Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dr. Bush and Puck the Corgi

Puck a few days after surgery

I have written multiple posts about how much I admire and respect neurologist extraordinaire Dr. Bill Bush; you can then imagine how thrilled I was when he started seeing appointments at Friendship on Thursdays.  We are so lucky to have such an amazing neurologist right in the hospital that we can refer clients to. 

I think the story of Puck the Corgi illustrates just how gifted a clinician Dr. Bush is and the cutting edge treatment options he has available to his patients.  Puck presented to Friendship after having multiple seizures for the first time in his ten years of age.  Dr. Bush evaluated Puck and immediately suspected that he had a brain tumor, he literally pointed to Puck’s forehead and said, “There is something going on right here”. 

Sure enough an MRI at Bush Veterinary Neurology Service (BVNS) in Leesburg confirmed that Puck had a tumor in the olfactory-frontal lobe of his brain.  Puck immediately went to surgery for a transfrontal craniotomy to have the tumor removed.  A post-operative MRI showed that Dr. Bush and his resident Dr. Hague were able to remove the entire tumor.  Puck recovered quickly and was back home in a few days.

Initial MRI - tumor is white area above red arrow
MRI post-op, no more tumor!

Here is where it gets really cool!  The tumor was submitted to the Ohlfest Brain Tumor Laboratory at the University of Minnesota where they are performing groundbreaking research in treatment of brain tumors for both dogs and humans.  They were able to use Puck’s tumor to create a vaccine that will be administered under his skin to target and kill any remaining tumor cells.

Four months after surgery Puck is doing great and even updates his fans on his very own Twitter feed @puckthecorgi.  Visit BVNS’s website for more amazing stories of dogs and cats that Dr. Bush and his team have helped.  Remember he is available for consults at Friendship on Thursdays, visit our website for more information.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Fashion for Paws 2012!

Frank in 2011

It is that time of the year again; spring is almost here and with the tulips comes Fashion for Paws.  This will be my third year participating and I could not be more excited to embark on my fundraising efforts.  Last year my Labradoodle Frank and I were very proud to walk down the runway after raising more than $18,000 for the Washington Humane Society (WHS).

This is a cause near and dear to my heart and I am grateful for the opportunity to give back to an organization that gives so much to our community.  WHS provides care to more than 30,000 abused, neglected and abandoned animals every year.  They are the only open-access shelter in the District which means that at any time if someone feels they cannot care for their pet WHS will accept them.  They take in an average of thirty animals per day.  This service alone saves thousands of animals from needless suffering.

Sparkle and me in 2010
In addition to the shelters WHS has numerous programs that benefit not just animals but humans as well.  Their Humane Education program aims to educate school children about animal abuse to stop the cycle of abuse that so many children grow up with.  There is a direct connection between animal cruelty and domestic violence.  If we can educate these children to show compassion to animals it is thought that this will translate to other aspects of their life and prevent future violent acts.

The dedicated and tireless officers of WHS’s Humane Law Enforcement are available twenty-four hours a day to investigate reports of animal cruelty.  They witness horrendous acts against innocent animals that we all prefer not to think about, a cat intentionally set on fire or a dog left to die in a dumpster after extensive bite wounds.  These officers subject themselves to witnessing the worst in human behavior and yet they keep at it day after day in order to keep the animals of the District safe.  I feel this is truly commendable.

These are just a few of the many programs that WHS provides to the animals and people of the District.  Without them we would be lost and many innocent animals would pay the price with needless suffering.  As someone who has dedicated my life to helping animals I am proud to raise money for this wonderful organization, please consider supporting Frank and me in Fashion for Paws this year.   

Visit http://support.washhumane.org/goto/frank for more information.

Monday, February 6, 2012

What to feed in 2012

In this post I will attempt to explain what I think is the best way to feed your dog.  After extensive research among veterinary nutritionists, published research and the Internet I have come to the conclusion that the perfect dog food does not exist.  Each brand is unique and therefor brings something different to the bowl.  Because of this I rotate the brands of food I feed my dogs.  I don’t eat the exact same thing every day, so why would I feed my dogs like that.

Dogs developed by eating whatever they could scavenge so it makes sense to me that their gastrointestinal (GI) tracts should always be digesting something a little different.  Since every brand and type of food has a different combination of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals; I can be confident that if one brand is lacking something another brand should make up for it (in theory).

Just about every time my dogs eat they get a different combination of food.  I have two to three bags of different types of dry food and an assortment of canned foods in my house at all times.  I then alternate the dry foods and add in a scoop of canned food to make it a little bit more exciting.

You are probably thinking that suddenly switching a dog’s food like that will result in a nasty bout of diarrhea. This is true if you feed the exact same thing every single day, but if the GI tract is used to being surprised then it adapts quite well.  As I said my dogs get a different mix of food at every meal and they have lovely stool.
In addition to their diet I also give all the dogs an omega-3 fatty acid supplement such as those found in fish oil.  You can read in my previous post on fish oil and all the amazing benefits it provides to the body.  Dogs have a difficult time utilizing the fatty acids found in flax seed or oil so fish oil is a much better choice.  There are a variety of human and veterinary products to choose from, just remember to find a reputable brand such as Nutramax or Nordic Naturals.

Given the multiple pet food recalls some owners want to cook for their pets feeling this is a safer alternative to commercial foods.  I never recommend feeding a home cooked meal unless the owner consults with a veterinary nutritionist or a website like www.balanceit.com.  Without specific guidelines and supplements it is almost impossible to feed your dog a diet that meets all of his nutritional needs.  Just throwing some meat and veggies into a bowl is not providing your dogs with the nutrients he needs and will result in health problems.

Despite what many pet foods companies will tell you corn is a viable protein and carbohydrate source that provides many essential nutrients; it is not just filler.  I have no problem feeding my dogs a diet that contains corn, however, I don’t want that to be the only grain they eat.  This again illustrates why rotating diets is so important in giving your dog a balanced diet.

Finally, the super high protein foods are not necessarily better.  Dogs are omnivores like humans and are made to eat a combination of meat and plant material.  These diets provide excess protein that you dog does not need and excreting these proteins creates increased work load on the kidneys.  In animals that have decreased kidney function these high protein diets are actually harmful and can worsen progression of disease.

This is my favorite brand
I hope this helps you decide what is the best food for your dog; I know it can be overwhelming.  Just remember there is no one best food and by rotating brands you have the best chance of providing your dog a complete and balanced diet.