Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sparkle and Dr. Bush

A few years ago, when I was in the midst of my internship year at Friendship, my rat terrier Sparkle suddenly developed severe neck pain. She hid under the bed and would scream anytime I touched her. She was six years old at the time, and had previously been one hundred percent healthy. Needless to say, I was completely freaked out and immediately started imagining all the horrible diseases that could be causing her discomfort.

It was this episode that solidified my opinion of Dr. Bush -- of Bush Veterinary Neurology Services (BVNS), -- as my all-time favorite specialist in the area. I called him very upset and he instantly squeezed me into his schedule, which was already jam-packed. Prior to these events, I had frequently spoken with him on the phone because he allowed the doctors at Friendship to call his cell phone whenever we had questions on cases with neurologic issues.

The fact that Dr. Bush permits Friendship veterinarians to call him at any time of day or night shows how dedicated he is. We have amazing specialists in DC but, besides Dr. Bush, I don’t know of a single one who will answer a cell phone at one in the morning to discuss a case. Not only that, but I have never called with a patient in need of a neurologist and been told Dr. Bush and his colleagues are unable to see the referral. It is such a comforting feeling to know I can assure my client that without a doubt their pet will be seen by a neurologist within the next twenty-four hours or less.

Sparkle’s neck pain resolved with medical management and she has not had an issue since. (It is possible that, being the neurotic pet owner that I am, I may have overreacted!) Regardless, I have been a dedicated fan of Dr. Bush ever since, and refer all of my patients that need the attention of a neurologist to BVNS.

Since my visit with Sparkle over three years ago, BVNS has grown tremendously. Dr. Bush now has two board-certified neurologists and three veterinarians who are completing advanced training to become neurologists. In addition, he has an MRI located at his clinic, ensuring that his patients can have advanced imaging when they need it rather than rely on an outside service.

Taking your pet to see a neurologist is rarely a desirable event as it is usually precipitated by a scary event such as seizures or paralysis. Here in DC, we are lucky to have the doctors at BVNS to turn to when neurologic disease strikes one of our pets.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Is it spring yet?

I know that we are all sick of the cold and snow but while winter continues to drag on there are some important cold weather warnings to remember to keep your pets safe. You can also listen to an interview I did about these topics with WAMU.

Orthopedic Injury: Dogs love running through the deep snow and don’t give much thought to racing across an icy patch of terrain. Owners must be careful when letting pups run free as they can easily pull a muscle or slip and fall. Another danger occurs when ice and snow accumulate between furry toes which cause cuts or irritation.

Rodenticide: another common toxicity to be aware of for both dogs and cats. The cold weather drives rats and mice into our homes and without question this is undesirable. In an effort to get rid of these unwanted visitors many people will put out poison. Keep this in mind, rodenticides don’t just kill rodents, they will kill any mammal that ingests it. Most rat poison is formulated to be tasty, attracting both rodents and our pets. If you must put a rodenticide in your house or on your property make sure your animals can’t get to it, remembering that the crafty rodent often will move the poison. Also warfarin based products are best since these are at least treatable if caught in time.

Antifreeze: this common chemical has a sweet taste so dogs and cats are actually attracted to it. If you are unaware your pet was exposed, by the time clinical signs become apparent it is often too late for treatment. The other nasty thing about antifreeze is that a tiny amount is all it takes to cause irreversible damage resulting in death. Avoid this by monitoring your pets at all times and keeping cats indoors.

Freezing temperatures: I think this shouldn’t need to be said but keep your pets inside when it gets cold. If the thermostat dips below 40 degrees Fahrenheit bring outside dogs in and don’t let the kitty out for the night. Animals are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia just like us so please protect them.

Salting for snow and ice: many of the chemicals used to keep sidewalks and roads safe can be toxic to dogs and cats. This is can be avoided by cleaning paws after a walk so they don’t lickthe chemicals off once you get home. If you will be salting your own property consider using Safe Paws Ice Melter to keep paws safe.

Warm car engines: Many people let their cats outside which is not a good idea on many levels but once it gets cold kitties really put themselves at risk for death by seeking shelter in a parked car. In an effort to warm up during a cold night cats will crawl up under the hood of a car and curl up on the warm engine block. This does not end well when you come out the next morning and fire up your car to head off for work. Luckily this is easy to avoid by keeping your kitties inside during the chilly months.

Preventatives: You may have stopped your heartworm and flea/tick prevention for winter but now is the time to start back up again. With spring just around the corner (or so we hope) all those mosquitoes, fleas and ticks are just waiting to emerge and attack our pets. Don't forget that cats, even those that live indoors, need preventatives too!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Continuing education

Hello from sunny, warm Las Vegas! Drs. Begnoche, McMurphy and I have spent the past week at the Western Veterinary Conference learning about the new and exciting developments in veterinary medicine. Since medicine is constantly evolving and recommendations are always changing, all veterinarians are required to participate in continuing education. What makes Friendship stand out among other clinics is that all of our doctors attend a national conference annually. This is another way we make sure that your pet is provided with the very best veterinary care possible.

Essentially, attending a conference is kind of like going back to school but is even better because you get to focus on subjects applicable to what you do every day. We have spent our week in Las Vegas listening to specialists from around the country lecture on various topics. This helps us to make sure that the recommendations we give our clients are not just appropriate but the gold-standard of care determined by the latest research.

In case you were worried that we have been working too hard, do not fear. After sitting in lectures all day we have been enjoying dinner at amazing restaurants and seeing the sites of Las Vegas. Last night we went to see Cirque du Soliel "O" which was pretty spectacular. Tomorrow we are headed home and I'm really looking forward to returning to work to implement all the exciting new tidbits I have learned.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fashion for Paws!

Today marks the start of the eight weeks I have to raise money for the Fashion for Paws event benefiting the animals and programs of the Washington Humane Society. For the next two months I will be highlighting all of the great work that WHS does to save the abused, abandoned and neglected animals of our community.

WHS is the only Congressionally-chartered animal welfare agency in the United States and has been the leading voice for animals in the District since 1870. In addition to running both the Georgia Avenue and New York Avenue shelters, WHS funds the Humane Education Program, Humane Law Enforcement, and many other programs that help strengthen the bond between people and their pets.

On April 10th at the Italian Embassy I along with sixty others will walk down the runway wearing the latest spring styles accompanied by fashionably dressed dogs. I am very honored to be representing Friendship and the only veterinarian to be participating in this exciting event.

If you would like to show your support for WHS and specifically my fundraising campaign we have many options available for you. Friendship is donating all proceeds from sales of our canvas tote bags from now until March 31st to my fundraising efforts. In addition, we are having a raffle at Friendship with many exciting prizes such as:

* $200 gift card to Friendship

* Nutramax gift basket with Dasuquin Soft Chews and their NEW omega-3 supplement Welactin

* Dog and cat wellness gift baskets from Butler-Schein filled with everything you need to keep your pal healthy

* 6 month supply of Hill’s Science Diet or Hill’s Prescription Diet food

* 1 week of Doggie Day Care from Happy Paws

* $50 gift card to Pet Mac

If you would like more information, to make a direct donation or to purchase tickets to the event please click here to visit my personal fundraising page.

Check back on Tuesday to read my post about the horrors of puppy mills and how your support of organizations like WHS can help end the suffering of these innocent dogs.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happy Birthday Poppy!

Poppy turned one today! Theoretically she is all grown up, although I have to say most of the time she still acts like a maniac. The wonderful woman who fostered Poppy's mother, then whelped and cared for the puppies wrote an amazing post on her blog about the experience, please take a moment to read it - Pell-Mel blog. She eloquently portrays the strength and comfort an animal (or eight) can bring to your life.

This picture was taken on the first night I brought Poppy home with me