Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Insulinomas, Patellar Luxation, and more ...

Insulinoma in Dogs – When Too Much of a Good Thing Isn’t Good

Dr. Christopher Byers/CriticalCareDVM

A dog's body is a highly organized system with strict checks and balances. For a dog to remain healthy, everything needs to be just so. When something gets out of whack, bad things happen. And just like with any system, the problem can be with the instructions or their execution.

The levels of insulin in your dog's blood are carefully controlled. Not enough insulin, your dog gets diabetes. Too much insulin, your dog suffers from hypoglycemia. A healthy pancreas it responsive to blood glucose and works to keep it at the right levels.

An insulinoma, however, is a tumor that consists of insulin-secreting cells. And like any other tumor, these cells don't give a damn about what happens when they go rogue. These cells secrete insulin willy-nilly just because they can, making the dog hypoglycemic.

If other causes of hypoglycemia, such as liver failure, Addison's disease, sepsis ... have been ruled out, it's time to look for an insulinoma. It's rare but it happens.

To learn about insulinomas in detail, read Dr. Byers' article.

What to Do when a Dog Goes ‘Weak in the Knees’

Dr. Marty Becker

Ever heard about luxating patellas? It's relatively common in small breeds and it's a condition in which the kneecap doesn't like to stay where it belongs. A patella in a healthy knee is meant to move up and down in a groove specially designed to guide its movement. If the groove is too shallow, the patella will slide sideways which causes the leg to "lock up." Depending on a degree of the problem, it can slip back in its position, be helped back into position or it can remain out of position. Treatment options, naturally, depend on the type/grade.

If your dog hops funny when running, pay attention.

Read Dr. Becker's thoughts.

How to Protect Your Dog from Foxtails


This is not the first time I'm highlighting an article about foxtails and it is not the last. These grass awns can be incredibly nasty and cause serious trouble. Every time I see a dog with a funny-looking, pus-filled "cyst" or lesion that's not going away, I want to be looking for a foreign body, foxtails being a high suspect. I remember clearly what went on with Cookie's porcupine quill fragment that was finally discovered embedded between her toes.

If you live in an area where foxtails are common, be especially vigilant.

Foxtail in a paw. Photo Ripon Veterinary Hospital
Foxtail in a paw. Photo Ellensburg Animal Hospital

To find out how to protect your dog from foxtails, check out petMD article.

What to Do if Your Dog Eats Ibuprofen (e.g., Advil)

Dr. Justine Lee

Whether well-meaning owners decide to give their dog some OTC human pain meds, or whether their dog manages to help themselves to a "candy" they found all on their own, is it safe or dangerous?

I recommend against giving your dog anything at all without consulting your veterinarian; many medications you take without thinking twice can cause harm to your dog even in small doses. If your dog decides to help himself, the danger is that much worse.

Advil isn't dog candy, even though your dog might believe otherwise. Ibuprofen, the active ingredient in Advil is a NSAID. It can damage the GI tract, kidneys, nervous system and blood. It can kill your dog and quite quickly.

"While [NSAID toxicosis] is treatable, the past few cases have been frustrating to treat. Want to know why? Because the pet owners brought their dogs in too late…" ~Dr. Justine Lee

Don't take chances and don't wait when your dog ingests something like that.

Read Dr. Lee's article for a detailed explanation of NSAID toxicosis.