Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Happy Tails - Maggie

Maggie is all smiles during her most recent visit.
Meet Maggie. Maggie is a ten year old female, spayed mix breed who came into VSES at the end of April. Maggie had been out in the field enjoying the break in the cool weather when an unknown dog came up and attacked her.

The bite wounds were severe and quite contaminated, risking infection. She had some bone exposure on her right front leg coupled with muscle damage while her left leg had a large absence of skin in the elbow, which prevented the wound from closing, exposing severe muscle damage underneath. Poor Maggie also had wounds covering her head and her neck.

This terrifying night is what began Maggie's stay with us at VSES. She began daily debridement of the wound to her elbow--treatments that would remove any dead or dying tissue to help prevent infection. Her other leg was repaired and began to heal slowly; the drains that were placed during the repair (to help stave off infection) were removed after a few days. Maggie was not herself during this time. She was refusing to eat or drink, but we saw so much hope every time her dedicated owners came to visit, she perked up just a little.

A fancy bandage for such a sweet dog. Courtesy
of one of our animal care assistants.
Our staff really began to bond with Maggie and they were happy to see her go home only a few days after her admission to VSES, but were also happy to see her daily after she left for bandage changes.

Silly Maggie!
Her owners reported that she was continually improving -- walking well and even starting to eat some (roast beef was a favorite!) Every time our staff saw her, her condition (and spirits) improved and our staff really looked forward to seeing her progress.

This whole experience can be very traumatic for any dog and dog owner to go through, but both Maggie and her family did not let this faze them. While Maggie may be a bit slower than she was prior to the attack, she is still smiling and just as sweet as she always was.

Maggie in her fancy cone (to help keep her wounds
safe from that happy tongue!)

Maggie's family is one of the most dedicated families we have ever seen. They never missed a bandage change, and they are doing an amazing job keeping her safe and happy at home.

Maggie's family is so thankful that their sweet girl is on the mend and back to her normal self, and so are we!

A big thank you to Maggie and her family for the thank you cakes!
(Our staff really loves cake!)

Keep smiling, Maggie!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Linear Foreign Body

Linear foreign body is the term we use to refer to any string-like material that is ingested and ends up wrapped or anchored around an attachment point--most commonly the base of the tongue or the pylorus (where the stomach empties into the intestines). 
This cat was diagnosed with a linear foreign body on radiographs (AKA X-Rays). The
gold string is anchored around the tongue. In this picture, the cat has been anesthetized to
perform abdominal surgery to remove the string. Many times this is a difficult region to
examine in an awake cat.

After the string has been anchored, it can move through the digestive tract and into the intestines. This can become problematic as the intestines will start to bunch along the string, developing a "plicated," or scrunchy-like, appearance. The string can lead to obstruction and even begin to cut through the layers of intestine. This has the potential to perforate the gastro-intestinal tract. A septic peritonitis is a life threatening emergency. For this reason, a linear foreign body is a surgical emergency.
Here are the intestines of the cat with the gold string
anchored around the base of the tongue [from above].
Because the string is caught around the base of the tongue,
the intestines begin to "plicate" or pleat as they attempt
to move the string along their length. 

For comparison, this is the appearance of normal intestine as seen at surgery.

What Should You Look For if You Suspect Your Cat Ingested String?
 Signs of a linear foreign body may include vomiting and/or diarrhea, decreased appetite, lethargy, hiding, and abdominal discomfort. If you suspect that your cat may have eaten any string-like material or is showing these signs, you should promptly seek veterinary care. Do NOT attempt to pull or cut the string if you see it sticking out of your cat's mouth or rear end. Instead, take your cat to a veterinarian as soon as possible. For times when your veterinarian is not available--such as nights, weekends, and holidays--we recommend you seek care from an animal emergency hospital.*

What to Expect When You go to Your Veterinarian?
To make the diagnosis of linear foreign body, your veterinarian will start with abdominal radiographs [X-Rays]. This is sometimes a difficult diagnosis to confirm, so they may recommend submitting them to a boarded veterinary radiologist for consult.** In some cases, even a radiologist may need additional information to make the diagnosis. In those situations, they will recommend an additional diagnostic to confirm the diagnosis--an abdominal  ultrasound exam. 
This is an abdominal radiograph [AKA X-Ray] of the cat with the linear
foreign body. The small intestines (seen in the lower mid abdomen)
are bunched together and takeon a scrunched appearance.
For comparison, this is a normal feline abdominal radiograph.
Notice the difference in the distribution of the small intestinal segments
in this healthy cat.

What Can You do to Avoid a Linear Foreign Body for Your Cat?
Keep in mind that you can prevent linear foreign bodies in your pets by ensuring that they do not have access to strings. If you want your cat to play with cat toys, make sure they are under direct supervision and you pick toys that are safe from lose strings or small objects.

Prepared by:
Jennfier L. Bouma, VMD, Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Radiology
& Cecilia Murch, DVM, Master of Public Health

Take a look at this helpful guide from the ASPCA about safety during kitty play time!

*For Emergencies in the Greater Rochester, NY Area, contact Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Services for more information.

**To learn more about board-certified radiologists, visit the American College of Veterinary Radiology website. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Running With Your Dog: How to Get Off on the Right Foot

Running with your dog can be a healthy and rewarding experience for both of you. So, how do you get started? Below are tips to help prepare you and your furry friend to hit the pavement--and do it safely!

Ready to Run?
There are a few pieces of equipment needed to begin your run: an adequate leash for your dog and running attire for you. Although you can use a leash and your dog's flat collar, a safer and more comofrable alternative to consider is running with a hands-free leash that clasps around your waist and a harness for your dog. *

A hands-free running leash in use!
Photo from Dog-Milk.com

Get Ready
The first step to training your dog to run with you is to decide if he or she will run on your right or left side. Once you have decided this, you will stand with your dog on the proper side of you and adjust the leash length so that it forms a gentle curve downward--not too taught and not touching the ground. Next, practice walking with your dog, rewarding him or her with treats for staying on the correct side of you. Once your dog has mastered staying on the appropriate side, add short periods of jogging into your walks. Slowly, over several days or weeks, lengthen the periods of jogging until you are jogging for the entirety of your route.

Be Attentive
Your dog's running stamina is dependent on many factors--outdoor temperature, fitness level, ability to breath appropriately, orthopedic and overall health. Therefore, it is important to be aware of how your dog is tolerating exercise. In particular, pay attention to:
  • Panting - excessive panting with the tongue hanging out the side of the mouth
  • Tongue Color - purple-tinged
  • Stride - limping, difficulty keeping up with your pace
If you notice any of the above signs, it is time to slow down or stop running. Remember, brachycephalic dogs ("short-nosed" breeds such as Pugs, English Bulldogs, Boxers, etc.) are especially susceptible to breathing difficulty because of their conformation. Therefore, for these breeds, it is particularly important to exercise in cool weather, avoid flat collars (opting for the harness instead), and pay close attention to their exercise tolerance.
Some of the more popular Brachycephalic Breeds
Photo from Dogs Arena.net

Explore the Area
Rochester, NY is fortunate to have a well-developed series of trails that welcome leashed dogs:
  • Lehigh Valley Trail
  • Erie Canal Trail
  • Genesee Valley Greenway
  • Railroad Loop Trail
  • selected trails at Mendon Ponds Park
The above trails extend through a variety of landscapes including forest, fields, canal, and wetlands. It is not uncommon to spot wildlife as you are running by. Take a look around your area for dog-friendly trails for you and your pooch to explore!

Now that you and your pup are prepared, it is time to begin training together! Have fun and enjoy your time together outside!

*Prior to starting a new exercise regime, please contact your family doctor and your veterinarian to ensure both you and your dog are ready to run. 
Written by Sarah Funk-Goodling, DVM