For the vast majority of American dog owners, the question is a no-brainer: unless you breed dogs or participate in dog shows—or don’t mind being persona non grata at the dog park—you have your dog “fixed.” About 80 percent of U.S. dogs have been altered—relieved of their sex hormone-producing organs, a.k.a. gonads (testicles for males, ovaries for females), through a surgical procedure known as a gonadectomy (castration for the boys, spaying for the girls).
Somewhere in northern California, a tiny dog is still prancing around on four paws thanks to hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). Unbeknownst to the dog’s owner, a piece of string had become wrapped around his paw, hidden in the dog’s dense fur. As circulation in the paw slowed down, skin and tissue began to slough off. By the time the owner realized what was happening, the paw was in such bad shape that the little dog’s vet, understandably, recommended amputation. The owner, however, wanted to try to save it.
Much of the time, KCS also known as “dry eye” is caused by an immune-mediated problem that creates inflammation within the tear glands and reduces the amount or quality of the tears they produce. Some drug interactions and systemic health conditions such as hypothyroidism may also affect the tear film, as can damage to the nerves that stimulate these glands to work properly.
For most of us who share our lives with dogs, making sure they are vaccinated tops the list of preventive-care tasks. We mindfully take our puppies or newly adopted dogs for their recommended vaccines. We routinely return to our veterinarian or vaccine clinic when that postcard or email arrives, reminding us that our dogs are due for booster shots. We know vaccination offers critical protection from diseases such as canine parvovirus, canine distemper virus, rabies and more.
The first time I saw Mugsy, he was under anesthesia, prepped for surgery; huge patches of skin over his legs, chest and flanks were beginning to slough and surgical intervention was required. “Is that what I think it is?” I asked Dr. Khorzad, the ER attending in charge of the case.
“Yep. Necrotizing fasciitis,” she replied, avoiding the more sensational and fear-mongering synonym: “flesh-eating disease.”
Mugsy was a gregarious, four-month-old male Shar Pei who had suddenly developed a dime-sized swelling on his chest.