For pet owners, this is a matter of life and death

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

As many of you know, Eli, my best friend and the mascot here at In Brief Legal Writing Services, had a couple of health scares last year. In fact, it was roughly a year ago this week that he had surgery to remove a small (and thank goodness relatively benign) growth on his back.

With that being stated, I am happy (and relieved) to report that Eli’s most recent vet visit (for his annual checkup and shots) resulted in a clean bill of health. You see, I love him more than life. And even though he’s 11 and I know he won’t live forever, the thought of him getting really sick scares me to death.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

And frankly so does this.

According to a recent CNN report, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has announced that certain skin cancer creams that prevent or fight the disease in people can be lethal for our pets. Specifically, the FDA is warning the public about creams that contain  fluorouracil or 5-FU. Common brand names are Carac, Efudex and Fluoroplex.

The FDA issued the warning after learning about five cases in which animals died after swallowing the cream.

“In one case, a playful dog punctured a tube of fluorouracil cream. Within two hours, the animal began vomiting, experienced seizures and died 12 hours later,” CNN reports. “In another case, a dog ingested a tube of the cream. Though the owner rushed the dog to a veterinarian, who immediately began to treat the animal, the dog’s condition worsened and after three days, the owner deemed it necessary to euthanize the pet.”
Because even a small amount can be deadly, experts are advising pet owners to store the cream in a place where their animals can’t get at it, and to discard it properly when it’s no longer needed.
Additional precautions are warranted. Specifically, the FDA recommends “patients safely discard or clean any cloths or applicators used when applying the cream.” The agency stresses that “it’s also important to make sure clothes, carpets, floors and furniture contain no creamy residue. Hands must also be cleaned after using the cream.”
Most importantly, experts urge pet owners who must use cream containing fluorouracil to avoid contact with their pets after they’ve applied the medicine. This is especially crucial for dog owners, whose animals are likely to lick the areas where the cream is typically applied.
“Immediately consult a veterinarian if a pet becomes exposed to the medicine or begins to vomit, have seizures or show other signs of illness,” the FDA warned.

That’s enough

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

“I’m beginning to think that the definition of a healthy cat is one that has never been to the vet.”

– My mother.

My poor cat.

Until recently, Eli went to the vet for his shots and a check-up once a year. He also went to get his nails trimmed every three months.

Since January 15, he’s been to the vet three times. A fourth visit – this time for surgery – has been scheduled for sometime this week. Needless to say, he’s not very happy about this turn of events. And it should go without saying that neither am I.

By now those of you who have been following this saga know that I initially took Eli, who just turned 10, to the vet for his regular appointment and nail trim. I also mentioned the small lump I’d found on his back, and agreed that the vet should take a sample of it as a precaution. Three days later I learned that the little lump that hadn’t changed color or size since I discovered it was, in fact, a tumor.

In Brief Legal Writing Services owner Alexandra Bogdanovic's cat, Eli.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli under the Christmas Tree. Christmas 2013. Photo by A. Bogdanovic

The vet then recommended an ultrasound to make sure that the cancer hadn’t affected Eli’s liver or spleen. Again, I agreed. I also agreed to let the vet get a blood sample while she was at it. Later that day, I was relieved to learn that the ultrasound didn’t show anything horrible; it seemed that after all the drama, a simple operation to remove the mass was all that was necessary.

But, no. It couldn’t be that easy for poor old Eli. The vet did an about-face, saying the surgery we’d initially scheduled had to be postponed until the results of his blood analysis came back. And when they did, it turned out that some of the indicators for kidney function were within the higher end of the acceptable range.

So instead of bringing him in for surgery last Friday, I had to bring him in for more blood work and a urinalysis, instead. The only reason I agreed to those procedures is because the doctor said the results could determine whether they have to take any precautions with the anesthesia when he does have surgery.

I told her that I was kind of concerned that all of this traveling back and forth was taking a toll on Eli. Not to mention what it was doing to my nerves. We’ve both had enough — or to be brutally honest — more than enough.

He’ll have his surgery, and that will be that. Even if the blood work and urinalysis do show some other issues, I am not subjecting him to any more invasive procedures, and I will limit future vet visits as much as I can.

I take pride in being a responsible pet owner; I love Eli more than life and I want him to be healthy. More importantly, I want him to be happy.

He and I have had a great eight years together, and I pray we will have many more. Having said that, I know  I can’t control the future, and I have no idea what it holds.  But I can promise this: as long as Eli is alive, I will do everything in my power to make sure he has the best quality of life possible.

In the end, can anyone ask for more?

On a personal note

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.
Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

It has been a rough week here at In Brief Legal Writing Services.

On Monday, I learned that the little lump I found on Eli’s back is a tumor.

The good news — if there was any — is that this type of tumor is fairly common in dogs and cats. From what I understand, it tends to be more aggressive in dogs, and affects the liver and spleen in only a small percentage of cats (approximately 10 percent). In most cases, surgery to remove the lump is all that’s needed.

According to the vet, an ultrasound is the best way to determine whether an external mass is the result of cancer affecting the internal organs, so we scheduled one for Wednesday. The next steps would depend on the results.

Before the ultrasound, I tried not to borrow trouble. If anything I took comfort in the fact that the lump was small; that it hadn’t changed shape, size or color since I noticed it; that Eli’s behavior hadn’t changed and most importantly, neither had his appetite.

Being a realist, I also thought long and hard about what I would do in the worst-case scenario. I came to the conclusion that I would not subject him to extensive surgery, no matter what. After all, he just turned 10. I’ve had him — or more accurately, he’s had me wrapped around his little paw, for just about eight years now.

He came into my life in February 2008. I was living in Virginia at the time and had just come home from Australia, where my family gathered to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday and I got to watch my favorite football team win the Super Bowl.

The New York Giants won that championship thanks to some heroics by my favorite quarterback, Eli Manning. So imagine my delight — and surprise — when I glanced at the Fauquier SPCA’s flyer on my way out of the office one day. If memory serves, I stopped dead in my tracks and yelped, “Holy crap! The SPCA has a cat named Eli!”

I went to the shelter and instantly decided to adopt him. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t take him home right away. He stayed at the shelter so he could be neutered, and as I drove home alone, the sun, which had been noticeably absent all day, peeped out from between the clouds.

I picked him up after work on another cold, dreary winter afternoon a couple of days later. As we drove home together, the sun, which I hadn’t seen all day, made another appearance.

Perhaps it was a mere coincidence. Or maybe it was a cosmic sign of approval from my cat Heals (named after New York Islanders and New York Rangers goalie Glenn Healy) who had died of cancer six months before.

In any case, it didn’t really matter. All I knew for sure is that it was definitely meant to be.


For smokers, 2016 brings new incentive to quit

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

Happy New Year, everybody! I hope 2016 brings you much happiness, good health, prosperity and all the willpower you need to keep your New Year’s resolutions.

If you’re a smoker, and you’ve vowed that you’ll finally quit this year, I really hope you stick to your plan – no matter what. If you can’t do it for yourself, or your family do it for your pet. Yes, you heard me. Do it for your dog or cat, or any other companion animal that happens to share your life.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
Eli reading.

According to published reports, a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Glasgow found that the poison in secondhand smoke can be just as lethal  – if not more so – to dogs and cats as it can to humans. Specifically, the study linked exposure to secondhand smoke with an increased risk for certain illnesses in dogs and cats.

I can imagine what all of you smokers think. I can just hear it now. Whining about how you are persecuted; how you can no longer smoke in bars, restaurants, or planes. How the “nanny state” is infringing on your freedom and that smoking is your personal choice. You probably don’t believe that secondhand smoke is harmful at all.

But I beg to differ. My father was a smoker. He smoked a pipe and cigars, believing that both were less harmful than cigarettes. As a little girl, I suffered from severe allergies, asthma and bronchitis. As a teen and young adult, exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke resulted in asthma attacks that literally brought me to my knees.

There was an upside to all that though. I was never tempted to smoke at all. I hope you can soon say the same.

For more information about secondhand smoke and pets, click here.