“Everybody’s Talking…”

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Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,

Our pet dogs and cats communicate with us humans in many ways, including vocally. When your dog growls, is it a play growl or is it aggressive?

Often young children are injured by a pet who was issuing multiple warnings, which were not understood. This sometimes occurs with adults as well, but usually adults can “read” postures and facial expressions that go with the growl and interpret them correctly.

But back to vocal communication. Is your dog growling out of fun or is he really warning you?

In a recent study, pet owners were tested on the ability to interpret sounds coming from dogs. Interestingly, women were found to be somewhat more accurate in their dog translations than men. Experts believe that this is because of women’s greater emotional insight. Hmmm…

In any case, remember to always closely supervise play that includes your dog and your children.

From experience, going with your dog to a doggy training class is very very worthwhile.

And finally, old dogs can in fact learn new tricks, so you need to not limit this to puppies.

See? Something CAN be done about preventing pet illness.

That is all.

Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic

I Went Through The Desert on a Horse With No Name…..

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Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,

Recently, I was treating a small breed dog with diarrhea and mentioned to the owner that he had become dehydrated. As sometimes happens, the owner thought that I was implying that maybe he did not give the pet water, and mentioned that the pet had a pet fountain, spring water in 3 different favors, and a crystal bowl to drink it all from. So there was NO WAY the pet could be dehydrated.

Of course, when this occurs, I am quick to point out that I am not accusing the client and that there are many ways to become dehydrated besides owner-induced water deprivation.

So, how CAN a pet become dehydrated? It is really very simple and there are only a few ways…….

-Not having water available, as I mentioned above, is possible but uncommon.

-Usually the dehydration is caused by excessive loss of fluids, such as in diarrhea and more often in severe vomiting.

-Some pets with severe fever and no vomiting or diarrhea get dehydrated because the body is using excessive water for the sped-up metabolic processes required to flight fever.

How can we diagnose dehydration?
Often, just by physical exam. But to get a more exact picture, we perform 2 very simple and easy blood tests, the Pack Cell Volume (PCV) and the Total Solids (TS) tests. By looking at these tests, I can get an idea just how bad dehydration may be. (Usually the PCV is elevated and the serum concentration measured by the TS is elevated in dehydration.)

How can we rehydrate the pet?
We can use IV fluids, the most reliable method, but also requiring hospitalization, and we can use Subcutaneous Fluids (SQ), which is not as fast as IV fluids, but which can be done quickly without hospitalization. (We usually give meds to STOP the vomiting/diarrhea and this the loss)

Of course, drinking a lot of water helps as well.

So there you have it. Hydration (and dehydration)  in a nutshell.

See? Something CAN be done about preventing pet illness.

That is all.

Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic

Solving a Problem That Does Not Exist?

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Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,

Recently, I noticed an article about “Smart Collars” for pets. Intrigued, I read on, learning that “4 out of 5 independent veterinarians recommend them.” Considering that I had never even HEARD of such, I found the statement interesting.

Apparently, most DVMs (96% of those polled), have, like me,  never heard of smart collars for pets, and the company’s endorsement claim came from a “marketing survey” which the company would not share.

From what I can learn, “Smart Collars” include sensors that monitor certain items of the pet’s physiology, maybe similar to an Apple Watch. The collars would record and store the data and possibly help pet owners and veterinarians better understand what is going on in the pet’s body. Interestingly, the first models of the “Smart Collars” did not provide pet location tracking, which would seem to be a wanted feature.

I could see the use of such a device in certain medical conditions in pets, but it does not seem to me to be something that I would get just to have. But, if your dog had, say, heart disease, such a device could possibly be made to be able to create a several-hours EKG (like a Holter monitor) that would give a DVM better data on your pet’s heart. Or maybe you could learn just how much he is scratching as you try a new skin allergy drug.

If you are interested in getting YOUR pet a “Smart Collar, ” some of the names are Vetrax, FitBark, Pitapat, Tabcat, and Poof. But again, this product seems to me to be sort of a “gasoline-powered turtle neck sweater.” Interesting but do you really need it?

So, for now, I will be saving my money and NOT buying any smart collars!

See? Something CAN be done about preventing pet illness.

That is all.

Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic

ANAPHYLAXIS – Extreme Allergy

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Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,

Many of us have allergies. When I think of mine, I picture red eyes , runny nose, and a generally stuffy feeling. And I am right.
And allergic reactions in pets can range from a runny nose, to a few hives, to complete collapse and even death.

What is an allergic reaction? Though I am over-simplifying, it is essentially an OVER-reaction by the body’s immune system to material that the body deems as foreign and therefore a danger. It is usually done by special allergic antibodies that release many inflammation-causing chemicals. (The most well-known one of these is “histamine.”)

But if the reaction is too strong, and if too many of these chemicals are released at once, an extreme reaction including collapse, bloody diarrhea, blood in the abdomen, or even death,  may occur on the dog. Until recently, we were largely unaware of these extreme cases, had dogs die with these symptoms, and wondered just what had happened.

Now, when we see a dog with these symptoms, we must at least consider allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) as one of the possible causes. It is interesting that there are certain signs that can be seen on ultrasound that can help us make this diagnosis.

So, what to do?
-If your pet ever shows signs of alllergy, including mild hives to full collapse, always get him checked right away. The disease could be far more severe than you think.

– If your pet is known to be allergic, avoidance is the best policy.

– If you even suspect a sting or bite on your very ill pet, be sure to tell your DVM.

– If we know about an allergic reaction, we have a far better chance to handle it.

See? Something CAN be done about preventing pet illness.

That is all.

Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic

United States Asteroid Strategy?

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Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,

Our veterinarians subscribe to Veterinary Information Network, or VIN, which is a private information-sharing veterinary site. On it, we can look up odd cases, get advice on same, and share information and concerns with other DVM’s on a safe, private site. VIN also has a few news items affecting veterinarians, and, as I opened the site recently, the first article I saw had the above title (minus the question mark). Of course, I first thought was “Satire.” But it was not.

Apparently, there are hundreds of asteroids and other large foreign rocks, floating around close enough to earth that eventual collision with Earth is considered possible, or even likely.  Of course, the amount of damage and problems would have a lot to do with the size of the object and where it hit.

And though, I did not delve too deeply into advice for such the asteroid collision, there is data out there. Google the “National Near Earth Preparedness Strategy” if you want to know more.

I do not know much about asteroids specifically, but I suggest that common sense usually is the best approach for any problem. Practice good husbandry with your pets, have a “go-kit” just as you would for a hurricane, and certainly have a place or two that you could evacuate to just in case.

Asteroids! Just one more thing that we can be concerned about.

See? Something CAN be done about preventing pet illness.

That is all.

Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic

What About National Pet Health Care?

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Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,

At the ER, we see sick and injured pets. And these pets often require fairly extensive medical workups as well as care. All of this can add up to an unexpected expense for the pet owner. Often, the care a pet can get comes down to what the pet owner can afford, and this is stressful for the humans and pet alike.

Care Credit is a wonderful medical line of credit that many people use to pay unexpected veterinary, dental, or optometry bills and features several months at no interest charge. It is a great tool but not everyone can be accepted for it.

Pet health insurance has been around for 20 or more years and seems like a great idea. Yet, at least in my experience, it has never been widely used. I wonder if now is not the time for people to look at it harder. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if your pet could receive every bit of the care she needs and the cost was no longer a major factor? I think that it could be so, with the right plan.

What? You want to know what I think is the right plan? Sorry, but I do not have an answer for you.

What I can suggest is that you look very hard at any such plan that you are considering. There is always lots of fine print and sometimes one assumes things that are in fact not in the policy.

Were I considering such a policy, I would check out ratings for several, and then talk to users. Were they happy? Was the response time good? Would you do it again?

Another thing one could consider is to set up a medical savings account for your pet. Set aside $100.00 per month for your pet and there is a good chance it would cover most usual medical bills he could incur. Just a thought.

See? Something CAN be done about preventing pet illness.

That is all.

Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic

Specialists

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Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,

My wife Juliet and I just returned from a Houston trip to see a renouned feline specialist. One of our herd, Hughes, had recently been diagnosed with Diabetes and we asked the specialist for extra bits of wisdom regarding handling the condition better.

During the visit, we saw a very cool cats-only (think silent) clinic, lots of traffic, and a doctor and staff who were very passionate about helping felines. The visit was very helpful and we got excellent assistance in our attempts to regulate Hughes’s blood glucose with insulin.

When I graduated from veterinary school in 1982, there were veterinary specialists, but most of them tended to be teaching in veterinary schools. Over the past 25 years, the number of specialists has grown by a lot and there are many many specialists in private practice. In fact, in some cases, the veterinary schools have trouble filling teaching positions due to the large number of new specialists who choose private specialty practice over teaching.

Why am I mentioning this? Just to remind you that, if your beloved pet has a challenging condition, specialists are available to help, either by seeing your pet via referral from your own DVM, or by consulting with your DVM when needed.

Its another way that pet health care is improving.

See? Something CAN be done about preventing pet illness.

That is all.

Dr. John Emerson, Pet Emergency Clinic