Montgomery Talks: Keep Your Pet Country Music Calm

welcome to Montgomery talks this is our regular podcast on Montgomery County issues we're doing something a little bit different this week we're having dr. market Liberto in he is a veterinarian in Gaithersburg yes been in practice for over 20 years right it'll be 31 years this year and we've got a number of questions we want to ask him about our pets and whatnot and the first question I've got for you is what are some of the signs that dogs or I guess cats tell us when they're not well that's a good question I mean obviously whenever we're interacting with our pets we see what's normal and abnormal all the time now sometimes it's in it works in our favor sometimes not I'll give you an example say there's a little lump on the dog and that lump starts to grow because you've seen that lump every day you may be somewhat less sensitive of the fact that that lumps becoming a problem then when I see it and I'm thinking what the heck what's this thing doing here when I see it pet two three times a year that will be much more dramatic for me and then of course depending on where it is would be might mean it's more of a problem but the biggest things we look for sleep habits eating habits how they go to the bathroom those habits so are they dogs especially cats as well animals are routine they will do the same thing the same way every day and be perfectly happy doing that they don't need a ton of different variety of disturbances of their routine and so when we see those disturbances all of a sudden they're sleeping longer instead of waking up and getting excited about things now it could be pain maybe they're getting arthritic especially if it's in the winter cold damp day they may hurt or if all of a sudden they start to vomit you know they eat like a champion that today they're not eating so much and next thing you know he's vomiting that could be a problem and there are a myriad of causes of those things some minor some major so but anything that anything that disturbs the routine so if you see something that doesn't fit where it's out of normal that's something that's not right and I always tell folks but when in doubt let's check it out a good client of mine if it's a client I see all the time we usually know what's going on before they even come in the door so if I hear what the presenting complaint is say it's the dog won't go up the stairs well I've got a pretty good idea why now if I only see that pet once every five years which a lot of folks do they think it's not necessary to bring a pet in well then you're kind of flying on your own then I won't know so that becomes a little bit more important to have that pet seen when something doesn't seem right so there really is a value in doing yearly or twice a year exams because you get to know the pet you get to know the folks you know what fits what doesn't fit what's normal what's not normal so you establish a good routine that way when something's not right with a pet um when do we know what we're doing is the right thing to do well I mean the first thing we always start with a you know when you call in you start with a presenting complaint what's the problem and so our receptionists are trained to go over what those things are there certain things that if you say the word for instance my cats going in out of the litter box a whole lot lately we want to see that cat specially if it's a male cat we want to see that cat today because that's a sign that cat could be having a urinary obstruction so that's an immediate thing or my dog does your native blood well that's something we want to see right now so there are certain phrases if we hear that requires to be seen right away there's other things that are that are not that important so maybe some mild weight loss or weight gain or just not acting right then those things we could kind of wait a little bit more to see but they're not considered an emergency but a lot of times folks wait too long I think that's our biggest problem if we check them out early we do the next step is a good physical exam 90% of our diagnoses are made on a physical exam most folks don't realize that everybody puts a lot of dependency on tests and that's good the tests are valuable but 90% of a diagnosis is made on a physical exam most of the time the tests confirm what we're finding on the physical it's extremely rare that we go fishing for a problem doing tests if in my mind if you're doing that you're probably going to be wandering for a while before you come up with what's wrong mm-hmm and then wants you to decide a course of action how does the owner know that this is the right thing or something else right it's so I mean with every problem there's more than one way to fix it many times not always but many times so say say if a pet comes in and he's vomiting and this is new this is not something he normally does and they come in and we have a discussion about it and he says yeah doc I gave him a steak button the other day ah is he used to getting steak bones daily No so we worked barbecuing and we gave him a steak bone which is not a good idea I guarantee you they're gonna eat it and love it and they're gonna pay for it the next day so that steak bone enters their system so we could have a sliver of bone that dog has it has the power in his jaws to break bone as he's chewing on it that piece of bone can get swallowed and can maybe lodge in the esophagus or lives in the stomach or lodge in the small intestine thigh bones big enough it may get stuck it can't pass even if it doesn't that bony material the body's gonna try and digest and then cause a lot of inflammation and so we bring the dog in take a look get his temperature say his temperatures a little high oh that's not normal normal temperature for a dog is up to one to two eight from about ninety nine eight to one o28 so say he's clicking one two three five I feel his tummy his tummy's tender he doesn't like me for Dutch in his tummy I do a rectal exam on him and my finger comes out with bloody material on it he's had maybe some diarrhea and now that diarrhea is beginning worse so that's a classic sign of a gastrointestinal intestinal irritation and you could pick every organ going down the intestine so we start with the stomach could be gastritis pancreas pancreatitis liver hepatitis these are all part of the digestive system anti-rightist inflammation of the intestine you have three major parts to the intestine any one of those could be involved the three places where things get stuck is usually trying to get out of the stomach trying to get into the small part of the small intestine and going from the small intestine to the large intestine and if it's stuck it hurts and those poor dogs are painful and they're vomiting gets really bad so then you got to make a decision depending on the severity of the problem I mean if he's just a little irritated maybe just need some medication and alka-seltzer per se don't ever give a dog alka-seltzer it's bad maybe something just to calm things down and that's maybe all he needs but on the other hand he may need to go on IV fluids you may need get rehydrated may need some medication antibiotics and acid therapy so sometimes that we got to open them up and remove the obstruction and when does when it's cost of the actor in this because I mean at least with normal people we've got insurance there are lots of us have insurance and most people don't have insurance on their pets now it's becoming more popular they say 3% of the pet owning population has insurance but it's definitely growing and I'm sure the insurance companies want it to cost is always going to be a factor I mean I have very few clients that are independently wealthy so I pretty much every time I am discussing a case with a client we're going over cost what's interesting next time you go to your medical doctor asked him how much things are going to cost that day it'd be interesting if you get an answer they probably have no clue why that's just a question for another time so but we always have a discussion on cost so I put together an estimate if that's too much for the clients say they can't afford that well then there's some things that are really important things that are less important and we go over those options and we do what they can afford and what we can get done it's worth doing there's some things that I would love to do but are they absolutely necessary maybe not there's other things that are absolutely necessary and with those we if we're gonna cut anything out we're not gonna cut those out so and it's just defense it's a case-by-case basis so what about a dog's weight I mean how do you know when a dog is overweight or underweight right so a good way to tell is it is what we call a body score it actually is more important than the actual weight so you should be able to put your hand on the side of the chest of a dog and without pressing you should feel every rib looking you should be able just to make out the last few ribs as they breathe in and out they should have a nice waist to them if you put your hand on their back and you cannot feel the tips of the spine and that's not muscle I don't think the docs bodybuilding I think in that case it's fat that's bulging up that's covering their spine tips so you should be able to feel their pelvis you should be able to feel their neck and feel the bone without pressing too hard around the base of the skull so when they become overweight the first sign usually is you put your hand on their chest and you really got a press to feel anything and that's because you're going through about a half an inch to an inch of fat now that's on the outside on the inside all that fats getting deposited in the abdominal cavity and so not good stuff so what's the next step put them on a diet or anymore well they can only get what you give them so unlike us which want to break the rules all the time and cheat the dog can't do that on his own so your dog will only get the calories it gets from you so if you want to cut them by 25% you have the power to do it except when they look at you there's little loving eye and they want that something that you have so and what's the deal with chocolate when I was a kid we gave chocolate to our dogs all the time nobody's thought toothy it just seems like in the last five or ten years chocolates been like the poison to dogs well it's always been a toxin but it's the dark chocolate or baker's chocolate that's really the toxic product milk chocolate the biggest problem with milk chocolate and those kind of products it just gives them diarrhea it causes irritation but the dark chocolates all chocolate has theobromine Xanthia bro means aren't a feta mean like drug and so with an intoxication of it literally they can do anything from become very hyper have a high blood pressure problem they can go into seizures if it's severe enough so it's it acts like an effete Amin okay and what about CBD I have a kind of a hyper dog that we've been trying to calm him down a little bit especially when we're not home and we've been experimenting with some of these products do you think they're worthwhile it's a lot of unknown right now right now I can't even recommend a product to you that I'm convinced that what's in it is in it so the entire market of CBD oils and CBD compounds is in a state of huge flux right now in the state of Maryland it cannot even be prescribed legally at this point so and that's even products that are based on hemp rather than based on cannabis so that's changing that's changing all over the country and and recently there's been some federal guidelines on that that have shown that hemp products are now considered to be okay to use and we know their CBD receptors and dogs their CBD receptors and people there in various places and what exactly they do is still being delineated so there's a lot of unknowns there so are they helpful in pain syndromes that's what we think it may be are they helpful as appetite stimulants well if you talk to anybody who has had an experience with cannabis they'll tell you it has that effect so do the CBD oils which by the way do not contain THC T C's the psychotropic active product in cannabis that causes disorientation the feeling of being high and all that those are not in those products there doesn't seem to be any therapeutic benefit of anything with THC but the CBD oils are the big area of unknown but promise as well so could they be good and pain chronic pain syndromes that's what we think they may be beneficial or GI upset problems they may be beneficial they're arthritic dogs may be helpful with that so it's just it's just so much unknown it's hard for me to make a recommendation and be absolute that this going to help you I saw I do have a fairly frantic dog especially when nobody's around anxiety yeah whatever you know he just it just will find like he's jumped up on a table they're like everything off or whatever what's the best way to try to counteract that well if your dogs destructive there's different levels of anxiety I mean we get some dogs that literally will try to destroy everything they'll chew on doors they'll rip down walls they'll go through windows the anxiety so high needs to be treated with pharmaceuticals of some type so there's different categories of anti-anxiety drugs that we can use and usually combinations of these meds we can use to kind of get them to a point where there except ibly not hurting themselves mild anxiety many times could be treated with training just doing behavior training maybe leaving on a series of music audios that help to calm a dog down we have that plane in one of our kennels where it definitely makes a difference those dogs are chilled rock and roll is not the answer for dogs I say classic mute classical music and country music seems to be better but these particular audio visuals have a rhythm to the music that tends to be coming now there's also some supplements that work really good for coming that are more natural based herb type products and so those could be helpful before you have to go to an actual pharmaceutical product and if they're really bad I'd recommend a crate you rent them into crate yeah cuz you want to keep them from doing something that's dangerous now there's some dogs that will destroy a crate now that's not going to work in that situation so we have some dogs that literally have broken their teeth trying to get out of a crate and they just lose their mind they don't feel any pain when that's going on so well now's a good time take a break we'll be right back this is duck Tolman senior reporter with Montgomery Community Media talking with mark Liberto MCN your Community Media Center is making Montgomery County a great place to live through programs like 21 this week Montgomery County's hardest-hitting political talk show keeps you up to date with the local political scene Montgomery Community Media our middle name is community and we're back with Montgomery talks on talking with dr. mark Liberto who runs Lake Forest veterinary hospital in Gaithersburg so family wants to add a dog to their get to their family where do you think the best place to go well if you want you know there's always this question should I get a purebred dog or not and there's some people are adamantly against pure brands because there's so many dogs available from shelters that's a personal decision I'm not going to tell you one way or the other there's certain breeds I wish they would not propagate there's some breeds that have so many medical problems it would keep me busy for a long time fixing some of those medical problems and that is to me a challenge but at the same time under some of these poor breeds they're just they're miserable all the time so the shelters are great to go to but you have to be careful don't be trying to adopt every dog that you see there's a limit than what you could take care of and don't adopt ones that have obvious big problems don't try to take on more than you can chew when you adopt from a shelter you could adopt a problem a dog that has a behavior problem or a medical problem so it's up to the shelter to vet those dogs and be able to give you a good honest opinion on what their condition is and what their problems are as long as you go in with your eyes wide open and you adopt the dog say the dog that happens to have a urinary problem it forms urinary crystals you know it's gonna have to be on a special diet the rest of its life that's great that something is completely manageable but if you adopt the dog that has a haemophilia problem or a genetic disease or a series of problems where it has ocular disease and the eyelids roll in and it causes pain and discomfort all the time that dog is going to need surgery to correct that or has glaucoma which would eventually require surgery as well those folks need to know that some shelters are better at showing that some others are not sometimes she but I always recommend no matter where you get a dog from whether you buy from a breeder whether you go up to Lancaster and the Amish country and there's a lot of folks breeding dogs up there now some of those dogs are great but always get the dog checked within two to three days of adopting it don't wait if you're gonna find a problem it's find it real soon then you know what you have to do I'd have to deal with and there's some of them that are so bad this situation so bad you know we've had folks bring a dog back to a shelter because they just had were completely unaware dog had some issues or another that were that were pretty severe I've always been curious about rescues because a couple of times that we've looked for a dog and gone through in rescues it's interesting how they all seem to charge the same about a month yeah now granted you'd understand that if you're if every dog needed to be spayed or neutered that would make sense great but we've been spaying and neutering for 50 years some percentage of the dogs that are out there even in rescues all have been already spayed and already metered we think there's a lot of irresponsibility in that realm there's so many folks that don't think their dog needs to be spayed or neutered we still we still are battling that so I don't know if that battle will ever be over we do a lot better than what we did but there's a for instance a lot of these dogs we see now coming up from the Tennessee area a kentucky area through various rescues most of those dogs are not spayed and neutered so there's other areas where that's that is the case so there's a series of costs involved to bring a dog into a shelter get it up the date on vaccines make sure it's clear from heartworm disease make sure it has no intestinal parasites no external parasites fleas and ticks clean that dog and then put it on some of the medications or the prophylactics it needs to be on to maintain good health and that cost money now some of the shelters get donations from some of the big companies to provide some of these things and they can operate a little lower cost some of them are assisted by their county government nick helps them out there too so i would say the average cost to adopt the dogs about a hundred to one hundred and fifty dollars it's really a pretty good bargain for a dog that comes most of the time already housebroken and with most everything done so it's allergy season yes and it affects dogs just like best people great but differently so when a person gets an allergy what's the signs sneezing coughing all respire Tori right eyes tearing that's the biggest thing when dogs get an allergy they're not gonna sneeze they're not gonna cough their skin breaks out their skin is they're allergic responsive organs so you see rashes they start itching like crazy they start tearing their skin up next thing they'll get infection in the skin so it's the skin that responds and dogs sometimes the eyes will be involved with the two but primarily it's the skin so you get ears ear infections will be secondary to allergies so and right now tree pollen has just gone off scale so we go through certain seasons in the winter time it's really mold spores the springtime tree pollen first grass pollen second weed pollen third now we're getting into the fall and then you're back to the mold spores plus there's the in house stuff dust mites some dogs are allergic to cats some dogs I think are allergic to people so it vice versa so now there's some really great new products to deal with allergic disease so years ago we we had really only prednisone steroid therapy it works but has a lot of bad side effects especially when you use it long term short term pretty safe long term not good now we have monoclonal antibodies that we can use in dogs that help a lot of dogs really get to a point of relief there's a mute their appear or you desensitize them that's what people do go in and get a shot every couple of months well in dogs we either could do injections or an oral therapy to try to desensitize the body to stop responding to something and then there are some medications now they're available by pill that really breaks that itch cycle shampoo therapy that helps and most these require a combination of things it's a dance and it's whoever actually does the combination of things for that pet in the right amounts that gets them to a nice manageable place but as soon as you let everything go many times until you're out of the season that's bothering that particular patient those signs are gonna come right back so what's the easiest way to trim a dog's nails I have your veterinarian do it it's better with two people rather than one unless you've really got a dog that you train well but I got to tell you even the best dogs in the world which I think I've had two of they still don't like it they just don't like it it's a real trust thing for a dog to have somebody hold their foot and take something that's a cutting instrument and cut their nail so you never want to quick them when you're training them that's a term that indicates that you cut deep enough to actually elicit some bleeding there's also a little nerve there that's why they don't like it so if you have somebody holding them still is less chance you make that mistake if it's a white pale colored nail you can see the red of the blood supply don't get too close to it if you don't you got a guess and that's where it gets a little tricky so just never be greedy in the nail trim you can always go back and take more later but if you chop them and it causes you know them to not feel good about the whole event that's going to sensitize them for the next event so everybody's seen people with emotional support dogs and emotional support pets right and you always wonder how serious is it that person needs a an emotional support company are they do you think they're legitimate or do you think they're well now you kind of getting out of my swim lane on this one because I'm not a psychiatrist nor a psychologist nor proclaim to be but I don't know I really that's really up between a physician and their patient or you know a psychiatrist and their patient but I do know is this we have autistic kids that will come by the animal hospital and I've seen magic occur between a dog and an autistic child the child that was non-vocal all of a sudden starts talking to the dark or a child that is so introverted that they won't look at anything will interact with the dog and open up so there's something there that's really good and special if someone can get off medication I know a lot of folks that have PTSD that have been in the service and have PTSD and that dog is their best friend right now and that's a lot better than being on a ton of medication so I would be a hundred percent for all those things but that's really Who am I I don't know everybody get a dog it helps anyhow right do you do that that's true though that folks that with pets tend to live longer and healthier lives they usually overall less medication and their level of stress anxiety's less they've done that every study they've done has shown that time and time again guess what's the best one dogs or cats what do you think no dogs yeah dogs seem to be a little bit more in a positive there although cats run a real close second so and birds are number three so there is a benefit there any other pet other than just having to clean up after this is a good question to end on our pets don't live forever great what's the best way to send them off to the Rainbow Bridge so the end-of-life issues are always difficult and you know every week every week maybe we'll pass a week every now and then but typically every week we have to euthanize a pet and usually because of a combination of age and disease age itself is not a disease and I'm living example of it I'm 59 I'm not dead yet so just because they're old doesn't mean they're necessarily have a problem but there are some problems that are more common when you get old so arthritic disease is a big problem but we have a lot of things that we didn't have not even five years ago that we can make an arthritic dog comfortable and that goes for cats too there's a lot of arthritic cats out there that are way under diagnosed cats that sometimes develop a bad attitude after being a sweet cat for the longest time especially when you try to touch them a lot of times those cats are painful we just don't know it they're not gonna tell you so maybe one day one will talk to me but it hasn't happened yet it really comes down to quality of life are they having a good quality of life if they're so painful they can't get out to go to the bathroom when that's something they absolutely always do and all's they do is sit and they start to urinate and defecate on themselves you're there that's you maybe are passed there so it comes down to pain whether we can help with the pain or not and there's other issues that could be you know we have dogs with cancer that sometimes we have great responses with the chemotherapy and controlling that cancer afterwards with what we call metronomic chemotherapy and some real good successes there but it comes down to quality of life if they're suffering then that's you know then you have to make a call so I would always ask your veterinarian honestly do you think he's for clients because sometimes they're so close won't see something that's obvious so that could be tough but it's it's never easy but it's it's a blessing to be able to end their suffering before it gets too bad do you suggest cremation or what afterwards yeah I mean well I personally I bury my dogs but I have a 56 acre farm so I have the opportunity to do that but are it's really therapeutic to dig a grave for my fur pet it really is it's a it's an act of closure I weigh underestimated the value of that before but um so most folks don't get that opportunity I believe in Montgomery County I think it's illegal to bury your pet on your own private property unless you have a certain amount of land so don't go out there and do that unless it's okay so cremation services are abundant there's several ones in the area they're very reputable so the big question is if I send my dog off for cremation is it my dog's ashes I get back so the ones we work with we make sure that's definitely the case how do you test that there are a couple different ways but to give you an example we had a dog one time the body went for cremation two weeks went by we didn't hear anything a message has got confused they thought it was a general cremation which is they bury the ashes at the site they don't return the ashes and we called them up and asked them and they were very honest about it now they could have returned ashes from who knows whatever I would have never known nor would the owner so so it's just the integrity of the company you have to trust on that okay well on that happy note I think it's a good time to stop this has been Montgomery talks your regular podcasts on Montgomery County issues our guest today was dr. mark Liberto of Lake Forest veterinary clinic in Gaithersburg our engineer today was Ben Romero our executive producer is gaynelle evans i'm doug Tallman we'll see you next time thank you very much

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