Wednesday, February 29, 2012

America's next top model

A few weeks ago Lyric had the chance to model for a local photography studio needing a blonde Pomeranian for a photo shoot.  The pictures may be used for a calendar or other product.  We don't know yet if she will be published but it was super fun nonetheless.  Here are  few samples from the shoot and a link to the rest.

The proofs are blurry if I post them any larger but here is the link-they show up better.

And if I needed any proof that she is the cutest dog ever, this is it!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The low cost conundrum

There is great debate in the veterinary community about all the low-cost clinics available to people.  Most of these clinics are limited to spay/neuter surgeries, vaccines and other minor procedures or tests.  It seems most people are either strongly for or against this trend.  This is not a post about which side I'm on-because I can see both sides.  I just thought I would write a bit about the issues and throw in some opinions along the way.  After all, it's my blog.

1.  Low cost clinics take away business from private practices.  This is a huge argument from practice owners.  So does it?  Well, hard to say.  It really depends on the situation.  Some of these low cost clinics don't have any requirements-they let anyone come in and get services regardless of income.  I suspect these are mostly spay/neuter clinics whose aim is reducing the pet overpopulation more so than servicing the public.  But, if the facility truly has an income or need based program then these are likely people who would not be able to afford the services at many higher-end private practices.  At least this way they are getting some care.

2.  Offering low cost services gives people the idea that a service is not worth what a private practice charges for it.  I could agree with this.  Most of these programs are subsidized to provide a low cost to the client, even if the service is performed at a similar level of quality as at a full-price clinic.  But, I can imagine that quite frequently the users of those low cost clinics do not necessarily realize that that is why they are getting a deal.  Without educating the client as to the true cost of care anyone can see why they would think a spay is only worth $40.  It's not that it only costs X amount of dollars, it's that someone else has donated the rest!  And that's not to say that some non-profit or low cost clinics don't cut corners to keep costs down.  However, the same issue occurs in private practice. The clinic that charges 1/2 the price of a competitor for a surgery is likely not offering the same quality and standard of care.  It's lack of a standardization of what is acceptable care that is the issue.  Sadly, many people don't realize this and will price shop for their pet's medical care, not knowing they may put their animal at risk.

3.   If a person cannot afford routine veterinary care at a regularly priced full service clinic then they should not have a pet.  This is probably the most controversial.  I admit, this has always been my opinion as well.  However we all know this is not reality  After all, there are plenty of people who do not have the financial ability or the responsibility needed to care for children but we can't stop them from having as many as they want.  And we think we can stop them from getting pets they also can't care for?  Not gonna happen.  These people are going to get pets no matter what.  It's not the fault of the pet that they belong to those less fortunate, so why should they pay for it?  And it also entirely possible, that in today's economic times the person was better able to care for the pet when they acquired it and have now fallen on hard times.  Isn't it better that they do what they can until time are better than to dump the pet at a shelter?  Sure there are people who will abuse the system if they can, but that's no different than any other charity.  I know better than anyone there are people who get a pet, don't even try to take care of it and knowingly let it live with chronic conditions that are easily addressed.  But there are some people with limited finances that truly try to care for their pets.

In conclusion, I would agree that this is not an ideal situation.  Ideally everyone should only take on animals (or children for that matter) that they have time, space, and money for.  But that's not the real world and likely never will be.  At least there are some options for those pets left in less than perfect situations, even if it's not perfect system.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

This is Country Music

For a long time I've been waiting for the chance to see Brad Paisley in concert.  But every time he came through the midwest it was at a time and place that was inconvenient for me to go.  But this year he came to Springfield!  We bought our tickets pretty much the second they went on sale and semi-patiently waited for last night.  Totally worth it.  So here are the obligatory mediocre quality concert photos.  I know you're excited.

American Idol Scotty McCreery...

The Band Perry...

Brad Paisley!!

 This was part of the animated backdrop for "Ticks"

This is the first performer I have seen who also played an instrument (in this case guitar-obviously) with every single song he played-a true musician.  I also just finished his new autobiography last week-if you like Brad's music, then definitely read the book.  I also took a short video which turned out actually pretty good.  But it's too short to bother loading.  I should have taken a longer one, but then again you are not really supposed to do that so I guess you'll just have to buy your own ticket and hear for yourself! 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Photoshopped Cats

I strained a tendon or muscle on our 10 mile run Friday so this is what I did yesterday while I was resting.  I'm guessing Icy hopes I'm better soon.

 Note our very well used scratching post!

 This isn't really the look I was going for but it was so funny I included it too

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Veterinary Mythbusting Part 2

Feeding Dry Food Prevents Dental Disease

I can't tell you how many times I have commented on a pet's dental disease and advised a cleaning only to have the owner (surprised) respond with "but I only feed him dry food."  First of all, I don't really understand how they don't notice the green, rotting teeth and pus dripping from their dog's gums.  But the idea that feeding a dog only dry kibble will prevent dental disease is false.  Generally speaking.  The answer of course, is a little more complex.

Dry food really does not do anything to prevent plaque or tartar build-up.  Canned food does not cause plaque and tartar build up.  But, canned food leaves much more residue on the teeth than does dry food and may allow the teeth to become dirtier faster than dry food. (So basically that 12 year old toy poodle whose teeth never get any attention is going to have nasty teeth no matter what.  They just may get nasty a year sooner on canned food.)  There are not a lot of studies out there to quantify how much of a difference this makes but I would tend to believe the breed/size of dog you have has a far greater impact than whether or not it eats canned food.  The exception to the rule about dry food are the foods approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council.  These foods have been shown to reduce plaque and/or tartar build up.  However, they are not a complete substitute for brushing, nor will they eliminate the need for professional cleaning.

So, back to surprised owner.  Once I ruin their day by telling them that feeding dry food won't prevent dental disease, they usually want to know what can.  First, they need a professional cleaning  Then they need to start home care!  Daily brushing is the gold standard but other products can help in addition to brushing.  You can use these products as an alternative to brushing but they don't do as good a job as brushing does.  A list of VOHC approved products can be found here. It's best to choose one approved for plaque or plaque and tartar vs just tartar because plaque is what causes periodontal disease and gingivitis.  Another thing people tend to find surprising is when they come in for an exam and are told their pet needs another cleaning.  I often get a surprised and disappointed "but we had them cleaned last year or X number of years ago."  I usually point out that even though we (hopefully) brush our teeth multiple times a day, floss and use mouthwash we still get our teeth cleaned every 6 months.  Dogs are not all that different.

Dogs are however, different from each other.  Small breeds tend to have way more dental disease than large breeds.  There are exceptions to every rule, but by and large that is the trend.  I have seen toy breed dogs with severe dental disease by just a a few years of age, whereas a large breed may never have significant disease.  I am warning you now-do not get a toy breed dog if you are not willing to invest time and money in dental care.  I see so many owners who do not heed the warnings about home care, don't get the cleaning done early when the gingivitis is reversible and the cost reasonable and then allow their pet to suffer because they can't or won't spend the money to fix it.

So basically if you want to feed your dog canned food it's ok.  But no matter what you feed be prepared to care for your pet's teeth at home and allow veterinary care as needed.

And another note about VOHC products.  The VOHC seal of approval is something the maker of the product seeks voluntarily.  So there may be other products out there than do have a measurable impact on dental disease, we just don't know about if they have never applied for approval.  Also, the application process is confidential, so there may some products that applied and failed that we also don't know about.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Veterinary Mythbusting

Collies (and other herding breeds) and Ivermectin

A lot people have heard that collies, aussies, shelties, border collies (any dog with white feet) cannot have Ivemectin containing products including the popular heartworm preventative, Heartgard.  This is false.  There are no Heartgard sensitive breeds or dogs.  Yes, there are Ivermectin sensitive dogs but the dose in Heartgard is well below the level at which any problems are seen, even in affected dogs.  After all, there is a Border Collie pictured on the appropriate sized Heartgard Box.  Also veterinarians would not willy-nilly distribute a product that was unsafe for significant portion of dogs (herding breeds and herding breed crosses).  Well, I wouldn't, maybe others would?

Ok.  So myth busted.  But why are there Ivermectin sensitive breeds?  Some dogs-primarily collies, but others as well (more on that later) are affected with a mutation called the Multi-drug Resistance Gene Mutation or MDR1.  This mutation specifically causes a defective pump (the p-glycoprotein pump).  This pump is responsible for moving certain substances into and out of cells around the body.  When the pump does not work effectively higher concentrations of the drug ends up in places it shouldn't (in the case of Ivermectin that would be in the brain).  Not all drugs are moved by this pump so not all drugs need to be adjusted or avoided in dogs with the mutation.  However, Ivermectin is also not the only one.  Others include Butorphanol, Loperamide, Digoxin,Vinblastine, Mexiletine, Doxorubicin, and Acepromazine.

It should also be noted that a dog can be homozygous normal for the mutation (not affected), heterozygous for the mutation (partially affected) or homozygous abnormal (fully affected).  It's important to know what the status of your dog is before starting on these medications because it will affect the dose used in some cases.

The most commonly affected breed is the Collie with around 70% carrying the mutation.  Other breeds affected include Aussies at 50%, Shelties at 15% and Border collies at less than 5%.  These numbers (as well as stats on other breeds) are from the Washington State University Veterinary Diagnostic Lab.  Note that those percentages include the heterozygous dogs as well as the homozygous mutants.  Mixed breeds can also carry the gene, especially if it is a herding breed mix.

The WSU lab can check your dog's status with a simple test.  They also have additional details about which drug are problems and how to avoid complications.

Monday, February 13, 2012


This may be the only snow we get this year-which is fine with me.  But I figured since I was off work early I should take some pictures of it.  Besides,  I don't have anything else to blog about.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Together Again

We sent Jelly to join her long lost sister, Peanut Butter, early Wednesday morning.
I happened to wake up around 4:00 Wednesday and Legend wanted to go out (unusual for her).  While I was waiting for her I checked on Jelly and found her coated in drool and vomit and struggling to breathe.  I don't know what caused her sudden decline but I knew there was really one decision to make.  Jerry stayed with her while I make a quick trip to the clinic for the medications that would put her at peace.

I was curious what a necropsy might show, but 4:30 on a Wednesday morning was not a convenient time for such a project, so I just let it go.  Wouldn't change anything anyway.  I really feel like she probably had cancer but I just don't know where.  Maybe something will show up on the biopsies.

We are sad now, but in the long run it's probably for the best. It probably would not have been been that wonderful for her to live another 5-10 years in the garage and we had reservations about putting a house cat of that age to live in the barn.  But now she is catching mice with PB across the Rainbow Bridge, or just basking in the sun...

Monday, February 6, 2012


Our Jelly cat is sick.  She started not feeling well early last week-decreased appetite and lethargy.  She quit eating entirely in the middle of the week and baseline bloodwork and urine tests looked ok.  She responded initially to anti-emetics and appetite stimulants but then progressively got worse.  She has lost a few pounds over an unknown period of time as well.  With her age and lack of other symptoms we are worried about cancer or maybe IBD.  Sunday we decided to do surgery to look for a cause of illness and collect biopsies.  There are other possible diagnostics we could have done first but but when looking for intestinal disease you typically need a biopsy anyway we we just skipped to that.  Plus I can do the surgery cheaper than I can send out special tests or take her to a specialty center for ultrasound. 
The surgery was very boring.  Everything looked normal, which doesn't mean there isn't anything hiding.  That's the point of a biopsy I guess. So, I sampled the intestines in several places.
We are waiting on the results but it will be several days.  Meanwhile she is not doing well.  Very lethargic, refuses to eat and drink at all, drools and gags when syringe fed and is on a pharmacy of meds.  If the meds don't make a difference soon, it may not matter what the biopsies show.  Keep her in your thoughts.  She is a pain but we love her anyway.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sleeping beauties

Staying in bed has seemed like a good thing to do lately.  It has been chilly, cloudy and rainy here for several days.  I took these as we were getting ready for bed the other night. But don't let this arrangement fool you, at least some of them will be in bed with us by morning!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Birthday Boy

This handsome fellow is 11 years old today (approximately)!
When we got Zodiac I wanted a dog that could do everything, and he didn't disappoint.  He really  is the whole package-brains, beauty, instinct and a great temperament to boot.  His titles and awards were really only limited by my time, commitment and interests.  Although now retired from dog sports he continues to serve as an active therapy dog bringing joy to hospitalized children.  He is my jack of all trades, foot warmer, puppy sitter and floor cleaner.

Happy Birthday Baby-Z!  Hoping for many more!