Tag Archives: canine health

The Big C Word

gus-june2014-3935What turned out as a routine senior exam because Gus wasn’t feeling good has turned our life upside down for the last couple of weeks.  Gus has lymphosarcoma.  It isn’t slow moving and it is attacking his GI tract pretty nastily.    Our vet didn’t have a whole lot of positive to say because of his age and susceptibility to succumbing if we opted to treat our beloved Elderbull with chemo.  He said that the kindest option would be management and then helping him cross the bridge when the time came – which could be sooner or later.

How did we find out and confirm our worst fears?  Blood work.  We had taken him in because his belly was a bit bloated and he didn’t want to eat his meals and was having trouble controlling his bladder.  The latter is a common problem in the older dogs but I didn’t want him ending up with issues because he had an accident while we were at work and soiled his blanket in his crate.

The results from his blood work weren’t promising.  He has hyper calcemia.  He is anemic.  His thyroid levels were incredibly low.  All of that combined with the added insult, he alsogus-april2014-2622 had a Urinary Tract Infection – the one thing we worked to prevent with his accidents.  The final blow was the lymphosarcoma attacking his GI tract and causing the bloating and unwillingness to eat.

Cancer.  It should be a curse word.  This vile, vile disease is something that takes far too many loved ones from this Earth and runs rampant through our hearts as they deal and cope with this internal Hell until it is time for them to leave us.    We’ve been dealing with it.  We’re making our buddy comfortable.  We are letting him eat whatever makes him eat and keep strength up.  He has been getting to sleep in bed or we’ve been sleeping in the dog beds with him.  We have to keep him cool since he gets uncomfortably hot even though he loves to bake in the sun.  Whatever it takes for however long he has left with us.

We started a bucket list of things to do with him before he crosses the bridge – a “like” campaign on his Facebook page, Gus the Elderbull, in an effort to create a functioning memory that helps other dogs in shelters and a place for owners of their own elderbulls to come and share their memories, going swimming for the first time with us, eating an Oreo gus-july2014-4500cookie even though they aren’t good for him, spending all night cuddling with us.

It hasn’t been easy.  I’ve cried more nights than I care to admit to.  My husband has remained stoic but even he can’t hide the pain.  We’re having to make a decision that no person wants to make.  When is the right time?  Are we being selfish by waiting?  Is Gus happy?  We’re told time and again we’ll know but in my heart, I don’t know.  It’s scary.  I never expected to lose this beautiful soul in such a short time after we adopted him from the shelter – which is currently at almost two months shy of his September 23rd Gotcha Day.  It sucks and it’s something that I could wish on my worst enemy but we will work through it and we’ll make the best of whatever time we have left until Gus lets us know it’s time.

Veterinary Betrayal: Where Compassion Turns To Cruelty

Cruelty in the veterinary community is becoming less and less unusual to see as awareness is toward pets as family members rises by the day.  As pet owners, there is a certain understanding and trust in one’s veterinarian that the animal in their care will receive the lou-tiercebest possible medical care that can be provided within the confines of the owner’s ability.  More often than not, this is not a difficult nor unreasonably obtained but a recent case in Fort Worth, Texas has brought concern to the forefront of every pet owner’s mind when it comes to the services their veterinarian may be providing – especially during those last, saddening moments of a pet’s life when an owner is faced with the decision of humane euthanasia.

The highly publicized case of veterinary cruelty involving a long-standing veterinarian named Dr. Millard ‘Lou’ Tierce started after a former employee, Mary Brewer, contacted Jamie and Marian Harris on April 21, 2014 in regard to their beloved Leonberger, Sid, whom they believed had been euthanized in September 2013 after being diagnosed by Dr. Tierce as having a ‘congenital spinal defect’ that would destroy his quality of life.

The Harris’ were told by Ms. Brewer that Sid had been living in a cage 24 hours a day in hissid-ftworth own urine and feces and had also been injured by another employee during his imprisonment by Dr. Tierce.  Ms. Brewer told the Harris’ that she had not come forward sooner because she was concerned for her employment and the paychecks that it provided.  Ms. Brewer quit her job, however, the day that she told the Harris’ about Sid and what he had been through.

The Harris’ sought to free Sid from his imprisonment and went to the clinic, Camp Bowie Animal Clinic.  With Jamie distracting the receptionist and a friend watching the rear entrance, Marian was able to free Sid from his cage and walk Sid out of the clinic without any apparent lameness.  Dr. Tierce followed them out of the clinic and attempted to explain bowieclinicto the Harris’ that he did not euthanize Sid because some of his employees threatened to quit if he did.

Sid was taken to another veterinary clinic after being freed from the clinic.  The second veterinarian performed and MRI and confirmed that Sid had no congenital spinal defect and had been used repeatedly for blood draws – possibly for transfusions or plasma treatments for other dogs in his clinic.  After receiving these findings, the Harris’ filed a complaint with the police and state veterinary board which lead to a raid by police and the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners on Tuesday, May 29, 2014.

On Wednesday night, Mr. Tierce turned himself into the police for a charge of cruelty to animals, non-livestock and was released on a $10,000 bond.  He was also notified by the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners that his license was suspended because of sid1the allegations and charges filed against him.

Unfortunately, the Harris’ aren’t the only family coming forward in this case.  According to MyFoxDFW.com, Ms. Jennifer Braden told investigators that Mr. Tierce may have taken one of the dogs he is charged with supposedly having euthanized and keeping it as his personal pet.  That dog, a miniature dachshund named Temperance Bones, was taken into Camp Bowie in October 2012 after Tierce told Ms. Braden the dog needed surgery and that if the family couldn’t afford the surgery they could euthanize the dog.  He told the family that he euthanized their dog but after he was arrested, Ms. Braden went door to door in Tierce’s neighborhood looking for her dog.  One of the neighbors gave her some startling news that she had seen Mr. Tierce walking that dog only a few months prior.  Ms. Braden firmly believes that her dog was kidnapped because Mr. Tierce had taken a liking to the dog.

The state veterinary board will be meeting within the next two weeks to decide the fate of Mr. Tierce’s veterinary medical license and if it should be revoked.  He has, when asked by the media for comment, declined requests for a statement claiming that the allegations are “all a bunch of hooey” from a disgruntled employee.

Safety First: Building a First Aid Kit

Always be prepared.  That’s the scout motto isn’t it?  Well, it certainly is in our house.  Since my husband and I are both fairly active with our dogs, because they wouldn’t have it any other way, means that we always have to be prepared for that one thing to go wrong.  The just in case situation that can be a simple fix or even a lifesaving action on the way to the vet (thankfully, we’ve not had any of the latter just yet.  *knocking on wood!*).

For all of those scratches, cuts, allergic reactions, burns, etc. that your dog may encounter (or you for that matter!), it is always good to have a first aid kit on hand.  Our first aid kit is pretty extensive and covers pretty much anything that can be thought of.  It contains items both for dog and people use and gets put in the car if we leave with a dog or five for that chance encounter with disaster but your kit doesn’t have to hold as much if you’d prefer it didn’t.  We’ve seen some kits that had the bare essentials and then our behemoth-type kits so it’s personal preference.

Our First Aid Kit

Our First Aid Kit

When making a first aid kit, remember to have a container specifically designated for your items.  This kit needs to be as sanitary as possible so be prepared to have a lot of bags and what not to contain items so they don’t encounter things that could potentially make a situation worse.

In our kit, we have the following items:

  • Mesh Muzzles (ones that will fit our dogs)
  • Slip leads (the veterinary variety)
  • Anti-Diarrheal medication
  • Triple Antibiotic Ointment
  • Hydrocortisone Cream
  • Glucose Tablets/Gel
  • Thermometer (and Tip Covers)
  • Pill Crusher and Pill Cutter
  • White Hand Towels
  • Q-tips and Cotton Balls
  • Gauze Pads and Wrap
  • Liquid Bandage
  • Cloth and Self-Adhesive Tapes
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Bag Balm
  • Vet/Sport Wrap
  • Safety Pins
  • Bulb Syring
  • Antacids, Asprin and Ibuprofen
  • Petroleum Jelly
  • Calamine Lotion
  • Saline Eye Wash
  • Eye Dropper
  • Instant Cold Compress
  • Emergency Blanket
  • Epsom Salts
  • Styptic Powder
  • Rescue Remedy
  • Pedialyte Unflavored or Orange (we change this out every couple of months)
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • LED Flashlight
  • First Aid Books for dogs and people
  • First Aid Instruments (gloves, splinter remover, scissors, tweezers, finger splint and light)

As I said, it’s pretty extensive.  There are a few things I’d like to add but the kit is always a work in progress when I learn something new and/or important for the wellbeing of the beasts or the humans.  We have our current veterinarian’s information on a laminated 3×5 card and make temporary cards with veterinary information for areas we may be traveling near for those just in case moments along with other important numbers  – like poison control!

 If you’re not up for making your own, there are many ready-made kits available online in every price bracket and at many local pet suppliers as well.  It is, however, incredibly important to have something like this assembled before an emergency occurs with your pet or yourself.   These items could be a lifesaving difference if something occurred and are a smart idea in any home with or without pets.

Quit Bugging Me!


With the weather having warmed up, those of us outdoor lovin’ dog owners are venturing out onto trails, walking paths or anything else we can do with our dogs in Mother Nature’s glory.  Unfortunately, a few of our eight-legged creepy crawly friends are joining us on our adventures and with them they bring all sorts of nasty health and welfare concerns too.

In Michigan, we’ve seen a massive explosion in tick populations statewide.  Experts are linking these growth spurts to a variety of factors including the following:

  • Warmer winters;
  • Suburbanization (bringing wildlife and people in closer proximity);
  • A boom in the white-tailed deer population;
  • Migratory birds transporting ticks and other parasites to new areas;
  • The use of fewer insecticides.

An increase in the tick population means a far greater risk of tick-borne diseases like Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Babesiosis.  These diseases can be viral, bacterial or parasitic in nature and each is dangerous in their own rite. Thankfully, there are many easily performed actions that will reduce or prevent these nasty monsters from wrecking havoc on your adventures into Mother Nature’s abode.

To reduce the chances of encountering  disease carrying ticks on you or your pets, make sure you adhere to these simple solutions:

  • Check your pets and yourself for ticks daily, especially after spending time outdoors.
  • Remove any ticks found immediately.
  • Have your vet perform a flea and tick check at each exam.
  • Become informed about tick-borne diseases and species in your area.  (Click here for species identification.)
  • Talk to your veterinarian about using flea and tick preventatives on your pet(s).
  • Reduce the tick habitat in your yard.
  • If out hiking, wear light-colored clothing and check your gear.

While ticks are fast becoming a major problem, their effects on enjoying Mother Nature’s splendor is still fairly simple.  We personally follow most of the above suggestions like making sure we dose our dogs (and cats!) with Advantix 2, using an additional spray on us and the dogs (Off! Deep Woods for us and UltraShield EX for the dogs) and following the check and remove (highly recommend this tick remover!) procedure.  We still deal with a few ticks here and there but not nearly as bad as they possibly could be (and have been!).

Here’s to a happy and safe tick season (hopefully tick-free!) from our pack to yours on your outdoor adventures.


  • www.niaid.gov/topics/tickborne/Pages/Default.aspx
  • www.veterinarypractices.com/vet-cover-stories/tick-populations-to-explode.aspx

Speuter Nation: Sterilizing the World

Let me preface this by saying that I am absolutely not opposed in the slightest to spaying and neutering to ensure that owners are held honest and responsible if getting their dog from a shelter.  I am, however, wholly against propaganda being used by those who would prefer that everything with testicles or a uterus and ovaries be ‘sterilized’ for the implied betterment of pet ownership.

Unfortunately, keeping an intact dog has become a social faux pas in today’s society.  It isn’t acceptable for Fido to go walking around with his testicles swingin’ in the breeze or Fifi to be wearing cute panties when it’s that time of the year because those are sure signs that those people are breeders and breeders are the Devil, don’tcha know?  Sadly, I’ve experienced it first hand with comments like, “When are you going to neuter him?  Those danglies are so gross!” in reference to my intact goober boy.  It makes it hard biting my tongue with comments like that but it’s typically better off that I don’t spout off a nasty remark as a retort and focus my time into educating them why I choose to leave my dogs intact as a personal choice – even if I were to never consider breeding him (or any other intact dog that may live in my home in the future).

With the plethora of information available out there that shows the pros and cons of spaying and neutering, J.Q. Public is sadly lacking in the knowledge department.   For many people, the need to actually have that dog go through the surgery is a convenience for their lives because, let’s face it, intact animals can be a pain in the fanny if you don’t have the time or effort to manage potential accidents.  That being said, if you’re planning on spaying or neutering your animals you should at least be informed of the reasons both for and against the argument.  I would highly suggest reading this article, but if you’d rather it not, here are a few pros and cons for you.

The pros of spaying and neutering include some of the following:

  • Eliminating the risk of testicular cancer (which is <1% roughly).
  • Reduces the rate of non-cancerous prostate issues and perianal fistulas.
  • Nearly eliminates the risk of pyometra (which affects approximately 23% of intact female dogs and has a fatality rate of about 1%).
  • Removes the very small risk of uterine, cervical and ovarian tumors in female dogs.
  • Reduces the risk of mammary tumors in female dogs if spayed before 2.5 years of age.

The cons of spaying and neutering include some of the following:

  • Neutering a dog prior to one year of age significantly increases the risk of osteosarcoma (bone cancer).  This commonly occurs in medium/large breed dogs and typically has a very poor outcome.
  • Increases the risk of cardiac hemangiosarcoma occurrence by 1.6 times.
  • Triples the risk of hypothyroidism.
  • Quadruples the small risk of prostate cancer.
  • Increases the risk of orthopedic disorders (like torn ACLs) and increases the risk of reactions to vaccinations.
  • Can cause “spay incontinence” in 4-20% of female dogs.
  • Increases the risk of vaginal dermatitis, recessed vulva, etc. in female dogs – especially when altered prior to puberty.

Those are just some of the reasons given both for and against the procedure.  We must not discount the risks involved in surgery – no matter how advanced the procedure has become – when involving the life of an animal that we care about.  The risk will always be there when it involves anesthetics and surgery.

With all of that being said, however, it still comes down to a personal decision for the owner of said dog(s) because it is their ultimate responsibility to keep those dogs safe, sound and happy for their lives.  If an owner cannot or will not maintain their pet from wandering the streets looking for bitches in season to breed with, train and manage their pet as to limit any potential occurrences of same sex dog aggression or simply wants to ‘enjoy the miracle of life’ for their children or otherwise looking to make a quick buck off of puppies, I would highly suggest having this elective procedure performed for the benefit of your own personal sanity and the sanity of the rescues and shelters that have to take of the brunt of the ‘problem’ when you can’t find responsible, permanent homes for that dog’s offspring.