Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dog With Narcolepsy!

I have never seen anything like this in my career, nor have I even learned that this disease can affect dogs. UNTIL NOW!! Click the link below:


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Another Reason To Be Wary Of Breeders

Two days ago, a dear client of mine came in a with a 4 month old pug puppy they had just purchased. The purpose of the visit was to administer the final round of vaccines, but also to check a "protrusion" coming out of the vagina that was giving the puppy discomfort every time she sat. Under the breeder's care, the puppy had only had one puppy vaccine at the age of 11 weeks (puppy vaccines should be started at 6 weeks, then boostered again at 9 and 12 weeks), and came with no state health certificate for sale signed by a veterinarian, a legal requirement to sell any animal in Florida. Both of these facts concerned me from the beginning of this visit.

Upon examination, I was fairly certain that the "protrusion" from the vaginal cavity was actually a small penis, meaning that the puppy was born with mixed male and female reproductive organs, a condition known as hermaphroditism. I explained to the owner that the puppy would need to have an imaging contrast study to ascertain the exact location and path of the urethra and lower urinary tract, before it can be decided whether I could perform the surgical correction, or whether this needed to be in the hands of a specialist. I also informed the owners that altering the patient could be tricky, as the puppy could have ovaries, testes, or both, and only abdominal exploratory surgery would reveal this.

The owners were already attached to this puppy, but they were concerned about making the financial commitment necessary to repair the puppy's deformity; a puppy that had been in their lives for less than 24 hours. I attempted to quell their concerns by telling them about the Florida State puppy lemon law, which states that if within 14 days of purchase, a veterinarian deems that a puppy if sick or has one or congenital deformities, the owners are entitled to return the puppy for a full refund, or be compensated for medical fees up to and including the price of the animal. Many breeders will try to worm their way out of this responsibility, but I thought that this breeder would likely capitulate knowing that he had already broken the law once by not having a health certificate for the puppy he sold.

The next day, the owners of the puppy called me very upset that the breeder had informed them that he was not going to provide them with a refund, that they were misinformed about both the lemon law and health certificate requirement. He told them that the puppy was theirs for better or for worse. What's more, when they called the vet where the puppy had received her one and only vaccine, they informed the owners that they had denied dispensing a health certificate on the grounds of her deformity! This fact confirmed that this breeder knowingly and purposefully sold this puppy with a deformity.

I decided that I would call the breeder myself on behalf of the owners. Often, once a breeder knows that an owner has the full backing and support of a licensed veterinarian to pursue legal satisfaction, they change their tune. I reached the breeder's voice mail and left him a message stating that he had already broken the law once by selling a puppy without a state health certificate, and he is breaking yet a second time by not observing the lemon law. As such, I informed him that I will offer the owners my full support and testimony for any legal action they take against him in this matter, if he does not concede and do the right thing.

The breeder called me back in a short period of time and started yelling a string of profanities, meanwhile threatening that he was going to use my message to have my license taken away. To this I laughed and told him how funny the state board will find it when an unethical and unlawful business man approaches them demanding that a they revoke the license of a veterinarian with a flawless record in 7 years of practice - all on the grounds of my attempt to help my clients uphold the law and preserve their rights. To this he became hostile and said,"Yeah? How about I just come down to your place and smack you like a little female dog [he used a different word for this]?" At that, I told him the conversation was over and hung up.

I called the owners back shortly thereafter and informed them that they were unfortunately dealing with, not only an unethical and unlawful breeder, but a sociopath as well. Interestingly enough, the owners told me that the breeder had already called them back with a completely different demeanor, offering his apologies and a full refund that they can put toward having the puppy's deformity fixed. I guess despite all of his hostility, I must have made an impression.

These owners and their puppy have potentially a tough road ahead of them in getting this puppy right, but at least they have the financial relief that was rightfully theirs, to offset the financial burden that the puppy's treatment could end up costing them. I offer this story so that the public is aware of the caliber of people they could end up dealing with, even when partaking in an activity as innocent as buying a puppy. Always beware of people like the breeder in this story.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Who's Smarter, Dogs or Cats??

On 11/9/07, I introduced a Web Poll on our parent website, WebDVM 's home page, polling visitors about which species they feel is smarter, dogs or cats, a debate that has been going on for as long as these two species have been domesticated.

The dogs are smarter camp argue that dogs must be smarter because they answer to their names, come when they are called, and learn obedience and tricks so much more readily than cats. In addition, many fetch, hunt with their owners, and catch Frisbees.

The cats are smarter camp argue that cats are smarter because they generally do not follow, come when they are good and ready to and not on their owner's whim, since they are independently minded and more capable of making their own decisions; not having the need to "follow the leader." In addition, they are incredibly efficient self groomers, and use their front paws almost like hands at times.

At the time of the writing of this blog, there were 60 voters. 70% voted in favor of dogs being the smarter species, with 30% favoring cats as the more intelligent species. So who is right?

The answer to which species is smarter is unequivocally dogs. Dogs are descended from pack animals (wolves) that exhibit complex social behavior. Their existence is not one of equality, but one of hierarchy, starting with the alpha leader, and going all the way down to the lowly omega. This pecking order is essential to survival, enabling packs to formulate sophisticated hunting strategies, and feeding and mating order. Human society in a more highly evolved sense similarly oriented, with social order maintained by hierarchy in government, military, business, clubs and sports.

Dogs readily obey and do their master's bidding because in most cases, dogs view the owner as the alpha leader, being the one that provides food, obedience, and usually are of a physically larger stature. It is inherent in their pack nature to follow and obey their "superiors." Coming when they are called and responding to training are not signs of an animal that lacks the ability to think for itself, but reflect an intelligent intention to respond and react acutely to the signs and signals of its leader.

Cats, on the other hand are by their nature solitary animals, that do not depend on one another for survival, a sign of lower intelligence when compared to pack animals. They do not have the mental capacity to coordinate hunting strategy with others of their kind, nor are they able to create complex social interaction. Feline hunting is performed alone, with the cat operating more on instinct than premeditated planning.

Cats are very stress driven animals, constantly responding in a "fight or flight" manner to even non-threatening environmental stimulus. That is why they are often regarded as cautious and and sneaky. Stress driven existence is not only observable but is also seen quantitatively. On routine blood work, cats commonly have increased blood sugar and increased white blood cell counts though they are not sick. These are considered normal phenomena brought on by the stress of the visit, known respectively as stress induced hyperglycemia, and stress induced neutrophilia. This fight or flight first mentality is another sign of lower intelligence.

So there you have it, the debate answered from an objective, evolutionary, and scientifically based point of view. However, although they may not be generally as intelligent and subsequently social as dogs, cats often transcend their intrinsic nature. Many cats live harmoniously in multiple cat households, are very affectionate to owners and to one another, learn their names, and even come when they are called. Some, can even be taught to do tricks. It does not take pack evolved intelligence to make a loving, fun, and interesting pet!

Roger L. Welton, DVM
Founder, WebDVM

Friday, November 9, 2007

Good People: they do exist!

As in most other professions, in veterinary medicine, we are often exposed to some of the worst examples of the human race. It is not uncommon to hear statements like, "if this [treatment of the pet] is going to cost me more than 50 bucks, I'll just take her home and shoot her." Meanwhile, people of this ilk may drive a huge $60,000 diesel pick up truck, and/or wreak of alcohol. Obviously there is money available for the truck and the booze, but none to get treatment for the loyal companion who never asked to be owned by such scum.

Then we get home to see political scandals, violent religious fanatics, con artists, and gang violence on the news to further contribute to our overall disillusionment with humanity. Sometimes it is enough to make one feel as if it is pointless to try to infuse good into society by making the world better and safer for animals, by not only treating their illnesses and preventing disease, but also by changing the hearts of those who are ignorant to the fact that animals feel pain, cold, and hunger, no differently than we do. Why bother? Doesn't life prove time and again that people are inherently bad, perhaps that it is actually the minority, not the majority of people that have a conscience, that have the ability to act selflessly, and that want to make meaningful positive contributions to society?

While some of my colleagues may have occasion to despair when having the unfortunate circumstance of crossing paths with less than honorable people, I do not. To be sure, it saddens and frustrates me to have interactions with people who possess little compassion or exhibit lack of moral values, but it is experiences like the one I had today that sustain me through these times, reminding me that there are great people in the world.

A new client came in today with a feral cat that she had been feeding for a few days since she recently moved here. She and her husband moved here because her mother and mother in law are both quite elderly and stricken with dementia, and she refused to put them in homes. Here, she was able to find a large enough parcel of land where she could have a house for she and her husband, and also have room to have a separate cottage built for the mother and in law to live in - all this while having access to an Alzheimer's resource center and support group in the area. She had retired early to care for these ladies full time.

She had planned to take in the feral once she had her house settled, but she found the kitty flat out in her garden this morning, unable to move or walk. When the kitty was brought in, she was poorly responsive, and after a thorough examination it was evident that the kitty had experienced a significant trauma, perhaps a fall, hit by car, or kicked by person. After we determined that there were no serious internal or external injuries, we administered symptomatic care which perked the kitty up, and were able to discharged her.

This person who had just met this cat, did not refuse one diagnostic or treatment, and happily paid her bill without even blinking an eye. She also intends to keep the kitty as her pet and assume all responsibility for her. The owner was especially grateful that the visit did not take as long as anticipated, so she could get back to check on "the girls." She could not have been more sweet and personable.

I so enjoyed my interaction with this new client that I felt compelled to blog about it this week, as a reminder those that may have occasion to lack faith in the human race. While you have every right and reason to feel the way you do, just remember that this lady and others like her exist.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween is not just for kids!

One of my favorite aspects of Halloween is seeing the dogs (and sometimes cats), dressed in costumes. The best one I saw this year was a golden retriever dressed up as Shrek! Unfortunately, as fun as the doggy and kitty costumes are for us, I have yet to see a dog or cat actually enjoy its costume, but instead observe tolerance at best. It is almost comical as we humans laugh and so enjoy the pet costumes, while in costume, our pets look at us as if we were either insane, sadists, or both for making them where the get-ups we put them in.

That being said, as long as the costumes are not painful or overly restrictive in any way, I see nothing wrong with our furry little friends sacrificing a few hours sporting unwanted garments in exchange for the great photos and memories it will provide their owners indefinitely. It sure makes Halloween that much more enjoyable for my family!

Thanks for the sacrifice Bernie, Lulu, and Bear! Seeing you in your costumes was priceless!