Archive for the 'March 2011' Category

It is official…

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

I am excited to announce that I am join­ing the staff of Car­ing Hands Ani­mal Hospital–Ashburn start­ing April 25th. Car­ing Hands has a rep­u­ta­tion for com­pas­sion and excel­lent care and I am so happy to be able to con­tribute to their patient care by offer­ing avian and exotic med­i­cine and surgery ser­vices.


Monday, March 14th, 2011

An inter­est­ing case was the large snake that came in on emer­gency and was trans­ferred to my depart­ment that next morn­ing. He was a beau­ti­ful python that not only gulped down two rab­bits for his meal the night before, but also the elec­tric cord of an appli­ance that was near his meal. Radi­ographs revealed the skele­tons of his prey as well as the metal­lic parts and wire of the sev­ered cord that was tan­gled with the food. The plan was to sedate the snake, intu­bate him (place an endo­tra­cheal tube to hook to a ven­til­la­tor) and per­form an enterotomy–surgically open the stom­ach to remove the con­tents. Since he was such a big snake, we needed to lay out addtional tables to sup­port his full size and it took mul­ti­ple staff to restrain dur­ing the ini­tial part of the surgery. But it went well and once he was fully anes­thetized I was able to pre­pare for my first inci­sion. For­tu­nately, I was able to use not just the radi­ographs with mark­ers placed to iden­tify where to make the inci­sion, but his meal also made a nice lump along his body that iden­ti­fied where the best place to start. Inci­sions were made through the skin, mus­cle and stom­ach wall until the for­eign bod­ies were reached. The prey was removed along with the cord that was hope­lessly tan­gled with them and I was able to fin­ish up the clo­sure and pre­pare the pet for recov­ery. Most vets have a story that con­sists of ran­dom items eaten by pets. Other items removed from a vari­ety of pets (from myself and col­leagues) include coins, pieces of rub­ber and foam, hair­balls, a beer bot­tle (another vet and another snake), sta­ples, and cloth to name a few. Birds tend to ingest items like bread twisty ties and jew­lery or cloth and string. Rab­bits like to go for car­pet­ing and bed­ding. Fer­rets love rub­ber and chewy items (sneak­ers, erasers, etc) and rep­tiles eat a vari­ety of sub­strate includ­ing rocks and sand. No mat­ter what type of pet or what the ingested item is, these cases tend to be med­ically and sur­gi­cally challenging.

II: Swan Song">Road Trip Part II: Swan Song

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Some­times house­calls are not actu­ally houses. A few years back I received a call regard­ing a sick swan. Two swans lived on a lake in the back­yard of a client and one of them was not act­ing right; it seemed lethar­gic. So the day of the visit, I pulled a tech­ni­cian and we packed the car with items we might need includ­ing a scale to weigh the bird, a stethascope, needles and syringes in case we needed to draw blood, some com­mon med­ica­tions that we may need, and of course my exotic for­mu­lary that would help me to fig­ure out a dosage for any med­ica­tions I may need to dis­pense.  Along the way, I got lost –which is a very com­mon theme for me any­where I go for the first time–but we were able to quickly get back on track and make it to the house.  Once we arrived, we were shown to the back of the house and told we will go to the birds. Then he pulled out the boat. It was  a lit­tle flat boat with a motor.  Appar­ently the birds were on the water and we needed to find them. I could have sworn I men­tioned on the phone that we needed the bird penned in but appar­ently they had not been able to cap­ture it. So we took a ride around the lake for a half hour. It was a beau­ti­ful autumn day so it was fairly pleas­ant. We finally found the swan and it’s mate in the mid­dle of the lake. The owner sug­gested we lure the bird onto the boat with the food…this did not work. I was only able to get a foot away from the bird. The swan seemed a bit lethar­gic, but really I could not phys­i­cally touch the bird to assess. After about fif­teen min­utes, even the owner real­ized it was futile. So we headed back to the house. All I could offer was  an antibi­otic dosed on the aver­age swan weight and rec­om­mend they try to give this in food. Amaz­ingly, a week later, I received a call that the swan was recov­er­ing and doing much bet­ter. I am not sure if it was the meds or tinc­ture of time, but I was glad we did not need to make a recheck visit.

Road Trip Part 1: Location, Location, Location

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Dur­ing my time as a poul­try res­i­dent in Colum­bus, OH, I received a call regard­ing some sick chick­ens. Loca­tion: south­east edge of Ohio. The other res­i­dent and I packed up for a two hour trip and pre­pared for a pleas­ant ride. What we could not pre­pare for was the fact that we were dri­ving into the Appalachian mountains.  As we got closer to the loca­tion, we start­ede to real­ize that we are not in “Ohio” any more. It was an amaz­ing ride through the moun­tains. In some areas there was no phone sig­nal and no place to stop. In some areas, there were iso­lated homes. It almost reminded me of upstate New York but bath tubs and satelite dishes on front lawns were not some­thing I had ever seen in my home of NY.  Need­less to say, we got lost some­where along the way and were at least 45 min­utes late. We finally stopped at a gen­eral store that could have been out of Lit­tle House on the Prairie to get direc­tions and to call the client. For­tu­nately, we weren’t far and the owner came to meet us and lead to the house.

The Case of the Sick Hamster

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

A very mem­o­rable case from years ago was that of a ham­ster that pre­sented for just not doing right. In vet lingo we use the acronym ADR (ain’t doing right) and upon exam the ham­ster was a lit­tle thin but dis­tended in the belly, not as active and ener­getic. We ini­tally tried some med­ica­tions but this didn’t help and at the recheck visit, the ham­ster was much thin­ner and it’s belly was big­ger. Radi­ographs (X-rays) revealed a mass affect in the abdomen that appeared to be the repro­duc­tive tract. Based on the rest of exam and diag­nos­tics it appeared to be a pos­si­ble pyome­tra and the rec­om­men­da­tion had to be a spay surgery which is risky enough in a larger pet, but in a ham­ster it has the addi­tional chal­lenges of being such a small pet. The own­ers opted to go for­ward and we sched­uled surgery for the next day.  The next morn­ing, prior to surgery, I called the owner to give an update on the pet’s sta­tus and the plan and the owner revealed to me the impor­tanced of this ham­ster. It belonged to their daugh­ter who was diag­nosed with epilepsy and this ham­ster was given to her at the time of diag­no­sis. It was a source of emo­tional sup­port for the daugher and fam­ily. After this, I felt more pres­sure than nor­mal to do my best for this fam­ily. We pro­ceeded with the surgery and the ham­ster remained sta­ble under anes­the­sia. The uterus took up most of the abdomen and was filled with white fluid. I was relieved to remove the entire uterus with­out it open­ing up and poten­tially releas­ing bac­te­ria through­out the abdomen. Once the ovaries and uterus were out, I flushed the area lib­er­ally, sutured her closed and we woke her up. The ham­ster was a trooper and did amaz­ingly well. Two days later it was able to go home and con­tin­ued to thrive. The recheck visit was such a great visit in that the ham­ster was doing so well at home and had recov­ered. It is amaz­ing to think how much impact this tiny lit­tle crit­ter had on so many peo­ple. These are the cases that make it all worthwhile.