February 17, 2016
They say variety is the spice of life. I am fortunate to have an extremely interesting career! In the past eight days I have seen one rabbit with an ear ache and spayed another. A lizard presented with scoliosis, curvature of the spine, caused by underlying malnutrition. I saw a cat with a very odd skin mite that may not have been diagnosed in Merced before! By the simple act of pressing scotch tape over the cat’s dander and looking at this under the microscope I found a mite I’d never seen before. My colleague, Dr. Klingborg, identified it from a derm (skin) meeting he’d attended in November and now we’ve held several discussions on the presence of this mite in Merced (it is considered to be contagious between cats). And always, the “usual” mix of cats, dogs, and birds. Today while performing spay surgeries (an ovariohysterectomy surgery) on cats I opened up one female cat only to find parts of a mummified fetus in her abdomen, causing no known distress to her before today. I completed the surgery and explained the situation to her owner, using digital photos taken during the surgery. Another veterinarian in the practice, Dr. Lauppe, was doing an orthopedic surgery on an injured knee while Dr. K removed a cancerous mass and attended to a dog that had been attacked by another dog (BBBD – Bit By Big Dog). A guinea pig with an eye ulcer came in and the Zoo needs a review on the Mountain Lion’s diet. A delightful Labrador had five enormous rotting teeth extracted and went home on antibiotics and painkillers. In two weeks he’ll be soooo much better! A lady called about a duck she thought might have eaten a tiny battery (the battery could corrode the stomach and cause heavy metal poisoning. All waterfowl are at risk of ingesting odd metal objects – they just like shiny objects). A woman (I never got her name) brought in a hummingbird that “fell from the sky”. We mixed up sugar water, revived the uninjured bird and sent it off with her to be released where she found it. An abuse case was brought in by Animal Control and a pregnant dog with three puppies stuck inside presented for a Caesarean section, performed beautifully by one of the other vets. I saw a Sulcata African tortoise with a mild upper respiratory disease and discussed the special dietary needs the new owner would want to address. Obtained from a Tortoise rescue group, the Sulcata’s shell mounded up on top, called pyramiding of the carapace. Much like the lizard with the deformed spine, it indicated an improper calcium and vitamin D ratio, the tip of the iceberg for signs indicating malnutrition.
February is National Dental Month for Dogs and Cats and most veterinarians who care for companion animals focus special attention on dental care this month. In veterinary medicine we are not focused on the whitest smile to impress someone! You are most fortunate if you have never experienced a tooth ache. Some dogs present with teeth so brown with mineralized plaque and calculus that it looks like moss has grown on them. That bad breath smell is from the bacteria growing along and under the gum line. The same bacteria that can dislodge and spread to the heart or kidneys. Cats demonstrate “jaw chatter” if you touch a tooth with a neck lesion cavity near the gum line – you can observe this incredibly painful response after you peel your cat off the ceiling. Most dogs and cats continue to eat despite foul teeth – please do not judge your pet’s dental pain by whether they haven’t starved to death! Over the years I have heard countless times of pets that “acted years younger” once their abscessed teeth were removed, their mouths healthy again. Call your vet today – there are some great deals out there this month!
Christine B. McFadden, DVM