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Matthew Sisk: Follow-up care critical for pets
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Three weeks after Lemmy was examined and diagnosed with a nasty urinary tract infection, he returns for a recheck. This is intended to confirm the infection has been eliminated.

Lemmy received antibiotics for two weeks, and his owners gave him all of the medication as directed. I mention this because many people incorrectly assume it is acceptable to stop antibiotic use once the signs abate. This isn’t so. In fact, the signs may be relieved after only a few days, but the infection may still remain at a reduced level. This lower level of infection can repopulate the affected tissue if antibiotics are stopped too soon.

Please, give all the antibiotics your pet is prescribed. Stopping them too soon only allows the weaker bacteria to be killed, leaving an opening for the nastier bugs to take over.

Back to Lemmy: After he finished his antibiotics, we waited a full week before rechecking his urine. This delay should allow any remaining infection to regrow to a detectable level. Of course, my hope is no infection remains at all.

As it turns out, Lemmy’s infection appears to be gone. And much to my relief, the rafts of surface epithelial cells are gone. This suggests no cancer is present. In fact, Lemmy’s urine looks as healthy as you’d want from a 2-year-old dog.

No signs of kidney disease or diabetes, either. Still, the timing of the recheck coincides with Lemmy’s regularly scheduled yearly surveillance blood work.

I draw blood and send it to an outside lab. This allows a larger spectrum of tests to be run than is possible in our hospital. When the results are returned, Lemmy’s organ functions look great.

Since he is on a daily medication to help with arthritis pain, this is welcome news. Some dogs can have negative reactions to chronic use of anti-inflammatory drugs. Even his thyroid is functioning like it did when he was younger.

I won’t see Lemmy again for six months. I miss him, but I like his avoiding the necessity of me.

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at

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