Friday, February 27, 2009

I may be getting the idea

I think I am finally getting my head around this entire networking thing. I have been exposed to as well as twitter and see the value of expanding our presence on the web. Of course, this takes time and the majority of my time needs to be dedicated to the hospital, which has been quite busy the past couple of weeks. I am going to try (I know, I've said this before, but as no one was listening, it didn't matter until now) to post regularly.

We have seen several cases of pancreatitis in both dogs and cats in the past week. As I explained to my kids when they were small, "itis" means inflammation. Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas.

This little organ serves two major functions. First it makes insulin so that we can utilize carbohydrates as an energy source. Insulin helps the body drive glucose (sugar) into the cells. Without adequate insulin, you got it, the animal becomes diabetic. That is why diabetic animals need insulin injections. (maybe we can talk about diabetes another time).

The other function, the exocrine function, involves the secretion of digestive enzymes into the small intestine. These enzymes, amylase and lipase, help the body to digest our food. In pets with pancreatitis, these enzymes leak out of the pancreas. OUCH! This painful condition causes loss of appetite, lethargy, and vomiting. Dogs and cats can become quite ill during acute episodes and without aggresive intervention, can become dehydrated. In severe cases, prolonged hospitalization is needed as patients cannot eat or drink anything. Sometimes it can be fatal. In chronic cases, there is enough damage to the pancreas that it cannot make enough insulin and the pet becomes diabetic.

The diagnosis is made with a complete physical exam and blood work. It two of the three cases we saw this go round, we also got ultrasounds to look at the pancreas and give us an idea of how serious the disease was. The jury is still out on all three cases.

One dog, a little (ok, not so little, this guy weighed in at over 20 lbs) Lhasa Apso, was admitted and responded very well to IV fluids, pain medication and anti emetic medication. Another case, a Golden Retriever, was treated as an outpatient at the owner's request. Today he was not vomiting but was still not eating normally and was acting lethargic. The third case is a cat that is not doing well. This big guy weighed in at 20 lbs as well. Right bigger than a dog. It presented initially two weeks ago as a diabetic and resonded to insulin but soon regressed and stopped eating. Now we have a full blown acute attack of pancreatitis. Severe enough that the cat has hematology abnormalities and we needed to add steroids to it's treatment program, a problem in diabetics. Today she started eating, and the sugar is in the normal range. Steroid dose is stable and the blood count is stable as well. Hopefully, we will be able to get this guy under control and home to mommy in short order. Stay posted and we will let you know how it turns out.

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1 comment:

squirrelmama said...

We meet again - yes in a third venue, no less - further deepening the defintion of "social networking." My own blog has been here on for the past year and a half and I am pleased to see yours is here too. I will be adding yours to the list that I follow. By the way (you may already know this), since your day often finds you mobile and out of the office, there is a way to post your blog entries directly from your cell phone if you can't get to a desktop or laptop. The instructions should be in the FAQ section here, hopefully they'll prove useful, otherwise give me a shout.
BTW, your post about the necropsy on the dog who died suddenly provides an important reminder to anyone who takes responsible care of an animal and is nonetheless confronted with a sudden death. All too often we blame ourselves for having overlooked something, or for having done unwitting, active harm. Clearly this necropsy was purposeful, not just in providing peace of mind to the family but as an excellent education into the workings (and misfirings) going on inside the animals we love.