Monday, June 4, 2012

Hello Dear "Followers"... Since last year I have been posting on the FB page of "ISLAND VET CLINIC" and to avoid duplication and since it is more fun with pics etc...I am now posting only there. You can switch to the FB page by clicking on the link at the top left corner of the blog page. or you can follow this link: See you there

Monday, March 26, 2012

Itchy and Scratchy...

If you have ever watched the Simpsons cartoon then you will surely know about “Itchy and Scratchy” the cat and mouse who entertain a very gore show that Bart loves to watch. What is the connection with what we are going to talk about today? None! Lool! Except that we are going to tackle some itchy and maybe scratchy stuff.

Upon recent public demand, I think that today we should talk a bit about dog allergic reactions...Yeap! Just like us humans, dogs do suffer from allergies...and the causes are just the about the same too; dust, pollen, molds, proteins in food, insect bites etc
So, what is an allergic reaction in fact? It is your body’s exaggerated reaction to a molecule that your immune system thinks it needs to fight off...and in so doing specific cells in your blood trigger the release Histamines. These work by increasing the permeability of your blood vessels and allow for your defence mechanism to "seep out" and tackle any allergen head on...but that is in ideal situations.
In an allergic set up, this reaction is exaggerated like ten-fold and results in the swelling, redness, itching sensations that we are all well familiar with. The face, lips, earlobes and eye regions are favourite swelling places for allergic reactions to develop (even if the animal has eaten an allergen or has been stung in the tail!!)

I have worked with and coached many vets and the first time they are presented with an allergic reaction, they always think of food as the source. While this might be the case in 15% of cases, a majority of allergies are cause by other things and the most common, in fact, is Flea bite allergy. The flea’s saliva is believed to cause the allergic reaction and the general “itchy and scratchy” episodes; with your dog sometimes biting itself to blood!
One commonly overlooked source of allergy for dogs is...cats in the same household. In fact, the allergen is not the cat itself but its saliva (again!). Whilst grooming itself, a cat leaves a significant amount of saliva on its fur that eventually dries up and scales off in the air...and hello sneezing, itching episodes in the doggy
The protein source of dog food is mostly derived from...plants; such as Soy, Wheat, Maize etc (yeah...not from meat as you would want to believe!) and some these cause allergies in certain types of dogs. Signs of such allergies include diarrhoea, vomiting and in chronic cases loss of fur and constant scratching.
In our tropical island, one other cause of allergies is fungus or molds.Animals living in constantly damp kennels, badly aerated and humid areas are most likely to develop allergies to molds. This is even complicated by the fact the the initial itching cause skin lesions that eventually get superinfested with other fungi. Skin becomes pink, has that typical yeasty strong smell and animal now spends his time licking that area (most common at its paws)
What about insect bites then? Huh! This one is of a more “violent” type and may even lead to death in some extreme cases. The body reacts quite rapidly to the “venom” or toxin and pour histamines in the animal’s system. This, in turn results in what we call in the vet jargon; Rubor, Calor, Dolor, Tumor.i.e. Redness, Heat, Pain and Swelling. If these inflammatory reactions occur in the face or on other parts of the body, it is manageable but if this happens in the airways, then your dog would be in serious respiratory distress and may die if not taken to the vet.

That brings us to the next question: What do I do in case of insect bite? First of all do not panic...because if you panic, your dog loses all his chances of getting proper immediate care. Just tell yourself: “ I have read Dr Sam’s blog and I know exactly what I should do!” Lool!
• Since you now know that blood vessels are dilating and becoming more permeable at inflammation site – apply cold compresses there
• Have some antihistaminic tablets (Piriton or Zyrtec)ready in your emergency pack. Phone your vet for the correct dose and give it to your dog
• Observe the breathing of your dog and note any difficulty in breathing, rales or wheezing sounds coming from his throat. If that is the case, it is a life-threatening situation and you should be rushing to the vet
• Take the animal to your vet for a consultation a.s.a.p; .as soon as animal is stabilised. He might need further injections for the pain and swelling to regress

While some reckon applying onions, lemons, vinegar or even toothpaste on the insect sting... this remain in the domain of folk remedies and moreover you might not be able to locate the initial stung area...and I doubt that your dog would like these smells too. The best chance for him is to have the above four points taken into consideration...and remember to phone your vet for dosages of antihistaminics because you do not want your dog to be dead of overdose now.

Alright, folks...enough for today...have a nice rainy evening!

Very BED weather since this morning...

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Right Reasons...

I started writing about this on the Island Vet Clinic Facebook page but it turned out to be so long that I thought it would be better posted here.

So it's one of the "MYTH-BUSTER" series and today's topic is: On Sterilisatons

2.1 - Only females should be sterilised

How many times have I seen surprised faces when I proposed sterilising a male. In our culture, some firmly believe that the males should be left intact to roam and "enjoy"...a bit by projection of our sexist society? Well...surprise people!!In fact if the authorities and NGOs involved in dog population control wanted to have an impact, they should be emphasizing the sterilisation of....males! Yes! Males...Think about it...if you sterilise 1 female, its only that one female that would not breed, whereas if you sterilise a male...its about 15 - 20 females that would not get pregnant. This, coupled with the fact that it is much easier, quicker and cheaper to sterilise a male should have made people think but old, culture-driven ways of thinking are hard to get rid of...but I keep telling...just in case

2.2 - My dog will become dumb after sterilisation,

While sterilisation (male or female) seriously disbalances the hormonal system of your soon balances everything in a process called Homeostasis whereby the body adapts and compensates. While this may affect the aggressivity and hyperactivity linked with sex hormones, it has little to no effect on the dogs brain...In fact, when "freed" from its sexual drives the dog spends more time socialising with the owners and stays at home...which in itself makes the animal more sociable, responsive (what we affectionately call "intelligent") and a better member of the family

2.3 - I have to let my female have at least one litter before sterilising

This is based on the fact that people humanise animal's feelings too much, a well known phenomenon called "Anthropomorphism". The idea is that it is cruel to deprive the female from the joy of birthing and nursing pups. While this may seem compassionate and caring, it seriously puts the female at risk; as a surgeon having spayed thousands of animals, I can tell you that the longer you wait, the more complicated is the surgery and the greater are all the risks associated with it. Females (dogs/cats) should be spayed as early as 6 months of age. At this age, they can tolerate anaesthesia better and the uterus and ovaries are distinct enough to be successfully located and removed

2.4 - If I do not sterilise my dog it will get cancer

I have been hearing that a lot of times, in the days, from people who used that as a line to convince villagers to bring dogs for sterilisation...and I heard that from an "educated" person last week!
No scientific basis for this at all! While some unspayed animals (males/females)may catch a serious venereal tumour through copulation this does not mean that all of them will get cancer. Its like saying that everybody who buys a car will be involved in a car accident!
Same thing goes for some cancer of ovaries and testicles...whilst sterilisation removes that risk, it is wrong to say that if you do not sterilise, your animal will get cancer

Enough? Ok! One last for the road on sterilisations

2.5 - It's less dangerous to have my female on hormonal heat suppression each time than have her spayed

Can you see my angry face? Well, while this may be financially better for your vet, it is extremely dangerous for your dog!! 9 out of 10 dogs that come to me with serious infection of the uterus have been on heat suppression pills before. The risk comes from the fact that the hormonal pills suppress ovulation but create abnormal growths in the uterine wall and... keeps the cervix open for prolonged periods of time.When its not for natural reasons (ovulation, birth and menses), an open cervix is rarely good news for a female...this is an open gateway for all sorts of bacteria and fungi to travel up from the vagina into the uterus and when it eventually closes, its closing on all of this. The bugs then fester on the outgrowths and in no time the uterus is just a bag of pus!!...and if this is potentially fatal!
So get that dog/kitty sterilised once and for all, rather than putting her at so much risk by trying to be "kind".

Sterilisation is the way to go... but for the right reasons!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Status Epilepticus...

Today I put up a question on the Facebook page of Island Vet Clinic: "Your dog is having fits and seizures. What do you do?". Kind of, to see how much people are prepared to face such a situation and the answers told me one thing:This is an extremely stressful situation for owners who usually are so focussed on the dramatic convulsions of their pet that they do not know much how to behave...and I felt so happy that I placed that question to the public.

Well...what to do during a seizure episode? First of all stay calm and observe. Note how long it lasts and if its one long episode or several successive small ones. These are VERY IMPORTANT info for your vet to find a solution for your animal.

What not to do? Trying to stop the contractions by reaching out near the mouth and paws of the might get seriously harmed by its sharp teeth and claws flailing out of control. Shouting in panic also does not help too...In the middle of the electric storm going on in the animal's brain,there might be a state of semi-consciousness and a soothing calm voice of the owner will accelerate its recovery time.

Then be ready when he/she comes out of the seizure. During each episode of seizure nearly all the muscles (voluntary and involuntary)of your pet's body will contract and muscle contractions entails energy use...and after a seizure, most animals will lie down or wobble on their feet, not because they are dazed but because THEY ARE HYPOGLYCEMIC; i.e. they have depleted their body's energy levels and are now very low on blood sugars.Sometimes,after the initial seizure, the animal goes into another one straight away is now low on blood sugars. Yes, hypoglycaemia can by itself cause seizures. Best thing to do is to give some high sugar drink to your animal...usually Glucose water works pretty well.

Muscle contractions has another effect on your animal's produces and enormous amount of heat and might also cause another seizure. Wiping the animal's body with water (especially the head area) will help if your animal is overheating. Some even use alcohol for better results. Alcohol can be applied to the foot pads...where the blod vessels are nearer to the skin.

Question to ask is: "why does my dog have seizures?" Hmmm..How to explain that without boring you with some nerdy neuro-pathophysiology? Ok...Picture the brain as control centre that coordinates all the electricity that flows to all the appliances of your house. In normal circumstances, everything is controlled, and distributed in an orderly way. In a seizure situation the brain becomes a ball of electrical impulses firing in a disorderly if your control centre went beserk and is now sending commands to switch on TV, heater, cooler, radio, fridge, ceiling lights, fans etc all at the same time. That is exactly what happens to your pet in a seizure. get a seizure, something must be short-circuiting your pet's brain...but what? Causes of brain "overload" can be from inside the brain itself (Intracranial) e.g. a tumour, brain abscess, blood clot,infectious brain inflammation, anything pressing on specific points on the brain or your animal has a genetic predisposition for seizures (true epileptics); OR it can be from outside of the brain but coming to the brain through blood supply (extracranial)e.g. poison or toxin, low blood sugar, blood temperatures above 40 degree C...

Now that you have a picture of this, try to imagine what is the real cause of seizure for your pet. Here is a few causes I have come across during my years as a vet:

- Poisonning...Pesticide ingestion, antiparasitic collars (some absorb a lot through skin); human medication ingestion
- Distemper ...Here the inflammation of the brain and its meninges causes the seizures. Usually when dogs reach that state, the kindest thing for you to do is to euthanise this poor soul...because there is no normal life after that, if ever they survive
- Feline Panleukopenia... this is usually accompanied by hind limb paralysis
- Breed predisposition ...Usually small breed with, sort of, compressed brains miniature Pinschers, Chihuahua, Cavalier King Charles etc or any animal with a lowered seizure threshold. Usually these animal will seizure after a strong emotion (frightened, overjoyed, stressed...)
- Diabetes...Usually seizures are caused by low blood sugar situations
- Heat Stroke...blood circulates throughout all organs and it is also the medium through which heat is distributed throughout the body too. An overheated blood supply, short circuits the brain and the brain goes into an electric storm.

So to the question What do you do in case of seizure?
You call your vet and note the time it started and ended; you stay calm, cool off your animal and re-energise his batteries after the seizure. Then try to think what caused the seizure.
So many times, I hear: "my dog is epileptic" True epilepsy is quite uncommon but most of the time, the animal's brain is normal but periodically or constantly "aggressed" by something from the outside. For the true epileptics,the animals must be on anti-convulsive for life but for the other ones, treatment is usually long you pinpoint the cause.
I can be as difficult as having a battery of tests run on the animal or as easy as removing a toxic anti-ectoparasitic collar from its neck.

Hope that helped enlighten a few owners...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Y a Comme Anguille Sous Roche...

Hello Folks!

Someone told me the other day: "Hey Sam! you are well overdue for a new post!!"

Been trying to write about a most unusual vet patient since a few weeks now...but you know how it goes...End of Year festivities...New Year etc..I've got all the damn excuses! Lool!

Someone came for an appointment for his dog and when I was done, he went back to his car and brought a bucket back. I was like: "Hmmm interesting, what is he gonna pull out of this bucket" my 18 yrs of career, I've seen so many people bring dogs and cats in all sorts pf "containers" that I would not have been surprised if he pulled out a fluffy little critter from there...Well! Apparently, life has still more in store for me! He pulled a nearly 2 meter long,slimey and wriggling freshwater eel from it!

Wow!That was something seeing him handle that snake-like fish...but Hey! Like a pro, I pulled my "been-there-done-that" face and told him what a cute pet this was! Lool.

So, I learnt that its a she and she is having a huge bump growing around her vent. Now that was something else!Palpated a soft and visibly swollen abdomen but otherwise everything seemed ok.

Mr Louis (owner) has this eel for...18 yrs now! Bought her a few cms long from some kiddo...and since then strongly bonded with her.

So what do you do when faced with that...Dr "been-there-done-that"??Huh? Well you thank yourself for spending your childhood playing in dirty streams and "canals" of Port Louis!I've fished these enough to be interested in our Mauritian eels later in life and curiosity (and a hint of nerdiness maybe)drove me to look up for more info at the Natural History Museum library. Yeah am that old...there was no Internet in my days!! Lool.

So you would be surprised to know that we have 3 species of eels in our river: Anguilla bicolor; Anguilla marmorata and Anguilla mossambica...and A.marmorata can grow into gigantic monsters. We used to find really big nasty ones in the tiniest streams! Scared the shit out of us!

What is so interesting about eels that got me looking up for more? They are unique in their life cycles! Heard about Salmons living in the sea and swimming up into rivers to lay their eggs and die? Well...eels do the same thing but in reverse!
They live their adult lives in rivers and swim back to the open sea when its time to breed...and die there!The brainy term for that life cycle is: "Catadromous" (as opposed to Anadromous for the salmons).As soon as the eel hits sea water, some drastic changes operate in its digestive system and it stops eating...the only thing that matters is swim, swim, swim (in fact the existing sea currents helps a lot and its mostly drift, drift, drift!) that secret place where they finally lay their eggs...and die!
If, for the European and American eels, the spawning location has been identified (Sargasso sea in the Carribeans)...nothing is known for the Asiatic and African eels. They lay eggs out there somewhere in a secret location (suspected to be on the East coast of Africa)and their tiny babies come back to their original rivers to grow into big MFing eels!How cool and amazing is that?!Shrouded in mystery...huh!?!
What to tell Mr Louis, who was nervously stroking the belly of missy Anguilla,convinced that she feels better after that? I told him a little bit about eel life cycles and said I would come to his place to discuss what to do...knowing that the rational thing to do was to release that eel back into a stream.
Went there, saw all the fancy ponds in his yard, aquariums in his house and all the love this eel was surrounded we talked...and he could not let go of his pet.

Reality check...if she goes into the river, she dies on her way to the sea (if ever she makes it with all the pollution and obstructions in our rivers)...if she stays with Mr Louis, she might die because her biological clock is ticking towards the end...but at least she dies surrounded by caring people and in a familiar environment.

So we choose to let her where she is; Mr Louis is briefed to let me know if swelling gets bigger and uncomfortable...I will then go play fish gynaecologist and try express the eggs out.

Life has its own ways of solving such issues...I have faith!

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Rewards of Rewarding…

The other day I was sitting at the car wash station, “socialising” with people and I got the question: “So…what do you do for a living?”, and I smiled…because I know that as soon as I answer, I will be flooded with stories and questions about every pet the person has lived with since birth, including the goldfish of his neighbour. I do politely take time to answer all the questions, as wisely as I can, but there are the ones about behaviour that I know cannot be answered by just chit chatting!
Why? Because, the essential component of proper pet behaviour training is…owner training! Most of failed training sessions or unmanageable dog attacks are caused by the owner sending improper or mixed signals to the pet. In reality, the formula is as simple as: Animals do not think proper (as we would like to believe) but they associate events and repeat behaviours that are reinforced. i.e. they will adopt and exhibit a behaviour if the latter has been rewarded in the past. That is the foundation of all “Positive Reinforcement Training”(PRT). Simple huh? If my pet is doing something that I want to or like; I reward it and it will continue to do it. But reality is otherwise, more often than not, while the owner is complaining and telling me how kitty cat comes meowing and rattling the bedroom door at 6 a.m to ask for food or how Blacky jumps on people to greet them…I do realise that the owner himself has reinforced that. Here are a few examples:


This is normal behaviour for playful and friendly puppies to do amongst themselves. What they are seeking (and what would be the reward) is the physical contact. While in the beginning this may be seen as “cute” and rewarded with a praising tone and a cuddle, it soon turns out to be a problem now that the dog is bigger or its paws are dirty. What happens next is: the owner pushes the animal away and shouts. We do forget that this is also a form of attention; negative, but still attention and physical contact; so the dog now sees that as a reward and continues to jump on you…but this time only to get your shoving and shouting. Some dogs might even see that as some sort of rough play; some physical engagement that is oh so craved for.
What to do now?
Simple again. Identify what the dog is looking for and DO NOT give. Basically, here it’s: Attention and Physical Contact. So, look away and keep your hands away from the dog. He will try again and then stop and sit still watching what you do. Now, and only now, you reach down and reward him with a praise, cuddle or treat. This will make him associate the sitting still with the reward. What will now be needed is consistency and patience from your part.
Consistency because if you reward the sitting still and other people in your family still push, shove and shout as before the dog will never learn.
Patience because you have to remember that the “bad” behaviour got ingrained in your pet’s head over a long period of time and it will take a lot of reinforcement to now change all that.

Ok, if you have grasped the essence of what I am talking about, we can proceed to “analysing” a few more common complaints about pet “misbehaving”. If you did not understand well the principles of PRT, then scroll up and read again before proceeding further


Common mistake: Give in to the meowing and feed the cat. The animal quickly associates the meowing with the food and will do so; or may even “try harder” and vocalise louder next time. By feeding when the kitty meows, you reward this behaviour and “carve” future problematic times for yourself. That is one of the main reason for cat obesity (especially after spaying) cat begs for food and owner gives in.
Correct human behaviour: Ignore the cat and wait till the cat stops meowing to give the food. Do not give the whole portion, just a little “treat” portion…to make him associate the food with the silence episode. Ignore again as soon as the meowing starts off again. Reward all other episodes of silence and be consistent
Pitfalls: Cats and puppy do make the famous “big begging eyes” so be strong and do not give in to pity. Your pet will be thankful to you later for that. Meowing can be nerve rattling too…but again be strong and do not give in to the easy way out.


Common mistake: Shouting back at parrot or giving any sort of attention. Parrots are very motivated by “conversations” and will readily take any form of verbal communication, especially when it is loud, as a reward. Parrots in the wild vocalize vociferously to mates and flock members as a way of bonding and maintaining group cohesion. In the human household, parrots call to the people with whom they are bonded and expect some type of reply. When the owners scream back, the bird may view it as what bird vocalization researchers call dueting.
Correct human behaviour: Once again ask yourself what the bird is looking for and DO NOT reinforce the screeching by giving in. If it’s food, do the same as with the cat case. If it’s your presence, do not walk back into the room until he has calmed down. If it wants to be out of the cage, do not do so until he is quiet
Pitfalls: Screeches more often disturb other people in the surrounding (neighbours, family, baby etc) but do not give in.


Common mistake: Shouting at the dog or hurling objects at him or even physically punishing him
Correct Human Behaviour: There is no barking without reason; there must surely be a reason, that is not apparent to you but if you analyse the situation well you will find it. Shouting at the dog or physically punishing him will not solve the problem and may even exacerbate the situation. Your dog my interpret the barking as the only means to attract your attention and continue to do so
Pitfalls: Same as screeching of parrots…many dogs get abandoned or euthanized because of barking.

Enough for today? Well….one last thing that you should be aware of: “Extinction Burst” – this is a phase some pets go through before finally letting go of their former undesirable behaviour. They might first engage in the behaviour even more. So if an owner is trying to ignore his or her dog when it jumps up, it may at first jump even more than usual because jumping has worked so well in the past.

I do not know if all this seemed familiar to you but…yes…it happens in the human world too. We all had our behaviour (good and bad) modelled and carved in through years and years of “reinforcement”. How many of us found it hard to re-wire our behaviour to suit a new situation. Oh how hard was it to understand that what has been reinforced as being acceptable with family and friends suddenly becomes inappropriate at work! How many times have I heard from people: “Uggh! I only attract assholes in my life”…But wait a minute may be you are doing something that reinforces “assholitude”! That is why you end up with them! Looool!

I am surely pushing it a bit far but think about it… What is the difference with that owner who always ends up with misbehaving dogs because he rewarded the wrong behaviour or gave in only to stop the barking/biting or jumping?
It’s all about what we reinforce and what has been reinforced in us; what has been “rewarding” and “worked” in our lives and we repeat it on and on again, irrespective of the situations. But the only constant thing in life is…change. Right? Same behaviours do not necessarily trigger the same rewards and we have to constantly reinvent the whole scenario.

So much for “So…What do you do for a living?” at the carwash station…Lool!

Merry X-Mas

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Canis lupus 2.0..

Today I feel like reflecting aloud on dogs...Who they are for us? Where do they come from? What is their role in our ever-changing society...

Been reading a quite interesting book called "In Defence of Dogs" and a lot of the author's opinion, sort of, triggered all that will follow. I highly recommend the book for those who find time to read.

So...well...where to start? With the end? Ok let's do that! What role do dogs play in our society?
Reading the papers and all the unjustified bad publicity media is attributing to Mastiff-type dogs, it would seem that dogs are mere instruments of defence or aggression...a reflection of the violent evolution of our society!
Or are they only objects of luxury, external signs of wealth and status? The more impressive,rare or expensive my doggie is, the higher I rank in the eyes of the "others"? Fortunately enough, so many other owners just keep dogs as companions and members of their families...any type of it pure breed or just mongrels. These owners,do justice to this animal who bonds and loves humans unconditionally...because this Man-Dog union is a long standing and a somewhat one-sided love story.

Like any other animal that Man did domesticate,the dog was USED by mankind to progress as a species. Domestication only occurs when a human need meets a "suitable" species. So what could dog ancestors bring to the prehistoric Man some tens of thousands of years ago? Agility, strength and ability to track and bring down prey!What did the dog ancestors get in return? A share of left overs and a sense of belonging to a group.
Until over a 100 years ago, most dogs "worked for their living"; with each breed type well-suited to the task they were bred for.Their agility and quick "thinking", their keen senses and their unparalleled ability to communicate with humans suited them for an extraordinary array of tasks - Tracking prey, hunting for Man's food, Pulling loads over long distance; Guarding the owner's territory, Herding flocks...Then a few generations ago, everything began to change; Man evolved into an industrialised species, no longer needing dogs for survival...Yeah, come to think of it? Where would we be as a species if we were not able to hunt down and follow prey with the help of dogs? Anyways, so nowadays, only a small proportion of all dogs still "earn their living" and most of them are merely decorative or just companions.

Whilst being companions seems okay in itself, it does create a "crisis" situation for an animal that has evolved for a certain task, now finding itself forced to repress all instincts and anatomical changes that created its breed to be the desired "homely" pet in a house.I bet we should all think of that when we house a specific type of dog...what are the instinctive needs of that breed and how to help him express these...because repressing them inevitably leads to "incidents" that end up on the news.
Now, the decorative fate of many dog breeds is, on the other hand, a major injustice that Man inflicts on these animals. Most of the so called Pedigree animals have been bred just for the pleasure of the human eye...How do you manage this crisis now? Evolved alongside humans and chosen for specific traits such a agility, strength, guarding behaviour to now be a "model" with "standards" and repress all your natural instincts!What is worse, is that some crazy people decided, just like that, that it would be "fashionable" to have dogs' ears and tails cropped for some breeds? How fair is that for the dog? The word "Fashion Victim" cannot be more appropriate in these cases. Victims of Man's cruel, ungrateful and crazy dominance.Ok...I'll stop here on this theme, otherwise I will be lashing out at colleagues and breeders who practice these or all of you out there who remain silent on that cruelty!
Deep breath...and let's move on!

Where do dogs come from though?The ancestors of the canine family have been recorded long before Homo sapiens.They were small, fast little mammals that survived by outrunning the bigger reptiles around and gave rise to several branches of the Canid family, namely:The Gray Wolf, Jackals, Coyotes and Foxes. There have been a lot of raging hypotheses about the origin of our "modern-day" doggies and due to the wide variety of shapes and types they come as, it was deemed very unlikely that they could come only from one of the above. Some, like Charles Darwin and Konrad Lorenz even put forward the theory that dogs were domesticated from all of the above-named species on different continents.

Yet, DNA analysis leaves us in no doubt that all modern dogs, from the smallest Chihuahua to the biggest of all Danes, originated from....the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus). All dogs share an unbelievable 99.97% genetic material with the wolf! So there we are, a born-hunter, who can live alone or in a pack being domesticated for the reasons mentioned above; evolving along with Mankind on different continents to end up as dogs in our society. Wolves do not bark,as such and there is this theory that barking was evolved by dogs to communicate with Man! Crazy huh? But in an experiment several types of barks and whines uttered by dogs were recorded and given to total strangers to listen to. All of the humans correctly guessed the psychological state(joy, fear, anger, pain)the dogs were when they were recorded.If that is not enough, how about so many dogs feeling the mood of the owners by just detecting subtle changes in body language? Wolves do not do that and it took hundred of years of closeness to Man to evolve into that animal we call "dog".
If the above does not make you feel that Mankind has been and is being UNFAIR on an animal that has always been here for humans, then maybe you should be reading other blogs and not mine!
Here we have an animal who keeps finding itself forced to change and evolve to match the ever-changing needs of the human species; who has been the faithful companion for ages and yet we are driving them on the verge of crisis everyday; yet we continue with mutilations just to fit into some dumb ass "standard" for shows; yet we keep being irresponsible and keep inbreeding them to have "perfect" specimens that unfortunately comes with a lot of genetic weaknesses and put the animal though an unwarranted perilous and disease-prone life; yet we continue to "wage a war" on the ones that are left to stray, the ones that are dumped. All the suffering and massive return for unconditional faithfulness!

For the role they have played in our history;in the name of an animal that has constantly upgraded to "newer versions" to adapt to our needs...Dogs deserve a minimum respect and consideration.
While Canis lupus had evolved to newer versions but Homo sapiens seems to be stuck on an old abusive and corrupted version!

Please upgrade...!!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Yups...Outbreak... and its not a remake of that infamous movie about Ebola virus in monkeys. Its happening here, now in upper Plaine Willhems area. Since a few weeks now, I have been seeing more cases of Distemper than I ever saw in a decade!Each with "textbook" symptoms and even rare ones that I see for the first time now...

Distemper...that extremely contagious virus that leaves us vets so frustrated because we can do nearly NOTHING when presented with such cases; apart from treating secondary bacterial infection and providing some supportive therapy. Distemper...that same virus that is so easily prevented by a vaccination that is available since 1950...and yet how many dogs are vaccinated in Mauritius? I will not get angry at owners nor veterinarians or whoever and focus on the whole point of this blog: i.e.spread information that may help animals...and as someone put it; "Validate" my purpose here.

So...what is Distemper? It's a viral disease that was discovered in the early 1900s by the French Veterinarian, Henri de Carre (Hence the french name of "Maladie De Carre")The virus is present in the soil and is regularly aerosolised in vapour droplets in summer (intense heat after a heavy rain). It takes one unprotected dog to spread the "fire" in the neighbourhood; one dog that serves as the factory for viral particles and it's snowball effect!

The virus is initially detected and isolated by the body's immune system in the pharyngeal lymph nodes but they soon overcome the defence mechanisms and start replicating and spreading to nerve tissue along the spinal cord. First symptoms are: Fever, anorexia and swelling under the neck.At this point of time, the animal's immune system is still reacting positively to the viral challenge...
Then, neurological symptoms become apparent; weakness on hind limbs; animal may feel intense pain when hind legs are touched and may bite; acute purulent inflammation of the eye and lungs resulting in thick yellow discharges in the eye and nose and loud breathing.Some individuals may even show a distinctive symptom like hardening of the foot pads...I have read a lot about that and this year is the first time ever I saw so many!! The pad becomes literrally as a fingernail!This is indicative of the failure of the immune system and the taking over of the whole body by the virus. This is when most owners bring their animals to the vet and with some aggressive treatment we might save the strong ones.
If left unattended past this point, survival rate is practically NIL...the virus rapidly progresses along the spine to the brain and the animal then invariably dies in atrocious fits, seizures and pain.This is when you should call it quits and stop the animal's suffering and preventing the virus to propagate further by choosing euthanasia for that poor soul.

In puppies (whose immune system is not yet developed, the virus meets with...NO resistance at all and swiftly progresses to the central nervous system and causes the atrocious pain. These little ones will rarely show all the secondary symptoms but will whine and howl practically constantly, only stopping because they are out of energy and out of voice. These animals should be promptly taken to the vet for euthanasia...They do not deserve so much pain and in their lives. Treatment is, as I said, symptomatic and palliative i.e.Your vet will prescribe ointments for the eye and antibiotics for the secondary bacterial pneumonitis and if your animal is not eating it should be on IV Dextrose drip and force fed at home.

Until last week, I personally did not try anything to stop the virus and traditional vet medicine does not prescribe anything for it...We are taught in school that YOU CANNOT KILL THE VIRUS...YOU JUST HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE ANIMAL'S BODY TO FIGHT IT OFF (and yeah...cross your fingers while you wait!!)..But some informative reading lately revealed that some "unorthodox" treatments have shown good results. Based on the close (very close) similarity between the Distemper and the Measles virus some vets have successfully cleared the virus with a human Measles antiviral- Ribavirin. I' have spent like hours over the phone looking for that here in Mauritius and, of course, this is not available!
One other drug that yielded good results was ...Vitamin A!! Yes, this Vitamin A, when given in high doses seem to disrupt the reproductive mechanism of the virus and thus prevents further replication inside the dog's body. This one I got here, and the results are quite does work! For colleagues out there reading this: The dose is up to 300,000 IU/Kg/Day...I gave up to 10 days.

Oh...and Yes, another favourite question from owners: "Can I catch Distemper from my dog?"
While I have seen many "Distemper-looking" human beings...this virus only affects members and relatives of the dog family...but it will readily jump species and affect wild Felines like in the near decimation episode of the Serengeti lions some 10 yrs ago and a more recent outbreak in asian Tigers. A specific strain that affects seals has also been discovered lately. Domestic cats CANNOT catch Distemper from a dog.

So there you are folks...Distemper all "dissected" for you!! With the hope that it may help you understand better the plight of your dog and your responsibility to protect him with vaccination and when to stop being an egoist and prolong his suffering when nothing can be done to save him.
In the meantime, Outbreak is in the Quatre Bornes-Vacoas area and I keep disinfecting my clinic like three times a day!

But...Mauritius is a small island!!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

It's been a "Pussy" Day...

Oh has been one of those days yesterday!

One of those Saturdays with your appointments carefully scheduled 30 mins apart...and then having emergencies coming one after the other.

But that's ok...that's why I am at the clinic for, right? What was worth blogging though is that I had 4 kitty cases, each interesting in its own way:

Mimi - 7 yr old black queen; cutest cross-eyed kitty ever; with several other jaw deformities. Product of an incestual mishap between brother and sister. Owners love her though; she's been around vet clinics here and most vets have called for euthanasia for the drastic liver tumour she has. Then last month,they brought me Mimi...severely distended abdomen; bloodwork and primary assessment showed that she was still compensating and maintaining and we all happily opted for chemotherapy + some hepatoprotectors..2 shots now and last time I saw her tumour had decreased in size but yesterday I received a panicked phone call from owner - Mimi had a bloated, hard abdomen and was not eating loads.Rushed her in, straight away and fortunately it was just a bloated stomach.But my prognosis still stays guarded for her.

By that time Frisquette was in the waiting room for staples removal from a nasty wound supposedly caused by a door slamming shut on the tail...but the extent and the location (very base of the tail and dorsal) seem to point out that this kitty had been hit with a stick or something. When it came 10 days ago, tail was limp and wound was purulent and maggot infested!Being hit was one thing but being left to that state was something else...and owner heard it from me! She promised me that the maid was gonna hear from her...Lol! As if the maid was responsible...
Anyways, yesterday Frisky presented with a clean wound and had regained 90% control of her tail. Good news then! I am so not into amputating tails!

Went out for the 10:00 dog vaccine appointment but owner was late and I took in a lady sitting quietly with a covered basket on her lap. I always like to play that guessing game : "Hmmmm...what is gonna come out of this basket/bag?" and I have been surprised several times!Iguana,Duck,Tortoise, Tenrec...I've had it all. This time it was a wide-eyed pussy, visibly in shock, that had been run over by a car. First thing that caught my attention was the blood tinted urine patch on the bedding sheets in the basket. Blood-tinged body fluids coming out of animals is always bad news and this one indicated bladder and possibly other internal organ damage! Quick assessment revealed simple diaphyseal fracture of right femur. Animal seemed fit enough to be anaeasthetised and here I was going into complicated emergency orthopaedic surgery...Experience has taught me that the sooner you go in and immobilise these broken bones, the quicker is recovery and less likely is permanent muscle and nerve damage.
In my early days, I would place comfort bandages, give pain killers and wait for swelling to regress before attempting any which time, the broken bone fragments would be moving, cutting more muscle fibrils, damaging nerves and blood vessels. So I went in, dissecting between muscle groups, exteriorising bone fragments and kitty went home with a stainless pin holding bones in place. "Six-million Dollar Pussy" for those of you old enough to know the famous 70's series.Still have to see how this bleeding bladder reacts though.

Proper exhausted...considering that I work alone and that I have had a head-on start at 07:30 am with a complicated surgery on a 14 year old fighter kitty named Xena. Now that's a pussy with a story!Xena was bouncing around on the exam table, exploring everything, sniffing and swaying tail etc...nothing but normal happy kitty behaviour huh? Except that she had an enormous belly, the size of a football!! Never seen a kitty with such a huge belly and more so behaving so normally! As if that wasn't enough to make her special, listen to this now:
14yrs ago, the actual owner was studying in Montpellier, France, and during one of his strolls with friends he saw a man throw a bag in a river and run away...Driven by curiosity they pulled the bag out and found three kittens, 2 drowned already and one survivor...Baby Xena! So, she was brought back to Mauritius, went through hell at the local quarantine station and lived a happy life until 2 months ago her belly started to "grow"!
Once again, been around seeing different colleagues; was prescribed diuretics, antibiotics, antiinflammatories, vitamins...then when "something" started coming out her vagina, a colleague told them to go see me..Lol!I learnt all that during surgery... all must know me by now...Kitty with normal vitals, distended abdomen, pus coming out of her vagina...I would not waste time waiting for a miracle; I go in and find out what I can do to relieve that poor soul. I got the usual: "Try your best Doc, she is like a member of our family"...You bet she was...With such a history behind! But these comments always make me if, if it was a regular alley cat, I would not try my best!Lol!
So here I was, pulling out a gynormous pus-filled uterus from that abdomen before ligating and excising it all off.Hmmmm..I wonder why these vitamins and antiinflammatories were not working at all! lool!
Owner and Dad were both gloved and in surgery room so I handed the WISELY CLAMPED uterus in a tray to the dad who, as soon as I turned my back removed my clamps and handed them to me...The MESS!!!Pus all over the floor now...and not a few mls...a whole tray-load of it! While he cleaned the mess I went on closing abdomen and since owner was now "stable" enough I asked him how he came to me etc...After my colleague gave him my name, he said he...Googled me! Loool!Who on earth googles vets!??!Hahaha! But I was surprised to learn how much is out there on the web, apart from the journalistic crap on PAWS-L'eglise Chretienne-Monkeys.He loved the articles about doggies, about my fight to stop euthanasia by electrocution of strays etc..
Then I had to ask the crucial question: " Did you ever put your kitty on hormonal heat suppression?" The answer came as no surprise..."Yes". I don't know why these pills are still on the market, considering the amount of cats and dogs that end up with life threatening pyometra with them. In a nutshell...the hormone in them (progesterone)triggers cyst formation in the uterine walls and keep the cervix open...Gateway for bacteria to move up from the vagina into the uterus and fester on the fluids from these cysts. Owners see that as a quick fix; vets prefer to use these pills to keep the customers coming in regularly for them (as opposed to spaying one time).I saw his face, as he realised that he himself endangered the life of his precious kitty and had to say: "Of course, you did not know...but do tell other people about might save a life"

Today, Xena came again for check up and I was happy to see her crisp and lively as ever and the ownwers relieved and smiling. For all those of you who were expecting something else from "It's been a Pussy day"...Tsk Tsk Tsk! I was just talking about a lot of felines and pus!

Not me!! Not Sam!! Loool! Dirty minds!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Le Retour du Comeback...

Okay Friends!

May 22nd!

More than 2 months since I last wrote anything on my blog! In the meantime,so many things have happened..Island Vet Clinic has moved to Candos; been out of the country for a while; seen a lot more cute pets with various problems; winter caught up with us; its been raining a lot and a few bridges have been crossed but not burnt... and other ones burnt without crossing them.

Anyways,upon public demand (lol!)...I am back on track with the Tale Tails.So what's worth sharing tonight? Did I hear "Dog Control Bill"? Well, yeah...this one made a "comeback" on the forefront again and the draft is on the Government portal for public review at:
How many of you, public people, knew about this and out of you lucky few well informed ones; how many of you reviewed it?

Well, I didn't have a clue about it until I was invited on that Committee to represent PAWS and advise...This draft went to State Law Office for review and is in it's final "fine-tuning" phase before submission to the Minister. I don't know if this is the usual way laws are drafted in Mauritius but...if this is so...then my fellow Mauritians...we are in deep poop!

Ministry Officials whose main concern is to rush and deliver a long overdue document; Division of Vet Services vets who, according to the draft are going to be the "Competent Authority"- the Umbrella organisation who will oversee all dog matters...but who are surprisingly "silent" in the meetings; the MSPCA who tries to monopolise all the prerogatives about dog registration, fines etc...; the Vet Council representative who tries to fight his own personal battle and then PAWS representatives. If anybody read that draft, please tell me that I am not crazy and over zealous when I find such statements of that draft utterly unfair and totally insane:

1- “owner”, in relation to any dog, means every person above the age of 18 years old who has a dog in his or her possession for more than 72 hours
So if I steal your dog and keep it in my possession for more than 72 hrs...its MINE! We managed to get this amended to "owner is the person in whose name the animal is registered"

2 - Under Importation of dogs, MSPCA proposed that German Shepherds be added to the list of restricted dogs...because there are reports of numerous dog bites other countries!!
When queried on which basis the actual list was drawn, an uneasy mumbling session went on and it was clear that that was just based on what happens elsewhere and not on what happens here! Restrictions on importation of Mastiff-type dogs? And then what? Let the ones that are already on the island inbreed amongst themselves? Compulsory spay/neutering of the ones already here? Good luck with that one! Nobody seem to be thinking that the real problem is...lack of education of owners and the so called trainers on these breeds! Yes, restrict some breeds that have potential for danger but set in place a framework for their eventual clearance..WHEN MAURITIANS ARE READY TO RAISE AND CARE FOR SUCH BREEDS and when we have legal and solid control on their training and breeding.

3 - Dog owners and Dog breeders should ensure that the dog receives proper care and attention and is supplied with proper and sufficient food, water,shelter and exercise
PAWS had to argue for like 30 minutes to get the word medical/veterinary care included in this...I cannot understand how we can leave vague and subjective words like "proper"..."sufficient" in a legal document?

4 - Any person may, for the purpose of stopping an attack, seize or destroy a dog if:(a) the person is attacked by the dog; or(b) the person witnesses the dog attacking any other person.
Reallly?? ANY person? DESTROY? Is it only me? Or are you, like me, seeing this statement as a door to all sorts of abuse! Anybody can come and kill...ooops sorry...destroy your dog! With or without proof that your dog was dangerous. We managed to change that one too and get the word "destroy" removed and replaced by "euthanise"

5 - If your dog is seized or impounded and you do not come or are unable to claim it back, Competent Authority can SELL it.
How do you like that one huh?? How unethical is that one? After serious arguing ( and several cups of tea)this was removed too

6 - No person who is entitled under this Act to destroy any dog,and who does so in a reasonable manner or who wounds or maims the dog in the course of attempting to so destroy it, shall be under any criminal or civil liability for the injury done to the dog or its death
That's the best one of them all!! How on earth can this come from all the vets who help draft this bill? So you are immune to liability if you are to euthanise a dog but you end up wounding and torturing the animal to death? What world are we living in? I had to fight a lot to have this removed...Euthanasia? Well, either you do it professionally, with all respect to the animal or you DO NOT CALL YOURSELF A VET and go do something else!
There should be no f***ing immunity for incompetence!Especially, when animal lives are concerned!

Yes, all this is in that draft posted on the Min of AgroIndustry's portal for public review...I did not make all this up.

Everything seems so surreal, in all of the three final meetings I went to...serious issues was taken lightly, animal lives were "taken for granted" and disrespected, people were "choosing sides" to agree with; defending their own personal benefits and looking into pleasing (or attacking) so and so...I did not have the impression that we were discussing a Bill that was going to be enacted into law...that was supposed to stay valid for the years to come.


Dog Control Bill...when is the "Owners Control Bill" coming out? This one would surely solve all the problems at source...For Sure!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bunny Tales....

Okay friends...let's go "Down the rabbit Hole" for a change! Not with Alice in Wonderland but with a few real specimens I had in the past weeks at Island Vet Clinic land.

Yes...People do bring rabbits to the vet clinic and it's amazing how much they bond with these creatures and how little they seem to know about them! The following cases tend to show, how out of ignorance, you can kill your rabbit:

Cotton - 2 yr old, white albino brought in a semi comatose state after "only one day of diarrhoea".The matted fur around his anus confirmed that he has been with liquid faeces and the lack of elasticity of his skin showed that he was really dehydrated. First things first, I braced myself for some delicate intravenous catheter placement because what this bunny needed right now was fluid...and he needed it urgently. Well, the last time I placed a catheter on a rabbit was in vet school, 18yrs ago...and I was a bit nervous while shaving that front leg for venous access. All went pretty well though, found the cephalic vein; placed the catheter and started my Dextrose drip running.
Question time now...while Cotton lies patiently on owners lap with his intravenous line. So what do you feed your rabbit? "Hmmm...mostly vegetable left overs; Carrots, Lettuce,Tomatoes and rabbit pellets". Hmmmm!If there is one thing Bugs Bunny did's making people believe that rabbits thrive on carrots!!In the harsh natural environment wild rabbits scarcely encounter juicy carrots and other veggies and their digestive system has evolved to process low calorie but high fibre food such as grass, hay and other "weeds". Rabbits need roughage (fibre) in their food and they do extract a maximum from them. Have you ever noticed (or been told) that rabbits eat their pooh? Well,however gross that may seem, THEY DO!! And they eat them directly from their anus.In fact, what they eat is not technically faeces but caecotrophs - shiny, mucus-coated, bean shaped "pellets" that contain a lot of nutrients. Once eaten, they undergo a second digestion phase and, then only, come out as dry round pooh that we are familiar with.
Ok back to he lay down there slowly picking up fluids and energy, I explained to the owner why it is totally not ok to feed rabbits lettuce and tomatoes on a regular basis. Lettuce contain Lactucarium - a substance that is reported to be culprit number 1 in rabbit diarrhoea cases. Tomatoes, on the other hand,are not that acutely toxic but do contain Solanine in various amounts and will surely upset his stomach if fed regularly. By that time, Cotton's whisker movements showed us that he'd had enough and was ready to sit. So dear rabbit owners, when you feed your rabbits think FIBRE...this is what keeps your rabbit healthy and in good shape...not carrots and other cucumbers etc. These ARE NOT natural rabbit food and are to be given as treats if you want but not as staple food. And....yes..rabbits do need a fresh bowl of water everyday too.

No-Name - 3yrs old, beautiful black rabbit. Presented to me as not eating and salivating a lot. Oral inspection revealed severe malocclusion and overgrown incisors. No wonder this animal was not eating! After successfully wrapping it up in one of my used scrubs, we managed to trim down the teeth to normal length and polish them for normal eating. Five weeks later here he was again with the same incisors overgrown and curled inside his mouth! So he is now on regular appointment for dental work!
Rabbit teeth are not like ours...they continue to grow throughout their life and get worn only by abrasion when the animal chews over solid food. Visibly, this one had not been having a go at hard stuff for a while.

Pilou - Big chubby white rabbit laid motionless in his box as owner explained, how from one moment to the next, rabbit just collapsed and would not move. He got me thinking of ink poisoning when he mentioned that Pilou is very fond of shredding newspaper bedding and eating them. But, then again,newspaper ink nowadays is mostly organic and harmless. The only toxicity we get from newspapers is the sometimes utterly stupid and defamatory articles that some so-called journalist bother to write.
So back to his inspection then and... a vertebral dislocation was palpated at the lower back level! When apprised, owner said that at no point of time did Pilou get hurt there, nor did he fall down etc. For having seen that in the past, I, sort of, suspected how this happened and when I asked how he handles his rabbits( because he has 5 more at home)he told me "by the ears as everyone else"... Okay! while you can handle your rabbit by holding the ear, you have to hold his hind legs to support his weight.
Reason 1 - It is cruel to let an animal hang by its ears (especially if this is a heavy fat one as Pilou)
Reason 2 - These hind legs are so strong that if they kick in the air and there is nothing to support...spine damage can occur.
When told this, despite the fact that he continued to deny, I felt sure he will be careful with the 5 other ones at home now. Pilou had to be euthanised because it is no life for a rabbit to lie down in pain and paraplegic!

As cute as bunnies may fun as they may be to play with...a pet rabbit is a special animal with special needs and to pretend that we can just throw vegetable left overs at them and keep them locked in a small cage 24/7 is totally wrong. They need daily care,running space, interaction and dedicated time from you.

Next time your kid asks you for a bunny because his school mate has one or he just saw one cramped in a tiny bird cage at your local pet store...think twice.

If you are not ready to provide the above rabbit needs, get kiddo a stuffed fluffy bunny...He will play with it same as with a real one and then dump it away in a few weeks...just as he would with a real one too..but this time no animal would have suffered.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Which Dog Do You Feed?'s been a long silent blogging episode. Blame it on the ups and downs of life... on the erratic flow of the "river". Stagnant waters, brooding over thick silt, going nowhere...Murky pool, clouding the mind.Days when you wear a smile on the face to hide the mess in your head!
But hey...Life is all about choices...and I choose to live and let live. Enough of gloomy reflections and on to some animal talk!

Last week, I had my first case of Leptospirosis in a puppy for 2011. Animal was brought in with severe jaundice and fever.I wonder how owners do not pick up jaundice early enough to bring their animals to the vet...maybe because not all of us check the gum and external ear colour daily. So...yes in case of jaundice your animal will have yellow gums, inner side of the ear flap, sclera(white part of the eyeball)and abdomen.
What is Lepto huh? A very contagious bacterium of the Spirochaetes family that can penetrate skin and infect you and your animal.Yes...I did say "YOU" as Leptospirosis is one of the rare diseases that you can easily get from your dog! The natural reservoir for these bacteria are rodents, and in our case, rats! They are shed in the rats' urine and when ingested or upon contact with this urine, your dog (or you) might be infected. The disease develops in a similar fashion for both humans and dogs: Fever, lethargy; liver is the first organ that is affected (and hence the jaundice) and then the lepto progresses to the kidneys where they cause renal failure and this is most often ...FATAL!
If picked early enough this is easily treated with antibiotics but the best thing to do is to vaccinate your dogs regularly against this bug. Proper hand hygiene usually keeps contamination away...even if you are dealing with a sick dog at home. Another useful precaution is to remove/clean your dog's food bowl as soon as he has eaten his meal; Our habit of leaving food bowls with left overs overnight is what attracts the rats and favours contamination. Then again, a proper rat control programme is mandatory if your yard is infested.

Ah!! Those rats! I remember reading James Herbert's chilling novel "Rats" when I was a teenager and despite being a tad apocalyptic, there is a lot of truth in all of the rodent behaviour described there! What about rat poison? Or as we like to call them: "Medcine lerat" - Rat if they have a headache or something that we have to give them "medicine" for! Loool!Nearly all rat poisons are with Coumarin - a powerful anticoagulant that triggers internal bleeding in the animals. This has been carefully designed to make the animal slowly bleed to death, usually over 2-3 days. This has been well studied, because rats are so clever that if one of them dies acutely after eating something, the rest will not eat that again. Some studies even show that there is a set hierarchy in the "rat pack" whereby the dominant ones "send" lower ranking individuals to "taste" the food before they try it themselves! Call it weird, scary or simply rat common sense...but that is how it is. So rat poison is designed to kill slowly, over a couple of days. Why am I detailing all this? Because dogs do eat the rat baits and cats do eat poisoned rats too! If you attend to them early enough this is manageable too, with specific antidotes that will cancel the Coumarin effects. which dog do you feed? To end this blog on the same note as I started it;In my head, my thoughts are like 2 dogs fighting each other constantly! Call it the Ying and Yang; the Good and Bad but me I have 2 dogs!Loool!...and I have learnt, with time, the answer to the question: "So which one eventually wins the fight?"
The answer is: " The one I feed the most eventually wins" Sometimes it pays to stop feeding one of the dogs; balance the "fight" and life goes on. You can read how many books you want; get how much counseling you need but it's ONLY YOU who can decide which dog to feed less and which one to feed more...

So my blogger friends!! Which dog have you overfed lately?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Om Mani Padme Hum...

These last few days at the clinic have been loaded with emotions; both from my side and from the side of the worried owners coming with their sick pets...
There was a time, some 12 years ago, when we first started with PAWS to do something for Animal Welfare, when I felt that Mauritians do not care for their pets...As the years pass by, I guess we all have witnessed a change in the mentality towards pets and us Vets we are the privileged few to see that first hand. At my clinic, I see more and more people coming with a really caring and compassionate attitude towards their pets. People who cry when their pets are terminal, people who fight and stay awake whole nights to keep a fading puppy alive; people who travel kms to have their pets treated...

Someone phoned and rushed in with a land tortoise yesterday (Malagasy Radiated Tortoise)apparently not eating for a couple of days. When they took the reptile out of the box, my heart skipped a beat...the head and legs were limply dangling out of the carapace.Anyone who has ever owned a tortoise would know that usually these critters keep the head and legs tightly retracted under the carapace when placed in and "unfriendly" environment...and I thought aloud: "Did you bring me a dead tortoise?". Then upon closer manipulation, he blinked when I touched his eyelids! That was one lethargic and blemish reptile!A brief "interrogation" of the owners revealed acute onset of anorexia and weakness 2 days ago.
So, when you are DHAC (Don't Have A Clue) about something and you do not have a scientific explanation for always pays to switch to logical thinking! Reptiles do not control their body temperature and depend on ambient temperature to warm up. Cold body = slow I opted for a warm bath whilst keeping his head above water level and passing a gastric tube down his stomach to sample some contents.
Flushed out some dark coloured vegetable matter and by now Mr Tortoise was becoming more active and helped a bit by vomiting a whole bunch of more green undigested leaves. Owners could not identify that with anything they had given to eat!Another case of poisoning with toxic house plants maybe; but what was interesting to me was the behaviour of the whole family during all this.Panicked and distressed at start: the guy kept saying "save him Dr Sam..." they shifted to sheer joy and relief when he vomited, stroking his shell and encouraging him and they were full of hope when they left with that tortoise in their box. Animal was still in bad shape with a poor prognosis but they were so happy to see him move after the death scare that it did not matter.
Some might say: What so special about a reptile? An animal that does not even socialise with Man...What binds this family to that slow and "non-interactive" animal? But yet they behaved as if it was their kid!

Small black pup...rescued from death by one friend of mine...but in a bad state. Animal was found weak on a poultry farm; 3 of its siblings had been eaten by mastiff guard dogs on that site and mother was shot by deer hunters.Puppy was brought with severe Parvo diarrhoea, abdominal cramps etc. Everyday that guy would come for a 1 hr IV drip session and tell me how he spent the night watching over this poor soul, syringe-feeding him and warming him up; how he had to cancel a business meeting because there was nobody to rehydrate him for 3 hrs. This person already owns a dog, has a full daily busy schedule and yet he chooses to put this little dog first...

Sick kitty brought from the other side of the island; owner driving all the way in the afternoon traffic; Lady picking up and dog from the roadside, with broken limbs and smashed hips and bursting into tears when I had to euthanise the animal to alleviate its suffering; Another owner gently talking to her cat as she comes round after anaesthesia for surgery; Kids taking turns to read stories to a dog in terminal stage of Distemper...the list is long...and it shows only one thing - There is something inside all of us called "Compassion". We all are born with our dose of it but some choose to repress it and act indifferent, some "prioritise" other feelings at the expense of compassion but some of us do let it out...

Om Mani Padme Hum...The Tibetan Mantra of compassion.For while now, this mantra has been very present in my life...I have a tattoo of it on my right wrist; someone recently gave me a CD with these incantations (Thank you Dr A!!)and I keep reading about it. Not that I am a big religious person or anything but, as someone rightly put it recently: "it's better to be spiritual than religious these days"...So yes,there is nothing more human to be compassionate!

Not the fake caring attitude because you expect to get something in return but true UNCONDITIONAL compassion for a suffering soul it human or animal!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Barking at the wrong tree...

Last week, someone from Radio 1 phoned me to have my opinion on the Stray Dog Overpopulation problem in Mauritius. This was to be a broadcast on the alarmist picture the Mauritian SPCA had described in the press lately. Supposedly because the Ministry of Tourism is no longer funding them, we would soon be swamped by an army of rabid stray dogs! I don't know how people still buy that sort of crap...over and over again! It's been how many years now that the "Stray Dog Population Control" has been conferred onto the MSPCA? Some of you reading this weren't even born since this campaign started...1972!Thirty nine years later we are still facing the same problem, hearing the same lame lies and yet year after year tax-payers money is being spent in this and now still more is needed.

During these 3 decades, thousands of animals have been caught and brutally terminated; several Acts have been voted at Parliament; dozens of vehicles and equipment have been bought and yet...stray dogs are still a problem. Mauritius is a tiny island and does not share any terrestrial borders with any on Earth are we still waging a war against stray dogs

Visibly, people somewhere, somehow messed up in their tasks...and in all this we have ourselves to blame...because each time the MSPCA comes up with an excuse the authorities just "abide" and cash out more money and everybody approves by remaining silent and applauding. Well, I am not participating in this!

According to law, any dog found unaccompanied on the streets is a stray; and this encompasses the real homeless strays and your pet doggie. Throughout all these years mostly owned dogs have been picked up...not because they were really strays and a danger to public but more because they were a juicy source of easy money with the fines the owner had to pay etc. The real strays were left on the roads to breed without control.

Catch and that all we can expect from a "Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals"? Quite paradoxical hey! And yet, that is the sad reality. See
Catch in a brutal way and kill in an even more atrocious way...that was the sad reality only a decade ago; when some found it totally acceptable electrocute dogs and proudly heap them in mound to make a poster out of it. It took me personally, 3 years of fighting and a lot of pressure from PAWS to make this barbaric act stop. But dogs continue to be caught and killed, now by lethal injection apparently...and God knows who handles this syringe and how it is being done.

All this in the name of what? For a more postcard, tourist-attracting Mauritius? For more money? Just for the sake of being cruel and dumb? Nobody even bothers to ask...all that matters is the IMMEDIATE removal of "eyesores" as I read in the newspapers lately.

How does a dog end up being tagged as "stray"...or why would a dog be unaccompanied on the streets? 1-Owner's yard not fenced, 2-Animal is ill-treated or not fed by owners, 3-Animal is not spayed/neutered by owner, 4-Owner releases the pet dog on the streets in the evening for him to go poop outside, 5-Owner dumped the animal because it was a burden for him. Did you notice the recurrent word in all these reasons? Yes?...and yet the animals are the ones to pay the price with their lives...they are the ones that need to be killed. Owner just goes and gets another puppy and the cycle starts all over again. This is not news anymore...what I am writing now, we have been saying that for years and years now to all the Decision-Makers; we have been stressing on the fact that the real, long-term solution lies in educating and responsibilising owners and spay/neuter campaigns. But hey, who cares about long term? What we need is these mongrels out of sight and we want it NOW!So go ahead with the massacre...but nobody realises that physically removing 10 animals is creating a void to be filled by 10 more...that's a dumb law of population dynamics.

The journalist must have sensed the smirk on my face when I said "ok for the interview" and since he wanted to play the game of the MSPCA...he never called me back! Loool! Dr Sam and his bloody loud mouth!

Plain bland TRUTH...Naaaaaaahhhh! We need crispy, shocking LIES!

Until, the press and the Government realise that they are barking at the wrong tree...we will still be here another 39 years complaining about lack of funds to catch and kill dogs in this country.

Prevention of Cruelty much?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Joys of Birthing...

Last Saturday has been yet another day to remember for 2011...

Yeps it was the 12th of March and independence day for Mauritius; Yeps it was the birthday party of my daughter Kalinka at the ice cream parlour "Milky Lane" but it was also "marked" by a lady called "Princess". lying extenuated on the couch at around 19:00 and I get one of those panic phone calls from a lady whose dog was having problems giving birth. She(the dog!!) had been in labour since the morning but nothing "popped" out yet.

15 mins drive to the clinic and the peeps were already there waiting for me with their doggie - severely distressed;visibly weak and in pain. She had given birth 3 times before without any problems but this time she had a big humongous baby stuck in birth canal. Emergency shot of Pain killers; intravenous drip of dextrose 5% and she was on surgery table in no time. I managed to dislodge the stuck baby and because of the weak state she was, I decided to go "get" the remaining babies by a ceasarean section surgery.

Owner came with her daughter and son-in-law and here we are, all 4 of us in the surgery room; me busy with my instruments and the other 3 looking intently at the scalpel in my hand...
Stressful moment it is...for me the surgeon and for the owners watching me taking uterus out and incising to get first baby out. OMG! Questions firing non-stop... "What is this? The intestines? (the uterus)" Why is this greenish?(placenta); Ah! Baby is inside a sac huh?; Is he alive?" Nothing better to put more pressure on you whilst you focus on being swift and quick;while you avoid being "showered" with amniotic fluid as you break open the sac;as you clamp the umbilicus with one hand and cut the cord with the other!!
What is interesting though is that, as soon as baby is out,...owners' attention immediately shift onto the latter. Suddenly, nobody cares about the mom who is lying there with her abdomen wide open and uterus exposed! Loool! Everybody is mesmerised by the cute wet ball of fur taking his first breath on that towel!

Two babies out; and I start to suture back uterus while the ladies are actively rubbing the pups back to life.I could "palpate" the stress as they both were criticising each other's way of "rubbing"! Lool!: "Mum! You are rubbing to hard!"..."Careful You! Your long nails are going to hurt them!"..."Turn them around! you are in my way!" looool! Then...the release operated - Babies started vocalising and whining and, as if, THIS was the real signal that they are ok, everybody was now relaxed. Mr son-in-law, who, until now was anxiously sitting on a chair biting the little nails that were left on his fingers, sprung up and started snapping pics (mostly of; participating in towel rub etc.Loool!

By that time, I had finished stitching mum up and cleaning her. The whining was becoming louder and louder, so I expressed some colostrum from the nipples and "offered" them to the pups...Aaaaaaaw! Can you picture a vacuum cleaner nozzle stuck on your skin? Well, there they were...frantically pawing and suckling on these teats like they've done that all their lives!!

There are no words to describe my feelings in such a moment. You forget the forget the strong smell of canine amniotic fluid permeating your sinuses; you forget the pain you have been feeling in your left knee (torn ligament) for standing so long...everything you can perceive is 2 babies falling asleep already on mum's incision line with teats in their mouth!
I looked at owner and I could see emotions flushing her system too; daughter was more into giving them names already and son-in-law had now switched from being a papparazi to pro cameraman now...shooting the scenes from various angles on his Hi-tech phone! Pffff!Hope I do not end up on Youtube or something!

Happy, Happy...Yeps! Babies are always bundles of joy! I guess Princess was happy too, loaded with pain killers for the next 5 days and I have been receiving text "updates" daily about them...all doing fine.

Can't wait for next saturday to see them again for their scheduled check up!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Ontogenese rekapituliert die Phylogenese...

Feeling Nerdy today? Brace yourself...for some!

"Doc, can you tell me if this is a true German Shepherd?" I got this question today and this crops up like twice a week these days! Everybody wants a "pure" one and so many turn up with backyard crossbreed individuals!
So how do you tell a true GSD from a "fake" one? The real ones are all black at birth and only afterwards get their tan patches; just like true Dalmations are born uniformly white and start getting their much appreciated spots a week or so after. Lion cubs are born with spots; our Mauritian monkeys have babies born with jet black fur that slowly changes to grey after a few weeks; the african Colobus monkey is predominantly black but carries baby which is as white as milk!
So what's this whole buzz about having babies that are so strikingly differently coated from the adults? One would have thought that evolution would have provided those babies with some sort of colour that would blend them in the lot as protection from predators...but for the Colobus monkey, it's like placing crosshairs on the baby or painting it in fluo for the attention of any predator!!

Enter Ernst Haeckel, German biologist who, in 1866 came with his theory about "Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny" (In german in the title). This theory was later taken to the extremes and discredited by most biologists. Yeps, that the way to do it: Take something someone said, try to apply it to far fetched situations and prove it wrong! Loool!Anyways...despite failing the test when confronted to conventional Darwinism, I always like to pull the argument that it does explain some stuff that are not explicable by the theory of evolution. Well, what does it say, that is so controversial, then?

Ontogeny - The development of an individual through it's various stages
Phylogeny - The development of a species.
Ernst Haeckel stated that through the stages of its development, and individual repeats the stages of the development of its species. Thus, in embryonic stage, the human embryo resembles an embryo of other animals, has gills like fish, later the foetus develops a tail like other primates and is covered with fur like all mammals. All this resorbs to give a baby the way we know of at birth.

Taken to the word, Ernst Haeckel was covered with shame because in the development of a chicken for example it does not resemble the adult form of fish-amphibian-reptile-archopterix then ends up like a fluffy yellow chick but it does have the genes for that. But the theory has some truth in explaining ancestry. Our ancestors had tails and we possess the genes to grow a tail and our babies start grow one which is later stopped and resorbed; just like birds have been proven to possess the genes to grow teeth - like their reptilian ancestors. Lol! Yeah! Chicken can grow teeth and that has been proven in the labs.

Ok ...back to our baby animals here! some point of time in evolution, the ancestors of the German Shepherd Dogs were...all Black; the ones of Dalmations ...all white and adult lions wore classy spots like a leopard! The babies are just displaying vestigial coat colour of ancestors. This colour must have served a purpose in the past but no longer now with intensive human-influenced in animal breeding.
There you go! Taken from this angle the theory of Haeckel stands the test and makes complete sense too...

So, now, next time someone asks you how to tell a true GSD from a "sugar-cane GSD" you will know what to answer and have a nerdy explanation too!In any case, you should tell him that a dog is a dog...ready to throw so much love back at you...whether pure breed or mongrel!

What?! You did not grasp the whole point about Ontogeny etc? Go watch a Reality-TV show on your couch then! Looool!
Or you can always scroll up and read again!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Two types of everything...

Grey hair falling over her lovely (hazel)eyes...curvaceous figure..she watched me come close and made a step backwards as I reached out a hand to stroke her back.
This is Kenza, 13 yrs old female "Griffon" upon her first visit in January (and not, as you thought, some hot chick playing shy with Dr Sam!)Owner brought her for a "fourth" opinion after being told that she had cancer and was terminal. Kenza had been spayed 6 years ago and the next year she was having vaginal bleeding again and since then has been with vaginal discharges of various colour and "consistency". Owner has been around, been prescribed numerous antibiotics, antihaemorraghics, hormonal suppressors and last vet told him that there was no hope..that she had to be euthanised.

First thing I noted was that she was smelling bad...and that she was having brown vaginal discharges.So straight to some "between-legs" inspection and gosh that was gross! Full blown abscess on upper aspect of vulva...packed with...wriggling maggots! 1 hr of anaesthesia and fun maggot-fishing later she went home with a medicated gauze drain. It took several wet to dry debriding sessions to get that wound clean and healed. Was happy to hear that she was doing ok and eating etc...until last week Mr Ramos called for an appointment - Kenza was again bleeding per vagina!
Okay...clouds of doubt in my head now...Have I missed something? Did my sutures block her urinary meatus and now she is having a bladder infection? Could it be that she is having an "ascending" infection that moved from vagina to bladder?Bladder Stones? I saw her last week with my head full of biased "convictions"...and guess what? I did palpate a 5 x 5 mass in her abdomen..roughly where bladder lies! See....Dr Sam knew it! It is a bladder infection!!Some Citrosoda,Fluoroquinolones and antiinflammatories would do the trick. Except that Kenza came back on Wednesday in worse situation and with more evidenced by the matted fur in her genital area! Pfffff!

"Ok! Mr Ramos! I am going in!" I heard myself say! Poor owner...he was distressed when he came but the thought of having her old 13yr old friend go through anaeasthesia and a major surgery was not appealing at all.
I made him understand that the point of going inside is to actually see what was going on and if I could fix it. If, on the other hand I cannot do anything, we would at least know and take a decision on whether to prolong her sufferings or put an end to all this.
It was with a slightly shaking hand that I drove the anaeasthesia needle into her vein and later opened her abdomen...You know that feeling when you are hypnotised by something evil? Torn between fear and curiosity? Well...that entangled mass staring at me from under her bladder made me feel like that! Under the bladder of a female there can only be one thing...the uterus...but Kenza was spayed and a uterus could not look that big and round!At this point of time, Mr Ramos, who must have seen the sweat dribbling down my forehead, was pacing around, all nervous and panicked.
"Ooookayyy! Mr Ramos, we are in control here...we got it...we know what it is" I said to calm him down...but geeeeez this mass was hard to have a hold on in all this mess! I tried to detach but in vain!I kept talking to the owner whilst I tried to locate the cervical part of what I had now identified as a uterine stump. Finally made it after some 30 minutes; ligated and excised the mass. You know us vets!!! I had to cut it open! loool! And yes it was full of bloody purulent foul smelling material! The stench!!! All that I needed in a closed poorly ventilated surgery area! Hahaha!
So Dr X, did not remove all the uterus 6 years ago and left enough inside to be a "party zone" for bacteria! She's been with a practically chronic metritis that could have killed her!

Whilst talking to Mr Ramos throughout all this episode, I confirmed a few things to myself; There are 2 types of vets:
The ones who are very comfortably ensconsed on their pedestal; who enjoy crushing you into submission and don't you dare come challenge their diagnosis, as they are always right. These are the ones who prescribe pills and give shots ad the secret hope that one of them will work.
And there are the ones who think about the case with you and empowers you to be a good "nurse" at home; taking time to explain because he knows that the rest of the 23 hrs 30 mins of the day the animal is going to be in your care. They are the ones to take straightforward decisions with the owner and be frank and sincere about the feasibility of things.

Kenza has seen them all...and I was so glad to receive a text from Mr Ramos today asking me if she can be on solid food already...because she is making a big fuss with her bowl...asking for food!!

Kenza the Warrior!


Saturday, February 26, 2011

That thin blurry line...

Ok...are we ready for a little reflection time here?

Well...have you ever wondered what makes us human and what is our relationship to animals? Some may say the usual, age old, answer that we have the ability to reason and think rationally, plan ahead and communicate with language etc...but that is all reproducible in the animal world in some sort and so many so-called "humans" do the exact opposite of the above mentioned.
The notion of "humanity" was created to dissociate man from "the rest"...i.e. animals. So, from a philosophical point of view...we exist as human only because there are other living creatures out there that we call animals. That we dissociate ourselves from animals has, in itself, nothing wrong but when we use that to assert our superiority and dominance over animals then the perversion is complete.How many times have we heard the expression: "its just an animal...i can do whatever i want with it..." about now turning this whole discussion around and analysing from another angle...From an evolutionary point of view, we would be NOTHING without animals. Since the beginning of civilisation, humans have used animals to survive as a species. Animals for food, animals for protection against the cold, animals to plough their land; animals for hunting, for companionship, animals to move quicker and conquer new territories and animals as role models (Gods) How many years was that ago? Thousand of years? Come to think of it...we still do all these until now!Meat, milk and eggs are still in our diet; leather is still worn,dogs still used for hunting, cormorants used for fishing,types of animals kept as pets is ever increasing, Horses are still used to move around and animals are still in the pantheon of deities in so many cultures. In addition to all that people have found new "uses" for the ones we call "non human" fashion etc. Now can you imagine ourselves without animals? I guess we would have failed in an epic way as a species without them. We have always used and still are using animals and have you ever wondered why the veterinary profession was invented? I guess that at some point of time, someone thought that if we were going to "USE" animals we better be responsible and cater for their needs and welfare... Yes...vets only look after animals that humans use, or that have some value for the humans. Have you ever heard about a vet who looks after cockroaches of some mollusc in the ocean? No huh!? So many of us do not feel responsible about this (including many vets) and so many people go to the other extreme and fight for rights for animals going to the extent of activism and terrorism...
So what makes us human heh? Is that the fact that we have feelings? The dalmation doggy that is on IV perfusion for 3 days in a row proves me that this is not the case. Doggy stopped eating since her mom died on monday and spends her time lying down in rain and sun over the mound where the mother is buried...How "animal" and "feelingless"is that? So many our extreme moments we are no more human than our animals...when we let our instincts and our inner self come out...So.. yeah...there is a line that demarcates us from animals...but that line is very thin and blurry!!
We owe a lot to animals, we are who we are and where we are thanks to them...and they deserve respect even if they are going to end up on your plate or help a blind man walk around and cross the street.

I feel I am so lucky and privileged to be a vet!

...and I guess everything happens for a reason too...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

"Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé" Antoine de St Exupery (Le Petit Prince)

The year 2011 has been officially named World Veterinary Year; with pompous launching ceremony in Lyon, France on the 24th January...This year marks the 250th anniversary of the first ever Veterinary School.
250 years, hundreds of veterinary schools around the world, constant progress in Veterinary Care and yet so many of us vets have missed one crucial thing..the purpose of being a vet. Today's blog is not to be confused with criticism but just a reflection on who we are supposed to be as vets.
A couple of weeks ago, one co-worker asked me to help her daughter with a an essay on veterinarians and the next day, she came back telling me that she never thought that veterinarians are the guardians of human health too!! Yes...every animal that provides humans with food(meat, egg, milk) and other by-products has been kept in good health and monitored by a vet; at the Meat Authority, it is the Vet who gives the final clearance for animal products to be placed on the market;same thing at the Seafood Hub; all the lab animals that give their lives to save and prolong hundreds of human lives are looked after by vets.
Yes...a vet is not only that guy at the end of the street, who vaccinates your dog; he is supposed to be much more than that. A vet is the guardian of Animal Welfare in the first place."Why should you care?" Some may say...The fact is, human beings have USED animals since the beginning of civilisation; we are still using and will be using animals. If we are where we are as a "successful"species today, it is largely because our ancestors did USE animals. To quote St Exupery "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed" and if we are going to use an animal for whatever purpose, it is our basic responsibility to cater for their welfare, to alleviate their suffering and minimise their distress. But how many of us believe in that purpose?; How many will just be vets to make money? I like to thrive on the misfortunes and ailments of animals.
These last few months, I have been the witness of so many cases where the vet could not care less about his patient's distress; cases of supposedly loving owners leaving a dog's foot to rot because he did not have time to bring him to a vet; cases where well-intentioned owners accepted that their pets were being bullied and punished in some fancy "training sessions"...Big effing hypocrisy!
People frown upon the use of animals in labs but run to the pharmacy to buy animal tested drugs at the first headache or runny nose; the same people have nothing to say and approve animals being whipped to run for human pleasure (Yes...Surprise!..That's what horse racing is all about!)
Vet places a bandage improperly on dog's leg - impaired circulation; leg gets gangrenous and is amputated.Who cares? Another one prescribes Paracetamol to a kitten, when it is basic knowledge that this is TOXIC to cats (they lack the enzyme to metabolise that drug. What excuse does he have for this? Simply didn't give a damn!. But hey...responsibility to cater for animal welfare is meant for the owners too. How can Mr X bring a dog half eaten with maggots last thursday? What could have been more important during a whole week than his pet's suffering? How can so many people accept animal punishment; Prong collars(collars with metallic spikes on the inside), Choke chains and even Electric prods being used by so-called "Dog Trainers" on their pets?!? Isn't that the same dog you cherish?
The answer is "irresponsibility"...both from vets and owners and negative-reinforcement promoters on the island. My request to you all,owners, vets and wanna-be vets, remember what is your role and responsibility for the animal you are/will be looking after. After I had questioned the use of a prong collar on her Rott, my friend Dee said she felt sorry that she allowed that and told me "Shadow has forgiven sure". Yep! It's like that with dogs, true "unconditional love"...they will still look up to you as the pack leader and respect you no matter what.In return, the least you can do is to be the person your dog thinks you are and if you are a vet, be up to it and do your best for the matter what or who.
Money etc are all secondary in that setup.
Am sorry if this was an angry and blunt one today but I feel that I need to air this all the peeps reading me...with the secret hope that it may help at least one animal.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tick and Treat...

Well...Who said that "time flies when you having fun"?? Time sure flies when you are running around fire-fighting on 5 -6 fronts at a time too!!

January has been one of these months...when I wish there were 3 more hours to my 24 hr day!Ok, we're back on track now and a lot "I-wish-I-could-blog" stuff have happened but the one thing I want to share is that this year we may be facing a new disease in our dogs and cats in Mauritius; one imported from the African continent (most probably South Africa)

Since, November of last year, I have been brought several cases of dogs with pronounced lethargy, swollen peripheral lymph nodes, fever, neurological symptoms and very low Red Blood Cell counts.All these are textbook symptoms of a disease called Babesiosis; whereby a unicellular parasites invades their host's red blood cells and reproduce there. Babesia is a tick-borne disease and is transmitted through tick bites from dog to dog. Bad news - Some Babesia infect humans too.

My attempts to treat symptomatically failed and as of now,the results are as follows:
I had to euthanise one of the animals;
One is still in a chronic lethargic state;
1 puppy died and 2 others out of the red zone and safe.

Since this disease is not "recognised" in Mauritius we, of course, do not ave the specific drug that treats it. Looking up for several hours on the internet, I learnt that some drugs used to treat human Trypanosomiasis work.So here I am phoning my human doctor friends for info...after several phone calls I end up in the Sanitary Division of the Ministry of Health where I learnt that I cannot get the drug.Aaaaargh!Back to internet again then...and this time I decided to review scientific papers on that disease.Bingo!(or at least I think so). Research done in 2000 tend to show that one antibiotic commonly used for respiratory infections (Azythromicin) works. At that time, I just lost one out of 3 Rott pups, so I decided to try this on the 2 that were left. After 3 days, they were much better and their submandibular lymph nodes were back to normal and fever was gone! Pfiuuuuh!So I start to ask questions about ticks...Mum is full of ticks; the one who is in a chronic state had a bad beat recently with ticks and the one I had to euthanise (old and agonising with anaemia)was of course....full of ticks!

Amidst all this, I of course, contacted the Division of Veterinary Services for an official report of my "suspicions" and faced with the lack of motivation, I decided to take the matter further MYSELF. I took blood before euthanasia; took one sample from the Dam of the Rott pups and a third one from the chronic lethargic doggy and sent all this to South Africa for analysis.
Now, waiting for the results to come in, I can only put a word out to all my colleagues about this situation and hope it might save a few doggy lives. Whilst talking to one colleague in particular, I got the following statement; "Wow! That's interesting Sam. Let's keep this for ourselves...this will give us an edge over other vets!" What a mentality!As if we are vets to compete with each other!He got a blunt "F**k you dude!" and "Go re-think why you became a vet!". I may have spoilt my relationship with that colleague but...hey I don't care!

Well, Mauritian vets out there...until we get Imidocarb (drug of choice for canine Babz)please have your Azythromicin handy.

With this intense hot and now humid weather, the next few months are going to be just "Tick and Treat!" for us vets...kinda our version of Halloween!