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Canine Hypothyroidism Causes and Treatment

Originally published May 18, 2015

Doug on canine hypothyroidism
Doug the Dog Boss

Canine Hypothyroidism is the reduced function (hypo) of the thyroid gland. The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland in the neck, on the trachea, and makes a hormone called thyroxine that controls metabolism. When the gland doesn’t make enough thyroxine, the dogs metabolism slows abnormally.

It’s a common disease in dogs that can affect all breeds, but it is most often found in medium to large breeds like Golden Retrievers, Doberman Pinchers, Irish Setters, Dachshunds, Boxers, Cocker Spaniels — and bulldogs. It usually occurs in middle-aged dogs (ages 4 to 10) and neutered males and spayed females are at a higher risk, though experts are not sure why. In most cases hypothyroidism is caused by your dog’s own immune system attacking his thyroid gland!

Canine Pneumonia and Heartworm

Originally published November 18, 2015

Bristol in recovery - canine pneumoniaBristol has canine pneumonia. He started coughing on Sunday, by Monday morning it was a continuous thing if he got active at all. A deep, rattly cough that ended with an ejection of phlegm. No blood (thankfully), so an embolism is not indicated. I contacted our Vet Tech, Alicia.

Because he is ill, Bristol has lost his seat on this weekend’s Rolling Rescue run. Hopefully he will be well again by the Rescue run in two weeks.

Parasitic pneumonia in dogs is often caused by lungworms directly or from the migration of other worms (e.g. heartworms) through the lung. 9 out of every 69 dogs (13%) treated for heartworm also develop pneumonia. At this stage (he’s just finishing his recovery period), I do not think the pneumonia was caused by heartworm migration, because they should all be long dead. However, the dead worm tissue in his lungs may have opened a path for a bacterial infection that resulted in pneumonia. Heart disease or heart failure can lead to pneumonia; perhaps this is aftermath of his heartworm infestation and damage to his heart. The heart damage should heal in time. His lungs may have been irritated by the couple of cold, damp nights we had.

Symptoms of Canine Pneumonia

The hallmark symptom shown by dogs suffering from pneumonia is coughing (although of course not all coughing dogs have pneumonia). In addition, watch out for these symptoms:

Faith Restored

Faith went to Cedarwood Veterinary Hospital yesterday.  The intent was for them to sedate her and do a thorough examination of her teeth and gums to see why they were bleeding a few days ago.

I had gone into her kennel and found blood on the floor and her chew toy was bloody.  I removed the toy and gave her a rope chew instead.  Then I messaged Doctor Sandra.  She said to bring Faith in for an exam.

I was concerned by this development because when I worked at the Humane Society of Jefferson County I’d seen several rescue deals get aborted when it was discovered the dog had bad teeth.  Repairing that is expensive, an expense many rescues are not willing or able to take on.  I feared that if this was the case with Faith, her deal with A.R.N.N.E. would get nixed.

Before she came here, Faith had spent some time at Cedarwood.  Dr. Sandra pulled her from Animal Control out of fear that they were about to euthanize her.  Dr. Sandra asked if I could foster Faith while they looked for an adoptive home.  At that time I was full, but an opening would happen in a few days.  So Faith was boarded at Cedarwood until I had an open kennel.  The Cedarwood staff became fond of Faith during her stay there.

When Faith and I arrived, the office manager had me fill out the standard permissions form that authorized them to do lab work, administer sedation, and perform various (incrementally more expensive) monitoring during “surgery”.  I did not authorize the high end stuff (triple digit expenses) since this was supposed to be a dental exam not major surgery.  Still, the lab work and sedation would run a couple hundred dollars, not counting any work to be done, if it was needed.

I asked that I be called if work needed to be done.  This would be an expense I would have to bear because Animal Control could not and would not, and A.R.N.N.E. would probably either back out of the rescue offer or prefer the work be done by their own vet partner, to control costs.  Then I went home and waited.

At 4:30 I had received no call and decided I’d better go pick her up before they close at 5:00.

Rebecca came out and explained that Faith had allowed them to examine her teeth without being sedated (I’m not sure how they did that since she wouldn’t let me get more than a peek in there – just enough to know she was bleeding) and they found some abrasions that had healed but the teeth and gums are in fine shape.  Even having just a level 2 tartar: which is low, especially for a 6 to 7 year old dog.  They even clipped her nails for me.

That was wonderful news!  I was afraid that bad teeth would kill the interest that A.R.N.N.E. had in her.  Now I can report that her teeth are great!

“How much do I owe you?” I asked, pulling out my wallet.

“Rebecca shrugged, “We didn’t do anything worth charging you for.  Besides, it’s Faith.  We love her.”

I DO love Cedarwood!

So I took her home and updated Christine, my contact at A.R.N.N.E., that everything was fine and we are still on track for a Nov 11th departure.  It’s all good!

Heartworm Treatment Aftermath

Originally published May 10, 2016

The Dogtor is in

How dogs deal with heartworm treatment aftermath varies considerably, depending on several factors.

  • Severity of worm infestation. A low-count infestation will have less effect on the dog as the worms die and potentially cause problems.  A high-count means more dead worm tissue in the blood stream and a higher likelihood that the heart has sustained damage from the worms chewing on it.
  • The dog’s temperament. Dogs, like people, deal with sickness or pain differently: some are wimps and will cry and moan over every little thing, others are stalwart and seemingly ignore discomfort. Most are somewhere in between.
  • How well the treatment went. If a dog jumps or lurches during the injection, it leaves a bruise in the muscle that is very painful – and it requires that the injection be repeated in a slightly different location because the bruise will allow too rapid absorption of the Immiticide. The injection must be done intramuscular to slow the absorption rate.
dolly cochise nursemaid, heartworm treatment aftermath
Dolly was Cochise’s nursemaid during heartworm treatment

Some dogs we’ve cared for were hardly slowed down at all, while others (like Cochise) were hit hard. It took him a week or more to get over the nausea and pain. Most are stiff and sore in their lower back and hips for one to three days, then bounce back quickly.

This is actually more dangerous than one who convalesces for a while because it is vital to keep the dog on crate rest for a minimum of two weeks. High levels of activity cause increased heart rate which causes an increased chance of dead worm matter breaking loose from the heart, lodging in the capillaries of the lungs and causing a lesion or embolism in the lung. This can be fatal. The dog must be given time for his body to absorb the dead tissue before they become active again.

Volt’s Heartworm Treatment Aftermath

Because Volt was underweight, Dr. Conklin decided to use an extended-kill method with him. This takes longer and is more expensive, but is easier on the dog. Volt went in for his final treatments yesterday and today. Yesterday went well and he experienced little discomfort. He felt a little yucky this morning, but that was all. Today (we suspect) did not go so well.

He’s got a visible lump on his back where the injection would have been given, so we suspect he twitched and tore a bruise in the muscle. He’s also quite uncomfortable:

And here we are, out of Tramadol. I gave him a baby aspirin. At 71 pounds, Volt could probably have two, but we’ll try one. Maybe we’ll do two at bed time so he gets a good nights rest. He should feel better in the morning.

A low dose of aspirin is safe for large dogs for short term use (like a day or two) for pain, when advised by your veterinarian. Do not use if the dog is taking Prednisone. Generally, a dog 50 to 100 pounds can have one regular aspirin tablet twice a day — SHORT term. Aspirin causes gastric bleeding if over-used. Baby aspirin is straight aspirin but in a lower (81 mg) dose. Tramadol is a better option, but it requires a prescription and is pricey. Do not use Tylenol.

Tylenol is Acetaminophen. Acetaminophen, which is not an NSAID, is poisonous to dogs. Typical symptoms of pain killer poisoning include difficulty breathing, vomiting (can be a good thing), change in coloration of the gums, jaundice (a sign of liver damage), and a change in body temperature, among others. Do not use Tylenol on your dog!

heartworm treatment aftermathAn hour after I gave Volt the baby aspirin he was able to rest. He was not sleeping, but could lie still and rest without whimpering and shifting around. I tried to make him comfortable in the den with the rest of us, but he preferred to suffer in solitude and went to the bedroom. He did appreciate an occasional belly rub.

After another hour he came and got me to tell me that he needed to go outside. I took him out (without a leash this time: the last thing he wants to do right now is run) and he went as far as the very first patch of grass to take care of all his business. I cleaned up after him (since this was in a major traffic pattern) and he was waiting for me at the back door.

The First Night

When I dish up kibbles, Volt always comes to supervise. At first he was hoping I would drop some (or he could grab some) and I had to close the door to keep him from raiding the kibble buckets as I opened them. When he learned to control himself, I started giving him a kibble or two as a treat for his improved behavior.

That evening, Volt did not come to the door of the Kibble Treasury when I began scooping kibbles into dishes. He was dozing just across the hallway, and that was more important to him than a snack.

As dinner preparation was about concluded and ready to serve, Volt did come out of the den (it did smell good). We decided to try letting him eat on a blanket beside the table like Cochise and Blondie do. Volt has been getting fed in his crate because he will wolf down his own food then try to push Blondie out of her bowl as well. And she is mild tempered enough to let him do it. She will give him a “How rude!” look, but not fight him over it. Tonight, he’s not feeling all that pushy, because of the heartworm treatment aftermath.

He did well. He ate much slower than normal, then went and sat behind my chair and waited. When Blondie and Cochise finished their dinners, all three wandered off to lie down and let the meal settle.

I woke him from his nap to take him outside so he would sleep through the night. He wasn’t thrilled with that, but he complied, squatting like a girl-dog because raising a leg hurt too much.

When bed time arrived, Volt was crashed in the den. I asked him if he wanted to join us in the bedroom, but the only response I got was a brief, groggy, one-eyed, glance.

Normally we insist on it because it’s easier to track his whereabouts. He has tried at least one Midnight Caper while we slept. But I didn’t think he’d be up to any mischief this time.

Nurse Blondie monitors Heartworm treatment aftermathVolt woke Marie at 12:30 am when he got up to wander restlessly. He was in pain again. Marie gave him another baby aspirin and he settled into his bed in the bedroom. Blondie moved from her bed to the floor next to him to be nursemaid. She stayed there all night.

At 6:00 most of us got up again. Volt seemed comatose – and caused me some concern – but it turned out he was just unwilling to leave the Nirvana of slumber. We can all understand that!

Dealing well with heartworm treatment aftermathCochise stood in for Volt as kibble inspector when I dished up doggie breakfast. Once I got the bacon and eggs going, Volt was up and sitting in the living room watching. He was more animated this morning. Enough so that he was served breakfast in his crate again.

After breakfast we went outside and he again squatted to pee. Then he settled in with us in the den and went to sleep. He is still sore, but not so sore as to need pain meds to sleep. That’s good. He’s bouncing back already. I’ll let him sleep as much as he wants, that’s the best way to heal.

The Outlook

Volt is a laid-back hound dog. Keeping him calm for the next few weeks will not be the challenge that it is in a high-energy dog. Still, I’ll use a leash to take him out for potty breaks, once he’s not suffering so.

Once he’s feeling better, we will have to take him on another trip to Tractor Supply just to be sure he does not come to associate truck rides with bad things happening to him.

Volt is a sweet, good-natured dog, he will be fine. It’s just going to take a few days to get past the rough part of heartworm treatment aftermath.


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The Nose Knows Fear and Stress

Originally published Feb 8, 2017

This nose knows

Below is an excerpt from an article by Jaymi Heimbuch on Mother Nature Network. In it Ms. Heimbuch discusses how the sensitivity of canine noses is being used to screen human patients for a variety of medical problems including cancer, hypoglycemia, narcolepsy, seizure, and others. Today we want to focus on the part that discusses how service dogs are used in preventing P.T.S.D. attacks by sensing building fear and stress levels.

Worming Large Dogs At Low Cost

Originally published Dec. 12, 2017

The Dogtor is in

One of my Fosters, Ricky, has been producing bloody diarrhea since Thursday. I took him to the vet today. It was complicated, but the simple version is he has Hookworms. He’s now on an antidiarrheal, antibiotics, and a wormer. And because hookworms are quite contagious, I’ll be worming ALL seven of the dogs for the next three days just to be safe. There are two standard medications for this: Panacur and Safe-guard.

Panacur comes as a liquid (suspension) or pills. A liter of Panacur liquid costs around $130.00 and is available only through vet supply outlets. I have also used Panacur paste for equines, but this is difficult to get the proper dose measured out for dogs. The dispenser is graduated in increments of 250 pounds up to 1000 pounds. Setting up the dispenser for an 80 pound dog is educated-guesswork. A 30 pound dog is hopeless.

The pills in boxes of three and in sizes for 10 pounds, 20 pounds, and 40 pounds. If your dog is bigger than 40 pounds, you combine boxes to get close to the right weight. Most places that sell pet medications have the pills and they run $7.00 to $15.00 per box. I figured I’d need 16 boxes to give seven dogs of various sizes three doses each.

Your Dog’s Poop Tells a Tale

Originally published Oct. 26, 2017

The Dogtor is in

Talking about your canine friends excrement may not be a glamorous topic, but there are some things that all dog owners should be aware of and watching for. Yes, that’s right: you need to be looking at your dog’s poop.

Why Examine Your Dog’s Poop

With dogs, as with people, what is excreted can give clues to problems that are building inside. Watching for signs of trouble as you clean up after your dog can give you warning well before severe symptoms set in. Here’s what to look for:

NOTE: To be as effective as possible I have included photos. To be as inoffensive as possible, I have made the on-page photos very small. Click the photos to view them full size — or skip that if you’re squeamish.

Cutting the Cost of Heartworm Prevention

Originally published July 14, 2015

Doug
The dogtor is in

Heartworms are a serious threat to dogs. The heartworm larvae are carried and transmitted by mosquitoes: mosquitoes are everywhere, even in our home at times. Keeping your dog from being bitten by a mosquito is almost impossible, therefore heartworm prevention is important to keep the heartworm larvae from developing in your dog’s blood stream.

Heartworm prevention medications can be pricey since they need to be given every month, year round. One very popular brand is Heartguard: a chewable treat for your dog. It is reliable and well liked by veterinarians and dogs alike. Pet Armor is the same formula but is less expensive. If that is still too much for your budget, there is another option.

Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears

Dogs, like people, get ear wax build up.  This alone can cause pain, decreased hearing, and dizziness.  But add to that the increased risk of a yeast infection, bacterial infection and even parasites in the ear and you can see that inspecting and maintaining your dog’s ears is important to their overall health.  This is especially important for dogs with floppy ears.

Ear Anatomy

A dog’s ear canal is L shaped with a vertical canal that connects to a horizontal canal deeper withing the skull.  Dirt, wax, and parasites such as ear mites can hide in the horizontal canal.  We cannot access that canal, so we need to use regular flushing to remove debris that may cause a blockage. We also don’t want to risk damaging the tympanum by poking implements such as Q-tips down there.

How Often?

Homemade Disinfectants for Animal Crates

Crate training a dog is an important part of housebreaking a dog.  But a crate can become unhealthy if it is not cleaned out regularly and disinfected occasionally.

You will start by laundering the bedding regularly — how often depends on how clean your dog stays, whether he eats in his crate, and if he leaks urine when he gets excited.  If he wets his bedding, wash it right away.  If he’s a messy eater, every few days.  If he’s a tidy boy and you just need to get the funky smell out, every 10 days to two weeks works well.

Be sure to launder plush toys too.  Hard toys can be washed in a sink of soapy water, add just a dash of bleach for better disinfecting.  Rinse thoroughly.

When it comes to the crate itself, here are some general purpose cleaners you can make up at home.