Over the years, I have many clients ask, Why does my pet need blood work? They say their pet is healthy and playful and is not having any problems. In my recent experience with my own dog, Bentley, I have gained a bit of insight into the answer. My new puppy needed surgery, a neuter and ear crop, and we ran standard pre-anesthetic blood work. My puppy was not showing any symptoms or problems. Actually, he was lively and mischievous as ever. The lab work came back and showed signs of infection. We held off on surgery and, sure enough, he started showing signs of an upper respiratory condition. We also checked another puppy recently that was scheduled for a neuter. His name is Mickey. Mickey's blood work revealed that he had a kidney problem. The anesthesia may have been lethal. Some diseases go unnoticed until symptoms appear, and then the condition may be costly and difficult to treat. Running a simple blood test can save a pet's life.
Some basic tests run a check for infection and inflammation. Chemistry tests check liver function, kidney function, the pancreas, muscles and bones. If your pet is a senior pet, a thyroid test is added as well as a urinalysis. In situations where the pet is showing signs of a problem, full testing would be recommended regardless of age. We use Antech Diagnostics for some of our lab work, and they have sent us great informative brochures. Please ask for them next time you stop by the clinic.
The Miracle Cat
Marlene Dillard knew something was wrong when Briggs her very loveable cat disappeared after a run in with a Great Dane. Marlene was heart broken and searched constantly for him. Three days later she found him and brought him straight to The Animal Clinic. The Great Dane had torn a 4 inch gash in Briggs chest exposing muscle, bone and even lung tissue. He had multiple bite wounds that punctured his chest into his thoracic cavity, and now all those wounds were infected. He had other bite wounds on his hind legs, one where the flesh had been completely torn away. Marlene was advised that his prognosis was guarded, and that surgery and extensive treatment would be needed to save his life. She told us she could see in Brigg's eyes he was not ready to give up. Briggs underwent extensive surgery to clean, debride and close his chest and body wounds, and spent several days in the hospital with us. Amazingly through all the treatments and hospitalization, Briggs remained a happy and cooperative patient even though we had to clean his wounds several times a day. Here is Briggs today, happy and healthy. His New Year's resolution is to avoid Great Danes. By Dr. Debbie Marks
Chatom Henderson was presented to The Animal Clinic on May 16th, 2005 for not feeling well for three days, not eating, vomiting grass and it was also suspected that she may have eaten a chicken bone. Dr. Fluharty was concerned that Chatom might have a foreign body (chicken bone) stuck in her stomach or intenstines, so lab work and radiographs of her abdomen were done. The radiographs did not reveal any bones, however, there was an almond shaped mass in her intestine that looked like a palm nut. Chatom was started on medication for 24 hours in hopes that the sabal nut would pass through the intestinal tract and surgery would not have to be preformed. Chatom was still very uncomfortable the next day and it was decided that exploratory surgery should be preformed and the sabal nut was removed. Chatom recovered from surgery fine but was still vomiting and she started showing signs of head tilt. The neurological signs can be due to the sabal palm nut toxin so additional therapy was administered. After 4 days Chatom was still not showing any improvement and Chatom's owner Dr. Dawn Henderson and Dr. Fluharty decided that the best plan for Chatom was to refer her to Florida Veterinary Specialist that is located in Tampa, Fl. In Tampa Chatom was introduced to another doctor a Veterinarian Internist Dr. Mears who did a number of exhaustive tests including a MRI and still could not pinpoint specifically what was causing Chatom' problem. After many consulting discussions it was determined that Chatom may have an immune disorder causing encephalitis and a chemotherapy plan was implemented for Chatom's neurological problem. Chatom started improving soon after the therapy and the vomiting finally subsided. At her one-month check up, Chatom was back to her old self-full of energy and rearing to go. Thanks to her owner and the internist in Tampa she is recovering well. Chatom is a very special pet and is so full of love, and her owner Dr. Henderson is very special to have provided Chatom with the quality medical care that she received.
Cinnamon Wood is a very special patient at our practice. Joanne and Jim Wood presented her on 12-27-2004 for not eating or drinking for several days. After being treated by her regular veterinarian, she was brought to the Animal Clinic for a second opinion. Cinnamon had also lost some weight from not eating. After I examined her I felt that she probably had some liver, kidney or pancreatic problem. Because she was nine years old, the possibility of a tumor also had to be considered.
Lab work and a urinalysis revealed very high kidney values and the diagnosis of acute renal failure was given to the owners. They loved Cinnamon very much and wanted the best for her so we started a regimen of intravenous fluids and antibiotics to make her feel better. We also told the owners that the prognosis of kidney failure is guarded as some patients can die from the disease. A urine culture revealed a Staphylococcal bacterial infection that may have caused the kidney infection. After two days of hospitalization, Cinnamon's lab work was getting worse rather than better and we were all concerned we might lose Cinnamon. Over the weekend Cinnamon stayed at our Veterinary Emergency Clinic and seemed to be improving somewhat.
On 01-04-2005 we re-examined Cinnamon and found her kidney values were still high and Cinnamon was probably going to be a chronic kidney failure patient. Mr. & Mrs. Wood wanted to continue to get to the bottom of how Cinnamon acquired the problem. I suggested they have a specialist, Dr. Heidi Ward ultrasound her to rule out a tumor. Dr. Ward did not find a tumor but could not determine exactly what had caused the problem. Cinnamon's owners decided to continue with medical treatment and fluids at home and after two weeks the kidney values were miraculously coming down. Cinnamon was also starting to eat better and putting on a little weight. Two weeks later she was still improving and today looks like her old self according to her mom and dad.
The case is very special because Cinnamon was such a wonderful patient throughout the whole ordeal and her owners never gave up on her. We, at The Animal Clinic are also very excited and happy because Cinnamon's recovery is very rewarding to all of us.
Hannah Stamp is a very special patient at our practice. Kelly and Tim Stamp presented her on 5/09/2005 for a possible gum abscess. After being examined by Dr. Fluharty, he was concerned that it might be a tumor. The Stamps agreed to go ahead and remove the mass and send out the tumor for histopathology. Although Hannah is only 5 years old, there was a concern it might be cancerous. Unfortunately for Hannah, the report came back as a cancer; squamous cell carcinoma. The cancer was already invasive in the tissues and there was concern it might be in the bone also. The safest procedure for Hannah to prevent the cancer spreading was to remove part of the roof of her mouth and some of the cheekbone.
Kelly and Tim loved Hannah very much and wanted the best for her so we called a veterinary dentist specialist, Dr. Brett Beckman. He also agreed Hannah needed to have the operation in order to prevent spreading. The next day Dr Beckman and Dr. Fluharty performed the surgery with Hannah sailing through the surgery surprisingly well. Pain medications wer given before and after the surgery and Hannah had no problem eating. Although the surgery can be somewhat disfiguring due to the removal of part of the bone on the face, Dr. Beckman did an excellent job and from the smile you see on Hannah's and her Mom's face; you can see it turned out very well.
We, at The Animal Clinic were also very excited and happy because Hannah's recovery is very rewarding to all of us.
Milo came in on 03-21-06. He presented with the problem of lack of grooming and became matted. Mom mentioned that he was copping an attitude and had bad breath.
Since Milo was feeling less than friendly, we sedated him for safety reasons. While asleep, Milo received a clip and comb out. Then an oral exam was done to find out the why he had bad breath. Most people think bad breath equals bad teeth. In most cases that we see, gingivitis is the route of the problem, but not always. In this case, we found a plastic ring stuck on Milo's tongue. The plastic had severed the tongue almost completely. Well, we could now see why Milo was so upset. They can't tell you what they are feeling, but changes in behavior, may mean more than a bad mood. It is also probably why Milo didn't groom himself. Sometimes we think our pets are just getting old and grumpy. They may be trying to tell you something. Please have your pet examined if you notice any changes.
To start with a quote from the movie, 'Sea Biscuit': "Why throw a whole life away, just because it's a little roughed up?" This story is about a dog that volunteers his time, helping to track lost people. Randy started training at 8 weeks old in October, last year. He started right away doing small little searches in the woods. As Randy grew, he found joy in the game of "Search and Rescue". Parents, Scott and Wendy Smith were very excited about having Randy show so much talent. They knew he had a promising career ahead of him. Randy trained with the Sarasota Search and Rescue Team. Every weekend he would go to the Carlton Reserve or the Myakka State Forrest and train. Mom and dad found it difficult to keep up with spirited Randy as he moved quickly through the thick palmettos. Then at 6 months old, Randy started to show some weakness in his back legs. He was taken to The Animal Clinic for an exam. After x-rays were taken, Randy was diagnosed with Hip Dysplasia. Hip Dysplasia is the malformation and degeneration of the hip joints. Scott and Wendy were of course saddened, but planned on keeping Randy as a pet. Randy of course never lost his spirit. He could hardly be contained. Wanting to keep him strong, mom and dad started Randy on rehabilitation exercise. They walked Randy daily around the block and used the pool daily. Randy never skipped a beat. Soon he was walking 1.5 miles a day and then swimming for 3 hours. Randy received glucosamine and chondroitin as daily supplements for his joints. He is also on an innovative pain and inflammatory medication, which has proven to be affective in many cases of arthritis and joint problems. Randy will need to be monitored to assess the progression of his disease with exams and radiographs. If the disease does progress, surgery can be performed. In the mean time, Randy is getting stronger and faster. He started light training again with short searches. The Smith's then discussed, with Dr. Fiore, the possibility of limited job duty, such as cadaver work, which is a controlled environment and would not tax him. The Smith's also consulted with the Team Doctor and Head Personnel. The team decided to give Randy a chance. Randy is doing Searches and Human Remains Training. He is eager to work and shows no discomfort. Randy has acquired Pet Therapy Certification, Obedience Certification, and is a canine good citizen. Thanks for all your hard work Randy.
To Eat or Not To Eat.
Our pet of the month is Roxy. Roxy is being honored this month, to teach all pet families a very important lesson. This lesson is that pets do not discriminate when it comes to eating. Puppies especially, usually have no idea that what they have found lying around is not food. Sometimes it smells good, sometimes it smells funky, but whatever it is, it must be swallowed whole. Across the years, I've seen dogs eat socks, panty hose, toilet paper, jewelry, feminine products, palm nuts, rubber and plastic toys. This past Christmas season, our honoree ate a Christmas bulb. When a pet eats something exotic, it's hard to tell right off it's going to be a serious problem. Sometimes the foreign object comes out. Unfortunately, sometimes they get stuck. Usually, we don't even know when a pet eats something they weren't supposed too, until serious symptoms occur, such as vomiting. Diarrhea may signal an upset stomach as well. That's why a doctor may recommend an x-ray, to check the digestive track for any abnormalities. It's not always definite that you'll see a foreign object on the radiograph, but if the pet seems to be worsening, it may need exploratory surgery to find it. In Roxy's case, the foreign object was clear, because it was metal. The clasp of the bulb showed clearly. Roxy needed to have it removed. The rest of the bulb was in pieces. Roxy is back to her puppy like self. Roxy is an example of many pets whose curiosity gets the best of them. This is why it is very important to puppy and pet proof your home. Keep small objects off the floor. Be aware of your pet's environment. Here are some things to avoid: plastic toys that break into small pieces, rubber as well, rawhide is ok for some pet's, but not for those that chew off large bits and swallow them whole, small balls that can become enlarged in the throat. String, especially dangerous for kitties, it gets tied up on the intestines. If you are going to allow chews, make sure they are the right size for your pet. A big dog might try to swallow a small bone whole and it may not digest easily. Throw away old toys that are sharp edged or broken. A thirsty dog may be tempted to drink mop water, or toilet water with detergents in it.