3D Printing for Pets

Recently, a feline “Cyrano,” a 9-year old male neutered cat developed bone cancer in his left hind leg. He had radiation therapy and the cancer was cured. However, due to the radiation the bone deteriorated.

Because Cyrano was a large cat at 26 pounds, amputation for him was not a great option.

Dr. Denis Marcellin-Little at North Carolina State University who has had more than 10 years of experience with 3D printing (also called additive manufacturing) took on the challenge of creating an implant for Cyrano. This is a way of making a 3-dimensional object from a digital model.

They chose to manufacture a cobalt chromium knee implant for Cyrano. This was a cutting edge option, as this type of implant or surgery had never been done before.

CT scans were taken of both hind legs to help get the images needed to produce the implant. A surgery team did 6 rehearsals to prepare for this surgery.  The actual surgery took 6 hours and went smoothly. The implant was a good fit and Cyrano began rehabilitation and is currently doing well.

courtesy of NC State University

courtesy of NC State University

Perhaps this procedure will open up many new possibilities for pets and humans alike.

Posted in Case Studies, Mini Topics | Comments Off

Golden Retriever Lifetime Study



Retrospective studies have been helpful for bringing to light information about animal health that may have not otherwise been noticed. In the past few years, there have been many research articles that have focused on spaying and neutering health risks versus benefits. A recent study from U.C. Davis found a greater occurrence of hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament tears and certain types of cancer in spayed or neutered golden retrievers as compared to intact counterparts. The research suggests that health risks are generally greater for dogs that were sterilized less than a year of age.  Golden Retriever Study

Now, the Morris Animal Foundation has recently launched a new study called the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. This study aims to follow 3,000 Golden Retriever puppies through their lifetime, evaluating the many factors that may lead to certain diseases, especially cancer.

“Morris Animal Foundation’s Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is the largest and longest effort ever undertaken to improve the health of dogs. Over the next 10 to 14 years, observational data collected from 3,000 Golden Retrievers will help us learn how to prevent cancer and other diseases that take the lives of dogs too soon.” – Morris Animal Foundation

Please visit the link below to find out more about this study. To be included in the study, dogs must be purebred golden retrievers with a three-generation pedigree, younger than 2 years and healthy at the time their owners apply to participate. Owners must be 18 years or older and living in the contiguous United States.

Morris Animal Foundation Study Information Golden Retrievers

Posted in Case Studies, Mini Topics | Comments Off

Nodular Panniculitis

What is Panniculitis?

Panniculitis is a rare disease in which the fat layer beneath the dermis becomes inflamed. It can be caused by an infection with bacteria, fungi or other organisms, but it is more commonly a sterile nodular panniculitis (the descriptive term for an inflammation of the fat cells that does not involve an infectious agent). It is usually an idiopathic disease, meaning we don’t know what causes it. In some cases there may be a trigger such as a vaccine, trauma, Vitamin E deficiency, a drug reaction, or systemic autoimmune or infectious disease.

The inflammation in the fat layer causes bumps on the skin that can be soft or firm. The nodules can rupture and release a discharge that may resemble an abscess and be bloody or yellowish in color. These nodules are sometimes painful and most often appear around the head, neck, or abdominal region. Treatment involves corticosteroids, and in some cases antibiotics. It is helpful to culture these lesions to rule out the infectious agents as discussed above.  Vitamin E has been shown to be helpful in this condition. In chronic cases, cyclosporine may be the best option for control. In single lesion cases, surgical excision may be warranted.


Skin biopsies and culture are the two keys to diagnosis. It is important to closely evaluate the pet’s history, such as recent drug administration, vaccines, or other concurrent illness like pancreatitis or autoimmune disease.


Dachshunds and German Shepherds seem to be predisposed, however, this condition can occur in any breed.

Posted in Mini Topics | Comments Off

Feline Stomatitis

What is it?

Stomatitis/pharyngitis is an inflammatory condition of the mouth. The oral tissues including the gums and tissues in the pharyngeal and faucal areas are swollen, inflamed, and painful. This disease is most common in young cats.



There may be several causes of this condition. The disease is often thought to be brought on by viral exposure, especially calicivirus. FIV and FeLV may also be underlying pre-dispositions. Tooth eruption may also cause an inflammatory response and occurs when the permanent teeth are coming in. The tooth eruption inflammation may be temporary, but severe stomatitis, especially viral induced, requires treatment.

Clinical Signs

Depending on the severity, signs and symptoms may vary. Cats may hide more or be less social. Breath often has a foul odor. Drooling, pawing at the face, and adversity to hard food can all be symptoms. Some cats may not have any obvious symptoms, which is why oral exam is so important.


Ideally, cats affected with this condition should have routine labwork and testing for FeLV and FIV. A dental cleaning, including radiographs of tooth roots, is necessary. Teeth with fractures or resorptive lesions should be extracted.

If the dental cleaning, a long-course of antibiotics (such as clindamycin or Clavamox), tooth brushing, and oral antiseptics (chlorhexidine oral rinse) does not control the inflammation, then long term prognosis is poor and more invasive treatment may be indicated.

If the inflammation seems to be mostly around each tooth and the other treatments have failed, then extraction of all premolars and molars is indicated. The thought is that it may be auto-immune and the body is reacting to its own teeth or gum tissues. If canines are inflamed, they may also need to be extracted. The teeth should be extracted and jaws radiographed to make sure all tooth roots have been removed. Analgesia for these cats is very important and cats can benefit from some fluids and pain medication in the hospital for a couple of days following the procedure. Antibiotics should be given for 2-4 weeks until the gums have completely healed.

After radical extractions, if the disease is still present or uncontrolled, corticosteroids may be used. This is continued until the disease is in remission and then slowly reduced over a few weeks until the lowest effective dose is reached. If it is not helping, other options may include chlorambucil, cyclophosphamide, cyclosporine, interferon, or essential fatty acids.

In very severe cases in which the disease cannot be controlled and is unresponsive to these treatments, euthanasia may be necessary if it is affecting the pet’s quality of life.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Preparing for a Job Interview!

If you are finishing school or are looking for a new job, the interview process can be intimidating. There are several things to keep in mind as you search and interview for a job.

1)      Prepare a good resume. Keep your resume up to date. Include schools attended/degrees, recent and related job experience, skills, and interests (personal and professional). Be complete but concise.

2)      Do some research. Try to find out a little bit about the practice prior to your interview. What hours are they open? What types of animals do they see (large animals, small animals, mixed, exotics, etc.)? How many doctors are in the practice? How many staff are currently employed? If it is a corporate facility, what is the company’s philosophy? Check the company website and look for reviews on the facility.

3)      Be prepared. Think about the skills you are able to perform. You will likely be asked about your abilities to perform tasks such as blood draws, run a blood machine, place IV catheters, etc.

4)      A working interview can be very helpful. You should get paid for your working interview. This can be a good time to really see how your colleagues operate and talk to them about how they like working at that practice. Ask them what they like and don’t like about their job. This is your time to shine!

5)      Dress professional. Slacks and a nice shirt are acceptable. Scrubs may be more appropriate for a working interview, so bring these with you.

6)      Be on time! (Better to be 15 minutes early)

7)      Prepare your own list of questions to facilitate conversation during your interview.

8)      Finally, relax! Be friendly and willing to lend a hand while you are visiting.

Good luck on your new job search!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction: The Dementia of Dogs

What is Canine Cognitive Dysfunction?

Dogs that are getting older may start to show some signs of what we would call dementia in humans. It is a degenerative condition in the brain. It is progressive and is not curable, but there are a few treatment options. The cause is not known but it has been thought to be related to some imbalances of nervous system compounds, such as acetylcholine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.


What are the Symptoms?

Symptoms vary between patients, but the most common signs are:

1) Disorientation- aimless wandering, seems lost or confused in the house or yard, may get stuck in corners or under or behind furniture, stares into space, difficulty finding doors, etc.

2) Decreased interaction with household members-  may avoid petting, doesn’t greet owner as often, may start sleeping or hiding in new places.

3) Sleep and activity changes- sleeps most of the day, may sleep less at night, may lick excessively or display repetitive behaviors, not interested in taking walks.

4) Inappropriate elimination- starts to urinate or defecate indoors, even after eliminating recently outside.


There is no specific way to diagnose this condition, but history alone is very suggestive. It is important to do bloodwork and any other indicated testing to rule out other medical causes of these behaviors.


Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (such as L-deprenyl or Anipryl) may be used and benefit the patient. It is given daily and a life-long treatment. It is thought to potentially delay the progression of the disease, since monoamine oxidase (the enzyme that helps break down dopamine) is found in higher than normal levels in these patients. The response rate is thought to be high (more than 75% of dogs improve). Response may take 2-4 weeks.





Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Tail Vaccination in Cats?!


We know that the risk of a cat developing a vaccine-induced or related sarcoma is around 1 in 10,000. However, these sarcomas are extremely aggressive and are difficult to treat. Some veterinary schools have already started implementing tail vaccines in cats. The idea is that if the cat develops a sarcoma in the tail, the tail can be amputated, thus making it easier to cure the cancer.

This all sounds great, but just wondering how cats are going to react to getting vaccines in their tail. Anyway, something to think about and this may be the new way of feline vaccinations in the future! Please check out this article that was recently published on the subject:


Posted in Mini Topics | Comments Off

Feline Acromegaly: What is it?

You may have heard of acromegaly, but do you know what it is?

photo courtesy of Dr. Peterson at www.endocrinevet.blogsot.com

photo courtesy of Dr. Peterson at www.endocrinevet.blogspot.com

Acromegaly is a disease caused by a tumor (usually a functional adenoma) in the pituitary gland. It causes an excessive amount of growth hormone (GH) release which is produced in the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland. Because of the tumor, the pituitary cannot respond to negative feedback and continues to overproduce the GH.

Growth hormone stimulates production of insulin-like growth factor (made mostly in the liver). Over time, insulin resistance develops, and cats with acromegaly will develop diabetes that is difficult to control. These cats will continue to gain weight as a result and may develop features of enlarged head or paws, broad face, or protruding mandible.

It is most common in middle-aged to older male cats. Cats that have uncontrolled diabetes that are gaining weight could have acromegaly. Remember, most cats with uncontrolled diabetes tend to lose weight, not gain weight. The opposite is true for acromegaly cats.

There is no single diagnostic test, but the serum insulin-like growth factor-1 level is the most used test. A recent study suggested that this level is 84% sensitive and 92% specific for diagnosing the disease. Advanced imaging, such as MRI, is needed to identify a pituitary mass.

Treatment of these cats is very difficult. There are no good treatment options. Insulin is often increased but usually only helps temporarily. In some cases, high doses of insulin can lead to sensitization of cats to insulin and lead to hypoglycemic crisis. In humans, use of somatostatin analogues is a treatment option, but studies showed no benefit in cats (over a 3-6 month treatment course one study showed). In humans, surgical removal of the tumor is the treatment of choice. While this may be an option in cats, few owners are willing to go this route due to the risks and age of the patients. To put it more simply, most owners do not wish to put their older cats through brain surgery. Radiation is another option and has had some good success in cats. Cost of radiation is a concern for many owners, however, this may be the best option to consider for otherwise healthy cats. Long term prognosis for acromegaly cats is poor in general, as many cats will develop secondary complications from their uncontrolled diabetes.

Hopefully in the future there will be better data on acromegaly treatments. Clients get frustrated when their cat has diabetes and it is difficult to control them. This is a disease to consider screening for in those cats. This makes client education about this disease and diagnosis important.

Posted in Mini Topics | Comments Off

Happy Veterinary Technician Week!!!

This year, October 13-19th is National Veterinary Technician week!

We wanted to take a moment to thank you veterinary technicians for the dedication, compassion, and support that you provide to your patients and your veterinary staff on a daily basis. Truly, you are the reason that we are able to provide good medicine to our patients and great customer service to our clients. THANK YOU!!!!

For more information on Veterinary Technician Week, please visit the NAVTA website at:


Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off


Here is the answer key for last week’s puzzle. Check your answers by clicking on the link below! Thanks for testing your knowledge!


Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off