Not necessarily in that order. This weekend Cheri and I took a road trip to do a couple of races in other states. First stop was Alabama. The race we chose here was the Krispy Kreme Challenge. The idea was to run 2 miles, eat 12 Krispy Kremes, and run two miles back. In less than an hour. We were optimistic, but evidently eating 12 donuts in not something we can do. To be fair these were not the hot, fresh, melt in your mouth donuts we were used to. They were more like day-old, half frozen donuts. So even if we felt like we could eat them all it was taking too long to chew. After 3.5 donuts we threw in the towel and started the two miles back. But for your viewing pleasure, here we are at the donut eating station.
And crossing the finish line after our failed attempt.
After that we drove the rest of the way to Atlanta for the Hot Chocolate 15K like we did in Dallas last year. The race went better than the previous day, maybe because there was no eating involved until the end. Here we are enjoying our reward.
And getting a quick pic before time to head for hot showers after our hot chocolate.
We spent the rest of the day in Atlanta exploring the downtown and visiting the aquarium.
Then we had our traditional out of town dinner at Cheesecake factory before making the long drive back on monday.
I thought I would take a break from vector borne disease to update what's happening around here.
Zodiac, who is fast approaching his teen years, is on a new regimen of meds after his most recent failed attempt as using NSAIDs. I have added Gabapentin and Duralactin to his current meds. I don't know how much of a difference they make but they seem safe and inexpensive. He mostly just has trouble getting up and doing stairs. The rest of the time he does pretty good, all things considered.
Lyric is not doing much these days. We don't train much agility in the cold and we haven't been trialing anyway. I was going to take the CGC with her to prepare for the therapy test but right now I'm aggravated at both the therapy group and the local dog training club. The therapy group has recently decided to require a CGC certificate prior to taking the test. Which is fine, but they don't offer a CGC, or provide any information on when or where you can get this done locally. The local training club offers this test at the end of their puplic manners class. Finding this out requires either a thorough website search or inside information as it's not readily posted. And they only allow non-class members to take the test with the permission of the instructor. I sent an email message to the club 2 weeks ago requesting this and haven't heard back. So, right now, I'm in no rush. As it stands she would have to wait until the fall testing anyway.
Legend is focusing mainly on tracking right now and also learning some tricks just for fun. She will also be starting a Nosework class next month. I think she will enjoy this since she likes tracking and the intructor said the sports complement each other well. Tracking seems to be going well. I don't think she's ready to test yet, but getting there. Progress is a little slow this time of year. I know hard core tracking people go out in all weather. I do not. And I work...sometimes. I have tried to go out when it's less than ideal though, so that's pretty good for me. I also ordered two books on training for the upper levels of tracking. The pass rates for these tests appear somewhat abysmal, which was discouraging. But we'll just have fun and do what we can. First things first-pass the TD, which I think is very doable. She was also chosen to do a photo shoot for Banfield next month-much like Lyric did last year. They requested a border collie that can tug. Not hard to find one of those, but, her video was a huge hit and she got picked. I have also recently decreased her phenobarb dose again-she's only on 1/2 pill once a day now. So far, so good.
We finally got a great application on Cade. Currently we are waiting on the home visit. I'll keep you updated but cross your fingers.
After 2 months of foot issues I've gotten back up to almost 20 miles a week running so hopefully will be in good shape by the spring races. We have a few races this weekend-taking a 4 day roadtrip to hit some unique runs (more on that when I get back) and a few weeks ago we ran the Springfield Diva Dash. In true Diva fashion we ran in tutus. I made it myself-here is a link to the photo.
Make me think staying home in the cold and the snow with the dogs isn't so bad.
It started out ok. Then the emergencies and idiots started rolling in. First was a dog that ate a large amount of chocolate. Luckily it was a large dog and mostly milk chocolate. We successfully induced vomiting, the dog produced chocolate, wrappers and dog food and headed home no worse for the wear.
At the same time a woman arrived with her older small breed dog whom her husband had been giving his prescription NSAID because he thought the dog was painful. For 3 days the dog received one pill a day. By the third day she was ill and passing black, tarry stools (typical of NSAID overdose). For reasons I cannot even begin to understand the husband thought the dog was sick and painful from the cheese he put the pills in and gave the dog three pills a day for two days. Then backed down to one pill a day until his wife arrived home and realized something was terribly wrong. Something was. The daily dose of medication given to this dog was 20 to 60 times the recommended dosage. The bloodwork was fairly devastating and the owner elected euthanasia based on prognosis and cost of attempted treatment. There is nothing really comparable to telling a woman her husband poisoned her dog and then watching the ensuing (but certainly warranted) meltdown complete with wailing and sobbing that could be heard throughout the clinic.
The afternoon brought a slew of appointments that induced banging heads against walls. One woman brought in her large breed dog she adopted over the summer and it tested positive for heartworms. When presented with a treatment estimate she announced she didn't want to spend a lot of money as this was not a pet, but a "yard dog." ???
Another woman had two dogs attacked by the same neighborhood dog in one week. I think a fence and a neutering is in order. But she came in because one of the dogs was not eating well. Turns out she could not give her dog it's meds because it wasn't eating. The dog was not eating because it was painful. It's painful becuase it wasn't getting it's pain meds. See the cycle here? You must be able to give your pet pills people.
Someone who clearly should not be breeding dogs arrived with her tiny maltese covered in fleas and it's one week okd puppies and complained that the dog was not eating well. The dog and puppies were in good shape (other than fleas). The owner was unsure of how much the dog normally eats, how much she is eating now and when exactly it started.
Yet another man arrived dragging two large mixed breed puppies with him. He listed them as purebred pitbull-because after all the place that he got them had two pitbulls chained up in the yard. Upon questioning his plans to plans to spay and neuter he announced he planned to breed them. Ok, never mind the overwhelming pet overpopulation and the fact that they are mixed breed dogs, THEY ARE SIBLINGS! Fortunately he was easily convinced that this was a horrible idea.
Feline infectious anemia is caused by the bacteria Mycoplasma haemofelis. Mycobacteria are parasitic bacteria that lack a cell wall and are difficult to identify and grow in a culture. Mycoplasma haemofelis was previously known as Hemobartonella felis.
Mycoplasma haemofelis is spread by the bite of an infected flea, although ticks, mosquitoes and lice have also been implicated. Once in the new host the Mycoplasma attach to the red blood cells. Eventually the cat's immune system recognizes the intruder and destroys it-but the red blood cells are destroyed along with it. This leads to an anemia (low red blood cell count) and the symptoms that go along with it such as pale gums, weakness, lethargy, jaundice, and anorexia. Some cats will have a fever. Labwork will indicate a regenerative (the bone marrow is in overdrive trying to replace lost blood) anemia. It can take one month from time infection until the cat becomes ill.
Diagnosis is often made based on clinical signs and finding the organism on a blood smear. However the organism is cyclic and can be missed by only looking at one blood sample. A specialized test known as PCR can be sent out to a lab to confirm the diagnosis. However, this is a very treatable disease and often responds well to a course of Doxycycline (three to four weeks) or Enrofloxacin. Prognosis is good if caught in the early stages of illness. In addition to antibiotics other treatments may include prednisone (a steroid) to suppress the immune system and stop the destruction of red blood cells. Supportive care such as appetite stimulants, special nutrient rich diets, force feeding or blood transfusions are also needed in some cases.
Prevention is aimed at flea control. Transmission is only via vectors and cannot be spread directly between cats. The exception may be mother to kittens but mode of transmisstion is unclear. Infected cats, once treated, remain carriers and recurrence is possible in times of stress.
There is a similar organism in dogs but it only appears to cause disease in dogs whose spleens have been removed. This renders the dog unable to adequately remove diseased red blood cells from the circulation.
Cytauxzoon or "bobcat fever" is a disease limited to cats. Cytauxzoon felis is a blood parasite carried by ticks (many species have been implicated). The natural reservoir for Cytauxzoon is the bobcat (who are asymptomatic carriers) and disease prevalence is limited to the natural range of the bobcat.
The cytauxzoon life cycle in a domestic cat includes both a blood phase and a tissue phase. It is the tissue phase that causes the most problems. The body recognizes the organism as foreign and attacks it aggressively. The "clean-up" cells become so numerous and are so full of organism that they plug blood vessels leading to multisystemic disease. The course of disease is short, with death often occurring in untreated cats within 5 days from the onset of clinical signs.
Upon presentation cats usually have a high fever, pale mucous membranes, depression, lethargy, anorexia, and icterus. Lab work indicates anemia, low platelets, increased bilirubin and liver enzymes. Diagnosis is suspected based on clinical signs, and history of tick exposure in an endemic area. Recognition of organisms in the red blood cells evaluated under a microscope is definitive as is finding the tissue stage on needle biopsies (aspirates) of spleen, liver, lymph node, or bone marrow. There is also a PCR test available.
Cytauxzoon felis in red blood cells
At the time I graduated from veterinary school this disease was considered uniformly fatal. But now, there is hope. At one point a drug called Imidocarb gave a survival rate of 27%. More recently a combination of Azithromycin and Atovaquone have provided a 60% survival rate. Owners should be forewarned though-this is by no means a guarantee of survival, the drugs are not inexpensive and ancillary treatments such as blood transfusions, feeding tube placement and several days of hospitalization might be required.
Prevention is routine use of tick prevention and keeping cats indoors.
This disease does not affect dogs or people and cannot be directly transmitted between cats, only via tick bites.
Also known as cat scratch fever this disease is likely more an issue for people than cats. Cat scratch disease is caused by the bacteria Bartonella henselae which is spread by fleas. Typically what happens is a flea infested cat scratches himself, gets a claw full of flea dirt and then scratches a human or another cat.
In humans a reddened bump can develop around the scratch and a few weeks later lead to swelling of the local lymph node with associated fever and pain. Often, these symptoms resolve on their own. Much more serious conditions can occur in immunocompromised people such as those with a positive HIV status.
Up to 40% of cats in areas with fleas are infected, but it is fairly controversial whether or not any actual disease processes are associated with infection. There are several ways to test cats for Bartonella but all have pros and cons. Given that no one is sure about the clinical relevance of this organism in cats a diagnosis is rarely pursued. However a course of antibiotics may be tried and can clear up to 83% of cats so this may be a viable alternative to testing in cats where Bartonella is suspected of contributing to clinical disease.
Prevention in cats is primarily use of routine flea control. Prevention in humans is via thorough cleansing of any cat scratches. Prophylactic use of antibiotics after a cat scratch has not been shown useful.
Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi) and transmitted by Deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis).
It is important to note that Lyme disease in dogs is different than Lyme disease in people. In humans Lyme disease can numerous chronic problems affecting various body systems. In dogs, the primary symptom is arthritis, often in multiple joints or as a shifting leg lameness. Occasionally fever or anorexia may occur with the lameness. In rare instances chronic immune stimulation from the infection can lead to protein losing kidney disease. Even more rare are neurologic and cardiac disease. Signs of arthritis can begin as soon a week after a tick bite, but may not present for several months.
Diagnosis is based on clinical signs, history of tick exposure, antibody testing and response to therapy. The most common screening test for Lyme disease is the in-clinic SNAP test (same as used for ehrlichia). Again, the problem with the test is that is cannot determine actual disease causing infection from simple exposure. And as many as 90% of dogs in endemic areas may be exposed with only a few ever developing clinical signs. However, resolution of arthritis signs occurs within several days after beginning therapy and can be used to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment is a several week course of Doxycycline or Amoxicillin.
The goal of therapy is to eliminate the clinical signs. Total eradication of the organism from the body is not realistic. For this reason, dogs that test positive for Lyme disease should be periodically screened for protein loss in the urine and treated appropriately.
Prevention of Lyme disease is aimed at tick control. It takes a minimum of 18 hours after a tick bite for transmission of Lyme disease to occur so many of the tick preventative products will help reduce Lyme disease infection as well as daily checking of your pet and manual removal.
There is also a vaccine available for prevention of Lyme disease which appears effective. There is controversy surrounding whether or not vaccinating dogs can contribute antigens which can worsen a pending or ongoing renal issue. Some others also feel that since this is a typically a minor and easily treated health condition is does not warrant vaccination. In general, vaccination is likely safe and often recommended in endemic areas, but tick control and removal should not be overlooked.
Lyme disease is a largely regional problem with most cases in New England and the upper midwest. This map is from the CDC's data of human reported cases, but the distribution for dogs will be similar. Of the two dogs I have seen test positive for Lyme disease here in MO, both previously lived in New England.
I've had enough of winter. I was supposed to work every day this week. That's not how it went down.
Monday was my day to go do surgeries at the shelter. Weather and road conditions prohibited this.
Tuesday I could have made it work, but so many appointments cancelled they said they didn't need me to come in.
Wednesday I went to work, but left after lunch since there were no more appointments and more bad weather coming.
Thursday is my day (this week just the morning shift) to work at a clinic out of town, but with yet another winter weather advisory in effect they decided to reschedule morning appointments.
The clinic I was supposed to work at tomorrow cancelled for non-weather related reasons (as well at 5 additional days about which I am not pleased, but it was kind of far away and the people are a little odd so other than the lack of paycheck I'm getting over it).
Between Saturday afternoon and Wednesday morning I didn't even leave the house. Jerry has worked every day and is on a 2 day (well 36 hour) business trip to Denver. So, I have been home alone. A lot. The dogs are happy, but I'm sure they would have liked to spend me to spend more time (well, any time) playing outside with them.
I have gotten a lot of drawers and cabinets cleaned out.
Today I went to the bank and Wal-mart.
I had to cook my own dinner tonight. Not related to weather, but inconvenient.
Is winter over yet? Because "all I wanna be is DONE!"
FYI you can't turn this song up too loud. I've checked.
Tomorrow, we will likely return to vector borne diseases. After all, it appears I will have the time.
Vector borne disease are those that infect another animal (dog, cat, human, etc) via the bite, sting, or ingestion of another animal or insect, the vector. We will start with Ehrlichia.
Ehrlichia organisms are rickettsial bacteria that are spread by ticks. That is the short explanation. Over the years these organisms have changed names as we find out more about them. Although there are several species of Ehrlichia the two main ones that transmit disease to dogs are E. canis and E. ewingii. These two organisms are spread by the Brown Dog Tick and the Lone Star Tick. Prevalence of Ehrlichia diseases are mostly limited to the geographic distribution of their respective ticks but are occasionally found outside these areas.
Brown Dog Tick
Lone Star Tick
Once the tick bites the dog, there are three phases of infection. One to three weeks after the bite there is an acute phase which is characterized by decreased platelets with or without associated bleeding, enlarged lymph nodes, lethargy, anorexia, and fever. More severe cases include respiratory distress, neurologic symptoms, stiffness or lameness. Most dogs recover from this phase with appropriate treatment and minor cases often clear on their own. Some dogs, without adequate treatment enter the subclinical phase in which they appear normal but may have a reduced platelet count or elevated inflammatory proteins on blood tests. The final phase is the chronic phase and includes bleeding, enlarged spleen and liver, anemia, enlarged lymph nodes, swelling, ocular changes, and more. In this phase, the dogs are generally very systemically ill.
Diagnosis is not terribly straightforward. The first step is identifying symptoms. Testing in a non-clinical animal is controversial and confusing (more on that later). In a symptomatic animal a quick first line test is the in-house 4DX snap test. This test only checks for E. canis. If there is any cross reactivity with E. ewingii it is unclear. This test checks for antibodies, which indicate exposure. If positive additional testing is needed to determine if the Ehrlichia is actually the cause of the disease. Possible tests include titers, PCR, and IFA. I won't go into the details of all these but just hit a few highlights. Titers, done over a period of time will show you if infection is getting better or worse (one titer does not do much good as it could be a subclinically infected dog clearing the organism on it's own). PCR gives a positive or negative but no indication as to the severity of disease. You can also, if you are lucky, see the organism in the blood cells while examining them microscopically.
Treatment at any phase consists of several weeks of Tetracycline, Doxycycline, or Minocycline. Blood or plasma transfusions or other stabilization may be needed in severe cases. Prognosis is good in the acute phase. Prognosis in the chronic phase is more guarded, especially if the bone marrow is heavily involved.
Prevention is aimed at tick control and prompt removal.
Now, about those 4DX positive dogs. Many veterinary clinics are using the Snap 4DX tests as their routine annual heartworm tests. These tests are great at actually diagnosing heartworms, but not so great at ehrlichia. As I mentioned above, this check only for exposure to the disease, not actual infection. So what do you do with those perfectly normal dogs that test positive (of which there can be many in endemic areas, trust me)? A few options are further investigate, ignore, or treat anyway. To further investigate we would run a CBC and if there are low platelets then either treat or run titers or PCR. You can also choose to ignore and monitor for clinical signs and then treat. A reasonable option since prognosis is excellent when treated in the early phases. You can also elect to treat based on the positive snap test result. However, this involves twice daily medication for weeks and with recent price increases could be cost-prohibitive in large dogs. Also, there is no proof that treating at this point will prevent actual disease. Anecdotally, we see lots of snap test positive dogs in the area where I work, but almost no dogs actually sick from the disease. I think any of the above plans are reasonable.
Ehrlichial diseases in cats are rare. They can occur in humans but is caused by a different organism. Direct transmission does not occur between dogs.
It's snowing here again. But it's also insanely cold. Like North Dakota cold. So, no pictures.
You may have remembered we had a part two of our garage remodel project. Well, here it is, and fortunately we got all the shopping, loading and unloading done before the snow. Although it was a bit chilly.
Once we got the washer and dryer removed from the tiny "laundry" room, it left an awkward gap. I wanted to have some cabinets built in for extra storage-mostly for recycling, and dog supplies. We had a friend quote us for a custom design I had come up with but it was a little more than we wanted to spend so we spent a little time at Lowe's and Hope Depot exploring our options. We ended up finding two unfinished cabinets that would work for what we wanted to do and would fit into our space perfectly. The only hang-up was that even though they sell cabinets that are 1,2,3, and 5 feet long, they only sell pre-fabricated tops in 4 and 6 foot lenghts. When questioned about this they explained that people often bought multiple cabinets. While this is true you would still think the pre cut tops would match the size of the pre cut bottoms. Also, they won't cut it for you. Fortunately we had right right saw, just needed a new blade. So, with all the supplies, stains, blades, brushes etc. we were able to complete the whole project for about half the cost of having them built and only spend a few hours of our time. It turned out great and now all my dog stuff is consolidated into one convenient area, freeing up pantry and kitchen space for pantry and kitchen stuff. And recyling is now in a convenient, out of sight location.
It's hard to get a good picture because this room is so narrow and you can't get one straight on.
I still haven't gotten around to editing our pictures from Tennessee, but this time of year it seemed more important to get the cruise photos done.
Our first stop was in the Bahamas. It was at a private beach owned by the cruise line which was nice because on-shore lunch was included but it didn't offer the chance to see other parts of the Bahamas. So although this was a nice day at the beach I imagine there are better beaches with clearer water. It wasn't great for snorkeling (per our friends who snorkel often) and the water was kind of rocky if you tried to get in and swim. One side of the beach was crowded with lounge chairs and people, cabanas, etc. But the other side was less popular and prettier if you walked down past the immediate area where all the amenities were.
Our next stop was St. Maarten. We elected to go to Orient Beach as it was highly recommended. The beach and bay were pretty enough, and really long, but it was narrow and basically wall to wall lounge chairs and beach bars. Which was ok, and convenient, but very busy. Not the place you wanted to go for any tranquility. Also, there were local people wandering around asking if you wanted to buy something (bracelets, hats, etc) every 5 minutes. Also, the water was pretty rough so unless you were into riding the waves or other activities that didn't require smooth water it wasn't that great, at least in the area where we were. We had a good time but I think if I went back I'd try somewhere else. The problem is that once you spend the time and money to taxi over, find a spot and rent chairs you don't really have time to go to several places before you have to be back on the boat. And bring cash everywhere-that seems to be all the "taxis" take.
Next up was St. Thomas. At this port we all wanted to go to St. John. The mistake we made was not getting up early enough. The boat docked at 7:00AM but we wanted to sleep in a bit so we all met for breakfast at eight. By the time we got off the ship and taxied over to the ferry we missed the 9:00AM boat. We didn't realize it was a 20 minute ride to the ferry and that they only left on the hour. So we had to sit and wait. Then we taxied over to Cinnamon Bay. FYI the taxis are open air safari buses driven what definitely seems like too fast on very narrow, winding roads. It's a little scary. But, it's worth it. We chose Cinnamon Bay because it's supposed to be almost as beautiful as Trunk Bay but not as crowded (as it's not the one listed in the cruise guide). I think this as an accurate description. We did see Trunk Bay as we drove by (the two are right next to each other) and it did look look very pretty. But Cinnamon did not disappoint. There were a few people there but mostly it was very quiet. And the water was perfectly clear blue and calm. The sand was powder soft and continued into the bay making it perfect for swimming. This was the only place we really spent any significant time in the water. But we could only stay a few hours because we had to taxe, ferry, and taxi back to cruise ship by 3:30! So after $90 in transportation we spent 2 hours on the beach!
Last port was Grand Turk. This was only a half day stop so we stayed at the beach at the port. You could walk along the beach away from all the people and there were lots of conch shells to pick through if you wanted but the water was rocky and the beach/island not as pretty as some of the others. But I've been told other beaches on the island are very pretty and great for swimming. There was a Margaritaville with a large pool at the pier if you did want to swim.
Thus far St. John is the place we would like to go back to, but some of the other islands we probably didn't get to see the best parts of, so it's not a totally fair comparison.
Our ship was very much like the one we took to Alaska so no surprises there, but we were pleased that it was never hard to find an open lounge chair, even during peak sun hours. Our friends have sailed Royal Caribbean a few times and they said getting a deck chair on their boats could be an ordeal. We had perfect weather every day except for a few short rain showers one day. We had in inside cabin this time, which is ok since we were hardly ever in it. But it was kind of depressing to wake up every day in total darkness. But, it motivates you to get up and get moving right away so you could see what the weather was like. And pretty much every day when we did get to an outside deck we were greeted with warm air and sunshine, a lot better than the cold and snow that was going on at home.
Here are few of our pictures from the ship. I was too lazy to scan them so these are photos of photos.
Just like that you're six years old and you take a nap and you wake up and you're twenty-five and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife...
Ain't no rhyme or reason No complicated meaning Ain't no need to over think it Let go laughing Life don't go quite like you planned it We try so hard to understand it The irrefutable, indisputable fact is... It happens