Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Support your local animal shelter

I'll admit up front that I've been kind of busy and very deficient in the blog department. Part of my being busy leads right into today's blog topic. I am fortunate to be able to spend one or two days a month at the Ashtabula County Animal Protective League spaying and neutering dogs and cats that are being adopted. My schedule worked out this month that I did two weeks back to back. So two Mondays ago with the help of Ashley from Country Doctor and Jeremy from the APL, we spayed or neutered 22 animals. Then last Monday with the help of Katelyn from Country Doctor and Jammie from the APL, we spayed or neutered 19 animals. Most of these animals had already been adopted and are now in their new homes. That is a good feeling. I am so blessed to have such talented people working with me. These past two surgery days went so smoothly and it is all due to Ashley, Katelyn, Jammie and Jeremy. Thanks to all!

Since the APL is on my mind, the timing is right to encourage everyone to support their local animal shelter wherever that may be. There is a lot of work to do. Adopt an animal. Donate money. Donate supplies. Donate time. We can all help out in some way or another.

This fall, the Ad Council and the Humane Society of the United States are gearing up for an advertising campaign to encourage adoption of pets from local shelters. I am very excited about this and looking forward to see where the ads turn up. I believe this link takes you to where the campaign starts: There is a cool little video about the filming of the TV ads.

The Ashtabula County APL is also gearing up for lots of fun events this fall. They will be at the Grape Jamboree this coming weekend (Sept 26 and 27, 2009) and the Covered Bridge Festival (Oct 10 and 11). The big event of course is the annual Boo Wow Walk on October 17th. Country Doctor will be there again this year because we had so much fun last year!!!!! You might also get to meet Gabby the beagle I adopted from the APL two years ago. Also on tap this fall is a book signing at Ashtabula Towne Square on Oct 24th, Reverse trick or treat at the shelter on Oct 29th and one of MY favorites, the Spayghetti dinner on November 2nd. Visit the APL web site for more details:

One more picture of Gabby doing what beagles do. Caught in mid "bow woooooooo" on the trail of a rabbit.
There are so many animals in need of homes. If you are considering getting a dog or cat, I'd encourage everyone to look no further than their local animal shelter. There are so many beautiful animals that just want a home of their own.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Uh ................ speaking of pyometra

I think this may be a record for me. 8 days ago, I wrote in my blog about a disease called pyometra that is seen in older female dogs. Yesterday I did surgery on an 8 year old female dog with perhaps the largest uterus I have ever personally taken out of a dog. The dog's presurgery weight was 55 lbs and the uterus weighed 8.2 lbs.. Wow! Quite impressive! Remember, "pyo" means "pus" so this was a uterus filled with 8 lbs of pus. I just have to share the photo with everyone so if you don't like surgery pictures don't look below.
I'm going to re-post the picture taken of a normal 70 lb dog's uterus first. The second picture will be the 8.2 lb uterus from yesterday's surgery.
Oh and the dog that had pyometra surgery yesterday is doing very well and went home today.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Lucky the clinic cat 9/8/09 update

Just thought I would give everyone an update on how Lucky the clinic cat is doing. If you don't remember, Lucky was diagnosed with kidney disease back in mid July. For the full blog on cats and kidney disease visit the July 2009 blog archive or click on this link.

There is some good and some bad in this update. Unfortunately Lucky has chronic kidney disease that is mostly stable, but in an advanced stage. He is hovering around Stage III to IV of four stages under the International Renal Interest Society (IRIS) classification. His current treatment is Hill's feline k/d diet, subcutaneous fluids given Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Azodyl, Epakitin and benazepril. By the way, all these treatments including giving the fluids can be done at home by any cat owner. We have been able to improve some of his blood values, but not all. I guess the best part is that he is eating good and his weight is stable. Maintaining body weight is one of the best ways to monitor how a cat is feeling. Eating good = feeling good. Cats with kidney disease that eat some and lose weight may appear to be ok, but the weight loss speaks for itself. So I am thrilled that for right now Lucky is maintaining body weight. That's the best we can ask for right now.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

To spay or not to spay ...........

This is the sad part of veterinary medicine. This is the part where a dog dies from a nearly 100% preventable disease. This is where I (or another veterinarian) have counselled someone how to prevent this death and it happens anyway. It always leaves me asking why. Did the dog's owner even hear what I said? Was money an issue? (when isn't it in veterinary medicine?) Did I state the facts, but fail to stress the importance? To me, this shows how communication is the key to much of what I do on a day to day basis. I have learned a lot about communication in my 23 years as a veterinarian, but I am still learning every day. Times like this make me think "how could I have communicated better?". Life makes you realize that there is always something new to learn.

The disease I am talking about is pyometra or literally translated "pus in uterus". This disease of female dogs will occur in nearly every older unspayed female dog if it doesn't die from something else first. Since spaying involves removing the ovaries and uterus, a spayed dog cannot get pyometra. I say it is nearly 100% preventable because I will occasionally see a pyometra in a young breeding bitch, but this is the exception. And because the whole disease process starts with hormonal changes to the uterus that occur over time, pyometra almost always occurs in older female dogs. Female dogs do not go through menopause like humans do and will continue to come into heat throughout their lifetime. If bacteria gets into the uterus, this can set the stage for a severe and possibly life threatening infection that is pyometra. The treatment for pyometra in nearly every case is to do surgery and spay the dog. Of course, now we are talking about doing a spay surgery on a sick dog with a greatly enlarged uterus. This is not the ideal time to do surgery. Many dogs will live through surgery and do well. A few will die.

"They" say a picture is worth a thousand words. So now through the magic of our digital world, I can show you all what I am talking about. The following pictures were taking during spay surgery from two different female dogs. Both dogs weighed about 70 pounds. Female dog #1 was young (about 10 months old) and healthy. She will never have to live through the horror of what pyometra can be. Female dog #2 was older and sick with pyometra. She died about 14 hours after surgery.

Female dog #1 uterus during spay surgery

Female dog #2 uterus during pyometra surgery

BIG difference eh? This is why I recommend having female dogs spayed. Female dogs can be spayed early if the owner does not want a litter of puppies or later if a bitch is to be used for breeding. I see the consequences of what can happen when older female dogs are not spayed. I do not recommend surgery lightly. I am the pet advocate. Whatever is in the pet's best interest is what I am going to recommend. Dog #1 is alive and happy. Dog #2 is dead. Sad isn't it?