Saturday, November 18, 2017

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Hypothermia, Congestive Heart Failure, and more ...

Hypothermia in Dog and Cats – Avoid Pupsicles and Catsicles!

Dr. Christopher Byers/CriticalCareDVM

It would seem we didn't have much of a fall this year. It was just a few weeks ago when we were still fending off mosquitoes, and now it's freezing.

Every season comes with its own risks, and one of the potential dangers of winter is hypothermia. Hypothermia is when your dog gets too cold for their body to function properly. That means the heart rate and breathing slow, blood sugar levels drop, nervous and immune systems are impaired, blood clotting can be compromised and it might even lead to kidney failure or coma. If body temperature drops enough, it can be deadly.

And, of course, even if your dog's body manages to keep the core temperature in the "safe zone," you still need to worry about the extremities and frostbite.

Our guys have good coats and always preferred cold to heat. We don't have to worry until it gets REALLY cold. But it's important to be watchful and diligent. With extreme temperatures on either end, we opt for more frequent, shorter walks. Even right now, Cookie gets 5 half-an-hour walks instead of her typical 4 45-minute ones.

To learn more about the dangers of hyperthermia, read. Dr. Byers' article.

Can an Older Pet be Spayed?

Dr. Marty Becker

Coincidentally, a few people asked the same question about their elderly dogs on my facebook group. Of course, the older the dog gets, the higher the risk of any surgery. But these days, pre-op screening and sophisticated anesthesia protocols make things quite safe. It's important to consider what the benefits and risks of doing that are as well what is the reason it's being discussed.

As long as proper considerations are taken based on the individual case, it can be safe, and it can be a good idea to do it.

Read Dr. Becker's thoughts on the subject.

Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs 

Dr. Justine Lee

Congestive heart failure is a build-up of fluid in the lungs, chest or abdominal cavities that results from the heart being unable to pump blood adequately. The reasons why the heart might not be able to do its job can include a congenital defect, heart disease, abnormal rhythms, infections, endocrine issues, cancer, and even drugs such as chemotherapy.

Congestive heart failure is a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate medical attention.

To learn more about congestive heart failure, read. Dr. Lee's article.

Glyphosate Exposure

Dr. Karen Becker

Glyphosate is a widely used toxic weed killer that is not only used in agriculture but also in forestry, urban and home applications, on farms, lawns, schoolyards, golf courses and other public spaces. It is possible that it can be present in the food you're feeding your dog if it contains grains.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Dog Longevity Survey: How Important Is Disease and Injury Prevention for Longevity?

An ounce of prevention is worth of a pound of cure.

I know I already used that in this series but what better place to reiterate that than here?

You'd think everybody would agree on that but, amazingly, it did not get a full vote. One comment was that the person didn't understand what preventing disease and injury means.

Here is how you voted:

Extremely important74.42%
Somewhat important  2.33%
Not important  2.33%
I don't know  0.00%
Other  2.33%

Why are disease and injury prevention important to longevity?

To understand that, let's ask the important question of what are the common causes of death in dogs. And the answer is clear - disease or injury. Dogs die of infections, poisoning, heart disease, kidney failure, liver failure, or cancer. Some dogs are still euthanized because of debilitating pain related to arthritis and other musculoskeletal issues. Some dogs die unnecessarily from the craziest things such as suffocating in a snack bag.

Preventing any of these things for as long as possible is the answer to longevity.

How can one prevent disease or injury?

Preventing, or at least delaying, disease or injury is at the core of longevity. It summarizes all the things we discussed through this series.

It begins with responsible breeding.

I don't want to get too much into this topic but let's get real and look at what modern breeding has done to our dogs. Some breeds seem gone beyond the point of no return. Breeding for visual characteristics has put wellbeing and health aside and resulted in breeds plagued with a laundry list of medical issues. Look at the poor Bulldogs, German Shepherds, Dachshunds, Cavalier Springer Spaniels, Basset Hounds ... the list could go on.

I absolutely adore Basset Hounds but I could never ever get one of them. Having a dog with virtually no legs and body completely out of proportion would just break my heart. I couldn't do it. Almost every breed comes with the fallout of our breeding practices.

Responsible breeders try to make sure they're breeding for health.

For example, while I never met her because Cookie was adopted, I consider her breeder a responsible one. Cookie is relatively small for her breed with healthy proportions. She has an amazingly good nature and fairly good hips. Cookie's medical challenges stem from what happened to her later in life, such as a likely untreated pelvic injury, being spayed too young and so on.

Today, there is also a way to screen for most common inheritable disease in almost every breed.

Longevity starts with a dog that is not too big, not too small, not too long, with a face not too smushed ... at least within reason for each respective breed.

After that, it comes to decisions made about their vaccinations, diet, exercise, environment and other aspects of daily care.

It does include good decisions about parasite prevention, preventing toxins, not skimping on wellness exams ...

Not all injuries can be always prevented but some can. No dog needs to suffocate in a chip bag. No dog needs to die from xylitol or antifreeze poisoning, no dog needs to be run over by a car. Weight management, regular exercise, smart timing for spay and neuter, avoiding your dog becoming a "weekend warrior," and many other measures can be taken to prevent injuries.

Any measures you can take to keep your dog healthy will also allow them to live longer and happier lives.

As a final note, I'd like my dog(s) to live a long, long time. But what is even most important to me is that they'd live a happy life.

Related articles:
Dog Longevity Survey Part I
Dog Longevity Survey Part II
Dog Longevity Survey Part I Results
How Important Is Weight Management for Longevity?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Don't Miss the Forest for the Trees: Duke's Story

An obvious diagnosis might not be the right diagnosis.

Don't let your vet insist on a diagnosis based on the first thing they might stumble upon when trying to figure out what's wrong with your dog. Even if it might make sense at first.

If your dog isn't getting better with treatment, either the diagnosis or the treatment is wrong.

Duke was a happy 7-year-old Boxer. He was living a happy life until he suddenly started having serious problems. He was lethargic, losing weight, painful lower back, and some lameness of back legs.

Duke was examined and diagnosed with spondylosis.

Spondylosis is a spinal issue that could explain the symptoms and Boxers are one of the breeds that have a genetic predisposition for the problem. Pain could explain lethargy, lameness and even loss of muscle mass, particularly in the hind end.

Duke was treated based on the diagnoses but wasn't getting any better. 

He kept losing an enormous amount of weight in spite of having more than a hearty appetite. He was becoming skin and bone literally, looking almost like some of the photos of emaciated rescue dogs. He was losing a lot of weight everywhere, not just on the hind end. Duke also started drinking large amounts of water.

In spite of his treatment, Duke kept getting worse until he became unable to walk down the stairs or to use the bathroom and required substantial help to get out and eliminate.

That's when his owner noticed that Duke's urine smelled absolutely fetid. It also looked dark, cloudy and foamy.

The owner was able to collect a sample for urinalysis.

They also decided to seek a different vet because they no longer believed that spondylosis was what was causing all this trouble.

Duke's urine was extremely concentrated, contained a bunch of blood, protein, and crystals. The urine itself was not enough to come to any conclusions, and the new vet kept Duke for further tests.

Duke's body was ravaged by a systemic disease.

The vet concluded that Duke had either cancer or immune-mediated disease but was at the point that he was not going to be able to make it through and Duke was set free from his physical suffering.

Yes, Duke did have spondylosis. But that was not at all what ravaged his body and took his life.

Rest in peace, Duke.

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, November 13, 2017

Adoption Monday: Winnie, Boxer, Toronto, ON

Winnie is in urgent need of a foster family.

Winnie is a gorgeous 3-year-old brindle Boxer. She is very well behaved, a little reserved when first meeting men but very relaxed with women.

Winnie is picky about other dogs. An initial meeting would be important. Cats or other small animals are not recommended.

Winnie needs a foster with a fenced yard and no young children as she can be very bouncy and energetic.


ANML-RESQ is a dedicated group of volunteers looking out for the 4-legged creatures we share this world with. Their goal is to save a dog or cat from being euthanized in a shelter, through no fault of their own - just in the wrong place at the wrong time. If they don't have a foster home available they will work with other reputable organizations to find a place.

ANML-RESQ relies solely on donations and fundraisers to spay/neuter, vaccinate and microchip their pets prior to adoption.  They don't even use funds for gas to transport the pets in their program to their new homes!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Reverse Sneezing, Entropion, and more ...

Reverse Sneezing in Dogs: Is It Normal?

Dr. Jennifer Coates/petMD

Reverse sneezing is the scariest of all mostly benign things you can see your dog doing unless you know what's happening. I remember how concerned I was when it happened to Jasmine for the first time.

Dr. Coates describes it as a loud snorking sound; that is the best description I've heard so far.

Just like a regular sneeze, reverse sneezing is a reaction to irritation. It can happen for various harmless reasons. However, when it's severe or persistent, you might be looking at a cause that is more serious such as an infection, a foreign body, anatomical abnormalities and even masses.

I never miss a single article by Dr. Coates and neither should you.

Dog Breeds That Suffer from Eyelid Problems

Dr. Katy Nelson/petMD

Eyelids serve to protect the eyes, but when they don't develop properly, they can also cause a lot of trouble. As a result of breeding trends, our dogs suffer from more and more issues arising from the changes to their anatomy. The eyes have not been spared.

The most common breed-related issue affecting the eyes are eyelids that turn inward. This is called entropion, and it is quite painful. JD had a minor case, and even that was causing some irritation and discharge. The list of breeds that are susceptible to entropion is quite long, and if the problem is severe enough, it may require surgical correction.

Other eye issues are becoming more prevalent as well, though not always proven to be genetic in origins. That can include eyelid masses, eyelashes that grow inward, etc. Jasmine had one eyelash grown inward, and it caused a major issue. She had to have it surgically removed. Fortunately, it was just the one, and all other eyelashes were well-behaved.

To learn more about breed-related eyelid problems and affected breeds, read Dr. Nelson's article.

Why is My Dog Whining All the Time?

Dr. Eric Barchas/Dogster

Dogs can white for a bunch of reasons. Excitement, impatience, frustration, fear, pain ... I put pain last because from all the times my dogs whined, pain was the least frequent cause. I find dogs more likely to whimper from pain than whine.

Cookie, for example, whines when she hears voices outside and nobody is coming in to meet her. Especially when they are familiar voices.  For most of other communication, she uses an assortment of various other sounds--I think Cookie is just one step short of speaking English.

For the most part, I consider a whining dog an unhappy dog which means I want to figure out the reason and how to avoid it. It is essential to figure out the cause, particularly since there are medical issues that can cause whining too. This can be metabolic or glandular issues, neurological problems, and cognitive changes.

My rule of thumb is that every time there is a problem I like to investigate and confirm or rule out medical reasons first.

Hotspots in Dogs

Dr. Krista Magnifico

Friday, November 10, 2017

Veterinary Highlights: Stem Cells to Treat Atopic Dermatitis?

I am always excited to see new advances and trials in regenerative medicine. This is my number one go-to option to consider when evaluating best treatment for my dogs.

Jasmine did great with her stem cell treatments, and Cookie got platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment for her partial cruciate tear(s). Her knees are still holding up well.

Canine atopic dermatitis is a hard to treat, chronic skin disease associated with allergies. The culprit are normally harmless things in their environment. From the presently available treatments, immunotherapy is what I would try.

A new study is underway to evaluate how could stem cells work to treat atopic dermatitis. I know that IV stem cells had been tested for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and it is possible that was one of the things that helped Jasmine with hers.

Stem cell treatments show good hope for treatment of various chronic and degenerative diseases. Some of the things administration of stem cells does is immune system modulation and reduction of inflammation.

I'll be watching what comes out of this study.

Source article:
Can Allogenic Stem Cells Treat Canine Atopic Dermatitis?