Archive for the ‘Interesting Cases’ Category

Dog Diabetes: Ask the Veterinarian

March 2nd, 2011

I thought we would do something different today.  We receive a lot of questions about canine diabetes mellitus, and it seems to be a commonly confused topic in veterinary medicine for pet owners.  Today I wanted to share with you a portion of a Q&A from our ask a vet service.  Additional topics were discussed, but for the purpose of this post, I have only included relevant information on diabetes.

Ask a vet a Question:

ask a vet a question, ask the vet, dog diabetesI have a seven-year old female miniature schnauzer Daisy. Over the past month, I have noticed her drinking more, asking to go out more–just to pee it seems, and she seems to be losing weight. She still has a strong appetite, and seems otherwise normal. I already went to the vet, and they thought it was probably a urinary tract infection and gave her antibiotics. We didn’t do the test because the vet thought it was pretty sure and money is tight, and the antibiotics were expensive enough. We finished the antibiotics but they didn’t seem to help any. What do you think could be wrong?

Vet Answers:

I am very suspicious that your dog may have a condition called diabetes mellitus. Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a endocrine disease often called “sugar diabetes” because of the dog has an abnormally high blood and urine sugar levels. Diabetes arises when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, the hormone that allow the body to use glucose, and in turn, when not enough insulin is produced, there is excessive glucose in the blood, and negative consequences happen.

The most common reason is that the cells of the pancreas that are responsible for insulin production, called beta cells, get destroyed. They usually get destroyed from chronic inflammation of the pancreas, such as flare ups with pancreatitis or chronic GI issues of many kinds. This is Type 1 DM, and is the most common type of DM in dogs, while Type II which arises from insulin resistance is very rare in the dog.

The common clinical signs are why I am suspicious this is what your pooch is suffering from. Increased thirst and urination are the most common signs. The miniature schnauzer is one of the most common breads that we see DM in, and females are more likely to suffer from it than males. The average age of onset is 7-9 years. Other signs are increased appetite and weight loss. This is because even though they are eating more, the body can’t effectively use the glucose because of low insulin levels, so they are in essence starving.

The diagnosis is fairly straight-forward. A significantly elevated fasting blood glucose Read the rest of this entry »

Why do dogs eat grass?

February 21st, 2011

ask a vet, online vet, why do dogs eat grass

It’s a question I’ve heard more times than I can remember, and yes, as a dog owner, I too have seen my own dogs (and cats) go outside for a munch of the green stuff, chow down, and often times throw it right back out.

Dogs too often will seek out a natural remedy for their GI ailments, be it if their tummy is upset or if they are feeling a bit bloated and gassy. Typically they will nibble just a bit, but some dogs will graze more.

So why do dogs eat grass and then throw it up?

When they eat the blades of grass, it is believed the tiny “hairs” on the blade tickle the esophagus and stomach as they go do. This then often causes the dog to vomit, which may be just what the doctor ordered if something they ate is upsetting their tummy.

Many household and landscaping plants are poisonous to dogs, and dogs are no better botanists than their people, so make sure they don’t have access to the dangerous herbage.

Typically, dogs will chew and graze more when they are feeling well. The more they chew the grass, the more the blade becomes saturated with saliva, and in becoming so, it is less “tickly” as they swallow. These dogs may just be craving some roughage in their diet, or may find the texture appealing.

Alternatively, the quicker they gulp it down, the more likely they are to throw it right back up.

So, why do dogs find grass appealing?

Read the rest of this entry »

When a cat can’t urinate

January 19th, 2011

How well read are you?ask a vet, cat can't urinate, sick cat, online vet
Today I want to share a special story that happened this week to a colleague and best friend of mine. Sadly, it happens all too often in veterinary medicine.

This past Saturday, an elderly couple took their cat to the vet with the complaint of having trouble urinating. The vet did an analysis of the urine and saw a plethora of crystals and white blood cells. I don’t know if the owners were wearing ear plugs, had their hearing aids turned off, denied all treatment, or if the vet was really that lousy, but the people went home with nothing but antibiotics–which is insane treatment to another vet.

Come Tuesday morning, the concerned couple again called the vet. Their beloved cat was doing worse, had vomiting and diarrhea, still had trouble urinating, and just seemed like a very sick cat.  They were told to bring him back in–for more fees of course. They declined, as they were on a fixed budget.

At 4:30 pm, they showed up at the vet’s office. Granted, they did not have an appointment, so I understand this can be difficult to squeeze them in as a vet, BUT, ethically, you are the active and current doctor overseeing this case which does put an legally arguable responsibility on you to see the pet.

This vet should have been thinking, “oh my goodness, this cat is probably blocked and could be about to die. I need to make this cat my #1 priority!”

Read the rest of this entry »

Tripods: Does it hurt you more than it hurts them?

January 14th, 2011

ask a vet a question, online vet advice, sick dog symptoms, canine bone cancerIt could happen to you and your furbaby. It could be an unfortunate collision with a car, or it could be a nasty bone tumor that has a better chance of cure if removed.

The thought of their dog losing a leg is devastating to pet owners everywhere. The need to amputate a limb could be the result of numerous things. I hope it never happens to you or your fur child, but if it does, take the time to pause and repeat after me:

“This isn’t as bad as it seems.”

While pet owners are crushed and in tears over the news that their beloved pet needs to have a limb removed, veterinarians are almost relieved  because we have likely been presented with a pet in a dire situation, such as cancer, and can actually offer owners and that pet a cure! Oftentimes, we don’t have that luxury, so when we have a problem we can fix, it’s a wonderful feeling!

A chance to cut is a chance to cure.

Don’t give up on your pet.  A dog will always be a dog, which is their beauty.

While it is obviously not ideal or what anyone–vet, pet owners or pet–limb amputation may bring surprising joy and happiness back to your and your pet’s life.

The trouble? Convincing pet owners their dog or cat can live a wonderfully satisfying life sans one limb.

Read the rest of this entry »

Paws on Pads: iPad Proves Popular with Pets

January 10th, 2011

It’s been less than one year since Apple announced the arrival of the upcoming arrival of the iPad, and yet it seems like it’s been in our lives forever.

What is on your pet’s wishlist:  Apple products or the more traditional edible pet-treat variety?

Dr. Jed joined team Apple about six years ago when he purchased a MacBook with the points he had earned on his business card for opening costs of his hospital. This past November, again those points paid off as the iPad entered our lives.

online vet, ask a vet, my cat is sick, is my cat sick, my dog is sick, online vet advice, vet questionsApple products are taking over the world with their addictive crack-like properties. But wait! It appears that more than humans are susceptible to this addiction.

An iPad game for cats? That’s hardly the half of it. There are currently over 940 cat-related applications available for the iPad, which is ironic since the tablet doesn’t even come with a mouse. From butterfly games, to angry birds (a favorite of Dr. Jed’s), to string games, even a musical piano.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dog who ate a glass ornament

December 24th, 2010
ask a vet, at home pet remedy, vet 24/7I love “eves.” I like birthday eves, anniversary eves, New Years Eve, and my favorite is Christmas Even. In honor of Christmas Eve, I want to share a cute pet story to remind everyone to keep their pets safe so we can all enjoy a safe and happy holiday season.

It was several years ago and it was Christmas Eve. I was working at the hospital when a frantic pet owner brought in Charlie, her rather portly golden retriever.

Luckily, his pet parent had given us a call on her way into the hospital, and in doing so, had given me some time to do a bit of veterinary research for something I had never seen (it was my first Christmas as a veterinarian after all).

Charlie had eaten a glass tree ornament.

There are many times the diagnostic tests that a vet recommends are so confusing that the pet owner needs a background in medicine to understand it’s purpose.  This was not one of those times.

The solution?

The super-fancy and medical treatment for having eaten a broken Christmas ornament?

ask a vet, dog health problems, 24/7 vetCotton balls covered in peanut butter.

Feeding Charlie lots of cotton balls covered in peanut butter. As many as he would willingly eat. His nonselective palate this time was both a blessing and a curse, as Charlie would eat most anything, from cotton balls to glass ornaments. Read the rest of this entry »

Leak under the Kitchen Sink

December 3rd, 2010

By Jana Radeask a vet a question online, second vet opinion, is my dog sick, symptoms of a sick dog

You find a small puddle under your kitchen sink and because you’re quite sure you didn’t spill anything you call a plumber.

The plumber comes and examines it carefully. “It seems to be a minor leak, might stop on it’s own, why don’t you keep an eye on it for couple weeks and see what happens,” he says.

You pay the plumber and watch it for couple of weeks, wiping up puddles.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

It does not stop, it seems to be getting worse. You call the plumber again.

Why would you let your vet get away with something you wouldn’t tolerate from your plumber?  It’s your pet’s health that is in stake.

He takes a look at it and informs you that you indeed have a leaking pipe. “It’s an old building,” he says, “something like that is to be expected.”

Yes, you know that you’re living in an old building. But you don’t want to spend your days wiping up under your sink.

“Hm, why don’t you put a container underneath it, that should prevent damage from the leak. Call me in couple weeks if this doesn’t help.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Palliative Treatments: Is it Ethical to Treat if there is no Cure in Sight?

November 30th, 2010

ask a vet, ask a vet online, talk with a vetOur Plight Down a Dismal Road

Palliative treatments are those treatments that are aimed at not curing the disease, but increasing the patient’s comfort. It is an area of some controversy, as some people don’t believe it is right to put an animal through procedures–be they surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, the list goes on–if there is no way the animal will be cured of the disease in the end.

Whether the reasons be financial, ethical, compassion, or personal, many people feel passionately about their stance. People say that veterinary medicine is rapidly evolving, and that the “younger generation vets” are more pro-treatment and active to find a diagnosis; I would have to agree, and say that I typically fall into that stereotype. I for the most part believe this is a positive step for veterinary medicine. Mostly.

Even how you & your vet reach a diagnosis should customized.  We went against the text-book medicine route, as we felt it was pointless, and would only cause her pain.

It was a personal experience, the loss of our first pet as adults, that truly opened my eyes and made me realize it truly is a personal decision, one that must be customized by every pet owner, pet, and vet. I wish Dr. Jed and I had not gone through the story that follows in a multi-part post, but am grateful for the lessons it taught us.

It was the evening of October 27, 2008. Dr. Jed and I were newlyweds, and he was back in school full-time studying for his MBA and working as a business consultant, while part-time still “vetting;” I had taken over the hospital. He had just returned home from night school when Madison, our beloved Great Pyr limped. Just a little bit, but with two vets as parents watching over our four-legged children like hawks, not much gets past us medically.

We immediately did a lameness exam on the kitchen floor, and Dr. Jed found a slight swelling towards the end of her radius, one of the bones in her front leg. Read the rest of this entry »

“Tasters” and Strange Exam Room Behavior

November 29th, 2010
Some pet owners cross the line to find themselves in embarrassing situations

Labradore retriever pet health questions

Photo by Emildom

Pet owners are a curious bunch, myself included.  I am always amazed at our cautious nature.  Even though their vet tells them to feed x, or give medicine y, you never really know if they are actually going to do z.  But the strangest precautionary pet owners are the “tasters.”  Tasting your dog’s gourmet Honest Kitchen dog food is one thing, but sometimes the pet owners I meet in this profession really make me wonder.

Any various forms of pet owners who can not help themselves but to insert pet medications, pet products, or pet food into their mouths.

Let me introduce you to Cocoa and her taster pet parent. Cocoa was a very rambunctious sweet lab. But she had a problem with furniture.  She really liked to change its aesthetic design– as in, rip it apart. Due to the fact that behavioral modification takes time and effort, we needed a short term solution while we worked towards long-term training, besides locking her up in a crate.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tear-Staining Debunked

November 22nd, 2010

What, Why, and To Treat or Not

tear stained westieThe undeniable brown streaks drive pet owners everywhere crazy across the globe, and there is no denying it is one of the most common questions I answer as a veterinarian.

Many times tear-staining is normal and not of concern, other than making the dog appear “less cute” to their owner. Is this cause for treatment if there is no medical cause?

“Doc, what can I do about these tear stains?  They’re so ugly!”

Tear-staining refers to the browning of hairs near the middle corner of the eye. We see tear-staining most often in white and light-colored dogs.

Tear-staining occurs when a chemical called porphyrin, a breakdown product of blood in the tears, interacts with the light and is oxidized. This causes a brownish stain of the hair at the inner aspect of the eye.

Most often, this is nothing more than a cosmetic problem. When there is a real medical problem involved, it often leads to excess tears, and excessive tear-staining. Medical problems that would cause excessive tearing (epiphora) include having a foreign object in the eye, having a scratch or lesion on the eyeball itself, having a hair growing inward towards the eye, and irritating it for instance.

Tear-staining is most often normal and not of concern, other than making the dog appear “less cute” to their owner. Is this cause for treatment if there is no medical cause?  Absolutely not. You may have heard of them: Angel eyes, Tear Stain Away, Pet Spark, the over the counter medications aimed to treat tear-staining are a dime a dozen, and they contain an antibiotic tylosan in them. Read the rest of this entry »