Archive for November, 2014

Meet Our Newest Pet Partner – Gracie

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Gracie McHolmCongratulations Sandy McHolm and Gracie who are the AHF’s newest Caring Creatures Pet Partner Team!

This is what Gracie says about herself:

“My name is Gracie and I am an AKC registered Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I was born in March, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. If you think it looks like I’m smiling, you’ve guessed right — I usually am because I’m pretty much happy all the time as long as I have somebody to pay attention to me. I live with my (much) older pet partner, Ben, who is also a Cavalier Spaniel. I love playing with my dog cousins who come to visit as well as meeting new dog friends on my daily walks. But my favorite thing is visiting with people of all ages and sizes. I was made to sit on your lap or play ball with you … and if you happen to have a little doggie cookie to share, I’ll never want to go home!!”

Does My Dog Have Cushings Disease?

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

scottiesVeterinarian Jeff Kahler explains the symptoms of Cushing’s disease and how it is diagnosed and treated. The example of a 10-year-old Scottie with hair loss on his flanks, increased drinking and eating, and apparent weight gain illustrates a possible case of Cushing’s disease, which involves hormonal abnormality. Owners concerned about the disease or anything unusual should see a veterinarian for an examination. The Modesto Bee (Calif.)

Mac is a 10-year-old Scottish terrier who has lived with Joe and Paula for almost all of his life. He has always been a healthy dog. Joe and Paula give Mac a monthly tablet for prevention of heartworm disease and intestinal parasites as well as a monthly topical flea preventative. He is fed a good diet and is not allowed to eat from their table. Recently, Mac has displayed some changes in his body and his habits and Joe and Paula are concerned.

Mac has begun to lose hair mostly on his sides and he seems to be getting a bit portly. He has been stout as described by Joe and Paula, all his life but lately he looks like he’s getting fat. He has become a much more aggressive eater and his thirst has become increased as well. Through their research, Joe and Paula have concluded that Mac might have Cushing’s disease and wanted some advice on how to proceed. Their need for veterinary intervention is obvious and acknowledged by Joe and Paula, but they would like to be educated on the diagnosis of Cushing’s disease as well as its treatment. They would also like to know if there might be another possible cause for the changes in Mac’s stature and behavior.

I must commend Joe and Paula on their active role in trying to determine what might be Mac’s problem. When caretakers are familiar with their companions and the changes that are apparent, it can make our jobs as veterinarians and investigators much easier. Joe and Paula are of course correct in surmising Mac’s need to see his veterinarian, and they are also correct in their conclusion that he may have Cushing’s disease.

Cushing’s disease is something we have discussed here before but some of the information bears repeating. This disease is one of the more common in the group called endocrine disorders. These diseases involve hormone systems in the body. In the case of Cushing’s disease, the specific area of concern involves the adrenal gland or glands and sometimes the pituitary gland. The “technical” name of the disease is hyperadrenocortisism. This is because it involves increase in the size and production of the area in one or both adrenal glands responsible for producing cortisone. With this increase in produced cortisone, the symptoms of Cushing’s disease occur. These include increased appetite and thirst, increased panting, thinning and loss of hair over time, usually equally on both sides of the body, development of a pot-bellied appearance, and thinning of the skin. Any or all of these symptoms can occur with this disease. Mac’s symptoms as described by Joe and Paula certainly do fit.

There are two types of Cushing’s disease. One type involves the development of a tumor in the pituitary gland in the brain that produces an excess of a hormone called adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which stimulates part of each of the adrenal glands to produce too much cortisone. The other form of the disease involves the development of a tumor in one of the adrenal glands that directly produces excess cortisone and causes the disease. The pituitary form of the disease is far more common.

To diagnose Cushing’s disease, we use blood samples testing for the presence of cortisone in the blood before and after stimulation of the adrenal glands. If the testing is positive, treatment for the disease can be initiated and is usually effective in eliminating the symptoms. Not all dogs that are positive for Cushing’s disease need to be treated right away. It depends on the severity of the symptoms and which type is involved. Of the two forms of the disease, the pituitary form is more amenable to treatment with medication. An important point to understand about this form of the disease is that it is not considered curable. It can be effectively treated. The adrenal tumor form of the disease is curable in some cases by removal of the tumor, although some of these tumors are not amenable to surgery.

As far as the possibility of another disease causing Mac’s symptoms, diabetes and low thyroid condition are two that come to mind. I strongly suspect, as do Joe and Paula, that Mac has Cushing’s disease.

Read more here: http://www.modbee.com/living/pets/article4011235.html#storylink=cpy

 

Hit by Car, Husky Leia Lives, With Help From Angel Fund

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

leiaIn February last year, Claire Gallo was moving into a new apartment. Her 11-month-old Husky Leia, not much more than a puppy, was so spirited that she called a friend and arranged a play date so the dog would be safe while she moved. “I didn’t want her running out an open door,” she recalled in an interview.

So she dropped Leia off at her friend’s house and returned to her car. “My friend opened her back door to let her Pomeranian out and Leia ran after her. There was no fence and my friend ran after Leia. When you chase Huskies, they run away from you and, when you run away from them, they chase you. So I’m watching my friend chasing my dog right out onto a main street.

“Two cars going one direction stopped and one car going the other direction stopped and she [Leia] was in the middle. I thought everything was OK but then a car came along speeding 10 or maybe 15 miles over the limit and the driver didn’t see her. The car rammed right into her and it was the most devastating day of my life. Leia screamed like a human being.

“I was thinking, ‘What do I do?’ I I was running toward her and she dragged herself across the street toward me and stuck her nose between my feet and cried. I didn’t cry and I didn’t scream. I ran and got a blanket out of my car while my friend stayed with Leia and I wrapped her tightly and put her on my lap and drove to the closest emergency hospital – San Clemente Veterinary Hospital – about two miles away. I was covered with blood and she was covered with blood. Her leg seemed to be hanging by a tendon.

“I had opened a new credit card the day before and I just swiped it. It was my baby and I didn’t want anything to happen to her. But her injury was so extensive that they [the hospital staff] seemed to be preparing me to put her down. That was the last thing I wanted to do. I’d had her since she was seven weeks old. So I was devastated. I didn’t eat. I didn’t sleep.”

Claire was 18 at the time and a part-time student at Saddleback College. She had about $2,000 in savings that she gave to the hospital to help pay for Leia’s treatment – but the bill was going to be about $8,000. “I was working my butt off just to pay the rent,” she said.

Then Angel Fund stepped in. It contributed $1,000 and the hospital matched that figure. Claire’s mother had found Angel Fund on the internet and the hospital also recommended it. “Basically, Angel Fund saved my dog’s life,” Claire said.

Dr. John Agostini of the San Clemente hospital, did the surgery. He said that “there was so much destruction of the tarsal joint – the ankle joint – that it had to be fused. That is unusual. At the same time, there was an extensive amount of skin that was lost. So it turned into a team effort with Dr. Randall Fitch doing the fusion and I was the reconstructive guy, who put the skin back in place. We did some plastic surgery, probably the best way to describe it. Then there were months of status changing and rehab. The post operative ankle fusion had to have a rather extensive Kirschner-Ehmer apparatus put on it. It’s an array of pins [nine in this case] to keep it stable while the bones heal. We [he and Leia] got to know each other pretty well. She was in here several times a weeks and had another surgery.”

Leia is “amazing” today, Claire said. “I take her to the dog park and nobody can tell the difference. She runs like the wind. Every once in while you’ll notice her picking up her back leg because there’s so much muscle lost. She runs as fast on three legs as she ever did on four.” And, she said, when she takes Leia back to San Vicente Hospital, they say, ‘Hey, look, this is the dog!’ They all love to see her.”

Claire is planning to continue her education. She is still a student at Saddleback but she’s thinking of transferring to a Bay Area school. And, she said, “after this experience, honestly, I want to be a veterinarian. I want to be that person who gives joy to people who have an experience like I had. I can’t even believe the gifts that Dr. Agostini gave me.”