Tag: health (page 1 of 3)

Tell Me Your Pet’s Secrets

pet historyBeing a veterinarian is a very fun and rewarding career, but it’s also immensely challenging.  The only other job that might come close is being a pediatrician.  Face it, our patients can’t talk…unless we’re watching the Eddie Murphy remake of “Dr. Doolittle” (which was quite enjoyable I might add).  Being completely honest, your pet has secrets and you are the secret keeper.  No, I don’t mean what Rover really thinks of your new party outfit; but rather the all important pet history taking that starts every vet visit.

The best doctor in the world is the veterinarian.  He can’t ask his patients what is the matter-he’s got to just know.” – Will Rogers

Okay, so there’s some truth to this quote.  We can’t ask our patients what the problem is (and I know some pretty awesome veterinary doctors).  The false part is that we’ve “got to just know.”  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.  This is where you come in and why veterinary medicine is a team effort.

A Costly Secret

When we ask you questions at the beginning of the appointment, these details may be quite pertinent to figuring out what the problem is that is plaguing your pet.  There was once a dog I saw that came in for being unable to walk and had some progressive weakness in it’s legs.  It was a young Rottweiler that the owners had assured me had gotten into nothing and had not suffered any trauma.  It was still quite a mystery even after a thorough physical exam.  Her owners authorized some radiographs & blood tests and left her at the hospital for the tests and supportive care.  A few hours later when I called for an update and to go over the results, the owners informed me they had used pure tea tree oil to address a flea problem.  Diagnosis: tea tree oil toxicity which can cause a temporary paralysis type syndrome.  Had this been known earlier, she could have been treated more promptly and for less cost.  No worries though, she recovered and was back to normal within a few days.

Honesty Leads to Success

When you call the hospital before coming in, it allows us to get prepared for taking care of your pet.  But we can only be as ready as the information given to us is complete.  One of the craziest toxicity cases I’ve ever seen involved a dog who had gotten into his owner’s medications…all 9 of them!  How would we know what to treat first without knowing everything involved?  That little dog did fine too especially since his owner admitted to some narcotics in the house.

pet historyBe up front with us.  Be honest.  Veterinarians don’t make a habit or policy of calling the cops on you or telling everyone they know about your pet and their antics.  Don’t be afraid or ashamed to tell us the truth about what might be going on with your pet.  The more information you can give us, the better.  We won’t judge.  So don’t hold back; tell me your pet’s secrets.

Disclaimer: Blog posts may contain some opinions which are my own and may not reflect those of any current or former employers. 

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Diabetic Cats – Yes They Can Change!

Sal in hospital

Sal in hospital

The following is a true story (used with permission) of how diabetic cats can change their insulin requirements.

Sal is a 13 year old domestic shorthair cat who was diagnosed with diabetes in 2010.  He had been showing the initial signs of increased urination and having accidents outside the litterbox.  These signs, along with weight loss and increased drinking, are some of the most commonly noted first symptoms of diabetes or an alert to a pet owner that something is wrong.  Some cats may vomit, have a decrease in their appetite, or start to walk in a flat-footed position.  In later stages of not being diagnosed or treated, diabetic cats can have labored breathing and lethargy.

Insulin varieties

Insulin varieties

Back to Sal…  At the time of his diagnosis, he was started on insulin and his diet was changed to a higher protein, lower carbohydrate diet.  He had been doing well for a number of years and was considered to be a well controlled diabetic.  As part of our continuing care of these patients, we recommend doing a glucose curve every 6-12 months as part of their annual examination.  For some cats, we realize that the stress of the clinic setting might be too much for them and encourage home testing (which can be quite easy and most veterinarians will show you how!).  For cats that home testing is difficult either for the patient or the family (not everyone can stand the sight of blood), we do this testing in hospital.  Sal was one of these cats who fit into the latter category.

Hypoglycemia in diabetic cats

Hypoglycemia

Life happens and things don’t always get to go as planned; work or family obligations change, moving might happen, or the budget might be a little tight at times.  That’s okay and can be understandable…it even happens to us as vets too with our own pets and families.  Sal had been delayed in coming in for his annual check up.  His owner brought him in because he was seeming weak and hadn’t been eating well.  I examined him and checked his blood glucose level which was 1.2 (or 21.7 depending on your units)!  The average normal range for a cat is 4.0 – 9.7 (72.6 – 176).

So why did Sal present like this?  His signs were easily attributed to his low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) but his insulin dose had not been increased.  Well, it’s been known for some cats to convert to not needing insulin and their diabetes may be controlled by diet.  This is exactly what happened to Sal.  As he converted, his previously needed insulin dose essentially became that of an overdose.

Normal blood glucose

Normal blood glucose

Rest easy everyone.  Sal is doing fine.  We admitted him to the hospital and put him on intravenous fluids that contained dextrose to help bring his glucose levels up and remove the risk of seizures.  We checked his glucose levels without him getting insulin as well and he never went above the high end of normal so 2 days later he got to go home and now doesn’t need insulin injections!  For now he is doing well, but his family is still going to keep a close eye on him because there may come a time when he might need to start the injections again so he’ll be getting regular checkups from now on.

Disclaimer: All blog posts may contain opinions which are my own and may not reflect those of any current or former employers.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget you can subscribe on the right side to get new posts directly to your email!  And I’m now on Instagram @drryanllera and as always on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Senior Pet Care – How You Can Help

senior pet dogPeople everyday are getting a new puppy, kitten, or other pet to join their family.  And yes, most of the time these new additions are just in their first few months of a long life.  For a few of these pets, we as veterinarians will see them for their initial vaccines, adoption exams, maybe a spay or neuter surgery.  Some of them will make annual visits for a check up while others we may not see for several years once they are much older or only if they are sick.  It’s these senior pets that we often can make the most difference in their quality of life.

I cannot stress enough the importance of an annual examination, or in the case of pets with chronic illnesses every 6 months.  This should start from the time they are young adult animals until their final days.  Early detection of a condition can save lives and keep pets healthier for longer.  Who wouldn’t want their furry kid to have a happy life for as long as possible?  That’s the first step you can do to help your pets with the aid of your veterinarian.  Yet, there are somethings you can do yourself or that you should pay special attention to help them out in their golden years.

buzby toe grips

www.toegrips.com

Mobility issues can be quite difficult to overcome but can make a significant improvement in how a pet feels.  Signs can be obvious from a noticeable limp to more subtle signs such as dragging a foot, difficulty with stairs, or a decreased appetite.  While some patients will benefit from supportive medications, the most important thing you can do is to keep them at a healthy weight!  If you have slippery floors, you should look at adding some area rugs or another idea is a product called Dr. Buzby’s Toe Grips.  These grips fit onto the nails on your dog and help them in getting traction so they can walk around better.  Another quick tip: If you’ve got stairs, consider a ramp.

cytology from a lump aspiration

cytology from a lump aspiration

Lumps and bumps are often seen as a part of growing old.  Sometimes these lumps can be benign but that means there’s also a potential chance for them to be malignant.  The tendency for many people tends to be watching the lump to see if it changes in size, color, temperature, or texture.  The problem is when those lumps grow in areas such as the legs which make it difficult to remove them entirely or not without a higher risk of complications.  Another risk if is the pet chews on the lumps or if they burst.  Let’s be honest for a moment…when someone tells me the lump wasn’t there yesterday, that can only be the truth less than 20% of the time.  So as my colleague Dr. Sue Cancer Vet says, “Why wait? Aspirate!”  Basically, if a lump is there for more than a month and is larger than a pea, you should get it checked out before it’s too late.

from dogs-looking-like-people.tumblr.com

from dogs-looking-like-people.tumblr.com

Much like people, senior pets can show signs changes in their behavior similar to Alzheimers disease in people.  In cats & dogs, we call this cognitive dysfunction.  There are no definitively effective treatments unfortunately but there are some things that can help.  In particular, some specialty prescription diets can help protect the brain from free radicals which can lead to oxidation of cells in the brain.  Hence, the idea of antioxidants can help to reduce this damage by blocking the reactions.  Something else to consider would be to go against the adage of “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” and work/play with them to give their brains something to be challenged by.  Studies show that for people doing activities like crossword puzzles that encourage thought processes can delay or help fight the onset these changes so maybe there’s some hope that it could work for pets too.  Some ideas to work on are scent or food detection (think the object is under one of three bowls sleight of hand trick) or even reinforcing previously learned behaviors or tricks.

corneal disease

corneal disease

Other changes that you might notice might be with their eyes.  Some eye conditions may affect vision but could possibly be painful as well.  For some breeds such as brachycephalics (pugs, pekingese, shih tzus), they will often develop a condition called dry eye which while not necessarily painful, can be uncomfortable and cause a pigmentation of the cornea.  If they are going blind, just don’t rearrange the furniture.  Moving to the back end of the pet, incontinence is often over-represented as a presenting complaint when pets arrive at the clinic.  Yes, they may be leaking urine but in reality, the odds of a urinary tract infection, kidney disease, or diabetes creating urine overflow are much more likely.

Your pets aren’t “just getting old.”  While they are aging, they are living longer than they did 20 years ago and that means we’ll see more health problems.  There are many facets to the care of your senior pet.  You are their biggest advocate and need to be the watchdog over their health.  By noticing subtle changes and having them addressed as soon as possible, you can keep things from getting worse and making treatment less difficult & more promising.  A general rule of thumb is a check up every 6-12 months.  Senior pets are just like our older relatives, treasured companions that are still full of love; so be sure to take care of them!

Disclaimer: All blog posts may contain opinions which are my own and may not reflect those of any current or former employers.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget you can subscribe on the right side to get new posts directly to your email!  And I’m now on Instagram @drryanllera and as always on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

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