December 21st, 2010
A couple of weeks ago, I noticed Marley licking at her right thigh frequently. When I took a look, she had developed a hotspot. A hotspot is a moist bacterial infection of the skin. If a dog has long hair (Marley’s is medium length) a hotspot may be difficult for an owner to see unless they part the hair. If you notice your dog licking or scratching at one area continually, be sure to look closely at the skin.
The cause of the hotspot is generally anything that causes a dog to go after an area repeatedly. This could be allergies, an insect bite, a scrape or wound. Sometimes they seem to happen spontaneously. As the skin gets irritated the bacteria on the surface of the skin penetrate the protective barrier of the outer skin and cause the moist infection.
A hotspot will be red and rather slick in appearance. The first treatment is to clip the hair away from the area. It then needs to be cleaned thoroughly. Most dogs will receive some cortisone either by pill or injection. This relieves the inflammation and makes it more comfortable. In addition to this, a topical spray is used to treat the bacteria, inflammation and dry the area. Oral antibiotics will be prescribed for 14 days or longer if needed. Be prepared, your dog may need an Elizabethan collar to prevent further licking initially.
I did all of the above for Marley and she has healed up fine. Treatment should be started as early as possible because in a very short time they can become much larger and more uncomfortable.
Marley is happy to be back to normal health. She is lounging in my office as I write this.
November 30th, 2010
A few months ago, I noticed that my dog Marley was tearing from her right eye. It had made a stain below the inside corner of the eye. Her eye was not red and she didn’t seem bothered by it at all.
I suspected that her tear duct may have been blocked. We applied a fluorescein stain to the eye and failed to see any evidence that the tears were draining through her tear duct into her nasal cavity.
Marley was due for her annual dental cleaning. While she was under anesthesia for the cleaning, we flushed the tear duct.
I am happy to report that her eye returned to normal.
No more crying for my little girl!
November 9th, 2010
I was working on an article the other day about dogs getting sprayed by skunks. It reminded me of a summer day as a kid with my dog Adam. Adam as you may recall was a beagle. This means he was neither shy or quiet. We lived out in the country on a dead end street. At the end of the street were woods that we used to roam and play in frequently. Our house was visible from the end of the street. I was shooting baskets in my driveway when I heard Adam baying as only a beagle can. As his voice neared, a skunk came charging out of the woods. Adam was close behind. The two of them ran down the middle of the street and he proceeded to chase the skunk directly into our garage. I ran inside and asked my Dad what to do. He replied, “Let him chase it back out again!” By the time they exited, Adam was thoroughly sprayed and in no mood to go after his prey.
We bathed him in tomato juice. I would point out that tomato juice doesn’t work. If you call we can give you a recipe for baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and dish soap.
I wish I had the recipe back then. Adam spent a few summer nights sleeping under the stars until the smell and the bathing finally stopped.
He wasn’t shy or quiet and probably not a rocket scientist. He was my best pal and now decades later can still bring a smile to my face.
February 3rd, 2010
A New Baby Boy and a Little Sleep Deprivation
At the time my second son was born my partners and I were on a pretty tough work schedule. We manned our hospital through the night to be there for emergencies and to look after the growing number of patients under our care.
When I look back, I would never design the work schedule we kept. In the rotation we had one weekend where one of us would leave home on Friday morning, work Friday, Saturday and Sunday until five o’clock without going home. If it was quiet at night we got to sleep. If not, oh well. Debbie was pregnant with Adam and her due date happened to be that Friday. I went to work and it was agreed that if she went into labor I would leave and Tom or Ken would take over. The weekend was extremely busy as July tends to be in our business. By the time I left the hospital Sunday evening I had only slept a couple of hours since Thursday night.
I got home exhausted and Debbie was still patiently waiting for labor to start. I went to sleep at 9 pm only to be awakened an hour later to go to the hospital for our new baby to be born. The labor lasted until the next morning and we were both thrilled to say the least.
I finally left the hospital that afternoon and headed home to get some sleep. I was amazed at how awake I was considering the lack of sleep. It was only when I noticed that I had missed my exit by about five miles that I realized that the adrenaline of a new baby only carries you so far.
I reflect on this and wonder if the model of using interns in human medicine and working them up to 100 hours per week is the safest way to train our next crop of doctors. I can only hope this type of work ethic is not expected to be a right of passage and we can allow some common sense to prevail. In any case, I learned a lesson about going without sleep and vowed to both enjoy my rest as well as my family and career.
January 28th, 2010
Seniors and Their Pets
There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the tremendous benefit of a pet for a senior citizen. I have seen this personally in my own family as well as countless times in my hospital.
My Mom passed away a few years ago. During the latter stage of her life the bond she had for her dogs was heartwarming. She had been an animal lover all her life and had always doted on her pets. As she entered her senior years and spent more of her time alone the relationship with her dogs grew. The emotional benefit of pets is incredible. The petting and cuddling that was a ritual lowered her blood pressure and even helped to ease some of her chronic pain issues. Science has shown that this contact causes the release of several wonderful chemicals in the body to create this effect. The nice thing is that her dog was releasing the same chemicals in his body when they were cuddling.
I think the most important benefit was that her dog got her up and moving. The responsibility and love she felt had made it a priority in her life. Multiple walks daily were a part of their life. The act of feeding and caring for a pet also engaged her mentally as well.
It always concerns me when older clients state they will not get another pet because they don’t want to leave them orphaned. It is possible to make arrangements so the pet gets a new wonderful home if something happens. When I look at the trade off and the benefit to both the owner and pet it is so important to share in that love as long as possible.
When my Mom finally had to move into assisted living and could no longer walk I saw the incredible benefit of therapy dogs. I was present when dogs were brought in and the entire place lit up.
I would recommend “The Healing Power of Pets” by Dr. Marty Becker. It is a great book that talks of the huge benefit of our pets. Enjoy.
December 16th, 2009
Catching Up with a Classmate
I recently had the pleasure of reconnecting with a classmate from Veterinary school. Mike Petersen is a veterinarian in Madison Wisconsin. I can tell from the time we spent together that he is a great doctor with very diverse interests. I can also tell you that he is a great runner.
We met in Santa Barbara to run the inaugural Santa Barbara marathon. Over the previous several months we exchanged emails about our training. It was apparent that he was training to run very fast and I had no hope of keeping up with him. He ran a great time at the race and it inspires me to do better.
Mike has a small animal veterinary practice and also serves as the veterinarian for the zoo in Madison. When I connect with classmates it is nice to catch up and learn that the years have been good for most of us. Talking about running and how we train is educational. It also serves as a reminder that you never stop improving. During the heavy travel of my AAHA presidency I started to feel like I would never run marathons for speed again. Running with Mike and doing research on running has given me new focus and hope. The other nice thing is when I spend time with classmates it serves the same purpose for my veterinary hospital. I have never stopped trying to make it better and am very thankful for our talented staff that does the same.
Mike and I have been out of school for thirty years now and it is always a pleasure to see the vigor with which we approach our lives, jobs and the profession. Thanks Mike, it was great to see you again.
December 1st, 2009
Please Pick up Your Toys
A number of years ago I saw a distraught owner with her Golden Retriever. Every family with young children needs a dog but there are some issues that arise with youngsters and their faithful companion. The Golden Retriever named Sadie was as gentle as the day was long. Unfortunately, Sadie had a bad habit of picking up items that were left on the floor. Sadie came to me early one evening after vomiting up a toy soldier. She looked great on a physical exam but after discussing the situation with her owner we decided to X-ray the abdomen. The film showed a number of other small objects. I gave her an injection to induce vomiting and several more toys were brought up. A follow up X-ray showed a very small item that would possibly pass. I suggested to the owner that we could send her home and fast her overnight. The next morning she returned for a follow up X-ray. This time there were at least seven more items in the stomach. We repeated the process of the night before and several more toys were vomited up. I still didn’t see the small item from the night before. After clarifying that we needed to be sure Sadie didn’t pick up any other toys, we sent her home.
The next morning Sadie had vomited up another couple of toys and she requested another X-ray to be sure that was it. Once again it looked like Toys R Us had set up shop in her belly. We went about our routine and sent her home with an empty stomach.
I called the owner after a week to be sure Sadie was doing OK. The owner informed me that she had brought up a few more toys but was acting fine.
Sadie eventually stopped eating toys, the kids got older or they just ran out of toys but she did great. I have seen dogs eat just about anything over the years but Sadie holds the record for the number of consecutive days on the “bad dog” list.
October 19th, 2009
Who is this?
One Sunday afternoon I received a call from a distraught owner. Her cat Trixie had been missing for 2 days and showed up in a horrible state. I asked her to meet me at the hospital.
When I showed her in, Trixie was indeed on death’s doorstep. It was immediately apparent that this poor cat was suffering and that the humane thing for me to do was to put her to sleep. As I was doing the examination the owner told me she last saw her two days earlier and she looked fine. I reflected on this as I stroked the emaciated black haired body. Trixie had obviously been sick for a long time. Unable to raise her head, she was seemingly unaware of any of the physical exam as I moved from her nose to the back end and prepared to take her temperature. As I lifted the tail I was surprised to find that Trixie was a boy cat. I pointed this out to the owner and she immediately cried out in relief. “That’s not my cat!”
I was left alone with a very sick stray cat and chose to end his life in quiet dignity to avoid the inevitable suffering that was ahead.
Trixie did show up a few days later. She came to see me just to be sure everything was OK. We will never know where she went but she returned the picture of good health.
September 28th, 2009
Odd Jobs in Undergrad
While I was in college I was never without a job. I lived frugally but still had a great time. Because I was in school for eight years I held a number of jobs. Sometimes I changed jobs for more money but most of the time it was just trying to find something that worked with my school schedule. I had some real unusual jobs and to this day when I am hiring a veterinarian I am very curious about their work experience unrelated to veterinary medicine. I think it tells a lot about their work ethic.
Some of my jobs were extremely unrelated to veterinary medicine. I was a night time janitor at Target so if you need advice on waxing floors I am your man. Profiling is a common concern in today’s world. I can tell you that it was alive in the 70’s as well. After working as a janitor in a large department store I can tell a little story that gives a picture of what it was like. I had been one of the janitors for over a year. Most of my interaction with the other employees was limited to clean ups and hauling their garbage away. One evening I was called to clean up a mess at the jewelry counter. The saleswoman was in a talkative mood and she asked me if I had any plans besides Target. When I told her I had just completed my fourth year of undergrad and was entering Veterinary School the following fall she was shocked. She wasn’t even aware that I finished high school.
I also moonlighted as a Fuller Brush salesman for a very brief period to try to make some money during a winter recess. I had already applied for admission to veterinary school and had been interviewed by the admissions committee. The head of the committee was Dr. Magilton. Selling anything door to door in the middle of an Iowa winter was no fun. Fuller Brush wasn’t exactly a hot item so I spent most of my free days walking the streets of Ames carrying a bag full of brushes with doors slamming in my face. Some of the people were really nice and they let me inside to warm up and proceeded to buy a brush to get rid of me. One particularly cold Saturday I was setting the world record for consecutive no responses when I walked up to a very nicely maintained house. I rang the bell and was already backing up as I prepared for the next no. The door opened and there stood Dr. Magilton. He didn’t buy a brush but he was very nice and I kept my hat pulled down tight in hopes he wouldn’t recognize me from the interview. After I was enrolled in veterinary school I considered Dr. Magilton one of the truly nice people you meet in the profession. I told him the story and we had a good laugh about it. I came close to setting the bag down and running away when he opened the door.
The final job to describe here is one of my favorites. I was the dough boy in a Pizza restaurant named Happy Joes. Happy Joes was just opening and I was one of the first employees. The owner was a man named Hank Kohler and he was just a few years older than me. We became great friends and played all kinds of sports together.
As the dough boy, I had my own room down in the basement to make the dough and role them into skins for the Pizza. One afternoon Hank came running down and told me to take a look at the girl he was interviewing. He said, “She’s the one for you Carp.” Well, I took a look and that was the first time I saw my wife Debbie. We have been married for over thirty years so Hank had a pretty good eye.
Some of my jobs were great, some not so great but they all shaped my views on work in general and I met a ton of nice people. My favorite will always be Hank and Happy Joes.
Hank, thanks for the pizza and my wife.
September 16th, 2009
Dr. Nani Ghoshal
Dr. Nani Ghoshal was my anatomy professor during my freshman year of veterinary school. I bring his name up because he retired recently from Iowa State University. We are taught by all of our professors and inspired by some as well. Dr. Ghoshal’s inspiration for me involved his incredible dedication to the students in our profession. It would be hard to talk to a graduate of Iowa State’s veterinary school over the last 45 years and not have them tell a Nani Ghoshal story.
Mine is pretty simple. He was probably the smartest man with the most photographic memory I have ever met. As a native of India, he was a little hard to understand. Many of us who were just beginning our tenure at Iowa State were already intimidated by Dr. Ghoshal. None of us wanted to repeat a question if we didn’t understand him. The fortunate thing was that his memory was remarkable. At the time he was the editor of a two volume textbook of veterinary anatomy. These two volumes encompassed over two thousand pages. Dr. Ghoshal knew he was hard to understand so in answer each question he would give you a page number. On that page (out of 2,000) you would find the answer to your question. Thousands of questions were asked that year and he was never wrong on the page number.
When he retired he told the current Dean of the veterinary school that he would be happy to come back and help if needed. He would request no pay, just a key to the building.
We are a clinical teaching site for the College of Veterinary Medicine at Western University. As such, we have students in our hospital much of the year. I often think of Dr. Ghoshal and how he influenced all of us at the beginning of our career. I hope I can offer some of the same positive influence to our students in memory of a truly gifted professor.