Friday, January 28, 2011

Mr. Bynx

I have known Mr. Bynx for a number of years. Recently his Mom gave me permission to share his story so that others could see how well our animals can handle certain ordeals.

Last April, we received a phone call informing us that his left eye wasn’t looking quite right. During the physical exam, his left eye was enlarged and painful. He was sent into the CARE Centre for an examination with one of their eye specialists. It turned out that he had glaucoma (an inherited disorder causing increased pressure in the eye). There was significant damage to the optic nerve causing blindness in that eye.

Another issue was found as well. Both eyes had retinal degeneration (aka progressive retinal atrophy) and it was slowly causing blindness. Unfortunately there is no treatment for this disorder but it is non-painful.

At this point, the best option for Bynx was to have his left eye enucleated (removed) so he would not have to endure the pain associated with glaucoma. There are medications to control pain in the short term but it is difficult to control medically in the long term. His Mom called to ask my opinion on the surgery. I fully supported it and told her that once the hair has grown in, he would still look adorable.

She later told me that part of the problem with making the decision to have the surgery done was that she couldn’t picture how he could possible look normal. Well, as you can see from the picture, this is one cute, happy boy. He still has sight in his right eye and walks with his Mom all the time.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sir Lancelot

For such a young boy, he could already have a movie made out of his life. We were first introduced March 2010. A good Samaritan brought him in to us during a cold snap. As Okotoks has no by-laws on cats, my staff took him in. I was walking from one appointment to another when the formal introduction of “here is Sir Lancelot, isn’t he adorable?” was made.

He soon worked his way into our hearts. A blood test was run to make sure he didn’t have feline leukemia or feline immunodeficiency virus. Then we set about to make him a good adoption candidate – neutering, tattoo, vaccinating and socializing. The socialization part was fun. We had a metal kennel so he could interact with people up front; however, he quickly learned to climb up and through to go for his own visits.

He was adopted out shortly thereafter. We were so happy until December, when another good Samaritan brought in a grey tabby. We were surprised but happy to see Lance. He had been hanging out at the gentleman’s house for a week and when it turned cold, brought him into us.

The phone call to his family was odd. The family member who answered didn’t seem excited that he had been found. My staff were told he would be picked up the next day. I was also personally contacted by one of the family members saying their child was not paying enough attention to Lance and they had friends who really wanted him.

You can imagine my surprise when I received a phone call from the Calgary Humane Society the next day. The owners had left our hospital and had driven straight to them. The excuse was “our child is allergic to the cat”. I asked the CHS to keep him on the floor but to let me know when his time was up. Two weeks later I was given the call that he would be euthanized the next day unless I picked him up. I told them to hold him til Sunday (two days later) as I wanted him.

Sunday morning, I headed in to get Lance. I didn’t realize how emotional I was until he was brought out onced the paperwork was finished. The bail fee was $145. I couldn’t hold back the tears. He started howling when he saw me. It only stopped when we were in the car and I put my hand in the kennel. He either rested his head on my hand or rubbed his head on my palm.

You can imagine that I’m a little protective of him. He deserves to be in a home where he will get a lot of love and attention. As much as I would love for him to live in the cat condo with Thurber and Egan, they don’t agree. Yes, he does need a new home; however, the process to adopt him will be daunting. I have promised Lance that I will find him his forever home.

Interesting blog within a blog

When our pets aren’t feeling well, we all tend to feel a bit helpless. If only they could tell us what is wrong. Recently, my sister sent me a blog about a medical doctor who almost killed her dog with human medication. It is always a good idea to call your veterinarian when it comes to medicating your pet.

Here's your interesting read Please cut and paste as I can't get the uplink to work.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

And you thought your pet had a lot of dandruff!!!

This time of year it is very common for me to get questions regarding the amount of dandruff owners are finding on their animals. Alberta has such a dry climate and when it gets this wonderfully cold (heavy sarcasm!!!) their skin gets dry just like ours. Sometimes it is worth trying a fatty acid supplement (one with eicosapentoic acid gives the best results) or sometimes changing the diet. Please consult with your regular veterinarian to make sure it is appropriate for your pet.

Now, I would like to help you keep your dander frustration in perspective. I have a few clients who own Golden Retrievers who suffer from a condition called Ichthyosis. This is a congenital (inherited) skin disorder where the dandruff comes off as large flaking scales. The picture I have included is from one of my patients, who I’ve been asked to call “Cutie”. Cutie’s owners comb her out on a twice daily basis.

Ichthyosis can be fairly intense to deal with, in that we need to try foods that support the skin and a variety of supplements. There is also a new line of products to help owners control the amount of flaking – shampoo, spray and/or topical drops. Now, I am saying control, there is no cure for this disease.

At the moment, we know we have fairly good control of Cutie’s ichthyosis as her flakes are only 1cm in diameter. The combined dander from all four of my dogs is nothing in comparison!!!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Eager Young Minds

When I got into veterinary medicine, I knew my job description would be highly varied. Yesterday was an absolute blast. . Each year one of the vet schools across Canada host the SCVMA Symposium and this year it was held at the University of Calgary Veterinary Medicine. I was asked to go to USVM for the day to do two sessions on humane handling of cats for the students.

I started by going over some basics of cat development and then we got into the fun part of cat body language. Cats are much more subtle in their signalling so it is our job to learn from them. I have some very neat cases (I could be prejudice!) we could go over. Pictures are definitely worth a thousand words when it comes to figuring them out.

Then we started to practice. What the students didn’t know was that we were going to practice with balls and stuffed animals before they were allowed near the cats. The reason for using the balls was to practice holding animals appropriately when they try to get out of your hands. Wish I had a video of the first student who volunteered. I had her hold the ball while I spoke to describe what I was going to do. As I was part way through, I hit the ball from underneath so the “cat” went running across the room. She didn’t make that mistake again!

Once that exercise was done, they practiced wrapping the stuffed animals in towels. There are a variety of holds for them to practice and I wanted the students feeling comfortable with the technique before using the cats.

I wasn’t too sure what to expect with the cats. I remember the ones we had in vet school and they weren’t the happiest of animals. The UCVM cats were great. They were so happy to have undivided attention, toys and treats. Once the students had perfected a hold, the cats were given treats and/or a small play session then onto the next hold. By the end, we had some of the happiest cats I have ever seen being restrained. I was so proud of the students. They did such a great job and were like little sponges. (Plus, I got a really cute scarf as a thank you.)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

No Bones Please!

On a fairly regular basis, I have owners tell me that one of their dog’s favorite chew toys is a bone. Unfortunately I have seen all types of bones cause problems. At this point in my career, I don’t care if it’s the biggest knuckle bone that’s been boiled. It can still cause issues.

The most common issue is gastrointestinal (GI). Bones can get caught in the esophagus, trachea, stomach and/or intestines. If the bone(s) poke through the stomach or intestines it can cause peritonitis. Peritonitis is a very difficult to treat bacterial infection of the abdomen. Bones will often scrape the lining of the intestines causing bleeding. Vomiting and diarrhea are also seen and may indicate surgery is needed.

Early in my career, I literally saved a patient by doing a rectal exam. A couple brought in a very lethargic 85lb dog. On physical exam, his abdomen was painful but all he could really do was groan. His history included getting a new bone every weekend. They swore he was never able to get any pieces off the bone. Well, the rectal found a piece of bone wedged sideways in the pelvis. I was able to gently turn and remove it. A follow up call found him back to his usual self.

The most recent bone case involved a goofy Labrador retriever (as an owner as well, what else can you say about them?). She had been seen a couple days before at the emergency clinic for vomiting and diarrhea caused from eating a bone. Antibiotics and stomach protectants were dispensed. When I saw her, she hadn’t improved very much so we took the radiograph. At least bones show up easily! The shards of bone were in the large intestine so we knew it was just a short matter of time before they would pass and she could continue to heal. She was one of the lucky ones.