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Many people are somewhat familiar with Alzheimer's disease, but few know that dogs and cats can also suffer from a similar condition known as cognitive dysfunction.
What is Cognitive Dysfunction?
In short, cognitive dysfunction is a condition that is sometimes seen in older pets. Affected pets may become disoriented easily, even when in familiar surroundings. Their sleep cycle may be abnormal, often sleeping more during the course of the day but less as night. They may lose interest in interacting with the people around them. A previously house-trained dog or litter box-trained cat may even suddenly start having “accidents” in the home.
NOTE: Many of these symptoms can be caused by other medical diseases as well. If your pet’s behavior has changed, it’s important to talk to your veterinarian, who can help establish a firm diagnosis.
What Causes Cognitive Dysfunction?
It is believed that the cause may be multifactorial. Oxidative damage to cells within the brain is probably a major cause. We know that in many dogs affected with cognitive dysfunction, there is a specific protein (B-amyloid) that forms plaques inside the brain. These plaques likely contribute to the cell death and shrinkage of the brain that is characteristic of animals with cognitive dysfunction. In addition, many of the substances that transmit messages within the brain appear to be altered, which could also lead to abnormal behaviors.
How Does Cognitive Dysfunction in Dogs and Cats Compare with Alzheimer’s Disease in People?
The two diseases are actually quite similar. The changes in behavior seen with both diseases are comparable. The changes seen in the brain appear to be quite similar as well, at least in some people with Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, dogs are increasingly being used as models to study the disease in humans.
What Can You do for an Animal with Cognitive Dysfunction?
There are a number of things that can be done to help. Two specific approaches that have been found to be useful include behavioral enrichment and a diet rich in antioxidants. These two approaches, when combined, are more effective than one or the other by itself.
An antioxidant-fortified pet food may contain enriched levels of vitamins such as vitamin C and vitamin E, and fatty acids such as DHA, EPA, L-carnitine, and lipoic acid. It may also contain antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, pumpkin, and/or spinach.
Behavioral enrichment can be as simple as spending more time petting and interacting with your pet. Playing with and/or walking your pet regularly is useful. Puzzles and games can also be a good form of enrichment, such as placing your pet’s food in a puzzle or hiding the food and letting your pet find it.
In my professional experience, one of the most difficult things in dealing with cognitive dysfunction is helping pet owners realize that the changes in behavior are more than just normal aging changes. Cognitive dysfunction is a medical condition and should be treated as such. The early signs are subtle and pet owners may even find them difficult to spot, or they may attribute them to other causes. Many pet owners won’t even mention the changes in their pet unless specifically asked. These owners often assume, incorrectly, that nothing can be done to help, that their pet is simply becoming old.
The best piece of advice I can give any pet owner is to consult your veterinarian if you see any change in your pet’s behavior at home, no matter how minor the alteration may seem. When there is a problem, whether it be cognitive dysfunction or another condition, early intervention is always preferable and usually provides a more successful outcome.

Dr. Lorie Huston
Source: Learning ability in aged beagle dogs is preserved by behavioral enrichment and dietary fortification: a two-year longitudinal study; N.W. Milgram et; Neurobiology of Aging;  26 (2005) 77–90
Image: Budimir Jevtic / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad Alzheimer's 09/19/2014 05:31pm It's my understanding that some are misdiagnosed with Alzheimer's when it's really hardening of the arteries (which can be treated).

Is that also true for pets? Reply to this comment Report abuse 3 ss232 human disease comparisons 09/21/2014 03:02pm I find it amazing that disease's between humans and animals are even comparable. My grandmother had Alzheimer's disease. She rarely remembered any family members and was always in a not so great mood. My mother would try her best to have things ready before she asked for them, like breakfast, her chair, and her outfit. Now, reading this, it seems like routine was a good way for her to remember the past and to remember what it was like before the disease took over most of her memories. I suppose this happened because of age. Here, it explains that cognitive dysfunction is more than an aging change. Does this mean that Alzheimer's disease is also more than an aging problem? Now that dogs are being used as models to study disease's used in humans I believe there will be more answers to many questions. I have a 9 year old French toy poodle. She has gone blind due to a cyst in her eye. It first started in one eye and eventually took over both, eventually losing her eyesight. She knows the house well and uses the walls as her guides. She also uses our voices as her guide, we clap, whistle, and stomp our feet in order for her to know where in the house we are located. She sometimes takes quite a bit of time to find us or goes to different rooms of the house before she can find the one we are in. Even though I am informed that Cognitive Dysfunction is not an aging problem, she is 9 years old and if aging was a factor I would be worried right about now. I would like to know what some of early signs of Cognitive Dysfunction are. I love my dog and would like to be able to prevent this disease if at all possible. Reply to this comment Report abuse ]]> TheDailyVet Fri, 19 Sep 2014 11:00:00 +0000 32003 at
Farm Smells: The Good, the Bad, and the Stinky Sep 18, 2014 Farm Smells: The Good, the Bad, and the Stinky by Dr. Anna O'Brien     Share    
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Close your eyes for a minute. Imagine yourself in a barn. What do you smell? Hay? Corn? Molasses? Manure? What about in a vet clinic? The tangy smell of iodine, perhaps?
My job as a large animal vet takes me to lots of different locations, where any number of smells await. Sometimes that’s nice and sometimes that’s not so nice. Sometimes it’s diagnostic. Let’s break it down.
Nice Farm Smells
Hay, particularly alfalfa hay, has such a sweet smell it’s like perfume — seriously. Good hay smells so good that you can tell without too much trouble when hay is bad. Hay can mold if it stays damp for long periods. And you don’t want to feed moldy hay to animals. While most fungus on hay is harmless, a few are trouble-makers. Some molds produce toxins called mycotoxins, which can cause problems such as intestinal upset and abortions in pregnant livestock like horses and cows. Other molds can instigate respiratory issues. Because you can’t tell the good from the bad mold just by visual appearance, the best rule of thumb is to throw out any moldy hay you find.
Bad Farm Smells
Aside from the obvious (e.g., infected wounds, diarrhea, etc.), there are two smells that I encounter on a fairly regular basis that I find particularly malodorous. One is the male intact goat. When male goats become sexually mature, their scent glands go into overtime and produce a smell that I understand is supposed to be attractive to female goats, but for humans — pew!
The second noteworthy stink is the smell that accompanies alpaca or llama spit. Irate camelids can and do throw a mean spit ball — be it at a pasture mate that is out of line or a veterinarian simply trying to do her job and give a vaccination or dewormer. There’s just something about those globs of half-digested grass and gastric juice that stays with you for the rest of the day.
Diagnostic Farm Smells
Ketosis is a metabolic condition commonly seen in dairy cows when their diets aren’t providing them with enough energy to make milk. As a result, they become glucose deprived and their bodies make ketones for energy instead. This is something that can happen to human diabetic patients, as well. Excess ketones in the blood sometimes produce a sweet smell to the cow’s breath. Although I must confess I’ve never noted sweet breath on a ketotic cow I’ve been treating, it’s an interesting additive to the diagnostic picture.
One other smell that I give honorary mention to doesn’t really fall into any of the above categories. DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) is the king of solvents and is used sometimes as a therapeutic in horses in leg wraps to decrease swelling, or in an IV drip to help with neurological disease. This stuff has a unique smell that some describe as “garlicky” but you wouldn’t think Italian restaurant if you smelled it in a barn.
Whenever I use it in practice, its smell takes me back to vet school, where I remember learning about it for the first time and being able to tell a patient was receiving it at the large animal clinic because the entire ward would reek. Smell as a trigger for memory? Maybe that’s the most distinct category of all.

Dr. Anna O'Brien
Image: Evgenia Pashkova / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad Odiferous 09/18/2014 05:48pm Who knew there was a smell worse that a male cat's spray? And who knew that female goats have no taste.

Re: ketones
It's my understanding that only about 10% of the population can smell ketones in a ketoacidotic animal. Is that true?

Great article. I learned a lot. Reply to this comment Report abuse 2 ]]> TheDailyVet Thu, 18 Sep 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31987 at
Feline Hyperthyroid Diets Are Safe for Healthy Cats, Too Sep 17, 2014 Feline Hyperthyroid Diets Are Safe for Healthy Cats, Too by Dr. Ken Tudor     Share    
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Hyperthyroidism is the most common hormonal abnormality in cats. Traditional treatments included radioactive iodine treatment to inactivate the tumor cells that cause excess secretion of thyroid hormone, or medication to suppress hormone secretion. Several years ago, it was found that an iodine deficient diet was just as effective as the traditional treatments for treating hyperthyroidism in cats.
The solution was revolutionary and substantially reduced the costs of treating this condition. Questions arose about this approach in multiple cat households, where it is impossible to successfully segregate food selections and where healthy cats would have access to the iodine restricted diets. Would healthy cats suffer if subjected to an iodine restricted diet? Recent research findings suggest that healthy cats are not affected by iodine deficient diets.
Hyperthyroidism and Iodine Deficient Diets for Cats
The thyroid hormone regulates body metabolism. Older cats with microscopic tumors of the thyroid gland secrete excess thyroid hormone, which increases metabolism. This excess secretion results in an increased appetite with weight loss. They often beg for more food and arouse owners late at night with howls of hunger. These cats also drink lots of water and have increased urination. The increased metabolic rate also causes an increased heart rate and an eventual heart murmur due to heart malfunction. The increased metabolic rate also affects kidney function and these cats are often in secondary kidney failure when the condition is diagnosed.
Thyroid hormone is absolutely dependent on iodine for proper function. Recent research found that depriving hyperthyroid cats adequate iodine in the diet decreased the thyroid hormone production. Like traditional treatments, this reduced the harmful effects of excessive thyroid hormone production. For the hypothyroid cat, this treatment approach was more affordable and as reliable for afflicted cat owners as the traditional treatment methods. But veterinary scientists were concerned about the effects of such diets on normal cats in multi-cat households. In these situations it is sometimes impossible to restrict access of normal cats to iodine deficient food.
New Research Findings on Iodine Restricted Diets for Cats*
At the recent Academy of Veterinary Internal Medicine Symposium I had an opportunity to meet with scientists who had developed the iodine deficient diet and their recent research into the effects of this diet on normal cats. Their findings were extremely encouraging.
Admittedly, their research population was limited, with 15 cats receiving a diet with adequate iodine and 15 receiving iodine amounts found in the hyperthyroid iodine deficient diet. But they did extend the research period to 18 months. This is far longer than most nutritional studies. Their findings concluded that no health problems were noted for healthy cats on an iodine restricted diet.    
The researchers admit that longer studies are necessary to conclusively prove that iodine deficient diets are safe for normal cats. However, this research suggests that owners of a hyperthyroid cat in a multi-cat household do not have to make Herculean efforts to ensure dietary segregation and can even feed the same food for all members of the household. Of course, caution should be taken for kittens exposed to iodine deficient diets. Their sensitivity could certainly result in problems and access to iodine deficient diets should be restricted until research in this group has been conducted.

Dr. Ken Tudor
*This study is not yet published.
Image: Gemenacom / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad Camp Iodine 09/17/2014 06:31pm I'm a huge fan of Camp Iodine and several of my cats have attended with splendid results. I really wish people could see that, even though it seems expensive, it ends up being cheaper than all the follow-up bloodwork that *should* be done for a cat started on Tapazole.

Nothing was said in the article about ongoing bloodwork to keep an eye on things. Plus one study of 30 cats isn't a huge sampling in my opinion. I'll be anxious to see if other studies are performed and the outcome. Reply to this comment Report abuse 1 lacto11 Wave the Red Flags 09/21/2014 03:05am
I was directed to this questionable article by a fellow feline thyroid support group member. This begs for an opposing view, an objective view. Over many years in forums spanning hundreds and hundreds of hyperthyroid cats, veterinary ignorance regarding the proper management and treatment of feline hyperthyroidism remains stunning.

"Dr. Ken Tudor is a recognized expert and leader in the field of pet nutrition and fitness." That's the first line on Dr. Tudors website. Curious with his expertise no mention of the poor nutritional quality of the corn meal based Hills y/d food. How about emphasizing concern for healthy non hyperthyroid cats when the y/d diet clearly contains far less iodine than is recommended for optimal feline health. According to Hills their y/d diet contains 0.2 mg/kg DMA iodine while their own sponsored research in 2009 recommends a minimum level of 0.46 mg/kg DMA for long term feline health. That is still less than the 2006 recommendations by the National Research Council. Also no mention that iodine deficiency is considered one theoretical cause for feline hyperthyroidism.

Barring a caveat for kittens only at the end of this article, this reads like a sales pitch to gin up sales for Hills y/d. The very title of it is telling. Research paid for and supported by the company that seeks to gain profit for a particular outcome is not even questioned. Quite the contrary.

For anyone who currently has a hyperthyroid cat or those that will in the future, pro Hills y/d articles like this are concerning. I strongly suggest anyone considering this diet as a treatment modality for feline hyperthyroidism first consult the true renowned expert on the subject. The person who discovered feline hyperthyroidism in 1979. That would be veterinary endocrinologist Dr. Mark Peterson. He has written several blogs expressing his concerns about the efficacy and long term safety of the Hills y/d diet. Read his blogs, compare and contrast his information to this and similar articles. After that if you still choose this form of treatment for feline hyperthyroidism for your beloved cat, at least you've made an informed decision. Reply to this comment Report abuse 1 ]]> TheDailyVet Wed, 17 Sep 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31986 at
Allowing for Dignified Death is as Important as Prolonging a Pet's Life Sep 16, 2014 Allowing for Dignified Death is as Important as Prolonging a Pet's Life by Dr. Joanne Intile     Share    
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When faced with a diagnosis of cancer, invariably the most consistent concern owners have is being assured of maintaining their pets' quality of life. Though they may have trouble with articulation and stumble over word choice, I know they wish to select a treatment plan that refrains from inflicting pain or adverse side effects while simultaneously providing a lifespan longer than would be expected without any additional intervention.
I fiercely agree that quality of life for animals undergoing anti-cancer treatment is important, but I’ve also come to appreciate the attention that must also be focused on the opposing side of the spectrum: We must give credit and recognize the importance of the quality of their death.
What defines dying with quality? What exactly are we are hoping to provide or maintain during this time? How can veterinarians and owners ensure pets are able to die with dignity and respect, worthy of the unwavering companionship they provide during their lives?
To me, a quality death means an animal dies without pain, distress, or discomfort. They die while they are still self-sufficient and ambulatory. And they die without fear and without suffering. If death is a likely consequence of their disease, every effort must be taken to maintain an animal’s dignity and preserve their pride.
To fully understand quality of death, I think we need to clarify the definition of what we mean by palliative and hospice care as these terms relate to animals. Many people use the terms interchangeably when, in truth, the meanings of these terms are quite different.
Palliative care refers to care designed to maintain an animal in a state of self-sufficiency, where we infer (based on both quantitative and qualitative factors) animals are enjoying the things we would define as indicators of a good quality of life. Palliative treatment, by definition, is not designed to prolong life. However, as cures are rare in veterinary oncology, when we successfully palliate adverse signs associated with cancer, we afford pets the ability to live out their remaining time with their disease as more of a “chronic condition,” which often translates into potentially longer survival. Palliative care is active, ongoing, and a huge focus of my career as a veterinary oncologist.
Hospice care occurs when death is pending.  There are no further heroic gestures, treatment is ceased, and the focus is on relieving the pain and suffering related to disease. Hospice care allows for the patients and their families to be supported through the process of dying. Hospice care is also active and ongoing, but instead of maintaining quality of life, we are now compelled to provide a quality of death.
In veterinary medicine, and specifically within the specialty of veterinary oncology, there is a remarkably narrow and blurry gap between what constitutes palliative care and hospice care, further confounding our ability to understand the concept of quality of death.
As an example, consider a dog diagnosed with an inoperable oral melanoma tumor. Without treatment, its expected lifespan would be anywhere from a few weeks to maybe a month or so before it would become so debilitated from the disease that we would recommend humane euthanasia. Without euthanasia, the dog would quite literally waste away and, eventually, likely die from dehydration and malnutrition.
Most dogs presenting in such a condition will already be experiencing difficulty ingesting food or water so they may not satisfy my criteria of being self-sufficient. They are likely to be in pain from either the physical presence of the mass, or invasion of the tumor into surrounding bone or muscle. Again, failing one of my main standards for having a quality of life.
In some cases, the lifespan of a dog with inoperable oral melanoma can be extended with additional treatments such as radiation therapy and/or immunotherapy. These actions would not be expected to result in a cure, but would rather be expected to provide temporary palliation of signs, with death being a near inevitable consequence at some point in the future.
Let’s say the chance of success of the treatment is 30 percent, and the chance of some impacting side effect is 25 percent, and the chance of eventual death is near 100 percent. Considering an owner’s (and their oncologist’s) priority is to make sure their pets do not undergo adverse consequences from the options we have for attacking the cancer, how do we decide whether to focus on palliation or hospice care? Do such figures allow us to be comfortable with providing further options, or should we focus truly on the quality of death that is imparted by excellent hospice care?
For some owners, simply hearing me say “There is nothing more I can do” will be enough for them to draw the line and end their pet’s life. Others will need to know they’ve exhausted every option before “giving up” on their beloved companion, trying second, third, and even fourth line protocols, with the hope that something could be successful.
People never hesitate to tell me they think my job has to be hard, or that it must be sad, but likely they underestimate that the absolute hardest and hands-down saddest part of my profession is discussing with owners when I feel that we are at the crossroads between palliation and hospice care for a particular patient. The second most stressful part is feeling confident that I am the one best equipped to make that decision for the pet.
Our concern for the quality of life for animals with cancer prevails, sometimes surprisingly, even to the detriment of achieving our goal of helping them live a longer life. I argue that an equally important effort needs to be made to maintain pets' quality of death. And attention should be paid to both ends to make sure we’re maintaining our responsibility to the legacy they leave us during this most difficult of times.
Fpr more information on the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) stance on hospice care, please read Guidelines for Veterinary Hospice Care.

Dr. Joanne Intile
Image: Jaromir Chalabala / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad Care for Dying Patient 09/16/2014 06:48pm Been there. Done that.

Luckily, my vet can deliver really bad news in a kind manner. Unfortunately, he's had to do it several times for my kitties, but after the bad news, the first thing we do is discuss options and possible treatment.

When my Louise was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma, he told me that all I could do is provide hospice care as well as what to watch. Within 10 days Louise was becoming constipated and was getting uncomfortable, so the difficult decision was made.

While cancer is rarely "cured," the vet worked with me and my Winston did quite well for a long, long time with lymphocytic lymphoma. We had to modify his medications a couple of times, but he was a happy guy 99.9% of the time. When he came out of remission the chemo was stopped. He still did well for about 6 months and never seemed to be in pain. When he went downhill, he went downhill very quickly and the difficult decision was made. Reply to this comment Report abuse 3 BobCl Knowing When 09/19/2014 11:01am I appreciate when our vet speaks clearly on this, or any issue with my companions. There were times I fear a pet was euthanized too soon, and, more often, times when an old friend was held too tightly for too long. Interestingly, as I age, I direct our pets care more aggressively (sometimes contrary to vet advice), work harder at palliative care, and more easily accept their passing. I still bawl my eyes out for days, but that's an improvement over years.

Unless the vet intervenes with clarity and objectivity, I will try the pet to satisfy my conscience and sentiment, instead of in their best interest. Reply to this comment Report abuse Gracem754 Dignified death 09/19/2014 08:54pm I just went through the horrible euthanasia of my BFF/heart. She was a mini poodle, only 9 yrs old who developed bladder cancer. We tried chemo but it was too late. I knew it was time & I promised her I would not let her suffer. When I took her into the vet's, the tech told me the relaxant drug might sting a bit. My baby SCREAMED. I was not prepared for this. I should have been better prepared for that or they should have taken her somewhere I couldn't hear, then brought her back to me. This was traumatic for both of us & I have to live with it. Please Vets, techs, keep this in mind when taking our loved ones. Thank you. Reply to this comment Report abuse ]]> TheDailyVet Tue, 16 Sep 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31985 at
New Heart Disease Drug for Dogs Works for Cats, Too Sep 15, 2014 New Heart Disease Drug for Dogs Works for Cats, Too by Dr. Jennifer Coates     Share    
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Pimobendan is a relatively new drug here in the United States, but it is rapidly becoming a standard part of treating congestive heart failure (CHF) resulting from some types of heart disease in dogs. Little research has been done into its potential usefulness in cats, however, so I was glad to see an article addressing just this question in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA).
Part of the reason for the relative lack of interest in studying pimobendan in cats has to do with the type of heart disease that cats are diagnosed with most frequently — hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). HCM involves a thickening of the muscles in part of the heart (the left ventricle), which prevents this chamber from filling with a normal amount of blood. Therefore when the left ventricle contracts, an inadequate volume of blood is pushed out into the body and blood can “back up” in the lungs.
Pimobendan is a positive inotrope. This type of drug causes heart muscle to contract more strongly, which has traditionally not been thought of as what a cat with HCM needs. But pimobendan has other effects as well, including an ability to widen the channels (arteries and veins) through which blood flows and decrease the formation of blood clots. The authors of the JAVMA paper hypothesized that the benefits of adding pimobendan to standard HCM treatment would outweigh the risks and lead to an improvement in survival times.
The researchers tested this hypothesis by looking at the medical records of 54 cats with congestive heart failure caused by HCM or a related condition called hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (HOCM). Twenty-seven of the cats received pimobendan as a part of their treatment (case cats) and 27 did not (control cats). The control cats were chosen in such a way as to match the case cats “on the basis of age, sex, body weight, type of cardiomyopathy, and manifestation of CHF.” The study revealed:
Addition of pimobendan to standard treatment regimens for cats with CHF secondary to HCM or HOCM appeared to confer a clear benefit in survival time … Furthermore, pimobendan was tolerated well by cats with CHF secondary to HCM and HOCM, and no additional adverse effects were noted in case versus control cats enrolled in the study.

The effect of pimobendan was quite remarkable. The median survival time of the cats who received the drug was 626 days and only 103 days for those who did not — a greater than 6-fold difference.
This is a small study that does not answer all questions regarding the safety and efficacy of using pimobendan in cats, but it certainly offers new hope to veterinarians and owners who are treating cats with congestive heart failure secondary to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Dr. Jennifer Coates
Case-control study of the effects of pimobendan on survival time in cats with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure. Reina-Doreste Y, Stern JA, Keene BW, Tou SP, Atkins CE, DeFrancesco TC, Ames MK, Hodge TE, Meurs KM. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2014 Sep 1;245(5):534-9. 
Image: Stokkete / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad Congestive Heart Failure 09/15/2014 05:56pm I've had a couple of kitties that ended up with congestive heart failure.

I currently have a kitty with HOCM and will definitely ask the doctor if he's familiar with this drug for HCM kitties. Reply to this comment Report abuse 2 ]]> TheDailyVet Mon, 15 Sep 2014 11:00:00 +0000 32007 at
Training the Next Generation of Search and Rescue Dogs Sep 12, 2014 Training the Next Generation of Search and Rescue Dogs by Dr. Patrick Mahaney     Share    
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Thirteen years have passed since the tragic events of 9/11. The aftermath of the World Trade Center’s destruction drastically changed my day-to-day life in Washington, D.C., where I was living in 2001 and working at a veterinary hospital in close proximity to the Pentagon.
I’ll never forget seeing the armed police guards constantly posted at my Metro stop, getting swabbed for Anthrax (Bacillus anthracis bacteria) after setting foot in my local post office, enduring countless Code Red (i.e., severe) Homeland Security Advisor System warnings to tape my windows shut, and witnessing the massive hole bored deep into the seemingly impenetrable walls of the Pentagon during my drive to work.
Although I didn’t directly suffer any personal loss in the 9/11 crisis, my life was changed forever. Los Angeles is my home now, but I still have family, friends, and professional connections on the East Coast. Being a 1999 graduate of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, I always keep close tabs on the exciting events, research, and other vet-centric endeavors being conducted by my alma mater.
2012’s opening of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center (PVWDC) enthused me to to learn how the next generations of service dogs will be raised, studied, and trained to serve the betterment of society (see: Commemorating the 11th Anniversary of 9/11: Penn Vet Working Dog Center Holds its Grand Opening).
Dr. Cindy Otto, DVM, PhD, Dipl ACVECC, was part of the response team on site that scavenged the Wold Trade Center rubble for survivors and conceived the PVWDC concept. Dr. Otto started evaluating the behavior and health of Urban Search and Rescue canines shortly after 9/11, which motivated her to create the PVWDC as a “space specifically designed for the study of search-and-rescue dogs, and the training of future working dogs” which:

serves as a consortium to unite programs that employ detection dogs to benefit society throughout the U.S. and around the world.

collects and analyzes genetic, behavioral, and physical data, and integrates the latest scientific information in order to optimize the success and well-being of detection dogs.

prepares for future demands and facilitates research by developing a detection dog breeding/training program that will implement, test, and disseminate the knowledge gained.

PVWDC puppies have a normal home life with foster families and spend their days training on-site at the PVWDC. This formula greatly benefits working dog development; as Dr. Otto says, “it gives the puppies the best of both worlds. They get to live with families and learn how to adapt to that kind of lifestyle, which will be the way they will live when they’re working and living with their handlers.”
During Thanksgiving 2013 I finally was able to join Dr. Otto in Philadelphia for an intriguing tour of the PVWDC. The highlight of my visit was the opportunity to witness the rigorous and methodical process the dogs go through as part of their training.
I watched three agile and dedicated Labrador Retrievers maximizing their sensory acuity in discovering PVWDC staff hidden in closets, rooms, and ceilings in a vacant University of Pennsylvania building replicating the environment of a real search and rescue operation. The action was heart pounding and I felt like I was part of a military operation.
One of the most astounding aspects was these dogs’ ability to ignore stimuli besides their target, as the PVWC staff and I were repeatedly disregarded during the training runs.
As you'll see in the following YouTube video, Penn Vet Working Dog Center Canine Search and Rescue Training, these dogs are remarkably skilled at their jobs. The novice-level dogs may take longer or make more mistakes than their more experienced counterparts, but doing so is just part of their learning curve.
I’m proud to be a graduate of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and look forward to hearing about the good works of the dogs trained by Dr. Otto and the PVWDC.

Outdoor training area at the PennVet Working Dog Center — it was a rainy day in November, so there were no dogs training outside that day.

Dr. Patrick Mahaney
Image: Marcella Miriello / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad Rescue Dogs 09/12/2014 06:16pm I can't imagine how frightening it must have been to be close to the Pentagon or the World Trade Center on 9/11. Did that have any influence on your move to California?

If I were feeling snarky, I'd point out that you left the area of 9/11 and moved to a state that will eventually fall into the Pacific, but I won't do that. :-)

It's fascinating that search and rescue dogs can sniff past the dust and rubble to find people.

I understand that search and rescue dogs get anxious and sometimes depressed when they don't find anything. Were a lot of dogs depressed after 9/11? Reply to this comment Report abuse 4 ]]> TheDailyVet Fri, 12 Sep 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31983 at
Dealing with the Loss of a Pet Sep 11, 2014 Dealing with the Loss of a Pet by Dr. Lorie Huston     Share    
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Most of us realize that today’s date of September 11 has special significance. It’s the date when our entire world changed in 2001, when terrorists intruded on our normal lives, causing chaos, destruction, and a massive loss of life. Naturally, those who lost loved ones in the attacks grieved the most, but there’s no doubt that the entire nation grieved that day and for a long time afterward.
The loss of a pet is an entirely different proposition. But I thought, in light of the grief surrounding September 11, it is a good time to also talk about the grief that pet owners experience at the loss of a pet.
Grief is a natural response to the loss of a loved one. Since most of us love and cherish our pets, it’s natural to grieve when we lose that pet. The process is the same, regardless of the reason for the loss. There are various stages of grief and we go through those stages when we lose a four-legged friend just as we do when we lose a two-legged friend or family member.
The stages vary depending on the source but often include the following:

Denial and isolation

These stages are not absolute and each person may experience them differently and/or may slide back and forth between the various stages.
One of the things that grieving pet owners often have to deal with is the reaction of those around them to their grief. People who are not necessarily pet lovers may not understand the grief is real. This very rarely happens when the lost loved one is a human but is not uncommon when the bereaved has lost a pet. There may be that sense of “It’s just a pet” that you’ll receive from some people. It helps to surround yourself with those who do understand the bond we have with our pets. These people are more likely to be understanding and sympathetic. They are more likely to be able and willing to comfort you when needed and help you through the hard times.
Grief takes time to work through. Everyone is different. Where one person may reach the stage of acceptance within a relatively short period of time, another may take much longer, or may never actually reach that stage. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve. You need to do what is right for you. One thing you should not do though is feel guilty or ashamed about grieving. It’s a natural process and something we all go through at one time or another. It’s important to allow yourself to grieve.
Make sure you look out for yourself and your own health while you grieve. Grief is a draining process, both physically and emotionally. Be sure you’re eating right, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising as appropriate. Otherwise, you’ll only end up making yourself sick and your grief worse.
Pets grieve for each other also, just like we do. If you have other pets at home, you may notice a change in their behavior as they work through their grief. When my cat Ebony became ill, I started noticing urine spots on the bed. I just assumed it was Ebony until he left us and the urine spots continued. I realized at that point it was Lilly, who was perfectly healthy otherwise, who was leaving the spots. She was obviously trying to find a way to work through her own grief and the stress associated with it. When cats become stressed, inappropriate urination is often one of their responses. Understanding this, I simply gave her some time. About a week following Ebony’s loss, the behavior stopped completely and she returned to religiously using the litter box.
If your remaining pet is grieving, don’t punish him for any abnormal or unusual behaviors. After all, you wouldn’t want to be punished for your grief. You pet shouldn’t have to deal with that either. Do provide a little extra attention and support. Your pet will appreciate it.
I hope none of you have to go through the grieving process associated with losing a pet. Still, death is a part of life and, because our pets typically have shorter life spans than we do, the loss of that pet eventually is something that accompanies pet ownership. Very seldom do our beloved pets outlive us.

Dr. Lorie Huston
Image: djgis / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad Grieving 09/11/2014 06:07pm "Do provide a little extra attention and support."

Not only will it help the pet, it will help the human to connect with another living being that understands.

Losing a pet changes the dynamics of the household. Although I don't know dog, I would expect that losing an alpha-dog would make a big difference.

I lost my Stan in May and it would sure be nice if Josie would stop dancing on the dining room table to celebrate his absence. Reply to this comment Report abuse 5 Danz Like the loss of a child. 09/12/2014 12:16pm I had to put my dog down the week before last Christmas, she was 18 1/2 years old. My wife could not have children so I got the most loving,smart, and beautiful dog I ever had.Well due to old age and health problems she was in pain and suffering and I knew it was time.I took her to the vet to have her peacefully put down but it did not go down easy and I felt like I lost my child. Every where in my home I saw things of our life together and would totally lose it,my neighbors,mail lady and friends were their for me in my very hurtful time.If it wasn`t for these loving people that knew how much I loved my dog I don`t know how I would have came to peace with it.I am a guy and I never cried so much in my life.To those who just lost a pet hang in there, go to people who love you and talk about how you feel,it takes time,I still miss my girl so much but I would have been selfish to let her go on in pain and suffering.Well life does go on and I said I would never have another pet . But being a pet lover I just got a new puppy a Yorkie and she has brought me so much joy so far but I know some day I will be looking at that hurt all over again but the love we give each other over the years we will have together will be that love.Thank you and good luck to every one. Reply to this comment Report abuse 3 staciejaye Long Process 09/19/2014 10:16am I lost my cat, Brisket, November 21 2013. It's coming up on the 1 year mark and it's starting to hurt all over again. I've really been struggling lately, and missing him so much. It's definitely true that grieving is a long process and is often ongoing for many years.
When Brisket died, my other cat, Derby, was also grieving terribly. He would cry at night, wandering around looking for Brisket. Derby couldn't stand to be alone and would follow me everywhere - even into the shower at one point. We decided for Derby's health to get him another companion, and now we have Molly. Derby is like a new cat now, Molly has brought love and laughter to our home again. Reply to this comment Report abuse ]]> TheDailyVet Thu, 11 Sep 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31982 at
The Unusual Suspects, Part 2 - When Oxygen Turns Lethal Sep 10, 2014 The Unusual Suspects, Part 2 - When Oxygen Turns Lethal by Dr. Anna O'Brien     Share    
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Last week we looked at a condition in pigs called water toxicity. This week, let’s look at the sinister side of another life-sustaining compound: oxygen.
Most school kids can recite the percentage of oxygen in the air we breathe: 21%. It’s sort of odd to think about this element as not even making up the majority of the air we breathe (the majority of our breathable air is made up of nitrogen), but this is how life on earth evolved. What’s interesting is that oxygen concentrations higher than 21% can cause problems, and exposure to high levels of oxygen under high pressure can be toxic, even lethal.
Hyperbaric chambers are used for divers recovering from the bends — a very painful condition resulting from excessive nitrogen build-up in the joints from improper decompression — and are some of the main causes of oxygen toxicity because the subjects inside are breathing 100% oxygen. It turns out that oxygen at high concentrations creates high levels of free radicals in the body. These chemical troublemakers are detrimental to cell membranes and other important cellular structures. Oxygen toxicity can begin with fluid accumulation in the lungs and graduate to neurological symptoms as the brain becomes affected.
Veterinarians recently began borrowing this modality from human physicians and are using high levels of oxygen to treat equine patients. Enter the use of equine hyperbaric chambers.
In the past few decades, physicians have started using hyperbaric chambers to help stimulate healing in otherwise non-healing wounds — wounds with infection so deep they were non-responsive to antibiotics. The theory is that the increased levels of oxygen under higher atmospheric pressure — like what you get in a hyperbaric chamber — forces higher concentrations of the element into the blood, which would, for brief periods of time, increase wound healing.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) in horses is still in its infancy and only a few large equine veterinary clinics offer it at the moment. Although there is some scientific research supporting the use of HBOT in human patients, similar evidence in horses is lacking. The Veterinary Hyperbaric Medicine Society (VHMS) has been created at the University of Tennessee’s College of Veterinary Medicine and despite a comparatively underwhelming amount of scientific evidence for this technology, the society at least offers some guidance for veterinarians interested in offering the fledgling therapy to equine patients.
In addition to oxygen toxicity from exposure to a hyperbaric chamber, such therapy also carries a much more dramatic threat: explosion. Pure oxygen is extremely flammable and when combined with an excellent fuel source such as horsehair, can be catastrophic in the presence of a spark. This is what occurred on February 10, 2012 at a Florida equine rehabilitation center. A horse and a technician were killed when a spark from the horse’s shoe ignited the chamber.
The VHMS maintains that there are protocols in place for these chambers to safeguard against such events and individuals offering such therapy need to be properly trained. I’m not sure of the number of equine hyperbaric chambers in the U.S. currently, but I can’t help but wonder if their numbers have plateaued as a result of this 2012 accident. Are the safety threats (meaning both risk of explosion and risk of oxygen toxicity) worth the as-of-yet mostly unsubstantiated benefits of HBOT? My guess is that we just need more data.

Dr. Anna O'Brien
Image: Equine Hyperbaric Center of South Florida
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TheOldBroad Oxygen 09/10/2014 06:04pm It's my understanding that the Vegas casinos pump in oxygen to keep the people gambling.

From this article, I'm assuming that oxygen must be carefully monitored. Or is it only a potential problem when used in conjunction with high pressure? Reply to this comment Report abuse 3 ]]> TheDailyVet Wed, 10 Sep 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31981 at
How the Pet Prescription Law Affects You and Your Pet Sep 09, 2014 How the Pet Prescription Law Affects You and Your Pet by Dr. Ken Tudor     Share    
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We really went wrong calling our elected senate and congressional legislators “lawmakers.” Because that is what they think they should be doing, constantly making laws whether they are really needed or not. Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah has decided that, as a group, veterinarians are “money grubbers” about the drugs they dispense and that this needs federal government regulation. He is shepherding the Fairness to Pet Owners Act through congress. His pitch is that the law “promotes competition and helps consumers save money by giving them the freedom to choose where they buy their drugs.”
The law is unnecessary because most states already mandate that we veterinarians offer prescriptions. More tragically, it causes confusion for the pet owner and may delay urgent treatment that could put the pet’s life in jeopardy.
Filling a Pet's Prescription Costs Money
Rep. Matheson’s law is predicated on the idea that veterinarians charge unfairly for medications. I am not going to speak for all of my colleagues, but this is not generally the case.

We are individual practices and provide drugs for the convenience of our clients. We do not enjoy the discounts available for buying in massive bulk like Wal-Mart, Costco, Pet Meds, etc. And we cannot use drug sales as a “lost leader” like large retailers can. They take a monetary loss on the medications in order to drive traffic to the store for other purchases, where the profit is much larger.

Filling a prescription requires a person to fill that order. With dispensing time and label preparation time (10-15 minutes, computerization has actually made this process longer than manual processing but is necessary for record keeping) means $3-4 dollars in labor costs per prescription. Then there is the cost of rent, insurance, and utilities of the pharmacy space. This will vary tremendously from practice to practice. Next to be factored in is the label, prescription vial and printing costs.

Finally we get to the cost of the drugs. Yes, there are generic drugs that are inexpensive for us to buy and allow a fair profit margin, but half of our drug inventory is patented drugs. We cannot charge a fair mark-up on these drugs because our clients would not be able to afford it, so we make very little or nothing on these drugs. Excessive mark-ups would discourage use and the health of the pet would suffer.

Prescription Confusion
Presently, state laws require veterinarians to offer a prescription if the owner requests one. Rep. Matheson’s bill requires that we write the prescription first and then offer our alternative. But what is going to be the first question that the pet owner asks? “How much will the pharmacy charge?” We have no idea. It will be up to the owner to research that because we simply don’t have the time to do their comparison shopping. In the case of a critical patient that requires immediate medication this will mean delays that may impact the recovery or survival of that particular pet.
As I said, I am not going to defend each of my veterinary colleagues, but we do not pursue this career for excessive economic gain. Any research will show that we are one of the lowest compensated medical professions. This is not a “poor me” moment, only a statement that we love our contribution to the pet owning community. We are not trying to unfairly charge our clients for medications. Our state agencies make sure we don’t. We don’t need a federal bill that is unenforceable and is a ploy for more votes and political contributions in the name of protecting veterinary consumers.

Dr. Ken Tudor
Image: Ermolaev Alexander / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad Duh! 09/09/2014 06:42pm "Rep. Matheson’s bill requires that we write the prescription first and then offer our alternative."

That's just dumb.

Quite honestly, the prescription medications I've gotten at the clinic don't seem out of line price-wise. Anyway, I prefer to get my medications there so I can start Fluffy on it right away.

My vet is very good about writing a script - or calling it in - if I want compounded medications to assure the correct dosage (ever try to quarter a pentagon-shaped pill?) or even suggesting getting something at a discount pharmacy (such as a case of LRS fluids) that would save me a bundle.

The only time I really called around for prices was when I had a kitty on Procrit. (The clinic doesn't stock it anyway, so there was no loss to them.) I saved a few bucks getting a 6-pack, but it was about $250 for that 6-pack.

Worth every penny. Reply to this comment Report abuse 6 ]]> TheDailyVet Tue, 09 Sep 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31980 at
What is Puppy Pyoderma? Sep 08, 2014 What is Puppy Pyoderma? by Dr. Jennifer Coates     Share    
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Puppy skin is extra sensitive. This is especially true in areas that lack a protective covering of hair. Those almost naked Buddha-bellies are cute, but they are prime candidates for a condition known as puppy pyoderma.
“Pyoderma” is simply a technical way of saying “skin infection.” What distinguishes puppy pyoderma from other skin infections is the fact that it is diagnosed in a young animal and no predisposing cause can be diagnosed. In fact, the underlying condition that leads to puppy pyoderma is puppyhood itself.
Skin is awash in bacteria. One of the most abundant, normal bacterial inhabitants of canine skin is Staphylococcus intermedius. Under normal circumstances, S. intermedius lives in harmony with its host. The defense mechanisms of healthy skin keep bacterial numbers down to a level that is not associated with disease. However, a puppy’s skin is immature. Local immunity is not fully developed, and the skin hasn’t had a chance to “toughen up” yet. The sparsely haired areas of a puppy’s abdomen are easily irritated by things in the environment, which is often all that is needed to tip the balance in favor of the bacteria.
Red bumps or pimple-like lesions affecting primarily the “armpits,” groin, or other sparsely haired areas are the classic symptoms of puppy pyoderma. Over time these primary lesions may turn into scabs or patches of scaly skin. Affected puppies are usually a little itchy, but otherwise seem completely healthy. A veterinarian may suspect that his or her patient has puppy pyoderma, but because these symptoms can be associated with other common skin conditions, a few simple tests are usually in order, including:

skin cytology to identify the type of microorganism involved
skin scrapings to rule out mange mites
a fungal culture for ringworm

Once the diagnosis of puppy pyoderma has been confirmed, the question of how best to treat it must be answered. Mild cases will sometimes resolve without intervention, particularly if the puppy is nearing adulthood. If a diligent owner is willing to keep a close eye on the condition, a prescription of “watchful waiting” is not unreasonable. If there is any doubt, however, I recommend a topical antiseptic wash like chlorhexidine, plus or minus a topical antibiotic ointment. More severely affected puppies should also receive oral or injectable antibiotics.
Puppy pyoderma is often compared to impetigo in human children. Both conditions are, in essence, superficial skin infections, but an important difference is that puppy pyoderma is not contagious either to other animals or to people.
Once a puppy has matured, he or she should no longer be at risk for puppy pyoderma. If skin infections continue to be a problem, a veterinarian will need to go on a thorough search for a causative underlying condition. Possibilities include allergies, external parasites, hormonal imbalances, or abnormalities in the anatomy or physiology of the skin.

Dr. Jennifer Coates
Image: Lurin / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad Kittens 09/08/2014 05:59pm Are kittens not at risk for pyoderma, specifically on their little bare bellies? Reply to this comment Report abuse 6 ]]> TheDailyVet Mon, 08 Sep 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31979 at
What They Don't Teach You in Veterinary School Sep 05, 2014 What They Don't Teach You in Veterinary School by Dr. Joanne Intile     Share    
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There are several phrases one is guaranteed to hear on nearly a daily basis in veterinary school, ranging from “What a cute puppy!” to “That’s really gross!” to “Have you seen my rectal thermometer?” These expressions are commonly uttered as students cross from lecture hall to lecture hall, or wander down the corridors of the teaching hospital, or even as they wait in line at the coffee cart. But perhaps the most frequently encountered saying, guaranteed to spew forth from the mouths of even the most articulate students, is “Will this be on the test?” 
Whether agonizing over the details of a recent lecture, watching an instructional video of how to halter a cow and lead it safely from it’s stall, or sifting through infinite piles of notes, concern centers on what is necessary to memorize for testing purposes, and what can be discarded as unimportant.
Admission to veterinary school is difficult. It’s estimated that only about 40-45 percent of applicants will be accepted and enrolled. I’m sure the ratio of people who aspire to become veterinarians to those who actually pursue application to school is equally skewed in a negative direction.
Not only is it challenging to commit to and finally achieve the elusive acceptance letter, one must then consider the exceptional rigors of the curriculum itself. Veterinarians must become proficient in the diagnosis and treatment of multiple species over their 4-year tenure of learning, while our human counterparts, given the same time frame of education, are only expected to focus on learning about a single organism (i.e., human). 
The upshot of all of this strain is that veterinary medicine is an extremely competitive field. To even be considered a candidate for admittance, students must not only achieve high grades, they must also possess vast experience working within the veterinary field, hold excellent letters of recommendation, and even maintain a great deal of volunteer experience. The aggressive nature of the admissions process and the stressors associated with the curriculum tends to select for individuals who are exceptionally driven.
For many students, the competitiveness doesn’t stop once they’ve entered the halls of the vet school. Constant pressure to maintain an excellent GPA along with stellar co-curricular activities are necessary evils for individuals looking to pursue post-graduate training with an internship and/or residency program — or nowadays, even to secure a job in general practice.
For some, this translates into an irrational and unhelpful focus on tests and grades, rather than an assessment of ability to exist and thrive in the “real world.” The very act of the constant questioning of “Will this be on the test?” illustrates the poorly focused attention of even the most stable of students.
When I look back with the hindsight of several years of work experience and think about what it truly means to be a veterinary specialist in clinical practice, I now see that those facts I spent hours agonizing over are often quite meaningless. More so, I now recognize there were several voids in my educational process that I would now consider essential aspects of the career we need to be teaching to students. 
In all my time spent poring over textbooks and class notes, you may find it surprising to know I was never trained on the proper way to tell an owner their pet had a terminal diagnosis. I was never examined on my ability to discuss how to pick and choose diagnostic tests when owners do not have unlimited funds to spend on testing. No one ever assessed my ability to maintain composure while simultaneously calming a distraught owner, or to manage an overbooked schedule when my first appointment runs 20 minutes late.
I wasn’t taught how to speak to co-workers when I felt they treated me poorly. I wasn’t primed on how to negotiate a contract or ask for a raise. I never learned the true meaning of hospice and the myriad of difficulties associated with end of life care.
Sometimes I can’t help but feel that my deficiencies have actually grown with time, but it’s likely only because I’ve been exposed to more and more situations that have made my inadequacies stand out.
I’m not suggesting the didactic portion of veterinary school is worthless. Obviously the basics of form and function, anatomy and physiology, and function and dysfunction must be taught and committed to memory. However, when the concern is placed on quantifying things related to detail rather than the bigger picture, I’m afraid of exactly what we are losing along the way.
So for those of you considering veterinary medicine as a profession, whether you are young and in pursuit of this as your first career, or older and coming to the decision after soul-searching and trading in your existing job for a new path, my best advice is to gather as much practical experience as possible not only prior to applying, but also maintain as much hands-on work as you are comfortable with during your time at school.
Exposure to practical experience in the field is the best way to garner ways of communicating that you think will work, and the ways that don’t work. It will help you learn how to have those difficult discussions, and what types of things you may face on a daily basis. Moreover, it may be the thing that helps you know whether this profession is really the right choice for you.
These things may never show up on an exam, but they will be an integral part of your day-to-day life as a veterinarian.
I can think of no better preparation for the biggest test you’ll face as a veterinarian: The day you become the doctor instead of the student.

Dr. Joanne Intile
Image: 135pixels / Shutterstock
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rodrussell Cesarians & Nutrition 09/05/2014 05:31pm I've noticed that many younger vets seem incapable of performing important surgical procedures, like cesarian sections. Oh, they can do a neuter in a heartbeat, but trying to save a litter and the mom is way beyond their field of knowledge. It is as if H$U$ sponsored their reproductive education, and they have been taught to terminate breedings, not accommodate them.

Also, most all conventional vets (those who do not know holistic modalities) seem totally untrained in nutrition. It is as if their nutrition education was sponsored by pet food companies, and they have been brain-washed rather than educated. Reply to this comment Report abuse 18 TheOldBroad Training? 09/05/2014 06:32pm "I was never trained on the proper way to tell an owner their pet had a terminal diagnosis. I was never examined on my ability to discuss how to pick and choose diagnostic tests when owners do not have unlimited funds to spend on testing."

I feel those two items (especially) should be taught in a classroom setting. Of course, the examples given in class will never mirror all clients, but hopefully it would teach how to think on your feet while being tactful and gentle.

How to deal with co-workers who treat you poorly is universal, not just vets and I've never heard of any profession teaching human behavior (short of being a therapist). Negotiations/asking for a raise is also pretty universal.

How to deal with clients, especially when they're distraught, might be a good class to include in ANY doctor's class schedule. We've all had human doctors that have zero "bedside manner."

I once had a vet tell me that what's learned in school isn't very much like the real world. The symptoms and diseases are a good starting point, but how to do your job and deal with people - just like almost any profession - appears to be learned on the job and in the real world. I know that with all my training for what I do isn't anything like how I do my real job.

The one thing that floored me was finding out how poorly new veterinary graduates are paid. Is it because that's "what everybody does" or are recent graduates completely "dissed?" Reply to this comment Report abuse 11 VetChangesWorld VBMA 09/05/2014 10:17pm Fortunately the tide is turning. More vet schools are teaching this topic. Also students are demanding this kind of education. The Veterinary Business Management Association (VBMA) is a completely student run organization helping bring this kind of education to their schools.

I was lucky enough to get this kind of advice when I was a new vet student, and it has served me so well. I took every lab and continuing education opportunity I could while I was in school. As a result I was also able to bring more skills to my first job.

Now teaching veterinary technician students, I'm trying to give the same kind of advice. A lot of that falls on their plates too. Reply to this comment Report abuse 8 ]]> TheDailyVet Fri, 05 Sep 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31977 at
A Dog Daddy Remembers His Amazing Dog Sep 04, 2014 A Dog Daddy Remembers His Amazing Dog by Dr. Patrick Mahaney     Share    
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Losing a pet is something that’s challenging for any owner. As a veterinarian, the passing of my patients is an inevitable conclusion to our relationship that I strive to stave off until their quality of life has been significantly compromised.
Recently, one of my longest-term Los Angeles patients, Maui, was put to sleep in the comfort of her own home, surrounded by her canine and human family members. Although Maui’s exact mix of breeds was never known, she looked like a cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Greyhound. I knew Maui both in sickness and in health and am grateful to have gotten to know her and her doting daddies.
Here is Maui’s memorial as written by one of those dads, Michael Rozales:
The year was 1997; Bill Clinton was president, Princess Diana died after a car crash in Paris, the first Prius went into production, and James Cameron’s Titanic premiered. That year my boyfriend talked about how much he wanted a dog. I always liked dogs but our family never had a dog growing up andit didn’t seem that important to me. I soon started visiting various animal shelters around Los Angeles to check out the available dogs.
My life changed on a sunny fall day in November. I went to the Santa Monica Animal Shelter, and like all the shelters where they allow you to just walk up and down the aisles of cages, all the dogs are usually barking all around you. But not this time. Sitting quietly and staring up at me was a scrawny 25 pound black labby-houndy looking dog with huge floppy ears and big brown eyes. She just looked at me with this cocked head and wagging tail, so I asked to take her out to play and to get to know her. We played, we sat, we ran, and she loved when I rubbed her all over — especially on her big soft ears. I can’t recall how long we spent together in the outdoor pen that first time but I knew she was coming home with me.
At the front desk I filled out all the necessary paperwork and paid the fees. And then they said, “You can pick her up in a few days from the birth control clinic,” where she was to be spayed. I was so disappointed she wasn’t leaving with me that second, but even more upset that she had to go back into that cage. I wanted her to know everything was going to be okay. I left the shelter happy and excited but so anxious to get her. I knew she would be fine but still wished she was coming home with me.
A few days later, I arrived at the now gone Animal Birth Control Clinic on Pico near the 10 Freeway in West Los Angeles, pulled into the back in my Saturn and went inside to get her. They brought her out to me. She was a little disoriented from the surgery, so I cradled her like a baby and brought her to my car. I slowly drove her to the house I was renting where my boyfriend and roommates were waiting. Her deep black fur looked like pictures of black sand beaches, and from that visual the name Maui came to me. Although later on someone told me that there are no black sand beaches in Maui, I thought “Oh well.” The name fit her to a T.
From the moment she entered our lives, she was loved by all. All our friends, our awesome roommates through the years with their dogs, and anyone else who would meet her would always comment as to what a great disposition she had. She loved everyone and almost all dogs. Yes, she was stubborn at times, did nervous pees anytime I came home or someone came through the door those first few months, threw up in my car from my driving, and was growing into and becoming what would eventually turn into an almost two decade long run of pure amazing unconditional love and affection. When you were feeling down or sad, Maui would cuddle with you; just rubbing her ears made everything okay. When her little sister Chloe, a tiny, four-pound Papillon, arrived, Maui showed the same unfettered love and attention she was awesome at giving.
In 2003 my life changed when I met my future husband and soul mate Mike Payne fresh off the boat (literally… fresh off working on cruise ships). Mike and I started building a life together. He loved, adored, and took care of Maui and Chloe as if he was there from the beginning of their lives. As a new Dad, he was the best. Whether it was hiking at Runyon Canyon or out to brunch on a Sunday, our family was great with Maui the matriarch at the helm (although Chloe was always the real boss). When our youngest dog Posh came into our lives in 2007, she instantly became the best little sister to Maui and Chloe and was the best at getting an 11 years young Maui to play and run around with her. Even as she started getting older and slower, Maui loved having play time with her little sister Posh.
While the last few years have definitely been a challenge for Maui, she relentlessly got up every morning with Mike to go for a walk — even up to her last week with us. She was a trooper, and while friends, family and neighbors would look at her lean and frail body in disbelief, Maui the trooper was not going anywhere.
We always said we would know when it was time to let her go, and as hard as it was to face, it actually wasn’t that hard on Saturday when we she let us know it was time for her to go. It was the absolute hardest and emotionally draining thing we have ever done, but it was the right thing to do. She gave us over 18 AMAZING years of love and she got it right back.
I’m sure all owners say their dog was the best, but she was one of a kind and she was our best. We will miss her terribly, but she is in a much better place now. We won the lottery with her, as did she with us and everyone else in her life. We love you forever and ever and all eternity, Maui. Now go eat all the cat poop you want, baby!
Your Daddies


Maui’s paw prints

Maui as an adult (in her youmger years) hiking Runyon Canyon in Los Angeles

Chloe, Posh, and Maui (in her later years)

Maui on her last day with Chloe and Michael

Dr. Patrick Mahaney
Image: Maui, in her younger years, at Runyon Canyon, Los Angeles, California
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TheOldBroad Maui 09/04/2014 05:57pm What a wonderful memorial. It makes me feel like I knew Maui and it's obvious that Michael and Mike are great dog daddies. Their love of Maui comes through beautifully.

The last line about the cat poop is priceless. Reply to this comment Report abuse 11 ]]> TheDailyVet Thu, 04 Sep 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31976 at
Why You Should Consider Neutering Your Pet (and How to Plan Accordingly Afterwards) Sep 03, 2014 Why You Should Consider Neutering Your Pet (and How to Plan Accordingly Afterwards) by Dr. Lorie Huston     Share    
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Deciding whether to spay or neuter your pet is a big decision for a dog or cat owner. For many owners, the thought of anesthesia is scary. Some owners also worry that their pet’s personality will change after the surgery. Let’s talk about the benefits of spaying or neutering your pet and what you can do to ensure the health and well-being of your pet after the procedure.
In terms of the worries an owner faces at the prospect of spaying or neutering their pet, it’s important to note that, while it cannot be said there is no risk with anesthesia, the risk is minimal. Veterinarians today have anesthetic agents and monitoring equipment that make anesthesia safe and effective. And while behavioral changes can occur in spayed or neutered pets, the changes are more likely to be positive than negative.
Spaying or neutering your pet is, undoubtedly, the socially responsible thing to do. By spaying or neutering your pet, you remove the potential for an accidental mating that will result in puppies or kittens that will add to the number of homeless pets currently found in shelters and rescues. But this is far from the only benefit.
Benefits of Spaying a Female Pet
A female pet that is spayed no longer comes in heat. As a result, there is no need to deal with the mess that female dogs can make when going through their heat cycle. Nor will you need to deal with the annoyance of a female cat in heat. For those of you unaware, dogs bleed while in heat. Cats, on the other hand, do not bleed but do vocalize, often in a quite disturbing manner. Both dogs and cats in heat will draw male dogs and cats, respectively, from far and wide. These animals can also make quite a nuisance of themselves as they hang around your home.
There is also the fact that females that have been spayed, particularly those spayed at a young age, have a much lower risk of breast (or mammary) cancer. Many times, this form of cancer is malignant and can metastasize to the lungs, lymph nodes, and other parts of the body. However, spaying dogs and cats before their first heat cycle very rarely develop these tumors.
Because the reproductive tract is removed during the spay procedure, female dogs and cats are no longer at risk for developing a severe and potentially fatal form of uterine infection known as a pyometra either. This is another major benefit.
Benefits of Neutering a Male Pet
Unaltered male pets often develop behavioral issues that can be difficult to tolerate and impossible to manage. They are more likely to roam and to fight with other animals, resulting in injuries that can be serious in nature. Intact males also tend to mark their territory more commonly than neutered males or females. In the case of an unaltered male cat, the urine has a very strong and pungent smell. These types of issues, though still possible in an unaltered male, are much less likely to occur. In addition, neutered males tend to be easier to train.
Besides the behavioral benefits of neutering, there are some health benefits as well. Neutered males are less likely to develop prostate problems, including prostate cancer.
Spayed/Neutered Pets Live Longer Than Those That Remain Intact
For the vast majority of pets, spaying or neutering is the right decision. Overall, spayed and neutered pets live longer, healthier lives. However, there have been some studies that have indicated that dogs that are spayed or neutered, especially at a young age, may have a higher risk of certain forms of musculoskeletal and other disease, including bone cancer and cranial cruciate injuries. These studies generally have looked at a specific breed. This information makes it important to discuss with your veterinarian the best age at which to spay or neuter your pet. Your pet may have individual risk factors that influence the decision about when, or if, to spay or neuter.
Responsibilities of a Pet Owner After a Pet Is Spayed/Neutered
Spaying or neutering a pet does affect that pet’s metabolism. As a result, these pets may become more prone to weight gain if allowed to overeat. Choosing the correct diet and feeding the diet in quantities that keep your pet lean and fit are essential.
Exercise is another important part of keeping your spayed or neutered pet lean and fit. Just as in people, exercise burns calories and keeps muscles and joints supple and healthy.
All pets, whether spayed or neutered, should be visiting their veterinarian at a minimum once yearly for a thorough physical examination. Part of that physical examination will include an evaluation of your pet’s body condition, weight, diet, and exercise program. Your veterinarian can help you determine what diet, in what quantity, is appropriate for your pet as well as helping you develop an exercise program that will benefit your pet.

Lorie Huston
Image: Monika Wisniewska / Shutterstock
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Westcoastsyrinx Metabolism 09/03/2014 04:52pm Yes, Dr Huston, gonadectomies do alter the metabolism because it is the same as dropping the pet into a state of menopause. Unfortunately there aren't enough veterinarians like you out there who understand this, which is one reason why we are seeing more cases of issues such as diabetes. The veterinarian needs to look at this in the same way as doctors view and treat male and female menopause in humans. Reply to this comment Report abuse 5 TheOldBroad Cats in Heat 09/03/2014 06:50pm When I lived in an apartment, the family across the hallway had an unaltered female. Not only could I hear the cat screeching at all hours, the family complained that unaltered males were spraying the doormat.

I once had an unaltered male cat spray my front door. No idea why because my cats are fixed. Maybe he just liked Louise's looks when she sat in the front window. However, the smell was overpowering (I could smell it on the second floor) and I had to scrub the entire stoop, the door and inside the storm door.

One thing that wasn't mentioned was the high possibility of escape to find a "date." Reply to this comment Report abuse 4 Dr. Lorie Huston 09/06/2014 10:14pm You're right and that's a good point. Thanks for pointing it out. Reply to this comment Report abuse 3 rodrussell Very one-sided article. 09/04/2014 10:56pm "Why You Should Consider Neutering Your Pet" implies that you need not at all consider NOT neutering the pet. Surely, with all of the research supporting either not neutering or certainly not neutering too early, you could at least hint that there is another side to the story. How about the impropriety of neutering before the animal reaches maturity, so that it retains the full benefits of the hormones produced by the sex organs to enable healthful maturation? How about the added burden upon the animal's immune system if it is neutered too early, or in some cases with impaired immune systems, if it is neutered at all?

Hemangiosarcoma is a cancer that is affected by neutering in females? Cardiac HSA for spayed females was greater than 4 times that of intact females. A study on splenic HSA found the spayed females had more than 2 times the risk of developing this tumor as intact females. Intact females had a significantly lower risk of developing LSA (lymphoma) than neutered females or neutered males or intact males. A study on cutaneous mast cell tumors (MCT) in several dog breeds examined risk factors such as breed, size, and neuter status. The results showed a significant increase in frequency of MCT in neutered females; four times greater than that of intact females. In a February 2014 report about 2,505 Vizslas, researchers found that: (a) Mast cell cancer: 3.5 times higher incidence in neutered male and female dogs, independent of age at the time of neutering. (b) Hemangiosarcoma: 9.0 times higher incidence in neutered females compared to nonneutered females, independent of age at the time spaying was performed. No difference in incidence of this disease was found for neutered versus nonneutered males. (c) Lymphoma (lymphosarcoma): 4.3 times higher incidence in neutered male and female dogs, independent of age at the time of neutering. (d) Other types of cancer: 5.0 times higher incidence in neutered male and female dogs. The younger a dog was at the time of neutering the younger the age of the dog at the time the cancer was diagnosed. (e) All cancers combined: 6.5 times higher incidence of cancer in neutered females compared to nonneutered females; 3.6 times higher incidence of cancer in neutered males compared to nonneutered males. It long had been reported that a female's risk of developing mammary cancer is greatly reduced by spaying, and the earlier the better. However, in a June 2012 review of all of these prior studies, the authors found that: "Due to the limited evidence available and the risk of bias in the published results, the evidence that neutering reduces the risk of mammary neoplasia, and the evidence that age at neutering has an effect, are judged to be weak and are not a sound basis for firm recommendations." Reply to this comment Report abuse 7 Dr. Lorie Huston 09/06/2014 10:12pm This is quoted directed from the article, Rod. "However, there have been some studies that have indicated that dogs that are spayed or neutered, especially at a young age, may have a higher risk of certain forms of musculoskeletal and other disease, including bone cancer and cranial cruciate injuries. These studies generally have looked at a specific breed. This information makes it important to discuss with your veterinarian the best age at which to spay or neuter your pet. Your pet may have individual risk factors that influence the decision about when, or if, to spay or neuter."

Obviously, you didn't read it completely. Reply to this comment Report abuse 4 rodrussell 09/07/2014 08:02am Oh, Dr. Huston, I read that line, even though it was buried at the end of your ninth paragraph, following a headline ("Why You Should Consider Neutering Your Pet") and three sub-heads ("Benefits of Spaying a Female Pet" and "Benefits of Neutering a Male Pet" and "Spayed/Neutered Pets Live Longer Than Those That Remain Intact") that would lead the less than utterly thorough viewer to get what you want them to take away from your article, which is that pet owners should neuter their dogs. Overall, not a balanced article. Reply to this comment Report abuse 5 rodrussell Another vet's viewpoint 09/10/2014 12:10pm Here is a link to an article about the pitfalls of early neutering. "Spaying and Neutering". Reply to this comment Report abuse 6 rodrussell Dr. Karen Becker's views 09/13/2014 08:57pm "Spaying or Neutering Your Dog? Think Again..." Reply to this comment Report abuse 4 ]]> hill's and nutrition lifestage TheDailyVet therapeutic Wed, 03 Sep 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31965 at
Not Your Usual Suspects, Part 1 - When Water is Toxic Sep 02, 2014 Not Your Usual Suspects, Part 1 - When Water is Toxic by Dr. Anna O'Brien     Share    
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For my next two blogs, I’d like to share some situations in large animal veterinary medicine when toxicities are found where you’d least expect — in the ordinarily life-sustaining compounds, water and oxygen. Let’s begin with water.
There is such a thing as water toxicity. When I first learned this in vet school, I was both horrified and fascinated. Turns out, this really is a case of something being too much of a good thing. When water toxicity occurs, which thankfully isn’t too often, it usually occurs in pigs. Here’s what happens.
Pigs raised indoors, as most pigs in the U.S. are raised, are dependent on the pig farmer for food and water. Many watering systems in large hog operations are mechanically operated with large piping systems that carry water from a central tank or well to pens containing multiple pigs. Occasionally, something goes awry with the watering system, like a power outage, broken pipe, or a situation where someone forgets to turn the system on after service, and the pigs are without water. This is when disaster can strike.
As the pigs become dehydrated, their electrolytes become unbalanced. Within 24 to 48 hours, the neurologic system begins to be affected. Pigs will act uncoordinated and appear blind, then demonstrate a behavior called head pressing. These clinical signs are not specific to dehydration. Meningitis, inner ear infections, and some exotic (and therefore reportable to the state veterinarian) swine diseases can also appear this way. However, with water toxicity, all hogs in a pen or barn will have the same signs.
This usually isn’t the case with an infectious disease, where different animals will show different signs depending on the stage or progression of the disease and the animal’s immune system. This is how a vet or farmer can start to differentiate between a mechanical problem in the barn versus a serious disease outbreak. Whenever hogs demonstrate neurological signs such as these, a good hog farmer will first check the watering system.
Dehydration such as this, medically known as salt toxicity, is as easily cured as one might think: Just give the pigs water! However — and this is a big however — the key is to introduce the water slowly. If severely dehydrated hogs are given ad libitum water all of a sudden, water toxicity develops. The brain swells quickly and neurologic symptoms will continue and are likely to kill the pig.
So what’s a farmer to do? It is often recommended to take a water hose and sprinkle the hogs with it so that small shallow puddles collect on the ground. The hogs can then lap up very small quantities of water over a period of a few hours, and then the process is repeated, ensuring a gradual return back to hydration.
If hogs are neurologically affected to the point of being unable to drink for themselves, then the farmer has his work cut out for himself. Syringe feeding water to a group of hogs may be necessary. The administration of intravenous fluids is not practical in hogs; the location of their jugular veins makes catheterization very difficult.
You may be thinking to yourself: Isn’t prevention worth more than the cure and shouldn’t the farmer simply ensure the water doesn’t get turned off?
In practice, on large hog farms, water is frequently turned on and off for numerous reasons. In some cases, medication for hogs is administered via drinking water and logistically determining which pens receive medicated water and which don’t involves frequent water shut-offs. Additionally, sometimes farms simply run a well dry — a scary issue during drought, for sure.
Next Wednesday, we’ll take a look at another toxic element, oxygen, and how veterinarians use it to help cure infection.

Dr. Anna O'Brien
Image: Dmitry Kalinovsky / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad Frequency 09/02/2014 08:25pm How often have you run into a situation where pigs have become dehydrated? Is this a common or uncommon occurrence? Reply to this comment Report abuse 5 Dr. Anna O'Brien 09/02/2014 09:10pm I personally have never run into this problem, but then again, pigs are not my primary patient. I presume it occurs occasionally in large swine operations--often enough that swine producers are taught to check the water supply lines if their pigs are showing neurological signs--but not too frequently. Reply to this comment Report abuse 3 dey102 No Cruelty 09/07/2014 10:29pm Reason #1,001 to be a vegetarian Reply to this comment Report abuse 3 ]]> TheDailyVet Tue, 02 Sep 2014 14:00:00 +0000 31975 at
Ebola's Connection to Veterinary Medicine Sep 01, 2014 Ebola's Connection to Veterinary Medicine by Dr. Jennifer Coates     Share    
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Have you been following the news out of West Africa? The spread of the Ebola virus there is truly heartbreaking. While residents of the U.S. have little to fear from Ebola (unless you’re planning to travel to that part of the world), researchers here are still working hard to come up with new, potential therapies. You might be surprised to hear, however, that some of the most ground-breaking work is being done at the University of Pennsylvania’s veterinary school.
Dr. Ronald Harty is an associate professor of microbiology at Penn Vet, and in conjunction with other scientists from Penn Vet, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease, Thomas Jefferson University, and Fox Chase Chemical Diversity Center, he is developing potential drugs that could revolutionize the way that Ebola and other viruses affecting people and animals are treated.
I recently talked to Dr. Harty to learn more about his work. When asked why research into Ebola was being undertaken at a veterinary school, he replied:
"I’m not a veterinarian, but I’m here at the vet school doing basic research working primarily on Ebola and other hemorrhagic fevers. But, we also do a lot of work on vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) and rabies virus [both of which are significant animal pathogens]. VSV is actually a sort of distant cousin to Ebola. The makeup of the viruses — how they bud [exit the cell] and replicate, their genomes, the proteins they make — are very similar. VSV has served as a wonderful model system. It’s a virus we can fairly easily work with, using it as a surrogate to understand budding in the more pathogenic Ebola virus."
One of the big problems in developing anti-viral drugs, particularly those that are useful against RNA viruses like Ebola, VSV, rabies, influenza, West Nile virus, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and feline leukemia virus (FELV), is that when these organisms replicate, they can mutate very rapidly and develop resistance to drugs. Dr. Harty explained that his team’s approach is innovative in that they are trying to develop drugs that are “host oriented.”
"We are trying to target a virus-host interaction with our compounds. What we and others have found is that viruses like Ebola, rabies, and VSV hijack or recruit host proteins that help the virus to bud. The virus actually steals the function of these host proteins and uses it for its own purpose. We hypothesize that if we can target that virus-host interaction, we can block or slow down budding. We predict that the virus would not be able to mutate as readily to get around an inhibitor that is targeting, at least in part, a host function in comparison to one that just targets a specific viral protein.
"The step that we are targeting is the very last step in budding, so the viruses are on the surface of the host cell. They can’t quite break free but are where the immune system can react to that pathogen.
"[Budding] is analogous to having a car thief trying to speed away from a robbery. The drug would act like spike strips put down in front of that car; it would slow the infection down. We hope that will allow the immune system more time to develop a response, like the spike strips allow the police officer to catch up to the thief and arrest him.
"The other really exciting part of the development of these compounds is they potentially have a very broad spectrum range of activity because many of these RNA viruses bud from cells using a similar mechanism. They all hijack the same host pathways. So what we and others have found is that if we can block budding of Ebola virus, for example, that same compound can block budding of other viruses like rabies, VSV, Marburg virus or even HIV. There is the potential to have a drug that could be effective against many different families of RNA viruses."
Dr. Harty’s work reveals the deep connections between animal and human health. Hopefully, the compounds he and his team are developing eventually will benefit us all.

Dr. Jennifer Coates
Image: PhotoSky / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad Ebola 09/02/2014 08:18pm Surely it's signifiant that the medical personnel that caught Ebola were brought back to the U.S. and recovered. I find it hard to believe that the care they received in the States didn't have something to do with their recovery.

Could the quarantine facilities have something to do with no reinfecting the patients? Reply to this comment Report abuse 6 amandarose Customer Service in Vet 09/08/2014 05:22am Clearly its signifiant that the medicinal faculty that got Ebola were brought once again to the U.s. furthermore recuperated. Reply to this comment Report abuse 5 JeenyOak JeenyOak 09/10/2014 08:49am In modern days there are new viruses found in animals which reduces their life span here. when i read this article i come to know about Ebola which is really disaster to animal and make them really feel bad as a pet owner love to read these updates because i am so attached with my pets and to bring them happiness i have to updated about the diseases and viruses finally, i would like to give appreciation to Dr. Jennifer Coates for writing this eye opener for me. Reply to this comment Report abuse 4 ]]> TheDailyVet Mon, 01 Sep 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31974 at
Feline Herpes Virus: Bad News for a Popular Treatment Aug 29, 2014 Feline Herpes Virus: Bad News for a Popular Treatment by Dr. Ken Tudor     Share    
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Your veterinarian prescribes L-Lysine to treat the periodic runny eyes and runny nose in your cat, but you don’t think it really is helping all that much. You are probably right. Although inconsistent studies in cats have raised doubts about this medication, it continues to be a mainstay for the treatment of herpes virus in cats. A recent study published in the American Journal of Veterinary Research raises further doubt about the role of L-Lysine in the treatment of feline herpes virus.
What is Herpes Virus in Cats?
Feline Herpesvirus 1, or FHV-1, is the most common upper respiratory virus in cats worldwide. It causes a condition called Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, or is sometimes called feline influenza. The virus is extremely common in shelters and catteries. Some studies have indicated positive blood titers for herpes virus as high as over 90 percent in feral and shelter cat populations.
Most kittens and cats exposed to herpes virus experience symptoms within two to four days. Coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, and conjunctivitis (red swelling of the tissue that surrounds the eyeball) are the most common symptoms. Some animals may experience a high fever and decreased appetite. The condition generally runs its course in four to seven days. Some kittens may become extremely ill with secondary pneumonia or develop severe, sometimes permanent, scarring of the cornea of the eye.
The problem with the herpes virus family, as many humans with herpes know, is that it is the gift that keeps on giving. The immune system of humans and cats cannot clear the infection and rid the body of the virus. The virus lays dormant for periods of time and then starts reproducing causing flare-ups. Periodic “cold sores” on the lips of humans is a common herpes flare-up. In cats, seasonal sneezing and conjunctivitis coincide with seasonal changes in spring and fall or during stressful holiday periods like Christmas. Seasonal changes and stress result in an increase of corticosteroid hormone released into the blood, which suppresses immune function and promotes shedding of the latent herpes virus. It is during these periods of flare-ups that veterinarians recommend the use of L-Lysine to decrease viral reproduction and shedding.
What is L-Lysine?
L-Lysine is an amino acid. Its use in cats was predicated on human research that suggested that large amounts of the amino acid inhibit human herpes virus in cell cultures. Some studies with cat cells indicated the same findings. This led to the widespread use of oral L-lysine gels for the treatment of herpes symptoms in cats, especially those associated with the eyes and nose. But research in actual cats, not cat cells in a petri dish, has failed to show consistent success with the treatment.
The purpose of the recent study was to re-visit the early research done on cat cells. This research group corrected some of the technical flaws in the original research and then analyzed the effect of increased dosage levels of L-lysine on herpes virus reproduction. They found that increasing amounts of L-lysine in the cell cultures had little effect on suppressing herpes virus reproduction. These laboratory findings are consistent with the research performed in cats with herpes virus. Contrary to popular veterinary belief, these researchers found the results of their study, as well as the studies in cats, offer little scientific justification for the use of L-lysine in the treatment of feline herpesvirus 1 in cats.
If your cat is being treated for FHV-1, you might want to ask your vet about other treatment alternatives.

Dr. Ken Tudor
Cave, NJ et al: Effects of physiological concentrations of L-Lysine on in vitro replication of feline herpesvirus 1. American Journal of Veterinary Research; June 2014:Vol. 75, No 6; 572-80
Image: Goodluz / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad Lysine Treats 08/31/2014 08:42pm My Stan (RIP) would get conjunctivitis from time to time and the doctor eventually suggested L-Lysine treats, which he loved, as a way to keep the virus at bay. Unfortunately, Stan passed from unrelated problems before we found out if it did any good. Reply to this comment Report abuse 5 Anderson729 thanks to Dr fadeyi 09/13/2014 01:08am This comment has been flagged as inappropriate. Reply to this comment Report abuse 1 ]]> TheDailyVet Fri, 29 Aug 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31971 at
The Importance of the Veterinary Mobility Act, Summed Up in One Dog's Death Aug 28, 2014 The Importance of the Veterinary Mobility Act, Summed Up in One Dog's Death by Dr. Joanne Intile     Share    
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Your travels through social media may have brought you to a photojournalistic webpage of a dog named Duke’s final day of life (see: I Died Today. By Duke Roberts). If you not seen it before, I’ll issue a fair warning to be sure you have a handful of tissues nearby before opening the link. The images and words are guaranteed to cause the most stoic of souls to tear up, if even just a little.
I don’t remember how or when I first came across the story, but as I stared at the photographs and read and re-read the words on the site, I found myself thinking, “Even though I do not know this dog, I know this story.”
In my mind, Duke was previously diagnosed with a terminal cancer and his owner had recently made the most difficult of choices; that it was time to end his pain. The pictures clearly illustrate that though Duke’s disease was advanced enough to affect certain portions of his life, he still was able to face death with dignity and peace, enjoying his favorite things and people during his last day on Earth.
A factor particularly significant to me was that Duke’s euthanasia was performed not within the sterile and clinical confines of a veterinary hospital, but rather was done outdoors, in a tranquil and comfortable setting. Duke spent his final hours doing what he enjoyed most, surrounded by the people who cared for him the greatest, in a completely natural setting. The images tell us he passed serenely and calmly, outdoors on a beautiful summer day.
On a related note, you may have heard some of the buzz surrounding the “Veterinary Mobility Act.” This piece of legislation makes it legal for veterinarians to transport and use controlled substances beyond their primary places of registration and across state lines to treat patients. Much to the relief of veterinary professionals who have lobbied for this legislation since 2009, President Obama very recently signed the act into law.
Controlled substances include pain medications, anesthetics, and drugs used for euthanasia.  For veterinarians who provide house call services, travel to farms or backyard barns, or work with wildlife and in the field of research, these are indispensible treatment options. Prior to the passing of this law, it would be illegal for those doctors to carry and use medications necessary for even the most rudimentary of treatments.
The American Veterinary Medical Association’s press release regarding the law states: 
By passing and signing this legislation, the president and our legislators recognize the critical role veterinarians play in treating sick animals and relieving their pain and suffering. The health and welfare of our nation’s wildlife, food animals, and even our companion animals depend on veterinarians being allowed to do their jobs wherever the need arises.

The importance of the Veterinary Mobility Act is obvious when we consider veterinarians practicing in rural areas, or those who run mobile or ambulatory services. These doctors need to be able to transport and administer controlled substances in order to perform their jobs. They also need to be able to do so without fear of breaking a law or losing their license.
What may not be obvious is why a veterinary oncologist would care about whether or not it would be legal to transport pain medication or euthanasia solution from their base hospital to another location or state.
I’ve written before about the “specifics” of the euthanasia process, with the details centering on the actual event occurring within the veterinary hospital. Though we make every effort to ensure pets are comfortable during this time, for some animals the simple act of traveling to the vet can be stressful and anxiety provoking. For many owners, there can be a “trickle-down” effect of increased strain and worry.
Some pets with end-stage cancer can be in so much pain or so debilitated from their disease that they are unable or unwilling to walk out of their homes. Some owners may not be able to carry their pets or lift them into their cars. I’ve even had some owners tell me their pets bit them out of fear or pain during attempts to transport them. Therefore, in certain cases, it truly is in the pet’s best interests to not spend their last moments in a veterinary hospital.
Owners have asked me if I could perform an at-home euthanasia and I know I’ve disappointed them with my answer. I’ve had to tell them that legally, I cannot do it. It’s typically a somewhat awkward conversation, where I think both the owner and I feel unsatisfied.
This isn’t to say I possess a strong desire to euthanize pets at home, and certainly it would not be practical to make such practice a routine part of my daily schedule. I’ll leave that up to those veterinarians who make this part of their professional services. But being able to provide this option for owners in particular cases would be invaluable.
Many pets with cancer will die from their disease. Veterinary oncologists are integral to the successful treatment of such cases. We are able to provide animals with longer and happier lives and manage their diagnosis as a chronic disease. Unfortunately, cures are uncommon and in most cases owners must consider euthanasia at some point. It is a part of our job and a part of our responsibility to always put our patients' needs first.
Duke’s story is just one of many, but I think it brilliantly outlines why the Veterinary Mobility Act is so important and how it provides owners and pets with additional options not previously established. 
It’s wonderful to know that the president, an obvious animal lover, feels the same way.

Dr. Joanne Intile
Image: (Not Duke) Brent Davis / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad RIP Duke 08/28/2014 07:03pm i read Duke's story some time ago and it was, as you said, a tear-jerker.

It was good that the humans weighed the decision heavily and did what was best for Duke.

I hope that the family has healed and that Duke is truly resting in peace. Reply to this comment Report abuse 9 staciejaye Missing my boy 08/29/2014 10:34am Our laws in Canada are likely much different. However, I still feel lucky to have found the kindest, sweetest, vet in my city. When my cat was dying of cancer and I had made that hardest of decisions, without me even asking him, he offered to come to my home to spare my sweet boy the anxiety and stress of travelling to the clinic.
My beautiful Brisket was able to spend his last day by my side, and when my vet arrived, although I was heartbroken, I knew that Brisket had left this world in peace, in his home and with the people and animals he knew and loved. Reply to this comment Report abuse 5 ]]> TheDailyVet Thu, 28 Aug 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31970 at
Study Proves Dogs Can Feel Jealousy Aug 27, 2014 Study Proves Dogs Can Feel Jealousy by Dr. Patrick Mahaney     Share    
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Does your dog ever behave in what appears to be a jealous manner when you interact with a friend’s canine companion? How about his behaviors around toys or food? Does your dog suddenly become more interested in his playthings or meals in the presence of another pooch?
I have certainly seen my own dog, Cardiff, exhibit such above behaviors. When another dog comes over to our home, he becomes more interested in interacting with me in a manner that limits the guest pooch’s access to my attention. Cardiff also strives to prevent that dog’s access to his toys and may growl or posture in an intimidating manner toward our canine guest. I’ve actually welcomed the presence of other dogs to motivate Cardiff to eat during bouts of chemotherapy-induced inappetence. Thank you, Lucia and Olivia.
I’ve always taken the veterinary behavior perspective on the situation and characterized Cardiff’s actions as resource guarding (see Dr. Karen Overall’s DVM360 article Resource-guarding: Are veterinarians lost in interspecies translation?), as I didn’t feel comfortable assigning a human emotion like jealousy to his covetous tendencies.
But perhaps Cardiff was just being jealous, as a recent study proved that dogs can exhibit behaviors consistent with jealousy.
The CNN article Study: Dogs can feel jealous, too shares the findings of a University of California, San Diego study which evaluated the behaviors dogs display when their owners interacted with an animatronic canine-version that vocalized (barked and whined) and wagged its tail.
How Was the Dog Jealousy Study Performed?
Christine R. Harris and Caroline Prouvost performed the study, Jealousy in Dogs, which was published in the peer-reviewed online scientific journal PLOS One. Small dogs were chosen to be part of the study to permit the researchers to more easily control undesirable behaviors. Thirt-six dogs weighing less than 35 pounds or shorter than 15 inches were studied. The breeds included:
Belgian Malinois (1 dog)
Boston Terrier (1)
Chihuahua (2)
Dachshund (1)
Havanese (1)
Maltese (3)
Miniature Pinscher (2)
Pomeranian (2)
Pug (2)
Shetland Sheepdog (1)
Shih Tzu (2)
Welsh Corgi (1)
Yorkshire Terrier (3)
Mixed breeds (14)
All of the dogs were individually evaluated in the familiar settings of their own homes while their owners interacted with the animatronic dog, a children's book, and a plastic jack-o’-lantern, and ignored their pooches. 
How Did the Study Determine the Dogs Were Exhibiting Jealousy?
Reportedly, the real dogs showed behaviors consistent with jealousy by preventing the animatronic dog’s access to their owners and barking and biting at the robotic canine.
The owners’ pleasant praise and gentle petting of the robot dog invoked more of a jealous response by the canine subjects as compared to their responses to the owners’ comparable attentiveness to the book (which played music and featured pop-up pages) and jack-o’-lantern.
The study finds that social interaction is one of the key stimuli for canine jealousy, as the moving and vocalizing object caused the canine subjects to show jealous behaviors more so than the inanimate objects. I find it quite intriguing that 86 percent of the participating dogs approached the behind of the animatronic version to sniff around the anus, as they would do when interacting with real dogs (or cats).
The findings are comparable to human studies, where infants as young as six months showed jealous behaviors when their mothers attended to a realistic-appearing doll, but did not show jealousy when the attention was instead placed on a book.
What Does the Study Determine About the Biological Basis of Jealous Behavior?
Evidently, we humans aren’t the only species capable of jealousy. Yet, are human and canine responses learned or do they have some sort of inherent biological basis? Harris and Prouvost's study finds that ”these results lend support to the hypothesis that jealousy has some 'primordial' form that exists in human infants and in at least one other social species besides humans” (i.e., dogs).
I look forward to hearing about other studies showing how animal behaviors correlate with human emotions.
Has your dog or cat exhibited behaviors consistent with jealousy?  If so, feel free to share your perspective in the comments section below.

Cardiff (left) dashing on a grassy lawn in Beverly Park with Lucia

Olivia photo-bombs Cardiff’s cancer surgery hospital stay

Dr. Patrick Mahaney
Related Articles
The Link Between Pets and Human Health
Feeding Your Dog During Chemotherapy Treatment
Image: dogboxstudio / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad Genius! 08/27/2014 06:30pm "I’ve actually welcomed the presence of other dogs to motivate Cardiff to eat during bouts of chemotherapy-induced inappetence."

That's pure genius! Go Cardiff!

Is the Alpha Dog thing likened to jealousy? Reply to this comment Report abuse 14 ]]> TheDailyVet Wed, 27 Aug 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31969 at
Happy National Dog Day! Aug 26, 2014 Happy National Dog Day! by Dr. Lorie Huston     Share    
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Today, August 26, has been designated as National Dog Day. It is a day set aside to celebrate dogs of all types; purebreds, mixed breeds, pet dogs, therapy dogs, service dogs, and any other type of dog you can name.
In celebration of National Dog Day, I thought it might be a good time to bust some of the myths surrounding dogs.
Let’s start with those dogs commonly called pit bulls. While the title “pit bull” is sometimes used to refer to a specific breed (such as the American Pit Bull Terrier), more often the term is applied to a group of dogs that share similar physical features. Thus, individuals of many different breeds as well as countless mixed breed dogs are frequently referred to as pit bulls.
Pit bulls, as a group, have earned a reputation for viciousness, a totally undeserved reputation. Pit bulls are not, despite popular opinion to the contrary, inherently evil or dangerous dogs. In fact, many pit bulls make wonderful family pets and are quite safe around all people, including children. Like any dog breed, adequate socialization, proper training, and effective supervision are important. However, this is no truer with a pit bull than with a toy poodle, a German shepherd, a mastiff, or any other dog. Any dog can bite. Pit bulls are no more likely to do so than other breeds.
That brings me to the next point. Breed specific legislation (BSL), laws banning specific breeds or types of breeds from specific locations, are not effective. BSL has been enacted in many different locations. However, in none of those locations have the bans been effective in preventing dog bites. The American Veterinary Medical Association and the National Canine Research Council have issued a statement refuting BSL as an effective solution. As noted in this statement, the Center for Disease Control is quoted as saying:
“[The study] does not identify specific breeds that are most likely to bite or kill, and thus is not appropriate for policy-making decisions related to the topic…There is currently no accurate way to identify the number of dogs of a particular breed, and consequently no measure to determine which breeds are more likely to bite or kill.”

Likewise, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) has also issued a position statement taking a stand against BSL.
Hopefully, you’re convinced that pit bulls, as a group, are not dangerous and should not be targeted by unfair laws. But let’s move on.
I totally support rescue. I believe that adopting a pet (dog or cat) from a shelter is never a bad decision, as long as you are able and willing to take responsibility for the care of that pet for the entirety of the pet’s life. Still, I’m not opposed to breeding either. There are many wonderful dog (and cat) breeds that will disappear forever without responsible breeders. The word “responsible” is the key word here though. As a potential pet owner, it falls on you to do the research, should you decide to purchase a purebred dog, to ensure that the breeder is reputable and the puppy is the result of a well-planned and carefully chosen breeding program. Supporting less than reputable breeders, or worse yet puppy mills, is not an acceptable option.
Finally, there is, at least in the minds of some people, the belief that dogs and cats do not get along and cannot live together. This is far from true. Each situation is different, of course. But in most cases, dogs and cats, if introduced properly and given proper time to acclimate to one another, can live together in harmony. In fact, many times, dogs and cats sharing a household will actually become friends and companions.
What dog myths would you like to see busted? Share your "pet" peeve in the comments.

Dr. Lorie Huston
Image: Annette Shaff / Shutterstock
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TheOldBroad National Celebrations 08/26/2014 06:35pm Since I had never heard of National Dog Day, I Googled and found there is also a National Cat Day on October 29th.

Who knew? Reply to this comment Report abuse 7 ]]> TheDailyVet Tue, 26 Aug 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31967 at
More on the Effects of Spaying and Neutering Dogs Aug 25, 2014 More on the Effects of Spaying and Neutering Dogs by Dr. Jennifer Coates     Share    
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In 2013, we talked about a study looking at the effects that neutering (a term that includes both spaying of females and castration of males) had on the incidence of hip dysplasia (HD), cranial cruciate ligament tear (CCL), lymphosarcoma (LSA), hemangiosarcoma (HSA), and mast cell tumor (MCT) in Golden Retrievers. The dogs were classified as being intact or neutered early (<12 mo) or late (≥12 mo). The researchers found increases in the incidence of some of these diseases in specific sub-classes of neutered dogs (e.g., HSA in late neutered females).
I found that study interesting but thought it oversimplified the situation. For instance, if you are the owner of a male Golden Retriever and are only interested in avoiding lymphosarcoma, then you should not neuter your dog before the age of 12 months. Most owners aren’t looking for that sort of information, however. We simply want to know what we should do to keep our dogs as healthy as possible for as long as possible.
Recently, some of the same scientists responsible for the 2013 study published the results of a similar investigation comparing the health effects of neutering in Labrador and Golden Retrievers. While this isn’t a huge increase in the breadth of the research, it did bring to light some important differences relating to breed.
The dogs were divided into narrower age ranges at time of neutering this time around, specifically:

before 6 months of age
6-11 months of age
age 1
ages 2-8

The scientists also looked at a greater number of conditions — hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament tear, elbow dysplasia, lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, mast cell tumor, and mammary cancer. They found that the results for the Golden Retriever were “similar to the previous study, but there were notable differences between breeds.” For example:
In Labrador Retrievers, where about 5 percent of [unneutered] males and females had one or more joint disorders, neutering at <6 mo. doubled the incidence of one or more joint disorders in both sexes. In male and female Golden Retrievers, with the same 5 percent rate of joint disorders in intact dogs, neutering at <6 mo. increased the incidence of a joint disorder to 4–5 times that of intact dogs. The incidence of one or more cancers in female Labrador Retrievers increased slightly above the 3 percent level of intact females with neutering. In contrast, in female Golden Retrievers, with the same 3 percent rate of one or more cancers in intact females, neutering at all periods through 8 years of age increased the rate of at least one of the cancers by 3–4 times. In male Golden and Labrador Retrievers neutering had relatively minor effects in increasing the occurrence of cancers.

These findings are striking. If I owned a female Golden Retriever and was told that by choosing to neuter her, I was making it three to four times more likely she would develop one of these cancers, I’d certainly give that decision a second look. On the other hand, if I was told the same decision would only result in a “slight” increase for my female Lab, I’d probably move ahead.
Overall, I do think research is starting to point to an overall positive effect on longevity in dogs who are not neutered (or at least not neutered early), but only when the downsides of not neutering are controlled for. It’s all well and good to say you are going to protect your dog’s joints by keeping him intact, until he leaps the fence to get to a female in heat and is hit by a truck. I still believe that neutering is right for all but those dogs with the most detail-oriented of owners.

Dr. Jennifer Coates
Neutering dogs: effects on joint disorders and cancers in golden retrievers. Torres de la Riva G, Hart BL, Farver TB, Oberbauer AM, Messam LL, Willits N, Hart LA. PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e55937. 
Long-term health effects of neutering dogs: comparison of labrador retrievers with golden retrievers. Hart BL, Hart LA, Thigpen AP, Willits NH. PLoS One. 2014 Jul 14;9(7):e102241. 
Image: Eastimages / Shutterstock
Related Posts:
Health Benefits and Risks of Spaying and Neutering Dogs
Spayed and Neutered Dogs Live Longer
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TheOldBroad Comments 08/25/2014 06:16pm Comment with no opinion so subsequent comments will be emailed to me. Reply to this comment Report abuse 5 ]]> TheDailyVet Mon, 25 Aug 2014 11:00:00 +0000 31966 at