Saturday, January 28, 2017

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Myasthenia Gravis, The Problem with Thick Scabs, and more ...

Myasthenia Gravis – When the Muscles & Nerves Don’t Talk

Dr. Christopher Byers/CriticalCareDVM

Myasthenia Gravis was one of the things I was researching when I was trying to figure out what was happening with Cookie's legs. Initial exams didn't reveal anything that would explain what was happening so I was looking up everything that could be causing Cookie's legs giving out on her. Fortunately, myasthenia gravis didn't seem the right fit either, even though it does a look a bit similar to what we observed in Cookie.

Myasthenia gravis is a condition in which the dog's muscles aren't receiving nerve signals properly. It can be either congenital or autoimmune in nature. To learn more about what myasthenia gravis is and how it can be diagnosed and treated, read Dr. Byers' article.

Myasthenia Gravis in Dogs

Dr. Dodds

It's interesting that Dr. Byers and Dr. Dodds chose similar timing for their articles. If your dog has just been diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, or it is on a suspect list, I recommend you read both.

Why thick Scabs Increase Scarring and the Rist of Infections

Dr. Peter Dobias

I am always excited that I find an article with a unique subject or a unique approach to a common problem.

A scab is a rough, protective crust that forms over a cut or wound during healing. That makes it a good thing, doesn't it? Isn't that designed to prevent infections? I wouldn't know, I always compulsively pick off mine. I do know that granny always hated when I did that, telling me I shouldn't that it's going to get infected. Could granny had been wrong?

When it comes to my dogs, I can't help putting something on their wounds, be it vitamin E or raw honey, and I always had good results with that.

Even though the article seems to be designed to sell a specific product, the reasoning presented is interesting.

Top Seven Things To NEVER Say To Your Vet

Dr. Krista Magnifico/Diary of a Real-Life Veterinarian

Dr. Krista is probably the most compassionate veterinarian I know. She will bend over backward to help a pet in need. If that is what you want in your vet, though, there are some things you should never say to them. Or any vet, for that matter.

  1. What would you do if this was your pet?
  2. Wouldn't it be cheaper to get a new one?
  3. I don't want to pay for stuff (vaccines/diagnostics) that I don't need.
  4. They are this way because they were abused.
  5. I don't believe in heartworm prevention/flea & tick prevention/vaccines, etc.
  6. I don't want to put them through, XXXX procedure.
  7. I got a new puppy and I don't want my old one anymore.

I admit I am guilty of the first one, though I only did that once and that was at the beginning of my dog health advocacy journey. As for number six, I feel that it depends on what the situation, what the procedure is and what the possible best outcome would be. I believe there are times when putting a dog through procedures that are not likely to change the treatment plan or the outcome is indeed something to possibly pass on. I liked what Dr. Shailen of Veterinary ECC Small Talk said, which is that one should ask themselves two questions. 1) what am I going to do if the test result is negative? 2) what am I going to do if the test result is positive? And if the answers to those two questions are the same, there is no point of doing the test. Just as well if the potential best-case scenario is grim. I think this can be an individual decision that should be made for the best interest of the dog involved.

Some of the other points, though, I find shocking that somebody would even think about, never mind saying them out loud. What do you think?

For Dr. Krista reasoning behind her list, read the article.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Profuse Vomiting an Emergency?

I radically agree with the 84.85% of survey participants who believe that profuse vomiting is an emergency. I am concerned about the dogs of those who don't think so.

Profuse vomiting is most definitely an emergency, particularly when associated with inability to keep down water, blood in the vomit, depression or pain

This is very dangerous for any dog but especially when it comes to puppies or small dogs.

With profuse vomiting, both the underlying cause and the vomiting itself can be a real danger.

Prolonged profuse vomiting can lead to dehydration and electrolyte abnormalities, both of which can lead to further complications.

As for the underlying cause, the rule of thumb is that the more violent the vomiting, the more serious the problem causing it. You can be looking at anything starting with poisoning, foreign body, pancreatitis, severe infection or inflammation, liver or kidney failure ...

Neither of the above are things I'd want to take my chances with.

Related articles:
Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: Vomiting

Dog Medical Emergencies Survey
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey Results
Is Unproductive Retching an Emergency?
Is Difficulty Breathing an Emergency?
Is Panting an Emergency?
Is Severe Pain an Emergency?
Is Limping an Emergency?
Is Vomiting Bile in the Morning an Emergency?

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog now available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Cervical Disc Disease: Hank's Story of Hope

by  Krista Magnifico, DVM

Hank was a statistic no one wanted to happen.

He is a beagle who is middle-aged, lazy and overweight. He also spends his time outdoors with a hyperactive over exuberant nut case of a brother, Moe. Moe has everything going for him. He is active, lean, muscular, and full of energy. This lifestyle has made him a powerhouse, it has also made him a liability to his brother, fat, old, slothy Hank.

Moe, Caleb, Hank

Hank was found laying on his side unable to stand, move, or walk on a Friday afternoon. 

He was shaking, trembling, and crying in pain. His family brought him to see me on a Sunday after it was apparent he was not recovering on his own. Now I am just like you. I heard his story, looked at his pitiful pathetic desperate self and thought, "Oh God! why did they wait to bring him in?"

This is what I saw when I entered the exam room the first time I met Hank and Caleb. I will never forget seeing them. I feared the worst...

I have been wearing a white coat for a while. It has provided me some important life lessons.

One is to not assume or rush to judgment. 

Hank's family was overwhelmed with caretaking for their son, Caleb, who has spina bifada. Caleb is 8 years old and preparing for his 6th surgery this year. It was very clear very quickly that this family was taxed beyond what many of us could handle on a routine basis and now Hank was down and out. When I discussed my concerns for Hank, how he needed to be transferred immediately to a neurologist and how the optimal care for his current condition would require an MRI and decompression surgery with its $8,000 to $10,000 price tag, his family went white with anguish.

Hank was Caleb's best friend. His lifeline, and his inspiration for all of his surgeries. At every surgery Caleb carried in a stuffed version of his beloved Hank to keep him company.

My bright idea of publicly posting Hank's condition in an effort to gain social media assistance to cover some, or all, of Hanks medical costs was abandoned when Caleb's mom quietly mentioned that they already had a GoFund me site set up to help pay for Caleb's next surgery. How could I ask for help with Hank's medical needs when Caleb's were in competition for those dollars? There was no way I was going to ask, or beg, for help and have it cost Caleb. So I did what I believed was the only option left. I took Hank's case on as my own. No advertising, no reimbursement, no discussion of anything except to say to his mom "You worry about Caleb and yourself, and I will worry about Hank."

And so it was. After two nights in the clinic Hank came home with me. 

I arrived at home late Wednesday evening with a paralyzed Hank and an almost absent ambivalent husband who now expects that I take the critical cases home with me. A few minutes of basic technician training and my husband was enlisted in Hank's care and understanding that verbal protests would only damage our relationship and fail at discouraging my maternal veterinary compulsions.

After 14 days with us, including a week of almost completely sleepless nights because Hank refused to sleep on a dog bed at the end of our bed, and would only stop crying, whining and bellowing when I put him in our bed. Which is a ridiculously dangerous place to be because who wants a paralyzed dog to fall out of bed? AND he is peeing and pooping at unforeseen intervals.

Hank required 24/7 care. 

Multiple baths at 2 am because had to go to the bathroom, multiple times getting up to try to figure out if the whimpering and discontent meant he needed something like, perhaps,, food?, water?, pain medication?, to go outside?, to sit up?, to get more attention?, to see the cat who believed she also belonged on the bed?, to cool him off?, warm him up?, etc. etc. There is no exception to these pups being an intensive amount of work with an unknown amount of recovery time.

There were days I went to work exhausted and cranky. There were nights my husband hated me for inflicting these restless nights upon our bedroom. And, there were the endless questions of whether this was all for naught? Would he ever get better? Would his family take him back? Would that be best for Hank? What would the rest of Hank's life look like? Would he relapse in a week? A month? A year? Would he recover the next time?

Here is Hank's YouTube diary.

There are a few critical things I hope that everyone leaves this blog with;

  1. These cases are difficult.
  2. There is no rule book for time and prognosis.
  3. These cases need affordable options provided to clients,
  4. Never surrender hope.
  5. Or let anyone steal your faith.
  6. These cases deserve an opportunity to provide and offer the fertile ground of miracles a chance. If any vet tells to you surrender your hope IF YOU DON'T have a couple grand available immediately walk out and find another vet. 
  7. Managing pain is possible, and these cases have a chance at recovery. Hank was trembling and panting for a week in discomfort. It was hard to watch, and I tried very hard to keep him as comfortable as possible, BUT, I did not out him in a drug induced coma. 
  8. We got through it together! Me, Hank, my husband, and the staff at the clinic. Provide a supportive network or encouraging helpful people. Death is not an option I considered. I understand this is on a case by case basis, BUT, I was prepared for a cart and a dog who needed help for as long as Hank needed help.

What does Hanks future hold? I am not sure. He is home with his family. We talk often and we will continue to do so. Caleb has his next surgery next week. Our best wishes and thoughts are with him. We have faith,,,, sometimes that is enough.

There is a whole lot more information on IVDD on my other blogs. Please visit them. I think they answer every question I have ever had on managing this disease.

IVDD. The Days Immediately Following the Diagnosis
IVDD. Dr Kelcourse's Advice
IVDD. A Tale Of Two Outcomes

Hank goes home, day 17


If you have a pet in need you can find a community of helpful people at Pawbly is free to use and open to anyone who loves their pet and wants to help them.

I am also available for personal consults at Jarrettsville Veterinary Center in Jarrettsville Maryland. Or find me on YouTube or Twitter @FreePetAdvice.

Articles by Dr. Magnifico:
Don't Make This Mistake: Ruby's Death To Heat Stroke 
Parvo: Cora's Story 
Jake's Laryngeal Paralysis
The Tip Of The Iceberg: The Unexpected Dental Dilemma
The Ear Ache That Wasn't Going Away: Tottsie's Story
Cody's Eyelid Tumor
Ruger's Mysterious Illness
The Day The Heart Stood Still: Timber's Story 
Different Definition Of Comfort Food: Levi's Story 
Savannah's Pancreatitis  
Histiocytoma: Rio's Mysterious Bump
Von Willebrand's Disease: Greta's Story 
Alice's Heart Murmur  
Jekyll Loses His Tail Mo-Jo 
Pale Gums Are An Emergency: Bailey's Story 
To Amputate Or Not To Amputate: Heidi's Story
Lessons From A Real-Life Veterinarian 
Charlie's Life Saving Lipoma Surgery  
Understanding and Diagnosing The Limping Dog, Why To Probe The Paw 
Angus' Dog Fight And The Consequences
When To Induce Vomiting And When It's Not A Good Idea  
Abby's Survived Being Run Over By Car But Sucumbed To A Mammary Tumor 
Palmer's Hemoabdomen: Nearly An Unnecessary Death Sentence
A Puppy That Doesn't Want To Eat Or Play Is An Emergency: Aurora's Story
Does Your Dog Like Chewing Sticks? Hank's Story  
Lexi's Bump 
Pyometra: Happy Ending for Pheonix 
Never Give Up: Bella's New Legs 
How Losing His Spleen Saved Buddy's Life 
Pyometra Emergency: Saving Chloe  
Limping Dog Checklist (part I): Did You Check the Toenails?
Limping Dog Checklist (part II): Did You Check between the Toes?
Limping Dog Checklist (part III): Foot Pads
Limping Dog Checklist (part IV): Broken Bones  
Limping Dog Checklist (part V): Joint Injuries
IVDD: Recovery, Post-Op Problems And How To Conquer Them All
Has Your Vet Given Up On Your Pet? Or You? Would You Even Recognize It If They Had?

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Spay/Neuter Recommendations, Anesthetics, and more ...

Spay/Neuter Recommendations

Dr. Nancy Kay/Spot Speaks

Photo: Gloria

Spay and neuter used to be a no-brainer. But while overpopulation is still a problem and being intact does pose some health risks, as it seems, so does being "fixed," particularly being "fixed" too early. There is now research data available showing that at least with some breeds, neutering these dogs before reaching sexual maturity increase the risk of a number of serious health problems. It is not clear whether this translates to all breeds but if I had that choice I'd let my dog become mature before neutering, meaning not spaying or neutering my dog before at least one year of age.

Read Dr. Kay's thoughts on spay and neuter.

Anesthetics: What Are They and How Do They Help Your Pet

Dr. T. J. Dunn/petMD

There are many important and life-saving procedures that could not be done without the use of anesthesia. Medical care for our dogs would be pretty much reduced to medications only. No more dental cleaning, no more surgeries. No more advanced diagnostics. Veterinary medicine wouldn't be what it is without anesthetics.

We don't have yet the perfect anesthetic.
"The perfect anesthetic eliminates all awareness of pain or discomfort and is 100 percent safe." ~T. J. Dunn, Jr., DVM
However, the safety of anesthetic protocols has improved a lot over the years. More importantly, the degree of risk that still remains is outweighed by the benefit of procedures anesthesia makes possible. Careful protocol and monitoring considerations are important.

I am not cavalier deciding on procedures that require anesthesia. And I am always concerned. However, I make every decision based on the best interest of my dog. Such a decision includes weighing both the risk of anesthesia and expected benefit of the procedure.

Want to learn more about aesthetics? Read Dr. Dunn's article.

Dr. Marty Becker on IBD

Dr. Marty Becker

Having had a dog who suffered with IBD, I know how frustrating this disease can be. And we were quite lucky that we were able to manage it successfully with diet and Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM). I believe that an integrative approach can be very effective. Some dogs, however, can have a severe case and require immunosuppressive medications and other aggressive interventions.

Back when Jasmine was diagnosed, we were told the causes would be either parasites or food allergies. Changing her diet and sticking with ingredients considered safe based on blood testing, she did quite well.

Other contributing factors might be genetics, food sensitivities, bacteria, environment, stress or abnormal immune system.

Read Dr. Becker's thoughts on IBD.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Vomiting Bile in the Morning an Emergency?

A few (18.75%) of the of the survey participants believe that vomiting bile in the morning is an emergency. Naturally, not all the symptoms I included are emergencies; else you'd just figure out to check them all. The idea was to make you work for it and consider each of them.

Persistent, projectile or bloody vomiting is an emergency. Unproductive retching is an emergency.

Photo: katno

If a dog vomits bile in the morning every now and then, it is not an emergency.

However, it's not something I'd ignore if it happened to my dog more often than once in a blue moon.

What is bile?

Bile is a fluid which is secreted by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. When a dog eats, bile is released into the first part of the small intestine to aid digestion and removal of waste materials from the body.

A dog will vomit bile when it makes its way into the stomach, causing irritation and vomiting. There are theories why this happens but the exact reason(s) have not been determined.

A popular theory is that it happens when a dog's stomach remains empty for a prolonged period of time.

Which would make sense as bilious vomiting commonly happens in dogs fed only once a day and a popular remedy is feeding more frequent, smaller meals, and/or giving a snack before bed.

On the other hand, in nature, canines often go for prolonged periods of time without eating and their systems should have developed to handle such things.

Here is what in my opinion doesn't add up:

  1. bile is released into the intestine after ingestion of food
  2. bile accumulates when the stomach is empty

See the problem there? If it is food that triggers the release of bile, why would an empty stomach foster excess accumulation? Logically, those two statements don't work together.

Diseases involving inflammation of the intestine and changes in gastrointestinal motility can be at a root of this problem.

Now, that makes much more sense. Something other than the absence of food in the stomach must be triggering this. Intestinal reflux perhaps? Except the GI tract is designed to keep moving food and fluids forward, not backward. When things are moving in the opposite of intended direction, something is causing it. And that something is what, ideally, should be identified and addressed.

With her IBD, Jasmine would get stomach upsets during which she sometimes would vomit bile. Her intestine was, however, chronically inflamed, and her motility was slow. The better we managed her IBD, the less frequent her stomach issues.

More frequent meals and/or bedtime snacks usually help. However ...

Is it solving the issue? While getting rid of the morning vomiting seems satisfactory, what about the problem that might be brewing under the surface? Such as perhaps IBD or other inflammatory process in the GI tract?

Morning bilious vomiting is not an emergency but I do believe it warrants investigation.

Related articles:
Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: Vomiting

Dog Medical Emergencies Survey
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey Results
Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: Excessive Panting
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Unproductive Retching an Emergency?
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Difficulty Breathing an Emergency?
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Panting an Emergency?
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Severe Pain an Emergency?
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Limping an Emergency?

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog now available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Mitral Valve Disease (MVD): Zoey's Surgery

by Nate Estes

Zoey was diagnosed with Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) in July of 2016. 

We were told it was a disease of the heart where the valve degenerates causing a regurgitation of blood back into the heart, ultimately leading to congestive heart failure and death. They said nothing surgically could be done to fix this, only medication to delay its onset.

As you can imagine we were devastated, left without any hope. Zoey was only given a year left to live.

I searched frantically online for something and found that Cornell University hosted a team of Japanese doctors that perform Mitral Valve Repair surgery. Dylan Raskin was able to secure the funds to fly them to the US, hotel them and cover all the medical expenses.

His dog Esme was almost at death's door but two years after this surgery is more than saved, she healthy and like a puppy.

Sadly, the doctors are only performing this surgery in France, Japan, and Singapore and are the only ones qualified in the world doing the surgery. I learned all I can about this and in the end, I flew my dog from Los Angeles to France for an open-heart mitral valve repair surgery.

The surgery was done October 26th 2016 by Dr. Masami Uechi and Jean Hugues Bozon of the Clinique Veterinaire BOZON 2424 in Versailles France.

Zoey is healing well and her heart has already reduced in size. 

Her energy level is like a puppy.  Zoey is off Pimobendan and Enalapril for good.  She only requires blood thinners for the first three months of recovery to avoid blood clots.  No running or jumping as well until cleared by Dr. Sabine Bozon who is Zoey's cardiologist in France.  In addition to her work Dr. Sabine also does the Pre-operative patient profiling and is the director of the surgical aftercare program for her clinic.

Prior to surgery, Zoey's heart was extremely large and her left atrium vein was dilated and stretched. 

The surgery also revealed she was almost going to have a chord rupture. Once this is healed, her heart will continue to shrink and her murmur should reduce as well.

Our three-month post-op check is on January 28th with Dr. Hodge from UC Davis's satellite office in San Diego. Zoey's surgery had no complications and was expected to have a 98 percent result. We feel truly blessed with the level of care we have received from the 6 day ICU care from the Bozon clinic.

Currently, no US surgeon is able to perform this surgery unless they'd study abroad learning Dr. Masami's technique, bringing it back to the US.

The surgery involves heart and lung bypass machine (seen in pics) which the Bozons are the only certified specialists outside of Japan qualified to do small animal bypass.

It involves strengthening the mitral valve with a gortex loop and reattaching the valve to the heart wall with six gortex chords to replace the stressed or stretched out chords. In addition, they strengthen and add extra chords to the heart to ensure any possible future ruptures will have no ill effects on the condition.

The goal of this surgery is to restore them to the B1 stage and repair the valve as much as possible to reduce the regurgitation.

 By using the gortex material, there is no rejection. Valve replacements have been attempted yet failed because the body rejected it. Anti-rejection medications didn't work.

This surgery is currently the only option to save dogs suffering from MVD and most cardiologists are unfamiliar with it.

This is history in the making.

I am always asked about the cost and why is it so expensive so here it is,

The clinic is using state of the art medical equipment that most human hospitals dream of having, such as the mentioned cardiopulmonary bypass machine and a cell saving machine that allows for a transfusion of Zoey's own blood during surgery should she have needed it. Donor blood is also available onsite in the case more is needed.

I didn't have the money but was able to secure high-interest rate loans that I barely could afford. I did this without hesitation to save Zoey.

We have set up a Facebook support group about this surgery and are helping to ease the stress of many others that will take the journey we've been on.

God bless,
Nathan Estes

If your dog was diagnosed MVD, you can check out and join the Mighty Hearts MVD Community.

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, January 14, 2017

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: High Calcium, GOLPP, Acupuncture for Seizure Disorders

Primary Hyperparathyroidism in Dogs – High Calcium Isn’t Always Cancer!

Dr. Christopher Byers

Every time my dogs get blood work done, I like to study it. I like to understand what all the items mean, I keep a spreadsheet with trends for some important values such as those reflecting kidney and liver function. It happened not once that I was told everything looked fine but when I looked at it I had questions. Why is this one elevated? Why is that one below normal? And even though within normal, why does that one keep going up?

It satisfies my analytical mind to see things with my own eyes and to analyze what I'm looking at. There were times when I was told everything looked fine but after my follow-up questions it turned out there were things to investigate. Why not catch things when they are still subtle?

My dogs usually always have calcium levels within norm. When Jasmine's calcium was low, it turned it had nothing to do with calcium itself but with a protein that carries it around in the blood, albumin. It was low; the calcium present corresponded to the albumin levels. The reason albumin was low was because immunoglobulin was high. Those two like to balance each other; if you have too much of one, you have to have less of the other. There is a lot of important information in the blood if one takes the time.

When calcium levels are high, cancer is the primary suspect. Jasmine's blood results showed high calcium once, I was quite concerned. Bottom line, though, high calcium does not always mean cancer.

Ever heard of primary hyperparathyroidism? The parathyroid is a gland, as you might have guessed, controls the calcium levels in the blood. It the control doesn't function properly, it results in high calcium.

Learn more about primary hyperparathyroidism here.

The Problem With Seizure Medications and a New Therapy to Consider

Dr. Karen Becker/Mercola Healthy Pets

Those who follow my blog know that I am not a big fan of drugs. I use them when I have to but prefer other solutions when possible. The main problem with any drug are the potential side effects. And our dogs had their share with those. It only makes sense that I avoid using drugs everywhere I can.

Can seizures in dogs be controlled without drugs? Perhaps they can. I know a number of people who successfully manage their dogs' seizure disorders with an integrative approach--Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM). This can include food therapy, herbal therapy, and acupuncture.

Every dog is different and a treatment plan should be as individual as possible. If my dog did suffer from a seizure disorder, TCVM would be on the top of my list of things to consider.

Would I have a drug on hand just in case? Perhaps. But there seems to be enough anecdotal evidence, clinical evidence and now some studies, showing that an integrative approach can be just as effective and much safer. In Four Paws, Five Directions, Dr. Schwarts says that anything that can be treated with conventional medicine can be treated with TCVM.

Read Dr. Becker's thoughts on
treating canine seizure disorders with acupuncture.

How ‘Lar Par’ is Multifaceted but Treatable

Dr. Phil Zeltzman/Veterinary Practice News

Does your dog suffer from laryngeal paralysis? For a long time, it was believed that it is an isolated disease, affecting the larynx only. But is it?

A friend's dog started having issues and was diagnosed with Geriatric Onset Laryngeal Paralysis Polyneuropathy (GOLPP). GOLPP is a progressive neuromuscular syndrome, that can affect older dogs of some large-breed dogs. Some symptoms can be obvious, such as panting, breathing issues, gagging, hoarse voice ... while others can be easily mistaken for signs of arthritis. Really, folks, not everything that causes weakness, ataxia, lethargy, muscle atrophy is arthritis. Not everything that causes lameness is arthritis. Arthritis is very common but don't be fooled and miss out on important stuff.

To learn more about GOLPP and what can be done about it, read Dr. Zeltzman's article.
You can also learn how physical therapy can help dogs suffering from this condition.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Limping an Emergency?

Only 28.13% of the survey participants feel that limping is an emergency.

Limping is usually not an emergency unless ...

A limping dog should get veterinary help immediately if there was a major trauma, fracture or dislocation, bleeding, severe swelling, hot limbs or dragging of limbs, Limping is an emergency when accompanied by severe pain.

Limping always indicates pain or dysfunction of some kind.

Whether or not it is an emergency is a matter of degree.

For example, if your dog got hit by a car, fell from a great height, it is always an emergency. If your dog has been running and playing and suddenly starts screaming in pain and not putting any weight on a limb, it is an emergency.

If you broke your leg, would you wait and see or would seek emergency care?

If your leg hurt enough to make you scream, would you wait and see or rush to the ER? The same logic applies when it comes to your dog.

Acute limping is more likely to be an emergency.

Keep in mind, though, that limping and limb pain that is getting worse instead of better could mean bone cancer. While not a true emergency per se, you want to have that diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

Have I ever taken my dog to a vet for limping immediately?

Yes, I have. I have never had a case where we'd have to rush to an ER; our dogs have never had such a major trauma, for which I am thankful.

But there were a couple of occasions when we saw a vet with a limp the same day it happened or the next.

Related articles:
What is that limp?

Dog Medical Emergencies Survey
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey Results
Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: Excessive Panting
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Unproductive Retching an Emergency?
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Difficulty Breathing an Emergency?
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Panting an Emergency?
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Is Severe Pain an Emergency?

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog now available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Our Dogs' History of Adverse Drug Reactions (Part VI)

Continued from part V

Like most of you, every time my dog requires anesthesia, I'm concerned. Not because of Jasmine's dramatic reaction to the Buprenorphine; that is so rare it is really unheard of. And not because of the events towards the end; who knows what crazy factors were at play.

There is always some risk with anesthesia.

Anesthesia protocols have come a long way and became much safer. Proper monitoring during and post anesthesia are also crucial, but our vets do all this thoroughly.

Issues can always crop up, though, whether with anesthesia or with sedation.

JD, for example, seems to take anesthesia quite hard. He never had what you'd call a true adverse reaction, but he had a very hard time coming out of the effects the last two times. I tried to discuss that after the first time but it didn't look anybody revised his protocol.

While is generally accepted that small and/or brachycephalic dogs are the ones most likely to have a hard time with going under, as it turns out, large dogs can have some issues as well. For reasons having to do with their metabolic rate, the biggest challenge with large and giant breeds is dosage. As it seems, pound-per-pound, they require a lower dose than small breeds.

I think that's what was behind JD having a hard time getting over his anesthesia.

It seems that calculating the right dose can be quite tricky. There are other breed considerations. It is important to make sure your veterinarian understands what is the best protocol for your particular breed.

Cookie, on the other hand, had a major reaction to sedation.

I already wrote about that here. While there might have been other factors at play, I insisted that Cookie's protocol was carefully reconsidered. The next time, with a different protocol, Cookie had no issues at all.

There is never a problem until there is.

When it comes to medications for your dog, it is important to be mindful of potential adverse effects. It can be one pill or one dose that causes trouble. But it can be a medication your dog was on for a long time and handling it well. Just because there was never a problem before, it doesn't mean bad things can't happen.

Always review the product sheet for any medication you're about to give your dog.

Learn what you might expect and be ready. If all goes well, you can sigh with relief. But if something should happen, you'd be prepared.

Further reading:
Breed-specific anesthesia
Canine Breed-Specific Considerations for Anesthesia

Related articles:
Our Dogs' History of Adverse Drug Reactions (Part I)
Our Dogs' History of Adverse Drug Reactions (Part II)
Our Dogs' History of Adverse Drug Reactions (Part III)
Our Dog's History of Adverse Drug Reactions (Part IV)
Our Dog's History of Adverse Drug Reactions (Part V)

Our Own Emergency Vet Horror (Part I)
Our Own Emergency Vet Horror (Part II)

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, January 7, 2017

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Canine Chronic Hepatitis, How the Washing Machine Can Make Your Dog Itch, and more ...

Hank. Cervical Disc Disease Management When Surgical Treatment is NOT an Option.

Dr. Krista Magnifico/Deary of a Real-Life Veterinarian

Intervertebral disk disease (IVDD) is a hard problem to deal with. It is extremely painful, it can cause partial or full paralysis. I believe it's the worst when it affects the neck, cervical spine, Jasmine had problems with her cervical spine and it was heartbreaking to witness. All you want to do is to help your dog right away but there is no quick fix.

Surgery can be a wonderful option but it comes with risks and sometimes it's out of the question whether due to the dog's overall health, financial restraints, or other considerations. Can it be managed conservatively?

Hanks story is so inspirational. Yes, it was hard. Very, very hard. But he recovered so well. Don't give up on your dog when they suffer from IVDD. And keep your dog thin, particularly if you have a breed predisposed to spinal issues!

Canine Chronic Hepatitis – Inflammatory Liver Disease in Dogs

Dr. Christopher Byers/CriticalCareDVM

Chronic conditions suck and are frequently incurable. Chronic hepatitis is one of them. Once it's there, it can be controlled or slowed down but it's not likely to go away.

When Cookie's ALT levels were elevated repeatedly upon retesting, I was quite concerned. We tested, retested, we did an ultrasound, we did punch biopsy. Not much was discovered. What was hurting the liver? You cannot expect to heal the liver if you can stop what is insulting it. Fortunately, after a course of Milk Thistle, the levels settled down and the problem seems to have gone away. While we'll likely never know what happened there, it was something more acute in nature.

Needless to say that discovering a problem early, whether acute or chronic, always offers the best prognosis. That's why it's important not to skimp on regular wellness check-ups and that's why it's important to try and get to the bottom of any changes in health, activity level or disposition.

Signs of chronic hepatitis can be quite ambiguous and include things such as lethargy, weakness, vomiting, weight loss, loss of appetite, diarrhea, abdominal pain, increased thirst/urination, jaundice, bleeding, seizures ... that's quite a range of possible symptoms, isn't it? I cannot stress enough how important it is to know what you're treating when your dog gets ill.

Read Dr. Byers' overview of canine chronic hepatitis.

How the washing machine can make your dog itch

Dr. Marty Becker

I bet this title aroused your curiosity. I've read enough articles and warnings about the effects of dryer sheets. Even though there doesn't seem to be any empirical evidence to that end, we stopped using them a few years back. But let's keep in mind that chemicals enter the washing machine too. Various detergents are touted to deliver all kinds of wonderful results and make the laundry super clean, super white, remove stains, preserve color ... but at what price?

Acute reactions, such as in the aforementioned article get the most attention. You know something has gone wrong and you can figure out what happened. But what about issues that build up slowly and gradually?

Don't forget that even if you don't apply something directly to your dog's skin, it will still make its way to it. That goes for laundry products, household cleaning products, deodorizing products, even things such as air fresheners or make-up. Be careful and conservative before selecting any of such things.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Long Living Pets Research Projects

We all agree that the biggest flaw of our dogs is their short lifespan. We all wish they could live way longer than they do. The biggest question is whether it has to be this way.

There are articles out there stating that our dogs should live at least twice as long as they do if we weren't making them die so young.

The question then, is that true? Should our dogs live at least twice as long as their current live expectancy if we did right by them?

Science, of course, is looking for answers after its own fashion, with an anti-aging drug.

Not that I have anything against a drug that could help my dog(s) live longer and healthier. It is, in fact, possible that in our day and age it might be the best answer to the problem. On the other hand, it seems a very "cookie cutter" solution. It is, of course, ideal for the drug industry to produce such drug; can you imagine the profits?

And there is another question that begs to be asked.

If most of what we do leads to shorter lifespans, is such a solution simply an attempt to reverse or slow down the damage we're doing?

It almost makes you wonder whether it's the same principle as in one of the Mission Impossible movies where the big pharma created a deadly virus just so they could then sell the cure.

Now, I don't think the problem is a conscious conspiracy, though one never knows. But I don't think it is. I think it just happens to work out that way.

The biggest questions, though, is whether we could simply stop shortening our dogs' lives instead.

The problem with that is that if we could simply extend our dogs' lives by what we feed them and how we care for them, nobody is going to get rich from it. So who's going to invest in such research?

We can help.

Long Living Pets is presently running three research projects:

1. The Odin Project

Following and documenting 3000 plus raw-fed dogs. The goal is to document health and longevity benefits of feeding raw, natural foods. If you're feeding raw, you too can participate in this project.

2. Cancer Prevention using natural protocol

Cancer is a complicated, multi-faceted disease. There are many factors at play but what role do our dogs' diet and lifestyle play? And could cancer be prevented by adjusting what we feed our dogs, adjustments to their environment, their weight and how they spend their lives? You can participate in the Natural Cancer Prevention project.

3. Cancer Help using natural protocol

What if your dog already has cancer? Could diet help fight it? Join the Natural Cancer Help project.

Is raw feeding the answer to everything?

Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. I do believe, though, that feeding species-appropriate, whole ingredients, whether raw or cooked, might be. Likely not by itself but with other environmental and lifestyle changes, but it is still an important factor.

I believe enough that I started feeding Cookie raw two years ago. Before that, I was feeding her home-cooked or freeze-dried food. But Cookie voiced her opinion and who was I to argue? She's been doing very well on her raw diet. In fact, she had her annual wellness exam at the end of December and her vet noted that she has improved since her last visit and that her diet has been an important factor. Yes, I am fortunate to have a veterinarian who believes in whole foods, whether cooked or raw.

Cookie has voiced her opinion on whether she wants to be fed raw

There is not enough data out there

Even though logic and common sense are on the side of raw feeding, data is lacking. We can help with that.

What I do believe is that, however magical, a pill cannot undo all the breeding, dietary, environmental and lifestyle errors we've all been making. And even if it could, that's all it would do--maybe, perhaps, hopefully, add back the years we've taken away.

I am going to participate in The Odin project and I invite you to do the same.

Further reading:
Long Living Pets

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

My Love…The Last Chapter

by Penny Philippi

It’s 2017 the New Year. I see many resolutions being made and people calling for a new start. For me, I am still recovering.

Dec 2015 I lost my dog, Harry. He succumbed to cancer. 

He was My Love's brother. They were rescued together from a canal. I adopted them as a pair and they had not spent any significant time apart. They had a love/hate relationship like many brothers. At times they couldn’t stand to be around each other and fought but at the same time put up a fit if they were apart.

I worried about My Love and how he would do. He was the last of my pack.

When those 2 arrived I already had 2 dogs so they became a pack of 4. My Love never did well alone. He chewed through doors and walls and broke a countless number of crates over the years in order not to be contained and alone. I was fortunate that Harry passed away at home so My Love had the opportunity to know that he was gone. Surprisingly, that was never an issue.

I imagine that being 15 yrs. old had a hand in the way he accepted being an only dog. He was the king of the palace. He was hearing impaired from old age and was severely arthritic from all the surgeries.

He still loved car rides, especially to his acupuncture appointments and to visit his favorite pet store. Thankfully, I couldn’t keep him out of the swimming pool even if I wanted to. Swimming was essential for his exercise and he enjoyed every minute. He rarely would actually swim when I wasn’t home but he would hang around on the steps and soak himself. One of the cutest sights ever was to arrive home from work and see him staring intently at the gate, waiting for me. All I could see was his head lying on the pool deck while he was chilling his body in the pool.

I started cooking for both the dogs when Harry got so ill. 

It didn’t stop when it was just My Love and I. Most everyone told me that my dog ate better than I did which I won't deny. I would cook a 10lb roast with sweet potatoes, broccoli, and mushrooms, and we would share one meal together and he would get the rest.

He was still getting acupuncture regularly and taking Chinese herbs, fish oil, and other supplements as needed. I even became accustomed to the smell of raw green tripe, as it was one of his favorite things to eat. It must be the worst smelling thing I have ever had in my kitchen but for My Love, it was my pleasure. Raw goats milk was another of his favorite snacks.

Throughout the spring and summer, My Love started looking like an old man. 

He was getting deluxe meals from his personal mom chef but he started losing weight. His energy was low. We battled a corneal ulcer and that front leg swelling. He had a couple episodes of vestibular disease which while it resolves itself in a week or two, it's difficult to watch when he was falling down and walking sideways.

He was getting tired.

In July, he started having some other neurological-type symptoms. It was some type of seizures where his body would become still and freeze. He was conscious but not able to respond. After some time he would snap out of it and resume his normal old man activities.

If you have read part one and part two of his story, you know how much he has overcome in his life. 

I was lucky to have had two of the most wonderful veterinarians that helped me care for him over the years. His holistic vet was his primary caregiver over the last year. Every time I needed a lifeline for My Love, she threw one. She was always there to help him. She held my hand when I needed it but also was brutally honest about things when appropriate.  The amount of knowledge I gained from working with her as she helped My Love is immeasurable.

July. Time was getting near. 

I knew it but I didn’t want to accept it. He was so thin and so tired. He wasn’t eating well. Even his favorites weren’t getting him to eat. Still having those seizures. I spoke with both of my vets. I talked with an animal communicator. My heart was breaking.  When I made that long dreaded appointment I was asked if it could please be at the end of the day so my vet wouldn’t have to see other clients. Everyone loved this dog.

The day before I loaded up a cooler with water, stopped by McDonalds and got some cheeseburgers and fries, and we headed to the lake one last time. He loved the picnic.

I was still questioning if I was doing the right thing and whether it was really time. 

As we walked to the water's edge and entered the water, I sat down on a rock. Instead of swimming out into the water, My Love swam straight onto my lap and I just held him tight and cried. On the way home we had Dairy Queen.

It was peaceful. We were surrounded by love…my vet and several of the techs stayed to be with me. We all kissed him and I played a favorite song. And cried. It was the hardest day of my life in a very long time.

It’s been 4 months and I’m still recovering. 

This dog was special. My heart and soul dog. The connection we had is hard to describe to people. We knew each other so intimately and intensely. Our love was so strong. I know there are many animal lovers out there but not everyone finds that one special one that embeds themselves so deeply in your heart. Most don’t understand the grief.

For me, everything has changed. 

I have been so lost. I spent the past 2 plus years being a caretaker; cooking, cleaning, meds, therapy, appointments, essentially rearranging my life all for my dogs. Now I have no dogs, no routines, and no reason to get out of bed. I miss my veterinarians and all the people at the office. It all stopped and went away when My Love took his last breath.

The pain of grieving is some days so strong that my chest hurts. 

I still cry often. I expect to see him on his chair or sniffing the counter or picking a toy to have our morning play. And being in the pool without him…it’s all so very quiet. It’s not something I could prepare for. He was old, you had a lot of good years, it was the right thing to do, he had a good life.

None of those things are helpful to hear.

Many people think I should be over it so I don’t mention it anymore. But it hurts and my emotions are still very raw. It has been more than 20 years since I haven’t had a dog. 15 years of constant companionship from My Love.

It's 2017 and I am just navigating through my grief and trying to find my way. Another dog may come along but I’m not ready. My heart isn’t ready to let another in. I will get there because I love dogs. For now, My Love, my sweet boy named, Verb, is no longer sleeping by my feet. He is resting in my heart forever. How special that is!

Penny Philippi

Related articles:
My Love is Sleeping at My Feet: ACL Surgery Complications
My Love Is Still Sleeping at My Feet: An Unexpected 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.