles on CCL injuries in dogs in the Physical Therapy Tips column.

The article on Collie Nose/Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) is steadily remaining on the list which doesn't surprise me because there isn't a whole lot of information about this out there.

The one that does surprise me is an article explaining hypo- versus hyperadrenocorticism. I've done a few similar articles which seem to be just sitting there without getting much interest. Except this one. I should look into why and see if I can expand on the information.

Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Excessive Drinking (Polydipsia)

This is one of frequent questions on Dog Health Issues group, as well as on Pawbly. Though more people are likely to be concerned about potty accidents and frequent urination than increased drinking. Those two go usually hand in hand, though. These are definitely things that cannot be treated at home. Conditions that cause increased drinking and/or urination range from urinary tract infections (UTI), systemic infections, systemic diseases such as diabetes or Cushing's, and other serious things.


Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Excessive Panting

Excessive panting can be caused by anything from stress, pain, obesity, heatstroke, fever, hormonal disorders, or respiratory or cardiovascular disorders. This again is something you do need to see a vet with. No, there isn't a magic pill you can get over the counter that will just make this go away.


Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Excessive Drooling

Excessive drooling is drooling more than is normal for your particular breed or individual dog. Some breeds drool more than others. It is a sign of a problem when it's either more than is normal or not associated with typical situations, such as presence of food.

Reasons why your dog might drool excessively range from serious to life-threatening. When it is paired with other serious signs such as pain, inability to swallow, difficulty breathing, vomiting, dry heaving and distended stomach, lethargy, weakness, change in  mental status ... you're looking at an emergency situation.



Medical Jargon Explained: Hypo- versus Hyperadrenocorticism

This is an article where I'm trying to explain what adrenal glands do and what happens when they're not able to do it properly. I've done a few similar articles which nobody seems to read. I need to figure out why this particular one is getting all that attention and see if I can expand on the information.

Collie Nose: Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) In Dogs

I always thought this was a pretty rare disease and I wrote about it only because a friend was asking about it. But it seems it's not that rare after all.

If your dog has been diagnosed with DLE, do check out a follow-up article by Dr. Daniel Beatty about Alternative Treatments For Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE).


Whats In The Urine? (Part I: What You Can Notice On Your Own)

Paying attention to stuffs that come out of your dog can arm you with lots of important information. That applies to poop, vomit and, of course, urine. Be aware of frequency, visual appearance, smell ... watch if elimination might be painful. All of these things are important clues about your dog's health. When in doubt, or something gives you a reason for concern, get a urine sample to your vet. Urinalysis is an awesome diagnostic tool.

Make sure that ideally you give your vet FRESH, fasted, first morning pee in a sterile container.


Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Bad Odor

The only time any of our dogs had a bad odor to them was when something was wrong. Infected anal glands, gastrointestinal disease, skin infection, oral disease ...

The average dog shouldn't be any stinkier than an average person. If they are, something is up.


Surviving The Post-Op: After Your Dog's ACL Surgery

Busted knees are one of the most common injuries in dogs. Most often, the best way of fixing that is surgery. When your dog is going to have any surgery, it is best to be prepared before hand. Ask your surgeon what to expect. Find out whether and how you can get yourself and your home ready for the post-op. See if there is anything you can do to prepare your dog as well. It will save you a lot of stress and grief when your dog comes home after the actual surgery.


Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: Excessive Head Shaking

Your dog will shake their heads in response to discomfort, pain or irritation. This can be as simple as a itch, tickle or bug bite, or it can be as serious as inflammation or ear infection.


Cruciate Ligament (ACL/CCL) Surgery Post-Op Care: Example Plan

To this day, too many people bring their dog home after a major surgery with very little instruction about what to expect, what to watch for and how to care for their dog during the recovery. If your dog has a surgery, insist that your vet or surgeon explains things to you in detail and, ideally, provides you with a written post-op care and rehabilitation plan.

Most of the time, what happens after surgery is just as important as the surgery itself.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Our First Declined Trupanion Claim

We jumped on the pet health insurance wagon late in the year 2012. 

After our experiences and the huge expense with Jasmine's medical care we decided to insure JD. He was still perfectly healthy with no medical record, it was time to do that.


Having our dogs fully covered became a high priority.

We would not have been able to cover any more medical disasters out of our pockets which were now more than empty. We're still trying to get out of all the debt we got into.

It was so important to us we even decided to pass on the first girl we were going to adopt because of her murky medical records. There was too much there which could make almost anything she'd come down with later on a pre-existing condition.

Cookie had a clean slate and we insured her immediately after adoption.

While I do feel that the premiums are relatively high, I like that with Trupanion coverage EVERYTHING is covered. Any diagnostic or treatment you can come up with is covered. With our extended plan, this also includes alternative therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic, laser therapy, physical therapy, even hyperbaric chamber therapy ... if you can think of it, it is covered.

Since then we have made a number of claims for both Cookie's and JD's medical care.

Cookie's pancreatitis treatment, treatment of her sore leg, diagnostics of her elevated ALT ... as well as JD's mast cell tumor treatment.

All diagnostics and treatment of Cookie's iliopsoas injury are also covered.

Until we claimed Cookie's chiropractic treatment.

Here is the interesting bit. It was declined not because chiropractic treatment isn't covered, or because it was not a treatment indicated for Cookie.

It wasn't covered because "the chiropractic work was not done by a veterinarian or in a veterinary clinic under the supervision of a veterinarian."

Unfortunately, up we don't have much choice. There is only one chiropractor doing animal chiropractic far and wide. She is a medical doctor and human chiropractor who is licensed for animal chiropractic. She studied at the Veterinary Chiropractic Learning Centre, where, as it happens, our last chiropractor teaches.

But, she indeed is not a veterinarian and does not provide the treatments in a veterinary clinic.

I am trying to argue my point but it doesn't seem I'll have much success with that.

Rules are rules, I guess, and with large corporations they don't bend. I don't really blame Trupanion for sticking strictly to their rules even though I might not agree with them. I can see why such a rule would be in place.

There isn't much we can do about this since Cookie does need the chiropractic care and this is our only option and we are thankful to have it available.

If you do have a choice, though, be careful not to get caught in such a technicality.

Related articles:
From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
And So It Begins Again(?) Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie 
I Didn't Know I Could Fly: Why Cookie Wears A Harness Instead Of A Collar
C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Chews For Dogs CAN Be A Choking Hazzard 
Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie: The Knee Or The Foot? 
Creative Solutions And An Incidental Product Review
Too Young For Pot: Cookie's Snack With A Side Of Hydrogen Peroxide  
Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization  
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed  
Putting The Easy Back Into Walking
Cookie's Ears Are Still Not Happy 
The Threat Of The Bulge Is Always Lurking 
Today Is Cookie's Three-Months Adoptoversary  
Cookie Meets The Electric Horse Fence And Her First Chiropractic Adjustment  
Why Examine Your Dog's Vomit? 
Why Is That Leg Still Not Happy? Cookie's Leg Keeps Getting Sore 
Cookie Too Is Insured With Trupanion
Does Being Insured Mean Being Covered? Our First Claim With Trupanion
Is Cookie's Leg Finally Getting Better?
Is Cookie Going To Be Another Medical Challenge Or Are We Looking To Closely? 
The Project That Is Cookie: Pancreatitis Up Close And Personal  
Pancreatitis: Cookie’s Blood Work   
Another Belly Upset: Pancreatitis Again Or Not?  
Happy Birthday, Cookie 
Incontinence? Cookie's Mysterious Leaks 
Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat 
Don't Just Stand There, Do Something? Cookie's Mysterious Bumps 
Cookie's Mysterious Bumps Update
One Vomit, No Vomit 
Happy One-Year Adoptoversary, Cookie!
Cookie's Leaks Are Back: Garden Variety Incontinence Or Not?
Cookie's Leaks Update 
Don't Panic, Don't Panic: Know What Your Job Is 
The Continuing Saga Of Cookie's Leeks: Trying Chiropractic Approach 
Cookie's Minor Eye Irritation
Regular Wellness Exam: Cookie's ALT Was Elevated 
Cookie's Plantar Paw Pad Injury 
How Far To Take It When The Dog Isn't Sick?
Cookie Has Tapeworm Infection 
Cookie's Elevated ALT: The Ultrasound and Cytology  
Cookie's ALT Update
The Importance of Observation: Cookie's Chiropractic Adjustment
Sometimes You Don't Even Know What You're Looking at: Cookie's Scary "We Have No Idea What that Was" 
Living with an Incontinent Dog 
Summer Dangers: Cookie Gets Stung by a Bald-faced Hornet 
To Breathe or Not To Breathe: Cookie's Hind Legs Transiently Fail to Work (Again)
Figuring out What Might Be Going on with Cookie's Legs: The Process 
Figuring out What Might Be Going on with Cookie's Legs: The Diagnosis 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Trazodone  
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Other Medications 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Laser, Hydrotherapy and Chiropractic 
Cookie's Recovery from Iliopsoas Injury: ToeGrips 


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, December 27, 2015

Shaping Games: Both Cookie and I Love them

The thing I love about shaping games is that Cookie enjoys them and that makes me happy. I'm happy that she likes doing things with me and I admire how clever Cookie is.

Shaping games are a win win for everybody involved.




We've always had daily session of training games. Now, that Cookie's exercise has been restricted, they've become even more important in keeping her occupied.

I don't think I'm a very good trainer but we try and have fun doing it.

Cookie does learn a thing or two and it's great for bonding.

The game depicted here might eventually end up with Cookie putting away her toys or technically she could be taught to put away pretty much anything. Whether or not we get to that stage I don't know but I think it's awesome what she does.

We broke the process down to small steps.

We started with a tennis ball. When I first presented it to her I marked and rewarded any interaction with it. Then we moved on to her taking it into her mouth. Then dropping it. Then dropping it into a container.

I just started introducing other objects and other containers.



Cookie picks up on things very fast. Though the last time I wanted to try putting away multiple objects and she got confused by the fact there already was an object in the container. After some deliberation she figured she ought to take it back out. So I have to figure out how to get her to figure out that now I want more than one object put away into the same container.

Since she got confused, I scaled it back down to one object and we'll try this again.

If mommy figures it out, Cookie will figure it out. The fact that we're not really pressed to achieve anything in particular helps. We're just doing it for fun.

The added bonus is that every time Cookie figures something out it makes it easier for her to learn the next thing.



Do you play shaping games with your dog?

Further reading:
How Shaping Develops Learning

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? 
I am a Helicopter Dog Mom
Routines: Easy Come, Hard to Go
Mosquito Apocalypse 
Things Always Change: Cookie's Hunting Adventures 
The Advantage of Your Dog Not Barking All the Time: Cookie Saves Horses' Asses
"Look at That" (LAT) Game and Barking at Traffic  
The Role of Thresholds in Dog Training and Behavior
Dog Days of Summer: Keeping an Eye on Cookie 
Dog Days of Summer: Cookie Gets Her SprinklerThe Evolution of My View on What Is and Isn't Dirty
Not F***ing Cheerios, That's for Sure
Hi, My Name Is "No", What's Yours?
Dogs, Porcupines, Wasps and Learning
Mouse Hunting, Leash Pulling, Begging at the Table and Intermittent Reinforcement 
Self-Entertaining Dog? Dogs Need Interaction  
Dogs Are Always Testing the Waters 
Tick Alert: It's a Conversation if You're Listening
How to Ruin a Perfectly Good Dog in One Easy Step
Do Dogs Like to Work for Their Meal?

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Canine Flu Update, Veterinary Emergencies, and more ...

Canine Flu Update – Vaccines and More
Dr. Jennifer Coates/petMD

In the human world, it is the time of flu season. I actually watched a great video explaining how and why late Fall and Winter conditions make people more likely to get sick. Pretty interesting stuff.



Do similar principles apply to dogs? Canine flu doesn't seem to be nearly as seasonal as ours is. There are some other things to be aware of as far as canine flu is concerned. There are two different types of flu out there now. The original strains that's been first diagnosed in 2004 and the newly imported one which was behind the recent outbreak.

Symptoms alone don't provide enough information about what you're dealing with. It is better to test than play the guessing game.

Vaccine for the old flu has been out there for some time now. A conditional license for vaccine against the newly imported strain had been granted. Whether or not to vaccinate against either one is a question. Read Dr. Coates' thoughts.



Holiday Pet Emergencies: How to Handle a Trip to the ER
Dr. Patty Khuly/VetStreet

Emergency hospitals are busier during the holidays more than any other time of the year. There are two reasons for that. Firstly, most regular veterinary hospitals are closed so things you'd go see your regular vet with often end up at the emergency room instead. And secondly, the holidays bring their own special health risks starting from the holiday feast, holiday decorations, treasures from visitors' hand bags and so on.

Dr. Khuly has some great tips on how to handle a holiday trip to the veterinary ER.

First and foremost, always know where the local veterinary ER is. Whether it's where you live, where you go visit your family and friends, or where you go on vacation. Trust me, trying to look for it when you already need it is the worst of plans.

Dr. Khuly also recommends calling your own veterinarian first. You never know, they just might happen to be there. She has a lot of other great advice, check it out.



How to Give Your Dog a Massage
Dr. Narda Robinson/AAHA



PT Sue wrote an awesome article on dog massage which I recommend you read. This video shows hands-on massage techniques everybody can try on their dog. Watching the video makes me want one too.



Prepare for medical emergencies when animal health is normal
Dr. Timothy B. Hackett/Colorado State University


One cannot plan for an emergency. If we could plan for it, we could as well prevent it too, couldn't we? Though it is a fairly safe bet that emergencies happen when you least need it. That much you can probably count on.

So if you cannot plan for it, how can you prepare for it? Some of the tips were already touched on in Dr. Khuly's article above, such as knowing where the nearest emergency hospital is in the first place, or, if you have options, which one do you want to use.

The other important thing to know is when to seek emergency care. Trust me, it's not as common sense as you'd think. Besides things that SHOULD be common sense, such as when your dog gets hit by a car, bitten by a snake or ingest a poison, there are things that could leave one wonder, "should I stay or should I go?"

Understanding what is normal behavior and what are your dog's normal vital signs can provide important clues to help you make your decision. And remember - a sick puppy is always an emergency.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Our Experience Using Raw Manuka Honey for Wound Care

Every time Jasmine had a surgery, she came home with prescription of antibiotics. They were all major surgeries, I think it makes sense to be proactive in preventing serious infections.

When JD had his mast cell tumor surgery, he was not put on antibiotics.

On one had I was glad because I like to use antibiotics as sparingly as possible and I like that our vet thinks the same way. He had relatively large hole at the site of the tumor and incision on his chest where they harvested skin for his graft.

The original plan was to keep the wound open to air, just preventing JD from licking it. JD, of course had other plans, in spite of the fashionable cone he was sporting.

The second day after surgery, I felt his wound was starting to smell funny.

I still didn't want to start antibiotics if I didn't have to but I was worried about infection. Particularly since the wound was relatively deep - skin and fascia removed all the way to tendons and muscle. I contacted our vet and asked whether we should try some raw honey. We still had some raw Manuka honey at home since Cookie's paw pad cut.

We used honey on Cookie's cut and never needed antibiotics even through the cut was relatively deep and vets often do prescribe antibiotics for that as well.

That was the first time I've tried that, at an advice of one of my veterinary friends.

JD's vet agreed that it was a good plan so we started the honey treatment on JD's wound. It carried us through the entire healing process and the wound never got infected. We covered it lightly with a sock just to keep the honey in place. We changed the sock and re-applied the honey three times a day.

The use of honey for wound management dates back many centuries.

Anti-bacterial properties of honey are due to a complex interplay of it various components. Sugar had been used as well but it seems honey, particularly Manuka honey, can do a better job. Honey can keep away infection as well as reduce inflammation and facilitate the healing process.

Not all honey had been created equal.

I wouldn't try using any ol' honey from a store. Some of these can have relatively low antibacterial activity and can be contaminated by pathogenic organisms.

We used raw Manuka honey and had very good results with it.

While antibacterial ointments are readily available, it would still mean antibiotics. I prefer to avoid those and I'm happy with how the honey worked both times.

Of course, I wouldn't use anything without discussing it with our vet first. But she thought it was a good idea and considering the results it was.


Further reading:
Honey: A Biologic Wound Dressing
A Comparison Between Medical Grade Honey and Table Honeys in Relation to Antimicrobial Efficacy

Related articles:
Cookie's Plantar Paw Pad Injury 
Taking Care of JD's Wounds 
Useful Tips: Bandaging Your Dog's Foot?  
Useful Tips: Wound Care - Scissor-Free Bandaging   
Wound Care 101 (Part I The Basics)  
Wound Care 101 (Part II Wound Management) 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Cookie's Recovery from Iliopsoas Injury: ToeGrips

According to her physical therapist, Cookie keeps improving steadily.

Cookie's chiropractor was quite puzzled when she saw these.
"What does she have on her toes?" she asked, thinking it was some kind of decoration.

Obviously, getting this over with in a month, as we secretly hoped for, isn't happening. I didn't really think so but we were working towards that goal. So now we're working towards the goal of everything being sorted out in two months. But it's important to be realistic. Having experience with sore iliopsoas in the past, I know it's a long journey.

It is crucial not to jump the gun.

Going to fast could only set us back by even longer. So we're going to play it safe. As safe as Cookie's enthusiasm allows.

One of important strategies is preventing setbacks.

This can be easier said than done because Cookie is a high-spirited girl and being on the Trazodone helps but doesn't change who she is. If Cookie was a car, she'd be a Ferrari.

While there is only so much we can do controlling the outside environment (even though we are trying to work out a treaty with the squirrels), there is more we can do at home.

Iliopsoas injuries often happen from hyperextension, either during jumps or when a dog slips.

Preventing slips is then logically an important part of Cookie's smooth recovery.

The house we live in right now had a mix of hardwood and tile floors. It isn't ours and it's not set for putting down carpets everywhere like we had back at our old place. On top of that, covering all the floors with carpets would solve the problem in the house but that's not the only place Cookie goes to.

I was always intrigued by the idea of ToeGrips.

There are other traction products out there, including all types of booties and even adhesive stickers for the pads. My main concerns with those things are how they may or may not interfere with the dog's perception of the terrain. Their pads are about as sensitive as our fingertips and they use the sense of touch to feel the ground under their feet. What happens whey they cannot feel it properly?

There are many videos out there what happens when you put booties on a dog for the first time. The dogs are not impressed. And even though they learn to accept these things, could they cause more problems than they solve, particularly in a driven dog like Cookie?

My thinking is to leave the pads free to interact with the environment.

Even when Cookie cut her paw pad, I bandaged it for going outside to protect the wound but I did my best not to cover anything more than I had to. Fortunately, the cut was on the plantar pad, which is kind of out of the way and I was able to bandage it successfully without covering up the rest of the foot.

Naturally, ToeGrips were what I decided to try in order to prevent slips during Cookie's recovery.

I didn't know how long they might stay on Cookie because even with her restricted exercise she still really gets more than most dogs get on their best days. I was not concerned about Cookie trying to work them off herself because she's a good girl and wouldn't do such things. JD, I'm sure would.

I was right. They don't bother Cookie in the least.

Not from the first moment she got them on and not since. It seems she doesn't even know there is something there. Which is was I was going for. She isn't too fond of the alcohol smell (they need to be soaked in alcohol prior application so they slide on easily) but that's the only thing she takes issue with.

So far they've been staying on quite well.

It's been almost a week and we had to replace four of them. So that is much better than I expected particularly since Cookie does go outside and it's been quite wet and muddy out there.

She seems much steadier on the floors and it seems to have improved her overall posture as well.

Most importantly, there haven't been any major slips that used to happen from time to time when she got excited. And she still does get excited, believe me.

I'll make an update when she's been using them a little longer. I also wanted to have a video to show but among other things, it is impossible to take a video of her running back and forth in this house. I know because I tried. So maybe we'll be able to film that at some other place.


Further reading:
New Solution To An Old Problem For Dogs With Mobility Issues
Dr. Buzby's ToeGrips for Dogs 

Related articles:
From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
And So It Begins Again(?) Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie 
I Didn't Know I Could Fly: Why Cookie Wears A Harness Instead Of A Collar
C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Chews For Dogs CAN Be A Choking Hazzard 
Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie: The Knee Or The Foot? 
Creative Solutions And An Incidental Product Review
Too Young For Pot: Cookie's Snack With A Side Of Hydrogen Peroxide  
Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization  
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed  
Putting The Easy Back Into Walking
Cookie's Ears Are Still Not Happy 
The Threat Of The Bulge Is Always Lurking 
Today Is Cookie's Three-Months Adoptoversary  
Cookie Meets The Electric Horse Fence And Her First Chiropractic Adjustment  
Why Examine Your Dog's Vomit? 
Why Is That Leg Still Not Happy? Cookie's Leg Keeps Getting Sore 
Cookie Too Is Insured With Trupanion
Does Being Insured Mean Being Covered? Our First Claim With Trupanion
Is Cookie's Leg Finally Getting Better?
Is Cookie Going To Be Another Medical Challenge Or Are We Looking To Closely? 
The Project That Is Cookie: Pancreatitis Up Close And Personal  
Pancreatitis: Cookie’s Blood Work   
Another Belly Upset: Pancreatitis Again Or Not?  
Happy Birthday, Cookie 
Incontinence? Cookie's Mysterious Leaks 
Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat 
Don't Just Stand There, Do Something? Cookie's Mysterious Bumps 
Cookie's Mysterious Bumps Update
One Vomit, No Vomit 
Happy One-Year Adoptoversary, Cookie!
Cookie's Leaks Are Back: Garden Variety Incontinence Or Not?
Cookie's Leaks Update 
Don't Panic, Don't Panic: Know What Your Job Is 
The Continuing Saga Of Cookie's Leeks: Trying Chiropractic Approach 
Cookie's Minor Eye Irritation
Regular Wellness Exam: Cookie's ALT Was Elevated 
Cookie's Plantar Paw Pad Injury 
How Far To Take It When The Dog Isn't Sick?
Cookie Has Tapeworm Infection 
Cookie's Elevated ALT: The Ultrasound and Cytology  
Cookie's ALT Update
The Importance of Observation: Cookie's Chiropractic Adjustment
Sometimes You Don't Even Know What You're Looking at: Cookie's Scary "We Have No Idea What that Was" 
Living with an Incontinent Dog 
Summer Dangers: Cookie Gets Stung by a Bald-faced Hornet 
To Breathe or Not To Breathe: Cookie's Hind Legs Transiently Fail to Work (Again)
Figuring out What Might Be Going on with Cookie's Legs: The Process 
Figuring out What Might Be Going on with Cookie's Legs: The Diagnosis 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Trazodone  
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Other Medications 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Laser, Hydrotherapy and Chiropractic


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, December 20, 2015

Why Is Our Dogs' Mobility Such a Big Deal to Us?

When one of us hurt our leg, we don't make much fuss about that at all. Other than a lot of whining and complaining when it happens to be a male leg that's been injured. I don't think either of us has ever seen a doctor with a limb injury unless it was broken.

Using her body, interacting with the environment,
that's what makes Cookie the happiest.

When our dog has a limb injury, we pull all the stops to make them well.

Why so much effort when we barely do anything when it's ourselves?

Dogs are physical creatures.

They were born to run and jump and play.

While we are perfectly happy to curl up on a couch with a book or a movie, dogs cannot read and they don't get much from watching television. They can't do crossword puzzles or play table games. Their bodies are meant to move and that is what gives them the most joy and fulfillment.

Yes, there are food toys, and puzzle toys, and training games ... Cookie enjoys all those things. But what she really wants and needs to be truly happy is to get out there and run and chase critters and play with JD.

Dogs are not good at holding back.

I bet Cookie would not pass on a squirrel chase even if both of her legs were broken. She just can't. Her drive is too strong. Her drive and enthusiasm is so high it overrides everything else.

That makes it that much more likely for her to keep re-injuring herself. Even being kept on the leash at all times, there is only so much one can do. She can be very good and calm until there is a reason to get excited about something.

Think walking a kite in a hurricane.

I use this comparison quite often because that's exactly what it is like. Even with Jasmine it was like that. I remember after her spay surgery, she was supposed to be on strict rest for 10 days. On the seventh day, in order to preserve everybody's sanity, I figured that a short leashed walk might do her good. And I found myself walking a kite in a hurricane.

For Cookie it can be a squirrel or a bunny, or simply cold wind in her fur. Her brain simply switches to hunting mode or zoomies mode and that's that. Trying to get her to calm down or at least to control what she's doing to keep her safe is difficult to impossible. I don't want to be strict with her for that so I'm after redirection and control.

I believe a dog can only be truly happy when they have the freedom to use their bodies and fly across the countryside.

This is true at least for our dogs. That's why their mobility is a huge deal for us and when there is a problem, we throw everything at it to get our dogs back on track as soon as possible.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Safe Treatment for Tear Stains, Top Ten Signs of Diabetes, and more ...

Epilepsy Task Force
Dr. Nancy Kay/Spot Speaks

Epilepsy is the most common neurological disease affecting dogs and yet nobody really understands what's causing it and how to treat it. I know a number of people who had great results treating it with alternative approach, using Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine. That's probably because this modality looks at things quite differently than conventional medicine does.

However, a global task force, including veterinary and human neurologists, neuroscientists, neropharmacologists and neuropathologists has been put together in the effort to get to the bottom of this disease. That is a good thing. You can really treat a problem well if you fully understand it.



A new, safe answer to tear-staining in pets
Dr. Marty Becker/Dr. Marty Becker blog

A lot of people are concerned about tear stains on their beautiful, light-haired dogs. How much of a problem are they? Unless there is an underlying medical cause tor excessive tearing, you might be really just looking at a cosmetic problem. Is it wise to use an antibiotics-containing product to deal with a cosmetic problem? I wouldn't.

If there is a medical problem, it should be treated. But what to do if your dog is healthy just suffering from the unsightly stains? (Your dog is not suffering from those at all, of course, just their looks)

Here is a new idea to get rid of these bothersome stains without risking creating dangerously drug-resistant bacteria as well as messing with your dog's digestive system - probiotics. Apparently, Iams makes a probiotic specifically intended for this purpose, Prostora. Whether it needs to be this particular product or other probiotics would work too, there is certainly no harm in trying this treatment.


Quiz: Is it Poisonous for a Dog, a Cat, Neither or Both?
Entirely Pets Blog

Do you know what things are toxic to your dog? This quiz is a fun, interactive way to test yourself and brush up on your knowledge. For me, I have failed some of the questions regarding cats - simply because we never had and don't plan on having cats.

And some of the items I feel shouldn't really be there, such as mushrooms. Even though it is better to think that they are poisonous across the board; it's just safer that way. But in reality, mushrooms are either poisonous or not. In fact, some are being explored or used for medicinal purposes not only for people but for dogs also. But it's still fun to take the quiz, particularly for those of you who share your households with both species.


Top Ten Signs Your Pet Has Diabetes
petMD

Diabetes in pets is a growing epidemic. One still has to wonder why and whether the high levels of carbohydrates we feed have something to do with it.

Whatever the cause may be, it is important to know and recognize the signs your dog might have diabetes. Even though they might have other causes, excessive thirst along with increased urination are common symptoms that can point to diabetes. So can increased hunger, particularly together with weight loss. Other signs include vomiting, weakness or fatigue, depression,  coat changes and cloudy eyes.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Useful Tips: Wound Care - Scissor-Free Bandaging

I don't know about you but I hate the idea of scissors anywhere near my dog's body. Scissor lacerations can land a dog in an emergency room. You never know when your dog might make a sudden move which will turn seemingly harmless tool into a weapon.


When we do have to use scissors around our dogs, we use the round-nose kind which we have in our dog first aid kit.

But I still don't like using even those.

Every time our dog comes bandaged from the vets, the only way to remove it is by cutting it.

Vet wrap is an awesome invention which I love. But once it's been applied for a while, there is usually no way of finding the end and being able to just unravel it.

With last year's Cookie's cut on her paw pad and this year's post-op wound after removal of JD's mast cell tumor, we've done our share of bandaging.

A handyman can come in handy.

Hubby is quite a handyman, always making or building something. Every time he uses tape he makes a little tab on the end so it is easier for him to find and pull off the end when he goes to use the roll the next time.

Instead of adhering the single end, which is impossible to find and lift later,
make a tab as below.
This is much easier done having both hands. But I was folding the bandage with one hand
while filming with the other.
Little tab like this goes a long way making it easy to remove the bandage later.
The video below shows how easy it is.
It was his suggestion to make a tab at the end when applying a bandage as well.

"I guess I have to go fetch some scissors," said the vet when JD came to have his post-op wound checked out when she realized we had bandaged a sock over it.

"Nope, you don't," said hubby and showed her the tab we made which is easy to grab so the bandage can be simply unwrapped.

Unlike on duct tape or electrical tape, the end does not stick out from the roll. The tabbed vet wrap still adheres to the rest as it should but the tab makes it easier to find and pull off.

Not once has JD worked off his bandage because of the tab. Even when he did work off the sock from underneath, the bandage remained in place.



Works like a charm.

And for some reason nobody else seems to have ever thought of that. Not when bandaging a wound, not when putting away a roll of tape. And yet, the vet wrap we use comes with exactly the same tab on a new roll.

Having changed bandages three times a day (yes, I'm very paranoid about infections when bandaging my dogs), this little trick is a life saver.

Don't cut it, tab it.


Related articles:
Useful Tips: Bandaging Your Dog's Foot? 
Useful Tips: Stomach Unhappy from Too Much Acid?

Useful Tip: You Don't Have To Dish Out For An Expensive Dog Dryer
Useful Tips: Winter Dog Safety Tip
Useful Tips: Battling With The Fish Oil Gel Caps?
Useful Tips: Visual Chart
Dog First Aid Kit: What's In Yours? 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Laser, Hydrotherapy and Chiropractic

Now we get to the really good stuff - laser therapy, hydrotherapy, physical therapy and chiropractic treatments.

The first step in treating iliopsoas injuries is to control pain and inflammation.

This can be achieved with rest and medications but laser therapy can do amazing things both for pain and inflammation control as well as encouraging the healing process. Without reducing pain and inflammation, healing cannot take place. Laser therapy is great to kick-start the healing process.

Laser therapy is one of my favorite go-to treatments for our dogs.


It did great things for Jasmine and it seems to be doing great things for Cookie as well.

I would have never expected that she might be able to actually feel the treatment while it's happening but it would appear she indeed does. She seems to enjoy the treatments enormously. When the tech pulls out the laser, she lays down on her own, makes herself comfortable and as the treatment starts, she's on her way to bliss. Most of the time she falls asleep. Which I think is awesome that it feels so good to her.

Some people told me that they tried laser therapy and it didn't seem to do anything for their dog. I'm sure that's possible, not everything works for every dog the same way.

With Cookie, though, not only the treatment itself feels really good to her but there is visibly more pronounced bounce in her step after.

It seems quite obvious that she feels better after each of the treatments.

We are clearly seeing the benefit but I was curious why it sometimes might not work for some dogs. I think that one tricky part with these injuries is that the iliopsoas are deep within the body. Perhaps it isn't as easy to get the photon power all the way to them.


Laser treatment equipment went a long way.

Not all lasers are the same. There are different classes and types. Lasers are classified according to the wavelength and energy output.

There are different attachments and settings. In generally, the lower the class number, the weaker the laser. Both our veterinary hospital and our rehab center are using class IV lasers. I think the class of the laser, the settings and attachment used can make a big difference.

One thing is for sure - the laser treatments are visibly working for Cookie.

Each of her treatments is half an hour with the class IV laser. Ideally, she'd be getting laser every day at first, but with how far everything is around here we can only do 3x a week.

PT Sue wrote a great article on the benefits of laser therapy.


We also added massage, stretching exercises and underwater treadmill. We will be including strengthening exercises, particularly for the hind end and core and other functional exercises while gradually including more activity until Cookie can get back to normal.

Cookie was getting monthly chiropractic treatments all along.

But for now, she's getting adjusted weekly. At first she was very sore at the back end and middle of the back. Last time the middle of her back was happy again and the hind end needed only a bit of tweaking.

Cookie's had issues at the lower back all along and combined with the sore muscles, one thing was feeding on the other. We're hoping to get things settled and stay ahead of it.

Cookie is steadily improving.

We have to be very careful not to let her do too much too fast so we don't end up at square one. As much as such a long process sucks for Cookie, it is best to do it properly than having to start all over.

Further reading:
Photon Power: Can Laser Therapy Help Your Dog? 
The Weight Of Water And How It Helps Dogs
Functional Strengthening Exercises: the What, Why and How

Related articles:
From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
And So It Begins Again(?) Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie 
I Didn't Know I Could Fly: Why Cookie Wears A Harness Instead Of A Collar
C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Chews For Dogs CAN Be A Choking Hazzard 
Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie: The Knee Or The Foot? 
Creative Solutions And An Incidental Product Review
Too Young For Pot: Cookie's Snack With A Side Of Hydrogen Peroxide  
Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization  
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed  
Putting The Easy Back Into Walking
Cookie's Ears Are Still Not Happy 
The Threat Of The Bulge Is Always Lurking 
Today Is Cookie's Three-Months Adoptoversary  
Cookie Meets The Electric Horse Fence And Her First Chiropractic Adjustment  
Why Examine Your Dog's Vomit? 
Why Is That Leg Still Not Happy? Cookie's Leg Keeps Getting Sore 
Cookie Too Is Insured With Trupanion
Does Being Insured Mean Being Covered? Our First Claim With Trupanion
Is Cookie's Leg Finally Getting Better?
Is Cookie Going To Be Another Medical Challenge Or Are We Looking To Closely? 
The Project That Is Cookie: Pancreatitis Up Close And Personal  
Pancreatitis: Cookie’s Blood Work   
Another Belly Upset: Pancreatitis Again Or Not?  
Happy Birthday, Cookie 
Incontinence? Cookie's Mysterious Leaks 
Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat 
Don't Just Stand There, Do Something? Cookie's Mysterious Bumps 
Cookie's Mysterious Bumps Update
One Vomit, No Vomit 
Happy One-Year Adoptoversary, Cookie!
Cookie's Leaks Are Back: Garden Variety Incontinence Or Not?
Cookie's Leaks Update 
Don't Panic, Don't Panic: Know What Your Job Is 
The Continuing Saga Of Cookie's Leeks: Trying Chiropractic Approach 
Cookie's Minor Eye Irritation
Regular Wellness Exam: Cookie's ALT Was Elevated 
Cookie's Plantar Paw Pad Injury 
How Far To Take It When The Dog Isn't Sick?
Cookie Has Tapeworm Infection 
Cookie's Elevated ALT: The Ultrasound and Cytology  
Cookie's ALT Update
The Importance of Observation: Cookie's Chiropractic Adjustment
Sometimes You Don't Even Know What You're Looking at: Cookie's Scary "We Have No Idea What that Was" 
Living with an Incontinent Dog 
Summer Dangers: Cookie Gets Stung by a Bald-faced Hornet 
To Breathe or Not To Breathe: Cookie's Hind Legs Transiently Fail to Work (Again)
Figuring out What Might Be Going on with Cookie's Legs: The Process 
Figuring out What Might Be Going on with Cookie's Legs: The Diagnosis 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Trazodone  
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Other Medications


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!