Tag Archive: Dr. Bob Baker

What is Bloat?

Bloat; The Mother of All Emergencies

By: John Crumley DSC_0303-001

I want to take this opportunity to let you know of a severe, life-threatening syndrome that affects large breed dogs and a recent advance in preventative surgery for the condition.

Since your pet is a large breed dog, you may have heard of gastric dilatation volvulus complex, also referred to as “bloat” or “GDV.” This syndrome occurs in certain breeds, specifically large “deep-chested” breeds. The stomach dilates with gas and food and then begins an abnormal rotation (illustrated on the illustration-dog-bloat-500ximage to the left). This can happen very rapidly, often in hours, and if untreated results in obstruction of the stomach and death. Treatment consists of aggressive fluid therapy and prompt surgical correction. The success of treatment ranges from 60 to 80%, thus unfortunately, some of the patients die despite our best efforts. Cost of the procedure, excluding the obvious emotional cost, can range from $1,500 to $5,000.

Although this syndrome is not encountered every day in predisposed breeds, the severity of the condition has incited us to explore the latest surgical techniques to both correct and prevent it.

In the past the surgical procedure to prevent this syndrome (gastropexy) had to be performed with a more traditional surgical approach with a recovery time of 7 to 10 days and a 6 to 12 inch abdominal incision. Our hospital has invested in laparoscopic equipment and advanced surgical training for our doctors to enable us to perform surgeries such as this with minimal incision size and recovery time for the patient. We often recommend preforming this procedure during the time of great_dane_stock_7_by_sigarnistock-d3hwnnjthe spay or neuter. The surgery for the gastropexy can now be performed with two small incisions (less than 1 inch in many cases) with a recovery time of 2 to 4 days. If you have any questions on whether your pet would benefit from a preventative surgery please call us and speak with Dr. Baker, Dr Davidson, or me about the details of this surgery.

Vaccines,What are the Risks and Benefits to Your Pets.

By: Dr. Bob Baker Dr baker with penny

As a veterinarian I am faced with questions about vaccinations every day, what are the risks? what are the benefits?  To say that vaccines are safe is true, however there are adverse effects associated with vaccination.  While extremely rare, anaphylactic allergic reactions can occur and must be dealt with immediately. Other allergic reactions, fever, vomiting, facial swelling occur on occasion, but are still rare. The old feline vaccinations were associated with development of an injection site sarcoma; this occurred more commonly in patients with a genetic predisposition to cancer. So yes there are some risks associated with vaccination.  When it comes to vaccination, we have to assess the relative risk of vaccination vs. the risk of the disease.  Rabies vaccine however is always indicated as it is state law to vaccinate dogs and cats.  Most pets however, do not have the social risk factors of humans, there  are some such as those that go to groomers, boarding kennels, and day care.  These pets have risk factors more like us, where we go to work, school, shopping; where we interact with others that may or may not be vaccinated or be incubating or spreading a contagious disease.

DSC_0854When an animal or person is vaccinated, most will form antibodies to the false infection that will protect from the real infection when the subject is exposed to the pathogen.  There are however, some individuals that are genetic non-responders, meaning they cannot form antibodies to the vaccine.  These are the individuals that get sick despite vaccination.  This happens in canine parvovirus on occasion because the dog, no matter how many times they have been vaccinated, simply cannot respond to the presented antigen.  So how do we protect these “non-responders” in the population, along with the individuals that cannot receive vaccines because of illness, immunocompromise, or allergies.  The key is a concept called herd immunity, and it derives from infectious disease management mostly in the cattle and dairy industry.  The more individuals that are vaccinated, the more protected the herd, including those that cannot be vaccinated or are non-responders.  The more individuals that do not receive the vaccine, the more likely the herd immunity will fail and an outbreak will occur.

Measles is a virus that belongs to a group of viruses  called Morbillivirus.  It evolved from a cattle virus called Rinderpest around  1100-1200 A.D.   When the measles virus first adapted to infect humans, it had a high mortality rate, killing up to 60% of those infected.  Over time, the virus (and us) have changed to be less fatal, but still is very infective.  It is interestingsierra to note that Rinderpest, the cattle morbillivirus, has been eradicated by a global vaccination protocol, similar to what we did with the Smallpox virus in humans, and almost did with the Polio virus until the Taliban in the tribal areas of Pakistan started shooting the vaccinators.  The canine morbillivirus causes a disease called distemper, which most veterinarians in practice today will never see because enough people continue to give their dogs the vaccine to keep herd immunity up and individuals protected by a highly safe and effective vaccine.

Holiday Pet Hazards

By: Bob Baker,DVM Dr. Baker

The Holiday season brings out many potential problems for your pet.

Chocolate exposure and ingestion can cause anything from mild stomach upset to life threatening medical emergencies. If you are giving chocolate as a gift, it is best it does not get put under the tree. The nose of a dog will be able to sniff through the package and gain access to the goodies.

Sugar free treats made with an artificial sweetener called Xylitol can cause liver failure in the dog, Picture 217but is safe for humans. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs. Macadamia nuts are also toxic to dogs. Some dogs will like the taste of eggnog, and the optional alcohol can be a real problem.

Other dietary misadventures with bones, fatty leftovers, candy etc. can cause significant gastrointestinal upset. Bones can cause obstruction and require surgery, there can be an association of high fat foods and pancreatitis that can be life threatening.

Decorative plants such as poinsettias, holly, mistletoe and lilies can cause mild to severe gastrointestinal upset and holly mistletoe_dogand mistletoe can cause rhythm disturbances in the heart.

Tree tinsel and gift wrapping ribbon can be very entertaining to a curious cat, unfortunately cats can swallow these objects creating a linear foreign body which are incredibly dangerous. They cause a plication (accordion movement) of the intestine on itself and can saw right through multiple areas of intestine. It is very important your cat be seen as soon as possible if you suspect a linear foreign body. People will sometimes put a bow or ribbon around an animals neck which if equipped with a breakaway safety feature could result in choking

The Christmas tree itself can be a hazard, the water in the base can be a source of bacteria or can contain toxic substances to maintain freshness of the tree . We have also seen the curious pet try to climb the tree causing it to fall.

dog-christmas-lights 1Christmas lights have their associated electrical cords are another hazard. Chewing electrical cords can cause painful oral burns.

If you have any questions, just give us a call at (775) 358-6880.

Happy Holidays !


Written by Dr. Bob Baker Dr. Baker

Rabies is a viral infection that targets the central nervous system of warm blooded animals. Rabies is worldwide in distribution and causes about 55,000 human deaths each year. Tragically, most of these deaths could be prevented if domestic animal vaccination programs were in place. We are fortunate in the United States in that we see very little rabies in our pets, and subsequently in humans because we have very effective vaccines that are readily available. Rabies does exist in the United States, primarily in wildlife. Exposure risks become evident when wildlife interacts with humans or our pets. In our area, the most common vector or carrier of rabies is the bat. Skunks, skunk_710_600x450racoons, and foxes are also vectors in out area. Unfortunately we cannot be with our pets 24-7 and sometimes then find dead things to play with or eat, or in some situations may predate on bats and this is a risk for exposure. There are documented events of rabid bats getting into peoples homes as well.
What can we do to protect our pets and families? First of all, there are extremely effective vaccines against rabies for dogs and cats. ALL dogs and cats should be vaccinated against rabies. Even indoor cats that do not go outside have the potential for rabies exposure should a rabid bat gain entry to the home. Dogs are vaccinated as puppies as young as 12 weeks of age. They need another vaccination at a year of age, and then every three years after that. Cats follow the same protocol, except that there are two different vaccines used to booster the older cat, one is labeled for every year and another is labeled for every three years.DSC_0854 Your veterinarian can help you decide which product is right for your pet. Rabies vaccinations are also required by Nevada law. NAC 441A.435
If you or a family member do come across a sick or dead bat, or for that matter any animal, do not approach or handle them. If the animal is a potential rabies vector, and there is any human or animal exposure you should contact Washoe County Vector Control to have the animal tested for rabies.

Bob Baker, DVM   

Dr. Baker

Leptospirosis is a potentially life-threatening bacterial disease that can affect animals, as well as humans. In northern Nevada, we have not typically vaccinated against this disease, but it is increasing in frequency.  Northern California is now considered a leptospirosis “hotspot.”
The Leptospira bacteria is typically spread through the urine of infected wildlife or domestic animals.  The bacteria pass into water and soil, where they can survive for months.  When animals come in contact with this contaminated environment, the bacteria can enter the body through broken skin and mucus membranes.  Drinking contaminated water is another source of infection.
Leptospirosis is a very serious disease that can cause liver problems, kidney failure, and death.  It can also be difficult to diagnose.  There is no one perfect test to confirm the disease, although some of the newer polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are much better than the older (titer) tests.  The incubation period for leptospirosis is usually between 5 to 14 days.
Early treatment is much more successful than delayed intervention.  Treatment involves antibiotics, fluid therapy, and, in some instances, referral for dialysis.
318619_166854683394618_1910788172_n Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be transmitted between animals and humans.  The infected animal’s urine, blood, and tissues are contagious, and humans get lepto if the bacteria enters cuts or broken skin, or if they drink contaminated water.
Leptospirosis is rare here in northern Nevada, but, as mentioned above, northern California is considered a hotspot for the disease, so dogs that travel there definitely run a higher risk of contracting leptospirosis.  To minimize your dog’s risk of exposure:

Avoid exposure to standing water, especially where wildlife or livestock congregate.  Bring your own source of water for your dog to drink.  Vaccinate your dog.  The leptospirosis vaccine is not a core or required vaccine, but we strongly recommend it for dogs that have an exposure risk.  A small dog that lives in an apartment in northern


Nevada does not need to be vaccinated for lepto.  A dog that hunts or has exposure to cattle farms would be at risk and should be vaccinated.  Leptospirosis vaccines have been available for years, but they were not very effective and ran a high risk of side effects, so they became unpopular. With newer technologies, the vaccine is highly effective with less risk of allergic reactions. We recommend the Merial RECOMBITEK 4 vaccine for the best available protection while having a high margin of safety. Initial vaccination requires a booster in 3-4 weeks, followed by annual vaccination to afford the best protection.  Again, not all dogs need to be vaccinated for leptospirosis.  It is a non-core vaccine for a specific population of at-risk dogs. Our doctors are happy to answer any questions you may have.

Shedding 101

Dr. Baker

                                         Bob Baker, DVM

Everyone that has a pet dog or cat knows that they shed hair.  While this is most often not a problem for the pet, it can be a problem for owners for the aesthetic displeasure of having a “hairy home” or even more serious for those with pet allergies.

Truth be know, most people that are allergic to pets are mostly allergic to the dander, or shed skin proteins rather than the hair itself.  Techniques used to minimize shedding problems are helpful though to people with pet allergies.


There are some dogs and cat breeds that are considered “low shedders.”  There are some dogs that shed smaller amounts of hair continuously like people (yes we shed too!), and certainly we’ve all experienced the seasonal “blowing of coat” where there is fur flying everywhere.  There are also the cats and dogs that develop hair mats, big thick clumps of fur that can grow to enormous proportions.

So how can I manage my pet’s shedding?  Well first of all, there is no magic cure for shedding.  There is no spray or food additive that will stop this naturally occurring condition.  But here is a straightforward plan that will make your world a less hairy place.


  •  Brush your pet.  The more hair that ends up in the brush, the less will end up in the  nvironment.  How often would depend on your pet, use some common sense. There are also different types of brushes and combs for different types of hair coat. Try to make it into a positive enjoyable experience for both of you
  • Feed good quality diet. We at Baring recommend the Hills Diets. 
  • bulldoginbathBathe your dog (and cat) as needed. Bathing helps remove dead hairs, and keeps the remaining coat clean.  Pets will normally shed a great deal during and right after a bath as the dead hairs come loose.  Be sure to use a shampoo for pets, not human shampoos…wrong pH.
  • Have regular checkups. Many diseases can affect the skin and hair coat. Regular visits to your veterinarian will help identify problems early, and provide more effective treatment.
  • Problems: Under no circumstances should there be areas of bald skin during a normal shed.  This is called alopecia, and it is not normal.  If there is a rash, itchiness, or odor from the skin, those problems need to be investigated.  Also, some pets that have very heavy coats, or get matting of the fur, shaving becomes an option.  Be careful of sunburn though!


Pet Insurance

What is it, Who is it for, and Why Should You Get It ?

By: Bob Baker DVM 536604_279328702147215_148247985255288_629051_1974042811_n

More and more people are opting to purchase health insurance for their pets.  Health care costs have been rising steadily each year, and advancements in the procedures and equipment in veterinary medicine have led to higher and higher fees.  Most of this is driven by the cost of medical equipment and drugs, much of it the same as in human medicine and influenced by the same economic factors.  There is also an increase in demand from pet owners for state of the art diagnostic equipment and the newest technology for delivering health care and these technologies are expensive to acquire.

The result of this is higher fees usually across the board for the pet owning population.  For better or worse, insurance on the human side of medicine has become large part of the health care delivery system.  This is not the case in veterinary medicine, but insurance is becoming  a rising factor of how pet owners manage the expenses of veterinary care for their pet.

dog-take-ibuprofenThe first thing to remember  when considering pet insurance is  that it is completely different from human insurance.   In veterinary health insurance, the client pays the veterinary provider directly and is reimbursed by the insurance company. This also eliminates veterinary offices only excepting or working with certain companies.  With our office we will submit a claim for any insurance company.  Second, pre-existing conditions ARE excluded by most insurance companies.

In an “average pet” life expectancy you are going to pay more in premiums each year than you are likely to pay if you paid as you went. If you have the discipline to take the money you would have paid in insurance premiums and banked it specifically for your pet’s health care, you would “on average” come out a little ahead.  You can think of pet insurance as an enforced 5073b95e64c1f36647afb72075c09a73savings plan for health care for your pet.  In some cases, where a pet is very healthy and you don’t have much health care costs…you will end up losing money over the pet’s life expectancy.  On the other hand, if you have a pet that is accident prone (IE..lacerations, eating things it shouldn’t, etc), or ends up with a chronic illness (IE.. ear infections, skin/eye issues, renal disease, cancer, etc), you will definitely save money in the long run.  With some cases getting into the thousands of dollars, this can be a financially saving device for people, affording people to take care of their pets where they would not have the opportunity before.
There are too many companies providing pet insurance to list, and companies have different plans to suit individual needs of the client. Plans can include everything from basic medical coverage, to complete health maintenance programs including vaccinations and dental care.
We at Baring have started promoting Trupanion. They offer some of the best coverage out there and the client care is above and beyond. For more information on Pet Insurance, please contact our office and one of the members of our staff can go over it with you.


Dear Santa,536604_279328702147215_148247985255288_629051_1974042811_n
This is Penny Baker and for Christmas I would like some more yummy Royal Canin dog food.  I know with my teeth, I should eat the dental diet, but the food is so yummy my waistline 20154582_lgsuffers, so I guess the Satiety Support would be a better choice.  Besides I can eat more of it and maybe by springtime I can get some of this difficult weight off.
Greenies are tasty too. Basically anything I can eat would be good.  And walks, more walks.  Get Dr. Baker some new hiking boots for me.


 PS I would also like some cute dresses, thanks again Santa 😉  

Dr. Bob Baker

Dr. Bob Baker been here at Baring Blvd. Veterinary Hospital since 1993. He received his B.S. in Animal Biology from U.N.L.V. and his D.V.M. from Colorado State University. Dr. Baker also did a 4 year post-doctoral study at Colorado State University in the critical care unit. At Baring, Dr. Baker is director of medical services and enjoys oncology, ultrasound diagnostics, laparoscopic and endoscopic procedures and emergency medicine. When he is not at work, you will find him spending time with his family, both two and four legged. He also enjoys fishing, wood working, and almost anything outdoors.