Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The "O" word: part 1

Yes, that's right. The dreaded "O" word. This week's blog I'm going to talk about obesity. (Stayed tuned for the happy story of Tuff the Golden Retriever in the next part.) Since I was on track to get a degree in nutrition before switching my major to Animal Science and getting into vet school, I find all subjects related to nutrition very fascinating. There is so much cool information that is coming out of the research camps in the past few years on not just obesity, but how what we eat affects how our bodies function overall. Cool cool stuff!

But back on track to the obesity topic. I think it is pretty well agreed on by the medical community that obesity is indeed a disease and not just a cosmetic problem. Having a high percentage of body fat does really strange things to metabolism and actually causes inflamation in the body. There have been many studies that have shown how deadly obesity is not only in people, but in dogs too. One of the best known studies was Purina's life span study that was published in 2002. You can find some of the study information at Purina's web site
http://www.longliveyourdog.com/ and click on the link to the life span study. This is such an oversimplification of the findings, but basically, the thin dogs in the study lived 1.8 years longer on average. I don't know about you, but I would certainly like my dogs to live longer. Their lifespans are too short as it is.

Cats have kind of received the short end of the stick in the past, but obesity surely effects them too and also in deadly ways. Not to worry though, there are some research projects ongoing and we should all know a lot more in the next few years. Some of the questions I hope will be answered are how a dry food diet affects cats. There has been some speculation that carbohydrate based diets (i.e. dry food diets) lead to obesity in cats. Is it because cats metabolize carbohydrates differently than dogs? Or is it that dry food diets are more calorie dense than wet food diets so cats just plain eat more calories than if they ate canned food? The story is unfolding.

Some of the diseases that we see much more often in our overweight and obese patients include:

  • osteoarthritis
  • diabetes (cats)
  • ruptured cruciate ligaments (dogs)
  • breathing difficulty
  • skin infections

For more reading, there is a very good web site at www.petobesityprevention.com. In next week's blog, I'll show you a picture of Tuff and tell you his weight loss story. I'll talk about how you can tell if your dog or cat is overweight or not. And best of all, what we as pet owners can do to either prevent or treat obesity.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

2009 Boo Wow Walk

Wow! What a fun time we had this past weekend at the Boo Wow Walk! Well, the weather could have been better, but it also could have been worse. Persistant rain showers and cold threatened to spoil everyone's fun. The cold didn't go away, but at least the rain showers did. Great job to everyone who showed up to support the Ashtabula County Animal Protective League!

The Country Doctor Veterinary Clinic was proud to be able to be a sponsor and also set up a booth at the event to raise money for the APL. The staff really has a good time supporting this great cause. The work begins in late August or early September. First up is soliciting donations from our veterinary suppliers so we have goodies to put in our treat bags and the gift bags that we raffle. This year's goodies came from MWI Veterinary Supply (kudos to them for being the biggest supporter!), Merial, Pfizer, Penn Veterinary Supply, and Bayer. Dr. Charles Curie donated all the Furminator supplies and dog toys. Our Vet Tech Katelyn baked more than 500 homemade dog cookies for the treat bags. Thanks to everyone! It takes all the donations to make this all happen.

Once all the donations are assemled, the staff stuffs the 500 or so treat bags that we give out at the event. The gift baskets are assembled. Ashley did a great job dressing up our event sign with fall colors. This year our office manager Sue, her son Charlie and I were the set-up crew. Thanks Charlie for helping us out! The three of us sold raffle tickets until the walk officially started at 1pm. Then Ashley, Katelyn and Leanne came to finish the event and tear down. Katelyn even got to walk "Charlie", one of the APL dogs that was up for adoption at the event. Good news is that "Charlie" did get adopted that day! A BIG thank you to everyone who attended the event. The weather was really cold and gray. Definitely took strong northeastern Ohio people to show up.

All the work is definitely worth it though. As you can probably gather from my previous blog posts, I am firm believer in supporting local animal shelters wherever you may live. This event is just so much fun it deserves a blog post all its own. If you want to see all the pictures I took from that day, feel free to visit our Facebook page. Raffle winners and more news from the Boo Wow Walk can be found on the Country Doctor Veterinary Clinic Web Page.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lucky, the clinic cat

I snapped this photo of Lucky the clinic cat last week as he slept on a blanket behind me while I was at my desk. Yesterday, Lucky had to be put to sleep due to progression of his kidney disease. He actually did well considering he was already in Stage 4 of 4 when he was diagnosed back in July. I never had said it out loud when he was first diagnosed, but he had some changes in his bloodwork and urinalysis that were very bad as far as a long term prognosis. I really didn't think he would live a month. The staff did an excellent job managing his medications and Lucky maintained his body weight up until just this past week or so. But there are some things we cannot change or manage.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Thank you Alaska

Late last week, I put to sleep a dog named Alaska. It may sound kind of weird to say this, but every euthanasia is unique. Some are very emotional and some are calm. Some are done with a split second decision after a horrible accident and some are done after much thought at the end of a long peaceful life. There are no two exactly alike. That's a pretty amazing thought considering I've been doing this for over 20 years now. Alaska's euthanasia was as peaceful as they come. The day was a beautiful sunny fall day with just a hint of crispness in the air. Alaska, Alaska's "dad", my vet tech and I all sat out in the grass behind the parking lot. Everything was peaceful. Alaska laid his head in his dad's lap and when I gave the injection, he did not move at all. He just went to "sleep". He was ready. Even now when I am typing this, tears are in my eyes. I am glad that we don't have to let our pets suffer when they reach the end of their lives. It is still sad though.

I received the most special of all letters in the mail the other day. It made me want to cry and smile at the same time. The letter brightened the day of the staff members even though the reason for the letter is very sad to those of us left behind. Please note the return address on the envelope. I'm going to add an image of the letter because I think it adds so much to the letter to read it in hand or should I say "paw"-written form. I'll write the text of the letter below because it is hard to read off the photo and then after that will be my response.

Hey Doc Curie and Doc Veal and all your really cool staff. My trip here was real peaceful and guess what? I don't hurt no more - just lazin round with all the other cool cats and pooches. Plenty of time I got now to remember all the fun I had over 13 years & good care and lovin from my family and you guys. Remember that long walk I took one day and was found "dog tired" on the highway? or the time I took off and was gone for a hole week dragging my 10 foot chain with me? Ah, those were the days. I'm gonna really miss the snow, people food and sharing dad's beers (don't tell anybody that one). Well, so long, and thanks a bunch for all you did for me and my family. Your science really did touch my soul. Alaska.

Dear Alaska, Thank you so much for your letter. I am happy that your trip across the Rainbow Bridge (that's what I call it) was uneventful and that you are now safe and sound. I am going to miss seeing you even though I know you never really liked coming to the clinic. Does anyone really like going to the doctor anyway? I think not. Romping in the woods is much more fun. I'll still get to see your family though and we will remember you and all the fun you had. I'll tell your dad not to worry about the beer thing because (don't tell anybody) but I sometimes let my dogs drink the last sip of beer out of my bottle too. Maybe in the winter, we can try to send some of the snow your way. I don't think anyone here will mind. Have a good time in Doggie Heaven. Maybe if we are lucky, we willl be able to see each other again someday. Dr. Veale

Thursday, October 1, 2009

World Rabies Day

With World Rabies Day being observed earlier this week (Monday September 28th), I thought this would be a good reminder of the importance of vaccinating pets for rabies. September is also the month that the state, county and local health departments in Ashtabula County put out oral rabies vaccine bait aimed at providing the raccoon population with some immunity toward this deadly disease that affects wildlife, pets and people. Here are some interesting facts about rabies:

  • 55,000 people worldwide die from rabies every year

  • widespread rabies vaccination in the United States has reduced the human deaths in this country to just a few every year.

  • Even so, thousands of wild animals test positive for rabies in the US every year and rabies cases in dogs and cats number in the hundreds. (6,841 wild and domestic animals tested positive in 2008)

  • Cats are the number one domestic animal testing positive for rabies. (294 cases of rabies in cats reported in 2008)

  • Rabies is always fatal once symptoms appear.

  • In 2008, a 55 year old man from Missouri died of rabies. He had been bitten on the ear by a bat 30 days before the symptoms began and did not seek treatment until after the symptoms started.

  • In Ohio in 2008, there were 64 reported rabies cases. 5 raccoons, 55 bats, 3 skunks and 1 coyote.

  • In Pennsylvania in 2008, there were 431 reported rabies cases. 60 in domestic animals including 53 cats, 3 cattle, 3 dogs, 1 sheep or goat. 371 in wild animals including 228 raccoons, 43 bats, 71 skunks, 25 fox, 2 bobcats, 2 groundhogs.

Rabies in nearly 100% preventable. Vaccinate your pets (dogs, cats, ferrets and horses) against rabies. If you or anyone in your family is bitten or scratched by a wild animal or unknown pet, contact your doctor. If your pet is bitten or scratched by a wild animal or stray animal, call your veterinarian.