Archive for March, 2011

A Truly Hands-On Physical Examination

March 24, 2011

Have you ever gone to the doctor and realized after the visit that those healing hands never actually touched your body? C’mon now, that’s not okay!  Nor is it okay for your veterinarian to skimp when it comes to examining your pet.  In veterinary school, we are taught to perform a thorough physical examination on each and every patient.  It would be a travesty to miss a new heart murmur or enlarged lymph node on a patient that presented for limping.  The sooner abnormalities are detected the more likely we are to gain an upper hand.

 

Listed below are the elements of a thorough physical examination for your dog or cat.  Bear in mind, it takes no more than a minute or two for a seasoned vet to competently complete the following (by the way, it helps if you are not talking when the stethoscope is being used!):

  • Assessment of overall alertness and appearance
  • Evaluation of gait
  • Evaluation of the skin and haircoat
  • Measurement of body weight, temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, and capillary refill time (the time it takes for the gum line to become pink after it has been blanched by finger pressure)
  • Examination of the eyes, ears, nose, and oral cavity
  • Palpation of lymph nodes
  • Palpation of the thyroid gland (specific for cats)
  • Auscultation of the heart and lungs (listening with a stethoscope) on both sides of the chest
  • Palpation of the abdomen
  • Rectal examination (specific for dogs that are middle aged and older)

Vets perform physical exams differently in terms of order of events.  No matter in the least as long as everything is included. And please remember, such thorough exams are not to be reserved for only the annual office visit. If your kitty is vomiting or your dog has an ear infection, you should expect the whole shebang (although your dog or cat would probably prefer a mini-exam).

Is your veterinarian “hands-on” and doing one heck of a thorough job when it comes to the physical exam?  Please share your experiences.

Best wishes for good health,  

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook  

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

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Even More to Say About a Better Way to Spay

March 17, 2011
In January I wrote a piece called, “A Different Way to Spay” (http://speakingforspot.com/blog/?p=1931) describing two techniques for performing spay surgeries.  The method widely embraced in the United States is ovariohysterectomy (OVH) in which both ovaries as well as the uterus are removed.  The second way to spay- popular in many other countries- is ovariectomy (OVE) in which only the ovaries are removed and the uterus is left behind.  

Charlotte, OVE spay at 7 months © Kathie Meier

Since publishing the piece, many of you wrote to me expressing your frustration at not being able to find a veterinarian willing to perform OVE surgery.  I’ve written about those comments and provided an overall update on this topic for PetConnection.com- I sure hope you will read it (http://www.petconnection.com/blog/2011/03/15/a-better-way-to-spay-your-dog-that-you-probably-never-heard-about/).  Additionally, Dr. Tim McCarthy, a wonderful PetConnection colleague provided a response blog discussing the benefits of performing spays via laparoscopy- a form of minimally invasive surgery (http://www.petconnection.com/blog/2011/03/17/another-better-way-to-spay-that-you-probably-never-heard-of/).     

I look forward to your feedback about both articles.  If you are new to PetConnection, I hope you will follow my blog posts there as well as the ones you find here at Spot Speaks.     

Best wishes for good health,      

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook          

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.   

    

 

WorldVets Paws for Japan

March 17, 2011

Animals in need after the Japan earthquake and tsunami

   

I hope you will join me in supporting World Vets (www.worldvets.org), a world class organization doing fabulous and important work for animals all over the world.   

   

    

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook     

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

Adopt the Internet

March 14, 2011

  

Please, will you join the “Help Petfinder Adopt the Internet Day” effort on March 15th?  Email your dog loving friends and relatives.  Feel free to share this blog post with them.  Heck, write a blog post of your own! Together we will increase awareness about adopting homeless pets and hopefully create the kinds of happy endings that Quinn and my family have enjoyed.  

Do you have your own story about adopting a homeless pet?  We’d love to hear it.   Know of an animal who needs a home?  On March 15th, please post a photo along with adoption contact information on my Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/speakingforspot).

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook  

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

March 15, 2011: Adopt the Internet Day

March 10, 2011

Photo © Susannah Kay

 

When I first met Quinn, he was a two to three month old pup with a soft orange and white coat and an even softer disposition.  That was two years ago and I often find myself reflecting on the fact that the life of this adorable dog I love so dearly came disastrously close to being purposefully ended.   

Quinn was one of many orphans in an overcrowded shelter in Bakersfield, California.  The notion of “no kill” is nonexistent there, which is why this shelter is a regular stop for a wonderful rescue organization called The Dog Spot (http://members.petfinder.com/~CA1428/index.html). Their hard working volunteers make it a habit to scour the California central valley pulling adult dogs slated for euthanasia out of shelters. On what will always be Quinn’s luckiest day, The Dog Spot volunteers made an exception and opted to rescue a few puppies as well.   

The Mighty Quinn Photo © Susannah Kay

 

The Dog Spot rescues are showcased on Petfinder (http://www.petfinder.com/index.html) and that’s exactly where my daughter began her search the minute our family agreed we were ready to add another dog to our family.  The Petfinder photo of Quinn captured her attention and his personality captured all of our hearts.  It has been an ongoing love affair ever since.  

Why am I telling you all of this?  The organizers of Petfinder are asking us to do something special in honor of their 15th birthday.  They would like us to join together online on Tuesday, March 15th to promote the adoption of homeless pets.  Frankly, I’m willing to do most anything Petfinder asks of me.  Not only did they help my family find the world’s cutest dog, they work tirelessly to do a fabulous job rehoming millions of wonderful animals each and every year.  Petfinder is truly remarkable and I am profoundly grateful to this fabulous organization.   

  

Please, will you join the “Help Petfinder Adopt the Internet Day” effort on March 15th?  Email your dog loving friends and relatives.  Feel free to share this blog post with them.  Heck, write a blog post of your own! Together we will increase awareness about adopting homeless pets and hopefully create the kinds of happy endings that Quinn and my family have enjoyed.  

Do you have your own story about adopting a homeless pet?  We’d love to hear it.   Know of an animal who needs a home?  On March 15th, please post a photo along with adoption contact information on my Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/speakingforspot).  

Best wishes for good health,  

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook  

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

Rolling Dog Ranch Animal Sanctuary

March 4, 2011
Steve and Alayne with Daisy

I first communicated with Steve Smith when he and Alayne Marker enrolled their nonprofit organization in the Speaking for Spot Gives Back Program.  Located in New Hampshire, Steve and Alayne are the proprietors of the Rolling Dog Ranch Animal Sanctuary. Their mission is to provide a sanctuary focused on caring for animals with disabilities. As stated on their website, “These are the animals who are the least likely to be adopted and among the most likely to be euthanized in traditional shelters.” Visit Rolling Dog Ranch Animal Sanctuary and you are likely to encounter blind dogs, cats, and horses as well as animals with irreparable neurological and orthopedic issues.  Steve and Alayne report that the animals are incredibly content- none seem to “feel sorry for themselves”.  This is certainly no surprise to me- based on my experience I know that most disabled animals remain happy and energetic.  They are true experts at living in the moment- excellent role models for us, don’t you think?  

What prompted me to write about Rolling Dog Ranch Animal Sanctuary was a blog post I recently received from Steve describing a wonderfully innovative way he and Alayne are feeding their dogs and cats. Their concern for animals extends well beyond their own facility, so much so that for a period of time they tried feeding a vegetarian diet to their dogs who apparently responded with, “No thanks!”   In the blog, Steve describes that they’ve opted to raise their own beef cattle as a self-sustaining food source for their dogs and kitties.  Looking at the Rolling Dog Ranch website, I get the impression that these cows have a pretty darned perfect bovine life other than on their very last day.  This beef project was started in 2008 and Steve described the process of taking Sebastian, their first steer to slaughter.  As Steve describes it, “I was able to walk through the entire facility with the owner, stood on the kill floor, and examined their entire process for how they do the slaughtering.  It was quiet, clean, and as stress-free as any facility like that could possibly be.” 

 

Steve and Alayne use a website called Balance IT to help them create balanced homemade diets.  They are doing their best to use all local ingredients.  In their blog post (http://blog.rollingdogranch.org), they provide resources for finding and purchasing humanely raised food for you and your pets.  They recommend that people visit farms to see for themselves how the animals are raised. 

I must tell you that I am intrigued by and enamored with the innovative things that are happening at Rolling Dog Ranch Animal Sanctuary.  Steve and Alayne are two wonderfully forward thinking people who have provided me- and now you- with some fabulous food for thought.

Best wishes for good health,

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.