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  • Dr. Carsen, DVM
    as real as the grief one feels after a loved one s actual death When our companion animal has a potentially fatal illness or injury or when old age brings increasing debility and discomfort we need to make some crucial decisions regarding his or her care Anticipatory grief can interfere with this Denial the first of the stages of grief as outlined by Dr Elisabeth Kubler Ross denial anger bargaining depression and acceptance can blind us to the seriousness of the situation As denial eases up other roiling emotions can cause confusion and otherwise cloud our minds especially if decisions have to be made quickly Medical terms can be confusing Veterinary medical diagnostics and treatments can be very expensive and it can be agonizing to have financial limitations when the care of a beloved companion is being decided guilt often rears its ugly head here Eventually the decision of whether or not to euthanize has to be considered Euthanasia which means peaceful death is a real blessing in that it prevents prolonged suffering when the situation is hopeless However whether or when to euthanize is also one of the hardest decisions a person can be called upon to make in a lifetime Many clients over the years have said to me I m having to play God It is very rare that the decision is clear cut or black and white usually one deals with shades of gray One can usually always point to some hopeful signs which seem to make the picture less bleak he ate yesterday or she got up and walked to her water dish or he played with his ball However these can be straws one clings to Often one is on a virtual roller coaster ride where one s animal does pretty well one day but seems in bad shape the next only to be better the day after that One needs to look at the whole picture I would tell my clients to think of some scales Put all the things which are positive on one side and the negative on the other when the latter outweighs the former it s close to the time the decision must be made I also firmly believe that if one is open to hearing the message our animals will tell us when it is time We have very close ties with those we love and if we can put aside our own grief and fear of loss to hear the truth our animals will let us know It may come as a look in their eyes or it may be more of an intuitive knowledge that they no longer wish to stay A person whose animal is in crisis or has died needs caring and support This needs to first come from the animal s veterinarian and veterinary support staff It is crucial that the doctor and staff understand what their patient s human family members are going through They need to explain things clearly in terms

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/2004july/drcarson.html (2016-02-13)
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  • Dr. Carsen, DVM
    hemorrhage within the cord damages it further Paresis weakness or paralysis will come about if the damage is severe enough Putting this all together what would you see if your dog had I V D D If your dog is one of the chondrodystrophic breeds the symptoms tend to be more acute sudden Pain the most common symptom can be manifested in several ways from shivering to reluctance to move to muscle rigidity to lameness to screaming In addition to pain your dog could suddenly be weak or wobbly in the front and or hind legs If spinal nerve damage is severe your dog may be paralyzed unable to stand or walk paralysis If your dog is paralyzed he or she also may be unable to urinate or defecate If your dog is one of the non chondrodystrophic breeds the symptoms tend to be less acute That is they come on more gradually and they can come and go as the disc material bulges in and out Both pain and signs of nerve cord damage knuckling over dragging of feet partial or complete paralysis incontinence are seen The symptoms also tend to be less severe although this is not always the case Discs tend to rupture most commonly in areas of the spine where there is the most movement This occurs in areas of transition in the spine ie the cervical thoracic base of the neck the thoracolumbar waist and the lumbosacral lower back pelvis areas The vertebrae in the thoracic area are rather rigid in terms of movement The sacral vertebrae are fused and therefore rigid In contrast the vertebrae in the cervical and lumbar areas are more loosely connected to each other There is more of a chance of a shearing movement in these transitional areas that connect the looser and more rigid sections of the spine and this type of movement can cause a disc to rupture It doesn t take major trauma for a disc to rupture A very simple movement such as going down a small step turning suddenly or even straining to defecate can cause a tear in a weakened disc The movement has probably occurred hundreds of times before but this one time the right set of circumstances come about to lead to a ruptured disc or discs Conventional treatment of I V D D consists of enforced rest anti inflammatory drugs usually corticosteroids or drugs related to cortisone pain medication muscle relaxants and sometimes tranquilizers if needed to keep the patient quiet If this fails or if there is paralysis surgery is often done Surgical intervention relieves pressure on the cord and nerve roots by either scraping away disc material from underneath done in the neck area or removing part of the vertebrae forming the bony spinal canal done in the back area Remember when the disc material explodes into the closed spinal canal the spinal cord nerves have nowhere to go for they re tightly enclosed in the bony vertebral canal

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/200406/drcarson.html (2016-02-13)
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  • Dr. Carsen, DVM
    like stools To help him her a procedure called de obstipation is necessary in which he she has to be anesthetized to bethoroughly cleaned out What causes constipation in the older cat Constipation can be caused by a variety of factors The constipation of some geriatric cats is caused by only one factor others have many The most common contributing factors leading to constipation are dehydration poor muscle tone in the large intestine called megacolon and a lack of bulk to the stool Because constipation can come about for more than one reason the treatment of constipation takes more than one form as well Treatment has to be tailored to each individual constipated cat There s not just one treatment or medication which works for all This is a crucial point notunderstanding this fact can lead to ineffective treatment and a miserable possibly very ill cat In constipation s early stages a simple enema often does the trick and it s natural for a constipated cat s human companion to breathe a sigh of relief and feel the problem is over However that enema just resolves that bout of constipation Constipation is a progressive disease As time goes on the situation worsens and becomes more complex From the beginning you and your veterinarian need to work closely together to discover the cause s of the constipation in your individual cat and to work out a treatment plan which is effective and which can evolve with time as the situation changes If you re lucky the right combination of treatments will be found right away If not it may take several tries to find what treatment or treatments work best for your cat Try not to get discouraged if you persist usually a solution can be found You can begin the process by observing some things about your cat If dehydration is a factor in your cat s constipation your cat s stools will be dry hard crumbly If the dehydration is more advanced you ll also notice that his her coat looks dull or dry and his her skin may be flaky If the dehydration is severe a fold of his her skin will take several seconds to flatten out again after being picked up If your cat s stools are dry hard and crumbly add extra water to his her food and eliminate or dramatically reduce any dry foods kibble in the diet If these efforts are not enough to moisten the stools and ease the constipation ask your veterinarian about putting your cat on subcutaneous under the skin injections of fluid at home The subcutaneous fluids are definitely called for in the more advanced cases of dehydration There also are oral stool softeners your veterinarian can prescribe for the dry stools If your cat s stools are very small you may need to increase the fiber in his her diet There are multiple ways of doing this you and your veterinarian may have to experiment with various methods

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/200405/drcarson.html (2016-02-13)
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  • Dr. Carsen, DVM
    geriatric dogs dogs sustaining soft tissue injuries and dogs with various bone joint and neuromuscular diseases The treatment modalities included under the umbrella of this new field are numerous cryo cold therapy heat therapy ultrasound massage neuromuscular electrical stimulation NMES passive range of motion ROM exercises and more active types of exercises including swimming and underwater treadmills I see this new field especially benefitting five categories of dogs 1 post surgical orthopedic patients 2 working and agility dogs 3 geriatric dogs 4 dogs recovering from traumatic injuries and 5 dogs suffering from various skeletal joint and neuromuscular diseases Veterinary orthopedic surgery is developing increasingly sophisticated procedures in its efforts to help a dog suffering from various skeletal joint and neuromuscular diseases as well as those with traumatic injuries However I believe we veterinarians have been lulled by the fact that our post surgical furry patients heal so much more quickly and with fewer complications than our fellow humans do We ve relied on these facts to get our animal patients all the way back to full functioning It took working at that canine rehabilitation center for me to see what we ve been missing We can achieve even greater results if we combine our sophisticated orthopedic surgery with post surgical rehabilitation and physical therapy Our patients will have an enhanced chance of reaching a state of full functioning and they definitely will recover more quickly than those dogs not receiving this kind of care Many dogs these days are either working dogs or competitors in various agility trials frisbee competitions and sled dog races Working dogs include police dogs drug and bomb detecting dogs rescue dogs herding dogs sporting dogs and companion dogs for the blind and physically challenged The longer these working and competitor dogs can be kept fit and or helped to recover from injuries the longer their useful life will be And the happier they and their human companions will be Because of various factors including strong bonding between animals and humans increasingly sophisticated veterinary medicine and strictly enforced leash laws more and more of our canine companions are reaching ages unheard of a generation ago Increased years means more precious time with our beloved friends but age brings problems of its own especially various degenerative skeletal joint and neuromuscular conditions What fun are the extra years if they re spent in increasing pain and decreasing mobility Rehabilitation and physical therapy can increase mobility and decrease pain for our geriatric canines making their sunset years happier for them and their human family members Some traumatic injuries that dogs suffer such as a mild sprains or strains heal fairly well without intervention Others such as more severe sprains or strains repeated injuries partial CCL tears and the very severe injuries that can come about from major trauma can be very debilitating sometimes leading to lifetime lameness or even crippling Physical therapy and rehabilitation especially if instituted immediately following the injury can reduce pain enhance healing and increase the

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/200404/drcarson.html (2016-02-13)
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  • Dr. Carsen, DVM
    split apart and we often live hundreds or thousands of miles away from human family members our companion animals are often the only close family members we have They are there through children moving away from home through divorce or separation through job changes and moves and through the death of human family members They don t judge us or criticize us they just love us Who can say that of even the closest humanfamily member Animals help us get in touch with our natural roots Especially in highly civilized societies like ours people are very divorced from the kind of environment human beings evolved in When this separation goes on over extended periods of time deleterious effects occur We re usually unaware of these effects especially if we ve spent all our lives in our artificial environment However these ill effects still work on us aware or not They lead to various individual imbalances which over time can cause physical mental emotional and or spiritual ills On a bigger scale they lead to a destruction of the very planet on whom we rely for existence since it is viewed as something to exploit rather than something to treasure and revere Animals are not so far removed from nature and they help us get closer to that for which we often unknowingly hunger Our furry feathered and scaley companions teach us invaluable lessons about living in the moment We humans spend a great deal of time eitherdwelling in the past or worrying about the future Animals naturally do something which great spiritual teachers are always after their human students to do they live in the here and now We would do well to emulate them Animals also act as barometers of what is going on in our lives for they often are the first to show signs of tension in a household becoming emotionally upset or physically ill with the stress It is a wise human who picks up the clues their furry feathered or scaley friends are exhibiting before things get too far out of hand I m still learning this lesson If my animals are acting up my first thought is What the heck is wrong with them It usually takes me a while and sometimes I never reach thatpoint to turn around and look at what s going on with me Animals often make us laugh which we greatly need in our frenetic driven lives They give us someone to love and care for They help our hearts growand expand rather than contract and harden In the last couple of decades scientists have begun to substantiate what those of us who love animals have known all along about the good which animals bring into our lives The first studies showed that animals were a major factor in helping humans survive a serious heart attack and that people s blood pressure goes down when stroking their animals Because of the publicity which these and other studies brought about

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/archives/2004march/drcarson.html (2016-02-13)
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  • Dr. Carsen, DVM
    The Holistic Mystic by Lonny Brown The Directory Archives Past Issues General Information Synopsis of Contents Editorial Submission Information Articles Columns Editorial Opinions Your Views General Content Event Calendars Graphics Photos Editorial Deadlines Advertising Information Opportunities About The Meta Arts Magazine Department Contacts Publishers Editorial Advertising Sales Graphic Design Promotion Dept Employment Contact Us Legal Notices Healing Alternative Health Dr Carson s Holistic Animal Care Kidney Failure in Cats Monitoring the Course of the Condition by Kathleen M Carson D V M Last month I wrote about a kitty named Tiger who was found to have kidney disease or chronic renal failure crf I left off just as Tiger was going home from the hospital after his initial diagnosis and treatment Tiger s doctor explained that he needed to come back to the hospital for follow up examinations and tests so that the she could continue to evaluate his condi tion These visits would need to be frequent at first approximately every 1 2 weeks As time went by and Tiger s condition became more stable the visits could be made further apart perhaps every few months There were several specific tests that were especially crucial to follow for Tiger First was a blood test called creatinine This would tell his doctor how well his kidneys were getting rid of his body waste An elevated creatinine is the primary test used to diagnose crf and follow its improvement or regression with time Next was his blood levels of phosphorus P As mentioned previously sick kidneys tend to lead to elevated levels of P in the blood hyperphosphatemia and this further injures the already damaged kidneys Third was his blood potassium K Cats with crf often have blood levels of K which are lower than normal hypokalemia and this results in pronounced muscle weakness and possible heart problems Fourth was the blood test called packed cell volume PCV or a closely related one called hematocrit Hct These tests measure what percentage his red blood cells RBCs are out of his total blood volume Animals with crf have a tendency to develop anemia this would be reflected in a lower than normal PCV or Hct Fifth Tiger s urine would have to be monitored for urinary tract infections UTIs Cats with crf are more prone to UTIs since their diluted urine can t always fight off invading bacteria Because of this urinary dilution hisurinalysis UA wouldn t necessarily show the large numbers of bacteria white blood cells WBCs and or red blood cells RBCs which a veterinarian usually looks for to diagnose a UTI Thus periodic urine cultures will be necessary Lastly Tiger s blood pressure would be taken each time he came in for a follow up visit As you might guess taking the blood pressure of a cat on a visit to the veterinarian can be tricky Most cats are slightly or greatly stressed at the veterinarian s Of course stress elevates blood pressure Various tricks are used to get

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/archives/2004jan/drcarson.html (2016-02-13)
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  • Dr. Carsen, DVM
    He also had produced so much urine that his box had to be changed almost daily Recently though both his water intake and appetite were small as was the amount he urinated He seemed to shrink overnight and his fur looked dull and flaky and it stuck up in tufts He started to vomit sometimes food but often just liquid Much of the time he just slept orseemed to be staring into space Tiger s family took him to their veterinarian where they learned he d lost a lot of weight They were told Tiger was very weak and dehydrated Their veterinarian recommended that he be hospitalized on intravenous fluids and other supportive care while blood tests and a urinalysis were run The next day their veterinarian called to say they had a diagnosis chronic kidney failure also known as chronic renal failure or crf At first they were confused because they thought a cat in kidney failure would not be urinating However they learned that the failure was not in the production of urine but in the elimination of body wastes in the urine These had built up in Tiger s body making him very ill Their veterinarian also said that Tiger s kidneys had lost the ability to concentrate his urine Thus his urine was very dilute and large in volume This was why his litter pan had been getting soaked so quickly and why he d gotten dehydrated What was being done for Tiger while he was in the hospital A thin sterile plastic tube or catheter was inserted into a leg vein and taped in place Through this catheter Tiger was given intravenous fluids These fluids restored the water and electrolytes he d lost by vomiting by not eating drinking enough and through his voluminous urine They also provided him with sugar dextrose to give him energy and they helped to correct the acid state his body had gotten into in its starving condition Last but not least they helped to flush out the accumulated body wastes His doctor also gave him medication to counteract the nausea and vomiting and she added B vitamins to his intravenous fluids to help him in this stressful time He was also given something to bind the phosphorus in his food as his kidneys had failed the phosphorus levels in his blood had become elevated and these high levels of phosphorus damaged his kidneys further Since his veterinarian was holistic she also gave him dailyacupuncture treatments These gave him more strength reduced then ausea and helped his kidneys in their effort to make a comeback Since high blood pressure or hypertension is often a part of crf Tiger s doctor checked to see if he was suffering from this serious condition which can lead to blindness from detached retinas caused by bleeding within the eyes and or heart disease Luckily at least for now his blood pressure was normal After two days of this care Tiger was feeling much better

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/archives/2003dec/drcarson.html (2016-02-13)
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  • Dr. Carsen, DVM
    to the good or harm of our furry friends especially if these herbs are combined with drugs If you ve put your dog or cat on any herbal supplements be sure to inform your veterinarian of this when he she prescribes a drug The study of herb drug interactions is a fairly new field At this point a lot of the information is anecdotal or based on empirical pharmacological knowledge 1 but there is reliable research being done as reported in The Complete German Commision E Monographs 2 the Botanical Safety Handbook 3 and Herb Contraindications and Drug Reactions 4 Herbs interact with drugs in two general ways pharmacokinetic interactions and pharmacodynamic interactions As John Medveckis says Pharmacokinetic interactions will change the absorption distribution metabolism or elimination of herbs or drugs This results in either an increase or a decrease in the amount of drug available to have an effect Each interaction will vary according to the dosage the patient s sensitivity body weight and metabolic rate Pharmacodynamic interactions will alter the way in which a drug or herb affects a tissue or organ system This will result in either a synertistic or antagonistic action These interactions are often more difficult to predict and prevent than pharmacokinetic interactions One should look at the therapeutic effect of both the herb and drug to decide what combinations are potentially dangerous 1 Listed below are specific herbs along with potential drug interactions This list is not meant to be a complete one by any means It s meant to begin to acquaint you the reader with how some commonly used herbs can interact both positively and negatively with some of the drugs we use in veterinary medicine Aloe Vera can increase potential toxicity with cardiac glycosides and anti arrhythmic agents Astragalus can impair immuno suppressive effects of cyclosporine azathioprine and methotrexate as well as increase immune stimulating effects of interleukin 2 and acyclovir Bromelain can potentiate make more powerful antibiotics improves the efficacy of some chemotherapeutic agents such as vincristine and 5 fluorouracil Burdock can have a hypoglycemic effect lower blood sugar and can necessitate an adjustment in the dose of insulin Cayenne can protect the stomach from the adverse effects of aspirin it also enhances the absorption of theophylline Echinacea can decrease the effects of immunosuppressant drugs Garlic can have an hypoglycemic effect and may necessitate an adjustment of insulin dosage Ginger can help decrease nausea associated with chemotherapy Ginko can increase the inhibition of platelet aggregation with aspirin therefore making bleeding more likely Ginseng can potentiate corticosteroids Goldenseal can increase or decrease cardiac effects with cardiac glycosides and can increase or decrease potential for blood pressure increase with antihypertensive agents Hawthorn can increase or decrease cardiac effects with cardiac glycosides Kava Kava can potentiate substances acting on the CNS central nervous system or brain and spinal cord Licorice can increase potential of potassium loss with steroids and diuretics can increase sensitivity with cardiac glycosides can reduce ulcer formation from aspirin can

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/archives/200311/drcarson.html (2016-02-13)
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