Happy Retirement, Dr. Abyad!

A letter from Dr. Abyad:

It has been my joy and privilege to practice veterinary medicine here at Daniel Island Animal Hospital for the past three years. It is with a lot of excitement and some sadness that I will be "retiring" from regular practice this summer. While I am on the verge of a new time in my life and look forward to travel, hobbies, and more family time, I will miss seeing all of our wonderful clients and their beloved dogs and cats.

I have worked alongside the most talented and congenial group of people anyone could hope to work with. Each person on the team, from my veterinary colleagues to the technicians, from office to reception, has been welcoming and supportive and I know you will be in the best of hands. I am especially grateful to Dr. Flood, both for the opportunity to practice here and for her commitment to the community.

I have greatly valued our relationship, send all the dogs and cats good health wishes, and look forward to seeing all of you on the sidewalks and streets of Daniel Island and Charleston.

Sincerely,

Roselle Abyad, DVM

We are so thankful for the time Dr. Abyad has spent with us and will miss her affable nature and obvious passion for veterinary medicine and commitment to her patients. Her last official day on the schedule will be Friday, May 19th and we look forward to continue working with her from time to time as she has offered to fill in as needed moving forward.

Congratulations to Dr. Abyad on her retirement and we wish her the best with this new life chapter!

Support After the Loss of a Pet

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." -Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnet 43

Our beloved pets, we love them purely. We love them deeply, fully, and completely. They are our best friends, our confidants, our partners, our counselors. So often our pets are our support system; they understand us, they accept us, they forgive us, they love us unconditionally. The human/pet relationship is shaped by an emotional and physical commitment and this investment is powerful. The bonds we develop encourage and shape us on many levels. We are often better people because of this bond. We certainly are stronger, happier, healthier, more purposeful, and productive because of our pets.

At some point, most of us will be faced with the loss of a beloved pet. This loss can be devastating, the grief overwhelming and it can be difficult to find the much needed support that one might need when faced with the loss of a loved one. We can talk with our families, our friends, other pet owners. However, there may be times when professional assistance can best help us navigate the deep sorrow we feel when losing a beloved pet. We can turn to our veterinary professionals to help guide us. 

Awhile back, I was faced with tremendous grief after losing several precious pets in a short period of time. Dr. Flood helped me find a grief counselor named Judy Heath, founder of the Life Guidance Center in West Ashley. Judy was a tremendous help: she encouraged me to laugh, cry, talk, write about my pets and other things. She helped me sort out a great deal of pain, helped me realize I was OK, grieving is OK. One resource I became aware of while working with Judy is the Association of Pet Loss and Bereavement. It is a nonprofit organization committed to helping those grieving a beloved pet. Their services are free and available to anyone who is in need.

If you are in need of support, please know you are not alone. There is caring, committed help waiting to put its arms around you. Love is such an important experience. Shared love never leaves us, it stays in our heart.

I started with Elizabeth Barrett Browning, I end with Lord Tennyson - "'Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all."

In truth, it all starts and ends with love. 

Hyperthyroidism in Cats

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Quick Facts: Hyperthyroidism...

  • Is the most common glandular disorder in cats.
  • Can be found in cats of all breeds and sex.
  • Has an average onset at age 12-13 years (although in rare cases can occur in cats younger than 10).

Clinical Signs Include:

  • Weight loss despite an excellent appetite
  • Excess thirst
  • Restless and needy behavior
  • Intermittent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Urinating outside the litter box

Diagnosing the Disease

During your cat's physical exam, the thyroid glands will be palpated. In normal cats, the lobes of the thyroid gland cannot be felt with your fingers. In a hyperthyroid cat, at least one lobe is usually prominent and may be detected by your veterinarian. A full lab work panel, including a Free T4 by Equilibrium Dialysis, will determine your cat's thyroid function. Findings from the exam and lab work along with noted medical history and clinical signs will help determine a definitive diagnosis. 

Symptoms if Left Untreated

Hyperthyroidism is caused by a benign growth in the thyroid gland that is over-producing T4. Hyperthyroid cats often have a reduced quality of life through weight loss, muscle deterioration, chronic vomiting or diarrhea, heart disease and high blood pressure which can result in heart failure, sudden blindness or sudden death. Good news...all of the above can be prevented with treatment for thyroid disease!

Treatment Options

Radioactive Iodine (I 131)

The gold standard for treatment of hyperthyroidism in cats is a radioactive scan to confirm the disease location and size of the glands followed by a therapeutic dose of Iodine 131. This treatment involves an injection followed by 3-7 days of hospitalization. No anesthesia is required and the treatment is curative. Disadvantages to this option are that the owner is separated from their pet during the hospitalization period and children and pregnant women can have no contact with their cat for 1-2 weeks after therapy. Also during this time, a special flushable litter must be used. This treatment method is not appropriate for cats with kidney or heart failure. I 131 therapy is available locally by referral to the Feline Hyperthyroid Treatment Center of Charleston and is quoted at $975.

Medicating with Methimazole

The most common treatment for hyperthyroidism is a medication called methimazole which blocks the production of T3 and T4. After the treatment has been given for 2-4 weeks, the thyroid levels must be checked and regularly monitored to insure the correct dose is being administered. This option is often popular because the medication is relatively inexpensive and no hospitalization is required. Disadvantages to this method of treatment include the inconvenience and difficulty of medicating every 12 hours. While side effects are uncommon, those that do occur will typically become present within the first three months of treatment. Medicating with methimazole can sometimes unmask or worsen kidney disease. 

Prescription Diet y/d

For the occasional cat who is not a good candidate for routine medication and Radioactive Iodine is financially out of reach, there is a commercial diet available through your veterinarian. Hill's Prescription Diet y/d is reduced in iodine with the idea that excessive thyroid hormone levels can not be produced if there is not enough iodine in the diet to support their production. It is claimed that this diet can normalize a cat's thyroid in 8-12 weeks but must be fed exclusively, meaning no treats, access to other pets' food, or time allowed outside. Once a cat is transitioned to this diet, it is recommended that thyroid levels, kidney parameters, and urine concentration is checked at 4-8 weeks then monitored every 6 months thereafter. 

We <3 Microchips!

Check the Chip Day! August 15, 2016

This is a great time to ensure all of your pets are microchipped, that our hospital has that number on file, and your contact information is current with the microchip manufacturer.

Unsure who manufactured your pet's chip? Check online now:

http://www.petmicrochiplookup.org/

Infographic: Microchip Your Pet

Puppy Preschool!

What is Puppy Preschool?

Erin Waldrop, a Licensed Veterinary Technician at Daniel Island Animal Hospital, is PASSIONATE about puppies! (Who isn't?) Based on animal behavior research, she has developed a curriculum with the intent of giving puppies various socialization opportunities in effort to prevent behavioral issues, like fear and aggression, down the road.

This weekly class will allow time for guided puppy play, exploration, and mini educational topics. These topics will go beyond what time allows for in the exam room and cover:

  • Early Development
  • Handling
  • Enrichment
  • Community Health
  • Grooming 
  • Dental Care
  • Nutrition
  • Pet Insurance

Tell me more about this "animal behavior research."

Behavioral problems: the number one reason dogs are re-homed or relinquished to shelters, the number one cause of death for dogs under three, and the greatest threat to the owner-dog bond. We know you love your puppy and we want to do everything we can to keep it that way!

Prime socialization happens within the first 4 months of life when sociability outweighs fear. This is the period of time when puppies should be exposed to and have the opportunity to adapt to as many people, places, and things as possible. Read more from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior.

Typical puppy classes focus on obedience and begin once the vaccine series is complete at 16 weeks: after the prime start-up socialization window has passed. While there is a small risk of virus exposure when introducing puppies earlier in life, our doctors feel the benefits to socialization far outweigh this risk. We require that puppies attending class are current on all recommended vaccines for their age. This class can be used as a great stepping stone towards future obedience classes and at-home training.

Sign me up! When, where, and how much?

Erin will be holding class every Thursday from 5:45-6:30pm in our hospital's lobby. All puppies age 6-20 weeks are welcome. Class size is limited to 3-8 puppies...don't miss out! To register, call/text/email and we will reserve your spot: 843-881-7228, info@danielislandvet.com

Package Pricing:

  • Full Program (8 weeks): $150 - for puppies 12 weeks or younger at first class
  • Half Program (4 weeks): $75 - for older puppies/those who cannot commit to full schedule
  • Pay-Per-Class: $25/class (subject to available space)

Have to miss a class? We'll work with you to make it up!

Members: earn and redeem rewards dollars on this service!

Happy Visits!

Does the thought of a trip to the vet leave your pup a bit anxious? Help him fight his fears with happy visits!

Our hospital tends to be at its calmest and quietest between 1-2pm daily during the week. This is a great time to pay us a social call and help build a positive, trusting relationship between your dog, our team, and our office. Your visit could be as simple as special treats and some time roaming our halls or we could help build towards a specific goal like fear free nail trims.

Some activities to try during your happy visit:

  • Extra special vet-only treats like Cheese Wiz
  • Hang out in the lobby or meander through the treatment area
  • Practice weighing in on our scale
  • Meet and greet the team 
  • Stand on an exam table or ride the lift table in the back
  • Have a tech gently work with the toes, ears, mouth, tail, or other sensitive spots
  • Get cozy in a kennel

The more positive associations your pet has with our practice, the better each subsequent visit will be for the whole family! We look forward to your visit!

Who Peed on the Rug?? Or...Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC)

A complaint cat owners sometimes have is that their cat is urinating outside of the litter box. There are various medical and behavioral problems that can cause this, but we will focus on one condition in particular called feline idiopathic cystitis, or FIC for short. FIC is a sterile inflammatory disease of the bladder in cats, particularly indoor cats.

While all the causes of FIC are not entirely understood, stress is an important component. Research has shown that in susceptible cats, stress can result in inflammation of the inner lining of the bladder. Once this happens, the cells in the bladder can become further irritated by the urine and cause even more inflammation. Some cats are more prone to feeling stressed when their owners' schedules change, new people or animals are around the house, stray cats are in the yard, if there are any changes to the litter box, etc. 

Just because your cat is lounging around the house does not mean he is not stressed! Cats are good at hiding their feelings so we do not always know what they are thinking or feeling.

Signs you may see at home can include urinating out of the litter box, urinating small, frequent amounts, straining to urinate, and bloody urine. Male cats with this condition can develop a urinary obstruction, meaning that they have an obstruction in their urethra (the tube that goes from the bladder out) preventing them from being able to urinate: this is a medical emergency. Signs of FIC are often mistaken for a urinary tract infection (UTI). UTIs in young, healthy cats are actually quite uncommon (less than 1-2% incidence), so it is important to check for infection before treating with antibiotics! Bouts of FIC usually run their course in 3-7 days, so just because a cat has been treated with antibiotics and improved does not mean there was an infection present. This inflammatory disease is often a recurrent problem, which can be frustrating for owners and uncomfortable for the cats.

If you notice any of these signs in your cat, he or she should be evaluated by a veterinarian and have tests done (usually a urinalysis and urine culture) to make sure there is not an infection present. There are some medications that can be used to help decrease pain and spasming of the urethra, but ultimately the inflammation has to run its course. Crystals can sometimes be seen on the urinalysis, but unless there are bladder stones present (which would be seen on x-rays), these are considered secondary to the disease, not a primary cause, and therefore do not necessitate treatment.

There are, however, some changes that can be implemented at home to help decrease the risk of recurrence or decrease severity of signs:

  1. Water Intake: It is believed that increasing water intake can help to promote more frequent urination and prevent accumulation of debris which can trigger inflammation or cause an obstruction. This can be done by feeding wet food rather than dry, making sure there are multiple bowls of fresh water, adding tuna juice to the water to entice water consumption (although be sure to change this frequently to make sure it does not go rancid), or by getting a running water bowl.
  2. Litter Boxes: Maintaining an adequate number of clean litter boxes also serves to promote more frequent urination. There should be one litter box in excess of number of cats (for example, if you have two cats there should be three litter boxes). It is also important that the boxes are cleaned regularly. If clumping litter is used, it should be scooped every day to every other day (ideally twice daily!) and cleaned entirely every 1-2 weeks. Many cats do not like liners or covered boxes as well, so if this is present it is recommended to remove the liner and uncover the box.
  3. Environment: Environmental enrichment, especially for indoor cats, can help decrease stress. This includes making sure there are an adequate number of toys and positive interaction with people by setting aside play time every day. It is also important to have areas that the cat can call his or her own to escape to, as well as providing elevated surfaces (for example, cat towers) they can climb and sleep on. Sometimes leaving music or television on while you are gone can be helpful. Also, it can be stressful for cats inside to see another cat outside in the yard in their territory. If this is the case, blocking the window so that they stray cat cannot be seen may help decrease stress.

The “Abbey” Story

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This is the story of a stray dog adopted by monks of Mepkin Abbey written by the Director of the St. Francis Retreat Center. A client brought "Abbey's" story to our attention when she was looking for advice on flea control. We gladly donated 6 months of Frontline Plus and were compelled to share her tale...enjoy!

In the summer of 2014, a stray dog started hanging around our new retreat center at Mepkin Abbey. Although she had beautiful features, she was terribly emaciated, had obviously been abused and still had a piece of the chain she had freed herself from attached to her collar. As the director of the retreat center, I become concerned about the safety of our retreatants. We called the local animal shelter, which offered to come and get her when we caught her. They came and set a cage for that purpose.

One day Br. John came around the corner at the store, greeted by intense barking and presumed we had caught her, only to find out that we had caught a raccoon and she was barking at the raccoon. It was only months later that I learned that, from the day she appeared, she was seen as special. Those who do our laundry started dropping off food for her from day one. One of our tour docents was putting food outside the cage so she wouldn’t be tempted to go inside.

As diligently as some tried, we could not catch her. Meanwhile one group of retreatants after another started falling in love with this dog. They would sneak her food from the dining room. Then, they started taking up a collection to buy her dog food and gave her the name Abbey. She gradually and gingerly began to allow folks to get close enough to pet her. I knew then there must be plans other than the shelter for this dog. I stood back in amazement when, at the end of a three-day retreat, I heard big burly men say, “I’m going to miss Abbey.” Some women would shed tears and Abbey began to whimper herself.

To this day, Abbey gets more tips than I do. It is not uncommon to get a $50 check or home-made dog biscuits in the mail for her. She occasionally gets prayed for at worship or mentioned in the preacher’s homily. Not being a real dog lover myself, I began to realize that there was another world out there that I wasn’t a part of.

About that time someone introduced me to Dr. Linda Bender’s book, Animal Wisdom: Learning from the Spiritual Lives of Animals. There is a line in that book that reached me, one about how stray dogs and cats appear and attach themselves to those who do not want a relationship with an animal, but need one. Abbey must have intuited that because she has been my shadow ever since.

This canine presence that we tried to move on has moved in to become a significant staff presence at the retreat center. I now call her our “spiritual therapy” dog.  She gently and unobstrusively greets people when they arrive and escorts them to their rooms and is right there at their heels when they venture out for a walk. She has a way of letting everyone who comes here know that they are loved.

Dr. Bender states in her book, “Among animals, as among humans, there exist saints and bodhisattvas: individuals who have outstripped their fellows in spiritual development.” She goes on to say, “the presence of animal bodhisattvas reminds us that altruism isn’t unique to humans. All living creatures possess the capacity to feel and act out of selfless love.” We could not have ordered a dog more suited to a monastery retreat center.

As retreatants leave our monastery, we ask them to give us feedback on what has contributed the most to making their retreat experience with us beneficial. I’m no longer surprised at the number of people who mention Abbey as a key factor in the experience. I continue to be amazed at the spiritual language they use to describe the benefit. Here are some verbatim quotes taken from those feedback sheets.

“The sweet little dog named ‘Abbey’ with the spirit of a shepherd has been a joy as I watched her ‘shepherd’ individuals to and from activities.”

“Abbey is a furry-faced Guardian Angel and should be treated as a therapy dog for weary guests.”

“Even our canine retreatant showed up this week. May she learn to trust kindness and heal from that which she fled.”

“Abbey, the retreat center mascot, is absolutely an angel in a funny ‘disguise.’ She is the most intelligent and kind creature I have ever met.”

“Walking the grounds with Abbey and spending time with the trees and river put the whole experience over the top! She really is the most wonderful animal, and I have loved a lot of dogs. May she help to heal and calm and guide retreatants, brothers and friends as long as she lives!”

“Abbey has almost a mystical presence and is very egalitarian in her approach to guests.” 

“Abbey, the dog, created a truly healing time for me. This was such a gift!”

“She represents what I feel to be true about this place—all are welcome!”

A few months ago a couple of friends came to Mepkin for a retreat. As one of them was sitting in the guest dining room for supper one evening at 5:10 p.m., she realized that her friend was still over in the Luce Garden about a half mile away. She knew that if the friend didn’t get there by 5:30 she would miss supper. So, she said, “I said a little prayer that Abbey, who was lying outside the dining room door, would go get her friend.” She thought nothing more of it. Her friend did make it for supper. But after supper her friend said to her, “I would have never made if Abbey had not come and gotten me.”

What followed this story was a wonderful conversation about this woman’s experience with newborns who are so sensitive to energy because their minds are not filled with knowledge. They can be very calm and peaceful but, when they feel negative energy, they start fussing. We spoke of the similarities with animals as well. This made me wonder what further ways Abbey may help us gain insight into our own spiritual lives. For that reason I have chosen to make this the first of what I hope may be many “Abbey Stories.” I see this story as the beginning of an open book. Anyone who feels that Abbey has helped them gain spiritual insight and would like to write a poem or story about it can submit it to the editorial committee to be considered as an addition to this book.

Fr. Guerric Heckel, ocso

Director, St. Francis Retreat Center

January 24, 2015

Goodbye from Dr. Rainwater

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It is with sincere sadness that I leave Daniel Island Animal Hospital to pursue a full time career in exotic animal medicine. I am leaving one of the very best veterinary practices I have ever had the good luck to be associated with, and some of the most dedicated and wonderful clients and their pets. This was a difficult decision for me, but ultimately I decided it would be better to focus on one thing rather than always being torn between the two.

I wish everyone the best and thank you all for your support and trust over the years.

With much love,

Katie Rainwater