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April 2016

Insolent Eyeballs

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A bit like having a piece of sand in your eye, scratches or ulcers on the cornea hurt. In dogs and cats, corneal ulcers will generally heal with 7 to 10 days of treatment with antibiotic and tear replacement drops. There are however cases where the wound persists despite prolonged treatment; we call these, indolent ulcers. The term indolent means lazy or slow to heal. In these cases, new cells at the edges of the ulcer are unable to adhere to the ulcerated surface. Much like a wet bandaid, they just don’t stick so healing cannot occur.

Last week I saw Kobe, a handsome spirited Collie mix. Kobe had a corneal ulcer that refused to heal with drops alone, and I found myself thinking that a better term for this condition would be, insolent ulcer. Maybe it was because I’d been dealing with a bit of an unruly teenager for a few days, but really when you think about it, the term ‘insolent’ is actually very appropriate. I mean these corneas have no respect for the body’s attempt to heal itself!

So, how do we get these bad tempered corneas back to optimal health?

We perform a procedure called a striate keratotomy. Loose flaps of healing tissue at the edges of the ulcer are gently removed with a dry cotton swab. Then a small gauge needle is used to scratch a grid pattern over the surface of the ulcer. This stimulates healing and creates openings through the unhealthy corneal tissue which allows new cells to stick and ultimately fill in the defect. Striate keratotomies are effective in 60-70% of cases. If this procedure is not successful, referral to a veterinary ophthalmologist is required for a superficial keratectomy. In this procedure, a thin layer of cornea is completely removed (including the ulcerated area) leaving behind only healthy tissue. No matter the treatment used, patients always have to wear an Elizabethan collar (aka e collar or lampshade) which prevents them from rubbing the eye and causing further damage.

Managing insolent eyeballs requires patience and persistence, and in Kobe’s case, he seems to be well on his way to feeling better!

Family vacation.

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Family vacation

I just recently returned from Jamaica, a once in a lifetime vacation with my husband, sons and their significant others.

I was told by many that had visited Jamaica, that the drive from the airport to the resort would be hair raising and that animals are hit and killed daily.  So with my anticipated excitement for the vacation, I was also dreading the drive as I didn’t want to witness anything horrible.  I actually had a headache and my heart was pounding when we landed.

The moment we landed the lushness and beauty of the greenery was stunning. Beautiful flowers on trees, exotic, just how I imagined, we were newbies to the Caribbean. All of our eyes were wide open with awe at the beauty.

As we boarded the bus I had decided not to look out the window and would just close my eyes.  It would be a 45 minute drive and I could do that with my eyes closed.  The drive started and we were told by the driver that we would be travelling along the coast line for a bit, then we would be going up through the mountains too.  The bus was packed with excited travelers, all looking forward to a week of sun and R and R.

I tried so hard not look, and when I did, I saw green lush landscape. Half-finished houses, small shacks and lots of goats.  The goats were either tied to a pole or loose, all away from the busy road, thank god.  I saw donkeys, some tied, some loose, all away from the road, thank god again.  There were horses too, the same thing, it’s like they knew to stay away from the road.

I did not see one dog, or any bodies, which was a huge relieve for me. I am sure it happens, but it didn’t on the days I was travelling to and from the resort.

Once at the resort, I thought I would see strays, but no, only 3 cats, I was able to befriend one of them.  There were also little geckos which I was told the cats hunt and eat.  The cats were thin and flea ridden.  I felt sorry for them and wished I had brought some Revolution, but then I realized that one dose wouldn’t really do any good.

I had to turn off the part of me that wanted to help and save them, I was on vacation and this was a once in a lifetime family vacation.  The thing that I really noticed was how the staff looked at me oddly when I was giving food, or petting the cat.  They don’t see animals as we do, as house pets.  This is not saying that there are no pets in Jamaica, as I am sure there are, but the staff I chatted with didn’t have pets.

Most of them grew their own food and killed their own chickens and goats.  Once I realized that I was on vacation and not there to save the animals of Jamaica, I was able to enjoy my vacation.  The people and country are beautiful, and I accepted that they have a different culture and view on animals.

We will be returning next year, and I hope the cat I befriended is still there.