Stress, Anxiety, Depression... Just Stick to Your Passion

I was chatting with my husband about how everything is at a standstill. We've been trying to get pregnant since our honeymoon. Needless to say, we have been unsuccessful. While stress is always a component, and many folks will tell a woman who is trying to conceive (TTC) to 'just relax', everyone should also know... don't tell a woman to relax. What have I been doing to relax during these days of isolation? Yesterday, my husband and I went for a drive, we found a park that was quite isolated, i.e. very few people in the park, and I had a chance to just sit by the water and watch the waves lap on the sand. But what do you do when you are feeling trapped inside? Both inside your home, and insi

Sanitizing against viral pathogens

Original Blog Post: Grocery Sanitizing I worked for two days, and now I have a day off. So, that means I’m back here! Friends of mine have been sharing things on Facebook on how to sanitize your groceries as they come in the door. This video will be helpful. Edit March 30, 2020 - Please note that the MD in this video is using information from this scientific article. If you can recall from my previous post, the coronavirus is an enveloped virus. It’s the envelope around that virus that makes it more susceptible to disinfectants (compared to non-enveloped viruses). Just remember, like washing your hands, the contact time is important. Contact time is the time the disinfectant is on the materi

COVID-19: Cat tests positive

In the news over the past two days, there was a positive test of SARS-CoV2 (COVID-19) in a cat in Belgium. The pet parent was symptomatic prior to the cat developing clinical signs of disease (vomiting, breathing issues and diarrhea). The cat's feces (and vomit) were tested for the novel coronavirus via PCR and came back positive. While it's proven if the cat was ill due to SARS-CoV2, or something unrelated, the cat was not the source of infection for the owner (and both are reportedly doing well). This is one of three reports of potential reverse zoonoses (infection from human to animal). The risk of humans becoming infected by COVID-19 from an infected pet is extremely low. So far, no rese

Life is Surreal

It was just another Saturday for my husband and I. Sitting back, having a glass of wine, watching a show, laughing. That’s just a usual Saturday. But not. The typical Saturday in our building is a thud thud of music playing loudly, young men guffawing above us, and people across the hall chatting. Not tonight. Our building management sent out a notice saying no more social gatherings. They also sent a notice about a COVID-19 positive person in our building. Now, their partner was also in the hospital. Our premier also is clamping down, limiting social gatherings to no more than 5 people. I feel like we should be fearful. But fear isn’t what I feel. It’s sadness. Sad that I may not see my sis

COVID-19: Cytokine Storms

Last updated March 30, 2020: Cytokine Storms It's also good to note that both COVID-19 and the highly pathogenic influenza virus can cause a 'cytokine storm' (the immune cells, macrophages and neutrophils, releasing particles called cytokines to signal to other immune cells to come in to help). This is a hyper-response of the immune system. SARS-CoV also demonstrated immune hyperactivity. Edit: you can check out Dr. Rutland's insta for some more information in immunology. In veterinary medicine, we have a condition called SIRS (in humans it occurs too, but I have no personal knowledge from it). SIRS, severe inflammatory response syndrome, is essentially that, a cytokine storm. Call the neutr

COVID-19: More Testing to be Done in Canada

Some people may think we are too late to this game, and that we are chasing the ball while it is rolling down a hill. How quickly this lock down is over will depend on its citizens abiding by public health suggestions to stay home, and only go out if necessary. Remember, we still have Canadians abroad that are coming into the country, some of which have neglected to inform airlines that they are ill. However, under Canada's Quarantine Act, those returning from travel must by law isolate themselves. My step-dad just returned from Mexico on one of the repatriating flights, and mom returned last week. So their quarantine has started. Fortunately, they have my cousin to help them with groceries,

COVID-19: Vaccine development in the works

The Canadian PM Justin Trudeau announced this morning that funding is going to vaccine development in our country, including at my alma mater the University of Saskatchewan VIDO-Intervac. The YouTube video is currently live and visible later here. Clinical trials are underway in two facilities in the U.S. Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle being the first in the U.S. to start clinical trials. But be aware that these take time to run, to ensure that the vaccine is both safe and effective. For more info on these developments in the U.S. see this video. Treatment development is also in the works, and globally using the WHO’s Solidarity trials, where we are sharing

The Subtle Signs of Heart Failure in Dogs

In the last couple of weeks, I have had a few cases of congestive heart failure. One was recently euthanized by my colleague, one seems to be improving with appropriate medications. The most common heart disease in dogs is mitral valve disease. Perhaps you have heard of a person who has had a valve replacement. If you can recall from high school biology (it’s a stretch for some), there are four chambers in the heart. The mitral valve is the valve that separates the left atrium from the left ventricle. The atria are the small chambers that receive blood, and the ventricles are the larger chambers that pump blood out of the heart. We always want forward flow of blood, from the veins into the h

Veterinary Hospitals to Donate use of Ventilators to COVID-19 efforts

Edit March 28, 2020: I have a colleague working in New York, which is deemed one of the epicentres of COVID-19 in the U.S. Her veterinary hospital has lent their ventilators to the local human hospital. All newly graduated veterinarians understand the importance of One Health. Original Post: If you are a CVMA member, you may have received the email surveying veterinary hospitals in Canada for ventilators to be used in COVID-19 treatment efforts. Check your email and take the survey through the CVMA.

Bladder Cancer in Dogs

While all this COVID-19 awareness is happening, pets are still going to be ill. I love that specialists are taking to vlogs to keep pet health awareness going at this time. I just watched a video posted by Oncologist Dr. Sue Ettinger on bladder cancer in dogs (traditional cell carcinoma). In the video she lists the top breeds that are more likely to develop bladder cancer, where approximately 1/3 of cases are over-represented. I had to look up the BRAF mutation test, because I have not run one. In those patients with chronic intermittent UTI and blood in their urine, I typically discuss abdominal ultrasound and possible cystoscopy to get a biopsy sample to rule out bladder cancer. So I was

Anemia in a young cat

This afternoon was pretty busy. A lot of the annual wellness visits were rescheduled because the reminder calls got missed due to the holiday on last Monday. But there were plenty of sick patients to keep me busy. Today’s case of the day is a young cat, who presented to the clinic with a reduced appetite. The cat is an approximately 3-year-old female spayed domestic shorthair. The owner adopted her about a month ago and the last two days she’s not herself and isn’t eating. No vomiting, and only drinking a little. On physical, she has normal vitals, temperature at 38.7 degrees Celsius, but her gums are so pale almost white. The conjunctiva of her third eyelid is white to yellow, and the inner

COVID-19: Sample Collection and New Testing Methods

It's difficult to judge from my tiny condo as to how many people are taking the lock down seriously. As my husband notes, we can see people gathering outside in groups that are larger than immediate families. The sun has been out for these past two days in Toronto, and people have been out. We lost power yesterday and drove out to get drive-thru lunch. We saw people chatting through car door windows, then the same gentlemen outside one car moved to chatting with a family in another vehicle, less than 6 feet from the window. People in Canada (and the U.S.) are so used to their freedom, that if the government tells them they should be staying home, a lot of people aren't listening. A friend of

COVID-19: 10 Tips to Stay Healthy

Edit March 27, 2020: Here’s a great rebuttal to the voice message going around. The author was born with a genetic defect to her immune system, had to go through chemotherapy during a bone marrow transplant, and if you know anything about chemo, it is immunosuppressive - taking away the ability of your immune cells to recognize pathogens when they enter your body. Have a read here. Washing your hands, staying home, sanitizing surfaces, and maintaining social distancing are still key. Again, I am a front line worker as a veterinarian. My mother is a nurse. My scrubs immediately go into the laundry, and I shower when I get home from work, not just for COVID-19 protection, but to protect my pet

SNOUT: Sensitivity of PCR testing for COVID-19

If you are a research scientist like myself, you already know what SNOUT means. For non-science people, SNOUT stands for: a sensitive test that rules the disease out. What does this mean in the current pandemic of COVID-19? First, if you can recall, COVID-19 has been named scientifically SARS-CoV-2. This means that the testing for presence of the virus can be extrapolated from the evidence in the scientific literature from SARS-CoV. Again, if you are a science nerd like me, you know that there are different ways to test for viruses. It might be by presence of antigens (tiny protein particles on the organism), antibodies (the immune response in an infected individual which tells you exposure)

COVID-19 Update for pet owners

If you are a client of any of our VCA Canada locations, you may have received this email. Please check with your veterinary clinic so that you know your options for the care of your pets during this time.

New Director, New Direction

This is just a quick shout out to our new medical director. Remember the other day when I was so anxious I thought maybe I was going to keel over from a panic attack? Well, I got to work early, attempted to get some of my records done before the staff came in, I even had to shut the door to the office to get some quiet time when the assistant came in chattering. Honestly, I do not mean to be rude, but the level of my anxiety was way too high to be tolerant of people. Then, the other full time associate came in. Wednesday is our first overlap day after our weekends. Our medical director was working part time, so I felt a lack of direction. I had found out over the weekend that she had accepte

Acute Abdomen: not a cute abdomen...

Since I’m home today, I thought it would be a good idea to catch up on writing. I had a few ideas flowing, so this post is directed at veterinary students and new graduates. So what does it mean to have an Acute Abdomen? Have you read any of those referral discharges or notes from emergency clinics? It’s not a cute abdomen, that is an hourglass shape, that’s for sure! I just had to make a joke in there. I’m laughing, if you’re not. Acute abdomen is an over-branching term or observation by a veterinarian that includes a painful abdomen. These patients may or may not have a distended abdomen. The abdominal distension however, is often called 'bloat' by owners. Bloat itself is a term we use to

Telemedicine in Veterinary Medicine: more COVID-19 info

If you’re in Canada, you may have heard that all non-essential businesses are to be closed until further notice due to COVID-19. While veterinarians do assist pet owners when their pet is ill, all elective or non-essential procedures will need to be postponed. Our company sent out a report that we will be accepting patients outside of the clinic, the lobby and exam rooms will be closed to clients (owners), and the exam will occur away from the pet owner. All wellness and vaccine appointments will be rescheduled. We are also being asked to service via telemedicine if possible. We will gather the history over the phone, and if the pet cannot be transported in, then triage based on clinical sig

Perfectionism in an Imperfect World

I’m anxious today. I sprung out of bed when the alarm went off. That’s already unusual for me. I keep thinking, I have to get to work early to finish my medical records from yesterday. I need to get there before the rest of the staff come in, so that I have some quiet time to do my records. I am already forgetting which dog had which lump and where, how big was it? Not finishing my medical records on the day of gives me anxiety. Yesterday was our first day of modified hours due to COVID-19. We had two doctors in, two technicians, one assistant and one receptionist. Our manager is working from home because she has no childcare. What does the staff have to do with my anxiety? My first appointm

Keep working, Keep posting: Top 100 Veterinary Blogs Feedspot

Well, in case you didn’t know, we are in the midst of the COVID-19 efforts to flatten the curve in Canada. My employer has rescheduled the clinic, but it remains open so that we can continue to service our clients. Wow! It was busy! People are in a panic. I was trying to call clients and I kept getting a circuits are busy message! In other news, I just wanted to shout out to blog.feedspot.com for adding my blog to their Top 100 Veterinary Blogs. I’ll keep posting, if you keep reading. 💕

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