Posts Tagged ‘Bernese Mountain Dog’

Dogs and Mushrooms: A Potentially Lethal Mix

April 1, 2011

Donato © Diana Gerba

     

I remember the sad sinking feeling I experienced last August as I read an email from my friend Diana Gerba.  Seeing her email in my inbox initially prompted excitement- oh goodie, more photos and stories about Donato,  Diana’s adorable Bernese Mountain Dog. My excitement quickly morphed into utter disbelief as Diana described the death of her barely six-month-old pup caused by ingestion of a poisonous mushroom.      

Diana’s heart was broken.  As she wrote in her email,     

A special boy, Donato was a silver tipped puppy, a rarity in our breed. With his tail always wagging, he had boundless enthusiasm for life.  He was a happy little chap and was my joy.  He loved me and I him. We were a team ordained by the stars.      

      

Diana and Donato © Peter Nystrom

Every region of the country is different in terms of mushroom flora. Where I live in northern California, Amanita phalloides (aka Death Cap) is the most common poisonous species and grows year round particularly in soil surrounding oak trees.  Ingestion of a Death Cap mushroom causes liver failure (in people and in dogs)- makes sense given the liver’s function as the “garbage disposal” of the body. Symptoms typically include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, delayed blood clotting, and neurological abnormalities.  Every year at my busy hospital, we see at least a handful of dogs with liver failure clearly caused by mushroom ingestion.  In spite our very best efforts, the individuals who survive mushroom poisoning are few and far between. Affected people can receive a liver transplant; no such technology available (yet) for dogs.      

     

To learn more about poisonous mushrooms visit the North American Mycological Association and Bay Area Mycological Society websites.  If you suspect your dog has ingested a mushroom get to your veterinary clinic or the closest emergency care facility immediately (choose whichever is most quickly accessible).  If possible, take along a sample of the mushroom so it can be professionally identified if need be.     

      

Fortunately, my friend Diana has managed to put a positive spin on the loss of her beloved Donato.  Not only does she have Tesoro, a new little Berner boy in her life, she has made it her personal mission to warn people about the potential hazards of mushroom toxicity in dogs.  She created the attached flyer (see above).  Feel free to download and post it wherever dog loving people congregate.  Diana sent a blast email out just a few days ago after finding a Death Cap mushroom in her yard.   Coincidentally, today I discovered several mushrooms on my property while beginning the task of weeding my garden. They’re gone now, but given our current weather pattern, I’m quite sure there will be more tomorrow.     

What can you do to prevent your dog from ingesting a poisonous mushroom?  Clear any mushrooms from your dog’s immediate surroundings, and be super vigilant on your walks, particularly if you have a pup (youngsters love to put anything and everything in their mouths) or an adult dog who is a known indiscriminate eater.  Learn more about which poisonous mushrooms grow in your area and what they look like.  And please remember, if you see your dog ingest a mushroom- get yourselves to a veterinary hospital as quickly as possible (even if it is after hours). Ingestion of even a nibble of a toxic mushroom is life threatening, and the sooner treatment is started the greater the likelihood of saving your best buddy.     

Are you aware of poisonous mushrooms in your neck of the woods?  If so, please share where you live (city and state) and the name of the mushroom if you happen to know it.     

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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Blog-Light

February 7, 2010

My recent blogs have focused on rather serious topics, so I think it’s time to lighten things up a bit!  To that end, I would like to share some recent Speaking for Spot  sightings that prompted me to laugh out loud.  I hope they have the same effect on you! 

Carolyn, a friend I’ve made through Speaking for Spot, turned me onto a wonderful website called Draw the Dog (drawthedog.com).  Here you will find cartoon drawings created by ex-Disney animator, Jim George.  Every day, he depicts a new humorous canine moment based on stories and photos he receives from his many fans. Not only are his cartoons wonderfully whimsical, they appear bit by bit on your computer screen as though you are watching over Jim’s shoulder as he draws them. Per the request of one of my fans, Jim recently created a cartoon honoring Speaking for Spot and me!  This was his first drawing dedicated to a book and an author.  What a thrill!

I invite you to see for yourself by visiting Draw the Dog .  Jim’s drawing is unbelievably “Spot on”!  I do all of my writing at the end of a long kitchen table with dogs at my feet and wet noses on my lap (asking, “Isn’t it time to go for a walk yet?!”)  There is a large dining room hutch behind me and I always have my mug of coffee just to the right of my computer (how did Jim know this?).  By the way, if you are wondering who Sandy is (the name mug), she is the Speaking for Spot cover girl.  I hope you will enjoy Draw the Dog as much as I do. You can sign up for an “RSS feed” via their website and receive a new drawing every day. 

Here are a couple of recent and amusing Spot sightings.  One is from a Maltese website, the other from a Bernese Mountain Dog website.  Let me know what you think- do you sense that Sandy (the girl on the front cover of Speaking for Spot) looks a wee bit sheepish amongst all of her purebred peers? 

Lastly, I’d like to remind you that every four months I am selecting a new dog related nonprofit organization to receive proceeds from book sales via my website www.speakingforspot.com/purchase.html.  Currently, I am supporting Guide Dogs for the Blind, located in San Rafael, California.  This organization is dedicated to creating functional and loving partnerships between people with visual disabilities and dogs whose unique skills are developed and nurtured.  Check them out at www.guidedogs.com. If you purchase Speaking for Spot via my website, not only will you be helping this wonderful organization, I will gladly personalize your book with a note and my signature. 

Best wishes to you and your four-legged family members for abundant good health.

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine 

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, or your favorite online book seller. 

Order  a copy of Speaking for Spot personally signed by Dr. Kay – http://www.speakingforspot.com/purchase.html

Join our email list – http://speakingforspot.com/joinemaillist.html

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross

Please share this blog with your dog-loving family and friends

How Can I Prevent My Dog From Getting Cancer?

September 7, 2009

When it comes to a cancer diagnosis, one of the most common questions I’m asked is, “How did my dog get this?” It’s only natural that people want to know what they could have done to prevent this dreadful diagnosis.  

Unfortunately, it’s exceedingly rare that I am able to provide a clear-cut answer. Yes, we know that cigarette smoke, asbestos, sun exposure, and some pesticides and lawn herbicides can be carcinogenic in dogs. We also know that female hormones influence the development of mammary tumors (breast cancer). In most cases of canine cancer, however, there is no discernible cause. 

Genetics clearly play a role in the development of some cancers. Giant dog breeds (heavier than 75 pounds) are predisposed to bone cancer. We certainly see an inherited predisposition to cancer in particular breeds, including Boxers, Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Boston Terriers, English Bulldogs, Scottish Terriers, and Cocker Spaniels. 

So what can you do to prevent cancer in your four-legged best friend? Here are some suggestions (I truly hope this list becomes longer as our knowledge about cancer increases): 

Avoid exposure to known carcinogens (cancer causing substances) such as cigarette smoke, asbestos, and lawn herbicides. 

If your dog has little or no pigment on his face or underside, avoid letting him sunbathe during daylight hours when the sun is most intense. 

Talk to your veterinarian about when your dog should be spayed or castrated. Neutering prevents testicular, ovarian, and uterine cancer. Neutering female dogs before their first heat eliminates the risk of developing breast cancer, and when performed before two years of age the risk is markedly reduced.  Some data suggests that postponing neutering until a year or more of age in large breed dogs may be protective against bone cancer. More studies looking at this relationship are needed. 

Before adopting a purebred dog from the list of breeds mentioned above, do the research needed to confirm that parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents were cancer free. I recently had the heartbreaking experience of working with two Bernese Mountain Dog littermates who lost the battle to a type of cancer called malignant histiocytosis. Three of their other four siblings had already succumbed to the same disease. 

Have your dog thoroughly examined by your veterinarian at least once a year. Just as with us, the earlier the detection of a cancerous process, the better the chances are for successfully treating the disease. 

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine 

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, or your favorite online book seller. 

Join our email list – http://speakingforspot.com/joinemaillist.html

Look for us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/speakingforspot

Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross