Saturday, September 16, 2017

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.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Pardon Me While I Bang My Head on the Keyboard: Cooper's Story

Cooper is an adorable, loving senior Shih Tzu mix. He's a happy guy, still full of life. However, Cooper has problems with his hind legs.

Cooper had a problem with his hind legs for a few years.

Cooper's mom started searching for supplement recommendations. But all that is not why I want to bang my head on my keyboard.

Those few years ago, Cooper was diagnosed with luxating patellas.

A patella, or a kneecap, is a small bone located in front of the knee joint and in spite of its size it does play an important role in the knee function. It is designed to move up and down within a patellar groove. A problem arises when the groove is too shallow or damaged allowing the kneecap slide sideways out of its place. This causes pain and lameness.

This problem is classified in four grades. Grades III and IV require surgery but with grade I and II you might get away without one.

I can only assume that Cooper was diagnosed with grade I or II. However ...

... when asked about supplements, Cooper's veterinarian told his owner to hold off until the problem started to bother him.

I don't even understand what that means. More importantly, though, no such problem ever gets better or even remains the same. Every time the kneecap dislocates out of its position, it makes it that much more likely for it to happen again. Every time it dislocates, it causes further damage to the tissues.

Supporting the tissues involved would be the first thing on my mind if my dog was ever diagnosed with this.

Of course, the time was coming when the problem was going to bother Cooper more and more. Why would one not want to take measures to protect the knee as well as possible? Because there was not enough erosion yet? Not enough arthritis? Not enough inflammation? Not enough secondary issues?

Carefully selected supplements could have slowed down the progress of all of those things.

I don't get it. Do you?

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 your 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.

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

Monday, September 11, 2017

Adoption Monday: Polly, Keeshond & Mixed Breed Mix, Page, AZ

Polly just arrived at Page Animal Adoption Agency who is working hard to write her biography.

Polly plays well with the big dogs and loves to play in the water. She even likes the cats.

No one is really sure of Polly's breed, but she's about 2-3 years old and very friendly!

Polly is house trained and current on vaccinations.


Page Animal Adoption Agency is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that provides animal adoption, education, and low-cost spay and neuter services to Page, Arizona, and the surrounding communities.

Page Animal Adoption Agency began about four years ago as a small group of people who wanted to reduce the number of unwanted pets being euthanized in the city shelter. Now, they are in the process of renovating a building donated by the city to turn it into an Adoption Center of which Page can be proud. Through fundraising efforts and generous donations, that goal gets closer every month.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Osteochondritis Dissecans, Disaster Preparedness Tips, and more

Were You Smarter Than a Vet Student About Ear Infections?

Dr. Nancy Kay/Spot Speaks

Did you take Dr. Kay's Are You Smarter Than a Vet Student About Ear Infections quiz? If you haven't, you can still see how you'd answer the questions before you check out the results. You can't win a copy of one of her books anymore, but you can test your knowledge and learn what you don't know.

I love taking Dr. Kay's quizzes. I did pretty well, I think, considering we never had any real problems with any of my dogs' ears. What about you? Do you know more about ear infections than a veterinary student?

Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) – Defective Cartilage in Young Dogs

Dr. Christopher Byers/CriticalCareDVM

Does your dog suffer from OCD? No, this article isn't about psychological problems. While I actually love veterinary terminology, I wish there was no overlap in naming conventions.

In this case, OCD stands for osteochondritis dissecans. You're only likely to know what that is if your dog has been diagnosed with it. But what if your dog does have the condition but has not been diagnosed?

To learn about osteochondritis dissecans, symptoms and treatment options, read Dr. Byer's article.

Be prepared if disaster strikes – Three simple things to do now!

Dr. Karen Louis/VetChick

Photo Global Pet Foods

Disasters happen. They can happen anytime, anywhere, not just during the hurricane season. Disaster preparedness is a crucial part of being a good caregiver to your dog. Having a solid plan saves a lot of panic and unfortunate tragedies.

A disaster plan can be quite detailed and complex. Dr. Louis highlights three main things that one can do to be ready. Two of them sound funny, but they are not, particularly if you have more than one pet. The one that strikes me as something people might not even think of is whether you actually could transport all of your pets in one vehicle? Could you? As silly as it might sound, it's a pretty important question. So, could you?

Lawnmower Safety and Pets: What Owners Need to Know


Up here, the season of mowing the lawns is just about over. Where we live, cutting grass is most crucial in the late spring and summer. Now, it's not growing as crazily.

Safety around lawn mowers is necessary every time you start one up, though. Goes for people too, even though they should know what they're doing. My brother-in-law almost cut off his toe not being smart around one.

Dogs don't understand what a lawn mower is and how it works other than it moves around and makes a lot of noise. For some dogs, that is enough to keep them away from it. For some, it makes it more interesting. But a running lawn mower can pause a risk even from afar or when it's not running.

Check out the petMD article to find out how to avoid any risk to your dog.

The Breathtaking Adventures of Ticks - Plain and Simple (Part 2)


Did you enjoy part 1 of Else-Vet's video about ticks? As awful as ticks are, the videos are priceless and done with a great sense of humor.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Dog Longevity Survey: How Important Is Diet for Longevity?

Hardly anybody doubts the important role nutrition plays in dog longevity and health.

66.67% of people who took my Longevity Survey checked diet as extremely important and 30.77% as important. Only 2.56% believe it is not important.

I don't know why this makes me think of one horrible joke about a Scotsman who comes into a bar, clearly very angry. He orders a stiff drink and the bartender asks him why is he so upset. "For months I was teaching my horse to go without food," the Scotsman replies. "And now, when he almost got it, he just died, dumbass horse."

Naturally, nutrition is needed to sustain life. And, we learned in the previous article, the amount makes a huge difference.

So, in general, it is better to feed our dogs a little less rather than a little more. But what about the food itself?

I think that no other subject creates a bigger divide among dog lovers, advocates, and veterinarians than what is the ideal diet for our dogs. There is a real war going on out there and it's about dog food. You can just try to show up in a raw feeders group and mention the word kibble, or in a "traditional" group and mention the word raw. You shall be crucified.

There is kibble on one end of the spectrum, and raw food on the other, and several options in between.

And that's just about how the food is or isn't processed. Then there is what it should or should not consist of. And the argument about nutrients versus ingredients. All that keeping environmental and like issues aside completely.

The daunting question everybody is arguing about is what is the best diet for their dog(s).

And the answer is far from straightforward. Let's take a look at the diets of the world's longest living dogs.

Their diets ranged from fresh, raw food diet, fresh whole food vegan diet, home-cooked foods, boiled leftovers, and kibble.

Yes, one of the longest living dogs, Max, who made it to an age of 29 years and 282 days was fed nothing but kibble. So ...

... life is complex and however important diet is, it is only a part of the equation.

There are further variables not only between the types of foods but also within each group. There are differences between dogs. There are genetics, environment, lifestyle ... all these things are pieces of the puzzle.

What is my take on it?

There are a couple of things I believe in and how they can best work together depends on an individual dog.

Jasmine started out on kibble but was transitioned to home-cooked diet after she was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Carefully picked, fresh ingredients that agreed with her system went a long way in successfully managing her condition. Carefully considered supplements and herbs assisted with managing other conditions she was battling with.

JD was a kibble dog. We selected kibble for him carefully, paying attention to ingredients, nutritional value, and processing. He was meant to eat kibble and did best on it.

Cookie is fed raw. It was kind of her decision when she started supplementing her diet with freshly caught small rodents. She does great on it.

What things I consider contribute to making a diet better?

  • complete and balanced
  • whole foods
  • species-appropriate ingredients (for dogs that means mostly animal source with some veggies)
  • quality ingredients (as good as one can afford; this would mean organic, non-GMO ...)

I do believe that the less processing the better as important nutrients get destroyed by processing and need to be added back. But as you can see above, the longest-living dogs had all different kinds of diets which shows that there is no one formula that fits all.

What do you think? Is there a diet that reigns supreme? And which one is it?

Related articles:
Dog Longevity Survey Part I
Dog Longevity Survey Part II
Dog Longevity Survey Part I Results
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