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Wellness: Health Care
Second Opinion: Wake-up Call
Sometimes I realize I may be getting too old for this job, particularly when I get a phone call from my resident in the wee hours of the morning. “I’ve got a dog with a broken back,” he says. “Any chance you can give me a hand?” I could groan, but it would take too much energy. I could say, “Can’t it wait a couple of hours?” but he’s already said the magic words. A broken back is a true...
Wellness: Health Care
Second Opinion: Balancing Act
A Vet’s Perspective
Gilberto had it bad. when I asked, “When did you get Carly?” he recited the exact date he had adopted his beloved Pointer cross from a shelter two years earlier. “They told me she only had a couple of months to live — cancer — and, for that reason alone, no one was going to take her. Not to mention her problem with other dogs.” Gilberto and Carly had been sequestered in a private room, isolated...
Wellness: Health Care
Oncept delivers cancer-fighting DNA
A vet’s perspective
Skin lumps can be tricky. we stick them with a needle, suck up some cells, smear the sample on a slide and take a peek down a microscope, but sometimes we still can’t make a diagnosis. This leaves us with the option of surgery on a lump of unknown provenance and the dilemma of how wide an excision to make. If the culprit is benign, the surgery need not be radical. But what if the lump is...
Dog Culture: DogPatch
Foreign Bodies
Tasty, disgusting, edible or not— everything’s fair game for curious critters
Foreign bodies combine mystery, intrigue, incredulity and guilt to make for a fascinating and fickle assortment of surgical diseases. There seems to be no limit to what our pets will try to cram into their mouths; size, shape, texture and taste often playing little or no part in an oral obsession that for many owners can become a difficult and costly vice to curb. So why do our dogs, cats and...
Wellness: Health Care
Unforeseen Outcome
Observation, touch and intuition make up a diagnostic trifecta
Ordinarily, I’ll take serendipity over failure to make a difficult diagnosis every time. The trouble is, in my world, not every diagnosis is desirable, and serendipitous isn’t always the same as positive. I’ll call him Murphy: a rambunctious two-year-old Golden Retriever who bounced into my examination room, all billowing feathers, Hollywood smile and a nose searching for a friendly hand. “So...
Wellness: Health Care
Should you treat your dog with stem cell therapy?
Second Opinion
Imagine yourself in a veterinary surgeon’s examination room, bracing for the details of wound care, pain management and an exhaustive (and alarming) list of potential post-operative complications, when the doctor surprises you with an announcement: “With luck, we can avoid surgery altogether.” Can this be true? Did you and your dog show up at the wrong appointment? Most of us who wield a...
Wellness: Health Care
Should a Dog Get a Gastropexy to Prevent Bloat?
A Vet's Perspective
Part of the appeal of veterinary surgery is the reward of achieving a “before and after” moment for a sick animal. It might be the Dachshund with intervertebral disk disease transformed from dragging a paralyzed hind-end to being able to trot over to greet me. Or the Labrador with laryngeal paralysis who is no longer desperate for air and able to breathe comfortably on a hot summer day....
Wellness: Health Care
Cruciate Conspiracy
Second Opinion
A few years ago, the Wall Street Journal ran a story that they clearly felt blew the whistle on the “epidemic” of canine knee surgeries in this country: “The number of dog knees undergoing cruciate ligament repair each year in America is estimated to now exceed 1.2 million … Such treatments have helped fuel a doubling of the number of veterinary surgeons in the U.S. in the last decade …” Finger-...
Wellness: Health Care
Three-Legged Dogs Do Adapt
Second Opinion
Three Legged Dog
About a year ago, I walked into a busy waiting room, called a patient’s name and was rewarded with the kind of life lesson usually delivered by dogs. A woman in her early twenties (I’ll call her Lauren), with cropped, bleach-blond hair and a healthy tan, struggled to hang onto her frisky retriever’s leash. From a distance, I thought I saw one of her arms in a sling, hence her difficulty, and...
Wellness: Health Care
Sticking with Your Dog
Looking Past a Label
The word “lemon” feels all wrong. It might work for a car or some other inanimate object that comes with a warranty, but when applied to a cheerful and innocent puppy, it makes me wince. Yet, every week, another fourlegged heartbreaker hobbles or bunnyhops into my examination room and I’m forced to confront this distressing label. It turns out that some 20 states have so-called “lemon laws” for...

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