Friday, March 28, 2008

Pancreatitis: More Than Just a Tummy Ache

On Wednesday night, little Max had a tummy ache. At first, we just thought he had eaten a little grass or something that caused him to have diarrhea, but when it continued every few hours until morning, we knew it was something more severe.

We rushed Max to the hospital and he endured a series of tests to determine the cause. The doctor's findings... Pancreatitis. Alarmed and worried, I had to fully research pancreatitis as we nearly dismissed the ailment as a tummy ache. I thought I would pass my research on to you, as it can affect all dogs and is quite severe.

What does the Pancreas do?
The pancreas is a glandular organ that is located under the stomach and duodenum (first part of the small intestine) in the dog and cat. The functions of the pancreas are 1) exocrine, which produces the enzymes needed to digest food, and 2) endocrine, which produces hormones, including the hormone insulin, which facilitates the uptake and storage of glucose (sugar) and amino acids (proteins).

What is Pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, causing leakage of the digestive enzymes whereby the pancreas literally starts to "digest itself."

What Causes Pancreatitis?
The cause of pancreatitis in dogs is not well understood at this point. There are a few things that predispose dogs to the development of pancreatitis, including: high fat content in blood (hyperlipidemia), high fat diet, obesity, certain medicines, underlying diseases, bacterial or viral infection, and trauma; however, there is also some research that indicates there are genetic factors at play as well.

What are the signs of Pancreatitis?
The problem with Pancreatitis is that it often just shows itself by diarrhea or vomiting, which taken by itself may not initially cause worry. Additionally, dogs with pancreatitis may be depressed, lose their appetite, and may also exhibit pain in the abdomen (restlessness, panting or unwillingness to lie down).

Maxy's arm, all wrapped up for another day of IV treatment

How do you Treat Pancreatitis?
Treatment generally involves the withdrawal of food and water for at least 48 hours. This allows the gastrointestinal system to rest, which makes the swelling of the pancreas go down. Depending on the severity of each case, and the dog may have to be on intravenous fluids and other support to heal the pancreas while off of oral food and water.

Maxy, sad that he is immobilized, which kept him from chasing squirrels

Max's Prognosis:
Max's pancreatitis apparently came from a protozoa he had, likely due to eating something he found outside that was infected. He spent all day Thursday in the hospital on an IV with fluids and antibiotics. He got to spend the night at home on Thursday night, but had to leave his catheter in tact for his subsequent IV treatments.

A little rest and relaxation for Max

He is back in the hospital today with another full day of IV fluids and antibiotics. The doctor says he should be fine and is glad we came in when we did. Left untreated even for a few days, this could have caused Max's organs to stop functioning.

Max is now on a low fat diet and will start eating Royal Canin upon his return from the hospital. Absolutely no more "people food" for Max and even his doggie treats must be carefully monitored.

Max's buddies came to visit him

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Spring Showers Bring May Flowers: Forbidden Flora

As spring is quickly approaching, as too are the beautiful flowers and plants! However, as beautiful as they may seem to us, they may be potentially harmful to your dog. Here is a list of potentially poisonous plants, and the effects they may cause to your pet that I found on the ASPCA website that I though would be helpful.

Plants and Flowers to Avoid:

Lilies: Members of the Lilium spp. are considered to be highly toxic to cats, but to be safe, monitor your pup around these too. While the poisonous component has not yet been identified, it is clear that with even ingestions of very small amounts of the plant, severe kidney damage could result.

Max says... don't chew on these calla lilies!

Sago Palm: All parts of Cycas Revoluta are poisonous, but the seeds or “nuts” contain the largest amount of toxin. The ingestion of just one or two seeds can result in very serious effects, which include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures and liver failure.

Tulip/Narcissus bulbs: The bulb portions of Tulipa/Narcissus spp. contain toxins that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation, drooling, loss of appetite, depression of the central nervous system, convulsions and cardiac abnormalities.


Azalea/Rhododendron: Members of the Rhododenron spp. contain substances known as grayantoxins, which can produce vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, weakness and depression of the central nervous system in animals. Severe azalea poisoning could ultimately lead to coma and death from cardiovascular collapse.


Oleander: All parts of Nerium oleander are considered to be toxic, as they contain cardiac glycosides that have the potential to cause serious effects—including gastrointestinal tract irritation, abnormal heart function, hypothermia and even death.

Castor Bean: The poisonous principle in Ricinus communis is ricin, a highly toxic protein that can produce severe abdominal pain, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, weakness and loss of appetite. Severe cases of poisoning can result in dehydration, muscle twitching, tremors, seizures, coma and death.

Cyclamen: Cylamen species contain cyclamine, but the highest concentration of this toxic component is typically located in the root portion of the plant. If consumed, Cylamen can produce significant gastrointestinal irritation, including intense vomiting. Fatalities have also been reported in some cases.


Kalanchoe: This plant contains components that can produce gastrointestinal irritation, as well as those that are toxic to the heart, and can seriously affect cardiac rhythm and rate.

Yew: Taxus spp. contains a toxic component known as taxine, which causes central nervous system effects such as trembling, incoordination, and difficulty breathing. It can also cause significant gastrointestinal irritation and cardiac failure, which can result in death.

Amaryllis: Common garden plants popular around Easter, Amaryllis species contain toxins that can cause vomiting, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, anorexia and tremors.


Autumn Crocus: Ingestion of Colchicum autumnale by pets can result in oral irritation, bloody vomiting, diarrhea, shock, multi-organ damage and bone marrow suppression.

Chrysanthemum: These popular blooms are part of the Compositae family, which contain pyrethrins that may produce gastrointestinal upset, including drooling, vomiting and diarrhea, if eaten. In certain cases depression and loss of coordination may also develop if enough of any part of the plant is consumed.


English Ivy: Also called branching ivy, glacier ivy, needlepoint ivy, sweetheart ivy and California ivy, Hedera helix contains triterpenoid saponins that, should pets ingest, can result in vomiting, abdominal pain, hypersalivation and diarrhea.

Pothos: Pothos (both Scindapsus and Epipremnum) belongs to the Araceae family. If chewed or ingested, this popular household plant can cause significant mechanical irritation and swelling of the oral tissues and other parts of the gastrointestinal tract.

Schefflera: Schefflera and Brassaia actinophylla contain calcium oxalate crystals that can cause oral irritation, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty in swallowing and intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue in pets who ingest.

Max says... Have a fun and safe Spring!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Max's Birthday Article on MSNBC

Spoil the dog, not the cake; some pets get treated to their own birthday parties

updated 11:04 a.m. PT, Tues., March. 4, 2008

Max at his 1st birthday paw-ty luau

Ashley Polston, 27, and Amit Bakshi, 29, of San Jose, Calif., credit their dog, Max, with helping them settle into their community. The couple befriended other dog owners during trips to the park and started a dog play group.

"Max is a great addition to our family," Polston said. "He is energetic and always happy, traits which I aspire to have as well."

When Max turned 1, she and Bakshi invited friends over for a luau-themed birthday party. All the four-legged guests received Hawaiian-print bandanas with their names embroidered on them.

***To read to full article, visit:***

More pictures from Max's 1st birthday paw-ty:

Melissa and Chloe

Olivia and Leo

Mary and Halle