Tag Archives: Conditions and Diseases

Diarrhea Help

Mosey had diarrhea often during his 9-month battle with cancer and I know it is a common ailment for all dogs. The following article from Healthy Pets provides many helpful tips to prevent, diagnose and treat. Please visit their website for additional resources.

What to Do When Your Dog Gets Diarrhea

by Dr. Becker

I think it’s time for another discussion on how to handle the problem of doggy diarrhea.

If you own a dog, chances are you’ve lived through at least one bout of doggy diarrhea.

It’s not a matter of if it will happen – just when.

When will your dog get diarrhea?

Knowing ahead of time the steps to take when your dog develops diarrhea or loose, watery stools can give you peace of mind when the time comes.

And as we all know, the time will come!

Causes of Diarrhea

There are a lot of reasons dogs develop loose stools. The most common reason is dietary indiscretion, which means your dog ate something she shouldn’t have. This was the cause of all the phone calls and emails to me over the holidays.

During the holidays, when people are cooking and hosting a lot of events that involve food, a really ripe environment is created for the ingestion of new foods dogs have not consumed before.

Sometimes it’s leftovers that cause GI upset. And sometimes, owners don’t even know their dogs have gotten into food.

That was the situation in my home, actually. My dogs were tearing open the garbage bags that we had put outside by the garage. They foraged all afternoon and into the evening on a feast of leftovers and we were clueless until we came upon the mess.

Many dogs spend much of their time sniffing around the house for morsels and tidbits anywhere they can find them, including gas grill grease traps, bathroom garbage cans, bird feeders, bird baths, ornamental ponds, and certainly the garden.

Another cause of diarrhea is a sudden change in a dog’s regular food. Also allergies to certain foods and poor quality dog food in general. I see a lot of kibble-related diarrhea in dogs.

Parasites like giardia can cause intermittent diarrhea. This microscopic parasite causes a wax-and-wane type of diarrhea that just pops up out of the blue. And about the time you think you should call the vet, the stool firms up on its own. You assume all is well – until another bout of diarrhea occurs days or weeks later.

Viral and bacterial infections in the digestive tract can cause diarrhea. So can certain medications such as heartworm preventives.

Even stress can bring about an episode of diarrhea in dogs and puppies. While you may think nothing very eventful is going on in your world, your dog can experience stress over even a slight change in routine. Suddenly you’re looking at a bout of watery doggy poop that seems to have come out of the blue.

Symptoms of Diarrhea (the obvious and not-so-obvious)

The most obvious symptom of diarrhea is when your dog is standing anxiously at the door and needs to get out quickly. Once he’s out he runs urgently to a spot and often passes loose, watery stool.

Or … you’re not around when the urgency hits and you find an accident on the floor when you get home.

A less obvious and often confusing symptom of diarrhea can be when your dog strains to go. It actually looks more like constipation than diarrhea.

Diarrhea upsets the normal rhythm of the muscle contractions in your dog’s intestinal tract. This can give him the sensation that he constantly needs to poop. So even though he’s hunched over and straining, his colon could be empty from repeated bouts of loose stool.

Other symptoms that can go along with diarrhea include fever, lethargy, malaise, loss of appetite, and dehydration.

Most healthy dogs experience an occasional episode of loose stool or diarrhea and it’s done – over with. It resolves all by itself. In this instance the underlying issue is probably something she ate she shouldn’t have, or perhaps stress was the trigger.

But any dog has the potential to become very ill from chronic bouts of diarrhea. Puppies, small dogs, and seniors are at higher risk of dehydration from just one round of explosive diarrhea.

It’s important to make sure that your pet has access to clean drinking water at all times, and encourage your pet to drink if you can.

When to Seek Professional Help

If your dog seems fine after a bout of diarrhea — meaning she’s acting normal, with normal energy – it’s safe to simply keep an eye on her.

But if you notice she’s also sluggish, running a fever or feels warm to the touch, or there’s a change in her behavior, I certainly recommend you contact your vet.

If you see blood in your pet’s stool or she’s weak or shows any other signs of debilitation along with the diarrhea, you should make an appointment with the vet.

If your dog seems fine but is experiencing recurrent bouts of diarrhea, you should make an appointment.

It’s important to bring a sample of your dog’s stool to your appointment, even if it’s watery. Use a plastic baggie and shovel a bit in there to take with you. This will help your vet identify potential underlying causes for the diarrhea.

Home Care for Diarrhea in Healthy Dogs

If your pet is an adult, otherwise healthy, and behaving normally except for the diarrhea, I recommend you withhold food – NOT WATER – for 12 hours.

At the 12-hour mark, offer a bland, fat-free diet. I recommend cooked ground turkey and plain 100 percent pumpkin.

Cook the ground turkey to remove grease and extra fat. And make sure the pumpkin isn’t pie filling, just plain canned or fresh cooked. If you can’t find plain canned pumpkin, substitute cooked sweet potato or even instant mashed potatoes.

This is a different bland diet from the traditional ground beef and rice combination that is often recommended. Even the leanest ground beef contains a lot of fat, and fat can worsen a case of diarrhea.

Rice, even though it’s bland, is very fermentable. Fermenting rice in the colon of a pet with diarrhea tends to increase gassiness. Also, rice tends to just zip right through the GI tract, exiting with the next bout of explosive diarrhea totally undigested.

Because of its large surface area (when compared to kernels of rice), many pets do much better with pureed pumpkin or sweet potato. Even through a bout of diarrhea, it is readily absorbed.

Mix the cooked ground turkey and pumpkin or sweet potato 50-50 in your dog’s bowl. Feed 2 to 3 small meals a day until stools are back to 100 percent, which should happen in about 72 hours.

My favorite all-natural anti-diarrhea remedy is an herb called slippery elm bark. I recommend always having some on hand so when you need it, it’s right there. You don’t have to run to the store.

Slippery elm is safe for puppies, adults, and geriatric dogs and it is completely safe blended with other medications. I recommend about a half teaspoon for each 10 pounds of body weight, mixed into the bland diet twice daily.

I also recommend you add in a good quality pet probiotic once the stool starts to firm.

Feeding a bland diet and supplementing with slippery elm bark is a good plan for about 3 days, at which time your dog’s stool should be back to normal.

If after 3 days the diarrhea hasn’t cleared up, it’s time to check in with your veterinarian.

MoseyLove!

Diane, Mose and Jasper

2.7.15

mosey and me

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Should I Take My Dog The Vet Appointment?

mosey-ft collins 1.9.14

Honestly, this question never occurred to me. A vet appointment without the pet? But the following article from the Dog Cancer Blog poses some interesting thoughts? What if you just need advice? What if your dog is too sick to travel? Our oncologist is a three hour drive from home so Mosey is in the car for six hours on visit days. Do the benefits outweigh the inconvenience? Read below for the reasons your vet really needs to examine your pet in person. And, as always, thank you to the folks at Dog Cancer Blog for their very valuable information:

Don’t Forget Your Dog at the Veterinarian

When booking a new consultation with me, pet Guardians often ask if it is necessary to bring their dog to the appointment. From their point of view, they are often concerned about the stress of the visit on their pet, or maybe the travel itself.

But from my point of view, a consultation without the pet is like a visit to the pediatrician without your toddler. So, yes, you should bring your dog!

In some ways I am happy that someone wants to meet me and listen to the overview of their pet’s cancer and ask questions. Educating yourself about your pet’s cancer is important. But the visit is so much more than hearing about an overview of the how the cancer presents, behaves, treatment options, and prognosis. I also review your pet’s medical record; including previous history, previous tests and the cancer cytology or biopsy report.

But a critical part of the consult is my personal evaluation of your dog.

vet-with-dogFor example, if a mast cell tumor has already been removed, but the surgical margins are narrow or incomplete, I can only discover if a second surgery is possible with a physical exam. I need to see the previous scar on your dog. I may lift the scar, and see if we can remove more tissue.  I may even show the dog to our surgeon so see what she thinks and decide if surgery is even an option. If she says no, I just saved you the time and cost of a consult with the boarded surgeon.

Or, I may feel a small mass already coming back at a scar. If the tumor is back, it changes the recommendations. I only can determine that if I examine and feel the dog in person.

Measuring Is Key

I’ve also had cases where the biopsy report lists a soft tissue sarcoma (STS) as completely removed, but the vet notes the mass was 2 cm and the scar is 3 cm. Well, we need 2 to 3 centimeter margins AROUND the tumor … so a 2 cm STS should have an 8 cm scar. I will literally measure scars to make sure that they are actually as complete as reported on lab reports. If not, it’s unlikely the margins are clean and recurrence may be likely. And if that’s true, we need to know, so we can make the best plan.

I may also need follow up tests, like an ultrasound to monitor progression of an abdominal mass or to get a baseline.

Finding Other Tumors

Just last week, I saw a dog with a mass in the bladder, most likely a tumor called transitional cell carcinoma (TCC), based on the ultrasound at the primary vet. Penelope had the classic signs of TCC – straining to urinate and blood in the urine. The vet said the mass was not in the trigone area, which is great, because then we could remove the tumor with surgery before starting chemo. (Many tumors are in the trigone where all the nerves and the urinary tubes that connect from the kidneys and out the urethra. This area is usually inoperable.)

From the ultrasound at the primary vet, it looked like Penelope was a surgery candidate.

To be safe, I recommended a repeat ultrasound. This time the boarded internist not only saw the mass in the non-trigone area but also a larger mass in the urethra, the tube through which urine flows from the bladder to the outside.

Unfortunately, that discovery meant surgery was definitely not an option. With this new info, I changed my recommendations and we discussed medical management like NSAIDs, chemotherapy, and even a stent to keep her peeing if she gets blocked.

So Penelope’s prognosis and treatment options all changed based on the exam and tests. If she hadn’t been physically present, we might have gone ahead with a surgery that would be unnecessary and not even treat the larger mass.

Finding Metastasis

I may also discover something new on the exam, like an enlarged lymph node. If we aspirate that lymph node and find the cancer has metastasized (spread), it may change the prognosis and recommended diagnostics and treatments. If a cancer has spread to the lymph node, we may need to have it removed, radiated, or it may be the reason we add chemo.

Finding Other Problems

Without the patient, we could also miss other problems, like a fever, an infection, a heart murmur, or a lameness so severe that it changes recommendations.

Just yesterday, I had an appointment with Lady, a 11-year-old Russian Blue Terrier. She came to discuss CyberKnife radiation for her recently discovered aggressive bone lesion in her humerus (shoulder), consistent with osteosarcoma.

CyberKnife is an alternative to amputation, and we typically start with a CT scan of the leg to make sure the bone is structurally strong enough to be a good candidate for it. If the tumor has already destroyed too much bone, it puts the dog at increased risk for fracture even if we kill the tumor cells with high doses of radiation.

But looking at Lady (not her X-rays), I saw that she could barely get up and walk. The family was lifting the 100 lb dog to get up and go outside to relieve herself.

I was worried that her limping and disability wasn’t just because of tumor pain. It could also be neuromuscular disease, orthopedic issues, or worse, bone metastasis. I wasn’t going to do a CT scan (very expensive) and recommend CyberKnife radiation if there was some other major underlying medical issue that prevented her from walking. We had to figure this out, first.

So, during that appointment, I consulted with my surgeon, who looked at Lady and isolated the severe pain to her knees and hips, not just the shoulder with the tumor. X-rays confirmed severe degenerative joint disease and arthritis. Unless that can be helped, removing the tumor with radiation would not help her to walk. Even amputation was out, because a dog with this severe pain wouldn’t be able to recover easily.

This information was really helpful, because now we knew a few things:

  1. We can add pain meds, specifically non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to her treatment to help bring her some relief.
  2. Her underlying arthritis is too severe for an amputation.
  3. By treating her arthritis we can improve her comfort and mobility.

Once she is feeling better, THEN we can do a CT scan to see if she is a CyberKnife candidate. She may still be!

Bottom Line: Bring Your Dog

So … will I occasionally do a consult without the dog? Yes I do make exceptions, but it really limits what I can do for the pet and the family if the pet is not there to be evaluated.

Live longer, live well,

Dr. Sue

About the Author: Susan Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology)

Susan Ettinger, DVM. Dip. ACVIM (Oncology) is a veterinarian oncologist at Animal Specialty Center in New York and the co-author of Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. She blogs about dog cancer at http://DogCancerBlog.com.

MoseyLove!

Diane and Mose

4.6.14

mosey and me

Lymphoma

mosey marist college habitat build 3.20.14 instagram

Mosey at the Habitat for Humanity Taos College Spring Break build

One of the objectives of this blog is to help educate and inform pet parents fighting cancer in their furbabies. Sadly, Mosey’s cancer is very rare and he is not a candidate for surgery or radiation (except a palliative version). I reached out to the canine cancer community to see if anyone would be willing to share their stories of fighting more common forms of cancer. I was very happy to receive the following facebook post:

Hi Diane! I’m actually a veterinarian and run a FB page for my pup that is going through chemo for lymphoma. That way there is info from both the doc and mommy point of view. Erin Houser Kelly
I confirmed that she was giving me permission to share her story and am so pleased to say she agreed. Her dog, Wrigley, is in remission from lymphoma. Here is their story from both Erin’s and Wrigley’s point of view:

On Monday, October 14th Wrigley was diagnosed with lymphoma. This is his page– dedicated to him and what is important to him (hint: it includes food, his 4 legged sister and the 2 little girls that share his residence– as well as his adopted parents

A humans guide to canine chemo: My lymphoma journey, by Wrigley
wrigley

Wrigley!

Welcome to my site old and new friends… Whether you have met me in person or are just an animal lover in general, I have deemed myself an ambassador for canine chemo. Why? Because it’s something a lot of pet owners ask themselves about– “would I put my own pet through it”? I hope to take away some of the scary thoughts about the process. By no means am I an expert– I mean, I’m just a dog (although I am pretty smart) and I’m not going to load this down with a lot of medical jargon. This is just my side of the story and I hope to be able to help some pet-parents along the way.Lets face it– cancer is a scary word for anyone. And chemo conjures up visions of hair loss and violent sickness– which is all very common in human treatments. However, in the animal world chemo doesn’t have the same side effects. The goal is to keep me happy and comfortable and my mom keeps using the term “quality of life.”

The sad reality is that I was diagnosed with a terminal cancer (Stage IIIa, B-cell lymphoma) and without treatment my life expectancy would have been 4-6 weeks. There is a good chance I would be gone by now or nearing the end of my life if my parents chose not to go forward with chemotherapy. The day I was diagnosed I didn’t look or act sick, mom just noticed my lymph nodes were a little big. However, it’s a rapidly progressive disease that would have caused me to go downhill very quickly. And my family wasn’t ready to say good-bye just yet.

A few days later my mom had me seen by a veterinarian oncologist (Dr. Back actually graduated vet school with my mom back in 2007– but she went back to become a specialist– she’s obviously SUPER smart!). They started chemotherapy that day and a week later I was determined to already be in remission. The Dr is doing something called the “CHOP protocol”which is an acronym for the different types of meds they use to treat me. It’s a 6 month protocol and after that point I am just monitored for return. Unfortunately, it’s not a matter of IF it comes back, it’s a matter of WHEN. However, with chemo my life expectancy went from 6 weeks to up to 12-18 months (maybe 2 depending on how well my body does). That’s a big difference– especially when you calculate that into “dog years.”

The biggest question people ask my mom is “how sick does the chemo make him?” And she can easily say that there have been very, very few side effects. The biggest problem I had was with a steroid that was used at the beginning of treatment that makes me drink a lot of water and so I have to urinate a lot too– so started having accidents in the house. Plus the steroid makes me very hungry so I’m not above breaking into cabinets, purses and the trash can to steal food. The good news is that the steroid dose has tapered and I’m done with it next week– and I’m no longer having accidents in the house. Overall, no one can tell I’m sick… The chemo hasn’t made me throw up and I still have all my hair– I will have about a 6 hour window once a week where I’m sleepy but that’s the extent of the effects so far. Overall, my quality of life is amazing– I’m still romping around the house with my sister, love to take walks and lay on my back in the grass under the sun.

If this blog can help someone else along the way then I think I’ve done a good job. Lymphoma is a tough diagnosis (and my mom cried for 2 days straight when she found out)– but chemotherapy is giving me a chance to spend an extra year (hopefully more) with my family.

If you feel this note has helped you, or may be beneficial to friends/family that may have a pet in this position, please feel free to share this note or my page. And I’m always open to questions. Both my parents work full time so I have plenty of time to blog during the day while they are gone 😉

Yours in Remission,

Wrigley

I so appreciate hearing this success story…remission is something we all hope and pray for. If your pet has been diagnosed with Lymphoma and you have specific questions for Erin or Wrigley please ask them in the comments section of this post. I will continue to provide updates as to Wrigley’s prognosis.

MoseyLove!

Diane and Mose

3.29.14

mosey and me

Diagnosis

Mosey at 3 1/2 months

Mosey at 3 1/2 months

Mosey is a happy, goofy, beautiful golden retriever with a voracious appetite, very treat motivated, and a total love bug. His energy level is excellent for a 10 1/2 year old so nothing prepared me for the cancer diagnosis. Here is our story:

Mose has slept for years on a big, puffy, pillow type bed. One night, a few days before Thanksgiving, he woke up and started breathing very heavily…almost panting. He moved off his bed and onto the floor. I got up, sat beside him and started petting him to relax him. He stopped the panting after a few minutes, went to sleep and was fine the rest of the night. This happened a few nights in a row. I thought it was odd, but I didn’t panic as he was fine the rest of the time. A few days later I noticed he was breathing a bit harder than usual during the day…not after any activity, just as he was lying around the house.  Again, this was so slight that it didn’t raise any concerns but, after a week of the 5 minutes of heavy panting at night business, I decided to take him to our vet. I honestly expected them to tell me he had allergies or something similar.

Our local vet checked him out and asked if she could take some x-rays. The first shock was when she told me he had a mass surrounding his heart and that there was nothing they could do here in Taos. She referred me to specialists in Albuquerque and told me “Keep him very calm, don’t go on any walks or any other activity and call me on my cell in an emergency…like if he collapses.” What? OK, so now the panicking started.

This was on a Thursday afternoon and our appointment with the specialist was not until the following Tuesday morning. My husband and I spent a very long, tense and sad few days, lots of crying and frustration with the wait. It didn’t help matters that we had a big snowstorm and sub-zero temperatures forecasted the day of the appointment. Taos is 2 1/2 to 3 hours from Albuquerque and we had an early morning appointment so Mose and I left Monday mid-day to beat the weather. Let me tell you…sitting in the hotel room waiting for the next day was one of the longest nights of my life.

We first met with a cardiologist who, after an ultrasound, told us that the mass had not gone into his heart and that, for his age, his heart was very strong. Some good news! Then she referred us to the oncologist who had us do an abdominal ultrasound which revealed no major abnormalities. They aspirated some of the mass for analysis which showed degenerating cells…probably cancerous. The oncologist created a report for me which states:

“Mose has been diagnosed with an intrathoracic mass that extends to the heart base (also called heart based mass).  There are generally four common differentials for a tumor in this location.  They are lymphoma, thymoma, ectopic thyroid carcinoma and chemodectoma.  The aspirate results have ruled out lymphoma. These other three potential cancers are all epithelial which is what the pathologist thought the cancerous cells were most consistent with.  Thymoma is a cancer of the thymus, an organ involved in development of white blood cells in embryos and babies.  When cancerous, it is most often treated surgically although it is also responsive to radiation therapy.  Ectopic thyroid carcinoma is when a remnant of thyroid in the chest becomes cancerous.  These tumors are best treated with surgery although many are non-surgical.  If non-surgical, they can be treated with either radiation therapy (if site is appropriate) or chemotherapy.  Chemodectoma is a cancer of the cells at the base of the heart involved in sensing blood pressure and position. Chemodectomas are generally slow growing cancers and have not been particularly responsive to most therapies.  If possible, they are removed surgically but they are only rarely surgical.”

I met with the surgeon Wednesday evening to determine the next steps. First was to have a CT scan to get additional info.  We had the CT scan performed on Thursday morning. The results showed the cancer was inoperable. They ruled out 2 of the 4 potential cancers. The oncologist said, based on the CT scan findings, that she believes it is an ectopic thyroid carcinoma but it could also be chemodectoma. They also found 2 lung nodules which makes them think it is also a metastatic disease.

You can imagine my week of crying, bargaining with God, and researching everything in sight. Mose has always eaten healthily, but I am amping up his diet by starting an anti-cancer holistic program. He started taking an anti-cancer drug called Palladia last Friday. We are waiting to hear from  Colorado State University, Ft Collins to find out if he is a candidate for radiation therapy. If not, the oncologist recommends we watch what the Palladia does (or doesn’t do) and then discuss chemo.

The only good news is that, except for a little bit of panting once in a while, he is symptom free. Great appetite, energy appropriate for a 10 yr old, no pain…his normal goofy self. This is the hardest thing I have ever gone through. My friends and family have been amazing…listening to every detail and offering support and guidance…but, especially now during the holidays, I don’t want to continue to bum them out with my sadness.

These blog posts are designed to help me keep track of Mosey’s situation. It is such an overwhelming and confusing time. I want everything I learn, try and experience to be organized. I hope our story helps others on the same journey.

MoseyLove!

Welcome to MoseyLove

Mose

Mose is my beloved golden retriever.  In December of 2013, at age 10 1/2,  he was diagnosed with cancer. I decided to do everything I could to fight this disease as I am not ready to say goodbye to my best friend. I was overwhelmed with all of the medical opinions, options and advice I received. Traditional medicine? Holistic? Surgery? Radiation? Chemotherapy? Diet?

I started this site as a way to record my experience, keep track of what I learn and organize all the data I discover. Perhaps my journey can be of help to other pet parents faced with a cancer diagnosis of their own loved furry child. Please visit the Blog page to stay updated on Mose’s treatments and prognosis and share your own stories. I will continually update the Resources page with available options in Northern New Mexico and Colorado. The “How you can help” page will list local non-profits supporting pet cancer research as well as those who provide help to low-income pet owners battling pet cancer.  Please feel free to use the Contact page with your comments, suggestions and questions.

My goal is to keep Mosey alive as long as possible while ensuring quality of life is always the number one goal. So far he does not exhibit any symptoms and is the gorgeous, treat motivated, goofball he has always been. Great appetite, lots of energy for a 10-year-old and not in any pain. He is going to stay that way if I have anything to do with it because I love my dog.

MoseyLove!

December 2013

mosey and me

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