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Matthew Sisk: Routine checkup is a relief for me and Lemmy
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Lemmy is coming in today.

The owners are not aware of any problems. So, it’s just a routine visit.

And it happens to be his arbitrarily assigned birthday. He’s 15 now and ready for his learner’s permit.

When he walks through the door, he has a pink mouth. It is not rosy like he just ran around and got his blood flowing. No, it’s pink like a flamingo.

I smile and pat him on the head. He corrects my greeting to the customary handshake and I ask him if he enjoyed his ice cream. His owners laugh and answer yes on his behalf.

As it turns out, one local bank offers dogs small canine ice cream treats if the dog happens to be in a car that patronizes the drive-thru. They used to offer regular ice cream, but had a rash of banking-related diarrhea in pups, so they moved on to a product more suited to the canine gut.

You see, many dogs are lactose intolerant as adults. If that intolerance hits in the middle of a drive, well, you can guess that consequences.

But back to our protagonist. Lemmy looks great. The hair is re-growing on his leg where the catheter was placed during his snake bite hospitalization. His eyes show nuclear sclerosis, or the smoky-appearing natural aging change in the lenses.

His joints are a bit creaky when pushed through their full ranges of motion. But otherwise, he is just as I would have him.

We send off routine blood work and check him for parasites. We update his vaccines, too.

I get another handshake and he’s on his way. There are more tellers in our town, after all.

When the blood work comes back, it is a little off. A few values are slightly high and a few are slightly low. But the main thing is his blood shows high levels of circulating fat. This can be an issue if a dog has a thyroid problem, but Lemmy’s thyroid level is normal.

As it turns out, his birthday treat was too close to the time of blood collection. Lesson: Fast before blood work.

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

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