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Daisy has an insulinoma

February 22, 2015 66 comments

It’s been a rough couple of weeks here at Casa del Mel. If you haven’t seen it on my Facebook page, Daisy had surgery to remove a tumor, called an Insulinoma, from her pancreas. A tumor, that up until February 6th, we knew nothing about. Now we know too much.

An insulinoma is almost always a malignant tumor that appears on the pancreas and starts messing with the insulin levels in a dog (or human). It causes hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), tiredness after exercise, collapse, seizures and sometimes brain damage. It is a progressive disease and will spread throughout the body, as all cancers do.

Spent the morning and afternoon with Daisy at the U of M. Hoping she comes home tonight. #Daisy

The day after surgery at the U of M.

On February 6, I took Daisy in to our regular vet to have her teeth cleaned and a lump (an benign outgrowth of a sebaceous cyst) removed. I expected to receive a call later in the day to be told all went well and she was ready to go home but instead, I received a call a few hours after I dropped her off to tell me that they could not perform the procedures because her blood sugar was really low, abnormally low (hers was in the 40s, normal is 80).

I knew it was serious, but I did not know how serious until Monday. That was when my vet informed me it was likely an insulinoma, and that she was referring Daisy to her teacher at the University of Minnesota. Within 30 minutes, I received a call from the U of M to schedule an appointment (yes, it really did happen that fast).

This was the moment when I got scared. A call within 30 minutes? An appointment two weeks out was not soon enough? Oh my God.

We went in on Thursday for a consult and a CT scan was scheduled for the next day. It would tell us whether or not it had spread and what course of action we would take.

The hardest thing I had ever done up until that point was to leave Daisy at her regular vet, with people she knew, but on that Friday, I had to drop her off with strangers (albeit, wonderfully nice strangers) and leave her there for the whole day. It killed me inside.

When I got the call that she was done, the vet also confirmed it was an insulinoma (just as we thought). I was also informed that it was a single tumor and had not spread to her chest or other organs. There was some concern over a slightly odd-looking lymph node nearby, but it was small (2mm) and not as concerning as the insulinoma. The recommendation was surgical removal.

As the vet and surgeon both told me at our post CT scan meeting, they almost never see a dog with an insulinoma who has not shown any major symptoms (collapsing, seizures, etc.), and who has not already found to have multiple tumors or to have it spread throughout their body. By the time they see dogs with this type of tumor, they are pretty far gone. They were both pretty excited that Daisy had been caught early. They wanted to schedule the surgery for Tuesday, February 17.

She slept for almost an hour. I sat with her for an hour and a half. The vet said she does better when I am there. Wish I could stay the night. #Daisy

The second day after surgery. Hanging out in ICU.

To say I was completely overwhelmed would be an understatement. I was scared and freaked out and not sure what to do. I needed time to think. Should I do the surgery and get the cancer while it was early? Should I let the cancer spread and just maintain Daisy’s glucose levels as long as I could with drugs? What was fair to Daisy? What was best for her?The decision was agonizing.

I could not bear the thought of willingly letting the cancer, this insidious, awful curse of a disease, spread through Daisy’s body, but, I was also filled with doubts. What if she died in surgery or due to complications from surgery? What if her quality of life was better without surgery, even though it might mean an earlier death? What if I lost her in surgery when I could have had her for a few more months without it? Was it fair to put Daisy, my fearful girl, through this?

In the end, I decided to go ahead with the surgery, partly because it was already scheduled and partly because Daisy was the anomaly, the cancer had been caught early, and I couldn’t bear the thought of letting the cancer spread. Not if we could remove it and give her a good quality of life for a year or so to come. I wanted her to have a quality life, not a life slowly seeping away as the cancer ate through her body.

HOME #Daisy #recovery

Thursday night – Home at last.

The surgery went well. Daisy came out of to with the left half of her pancreas gone (due to the location of the tumor), but her glucose levels we’re closer to normal and she made it through. In addition to the tumor, Daisy had the lymph node removed and a biopsy of her liver done. Both the lymph node and the liver biopsy came back negative for cancer. The tumor was, of course, positive for cancer, but they got it all out. Luckily, she can still function with the remaining half of her pancreas and her glucose levels have been normal since the surgery. Her prognosis is good.

But, I am still plagued with doubts. Did I do the right thing? 

On Friday, Daisy started drooling, drinking water excessively, pacing, seemed restless, and suddenly developed a bloated stomach. I thought I was going to lose her. I thought she had bloat. Only another surgery would save her and I did not have the money for another surgery.

However, after an X-ray and a radiologist consultation, it was determined Daisy had food bloat. A very different type of bloat and much less scary that the stomach-twisting kind. Supposedly, she got into something and ate a lot of it – they can see lots of particles of something like dog food in her stomach. Unfortunately, she had very little opportunity to get into anything and I cannot find any missing items that would explain what she might have eaten, unless it was poop. So, I worry and wait for her to poop out whatever she supposedly ate.

The girls are back together again. #Daisy #maggie

Back to the usual stuff, like sleeping side by side with Maggie on the couch.

For me, it is concerning that her stomach is still bloated, but it appears to be less so than Friday evening. The good news is that she is still eating and drinking and she is also acting more like herself. She is more tired right now, but that is to be expected after major surgery (not to mention the visits to the ER).

Being a lifelong worrywart, I think I will continue to worry about Daisy, and my decision to put her through surgery, for some time to come. Maybe I will feel better when I see Daisy back at the dog park with her siblings, running through the woods and begging treats from her friends at the dog park. Until then, I wait and hope and pray that I made the right decision.

While I would not wish this experience on anyone (who wants their dog to have cancer or major surgery?), I have learned a lot.

 

What I have learned:

  • No one can make the decision for your dog’s healthcare except you. Others will weigh in and may even scoff at your choices, but in the end, the decision is yours. Also keep in mind what your pet would want.
  • Know how far you are willing to pursue saving your pet. Ask yourself: How much is too much? How long do I keep trying to save them? What kind of quality of life is my pet getting? Before the CT scan, I had already decided I would not do surgery of the tumor had spread, even a little bit.
  • Having a great vet who knows your dog, and knows when to be concerned, is a blessing. Find a good one. We have and we love her.
  • Blood work before surgery is a must for my vet, I am guessing it is for most medical procedures involving anesthesia, but ask your vet beforehand. If my vet had not run Daisy’s blood work, she could have had a seizure on the operating table and/or could have died.
  • The University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center is a great place and filled with amazing people. They are responsive and kind and always willing to help.
  • Be okay with saying “No” to a procedure if you feel it is not beneficial to your pet or will not extend their life. I had a hard time with this one at first. There is always one more procedure that can be performed, one more drug given, but in the end you have to decide if it is worth it.
  • Get pet insurance. I wish I had. The costs add up quickly. My costs went above the estimated price, by a lot. Be prepared for it to do so.

 

 

 

The Give to the Max charity game. Wanna play?

November 13, 2014 2 comments

GTMD Reversed Logo
Are you ready?

I said…

ARE YOU READY????

Starting at midnight tonight through midnight tomorrow night (12:00 AM Central time, Wednesday, November 12th through 12:00 AM Central time, Thursday, November 13th) the most competitive charity game in all the land (that and being Minnesota, of course) begins!!!

What is it? GIVE TO THE MAX DAY!!!!

Give to the Max Day is the one day of the year when charities from around the state of Minnesota compete to raise money for their charities, and for the chance to not only double their donations via matching grants, but to also win additional prize money that will allow them to do even more to help their communities in the coming year .

Peace

Maggie sleeps without fear. She is safe in a foster home where she is learning that life can be good and people can be kind.

For many charities, like Minnesota Sheltie Rescue (MNSR), it is a day that will determine how many Shelties we can save and how many will get a chance at a new life in a loving home. The money raised, starting at midnight tonight through midnight tomorrow night, will help us to continue to save Shelties like Maggie and Lenore, who both came from a puppy mill in Pine River.

Without MNSR, Maggie and Lenore would not have had the chance to learn about living in a home where loving hands care for them and provide them with a safe place to land and learn and grow. 

10310661_10152897134542755_6638259069307182640_nWithout MNSR, dogs like 14-year-old  Lady and her 12-year-old son, Jasper, would have ended up in a shelter when their owner passed away. Instead, they found themselves in a loving MNSR foster home where they are doted on daily.

Give to the Max Day is a big deal. Huge.

Last year, Minnesota Sheltie Rescue (MNSR) was lucky enough to make the top 5 in the small charity category. It allowed us to say “Yes” to many Shelties in need, including Shelties from Pine River puppy mill raid.

Here are just some of the things Minnesota Sheltie Rescue has done to help Shelties in need: 

  • Spent $49,000 in Foster Dog expenses in 2013. This includes veterinary and other expenses directly related to caring for foster dogs. Some of this money went to care for…
    • Sheltie sisters, Mindy and Mandie, who came to MNSR when their dad died. We made sure they were vaccinated, spayed, microchipped, tested for heartworm, and we treated Mindy’s ear infections.  Vet bills totaled over $1180. Mindy and Mandy are now in a forever home with loving families who love them just as much as their dad did.  
    • Lady and Jasper who came into our care when their owner died.  Lady had a dental with 8 extractions, a full mouth gingivectomy, oral cyst removal, and treatment for UTI, and Jasper had a dental with extractions and treatment for his skin as a result of allergies, plus routine veterinary care. Their vet bills totaled $2,040. 
    • Zach, who was treated for two tick-borne diseases and for additional surgeries needed to make him a healthy and happy dog. Zach is now in a happy home with a loving family.
    • Treatment for Sadie who has diabetes and needs dedicated help to control infections. Sadie also required extended dental work with X-rays and extractions, along with spay and other routine veterinary care. Sadie’s vet bill was $1070.00. 
  • Found new, happy and loving homes for over 34 Shelties in 2014.
  • Donated $500 to help pay for a much needed surgery for Grace, a Sheltie who was lost and then hit by a car in Duluth Minnesota.
  • Helped many Sheltie owners seeking information on Sheltie health and behavioral issues. Some of this training assistance helped Sheltie owners to keep their dogs instead of surrendering them.
  • Educated Sheltie owners on keeping their Sheltie safe and what to do if they get lost.

MNSR currently has 34 dogs in our foster program, including 9 special needs long-term foster dogs. These are dogs like Maggie and Lenore who need additional time and care before they will be ready for adoption and like Jasper and Lady who need long-term care because of their age and health.

10301304_10152895611967755_2329142951483381812_nSince 2003, Minnesota Sheltie Rescue has placed over 600 Shelties into new homes. We’d like to continue to say “Yes” to more Shelties in need and make that number grow even more.

You can help us do so by contributing to Minnesota Sheltie Rescue in the next 24 hours.

Can’t give much? That’s okay. Remember, for every dollar you donate, a Minnesota organization is contributing a matching dollar amount to Minnesota Sheltie Rescue.

If you give $5, MNSR gets $10.

And, if your donations help Minnesota Sheltie Rescue to make it into the top 10 for their category, they will also win additional prize money that can be used to help more dogs.

First Place:  $10,000
Second Place:  $7,500
Third Place:  $5,000
Fourth Place: $2,500
Fifth Place: $1,000
6th place through 10th place – $500 each

10354082_10152891876092755_8216767625823343464_nSo when is the best time to give during Give to the Max Day? All day!

Every hour one donation is selected at random to receive a golden ticket.  This means if your donation to MNSR is chosen, an additional $2,000 will be awarded to our rescue organization!

Not only that, but at the end of the event an additional Super Golden Ticket will be randomly awarded to one donor’s charity in the amount of $20,000! Just think how many Shelties we could help with that kind of money!

How to donate: Click here and make a contribution. That’s it.

Want to know how we’re doing throughout the day?  Just go to the main LeaderBoard and look under the SMALL charity tab. You can also check out our Give to the Max Minnesota Sheltie Rescue page to see how much money has been contributed across Minnesota to various charities.

Check it out several times a day and cheer us on!

Thanks for your support!

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Rabies Vaccinations – Caring for Critters

October 20, 2014 15 comments

Caring-For-Critters2-400Due to computer issues (a crashing hard drive), I was unable to participate in the Caring For Critters Round Robin at my assigned time. My sincere apologies to Jodi from Heart Like a Dog for this.

I had planned to write about pancreatitis, but changed my mind at the last minute and decided to write about canine vaccinations.

Let me state up front, I am not one of those people who is going to tell you to avoid vaccinating your pet. While I may believe that we are over-vaccinating our pets, I am not someone who believes we should skip them altogether. The risks are too great to assume we know better than our veterinarians.

Instead, I want to share my own experience with vaccinations and what I do now to, hopefully, prevent the same thing from happening again.

Indy

Indy was the very first dog I had ever adopted. She came into my life at a time when I was really missing my childhood dog, Alicia. Adopting a new dog after losing one that had been a part of my life for 15 years was hard, but saying yes to adopting Indy was never in question. She picked me as much as I picked her.

IndyIndy was a Shepherd/Collie mix and the absolutely perfect dog one could ever have. She was well-trained, attentive, smart, a quick learner and very, very sweet. I loved her with my whole heart. Some of my favorite memories of her are of our walks together in the woods. I used to love hearing her rumble up behind me to catch up after she had stopped to sniff something alongside the trail. The sound of her thundering feet when she ran, the smile on her face when she knew we were heading out on the trail, and the swish of her tail in complete happiness; these were all things I loved about her. She was a very special dog.

Like most pet owners, I was diligent about getting Indy in for her vaccinations and yearly check ups. When she was 9 years old, I brought her in for her usual vet visit. Everything that visit was normal, completely normal, even the vaccination portion of the visit. Indy received all her vaccinations at once – rabies, canine parvovirus, distemper and bordatella, and appeared to be fine. But, as it turned out, all was not fine.

The next morning Indy had a major seizure and was rushed to the vet and then on to the emergency vet. She had to be given Valium to stop another seizure and to let her body rest. The vets suspected that Indy was having a reaction to the vaccinations she had been given the day before. The rabies vaccine seemed to be one of greatest concern.

Indy spent the night at the emergency vet so they could observe her in case she were to have another seizure. She was released the next day – groggy and disoriented.

At home, she recovered quickly and soon we were taking our walks in the woods again. All was well.

Until the next month.

Indy 2Indy had another seizure. We made another trip to the vet, but by then she seemed to have recovered. I was given a Valium pill to take home with me as a precaution. I was nervous and afraid and worried. The next month, Indy had yet another seizure, and then another one the month after that. As the months went one, Indy’s seizures increased in frequency. Now they were every 3 weeks, then every two and finally every week.

Each time she came out of it extremely disoriented and unable to really understand me. She would stumble around the house, despite our best efforts to keep her lying down. She would eventually collapse on the floor and sometimes drool. Often she would sleep the rest of the day, her body exhausted from the seizure. Sometimes she had accidents as her body was wracked by the seizure. It was so sad to see her this way.

When her seizures became more frequent (every other day), we made the difficult decision to say goodbye. It was probably one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make.  She was one of the best dogs a girl could ever want.

In every other way, Indy was a healthy 10-year-old dog, but her quality of life was not what it had been. She was not the happy dog she used to be. Each seizure seemed to take something from her, leaving a confused empty shell of a dog behind. We said good-bye with her lying in my arms.

What I learned

What I did not know then but I know now is that the rabies vaccine can cause serious side effects. It is also the one that can be the hardest on your dog’s system. The vaccine stimulates an animal’s immune system in order to create protection from specific infectious diseases. This can create mild symptoms, ranging from soreness at the injection site to fever and allergic reactions, to severe reactions like seizures, muscle weakness, autoimmune diseases, etc. Because of the virulence of the rabies vaccination, it is best to avoid giving it with the other vaccinations.

Don’t give any other vaccination in combination with the rabies shot. Veterinarians have reported that risk of reaction increases with the number of vaccinations given. Request that your veterinarian not give your dog a combination shot and wait a few weeks before giving another vaccination.

 

What I do now 

I can never know for sure that it was the rabies vaccine that caused Indy’s seizures, but in all likelihood it was the culprit. Although it is not a an experience I ever wanted, my experience with Indy did teach me a lesson I will carry with me the rest of my life  – my dogs will always receive the rabies vaccine separately from the rest of their vaccinations. It is not an option for me.

My vet is aware of my concerns and supports me fully. We usually schedule my dog’s rabies vaccinations so they are 3 weeks before or after their other core vaccinations. This may be a slightly more expensive route to go, but the peace of mind I get in return is worth it. Does this mean none of my dogs will ever experience what Indy went through? No. I know there is never a guarantee of that, but it does make me feel like I am doing everything I can to reduce the chances it will happen again. Titers are another route to go if you choose to do so. I have chosen not to do so. Yet.

Disclosure: Please keep in mind that while I have consulted professionals regarding Indy’s care, this post is not advice on how to heal your pet, but more of a cautionary tale that may be worth heeding.  As always, please consult your vet before making any health decisions for your pets.

This post is part of the Caring for Critters Round Robin hosted by Heart Like a Dog. You can find a huge list of helpful posts about a variety of pet illnesses and needs by clicking on the image above. Check out last yesterday’s post from Cascadian Nomads on the dangers of Salmon poisoning. 

Are we rescuing? Or, are we passing the buck?

August 10, 2014 21 comments

Jack Russell Terrier SnarlingReading the latest news on Steve Marwell, owner of the Olympic Animal Sanctuary (OAS), made me realize once again how few of us have actually spent time asking how this all came to be in the first place.

How did a man who had never registered his charity with his state, and who collected donations but never made any of the required disclosures needed to maintain his good standing as a rescue or sanctuary, able to fool so many rescues and animal shelters into sending their unadoptable dogs to him?

How did no one know about all the dogs living in crates and kennels and in extreme conditions, with little to no food? How did this place pass as a sanctuary and continue to receive dogs for years?

The whole awful and disturbing story brought to mind a blog post I had read back in 2012. Written by Jessica Dolce, How I Failed as a Rescuer: Lessons from a Sanctuary, was a sad, but very insightful look into something that happens so often in rescue – we push it on down the line.

As Jessica wrote:

We all keep pushing down the chain. Individuals reach out to shelters, shelters plead with rescues to pull dogs, rescues can’t place all the dogs, so they board hard-to-place dogs in sanctuaries.

We’re all begging for someone else to give us the happy ending we so desperately want for the animals we love. If people deny us, we lash out that no one will help. If a shelter isn’t no-kill, we refuse to donate to them. We keep pushing and pushing until someone will take this painful, difficult situation off of our doorstep.

We all push until we find sanctuaries who say yes. (How I Failed as a Rescuer: Lessons from a Sanctuary by Jessica Dolce, Notes from a Dog Walker, July 21, 2012)

But the responsibility isn’t the person on down the line is it? No. The responsibility is ours, the rescuer’s, and we should be taking it more seriously.

I wonder… Are we asking the right questions when we decide to pass a dog off to someone else? When we choose to ship a dog off to a sanctuary to live out their lives, do we do our due diligence? Do we ask around for references? Do we go visit the facility ourselves? When we choose to save a dog that cannot be placed, are we really “saving” the dog? Or, are we just making ourselves feel better?

Sad Looking Chocolate LabRecently, I said NO to someone who wanted help in finding a home for an unwanted dog. The dog had an extensive bite history (with several owners) and was scheduled to be euthanized in three days. The person wanting to “save” the dog could not take the dog herself, but wanted desperately to find someone else who would. I could not help but be angry. She wasn’t willing to take in the dog in herself, but she wanted someone else to take on that risk? Really? It very much felt like she was passing it on down the line, leaving the dog for someone else to deal with it, all the while patting herself on the back for saving a poor dog.

I won’t lie. I recommended the dog be euthanized. With so many dogs out there in need, and so many of them without a bite history, why would we save this one dog? Why save this dog who has bitten several former owners in the past? 

Desperate to save the dog, the woman ended up taking the dog where? A sanctuary for difficult dogs.  God only knows if it is a “good one” or it it willbe one that we will one day see in the news, like OAS. I can only hope it is a good one and the dog is receiving great care, and hopefully, some retraining. I can’t help but wonder if the “rescuers” have bothered to check in to see how the dog is doing since they “saved” her? I would bet the answer is no, which is precisely the problem. Out of sight, out of mind.

What happened at OAS should never be allowed to happen again. And yet, I know it will.

As rescuers, we need to get better at doing our due diligence. We need to visit the places we send our unadoptable dogs. We need to inspect, ask for references, ask questions (lots of them) and follow-up regularly. But most importantly, we need to stop passing dogs (who cannot be re-homed or who are unsafe in a normal home) down the line.

We need to be honest and ask ourselves if euthanization wouldn’t be a better solution in these types of situations rather than passing the dog off to a sanctuary where they could suffer unimaginable cruelties for years on end. 

Because the truth is, that kind of solution is not rescuing, it’s passing the buck.  It’s contributing to animal suffering, not saving them from it. 

Blog the Change for Animals: Support organizations who help people and animals

April 15, 2014 10 comments

Blog the Change April 15th is Blog the Change for Animals Day. It’s a day when bloggers unite to bring attention back to an animal cause they care deeply about. It’s also a day in which you, our friends and readers, can also do something small to make the difference in the life of an animal.

It’s been a while since I’ve participated in a Blog the Change event, but even with the distance of time (6 months), I knew fairly quickly what I wanted to blog about today… organizations that helps pets and their people.

It’s been something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Pamela from Something Wagging This way Comes first brought it to my attention with her Blog the Change post “Want to Protect Animals? Care About People. “ In it she talked about the connection between animal welfare issued and people in need. It’s probably something we don’t often think about, but as she pointed out, animals don’t thrive where people don’t. We are dependent on one another in so many ways.  By focusing on only one we neglect the other, and in the end, both fail. She encouraged us to find the “ways helping animals also helps people.” 

This mindset has started to change how I look at animal welfare issues. Yes, I can rail at the injustice done to animals. I can complain, bitch and moan about the fact that so many people surrender their pets at kill shelters when the going gets rough, but the reality is that is ALL I am doing. Nothing more. I am not making a difference in changing the reality. In effect, I am whining.

More and more I am taking a look at how I can contribute to making a difference that helps both the animal and their person. Sometimes it’s helping a pet get into rescue instead of being sold on Craigslist (much to the relief of the owner), sometimes it’s bringing attention to an organization that treats both the person and their human (like Downtown Dog Rescue) and sometimes it’s contributing money to the group that is making a difference and needs funds to continue doing so.

Solving the pet overpopulation problem and animal welfare issues cannot be fought on any one single front. It must include a more holistic approach. One only has to hear about battered women shelters starting to accept the battered woman AND her pet to know that they are connected. Hurricane Katrina changed how states and the federal government handle emergency evacuations. Pets are a part of the process now.

People and their animals are uniquely connected. Treat the human and you treat the pet. Elderly Man in Wheelchair

So today I would like to encourage you to support those organizations that make a difference in your communities. Care about animals? Great! Look for groups who make a difference in helping animals, but also help the people who own them. I guarantee you there is probably one in almost every community. They are out there, doing the hand work. Go find them. Support them. Volunteer for them. Share their work with your friends and family.

Don’t have any organizations in your area that fit the bill? Then consider starting one in your own community.

Need some ideas? Here are just a few organizations that make a difference in their own communities. I hope they will serve as inspiration for all of us.

 

Downtown Dog Rescue – This is a great organization located in Los Angeles County, California. They focus on rescuing dogs, but they do so in a way that looks at the problem holistically. They provide services for low-income pet owners and help in ways that allows them to keep their pets.

“…volunteers will fix a fence to secure a yard, foot a vet bill, teach a family to housebreak their dog. They offer low-cost spaying and neutering, and hold training classes for dogs and owners in a nearby vacant lot.” Program with tiny budget makes huge difference for pets, owners, Lost Angeles Times, dated May 11, 2013

The Pet Project -  This is a local Minnesota organization that, like Downtown Dog Rescue, focuses on keeping people and their pets together by providing pet food to food shelves and offering assistance with veterinary care whenever possible. They provide resources and information on housing, local food shelf locations and veterinary care. They would love to receive your donations (monetary and otherwise) so they can help more people  and pets in need. It’s all about keeping pets with their people whenever possible.

“It’s part of a fledgling movement nationally to make sure people don’t have to choose between keeping food in the kitchen or Fido in the living room.” Kibble with a cause fills Fido’s bowl, StarTribune, dated September 13, 2009.

Animal Care Network – Be The Change for Animals featured Pam Porteous and the Animal Care Network in the 4animals section back on April 30, 2012.  That article highlighted the work that Pam is doing in her community of Flint, Michigan. Focused on keeping owners and their pets together, Pam and ACN have ensured pets made it to spay/neuter clinics by picking them up and delivering them to the clinic and then back home.  They have conducted home checks on animals, done wellness checks, offered low-cost spay and neuter clinics and Pam her self  “educates families and distributes food, water, hundreds of doghouses, thousands of straw bales and other supplies.” She also offers neighborhood talks on how to care for pets. 

“Her neighborhood talks cover the importance of spays/neuters, vaccines, and the dangers of cold weather, hot weather, and chaining.” 4animals: Stories to Inspire, dated April 30, 2012

Why I love my dog’s veterinarian

March 25, 2014 28 comments
dewoskin

Dr. Melissa DeWoskin, DVM

I’ve been wanting to give a shout out to my dog’s veterinarian for some time now. She is truly one of the best, especially if you have a shy or fearful dog. My visit with her yesterday just reminded me why I love her so much.

Her name is Dr. Melissa DeWoskin (DVM) and she is located at Keller Lake Animal Hospital .

I first discovered Dr. DeWoskin back when I first adopted Daisy (almost 7 years ago). In those days, Daisy was a very scared puppy mill girl. She was fearful of people and new places, and cowered at the slightest sound. Dr. DeWoskin and the staff went out of their way to make Daisy feel more comfortable. They gave her space, shared treats to help make things a little less scary and used slow movements to check her out. Because of their efforts and kindness, Daisy now looks forward to going to the vet. She is only too happy to see Dr. DeWoskin or the staff because she knows yummy treats and gentle hands will be the experience of the day.10003452_680528468675191_563349325_n

Yesterday was Maggie’s first visit with Dr. DeWoskin, and once again she reaffirmed to me why I continue to bring all my dogs to her. Here is how Maggie’s first encounter went with Dr. DeWoskin:

  • She came into the exam room and instead of coming right over to Maggie, she sat down on the floor opposite from her.
  • She talked with me and watched Maggie as she opened a package of string cheese.
  • As we talked about Maggie and how she was doing and where she came from, Dr. DeWoskin tossed her pieces of the cheese.
  • Maggie might have been unsure about the room and the sounds in the clinic, but she was more than happy to eat the cheese. (Serious progress for a puppy mill girl!).
  • Dr. DeWoskin didn’t stand for some time, but when she did she moved slowly and watched Maggie’s body language the whole time (Oh yeah. Did I mention that both she and the staff make an effort to understand dog body language? That is such a huge a win for the dogs!)
  • She then laid a mat out on the exam table, so Maggie wouldn’t slip and slide, and examined her slowly while sharing cheese bits with her throughout the exam.
  • When she was done, she gave Maggie her space and let her settle in.

As a result of her efforts, Maggie left her office much calmer and comfortable than she had been when we first got there.

I could be totally generalizing here, but I think it is pretty rare to find a vet who understands shy and fearful dogs. Dr. DeWoskin just “gets” it. I never feel like I am putting my dogs in a situation where I end up feeling guilty for subjecting them to their care.

I love that she watches a dog’s body language before making a move towards them. I love that the staff are as gentle as she is in caring for my pets. How often do you hear about veterinarians and their staff studying dog body language as a part of their day-to-day work?

So a big shout out to Dr. Melissa DeWoskin! This is why I continue to drive across town to see you. You totally rock!

I should also mention that Dr. Lillie and Dr. Mead are great too!

 

Enough with the vet's office. Can we go home now?

Can we go home now?

Would cancer change your dog breed preference?

September 16, 2013 35 comments

Woman Rubbing Noses with PuppyWould you avoid getting a certain dog breed if you knew it had a higher chance of getting cancer?

That is the question I asked myself as I read some recent data on dogs and canine cancer. The data was posted on The Institute of Canine Biology but came from a scientific veterinary review article by Jane Dobson titled “Breed-Predispositions to Cancer in Pedigree Dogs”.

The data was both interesting and sad. In breeds where the prevalence of cancer is high, the attributing factor is most likely genetics. Certain breeds of dogs are just genetically pre-disposed to get cancer more than others.  Whether this is due to closed breed registries I cannot say (I’m just not knowledgable enough about dog breeding to know) but it certainly does give one pause to wonder.

As I looked at the list of dogs, I automatically found myself scrolling down the list to see where Shetland Sheepdogs and Labrador Retrievers fell. Labs were higher on the list (31%) than Shelties (22%), but certainly not as high as the irish Water Spaniel (55.8%) or the Flat-coated Retriever (50.3%).

I found myself whispering a silent “Thank God” and then wondering to myself whether a higher-risk for cancer would change how I felt about a certain breed. If Shetland Sheepdogs were higher on the list would I feel differently about getting a Sheltie again? Would the data influence my decision to stay away from certain breeds? To be honest, I don’t think so, but then again, I am not the owner of a Bernese Mountain Dog or a Vizsla or a Rottweiler or one of the other breeds topping the list. Maybe I would feel differently if my favorite breed was one of these dogs. I just don’t know.

How about you? Would you choose another breed of dog if you knew cancer was more of a possibility?

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