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4 posts from August 2008


Why go to the beach today?

...when you can stay home and make this fun little piece of feline furniture? I have to admit, I know my cats would love it. The instructions are hilarious too.

cat chaise I a bad cat mom now if I just give my cats a plain old cardboard box? They have really raised the bar with this one. I better not let my cats see it.

The evil mad scientists have lots of cool stuff on their website-check it out. And anyone who goes to this much trouble to design cat furniture can't be too evil anyway.


Tough and Tender

Did anyone see the New York Times article the other day called Heaven's Angels ? By Caroline H. Dworin, it told the story of a group of tough, tattoed bikers who devote their time and energy to helping animals in need. It would be great if more tough guys (or wannabe tough guys) realized that true strength is not shown by hurting defenseless creatures, but by being man enough to stand up for what is right. Forcing dogs to battle does not make you a warrior; a true warrior is brave enough to fight in defense of those who need help.

Kudos to Rescue Ink ; these are the kind of tough guys I can respect.


Veterinary Ultrasound: What’s going on?

In response to my discussion of ultrasound for pets , a friend who works at a veterinary practice sent me an e-mail. She expressed concern, because the practice recently made the decision to cut down on using a specialist for their patients’ ultrasound exams; instead, they have purchased a machine that the general veterinarians will be using to perform ultrasound studies. I asked her how they planned to train the vets to do this, and she responded that the company that sold them the machine would be training them in its use. 

When a veterinary practice purchases a new ultrasound machine, an employee of the company selling the equipment will spend a day or two showing the new owners how to use it. If your pet became ill, for example with sudden vomiting, and needed an ultrasound exam which might save his life by helping to discover an intestinal blockage, gastric ulcer, tumor in the liver, or inflammation of the pancreas, would you like the study to be done by a veterinary radiologist who has completed a three-year residency program devoted to honing this skill, or someone who a company rep has spent six hours training which buttons to push on highly complex equipment? 

Did you know that during training to become a specialist,  a veterinary radiologist is required to perform at least 1,000 ultrasound studies? Think about that: someone who has done at least one thousand ultrasound exams under the supervision of board-certified radiologists before becoming a certified specialist themself, versus someone who just bought a machine last week. Bear in mind, unless you speak up and protect your pet, you may not be given the choice of who performs the ultrasound study on your companion. It's important for pet owners to be aware of the skill required to perform an effective ultrasound exam. To produce clear and accurate images, find subtle abnormalities, and especially to interpret what is seen: these require training, knowledge, and experience. 

Until the veterinary profession begins to police itself, only you can protect your pet. Any time a procedure is recommended for your pet, speak up, ask questions, and be sure to find out who will be doing it. Whether it’s an ultrasound, endoscopy, surgery, or another medical procedure, your pet deserves the best—and only you can make sure she gets the best care. 

After I read my friend’s e-mail, I wrote to her and asked her why the practice had made the decision to stop referring patients to a specialist for ultrasound exams. Her answer was simple: “Money”.


No Bones About It

Recently I used the endoscope to pull a bone out of a dog’s esophagus, something I do about once a month. As usual in these cases, the dog’s esophagus (the tube running from the mouth down to the stomach) had suffered severe damage from the pressure and abrasion of the bone that had been lodged there. I placed a stomach tube through the dog’s side for him to be fed through for the next few weeks while his esophagus healed. Because of the marked ulceration of the lining of his esophagus, the dog is at risk of “stricture”—a scar that extending across the esophagus and causing it to close off.

Of course, despite the worrisome condition of his esophagus, this dog was one of the lucky ones—not all bones can be removed with the endoscope; some must be removed surgically, and the esophagus does not always heal well. And in some cases, the bone causes a “perforation” (tear) in the esophagus, which is a grave and life-threatening situation. 

I wish that more people knew how often bones eaten by dogs get stuck in their esophagus, stomach, or intestine, necessitating endoscopy or surgery. I guess people think that it is “natural” for dogs to eat bones—well, if that’s true then we should be eating bones too, since both dogs and humans are omnivores! It’s true that the ancestors of our dogs may have been forced to eat bones—that’s all that was available to them! They didn’t have any gourmet dog food around. That doesn’t mean it’s safe to give a dog bones, any more than it would be safe for us to swallow bones or raw meat. 

If you take a look at dogs these days, you’ll see even more why giving them bones isn’t such a great idea. Even if a wolf could get away with eating a bone, that certainly doesn’t mean that a Pekinese, pug, Jack Russell, or beagle can do it! Most of our dogs have a much smaller esophagus than a wolf, and teeth that are a lot less strong as well. Without doubt I take a lot more bones out of small and medium-sized dogs than big ones—I guess in most dog breeds the saying is really true that their eyes (and mouth!) are bigger than their stomach. 

So please do your dog a favor—don’t give her bones, or let her grab bones out of the trash. If you ever suspect your dog may have swallowed a bone that is caught (your dog may gag, seem to be choking, vomit, or regurgitate), get to the vet right away for an X-ray. The longer the bone stays in there, the more serious the damage can be.

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