Tag Archives: animal health

Equine Coronavirus

What is Equine Coronavirus?

Equine coronavirus (ECoV) is well known as a cause of gastrointestinal disease in foals.  However, recently this virus has been linked with intestinal diseases in adults.

What are the clinical signs of ECoV?

Infected horses tend to develop high fevers (>103oF), inappetance, dullness, and lethargy that may last two to four days with minimal treatment.  Some horses may experience soft manure to diarrhea with mild colic signs such as flank watching and/or lying down.  In rare cases, ECoV may lead to translocation of bacteria from the intestinal tract and lead to serious complication like septicemia, endotoxemia, and encephalopathy.

How is ECoV transmitted?

ECoV is spread horse to horse by manure-to-mouth. Both symptomatic and non-symptomatic horses can transmit the virus in their manure for three to four weeks that may lead to clinical disease.  Research is ongoing to assess sources of outbreaks.  The disease is highly infectious and appropriate biosecurity measures are essential during an outbreak.  Although many horses may become infected (high morbidity) overall mortality is low.  The virus is suspected to live in the environment for up to 72 hours.

How is ECoV diagnosed?

Gold standard for diagnosis of ECoV is submission of manure sample for PCR testing for presence of the virus genetic code.  Such testing may take several days to perform thus treatment is started prior to confirmed diagnosis in many cases.

How is ECoV treated?

Main goal of treatment of ECoV is supportive care for the clinical signs displayed such as IV fluids to avoid dehydration, medication to reduce fever such as Banamine®, and gastrointestinal/anti-ulcer protectant medications such as BioSponge® and Gastroguard®.  Close monitoring for laminitis and preventative measure of deep bedding and/or hoof padding is recommended.

How to limit spread during an outbreak?

Strict biosecurity measures must be established.  Affected horses must be kept separate from unaffected horses. Separate barn equipment must be used when handling/treating sick horses.  It is recommended to handle sick horses last and limit the overall traffic occurring in/out of barn during an outbreak.  Veterinarian grade disinfectants are required to inactivate the virus.

Denise Newsome, BVSc, MRCVS, DABVP(equine)

Food is Love, but so is Quality Time

by Dr Maddie Scofield

As the air becomes crisper and the holidays creep around the corner I become increasingly excited about many things associated with season changes.  Most important for me is food.  I’d be lying if I told you Halloween candy has not constituted over 80% of several meals earlier this November!  As I think back on delicious memories of previous holidays, my throat tightens as my belt loosens at the thought of those extra 5-10 lbs. I will gain during these times of love and food.   Which bring me to my main topic of discussion, the concept of food as love.   Food is given and shared as a gift of friendship, fellowship and sympathy during all types of celebrations, family events, and holidays.  Food is love for us as humans to humans but also as humans to our beloved four legged companions.

I would be lying to you if I told you I never give food (i.e. people food) to my animals.  I fondly remember sharing a soft serve ice cream cone between me and my dogs in the Mc Donald’s parking lot one afternoon.  It was a happy moment in a sad time, as it was just after our Labrador “Abbie” had her chemo treatment for cancer.  In the middle of our gastronomic bliss I hear following words emanating from the car parked next to us: “I bet your veterinarian wouldn’t approve of you feeding your dogs that ice cream!”  These were words coming from a concerned busybody in the neighboring car.   I couldn’t help but bellow a response: “Well…..I am my dogs’ veterinarian.  Besides, they ran 3 miles today and this one is dying of cancer…. but thank you for caring!”  The interloper immediately rolled up their window and resumed eating the not so healthy junk food.

I understand the concern that you may have feeding your dog “people food”.  There is the likelihood your veterinarians at VMC are going to chastise you for feeding your dog anything but pet food and pet treats.  But what joy and happiness we feel giving them something they love!  Feeding homemade snacks from the farmers market…….watching that reward center of the brain light up as they smack peanut butter from the roof of their mouth, or eat meat drippings on their dry kibble.  There is no doubt that food helps bond us to our pets and patients.

Unfortunately, all these extra treats can bring problems.  There is the ever increasing concern for weight gain, and with this obesity can come other health problems which can severely impact the quality of our pet’s lives and their longevity.  That’s why this year I’m promising myself to try to light up the reward center in a more healthy way!  I’m sure we will indulge in snacking, but this year I plan to pursue moderation in the indulgence!  The same will go for my beloved 4-legged friends, and I encourage you to do the same.  Your dog can have a tiny taste, but remember they don’t need a huge portion.  A taste will often satisfy your need to give in and share as well as avoid the food coma or overload lethargy from a true gorge of indulgent calories (i.e. “Thanksgiving”).  It will also help prevent the inevitable gastrointestinal ailments we see in dogs after the holidays.

I’m going to put effort towards another, perhaps more rewarding way to bond with my pets this holiday season: we are exercising together!  This exercise will induce natural endorphins and give us the quality time we need together.  Our companions get the most reward from just being with us, especially when we are active with them.  A 10-15 min sojourn around the block will not only help slim our waist lines and invigorate our mental health, it will also strengthen our human-animal bond.  My challenge for all of us is this: for every extra snack or treat we eat, we must be more active, and take our pets out for a “sniff” walk or game of catch, while we enjoy this beautiful time of year.  I’m hopeful that this holiday season is magical, and that you and your pets will enjoy this time together even more with more activity and exercise!  If you have any questions about breaking the rules…you know where to find me, just don’t tell your veterinarian!

p.s. – I’ve made it to the gym 3 times in the past week!!

10 Reasons Why I Still Love Veterinary Medicine

2015 is the 30th anniversary of my graduation for veterinary school.   I am one of the luckiest people in the world to be able to practice my passion every day.  After 30 years, I am surprised and delighted by my profession.  So today, here are ten things that still amaze and delight me every time I see them (not necessarily in any order…)

  1. Every year brings a new technique, knowledge, or procedure that improves my ability to care for animals. We can offer so much more now than I did 30 years ago.  I love learning.
  2. Seeing a newborn foal and still being amazed on how it ever fit in the mare and how it can straighten out legs that have been bent for 6 months…
  3. Watching cows run in a field- they always look like they are having so much fun – even if they aren’t true athletes!
  4. The people I work with all share the same compassion and commitment to improving animal’s lives. I am such a lucky person to have the staff I do.
  5. How fast sheep can move when you are trying to catch them – who knew?
  6. The amazing healing powers of cats – the old  veterinary saying that you can put the two ends of a bone in the same room and a cat will heal is really  true.
  7. How ferrets “flow” instead of run. They almost slither.
  8. The fact that newborn guinea pigs look just like tiny adults and can eat solid food as soon as they are born.
  9. The ability I have to end suffering and relieve pain, painful as it is, is a gift that I am privileged to share.
  10. And finally, the love and devotion that people share with their animals is truly humbling. I know how I feel about my pets, and I get to work every day with people who share that.

Here’s to the next 30 years!

Elizabeth H. Bruce, VMD, DACVIM

Spring is Here!

It has been a long and dreary winter that has seemingly had no end. I for one am ready for spring. The sweet smell of fresh cut grass, the chorus of peepers singing in the night, and the sense of wonder watching the bluebirds return to their birdhouse to raise their next brood; it is all just around the corner.

However, it is predictable how the seasons bring back unwelcome problems in our pets as well. The return of seasonal allergies is as anticipated and expected in many pets as the first blossom of forsythia. Many pets will start to display symptoms at the exact same time each year.  There are quite a few options available to relieve allergy suffering in pets. Dogs will often manifest seasonal allergies, also called atopy, with itching. Very often licking, biting and chewing of the feet marks the beginning of signs. Redness, inflammation and irritation between the toes can lead to painful infections and continued self trauma leading to lameness and lethargy. Identifying the symptoms early and talking with your veterinarian about what treatment options would be best for your pet will help prevent this condition from escalating to a vicious cycle of constant chewing and scratching, chronic swelling and inflammation, and help to relieve the suffering of this unwelcome springtime guest.

Dr. Dean Tyson

Veterinarians are not smart clients!   

By  Dr. Casey Beck

I’d like to say it was my first year of veterinary school but I’ll be honest and admit I was actually a second year veterinary student when this event occurred.  Like any good veterinary technician (now working her way through vet school) I had already seen and learned a lot about the profession and all the different types of cases that come through the doors, especially since my experience was mostly obtained in the emergency clinic near my undergraduate college.

Like most vet students I acquired a very sweet and happy 1 year old mixed breed dog during my first year of study in the Caribbean. These dogs were fondly called “island dogs” in Grenada and were known for being robust, healthy and sturdy companions. He was of course still a puppy and very good at chewing up or taking apart almost anything in my apartment. Through long hours of study he often would distract me by eating a pair of headphones or barking incessantly at the feral cats outside running through our yard. This particular day when I heard him making a strange noise from the living room I was sure he had yet again gotten into something or torn apart my favorite pair of running shoes.

When I entered the living room I was surprised to find that nothing had actually been destroyed but rather my adorable little guy seemed to be struggling to breathe, coughing and gagging like something was stuck in his throat! I immediately yelled to my medical school boyfriend at the time, “Quick, quick, help! Carib is choking!!” I was so worried I believe I was actually shaking! I frantically tried to think of what to do and who to call when my boyfriend entered the room, calmly staring at my hacking dog and said, “You know, I bet he just has kennel cough”.

Now I hate to admit this, especially since my boyfriend and I were in constant debate about whose profession was more challenging and interesting, but he unfortunately was right. Carib had acquired kennel cough, (infectious tracheobronchitis), from the neighbor’s puppy.  This particular playmate was just diagnosed with kennel cough the week prior. D’uh!! Slap on the head. So much for being the straight-A, very knowledgeable veterinary student!

Like my concerned pet owners that I see every day, I experienced firsthand that rush of distress and fear that my pet was sick and I needed to get him help. I felt helpless.  No matter if the problem is life threatening or more subtly just a minor concern, as veterinarians we can honestly always understand our pet owners stress and concern when they don’t know if their pets are seriously sick or not. As always, it’s better to have us tell you “it’s nothing to worry about” than to hear us say “we wish we had seen your pet sooner.” Though I do have to admit, I still probably would not ask a medical student boyfriend his opinion on the matter!

To sleep or brush teeth…Dr Amy Tanis

“So overall your pet’s physical exam is normal. He looks great! Let’s start brushing his teeth on a daily basis, this will help prevent tartar and plaque from forming on your pet’s teeth and keep his oral cavity happy and healthy!”

When I first started practicing at Veterinary Medical Center, I would probably say this (enthusiastically, no less) several times a day to most owners I would see, and why not? I brushed my dog’s teeth every day. It was easy, a five minute part of my day that both my dog, Jovie, and I looked forward to. But as time went on I noticed a trend. Each time I said it, I would get very different responses.  Many clients would give me the big “are you kidding me” eyes.  Others would say they’d try, but were realistic and said maybe they could aim for once a week. The most honest of the bunch would tell me there’s no chance of getting a toothbrush into their pet’s mouth, so let’s just schedule him for a dental cleaning every year.  I appreciated all answers as I realized everyone had different schedules, different comfort levels with their pets, and of course each animal’s temperament would dictate what type of at home oral care was possible.

Then I had a baby.

Of course I had time for my first baby, my beloved dog, but it was different. Most of our time together was now shared with a child. Sleep was always a precious commodity, so I would say, “Don’t worry Jovie; I’ll make sure we brush your teeth after I take a nap.” And we would nap together, get up together, take care of the baby and no teeth were brushed. I promised that tomorrow I’d get the toothbrush and chicken-flavored toothpaste, and about half the time I kept my word. Jovie’s teeth still looked healthy; I thought an every other day regimen was a good compromise.

Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. A second baby came. I really had good intentions. Naps were a thing of the past for both of us; we were on the go looking after two little ones. Oral care for my fur baby was not always on my radar screen, but I still did a respectable one-time-per-week brushing. I started buying dental chews and gave one to Jovie on the days I didn’t brush, after-all they are a great way to keep bacteria from sticking to the tooth surface (I would reassure myself).

Then it happened. Surprise! A third baby was on his way. Sleep was at an all-time low, and I don’t think Jovie’s toothbrush even made it out of our bathroom drawer for a few months! During a moment of quiet, when Jovie and I had some time to just sit together, I lifted her upper lip. I thought back to a time of yester-year when those pearly whites got brushed religiously, when I instructed clients on how to perform the simple task, and was honest with them when I said, “why yes, I brush my dog’s teeth every day.”

Nowadays, sleep has become a little more regular, and so has giving Jovie’s teeth a good scrub. She probably will need a dental cleaning in the future, but she’s survived the baby years just like the rest of us. I will get back to brushing her teeth daily one day, or even better, I’ll delegate the job to an eager child who loves their dog!

Please review the link on our website for a short video on how to train your pet to love having a daily tooth brushing!

Don’t forget February is National Dental Health Month!

Mention you read this blog and get a $25.00 discount on your pet’s dentistry service scheduled through February 28 2015!

Five Lifesaving Skills that all Horses Need to Know

I know we all use our horses for many different things.  Some of us trail ride, some of us show, some of us just like to watch them in the field.  It really doesn’t matter.  What does matter, though, is that I think every horse should know 5 basic things.  These 5 things may make the difference between life and death for them.  We are fortunate – we don’t live in an area where there are wildfires or the need to evacuate in a moment’s notice.  But even if we don’t need to leave quickly, we still need to be able to handle our horse in an emergency.  Here are the 5 lifesaving things:

  1. Be able to catch and halter easily. If you can’t catch your horse, you can’t take him. It may take a few sessions in a round pen, but it CAN be taught.
  2. Lead well. By lead well, I mean to walk at your side, to stop when you do and to keep a respectful distance.  Not only will it make it safer for you to handle your horse, it makes it safer for your horse as well.
  3. Pick up his feet easily. (And that means all 4!) This may not be an emergency item, but you would be surprised at how many horses don’t know.  Your farrier and vet will thank you too!
  4. Have a rectal temperature taken. In an emergency, when you don’t have help, you may need to take your horses temperature.  If you have never taught them, it may be a disaster (for you at least- the horse just won’t let it happen and may remind you that you have never even lifted up the tail, much less inserted a foreign object there!)
  5. Load in a trailer. Not with tranquilization, not with an hour of coaxing, shoving, ropes, whips or grain. Do you need to evacuate?  Is your horse colicing and loading (or not) to go to a referral hospital?  An emergency is not the time when you should be seeing (and hoping) if your horse will load.

These things don’t cost money, they just take time.  They also apply to any age horse, from a foal to the geriatric horse. There are a lot of trainers who can help you, or you can get a lot of this knowledge from books, DVD’s or online.  If you need help or need to know where to look, let me know and I can get you the information you need.  After all, your horse’s health matters to me too.

Elizabeth D. Callahan, DVM, DACT, DABVP

Why I Practice Small Animal Medicine in a Mixed Animal Practice

First off, I would like to share how grateful I am to enjoy a career that is stimulating and meaningful where every day  I help animals, celebrate the bond they have with their owners, and have the true sense that I am following my purpose. I am living as my authentic self and it feels amazing.   While working a 13 hour day it is still energizing and satisfying, and I am left with a sense of accomplishment and peace.   I feel like I am doing exactly what I was put on this earth to do, and am blessed to be surrounded by a talented, compassionate, and extraordinary team at Veterinary Medical Center.

I have been practicing veterinary medicine for 26 years. When I first started, referral hospitals and emergency clinics were unheard of, especially in more rural areas.   So we provided 24 hour emergency care and performed procedures with the book open on the table next to the patient. My confidence developed and evolved as the success stories eclipsed any apprehension or fears.  I understood that I had been given the knowledge, tools and talent to truly make a difference in animals’ lives. It was also a time in my career where I went out on the road to treat horses and cattle and pigs. I was anxious to apply everything I had learned and develop the art of veterinary practice.

There was only one event that changed my professional direction. A deal changer if you will, where I questioned if I was really doing what I was meant to do. I remember the details well. It was a bitter cold January night when I received an emergency call just after midnight for a dystocia. (That’s a difficult delivery, and in this case it was a young heifer that had never been touched by human hands.) I instructed the young gentleman farmer to get her caught up in the barn and I would be there shortly. As I drove out in the cold winter night, the reflection of the moonlight over the snow covered fields gave a sense of peace and beauty that would soon dissipate as the evening unfolded. When I arrived I was met by a frantic owner who quickly led me to a field, surrounded by barbed wire and without any shelter, let alone anything that resembled a barn. In the bright moonlight I could make out the dark silhouette of a young heifer with a lifeless calf protruding from her hind end. The head and fore quarters were out and it seemed like the majority of the work was done. As I approached her, she jumped up and ran like a startled deer and bolted across the frozen ground. The lifeless object coming from her rear end bounced and danced in a bizarre and frightening manner as I realized this thing was stuck. We had learned about “hip lock” in veterinary school. It was where the hip bones of the calf are presented in such a manner that they cannot pass through the pelvic canal and the calf gets stuck. It was clear that this calf was already dead, but I needed to help this poor terrified creature, even if she chose not to cooperate. Since she was not accustomed to humans, each time I approached her she ran and slipped and skittered across the frozen ground.  I even imagined that with one slip she just might pop the thing out. I knew that the first order of business was to catch her, administer a sedative, and give her an epidural so that I could reposition the calf. While I had grown up on a farm and been around cattle my whole life, dealing with a frightened powerful feral heifer presented its share of problems. I went back to my truck and retrieved my lariat. Multiple attempts to lasso this wild and terrified beast in the frigid moonlit night became more and more frustrating until at last she ventured out across the ice on the frozen pond. With a mighty crash she fell through the ice, and now completely exhausted, she was stuck. I was able to approach her and secure my lariat around her neck and tie her to a broken rotted tree that protruded from the ice. Fortunately, the water was only about 2 feet deep and I was able to position myself where I could finally complete the work that I was called to do. I recall thinking that I was as cold and miserable as I had ever been in my entire life. After many unsuccessful attempts to reposition the dead calf, it became painfully clear that my only option was to perform a fetotomy. This is the gruesome task of dismembering the calf and removing it piece by piece. I gathered my tools and set to work, knowing that the faster I got to work the sooner this ordeal would be over. My arms and legs were cold and numb and I was frozen to the core of my being, but I had come this far and I was not one to give up now.

When I had finished, I didn’t know who was more thankful, myself of that poor animal. I was exhausted, covered in blood, mud, and rank pond water. The feeling had long since left my hands and feet, and I shivered uncontrollably as my body tried to warm itself up. The young farmer had stood by offering little assistance or support throughout the entire ordeal and had watched incredulously the entire time. As I gathered up my instruments and tried to get warm by stripping off my frozen wet clothes, the farmer sauntered up to the truck and asked ” Whadda I owe ya’ Doc? ” Without hesitation I said “We’ll send you the bill.” As I drove back home, the sun was starting to rise, and the beautiful crimson and purple hues cast a warm glow over the snow. I pondered the events of the evening, which somehow felt more like a nightmare than a farm call. The words “Whadda I owe ya’ Doc?” resonated over and over in my head. The only thought that came to my mind was that neither he nor anyone else had enough money to make me relive that experience again.

The very next day was when I decided that I was simply not cut out to practice large animal medicine. I’ve never regretted my decision, and have the utmost admiration and respect for my colleagues that continue to care for and provide large animal medical services. I am humbled and appreciative of my friends and colleagues in the Wutchiett Tumblin and Associates Group 1 that continue to provide this valuable service.

DTYDr. Dean Tyson has practiced small animal medicine and surgery at VMC for the past 17 years.

 

 

 

Horse Treats for Cushing’s Patients and Metabolic Syndrome

Giving treats is a common way we form a bond with our horses.  Treats are also useful in many training situations.  Unfortunately most commercially made horse treats, as well as apples and carrots, can be high in sugar.  This presents a problem with horses that have Cushing’s disease, or Insulin Resistance/Metabolic Syndrome, as those horses’ sugar and starch intake must be limited.

The following recipe is a great alternative to commercial horse treats.  It was even tested at Equi-Analytical lab and is extremely low in starch and simple sugars, with an NSC of 2.4.

LOW STARCH APPLE CINNAMON HORSE TREATS

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. bag of Bob’s Red Mill organic ground flaxseed (from Wal-Mart or grocery store)
  • ½ cup Unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tbs. Cinnamon
  • 2 cups hot water
  • Cookie sheet, and parchment or wax paper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Dump flaxseed into mixing bowl.  Add Cinnamon; mix.  Add applesauce, then HOT water.  Initially mix with rubber spatula, then use your hands until the dough is smooth.

Cover cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper.  (Do NOT use cooking spray.)  Place dough on paper covered cookie sheet to evenly cover it.  The thinner you spread the dough, the crunchier your horse cookies will be.  Cut the dough into squares BEFORE baking; this allows them to come apart easily after baking.  They are difficult to cut apart once baked.

Place in preheated oven and bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes for chewy cookies, and 75 minutes for crunchy cookies.  After that, turn off the oven and let them sit in the warm oven for another 30 minutes.

The cookies shrink during baking.  Once cool, they break apart easily.  Store in a baggie or plastic container in the refrigerator so they will not mold if not eaten quickly.  (Thinner, crunchier cookies are less apt to mold.)

I hope your horses enjoy these!
Dr. Teresa Martinoli

For more Information about Equine Cushings Disease and Equine Metabolic Syndrome go to the AAEP (American Association of Equine Practitioners) website  and look in the Owners section.

 

 

National Pet Week

Happy National Pet Week! Well, it’s slightly belated, but nonetheless May is an important month to revel in the unique, quirky, loveable traits that make our pets the best in the world! National Pet Week® was May 4-10, 2014 and is always celebrated the first full week in May.  National Pet Week® was created in 1981 by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the idea behind its commencement was to recognize the 200 million pets that enhance American’s lives each day. The week is a celebration of the human-animal bond that is present on so many levels in our relationships with our animal friends.

So who is the AVMA, you ask? We veterinarians often throw out acronyms like it is part of our job description, but this one in particular is very important to the livelihood of our profession. The AVMA is a not-for-profit organization that represents more than 85,000 veterinarians working in the veterinary profession: private practice, corporate practice, government, industry, academia, and armed forces. The mission of the AVMA is simple: “ To improve animal and human health and advance the veterinary medical profession. “ For you, the pet owner, this translates into extremely useful, relevant information to help your pet live a happy, healthy life every week of the year.

The AVMA understands and adheres to the concept that keeping pets healthy requires teamwork. Educate yourself on proper pet care and pet health problems by asking questions and finding the answers from reliable, trusted sources of information – such as the site that our staff at Veterinary Medical Center has put together: www.vmceaston.com or the website provided by the AVMA: www.AVMA.org.

As pet-owners living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the idea of learning how to better the lives of our beloved animal friends is exciting (let’s face it, we have some awesome pets living here!).  National Pet Week® comes at a great time of year as the start of summer is around the corner. With so much to do in our community with our pets, why not brush up on summer safety tips, or get the facts about pets in vehicles? And for all those puppies that are finding their “fur-ever” home this spring, why not learn more about vaccinations, spaying and neutering and pet insurance? Check out the AVMA’s “For pet owners” section of National Pet Week® to learn more, or ask any staff member at Veterinary Medical Center. We’d be happy to help make National Pet Week every week on the Eastern Shore!

AVMA National Pet Week Site