Tag: geriatric (page 2 of 3)

A Week With Cancer

A Week With Cancer

Hi, it’s Charlie here. Dad (Dr. Llera) agreed to take some dictation for me so I could share some of my story. It’s been a Charlie st patrick dayfull week since I was diagnosed with cancer again, this time with lymphoma. I thought this was a good time to reflect on my experience and share how we see things as dogs.

Late at night some days before, I was just minding my own business….you know peeing on one of dad’s flower plants outside the house. It was still pretty cold for dad and he was anxiously waiting for me to finish and get back in the warm house. When I mean anxious, he was begging me to hurry up…but then his voice got silent.

Back inside the house, he called for mom and the next minute later I was being groped around my manly dog parts. I heard them talk about it being swollen and our neighbor joking that dad should call the vet since it might have been swollen for longer than 4 hours. Sometimes it’s hard being dog & best friend of a veterinarian because when something is wrong, you know you’re getting looked over to the extreme but at least there’s usually cookies afterwards.

The next day we got up and got dressed for the car ride to the Kingston Veterinary Clinic but I didn’t get breakfast!! Charlie at VEC April 2015 Dad was talking to the other vet people about probing me and taking blood to find out more. Being a previous blood donor that wasn’t the scary part….but probing didn’t sound so good. And I was right!! I had 5 or 6 other people touch me inappropriately and putting syringes where they don’t belong trying to flush things out. Then I got poked by another needle in a lump they found next to my parts. It was not very fun and I bruised afterwards but I got so many cookies & a bowl full of food! (Can you tell cookies & food are an important part of my day?)

Blood tests came back and dad asked me what was wrong with my kidneys. How am I supposed to know? I just gave blood at vet school, I didn’t learn anything there. Since I was still feeling good, we started some antibiotics while waiting for test results. Ick! I made sure dad knew I didn’t like them as I vomited in the living room…but then I felt guilty so I ate it again quickly while he stood there looking at me like I was a purple unicorn. He didn’t get mad at me for messing up the floor but gave me a hug instead. I think he was just glad he didn’t have to pick it all up and just had to get out the machine for the rug instead.

charlie cone April 2015A couple days later they sucked more blood out of me but this time I knew it was bad. Within minutes, I was put in a cage and plugged into a fluid machine. At least they gave me a comfy blanket but I missed curling up with my buddy Taylor. The rest of the weekend was strange as I had to still sit in a cage even in my own house; oh the indignity! I couldn’t even go outside for some privacy and dad kept me on a short leash and made me wear a funny boot. He also made me wear the cone of shame…grandma said I looked like a flower.

I still kept my spirits up because I knew how upset dad had been. He cried a few times that weekend worrying about what was happening to me. He returned the favor by taking the tubing out of my leg and I got to run around the yard again! My plan had worked and I was happy! But it was short lived. Dad told me we were going on a long car trip to the big city after taking some pictures of me on another machine where everyone got to wear space age looking suits except me. The lump came back with the cancer called lymphoma. I knew this wasn’t good because dad hugged me for what seemed like an eternity.

cyst in the kidney

cyst in my kidney

Friday, we got in the car for our trip to a place called the Veterinary Emergency Clinic in Toronto. He forgot to feed me again! When we got there, I met some nice doctors named Dr. Mason & Dr. Cullander who also prodded me and looked me over. I wonder, how many more people will touch me? I just want cookies & hugs; why can’t they understand? Next thing I knew, I was laying on my back and they shaved my belly. In the summer this might not be so bad, but I realized just how cold it was when I laid on the floor later. A cold jelly was put on my belly and I got massaged by a wand which I later found out was not magical nor could it remove the cancer. It did tell the doctors that my kidneys had cysts but that the cancer didn’t look like it was anywhere else.

hugging charlie at VECShortly after, the doctors talked to dad about some major drugs that would help to kill the cancer. They also mentioned something about organic cbd oil for dogs. After a chat with mom, dad told them to start the chemotherapy and I was taken to the treatment room where I met many nice people until they poked me and I was waiting for the cookies. I wondered where dad had gone but he came back for me, true to his word saying he would never leave. We got back in the car to go home and surprise – there was food and dad even shared his chips! The drugs made my appetite weird and another pill makes me pee a lot but at least it’s warmer outside now.

It’s been a few days since our trip and mom & dad decided to get me the treatment to help me feel better even though vincristine to fight cancerI’ve been feeling pretty good. Dad said he owed it to me for all the great things I’ve done for others in my life. Yesterday was my first chemo treatment from dad and the technicians at KVC. It was a little strange when dad came over to me looking that that guy from Breaking Bad, except the suit was green this time, but afterwards I knew it was going to be okay when I got cookies.

I’m doing alright and am getting used to new foods but I’ve got a long road ahead. The next 6 months will have it’s ups and downs. But through it all, I’m gonna keep fighting cancer. I’m going to get all the love and support I need from my family and return that love even more. There may come a time when it’s time to let go and if it comes to that at least I’ll be able to watch over my family. Now wish me luck! It’s time to go for another car ride!

1st chemo to fight cancer

Even Pets Have Breasts

Even Pets Have Breasts

October is widely known is Breast Cancer Awareness month for people.  Well, lately it’s also become a month to raise awareness for the risk of breast cancer in pets too!  Yes that’s right, Fluffy and Bella can also get breast cancer.  Unlike women though, your pets can’t check themselves for lumps.

Feline mammary tumor

Feline mammary tumor

Cats & dogs have multiple breasts, or mammary glands, that are aligned in two chains.  Normal swelling can be noted if pregnant or nursing but in any other case, a lump may be abnormal.  After animals have been spayed, they can accumulate fat in these areas and these would be non-concerning lumps.  You can feel along the chain for an abnormal lump that would be at least the size of a small marble.  This is when you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian, not waiting to see if it goes away.  It can only get worse if you wait until it’s the size of a lemon.

Your veterinarian will start with a general exam then discuss some diagnostics to further evaluate the lump.  Just feeling the lump is often not enough to be able to tell you everything you need to know.  No, we don’t have a mammogram machine in our office.  Our diagnostic plan can include a fine needle aspirate to try and get some cells to look at under the microscope but sometimes this is not sufficient.  Alternatively, we can move forward with chest x-rays to assess for spreading of the tumor and then surgery.  Submitting the whole lump to a pathologist will give us a more certain diagnosis to be able to determine future treatment and prognosis.

Canine incision after removal. Surgery was delayed for months

Canine incision after removal. Surgery was delayed for months

Surprisingly, we have some good statistics when it comes to breast cancer cases in dogs.  It’s a 50-50 chance of the mass being benign.  Unfortunately, in cats, the numbers are 90% malignant and only 10% benign.  Surgery can often involve the removal of the lump and the one next to it, or sometimes the entire mammary chain.  Typically, when your veterinarian is talking about breast cancer in your pet they are focusing on middle aged or senior pets.  You can help your pets by making sure to spay them.  Spaying before their first heat cycle greatly reduces the risk of breast cancer.

So do your pets a favor, check them for breast lumps.  And if you see a lump, don’t wait to see if it goes away…it won’t!

breast cancer dogs

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

Don’t forget to check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and now Pinterest to see more events in my day & more shared info!  And on the right side of my blog you can now subscribe so you can always get the updates when a new post is published!

When a “Stroke” Is Not Really a Stroke…It’s Vestibular Disease

When a “Stroke” Is Not Really a Stroke…It’s Vestibular Disease

 

“I think he had a stroke!”  This is one of the most common lines in hear in a veterinary clinic for a not so common condition.  Vestibular disease is something that we can mostly see in dogs but I have seen in a couple of cats.  It can be very scary to a pet owner but in actuality is typically not as bad as they may fear.dizzy face

Have you ever been seasick?  Or sat in a swivel chair spinning around then tried to walk normally afterwards?  If not, try it now…  I’ll bet you’re stumbling all over and probably dizzy as all get out.  Great, now you know what these animals are experiencing.  The human medical condition most closely related would be vertigo.

Vestibular disease occurs when a portion of the middle ear is affected causing this imbalance.  This area of the ear canal is innervated by the vestibulocochlear nerve (cranial nerve VIII) and it is responsible for both hearing and balance.  In some cases, the facial nerve (cranial nerve VII) can also be affected as ear_diagram_petthey are directly adjacent to each other.  This is where some people see a recognizable sign of a stroke, as defined in a human, when the face seems paralyzed or drooping of the lips on one side.  This is not as commonly seen as the other signs.

The visible signs of vestibular disease do tend to cause some alarm because it can be so disturbing.  Ataxia, or stumbling around and being unable to walk is typically the first sign noticed and oftentimes can be severe enough that animals will fall down or be unable to walk.  This is an example of a severe case.  Many patients will also have a head tilt, leaning towards the affected side.  This can be absent if both sides are affected.  Also disturbing is nystagmus, which is the technical name for a repetitive twitching of the eyes – here is a great video examplehead tilt

So why is is not a stroke??  A stroke involves a blood clot being lodged into a vessel preventing flow and oxygenation to an area.  Vestibular disease does not involve blood clots.  In a young dog, we often target a middle ear infection as the cause for this condition.  In an older dog, they could have a brain lesion (inflammation or a tumor) or most commonly we see this in older dogs and we don’t know the reason (we call this idiopathic).

A physical exam will be needed with your veterinarian to help narrow down the cause of the problem.  We will look in the ear to assess the canal and ear drum.  Evaluation of the eyes and their movement can help CatEarExamus determine which side is affected.  In older patients, we will often recommend some baseline blood tests to check for other problems that might be complicating the diagnosis or treatment.  In some cases, we may recommend radiographs (x-rays) of the skull to help evaluate for ear issues related to a structure called the bulla.  If we do suspect a brain lesion, we may refer you to a specialist for more advanced imaging.

There is some good news despite all this!!  The overall outcome for these cases is positive for a large majority of them. For ear infections, we can treat with systemic antibiotics.  For the other causes and ear infections, we treat the patient symptomatically to help control the nausea and motion sickness.  Aside from this, sometimes it just takes good nursing care at home and the tincture of time.  Again, many of these patients do well and recover though in a very few instances a slight head tilt may remain.

Wrapping up here, I just want to say that this condition is not as scary as one might initially think.  It’s still wise to have your veterinarian check your pet over and provide recommendations to help them manage.  Not all cases can be easy to figure out but hopefully I’ve helped you to remove some of fear you might experience if you see this in your pets.

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

Don’t forget to check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and now Pinterest to see more events in my day & more shared info!  And on the right side of my blog you can now subscribe so you can always get the updates when a new post is published!

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