Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A few trial pics

Thanks to Porch Pig Productions for these!

 Legend being a good girl for Aunt Cheri

 Super cute!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

More winter

This time, snow.  Not much, but enough to make a mess of the morning roads apparently.  Realistically, I could have gone to work but the first thing people do when it snows is cancel their vet appointment.  So I figured it would be a better use of my time and clinic money to stay home.  Not that I necessarily mind getting paid to read or browse veterinary websites for current treatment protocols and drug recalls but, I have laundry to do.  Instead I let Jerry take the 4WD to work as he had meetings to attend. 

So here are the obligatory snow day pictures. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

A good cause

Cancer is a terrible thing.  But somehow, it's even more terrible when it affects a young person or child.  It seems more cruel, more unfair, and more difficult to cope with.  But we can help end these tragedies!

At the end of April I'm running the Country Music Half-marathon in Nashville to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.   In addition to my entry fee, I have also decided to have a personal fundraising page.

If you would like to contribute to this worthy cause you may visit my page here.

I know we don't have any children to worry about but we certainly have children in our lives that we care about.  We also know what it's like to lose someone far too young to cancer.  It leaves behind a different kind of pain that other kinds of losses.  It's not something that ever really goes away because you never expected it to happen in the first place.  So let's help other families and other children avoid that kind of pain-even a small donation makes a difference!

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Despite being freezing cold in the barn/arena this weekend we came away with a fair amount of success.  To be fair, there was one room that was moderately well heated but no dogs allowed so the kiddos had to stay out in the stalls and freeze.  But they seemed ok.  

Legend LOVED running novice preferred.  I'm sure it was a combination of the cool weather, sitting in her crate all day, lower jumps and simple courses but her jumpers times were a solid 1/2 yard per second faster than what I normally consider "good" for her.  She had clean runs all three days including running with Cheri on saturday.  We really had a good time-in fact she was so hyped up today she didn't let me get the two jump lead out I had planned and started before I called her.  She never does that.  So, it was bad, but good. Get it?  Anyway, it was like a whole new dog.  Standard was also fun but she was still haunted by the phantom of the a-frame.  She had refusals on it Friday and Satuday but did it the first time today.  But it was obstacle 13.  But since it's novice she still came away with 6/6 Qs for the weekend.  

Lyric was mostly awesome.  All weekend she was running fast and handling well.  She was driving to the obstacles, letting me rear cross and doing tunnel entrance discriminations like a champ.  Friday she even got first in jumpers.  Then she had a little weave pole trouble in standard but did the teeter.  Saturday...are you ready for this...she actually QQ'd  for the first time in almost a year and a half.  I thought we were on a roll but today, after a lovely jumpers Q, she failed to weave in standard and bailed off the teeter.  Ugh.  Looks like we will be back at the fun run here in two weeks doing more teeters.  At least we have until May before the next AKC trial.  Hopefully this won't be a big setback.  

And yes, I know that based on the new rule I did not have to start Legend over in novice.  But seriously-we had so much fun, why wouldn't I?  The other 6 blue ribbons are hers-we were the only novice preferred 16 inch this weekend.  But who's to say she wouldn't have been first anyway?

I made this on my phone.  I just had to share because it's so stinking cute. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013


While much of the state is gettting a foot of snow or more, we got this.
About a 1/4 inch of ice fell overnight followed by an inch of sleet this morning.

I had already reecheduled my surgeries for monday so I got to stay home.  Jerry worked from home as well.  There is a local AKC trial starting at 6 tonight and even though they are going to have it I am going to pass on this evening's events.  It might not be too bad now but after the refreeze at sundown it might be.  Plus-even a heated barn is going to be quite cold tonight and I only have Lyric entered since it's excellent only today.  I don't think she will mind.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mass confusion

Also known as, more dog bed stuff.  So as you know we have a small, medium, and large dog bed.  Usually Zodiac sleeps in "small" and the girls sleep in "medium" or with us.  Alternately, Zodiac sleeps in "medium" and the girls either share with him or us.

The other night Lyric was in "small" and Legend was on Zodiac's "side" of "medium."  Quinn (yes we have been letting him sleep loose) was in "large."  Zodiac was confused about what to do.  I tried to get him to get in bed with us but he's pretty hesitant to jump on the bed from the new flooring-too slick. But, never fear, Quinn was curious about the commotion and abandoned "large" to see what was going on.  Zodiac didn't let the opportunity go to waste and grabbed Quinn's spot.  That left Quinn confused.  He tried the floor but decided he didn't like that and ultimately ended up squeezing onto "large" with Zodiac.

By morning all was different anyway.  Never a dull moment.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Parasites Part 8: Lice

Lice are uncommon parasites that occur in many species of animals.  Lice are very species specific-dog lice only affect dogs, cat lice affect cats, human lice affect humans, etc.  Although it is possible for occasional crossover they don't survive long off their intended host.

Pets get lice by direct contact with other inected animals or by contact with egg infested grooming equipment, bedding, etc.  Lice are most common in unsanitry and crowded conditions.  Lice live their entire 21 day life cycle on the pet and can cause itching, hair loss, scruffy and flaky coat.  There are two kinds of lice that affect dogs-one that chews skin and one that sucks blood.  Although anemia is possible from the blood suckers this is usually on an issue in very small puppies.

Lice can be diagnosed with the naked eye.  They are also easy to treat as they are susceptible to many of the available flea products such as Frontline or Revolution.  Treatments are often performed at 2 week intervals for 3-4 treatments.  Washing or disposing of bedding is also a good idea.

Zoonotic Potential
As mentioned above you don't need to worry about getting lice from your pet.  Just your child.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Mighty Quinn

Is still available!  And isn't he pretty?

He's such a good boy.  Quiet, gentle, low-maintenance, well behaved, house-broken and loves everyone!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday hike

We joined some friends for a hike at one of the state parks this afternoon. The trail we picked wasn't very busy which meant the dogs all to play off lead. They thought this was most awesome. But their favorite part was swimming and fetching sticks in the river. They were a little less impressed with the posing on a log part. Unfortunately we aren't even home yet and Legend already seems rejuvenated. Gotta love a border collie!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Girls Day Out

Wednesday I was off work and had no plans so Kennedy and I spent the day together.  We started out with your basic cartoon watching and playing ponies.

Then we went off to lunch and the Discovery Center.  There were lots of important things to be done there.

Building castles
Digging for dinosaur bones
Doing some construction work

Going to the market
And whatever these things are
Then it was off to the bookstore for some new books and we finished up with some Spongebob and coloring.  I think we were both ready for a nap at the end of the day.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A day in the life

Today was one of "those" days at the clinic.  Not really a bad day, just somewhere on the border of interesting and chaotic.  We had a good number of surgeries and a few run of the mill drop-off appointments.  It started to get interesting when one of the surgeries called to say that they had tied the dog in the bed of the truck.  He jumped out, and got hung by his collar.  Fortunately, the collar broke, the dog got away and was promptly hit by a car.  Luckily he was not badly injured.  Who knew that getting hit by a car would be the better option?  But when your other choice is strangulation or broken neck...

Needless to say we elected to clean his wounds and monitor him for the day and perform the neuter at a later date.  The next disruption to our day was a call about a dog who had started with a bad limp after running in the field last night.  I wanted him to drop off since we didn't really have any appointments available but apparently he lives 25 minutes away and that's just too much driving back and forth.  Ultimately we told him he'd have to wait until I was between surgeries and he decided to run some errands.  I guess that makes the 25 minute trip to town more worthwhile.  Anyway the dog had  a very swollen foot and a draining tract between her toes with something dark in it.  Usually that just ends of being dirt or dead tissue but she wasn't about to let us look.  So we sedated her, shaved and cleaned the area and prepared to explore the wound.  Then came the moment all veterinarians wait for...pulling something awesome out of a wound tract.

The small piece came out first and I was already amazed at that.  So imagine the shock and awe that ensued when I pulled out the large piece.  It was as big around as my little finger.  Imagine the force which she had to have rammed her foot on that to drive it up between her toes.  I'm sure she will feel a lot better tomorrow.  We took an x-ray too, no broken toes.

Just when things were settling down we got a call from a woman who announced she was on her way and that her dog had been badly injured but she couldn't talk on the phone and drive.  A short time later she and her three children (all relatively calm considering) arrived with a dog drenched in blood and still actively bleeding.  There was so much blood on the dog my receptionist thought for sure the dog was dying.  The owner's theory was that the dog had been mauled by a deer.  I'm not even sure that's a thing that happens but after further evaluation I could at least say with certainty that's not what happened to this dog.  All the blood was coming from a tiny (as in 2-3 mm) laceration on the inside of the ear flap.  It took longer to clean off all the blood than to suture the wound.

And then things settled down enough for us to finish the morning and go to lunch.  Whereby someone came in, without an appointment, during the middle of lunch hour and asked for a rabies shot.  Really?  Do people do this to their physician or dentist or barber, etc?  We told him he needed an appointment and sent him away. Seriously.  What is wrong with people?

The afternoon started ok.  Then the old man who rescues stray dogs and cats showed up unannounced with a relatively healthy looking kitten who was "lethargic." Other than an early upper respiratory infection there was really nothing wrong.  She wasn't even that lethargic.  And it's basically viral at this point anyway.  So we sent a dewormer and instructions to check her temp again in the morning.  Then an appointment came 2 hours early.  Naturally.  During a free moment I went to check on the ear dog and make sure she wasn't bleeding any more.  I found my tech putting a leash on her the kennel area and she informed me the dog met her at the door but the gate to her run was closed and locked.  Curious, to say the least.  We put the dog back and went on.  A few minutes later I went to check on her and found this.

After snapping a few photos I went to try and get her down.  After all, since she came in for two stitches I didn't want her to leave with a broken leg!  She started to jump down as I reached for her but then seemed to have a change of heart about the same time I wondered if I could actually catch her.  So now I was supporting her front end and she had rearranged her feet in the bars in such a way that I was afraid to let go and cause her to hurt her foot but I also couldn't reach high enough to help her out.  Great.  And there were some excessively loud dogs in the kennel making my calls for help useless.  While contemplating my predicament the tech appeared and I asked for a chair.  She brought a stool.  I wasn't sure this was safe for me to stand on while catching a 40 lb dog.  But about this time the dog bailed and between the two of us we broke her fall.  We relocated her to a cage.

A note was on the schedule for this afternoon indicating a new client was coming in to meet the vet before deciding if this was where he wanted to bring his pets for care.  At some point during all this he had arrived.  He was asked specifically when making the appointment if he would be bringing pets and he said no.  Naturally when he arrived he had three dogs in tow requesting nail trims if possible   Since he wasn't supposed to bring dogs we didn't really have time for this but he was happy to wait. Ideally this shouldn't be an issue but since we are short on staff and even shorter on staff trained well enough to be useful I didn't have two people I could dispense for nail trims.  But he eventually got talked to and the nails trimmed despite the last appointment (with two pets nonetheless) showing up late.  Par for the course as last appointments go.

In the end the owner running errands was able to pick up his dog without making an extra trip, the owner of the bleeding dog admitted that she also jumps fences at home, the new client seemed happy, and the hit by car was back to his usual obnoxious self.  And we all went home with a good story.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Parasites Part 7: Ticks

Ticks are arthropods (like spiders) and there are several species that exist in various parts of the country.  Although different species vary somewhat in their life cycle they all share the basic similarities.

Female ticks lay their eggs in a secluded place in the spring and can lay as many as 100-6,000 at a time depending on the species.  Within two weeks the eggs hatch and find a host-usually a bird or rodent.  After several days of feeding they drop off and become nymphs.  The nymphs remain inactive during the winter and start seeking a new host in the spring. Once they find a new host (pet, human, or wildlife) they feed and once again fall off.  At this point they become adults.  In the fall the adults find a host, again, a pet, human or wildlife, and the females feed for 8-12 days.  The adults mate while on the host, when they fall off the males die, and the females remain inactive for the winter and lay eggs in the spring, starting the cycle again.

So this is all fine and well but why are they so hard to get rid of?  There are several factors for this.  One is the ability to survive without a host.  If  tick is unable to find a host in the fall it can survive over the winter without a blood meal.   Also, some of the available tick control products don't work on all species of ticks.  In addition to this the wildlife in the area serve as a huge reservoir   Literally thousands of ticks can live on one moose or deer.  With their ability to survive, huge egg-laying capacity, and large reservoir it can nearly impossible to eradicate them.

Ticks tend to live in leaf litter and tall grass so keeping the yard trimmed and avoiding wooded areas will help limit exposure.  Contrary to popular belief ticks do not normally jump from trees to land on hosts.  However,  they are attracted to motion, heat and changes in light patterns and use these methods to crawl towards hosts passing through their area.

Ticks themselves don't cause much problem.  The bite itself is usually painless and typically causes only a mild, self-limiting local irritation on the skin.  Although they do feed on blood, usually there are not enough ticks on a pet at a time for this to be significant.  The big problem with ticks is that they can transmit a number of diseases, including tick paralysis, lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, babesia, and rocky mountain spotted fever. However, it can take several hours of feeding before transmitting disease.  Therefore, avoiding tick habitats, using appropriate tick control products, and finding and removing ticks before they attach will help prevent disease transmission.

Zoonotic potential
As most of us know, ticks can bite people as well.  Humans are also susceptible to many of the tick borne illnesses listed above.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Will Run For Chocolate

This weekend Cheri and I traveled to Dallas for the Hot Chocolate 15k.  The drive to Dallas from Springfield was, shall we say, less than scenic.  Easy, but dull.  Driving in Dallas however, is somewhat of a nightmare.  There is traffic at all hours of the day, even at 7 AM on a Saturday morning.  We were not quite prepared for this but managed to get where we wanted without too much trouble.

The race offered a 15k and a 5k with 3000-4000 runners in each race.  But, for being that large an event it was very well run and everything seems to go smoothly.  We ran the 15K and I finished almost a minute under my goal time of 90 minutes (it was 9.3 miles).  At the end there is a chocolate party. Everyone gets a bowl full of hot chocolate, and goodies to dip in fondue.  They had prepared over 800 gallons of hot chocolate and 1.75 tons of fondue.
And instead of another plain old race t-shirt, we got these!
My finish time put me at 1381 of about 3700 runners, 180/525 in my age group and 843/2778 females.
The best news is that the Hot Chocolate run is coming to St. Louis next year so we don't have to drive so far!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Bulldog Ethics

I don't believe in the existence of the modern day bulldog.  These poor animals are plagued with chronic and debilitating diseases from the day they are born.   The list of maladies afflicting these dogs is almost endless as is the number of body systems involved.

They commonly have infections of the skin folds of the face and around the tail (often requiring daily cleaning or surgical correction), cysts between the toes, allergies, and ear infections.  Eyelid disorders and "cherry eye" or prolapse of gland of the third eyelid are the common diseases of bulldog eyes. Upwards of 75% of bulldogs have hip dysplasia and some have luxating patellas.  Cardiac disease is a common cause of death. On top of all this they are often severely affected with brachycephalic airway syndrome.  This is a cluster of conditions afflicting "short-faced" dogs including narrowed nostrils and tracheas, and elongated soft palate (the tissues in the back of the mouth and throat), any of which can cause respiratory distress on a daily basis but combined can spell disaster and lead to a difficult (and noisy) daily existence. Bulldogs can't tolerate heat or significant amounts of exercise and are significant anesthetic risks.  On top of this most bulldog litters are the product of artificial insemination and c-sections.  Natural selection would never allow for this breed to continue in it's current condition.
Old world style Bulldog

Modern Bulldog

If any other dog was afflicted with all these conditions most people would be horrified to hear of it being bred but since it's a bulldog people seem to overlook or accept it because "that's just how bulldogs are. "  Except it isn't.  Bulldogs didn't just appear on the planet looking like this.  All dog breeds as we know them today are the product of genetic manipulation and selective breeding over hundreds of years.  Bulldogs were originally used in the sport of bull baiting.  Fortunately for all involved this sport was ultimately banned and the production of bulldogs for pets continued but with further manipulation to magnify some of the breed's unique characteristics.  The one favor breeders have done for bulldogs over time is to alter their temperamant creating a docile and family friendly dog.  But what they have done for it's health-all in the name of aesthetics-is unforgivable.

And one might argue that the same could be said of other breeds whose unique characteristics have been exploited (shar-peis, basset hounds, dachshunds, and corgis to name a few) and I don't fully disagree with this.  However many of these dogs live all or most of their lives in good health.  While there are certainly risks and hazards associated with  long backs, floppy ears, and droopy eyelids they do not frequently affect the daily quality of life in the same way as bulldog diseases.

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that any of this is going to change.  AKC statistics for 2012 show the English Bulldog is the 5th most popular breed in the US.  This means there are plenty of unsuspecting pet owners lining up to fork over thousands of dollars to "breeders" for a roly-poly bulldog puppy.  What's even more sad is that due to the high rate of c-section in this breed, veterinarians are in the unique position of controlling the future of bulldogs.  If they would simply stop offering repeated c-sections and artificial inseminations to owners then it would force a more natural, healthier dog to be produced.  But not all veterinarians shares my viewpoint.  Some like bulldogs the way they are, some are in it for the money, some want to make clients happy at any cost and quite frankly, are not as opinionated as me.  But, that's why I have a blog and they don't.  Which more or less brings me to the end of my rant.  As always, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Parasites Part 6: Fleas

There are parts of the country where fleas are not a problem.  Good for you.  For the rest of us fleas can be a huge problem.  I diagnose fleas every day at work, year round.

There are multiple species of fleas in the world but the only one we care about is Ctenocephalides felis-the cat flea.  Despite it's name this is the species of flea that preys on all our pets-dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, etc.

Where did my dog get fleas?  Contrary to popular belief fleas do not generally jump from one animal to another.  Once an adult flea feeds on it's host it does not willingly leave.  This isn't to say that direct transfer of fleas does not happen, but it's not the primary way pets get fleas.  So, what's the real story?

Adult female fleas lay up to 40 eggs per day which then fall off the host into the environment.  This is often where the dog or other host animal spends a lot of time-dogs beds, kennels, houses, carpet, shady spots in the yard, etc.  Stray cats and wild animals passing through the area (your backyard, the dog park, etc) can also serve as a reservoir.   All it takes is eggs dropping off another animal in area where you pet later passes through.

Once the eggs are laid and fall off into the environment they hatch into the larval stage at temperatures of 65-80 degrees F.  The larval stage goes through a series of molts over a period of as little as 9 days before entering the pupal stage.  The pupae spin themselves into a cocoon and can survive in the environment for months-sometimes up to a year waiting for the right time to emerge.  The pupae are specially designed to pick up signals such as heat and vibration to know when a new host is nearby and thus the correct time to emerge.  For this reason there could have been no animal in the vicinity for months and all of a sudden a dog moves in and....ta-da....the dog now has fleas!

Once emerged from the cocoon the new adult flea actively searches out and finds a host, begins feeding and the life cycle begins again.  Adult fleas can live for 4-6 weeks if they survive the scratching, grooming, and licking activity of the host.  Females begin laying eggs within 24-48 hours of feeding.

So if I see fleas on my pet can't I just treat him and be done with it?  Usually, no.  Sometimes, if the fleas were very recently acquired and they were picked up in an environment you don't frequent (like a hotel, etc),  you treat with a product that kills live fleas and sterilizes eggs and there are no other pets in the household then you might get away with that.  But the important thing to remember is that typically the live fleas you see on a pet account for only about 5% of the overall flea population.  The rest are in various stages of development that are hatching out and developing over a period of several months.  Therefore, if you have a flea outbreak it is recommended to treat for at least 3 months.  It's also important to treat all the pets in the house even if they are not itching or you don't see fleas.  Some pets, especially cats, are very good at removing all traces of fleas from their fur.  And some pets are not allergic to flea bites-so just because they are not itching does not mean they don't have fleas.

What problems do fleas cause?  Most commonly flea allergic dermatitis.  As many of you know a lot of pets are allergic to fleas.  Since fleas tend to congregate on the back half of the animal this often results in itching and chewing above and around the tail and the hind legs.  This often leaves hair loss, crusting, redness, bleeding, and infection in those areas.  Common treatments include medicated shampoos, steroids, antibiotics and of course a flea control program.

The other major problem fleas cause is anemia or low red blood cell count.  This is most common in small puppies and kittens but a severe enough flea infestation can be fatal for an adult dog and blood transfusions can be needed.  Fleas also carry tapeworms as previously discussed.

Fleas can be prevented/treated by appropriate use of monthly flea preventatives.  Since I have discussed these previously I won't go into them again.  A common question people ask is about resistance to flea medications.  Many veterinarians and clients believe there fleas are becoming resistant to some of the older products but this has not actually been proven to my knowledge.  So if you are having a flea problem it's certainly not wrong to switch to a different product and see if you have better luck but it's equally important to evaluate the environment and the treatment protocol.  Often people overlook environmental areas that need treated or forget about the cat or the neighbor's dog that visits, etc.

Zoonotic potential
Fleas will bite people but much prefer dog and cat blood.  So generally speaking people only get bit  when there is a very bad infestation or when there are no dogs and cats available.  Fleas can spread the organism responsible for cat scratch fever to cats, who can then spread the disease to humans.  This is usually only a significant problem for immunocompromised individuals.  Fleas can also contract the organism responsible for plague from rodents which they can then in turn spread to people but this is quite rare and limited to certain parts of the country.

Friday, February 1, 2013

My Baby Z

My boy is 12 years young today.  He may be a little more gray every year but he's still as handsome and sweet as ever. 

No party pics today though.  He's getting a little ice cream but cake has to wait.  I wanted to make something with limited ingredients to see how Lyric does with it.  But we are leaving town today so I don't want to find out that it didn't go well while we are on the road!  So this lucky boy will get two special days.  But, he deserves it.