Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pets of many names

Meet Roundie. I found her picture when I was going through pictures I had stored on my cell phone. I had taken her picture one day when she was in the clinic for an exam. Actually Roundie's name is really Calico. I don't know who actually started calling her Roundie first, but it fits because she has the cutest, most perfect round kitty face. So now at the clinic at least, her name is Roundie. It took us a little while to fess up with Roundie's, uh Calico's owner that we all called her cat a different name, but now I think we are all on the same page. Ok, maybe the staff and I are a little nutty when we come to having fun with the patients, but that's what happens when you love what you do.

But all this got me to thinking about how all my own pets have several names and I am not talking about unprintable names that you might blurt out when you come down the stairs in the morning and step in a pile of vomit left on the living room carpet (not that that has happened to me recently or anything). I am referring to names I use to speak to my pets on a daily basis. I know I'm not the only one because I talk about this all the time with staff and clients, and we all do it.

This is my Brittany Molly. Also known as Stumpy. She got that name one day when I was talking to my husband about how she was wiggling her tail. He then reminded me that she didn't have a tail, she has a "stump". Well he's sort of right and sort of wrong, she does have a part of a tail since the rest was docked when she was a puppy. But ever since that conversation, we have called her Stumpy. I must have said enough to her because she used to come when I used either Molly or Stumpy to call her, but now she is old and going deaf so neither works very well. I also used to be able to get her very excited when I called her "Hot Tamale Molly". I think sounding like I was saying her name twice made her really start wiggling her tail, uh stump.

Here is Gabby, my beagle, caught in mid-woo. She has the most delicate little beagle bark when she wants attention. Much different than her BahWOOOOOOOOOOO that comes out of her mouth when she is trailing a rabbit. Her "look at me" bark is very feminine, almost always occurs in twos and sounds like "woo woo". So now her name is Gabby Woo Woo, or just Woo, or sometimes Dog of Woo. Every once in awhile I will call her Gabby Noodle. I think I just got that because Noodle and Woo Woo sound similar.

The list goes on. Dr. Curie's Jack Russell Terrier is known as "Honey", but if you look at the computer medical records, her name is "Ella". Country Doctor Staff pets are the same. Christine's old beagle that recently passed away was named Bwaster, but was called Boy Boy too. Rebekah, our high school mentor student, has a horse name Sunny, but she calls him My Peanut. For Katelyn, her cat Minksy is known as Minksy Doodle Butt or Oodles of Doodles. Ashley's mixed breed dog Bogg is also known as Bogg the Coondog. Ashley says Bogg gets so happy when she calls him that.

So now you know. If you are already a pet owner, then you understand. If you do not own a pet, then at least when your pet owning friends call their dog or cat by multiple names, you will know that it is not because they can't remember their pet's name. Well, at least in most instances.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

WVC Day 3 and 4

Day 3. Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas. Wow! Wow, wow, WOW! What a great day of lectures! I do so like to complain about Las Vegas and it is certainly not my favorite city to visit, but this veterinary conference is one of the best. Day 3 consisted of 4 hours of some the best information on chronic ear disease in dogs that I have heard in a long time. Ear infections are one of the top reasons that dogs are seen by veterinarians. Some dogs get over their infections with no problems. But in some dogs, ear problems can become chronic or recurrent. Believe me, as a veterinarian it is very frustrating to treat a problem that I may not be able to cure. I know how frustrating this can be for owners of dogs with chronic ear disease too. Hopefully, I can bring back some of this great information I learned to help educate owners why ear infections keep coming back and in some cases, how an ear infection that keeps coming back can sometimes be cured for good. I guess sometimes is the key to that sentence. I actually have personally been through an ear infection with my beagle I adopted from the animal shelter and I was able to "cure" her, but it took six months at least. Anyway, I'm excited to share this new information with everyone back at the clinic.

On day 3, I also went to lectures on ringworm in cats and the 2010 update on Lyme Disease in dogs. The Lyme Disease lecture was very good and while we don't see very much of it at all in our county, the disease is spreading. Every year it seems like I see more and more dogs with ticks and Lyme Disease is spread by ticks. Years ago, I was lucky if I saw one dog in a 12 month period with a tick. Now, at certain times of the year, I'll see them every week. There may be a time in the not too distant future that we are all going to have to think about stepping up the tick prevention on our dogs. Me included.

Day 4. This morning I went to a "wet lab" at a fairly new center built to educate veterinarians with hands on laboratory type classes. This kind of education has been hard to find once veterinarians graduate from vet school, but is becoming more common as the years go by. There is no way that veterinarians can learn every procedure they need to know in just a few years of schooling. Most of what we learn is on the job training. Now very few of us totally learn on our own, but learn under the guidance of other veterinarians. But what if there is new technology that comes along. That's when it is so helpful to learn new techniques from specialists and that's exactly what I did today. The lab was on using the video otoscope that we have in the clinic. It is a very useful piece of equipment in the exam room, but where it shines, is in deep ear cleaning in dogs with chronic ear disease. I learned so many of the finer points of using the scope and many many tricks and tips for helping my canine patients with bad ears. Great great information!

The afternoon of day 4, I spent several hours at the exhibit hall. This where all the vendors of different veterinary products show off what they have. While you have to get by the sales pitches, there is really really good information in here too. One of the best pieces of information I learned is that Hills is coming out with a diet for arthritic cats. They already have one for dogs that works very well, but in dogs we can also add on drugs like carprofen or meloxicam to help with this painful disease. None of these drugs are labeled for use in cats and some of them can actually kill cats (e.g. Tylenol: never never never use in a cat!). To date, I have not had a whole lot of alternatives in what to do with a painful arthritic cat. I'm excited about this new diet coming out this April. In up coming weeks, I will devote some of my weekly blogs to many of the diseases I learned about at this conference.

Day 4 will continue after I type this blog as I will be heading to a 7pm-9pm lecture tonight. Tomorrow, one more lecture in the morning and then making the trek back to Ohio and all the snow. My feet will be thankful as my mode of transportation from hotel to conference hall and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth has been by walking. Too bad I haven't been wearing a pedometer. Now THAT would have been interesting.

Monday, February 15, 2010

WVC Day 1 and 2

I thought I might share with you what goes on at a veterinary convention. As a veterinarian, I am required to take continuing education classes every year in order to renew my license. Now this is something that is actually quite fun. I guess when you choose a career that requires at least 7-8 years minimum of schooling past high school, then to some extent you have to really like school. And so taking classes every year is fun. I love learning new things and believe me, medical advances happen so fast that there is always something new to learn. Some veterinarians take classes here and there throughout the year. I like to go to a large conference and get all my hours in one fell swoop. Ohio requires 30 hours of education every two years, but my goal ever since I graduated from vet school 24 years ago has always been to get a minimum of 20 hours every year.

Western Veterinary Conference (WVC) is one of the largest. One year I was told that there were around 15,000 attendees of which 6000 are veterinarians. I guess being in Las Vegas in February is a big reason, but there are also so many classes to take that it gives us lots of choice. Every hour, there are 20 to 22 sessions from which to choose. Quite overwhelming sometimes.

Day 1 (Valentine's Day) was a half day which is good if you arrive in Las Vegas in the morning which is what my husband and I did. Actually we started our trip out west last week and took some time to visit our western US friends. Sunday classes started after lunch and I started by going to a session on separation anxiety in dogs, then learned some new behavioral and medical techniques for treating cats that go outside the litterbox and finally a session on heartworm disease. No trip to Las Vegas would be complete without a little nightlife and my husband and I enjoyed a show by comedian Bill Engvall tonight.

Day 2 (President's Day) was geared mostly toward cats. Oral disease, bladder disease and brain diseases were among the topics. Oral disease is one of the most common problems I see in cats so that was particularly interesting. Bladder disease is also very common in cats and I learned some great new tips and tricks in treating this condition. Ended the day learning new information about intervertebral disk disease in dogs. With 3 hours of class on Sunday and 7 hours on Monday, I am halfway to my 20 hour goal. Once again, my husband and I took advantage of being west and had dinner with some friends that live in California.

I understand from family and friends back in Ohio that snow and cold are continuing. Here in Vegas it was sunny and 65 today. The palm trees are very beautiful in the bright sunshine. Just thought I'd rub that in! Tomorrow is Tuesday and day 3 of the conference. More to come...........

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Talkin' Teeth

This week I'm talkin' teeth. No I am not talking about those wind-up chattering teeth although they are pretty funny. I'm talking about National Pet Dental Health Month which happens every February. Nothing more exciting then talking about gum disease, eh? If you get look around online, I think just about every veterinary blog will mention dental health this month. Why? Well, frankly because it is important and it is probably the number one disease veterinarians treat in older pets.

Now I'm not much different than everyone else. I hate the thought of the dentist. OK, strike that. I like my dentist. He's really a very nice guy. I hate the thought of GOING to the dentist. But I see the effects of bad rotting teeth everyday so that makes going to the dentist a little more bearable.

The truth is that dental disease causes lots of other health problems such as heart, liver and kidney disease. Just think about it. A dog or cat has a bad rotten tooth and they are breathing in and swallowing all that bacteria in their mouth 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 356 days a year. That cannot be good for the body and it isn't.

What are the symptoms of a bad tooth? Well SOMETIMES bad breath, drooling, pawing at the mouth, but most often the symptom is .......... NOTHING! So how am I so sure that the pain of a bad tooth is real? I hear it time after time after time. I remove a bad tooth and then two weeks later, I talk to the pet's owner and find out the dog or cat is doing things that they hadn't done in months or years. They are more active. They are playing more. Little changes that weren't really noticeable before, but in hindsight they stand out. Dogs and cats in pain don't complain. They just live with their pain and it is up to us to be on the look out for something that is painful and they can't tell us about it.

Just so you can see what a tartar covered tooth looks like compared to a clean tooth, here are a couple of before and after teething cleaning pictures from a cat this week. In the after picture, the rear tooth still looks nasty because of all the gum disease, but the tooth is white and clean.

before cleaning
after cleaning

So pull your dog's or cat's lip back and look at those rear teeth. You don't need to get them to open their mouth at all. Just pull back the lip. Is the tooth white or brown? If it is brown, please take your pet to your veterinarian to have it checked further. In fact, all pets should have a yearly exam to pick up tooth and other problems early before they cause great pain to both the pet and the pocketbook. Let's treat tooth disease when the pain to both pet and wallet are minimal.