Saturday, January 20, 2018

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Injury Prevention, Bone Diseases, and more ...

Bone Problems That Can Affect Your Pet

Dr. Mindy Cohan

Bones provide crucial support for the entire body. A long time ago I read a science fiction story about a man who was terrified of his own bones as he felt it was some kind of an alien. He managed to remove his bones. It didn't work out so well for him as he ended up a blob on the floor.

For dogs, in particular, movement is life. Healthy bones help to facilitate all the running, jumping and play dogs do. Like any other tissue, there are diseases to which bones are susceptible. Dr. Cohan breaks down condition affecting bones starting with fractures, arthritis, infections, metabolic disorders, and cancer.

The main take-home point is that many problems can look alike. And that's not counting soft tissue injuries that can be behind your dog's limp.

Proper diagnosis is key to effective treatment. Read Dr. Cohan's article to learn about the potential bone diseases behind your dog's limp

Scents That Could Be Harmful To Your Pets

Dr. Jason Nicholas/Preventive Vet

Not everything what might smell lovely to us is good for our dogs. The best rule of thumb is to hold back the sweet-smelling products. And there are a lot of them. In our house, the only thing we use are certain essential oils, diffused. The oils we have used are lavender and jasmine. Some concentrated essential oils can be harmful if they contact the skin or get ingested. Dogs are in less danger than cats would be.

On the other hand, essential oils can provide significant therapeutic benefits. It is important to be cautious and make sure that anything you do won't hurt your dog. Beware of potpourri, scented candles, air fresheners, and incense.

Read Dr. Nicholas' thoughts on the subject.
If you want to learn more about the safe use of essential oils for your dog, check out the Essential Oil Vet.

Essential oils dangerous to dogs with topical or internal use are Birch, Tea Tree, and Wintergreen. Oils that warrant caution are Oregano, Cassia, Cinnamon, Clove. Rosemary, and Thyme.

The Dangers of Scented Candles and Plug-ins

Dr. Karen Becker

Grass & Your Pets – Why Dogs & Cats Mow the Lawn with Their Mouths!

Dr. ChristopherByers/CriticalCareDVM

The world is a vast place with all kinds of climate. For me, writing about grass in January just makes me laugh ... all we got here now is snow. However, an interesting article is timeless. Why dogs eat grass is one of the most commonly asked questions out there. I have a pretty good idea why my dogs do that, and they have more than one reason for doing so depending on the circumstances. Do you know why your dog does it?

Check out Dr. Byer's take on the subject.

Keeping Your Dog Exercise-Ready Is a Stretch. (Literally)

Dr. Marty Becker

One of the first things I was taught when I started going to a gym was a proper warm-up before any strenuous exercise. Warm muscles move and stretch more efficiently than cold ones. Same applies to dogs. What about stretching, though?

Injury prevention is about strength, endurance, agility, and flexibility. It's not really about the passive stretching as we think of it in the human world, but rather flexibility exercises. Things like play bows, high five, front legs standing on a higher ground and stuff like that. Active, rather than passive stretching.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Dog Longevity Survey Part II. How Important is Stress Reduction to Longevity?

This subject naturally follows whether or not socialization has any impact on longevity.

Btw, socialization is not socializing; some people seem to have the two confused. Social contact is indeed very important but socialization is about teaching your dog that the things they will encounter in our world are okay and nothing to be afraid of. Socialization is one of the main means of reducing stress.

Most people who took the survey understand that stress reduction is important to longevity.

Extremely important63.33%
Somewhat important  6.67%
Not important  0.00%
I don't know  3.33%
Other  0.00%

So what makes stress detrimental to health and longevity?

I think that everybody is familiar with the fight or flight response to a danger. Such response is important for survival. It's a physiological response allowing the body to pull all reserves in its self-defense. Every resource is put toward immediate survival and every other function gets temporarily suspended. That means digestion, immune function, self-repair ... everything gets put on hold because there isn't much sense worrying about a cold when you're being chased by a lion.

This is a problem on two levels. First, the body is flooded with hormones in order to run or fight. But in the modern life, none of that is usually involved. It is more like spinning your tires while having the breaks on at the same time. You're gonna do some damage to your car.

Animated gif #ReactionGifs

But with chronic stress, the damage goes further with all other functions being suspended long-term. Nutrients don't get properly digested and absorbed. The immune system fails to function properly. And the body will not get a chance to repair itself.

Eventually, the whole system breaks down.

Sticking with the above metaphor, what do you think would happen if you were spinning your tires like that indefinitely if you did manage to keep adding fuel. The tires would wear down to nothing or burst into flames. There would be no oil changes, no tire changes, no repairs ... eventually, the engine would seize. In other words, do this long enough, you'll destroy the car.

A living body can take a lot of beating but it is not invulnerable.

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, January 16, 2018

Cookie's Fur Analysis: Lithium

The first element on Cookie's fur analysis results I decided to research closely is lithium (Li). These elements weren't included on Jasmine's analysis, and I don't know anything about it. More importantly, the notes from the lab state the following:
"Lithium is found occurring naturally in some water supplies. Lithium accumulates primarily in the pituitary and thyroid glands. If excessive, lithium will interfere with iodine uptake by the thyroid gland, possibly blocking thyroxine release or thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). Therefore, long-term lithium excess may possibly contribute to decreased thyroid activity, fatigue, and weight gain."

Since there clearly have been issues with Cookie's thyroid function, this element stood out to me the most.

Now, none of the other possible conditions associated with excess lithium have been present. Those include:

  • increased urination
  • increased thirst
  • blood sugar disturbances
  • alkaline urine
  • heir loss
  • osteoporosis
  • hypercalciuria
  • leukocytosis

The first thing I did was to consult with Dr. Dodds.

I emailed her the analysis results and asked specifically about the potential connection between lithium levels found in Cookie's fur and poor thyroid function. Mainly since Cookie was negative for autoimmune thyroiditis.

She replied that the analysis would not explain Cookie's hypothyroidism.

It is also true that ratios between nutritional elements indicate normal thyroid function which we now know was not normal. So what does one make of all this?

What is lithium?

You might be familiar with the use of lithium in rechargeable batteries. But what the heck would it be doing in Cookie's fur? Was it from water? Cookie gets bottled water to drink, but she also drinks water from puddles and ditches. I plan on having both water sources analyzed (makes the most sense to do both at the same time) which means, though, that I have to wait until the outdoor water thaws out.

Trace amounts of lithium can also be found in plants. It can be found in kelp, fish as well as in dairy, eggs, and meat in minute concentrations. Legumes and grains contain it too, but Cookie doesn't eat those.

Some sources cite there is no known function of lithium in the body, others assert that lithium plays a role in B12 transport to cells, as well as neurological function.

So far I'm none the wiser.

Now, during the winter, Cookie only has access to snow and the bottled water we give her. It will be interesting to see how much the levels will reflect that change. As well as once the puddles and the ditch thaw out, I will have the water tested and see what we can learn.

Related articles:
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 Too 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 
It Never Rains ... Cookie's New Injury 
Mixed Emotions: When What You Should Do Might Not Be What You Should Do for Your Dog 
Cookie's New Injury Update 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury: The Symptoms 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury: Battling the Zoomies 
Cookie's Muscle Injuries: What Else Is Going On?
Theory and Actual Decisions for an Actual Dog Aren't the Same Thing: Cookie's Knee Injury
Does Your Vet Listen to You? Cookie's Post-Sedation Complications
Would I Ever Treat a Symptom Directly? 
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatment for Cookie's Bad Knee(s)
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) for Cookie's Bad Cruciate Update 
Injury or Surgery Recovery: Mishaps versus Setbacks 
See Something, Do Something: Cookie's Lumpectomy 
Cookie's Lumpectomy Update 
Using Pressure Pads to Evaluate Lameness in Dogs: My Observations
Cookie's Musculoskeletal Challenges: What Supplements Am I Using?
Cookie's Musculoskeletal Challenges: Restricted Activity and Weight Management
Cookie's PRP Treatment for Partial Cruciate Tear: Update
Has Your Dog's Physical Therapist Taken Dog Training Classes? 
Cookie's PRP Treatment for Partial Cruciate Tear Update and Considering the Future
Cookie's PRP Treatment for Partial Cruciate (CCL/ACL) Tear and Leg Circumference
Cookie's Wellness Exam
Ticked Off at the Tick Situation: What Do You Use for Tick Prevention?
Ticked Off at the Tick Situation: The Verdict Is In (for Now)
Cookie's Annual Heartworm and Tick-Borne Diseases Test
One Yelp, No Yelp. But Two?
One Yelp, No Yelp - Update
Cookie's Rabies Booster
Is Your Dog Struggling with Weight in spite of Diet and Exercise? Cookie Is Hypothyroid (Part I)
What Does the Thyroid Do? Cookie is Hypothyroid (Part II)
Thyroid Replacement Therapy: Cookie is Hypothyroid (Part III)
Platelet-Rich Plasma Treatment (PRP) for Partial Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) Tears: Would I Do It Again?
Thyroid Replacement Therapy Re-Check: Cookie Is Hypothyroid (Part IV)
Ticked Off at the Tick Situation: Tick Tag Results Evaluation
Cookie's Fur Analysis

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.

An award-winning guide to better understanding what your dog is telling you about their health, Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, is available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Adoption Monday: Dozer, Staffordshire Bull Terrier & Mastiff Mix , Page, AZ

Dozer is looking for a home!  Look at that face. Isn't that a gentle giant if you saw one?

He is good on the leash and would love to be your buddy!

Dozer is house-trained, neutered and up-to-date 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, January 13, 2018

Dog Longevity Survey Part II: How Important is Socialization to Longevity?

To a varying degree, everybody who took the survey believes that socialization is important to longevity. I would love to know everybody's reasoning. What is yours?

What is socialization anyway?

The general belief, it seems, is that socialization is your dog meeting other dogs. Which is true to a degree but far from that simple.

Yes, socialization involves exposure to other dogs. Not just any exposure, though, it should be positive encounters. Why? Because socialization is about your dog making a positive association with other dogs. If the encounters are scary or unpleasant, the whole concept falls apart, doesn't it?

Photo Burst
In a way, the term socialization is misleading. It implies social interactions only. But it is much more than that. Proper socialization is about positive encounters not only with other dogs and people but also objects and situations.

Socialization is about teaching dogs that the many things that they encounter by living with us are okay and nothing to be afraid of. That goes for dogs, kids, men with beard, women with carriages, people in wheelchairs, people in funny hats, people with backpacks, traffic, elevators, thunder, fireworks, washing machines, umbrellas, doorbells ... All the things we take for granted can be strange, unnatural and scary to a dog.

We fear what we don't understand.

Fear is a negative emotional state triggered by the presence of a stimulus that has the potential to cause harm. That could be something your dog has learned is dangerous, or something your dog doesn't know it isn't. From survival point, if you don't know whether you should be scared of something or not, being scared is more likely to keep you alive and therefore to live and procreate.

Extremely important40.00%
Somewhat important13.33%
Not important  0.00%
I don't know  0.00%
Other  0.00%

So what does socialization have to do with longevity?

There is the obvious, of course, which is pretty much the same as with training, and that is the immediate danger. Getting into a fight in a dog park, running away and other behaviors that can cause harm or injury.

Beyond that, though, it is about stress.

As people, we can consider haunted houses, scary movies, rollercoaster rides and other scary entertainment fun. But what if your whole life was a scary ride? What if you really had to live in a hunted house? Have you ever been camping and heard sounds in the bush you didn't know what they were? Did you get scared?

Dogs are not adrenaline junkies like some of us are. And many of them really do live in haunted houses in haunted towns from their perspective. That not only makes their lives a living hell but chronic stress is absolutely not conducive to longevity.

Image Movie Pilot

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?

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Giardiasis, and more ...

Giardiasis in Dogs & Cats – An Under-Appreciated Cause of Diarrhea

Dr. Christopher Byers/CriticalCareDVM

Giardiasis is one of those tricky causes of diarrhea in dogs. It's not easy to diagnose, and it can be both over- and under-diagnosed. False-negative fecal test results are quite common. When we suspected giardiasis in Jasmine, we came home with a little vial to collect samples into over the period of one week. Back then we tested the living daylights out of Jasmine's poop and got nothing to show for it. It wasn't until much later when she finally got diagnosed with IBD.

As tricky as it is to diagnose it is trying to treat it because it is difficult to completely eliminate it from the intestines once it's there as well as it is easy for your dog to get re-infected where they caught it the first time around. Which can be anywhere.

If your dog is suffering from diarrhea, giardiasis ought to be one of the suspects to investigate. Check out Dr. Byers' insights into the matter.

Photo Pixabay

Your Dog Has Giardia. What Can You Do?

Dr. Marty Becker

Since we are on the subject, let's check out Dr. Marty Beckers two cents as well.

"Giardia is a very difficult parasite to cure in dogs." ~Dr. Marty Becker
Giardia is a parasite and as such is not at all picky about species to infect. It is also quite abundant in the environment. Often, your dog might have the parasite present in their intestine but not show any signs. If a dog does get ill, they can suffer from chronic diarrhea, weight loss or vomiting. Clearly, these symptoms are not unique to this disease.

Traditional treatment can consist of antibiotics or dewormers, or a combination of the two. The main component of the therapy is preventing reinfection where possible. Of course, that can be done only in controlled environments.

In the end, it seems the most essential part of prevention are crossed fingers.

Dog and Cat Owner's Guide: Giardia

Dr. Karen Becker

What to Do When Your Dog’s Eyes Are Red?

Dr. JoAnna Pendergrass

Redness is an outward sign of inflammation. In other words, red eyes are unhappy eyes. The causes are many. For me, red eyes, especially if my dog is also squinting or fussing with them, is a reason to see a vet quickly. Unhappy eyes can be very painful and lasting damage is highly likely.

Some of the common cause include dry eye, pink eye, cherry eye, or corneal damage. While it is not always an emergency, I mostly treat it as one.

Read Dr. Pendergrass's insights into the subject.