Posts Tagged ‘Wuzzy Rat’

Coming Soon on Riley and James…

Friday, April 8th, 2011

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Skills for Communicating with Patients – Five Stars! This may be the most helpful book I have read from the  Veterinary Economics 25 Books List.  It is an excellent communication book written for MD’s, though the authors have worked with veterinarians too, which I thought was cool.  It is a medical school textbook and is taking me FOREVER to read!  SO worth it though.  I will review it for you as soon as I finish it!

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Summary of my Favorites from the Veterinary Economics 25 Books List – Very fun project…I am finishing the last two books.

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Anesthesia for the Pet Practitioner – Five Stars! This will be a two part review, the first part here and the second part on Wagging Tail.  Anesthesia for the Pet Practitioner is a wonderful veterinary anesthesia book that I have used for years.  The third edition was recently published by Banfield Pet Hospital, and that is the one I am reviewing.  It is also the best one yet!

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The Complete Cat’s Meow by Darlene Arden – Five Stars! OK, I just started this book, but it has a gorgeous Max the Cat cat on the cover and is written by one of my Very Favorite People AND Darlene mentioned me in the acknowledgements.  (Thank you Darlene!!)  What’s not to love??  Even though I am only a few pages in, I can tell it is also an EXCELLENT resource for cat lovers.  See, I can be objective! : )

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Love Wins by Rob Bell – Just kidding!  Different blog!  I do love it though.  The topics covered in this book are ones I have been struggling with and studying Scripture about for the past few years.  Just reading the intro sitting with Abby in the bookstore allowed me to breathe a deep cosmic sigh of relief.  Not that Rob Bell is the end-all authority on truth, or even claims to be.  He IS, however, very good at making a person think, and tackling Ideas That Shall Not Be Mentioned head on.  At least one Christian leader has been fired over saying he liked the book.  But I am a vet.  I like the book.  And now…back to pets!

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Why all the book reviews?

Life is still sad.  I miss Ebony Dog and Wuzzy Rat terribly.  I also miss Fuzzy Rat, Piggy Pig and Princess Gerbil.

Max the Cat is in the beginning stages of Chronic Kidney Disease.  Not always a big deal for an old cat, actually.  (You know, unless he or she is your cat, or…unless it is.)

But then, when Ebony first got sick, I was hoping that if and when we found the underlying cause of her Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia it would not be awful, but it was.  So I am still in a pretty rough season and having a sick cat is freaking me out a bit.  I am writing about all that, but trying hard to keep it upbeat here.

Even so, a Princess Gerbil Memorial is in the works.  She deserves one as much as the other four!  It is not her fault she passed away when I was too exhausted to write One More.  And she was super cute and kind of quirky, so I think you will like it!

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And finally…

Happy Heartworm-Free May!

And then…

I dunno!  A happier season maybe?  Just an idea…

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Do Pets Mourn?

Friday, March 25th, 2011

Yes, of course they do!

I tend to anthropomorphize, I am highly (not excessively, highly!) emotional, I love, love, love pets and I spend most of my time at home and at work with them.

I realize that I am not unbiased.

So instead of just saying “yes,” I wanted to share this sort-of-a-scientific-case-but-more-of-an-intriguing-story…

Joy the Puppy has a built-in stress barometer

localized juvenile demodicosis that manifests as periocular alopecia.

Look!  The scientist in me is coming out!  Let me explain that super-nerdy sentence and then move on to how it supports the theory that pets do indeed mourn.  I know that this is a case study of one subject.  Still, I would believe it with no proof, so it is more scientific than my usual carrying on here, wouldn’t you say?

localized – in one or a few areas.  Generalized demodicosis would typically be more serious and warrant a more aggressive search of an underlying cause and more aggressive treatment.

juvenile – puppy disease.  Again, adult-onset would typically be more serious and warrant a more aggressive search of an underlying cause and more aggressive treatment.

demodicosis – a form of “mange” – Many mammals have a species-specific mite, demodex, which is present in small numbers even in healthy individuals.  Since I am an animal doctor, not a human doctor, I will not say “human” or “eyebrows” to you.  Dogs have a species-specific demodex mite called Demodex canis.  It can become a clinical problem if there is an immune system issue or stress, though the underlying cause is not always known.

microscopic view of Demodex canis

periocular – around the eyes

alopecia – loss of hair

When Joy was a pup, she had a mild case of localized juvenile demodicosis that manifested as periocular alopecia.  It came and went pretty quickly and quietly, with no discomfort to Joy.  I treated it with “benign neglect” and she did great.  She had no symptoms for over a year.

When Ebony Dog passed away last month, the disease came back with a vengeance.  Joy moped around the house.  That is, she had decreased energy levels and was much less active than usual.  She circled on the bed that she and Ebony had shared, finally flopping down every night with a deep sigh and her chin on the floor at the edge of the bed.  She would come to a complete stop during walks with Noodle the Poodle and look around as if confused.  For her whole life, walks had always been the three of them:  Joy, Ebony and Noodle.  Most telling of all, the area around both of Joy’s eyes went completely baldy-bald…um, I mean alopecic, again.

Here is Joy in all her shiny gorgeousness…

Here is Joy at the worst of her recent bout of demodicosis…

And here, I believe, is the reason for the stress that has caused this most recent flare-up…

She and Ebony were so close…

In fact, Joy wanted to be Ebony when she grew up…

Joy the Puppy is mourning the loss of her friend Ebony Dog.

I saw it with Wuzzy Rat when Fuzzy Rat passed away…

(She had no hair to let fall out as an outward sign of her mourning – ha!)  I have seen it with other personal pets.  I have seen it with clients’ pets.  This is the first time I have seen it with such clear physical manifestations.  Have you seen this with pets you have known?  The mourning, I mean?

My Prescribed Treatment for Joy: Routine cleaning with a gentle cleanser and topical medication, extra attention, extra love, extra walks and extra empathy.*  Her stress levels are going down, her immune system is becoming strong again, her demodicosis is going back into remission and her hair is growing back.  That is to say…her heart is healing.

*I miss her too Joy.  We’re going to be ok though Puppy, I promise.

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Blogathon 2010 – Wuzzy Rat

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

I know it’s a sunny picture for 2 am – I wasn’t going to stay up till all hours just to be up when a clock struck two!  You know, until now.

Last week I was obsessively preparing for Blogathon.  I was getting more and more excited…and then I saw it.  Wuzzy Rat had a HUGE mass on her lower left jaw.  Suddenly, all of my energy was gone.

Dr. Merkley (a veterinary surgeon) was one of my very favorite teachers in vet school.  He is now a surgical specialist in Omaha and I get to work together with him on surgical cases every once in a while.  (I love some of life’s full circles!)  Dr. Merkley told me once that if I ever needed a surgical specialist for an exotic pet, he would do the surgery if I would do the anesthesia.

So I prepared to call Dr. Merkley and inform him of a probable impending hemimandibulectomy (removal of part of the jaw) to control what I assumed was mandibular osteosarcoma.  (Had I done ANY diagnostics at this point?  NO!)  I agonized over whether this would be more helpful or painful for Wuzzy, and would it buy her any time?  But I needed to at least know what she was struggling with, if at all possible.

First Wuzzy would need a thorough examination and skull and chest radiographs.  Even this would not definitively confirm my presumptive diagnosis.  But skull radiographs would show a distinctive bone destruction pattern if cancer were present, and we would be able to check her lungs for metastasis (spread of the cancer).

Over the next few days, Wuzzy declined rapidly, becoming more lethargic, more painful, and even eating less than normal (That is as alarming in a rat as it would be in a Golden Retriever!)  If she did not improve, major orthopedic surgery would not even be a safe option.

I brought Wuzzy into work with me three days ago.  When Angela (one of the awesome pet nurses) and I got her out for her examination, Angela said, “…Dr. Finch?  Didn’t you say this mass was bigger yesterday?  Osteosarcoma does not typically behave that way does it?”  We both smiled.

In case you are still recovering from Dr. V eating cat litter, I will not gross you out further.  I will skip the next ten minutes of Wuzzy’s case and jump right to the part where I called Russ and yelled “Abscess!” and he cheered louder than he does when the Huskers score.

Wuzzy is sitting next to me now.  She is still pretty congested and on some pretty strong medication.  (She had two affected areas, and I still do not know what caused the infection.)  But here she is in all her goofiness and feeling so much better.


I honestly did not know how I was going to participate in Blogathon 2010 if I had to let go of Wuzzy right before we started.  I could not have been in an upbeat mood and probably would have stepped down from participating in the Blogathon, as much as I love it.

I have been told many times in the course of my career, even by other veterinarians, that I would get used to death, and that euthanasia and losing pets would become easier and less painful with time.  I am so very glad that that has not been the case.  The day it is is the day I will step down from practicing veterinary medicine, as much as I love it.

Clicking here will bring you to the webpage with information about Bradyn and an opportunity to donate towards the training of his service dog from 4 Paws for Ability. ♥

Vaccination Guide

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

My latest Wuzzy Chronicles article at is about dog, cat and ferret vaccines. Is everyone as excited about vaccinations as I am??  Ha!  You do not have to be!  But I hope this guide helps you.

During the same week that I was writing the article, friends and I were talking on #dogtalk about how absolutely horrendous we found the story of “Old Yeller” as kids.  If you do not know the story, DO NOT read the book or watch the movie!  In fact, I will spoil it for you so you are not tempted…the incredible Yellow Lab who just saved his kids from some possibly rabid wild animal is destroyed out of a fear of the zoonotic* potential of rabies.  As I so often yell at the end of Law and Order and CSI, “Why would you make this stuff up?!?”

I made these fake vaccines just for the article and had great fun doing it!  Yup, that’s red food coloring!  And real vaccine vials are not really that full, as my Pet Nurses all pointed out…but I think they are prettier that way!  Especially with the shiny blue and silver lids (which are also not accurately portrayed as rabies and distemper vials-again, I used them because I thought they were pretty!)

Sadly, at the time Old Yeller took place, rabies was a huge issue in America.  And lest we think it is a disease of the past, a handful of human cases occur in the United States every year.  And an average of 55,000 cases occur world wide every year! Fifty-five thousand people die yearly of this preventable disease!

I do not want our pendulum to swing too far in the direction of unvaccination.  Thankfully, we do not commonly see many of the diseases against which we vaccinate any more.  Much of that is due to strong vaccination protocols.  Outbreaks inevitably occur when we let our guard down.

Vaccines do carry risks.  We ought to avoid the risks as much as we can, and only use the vaccines our pets need, at the time intervals that will protect them the best.  But we should not forget the incredible things vaccines do for our pets, and even for us.

A vaccine list may seem a dry topic for an article, especially one sanctioned by Wuzzy Rat!  But I think the more we know about the health care of our pets, the better we are able to make wise decisions for them.  Let the list be a sort of launching pad…into a discussion of vaccines, diseases, risks, whatever you would like to talk about.  You, Wuzzy Rat and I can decide from there what issues Wuzzy Chronicles articles should cover in 2011!

Here is one of Wuzzy Rat’s favorite Chronicles articles from 2010…

Artists For Hope

*zoonotic=transmissable from animals to humans

What I am Reading this Week – The Same Big Important Books

Monday, October 11th, 2010

I am reading through Veterinary Economic’s Summer Reading List.  Ha, very funny Veterinary Economics!  This is not summer reading!  This pile of books is taller than Wuzzy Rat!  At least the Bible in a Year gives me, you know, a year.  From the “summer” list, I am currently reading Collapse, by Jared Diamond, and Truman, by David McCullough.  I expect to be here for quite some time!  So, no reviews for a while!  I am loving Truman, which surprised me.  I am not usually a big history buff, but it is a great book.

Wuzzy Rat and Phil discuss whether I can actually finish this project, while Bunny tries to jump from the lamp to the Bible.