Recall on lactated Ringers (also known as fluids given subcutaneous)

July 19th, 2014

If you have a cat or dog with renal failure (kidney disease) and are giving them subcutaneous fluids, it is important you check the lot number on the bags to assure the ones you have are not part of the recent recall. http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm404590.htm

My three cats have chronic renal failure and are all on RenAvast to help with it but they also receive fluids to stay hydrated. Thankfully all the bags of fluids that I have are not part of the recall.

What I do for my senior cats to keep them going…

June 25th, 2014

We have 3 senior cats…they are 17, 17 and 16. Many times people ask what I do for them to keep them healthy. So I wanted to give you some of my tips:

1. No vaccinations past the kitten vaccines. My cats are strictly indoor cats so no reason to poison them with vaccines.

2. Only wet cat food…no dry. Cats get about 75% of their water intake from their food so if you give them dry food they have a lot of catching up to do which can be hard on their kidneys.

3. No fish cat food or food that contains fish oils. There has been a link to fish and cats getting blocked (when they can’t urinate).

4. Fresh water in several bowls in several places. I clean these bowls each day with soap and water.

5. Check ups: it is better to catch something early than find out when it is too late. At minimum cats should have a check up with full blood work once a year.

6. Cats over 8 should have their blood pressure taken. If you vet does not check cats’ blood pressure, it is time to find a new vet. High blood pressure can cause blindness, stroke and death. One of the symptoms of high BP is “night howling”. It is easy to control high blood pressure with meds but only if you know it is high.

7. I have a few cats on various medications: one is on meds for hyperthyroidism and  two are on meds for high blood pressure.

8. All my cats get RenAvast twice a day. Chronic Renal Failure (CRF) is the leading cause of death among cats. RenAvast promotes healthy kidney function. In fact 3 of my cats are still alive thanks to the ingredients in RenAvast.  All three were diagnosed with CRF almost 5 years ago and stated RenAvast right away. Their creatinine and BUN (levels that check kidney function) decreased and they started looking and feeling better. I recently started giving RenAvast to my 10 year old cat in hopes that is prevents her from getting renal failure. I also like that RenAvast is easy to give (mix in with food). You can read more about it at their web site www.renavast.com. It is manufactured in the US by Bio Health Solutions.

8. I would never board my cats when I am away…I have a pet sitter come to the house.

9. Love, love and more love! I shower my babies with love and attention!!!!

10. Lastly, I use a vet who comes to the house to limit stress on my cats AND me (because when they are stressed I am stressed!).

Hope this was helpful!

cats and high blood pressure

June 3rd, 2014

There are so many vets who never take a cat’s blood pressure despite the fact that it is crucial. One of the leading causes of blindness in cats is hypertension (high blood pressure). There are also many many causes of cats having strokes and their cat parents finding them dead. This can easily be avoided by simply getting your cat’s blood pressure taken. This is especially important in older cats or cats with chronic renal failure (CRF).  The vet or tech puts a small cuff on your cats leg and it takes less than 5 mins to check it. They typically take it a few times and use an average. They also take into account that blood pressure in cats can go up by 20pts due to stress. If they blood pressure is elevated the vet will put your cat on blood pressure medication and recheck in 7-10 days to assure it has not gone too low. Once the BP is stabilized your vet will check it every few weeks or months depending on your cat’s health. There is a symptom of high blood pressure that many people do not even know about…night howling. Cats with high blood pressure many times will howl at night. Recently one of our cats started doing this and sure enough his blood pressure was off the charts! If I had not known about checking blood pressure or night howling, there is a good chance that our kitty could have had a stroke or have gone blind. If you vet does not take blood pressure…find another vet!

here he is!

May 28th, 2014

elwood1.jpg

The Amazing Ellwood!

May 28th, 2014

A few weeks ago while hiking in Palm Springs I heard about a dog Ellwood who was missing. Ellwood had been hiking with his mom (off leash) and was at the top of a mountain when 3 other off leash dogs attacked him. In a desperate attempt to save Ellwood his Mom told him to “RUN!”. Well run is what Ellwood did…but sadly he ran too far and was lost. People looked everywhere on the mountain for hours but could not find Ellwood. As it started getting dark everyone was even more concerned. Ellwood was a little dog about 15 pounds and certainly would be in danger of being eaten by coyotes plus it was 100 degrees and the mountain has lots of rattle snakes. Ellwood’s Mom took pieces of her clothing and scattered them down the mountain in an attempt to get him to get off the mountain. She also put water bowls and his beds on the bottom. By the next day most people were losing hope. It was very hot and a small dog alone in a canyon had very little hope of surviving. Ellwood’s mom did not give up…she continued to post signs, post on facebook groups, and was out looking day and night. After TWO nights there was a reported sighting at a golf course (that was located down the 8,000 foot elevation mountain where he was lost). Yes, it was possible it was him but could he have survived and gotten down the mountain, across the busy road and into the golf course? When I heard there was a sighting I ran out again to help look. I had been losing sleep worrying about this little guy and could not stop thinking about the danger he as in. When I got to the golf course I walked and looked in every bush and ditch I could find. I started asking each employee if they had seen him. Several said they had seen him about 6 hours earlier running around scared. I finally met someone who gave me more details and showed me the last place he had seen him. I had a VERY strong feeling that he was hiding in the bushes close to where he was last seen. It was very hot and there were people on the golf course so I thought he would probably just hunker down until it was cooler. I called his mom and asked her to meet me. I told her I had a feeling he was in these bushes and if he was I did not want him to get scared and run. Thankfully she did not think I was crazy and she did meet me. We started waking along all the bushes. The first one we heard a lizard and got excited but quickly realized it was not Ellwood. The second bush she called “Ellwood” and we heard a little jingle…she called him again and sure enough sweet Ellwood came out SOOOO happy to see him Mom. His Mom and I both cried as Ellwood was just so relieved to finally be safe. He had a bad bite mark on his which was probably from the dogs who attacked him and he was limping bit other than that he was great. He could not get in her car fast enough!!! A few lessons learned from Ellwood: 1. NEVER hike with dogs off leash. There are too many things that can go wrong including snakes, coyotes, other dogs, etc. Dogs just want to be with their people…they do not need to be off leash. 2. Never give up if you lose your dog. Ellwood’s mom was determined. She never stopped looking and hanging signs. She also had lots of other people helping. 3. Follow your instincts. This has helped me so many times and this time it helped Ellwood. I knew when I left my house that I was going to find him and I KNEW after walking the golf course for several house and talking to people that he should be in those bushes. Sure enough…my gut instainct was right and I found Ellwood!

I am Back!

May 27th, 2014

Not sure why I took a break from my blog but I guess that life just happened and my blog was the one who suffered. =) I plan to blog a few times a week focusing on animal issues and issues that are close to my heart. I am always open to suggestions if you want me to address something that you are interested in…so…stay tuned!

Dog Park Warning–written by a friend

April 5th, 2010

A Dog Park Experience     by Julie Solferino   4-4-10Saturday afternoon, it’s a beautiful day. My friend and I decided to go to the local dog park for our first time. I brought my new rescued dog, Petey, and she brought 2 of her rescued dogs as well. I was apprehensive about the whole experience, especially letting the dogs off the leashes and losing control. What if he didn’t come back when I called? What if he got scared when another dog came up to him? What if he ate dog poop on the ground? LOLWhen we got there, no on else was in the park, so the first half hour was pretty peaceful. We unleashed the dogs and let them lose to go sniff around. Some new people showed up, and more dogs started coming in to play. Then, the unthinkable happened. Shortly after an owner of a large, grey, unneutered pitbull came in to the park, a very unnerving situation occurred. He had his two teenage kids with him, since the dog was a family dog. It was their first time in a dog part too. The owner kept the dog on a leash and brought him there to help socialize him with other dogs. Without warning, the pitbull attacked another dog. I heard horrifying screams coming from the small dog’s owner. The Pit had this little poodle in his mouth. He had his clinched jaws over the dog’s throat. Everybody was screaming, and the little dog was bleeding and gasping for breath. I ran across the field and tried to pull and kick the pitbull off of the little dog. I put my hand in his mouth and pulled to get him to let go of his grip. Nothing worked. He would not let go. The owner could not pull his dog away. The little dog seemed lifeless, leaning his head back. He was no longer struggling. I told the owner to stay calm. I told his daughter to sit next to her dog and calm him down. Shortly after, the Pit let go of the little dog.Friends of the little dog carried the seemingly lifeless body of the out to the parking lot. Everyone was in shock. I asked him if he checked if the dog was dead. He didn’t know what to do and never answered me. He laid him on the ground, so I leaned down to listen for breath. He blinked at me so I knew he was alive. He looked at me as if he was asking me to help him. I yelled at the owners to rush the dog to the Emergency Vets, and he might have a chance to survive. I was shouting out directions, taking down phone numbers, even writing one on my arm. I took down the number of  the owner of the pitbull. He agreed to go to the vets and see if he could help. He was scared, obviously shaken up, and didn’t know what to do. The small dog was taken into emergency surgery. As of today, he has pulled through, and is going home to be cared for. Only time will tell if he will fully recover. The pitbull owner did the right thing and stayed at the vets to help and to put money towards the surgery.The feeling of helplessness is overwhelming. The need to stay calm and to have “good energy” is a necessity. The power to do this is a gift and can save a life.Pitbulls are a special breed of dog. They should not be condemned because of what they can do in a dog fight, but they should be understood and respected. They are a powerful breed, smart, loyal, loving, but can be dangerous.I wrote about my experience to remind people to be responsible. To know and understand the breed of dog you choose to keep and love. If you are a dog park person, be smart about the experience. Learn from others who have messed up and were not cautious enough, or more alert. Spay and neuter your pets. There is no excuse for allowing them to breed and stay aggressive.Be apprehensive when a dog that you are unsure of approaches your dog. If you are unsure, take your dog out of the situation. You are, after all, you are supposed to be the “pack leader.” 

Info on hermobartonellosis and the importance of following your instincts…a must read if you have cats!

November 23rd, 2009

About seven weeks ago I noticed that our cat Longtail seemed to be drinking a bit more water than normal. It was very minimal and it was hot out but something told me it was time to get this 12 year old boy a senior blood panel to make sure his kidneys were functioning properly.  Longtail is extremely shy so I decided to take him to the closest vet possible to limit his time in the car. When we got the results of the blood work I almost had a heart attack. Although his kidney values were normal his white blood cell count was dangerously low (1.8 when normal is 3.5-16). and his red blood count was low too (HGB was 8.3 on scale of 9.3-15.9 and HCT was 25 on scale of normal being 29-48). I panicked and immediately called the vet. Longtail was not showing any symptoms so the vet brushed off my concern and blamed his white cell count on the fact that Longtail had Pan Leukopenia 2 years ago. This did not make sense to me since his blood work after the pan leuk had confirmed that his white blood cell count had returned to normal. I faxed his blood work to another vet for a second opinion. The other vet told me to rule out FVI, FeLV (feline leukemia) and to posibly do a bone marrow aspirate. I brought Longtail back in and had him checked for FIV and FeLV and both were negative. I decided I did not want to put him through a bone marrow aspirate. An amazing holistic practitioner I work with told me to take him in and do a reticulocyte count to make sure his body is actually making red blood cells. This came back normal as well. No one could tell me what was going on but I KNEW in my heart that a low white blood cell count can be deadly for a cat (this is how they fight off infection and sickness). I started Longtail on Chinese herbs that were recommended by the holistic practitioner to try and boost his blood cell count.

This last Thursday (seven weeks after the first blood panel was done) I took him in for a follow up to see how his blood looked. The results came back even more devastating…his white blood count was now down to 1.5. Again, not even a call from the vet who took the blood…no concern at all that something major was wrong. However, I emailed these results to 2 people…one was the holistic pracrtioner (who by the way is not a vet) and a friend who is a research scientist and one of the smartest people on this planet (also not a vet). Both contacted me right away and said “get him checked for hemobartonellosis (also known as hemobartonella, hemofelis mycoplasma and ricketsial infection). Hemobart is a blood parasite usually contracted through fleas or ticks.
The tricky part was finding a vet who actually knew how to do this test and what to look for. Clearly two vets had already failed Longtail in not even thinking about this as a diagnosis.  Many veterinarians routinely test for the disease by sending blood samples to an outside laboratory.  The laboratory will almost always return the following statement:  “No organisms found.”  What that means is that they’ve examined the blood sample under a microscope at a magnification of 1000 and saw no parasites attached or near the red blood cells.  The reason that they don’t see any organisms is that the preservative used to protect the blood sample from coagulating during shipment washes away all of the organisms!  The only correct procedure for testing for the organism, optically, is to take blood directly from the animal and prepare a slide immediately and examine it at the hospital using a diffraction limited (i.e. really good) microscope.  A few texts on hematology make a point of emphasizing the correct procedure, but unfortunately most veterinarians aren’t informed.  Sometimes, the doctor will request a reverse-polymerase-chain reaction (PCR) test to determine if the organism is present in the animal’s  (cats or dogs) blood.  The problem with PCR testing is that it is so sensitive that it will return a positive result even if the animal has a non-clinically significant infection.  A negative result can be used as a “rule-out”, however.  Optical examination and verification is the gold standard for diagnosis of this kind of disease.

We rushed off to Jansen Animal Hospital in Torrance…this is an INCREDIBLE hospital that our scientist friend told us about. They have an internal lab and they know how to diagnose hermobart. Sure enough…five mins after taking blood they confirmed that Longtail had hemobart.

Finally a diagnosis! Something that can be cured if caught early enough! What a relief.

There are many things about hemobart that we learned through this experience that I want to pass on to all people who live with cats. Here it is in a summary:

* This parasite attacks the red blood cells and basically kills them. The white cell count can go down because the white cells start fighting off the red cells. So essentially it is like the cats body is fighting against itself.

* If left untreated this could kill your cat. However, if you catch it it is 100% curable. Many times cats will show symptoms such as lethargy (so hard to diagnose since cats sleep 18 hours a day anyway!), lack of appetite, pale gums due to the anemia (low red cell count) and can even have labored breathing and heart failure. However, there are many, many cats like Longtail who do not show any symptoms until it is very advanced.

* Longtail received a shot of steroids which helps the white blood cells and is taking Orbax for a week. At the end of the meds we will have his blood retested to make sure all organisms are gone. In addition, all our other cats are being treated as well.

* Even though our cats are strictly indoor cats they ended up with fleas this past summer and that is most how he got hemobart. Because it is passed from animal to animal through flea bites, all our cats are being treated. however, it is highly unusaly for dogs to get it so our dog is not being treated.

* It is more common in cats than dogs.  

* If your cats end up with fleas you may want to check their red and white blood cell count.

The most important thing I learned through this experience is to trust your instincts. I KNEW his blood work was a sign that something was wrong. I KNEW that both vets could not figre out what was going on so I continued to search out answers. Lastly, I KNEW that if I did not find out what was going on we would lose our sweet boy. The reality is that I could have come home one day and found all my cats dead or in heart failure. I am forever thankful to my friend Jim, the scientist and to Kim the holistic practitioner for figuring out what was going on with Longtail. I am so relieved to now have a animal hospital that does not just brush off abnormal test results. In fact, Jansen Animal Hospital told me that because Longtail had no clinical symptoms… the FIRST test they would have done 7 weeks ago would have been for hemobart. THAT is a good vet…

Red, the Pigeon Man, dies…

October 21st, 2009

I met Red a year and a half ago when I rescued my first pigeon. She was the bird I rescued from the on-ramp of the 110 freeway. She was only a baby who had been attacked by a hawk. A friend gave me Red’s number and said he could show me how to care for the bird but she warned me not to give him the bird under any circumstance.  So, I did just that…I had him come to my house, show me how to tube feed and how to care for the baby pigeon. Each time Red came over he wanted to stay longer and longer…it was obvious he was a lonely person with no family and very few friends. One night Mark and I invited him for dinner. We sat on our deck and he told us over and over how happy he was we invited him and it had been years and years since he had had a meal with someone.  I guess you could say that we became his friends with the love of animals as our connection. During our time together, Red would tell me about how animal control went to his house in 2005 and killed all his birds. Each time he mentioned this situation he broke down in sobs and tears…it was heartbreaking. He truly loved those birds. He told me that he never returned to his house and it still sits empty. He was renting a 10  by 10 room from someone since it was too painful to return to the house where he lived with his bird family…very sad.

However, the more we spoke I realized that he had no problem keeping pigeons in cat carriers forever. He felt they were happy and safe from hawks. Of course I did not agree…all animals need a quality of life and if birds have wings they should be able to fly. When I made the decision to allow my little pigeon the chance of freedom, Red was furious with me. For many weeks he would call and yell at me. But, I knew I had made the best choice for that bird so I just let him rant and rave at me.

It was about 2 months later that  he showed up knocking on my door that he needed help rescuing 100 birds from a hoarder.  I helped arrange a place for the birds to go and once again Red and I were in contact. Out of that 100 birds who were rescued, 5 beautiful King pigeons were put in my garage. When Red asked to put them in my garage I made it very clear to him that they will not live in cages forever. I once again told him that I felt that birds should not live in cages. So, I took in those 5 King pigeons and learned more about pigeons than I ever thought there was to know! I watched the males bring gifts of straw to their mates, was greeted by a “hoo” when they saw me and was “wing slapped” by one I named Lady Bug when I tried to take her egg. They were amazing birds with so much personality. I made the decision to let these birds live in the HUGE aviary in Malibu. The aviary is about 3 stories high and about 60 ‘ by 50′. King pigeons really do not fly so all that ground space was ideal for them. My friend Beth and I put together nesting boxes for them, created sand boxes, little baths, etc. It became a paradise for these 5 birds. When I told Red that I was moving the birds to Malibu he lost it on me…yelling, screaming, calling me over and over and even threatening to sue me.  He kept saying “if caring for these birds is too much than I will take them”. I told him over and over that it was not about me it was about these birds having a quality of life.  I received letter after letter about court dates and that he was suing me for these birds but I just ignored the calls and letters. Several people said “why don’t you just give the birds to him so you do not have to deal with this?”. But, I held my ground for the happiness of the birds and moved them to Malibu.  I felt their happiness was worth anything that may happen in court…I would deal with being sued for these 5 sweet birds. What a great decision…the birds were THRILLED the moment we let them out of the cage in Malibu. They were exploring, flapping their wings, taking baths…pure happiness! To this day the birds are so happy…and still greet me with a “hoo” when they see me. That situation was the start of a new life for those birds and an end of an awkward friendship with Red.

 This past Monday morning I saw I missed a call from Red. I found that odd. I later learned that the missed call was from the hospital looking for any family members of Red’s (they went through is cell phone) because he had died.

I panicked about the birds that I knew he had at the room he rented in a house. He often spoke of different birds he had who he claimed could not be released for one reason or another. So I spent all morning trying to track down Red’s birds. Animal Control said they were called out to his house Monday morning but when they saw the place they called the Dept of Health. Dept of Health told me they went out and planned to come back in the eve (to “get” aka kill the birds) but when they arrived the birds were gone. They said Red’s landlord told them a landscaper came and took the birds. I was horrified thinking that maybe some person wanted to eat them (they eat pigeons in Mexico and other countries). Without knowing where Red lived, I went to the street that was mentioned in the newspaper article. It was very easy to figure out which house was his. It is your typical hoarders house. The door was wide open and there was trash everywhere. After calling for about 5 mins for someone I decided to leave. That is when I saw some guy in the house. I called to him and he came reluctantly came out. He was filthy dirty, had a hard time communicating, a bit confused…really, really sad. I explained to him that I wanted to save the birds and I needed to know where they were taken. He went in the house and came out with a business card and said “he came to get the birds”. Sure enough…it was a card for a landscaper.
I called the landscaper and learned that Red got him interested in birds many, many years ago but he had a falling out with Red  about not keeping birds in cat carriers (surprise, surprise) and had not spoken to him in years. He said when he heard Red died he went right over and took all the birds. He truly saved them right before they all would have been killed…
 
He said the room Red rented in that house was beyond anything you can imagine. About 110 birds in carriers (and a few loose) and about 4-5 inches of hard poop and feathers everywhere. Each carrier had 5 inches of hard poop inside. He said after seeing the room he realized that Red had more mental problems than anyone really knew.

I went to the landscapers BEAUTIFUL house and saw the birds… I wanted to see them with my own eyes. The first thing I saw were the empty carriers they had lived in for years…they were all piled up on the lawn waiting to be cleaned or thrown away. I could not believe what I was seeing…the carriers were so filthy that the birds actually only had about 1/2 of the space to stand. It broke my heart to think they had been living in those conditions for so long. Then…I saw where the birds are now…paradise! They were so happy to be able to socialize with other birds, take baths and leave the coop if they want to fly. It was beautiful…pure joy.
I am actually sad for one bird …he is a PMV (horrible pigeon disease) survivor who Red took with him everywhere. That bird really loved Red…I witnessed that bond myself.  Red would sit at Starbucks each evening with that bird on his lap. Everyone who knew Red also knew that bird. I think he was the only lucky bird of Red’s birds and he is probably now mourning the loss of his companion.

It is sad to say that Red’s passing was probably the best thing that happened to his birds. I look back and wish I could have helped this troubled man. He was very intelligent…an engineer and an attorney…but could not see right from wrong regarding the housing of birds. In his mind and heart he was protecting them by keeping them in small cages… sad, sad, sad. No one can deny that Red loved birds in fact someone said to me yesterday “Red would have jumped in front of a train to save a pigeon”. So true.

I learned a lot about pigeons from Red and for that I am thankful. I also saw a bond between a human and a pigeon that I had never seen before. I will use that memory as motivation to find that one bird a home where he can once again bond with a human.  Rest in peace Red…the birds you loved to a fault are now safe and happy…truly what you wanted deep down but mentally could not achieve.

Swine Flu

May 1st, 2009

It is no surprise that the pork industry is upset that there has been a decline in the sale of pork since the swine flu epidemic. They have gone so far as to ask the World Health Org to change the name of the flu. How about they stop putting energy into the name of the flu and look at what is causing it? When you cram pigs, cats, chickens, dogs, or even horses into a space that is so small they can’t even move and deny them every bit of comfort… of course the animal is going to get sick. This is no surprise. We see it at animal shelters on a daily basis. The cats and dogs are kept in small cages, are under incredible stress and come down with URI (Upper respiratory disease). It is the same thing with pigs. These factory farms cram about 5,000 pigs into one shed, place each individual pig in a metal crate (on cement) that is so small the pig can’t even lay down or turn around and force them to “live” like that for their entire life…sometimes a few YEARS! Is it really a surprise that the pigs get sick? Of course not. Think about when you are under a lot of stress from work or school…that is when you get a cold or the flu. We need to go to the source of this problem and stop treating animals like they are not a living, feeling being. As consumers you can make a difference…do not buy pork. Do not support companies that are treating animals in a way you would never do yourself. Do not support companies that are putting the entire world at risk with epidemics like Swine flu. Pigs are smarter than dogs…this is a known fact. Do you have a dog? Would you ever make your dog live in a cage so small she could not even lay down? Would you pump your dog with antibiotics when she gets sick in that cage instead of giving her more space? Would you deny your dog access to sunlight and fresh air? Of course not…then why support companies who do this to pigs? Start today by saying goodbye to pork products…healthier for you, healthier for the pigs and healthier for our planet!