Jack Russell’s surgery is just a symptom of a larger problem

MaxA 10 year-old Jack Russell, Max, wasn’t feeling well.

He’d eaten a red rubber toy, and while he vomited a small piece of it up, X-rays and continued vomiting suggested there was more foreign material in the stomach and the small intestine.

Sure enough, we found 2 more foreign bodies in the belly. One piece was in the stomach, which we opened up. The other one was literally stuck at the end of small intestine, right before the appendix.

But that wasn’t it. Because of his age, I suspected that Max had an underlying condition that compelled him to eat things he shouldn’t. We expect puppies to get into things they shouldn’t, which is why puppy-proofing a house is so important! On the other hand, seniors like Max and dogs who are past puppy-hood should know better.

We took biopsies of the stomach and the intestine at Berks Animal Emergency & Referral Center. Sure enough, a week later the biopsies revealed Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), a condition similar to IBS in people.

Toys are not always as safe as manufacturers claim! Young dogs eat stuff because they are young and… not always so smart (good thing they’re cute).

However, older pets should know better. They often eat foreign bodies because of IBD, which should be treated.

Max 2

The foreign bodies we removed from Max.

The Fourth Revolution: Fear Free veterinary care for pets

labrador retriever puppyI recently attended a seminar with my wonderful colleague Dr. Marty Becker, the founder of the Fear Free™ movement in veterinary care.

He made an interesting observation, which I thought I should share with my pet-loving readers. He observed there have been four major revolutions in the veterinary world over the past few decades:

Revolution 1: Feline Medicine

There was a time cats lived in the yard or the barn, and weren’t really considered pets. As they moved into the house and became family pets, vets had to come up with anesthesia, medications, and vaccines that were appropriate and safe for cats.

Revolution 2: Dental Care

When vets realized that pets had teeth that needed care, we started recommending brushing their teeth and performing dental cleaning. Specialized veterinary dentists soon appeared, and we were able to offer very advanced care.

Revolution 3: Pain Management

It’s embarrassing, but there was a time when we didn’t understand that pets could feel pain. A whole new world soon emerged. Pain medications started to be included with every surgery. Now, I can’t even conceive doing surgery without multiple pain medications before, during, and after surgery.

Revolution 4: Fear Free Practice

Fear Free is a movement that affects every step of pet care: the car ride, the waiting room, the exam room, around surgery… everything. But here is the interesting observation Dr. Becker made: Feline medicine only affects cats. Dental care mostly affects pets above a certain age. Pain medications only affect pets in pain.

But Fear Free affects every single cat and dog – which makes it all the more important to embrace for vets and pet owners alike.

To learn more about Fear Free:

Reducing Your Cat’s Fear of the Veterinarian

Reducing Your Dog’s Fear of the Veterinarian

 

Shattered femur causes problems for German Shepherd

Harper vertical cropHarper, a 6 month old female German Shepherd, had a small problem.

Lots of small problems actually.

Her femur, or thigh bone, was shattered. You can see two large pieces at the break, and multiple small pieces in the middle.

I performed a surgical repair at Berks Animal and Emergency Center & Referral Center, using 1 pin, 2 wires, 9 screws, a stainless steel plate, and a bone graft! You can see the fractures and the repairs in the x-ray images below.

After 6 weeks of strict confinement, it was time to play in the snow!

A view of the femur, immediately before surgery.

A view of the femur, immediately before surgery.

Another preop view of the femur.

Another preop view of the femur.

Here is Harper immediately after surgery.

Here is Harper immediately after surgery.

A lateral post-surgical view.

A lateral post-surgical view.

Harper 6 week AP

An x-ray six weeks after surgery.

Six weeks after surgery, Harper's x-rays look much better!

Six weeks after surgery, Harper’s x-rays look much better!

Take advantage of Pet Dental Health Month

February is Pet Dental Health Month. This could be a great opportunity for your pet to get a good dental cleaning, and possibly for you to get a nice discount.

How do you know if your pet needs a dental cleaning?

  • If your pet has bad breath
  • If your pet drools or seems to have difficulty chewing
  • If you see brown tartar on the teeth (see the picture below for an extreme example)
BEFORE cleaning - severe tartar

“BEFORE cleaning – severe tartar”

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Get inside your vet’s mind…

So you think being a vet is all fun and games, right? Cute puppies and purring kittens all day, right?

Sadly, our profession is riddled with problems (like any other): an obscene student debt load (often hundreds of thousands of dollars), low income compared to most healthcare professions, difficulty providing excellent pet care while keeping fees affordable, rising costs etc. Therefore, vets face an enormous amount of stress.

What could possibly make vets stressed out? After agonizing for several weeks over my choice, I decided to share openly some the challenges vets face on a daily basis.
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