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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Concierge Veterinary Service!

This post is dedicated to my dog Noche, may she rest in Peace!

It also has some serious warnings to think about for you dog owners.

I was shocked to learn that my dog not only wasn't pregnant but had never been. This was confirmed with an in-home sonogram. Thanks to a wonderful English speaking veterinarian who practices concierge medicine, I finally had some answers as to what was happening to Noche.

The term concierge means custodian or aide. In Medical practices it tends to be a higher level of personal commitment and attention to the patient. Some of you may have seen the TV show "Royal Pains" where an East coast Doctor sets up a practice in South Hampton, New York. In the show, the Doctor caters to rich people by visiting them in their homes and taking care of all of their medical needs. Mariana Amoedo a licensed Veterinarian has a list of individual clients (pets) that she takes care of versus just walk in strangers. She thinks of each pet as unique and individual.

I was ready to change vets, when I started having some problems with Barney. I noticed that my regular vet in Salinas didn't really give full exams. He never really opened my dogs mouth or looked into his ears or used a stethoscope to listen to the dogs. He took you on your word as to what you thought was happening. I thought Barney was allergic to something and so had some hot spots or sores where he was scratching too hard. The Salinas vet prescribed some omega 3 and 6 vitamins to help his fur which didn't. So an empty bottle and a month later, I called around and learned about this woman vet who comes to your house instead.

In the meantime, Noche was due for her Rabies shot, the last one in her puppy series, she was barely 1 year old. I was too busy during the year so she received shots from only 2 visits in Salinas instead of the 4 visit appointment that they usually give each young pup. The 2 were scheduled about 1 month apart. I was about to take her in for the last one when she went into heat for the first time and the vet told me to wait until that was over, even though I had already given her the parasite pills they make you give to them several days before the rabies shot. So I waited that out and then they said I had to buy more parasite pills and wait the few days to let those pills work, then bring her in for her shot.

Now, I am a big believer in Neutering pets to avoid unplanned pregnancies, really I am! My dog Barney is neutered, so is Sheila and even my boy cat Nathan is neutered, since males can father hundreds of litters. However, this last year, I kept putting it off when it came to Noche my female dog. For one thing she was still young. Then, when she turned 7 to 8 months I found myself working 6 days a week cleaning houses for people. I have never trusted our Volkswagen not to breakdown on me and I'm not that great at driving a stick-shift. Wally was also out of the country for many, many months which is why he didn't post about Uruguay. So on my own I didn't get her "fixed' before her 1st. heat cycle. I didn't know that I could get a veterinarian to come to my house. Had I known that I would have called immediately to have had it done. I just kept thinking that to carry back an unconscious dog home after neutering was beyond me. Most of my friends have motorcycles. One friend, was dealing with his own sad family circumstances and so I was in a waiting pattern with Noche.

During her 1st. heat/mating cycle while I was waiting out the time, I thought I was extremely careful not to let any male dogs near her. Except for Barney, who I know is neutered, she was never out of my sight on any walk to the trashcan and never more than 1 minute was I not looking at her. However, there was 1 minute once, when she dashed around our house corner into the next yard but she came back immediately when I called her. Little did I know that, that 1 minute would cause me to feel guilty and cause me so much emotional stress.

After her heat cycle was over and the 2nd parasite pills given and days passed, I walked her to my Salinas vet and she got her combo shots.  During the next month when we had some friends over to our house for dinner we all remarked how big her belly had become and that she looked pregnant!  Now I was worried and started to watch her get bigger and bigger. She looked healthy just pregnant and that missing minute started to haunt me. If she got pregnant before her rabies shots then she had been given the vaccines while carrying puppies! How damaged would they be? We prepared a place for her to give birth, a quiet place away from the other pets. Still, I was very worried about the condition of the "puppies" which because I hadn't neutered her, I was now sure she had because of seeing her fat sides.

I read online how someone had a vet take a sonogram of  her dog and 1 pup showed up dead and was blocking the birth canal. Armed with this knowledge she had the dog receive a "C" section to deliver the rest of the puppies which saved the dog mother and the other puppies. What if, Noche would need that? So, when my new vet, Mariana, came to visit Barney in our home we explained our worries about Noche having a normal pregnancy or not.

When she saw Noche she got worried, she was large but her nipples didn't look maternal. She wanted to look at what was happening to Noche's inside and suggested the sonogram as well. She is in touch with several specialised vets in her practice and called 2 right away. Naturally, everyone was on vacation during Mardigras but she was able to at least contact them. As soon as one came back on Monday he said he would visit us in our home. Dr. Nicolas Girreta who works with her is a Diagnostic Ecográfico Veterinarian with his own machine. I meanwhile, kicked myself, for not neutering Noche and causing this,  and for letting her be vaccinated unknowingly pregnant, she obviously was not showing any signs of fatness when I went to the vet in Salinas.

Well, Nicolas showed up in his car and Mariana and her father in their truck. They checked Noches' belly and there were NO PUPPIES! There never had been a pregnancy, what else didn't show up was a liver of any significant size! Both Nicolas and Mariana were surprised that this condition was showing up in a dog so young but they both said that just recently there has been a sudden rash of such instances very new to Uruguay. The youngest dog with this condition was just 6 months old

They explained to me that her liver had shrunk and her belly was filled with water filling in the gap. They drew out a huge amount of water with a syringe and showed that to me as well.  They said that diuretic medicine could help with the water build up but without a functioning liver it was really, well, not a good outlook. So right there, while she was still lively and healthy looking we made the awful decision to put her down in a dignified way.

Mariana has a large property and she kindly took Noche away alive. She was going to put her to sleep at her clinic. This way we can remember her happy and alive. This is the only way that I can cope with her death. Other people would obviously prefer to be present during the procedure and Mariana would do whatever you prefer. Still, it was such a shock to learn that she was so ill while seemingly so healthy. The decision for us was like pulling off a bandage, we needed to resign ourselves quickly and decisively.

 By having Mariana take her away and putting her under at her clinic (by lethal injection), the smell of death won't be in our house for the other animals to sense.

Noche will be buried on the Doctor's property. She has 24 Hectares and we were invited to visit her grave if we wanted to. Apparently, other people come often to do that. We believe that dead animals are dead, so we won't be doing that, still, I included her 2 favourite toys to be buried with her. I asked that her collar stay on. She had people who loved her and I wanted her to be buried with her belongings. She is and was so sweet that she walked to the truck quietly and unafraid, as I said goodbye.

Brand of shots used past years for Sheila
I then did, some research online about Liver failure in dogs and I saw that it can be a side effect of vaccinations. Noche had her Rabies shot in December then a second one a month later, it was after that, that she filled up with water, making me think she was pregnant which I wouldn't have thought if I had neutered her 6 months earlier. She was being put down exactly 1 month after her last shot.

Noche's new brand of shots.

I read that in the USA "yearly" rabid shots are no longer given. All 50 states have agreed to no longer give annual shots but rather they only give them every 3 years instead!
Here's a link on some information about dog vaccinations.

Many critics feel that the effects of the immunity may last longer than just 3 years from 5 to 7 or possibly the life of the animal. But of course, the companies would suffer financially.  What has caused me some concern is that when I looked at Sheila and Barney's old shot records, the vaccines were from the Pfizer company, a well known established company but this year the vet in Salinas has changed brands and Noche was given all her shots last month using a brand called Calier.

I know, I maybe grasping at straws to find a cause or to blame someone or something. I feel only slightly okay that Noche was never pregnant nor given shots while thus so. Still, this rash of young dogs getting old dog conditions is new to Uruguay. I at least want the vets to start asking dog owners about this possible connection between the rabies vaccinations and the new company and to check/compare brand labels used by the affected dogs. They might end up seeing a distinct pattern or not and just keep on being bewildered about this new trending condition in young dogs occurring in Uruguay. I'm also mad that Noche was given a double dose of parasite pills just because I had to wait 3 weeks until her heat cycle was over. It was all such bad timing! I will see Mariana this coming Friday when she visits Barney. I will show her the old labels from the brand given to my other dogs versus the new brand given to Noche. It would be terrible if the new brand being used, was been used because it's cheaper in price and quality. Conversely, it could be overly powerful, too much so, for a young dogs' system to handle.

In only 1 month after her last shot, she went from fit and running around to swollen with water. I will now go on to follow the USA practice and not give my other 2 dogs their shots next year,  nor the next year after that. Every three years, sounds safer than every year (annually). Maybe, I will even have my dogs' blood tested after that length of time because many studies are saying that if there are antibodies for rabies present in the animals blood, those that have been vaccinated, then there is no need for more shots. There are no booster shots for Rabies only the full dose is given each time and not according to weight! Do your own research and make your decisions before it's too late.

Noche, my sweet, beloved girl, will be sorely missed!

Mariana Amoedo, Veterinaria. lives in Atlántida, Ruta 11, KM.159.500
Camino A Solis Chico
Her clinic is called El Rocio
 (near Expat Jerry). She speaks English and Spanish. Her phone numbers are 437 25046 (home)
099 130 943 (cell phone)
Her website is  Her Facebook page is El-Rocio

Dr. Nicolás Girreta, Diagnóstico Ecográfico Veterinario
e-mail: (cell phone) 099 599 015