When I was introduced to the Laser over 15 years ago, I was interested but skeptical. I had some demos and did my research. I realized that I could do 95% of what the laser could do with a scalpel blade, and in Veterinary Medicine everything has to pay for itself.

As I thought through the investment, I felt that there were several things that I could do much better with the Laser and even our routine surgeries would be improved.

WHY you ask?... As the Laser is used to make a cut, it seals blood vessels and nerves. This will decrease bleeding that increases the risk of infection, swelling, delayed healing. If it is sealing Nerves, then the pain will be decreased, and I think that we are all for that.  It enables us to take off small growths with just a Local anesthetic and no stitches. This will save the time, risk and price of a general anesthetic.

Are there drawbacks to the Laser?  Sure there are. It will slow down the surgical incision as compared to the blade. Actually it slows the surgery initially, but since bleeding is decreased, it might actually speed it up. For instance, if I am doing a C-Section my first goal is to get those puppies or kittens out quickly. I am willing to use a blade for the incision, get the youngsters out and then deal with any bleeding that has occurred. As far as cosmetics go, if I compare my incision immediately post-op, the blade incision actually looks better. The laser will ever so slightly swell the incision. In a week, there is no difference.

There is nothing better for oral surgery than a Laser. The gum tissue bleeds easily and stitches don't hold well, so it is perfect for "Zapping off" growths around the teeth. Tonsillectomies are done very rarely in Veterinary Medicine, but anything in the back of the throat (Elongated Soft-palate, Everted Saccules, etc) responds much better to the laser than a blade.

One thing that we strive for in our practice is to be proactive with Pain Control. 25 years ago, we made excuses about why we didn't focus on pain. We convinced ourselves, with the help of older practitioners and teachers, that if our patients hurt some, they would stay calm and heal better. We are much smarter now. Dr. Emrich just returned from a Seminar and we spent a lot of time talking about the things we use and what might work... better, faster, longer, etc.  She found out that we are doing a good job, but there are a few things that we will "tweak" over the next few weeks. Laser surgery, for all it does for other surgeries, is chosen be our practice to increase pain control in our surgery patients.   

I used Ava as a guinea pig. Her Spay incision is longer than normal because I cut the Left with the Laser and the Right with a blade. You'll notice the Laser decreased the bleeding.
As I am suturing the incision after entering and closing the abdomen, there is still more bleeding on the Blade cut side.
After closing, notice that there is a little thickening on the Left side with the Laser cut. After a week, I couldn't tell which was which and now the entire length of the scar is barely visible.
These are Spay surgery pictures with Pre-surgery, Intra-operative and Post-op Pictures using the Laser. Notice NO Bleeding at the incision. We assume that the nerves are sealed as well.
Dogs and Cats are different in their manifestation of Thyroid disease. Cats have a Hyperactive Thyroid (we'll cover this later) while Dogs almost always have an underactive Thyroid or Hypothyroidism. There is a LOT more info out there, but I'll be brief.

The signs that we see in dogs are numerous. They include Weight Gain, Dry skin, Hair loss, Itchy skin, Skin infections, Ear infections, Aversion to cold, Decreased Tear production, Neurological problems (especially around head and neck, etc. etc. etc.)

The typical patient we see is too fat, has smelly ears, is balding on the sides, has a rash that they scratch, and wants to stay covered up on the couch.   I apologize if this reminds you of someone that you married a few decades ago.

The testing is usually straight forward. We take a blood sample and check a Free T4 on our Lab equipment. This takes less than 15 minutes. If it is low, we start them on Thyroid supplement. If it is normal, we have a decision to make if we suspect Hypothyroidism. We can put them on a trial of medication and monitor the response or we can send off blood for additional testing which may include testing for T3, Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, Thyrotropin Releasing Hormone and Total T4.

Treatment is simply replacing the Thyroid Hormone that the dog is lacking. I will start on twice daily treatment and recheck in about a month to recheck levels and see if we are making progress clinically. We  often change from twice daily to once daily treatments to make it easier on our clients. Most of our patients do just fine with this. Over the last year or two, we have had trouble keeping our supplements on the shelves. The chewables went away for a while, but we have just learned that they are back. This makes the lifelong treatments for Hypothyroidism much more "palatable".

I have followed a couple of our patients with pictures that I hope you will enjoy.

Louis - March 26, 2014. This hair loss on the body is called Truncal Alopecia.
March 26 to May 28, 2014. Big change in 2 months.
March 26 to May 28, 2014. From 103# to 83# in only 2 months.
Louis - September 29, 2014
Maggie March 28, 2014. She got shaved for the summer a year earlier and her hair never grew back.
Maggie April 18, 2014. In just 3 weeks, some hair is coming in patches.
Maggie October 21,2014
There are LOTS of Heartworm Preventions available, and we carry a few. Some of the companies stopped backing up their guarantee when the resistance showed up in the oral preventatives. Those are the companies that we dropped. Most are a combination of things that control other parasites besides Heartworms.  Fleas, Lice, Mites & Intestinal Parasites are those possibilities.

When the problems started showing up about 10 years ago, we spent lots of time trying to figure out what we needed to do. The resistance was from Dyersburg down into Louisiana, and we had several renowned experts visit our hospital to try to get to the bottom of it..... They still haven't decided. We noticed that we were only having breaks with the oral products and not the Topical Advantage Multi or the Injectable ProHeart.

Since the problem started, only one new product has come out. That one is Trifexis, that combines the Heartworm prevention with Comfortis (oral Flea control). I think that it is a good product and we would have carried it if we had been in another part of the country, but not here. We continued to carry the Heartgard oral, since many clients and patients liked it and the fact that the manufacturer Merial, still backed up their guarantee, but we did try to inform our clients about the possible issues with the resistance.

We still have not had any issues with Advantage Multi or ProHeart and those are our recommendations. We like to start puppies on the Multi since it does so much, and the fact that we can't give it to dogs under 6 months of age. We give puppies that come in at 2 months of age a Free Dose.

This is what I did..... I started Ava on Advantage Multi as soon as I got her and kept applying it monthly until she was 6 months. I think about Heartworms everyday and have trouble remembering to give it (you can imagine how well I did with the Filaribits Daily), so as soon as she was old enough I gave her the injection of ProHeart that will last 6 months. Since it doesn't control Fleas, I also give her the NexGard orally once a month to control Fleas & Ticks. We gave NexGard to a dog that came in last week and all of the ticks were dead by the next day. The Flea control seems even faster than that. It's a new product, so keep giving us feedback on it for us.

I'm not eligible to win the Yedi cooler when I purchase the NexGard, but my kids gave me one on Father's Day.  It's a VERY nice cooler, so buy a 3 pack and get registered.

We have different options for parasite control, so talk with one of our receptionists or your Veterinarian about which is best for you and your pet..............and PLEASE give it all year.

July 4th is coming. Does your dog have a fear of Thunder or Fireworks? Those are the most commonly diagnosed phobias in our canine patients. The other common fears are Separation, Stairs, Car rides, Men, Children, Objects (i.e. vacuum), Strangers..................and.....................Veterinarians. The fear of Thunder & Lightning has several names......astraphobia, brontophobia, keraunophobia, or tonitrophobia.

We'll focus on the first 2 phobias right now. These signs usually show up between 6 and 18 months, and there are different reasons why a dog might "all of a sudden" become afraid. My Border Collie, Gumby, wasn't afraid of Thunderstorms until we were living in Las Vegas when he was about 3 years old. We had one of those "Doggie Doors" that inserted into the sliding glass door frame. in 1988, in Henderson, NV on the southeast side of Vegas, a rocket fuel plant exploded and blew his door into the living room......and windows out around the city.  I was working at the time. (come to think of it, in Vegas I was always working)    He was afraid of storms since then..........imagine that. It seems like that our dog Cricket ran off during the 4th of July for a few years.

Some of our patients simply pace and pant and whine, but some patients can get very violent and try to escape. They can do damage to floors, doors, sheetrock, themselves, etc. Sometimes a dog is more calm in its crate, but they can sometimes do a lot of self injury if the fear is great enough and they feel trapped. Some of our patients that had to experience Tornadoes in recent years haven't recovered.

Once they have the fear, it can be difficult to make it completely go away. We attempt to do counterconditioning with phobias by starting with very low levels of what the dog is afraid of while giving them something "fun to do" like eat, get petted, play with a toy, etc. We also praise them when they do not act scared. If you are afraid, your pet is more likely to be afraid as well. Try to remain calm and do your normal stuff, while thunder or fireworks are going on. Some experts feel that with thunder, it is more than just the noise that we have to duplicate, if we are going to try to condition them. The dogs probably notice the wind, lightning, rain, drop in barometric pressure, etc. in addition to the thunder.

What else can we do?   DRUGS!   I hate to have to admit it, but since it is hard to control and injuries can be bad, we resort to these more quickly. Because these cases can have bad consequences, we do what we can to keep our patients from this extreme anxiety. The two drugs that we used most frequently in the past were Valium and Ace Promazine, but we feel that Xanax and Prozac are working better. Now that these are generic, the prices are not bad at all, and these are non-sedating and longer lasting.  It is helpful if we can give the medication before the pet gets anxious. This isn't always possible, since dogs usually know the storm is coming before we do. Fireworks might be a little easier to plan for, and if there is a way to insulate or drown out the noises, it might lessen the problem. If they have a "safe haven" like a closet or crate or bed, let them go there.

There are herbal products that I have seen on the market, but I haven't heard wonderful stories about being consistently helpful. One product that does intrigue me is the Thunder Shirt. Since I heard about it and looked into them, we started carrying them at PETcetera. This is a product that helps by putting pressure along the torso, similar to a hug I guess. Babies seem to calm down a bit when Swaddled and Autistic people, who are very anxious by nature, are now being treated with Deep Touch Pressure, often with something called a Hug Machine. I have several clients that tell me how well their dogs do while wearing one. They make them for cats as well, but I don't know if I have a patient that has one.  There are indications that the Pheromones that are used to help pets remain calmer have a place in Phobia control. The more that your pet is socialized and exposed to the "outside world" when it is growing up, the less likely that these phobias will develop.........sorry, I should have started this BLOG years ago.

It is difficult for us to understand phobias that we don't have, whether in people or pets. We know that some people may fabricate or exaggerate their fears, but our pet's phobias are unfortunately real. Never, never, never, never, never, never (says Winston Churchill) punish your pet for their fears. They can't control their fears and that can make the problem worse. Try to be prepared for those periods when they might occur. Summer is a busy time for Thunderstorms and there is a pretty good chance we will be hearing Fireworks the week of the 4th.

Hug your pets for me!!

HAPPY 4th of JULY!!!
They really are afraid........Really!
Rocket Fuel plant in Henderson, NV. This explosion is what gave Gumby his Thunderstorm Phobia.
One version of a "Hug Machine" for Autistic children.

As Pet owners, we are responsible for a lot of decisions affecting our pets. Those decisions come to a head when their life ends or is coming to an end. It only comes once in the life of that particular pet and we want to "get it right." One of my jobs is to help our clients and our patients through this most difficult time. We deal with this a lot more often than you do..... but that doesn't make it any easier for us.

If you don't care enough to really think these things through, odds are you aren't a client at Animal Care Hospital and you are definitely not reading this BLOG. Of course we have a wide variety of clients, and no client and no patient is the same. Assembly line care doesn't work for us. Everyone wants and needs something different during these times and we try to accommodate. 

Euthanasia from Greek language means "Good Death". Others define it as "Easy" or "Gentle" death. Our goal is to make the process as easy and pain free as possible, and that goes for both the patient and their owners. We use a solution of Pentobarbital that we feel is the best out there. The process is actually an overdose of an anesthetic, so all the patient feels is the needle stick. The brain is anesthetized immediately and the heart & lungs stop quickly, usually within 5 seconds. The more dehydrated the patient and the poorer the perfusion by the heart the longer it will take. Sometimes we will sedate the patient to make it even easier. We base this decision on how calm the patient is and what we feel is best for them and the owner. Some owners want to be present and some can't be. There are often times when one spouse will want to be present and the other not. It doesn't seem to make a difference if they are male or female, its just different for each person, and both ways are fine. We have a room where our clients can stay and visit before and after if they desire, for as long as they need. We have numerous clients that want and need the euthanasia to be done at home, and we do this quite often.

The decision about the remains is also very personal, so we again offer options. Some people don't want anything to do with the remains and that is fine. We take care of the bodies in our Crematorium. Very often our clients will want the ashes back, and we can certainly do that with our individual cremations. Some will order special urns or make their own to keep the ashes. For years, many people have buried their pets at home or in a special place. We certainly return remains to a lot of our clients. Many of my family pets are buried at our farm. I'm not sure where Cricket was buried, but I know exactly where Gumby is, and its where the cows walk by. I got Sydney's ashes back and they are buried under the concrete slab right where our new reception desk is, since she spent most of her time at the desk in our old hospital. Tucker loved my truck more than anything, so I let a lot of his ashes blow out of the back as I was driving around town and at the farm. There are a few Pet Cemeteries around that a few of our clients have utilized. Some of you may have driven past the Coon Dog Cemetery in Alabama. If you visit the Courtyard at our hospital you will see many memorial bricks that our clients have purchased. The proceeds go toward the Humane Society.

This is not an easy time and is often very emotional. The decision to euthanize is very difficult, but the decision to go forward with a treatment can be difficult as well. I understand how difficult it can be since I have been through it more than once. We all want what is best for our pets. We try to avoid, "I should have done this a week ago" syndrome. We try to make the best decision based on what we know at that time. There are times when I am certain that it is time, but to get more information for the owner, we will do some lab work or take some X-rays to confirm and make the decision, not easier, but more straight forward. Numerous times, I have talked to owners about a "Defining Moment". This is when we have been considering it for a while, but one more thing occurs and it helps us to make the decision that we have been contemplating and putting off. We can help you understand what is going on medically, but the final decision is by the one who knows the pet the best..... and that is you.

I just got through leading a Sunday School class on Human Euthanasia (or Mercy Killing or Death with Dignity). Its a controversial subject that I'm not sure about, but I have never been put in that very personal situation. I can imagine that people go through the same decision making process as my clients do. We try to do what we think the pet would want. Its my job to help the client understand what the pet may be experiencing and feeling and what the short term and long term effects will be. We discuss with the clients to try to remove our personal connection with the pet and focus on what is best for the pet alone. Then I tell them that its not possible to avoid those emotions. That bond between our clients and their pets is an Amazing thing that I am fortunate to experience every day.

Whenever I am helping a client decide on a treatment or surgery or euthanasia, I try to put myself in their place.................. What would I do? These are not my pets, but I do feel very responsible for each and every one.

Sydney's Pawprint
Tucker's Pawprint
Cricket's Memorial Brick
Memorial Bricks from the Glover family



Worms in the Heart? You’ve got to be kidding! If you think they are gross to think about, you should see them. They clog up the lung’s arteries that leave the heart and can get way out into the circulation. They are spread from dog to dog by the mosquito. When a mosquito takes a blood meal from an infected dog they can take in the microscopic babies (larvae) that are circulating in the blood stream. The larvae must go through a change in the salivary glands of the bug, then when the mosquito bites another dog (or even the same dog) these larvae continue to mature. The process after the larvae are “injected” into the dog until they are adults in the Heart takes about 6 months. It only takes one mosquito. I live inside and I still get bitten.

When the adults are in the heart they start to cause lots of signs. We see inflammation, increased heart size, fluid accumulation in the abdomen, lethargy, exercise intolerance, coughing, as well as death. Once the adults set up in the heart the damage to the heart valves, heart muscles and lungs begins. You’ve heard the old adage, that an Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure.” This is definitely the case with Heartworms (Dirofilaria Immitis). Our prevention first came out as a once daily pill that improved into a once daily chewable tablet. (Does anybody out there remember Filaribits?) It was wonderful when the first monthly pill came out and even better when it became chewable. Most all of the products now control more parasites than just heartworms.

Most of the preventions control the maturation of the heartworm by preventing the progression from the 4th larval stage to the 5th. It is important to remember that the medication does not stop the Heartworms when the mosquito bites the dog, but probably 2-3 months later. When someone tells us that we had a hard freeze and don’t have any mosquitoes around, they don’t realize that it’s the bite they got 3 months ago that is the problem. This is also the reason why we give the Heartworm Prevention all year long, especially in our area.

Is there actually resistance going on? Yes, the experts finally agreed. Some of the drug manufacturers initially tried to convince us that it was because our clients weren’t giving the medication properly. My argument was, why did my clients do it well for a decade then all of a sudden stop being able? Another problem I had with their hypothesis was that it was only happening from Dyersburg down through the Delta and into Louisiana. Sort of hurt my feelings that they blamed us dumb southerners for the problem. When the resistance started, my Associate Stephanie Wardlaw was taking care of all of the dogs' Heartworm Prevention in her husband's Training Kennel. She was in charge of giving the medication every month, so when some of the dogs came down with Heartworms and the company said that it was probably due to insufficient dosing, Dr. Wardlaw was NONE TOO HAPPY with the blame placed on her by the manufacturer. Plus, she isn't a dumb Southerner, she went to Vet School up north in Minnesota. She practices in Paris now................ Paris, TN.

It was very frustrating for us, as veterinarians, to go into an exam room with someone, who had depended on us and purchased medication from us, to tell them their dog was Heartworm Positive because the medicine failed to work. All of the monthly oral products have had failures. Some of the Drug Companies backed up their guarantee, but some were hard to deal with. We no longer carry their product. The percentages of product failures weren’t high, but percentages don’t matter when it’s your dog……. Or MY patient!

What do we do now? We still carry a monthly oral product that is backed up by its manufacturer, but we actually recommend 2 other products that have not had problems. Advantage Multi is a monthly topical medication that controls intestinal worms and fleas in addition to Heartworms. We have had great success with this product in a lot of different ways. ProHeart is an injectable that is given every 6 months that also controls Hookworms. I have been pleased with how well this works and clients love the convenience of just coming in every 6 months to get a quick injection. These 2 products have a different active ingredient than the other oral products, but more importantly the drug stays in the system a lot longer than the others.

I had a client that had several dogs that she had acquired a prevention from the internet. She gave it religiously, but over half of her dogs ended up being positive. She decided to have them tested since one of her dogs actually died from Heartworm Disease that had been on continual treatment every month.

The treatment of dogs with adult heartworms is variable. I tell my staff that every patient is different from many standpoints, and treatment decisions are based on many different variables. Some are treated with a series of injections while some are treated with a specific Prevention. There is a relatively new addition to the treatment regimen that the experts feel helps out. The patients are put on a particular antibiotic that attacks a bacteria (Wolbachia) that lives in the adult heartworm. Since that bacteria is beneficial to the heartworm, when it is killed the adult heartworm is weakened. This is given during the treatment and studies show, that improves efficacy and reduces reactions.

Take Home message:

Start your puppies early, use a prevention that you can remember to administer, make sure that your dog is tested to catch the infection early and give all year long.

A dog's heart that is FULL of adult Heartworms.
This dog is NOT pregnant. The abdomen is full of fluid because the heart isn't functioning properly. This is all secondary to Heartworm Disease.
Sunday morning started not much differently than most mornings. I did sleep a little later than normal after Caroline crawled into bed with us about 4:15. I stayed in until almost 5. As I looked out back I noticed that things were going to get a little busier... I trapped that Raccoon! It had been eating our Cat food for a while, but it had started to get greedy.  It had begun pulling the Rubbermaid container full of food off the table and Friday night was finally able to manipulate the Locking handle and get the lid off. That was the last straw, because we all know how expensive cat food is. I loaded up the trapped varmint and headed to the farm. I really needed to get back home quickly to work a little more on my lesson for that morning.

A TRAIN!!! A very long, very slow train was crossing Sorrell's Chapel. I did take the opportunity to let the Coon out of the trap at the crossing while I was waiting. It never looked back once he regained his freedom and headed down a tree line next to a cotton field. After the train had FINALLY passed, I continued to the farm. There was a calf that we couldn't find Saturday and we were guessing that it was in the Hay field. I found the mother, but she didn't seem too worried. It didn't look like she had been nursed. I didn't have enough time to look, plus driving thru the hay field gives a great possibility to run over a newborn nestled in the deep grass. These are the times that I miss having a ridable horse and a dog to help. You can see much better on top of a horse and a horse won't step on a calf. If the mother cow sees a dog, she is more likely to let us know where she bedded down her calf.  Ava isn't up to the task yet.

The calf would have to wait. Too much to do back at the house.

Have you ever seen the mess that a trapped coon makes? Its horrible. Plus the racoon carries a type of roundworm that can cause serious illness in humans. Its called Baylisascaris... that's why we just call it the Racoon Roundworm instead.  I had to clean up the mess before Ava beat me to it.  The kids didn't get a very fancy breakfast, but they were happy since they got to watch cartoons while they ate. Unfortunately all 5 of my kids have what Amy calls the "Stare Gene". They get really focused on something; such as the TV or any person that happens to be eating at the same restaurant, and can't hear or see anything else. By the way, I have the same affliction. Amy & I took turns getting them ready and things were on schedule until we had a minor malfunction with Ellen's dress. I dealt with the dress issue while Amy curled Caroline's hair.... Done!! We should make it on time. Whoops, we had taken the car seats out the night before to haul adult  people to Jackson...its always something.

We had to drive separately, since I had to stay after to rehearse for a Vacation Bible School Skit. As I was approaching the bottom of Lake Road I noticed that Amy had pulled over into a convenient store parking lot. I figured it was a seatbelt issue and I saw her pulling out. Then she pulled into the Catholic Church?? She hadn't informed me that we had converted, but I followed her into the alley anyway. She said, "Its a little Agnes!" Then I saw a little Calico kitten running out from under a truck with the Mockingbirds chasing after her. She ran into the hedge alongside the church and I couldn't find her. She looked to be about 8-10 weeks old and had that "wild" look.

Well we made it to church, a bit late. Caroline was very sad.... She wanted that Kitten.... and so did Amy. We made the loop again before going to Mother's house to see if we could locate her and then again after lunch on the way back home. Up & down Charles and Egbert Streets. I bet you didn't know Dyersburg had an Egbert Street... Its actually an alley, or The Alley, as we called it growing up in that neighborhood. No luck seeing the kitten.

Another busy morning able to relocate a pesky coon, looking for a calf that Bobby found later that morning and hunting for a little kitten. If anyone around the Catholic church area sees a little stray calico, let us know. Hopefully she belongs to someone and made it back home, safe from the Mockingbirds and Chevrolets. As most of you know; Coons, Cows, Cats & Kids will sometimes alter you schedule.
All 3 are focused on the TV.... It really doesn't matter what is on. The family member that you can't see is Ava who is strategically located under Ellen's chair.
Amy & I were heading to Becky and Jere Ozment's home for a church get together. Another car was following behind us, since they didn't know the way. As we were passing through an intersection I could see a dead Calico cat that had been run over and as we drove by, she raised her head up.... I missed THAT diagnosis.

I pulled over and picked up the little girl and put her in the car and continued on to the Ozments, where I dropped off my wife and headed to the clinic.  With the examination, I could tell the Right Humerus (upper arm) was fractured, so I gave her an injection of Pain medication and put a bandage on to support her arm by securing it to her body wall, and headed back to dinner. Everything else seemed to be in good shape. She was a cute little 4 & 1/2 pound cat and a very good patient. I called her SPLAT, but for some reason Amy didn't like that name.

Afterwards, I went back and took X-rays... her arm was really busted up. The bandage would keep it stabile temporarily, but she needed surgery. We noticed that she was a Polydactyl. That means that she had extra toes on her front feet. Amy was into the history of Key West and knew that most of the cats there had extra toes. Since Key West was a shipping point, a long time ago, there were lots of ships in and out and sailors felt that these extra toed cats made better mousers (or ratters if that's an actual word) to protect the cargo. Many people call these Hemingway cats, as he was a famous writer that made Key West his home and a majority of cats had this genetic trait.. Amy informed me that Ernest Hemingway's nurse girlfriend's name was Agnes von Kurowsky....  & that's how she got her name. Names are important in my family and we don't take the task of choosing one lightly. It might take an entire BLOG to go over all of my family pets and their names.

I scheduled a surgery. It took a pin and 3 circlage wires to piece it back together. Surgery and recovery went well. We let her convalesce at the hospital for a few days and then Amy decided that she wanted her to come home...... At that point Amy had not been a cat person. She loved Agnes and they really connected. Within 2 or 3 weeks, she was running around and it was difficult to tell which leg had surgery, except that the hair hadn't grown back. Now Amy liked this cat, but this had increased our flock of cats to 3. We didn't need anymore, so a month after her orthopedic surgery I spayed her. Of course during the course of all of this she got her vaccines, etc. etc. and was a part of the family.

Agnes was a great cat. If I had a camera rolling I could have made some money when she leaped up 3 feet of more after a bug and landed in the pool. She swam to the side, I plucked her out, she shook off and continued her hunt for bugs. One day she went missing. This was before FaceBook, that has been so helpful in finding lost pets for us. We put signs up, put ads in the paper, searched the neighborhood and the park, but no Agnes. I just hope that someone found this cute little cat and is still giving her a great home. She would be a little over 7 years old now.

The only picute I could find of Agnes. Can barely see that her Right Front has some hair shaved. It looks like she has Big Thumbs (Dewclaws). This is because she has extra claws there.
Right Humeral fracture. 2 views.
Post-op X-rays of Humeral fracture repair. Intermedullary pin and 3 circlage wires. After this Post-op X-ray the pin was screwed in a little farther and cut off near the top of the Humerus.
The label I used for her X-ray. I know.........it wasn't very professional.
Many mammals have scent glands. The skunk is the most infamous. These are natural in the dog and cat, but we humans don't like them. Anatomically there are glands on either side of the anus, with a sac to hold the secretions and a duct to allow those secretions to the outside. In nature, their function is to leave the animal's scent whenever they have a bowel movement.

Wolves and their territories have been studied. It has been theorized that they defecate in certain areas to make sure that intruders know that they are in another animal's territory. Of course they utilize urinary marking as well. I wonder if dogs hike on a tire so that when the car leaves it increases their territory??? Sorry, just a random thought.........            When you see a dog scratching and kicking the dirt after going to the bathroom, looking like they are trying to cover it up, they may actually leaving more scent from the glands between the footpads.

OK, enough of the nature stuff. What's the big stink about them anyway? The human owners have a few issues with these things. "He's scooting across the yard (or more importantly my carpet) on his rear end." "He can't stop licking." "When he gets nervous we smell this putrid smell." "I think he is constipated, because he strains a lot."   All of these things can be attributable to those little sacs. They can get infected, impacted, inflamed, full, abscessed,  etc. There are different things that may be done when one of these things happens. We can feel the sacs and express them to relieve some irritation. Some pets need it weekly and some never. There are different ways to express them and some patients are easy to do by simply squeezing on either side of the anus and milking the substance out. A better way to do it, and with some patients, the only way, is to insert a finger to actually feel the sac it self and express the substance out through the duct. I can't speak for all Veterinarians, but I use an exam glove. If it is an ongoing  problem we may flush the material out of the sac and instill medication into the sac to help. There may be a problem with the bowel movements being too soft to help express them naturally. If there is a bacterial infection or abscess, then antibiotics will be given. There are even instances where we will remove the Glands and Sacs surgically, to be rid of them permanently. I've only removed the Anal Sacs/Glands on one cat, but it is a much more common procedure in the dog. Every patient and situation is different in the underlying causes, as well as treatments.

There are other things that can cause these same symptoms. Tapeworms, that are spread to our pets when they swallow a flea or eat a rodent, can cause itching which can lead to scooting or licking as well. You are as likely to see Tapeworm segments on the pet (look like rice or sesame seeds when dry) than a lab will under the microscope.  Some Food allergies will cause the perianal irritation leading to itchiness. I have seen a few dogs with bladder problems cause similar signs, whether an infection or bladder stones. It isn't uncommon for female dogs to have an anatomical problem with the vulva that can cause extreme irritation. I'll admit, that sometimes it can be hard to tell which problem came first after they have been scooting in the driveway. Uncommonly, we can see cancer in that area.

Take home message: Feed a quality pet food and stay away from the table food, people food, leftovers, special treats, or whatever you decide to call it. The more normal the food.... the more normal the stool.... the more normal the Anal Sacs. Keep the weight down. Fat dogs & cats have more problems.  If your groomer is expressing them, but you're still seeing the symptoms, get it examined. It could be that the sacs aren't getting emptied completely or we may be dealing with another cause. You know your pet. Talk to your pet's vet and decide which is the best course of action.

We deal with icky things a lot. One of my equine clinicians at UT, Dr. Dallas Goble, called all small animal practitioners, "Anal Gland Squeezers". That's why this is such a Glamorous Profession!

Location of Anal Sacs
Anal Sac Abcess

My First Love


I was 15 and couldn't wait to spend time with a beautiful girl that grew up between Yorkville & Dyer. I bought books to help me to understand her better..........& I didn't like to read. She was a beautiful sorrel Quarter Horse yearling.

I had grown up around the farm, but had never really done much with horses. Most of my equine experience had been with 2 mean Shetland ponies that Daddy got to pull a wagon. (I can't wait to tell you that story!) My sisters had ridden some on a horse named Stormy. Her actual name was Hurricane Sadie, but my sisters had renamed her. She was a Quarter Horse that apparently had good blood lines, but I wanted an upgrade. Daddy made a deal with Pete & Sandra Young to trade Stormy for a filly. The Youngs wanted Stormy for a brood mare and Sandra later told me they called her "ole PH". My new girlfriend's name was Mud Creek Missy...... which was changed to Wendy. (And yes, there was a family discussion for a name) This boy was one happy dude! I even got a new saddle for my birthday.

At a year old, Wendy hadn't had much done with her. She had as much energy as I did. I wasn't there, but loading her in the trailer to come home was described as exciting. It just made me happy to get her to the farm and she got put in the barn lot with SPOT, a great big spotted horse. Our family was very excited about our new addition. On that day, our church welcomed its new Preacher, Willis Gilliland. We wanted to include them, so my sisters and I went by to visit and took his daughter Carla to see our new horse. I really doubt that she cared, but we felt it was a good excuse to show off our new horse and be neighborly. We got to the farm and found that she had split her head open running under the low barn.  We of course panicked and drove to Dr. Thurmond's house. He of course remained calm and said it would be fine..... The scar eventually went away.  I don't panic much about animal medical issues anymore, but when my son Jack fell and split HIS head on the bathtub, I panicked again and couldn't even think of my wife's name to yell for help... I know now that it's Amy. She is the one who I defer to for Human Medical issues. I can now handle the 4 legged ones.

The decision was made to break her myself and I spent lots of time calming her down and trying to get her used to everything. I had almost a year, before I would get on her back as a 2 year old. It was going to be a challenge, since both of us were very new at this. I needed to get better at riding, so I spent a lot of time on Spot riding out to the pasture through the cows. Spot was not going to get in a hurry (except heading back to the barn). If I needed to get a cow up, all I had to do was pick it out and Spot would take them back home.  If a calf was walking too slow, he would simply lower his great big nose and push them ahead. If one of our bulls needed to be brought up, no horse was needed. I could just climb on him in the pasture and he would take ME to the barn. Spot was the horse that my mother took all of her Kindergarten kids to sit on. Our family even had one of our Christmas Cards with all 4 kids sitting on his back. (He measured about 16 hands).  He didn't give me much experience with staying on a running horse, but it was better than nothing. Spot would stand perfectly still under one of our peach trees so I could climb on him and reach the peaches that he couldn't..... He was never that still if he had a saddle on.

When the time came for me to get on her for the first time, I was fairly confident. A lot of time had been spent preparing the two of us for this moment, putting things on her back and loading her on & off of a trailer (as an aside, don't ever load a horse on a trailer not hooked up to a truck like I did......once). It went pretty smoothly, although she was still high strung. I was 16, and was pretty sure I knew all I ever needed to know about anything and everything at that point in my life..... just ask my Mother. It took only a few rides before I got bucked off, but I do have a selective memory. I'm sure I was getting cocky and too complaisant, and I found a cockle burr under her blanket that I blamed the first time on. I tried to ride her often, even though sometimes it was much easier and faster to jump on my motorcycle to ride through the cows, than it was to catch and saddle my horse. She would go through ponds, over cattle rubs, through the woods...... but she was ALWAYS aware. I'm grateful that she didn't know what a snake was when the first one crossed our path or I would have been on the ground again. I could mount and dismount from both sides, wave a towel and even twirl a lasso over her head. I'll admit it was just for show since I couldn't catch a cow with a rope even if I was standing on the ground next to her..... Wendy progressed nicely in just a few months and did well working cows.

One day, Joe Douglas & I were getting the cows up to the barn. He was on Spot and I was on Wendy. We were going through a gate and I got too close to a post causing my leg to get pulled back into Wendy's flank. It didn't take much for her to throw me off, right into a mud puddle. I did as the books say, and I got right back on. I actually had no choice, there was work to do. After we got through with the cows, I noticed  my watch was missing. Joe (who lived & worked at the farm for YEARS) found it in the mud the next morning, and of course the Timex was still ticking. I considered sending my story in for a commercial, but I was afraid they would make me reenact the scene. Don't think that those were the only 2 times I got tossed. I didn't count all of them.

After I went off to school I was only able to see and ride her in the summer and during breaks. Daddy & I decided that we would try to get her bred while I was in Vet School. I was warned by my professors that nobody in Vet School has anything normal happen with any of their animals, especially horses. She had a sorrel filly that gradually turned Red Roan. I never liked Roans until I saw her. She was beautiful. She was perfect. Because my dog's name was Gumby, we decided to call her Pokey. They had a GREAT time together running and chasing through the pasture.

Wendy got to grow old (about 30) in the cow pasture, without many riders. We did acquire two more horses for Finley & Claire to ride, that kept her company. She was just happy that I would take those other two to carry children around for the Humane Society fund raisers instead of her.

As with all animals, the time came to make sure that her life ended as smoothly as possible. I was very fortunate to have one of those defining moments that are so helpful in making the final decisions. It was just the 2 of us together in the pasture, and thankfully the tips I received from Dr. Blackford in Vet School about the final injection paid off, and everything was peaceful. It was still a tough day.

The camera doesn't do her justice.
She had "the need for speed"
Christmas Card about 1964. Spot, me, Sally, Marion & Nancy.
Daddy with Spot and a bunch of Kindergarteners. (about 1971)
Wow, a normal foal!
Pokey started changing colors
Claire on Wendy with Tucker in the background
Finley riding with Claire, Tucker & Sydney in the truck
We had about 3 of our Herd Bulls that would let me ride them in the pasture..... I spent a lot of time at the farm.
For those of you not old enough (or too old) to know about Gumby & Pokey.