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News: Shea Cox
Swallowing a Penny Comes at a High Price for Dogs
Common cents caution for pets
Humans aren’t the only species with money troubles. Did you know that pennies can be hazardous to your dog’s health? One-cent coins used to be made from 100 percent copper, which is nontoxic. In 1982, the government began minting pennies that were made mainly from zinc (much cheaper) and coated them with a thin layer of copper, keeping the look of a penny. When swallowed, the copper coating of...
News: Shea Cox
When Diarrhea Turns Dangerous
Understanding hemorrhagic gastroenteritis
One of the more common problems I see on an emergency basis is a disease process called hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, also known as HGE. I recently treated Sam, the little Beagle in the photo, for a severe case of this disease. The history I hear from owners is always the same: “My dog started having diarrhea and then, all of a sudden, it became very watery and bloody.” This can be horrifying...
News: Shea Cox
When Playful Pups Take “Having a Ball” Too Far
Causes and responses to a choking pet
Having “something stuck in the throat” is a common problem for our pets due to their curious natures and indiscriminate eating habits. Recently, I saw an adorable Bernese Mountain Dog named Clover after she had gotten a little over-exuberant with her tennis ball. She’d actually swallowed it. She presented for difficulties with both swallowing and breathing, and X-rays revealed that her distress...
News: Shea Cox
Deciphering (Ab)Normal Dog Behaviors
Chasing their tails, eating grass and rolling in garbage—should you worry?
From humping to “targeted” sniffing, our pups have a plethora of odd habits—at least to those of us who walk on two legs instead of four. While no one knows for certain the exact “why” behind these behaviors, we do have some theories. And until dogs learn to speak human, divulging their best-kept secrets, we’ll just have to continue to make educated guesses about this weird-but-true realm of...
News: Shea Cox
Football Party Sends Pup to the Hospital [Updated]
Rethinking paper products with Super Bowl approaching
Just when I think I’ve seen it all... Paper towels? Causing an obstruction in the intestines? There’s no way! Those were my first thoughts as I started to read about a dog named Sydney, who recently ended up at the Pet Emergency & Specialty Center of Marin. A surgeon there saved the life of the 13-year-old Australian Shepherd/Chow mix with an intestinal resection, during which she remove...
News: Shea Cox
The Science of Flatulence
There’s more to it than meets the nose!
As much as we might hate to admit it, flatulence is a normal biological function. A surprising amount of air is swallowed just with the simple act of eating, and if this is not burped out, it must exit through the other end. The amount of air swallowed tends to be increased when dogs feel they must eat quickly or in brachycephalic breeds (dogs with a compressed upper jaw and a short muzzle)...
News: Shea Cox
Be Prepared: Four Emergency Room Essentials
Lay the groundwork for quick, low-stress treatment
Working in the ER, I see a full range of preventable predicaments that complicate addressing a pet’s immediate health crisis. I’d like to highlight four simple measures you can take as a pet parent to prevent distress and concern should an emergency arise while you are away or if you need to seek care outside of your normal veterinary relationship. Records!! Keep a copy of every medical...
News: Shea Cox
A Vet’s Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions
Make 2012 happier and healthier for you and your pup
Veterinarians love putting together a plan of care for their patients—so why should New Year’s be an exception? Here are my suggestions for ten (I think fairly reasonable) resolutions that can make a big improvement for your dogs and you. For those who’ve already embraced many of these good habits, this list can serve as a chance to pat yourself on the back. Take your dog for more walks and...
News: Shea Cox
Christmas in the ER
A different kind of giving and receiving
While many people wake Christmas morning to open gifts and gather with family, we ER types begin and end our day with a slightly different routine. For me, my husband Scott, who is also an emergency veterinarian, and our two Dobie kids, Christmas Day begins with opening presents at 4 am, ends with eating a turkey dinner at 10 pm—with “challengingly good” chaos during the hours in between.  ...
News: Shea Cox
Dough Is A Don’t
Risks for dogs include obstruction and alcohol poisoning
My husband has recently taken up the delicious hobby of artisan bread baking. Although this is a pursuit my belly fully supports, it has reminded me of the dangers that raw bread dough poses for our pets. The risks are twofold. The first problem is that dough rapidly rises after ingestion and can cause life-threatening stomach distention and obstruction. The second—and potentially more serious—...

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