Friday, March 29, 2013

5 Minute Cruciate Repair Video


A short video of Dr. Cloutier performing a cruciate surgery. This is the same procedure done on Henry, but not Henry in the video. He utilizes a laser which makes the surgery less bloody and overall very clean looking. Dr. Cloutier performs cruciate repairs on a pretty regular basis. One nice feature he does to help try and reduce having to use the elizabethan collar, AKA the Cone of Shame, is keep the sutures below the skin. By using that technique, the surgical site itches less, and there are no tempting suture knots on the surface to nibble at. So far it has been successful with Henry. We haven't had to put a cone on him or really even get after him for licking the area. He so far is being a compliant patient.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cruciate Repair

Yesterday I had the opportunity to observe my dog Henry's cruciate repair at Veazie Veterinary Clinic. I work at a veterinary practice in central Maine but they do not perform orthopedic surgeries to repair such injuries. I used to live in the Bangor area and had heard good things of Veazie Vet and Dr. Cloutier. Most of our clients in the Augusta area that need orthopedic surgery are sent to southern Maine for repair while I decided to venture the other way and go north.

Henry's incision site
Let me start off by saying that everyone at Veazie Vet welcomed me into their practice with open arms. They provide the courtesy of allowing pet parents to observe the surgery on their pet. While not everyone may have the stomach to do so, I thought I have never seen such a surgery done. Sure I have seen my share of spay and neuters, growth removals and amputations at Windsor Vet but this was different and it was my own dog. I was immediately brought to the surgery room where I met the technicians and then brought upstairs to their break area. Carpeted and spacious with a full refrigerator, sink, counter-tops, microwave, coffee machine and then a second sitting area with a couple couches, a bookshelf for entertaining pet parents with novels, and high ceilings and lots of natural light. Dr. Cloutier and the staff allowed me to hang out in that area until it was time for Henry's surgery. They told me I could be as involved in Henry's surgery as I wanted to be.

I was taken to the kennel room where Henry was going to be kept, and like a champ he jumped right into his kennel and proceeded to lay down. Impressed they were by this, but a vet clinic is Henry's second home. Having had him since 2 days old and needing to be bottle fed every 2 hours, and then the house training phase, Henry spent a good 6 months or so of his life coming to work at Windsor with me. The technicians and Dr. asked if I'd like to hold Henry for the pre-med injections or blood draw etc. While everyone continued to reassure me I wasn't, I didn't want to be a burden or be in their way. So I left Henry in the kennel and asked them to just get me once he was on the table and ready to start surgery.

I nestled in to the corned of the couch and read my book. Heather, one of the licensed vet techs and one I've dealt with the most for Henry's pre-surgery stuff, was wonderful at checking in and had told me he was next, was medicated and we would be headed down soon. I was given the option to scrub in, gown up, and go right into the surgery room with Henry, but because I wanted to take a few pictures, I stayed outside by the viewing window which had better visibility of the surgery. Heather had an opening in her schedule so she stood with me and gave me a play by play as Dr. Cloutier performed a traditional cruciate repair.

Using the laser to make the incision. Very neat and clean
Cleaning out the partially torn ligament
 I felt very relaxed in the environment, having the technicians around, we laughed and joked about how it seems in our profession we always end up with the "problem pets".  But what better place to be in when we have pets that need chronic medical attention.

Adding the artificial ligament
I left while they were stitching up with leg and they were going to call me once he was recovered. Overall the surgery took about an hour or so and they called a little later to say he recovered peacefully, I was concerned about his recovery based off of how he had recovered from his neutering, more or less a bad trip. They use different drugs for sedation and anesthesia than we do at Windsor and he recovered swimmingly. Now that we have overcome the surgery we must approach our next hurdle of physical therapy and rehabilitation. I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday's Thought of the Day

Thought for the day: "Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms." George Elliot

Friday, March 22, 2013

Preparing for the Unknown

Taking on the responsibility of owning a dog should never be taken lightly. We can predict many things when we do acquire our dog, the house training, play biting, inappropriate chewing but just like with children there comes unpredictable moments.
I currently am experiencing one of those unforeseen moments with my 10 month old lab, Henry. Like many dogs before him, and the many dogs after him, he has torn his cruciate ligament. As I prepare for his surgery I am doing just that...preparing. Some of you that may be familiar with the surgery know it requires a strict rehabilitation process that last for 6-8 weeks.
My husband and I live on the second floor, so stairs are required to get to our living space. Fortunately Henry is a petite lab, about 58-60 lbs, still a weight that I can carry if push comes to shove. One thing I have done to help prep for his surgery is starting the physical therapy exercises now. I have attended a couple physical therapy sessions at Veazie Vet where his surgery will be done and have gotten him accustomed to the hydrotherapy treadmill. Imagine trying to expose your dog to a hind end sling or harness to assist with the stairs after he has already gone through the surgery. Wouldn't it be easier to have worked at it slowly so that he is comfortable instead of just throwing him into and hoping for the best. After a surgery of that extent and expense it would not be beneficial to do anything that might cause the dog to twist wrong.

Underwater Treadmill at Veazie Vet Clinic (picture from their website)
So what have I been doing? As mentioned above, I have taken Henry a couple times to Veazie Vet so he has a nice happy association with the place. He is comfortable with the exercises and the water treadmill. This will definitely help when he is post surgery. I have also practiced massage and cold packing his knee, both requirements of his rehab. Lastly, the biggest task at hand, practicing going up the stairs with assistance. I tried the rolled towel but it was cumbersome and seemed to apply too much pressure to his abdomen. Next I tried a harness from Ruff Wear which is actually for my older dog and was just to see if I should proceed forward and purchase their webmaster harness. It seemed to work well and appeared more comfortable for him. Based off of reviews, other people have used them for CCL repairs and found they worked better than the hind end slings.
Since Henry exhibited signs of lameness I periodically practiced carrying him up all 21 steps. I would encourage anyone to practice restraint with their dogs. You never know when you may have to pick up your dog.  Especially when you have to carry them on stairs it is extremely important that the dog doesn't flail. That can be a very bad situation for you and the dog.

Have any of you experienced a major surgery with your dog?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Greeting a Dog

A nice comparison of what is considered rude for human to human contact and what that looks like with our dogs. Dr. Sophia Yin utilizes this picture and shows appropriate ways to greet dogs. Often things that we find appropriate when greeting each other, such as direct eye contact, is very uncomfortable for dogs. Direct eye contact between dogs is a threat and could result in a fight. Is it surprising that some dogs react once we stare in to their eyes? Teaching our dogs to like making direct eye contact with us is one thing that I teach in the basic behaviors class. It is easier to teach our dogs to like being stared in the eyes than it is to try and educate every owner in the world to avoid it.  It is also a great tool for getting our dogs to focus on us during distracting times. 



Thursday, March 14, 2013

It's all a trick to them

The general public doesn't realize how fun training your dog can be! We want to teach words and have our dog comply and we look at it as a chore but think of sit, down etc. as all a silly trick to our dog. Often our dog's "tricks" are more reliable than the basic commands, but those are also tricks. Why do they respond better? We have more fun asking our dog to shake and roll over or crawl and our dog sees that and it is rewarding.
When we ask for a sit or a down our dog still perceives it as a trick, except we think of it more as a chore our dog has to do, and that takes the fun out of it. If we can remember to make training fun we are more inclined to do it and so will our dogs!
What is your favorite trick your dog knows?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Toe Nail Trims Part 2

Click, click, click, you are suddenly aware of the sound coming from your dog as he makes his way across the room to you. Trimming your pet’s toe nails should be a regular occurrence whether done by you or by a professional. It is not uncommon to see dogs with adverse reactions to having their feet handled let alone having their nails trimmed. Here are some things you can do to help condition your dog to accept, if not like having their nails trimmed. Don't forget to check out Dr. Sophia Yin's video at the end.

1. Food is a very big motivator for our dogs. If your dog really doesn’t like having his feet handled start by conditioning your dog to like it. To do this, use a really yummy, high value treat such as cheese, pieces of pepperoni, chicken, hot dogs or a commercially made product called freeze dried liver. As you touch your dog’s foot, feed him a piece of the treat. When you let go of his foot the treats stop. Your dog will associate having his feet handled makes good things happen, such as a yummy treat. As your dog becomes more comfortable with his foot being held gradually adjust how you hold it. Count each toe, play with the nail, apply slight pressure all the while feeding treats.

2. Once your dog is accustomed to their feet being handled, we want to introduce the clippers. If your dog runs when the clippers come out we need to use conditioning to get a tail wag from the dog when he sees them instead of fear. When we condition our dog to the clippers we will not be clipping the nails initially. Bring the clippers out and leave them sitting on the floor with yummy treats sprinkled around them. As your dog eats the treats he will realize that the sight of the clippers equals good things. Progress to picking up the clippers and holding them while treating your dog. We are looking for a relaxed dog. When your dog is feeling comfortable and relaxed start touching the feet with the clippers while treating.

3. When your dog has become conditioned enough that you are ready to clip the toe nails, only aim to do 1 toenail. If the day allows, you can clip a toe nail every few hours, or do one nail a day, gradually working your way up to 2 nails, 1 foot and maybe all 4 feet done on the same day. Remember to treat with high value treats so that your dog still associates toe nail trims as a good thing. If you have a helping hand it can be useful to have one person feeding the dog while the other person focuses on the nails.

If you can’t trim your dog’s nails yourself and it is something you would like to do, I would suggest you start with conditioning. In between your conditioning sessions have a professional trim the nails so that they do not grow too long. Nails that are too long displace the toes and disrupt the proper placement of their feet.

Here is a Dr. Sophia Yin using this technique and able to do it quite quickly with this particular dog. Remember every dog is different and the speed of which you condition them will vary.

How does your dog like his pedicures?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Nail Trimmings Part 1

When it comes to nail trims I have had to use two different approaches with each of my dogs. With Scout, since puppyhood, I was always able to clip the toe nail and then deliver a treat. I did have to start out with help having someone continually feed him while I trimmed but then progressed to clipping and treating after each nail without help. Over time, as he became accustomed to our routine, I could trim the nails on all four feet and he would receive one reward at the end. Sometimes, just to make sure he still enjoys his pedicures, he will be rewarded after each foot, or on a toe that may have been too close to the quick.

With Henry, we have had to establish a wait cue. I place a high value treat out in front of him where he can not reach it. I ask him to wait. While he waits I trim one toe nail and then he is released so that he may go snag his treat. He waits, the toenail is trimmed, his reward is he is free to get up and get his treat. Then we repeat. When we first started working on this we had to do some conditioning and when it came to clipping I would aim for 1 toenail only. It was frustrating that he wasn’t as easy to do as Scout but it was more beneficial taking it slow with him then forcing him to accept it. If I had tried to fight Henry to trim toenails I am sure he would have ended up bleeding because of the squirming and fighting he would have been quicked. He is only 9 months old at this point, and we are now able to do all four feet in one sitting with high rate of reinforcement. Eventually, we will be able to get to the point where he will receive one reward for trimming all four feet, but it is a process, and I am in no hurry. If he needs a lot of treats to trim his toenails I’ll give it to him, because it is worth being able to do it myself.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Yellow Dog Project

This is a great project for all reasons! Working at a veterinary clinic and as a dog trainer I can see an application for this! I especially like it for those dogs that just need a little space because they may be nervous and aren't quite ready for another dog to approach them. As much as people want their dog to socialize with others, and are aware that their dog loves other, sometimes it is forgotten that the receiving dog may not be as comfortable as your dog.
Promoting the yellow ribbon will help give people a voice to say "No" to approaching strangers or people with dogs when they find it hard to say otherwise. Help spread the word and share this with anyone you know that may have an injured or rehabilitating, in training, or scared dog!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Tip of the Day:

 A healthy dog is a happy dog! If you feed your dog a high quality meal your dog will be less likely to have issues in the long run. Sometimes the effects of your pets food won't be noticed until they are older. A poor diet can result in a dingy coat, dry or flaky skin, ear infections or a long term effect tumors, seizures etc. If your dog is experiencing any of the above consider changing their food and experimenting, it may be as simple as that and then you don't have to keep putting your dog on medications because they can't stop scratching.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Scout and Henry

Scout, 5 years old and Henry, 9 months old but about 10 weeks old in this picture

These are my two boys, Scout and Henry. Scout is a 5 years old and Henry is 9 months old. They are both yellow labs, not related. Henry comes with an interesting story which I may begin adding to regular posts as short stories. He has a secondary cleft palate.
 By looking at him you wouldn't know anything is wrong with him, but if you open his mouth, he has an opening that runs the length from behind his teeth down to his throat. Over time it has closed partially but not completely. It can make life a little difficult when he is a dog that also has pica. Stay tuned to hear about his adventure from 2 days old to present time. Scout definetly has his stories but over the course of 5 years what dog doesn't!
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