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Using video to help the vet - thoughts?


KrisK
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Since I live a far distance from my vet and the fact that a trip to the vet likely means bringing the dog to work with me, I am wondering if this idea would be useful.

 

I have a video option on my digital camera. Zachary, the miniature schnauzer, gags and coughs when he's out for a walk (usually when he's trying to get a squirrel or some other 'varmit'!) This has been attributed to chronic bronchitis for which he received antibiotics. He also has a heart murmur for which he is receiving Vetmedin.

I thought if I videotaped our walk to show the vet exactly what Zachary is doing that brings on the coughing, he would have a better idea of what the problem might be.

Does this sound reasonable? I'm not looking for a diagnosis based solely on the video but a way to accurately describe what occurs since he doesn't cough and gag any other time.

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I think it's a great idea. I remember trying to describe a cough to my vet that sounded a lot like a cat trying to hack up a hair ball. My vet couldn't seem to get his mind around the fact that I was describing a sound (that hacking sound a cat coughing up a hairball makes) and not the actual process (throwing up). In other words, every time I mentioned it as a hairball sound, he'd get confused and say "but he's not throwing up, right?" and we'd be back to square one with me saying, no it's a cough that sounds like a cat throwing up a hairball, and yes, I realize that a cat throwing up isn't the same as a cough, but the sound is very much like that. Had I simply taped the noise the dog was making, it would have made life simpler for both of us!

 

J.

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Fabulous idea. When I brought Solo in for his root canals, I brought digital photos of the broken teeth because I knew they were not going to be able to examine his mouth unless he was anesthetized. The vets were very appreciative.

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Julie...the hairball description is priceless and that is basically what Zachary sounds like..or like someone with terrible smokers cough! I tried the video function tonight and did catch a bit of his hacking. Of course, tonight he wasn't anywhere near as noisy as he usually is! But at least I know it will work so I can try again. That's the beauty of the digital world!

I'm glad to hear that the vets were open to the pictures, etc. That will make it easier for sure.

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Kris, do you mean bring the video AND the dog, or just the video? Since your dog has cardiac issues, your vet will probably want to auscult his chest before changing medication regimens, so you'd want to bring both. Also, it's against the law to dispense certain medications without a current doctor-client-patient relationship, which means that for most meds they have to have seen the dog within the year, and for some, within six months. The video is a helpful adjunct, but it's not the same as a physical exam. It sounds as if you mean to bring both the dog and the footage; if so, I'd think that seeing the problem in action would be useful. As Julie notes, even the best description sometimes loses something in the translation (although I'm pretty sure that I could pass for a dog in a pinch, since I've of necessity had to learn to mimic a variety of their health complaints, sometimes more hilariously than others...)

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AK dog doc - Thanks for responding - I hoped you would I was thinking of just bringing the video first - then bringing Zachary if the vet felt it was warranted. Zachary was just diagnosed with the heart murmur at his last visit (July this year) and I can say he is a different dog since he's been on the medication. In particular, he is far more active so I wasn't thinking of any changes to his heart meds. Since the hacking/coughing only occurs when we go for a walk - last night is was worse while he was trying desperately to chase a grouse! it makes me wonder if the hacking is largely due to excitment and not a 'physcial' problem.

 

(although I'm pretty sure that I could pass for a dog in a pinch, since I've of necessity had to learn to mimic a variety of their health complaints, sometimes more hilariously than others...)
BTW...how is your 'hairball' imitation?...There was a comedian from Newfoundland (I think) who had me in tears with his 'hairball' skit...maybe you could do some comedy work on the side :rolleyes::D

Thanks again!

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Is Zachary on a collar, harnass, etc... when you are walking? Could he be pulling so hard to actually choke himself if he is on a collar? You may need to switch what you are using to walk the dog. Try and gentle leader or head halti. It does not press on the trachea. I had a dog that had the same problem and the vets thought it happened because when she pulled the collar pressed on her trachea causing her to hack...

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Hi Kim, I've used a harness and a halti with Zachary since I got him (he was surrendered to the shelter at 6 years old for barking too much!!) He's always hacked/coughed when out walking while on leash, but when we moved last year to the wide open spaces, it got worse and was diagnosed at that time as bronchitis.

It does make me wonder if it is a 'conditioned' response.

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Really it's my regurgitation VS. vomiting act that brings down the house. :rolleyes: Although I DO get raves for my reverse sneeze. And good old Dr. O at the Uni did an EXCELLENT colitis. All the postures with none of the odors.

 

If he has an enlarged heart, it may be pressing up against the airways, which causes coughing (this may or may not be worse with activity). In addition, if he's got cardiac impairment, he may have excersise intolerance, which would also cause coughing, primarily while active. On a physical exam, I can usually elicit a tracheal cough from a collapsing trachea, so long as the collapsing section is extrathoracic (outside the chest); if it's intrathoracic, which would be worsened by an enlarged heart, then an Xray is in order. Either way I want to see the dog. Plus I'm pretty sure that my boss would intend me to charge a consult fee of some kind for doing the video assessment, if I did it without the dog present, and then a separate exam fee for seeing the dog later; but if I saw them together, it'd probably fall under the same umbrella. Just a thought.

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Thanks again AK dog doc! He's had the xrays already, but I can't remember exactly what they showed except he had some fluid buildup at the time which was treated.

He needs a 'grooming' trip soon, so I'll bring him and the video to the vet at the same time.

 

Really it's my regurgitation VS. vomiting act that brings down the house. Although I DO get raves for my reverse sneeze. And good old Dr. O at the Uni did an EXCELLENT colitis. All the postures with none of the odors
AHHHH.......more information than I needed while I was eating my morning snack :eek: :rolleyes:

Thanks again!

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