Archive for the ‘Veterinary Best Of’ Category

It takes a lot of Heart

In Veterinary Best Of on June 11, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Sometimes we do things just because they are the right thing to do.

Orion was a young puppy German Shepherd when I met him, very sick with a huge abscess (pocket of pus) around his neck and a big fever and a substantial heart murmur which represented bad heart disease. The family that brought him in had a series of children the oldest of whom at maybe 14 was memorable because he was the only one who could speak English at all well as well as he wasn’t wearing a shirt in my examination room.

I was informed they had $50 to care for the dog. This dog had at least $5000 written all over it. The fair and easy thing would have been to put him out of his misery. But the look on the poor dogs face was pretty much mirrored in the whole families look as well. So we had them sign the dog over to our care. They don’t get to call and check on him, find out what happened. He just was to be ours to do what we will.

Part of what made this worthwhile was I had a visiting veterinary student and decided to make Orion her project. She had to sedate him and figure out what to do with the infection. There was a large hole associated with the injury and after digging around and flushing for quite awhile she said she just couldn’t find anything causing the infection. I took a long Qtip and passed it into the defect once and deftly removed a large foxtail. Definitely one of the most magical things I could have done in front of the aspiring doctor.

After the infection cleared and the dog was placed in foster care we needed to figure out to do about his heart condition. Because of the nature of the sound of the heart murmur, a so called “machinery” one (like a washing machine) it seemed likely he had a PDA which is short for a bunch of words which means that he had a communication between the large vessels outside the heart that shouldn’t be there. Most of these dogs don’t live out their first year.

The proper treatment for this condition is surgery. In fact when I was a veterinary student I had a cute fluffy shepherd mix thing that had this problem and I remembered walking around the entire hospital showing him off and sitting in the hall with him resting his head in my lap. Total trust. He bled to death during his operation. As crushing a situation as any I experienced in veterinary school.

Orion had the fortune of going up to the same veterinary school for the diagnosis and procedure. UC Davis was good enough to use teaching funds to perform the procedure which now consists of a special coil stent placed into the defect to make it scar down and is much safer. Orion had a successful recovery and ended up going home with the technician that worked in the cardiology department! One of the more satisfying experiences I have had since I left veterinary school.

The Point:

If you have faith in the process, good things can and will happen.


Bunny MRI

In Veterinary Best Of on April 14, 2011 at 9:16 am

One of the more remarkable stories of pet dedication to me involved a rabbit with a particularly daunting medical problem. One of which I had been unable to resolve on my own. Many people don’t get what can be special about a bunny, how interactive they can be or how much one can bond with them. This rabbit was especially well loved and his caretaker was going to spare no expense or effort to get him well.

Specialists were involved. A MRI was recommended to further suss out his condition. The place to do MRIs was conveniently located. Much to my chagrin, however, is when called the imaging center claimed “we have never done a rabbit MRI before.” To the caregiver! Now I happen to know that they do zoo animals so the fact that this wasn’t a cat or dog shouldn’t have phased them. And in my mind you NEVER admit to the potentially upset “parent” of a sick pet your limitations in this manner. This is a vet to vet conversation to be had behind the scenes.

Luckily said rabbit Mom decided to proceed and everything went fine (whew!) and the information necessary was gleaned. I ended up on the phone with the radiologist who read the MRI to discuss a fine point in the interpretation. He claimed to have personally reviewed 70,000 scans in his career and only 3 were for rabbits!!!

All ended up well. The procedure performed subsequent to the MRI was a success and the rabbit is currently doing quite well. I always appreciate it when my clients trust the process enough to invest financially and otherwise to do things that may not work but are our best chance and when things turn out for the best, that is one of the greatest feelings in the world.


Never underestimate a clients desire to do the best possible thing for their pet



In Veterinary Best Of on March 23, 2011 at 3:12 am

Emesis is the medical term for vomiting. One of the more common reasons I see a patient. Dogs that vomit are unusual. Often they are sick. Because they ate something or their food disagrees with them or something internally has caught up with them. For many dogs even missing a meal is a cause for alarm.

Cats on the other hand are self cleansing. They are born to vomit, as the last lecturer opened his talk with that I went to about gastrointestinal disease in cats. The question with them is when is the vomiting too much? Are they sick, is it a problem?

The other reason emesis comes up in a veterinary setting is making a pet vomit. Because of exposure to a poison or ingestion of an expensive object, for example. We veterinarians have chemical means to make an animal lose their lunch, so to speak. I always found it somewhat paradoxical that we make pets vomit to keep them from vomiting (from the eaten bad thing).

When asked my most memorable emesis story it comes easily and immediately to mind. I was presented by an Animal Control Officer (ACO) a friendly appearing Pit Bull on the end of a rabies pole. A request was made to retrieve the dogs owners nose. It was not made apparent how said appendage ended up in said Pit Bull. Seemingly, the ACO was expecting me to cut open the dog right there and then, anesthetics optional.

I elected to make the dog vomit which was effective. Mixed in with kibble and stomach juices was the end of a nose. I wouldn’t have known it was a nose without being told, but I could tell you its owners nationality. The nose was cleaned up, packed away in ice and flown to LA for a successful re-unification I later found out.


Biting off ones nose does spite ones face