Wednesday, March 2, 2011


No, not the ungulate, the dog:

I know, I said I would try to keep this blog to BJJ, but I'm excited--he's my first dog neuter!  I've already done some spays and a bunch of cat neuters, but I this is the first time I got to take the cojones from a dog.  He's house trained and super friendly on the off chance anyone in the East Tennessee region is in the market for a chocolate lab/terrer mix.  You can read more about him at the Smokey Mountain Animal Care Foundation website.


  1. Pictures of dogs are always welcome :P

  2. This is probably a silly question, but I've wondered in the past if there was a particularly good book/TV series on the ancestry of household pets. Not so much dogs and cats, as there seems to be a fair chunk on them.

    I'm thinking guinea pigs.

    Normally when I look for stuff on guinea pigs, it is the unpleasant "yeah, they're tasty" kind of thing from South America, rather than their habits in the wild. So, as you're training to be a vet, thought you might know. :)

  3. @slideyfoot So I just had a whole long comment about different sources I found, and then I hit post and it all disappeared. Apparently Blogger doesn't like me commenting on my own blog.

    Anyways, I don't really know about books and movies. My first guess would be that basic guinea pig books might have some info, and I googled 'guinea pig ancestry' and found "The Guinea Pig Handbook" by Sharon L. Vanderlip, DVM. It's mostly about care but there were a few pages about ancestry. There was also this website:
    And then I did a search in my library's e-database and found this article:
    "Hierarchical Phylogenetic Models for Analyzing Multipartite Sequence Data," by Marc A. Suchard; Christina M. R. Kitchen; Janet S. Sinsheimer; and Robert E. Weiss. Basically, they analyzed cavy species' DNA to figure out where guinea pigs come from. I think.

    So the basic consensus seems to be that no one is really sure. I wish I could be more help, but we don't really learn about ancestry or evolution much in class unless it pertains to care and treatment, and I was never super interested in guinea pigs as a kid. Hope it helps!

  4. @leslie You might not want to encourage that...otherwise I'll have pictures of my cat and my rabbit, and then once I start clinics, all the furry friends I get to work with (although we're not allowed to post the pictures with tigers).

  5. Thanks for the links!

    I was mainly just interested if there were any standard texts on it that you might have come across during your studies, but I guess not.

    Another thing on guinea pigs: I'm told that in South America, it is apparently common to not only eat them (boo), but they're also seen as helpful in diagnosing disease. Sounds a bit loopy.

    Do they have modules about treating pets like guinea pigs at vet school? I'm guessing there must be lots on cats and dogs, but do the various other types of pet get much coverage? Like hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, or snakes, lizards, tortoises etc, maybe various species of birds too?

  6. @slideyfoot Meh. Makes sense (sort of). Do you know what kind of diseases they help diagnose? If anything, I find it stranger that they're eaten--they're so small it just doesn't seem worth it!

    As far as studying them goes, we don't really get that much exposure in class. Our classes are system-based, i.e. cardiology, oncology, ophthalmology, neurology, etc. It's up to the coordinating professor to structure the class, and usually we end up having a small animal portion (dogs and cats), a food animal portion (cows mostly, and then maybe some stuff on pigs, sheep, goats, llamas), and an equine portion (horses). They might have one or two lectures on "exotic" medicine, which is basically everything else--birds, reptiles, other mammals. We had one class last semester, Multi-species Medicine, that went through basic biology, medicine, and most common diseases of the most popular exotic animals. We can take some electives about exotics, but not that many. If you do want to go into exotic animal medicine (I'm going into zoo medicine, which is kind of a subset), you apply what you can from what you learned in school, and learn about the differences and particularities of each species outside of school, either on your own or training with other vets. I'm really lucky, and my school has multiple vets who are boarded in avian and exotic medicine and another two in zoo medicine, so I have a lot of great vets to learn from!

  7. No idea on the diseases: just something my gf mentioned once. There was a book in the university about guinea pigs in South America that I think said more about that, and how they had some ritualistic function, but I didn't really want to read more about them getting eaten. Kinda disturbing seeing a plate of roasted guinea pigs when my gf and I were wandering through markets in South America.

    It does seem silly to eat something as tiny as a guinea pig, particularly when you've got things like capybara, which are effectively a giant guinea pig.

    "As far as studying them goes, we don't really get that much exposure in class. Our classes are system-based, i.e. cardiology, oncology, ophthalmology, neurology, etc"

    Is there much cross-over between different animals, in that case? And do vets have to specialise, or is the average vet going to be able to deal with most animals (I can remember when my gf's previous guinea pig was on her last legs, it wasn't that easy to find a vet with experience in treating them).

  8. @slideyfoot There is a good amount of crossover--if an animal gets pneumonia or has a congenital heart defect, the basic principles of diagnosis and treatment usually remain the same. We also learn which animals are similar and work off of that. For example, guinea pigs are hindgut fermenters, like horses and rabbits, so their diets are somewhat similar, and like both those species they also have teeth that grow and wear down continuously. So they are similarly affected by malocclusion problems if their teeth don't wear down properly, or overgrowth of bad bacteria in their gut if given the wrong antibiotics orally, killing the good bacteria. They have some diseases more specific to them, which we learned in our multispecies medicine course, but really you learn the most getting direct experience--volunteering with exotics vets either before vet school or over summers, doing exotics rotations during our fourth year of clinics, and exotics residencies after we graduate.

    As far as specialization, vets don't have to. We are qualified to start practicing as soon as we graduate from school. Many tend to go large animal (farm animals) or small animal (cats and dogs), and those don't really need further training--while we're in school, we can focus on that and get more experience working with those species. We can specialize by systems (dermatology, cardiology, etc.) and for those, you generally need to do a 3-5 year residency, and then take an exam to become board certified. You can also be board certified by certain species--i.e. small animal and large animal soft tissue surgery is different, and then there's also zoo medicine, avian medicine, I think poultry medicine, and maybe some others. A regular non-specialized vet would probably be able to take basic care and do wellness check-ups for a guinea pig, but might not have the experience to know how best to treat them if they were ill. In that case, they could either call someone they knew and ask for help, or more likely they would refer you to an exotic animal vet. Like I said, I've been really spoiled because we have a lot of exotics vets at my school and so I get a ton of exposure, but most vet students don't get the opportunity that I do.

    Honestly, the most important thing with exotic animals is diet and husbandry. You have no idea how many people don't know what they're supposed to feed their rabbit or iguana, and it's really sad to see these animals in such poor health because the owner couldn't do a little research, or figured a $30 animal doesn't need any vet visits ever. Any vet should be able to help steer the owner in the right direction as far as diet and husbandry, even if it means doing a little research themselves.

  9. Interesting: thanks! I don't know anything about veterinary medicine, so it's cool to learn from your experience. :)

  10. @slideyfoot It is my pleasure to answer any and all of your questions! I've been trying and only just made some headway spreading my BJJ love amongst my vet school friends; I would love to spread my vet/animal knowledge to my BJJ friends.