If you are contemplating breeding your dog, do yourself a favor and do some research before jumping into a project that, while often fun and adorable, can also very quickly become emotionally and financially draining. People express interest in breeding for all kinds of reasons. Some want adorable puppy versions of their very loveable dog to pass on personality traits. Some just want to witness (or let their kids witness) the miracle of birth. Some want to make a profit. And others truly love their breed and want to help improve their genetic pool. Here are a few things to ask yourself before you dive in.
1) Breed knowledge: How much do you know about your particular breed of dog? Do you know all of the congenital diseases they are prone to developing? Does your breed frequently require C-sections, or artificial insemination (Bulldogs almost uniformly require C-sections)? How about the dog you bought? What is his/her temperament like? Does he/she have any evidence of those diseases in their blood line? You should at least know the status of both of your dogs’ parents, and ideally 2-3 generations of parentage. Consider joining a local club for your breed. Also talk with some reputable breeders about what is involved and their experience with raising that breed. Responsible breeders will test their breeding animals for heritable diseases to ensure they don’t pass on those traits. If the dogs they breed create affected puppies, they will not breed those dogs again. The goal is to prevent the creation of puppies that will suffer throughout their lifetime due to these diseases. Spend a lot of time looking at the American Kennel Club website. They have a lot of excellent information on dog breeds, breeding in general, and can help you find a local breeder.
2) Veterinary care: Do you know what kind of veterinary care your dog and the puppies will require? What vaccines do they need and when? How often should they be dewormed (puppies should get dewormer every 2 weeks), and when do they need to be examined by a vet? What kind of food does your female need while she is gestating and lactating? When do you introduce food to the puppies and what do you offer? You will also need to make sure your female is continually on heartworm, flea and tick prevention. Flea infestations and heavy parasite loads can be devastating to young puppies. Here’s a great link on pregnant dog care.
3) The whelping process: Educate yourself as much as possible on the entire process of birth itself. This includes the length of gestation (you’ll want to know when your female is due!), nesting behavior, signs of impending labor, and what signs indicate your dog is having trouble during labor and needs veterinary attention. You’ll need to make sure someone can be home with her from the time she goes into labor until at least a couple days after the pups are born to make sure there are no issues. Also familiarize yourself with post-natal care of the puppies. Mom will usually remove their birth sacs so they can breathe, and she should gently chew through the umbilical cord, though sometimes new mom dogs don’t know what to do and the puppies can suffer or die. You’ll need to make sure each puppy is latching on to nurse, and that mom is licking their bottoms to stimulate them to go to the bathroom. If she can’t or won’t, you may be the one getting up every couple of hours every night to feed the pups and stimulate them to pee and poop. Veterinary Partner has an excellent article on care of orphaned pups. Also, Whelpwise has an excellent list of items to have handy for whelping.
4) Preparing pups for new homes: What kind of training will your puppies need before they leave? You will have puppies in your care for the first 8 weeks of their life (many breeders send their pups out at 6 weeks, which is too early for proper social development). Your job is to make the transition to a new home as easy as possible for your pups and their new family. You will want to get started house training them before they go to a new home. You will also want to expose them to as many new situations (noises, types of people, textures, etc.) as possible, and in a way that doesn’t scare them. Many people get new dogs and discover they are scared of things like plastic bags or brooms, and assume they were abused, when in reality these dogs were just never exposed to those things and are now terrified of them. Behavioral problems are the number one reason pets are given up. Training and socializing your pups as much as possible will help keep them from being a statistic.
5) Preparing for the worst: What happens when it all goes awry? What if you can’t get your dog pregnant, or she gets out and is bred by a mutt? What if during labor a pup is breeched, or she just tires out? Are you prepared to spend $1500-3000 on an emergency C-section? Dogs and pups still die during birth. If you’re doing this for the sake of your kids witnessing the event, are you prepared to explain this to them? Also, what happens when you can’t find a home for one or more of your litter? Are you prepared to keep them for the rest of their lives? Beaver Lake Animal Hospital has an article written by a breeder of things that have gone wrong for her or people she knows. It’s a bit of an eye-opener.
In reality, most of the time breeding and birthing dogs goes relatively smoothly. But as in all things in life, nothing is guaranteed. Doing the research first and being prepared will save you a lot of heartache later.
Beemer was presented to the University of Missouri on June 22nd, 2016 for vomitingand lethargy throughout the day. He was suspected to have ingested a foreign body, and radiographs were taken to confirm this diagnosis. The following day Beemer was transferred to our hospital where Dr. Forbes performed an exploratory surgery, extracting two knee-high pantyhose tied together from his stomach and small intestine, which bound up so much so it looked like a scrunchie! Beemer recovered from the surgery well, and was discharged the following day.
By mid-July, however, Beemer began regurgitating his meals encased in a mucosal sack. Beemer would regurgitate his dry food two or three times per feeding before he was finally able to keep it down. He was brought back in to our hospital for examination, and was suspected to have esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus). We prescribed a mucosal protectant and an antacid, though he continued to regurgitate his food in sacks.
Radiographs were taken by our hospital to look for an esophageal stricture (narrowing of the esophagus). Nothing remarkable was noted, and so it was recommended to do a swallow study at the University of Missouri with a fluoroscopy to determine the problem. The fluoroscopic swallowing exam uses a noninvasive form of animated radiography to see how patients swallow in hopes to determine problems with efficiency or safety. Possible suspects were: a stricture, decreased mobility of the esophagus due to possible damage from ingesting pantyhose, or severe esophagitis. The results from the fluoroscopy were normal, however. An esophagoscopy was then also performed by interesting a flexible endoscope into the mouth, utilizing a small camera at the end to visualize the esophageal mucosa. The endoscopy exam revealed that Beemer had severe esophagitis and ulceration and edema (swelling) of the esophagus. It also showed edema in his small intestine, and plastic is his stomach (which we later found out that Beemer had ingested something else he should not have the same day he was sent home!).
Beemer was kept on the mucosal protectant and antacid, as well as pain medications, an anti-nausea drug, and a medication to help increase his gastrointestinal mobility. He was also put on a strict diet of low fat canned food to be handfed in meatballs three times a day over a period of 15-20 minutes. Over the next month Dr. Forbes worked alongside veterinarians at the University of Missouri to tweak Beemer’s medications in order to get his vomiting under control. He was additionally put on an antibiotic when he developed diarrhea. By September Beemer was able to stop the pain medications and one of his antacids and started slowly transitioning his meals from three times per day to twice a day. We were also able to start mixing in 6-7 pieces of dry kibble per meatball, which was an exciting step forward. Slowly, we were able to increase the amount of dry food per meal and decrease the amount of wet food. However, Beemer started regurgitating his food once more when too much dry food was added.
Another esophagoscopy was performed, confirming that Beemer still had moderate esophagitis and esophageal ulcers, as well as a small stricture in his distal esophagus. The procedure also showed scar tissue along the esophagus, which left Beemer at an increased risk for more or worsening strictures. The pain medication, antacid, and strict canned-only low fat diet were all added back into Beemer’s rigorous daily medical management for four weeks before a recheck examination to determine his progress.
After this set-back, Beemer was weaned back off the antacid and pain medications, as well as the mucosal protectant and gastrointestinal mobility drug. A small amount of dry kibble was also introduced back into the meatballs, which were still being hand fed over 15-20 minutes. By December Beemer was gradually being fed less canned food and more dry kibble, which was now being softened in water before each feeding. He was also able to eat his food on his own, as long as it was fed at his shoulder height!
It has been a long tumultuous road, but Beemer is now off all of his medications except for one antacid before his breakfast. He is eating all dry food (softened in water, of course) by himself twice a day raised to his shoulder height. Since Beemer is now able to keep his food down, he has gained 13 pounds since after his exploratory surgery, and is now at a healthy weight. We hope to feed plain, dry kibble with no antacid in the near future, but for now Beemer has made tremendous progress, and we are all so proud of him! We are so glad Beemer has such a wonderfully dedicated mom, as she has put in a lot of time and effort to ensure that Beemer receives the best care!
Written by Maggie
Buddy Mutnick, a 4 year old Terrier mix, presented to us here at Rock Bridge AnimalHospital on November 29th, 2016 because he had been vomiting for the past two days and his owner was very concerned. Little did they know that he would need to stay here at the hospital to have emergency exploratory surgery.
The day of Buddy’s appointment, his owner explained to Dr. Forbes that he had been vomiting for the past three days and that he had noticed some blood in the vomit. He had also thrown up about seven times that same day (including once during the exam) but he was still going to the bathroom and his stools seemed normal. His owner explained to us that he does occasionally get into things that he shouldn’t and he was concerned that he might have eaten a toy of some sort. Hearing this information, Dr. Forbes immediately suggested that we take abdominal radiographs on Buddy, since he does have this potentially dangerous habit. The x-rays revealed the intestines just didn’t look right. There was a large length of plicated intestinal loops consistent with string. This means that the intestines in the picture looked similar to a bundled up scrunchie. All of this information led Dr. Forbes to diagnose a blockage in Buddy’s intestinal tract and informed the owner that surgery would be needed immediately.
Dr. Forbes, as well as the technicians, prepared for surgery that evening. During the procedure, we discovered the object that Buddy ingested was some kind of large bundle of fabric, possibly from a T-shirt. Thankfully the object was removed and Buddy’s intestines were able to be saved because we had addressed the problem in a timely manner. When we notified the owner of the strange object, he confirmed that it was indeed a sheet that Buddy had destroyed and ate.
Buddy was kept here at the hospital with us for a few days until he was able to eat on his own and so he could be monitored closely. Buddy hadn’t eaten much of anything until we finally figured out that he was a huge fan of plain chicken breast! However, he seemed to prefer it being hand fed to him by the technicians. Once Buddy recovered he was reunited with his owners and sent home with antibiotics and pain medication. He had a few episodes of vomiting at home, but we are happy to report that Buddy is now back to his happy, loving self once again. Buddy is such a sweet dog and adored by all of the staff here at Rock Bridge Animal Hospital. We couldn’t be happier with the recovery that he has made.
Written by Kelsie
Elly Dowden is a 2-year-old female pit bull mix. Elly is a very active dog. She came to our clinic in October with the symptoms of vomiting for at least two days. She wasn’t interested in any food and her owners were starting to get worried. She was given wet food and ate it very eagerly but vomited it up just a few hours later. We immediately did x-rays and bloodwork to see what might be causing her symptoms. The x-rays revealed that she had a foreign body in her intestines. Exploratory surgery was performed of the abdomen and revealed her peritonitis was very inflamed omentum. The object that was lodged in poor Elly’s abdomen was 3x4x2 foreign object that was causing bruising in the intestines. The foreign body was revealed as a stopper to a baby gate. Elly took a couple of days to recover but she is in full recovery and active as ever. She has not sustained any further complications since the removal of the stopper.
The importance of Elly’s situation is to always remember that all animals are very inquisitive. Many animals will chew or swallow almost anything. They sometimes are like having toddlers around because you never know what they may put in their mouths. As described in this situation, a small stopper to a baby’s gate caused this dog a lot of undue pain. Be very observant of what your animals have access to. Remove any small objects or even larger objects that can become smaller objects when chewed as they may become choking hazards or become lodged in the digestive system.
Elly’s owners were aware of her unusual behavior and brought her to our clinic. If at any time your animals have unusual behaviors and you cannot explain the reason, please seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.
Written by Taylor
Zeppelin Doisy, a boisterous 6 year old boxer mix, is a frequent boarder in the kennels at Rock Bridge Animal Hospital. As a kennel assistant, caring for Zeppelin various weekends throughout the summer months and the beginning of fall has given me the opportunity to really get to know him and his consistent positive attitude. Arriving on Saturday evenings to begin the weekend after-hours care, Zeppelin always anticipates the attention he will receive as we start the shift.
The kennel assistant’s main goal is to provide reliable care to our boarders in both a low stress and compassionate environment. This is achieved in many ways. For example calm music is played throughout the boarding area, and curtains divide the kennel to minimize how much the dogs bark at each other. And we always find time to give plenty of attention to the boarders while we handle them. Zeppelin is one of the boarders that understands our routine, and makes sure to have a little fun during the process.
Entering the kennel area can sometimes get loud with barks and howls (especially right before dinner time) and Zeppelin always enthusiastically joins in the conversation. Zeppelin cooperates as he is led to the outdoor area for a bathroom break, but he makes it clear that there is also time to play, get some attention and maybe a couple treats, too! He never fails to put a smile on my face when he is boarding in the kennels and his genuine happiness is something that makes him so special and a joy to work with.
Dinner is prepared for each dog while they are outside, and of course Zeppelin devours his with gusto. After taking care of both the canine and feline boarders, the kennel assistants finish up the chores and begin winding down before leaving for the rest of the night.
Zeppelin stands out to me because of his unwavering excitement for every aspect of staying overnight in our kennels. Even when the task is as simple as recording the boarder’s weights, he is thrilled to participate (even if that means he is a little squirmy on the scale). Whether it’s the evening rotation or bright and early Sunday morning, the weekend kennel shift is guaranteed to be an enjoyable time when Zeppelin is there eager to greet me, along with his wagging tail.
Written by Madeline
If you’ve ever tried to take a group picture with a pet involved, you’ll understand this saga. Dogs are way more interested in getting attention from all those people behind them than looking at the flashing light on the camera. Here’s our attempt at making a Christmas card.
First, we had to take a test shot to make sure everyone would fit in the picture:
Then, we had to get all the dogs looking in the right direction. Some couldn’t care less about the treats (Holly!).
Getting closer, everyone’s in the picture now!
We lost Holly again.
This is starting to get comical.
We’ve completely lost it!
Finally, SUCCESS! Big thanks to one of our clients who came by at just the right time and took pity on us. A squeaky toy behind the camera helps immensely!
In February of this year, Elle noticed a big orange tabby hanging around outside her house. After a few days of the same routine, walking outside to see him waiting patiently for a meal, Elle decided to bring him in for a general check up, to make sure he was healthy before finding him a new home. “I’m not keeping him!” she proclaimed upon her arrival for his first exam. He received a clean bill of health, and the rest was history. “Rascal” had found his forever home.
This summer Rascal came back in because he had a very deep “croupy” sounding cough. On exam he was working hard to breath and had raspy lung sounds. X-ray were taken and showed changes consistent with Asthma or a severe bronchitis. Heartworms can cause the same changes in cats, so a heartworm test came back positive. Sure enough, he came back POSITIVE!
Heartworms are internal parasites passed by mosquitoes. A mosquito ingests the microfilaria, or baby heartworm, when it feeds from an infected animal. The microfilaria mature within the mosquito over the next few weeks. Then the mosquito feeds on a new victim and passes on the heartworm larvae from their saliva into the skin. The larvae mature and migrate to the main pulmonary artery over the next 6 months. Once there is an adult male and female they mate and the lifecycle continues.
When discussing heartworms, people commonly think of it as a dog disease, but cats can get heartworms too! Since cats are not the natural host, they tend to mount a pronounced inflammatory response to the parasite which is often more detrimental to the cat than the heartworm itself. In most cases, heartworms do not survive long enough to mature in a cat, but the resulting inflammation can be life threatening to the cat. Cats with heartworms often present with coughing or difficulty breathing. Many cats were previously diagnosed with asthma before we realized they could get heartworms too. In some cases chronic vomiting may be the only sign or sudden death.
Rascal was treated with oral steroids to reduce the inflammation which likely resulted as the heartworm was dying. He was also placed on an oral antibiotic to kill Wolbachia on any remaining heartworms . It is theorized that this bacteria-like organism has a symbiotic relationship with the heartworm and killing it weakens the heartworms. We do not actually treat cats with medications to kill the heartworms in cats because treatment can be more life threatening than the parasite itself.
Rascal was likely infected prior to his adoption into his new home. Fortunately, he has responded well to treatment and we are slowly weaning him off of the oral steroids. He will remain on Revolution monthly so that he does not get infected with additional heartworms. His owner will be diligent about monitoring for future episodes of difficulty breathing as there could still be some heartworms present that will eventually die. Rascal is loved by our hospital and all our staff, and we couldn’t be happier with his recovery. Keep your cats protected from heartworms with a monthly preventative such as Revolution!
Congratulations to the October pet of the month: Greta.
The first time I saw Greta, Parker (her big lab brother) and she came to the clinic for boarding. I thought she was the prettiest Dachshund I had ever seen in my life. She was 4 years 3 months at that time and I couldn’t believe how blue and expressive her eyes were. They complimented her dapple color perfectly. Greta, on the other hand, was not as thrilled to see me. She immediately went to her safe spot between Parker’s legs and kept an anxious eye on me. After a couple of days of boarding she started to warm up to me and we started bonding. From that point on I always had a great time with Greta and Parker. Over the next year Parker and Greta came for boarding multiple times and our bond kept getting stronger.
One day, Greta’s owner called to inform us that she wasn’t walking right and that the night before she had a bad time trying to get out of her kennel. Her owner decided to bring her in for an exam. After performing a thorough exam, Dr Forbes diagnosed Greta with hind limb paralysis with no pain sensation in the hind limbs. This is commonly due to a slipped disc in Dachshunds because of their long backs. Loss of deep pain indicates a severe compression of the spinal cord and carries a guarded prognosis for return of function. Dr. Forbes decided referred Greta to the University of Missouri Veterinary Health Center for an emergency MRI and surgery.
Greta was admitted to the University Health Center under the care of Dr Kishi. Testing confirmed compressed disc spaces at T12-T13 and T13-L1 (Two disc spaces in the center of her back). Dr Kishi performed surgery to remove the extruded disc material compressing her spinal cord. Unfortunately, at surgery it was also discovered that there was additional compression along the length of 10 vertebrae due to hemorrhage at the time of injury. Fortunately Greta has very dedicated owners that elected to continue with surgery and give Greta a chance. She recovered well, but she was unable to use her hind legs or urinate on her own. Pets unable to completely empty their bladder can become susceptible to bladder infections. Greta was discharged 6 days later with pain medications and antibiotics for a bladder infection she developed. Her owners were instructed to keep her confined to her kennel for six weeks during which the owner should perform some physical therapy and express her bladder every eight hours.
Greta came to stay with us during the daytime for the next month so that we could assist with extra bladder emptying while the owner was at work and she was recovering from her infection. We were always happy to welcome her in the clinic. I would look forward to seeing Greta; it became part of the morning routine for me. We implemented a strict schedule for her that over time everyone got used to, even Greta. Both Dr. Forbes and Dr. Sappington (depending on schedule and availability) expressed her bladder daily and made sure she would get all her medications and food. Because Greta couldn’t use her back legs, we created a sling with a regular towel that would support her back end while she walked with her front legs. Walking her that way must have encouraged her to act more like herself because one day as Dr. Sappington was walking her back towards the entrance of the clinic, Greta started urinating on her own. We all knew we hit a milestone and couldn’t be happier for her. Maybe there is hope that she will be able to urinate completely on her own some day.
On May 5th, Greta went back to the University clinic for a recheck. Dr. Mauler was there for her examination this time. She found that Greta is healing normally. Unfortunately Greta did not regain use of her hind limbs and still requires that her bladder get emptied manually each day. Thanks to science and some really ingenious people, Greta was able to get a wheelchair cart for movement. Today Greta enjoys her life like she used to, she doesn’t look back and keep things “rolling” forward.
We are in the height of flea season, so I thought it would be a good time for some flea pictures! If your pet has fleas there are a few things you should know. The most important is that the fleas you are seeing on your pet are just 5% of the population of fleas in your home. The other 95% is comprised of flea eggs, larvae (tiny maggot-like creatures), and pupae (similar to a cocoon). They are all in your carpet, floor boards, bedding, and couches. This picture shows in gory detail the reproductive capability of fleas. This cat had been in the kennel for just a few hours, and all those little white specks on the kennel floor are flea eggs that fell off of him in just that amount of time. The black specks are flea “dander”, essentially flea poop made up of digested blood. The larvae that hatch out of those eggs feed on flea dander until they reach the pupae stage.
This cat received a Capstar, a pill that will start killing fleas that are on the pet within 30 minutes. It only lasts for 24 hours, so he was also sent home with a topical flea preventative for continued flea control. Once he went home the kennel and the rest of the room he was in was sprayed with Knockout Area Treatment to kill any eggs that may have been left behind after cleaning.
If your pet has fleas, how can you treat for the other life stages hanging around in your house?
1. Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum!!! This will mechanically pick up eggs, larvae, and pupae. Also, the heat, movement, and vibrations will stimulate fleas to come out of their pupae, at which point they will either jump on your pet and be killed by the flea prevention that you are now applying religiously every 30 days, OR you will kill them with…
2. A household treatment. We like Knockout Area Treatment, but there are many available. Flea bombs can help, but they won’t get under furniture where fleas like to hide. Be sure to spray in those shadowy corners, and focus on areas that your pet spends a lot of time.
3. Make sure ALL your pets are on a flea preventative. This includes dogs, cats, even rabbits or other small mammals you keep in the house (call your vet for recommended products and doses). It does not matter if they aren’t itchy or you haven’t seen fleas on them. Be sure to get a good quality flea preventative. Cheaper options available through retail stores tend to be less effective.
4. If your pet spends a lot of time outside, you can treat places he sleeps in a lot with an outdoor flea treatment. Focus on shaded areas, under trees or on or under a deck.
If you are using a topical flea prevention applied to the skin, do NOT use flea baths after you have applied it (even if it is a week or 2 later). You will strip the oils off of the pet’s skin, and the flea product along with it. Flea baths will only kill the fleas that are on the pet at that particular moment, so they do nothing to address fleas that jump on them later. Find a soap-free shampoo to use with your topical product instead.
If you’re having trouble with fleas contact your vet to discuss a flea treatment plan specific to your situation.
Callie is a 13 year old female domestic shorthair cat who was presented to us in Aprilfor vaccines and a senior wellness blood screen. At this time Callie had some weight loss, but otherwise was looking healthy. When results returned from the senior wellness blood work, we discovered that her liver values were elevated.
The liver is an important organ in the body, contributing to the detoxification of metabolites, protein synthesis, and the production of bile, which is necessary for digestion. Because of the varying functions, we were unsure as to what exactly caused the increase in her liver values. We prescribed Clavamox, an antibiotic, to treat for a possible bacterial infection. This antibiotic was also used to help rule out Cholangiohepatitis, a common condition of liver disease that causes inflammation of the liver and bile duct. When we ran a follow-up blood panel, however, it showed little improvement in her liver values.
We continued to pursue a diagnosis with additional testing, as well as a liver supplement. Abdominal X-rays were taken to check for size or mass abnormalities, and a liver function test was performed. When both tests came back normal, Callie was referred to the University of Missouri Veterinary Hospital for an ultrasound. The purpose of the ultrasound was to provide a different method and image of any abnormalities in the size or shape of the liver, but all findings were, again, normal. Throughout this process, liver values were continuously checked, to no avail, and Callie continued to lose weight.
Since the origin for Callie’s elevated liver values was still a mystery, a different antibiotic was prescribed in hopes of a more effective response than with the Clavamox. Minimal improvements were observed with this antibiotic, however, and so a biopsy was suggested to determine a definite diagnosis.
Dr. Forbes performed biopsies of both the liver and intestines, and the samples were sent to multiple labs across the country. The examination of the biopsied tissues reported back with findings consistent with small cell malignant hepatic LSA, or lymphosarcoma. Also known as lymphoma, lymphosarcoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is a network of vessels, organs, ducts and nodes found throughout the body. This system’s job is to transport lymph and help rid the body of toxins, waste, and other unwanted materials. Callie presented an interesting case of lymphoma, as it usually occurs first in the small intestines. However, the malignant cells were only found in her liver.
We are thankful that Callie’s owner decided to do a senior wellness blood screen, as that is what helped us distinguish a problem in the first place! She has begun chemotherapy to destroy the cancerous cells.
Written by Maggie