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Matthew Sisk: Lemmy is too cool, and on the mend
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Lemmy is cooler than me. Not as far as thermoregulation goes. Normal canine body temperature is almost 3 degrees higher than is human temperature.

No, Lemmy is cooler than me in the sunglasses and good hair way. He walks in, his chest and abdomen still shaved in a few spots where his surgeries took place. He sees me, saunters over and offers me a fuzzy paw for our customary handshake hello.

Me, I forego the coolness. I slide out of the handshake into a hug that ends with my forehead pressed to his. He’ll never know how glad I am he did as well as he did. I do my best to get the point across with a treat or six.

It’s been two weeks since his surgery, and he is doing great. His incisions have healed, and I remove his sutures. His chest sounds normal, and follow up radiographs show what appears as normal internal chest structures. If I didn’t know his pericardium had a small window cut in it, these images would not tip me off. This points out the importance of knowing a complete medical history, despite being able to use detailed testing procedures.

The recheck appointment happens to coincide with Lemmy’s routine senior visit, so we check blood work to measure how his organs are working. This is also important given his recent problem with decreased cardiac output secondary to fluid limiting the strength of each heartbeat. Limited blood means limited oxygen, and that damages cells.

Luckily, only one value is outside the reference range. Lemmy’s ALP, or alkaline phosphatase, is slightly elevated. This enzyme is present in most body tissues, and as a single value, is not very specific. The bone version may run high in rapidly growing giant breed puppies. The liver version may run high with exposure to toxins. It’s a complicated measurement. Since no other values were off, and Lemmy’s value is only slightly high, arthritis or recovery from his recent surgery are the most likely reasons.

He leaves with medication for arthritis. Hopefully, I won’t see him for another six months.

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

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