Monday, September 29, 2008

University of Minnesota Discovers Gene Responsible for Excercise Induced Collapse in Dogs

The Minneapolis based reported yesterday that researchers at the University of Minnesota have identified the gene mutation responsible for Excercise Induced Collapse (EIC) in Labrador Retrievers. EIC, whose signs include wobbliness sometimes progressing to collapse in the rear legs, sometimes loss of muscle control spreading to the rear legs as well, and in rare cases, death, affects about 3-5 percent of Labs.

A mutation of a gene, known as dynamin 1, produces a protein involved in the chemical signaling system between nerves that allows the brain to control muscle movement. The authors of the study believe that the mutant protein hinders the ability to send signals between nerves, suggesting that EIC occurs because the signaling system can't keep up with the rapid firing required during intense exercise. Like other recessive genetic disorders, 2 copies of the gene are required to exert a clinical effect.

Previously, veterinarians had a significant challenge in arriving at a diagnosis of EIC, because other causes for collapse had to be ruled out. According to, however, this disease can now be detected with a simple and inexpensive DNA test.

The implications of this discovery are very important. Since all mammals carry dynamin 1, learning more about how the gene's protein functions may potentially contribute to understanding disorders in other mammals, including humans. Regarding animal health primarily, not only can a diagnosis of EIC now be attained much more easily, but breeders can now test potential breeding animals for carrying the mutant gene. This type of genetic screening can go a long way to significantly lowering the incidence of this disease in Labs.

Roger Welton, DVM
Founder, Web-DVM

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dead Animal Prank Not So Funny

On September 20, 2008, reported that a 20 year old in Dublin, California was arrested for, and confessed to a prank that involved his stealing 2 dead cats and a dead dog from the morgue of a nearby animal hospital, and stuffing them in three yet to be assigned lockers in the local high school.

The first body was discovered that morning, according to police. The second body was found the first week of September, followed by the third body on Sept. 9th, after a smell was reported coming from a locker. 20 year old Brian Goett was shortly later arrested for suspicion of grand theft, tampering with school property, and improper disposal of animals. Goet has no affiliation with Dublin High School, and no motivation for his actions have been revealed.

As a veterinarian who deals with pet loss to death by natural causes or euthanasia due to prolonged suffering, I regularly see first hand the grief that clients experience as a result of the loss of their beloved companions. As a pet owner for many years, I have endured this same grief when I have had to part with my own pets. For those of us who feel our pets loss as more than just the death of an animal, but as the loss of a cherished family member, we wish for the remains to be treated with the same respect and dignity as our human family members - I have my late yellow labs ashes in a tower with an engraved plaque and her picture prominently displayed in my living room. For any of us to know that our deceased family pets were treated like in the manner that Brian Goet treated these deceased pets would be most distressing and compound the already present sadness of loss.

Although no one in the naivety of youth can claim to have been immune to occasionally exercising poor judgement and not thinking something through before acting, I would expect better from a 20 year old who should have by now left high school far behind. And while it is not my hope that the ramifications of his actions permanently scar this young man's life, I hope that his penalties will be sufficient leave an impression on him that his actions were harmful on many levels and even border on sociopathic. Most importantly, I hope that in addition to sincerely regretting breaking and entering, theft, and creating potential human health hazards, that the young man also realizes and feels regret for the fact that he desecrated the remains of what were likely cherished family members.

Roger L. Welton, DVM

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Top 10 most destructive dog breeds

As reported by, a UK study of 3000 dog owners recently compiled a list of the top 10 most destructive dog breeds. I would wager that some of these may come as a surprise to many. The study's findings below are reported in terms of the amount of monetary damage one can expect to the home, throughout the course of the dog's life.

1.) Great Dane - 670 pounds ($1293)
2.) Chihuahua - 630 pounds ($1136)
3.) Mastiff - 586 pounds ($1043)
4.) Whippet - 515 pounds ($917)
5.) English Setter - 485 pounds ($863)
6.) English Bulldog - 446 pounds ($794)
7.) Dachshunds - 440 pounds ($783)
8.) Boxer - 400 pounds ($712)
9.) Beagle - 400 pounds ($712)
10.) Bassett Hound (ranked last, but article did not specify monetary damage)

Surprised by the Chihuahua making number 2, and Labrador Retrievers not even making the list? I certainly am!

Knowing which dog breeds pose the greatest risk to one's home is interesting, even useful information for one that is in the market to adopt a dog. However, when preparing to adopt a dog, regardless of the breed, my experience has proven time and again that owner ignorance and/or laziness tends to play the biggest role in determining the amount of damage a dog will enact on the home.

That said, use this list at your leisure for your own knowledge or even to help you select a dog breed. But, if educating yourself and maintaining a proactive role in a dog's life are not priorities of yours, then perhaps it would be better to stick to having goldfish as pets instead.

Roger Welton, DVM

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"Miles" The Miracle Cat reported yesterday that an Anaheim woman drove to Irvine early last month before she realized there was something strange under the hood of her car. After the woman immediately pulled over and looked under her hood, to her surprise, she saw a frightened cat wedged into a tight compartment behind a headlight and the hot engine. After she called animal control, attempts to free the terrified feline were unsuccessful, with a very hot engine proving to be a significant obstacle.

That is when the officer contacted a nearby animal shelter, Irvine Animal Care Center, where veterinarian Dr. Karen Moreland came to the rescue. Through use of sedation and Dawn dish soap for lubrication, Dr. Moreland was able to get the kitty out of the tight spot he was stuck in.

There were no serious injuries reported except for some burns to the paw pads.

The kitty had a microchip in place to identify the owners, but when the shelter contacted the owners to pick up their lost cat, the workers made him available for adoption. They affectionately named him "Miles," in honor of his surviving against the odds, a 14 mile journey. The workers report that Miles is a sweetheart, and anyone interested in adopting him can contact the shelter at (949) 724-7740.

Having treated many unfortunate cats that have received much more serious burns and injuries from seeking shelter in car engines, Miles is clearly one lucky boy. Feline owners should pay close attention to this story. Left outside, cats are affected by the elements no less than we are. As such, they seek shelter from cold, wind, and rain.

A car engine is sometimes an attractive place for felines to weather the elements, since they are both dry and warm. The consequences can be serious if not tragic. Thankfully, Miles came through without serious injury, and hopefully will find a loving home for his trouble.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sarah Palin's Record Shows She Is No Friend To Wildlife, But Is In Fact, One Of Its Worst Enemies

As reported by a September 4, 2008 Associated Press article titled, "Environmentalists say Palin's record on wildlife as harsh as Alaska itself," Sarah Palin's policies and record clearly illustrate little regard for wildlife and the environment. Beginning with her time at the National Governors Association conference spent primarily making her case to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne against classifying the polar bear as a threatened species, Sarah Palin has continually maintained troublingly dismissive environmental and wildlife policies. Some months later, she once again confronted Dirk Kempthorne, arguing against even the Bush administration that they, "didn't use the best science in concluding that without further protection, the polar bear faces eventual extinction because of disappearing sea ice as the result of global warming."

During her 20 months of governor of Alaska has opposed federal marine scientists who concluded that the Cook Inlet Beluga Whale needs protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. Most appallingly, Palin has defended the right of Alaska to shoot wolves from the air for the benefit of boostering the populations of moose and caribou herds - not for the sake of the moose and caribou, but for the sole purpose of leaving more live moose and caribou for the human sport hunters to kill! Interestingly, this is a view that is contrary to that of her running mate John McCain. Finally, Palin remains skeptical that human created greenhouse emissions are responsible for the dramatic acceleration of global warming in this century.

As a result of her harsh environmental and wildlife policies, environmentalists have nicknamed Palin the "Killa from Wasilla," and John Toppenberg, the director of the Alaska Wildlife Alliance, has said that, "Her philosophy from our perspective is cut, kill, dig and drill," and that she is "in the Stone Age of wildlife management and is very opposed to utilizing accepted science."

It is the attempt of people like Sarah Palin to hijack the republican party, that have encouraged me through the years to move from a consistent republican voter to an independent that would now give strong consideration to a candidate possessing a democratic ideology over a republican of Sarah Palin's ilk. The party of small government and fiscal conservatism that I was inspired by as a young man, I am saddened to see has gradually and progressively become embraced by those who value relentlessly pushing their agendas, even at the expense of compassion, tolerance, justice, and even science.

With another running mate at his side, I may have considered voting for John McCain as president, a man who has throughout most of his career embraced the core, fundamental values of the conservative movement, without sacrificing compassionate and progressive environmental policy, tolerance, justice, and science. However, when he chose consolidating his base by choosing as his running mate, someone who embodies what has gone wrong with both the republican party and our country in general, he instantly lost my vote.

Choosing to run with Sarach Palin, John McCain is telling the nation that he would put the "Killa from Wasilla" a heartbeat a way from leading our country. This not only makes me question John McCain's judgement, but it also leads me to believe that the compassionate, impassioned, and justice seeking maverick I supported in 2000 may be truly gone.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Government Is No Friend Of Small Business

This year has presented big challenges for small business to say the least. Fewer jobs, skyrocketing fuel costs, a generally downtrodden economy, and the uncertainty of a heated presidential election, have all led to decreased consumer spending and significant corrections in revenue. Combined with ever increasing inventory supplier costs (a direct result of the high cost of fuel), rising employee health care premiums, steadily increasing insurance costs, and a myriad of other progressively rising practice expenditures, the outlook for relatively new small businesses such as my animal hospital causes great concern - all this, while practice, equipment, and practice real estate liens continue to have to be met.

Despite these challenges that my small business currently faces and will likely continue to face for some time, my government just sent me notification that the property tax on my building will be increased by nearly 50% come November of this year, a property tax that is already an oppressive financial burden at its current figure. What's more, this gouging pays for my right to own and operate a building that was originally built in 1952 and subsequently quite dated, a building that I have to invest thousands of dollars per year in order to keep a reasonable degree of aesthetics and acceptable functionality.

Unlike big business and Corporate America, I do not expect my government to come to my rescue and offer me handouts during tough times. However, I do not expect my government to relentlessly and arbitrarily add stress to an already taxed financial condition. This is an especially hard pill to swallow when I see bank after bank receiving corporate welfare in the form of financial government bailout, following a mortgage default disaster that was the result of the banks' own poor judgement. And let us not fail to consider how government allows countless tax loopholes and tax credits that feed the pockets of corporations and even pave the way for abuse, clearly exemplified in the Enron Loophole that has allowed speculators to tax our national economy by orchestrating astronomical fuel prices.

So to my readers, whatever your political affiliation and whatever issues you base you vote in these upcoming elections, do not bother making small business an issue which sways you. Both sides will talk of their regard for small business and their intention to protect small business. But make no mistake, once in office, whichever candidates you choose to represent you, one thing is for certain: small business will remain the government's whipping boy.

And if any of my readers happen to be government representatives at any level, before the next instance that you decide to exploit small business as a means to fix government shortcomings or pander to big business, remember the words of the great Winston Churchill:

"Some see private enterprise as a predatory target to be shot, others as a cow to be milked, but few are those who see it as a sturdy horse pulling the wagon."