Category Archives: Dogs

Stories relevant to dogs.

First total knee-replacement surgery restores young dog’s active life at Cornell

jake-copy_000James Gillette has two passions: hunting and his dog. In an effort to spend time with both, he has dedicated years to training Jake, his chocolate lab, how to retrieve game. Often described as inseparable, Gillette and Jake were just as likely to be wandering through wetlands as they were to be at home until travesty hit both.

In the summer of 2010, Gillette fell so ill that when Jake ran in front of a truck and fractured his knee, it was several weeks before Gillette was well enough to get Jake to a veterinarian. When Jake later arrived at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals (CUHA), he was unable to put any weight on the leg and it looked like it might have to be amputated.
In a first-ever surgery at Cornell, Assistant Professor of Surgery Dr. Ursula Krotscheck and an orthopedic surgeon from Ohio State University led a team of CUHA residents in a total knee replacement surgery, a relatively novel procedure never before performed at Cornell. The surgery team removed pieces of bone around Jake’s knee and constructed components to recreate the joint, giving Jake a second chance at an active life.

jakedog055-copySoon after the surgery in Spring 2011, Jake walked home by Gillette’s side using all four legs.

“Jake has recovered extremely well from what in most cases would have been a crippling injury,” said Krotscheck. “We are one of only five teaching hospitals that have performed this procedure. Our team and Jake’s resilience all contributed to making our first canine knee replacement a success.”

Now a year post-surgery, Jake recently passed his first anniversary check-up with flying colors.

“Look at him run!” said Gillette as he tossed Jake’s favorite toy, spurring the eager retriever into a full sprint. “He’s happy as ever and his leg is like new. Before the surgery he wasn’t using it at all. Now we’re playing and hunting together again.”

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College of Veterinary Medicine News
http://vet.cornell.edu/news/Jake.cfm

Flag flown over Afghanistan in honor of Animal Hospital goes on display

 flagA new display featuring a special American flag now adorns Cornell University Hospital for Animals’ waiting room. To express thanks for CUHA’s life-saving services, Jessica and Mark Chamberlin gifted the folded flag to CUHA after Mark returned from military duty in Afghanistan, where he had flown it from a Chinook helicopter in honor of CUHA’s doctors, students, and staff.

While serving as a pilot in Afghanistan from October 2010 to October 2011, U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Mark Chamberlin received bad news from his wife back home. Lucy, their husky, had been diagnosed with both acute and chronic liver failure. The prognosis looked bleak but Jessica took Lucy to Cornell to see what could be done.

“A biopsy revealed Lucy had hepatitis, extreme liver inflammation,” said Dr. Andrea Johnston, a third-year resident in Hepatology who led the case. “Much of the damage is irreversible and her liver will never function normally, but we were able to get the inflammation under control and develop a nutritional regime specially adapted to her condition. Jessica and Mark worked diligently with the new diet, home-cooking all the food—it’s clear how committed they are to helping Lucy.”

Lucy’s history of hardship began in an abusive dog yard in Alaska. When she got her foot caught in a chain, her former owners cut it off with a chainsaw and left her without medical care. Animal control officers investigating the dog yard found the injured husky and brought her to the animal hospital where Jessica worked as a licensed veterinary technician.

“It took a week to get the infection under control and we had to amputate her leg,” said Jessica. “I spent so much time with her that I got attached and brought her home. She’s been like a child to us ever since.”

The Chamberlin’s parent-like dedication continued through Lucy’s latest ordeal. On the couple’s 10th anniversary, instead of going on the vacation they had originally planned, Jessica and Mark spent their time in Ithaca supporting Lucy during her biopsy and liver care. After Lucy’s initial recovery, they spent time cooking Lucy’s special diet and nursing her back to health.

Their work paid off, and when Mark returned to Afghanistan to lead the flight mission “Operation Enduring Freedom XI,” he flew a flag from the CH-47F “Chinook” helicopter in CUHA’s honor.

“When we first brought Lucy to Cornell we thought she only had a couple weeks,” said Jessica. “Cornell was able to save our girl, and we wanted to do something special to honor the people at the hospital. We are so grateful that Cornell was an option and that all of the doctors and staff were so kind and helpful in getting Lucy back on her feet. We are honored that Cornell has chosen to display the flag in the lobby.”

The flag is proudly displayed in a wooden plaque along with a certificate signed by Mark Chamberlin and the four other officers who flew during the mission under his command. It can be viewed in CUHA’s waiting room to the right of the reception desk window.

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http://www.vet.cornell.edu/news/Flag.cfm

Poisoned and burned puppy recovers with skin flap surgery and honey

aMelanie Miller and her Jack Russell terrier, Branson, were traveling the day after Thanksgiving when Miller noticed something was wrong. Usually jovial, the seven-month-old puppy seemed to fade, his eyes began twitching, and he started tremoring in the car. Miller rushed him to a nearby emergency veterinary hospital, where doctors delivered intravenous medicine just in time to get the seizures under control.

Spoiled fish turned out to be the culprit. Fish can spoil quickly, and Branson had eaten leftover fish that had apparently grown mold laden with neurotoxins. For hours the situation looked uncertain. As soon as they stopped the medicine the tremors would start again, but with care and patience the tremors finally passed.

Yet that was just the beginning of Branson’s troubles.

“I noticed a large discolored patch on his belly that hadn’t been there before,” said Miller. “I wasn’t sure what it could be–maybe a reaction to the medicine? It looked really painful and he didn’t seem happy. When we got home to New York I brought him straight to Cornell.”

Dr. Rebecca Kessler, third-year medicine resident, first saw the case. The oddly rectangular-shaped wound was worsening, turning black and leathery and starting to ooze. Kessler gave Branson pain medicine and antibiotics and took a skin biopsy. The results showed that Branson’s skin had been burned.

fDr. Marc Hirshenson, third-year resident in small animal surgery, removed the dead skin before it could become infected. Using an innovative technique to discourage infection, Hirshenson also applied a special topical treatment called Manuka honey to help heal the wound. Well known for its antimicrobrial properties, honey has been used by many cultures throughout history as a way to treat wounds and ward off infection. Manuka honey is produced by bees that feed on nectar from the manuka tree in New Zealand, and licensed wound-care products around the world use it as a special ingredient.

“There has been some evidence in humans that manuka honey is especially good for healing wounds,” said Hirshenson.

Over the next four days the wound improved, developing “granulation tissue” to help itself heal, a sign of a healthy body recovering. But the burn covered such a large area that it looked unlikely that it would fully close without surgery.

To help close the wound and avoid complications, Hirshenson performed a difficult skin flap surgery alongside Associate Professor of surgery Dr. James Flanders.

“Dogs have extra skin around their flanks, and their skin is relatively elastic,” he said. “We were able to stretch this extra skin to cover the area around the abdomen where Branson’s skin had burned and stitch it together around the middle.”

With careful manipulation of the excess skin they were able to close the wound, and after some rest and recuperation Branson was on his way to a full recovery.

“Our job is to help the body heal itself,” said Hirshenson. “Branson had an amazing attitude the whole time that really shined through. He put up with us for a long time, happy to let us handle him even when he was in pain, and was always enthusiastic about walking and eating. His demeanor contributed a lot to his recovery.”

Branson returned home in early December, where Miller reports he is back to his old self.

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http://www.vet.cornell.edu/news/Branson.cfm

Canine cancer-survivor treated at Cornell continues champion career

dogGarnering top honors in his field despite battling two deadly canine cancers, a Cornell family’s dog treated at the College of Veterinary Medicine has become an emblem of hope for patients and pet-owners facing terminal illness. Through expert treatment, family support, and a hardworking spirit, this resilient survivor continues to succeed in a multifaceted sporting career while defying cancer’s odds.

Hokey is a Belgian Tervuren, an energetic breed born to work. This put him right at home in a family full of Cornellians, including Dr. Debra Eldredge DVM ’80/BS ’76. A retired veterinarian-turned-dog-trainer, she brought Hokey toward the top ranks in agility, obedience, herding, and tracking. Then one day in September 2009, just after a successful competition, lymph nodes across his body suddenly swelled. A biopsy at Cornell revealed that Hokey had aggressive lymphoma, an immune-cell cancer with a median survival time of one year.

“I drove him to Cornell’s animal hospital to discuss chemotherapy,” said Eldredge, who began treatments in consultation with canine cancer experts in Cornell’s oncology service. “He flew through without a bump and earned the highest level title in agility that year. He especially loves tracking, and chemo can destroy the sense of smell. Yet I had faith in Hokey’s abilities, and we continued training.”

Testing a champion

They entered a Variable Surface Tracking (VST) test, the American Kennel Club’s most difficult competition. A dog must follow a person by scent over a multi-terrain track three to five hours old and locate three dropped items, all with no handler guidance. Only about 300 dogs in the world have passed this grueling test—three of them trained by Eldredge and her two children, current Cornell students.

dog“Hokey got into a night test and tracked right off – down cement stairs, through a large crowd leaving an awards ceremony, across a courtyard, finding all articles in the dark. He was the first dog ever to pass at that site,” Eldredge said. “That Summer he earned his Companion Dog Excellence in Obedience (CDX) title and in December we tested for Tracking Dog Excellent (TDX) certification. It was sleeting hard. Hokey took us across a creek, through brush, woods, and swamps, over a horse jump, and finally onto a muddy path where he found the final item.”

Hokey became the 280th Champion Tracker ever in the history of AKC – with all the most difficult tests passed post-chemotherapy. His high profile in the sport-dog world as champion athlete and cancer survivor brought hope to communities across the country. A certified therapy dog, Hokey has been a special guest in many cancer fundraisers, and is pictured on a bumper sticker bearing the slogan “Canine Cancer Survivors Can Do.” In April 2010 he was named “Top Companion Dog” by Freedom Guide Dogs, “chosen for his accomplishments and perseverance in the face of a serious obstacle.”

New cancer, same resilience

After two healthy years, Hokey developed a troubling sneeze in October 2011. Eldredge found a tumor in the left side of his nose caused by a new type of cancer: nasal chondrosarcoma.

“Dogs developing this nose cancer usually survive approximately one year,” said Dr. Margaret McEntee, the Alexander de Lahunta Chair of the Department of Clinical Sciences and Section Chief of Oncology at Cornell’s animal hospital. “Nasal tumors are especially difficult to cure—they require aggressive radiation therapy that can also affect nearby normal tissues with temporary side effects.”

dogUsing a CT scan to create 3D maps of his nasal cavity, Cornell’s oncology service developed a detailed treatment plan targeting the tumor in a way that would minimize normal tissue damage. Hokey began a course of 19 daily radiation treatments using Cornell’s linear accelerator. Throughout this he was surrounded by friends —partly because he makes them so easily.

“It’s a very hard course for patients but Hokey’s amazing attitude won over everyone he came across,” said McEntee. “Technicians and students visited him frequently; he even helped ease other nervous patients who came through. Having happy dogs around brightens everyone’s days.”

After radiation and recovery from minor side-effects to his eyes which Cornell ophthalmologist Dr. Thomas Kern described as “miraculous,” Hokey returned home.

“The left side of his face suffered cosmetic side-effects but he’s healing quickly– never missing a meal,” said Eldredge.  “He competed in obedience again this month and loves to be back to work. His genetics must stink for him to get two cancers but his love of life and healing powers are strong.”

Hokey has donated blood to the DNA bank at Cornell, where it will contribute to cancer research in dogs and humans.

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http://www.vet.cornell.edu/news/Hokey.cfm

http://blogs.cornell.edu/theessentials/2012/02/13/hokey%E2%80%99s-triumph/

Student’s Fulbright project tackles potential epidemics in Trinidad and Tobago

pFrom the stray-strewn streets of Trinidad and Tobago to cow-covered pastures of rural New York dairy farms, Miguella Paula-Ann Mark-Carew has journeyed far in her quest to understand and combat disease epidemics across the world. Ever since she came to Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine through a veterinary summer program when she was 17, Mark-Carew wanted to return as a full-time student. While attending Dartmouth College, she spent two respective summers  conducting epidemiological research with Drs. Paul Bowser and Ted Clarke, and her positive experiences with Cornell faculty further sealed her aspiration. In 2007 she came to Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine as a doctoral student in the field of comparative biomedical sciences.

An aspiring epidemiologist, Mark-Carew studies Giardia parasite infections at the group and population levels to help understand and control potential epidemics. Giardia protozoa infect the small intestine of humans and other animals, causing stomach pain, diarrhea, bloating, fever, nausea, and vomiting for two to four weeks. It commonly spreads via water contaminated by raw sewage or animal wastes. It can also spread between individuals, quickly putting populations at risk. Mark-Carew’s Giardia studies took her from the New York Watershed to the islands of Trinidad and Tobago to study the parasite’s prevalence and genetic makeup in dairy cattle and other mammals.

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After receiving a Fulbright grant funding an independent epidemiological project, Mark-Carew returned to the Caribbean state of Trinidad and Tobago to take on a growing health concern facing her family’s homeland. Her Fulbright project involves efforts to quantify, manage, and control the population of thousands of stray and free-roaming dogs in streets across the country. These dogs can carry Giardia and other diseases humans can catch, posing a serious potential public health risk, according to Mark-Carew. Beyond its medical and epidemiological significance, the project involves sociological surveys with political potential. Mark-Carew interviews residents and tourists about their perspectives on several concerns, including stray dog issues, testing to identify parasites, and the value of continuing her efforts to count the number of strays, all with the hope of inspiring policy changes to address the stray problem.

“I adopted three puppies when they were a month old from an active dog abandonment site,” Mark-Carew mentioned. “One is with me now in Ithaca, and the other two are scheduled to fly home with me after my visit this coming January. I literally brought my work home with me!”

 

Other Projects

Mark-Carew has also been involved with a project called “Caring Collars Loving Leashes” that was started by her mother, Marlene Mark, to promote the human-animal bond.

“We encourage owners to walk their dogs and obtain ID tags for free collars we give out so they can find their dogs if they get lost,” said Mark-Carew. “Over 150 collar and leash sets were split between the two branches of the Trinidad and Tobago Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (TTSPCA). We’d like for it to be an annual campaign during May, National Pet Month in the US.”

 

Inspired by a talk Mark-Carew gave at Cornell about her project, five Cornell students have visited Trinidad and Tobago to lend a hand. Sophie Tilitz, a rising freshman undergraduate interested in animal science, helped for six weeks from February to April 2011. In January 2011, second-year veterinary student Jasmine Bruno and third-year students Sarrah Kaye, Erin Lashnits, and Sarah Dumas spent two weeks on the islands with Mark-Carew collecting parasite samples from dogs, cattle, and water buffalo, processing samples in the lab, counting roaming dogs in the streets, and volunteering in an intensive marathon spaying and neutering event.

(Read more about their adventures.)

 

Future Plans

Mark-Carew hopes her career will allow her to assist the World Health Organization or similar entities to navigate an increasingly globalized world through which pathogens can spread quicker than ever before. She aims to understand how diseases differ across the world and species and hopes to work on projects concerning public health and animal health, particularly dealing with waterborne diseases in developing countries.

“I plan to return to Trinidad and Tobago during January 2012 break and Summer 2012,” said Mark-Carew. “This project means a lot to me and I plan to devote several years to seeing that something is done to control roaming dogs and promote responsible dog ownership in Trinidad and Tobago. I am looking for additional Cornell students to help with the roaming dog assessment project, and can be reached at mpm26@cornell.edu.”

 

For more on Mark-Carew’s Fulbright project, visit her blog: http://halfbrightfulbright.blogspot.com/

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http://www.vet.cornell.edu/news/carew.cfm

Weighing in on weighing less

Nutrition research reveals paths to weight loss and the secret life of fat

Americans are getting fatter and so are their pets. Following rising trends in human obesity, nearly half of pet dogs and cats weigh too much, and it’s taking heavy tolls on their health. Cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and other bone and joint problems disproportionately plague overweight animals. Nutrition clinicians at Cornell’s Companion Animal Hospital are helping downsize this growing problem by creating knowledge and solutions that could help humans and pets reach healthy weights.

“Obesity is the number one preventable health problem in veterinary medicine today,” said Dr. Joseph Wakshlag, head of Cornell’s nutrition and obesity management services. “Food equals love; people give treats, pets get fatter. Education and prevention are the only real tools against obesity.”

Dr. Wakshlag’s team of two resident trainees and one nutrition technician offers personalized nutritional support and weight-management planning for pets. Their clinical research has attracted sponsorship from Nestle Purina, a pet-food manufacturer that values new nutrition knowledge, resulting in three papers this year and several studies in progress.

The first proved pedometers attached to bungee cord collars can accurately count a dog’s steps and used the technique to show that dogs that walk more stay fitter. The second paper used their pedometer methodology to demonstrate for the first time that exercising dogs could help them lose weight, and determined how many calories dogs can eat per 1,000 steps of walking while still trimming down.  Dr. Wakshlag uses his findings to develop intervention plans based on dog walking to prevent canine obesity.

The hospital’s nutrition residents are expanding on Dr. Wakshlag’s third study addressing a new finding that is changing the way veterinarians and human doctors look at fat.

“Historically people saw fat tissue as inert energy deposits,” said Dr. Jason Gagne ’09, second-year resident in the nutrition service. “Recently we’ve realized it acts more like endocrine tissue, releasing proteins called adipokines that activate the immune system and cause chronic inflammation. This can exacerbate many disease processes and lower insulin resistance, leading to diabetes. We’re trying to learn which cells in fat tissue produce adipokines.”

First-year resident Dr. Renee Streeter studies how heavy hounds handle hidden health hazards from pro-inflammatory proteins. Her research compares dogs’ adipokine levels to their body conditions and the levels of anti-inflammatory omega three fatty acids in their blood. While most adipokines increase with body score (higher is fatter) and harm the body, one kind does the opposite.

“Adiponectin is the single beneficial thing released from fat,” said Dr. Wakshlag. “Unlike other adipokines, it’s an anti-inflammatory insulin sensitizer. An injection of adiponectin will make your insulin work better. When you’re lean, you release a lot of it, when you’re fat, you release a lot less. That’s why you have to lose weight to become more sensitive to insulin.”

In the nutrition team’s clinical trials, inflammatory responses decreased due to lowering levels of bad adipokines after dogs lost weight.

“While most adipokines fell, we were surprised to find that canine adiponectin levels stayed the same. Dogs have much more adiponectin than cats or humans, no matter if they’re fat or thin. This may be one reason why dogs are less prone to Type-II diabetes than other species.”

Cornell’s headway on the obesity battlefront owes its success largely to corporate sponsors investing in the future of healthy pets.

“Nestle Purina has been phenomenally generous,” said Dr. Wakshlag. “They funded our pedometer-based weight-loss studies, Renee’s study, and Jason’s entire two-year residency. Proctor and Gamble, who makes Natura Products, IAMS, and Eukanuba, recently stepped up to fund Renee’s 3 year residency program, with plans to make this a continual position for the Cornell University Hospital for Animals.

“These partnerships meet the rising demand for nutrition knowledge in the private and corporate sectors. Two Cornell veterinary alumni– Dr. Kurt Venator ‘03 of Nestle Purina and Dr. Susan Giovengo ‘91 of Proctor and Gamble – helped make our residencies possible.  These pet food companies know the value of having nutrition experts in hospitals and hope to help fight the obesity epidemic these future clinicians will face.”

‘Scopes Magazine
October 2011

Life-saving surgery inspires gift to help the hospital see inside ailing wildlife

When their dog, Buzz, faced a life-threatening condition in October 2009, Richard and Stacy Hoffman drove their Scottish terrier six hours from Maryland to Cornell University Hospital for Animals, where a timely surgery saved his life.

Their experience inspired several donations to the Companion Animal Hospital, and as strong supporters of animal welfare they were keen to learn more about the College’s commitment to animal care. The Hoffmans oversee a family foundation that funds projects supporting otherwise overlooked wildlife. When they took a tour of Cornell’s Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Health Center, which provides hospitalization and medical care to sick or injured wild animals brought in by the public with the goal of releasing them back to their original habitat, they knew they had found a match.

“Some wildlife species get a lot of attention while others that might not be quite as ‘sexy’ fall under the radar,” said Richard Hoffman. “It’s important to us and to Earth’s ecosystems that species don’t dwindle because no one noticed or cared. We took a tour of the Center and saw the work they do helping local wildlife and training students who could someday translate that experience to a greater scale, and we wanted to give something tangible to help.”

Through a gift from their foundation, the Hoffmans helped the Center purchase four pieces of imaging equipment that will provide invaluable diagnosis and treatment options for the animals treated at the Center while simultaneously building a multimedia library usable for teaching and research in wildlife medicine.

“The biggest new piece is an endogo®HD, a totally portable, wireless, high-definition endoscopic imaging platform that can record, store, and play back images and videos taken from inside an animal’s body, making it particularly useful for diagnosis and teaching,” said Dr. George Kollias, Jay Hyman Professor of Wildlife Medicine and Chief of the Center. “We also purchased a small-diameter rigid endoscope for birds and small mammals that allows veterinarians to use surgical instruments to take biopsies, retrieve ingested foreign bodies, and conduct minimally invasive surgeries.”

For their tiniest patients, the Center purchased a fully functional miniature endoscope. Finally, all endoscopes were updated with new, more powerful light sources.

“We use this technology to help diagnose and treat wildlife when laboratory tests and other diagnostics don’t provide definitive answers,” said Kollias. “It lets us use minimally invasive techniques to visualize the organ surfaces and to take tissue samples if organs or tissues safely. The equipment is also particularly useful in species for which there is little or no published clinical laboratory data or disease description.”

The Hoffmans hope their gift will help veterinarians, students, and researchers find ways to prevent future problems in wildlife and promote research to help wildlife.

‘Scopes Magazine
February 2012