Archive for the ‘Veterinary Myths’ Category

Death is Coming

In Veterinary Myths on June 18, 2011 at 4:54 pm

There are some terrible diagnoses in veterinary medicine. Rabies. Bad prognosis, inevitably grave meaning fatal meaning the patient IS going to die. There is not much you can do, just try palliative measures which you know won’t do much to change anything. The *HARDEST* conversations to have with a client. Much sadness all around.

One of these is DIC = disseminated intravascular coagulation. Also known by us in vet school morbidly as “Death is Coming.” A pet simply didn’t survive this diagnosis. Basically some kind of severe disease process initiates the clotting process in the body and then all the ability to clot is overcome and worse the body is unable to clot at all, and bleeding out occurs. An irreversible process. In theory one can treat the underlying cause and replace clotting factors until the body has healed but it just doesn’t happen. A bad bad diagnosis.

I had a patient in vet school. A lovely Pit Bull mixed with Labrador came in with a woman who worked for two equine veterinarians in far northern California. The dog had been vomiting and those veterinarians were so sure there was a foreign body somewhere in the dog they went to surgery. His owner described at one point the two doctors had their fingers touching, one down the dogs throat and the other reaching through its stomach and up its esophagus, yet couldn’t find the cause of the vomiting.

As it turns out the patient had pancreatitis. An inflammation that led to an effusion in the abdomen, ascites, and ultimately DIC. And the dog just looked at us wagging its tail, asking for a meal (the therapy includes no food or water by mouth to allow the pancreas to heal). It was suggested to his owner that the dog be immediately admitted to the ICU, where he could get around the clock care from multiple caretakers who would ALL be focused on his needs and surely the only way to possibly get better. It was anticipated it would take 3 to 7 days.

“No” his owner said, basically, “I’ll take him” — and everybody was looking at me. Crickets. Not quite exactly how it happened but essentially the ICU cost a lot and to be treated otherwise meant in the wards by the student. From 8a to 8p he was mine to keep alive. In the middle of the night the evening tech took care of it, following the orders I wrote but if there was an issue I would get a phone call or have to come in. Basically we poured an unbelievable amount of fresh frozen plasma into this dog. And literally we measured his belly to determine how well he was doing.

At one point his owner took him for a walk and allowed him to eat some horse poop. I could have strangled her. I told her we are not allowed to even eat ourselves in front of a patient with pancreatitis as the digestive enzymes get started and that causes further damage. Back to the wards. But amazingly enough he got better. Gotta love a Pit. Just totally indestructible.

“Wrong diagnosis” my friends said. Patients just don’t live thru DIC. But this dog did and he had all the proper lab value changes that are consistent with the condition. And he never clotted or bled. Perhaps because we were on top of his condition. Or he had just a “touch” of DIC. Who knows. I just know I did a whole heck of a lot of work and it actually worked!

The Point:

Even when given the worst odds, if the patient has any chance at all it is still worth trying.


Bad Reputation Breed

In Veterinary Myths on March 22, 2011 at 3:32 am

No, not going to talk about Pit Bulls this time. Though I also believe strongly that for the most part they have also been unfairly maligned. Today we discuss the Rottweiler. A large stocky black muscular dog with a thick head bred for protection and has a fierce appearance. On first glance many people are scared of this breed, understandably so.

I have certainly known some tough ones, but that goes for all breeds of all species that I interact with. Like any sentient being we all have our personalities, you know? But if I had to pick my favorite patients when I was a senior in veterinary school, they were all Rottweilers. Tremendously loyal, stoic, intelligent and remarkably loving – including towards me who was involved in some less than pleasant things with these wonderful dogs.

Which brings me to their name. And how they are misnamed quite frequently. Per Google search: people often misspell Rottweiler as Rotweiler, Rotwiler or Rottwiler. Some of my favorites that I have come across are Rotten Wilder, Rock Welder and the common abbreviation at my local shelter “Wrott.”

Ultimately a poor misunderstood breed who would surely be better off if people would just appreciate them for what they really are and not judge them based on their looks or the spelling of their name.

WIHCTU (What I Have Come To Understand)

It certainly is wrotten when any being is wrought (made) to be worse than they are.