Berry-Good Oats

This recipe was made for Whiskey’s 2nd birthday and was served with a side of raspberries.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup organic old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 large organic egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup organic blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Instructions

  • In a small saucepan, heat oats and water over medium heat for 3 minutes. 
  • Stir egg into the oats and cook for 2 more minutes.
  • Stir berries into the saucepan.
  • Put oatmeal in bowl and allow to cool
  • top with a few more blueberries

“Spaghetti” and Muttballs

This recipe was made for whiskey’s second birthday and was served with a side of sliced pear, blueberries and raspberries.

“Spaghetti”

Organic zucchini noodles cooked according to package directions, or make your own!

Muttballs:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound ground beef (I buy beef at Whole Foods and choose free range with no added antibiotics or growth hormones)
  • 1/2 cup cooked organic brown rice
  • 1 organic carrot, finely shredded
  • 1 stalk organic celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen chopped organic spinach, thawed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons chopped organic flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons Pecorino-Romano cheese
  • 1 organic large egg
  • 2 teaspoons organic ground turmeric

Preparation

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees .
  • Spray baking sheet with organic olive oil cooking spray
  • In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix well.
  • Form the mixture into mini-meatballs and place on the baking sheet.
  • Bake about 15-20 minutes, or until well-browned and cooked all the way through (depending on what size you make the meatballs you may have to adjust cook-time)
  • Let cool completely on a rack before serving, then sprinkle with Pecorino-Romano cheese

Mini Almond Coconut Cake

INGREDIENTS:

  •  3 tablespoons unrefined organic virgin coconut oil (melted)
  •  2 tablespoons organic honey
  •  3 organic eggs
  •  1¾ cup organic almond flour
  • 1/8 cup organic shredded coconut
  • 1 singe-serve container of organic plain yogurt for frosting (look for a brand that is free of corn syrup, aspartame or other sweeteners, artificial preservatives and artificial coloring)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F
  2. Grease pan(s) well and set aside. **This makes a very small cake. I used (2) mini loaf pans (size 5 23/32 x 3 5/16 x 1 7/8 inch)
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted coconut oil, honey and eggs
  4. Stir in the flour until totally absorbed (batter will be thick)
  5. Stir in shredded coconut
  6. Split batter equally between 2 mini loaf pans
  7. Bake until lightly browned and firm when pressed in the center and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center (approximately 25 minutes)
  8. Remove from oven and carefully flip mini loaf pans upside down on to a cooling rack. Cakes should release easily.
  9. Once cooled, frost top of one cake with plain yogurt. Place second cake on top of first cake, and frost top of cake.
  10. Serve to your pooch!

Riding the Roller Coaster: 9 Months in Remission; 5 Month Post-Chemo

Recap of Month 8 of Remission

Since her last monthly check-up, Margarita had another remarkable month. She visited my school again, and made some students extremely happy!

The weeks that followed this classroom visit, however, have been an emotional rollercoaster ride.

Monthly Check-Up with Oncologist

On December 6, 2019, Margarita saw her oncologist, Dr. Risbon, for her recheck for lymphoma. During her appointment, I noticed that Margarita was drooling slightly while she was with the doctor, but I didn’t think much of it at the time. Her physical exam was normal and there was no evidence to suggest recurrence of lymphoma. Doctor Risbon could not hear her heart murmur on this day, and Rita’s heart rhythm was reported as normal. Dr. Risbon evaluated Rita’s mammary mass and shared that the thickened tissue portion was similar, and the mass that she could feel seems to have had no change from previously. Dr. Risbon also confirmed that she felt the new small nodule noted by Dr. Campbell during her last visit. Dr. Risbon was pleased with Margarita’s progress and deemed her to be about 9 months in remission. I was very grateful for this good report, but sad and fearful at the same time. This was Margarita’s last appointment with this oncologist, as Dr. Risbon is going on maternity leave, and then transferring to a facility that is out of driving range to our home. Dr. Risbon assured me that the new oncologist will take great care of Margarita, and also told me I could reach out to her at any time with questions on any new findings. We are very thankful to Dr. Risbon for seeing Margarita through her chemotherapy, and wish her the best while adding to her family and continuing her practice at a new location.

Monthly Check-Up with Primary Veterinarian

On December 9, 2019 Margarita had a visit with our primary veterinarian, Dr. Campbell. This visit was her monthly check up, as well as her yearly therapy dog examination. In addition, this appointment was also for bloodwork that Rita’s cardiologist, Dr. Bossbaly, requested at Rita’s last visit to test her kidney function because of the heart medication she is currently taking. Dr. Campbell examined Rita’s mammary tumors and reported that they have not changed since last visit. When Dr. Campbell asked me how I thought Rita was doing, I shared that her appetite and energy were both great. I also explained that I noticed Rita drooling slightly at her oncology appointment, and that was something I had never observed before. I almost didn’t even bring it up – but so thankful now that I did. Dr. Campbell then looked at Rita’s gums and said that they didn’t look super pale, but she just wasn’t 100% happy with the color she saw. Dr. Campbell suggested we do some additional blood work beyond the tests Dr. Bossbaly requested for kidney function. I didn’t worry too much about Rita’s gum coloring, and honestly didn’t expect much to come of the bloodwork that Dr. Campbell sent off for testing.

On December 10, 2019 Dr. Campbell called us with the bloodwork results. Much to our dismay, Margarita’s liver values were through the roof. Dr. Campbell explained that the drooling could likely be caused from nausea if something was abnormal in her biliary tract. Rita’s liver values are below:

  • ALT Normal range: 18-121
    • Rita’s ALT value: 1,155
  • GGT Normal range: 0-13
    • Rita’s GGT value: 22
  • AST Normal range: 16-55
    • Rita’s AST value: 146
  • ALP Normal range: 5-160
    • Rita’s ALP value: 447

Dr. Campbell had us schedule the first appointment we could secure with Chief of Diagnostic imaging, Dr. Alexander “Sandy” MacLeod at VSEC. The first available we could schedule was December 19, 2019. Brian and I were nervous to wait that long, so Dr. Campbell had me bring Margarita to her office that evening to do a brief abdominal ultrasound. Dr. Campbell observed that Rita’s liver and gallbladder were somewhat enlarged. She shared that this may be cholestasis caused by the “backing up” of chemo drugs. She started Rita on a low dose (125mg once daily) of Ursodiol in hopes that we’d see a marked difference at the time of her abdominal ultrasound at VSEC.

Abdominal Ultrasound with Dr. MacLeod

If you have been following Rita’s Lymphoma Journey from the beginning, you may be thinking that “Dr. Macleod” sounds familiar. That’s because Dr. Alexander “Sandy” MacLeod’s wife, Dr. Jennifer MacLeod is the doctor who performed Rita’s splenectomy.

Dr. Sandy MacLeod performed an abdominal ultrasound on December 19, 2019. Despite the Ursodiol Margarita was taking, there had been no difference in Rita’s condition. His findings were as follows:

  • Liver: Hypoechoic, mildly enlarged. 1-2 cm hypoechoic nodule in ventral left medial lobe
  • Gallbladder and Biliary Tree: Gallbladder moderately dilated with anechoic bile, no wall thickening or duct dilation
  • Spleen: absent
  • Kidneys: no abnormalities identified
  • Arenal glands: no abnormalities identified
  • Uriniary bladder: no abnormalities identified
  • Stomach: Mild thickening of pyloric wall. Mild fluid dilation of pyloric antrum
  • Intestines: no abnormalities identified
  • Colon: no abnormalities identified
  • Pancreas: no abnormalities identified
  • Peritoneum: no abnormalities identified
  • Mesentery: no abnormalities identified
  • Lymph Nodes: no abnormalities identified

Diagnosis and Recommendations:

Although I was thrilled that her lymph nodes were normal, I was devastated to hear the word “nodule.” Dr. MacLeod explained that the liver findings could be due to hepatitis , toxic insult, infiltration (recurrence of lymphoma) or other hepatopathy. Dr. MacLeod was most concerned that the findings could be the Lymphoma reappearing with a new disguise, so he recommended a guided needle aspirate of the liver nodule and its surrounding tissue for cytologic analysis, which was done during that same appointment. Dr. MacLeod shared that the mild stomach thickening and dilation is most consistent with gastritis.

We received a call from Dr. MacLeod on December 21, 2019. The first thing Dr. MacLeod said was “It’s not Lymphoma.” To say we were relieved was an understatement – hearing this was THE best Christmas gift ever! BUT…what WAS causing the high liver values, enlarged liver , thickening of the stomach, and enlarged gal bladder? This remains unknown. Dr. MacLeod suggested that we do the same bloodwork again with Dr. Campbell to compare Margarita’s liver values in a few more days to see if they corrected themselves now that Rita has been on Ursodiol for a longer period of time. He added that if the liver values do not improve, it would be time to see an Internal Medicine Specialist.

On the morning of December 26, 2019 I took Rita to or primary veterinarian’s office. Dr. Campbell drew Margarita’s blood, and sent the sample out to the lab. Later that evening, Dr. Campbell called us with the results. Margarita’s liver values had increased yet again, despite the Ursodiol she had been taking. The results are below:

  • ALT Normal Range: 18-121
    • Rita’s ALT Values:
      1. 1,155 (12/9)
      2. 1,195 (12/26)
  • GGT Normal Range: 0-13
    • Rita’s GGT Values:
      1. 22 (12/9)
      2. 22 (12/26)
  • AST Normal Range: 16-55
    • Rita’s AST Values:
      1. 146 (12/9)
      2. 146 (12/26)
  • ALP Normal Range: 6-160
    • Rita’s ALP Values:
      1. 447 (12/9)
      2. 569 (12/26)

These were obviously not the results we were hoping for. Dr. Campbell directed us to stop the Ursodiol and suggested we make the first available appointment with Dr. Klag , the Chief of Internal Medicine at VSEC. Dr. Klag is the Doctor that first saw Margarita in January 2019. Margarita has an appointment set with Dr. Klag for January 16, 2020 (his first available). I also requested to be put on a cancelation list in hopes of getting a sooner appointment. However I was told they do not do a waiting/cancelation list for the Internal Medicine department. I explained that we have been put on a waiting/cancellation list at VSEC in the past for other doctors and departments – such as Dr. Bossbaly in the Cardiology department. I expressed my frustration and disappointment to the staff member making the appointment. The woman I was speaking to informed me that Dr. Klag would return to the office from his Holiday Break on January 2nd. Additionally, I sent an email directly to Dr. Klag to inform him of the events and multiple diagnoses that have taken place since he last saw Margarita in order to explain the urgency behind our request for a sooner appointment. Lastly, I will be calling VSEC 2-3 times a day leading up to the scheduled appointment in hopes of catching a cancellation that would otherwise go unannounced due to the department’s lack of waiting list.

Although these past few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster for us, I am grateful for every single day that Rita is still riding. Brian and I entered the front seat of this roller coaster prepared for the peaks of celebrations, the abrupt falls, and the mysterious turns Lymphoma would throw at us. Positivity and vigilance are key. Although it is a scary ride, I will be keeping my eyes wide open. Had I neglected to mention that little bit of drool to Dr. Campbell, Rita’s roller coaster could have spun out of our control before we knew what hit us. I am embracing the highs and lows of this scary ride. I celebrate and appreciate each peak – and I’m accepting the plummeting falls as more knowledge that I hope will not only help Rita continue to take a bite out of Lymphoma, but also assist other pups and PAWrents in the future.

Keep those prayers coming – and buckle up – we may be in for a rough ride ahead.

This Month’s Treat

Following her monthly appointments, Margarita enjoyed a small portion of a beef and cheese quesadilla from Wawa.

Black Run Preserve: Marlton, NJ

Porter went on his first hike in Black Run Preserve.

The Black Run Preserve is 1,300 acres of permanently preserved land in Evesham Township. A teacher that I used to work with retired in 2012 and helped found the Friends of the Black Run Preserve volunteer organization.  Their mission is to preserve and protect the unique natural beauty and Pine Barrens ecology.

Apple Cinnamon Cake

This recipe can be used as a cake, or for mini or full-size cupcakes!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups organic whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup organic wheat germ
  • 2 teaspoons non-GMO baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon organic cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup organic molasses
  • 1/2 cup organic safflower oil
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • 1 teaspoon organic pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup bottled spring water
  • 1 large organic apple, peeled, cored, and diced

Directions:

  • preheat oven to 350°F
  • Grease a 12-cup bundt pan (or pan of your choice – we used a bone shaped cake mold) with organic nonstick butter or vegetable spray
  • stir together the flour, wheat germ, baking powder, and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the molasses and oil until blended well.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, whisking to blend well.
  • Add the vanilla
  • Add the water
  • Add the dry ingredients and mix until smooth
  • stir in the apple
  • pour batter into your pan of choice (mini or full-size cupcake pans may be used as well)
  • bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean
  • cool to room temperature

Optional Frosting:

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces organic cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon organic ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat until combined and smooth.

Remember to use this recipe as a treat in moderation. Too many treats can give your dog an upset stomach and create gastric intestinal distress.

8 Months in Remission; 4 Month Post-Chemo

Month 7 of Remission

Margarita had an exciting and busy month. She traveled all the way to Iowa on an 11-day trip to cheer on her brothers and sisters at the DockDogs World Championship.

Rita also checked-off another one of her adventure list items! We took Margarita to The Library II for a specially-selected cut of filet mignon! Click HERE to see her special-cut steak!

We also did our part to participate in National Canine Lymphoma Awareness Day, by publishing a post to help others understand this disease and to learn how to check your dog for signs of cancer.

4 Month Check-Up with the Cardiologist

Back in July 2019, Margarita was diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomiopathy, thought to be caused by Doxorubicon (Adriamycin) toxicity. Rita’s heart was enlarged, and she had a grade 3 heart murmur with ventricular premature contractions. On November 5, 2019 Margarita saw her cardiologist, Dr. Bossbaly for her 4-month re-check.

Rita waited patiently for Dr. Bossbaly:

Who’s that pretty girl staring back at me!?

Dr. Bossbaly did a a recheck EKG and echocardiogram. Rita’s heart murmur was graded as a 2 out of 6. The murmur was described as a wispy band shaped holosystolic murmur at the left apex, and audible only faintly on the right. Her heart rate was 118 bpm and regular, and her lungs were also clear. Additionally, there was also no arrhythmia recorded at this time on a long-recorded EKG as well as during the entire echocardiogram.

This means that Margarita’s heart disease is it stable on the current medication. Even though Margarita’s heart showed improvement, Dr. Bossbaly wants her to continue with her current medication and supplements until we have the next scheduled cardiology appointment in 6-8 months. Margarita’s current medication and supplement schedule will remain as follows:

  • Pimobendan: 5mg eery 12 hours
  • L-Carnitine: 1 gram twice daily with food
  • Taurine 500mg twice daily with food
  • Coenzyme Q10: 30 mg once daily
  • CAS Options: 1 tablet twice daily

With the indication of Margarita’s marked improvement last month, I must admit that I neglected to continue monitoring her sleeping respiratory rate (SRR), thinking it wouldn’t be necessary considering she was making such great improvements. I was incorrect. Dr. Bossbally instructed me to resume tracking Rita’s SSR. Dr. Bossbaly explained that even when improvement is noted, taking Margarita’s SSR is extremely important for anticipating fluid shifts and the onset of congestive heart failure. For those of you wondering why it is important to monitor your pup’s sleeping respiratory rate and how to count/track it, here is the information I was given:

  • Why monitoring your Pup’s respiratory rate is extremely important:
    • The sleeping respiratory rate is a subtle and sensitive indicator of changes in your fur-kid’s condition.
    • Increases in the sleeping respiratory rate may indicate the development of heart failure in your pup.
    • Your doctor will want to know if your pup’s sleeping respiratory rate goes above 30, or if there seems to be an upward trend (a steady increase in rates heading towards 30) . The point is to catch the change in the sleeping respiratory rate before it reaches 40 or 50 and could become an emergency situation.
    • Is important to note that he small increase in this sleeping respiratory rate may not be accompanied by any other changes such as an increased effort to breeze, excessive panting, coughing, or restlessness. These are important to note but it is likely that once you see the signs, the sleeping respiratory rate will already be elevated.
  • Why count the sleeping respiratory rate?
    • If your pup has been diagnosed with heart disease, it is unfortunately a progressive disease in most cases. Monitoring it on a regular basis will help avoid a health crisis; It will help avoid an emergency visit to your veterinarian, hospitalization for multiple days, and the sudden increase in financial responsibility occurring with emergency hospitalization.
    • Tracking sleeping respiratory rates every now and then is not ideal, as this number can change overnight. Additionally, just “watching” or “eyeballing” is not accurate enough.
      • **EXAMPLE: Say your pup’s sleeping respiratory rate is 24 (in 15 seconds you count 6 breaths). Now let’s say that your dogs sleeping respiratory rate increases to 32 (in 15 seconds you counted 8 breaths). The difference between the two instances is only a breaths per minute – a hard thing to notice if you’re not actually tracking the breaths. Additionally, 32 is an elevated and abnormal sleeping respiratory rate.
  • How to count the respiratory rate:
    • Count the respiratory rate by watching your dogs chest go up and down (each “up” and “down” equals one breath cycle). Use a clock or a watch with a second hand, count the number of full breaths in 15 seconds, and multiply that by 4 to get the respiratory rate for one minute. Log these results on a computer, in a journal, on your calendar, or on a note in your phone.
    • ***NOTE: We have found it easier to download a sleeping respiratory rate app. The app will help you keep count of the breaths, and also save the results and display them in a graph that you can email or share with your pup’s doctors. The two most helpful apps we have found are:
      • Cardalis: This app is free and will help you to measure your dog’s respiratory rate, record it as a graph. This results graph can be e-mailed to your dog’s doctors. Cardalis is best if you have only one fur-kid with heart disease, as it only allows for tracking of one dog/cat.
      • Maolife: This app is also free, and allows you to track the respiratory rates of multiple dogs/cats. Results are recorded in a graph. The Maolife app also allows multiple people to manage the same fur-kid. Additionally, this app has the capability to share your recorded results with others.

Lastly, I discussed the possible removal and biopsy of Rita’s mammary mass with Dr. Bossbaly. Doctor Bossbaly explained that Rita is still at a higher risk. If it becomes necessary for the mass to be removed and biopsied, Dr. Bossbaly’s suggestion is to have it done at VSEC were a board-certified anesthesiologist can monitor the protocol that Dr. Bossbaly recommends. If we would rather have the mass removed by our primary veterinarian, Dr. Campbell, the procedure can be sent over to Dr. Campbell for her to decide if she is comfortable doing the surgery along with the recommended protocol.

Monthly Check Up with Oncologist

On November 15 Margarita had a visit with her oncologist, Dr. Risbon. Rita’s physical examination was normal, and there was no evidence to suggest recurrence of lymphoma. Dr. Risbon could not hear a heart murmur today, and reported that Rita’s heart rhythm is normal. Dr. Risbon also evaluated Rita’s mammary mass and said she thought the thickened tissue portion appears to feel smaller. However, the small mass (approximately 3-5 mm) seems unchanged from previously. Dr. Risbon shared that she is pleased with Margarita’s progress, and feels as though she is doing well in maintaining her remission.

Patiently waiting for Dr. Risbon

First Day Back “on the Job” since Lymphoma Diagnosis

Margarita made a very short surprise-visit with me at my school and made some students extremely happy!

We kept the visit with the kids to only 30 minutes. The visit was perfect and did not exhaust Rita.

Margarita overseeing the students’ “Math Fact War” game
Margarita overseeing the students’ “Math Fact War” game
Margarita snoozed while the students completed their online Math assignment.
This student was so happy Rita decided to use her as a “pillow” during her nap.

Monthly Check Up with Primary Veterinarian

On November 22 Margarita visited with our primary veterinarian, Dr. Campbell for her monthly post-oncology appointment. Dr. Campbell said she was very pleased with the improvement in Margarita’s heart murmur, as well as her Lymphoma remission. While the original mammary mass was being checked, Dr. Campbell found a second tumor on a different gland.

Mammary tumors are extremely common in female dogs – especially those who were spayed later in life. Spaying a female after the first or second heat cycle significantly reduces the risk of the dogs developing a mammary tumor. Since Margarita was not spayed until we took her in as a foster at age 6-ish, we knew mammary issues were a possible issue. If you are reading this and are immediately thinking, “Why is the vet not aspirating the mass to look at the cells?”… then you are not alone. I immediately asked Dr. Campbell if we could aspirate the original mass when it was discovered. Dr. Campbell explained that unfortunately a fine needle aspiration of the mass usually has a very low diagnostic value when it comes to discerning between malignant or benign tumors. Unfortunately, the only way to diagnose a mammary tumor as benign or malignant is to surgically remove them and send the mass out for a biopsy.

The good news is that Dr. Campbell explained that approximately 50% of mammary tumors are benign. My immediate response was, “What if the masses are malignant?” Dr. Campbell informed me that even if the masses are removed and found to be malignant, there is no proven effectiveness of chemotherapy for the treatment of malignant mammary tumors in dogs. If deemed necessary, the tumors would be removed and the biopsy would tell us a more detailed story of what treatment (if any) would be needed.

I have many other questions about these tumors – such as the prognosis if they are found to be malignant. I know the best prognosis is directly associated with early detection. I decided it was best to not ask any other questions until I “have” to, and to do my best to remain positive that Margarita will be lucky enough to be included in the “50% benign” grouping. In the meantime, I am focusing on the many good days we have celebrated with Margarita, and extremely thankful that I have Dr. Campbell as such a patient and informative teacher during this process.

Margarita will continue to see Dr. Campbell on a monthly basis so that both Margarita’s oncologist and Dr. Campbell can keep a close watch on the mammary masses in order to determine the best plan for Margarita moving forward.

This Month’s Treat

Margarita enjoyed a few bites of a grilled cheese from Panera Bread!

Epilepsy Awareness Month

November is Epilepsy Awareness Month for both people and dogs. This life-long condition has no cure and is extremely unpredictable, which is why it is important to continue to educate, spread awareness, and support continued research.

Most dogs will show signs epilepsy between the ages of 1-3. It is nearly impossible to know exactly when a dog might have a seizure.

Seeing a dog have a seizure can be very unsettling. The dog may fall over, become stiff, convulse, drool, and become vocal. Dogs may lose control of their bladder and/or bowels and sometimes will also vomit.

Seizure recovery can vary from dog to dog. Some may recover very quickly, and others could take 24 hours or more. After a seizure the dog may be disoriented, pace back and forth, or exhibit extreme thirst.

Epilepsy is a diagnosis of exclusion. Your veterinarian will first need to rule out that your dog doesn’t have a different disease or condition that causes the seizures. The doctor may do blood tests, x-rays, an MRI, and/or a spinal tap. Once the veterinarian rules out the other possible diagnoses, they can conclude that a dog has epilepsy.

Want to learn more? Here are a few informative links:

http://pethealthnetwork.com/dog-health/dog-diseases-conditions-a-z/canine-epilepsy

http://www.canine-epilepsy.net/basics/basics_index.html

#Paws4Purple

EpilepsyAwarenessMonth #purpleforporter #caninepilepsyawareness #pawsforpurple

National Canine Lymphoma Awareness Day

November 7th is National Canine Lymphoma Awareness Day. This day is meant to educate and create awareness about this disease.

Margarita at 7.5 months in remission

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Lymphoma is one of the most common cancers in dogs. Any breed of dog, at any age, can get lymphoma. Although lymphoma can attack any organ in the body, it most commonly presents itself in the organs of the immune system such as the lymph nodes, spleen, and bone marrow.

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The cause of lymphoma is not well understood. However, it is believed that there are environmental contributors to lymphoma such as chemicals and pollutants.
💖
National Canine Lymphoma Awareness Day reminds PAWrents to stay vigilant and to check your fur-kids regularly.

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Be their eyes. Be there ears. Be their voice. Be their HERO. Chase Away K9 Cancer provides great resources on how and when to check your pup for possible signs of cancer. 

Canine Epilepsy

Explanation

“Epilepsy” is a general term for neurological disorders that are characterized by recurrent seizures. In some cases, the seizures are caused by trauma, a toxin, a brain tumor, an infection, or an issue with your dog’s blood, kidneys, or other organs. At other times, the epilepsy is referred to as “idiopathic,” which simply means that there is no identifiable, underlying cause.

Seizures commonly fall into two categories: generalized (grand mal) or partial (focal). Generalized seizures commonly appear as involuntary jerking or twitching movements of all four limbs with loss of consciousness. Partial seizures may involve one limb, side of the body, or face. Partial seizures may progress to generalized seizures. Seizures may also result in abnormal behavior, vocalization, salivation, chomping/chewing, and involuntary urination and defecation.

Dogs with idiopathic epilepsy typically have their first seizures between the ages of 6 months to 6 years. Though idiopathic epilepsy can occur in any breed, it is considered an inheritable disease in many breeds and in some breeds a genetic basis has been identified. Therefore, dogs diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy should not be used for breeding. Commonly affected breeds include:

  • Labrador retrievers
  • Golden retrievers
  • Poodles
  • Keeshonds
  • Beagles
  • German shepherds
  • Dachshunds
  • Irish setters
  • Cocker spaniels

Is a seizure painful or dangerous to the dog?

Despite the dramatic and violent appearance of a seizure, seizures are not painful, although the dog may feel confusion and perhaps panic. Contrary to popular belief, dogs do not swallow their tongues during a seizure. If you put your fingers or an object into its mouth, you will not help your pet and you run a high risk of being bitten very badly or of injuring your dog. The important thing is to keep the dog from falling or hurting itself by knocking objects onto itself. As long as it is on the floor or ground, there is little chance of harm occurring.

A single seizure is rarely dangerous to the dog. However, if the dog has multiple seizures within a short period of time (cluster seizures), or if a seizure continues for longer than a few minutes, the body temperature begins to rise. If hyperthermia (elevated body temperature) develops secondary to a seizure, another set of problems need to be addressed.

Symptoms
Prolonged seizures lasting more than 5 minutes or two or more consecutive seizures without full recovery are referred to as status epilepticus. This is a true emergency and you should seek immediate veterinary care for your pet. Two or more seizures in 24 hours are referred to as cluster seizures and are an indication for beginning anti-seizure medication.

In dogs, seizures often occur in three distinct phases:

  • The first is called the aural phase and the most common signs are behavioral changes. These changes may be subtle and include restlessness, attention seeking or anxious behavior. 
  • The second phase, called the ictal phase, is when the seizure itself takes place. A seizure can last from just a few seconds to several minutes.
  • The final phase is called the postictal phase, which occurs after the seizure. During this phase, your dog may seem restless, uncoordinated and/or disoriented. Occasionally, temporary blindness, deafness or other neurologic abnormalities may occur.

It may be difficult to watch your pet have a seizure but most are of short duration and cause no permanent harm. Avoid being bitten by keeping your hands away from your pet’s mouth during a seizure. If it can be done safely, provide padding and move your pet away from stairs to prevent injury.

Diagnosis
Your veterinarian will take a complete history and perform a thorough physical and neurological exam to determine if there is an identifiable, underlying cause of your dog’s seizure.

In order to do so, the following tests may be recommended:

  • Chemistry tests to evaluate kidney, liver, and pancreatic function, as well as sugar levels and electrolytes
  • A complete blood count to screen for infection, inflammation, anemia, and other blood-related conditions
  • Urinalysis
  • PCR testing and/or serology to evaluate for infectious diseases that may cause seizures
  • Referral to a neurologist for advanced testing including MRI and cerebrospinal fluid analysis
  • Cultures, PCR testing, and other specialized tests that can identify if specific parasites or diseases could be the cause

Treatment 
Epilepsy cannot be cured, but it can usually be controlled with anticonvulsant drugs. If your veterinarian determines that your dog’s epilepsy is idiopathic, one or more of the following medications may be prescribed:

  • Phenobarbital helps reduce the frequency of your dog’s seizures and is the most prescribed medication for dogs with idiopathic epilepsy. It is generally a well-tolerated drug.
  • Potassium bromide is another seizure medication that may be added to your dog’s treatment, if she does not respond well to phenobarbital alone.
  • Levetiracetam (Keppra)

With these medications, as with all drugs, some patients experience side effects. In order to make sure an adequate dose is being given, and to monitor for side effects, it is important that blood levels of each medication as well as complete blood counts and blood chemistry profiles be monitored periodically. Liver function tests may also be indicated. Your veterinarian will advise what monitoring needs to be done and how often. Medication dosages should not be changed without talking to your veterinarian.

Dogs diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy may require treatment for life, and sometimes more than one drug is needed for adequate seizure control. And while many dogs are well controlled, some are not despite multiple medications. In addition, adequate seizure control does not necessarily guarantee that a dog will be entirely seizure free. The degree of seizure control may need to be balanced against potential side effects of the medications. 

Management 
Besides medication, there are many ways for you, yourself, to help manage your pet’s epilepsy:

  • Maintain a seizure log that lists date, time, length and severity of seizures as well as videotape and share this with your veterinarian
  • Do not change or discontinue medications without consulting your veterinarian
  • Have blood work and other lab work done when recommended by your veterinarian
  • Consult your veterinarian whenever you notice a change in your pet’s condition
  • Put a medical alert tag on your pet’s collar so that if he becomes lost, whoever finds him will be aware of their seizure disorder and need for medication.

Several treatments are available for pets with epilepsy. By working closely with your veterinarian, you can maximize the chances of controlling the disorder and giving your pet a long, happy, and comfortable life.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

This is information is reposted from: http://www.pethealthnetwork.com/dog-health/dog-diseases-conditions-a-z/canine-epilepsy and https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/seizures-general-for-dogs

✔️ #10 Eat a Fancy Steak from Our Area’s Best Steakhouse ; The Library II, Voorhees , NJ

Margarita checked off another Adventure List item!

Everyone red meat-eater has their favorite steakhouse, right? Well, Brian’s preferred high-end steakhouse is a a place called The Library II . Now I don’t eat meat at all, but I must say, this place is one of my favorites too… for their famous (and huge!) all-you-can-eat salad bar!

The Library II has been in business since 1942. This restaurant has long been a New Jersey landmark and neighborhood favorite with its distinctive “library” atmosphere and unique serving style. They are well-known for their steaks, surf-and-turf, and salad bar.

Photo credit: yelp.com

The Library II has won awards from the Courier Posts‘s Best of South Jersey, Philadelphia Magazine‘s Best of Philly, South Jersey Magazine Best of the Best, and also boasts a rating by Zagat.

When ordering here, you meet your chef at the kitchen window, where he/she will help you select the perfect cut of steak, or your choice of lobster tail.

Not a meat or seafood eater? No problem! The Library has one of the largest salad bars I have ever seen…and best of all: The salad bar is “all you can eat!” Beyond the “normal” salad bar items, the Library II salad bar has an extensive assortment of fruits, vegetables, artisan breads, and gourmet cheeses!

Margarita’s filet mignon:

Margarita enjoyed her fancy steak!

2019 DockDogs World Championship: Dubuque, Iowa

Our 5th year attending the DockDogs World Championship was fun and exciting! We want to congratulate all competitors for the accomplishment of making it to Worlds, and for the amazing performances of all your dogs! It was quite amazing to see world records being broken in person! We also would like to applaud all those who made finals! It was an honor to share the dock with you all!

First and foremost, we are beyond grateful that our pack had no health issues or injuries throughout the competition. We had an absolute blast playing with our pups and spending time with friends – both old and new. Four straight 8-hour long competition days was a lot to ask of our pups, and we are extremely proud of both their endurance and performance. Above all, our hearts are filled with joy to have seen our pups have fun all week long doing what they love best.

Limoncello

We could not have been more excited to see this little Dock Diving Diva back up on the dock! After a forced medical retirement, Limoncello kicked heart-disease-butt and was cleared to compete again. She did an amazing job during her competitions!

Hooch

Brian and I could not be more proud…Hooch is the 2019 #1 ranked German Shorthaired Pointer!

We did not make it to the Gala since were were worried about leaving Porter at night. I regret not being able to be there in person to accept Hooch’s award, but after the year our pack had, just being at the World Championship was a blessing. Hooch’s achievement of the #1 ranking is an awesome bonus! Hooch, you are an amazing little dude…it has been my honor to be on the dock with you. I love you, buddy!

For those of you who don’t know Hooch very well, he started out as a pup scared of the water, then branded his signature “Hoochie Hop” ….and then quickly evolved into a pretty impressive jumper, earning DockDogs Most Improved Dog his first year if competition, as well as the #1 GSP 3 times now. Below is the link to the video of his progression from not jumping at all to soaring over 24 feet at 1 year old!

(Sound on)
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ozKP80iglCU

Lager

Lager had an impressive showing, and was very close to making finals this year!

Margarita

We very much appreciate all those who took the time to stop and say hello to Margarita while she was out-and-about since she was under the impression that it was her job to greet EVERYone in the competition arena!

Whiskey

Whiskey may not have gotten wet at the World Championship, but she sure won over the crowd with her shenanigans on the dock!

Porter

A HUGE heartfelt thank you to all those who stopped to say hello to Porter, asking how he was doing, and to those who kept an extra eye on him in Dog Town while we were on the competition floor. 

3 Month Post-Chemo Checkup

Margarita had her monthly checkup at her primary veterinarian as well as with her oncologist…and I’m happy to report that’s there’s not much to report!

Primary Veterinarian Visit

On 10/16 Rita saw Dr. Campbell, her primary veterinarian at Old York Veterinary Hospital for her monthly check up. I reported our observations of increased energy and appetite. Dr. Campbell listened to Rita’s heart and said that she could not detect a murmur! We are very anxious to get to the cardiologist next month to see what the echocardiogram reveals. Dr. Campbell examined the mammary mass and said that she said that she did not feel as though it has changed from the last visit.  I was very pleased with this checkup!

Oncology Visit

On 10/18 Margarita saw Dr. Risbon, her oncologist at Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center (VSEC).  Dr. Risbon listened to Rita’s heart. Like Dr. Campbell, said that she did not hear a murmur and reported that Rita’s heart rhythm is normal! Dr. Risbon also agreed that the mammary mass did not feel as though it has changed from the last visit. Dr. Risbon shared that she is very pleased with Rita’s progress and that she is doing well as she enters her 7th month in remission. Wait… SEVEN months??? I was confused. I explained that Rita had finished her last chemotherapy treatment in July, so my understanding is that October would only make 3 months in remission. Dr. Risbon explained that they count remission months from the date of diagnosis (Rita’s Lymphoma diagnosis date was March 13, 2013) when chemo is started immediately and no signs of reoccurrence are present…so this month, Rita is considered to be in her 7th month of remission!! I also learned that Dr. Risbon will be leaving VSEC as of December 6, 2019. She and her husband are having another child, so she will be relocating to a hospital near her home in order to be in closer proximity to her family. Although I very much respect that decision to relocate and am very happy for Dr. Risbon and her family, we are disappointed that we will not be able to continue Rita’s Lymphoma follow-up care with her. Brian and I will have to make a decision to travel close to 2 hours a month to continue to see Dr. Risbon, or to find another oncologist to continue following Margarita’s case. We will be discussing our decision together along with our primary veterinarian, Dr. Campbell.

This Month’s Treat

This month Margarita enjoyed a treat from Smashburger after her oncology appointment.

She had a cheeseburger topped with a fried egg!

Margarita also enjoyed some crispy Brussels sprouts!

Margarita will see both Dr. Campbell and Dr. Risbon again next month.

Crawfordsville KOA: Crawfordsville, IN

On our way out to the 2019 DockDogs World Championship , we did an overnight-stay at Crawfordsville KOA in Crawfordsville, IN.

Hooch wanted to be on the welcoming committee:

Our campsite:

Lager in front of the cool log deer:

Washington / Pittsburgh SW KOA Journey: Washington, PA

On the way out to the 2019 DockDogs World Championship, we did an overnight stay at Washington / Pittsburgh SW KOA Journey .

Whiskey
Margarita
Happy Fall, Y’all! ~ Margarita

Delmarva Dockdogs Jumpin’ Into Jersey at the Ocean County Decoy Festival; Tuckerton, NJ

💛Limoncello

  • Big Air
    • 19’2″
    • 19’6″
  • Extreme Vertical
    • 5’0″
  • Speed Retrieve
    • 9.644 seconds
  • Iron Dog:
    • 2551.98 points / 3rd Place Warrior Division

💚Hooch

  • Big Air
    • 22’7″
    • 21’4″
    • Elite Division Finals: 23’0″ / 2nd Place
  • Extreme Vertical
    • 6’6″ / 2nd Place Top Gun Division
  • Speed Retrieve
    • 6.657 seconds / 2nd Place Nitro Division
  • Iron Dog
    • 2980.04 points / 1st Place Gladiator Division

❤️Lager

  • Big Air
    • 21’1″
    • 21’3″ / 3rd Place Master
    • Master Division Finals: 19’9″ / 6th Place
  • Extreme Vertical
    • 5’10”
  • Speed Retrieve
    • 8.209 seconds
  • Iron Dog
    • 2823.56 points / 3rd Place Titan Division

💖Margarita

Margarita enjoyed an ice cream treat!

💜Whiskey

  • Big Air
    • 4’4″ / 1st Place Novice Division

💙Porter

Porter enjoyed an ice cream treat!

Liver Killer Bling

2nd Month in Remission Recap, and 2-Month Oncology Re-Check

Month 2 of remission was a great one for Sweet Reet! She has been even more spunky and energetic, and playful than ever! We are celebrating every single day with this angel, as we know she is one of the lucky ones to have taken a bite out of cancer. Even though Rita’s Lymphoma is no longer observable and is no longer causing symptoms, we know there can still be millions of cells remaining in her body that cannot be detected at this time. The cells can keep growing and eventually the cancer may again be able to be detected, which would be considered a relapse. With a focus on Margarita’s wellness…good nutrition, supplements, exercise, and happiness…we are remaining positive and hopeful that Margarita took a big enough bite out of Lymphoma to enjoy many more years of happiness!

After our last update, Wayback Burgers saw our post, and was so touched that we chose their establishment as Rita’s celebration meal, they contacted me and sent Margarita a huge package of goodies!

Check out the video below to see what toy she pulled out of the box first!

We were blown-away at this extremely generous gesture, and can’t wait to return to Wayback Burger to use the included gift certificate to get Margarita another treat!

Month 2 Oncology Recheck

On September 10th, Margarita saw her oncologist, Dr. Risbon. Rita’s physical examination was normal and there is no evidence to suggest recurrence of lymphoma at this time. Doctor’ Risbon can hear you very faint murmur on Margarita’s left side when using a stethoscope. I informed Dr. Risbon that I am trying to obtain an appointment sooner that the scheduled November date with Dr. Bossbaly, the cardiologist. Dr. Risbon agreed that Margarita’s heart seems to improved so much that she is hopeful for a confirmation from the cardiologist that the heart has healed itself to some degree.

Dr. Risbon also examined Rita’s mammary mass. She can still feel the small mass (3-5 mm) in association with the nipple which she feels is unchanged from previously. The mass will continue to be monitored for changes/growth. Only if there are changes to the mass will surgery be considered, pending an approval for anesthesia from Dr. Bossbaly.

Dr. Risbon also recommended holding off on vaccines at this time in order to avoid any unnecessary immune system stimulation as this could risk causing a relapse. She said that flea/tick medication and heartworm preventative is fine for continued use.

Month 2 Primary Veterinarian Recheck

Margarita also saw our primary veterinarian, Dr. Campbell, for her monthly check-up on September 19th. The last few days leading up to this appointment I felt as though Rita’s mammary mass had changed a bit. When I checked it the day before her visit, there was what appeared to be a cut on her nipple, and the tissue of the mass seemed to feel different and a bit larger. Dr. Campbell examined it, and agreed. Upon further examination, Rita’s nipple is now excreting a bloody discharge, which is not a good sign. Dr. Campbell said that if Rita had not just been through chemotherapy, she would choose to remove the mass immediately. However, Margarita’s case is very complex. The decision was to continue to watch the mass over the next month and reexamine it in October as long as there are no major changes. The hope is to wait until November when Margarita will see her cardiologist. At that time Margarita’s heart disease will be reassessed, and we will know if she is cleared to handle anesthesia or not. Of course if there happens to be remarkable changes in the mammary gland mass in the meantime, this course of action may have to be altered.

The good news is that aside from the mammary gland mass, Dr. Campbell said Rita’s heart sounds great, and her respiratory rate is normal!

Post 2-Month Check-Up Treat

This month, Margarita enjoyed a treat from Five Guys!

She had a bacon cheese dog, and fries!

As always, thank you for joining Margarita in her journey to take a bite out Lymphoma.

Bok Bar: Philadelphia, PA

BOK to School!

What a cool place to spend a Sunday-Funday during Back-to-School season!

Bok Bar is located on the rooftop of a closed technical high school. The rooftop bar is dog friendly on Sundays after 2pm.

It was neat walking through the hallway of the school to get to the elevator which led to the rooftop!

The bathrooms were left just as they were when the high school was open!

Margarita enjoyed snoozing on the rooftop!

Check out the views!

Cherry Street Pier: Philadelphia, PA

Margarita visited the Cherry Street Pier!

Cherry Street Pier is a dog-friendly, “mixed-use” public space within a century-old pier on the Delaware River in Philadelphia, PA.

Cherry Street Pier was originally built in 1919 as a shipping pier . You can still see the original railroad tracks, and steel trussed roof.

There is an open-air garden under the Pier’s historic steel trussed roof. Here you will find concessions sold out of historic train cars! There is also many beautiful views of the Delaware River.

We took a break down by the river and enjoyed a beverage.

Margarita snoozed along the Delaware River just beyond the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

✔️ #1. 🥪Taste-test a famous Philly Cheesesteak from the two Most Famous Philadelphia Steak Joints / Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks: Philadelphia, PA

One of the most yummy (and fun!) Adventure List Items check off!

Margarita visited the 2 iconic rival Philadelphia cheesesteak joints, Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks !

Pat’s King of Steaks
Geno’s Steaks
Know how to order before getting to the window! Will it be WIT or WIT-OUT?

Rita performed her very own “Pat’s vs. Geno’s” taste test.

Click on the video below to see which famous Philadelphia cheesesteak joint she thinks is the best!

Booker D. Surfdog Endless BBQ Tour: Wildwood, NJ

This is the first dock diving competition that we have seen on the beach, so we decided to take the hour long ride with just Hooch and Porter to check it out.

Hooch didn’t do his best, but it was neat to compete on the beach with the Atlantic Ocean as our backdrop!


  • Big Air
    • 21’10”
  • Extreme Vertical
    • 6’0″ Third Place Top Gun
  • Speed Retrieve
    • 7.081 seconds
  • Iron Dog Points
    • 2917.77 points
We got to see Booker D. Surfdog as well!
Porter enjoyed his wagon ride on the beach!

Dog Days of Summer Wild Card Double Header: North Ridgeville, OH

The last week in August 2019 we took a ride out to North Ridgeville, OH for Cello to participate in her second event of the year in order to qualify for the World Championship after her first event back-in-action where she rocked the dock in Canada!

We were able to camp on-site at the competition

💛Limoncello

  • Big Air
    • 18’6″
  • Extreme Vertical
    • 5’0″
  • Speed Retrieve
    • 7.942 seconds
  • Iron Dog
    • 2722.2 points / 3rd Place Warrior Division
      • ***Invitation to the World Championship!

💚Hooch

  • Big Air
    • 21’10”
    • 21’2″
    • 20’3″
  • Extreme Vertical
    • 6’0″
  • Speed Retrieve
    • 6.654 seconds / 3rd Place Nitro Division
  • Iron Dog
    • 2938.99 points / 1st Place Gladiator Division

❤️Lager

  • Big Air
    • 20’2″
  • Extreme Vertical
    • 5’8″
Lager competing in “Dueling Dogs”

💖Margarita

Margarita enjoyed an ice cream treat while cheering on her brothers and sisters!

💜Whiskey

  • Big Air
    • 2’3″
    • 2’6″
    • 1’4″

💙Porter

Porter enjoyed an ice cream treat with Margarita!

5. Add To Our States Visited Map

As of Summer 2019

Porter’s Countries:

  • United States of America
  • Canada

Porter’s States:

  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Virginia

Whiskey’s Countries:

  • Canada (ontario)
  • United States


Whiskey’s States:

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia

K9 Central Wild Card Double Header: Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada

Our favorite trip and event of the year… K9 Central!

Limoncello

This was Limoncello’s first DockDogs event since she was released from medical retirement!

Big Air

20’2″

20’0″ 2nd Place

18’11”

Extreme Vertical:

5’4″

Speed Retrieve

2609.18 seconds

Iron Dog

2609.18 points

Hooch

Big Air

22’5″

24’9″ Second Place Elite

24’3″ First Place Elite

22’8″

Finals: 23’2″ 4th Place

Extreme Vertical:

6’4″

Speed Retrieve

2999.86 seconds Second Place Nitro

Iron Dog

2999.86 points 1st Place Gladiator

Lager

Big Air

21’7″ 2nd Place Master

21’1″ 2nd Place Master

21’2″ 1st Place Master

Finals: 20’6″ 2nd place

Extreme Vertical:

5’10”

Speed Retrieve

7.927 seconds

Iron Dog

2848.51 points

Margarita

Margarita enjoyed taking long walks around the property.

Whiskey

Big Air

8’1″

7’5″

6’2″ 2nd Place Novice

7’10” 1st Place Novice

Porter

Porter enjoyed chilling with his Pop!

Brennan Beach RV Resort: Pulaski, NY

On our way to Bowmanville, Ontario for a dock diving event, we did an -overnight stay at Brennan Beach RV Resort.

This campground was located right on Lake Ontario!

What a gorgeous view!

The next morning, Lake Ontario had waves like the ocean!

This was their cute snack bar down by the beach:

Limoncello Models for Subaru

Not to be outdone by her brother, Hooch, who modeled for Subaru of America, Inc. last year, Limoncello also scored a modeling gig with Subaru of America ! She is now featured on the website, and will be seen in dealership brochures and on dealership posters this fall! You can see her on the Subaru website by clicking the link below. Then scroll down to the accessories and navigate to: Featured>Seat cover>Click right arrow to next pick of Cello! ✨🚙💛

https://www.subaru.com/build-your-own/2020/LEG/LAD/STANDARD.html?fbclid=IwAR2CynJLRQMUiGaobLrVmDqs4MGtuaYPSsN5fMID6W2UYKaeVno5bDjuNnc