Category Archives: Techniques & Tips

The Epic “Arthritis Triad” Approach to Canine Arthritis

I’m no genius but these three medicines work wonders on Arthritis in canines. I’m sure it’s because it intercepts three out of five of the common factors in canine arthritic symptoms. (I’ll pick all that in another article)

  • Here’s the three medicines
  • How they’re used
  • What we want to achieve
  • What we do with those results

Best regards

Doc Johnson

The Arthritis Triad

Hand Sanitizer? No I Like Ethanol Spray Better

Hand Sanitizer? No, I Like Ethanol Spray Better

Note to my family on how to protect themselves. Personal.

See note at end about corrosive side effects of some alcohols*.

Hand sanitizer is great. Above 60% ethanol it’s effective. But it’s not great for keypads, door handles, chair-arms, etc.

You go to the gas station and are confronted with a LOT to touch that may have corona virus on it. So when my spouse mentioned we could be using ethanol spray, I was piqued. So she made up some pure ethanol and essential oil spray  and it works great. So much more versatile than gels.

I like my little spray bottles with ethanol, I add a drop of essential oils to make it smell better and avoid so much drying on my hands. (I don’t like gloves very much.)

alcohol source for covid-19

Buying ethanol / alcohol from medical / pharmacy sources is right out, now. They barely have any. But most of the time you can still find STRONG alcohols at 190 proof, at the liquor store.

coronavirus sanitizer

And that’s what you need. I prefer “Everclear” but “Gold Grain” is the same basic idea. 190 Proof is 95% pure alcohol.

covid-19 fprotection from ethanol
Doterra “Whisper” smells great and a little tiny bottle goes a long way at 3 drops per pint of ethanol you make.

Your hands are one of the main routes that viruses make their way from surfaces to your respiratory system, so keeping them clean is one of the most effective things you can do to stop yourself contracting the virus. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water where possible and if you can’t get to a sink, an alcohol-based hand sanitiser will do the trick.

While the effectiveness of alcohol gels depends on the virus being targeted – which is why some alcohol hand rubs aren’t very effective against norovirus – the coronavirus has an envelope structure which alcohol can attack. Hand sanitisers with more than 60 per cent alcohol content are most effective at killing microbes.*


**A note of caution however: I’m using ethanol, Everclear 190 Proof. That’s it. I’ve been warned by Heather that the isopropyl and other 99% medical alcohols at my office will eat paint. And stuff. Then one of my best friends sent me a picture of his door lock. Same lock as I have on my house. But look at his!

covid19 disinfection

Azo and Cranberries for Dogs

Folks sometimes call the office looking for something they can do for their dog til it can get seen, or over the weekend, or just IN CONJUNCTION with a standard treatment.

And they ask about AZO, AZO Standard. Which is FINE to ask about except it turns out, the compound in AZO STANDARD is toxic to dogs.

Azo Cranberry, on the other hand, can be soothing, and it makes it harder for bacteria and inflammation to occupy the bladder and urethra.

Currently, Azo Cranberry isn’t made with Xylitol (it’s been years since manufacturers used Xylitol in anything that was possibly going to be used for dogs and cats. They’ve gone to sorbitol for the most part but MAKE NO ASSUMPTIONS and look. Xylitol can be toxic to dogs.

These are Azo Cranberry gummie chews and perhaps they'd be better taken by pets? The tablets may be better suited to embedding in peanut butter, cheese or your favorite form of pill disguise. 

This is the tablet version. You can use "the adult dose" per 50 pounds of dog. That means if the 12 to adult dose is 2 tabs twice a day, go with that. If you're treating a little dog, consider quarters to halves. Still, the margin of safety on 'pure cranberry' is high. 
When treating dogs up to 120 pounds consider increasing the dose by 50% (Means 3 tabs instead of two)

I would add, that if some dog-breeder message board is running off telling people to use "just any" Azo, or they're recommending another Azo, (for example the one with the extra chemistry in it) AND you try it, AND it works and doesn't wreck your dog's kidneys or mentation, please let me know. That is COMMONLY a way I learn new things, is treating things the breeder message boards cause, SOMETIMES for better, SOMETIMES for worse. 

To wit: 
"Phenazopyridine hydrochloride in dogs
Phenazopyridine, found in products such as Pyridium, is an OTC medication used to urinary tract infections and other urinary problems. This medication may be toxic to pets and should never be administered to animals. ... Presumptive hepatotoxicity and rhabdomyolysis secondary to phenazopyridine toxicity in a dog."

The Ultimate House Call Kit

The Ultimate House Call Kit

I think it would be cool to have a house-call Dodge van, shaped just like a fish, and maybe five porters to carry my gear, but I travel, and I need my gear to be SMALL, so I put together this kit to use for seminars, pond calls, pet shop visits and trips to the wholesaler. It has just about everything I’d need except for ‘general-anesthetic-surgery’.

Minor surgeries, sure.

The kit is based in a box by Pelican. It's got two latches. They make a larger box with four latches but you just don't need a box that big.

Inside the kit are:

Test kit strips
USB Camera for microscope
Syringes and needles
A power outlet divider
A desktop lamp
My pointer
My thermometer
My oil of cloves
Slides and coverslips
My Swift FM-31 Field Scope (tiny!!!)
Nitrile exam gloves
Practice slides of Frog's Liver
Ziploc bags for samples, holding fish and mixing OOC

Here's the Swift FM-31 set up with the USB Camera mounted onto the eyepiece. I mean, you CAN use the scope without a USB camera but it's murder on your back perching over the thing. The USB camera attaches to your computer with a simple USB interface.

This one's smaller and the one I'm getting this year:

In case light is scarce, I have this little desktop gooseneck lamp for pinpoint lighting on what I'm doing. If the wet lab is in a darkened room, I can light up my work area without illuminating the front row lol. I leave the light in the box until or unless I need it.

This is an infra-red thermometer, which is used in the food industry to check temperatures on serving trays. You can check water temperature without contaminating a thermometer. Or bending over ha ha ha ha.

When you're teaching someone how to use a microscope, I like to have a box of "practice slides" which are made professionally and feature something like "frog's liver' and a person can truly SEE that they're adjusting the scope. When you start out looking at water, with bubbles in it; it's difficult to tell if you're in focus or not. Maybe the scope's broken?

These three bottles have been replaced by Tetra's new "EasyStrips Complete 7-in-1" test strips. They got them down to two sleeves sold in the same kit. Nice. I'll bring these to the seminar in case someone steals a can of strips, it wasn't expensive lol

You will think of a hundred uses for these on a pond call. But mainly I can hold a small fish for injection through the bag, and I can mix up an emulsion of Oil of Cloves without having to carry a jar with me! I can also collect a sample of water for later if I need to.

Management of fish “jumpers”

Management of fish “jumpers”

When a Koi, goldfish and pond fish decides to end it all and makes the leap to the floor, there are several factors which may dramatically extend it’s survival on the ground until found. If the ambient temperatures are cool the fish will fare better. If the surface is non absorbent it is preferable. If the fish carries considerable water with it to the floor, it may last up to an hour. The longest I have been able to verify a fish out of water is approximately twelve hours: The fish departed a garden pond in the Fall of the year, and wriggled down a hillside into a muddy drainage area where is was encrusted in moist soil. There it lay until morning.

Fish that jump in the heat of summer will desiccate [dry out] quickly and are almost instantly beset with flies. Many will perish as a result of the flies’ breeding frenzy.

Management of fish “jumpers”
Management of fish “jumpers”

When a Koi, goldfish and pond fish is found out of water, do not give up on it unless one of the following is characteristic:

  • The skin features cracks in it when flexed
  • The fish looks like beef jerky
  • The eyes are concave instead of the usual convex appearance
  • The pupil is gray, which suggests death came and went more than four hours ago.
  • Part of the fish is missing and your cat appears to be quite sated.

If there is any hope that the fish is alive, you may wish to consider the following triage routine:

Immediately place the fish in cool water from the main aquarium. Gently rinse off the debris which is sticking to the fish. Do not rub aggressively or you may tear the skin of smaller fish. You should pry the gill covers open and ensure the passage of water over the gill tissue. Perhaps it’s Mother Nature’s engineering but you may be amazed to find that with the gill covers ‘glued’ shut by the fishes’ own mucus, they have remained quite red and wet.

You should pry the gill covers open!

Replace dirty water you’re cleaning the fish in, with clean tank water at this point. Aerate the water very well and place the fish in an upright position in front of (not in the path of) the airstone or circulation. You are not trying to blow water into the oral cavity. The goal is that if the fish attempts any respiration, it will be taking in the freshest, most well aerated water possible. I saw a person put the fishes’ mouth over a pump and blow its stomach (the ‘wide spot in the intestine’) to smithereens.

Very valuable fish that are discovered alive should be placed in a bag of tank water under pure oxygen. This is a very effective method but is not commonly available to the general hobbyist.  An injection of Dexamethasone has been shown to save a considerable number of ‘jumpers’ and in some minds, is mandatory for the success of ‘jumper recovery’. And I’m not talking about the fish that simply swims off when you return it to the water. Dexamethasone is for fish that don’t move when they go back in the water. When they’re “just about dead” time.

Saving fish jumpers
Saving fish jumpers – Audio podcast

After surviving the suicide attempt, you will notice that a considerable portion of the tail and fins will dissolve. The time spent on the floor will have ‘crisped’ the fins and they will die back to the last points of viable blood flow during the event. No treatment is usually necessary. The fish will probably be permanently disfigured but most of the lost fin tissue will grow back.

If sores develop on the body, it may be due to the Dexamethasone, which is profoundly immune-suppressive. Infection will try and set into the scrapes and contusions on the side of the fish from the trip to the floor. Aggressive antibiotic therapy will likely repel a bacterial attack and salvage the fish.

Management of fish “jumpers”

Overgrown Head Growth, Cap or Wen in Orandas

Overgrown Head Growth, Cap or Wen in Orandas

A peculiar disorder of goldfish is the overgrowth of the cap to the extent that the eyes are covered. In most instances, this does not matter to the fish. Blind fish can apprehend food as effectively as the sighted colleagues in the aquarium. However, it is true that sighted fish do ‘play’ and blind ones do not interact as profitably with tank mates.

The correction of the disorder is a surgical one. You should induce anesthesia with Oil of Cloves or Eugenol© and once the fish is still, you would lift the fish from the water. There are two pieces of equipment you could use for this procedure. One might choose a fine scalpel, which is what I use for a clean post-surgical look. A #10 scalpel blade is ideal for this procedure because it is big enough to manipulate effectively, and small enough to get near the eye. The blade is introduced adjacent to the eye and the cut is made at an angle to the eye, removing the tissue around the eye. Extreme care must be employed to avoid lacerating the globe. This is easier said than done because you cannot see where the tip of your blade is. Still, having handled a #10 scalpel more than several thousand times, I am fairly dexterous with it. I can complete the trimming within four to five minutes under the most arduous of circumstances.

oranda cap surgery
^Where to buy tenotomy scissors

There is a bone UNDER the eye which is essentially a ‘zygomatic process’ and can’t be cut. If you trim too aggressively you will leave no ‘socket’ for the eye. So be sparing around the eye.

One could also use a pair of Iris Tenotomy scissors. These scissors have a devilishly sharp set of points and could be used to pare away the excess growth over the eye.

oranda head growth can be trimmed with these iris tenotomy scissors
Oranda head growth can be trimmed with these iris tenotomy scissors

One conspicuous point about this surgery is that the head growth never attaches to the globe at any point. Indeed, it is possible cut away too much of the head growth and you may find the eyes protruding without support into the water.

oranda cap surgery
^Where to buy Oil of Cloves that’s pure

Overgrown Head Growth, Cap or Wen in Orandas

If the fish begins to struggle during the procedure, please place it again into the aerated oil of Cloves solution. If the fish is not struggling but has been out of the water for more than 90 seconds, please place the fish into well-aerated normal tank water for a ‘breather’. Then resume where you left off. In all instances, you should maintain the fish under a fairly deep plane of anesthesia where gill excursions are less than a flex per several seconds. During many of my surgeries, gill excursions occur at an interval of less than one per minute.

No sutures are needed. The fish will bleed very nominally after the procedure. It is remarkable to me how quickly the fish can clot up despite its aqueous recovery area.

Knowledgeable Chinese and Japanese breeders have told me that they would not perform this procedure because of genetic performance. Good head growth is a proud thing. Surgically concealing other defects is undesirable, as well. I do not question their motives but I must report that I’ve had great success and achieved very cosmetic results.

Canine Foot Lesions: The Bandaged Dog

What you should know about lesions on the feet of dogs, especially surgical lesions. This is a post operative letter.

You’re getting this document because your dog has some sort of lesion on its foot. That could be a tumor, laceration or any kind of surgery.

Canine Foot Lesions: The Bandaged Dog

There are certain things, that just happen, every single time there are stitches in a dogs foot.

It doesn’t matter who your veterinarian is or what you do, it’s just the way it goes:

Number one: Stitches fall out

Face it, the dog is basically walking on it suture line and that kind of stretching and tearing is going to put a lot of pressure on the stitches and sooner or later, one or two of the stitches will pop. When that happens, a little bit of scar tissue fills in the gap which represents decent healing, but it does extend healing time past the normal seven or eight days it normally would take to heal.

Consider that every step the dog takes is pulling on the stitches, so the fewer steps it can take the longer the stitches will hold. But, some will pop. It is unavoidable.


Number two: Inflammation and Discharge Always Occur.

Again, the dog is walking on a surgery site and every step pushes and pulls on the line and keeps healing from occurring as quickly as other places. Discharges accumulate and at first, that requires frequent bandage changes to keep those secretions from setting up infections.

Number three: Bandages are pretty important.

At first, postoperatively, you will probably be coming to the office every day or every other day for bandage changes. That is dependent upon the estimated amount of discharges in the bandage that need to be removed. It is imperative that you keep the bandages changed according to plan, I appreciate that it is labor and time intensive, but that is the nature of lesions on the foot.

Number four: Abnormal tissues heal abnormally.
One of my reviews on Google hold that I did a poor surgery on the dogs foot because the surgery did not heal normally.

I would say that is a failure on my part to explain to the client when you remove cancer from tissues and you expect cancerous tissues to heal back normally, that is often a fail.

Of course when you go in you don’t know that you’re necessarily removing the cancer until later. So, when you are dealing with abnormal tissues, healing will often occur abnormally, whether that is delayed, weird looking, or painfully slow. A cut made by some glass in normal tissue heals a lot faster than a cut made surgically in cancerous tissue. That’s all I’m trying to get across.

Canine Foot Lesions: The Bandaged Dog

dog foot lesion
The bandaged foot has several identical principles.

The summary of this article occurs in five points

  1. Number one. Stitches always pop.
  2. Number two. Discharges always occur.
  3. Number three. Bandages require changes; sometimes frequently.
  4. Number four. Abnormal tissues heal abnormally.
  5. Number five. Every step the dog takes compromises the foot lesion, the fewer steps it takes, the longer the bandage and the stitches will last.


Pilling the Recalcitrant. (How To Get Pills in The Tough Ones)

So, “Sammy” wasn’t having it (Pilling). And mom was too sweet to really wrangle him. So. She had the idea to crush his pills and put them in creamer! And it worked. Not only that, he literally lapped it up.

And the goal HAD BEEN to liquefy the medicine for pilling with a pediatric dosing syringe. But apparently it’s SO tantalizing to dogs (and CATS!) that it’s working in cases I’d never have thunk. (New word, you’re welcome)

Pediatric Dosing Syringe

Pill crusher

Pilling The Tough Ones

Pilling The Tough Ones
Pilling The Tough Ones

Pilling The Tough Ones

Article about pilling animals.

Ask the vet about WHICH medicines can’t be crushed, and which can’t be mixed with calcium-rich dairy items.

Wireless Dog and Cat – Invisible Fence Without the Wire

My brother bought an invisible fence which required that he bury a wire around the perimeter of his property. He even had to cut a groove in his driveway. Worse than the installation, he bought a mid-range product and ended up having to upgrade to something stronger. Fortunately, Home Depot was very accommodating and allowed him to trade in everything but the wire he buried.

BEST CHOICE for Invisible Fence, Wireless, Rechargeable that is NOT by manufacturer: PetSafe*

*Why not Petsafe? Because they use a proprietary battery which is very expensive over time.

The Wireless Invisible Fence unit I list below is:

  1. Half the price of the Petsafe units,
  2. Better reviewed, (more five-stars) and
  3. It’s waterproof,
  4. It’s rechargeable.
  5. The Petsafe units use a proprietary battery as I mentioned above.

Back to my story:

After my brother buries wire all around his yard, they come out with the following ‘fence’ which simply has a ‘perimeter’ that is monitored by the center unit. Basically a ‘radar’ or ‘field’ that emanates from the central unit and creates a 360 degree ‘circular range’ and as long as the dog stays within that range, it’s comfortable.

Wireless Invisible Fence
OKPET collar unit is rechargeable, and you can add a backup collar to the $110 kit for an additional $35

When the dog starts to go out of range, the collar beeps, then finally begins a series of corrective pops. And continues to pop the dog until he returns to the radius. They’re simple to install and they’ve been around for a few years. Most of the bugs have been worked out.

Best part about them is, according to my clients, is that they can take them to the beach and set the central unit up, adjust the range to 90 feet, and it keeps the dog in a circular area on the beach. (The radius is adjustable.)

OKPET Wireless Dog Fence Electric Pet Containment System, 100% Safe & Easy to Install Pet Fence, Beep/Shock Dog Fence, Adjustable Control Range, Rechargeable & Waterproof Collar

  • ★WIRELESS DOG FENCE SYSTEM:Wireless electric dog fence will customize a cordless radial shaped boundary with adjustable levels from 10 to 1000 feet in radius, forming an invisible circular fenceless perimeter to limit your dog. Beep and electric static shock dog training mode will automatically start when the dog exceed the set activity range.
  • ★SIGNAL STABILITY & ACCURATENESS:The dog collar receiver is safe & effective and easy to use,stable signal,fast synchronization. It is anti-over shocking design which is harmless to your dog. No need to worry about the dog suddenly get shocked if the transmitter shutdown or power cut.
  • ★COLLAR WATER RESISTANT IPX7:Our water resistant collar receiver is rated IPX7, which means that your dog can get wet in the grass, mess with the sprinkler or play in the rain.
  • ★RECHARGEABLE & DURABLE BATTERY:The advanced collar receiver with high capacity built-in battery is rechargeable,package included 2 universal power adapter.Durable battery,low power consumption,and low battery alert.
  • ★PRACTICAL & UNMATCHED PERFORMANCE:Dogs can be added indefinitely to the system as long as they wear the collar receiver of this product. Works on all types of dogs – small, medium, large, and even extra large dogs-recommended for dogs over 10 lbs.

Notes from Doc Johnson

For the above unit: I highly recommend you spend the extra $30 and get the “two collar” option so that you have another collar available in the event of a collar-failure on unit #1.

Looking at the Wireless Invisible Fence reviews, I see three common themes.

German Shepherds keep showing up 25-40% of product ‘fail’ reviews, as too dumb, or too terrified to benefit from this system. Since GSD are easily terrified*, sometimes when they get a correction they run back to the house and  cower. That’s no good, because then they don’t wander around in the perimeter, they just cringe on the porch.

Even though the above collar is tough, and has a metal buckle, I’d recommend backing yourself up with a rubber band to make sure the collar doesn’t fall off. “My dogs actually stayed in the yard! Unfortunately, within the first week, one of the collars went missing while they were outside. I was confused on how that could happen. Then within another week, another collar came up missing while they were outside. Again, i was confused, until i took the 3rd collar off my dog and realized that the clasp was broke.” (This review was for a PetSafe brand collar)

And finally, the remaining fails are legitimate tech failures like sender and receiver failure which are reported for almost all invisible fences. And my advice on that is to note the last possible return date / replacement date / warranty date and then if ANYTHING is subpar for you, RETURN IT instead of putting up with inferior performance. Folks seemed to tough it out with spotty performance til it was months past the return date.

SOME APPLICATIONS don’t lend themselves to certain yards with lots of trees, a huge house on a hill, and other terrain that causes a review about ‘spotty range’ see “Flat Yards” discussion below*

Select Wireless Invisible Fence Reviews That Are Helpful

From the manufacturer: “The way this Wireless Invisible Fence system works is that the collar unit is always receiving a signal from the transmitter and it knows to activate when the dog gets to the edge of the boundary because there is no signal there. “

If anything happens to the signal from the hub, the collar activates. Many homes (but still less than 20%) have interference with the signals, including steel propane tanks, cars in the driveway, slopes and hills, even other electronic devices. Test the unit a LOT at first so that you can trust it.

Also, if you’re on a busy road where you can’t afford a single escape, I’d recommend an actual fence. And while people are banging on the wireless electronic fence so hard for a 15-20% failure rate, the underground wire kind are ALSO dependent on the collar to work – and their failure rate is a “thing” because of collar malfunction (they get wet, chewed on, dead battery, concussive force, age) and the wire breaks a lot.

Wireless Invisible Fence not for German Shepherds or other fearful, German-vigilance (guard) breeds*.

“Today was the last straw. I was outside with our German Shepherd when someone walked by with his dog. The other dog was safely ou…..”

“Went through the process to train my GSD with the containment system. When I walked outside the boundaries to talk to some people walking near my property my dog couldn’t resist and attempted to leave the yard. When she stayed too far from the boundary the shock kicked in and my dog started crying in pain trying to escape the shocking. Afterwards, I couldn’t get her to leave the porch”

“He got so scared that he wouldn’t even come to me. He ran to the porch and sat there. I have a Rottie so it must have scared him pretty good. I read the dire….”

Send Wireless Invisible Fence back at the first sign of trouble. Don’t Wait Three Months.

“I ordered this for my parents to keep there dogs in the yard. And they didn’t open the box til it was past return date! So the worse part we can’t even get our money back.”

“Decided to finally call it quits after 2 separate attempts of setting it up and return it, turns out it’s too late. Worst 270$ I’ve thrown away.”

“DON’T waste your money and now that its past 30 days they won’t give me my money back. BAD customer service……”

“VERY unhappy to discover that this cannot be replaced or returned after less than 3 months!!”

“…we hung in there trying different locations and settings and alas, it is past the return date.”

“Finally i gave up on it but of course by the time you come to this conclusion the return time has expired already, then you are stuck with a product that cost more then $200 dollars and doesn’t work properly .”

*Flat Yards For Wireless Invisible Fence

“This is a good idea but the controlled field is a circle with a 180 foot diameter. As the unit has to be mounted inside and our house is quite large and on a hill. There was not a suitable location anywhere on the property to allow our dogs to exit the house and roam the year. This item was returned without being used.”

“Doesn’t work for sloped yard. My front yard is flat; back yard has a very slight slope. System works great in the front yard, but in the back it beeps in totally random places. From reading other comments, I think this product just doesn’t work well for yards that aren’t flat. Returning it.”

“I unfortunately had to send this back. I have used this system before with my stubborn lab girl, but our new yard is oddly shaped and no matter how I adjusted it, it did not contain her. Either I cut off most of the back yard from her use, or the adjustment would give her the freedom to run in the street in the front yard. This is a great solution if you don’t have an odd shaped lot.”