Saturday, November 27, 2010

When did Cruelty become Officially Acceptable?

Throughout the years of fighting and arguing with colleagues and "supposedly" animal-lovers over the same subject, I have learnt to mind my own business and try to change what I can on my side when it comes to ear cropping and tail docking...But I get mad each time I see animals who have been mutilated for the pleasure of the owner.
Since 1 week now I have been struggling to save a Boxer puppy from septic death because of an infected tail amputation. Personally, I do not understand what kind of ethics some vets have in accepting to cut tails and ears of puppies?!?! Did you chose to be a vet to inflict suffering to an animal? I guess the answer is simple...and its the money!
And all of you owners who say you love your dogs? Since when did it become acceptable for you to torture an animal by snipping off its tail or re-shaping it ears to fit in "standards"?? Would you cut the fingers or the tongue of your child if tomorrow some dumb fools declared it as fashionable? And yet you do it to your puppy and find it "normal"!
So back to little puppy...brought in emergency last Saturday with what owner thought was Parvovirus infection (diarrhoea/vomiting). Brief inspection revealed a severely infected tail amputation and all the signs of a raging septicaemia. Emergency IV fluids, aggressive antibiotic therapy, daily visits to the clinic and we gained the upper hand and pulled the baby back from the grave by wednesday. Another person who was witnesing the treatments whilst waiting for her turn asked the owner what was the name of the dog. To the "He doesn't have a name yet" answer she replied "You should call him Sam!"...and Sammy Junior was christened!
Today Sam Junior is back to life and off antibiotics and is as lively as ever, but did he ever ask for all that? Was he born with a tail to have it painfully cut? Damn You! Old farts at the "Kennel Club" who invented standards for dogs. Bravo! For turning a loving pet into an object with specfic "designs"...and I cannot understand why the same owners who feel compassion to the plight of mistreated animals agree to and accept the concept that their dogs MUST be mutilated to be "good-looking"! I know so many of them!! Is cosmetic cruelty acceptable for you and yet you are the first one to shout out loud when someone ties a chain around the neck of a dog instead of using a collar? Isn't that the summum of hypocrisy??
Ears and tail serve a very important purpose for dogs...they are used in communication. Depending on how a dog positions or moves ears and its tail, it sends a clear signal to any other dog about his intentions/mood etc.And yet, breed standards are more important than that for so many of us...and yet we decide to deprive them of proper anatomical means of communication.
Cosmetic Ear cropping and Tail docking has been banned in so many civilised countries but I guess Mauritius is not yet in the civilised pool when it comes to Animals. And we will never be there so long responsible owners prefer to close their eyes on the CRUELTY aspect of this long Veterinarians, who are supposed to be the guardians of Animal Welfare, agree to cut the ears and tails of puppies.At this age, they cannot be safely anaesthetised...I let you imagine for yourself how this surgery is done and,if they are lucky not to be infected,how many days they will have to put up with atrocious pain. In the name of what? Just for the sake of YOUR selfish need to have a dog fitting into stupid "standards"...
Get back to your senses people!! Cruelty, in all its forms, is UNACCEPTABLE!! I am doing my part as a vet and barking at Cosmetic Mutilations of dogs on this see what YOU have to do. Be the change you want to bring and stop pretending that "its ok" because its the breed type!I know, I will be shocking so many with what I just wrote. Be shocked, get over it and come back to your senses and talk about it with people! If by talking you prevented at least one puppy from being mutilated that will be one good thing you did!
Sam junior, has a 0.9 cm tail stump left that is healing and he tried hard today to "wag" it and lick the face of his owner today...Unconditional love. No matter how the owner looks like, whether he is black, white, has long hair, pointed or flat nose, whether he wears Armani or he is sweating...the dog accepts and loves his owner. But unfortunately, this is not true for so many owners...the love is under specific must fit in the "standards"; even if that means chopping off tails and ears!!
Crazy Hypocritical world we live in...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Plus valet in manibus avis unica quam dupla silvis...

Yep! Blogging time again...and I left you with a yellow bird in my hand.
Beautiful yellow parrot with a red beak. She was brought in a small bird cage with a history of greenish stools,lethargy and inappetance episodes and for having been bitten by a parrot before, I politely asked the owner to take her out. Hah! he seems to have had quite a few painful experiences too, since he had a thick leather glove ready for that! Yeah,Parrots do bite... and they really go for it. We often forget that the beak of a parrot is used to break open hard-shelled nuts and is also used as a grip to move around.
So, owner manages to get the bird our after 3 mins and I start the examination; no nasal discharges;eyes clear and sparkly; brooding patch(bald patch under belly) normal; temperature slightly higher than normal. Gave the bird some time to calm down and noted that the respiratory rate was normal.
Why I always assess parrots and birds in general for these parameters? Because,as every veterinarian, I have my "Pet-Bug" for birds! People! Do not laugh! This is real and "affects" all medical professionals! Lol! Every doctor is biased in some way by a disease that he/she has been exposed (either seen or read)to recently or a pathology that has left a deep impression on him/her...and that becomes the "Favourite Pet-Bug"! So, when I examine parrots, I always look for signs of Chlamydophila psittaci. I have seen cases in my student days and know of at least one person who died from that disease...contracted from parrots in a pet shop! Uuuh! Did I tell you that humans can get infected too? No? Well now you know! It is zoonotic!The disease is called Chlamydiasis in birds and Psitaccosis in mammals(i.e you)
Chlamydophila is one of these bacteria that have evovled with the body's defense mechanism and can now inactivate the latter and proliferate. C.psittaci is transmitted through the air and is inhaled. In the lungs, it is absorbed by the cells, in an attempt to isolate them in a pouch full of "corrosive" enzymes and digest them. But instead of being killed they inactivate the enzymes and hijack the power supply of the cells to start replicating.In the end, the cell is just a Chlamydial bombshell ready to explode and infect other cells or go out in the faeces, nasal and eye discharges to infect other animals.
Sounds like an alien or special ops movie huh? But that is what Chlamydophila does...that is why it is so deadly...and maybe that is why it is my "pet-bug".
Did I hear someone say: "What are the symptoms in humans"? Ok for all you shivering and sweating bird-keepers out there...if you have a proper hygienic way of life; if you are not immunosuppressed;if you got your bird from a reliable source, you have very faint chances of developing psittacosis. Symptoms are as for the birds: Fever, lethargy, headache, coughing...flu-like symptoms that may develop into full-fledge pneumonia.
Treatment is simple and involves at least 2 weeks antibiotics of the Tetracycline family. Birdie gets a shot in the leg muscles and goes home with tablets for 14 days with all the precautionary warnings for the owner.
For those who were too lazy to go look up the Latin quote i used as title, it says: "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush"...
My take on this is..."A bird in the hand and Info in the head beats any Chlamydophila in your lungs"..
Hope i tickled your brain enough for you to go look up more on this zoonotic disease now.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wag More...Bark Less...

Have you ever had a bleeding nose?Or if you want to sound cool and knowledgeable; have you ever suffered from Epistaxis?

Well I can assure you that it is extremely swallow your own blood, messs up your clothes and your nose becomes kinda sensitive to touch and your stools!!!Lool!

When I first saw him, Rocky was sitting quietly between a couple in their late 60s and observing everything very carefully in the waiting room. Beautiful mongrel with definitely some Dachshund blood, as evidenced by his short and slightly "twisted" front legs. So I finish my cat surgeries and get Rocky on the exam table to start the routine subjective data collection i.e. owners' story of the case. As soon as I asked the first questions, the lady started one of these long monologues where it is sometimes totally off the doggy case. I learnt about Rocky's Epistaxis problem but also about her daily schedule, about her stained rug, about her nosy neighbours, about how the other vet talked to them badly about how her husband did not help and all her despair about Rocky sneezing blood everywhere in the house!

Oh Well...So doggy is bleeding from the nose huh? Dog was very cooperative and I had no problem working on my "rule-outs":
Rule Out 1: Trauma to the nose. Trauma bleeds are mostly unilateral and this was a bilateral case. Nasal bones intact but inside mucosa of nose very swollen and red
Rule Out 2: Foreign body in nose. Nothing exciting palpated nor seen from inside nose!
Rule Out 3: Maxillary fistula from decayed tooth (usually canines). Dirty tarred teeth but all looked ok and no bumps felt on gums that would indicate abscess or anything. Gums paperwhite and even without any blood test I could see that this dog was very anaemic and that this bleeding has been going on for quite some time.
Rule Out 4: Nasal Tumour. Swelling precluded any further investigations.

So turned back to the owners and asked what did the other vet prescribe.
Antibiotics...Vincristine...and Dycinone.Antibiotics, no harm in giving some; Vincristine - too cytotoxic to my liking to start giving when you did not even confirm any tumour and Dycinone is ok to stop the bleeding. We often forget that when we lose blood we not only lose the red blood cells but also fluid and the volume of circulating goes drastically down. The animal's spleen holds some blood in reserve but that was visibly not be enough for Rocky. In such states animals collapse after minimal effort due to improper irrigation of essential organs...namely the brain! So I get the IV drip line flowing with Dextrose 5% (am sure Rocky won't mind some energy boost)and start telling the owners that they should keep the animal on Dycinone tablets and get some high-iron liver extract to enhance blood cells production.

OMG...the lady started telling me how impossible it is to give medication; how the animal does not eat; how she thinks the dog would die all of a sudden after sneezing all his blood. I barely had a time to place a word...I was trying....seriously trying!The old man who had remained silent all the time was trying to help me and asking his wife to wait and listen and all. Then he just snapped and screamed " Why don't you just shut the F**k up and listen to the Doc!!!" (To ca'av ferme to la guel et ecout dokter la?" People! World War 3 just started in Island Vet Clinic! Poor doggy sitting in the middle of all this, drip running and eyes big! After an uneasy minute, I intervened and told them that this is of no help to the dog and they'd better calm down.

Remember, the "pack-theory"? A dog considers all the members of your family as individuals of his pack; and behaviour in packs is highly ritualised. So your dog will observe and interpret all the signs from your body language, tone of voice and...from the smell that emanates from you. Fear has a smell...Anger has a smell...Despair has a smell...and your dog senses all this. Picture this now: Rocky sits there in severe anaemic distress, nose bleeding and assisting to a riot amongst the other members of the clan...not quite appeasing huh? In times of distress, your dog expects some extra care and support...not flooding his senses with Adrenaline and surely not dropping the ball on helping him fight the disease. Never forget that you are in a pack with him.

One other thing that you must never forget: Your dog will only be in the vet's hands for 30 mins for exams injections etc...the rest of the 23 hrs 30 mins of the day he will be with you and you have to follow up with the care at home. So many people tend to think that bringing animals to the vet is enough...UUH! NO! The bigger role is yours!Especially in feeding the animal properly. No food= No energy=Weak Defenses=Worsening of Disease.
The mechanic can fix the engine; change the tyres; redo the paint...but if you do not put fuel in your car it won't move.
By the time I finished explaining all that to the old couple,Rocky was done with his drip session and I sent them all with the "take-home" note: I you want to be of any help to Rocky, think like a dog and act as the leaders of the pack; and do not bail out on him at the first difficulty and...try to bark less in front of him...wag more please! (of course this last part was not said to them ! Loool!)
Pfffff....that was one of these moments! But life comes with nice surprises next patient was a fiersty yellow parrot!

But that is another blog in itself...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Nothing Purr-sonal...

My 18:00 appointment today was for a cat "with a wound in his hind leg"...and at around that time, black SUV pulls in the parking and someone brought in the animal in a cat box.
First observation: Cat box was very dirty and stinky. Huh...not really tallying with a sleek SUV!!
Second observation:It contained a totally bewildered cat, ears flat on its head, pupils dilated and soaked with its own urine...
I cautiously locked the door of the examination room and asked the owner a few preliminary questions:
Nature of the problem?-"Ummm...I think its in the hind leg..."
When did that happen? - "We noticed him, not quite himself and reluctant to move yesterday"
What's his name?How old? Sex? - "Dunno" this point of time, this was getting awkward and I had to ask if it was his cat.Turns out that he is "only the driver" and that owner is a big boss at one of the Ministries. Husband is a very busy person and wife travels often and tonight they were having the Minister himself coming in for dinner.
Am sure you can imagine how fun it was getting that cat out of the box for anaesthesia. Driver knew nothing about the cat and kept telling me how he was a dog in his childhood but I "insisted" and he helped.
Inspection of the cat under anaeasthesia revealed an ugly infected wound on the inner side of the right hind leg. This wound dates back to 4 - 5 days, as evidenced by the pus and tissue necrosis going on in there.One of the tendons was totally "liquefied" and will sure leave the animal with some permanent locomotory deficit.
Cleaning-Disinfection-Debriding and cat gets a "wet-to-dry" bandage on...I made it a point to clean the cat and its catbox myself...that was the least I could do for that poor soul and sent him home with antibiotics and pain killers. On the way out I asked if someone could phone me later tonight to give me a feedback on how the kitty recovered.I understood that the cat was going to be left in the garage tonight and that there would be nobody looking after him. After I made him understand that it was important for me as a vet to know about how my patients are after aneasthesia..he promised he would go check on him and phone me.
Its nearly 22:00 now...nobody called me yet!
We often talk or hear about the mistreatment of dogs...How about cats? Are they subject to cruelty too? The above case proves that yes!I do not know why this family has cats but they are for sure not important in their daily lives. Cats, just like dogs, need and crave for attention and interaction with their owners and this kitty has very little interaction with people...otherwise that nasty wound wound have been detected on the day it happened!
Caring is not limited to feeding and providing shelter. What's the use of eating posh cat food and sleep on expensive sofas if you do not feel any attention/interaction with your owner.
I guess that cat had a place before in this family but with the change in time tables he got forgotten and now he is just a "decoration" in that household. At least he got brought to a vet though...but in a critical state.
Cats are no "lesser" creatures than dogs...Yes,they are more independent but that doesn't mean you can just have them around and not interact with them. If you have an animal at home,and you do not have time to look after it or provide companionship, you seriously have to re-think the whole picture. Maybe even consider giving the animal to another family.
On the other hand, got a phone call during the day from a lady lecturer at the University of Mauritius; she was asking for help in catching 2 kittens from some wasteland next to her house.During the conversation she explained to me that she has rescued like 20 stray cats and wants to help these two too...
Same World,Same Animals, Same People...Different Values! I will try my best to go help that lady tomorrow afternoon and I am going to see "Mr Busy's" cat on saturday...I hope he comes personally because I have a few things to make him understand.
Nothing "Purr-sonal" but I have to remind him about his responsibilities.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monster Jake: The Return...

Meet Jake...a 3 yr old Cavalier King Charles dog.
Apart from being cute with his round face and biiiig eyes, Jake is a naughty boy who "suffers" from "hypersexuality". I did not just make that word up; it really exists and comes to replace old words such as "Nymphomania" and "Satyriasis" for the females and males respectively.
So what was Jake's addictive ritual? He would repeatedly position his little "mattress" in a vertical position and hump it like crazy!Wait...before you think that this is weird; there's even weirder things about Jake... Hah!
So owner comes in 2 months ago for a castration; it's always a good thing to minimise Testosterone surges in such cases.
So I start preparing my Ketamine-Xylazine injection as usual to knock down Mr Jake and after I had injected half of the dose, instead of going down he was becoming more and more restless with loud vocalisations and all!
After a full dose, he finally goes down...only to start convulsing 10 seconds later! OMG!This is the last thing you'd want to have happen; small ball of cuteness foaming and pedalling an imaginary bicycle on your prep table...all that in front of the owner!
I decide to wait a little...give time for the drugs to act and all; but Jake never went into full anaesthetic plane...not deep enough for surgery at least."Hmmmm we've got a little Ketamine-reactor here" I said to myself and knowing that above 50% of all Cavaliers have an inherited heart condition (Mitral Valve Disease)I decided to stop it there with anaesthesia and sedatives.
Uuugh! Stressful moment and Jake goes home with his two precious testicles swinging happily between his hind legs.
Jake-1: Dr Sam-0...
Today,Jake was scheduled for a second attempt; got my Diazepam ready for any convulsions etc.First Diazepam injection-dog sticks out his tongue, starts shaking his head from side to side and emits one of the loudest and scariest whine I've ever heard! Gosh!This was getting embarrassing now..and if there were any owners in the waiting room outside, they must have run away with their pets by now! So Ketamine-Diazepam combo goes intravenous;Jake's legs give way and I triumphantly lay him on his side; but while I was busy clipping fur from his testicles...he lifted his head and stared at me with his enormous eyes!
F**k Dude!You're ruining my veterinary image now! Lol!
I gave the owner a desperate look and called it a day for any castration...again! No "pick-pocket" is gonna have these balls of yours Jake!You monster You!!
Final Result: Jake-2: Dr Sam-O!!
Ahh! Cavalier King Charles! You sure are special dogs!They are such cuties and at the same time sooo full of inherited health problems. This is the result of decades of inbreeding; historically ALL Cavalier King Charles in the world right now come from only....six original animals!Along with the "desired" morphological traits of CKCs came undesired pathologies such as Mitral Valve Disease, Retinal Dysplasia,Thrombocytopenia and the most infamous Syringomyelia -dog's skull too small for animal's brain and accumulation of fluid in the latter cause the animal to die in atrocious suffering.
But my little friend Jake has none of these; he has a mild heart murmur (probably associated with the mitral valve defect) but apart from that he is one strong and healthy libidinous "mattress-humper"!!!
I looked up for any explanation for his extremely high tolerance or resistance to sedatives/anaesthesia but could not find any...must have something to do with his blood-brain barrier...i.e. anaesthetics not crossing to the brain or being excreted too rapidly from this is gonna haunt and torment me till I find out!Jake is now on Oestrogen therapy to "cool" him down a bit.
Monster Jake! You won the right to keep those testicles..but Dude... get a bitch to put them to good use!
In any case, I'll bring you a new sexy mattress for X-Mas!

Fun Definition of the Day:
Nymphomaniac: a female as obsessed with sex as an average male...Loool!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The occasional odd ones...

As a vet one of the worst things you'd like to hear is: "You know what Doc? That Dog you sterilised? Well...she's pregnant!!" Hahaha! Well, when that happens you know you better change job...
Nothing like that happened but today I was brought a dog who was sterilised by a colleague...but came on heat again and was mounted by numerous males! The owner was totally out of himself; threatening to sue the vet etc...
Okay...Can a spayed bitch come on heat again? Technically the answer is NO. We do perform ovariohysterectomies here and both ovaries and uterus are removed. So how come that animal was on heat again!?!
The ovaries are located at the ends of each uterine horn and are suspended on ligaments to the abdominal wall. They are inside a bag-like structure and more often than not,embedded in fat. During the surgery the vet has to pull hard to get the ovaries out and relax those ligaments. The blood vessels are ligated and the ovaries excised.
Depending on the place you ligate, you might leave a small portion of the ovary inside and this ovarian tissue can grow and continue to produce the female hormones to make your dog "feel sexy" Usually, this happens when the vet is not confident enough to apply adequate traction to loosen the ovarian ligaments to allow a full view of the ovary.
Then there is one very interesting phenomenon call "ectopic ovarian tissue": this is when small islets of ovarian tissues are found disseminated around the actual ovary and if you remove the ovaries , the ectopic ovarian cells take over and produce the necessary hormones to bring the animal on heat again.
So ...hmm... this does happen...1 in around 10,000 have various ectopic tissues. Since the uterus was removed...there is absolutely NO RISK of pregnancy...Just the hassle of having a pack of overexcited "fiances" who will come uproot your Geraniums, wake up your neighbours, urinate on your car tyres and mess up your veranda.In the long run, you can choose to regularly suppress this residual ovarian function with hormonal injections.
So bear with your vet, there will be that occasional odd one that can make him look like a total bluffer and you should not lose trust in him/her for that.
Aaaaahh! Those exceptions that make you appreciate the rules even more...gotta love them!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Be the person your dog thinks you are...

Ever asked yourself who you are for your dog? Someone sent me a mail with some cute sayings about animals and stuff and that got me thinking about that question...
Without getting into too much anthropomorphism and attributing human characteristics and feelings to animals, I am sure that, to our pets we mean a lot...practically their sole landmark in life right?
So who are you really in a dogs world? The pack leader? Then again what is a pack leader? The provider of food? The one to look up to in times of hardship and confusion? The one who is supposed to look after the rest of the pack and cater for their needs?
To your dog, you mean the whole world...and yet how many of us consider a dog as a mere object; that we can choose to give attention or neglect according to our whims and fancies; how many of us have punished dogs and even tortured them pretending to "teach them a lesson" many dump animals on the streets because the dog no longer "serves any purpose" in their lives?
The word "owner" itself reflects the object status of dogs in our lives...and yet we bond with this animal strongly.Man shares a long part of its history with dogs...Who was using who? Was the dog sticking with the early humans just to get easy food from the human hunting kills? Were the humans using the dog for hunting? I guess it was a 50:50 partnership in mutual respect.
So what do dogs expect from us humans? Certainly not being treated as a "possession" !They need to feel they belong; to be part of the pack; to have a fair and protective leader.
After you've read this; ask yourself if you are that individual for your dog. You are the focal point of his life...I mean, you are supposed to be...and if you are not, then do not be surprised if your dog strays away from you; if he snarls and attempts to bite you. As it is, you are RESPONSIBLE for your dog so act accordingly.
A dog is NOT a "property"; it is not an object of luxury you must parade with to impress others; it is not a weapon you must use to aggress others;it is not a circus performer you should teach tricks and enroll in contests and shows; it is not a burglar is supposed to be a member of your pack. Does your dog feel he/she belongs? Feeding, providing shelter IS NOT ENOUGH! The animal must feel you and your family as members of his group.
In the 17 years I've been a vet, I have seen so many dogs being brought to me as you would bring your car for repairs. "Fix it so that I can continue to use it". This attitude is slowly changing but...too slowly to my liking!
To all you vets and wannabe vets out there...your role as professionals is also to make the change happen. I have noticed that if you show to the owner that his animal has a place in the family, needs to be interacted with...and that it is not an object; the animal takes another value in his eyes. The Veterinarian Oath says that we must alleviate suffering of animals under our custody by all means. Fixing pathologies is NOT enough...Your purpose is to make the animal's life better...not to be confused with becoming rich on his misfortunes!
And to all owners out there..."You are responsible for what you have tamed"( St Exupery in Le Petit Prince)and always ask yourself what would a pack leader do before attempting anything with your dog. Do not come tell the world that you love your dog and then walk him on a choke collar (with spikes on the inside); ask yourself if your dog deserves to be mutilated by cutting his ears and tail to fit into some stupid breed standard. Its never too late to be aware of your role in that animal's life. If you choose a dog it should be because you want him in your family...any other reason is just WRONG.
Ok People...your dog thinks you are fair, caring and compassionate...are you up to the challenge?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The age of all challenges...

Resuming work after a week full of holidays is always tough...especially when there is no one to handle your work and that you have 134 e-mails to sort out! So as I started my day, I said to myself:" appointments this evening at the vet clinic; go back home; try to find your way to the gym you signed up for and never go to"
Oh well...Panic call at around 16:00 hrs:Puppies staying off food; fever; whining a lot and losing body condition. When I asked him about the age of the animals and heard "about 4 month"; I immediately scheduled them for 18:00.
So all three of them sitting quietly on the exam table; me asking the usual questions about stools etc and taking temperatures. Until now, nothing it is,no diarrhoea + no temperature = no infection; since that was their 3rd visit here they were behaving normally; wagging tails, licking my face and I got the usual: " Look how perky they seem now!!5 mins ago at home they were like dying!"
Abdominal palpation - Nothing!Gassy intestines but apart that" boring" palpation.Moving my way up, palpating throat and oral cavity check; Bingo!Swollen and inflamed gums;loose canines!
Textbook case!
Oh Yeah! The age of 4-5 months is the red zone many puppies have to struggle through. This is the age when milk dentition are shed and the permanent teeth start to cut through. Oouuuch!Someone once said that dental pain is both physical and psychological...and this is sooooo true! Ok! This is in itself an unpleasant phase to go through but there is worse at that age.
At about 4 months of age,the puppy's body starts to deplete the protective immunoglobulins it got from its mother(in utero and through mother's milk).So now the animal becomes less and less protected against the various viruses that are in his environment. Thats about the age most pups develop Parvoviral infection (gastroenteritis) and die if not treated quickly. From that coincidence, evolved the myth that dogs lose their milk teeth, swallow them and have gastroenteritis and die!In fact, the dog's stomach is perfectly equipped to digest solid bones etc and a little 1 cm long canine tooth is no big deal.
At that same age, the rapidly growing body has ever-increasing demand for proteins, Calcium etc and deficiencies in these nutrients start to show up as deformities and atrophies.
So what to do to prepare your puppy for all these challenges? First things first...Never wean a puppy from its mum too early...all the precious maternal immunoprotectors will be decreased right from the start.Eight weeks seems to be a good age to take a puppy home.
Then,vaccinate your puppy before the maternal immunity wanes off. Studies have shown a sharp drop in these immunoglobulins as from 8-10 weeks. So first vaccination is recommended at the age of 2 - 2.5 months and the booster dose a month after. Thus by 4 months of age, your baby will be fully protected.
What about the pain associated with shedding of milk teeth then? Be ready for that and check your puppy's mouth often. Avoid tug-of-war playing; give soft foods to facilitate ingestion and if you see excessively swollen, red gums or loose teeth please contact your vet. Within 1-2 weeks with some mild pain killers this should be over.
So there you go! Being a puppy is not all fun and play...!!There is this dreadful age; when you want to chew on anything to ease that dental/gum pain; when you see your legs getting crooked because your owner is feeding you a diet poor in Calcium; when your body has to fight all these nasty viruses lurking around...just waiting to mess your bowels up!!
Challenges...challenges!It all depends on how informed and responsible owners are; how thorough your vet is and how prepared you were.
To all "young" vets reading this blog...when you hear "About 4 months" for a sick puppy put your "red alert" cap on, get the adrenaline flowing in your veins and be thorough in your assessment!
Puppy will come lick your face a month after!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Lessons in Love...

Oh! Today has been one of these days!!!A day that makes you realise that there is still hope in humanity eventually.
My day started with an early appointment at 08:00 for a "Cherry Eye" surgery. Owner was extremely nervous and throughout the anaesthesia procedure, he kept asking me about the risks etc. Corrective surgery went well and during recovery,I was touched by the way he was looking after his dog; talking in his ear whilst gently stroking the animal.A brief conversation revealed that this is an "extremely intelligent" dog; never misses one day without bringing and dropping his ball for the owner to play with him; keeps the whole family happy with his "stunts".I got the impression that "Cleopatt" (yep..that's HIS name)was really considered as part of the family.
Then my 09:00 appointment arrived; Mr Noopy!He was literally dragging his owner! Noopy has been declared paralysed for life and was scheduled for euthanasia 2 weeks ago. Owner (an old lady in her 80's)opted for a last try and brought him for a second opinion. Noopy is the capricious one remember? And no home treatment was owner decided she would pay a taxi every 2 days to bring him from Port-Louis to my clinic for injections and physio. Tuesday, Noopy was hopping on 3 legs and today he WALKED in! The owner seems to be thinking that I did miracles and literally "showered" me with Divali cakes (lol!) but the truth is her perseverance and love for his doggy that made it work...I just did the necessary injections and guided her on how to proceed.
10:30 -Rushed to PAWS Beau-Vallon to help with some Admin work. Went through a packed waiting room to meet an overwhelmed Dr Jayanta; he had 2 animals in life-threatening situation; non-responsive and under IV drip; one animal with a maggot-infested facial wound and several vaccinations and mange treatments. Decided to delay the Admin work and jump in to help.Both dogs under drip had been intoxicated; one definitely with some Organophosphate pesticide and the other one apparently with tile grout ingurgitation. After 1 hour, the first dog unfortunately passed away with neurological and respiratory symptoms. He had spent more than 24 hrs in comatose state before being brought to PAWS...I took upon myself to do the "psychological work" on the owners and whilst the husband listened to me silently, the wife had to be taken away in tears.
Then there was this other intoxicated dog...we have been stimulating that dog to come out of his stupour state for a while and just as I was talking to the lady to explain that her dog might be in a coma...he started moving the hind leg!Just a minute ago he was "nearly gone"! As the lady stooped over him and talked to him he started trying to lift his head up. Tears in the owner's eyes now. We went out to discuss how we gonna plan monitoring of this patient (saturday...noon already... limited staff at PAWS)and I saw a whole family (like 5 people)waiting anxiously for that dog!
What would make a grown up man worry and care so much for Cleopatt after surgery?
Why would a very old lady keep trying for a dog that has not been moving his hind legs for more than 10 days?
Is it just the loss of "guard dog" that brought tears to the owner of the dead dog?
Is it pure coincidence or is it the strong bond that exists between the owner and the comatose dog that made him come round and fight to survive?
Well the answer is's cases PROVED WRONG all of us who think that Mauritians have no hearts for their animals! There are people who really care and are compassionate to their dogs here.
In an interview 2 years ago in L'Express Dimanche I was asked " What would you have been if you were not a vet?" and I spontaneously answered " I would have been UNHAPPY". Days like today make me feel happy that I am a vet and a vet working with PAWS. No matter how hard it is; no matter how hard some people make it for us...we are making a difference!
See...the title of today's blog is not a flashback to the Level 42 song of the 80's but I really had "Lessons in Love" today!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

In Bed with Donatello...

This happened a like 3 months ago but I thought I would share this with you all.

Young lady calls for an emergency appointment for her turtle; was on the point of packing up and going home but the distressed voice and the fact that she had desperately tried to get hold of a vet who deals with exotics made me change my mind and wait for her (she phoned La Vanille Croc Parc several times and they finally gave her my number)
Lady walks in with a gorgeous red-eared Terrapin; must say, one of the biggest and nicest one I've seen. When asked what was the problem she said that there was a black "jelly-like" stuff coming in and out of the animal's vent. Overturned Donatello and showed me the "stuff"...
Oh! Umm..Uneasy moment...!
Here I am with a young innocent girl showing me her Turtle with a penis out beneath it's tail! So I started to say..."You need not worry, its his "organ" that is out; doesn't look infected nor bruised and I'll fix that immediately" then I got" What organ Doc?" I'm nearly whispering now: "His reproductive organ"...and she goes:"Huh! So that's what a Turtle penis looks like? Yuuuk!"
So much for me for taking gloves and avoiding saying the word "Penis"!!!
Then I learnt that this is a super naughty little Ninja Turtle...doesn't want to stay in his water tank; creeps out at night to come in the girl's bed! Now that's what I call naughty!

Ok! back to prolapsed "organs"! Turtles(and land tortoises) often "flick" their penises out but it usually retracts in pretty easily. However, if it gets bruised (more often bitten by other turtle friends in the tank) then infection will follow and your animal may even die! In Donatello's case, a few dabs with hypertonic solution (salt and water) made it retract back easily. Sometimes you can even put sugar powder or honey on it to help if regress back inside.

In my vet life, I have seen so many of these little turtles being kept in horrid conditions; in small inappropriate containers with not even space to swim and sometimes no elevated dry mound for the animal to rest.
Despite being very aquatic, a turtle needs a dry area to climb onto and rest; and the depth of the water should allow the animal to swim and turn a guide use this formula:
Depth = 3 x Diameter of the animal.
Terrapins will spend a lot of time in the water but will lay eggs...outside of the water;so provide a mound of gravel if you a breeding pair and DO NOT move the eggs, embryos are in a fixed position and will die if egg is "upside down"
I could not let the girl go away without warning her about one important thing: 90% of all reptiles are natural carriers of....Salmonella! i.e. they are not sick with that bacteria but carry it and pass it on to humans. That makes it the last thing you would want to give to a child as a gift...and yet how many pet shops here in Mauritius sell those little cuties to kids without telling them the required precautions to take.
So if you have reptiles at home, do wash your hands thoroughly after you've handled them...and no kissing in case they sneak into your bed at night!

Panic is not the best solution...

Wooooow! Public Holidays messed up my blogging schedule!

Sooooo....Yesterday, got a phone call from a friend whose dog got trapped in the metallic structures of his gate. The animal was found stuck there with minor lacerations and during the manipulations he bit their Grandma (needed stitches at the hospital)
Whilst, the owner was panicking and talking to me on the phone, I could hear the incessant whining of the doggy in the background. That animal was visibly in psychological distress. A few rapid questions revealed that the dog is walking ok but very aggressive.
What to do in such cases?
Call the vet for a house visit?
Insist in trying to handle the animal for transport to the vet?
All these are panic moves and are of no good to the animal...nor to the owner.
If a rapid assessment reveals no major life-threatening'd rather leave the animal to calm down. Any attempt to handle an animal in such a state will just worsen his reactions and be dangerous to you (ask Grandma!)
So phone your vet, describe the situation calmly to him (remember he is not seeing the be precise) and keep him regularly(1 hr intervals) updated about your animal's status.
Have you ever heard that "Dogs smell your fear/panic" and react to that? Well that is true...they do not smell the fear per se but when we panic and are afraid our body releases Adrenaline...and that goes in our sweat. This is easily picked up by the dog's nose and this can cause further distress to him.
Just remember one thing...your dog is part of a "pack"; if you are the leader of the pack showing fear and panic and swamping the dog's olfactory detectors with Adrenaline is of no help in calming him...if, on the other hand, he is the leader, he will aggress any other individual who comes close when he feels vulnerable.
Panic is never the best solution...more so if you are the owner of a dog and you want to help him.
What happened next? As soon as I understood that the dog was not in emergency situation, I calmed to the owner and asked him to phone me back in 1 hr.I got a text today telling me that the dog was fine and just has minor cuts...
Have still to find out how Grandma is doing!