Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rainbow Bridge

I am in a unique position as a veterinarian. Part of my oath is to relieve suffering. This includes humane euthanasia. It is certainly not an easy part of my job but certainly a necessary one.

I am also getting to a point in my 10 year career where I have known many of my patients since they were young. There is great joy in watching as they grow and play. The aspect I am dealing with now is that these same patients are now old and developing a variety of diseases, some manageable, some terminal.

Today, I had to perform a euthanasia on a patient with hemangiosarcoma of the liver. We had known for the past few weeks she had this dreadful cancer. She was monitored closely for quality of life. I received the call this morning that it was time. I was able to say goodbye as she passed.

The stunning part was that the client's other dog was euthanized for the same disease approximately 1 month ago. I was not able to say goodbye to that dog as I had sent her to the specialist centre thinking she was having side effects to the chemo. Ultrasound found a mass on the liver which had started to bleed. It had to be performed immediately.

It is a privilege and an honor to have known these two dogs. My favorite memories of the two of them are when they came to the hospital for routine exams. I could not start the physical until I had gotten onto the floor for their hug. They were so loving and trusting. I shall miss them terribly and my heart breaks for their owners who have lost such loved members of their family.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Spinal Fusion

I had a really neat case a couple weeks ago. A sweet old Border Collie, Daisy, came in because she was a bit stiff when getting up. As her physical was normal, I discussed performing radiographs on her hips to see if she was developing hip dysplasia.

Her pelvic radiograph showed mild arthritis, the surprise was her spine. Daisy’s entire lumbar spine was fused together! This is the first time I have seen this extensive a case of spondylosis deformans. It is normally an incidental finding on radiographs.

Spondylosis occurs when osteophytic (bony) bridges form between the vertebrae. Most are age-related and are painless. So far, I have only seen one case where it caused an issue – a police dog that had partially fractured an osteophyte after jumping over a 6 foot fence.

The amazing thing about Daisy is that she regularly has “puppy” bouts and herds the cows. We started her on anti-inflammatories so she will have more days to comfortably herd her cows without her hips bothering her.

Picture: Upper spine is normal so compare it to the lower spine in the picture.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Just when I thought the itching was over......

Today, I had a 7 month old German Shepherd come in because she was loosing hair over her face. She was doing so much scratching she would keep her owners up at night.

When I walked into the room, our happy Gemma, looked rather pathetic. Her entire face was bald with scaly flakes of irritated skin. We proceeded to do skin cytology and skin scrapings. The diagnosis literally waved its legs at us through the microscope. Demodectic mange (aka Demodicosis).

All dogs get these mites from their mothers but if the dog’s immune system becomes compromised, they can start to multiply and cause disease. Generally, this mange cannot be spread to other dogs (unless other dogs are immunocompromised). The two most common forms of Demodicosis are localized (small scaly bald patches on the face) and generalized (involves large sections of the animal and the secondary bacterial infections are itchy).

Gemma is lucky because young dogs are more likely to naturally gain control of the disease. To help her fight this disease we started her on antibiotics and Ivermectin. We were able to start the Ivermectin today as there is a very low risk she will be sensitive to it. It cannot be used in Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, Australian Shepherds and Sheepdogs unless a specific blood test is performed to check for ivermectin sensitivity. To determine when we stop treating, we will need to get two skin scrapings two weeks apart that are negative and then one more skin scraping a month later to make sure there won’t be a relapse.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Holy Ouch!!!

I had one of the neatest dental surgeries that I’ve had in ages. I’ve known Morris, a 10 year old DSH cat for the past few years. He has never been a “white smock” fan and since I tend to wear them…….. On his last physical exam, I noticed that he had fractured one of his upper canine teeth. The pulp was black so we needed to go forward with dental surgery.

Before removing teeth, I almost always take a radiograph. I want to see what shape the roots and bones are in. I was more than a little confused when I saw the radiograph for this tooth. Normally, the pulp of a mature cat or dog becomes a very narrow. The pulp on this one got so large the root basically disappeared.

I carefully elevated and drilled around the tooth root. I tried to be even more delicate than usual removing the root. I was astounded as the tooth was completely full of abscessed material. Then I had to use a special tool to scrape the rest of the abscess out of the pocket. The gums were sutured closed and my AHT, Kelly, finished the charting, cleaning and polishing.

I know that Morris will feel much better having that abscessed tooth out of his mouth. I wish that he would associate that feeling with the white smock.

Picture: the red line represents where the pulp should be and the green lines represent where the tooth root should be.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Itch Factor

When I arrive at work in the morning, I will often have a quick peak at the day’s appointments. This week, I noticed one appointment with a note saying the dog was itchy. No problem. I’ve seen quite a few itchy dogs lately (food allergies, canine atopy, ear infections) so I wasn’t surprised. Well, that was going to change!!!!

I entered the room and found a dog that couldn’t stop scratching and twitching its skin. His owner mentioned that he had been quite itchy for a week and had taken him to the groomers two days ago. She had not seen any improvement after the bathing.

For kicks, I grabbed my flea comb and used it down his back before starting my physical exam. I pretty much became instantly itchy myself. Off came oodles of lice. Then I excused myself from the room and ran for the topical medication to kill them off. The sooner we got rid of them, the sooner he would be comfortable.

Now why am I still feeling itchy?