Thursday, June 23, 2011


Recently I had to cancel some regular appointments as my patient, Zoey, was brought in on emergency. Another dog had come onto the owner’s property and attacked Zoey right in front of her and the children.

This picture is of her hind leg just above the hock joint. The blue section is the piece of skin that needed to be removed as it was too badly damaged. The black line outlines the lateral saphenous vein. Zoey was very close to having a major problem. That is a rather important vein in the leg.

Zoey recovered well and has since had her sutures removed. My take home message is to make sure you have control of your pets at all times. It is not appropriate for your dogs to roam around the neighbourhood.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Young Man's Good Deed

On my way home from yoga on Monday, I got a call from my neighbours. My buddy, Branko, had found a bird with an injured wing. Branko was waiting for me outside and had the bird in a sturdy bag. I took it to the hospital to do my workup.

It turned out to be a starling with a hurt right wing. I was relieved not to feel any fractures. When I moved the feathers at the shoulder I was able to see some soft tissue bruising. Given the spunk this bird had, I was pretty sure he was going to be just fine.

I set up one of the dog kennels with water, food and a perch. Spotz (couldn’t resist naming it) marched around, I think to make sure I’d done it right and settled down for the night. When I got in the next morning, it looked like he’d thrown a party or tried to make a break for it. He was clearly feeling much better. I didn’t bother calling the Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, Spotz and I walked outside and off he went. A great start to the day.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Ear polyps

One of my feline patients has been having bad ear infections recently. It is pretty uncommon for a cat to have chronic ear infections so I advised her owners to have her anesthetized for a proper otoscopic examination (this cat had a very sore ear so there was no way to do it awake without significant pain).

Today we did the scheduled general anesthetic and I was in for a surprise. She actually had a polyp stuck in her tympanic membrane! These masses have three general causes: inflammatory polyps, nasopharyngeal polyps or cancer. Regardless, the obstruction causes secondary infections since normal wax migration is stopped.

The picture is one I found on the web as I wasn’t able to get one myself. Just like the one I dealt with today, it was attached to the tympanic membrane. There was a significant amount of purulent material around the mass.

It required a significant amount of suction, patience, swearing and manipulation to get it out. Flushing was done using saline as it is safe to cross a ruptured tympanic membrane and panalog ointment was placed as the topical antibiotic.

When a tympanic membrane is ruptured, some of the side effects can be a head tilt, pain and walking in circles. I had to wait until she was fully awake to find out if I had done the rupturing or if the membrane was already gone. It felt like a very long time before she raised her head, looked me straight in the eye and started to purr. One of the best sounds I’ve heard in a long time. It was amazing to see her so much more comfortable after the procedure.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Goodbye my friend

Jasper was a cat I rescued in February of 2009. The person who brought him in was upset because he had been eating her cats’ food for the past few months. He had also been having diarrhea all over the garage and he was covered in it. He was emaciated, had terrible dental disease but when I rubbed him on the forehead (one of the few places without feces) he started his thunderous purr. I was smitten. I asked to let him stay with me and was happy when I got to bundle him up in a towel and take him out back for a well needed bath. He purred during the entire half hour bath.

Over the next year and a half, we battled his chronic diarrhea with a variety of medications, foods and supplements. When we could no longer control his weight loss we had an ultrasound done by Dr Clarkson, an internal medicine specialist, at the Fish Creek Pet Hospital. She determined that he had a form pancreatitis, most likely exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. By following all of her recommendations (medications and supplements), he started to gain weight and continued to have a great quality of life.

I may be slightly biased but he was a wonderful cat. Whenever someone needed a hug and a purr he was always ready to step up to help. If we needed to train a client on how to give insulin injections, he made them feel at ease by purring as they learned. It got to a point where if you picked up an insulin syringe and took him to the cat exam room, his purr became deafening.

Jasper was also a very smart geriatric boy. He could sniff out people food in an instant and was known to try to crawl up your legs (pants or not) to get to it. Our food could not be left unguarded if he was on one of his walkabouts. Jasper also figured out how to get into the boarding cats’ food as well by sticking his little leg through the door and pulling the dish towards him. He always had such a proud look whenever he was successful.

Yesterday, we came in to a very sick boy. He had vomited up blood, had pale mucus membranes, was lethargic and not interested in food. All signs to make my heart sink. I performed a simple test called a pcv (packed cell volume) to see what his level of red blood cells were. I could barely look my staff in the eye when I read the result. He was at 16 while his normal was 35. Once you go down to 12, you need a blood transfusion. Due to his age, I knew that a blood transfusion would only be for us humans, not in his best interests. We made him as comfortable as we could and contacted the rest of his Foothills Animal Hospital family.

Letting him go was one of the hardest thing I have ever done but I was so honoured to have known him. Jasper was the definition of unconditional love.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Shark mouth

Recently I had a dog in for a spay. During her pre-surgical exam, we discovered that she had retained baby teeth. Luckily my AHT, Kelly, was able to contact her owner to get permission to remove the teeth.

In this particular situation, the main issue is the canine teeth erupting to the inside of the baby teeth on the bottom jaw. In a normal mouth, the adult teeth come up under the baby teeth and they fall out. This dog apparently hadn’t read the book on what was supposed to happen. Hopefully the adult teeth will start to move sideways so they do not hit the hard palate when she eats. In some cases, the dogs need to be referred to a veterinary dental specialist for shortening of the tooth and root canals. Not an inexpensive option!

We should know over the summer whether the bottom canine teeth will be an issue for her or not.