Lexi's owner noticed that at 9 months of age she suddenly became anxious. This was also following her first exposure to a thunderstorm. Her owner noticed that she would shake and pant uncontrollably. During these episodes she would run around trying to find a safe spot to hide (typically in the bathroom in a small spot behind the toilet). Her owner tried holding her and soothing her, but nothing seemed to help. Lexi seemed to get worse with each exposure to a storm or loud noise and she started to become anxious about everything (not just noise). Her owner decided to try a thundershirt which helped to eliminate her shaking. Even though she did not shake, she was still panting and visually appeared scared during the storm. After starting a prescription of anti-anxiety medication and her owner working with her on behavior modification - Lexi has now learned how to cope with her phobia! She no longer shakes or pants or has inconsolable behavior. She has learned to be much more confident in the face of her fears and more of her personality comes out each day!
Our interesting case of the month involves Coy, a 3yr old Border Collie Mix. Coy is a healthy, active dog that spends time at local dog parks and enjoys walks in his neighborhood. Coy is typically on heartworm preventative monthly, but did not receive his heartworm preventative during the months of July, August, and September. During his annual physical exam in October, his owner brought in a normal appearing fecal sample to be run (as a routine, annual screening). His fecal results showed that he was positive for roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. These are all intestinal parasites that dogs can pick up anywhere. We treated him with a dewormer and started him back up on his monthly heartworm/intestinal parasite preventative. We rechecked a fecal sample after his treatment was complete and it showed that the parasite infection had cleared!
Intestinal parasite infections are very common in pets. Your pet may pick up an intestinal parasite in a variety of ways including: nursing from an infected mother, consuming infected worm eggs from the soil in the environment (which is how Coy picked up his), consuming a prey animal carrying the parasite, or during embryonic development when an infected mother dog/cat is pregnant. We deworm all puppies and kittens during their vaccine series. At that time, we also start pets on a monthly heartworm/intestinal parasite preventative to be given monthly for life. When you give heartworm/intestinal parasite prevention each month, it will deworm your pet from any parasite it may have been exposed to during the previous month. As you can see by Coy’s story, missing just a few doses can set your pet up to a parasite infestation.
Tartar is harmful in two ways. First, it serves as a place where bacteria can reside and multiply in the mouth. There is substantial scientific evidence that bacteria from tartar are absorbed into the blood stream and deposited in various organs. Heart and kidney disease often result. Second, tartar builds up along the gum line. As the tartar enlarges, it pushes the gums away from the roots of the teeth. Eventually, the teeth will loosen and fall out.
This photograph was taken of a 6 year old dog before and after a recent dental cleaning! Luckily after the tartar was cleaned up, the gums, roots, and teeth were all healthy enough and no extractions needed to be done. It is important to discuss your pet's dental health at their annual physical exam.
We first saw Lexi on 8/16/13, when her owner brought her in as she was concerned she may have gotten stung. Her owner reported that Lexi’s left eye was swollen and she was trying to scratch it. She was also acting lethargic and not eating as she normally does. Upon examination and after further testing, it was discovered that Lexi had a corneal ulcer in her left eye. We sent her with medication to treat the ulcer and scheduled a follow-up appointment in 4 days to recheck.
A corneal ulcer is a wound on the surface of the eye. The damage would be similar to a scrape or cut on your skin; both problems result in an unprotected wound. The normal cornea is covered by a layer of tissue called the epithelium, sort of like 'skin' over the deeper eye layers. When the epithelium is damaged, infections can occur and result in complete perforation of the eye if left untreated. Clinical signs of a corneal ulcer include: squinting, redness, cloudiness, tearing, and lethargy. A special stain called fluorescein is used to identify the ulcer on the cornea. There are many causes of corneal ulcers such as injuries, abnormal eyelashes that irritate the surface, lack of tear production, infections, and sometimes the exact cause is unknown.
Lexi returned to the office 4 days later and the ulcer was healed. Just 10 days later, Lexi’s owner noticed that she was holding her left eye shut and seemed to be rubbing at it. Our office was not open at the time, so Lexi’s owner took her to Southwest Michigan Animal Emergency Hospital, which cares for all after hour emergencies. Thankfully Lexi’s owner did not wait another day, as there could have been irreversible damage to the eye if she had. It was discovered that Lexi had another corneal ulcer in her left eye. She was told to restart the medication and follow-up in 4 days.
Lexi returned to our office to follow-up a few days later and her owner reported that she was squinting and rubbing at her eye. Upon examination and after testing, she still had an ulcer in that eye and Dr. Prince noticed that there appeared to be something stuck in her eyelid. We sedated Lexi to get a closer look at her eye, and she was found to have numerous sharp, fine particles embedded in the inside upper eyelid. It is suspected that they are possibly plant material, which would make sense as Lexi loves to run through the brush. What had been happening was that the chronic irritation of these particles on the eye was causing the corneal ulcer. Had we not found the particles in the eyelid, she would have likely continued to have chronic irritation to the eye, and likely continued ulcers, which would have resulted in permanent scarring to the cornea.
Lexi is now back to normal and enjoying tearing around the yard. While we cannot prevent something like this from occurring, it is critical to address all eye issues immediately, as Lexi’s owners did. Lexi can thank her owners for helping to keep her eyesight sharp so that she can chase all the critters in the yard each day!
At times he would hold his leg up and not put any weight on it, and other times he would touch his toe down as he walked. After giving him a little rest, he was not improving so they decided to bring him in.Upon examination of the leg, he was found to be painful when Dr. Prince touched around his knee and tibia on his left leg. A very common injury that dogs can get is a cruciate ligament/meniscus injury, so that was a consideration. Due to the pain, swelling, and consistent limp, Dr. Prince recommended that Maverick have a further examination and x-rays completed under sedation.
Once sedated, further examination of his knee was normal. The radiographs revealed a spot on his left tibia on the bone that appeared to be very abnormal. Dr. Prince’s first concern was that it could be a type of bone cancer. Maverick’s owners soon took him to Dr. Boswell, a board certified orthopedic surgeon at Southwest MI Referral Center, for a bone biopsy. The bone biopsy revealed what was suspected, osteosarcoma.
Osteosarcoma can be found in any dog, but typically affects large to giant breed dogs. The cause of the tumor is largely unknown. The best treatment for osteosarcoma, in order to remove the source of pain and preserve quality of life, is amputation to remove the primary bone affected combined with chemotherapy to treat the metastatic disease that we cannot see. The prognosis of Osteosacroma is typically a life expectancy of 6 months – 2 years IF the dog has the amputation and chemotherapy administration.
After an oncology consult at MSU, Maverick’s owners decided to have his left rear leg amputated in order to remove his source of pain. He learned over the next few weeks how to be a 3-legged dog and it has yet to slow him down. He has been receiving Chemotherapy treatments at Friendship Animal Hospital, every 3 weeks for a total of 6 treatments. He does enjoy the soft dog bed, endless attention, and the constant stream of peanut butter during his treatments!
Maverick is an exceptional dog and his family is enjoying every minute with him and helping him live his life to the fullest! Their goal is to help him remain pain free and acting like the silly, happy Maverick they have grown to love.