Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Beginning life with an exotic pet, by Dr. Michelle Bellville

Did you know that guinea pigs get scurvy? How about the fact that pet lizards can lose so much calcium in their bones that they bend? Did you know that birds can get arteriosclerosis, heart disease, and hypertension like humans? A little rabbit may be a sweet Easter present for your son or daughter, but do you know what it needs to eat to decrease chances of illness, obesity, and dental abscesses?

Each one of these creatures deserves to have a long, healthy life like our typical dog and cat companions, yet many are passing away young or silently living a suboptimal life. I remember having hamsters, guinea pigs, and rabbits as a child and I realize now how much I truly didn’t know. These animals I kept really deserved better of me. No one ever told me I needed to be educated in how to keep these animals, so I never looked.

Petrie, a fat tailed gecko and
my first exotic pet.
At 13 years old, my mom allowed me to get a fat tailed gecko I named Petrie. I did my research – found out how to keep her the best I could, and spent the next 13 years with her. One of the exotics veterinarians at University of Florida commented that she was one of the oldest fat tails they had ever seen!

Before you buy a pocket pet, reptile, or bird, do your research: buy a book on care of that animal or go to one of the recommended websites below so that you can be an educated future owner! If you are already sharing your life and home with one of these amazing creatures, make sure they get their yearly check-up by an exotics- trained veterinarian – they can help you take a critical look at the husbandry (home environment, food, daily routine, etc) of your pet to see if or where changes should be made!

  • For rabbits: www.rabbit.org has great resources
  • For reptiles: check out the Advanced Vivarium Series (AVS) books – individual species guides
  • For general bird care: Birds for Dummies or The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Bird Care & Training.
Blog by:
Dr. Michelle Bellville
Click Here for Dr. Michelle's Bio/Contact Information

Dr. Bellville assists families in the Orlando Florida area with In Home Hospice and Euthanasia. She is also available to assist families with 'exotic' species like birds, hamsters, rabbits, etc with all end of like care. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween Dangers for Pets, by Dr. Mosley

 1. Food Hazards
Different types of chocolate contain various levels of fat, caffeine and the substances methylxanthines. In general, the darker and richer the chocolate (i.e., baker’s chocolate), the higher the risk of toxicity. Depending on the type and amount of chocolate ingested, dogs might experience vomiting, diarrhea, urination, hyperactivity, heart arrhythmias, tremors and seizures. Also, be aware of the wrappers that the candy leaves behind. The sweet smell is still on them, which will attract your pet! This can be very dangerous, not only is it a choking hazard, but it can cause damage to the organs! If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian.

2. Popular Halloween Plants 
Pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, but they can produce stomach upset in pets who nibble on them. Also, be careful with carved pumpkins if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens and wagging tails especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.

3. Wires and cords 
From electric lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock. This one is a year-round rule- but especially important during Halloween and Christmas!!

4. Costumes 
Please don’t put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it. Here are a few tips when considering a costume for your pet:
  • A pet in costume should NEVER be left alone and unsupervised. If left alone in costume, your pet may chew it up and ingest it. This could cause intestinal obstruction if more than small shreds of material are consumed.
  • Tight elastics on the costumes can get lost in the pet’s hair, potentially causing owners to overlook them, leading to swelling and pain in the area of the elastic.
  • If the costumed pet escapes or is frightened away while trick-or-treating, the costume could entangle the pet on trees, fences, etc.
5. Stress caused by Trick-or-Treaters 
Continual doorbell ringing and people at the door (in costume, no less!) can be stressful for a pet. Some pets may experience stress-related diarrhea or potentially injure themselves if crated or otherwise contained. Keep your pet in a quiet and safe place on Halloween. Some animals may also become unexpectedly aggressive or fearful, even normally friendly pets.

6. Keep your pets indoors 
Please keep your pets inside on Halloween night, especially black cats and dogs. Animals are at risk for cruel treatment by some Halloween pranksters. Many adoption agencies and humane societies will not allow adoption of black cats around Halloween for this reason. Please use caution when taking your dog outside. If you have any outdoor pets, consider keeping them inside for the few days surrounding Halloween.

Read more or contact Dr. Mosley:
Tiffany Mosley, DVM
Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice
Jacksonville, FL
drtiffany@lapoflove.com  |  www.lapoflove.com

Dr. Mosley services towns in and around Jacksonville with a focus on the Mandarin & Orange Park areas as well as the beaches.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Too numerous to count, by Dr. Cheryl Maguire

October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month and just so happens to be the month that I am revisiting my shelter roots. Just over 27 years ago, I began my life working with animals as a kennel attendant at a shelter in Southern California. I was very young but full of energy and optimism. I eagerly bottle-fed kittens and puppies, hand-fed orphaned baby birds, cleaned kennels and weeded the exercise yards all because I loved animals and felt that the work was so important.

Because that particular shelter I started out in was what would now be labeled a “boutique” shelter I was protected from the harsher realities of the large municipal shelters. Still, I was initiated into the world of neglect, pet-overpopulation, disposable pets, the pit bull controversy just to name a few of the problems plaguing shelters then and now. I moved on in life and with my career eventually becoming a veterinarian. Along the way I continued to volunteer or work at shelters wherever I lived.

It has been two years since I left the world of shelter medicine after burning out from a full- time job at a high profile shelter that left me mentally and emotionally spent. Fast-forward to this month when I find myself once again on the front lines of shelter medicine. I’m no tender- hearted rookie, I am a realistic veteran, but what I have seen in the past few weeks has been nothing short of discouraging.

Twenty-seven years ago mandatory sterilization of shelter animals was not wide-spread the way it is today. Prepubertal neuter and spay was not practiced and was even considered detrimental. There were no trap-neuter-release programs for feral cats. There were very few rescue groups and those that were active did not have such luxuries as cell phones, the internet and social media to facilitate communication to help pets in need. We now have all of these programs and amenities at our disposal today and what is the result? Tragically, not much has changed as far as the unfortunate animals are concerned.

The shelter that I have spent the past two weeks at is overflowing with dogs and cats. Nice dogs and cats. Oh, and not just Labrador retriever and German Shepherds cross breeds. There are plenty of purebred dogs there. Just in one week I saw the following breeds come across the door: Anatolian Shepherd, Bull Terrier, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Bichon Frise, Cocker Spaniel one each of these breeds and too numerous to count of the following: Boxers, Poodles, Chihuahuas, German Shepherds, Schnauzers, Dachshunds, Beagles, Labrador Retrievers, Siberian Huskies, Malamutes and of course Pitbulls….not just mixes of these breeds but purebred examples of each breed mentioned. All in one week!

I am depressed and discouraged because I had hoped that something had changed. That perhaps all of the young puppies and feral cats that I had spayed over the years had made a difference. Sadly, they have not. Please adopt a shelter dog. Do not buy a dog. I am tired of watching nice dogs and cats die senselessly. This madness has got to end. 

Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Lyme Nephropathy in Dogs

by Brad Bates, VMD

Lyme Nephropathy, just the sound of this disease makes me cringe….

This is a disease of the kidneys (from greek, nephros – kidney; opathy- disease or disorder of) with Lyme infection being the underlying cause. Lyme disease is caused by a special type of bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi. Ixodes-type ticks, like the well-known ‘deer tick,’ spread this organism.

In dogs, Lyme disease tends to be either asymptomatic (most dogs, with 90- 95% showing no clinical signs at the time of diagnosis), or cause a transient fever, lethargy, anorexia and limping. Limping in lyme-infected dogs classically shifts from one leg to the other. It is believed that clinical signs of lyme disease, including limping, is a result of the body’s immune response to the organism. Symptoms usually take a few months from the time of infection to develop.

Most Lyme positive dogs that are clinical for the infection will get better rather quickly on antibiotics, with doxycycline being most veterinarian’s first choice. The infection is usually not cleared, even with treatment, but will usually be kept under control by the dog’s immune system once treated.

A much more serious disease process has been reported, thankfully much more rarely- Lyme Nephropathy. This disease is not completely understood, but it has been found to have an immune basis. The body’s own immune system is needed for the destruction of the kidneys. What happens is the immune system develops antibodies to the organism and these antibodies attach to the organism or pieces of the organism. The antibodies can form immune ‘complexes’ that can attach to regular tissues in the body - one place being the kidneys. This leads to activation of the rest of the immune system, where the body thinks it is clearing an infection and instead damages its own tissues. This process can be likened to laser-guided missile attacks, where the immune complexes are the lasers and the missiles are the immune system components. But in this case, it would be considered ‘friendly fire.’

Dogs with Lyme Nephropathy show signs of anorexia, lethargy, fever and some will even vomit. Kidney levels are often elevated, or elevate later in the course of the disease. The classic hallmark sign of this disease is loss of blood proteins in the urine- called proteinuria. Many will lose enough proteins that their blood work will show low albumin (the major blood protein), leading to leakage of blood fluids from the vessels into the tissues- causing the patient to develop swellings of the tissues called edema.

Most dogs with Lyme Nephropathy have a very poor prognosis, with most succumbing to the disease rather quickly after clinical signs develop despite therapy.


The best way to prevent this infection is to administer monthly tick preventatives to your dog. The topical products, Frontline and Advantix, being the most common and two of the most reliable preventatives on the market. Others are available through veterinary clinics. It is important to follow all the directions and precautions of these products.

The lyme vaccine is controversial at this time, and people seeking this vaccine should speak with their veterinarian at length about its use and benefits/side effects. At the least, every dog receiving this vaccine should first be tested for lyme exposure.

If your dog is exposed to Lyme it is very important to follow your veterinarian’s recommendation. Guidelines recommend routine blood work at the time of diagnosis and at least yearly to check kidney values and other parameters such as white blood cells and platelets. Other tick-borne infections can also be spread by the same ticks that spread Lyme disease and some are more difficult to diagnose on routine screening, but may still cause changes on blood work. Urine should be checked at the time of diagnosis and at least every 6-12 months to check for protein loss. If there is protein in the sample, your veterinarian may want to check for an infection with a urine culture, or for bladder stones using an x-ray of the abdomen. If no other causes of protein in the urine are seen, the level of protein should be quantified with a specific test (called urine protein creatinine ratio, or UPC). This can determine if the protein loss is significant and how severe it is, as well as help guide treatment in the future.

As I first stated, just the sound of this disease makes me cringe…and as I write this blog I think about my patient currently being treated for possible Lyme Nephropathy. I just hope she is not one of the unlucky few, and I hope by following simple preventative measures other dogs can be spared this horrible disease.

Read more or contact Dr. Bates:
Brad Bates, DVM DABVP
Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice
Philadelphia, PA
drbrad@lapoflove.com  |  www.lapoflove.com
(267) 317-8110

Dr. Bates services the Greater Philadelphia area with providing families with in home hospice and euthanasia options. (All areas around Philly including Rittenhouse, Center City, Art Museum, Queen village, Washington Square, Graduate Hospital, Society Hill, Italian Market, Logan Square, Bella Vista, Old City, West Philadelphia, South Philadelphia, University City, Fishtown, Northern liberties, Fairmount, Manayunk, Conshohocken, Roxborough, Drexel Hill, Media, Villanova, Swarthmore, New Hope, Langhorne, Bryn Mawr, and Gladwyne).

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Two Dogs Dining (if only they were all this polite!)

Something fun for today: Two Dogs Dining (6:49 video). Enjoy!

© Made by Charlotte & Kristian Septimius Krogh: www.septimiuskrogh.dk and www.charlottekrogh.com; click to view their original video on YouTube.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Honoring shelter dogs this month!

October is Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month and we wanted to share with you the story of our very own shelter dog, Duncan.

We adopted Duncan 2 months after the loss of our doberman Neo.  Duncan was at a rescue site 8 hours north of us. He was 6 years old and the family just could not care for him anymore and they dropped him off at the Doberman rescue on Christmas eve.  We confirmed he was not dog or cat aggressive since we have other pets.

Everyone thought we were crazy adopting an adult doberman with no true history but he looked so similar to our Neo and I love the breed. And even if I only have 3 years with Duncan, we could still give him a great 3 years.

January 8th 2011, we met the rescue coordinator halfway and out came Duncan lumbering off the back of this pick up truck. He was HUGE -- so much bigger than Neo -- especially since Neo suffered from cancer and got skinnier towards the end. I instantly bear-hugged this beautiful giant (who was named Duke at
the time). In retrospect, it was stupid of me to do that to a strange (and huge!) dog but I just fell in love instantly.  He has been a wonderful addition to our home and I think was heavenly-guided to our family from Neo.

Duncan is a goofball. He loves to chase bees and grasshoppers, is friendly with everyone but also a very good house protector, and he LOVES all the cats!  He is a great example for the adopting cause. He is a full-blooded, purebred Doberman and was an adult dog when adopted him; people should not worry about adopting an older pet!

Below is a picture of Neo and his sister Serissa. She loved her brother and has adjusted to her new goof-ball sibling well. 

~ Mary Gardner, DVM

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Snort, Snore, Huff and Puff... Cute noises of short-nosed dogs, or symptoms of a more serious health problem?

Are you the owner of a short-nosed, or brachycephalic, dog? The brachycephalic dogs include such breeds as the Boxer, Boston Terrier, Bulldogs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Pugs, and Pekingese. If so, or if you are considering adding one of these lovely dogs to your family, then you may wish to speak with your veterinarian about specific breathing problems common with the brachcephalic dogs.

Brachycephalic breeds, with their broad skulls and short muzzles, frequently show some degree of airway obstruction, which is known as Brachycephalic Syndrome, or Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). Signs of brachycephalic syndrome include mouth breathing, snorting, snoring, gagging and choking. These difficulties can severely affect the affected dogs' quality of life by interfering with play, eating, and sleeping. The airway obstructions responsible for these breathing difficulties become more pronounced when the dog is exercising or is overheated, and because this syndrome often results in chronic inflammatory changes, the syndrome tends to worsen if left untreated.

A recent study by the Royal Veterinary College, published on May 10, 2012 in the journal Animal Welfare, reported an alarming statistic: an overwhelming number of "short-nosed" dog owners do not believe their pets have breathing problems, despite observing severe clinical signs! This study, unfortunately, mirrors what has been my own experience in private practice when speaking with owners of short-nosed dogs.

According to the study, "58% of surveyed owners stated that their dogs did not have breathing problems, despite over two thirds showing difficulties during exercise."

It is important that all owners of brachycephalic dogs know that the breathing noises that they may believe are "normal" for their breed are actually ABNORMAL and indicate airway obstruction. If you own one of these adorable dogs, I would urge you to speak with your veterinarian about evaluating your dog for brachycephalic syndrome. There are many effective treatment strategies for improving the ease of breathing and quality of life for these patients. For this syndrome in particular, it is very important to intervene as early as possible, before irreversible changes occur, to ensure the very best possible long-term outcome for your pet.

Read more or contact Dr. Bacon:
Laura Devlin Bacon, DVM DABVP
Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice
Knoxville, Tennessee
drlaura@lapoflove.com  |  www.lapoflove.com

Dr. Bacon services the Greater Knoxville Area, including Farragut, Lenoir City, Oak Ridge, Clinton, Luttrell, Maryville, Sevierville, and Dandridge.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Blessing Of The Animals

My 9 yr old niece Bridget went to a 'Blessing of the Animals' (with her dog Cookie) this past weekend and I thought I would share her comments and pictures - it is too cute!

How old is cookie? Cookie is almost two

What kind of dog is cookie?  Cookie is a Brussels Griffon.

Where was the Blessing of the Animals?  The Blessing of the Animals was at Saint Joseph's Episcopal Church in Boynton Beach Florida.

How many animals do you think were there?  More than one hundred. 

What kind of animals did you see? There where tons of dogs and cats but there where also rabbits, horses, lamas, guinea pigs, and  goats. There was also a police dog who was given an award.

What do you think the ‘blessing of the animals means’? I think blessing of the animals means that if anything where to happen to your animal, like it getting sick or injured, God and Saint Francis will be watching over them

How will this help cookie?  I think it will help Cookie by keeping him healthy and happy.

What religion do you think Cookie is and why? I think Cookie is Christian because we are all Christian and he was raised as a Christian puppy.

Posted by:
Dr. Mary Gardner
Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice - South Florida