Monday, March 31, 2014

Weight loss success for Toby!

Losing weight is hard.  It is hard for us and it's really hard for our pets. Given that fact, I am very excited to report a weight loss success story! Toby is a 3-year-old Greater Swiss Mountain dog that I have been seeing since she was a tiny puppy.  Last spring at her annual exam Toby’s owner and I discussed that she had gained quite a bit of weight over the winter.  She was weighing in at 129 pounds and on physical exam she was quite chunky.  She was eating an adult formulation of dry food at the correct amount for her body weight.  We decided to switch her to a light formula and increase her activity.

Toby came back in 6 months for a recheck and had only lost 2 pounds.  At this point we switched to Hill’s Prescription Metabolic food and enrolled her in the Hill’s Healthy Weight Protocol.  Hill’s created this online program with University of Tennessee to establish a better system for evaluating body fat in overweight animals.  The Metabolic diet was designed using nutrigenomics to affect gene expression by working with the animal’s metabolism for more effective weight loss.
Click on picture for full image

We started by taking a few measurements and plugging it into the online program which then told me that based on her breed, body measurements and weight Toby’s body fat index was 43% and her ideal weight was 90 pounds. Toby was allowed to eat 1 can and 31/4 cups dry Metabolic prescription food per day.  This was a lot more than the 2 cups daily she was allowed on the adult light food.  Her owner reported that she loved the food and we were off and running.

After eating the Hill’s Metabolic for 6 month I am thrilled to report that Toby is down to 112 pounds.  That is a loss of 15 pounds!  We are going to keep going and try to get down to about 100 pounds, which I think will be ideal for her.  Once she reaches her target weight we can continue feeding Metabolic and Toby get even more food each day to maintain her ideal weight.  I don’t know many dogs or people who would turn down that deal!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Diabetes in cats - Izzy's story

Izzy is an 8-year-old kitty who came to see me because her owner noticed over the past month she had been drinking and urinating much more than normal. Overall she is a healthy, middle-aged cat with no previous medical issues. Her physical exam was unremarkable but she had lost a little over half a pound since her visit last year.  Additionally, a few months ago she had been given an injection of a steroid by a veterinarian at another hospital to help with a superficial skin infection.

There are many causes of increased thirst and urination, a condition technically called polydyspia and polyuria. We submitted blood and urine to look for underlying causes such as chronic kidney disease or a urinary tract infection.  Izzy’s results came back showing she had a significantly elevated blood glucose level and glucose in her urine. These two concurrent results are diagnostic for diabetes mellitus.  Other signs of diabetes in cats other than increased thirst and urination are weight loss, changes in liver function and hind limb weakness.

Diabetes in cats is similar to Type 2 diabetes in humans. The pancreas does not produce enough insulin in response to a meal resulting in elevated blood glucose levels. In addition, the insulin that is produced is not utilized correctly to process blood sugar.  The major cause of diabetes in cats is obesity, which is made worse by inactivity and excessive dietary carbohydrates.  In Izzy’s case she is not overweight but the steroid injection could have affected her ability to produce insulin resulting in diabetes.  It is unusual and unfortunate that she developed diabetes after just one steroid injection.

Once we had a diagnosis of diabetes, we needed to start Izzy on twice daily insulin injections and adjust her diet. After she had been on insulin for a week we performed a blood glucose curve to assess how she was responding to treatment. This means her owner checked her blood glucose with a machine called a glucometer, every four hours for a twelve-hour time span.  Izzy’s owner is amazing, she tackled both the daily and injections and at home curves with ease. 

We started Izzy on insulin and planned the first curve a week later.  This would give her body time to get used to the insulin and start balancing out her blood sugar.  Her first curve showed that the insulin barely changed her blood sugar at all so we gave just a touch more.  We have to be careful not to give too much insulin as this can cause her blood sugar to go to low (hypoglycemia) resulting in neurologic issues such as vomiting, decreased appetite, weakness, stumbling and seizures.  It took us about six weeks to get it right, after each blood glucose curve we would gradually increase the insulin and check a curve a week later.

Izzy is now a well-regulated diabetic, happily eating Hill’s Prescription M/D diet.  It is important to implement a diet change to help better manage diabetes in cats. Unlike people and dogs, cats are obligate carnivores. This affects how they process nutrients in many ways, one of which is that they are not well equipped to metabolize an excess of dietary carbohydrates. The M/D diet is high in protein and low in carbohydrates, specifically designed for diabetic kitties to help better regulate their blood sugar.

Diabetes is a difficult disease for pet owners, it is expensive to treat and requires a unique dedication to your pet.  Cats have a finicky pancreas and can develop complications from their diabetes without warning.  Owners like Izzy’s mom deserve recognition for all their hard work and devotion to their pet’s health.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Cardiology - Dr. Keith Blass

We all know that our pets have huge hearts filled with unconditional love--but what does it mean when your veterinarian tells you your pet has a heart murmur?

It could mean nothing or it could indicate that there is heart disease present. The only way to know is with an ultrasound of the heart called an echocardiogram. This procedure takes around 30 minutes and is done by a board certified cardiologist. Usually sedation is not necessary and you are with your pet the entire time. The doctor will image the heart and see if there is disease present such as thickening of the heart wall or abnormalities with the valves.

Image of echocardiogram

I often have people ask me “even if there is something wrong what are we going to do about it anyway?” While heart surgery is not commonly performed on animals, we can treat with medications that will help the heart work better and prolong your pet’s quality of life.

Dr. Keith Blass is our cardiologist here at Friendship, joining the team in September of 2013.  Dr. Blass graduated from Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine and completed an internship at University of Pennsylvania's College of Veterinary Medicine.  He then went on to a three year cardiology residency at The Ohio State University.  We are very happy to have him provide this critical service to our patients in need.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Fashion for Paws 2014!

Spring is finally here! That means it is time for the dogs of DC to get ready to strut down the catwalk for the 8th annual Fashion for Paws Runway Show on April 12th at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.  Last year my Labradoodle Frank and I had a great time walking the runway and were thrilled to raise over $17,000.  Since its inception Fashion for Paws has raised more than three million dollars for the Washington Humane Society (WHS).

All proceeds from the event benefit the nearly 43,000 lost, abused and neglected animals WHS cares for every year need your help.  Friendship often provides emergency care for the animals of WHS and I have personally treated many of the animals WHS Humane Law Enforcement Officers have brought in for treatment.  I also volunteer at the monthly CatNiPP spay/neuter clinic for feral cats.  This has given me a first-hand view into the critical work that WHS provides for the animals and people of our community.

Here is an example of how your donation can directly improve the lives of animals in our community:

$35- Provides microchips for 6 animals
$50- Covers costs to spay or neuter a stray animal
$75- Buys 50 cat scratching posts
 for shelter kitties to play with
$100- Buys 10 Kong Dog toys for shelter pups to play with
$150- Pays for the average cost of one homeless animal's stay
$250- Helps fund medical examinations for 2 rescued animals
$500- Helps WHS Officers conduct a cruelty inspection
$1,000- Helps provide Heartworm tests for 150 animals

If you would like to support Frank in his dreams of runway domination there are many ways to get involved.  You can purchase a ticket to the event or make a direct donation by visiting my fundraising website.

Thank you for your support!