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dogs, science

Dog health stuff (first part whining, second part medical stuff)

I work with dogs for years now, I was a caretaker at a shelter, I’ve met a lot of dogs with different health conditions, now I work at an animal hospital, I meet sick pups and their owners every day. I’m kind of comfortable with all the pet health stuff and know a lot of things about the possible problems and how not to freak out.

I’m there to comfort owners, I’m the one, who tells them to keep calm, the doctor will take care of their little four-legged friend, don’t panic, the pet needs to feel that you are calm to feel safe.

And now here I am, with MY sick pup, completely freaked out, asking my vet for a lot of completely unneccessary examinations, writing freaked out e-mails to my cousin who also happens to be a vet…

Kami’s problems started half a year ago. She bumped into stuff, fell into holes, I thought something is not okay with her eyes. But nothing serious. I took her to the vet, and it turned out to be her kidneys. Yepp, the kidneys are behind the deteriorating eyesight.
I bought every medicine, I bought food which is good for her kidneys, everything.

blind_dog

Half a year passed, and now she is completely blind, insecure, doesn’t eat, sometimes shakes, sometimes forgets where she wanted to go, freezes down in the middle of her action. Of course I am freaked out! Who wouldn’t be? I take her for check up every two weaks, we do control blood lab every three months, I give her tons of meds. I trust our vet. He knows Kami since I got her. He is smart and kind. He explains everything, so I can understand what’s happening with my dog. But I still keep asking other vets I know too, if anyone has any other idea what to do. Of course they tell the same as my vet.

They all tell me, that this is not the end, sometimes dogs get old, change, but after that, they can happily live for years, I just have to take care of her, and accept the fact that our life has changed. And I already know this. I tell this to the owners at the animal hospital.
But now it’s me, and now it’s my dog. The same situation from a different perspective.

you really want me to eat this?

So, what is exactly happening to Kami? (disclaimer: I’m not a veterinarian, I’m just a biologist, who works with dogs and vets)

The function of the kidneys is to filter the blood from everything you don’t need in there,  and then send the “waste” to your urinary bladder, so you can pee it out. The functional units of the kidney are the nephrons. Blood flows through them and it does a double filtration. Filter some stuff out (some of it is “waste”, some of it is needed in the blood), then the vessels suck some of it back (the things it needs, plus some of the “waste”), then filter the rest of the “bad stuff” out (useful stuff stays in your blood). There are many many nephrons in a kidney.

As the dog gets older, some of these nephrons “die”, stop functioning. If you are lucky, that’s all. But in some cases, too many nephrons die. Booom, chronic kidney disease. The worst part is that in most cases, you can’t just go and investigate the causes. First, because it’s impossible to find out, second, because you weren’t ahead even if you knew. The only thing you can do is helping out the still functioning part of the kidney.

So you give food to the dog that’s not not too stressful for the kidneys. You have less nephrons to clean the same amount of blood. If you overwhelm them, they won’t be able to do the work.
You give meds that support the kidney, and meds for every consequences of kidney problems: for gastrointestinal protection, immune system protection, blood protection, sometimes you also need liver protection. Vitamine B for the loss of appetite. If the case is serious, even some steroids (Kami needs them unfortunatelly)

These stuff usually don’t have serious side effects, only the steroids can be a bit dangerous, so you have to check on the dogs liver function as well. But it is advised to check on haematology and blood chemistry regularly (CBC)

I don’t want to go in more details, because I think it wouldn’t be helpful for anybody, and it would be harder to understand, so nobody would win anything on it 🙂

If any vets reading this and think I’m incorrect in something, feel free to correct me (physiology is not my major at the university, but I studied it for two semesters) 🙂

 

Check out my other doggy posts 🙂

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adventure, traveling

First day of our vacation, caves in Slovenia part 1

So we packed our stuff in Paddy (the car), ready to go. Lot of stuff for four people (my brother, his girlfriend, my boyfriend and I), to be honest 🙂 Unfortunatelly, we couldn’t take Kami with us, because caves are dangerous for a blind dog.

And headed our way to Slovenia, to see some beautiful caves. Did you know that Slovenia is a really small country (only around 20000 km2), but it has around 11000 natural caves? Some of them are still not fully discovered. Slovenia is full of holes like a good old cheese 🙂

The moment we crossed the border, it started to rain. It’s just our luck…

Our first stop on our first day was Jama Pekel, which means Hell Cave. It’s a smaller cave (still very big), which got it’s name from the shape of the entrance: The Devil Frozen in the Rock.
hellcave_devil
devil.jpg

In most of these caves, it’s forbidden to take pictures, because the flash would disturb the creatures living in the cave’s darkness, but luckily, Hell Cave was not one of those.
Our tour guide was a complete psycho (in the good manner – if there’s one 😀 ), spoke very bad English, but compensated it with lots of enthusiasm. Shouting and gesticulating all the way 🙂 Telling stories about how the devil got caught in the rock, but his English was so bad, we didn’t really understand. I’m sure there were some washerwomen in the story (???)

After our little tour in the cave, we continued our way to the camping of Pivka Jama. A camping that has it’s own cave. (or the cave that has it’s own camping?) Two caves to be precise: Pivka Jama and Black Cave, connected with a tunnel.
My brother and his girlfriend booked a bungalow, but me and my boyfriend wanted to sleep in our supercool inflatable tent 🙂

The camping was gorgeous!


We travelled on a pretty tight budget, we brought a lot of canned food with us, so we won’t spend a lot of money in restaurants and buffets – and the super expensive “camping supermarkets”. They just know you are in the middle of nowhere, so you won’t find a real store to buy stuff…

So we tried out our camping cooker (he will appear in our story later…) on the first evening, cooked our canned foods – they all have different names, but taste somewhat the same, but it’s okay 🙂
first_dinner

So good night, next day we’re going to see Pivka Jama and the Black Cave. Dress up, because the temperature in the caves can be below 10 °C!

Uncategorized

Back home

Sorry for the long break, I had a lot of work to do before I  went on my holiday in Slovenia and Croatia.

But now I’m back, and I plan to tell you all about our little trip, the caves and the sea and the lakes, and some stuff about the work at the animal hospital. I don’t know exactly how I’m gonna tell it all just yet, but I’m gonna try 🙂 There’ll be pics and everything.
But now, I have to go to work 🙂

dogs

My first evening shift at the animal hospital (no photos, sorry)

So this week I started as a recepcionist at an animal hospital. I would rather be a vet tech, but they have 18 and 24 hour shifts too, and that’s something I can’t do right now, so I went with the second best option.

On my first week, I wasn’t alone, one of the recepcionists was always with me. On the first three days, I did morning shifts (8-15) on Friday, I did evening shift (15-22).
The majority of these days were calm, no emergency cases.

It started like this on Friday as well. Not so much patients, some phone calls for vet advice, nothing serious. But then! Around 8 pm, patients started to come with moderately serious promblems. Then it hit. At 8:30, an owner rushed in, crying. Her dog was just lying, didn’t respond, was in a serious condition. The vet tech told the other patients that they had to take the dog in first, it’s an emergency. One of the owners who were waiting for a time now, told that her cat’s condition is serious too (why didn’t she tell me at the reception?). After a few minutes it was clear that the dog needs surgery. In the evening only one veterinarian is there with two assistants, so all the other patients must wait, or go home. While they waited for the dog to get the infusion to make the anesthesia safer for her, the vet examined two patients who waited for a long time, one of them was the cat with serious condition. She couldn’t save the cat – she was old, had cancer (which was operated before at another place, but only the half of it was removed), had inflammation, everything.

They told us that we have to tell everyone that comes after this that they must do the dogs surgery before anything else, so patients have to wait at least one and a half hours. So we should try to send them to other non-stop hospitals.

The dog was on the table, 5 owners rushed in at the same time. All emergencies. One with a 8 week old pug, wwho was definitely dying, one with a 8 week old chihuahua, dying. One phone call from a guinea pig, dying. A cat that ate lilies, which is extremely poisonous to cats. I had to send them away. The closest non-stop animal hospital is EXTREMELY expensive at night. There was one that’s only opened till 10 pm, but they could get there before 10 by car, but is all 5 of them go there… We sent them away. We had to. None of the cases could wait till the end of the dog’s surgery. I wanted to cry.

Then another owner rushed in, with his beagle in his hands, covered in a towel. He said his dog just got in this condition, but the smell told me different. That dog was already dead. I asked the vet tech, could she take a look. I was right. I saw the assistant’s face, her nose was red. She works there for ages, but this night was too much even for her.

At 10 pm my shift was over, I drived home with the loudest rock music in my car. I was so upset I couldn’t even park my car. I had to call my boyfriend to come out and park for me.

I worked as a caretaker in a shelter for 2 years. I saw dogs dying. I saw dogs in unimaginably bad conditions, because their owners were assholes. I rarely cried in those two years. But this night was just too much. Those owners came for help, and we couldn’t do anything.

Sorry for the long post without pictures, and sorry that my grammar and spelling is disastrous in this post, but I’m still upset 😦

dogs, opinion

Be avare of your breed of choice

Dear all,

This post is supposed to be somewhat educational through the exapmle of Daisy, a wonderful, lovely and neurotic belgian malinois.


Daisy stays with me for two weeks while her owner is on a vacation. Daisy has her problems. She reacts to stress with some “undesirable” behaviour, namely chasing and biting her own tail. Tale chasing is known by laics as a somewhat normal dog behaviour, but it is not. It’s a form of “stereotypical movement”, which you can observe in wild animals kept in captivity, like circus tigers circling around in their small cages. Stereotypical movements occur when the animal experiences some sort of unhealthy stress on a regular basis, mostly it happens when their needs aren’t fulfilled.

Chasing and biting the tail on a regular basis means something is wrong for a long time now. And it can lead to injuries so bad that the tail has to be amputated. BUT amputation of the tail just ends the physical pain caused by the wounded tail. If you don’t treat the original cause of the neurotic behaviour, the dog can develop other forms, like biting it’s leg, or worse. Many cases, when a dog is so neurotic that these stereotypical movements occur, sooner or later it can become aggressive for seemingly no reason. But the worst in all this is that the dog’s happiness, the quality of their life deteriorates, and the life expectancy drastically shortens.

So how does it correlates with your breed of choice? Belgian malinois is an agile working dog. Malis known as police dogs, search and rescuers, even military bomb squad dogs. They are bred to be obedient and hard working. Of course, some individuals of this breed can be lazy couch potatoes, it happens, but rarely. Work is in their genes. Just like it was in German Shepherds’. When German Shepherds first became popular with families, at first there were problems, many cases of bites, but thank god, dogs are a very easily adapting species, so with enough training and activity, the number of accidents decreased, and with consciously separating the breeding of “hobby” and “working” German Shepherds, they can now be a perfect and obedient companion dog to active families, the numbers decreased to “statistical error”.

Malinois are not that popular yet. The breeding of non-working companion Malis just began a few years ago. That doesn’t mean if you want a Malinois – who wouldn’t want one – you have to be in the bomb squad. It means that if you want one, you have to give them the excercise they need, some “work”, taking them to dogschool, doing some doggy sports besides the daily walks.

Daisy’s owner is a 80 years old man, who can’t grant the activity Daisy needs, but was a dog trainer before, so he thought he can handle her. He is so stubborn he still thinks. He loves Daisy, but cannot realize that the lack of “joint action”, where the owner and the dog does something together under the owner’s guidance lead to this kind of neurosis. In Daisy’s case it could be solved with playing LOTS OF fetch, using interactive dog toys, and going on a hike together on a regular basis. It’s not much, it could be worse. But the man won’t do it – honestly, I think he couldn’t even if he wanted to -, he thinks everything is okay. If he was a concious owner, he wouldn’t choose a breed like this at his age.

I can’t help Daisy, all I can do is provide the best two weeks I can. I’ll try to talk to the owner, maybe he’ll let me meet Daisy sometimes. But I can’t do this for all the badly chosen dogs I meet. This is my profession, I make my living of this, so I can’t say every time I meet a dog with an unmatching owner that “oh, I will take care of your dog for free”. Plus Daisy’s owner lives far, just the fuel for my car to go there costs like one hour of work.
But I always feel sorry and want to help, and I feel super bad when I can’t.

So please, be concious when choosing a breed. Please know your circumstances, know what you can and can’t provide, know how you can or can’t change for the sake of the dog.
Thank you.

daisy_garden01