Category: Advice & Stories (page 1 of 20)

Cats, Strings, & Intestinal Things

cats and string

from kittenwhiskers.com

The country song goes “Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys…” and the same thing applies to cats playing with string.  Media is chock full of images of kittens playing with balls or yarn whether it be cartoons, advertisements, or the endless supply of cute videos on YouTube.  But behind all this cuteness lies a deadly risk if a cat eats string, thread, yarn, or dental floss.  These kitties can be fixed but it’s not easy.  This is Mira’s story…

Mira cats and string

Mira

Sometimes you see your cat eat the string and sometimes you don’t.  Often times the first thing you may notice is vomiting.  This was the case with Mira.  At just 2 years old, she’s still an intensely curious cat.  All cats may vomit from time to time – hairballs, catching a mouse, chewing on plants, but never just vomiting out of spite.  When Mira started vomiting multiple times over several hours, her family knew something wasn’t right and brought her in to see us at the Kingston Veterinary Clinic.  The diagnosis was easily found as soon as Dr. Vander Wilp, a colleague of mine, saw the string wrapped over and under her tongue.

When a string gets trapped at this spot, the other end of it starts moving through the stomach and intestines.  Essentially what happens is the string begins to act like a saw cutting through the intestines as it pleats them like an accordion.  Palpating a cat’s abdomen like Mira’s you can feel the intestines bunched up and thickened.  At this point, we weren’t sure how long the string had been present.  What we were all sure of was that Mira needed help in the form of surgery.

Yet, surgery isn’t just a simple snap of the fingers.  Many factors need to be considered.  Due to her vomiting, Mira was dehydrated.  With the risk of the string cutting into the intestines, blood and protein gets lost through these injuries which can complicate healing as well as leaking intestinal contents contributing to infection.  And the biggest mystery, what will you do once you’re there actually seeing the abdominal contents.  Mira’s family elected to go ahead and get her fixed up.

cats and string

Mira’s plicated intestines

Once we had her on some IV fluids and got her a bit better stabilized, I took her into surgery and investigated the damage.  In total, 7 perforations were noted and I discovered the other end of the string was in the colon.  Effectively, it was acting like a drawstring on pair of sweatpants pulling on her intestines at both ends.  Due to the number of perforations and their locations, the best option was to remove a large section of intestine and reattach the good ends.  After releasing the ends of the string through separate incisions in the stomach and end of the small intestine, I removed 32cm of the small intestine and reattached the ends before rinsing her abdomen and closing her up to recover her.

Over the next couple of days, we monitored Mira in the hospital.  Things weren’t going as we had hoped.  She wasn’t eating, kept spiking fevers, and seemed generally quieter than expected.  She only would eat tiny amounts when her family visited.  On the third day post-op, we checked some blood as she still wasn’t doing as we expected and noted several changes in the blood cell count and protein levels that concerned us and raised the suspicion that something had broken down inside.  The results were worse than before the initial surgery.  Despite all the precautions and steps we had taken to help Mira, something was leaking.

After some discussion, her family elected to have us attempt a second surgery as a means of fully discovering the extent of the problems and to fix what we could.  As soon as I got back into her abdomen, I had all the explanation we needed.  Her anastomosis site (the reattached portion) had broken down and a small leak was seen near it.  Given the amount of damage that was found and the previously removed section of intestine, I felt it best to call her family immediately and give them an update.  Assessing the extent of everything internally, I let them know her prognosis was very guarded to poor even with attempting a second repair and advised them that euthanasia was not an unreasonable option.  Her family conferred for a moment and told me to do my best to save her.  Back in surgery, I removed as little intestine as possible that was no longer viable and reattached the new ends.  After a very thorough rinsing of the abdomen and closing her back up, we all hoped for the best.

blood donor cat

Pioneer, the blood donor

Great news the next morning!  Her temperature was normal and she greeted us with alertness and purring unlike any other morning before.  A recheck of her blood now showed dangerously low levels of red blood cells and protein.  Mira needed a transfusion to give her the best chances for survival.  Luckily, one of our staff members volunteered to have her cat donate.  Mira received the much needed blood and was on the complete road to recovery.  By the next day, she was feeling spunky, her blood values had improved, and she was eating everything we gave her.  Mira was going home.

cats and string

Mira getting her transfusion

I like to think of Mira as a little “Mira-cle in May.”  Not all cats get this outcome.  It took the right combination of family commitment, veterinary team care, and a bit of luck.  The important message here is that when your pet seems sick, it’s best to not wait to see if it will pass — at a minimum, please talk with your veterinarian.  Waiting too long could make things worse.

Disclaimer: Blog posts may contain some opinions which are my own and may not reflect those of any current or former employers. Mira’s story is published with permission from her owners and some non-essential details have been omitted for brevity.

Don’t forget to follow along on Instagram @drryanllera , Facebook , or  Twitter for more pet info and interesting daily happenings!

4 Pet Apps You Should Try

Technology is a fascinating thing in today’s world!  And you & your pets can benefit from some great apps along the way.  Here’s 4 apps that are just waiting for you to download and they’re all free!

APCC (Animal Poison Control Center) – by the ASPCA

Your pet has just eaten something and you’re not sure what it will do to them.  You also wonder if you really need to get to the vet.  This app lets you search by the eaten thing (plants, medications, other household items) then show you the signs you could see and let you know the severity of the poisoning. If it says you should contact your vet, I would listen.  A call to your vet is never a bad idea in these cases anyway.  There’s also the number to the Animal Poison Control Center to help your vet manage the case should it be necessary

BarkCam – by BarkBox, Inc

Do you struggle with getting your pet to focus on the camera for pictures?  Are you tired of making strange noises to get their attention (if you can’t find their favorite squeaky toy)?  Give this app a try to get your pet’s attention with sounds of a doorbell, a squeaking mouse, fire engine, or mooing cow.

ResQwalk – by ResQthreads LLC

Your dog needs a walk!  And this app comes with a bonus.  Aside from tracking how far you’ve walked, each month a pool of money is donated to the charity you choose to walk for based on the proportion of kilometers walked.  Exercise for you & your dog plus helping out animals in need!  Winning!  As bonus features, it will let you know where local vet clinics are and pet friendly shopping, lodging, & restaurants.

Your own veterinary hospital

Yes, more and more clinics are getting their own apps.  Many of these apps are able to let your vet share your pet’s records including vaccine history, medications, and current conditions in case you need to ever visit the emergency clinic or need to share info with your groomer or boarding kennel.  Some of the apps also let you schedule appointments, request medication refills, and make reminders for monthly preventative meds all with the touch of your screen.  Check with your clinic to see what they’ve got!

pet apps

Louie trying out Cat Fishing 2 from Nestle Purina

When all else fails, you can always download Cat Fishing 2 for the kitties to play with!  Try these out and let me know which other apps you think are must haves in the comments below!

Note: I did not receive any compensation from these companies.  These are apps I have used and feel would be of value to you.

Disclaimer: All blog posts are my own opinion and do not reflect those of any current or former employers.

You can also find me on Instagram @drryanllera and as always on Facebook & Twitter!

Be Kind, Rewind

It’s that time of year where we all resolve to do something new or better next year.  One thing we all should strive for is to be kind.  Yes, we can each do our part to make our home, our workplace, our community, and our world a better place just by being nicer to each other.  Though this post discusses veterinary medicine, it applies across all of life.  I wish you all a happy New Year and hope that you will take these words to heart – BeKind, Rewind.

from alice-in-wonderland.net

“Hello?  It’s me.  I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet.”  Okay, so maybe it sounds better coming from Adele.  But you know who else wants to meet?  Your younger carefree self.  For many of us in the veterinary field, that version of ourselves is lost.  We find ourselves in a worsening spiral of stress, depression, and apathy.  Maybe it sounds like a trip down the rabbit hole but maybe it’s better described as a “swirling vortex of terror.”

It wasn’t always like this.  I’m an assistant instructor for my taekwondo club and our students range anywhere from 4 years old to 50-plus.  For the little kids, we’re not majorly teaching them to be the next Bruce Lee but rather encouraging listening, respect, and being active as part of a healthy lifestyle.  But those kids grow up and some of them choose to help the younger kids.  One student-assistant in particular I’ve noted is very attentive to those newer students who need a little extra help and it warms my heart to see him pass on the knowledge.  Something else I noted is a mutual respect between the students and the younger assistants.  And none of these kids I’m speaking of is even a teenager yet!  I remember it being like this when I was a kid.  Couldn’t our politicians learn something from this?

Now we’re grown up and many people have joined the veterinary field.  Veterinary medicine is tough.  It’s a hard job but somebody has got to do it.  That special someone is you!  It can be very easy to get lost in the day to day shuffle of sick patients, angry clients, and clinic dynamics.  You may want to give up; maybe you change jobs, maybe you change professions, or maybe you decide there’s only one way out of this mess.

be kind kindergarten

from goodreads.com

It doesn’t have to be that way.  Don’t lose hope – those kids I was talking about earlier are wiser than we give them credit for.  As kids, we are innocent.  We don’t know hatred, bullying, or anger.  I like to call this the Kindergarten Complex.  Think back to that time….we wanted to be friends with everyone.  We shared and we were kind.  We were apologetic to each other.  This is what we need to get back to.  Let’s find our younger selves.  Your 5-year old self is out there and along the way, your friends will help you out.  Yes, everyone should have a Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat, and wise caterpillar – just like Alice.  Where will you find your own collection of varied sages?  Right in your own clinic or family!  Who knows you better and is concerned about your well being?

If you work in the veterinary field: veterinarian, technician, client services, management, kennel staff…be respectful and friendly to your co-workers.  Treat them courteously.  Try to be helpful at work and don’t put anyone down because of their position.  Be loyal and don’t gossip behind their backs.  If you think they are having trouble or seem distressed, reach out to them.  Let them know you are there to talk.  If you are the one being affected, know that there are people that care about you and places you can get help.  Chances are one of your co-workers may be experiencing the same feelings.

For those of you who are not in the veterinary field (friends, family, clients), know that we are trying our best for you.  Don’t participate in online gossip or internet shaming of anyone in the veterinary field.  Once in awhile, let us know that we are appreciated.  Anybody can ask how another person is doing; listen to them, empathize with them.  Nobody has to be alone in this.  Just being nice can make a huge impact in someone’s day and life.  And that might make all the difference.

Disclaimer: All blog posts are my own opinion and do not reflect those of any current or former employers.

This post previously appeared on Dr. Andy Roark’s blog as a guest post.   You can also find me on Instagram @drryanllera and as always on Facebook & Twitter!

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