Saturday, December 28, 2013

Affenpinschers

In February 2013, Banana Joe became the first affenpinscher to win Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, increasing the popularity of the breed and bringing renewed attention to the “monkey faced” dog.
The affenpinscher, however, isn’t the new kid in school; the breed can trace its roots back several hundred years, when it was popular for another reason.

History

During the 1600s, the affenpinscher gained its social status as a ratter—a dog used specifically to chase and catch rodents that had infiltrated kitchens, stables and barns storing fresh grain.


The breed was in high demand for its rat-chasing skills, and became known for its unusual looking face which appeared to resemble that of a monkey. Hence, the breed was named “affen,” which means “monkey” in German.

Aegean Cats

Greek history runs deep with tales of mythology, gods and epic battles. It should come as no surprise, then, that an unassuming cat roaming the Greek ruins for centuries has made a lasting impression on the locals, who started breeding standards for the cat a mere 20 years ago.
Although classified as “rare,” this “new” breed is no stranger to the Greek islanders, who have opened their homes to the affectionate feline.

History

The Aegean cat is a native Greek breed, originating from the Cycladic Islands in the Aegean Sea (Santorini, Milos, Mykonos and Naxos, to name few).


While the cat has been domesticated in Greece for centuries, it is considered a “new” breed as it only began to be formally bred during the early 1990s.
As such, the Aegean cat is the only native variety of cat in Greece and is considered rare. To date, the breed has not yet been recognized by a major cat fancier or breeder organization.

Abyssinian Cats

Abys, as they are lovingly called, are the fourth most popular cat breed a ccording to statistics from the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), the world’s largest registry of pedigreed cats.Elegant and regal-looking, Abyssinians are easy to care for and make ideal pets for cat lovers.

History

According to the CFA, the first Abyssinians to exhibit in England cat shows got their names from Ethiopia, formerly Abyssinia, the country which they are reported to have been imported.


The first mention of Abyssinians dates back to 1872; the cat wasn’t imported to North America until the early 1900s. However, top quality Abyssinians forming the foundation of the current American breeding programs didn’t arrive from England until the 1930s.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Canine Parvovirus

Nearly every mammal species, humans included, has its own special parvovirus. Dogs are no exception to this rule. The canine parvovirus (CPV type-2b specifically, but CPV for our purposes) first emerged among domesticated dogs in Europe during the mid-1970s. This initial appearance quickly evolved into a worldwide epidemic of myocarditis and gastroenteritis. The virus is now known to infect both wild and domesticated canine species. A close relationship between CPV and the already well-known feline panleukopenia virus (FPV) was quickly established. It is thought that CPV came about as a result of a small mutation, or change, in the viral structure of FPV.

 Canine small intestine dilatation, luminal hemorrhage
Two decades after its appearance, CPV strikes much less frequently due to the development of effective vaccines. Outbreaks do still occur however, and it is widely acknowledged that the hard-to-kill viral particles are present most everywhere. Because of this, vaccinating your dog is of the utmost importance. Puppies and adolescent dogs are considered especially susceptible to exposure, and it is recommended that you avoid bringing your puppy to public places until after his vaccinations are complete.
Aetiology
Despite the fact that CPV particles are present in nearly every environment, not every dog becomes infected. This is because several factors influence the effectiveness of the virus. Host vitality (overall health of the dog, immune experience, vaccination status), virulence of the virus (the number of viral particles in a given area), and other environmental factors (stress, dry weather, cold weather) all interact and together ultimately determine whether or not an individual dog will become infected. The most influential factors seem to be the immune level of the individual dog and the number of viral particles the dog is exposed to, but if each factor is “just right,” a dog will become infected. When this occurs, a specific sequence of events is initiated as the virus attacks the body.

There is typically an incubation period of 3 to 7 days between initial infection and onset of first symptoms. CPV needs the help of rapidly dividing cells in order to successfully infect the host animal, and the first cells to be encroached upon are in the lymph nodes of the throat. The virus incubates here for a few days, replicating repeatedly until a vast number of viral particles have been produced. At this point, the virus has entered the bloodstream and is seeking out other organs containing rapidly dividing cells. The two areas typically hit hardest by CPV are the bone marrow and intestinal walls.
Within the bone marrow CPV destroys young immune cells. This causes a detectable drop in white blood cell count, which makes it significantly easier for the viral particles to invade the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Damage to the lymph nodes and bone marrow, while significant, is minor when compared to the havoc CPV wreaks on the intestines. The lining of this organ is covered by miniscule, finger-like protrusions called villi. In turn, the villi bear microscopic projections called microvilli. Together, the villi and microvilli serve to increase the surface area of the intestine and allow it to better absorb nutrients. The cells that cover this surface are short-lived and are replaced continually by new cells that originate in the rapidly-dividing areas known as the Crypts of Lieberk├╝hn. It is here, where the cells are dividing most rapidly, that CPV stages its invasion and does the most damage.
By disabling the source of new cells, the virus prevents dead and dying cells on the villi and microvilli from being replaced. Consequently, the intestines can no longer adequately absorb nutrients. Severe diarrhea and nausea are the initial result, but eventually the villi and microvilli become so damaged that they begin to break down, and the bacteria that are normally confined to the GI tract embark on a deadly journey out of the intestine and into the bloodstream. This is the cause of both significant blood loss through diarrhea and widespread infection inside the body. To make matters worse, the body’s immune system is not quite up to par, as its ability to produce new white blood cells to combat infection has been hampered by the invasion of CPV into the bone marrow. CPV is not always fatal, but when it does kill, death is as a result of either extreme dehydration and shock, or of septic toxins produced by the intestinal bacteria roaming throughout the bloodstream.
Diagnosis 
Symptoms often associated with CPV include lethargy, depression, and loss or lack of appetite, followed by a sudden onset of high fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. If your dog is experiencing bouts of bloody diarrhea and/or vomiting, CPV is only one of several potential culprits. There are several tests that can be run by your veterinarian to help determine whether what is affecting your dog is CPV or some other problem.
By far the most common and most convenient method of testing for the presence of CPV is the fecal ELISA test. ELISA is an acronym for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The test sounds daunting but can actually be completed by your veterinarian in less than 15 minutes and uses technology similar to that found in home pregnancy tests. A small stool sample is necessary for the completion of the ELISA test. Though the ELISA test is quite accurate, there are some cases in which a false positive or false negative result may be obtained. In this case, further measures may have to be taken to establish a diagnosis of CPV.
A simple measure of white blood cell count is often the clincher for a CPV diagnosis. Because one of the first things the parvovirus infects is the bone marrow, a low white blood cell count can be indicative of CPV infection. If the ELISA test was positive, but the dog has a normal white blood cell count, it is unlikely the animal is infected with CPV. If however the dog has both a positive ELISA reading and a low white cell count, a fairly confident diagnosis of CPV may be made.

Treatment 
Treatment procedures for dogs suffering from CPV are limited to a supportive capacity. A hospital stay is usually necessary, as fluids and nutrients are often given intravenously. Treatments may vary between individuals, but certain aspects are considered vital for all patients.
Fluid therapy is crucial in order to replace the vast quantities of liquid lost via vomiting and diarrhea. Because the digestive tract is in such distress, the most effective method of fluid replacement is the use of an IV drip. Antibiotics may be given, either intravenously or as injections, to help fight the effects of intestinal bacteria that may have entered the bloodstream. In addition, medications to control nausea are sometimes added to the IV fluid bag. Overall, care of dogs with CPV centers around fluid replacement and constant monitoring of bodily functions. There is unfortunately no magic formula that will lead to a complete cure in every case.
Vaccination

Veterinarians usually administer the CPV vaccine as part of a combination shot which includes, among others, the distemper and coronavirus vaccines. These shots are given every 3 to 4 weeks from the time a puppy is 6 weeks old until he is at least 16 weeks of age.

Canine Distemper

Canine distemper is caused by the canine distemper virus (CDV). Prior to the arrival of canine parvovirus, CDV was unquestionably the most feared disease seen in domestic canines. This is a highly contagious, largely incurable, and often fatal disease that attacks the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, and, most devastatingly, the central nervous system (CNS).
Cases of canine distemper are much less common today due to the advent of effective vaccines, but puppies and even unvaccinated adult dogs are still highly susceptible to infection. Even with a conscientious vaccination program, some dogs still fall victim to this potentially fatal virus.

Aetiology 
Despite the fact that CDV particles are present in many environments, not every dog will become infected. This is because several factors influence the effectiveness of the virus. Host vitality (overall health of the dog, immune experience, vaccination status), virulence of the virus (the number of viral particles in a given area), and other environmental factors (stress, dry weather, cold weather) all interact and ultimately determine whether or not an individual dog will fall ill. Though the most important factors seem to be the immune level of the dog and the number of viral particles the dog is exposed to, if each factor is ‘just right’, a dog will become infected. When this occurs, a specific sequence of events is initiated as the virus attacks the body.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is an infectious bronchitis of dogs characterized by a harsh, hacking cough that most people describe as sounding like “something stuck in my dog’s throat.” This bronchitis may be of brief duration and mild enough to warrant no treatment at all or it may progress all the way to a life-threatening pneumonia depending on which infectious agents are involved and the immunological strength of the patient. An uncomplicated kennel cough runs a course of a week or two and entails frequent fits of coughing in a patient who otherwise feels active and normal. Uncomplicated cases do not involve fever or listlessness, just lots of coughing.
Aetiology
Numerous organisms may be involved in a case of kennel cough; it would be unusual for only one agent to be involved. Infections with the following organisms frequently occur concurrently to create a case of kennel cough:
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica (bacteria)
  • Parainfluenza virus
  • Adenovirus type 2
  • Canine distemper virus
  • Canine influenza virus
  • Canine herpesvirus (very young puppies)
  • Mycoplasma canis (a single-cell organism that is neither virus nor bacterium)
  • Canine reovirus.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Bordetella / Kennel Cough in Pets

Planning a vacation or holiday away? Whether your pet travels with you or spends his days making new friends at your neighborhood boarding facility, he'll need one important thing ahead of time: the Bordetella vaccine.
The Bordetella vaccine is a preventive measure to ward off a highly contagious bacterial illness that can be readily spread from dog to dog, cat to cat and dog to cat. Human transmission is also possible, so people who have a compromised immune system should avoid contact with infected animals.


Commonly referred to as kennel cough in dogs, Bordatella bronchoseptica infection isn't typically a life-threatening illness but some pets develop complications of pneumonia from the disease. Kennel cough is often a complex disorder caused by a combination of canine parainfluenza virus and Bordatella bronchoseptica bacteria. Other respiratory virusus have also been implicated in this multi-agent disease.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Tips for Preventing Pet Behavior Problems

  1. Set rules immediately and stick to them.
  2. Avoid situations that promote inappropriate behavior.
  3. Observe the pet and provide what it needs to be cared for and attendedto.
  4. Supervise the new pet diligently through undivided individual attention and training, and restrict the pet's access to a limited area of the house until training is complete.
  5. Encourage good behavior with praise and attention.
  6. Correct bad behaviors by providing positive alternatives. (A toy for a slipper, scratching post for the sofa.)
  7. Never physically punish or force compliance to commands. This may lead to fear biting or aggression.
  8. Don't play rough or encourage aggression or play biting.
  9. Expose pets to people, animals, and environments where you want them to live.
  10. See your veterinarian if serious or unresolved behavior problems exist.

Hip Dysplasia

What is hip dysplasia?
In basic terms, hip dysplasia means "badly formed hip." In unaffected animals, the ball at the end of the leg bone fits smoothly into a pocket in the hip, just as pieces of a puzzle fit together. In affected dogs, the "pieces" don't come together as well. The ball may roll around loosely in the socket, making for a rather uncomfortable fit. This looseness is what may cause your pet to limp or seem pained during certain activities.
Who gets it?
The joint disease is common in large dogs; about 50 percent of some larger breeds are affected. Less commonly, the disease also can occur in medium-sized breeds and even in small breeds. It primarily strikes purebreds, but it can develop in mixed breeds, particularly when both parents are prone to the disease. Dogs with a higher incidence of hip dysplasia are German shepherds, Labrador retrievers, rottweillers, Great Danes, golden retrievers, Doberman pinschers, mastiffs, and St. Bernards.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cushing's Disease

Hyperadrenocorticism, also called Cushing's disease, is a hormonal disorder that affects dogs and cats, although the condition is more prevalent in dogs.
Commonly considered a disease of middle-aged pets, treatment should be viewed as a means to provide the pet a good quality of life as Cushing’s disease is very complicated, has a wide range of symptoms and is not curable.

What is Cushing’s Disease?

Simply put, Cushing’s disease is caused by an overproduction of cortisol, a type of steroid hormone that has many roles including managing blood sugar levels, blood vessel function and decreasing inflammation.


It may help to think of cortisol as cortisone (such as used in creams for rashes) or prednisone.
Why would the body produce too much cortisol? Bear with me as I get a little technical here!
Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands under the control of the pituitary gland. There are two main types of Cushing’s disease: pituitary dependent hyperadrenocorticism (PDH) and adrenocortical dependent hyperadrenocorticism (ADH).

Cherry Eye and Pets

Cherry eye, also called prolapse nictitans gland (tear gland of the third eyelid), is a hereditary condition that affects various dog breeds and a few cat breeds. Pet owners may notice redness and inflammation in one of both of their pet’s eyes—but don’t chalk this up to simple irritation. Cherry eye can cause long-term issues if overlooked.
The good news: Modern medicine offers a surgical remedy that corrects the problem. Dr. Jennifer Hawkins, a contributing veterinarian for the VPI Pet HealthZone, shares her experience about treating the condition.

What is Cherry Eye?

“Cherry eye” is a condition that affects many dogs in which the tear-producing gland that is present under the lower eyelid pops out, or prolapses.


This prolapsed gland is easily seen as a bulging red mass protruding from the third eyelid (you know, that pink veil the sits at the inside corner of your dog's eye). In some dogs, this gland of the third eyelid simply isn’t held down very well into its normal position. Dogs that have one gland prolapse may later have prolapse of the gland of the opposite eye.

Which Dog Breeds Are Prone to Cherry Eye?

The genetics are complex but it is generally accepted that cherry eye is a hereditary condition for which some dog breeds may be predisposed.
The facial conformation, or shape, is also a factor as breeds with a short muzzle are more prone to developing this condition. Cherry eye is more common in boxers, bulldogs, beagles, basset hounds, pugs, Boston terriers and cocker spaniels to name a few.
Cats very rarely develop cherry eye, but the condition has been seen in Burmese and Bombay cats. However, technically, any breed can develop cherry eye.

Treatment 

Cherry eye diagram
When I first graduated from veterinary school, I worked in a practice with two other veterinarians. One of the patients on the surgery schedule was a dachshund named Mimi, who was scheduled for cherry eye repair.
I had learned to surgically correct this protruding tear gland that affects many dogs, but one of the veterinarians was of the opinion that the entire gland should be removed. It sparked much debate among the three of us—no one was satisfied until we spoke to a boarded veterinary ophthalmologist.
That day, many years ago (we won’t divulge how many), myself and the other two doctors were able to lay our dispute to rest. The ophthalmologist informed us that indeed, though it was once common to remove these tear glands in the event of cherry eye, it had since been determined how very important it was to preserve the gland. Thus the gland should always be replaced into its natural position under the eyelid.

Long-Term Effect 

Some pet owners elect to not address the cherry eye as the problem appears only cosmetic. However, inflammation of the prolapsed tear producing gland and decreased blood flow to the gland caused by its abnormal anatomic position eventually lead to decreased tear production and yet another condition, keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) or “dry eye.”
Decreased production of the aqueous portion of the tears causes the eye to compensate by increasing the mucoid portion of the tears. This leads to the affected eye becoming gummy and gooey while also negatively impacting the corneal health (the cornea is the clear front layer of the eye).
As a result, the cornea eventually becomes black due to lack of proper lubrication. This black, or melanotic, cornea does affect vision relative to the severity of the melanosis.
Dry eye requires lifelong eye medications, not artificial tears, but prescription medications. Artificial tears require application every two hours to be remotely effective and are thus a very impractical treatment choice.

Potential Complications of Surgery 

There are a multitude of surgical techniques to repair cherry eye, all of them effective. However, it is still possible for the gland to prolapse again and sometimes require another surgery.
Also, the opposite gland may prolapse thus requiring surgery. Occasionally, a small piece of suture material may loosen causing eye irritation. Sometimes this is treated with eye medication, other times a second surgery to remove the offending piece of suture material is needed.
As it turns out, I was beginning my career during a time when the current paradigm with regards to cherry eye treatment was changing due to a more thorough understanding of the importance of this gland. I am pleased to say that Mimi had surgery to replace the tear gland back under the third eyelid and had a great recovery.

Canine Influenza

Canine Influenza is a respiratory infection caused by a highly contagious virus. The virus easily spreads from one dog to another via air and/or contact with infected objects.
Canine influenza has been traced as a mutation from the virus causing equine influenza in horses. The initial infection began in Florida on a greyhound racetrack in 2004 (though some researchers suspect even earlier cases). It rapidly traveled through other dog race tracks, animal shelters, and veterinary facilities, reaching dogs throughout much of the United States before it was even truly recognized.
Because this is such a new infectious agent, most dogs have no natural immunity against this virus. Hence, the majority of dogs exposed will become actively infected.

Signs

Dogs infected with canine influenza develop varying degrees of coughing, nasal discharge, fever, and decline in attitude and appetite. Indeed, initially these are the same symptoms seen with other upper respiratory infections, often referred to as “kennel cough.”


For those dogs that have only mild signs of canine influenza, they should recover within a week or two, though the cough may still persist for two to three weeks.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Cancer in Avian and Exotic Pets

Cancer is one of the dreaded diseases that affects humans and pets alike. Unfortunately, birds, rabbits and other exotic pets can suffer from cancer-related diseases, too.
Unlike dogs and cats that can show symptoms in the early stages, rabbits and birds may not show signs of the disease until the cancer has spread.
Therefore, any change in behavior, eating patterns or repeated diarrhea, vomiting or fatigue should be reported to your veterinarian immediately.


Lymphosarcoma 

Lymphosarcoma is the most common tumor of guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets, pot-bellied pigs and similar exotic pets. And just as with humans, the best way to detect this cancer in pets is to regularly feel for lumps, bumps or swellings.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Addison's Disease in Dogs

Addison's disease, or hypoadrenocorticism, is a hormonal disorder that is typically diagnosed in dogs, and considered rare in cats. In fact, while Addison's disease is still relatively uncommon in dogs, it occurs more frequently than with humans and commonly affects young to middle-aged female dogs.
Though uncommon, this condition should not be taken lightly: Addison’s disease is fatal if left untreated.

Causes 

Addison's disease is believed to be a result of the body’s own immune system attacking the outer layers of the adrenal glands.


The outermost layer of the adrenal gland produces hormones that help maintain the balance of sodium, potassium and water in the body. When not properly balanced, this can result in an inability for muscles, including the heart, to function. The next layer of the adrenal gland produces cortisol (much like prednisone) which is important in metabolism of protein, carbohydrates and sugars.

Seasonal Dangers to Outdoor Pets

Warning to pet owners: The winter climate can make for some very chilly critters.
Health conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease and hormonal imbalances can compromise your pet’s ability to regulate his or her body heat.
Pets who are not generally in good health shouldn't be exposed to winter conditions for an extended length of time. Here are 10 of the most common winter hazards to outdoor pets.


1. Inadequate Shelter

If your pet lives predominantly outdoors, make sure to provide a draft-free, weatherproof shelter that will stay dry and isn’t so large that it will not retain enough heat to keep your pet warm. It is also a good idea to position your pet’s house in the opposite direction of the wind, including the shelter door opening. This will help retain warmer conditions inside. Even pets who are used to living outdoors should be brought inside once the temperature gets below freezing.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Afghan Hounds

The Afghan hound may look like a prima donna, with its frou-frou hair “do” and its noble-like stance, but the breed could tackle a leopard if given the chance.
In fact, due to its lightening-fast speed and seemingly effortless agility, the Afghan hound was at one time used by the Afghan tribes to catch gazelles, deer and, yes, even leopards. While the breed is no longer bred for hunting, it is well-known throughout international dog competitions and is highly regarded for its beauty and poise, often winning Best in Show.

History
The Afghan hound is of the oldest sight hound breeds. In fact, genetic testing traces the breed back to the wolf with very little genetic divergence, meaning the Afghan hound descended from some of the oldest-known dog breeds.


Speculation continues to swirl about the breed's specific origins. Clues point to a shared lineage with the ancient Russian Tasy breed, the Taigan breed from the Chinese border of Afghanistan, and the Kurram Valley Hound from India.
The Afghan hound was also referred to as the "Persian greyhound" by the English in the early 1900s.
Today's modern Afghan hound is a result of breeding a variety of long-hair sight hounds from the Afghanistan area during the 1920s.

Fun Facts About Dogs

  • Dogs only sweat from the bottoms of their feet, the only way they can discharge heat is by panting.
  • Dogs have about 100 different facial expressions, most of them made with the ears.
  • Dogs have about 10 vocal sounds.
  • Dogs do not have an appendix.
  • There are more than 350 different breeds of dogs worldwide.
  • Dalmatians are born spotless: at first pure white, their spots develop as they age.
  • Contrary to popular belief, dogs aren’t color blind; they can see shades of blue, yellow, green and gray. The color red registers on a grayscale in a dog’s vision.
  • Most domestic dogs are capable of reaching speeds up to about nineteen miles per hour when running at full speed.
  • Using their swiveling ears like radar dishes, experiments have shown that dogs can locate the source of a sound in 6/100ths of a second.
  • Domesticated for more than 10,000 years, the dog was one of the first animals domesticated by humans.

Epilepsy

Epilepsy is an abnormality of electrical impulses in the brain that causes a seizure of muscles, or loss of motor control in the body. While epilepsy is a common disorder in dogs and fairly unusual in cats, the disorder can occur in any breed of dog or cat.
The majority of epileptic pets are between one and five years of age and act normally between episodes. This form of the disorder is termed idiopathic epilepsy and the cause is unknown. A pet greater than six years of age is more likely to have a brain tumor or heart, kidney or liver disease that is causing the seizures.


The main symptom of epilepsy is a seizure, which can also develop as a result of head trauma, poisoning, disease or an unknown cause. Recognizing a seizure is sometimes difficult. A minor seizure, or petite mal seizure, may cause only a slight loss of motor control. On the other hand, a grand mal seizure is severe, causing an animal to fall to the ground and convulse uncontrollably. In general, a pet will lose bladder and bowel control during a seizure, be unaware of his surroundings and appear abnormal for a period of time after the seizure.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Heartworm Disease

Heartworm is an insidious disease that has spread to virtually all parts of the US and many parts of Canada since the early 1970s. It is spread only by mosquitoes; thus, areas heavily populated by these insects tend to have a greater incidence of heartworm disease.
Heartworm can strike both dogs and cats, although it is much more commonly seen in dogs. As its name implies, heartworm lives in the blood of a dog's or cat's heart and adjacent blood vessels. The adult heartworms living in the heart produce offspring, called microfilariae, which circulate in the infected animal's blood.
When a mosquito "bites" an infected pet, it sucks out blood containing the microfilariae. After about two weeks in the mosquito, the microfilariae become infective larvae. This step is necessary for the transmission of heartworm. When the mosquito bites another pet, the infective larvae are transmitted.
Canine Heartworm
Veterinary research has resulted in medications and procedures that have improved the treatment of canine heartworm disease. Prompt detection and early treatment are vital to a successful cure.


Highly effective diagnostic testing and preventive medications have been developed in recent years. It is necessary to have a heartworm test prior to using a preventive. Severe or fatal reactions may occur if preventives are given to dogs with heartworm disease, or may create diagnostic confusion at a later date.

West Nile Virus

With West Nile virus spreading across the U.S., many pet owners have shared concern about their pet's risk of infection. Most West Nile virus infections have been identified in wild birds and horses. Although the virus can infect dogs and cats, the risk of illness is very low.
West Nile virus is an arthropod-borne virus that causes encephalitis (swelling of the brain). The virus is transmitted by blood-feeding insects such as mosquitoes.
West Nile virus is a rare disease that spreads through mosquitoes that have fed on infected birds. Mosquitoes become infected after feeding on birds that are carrying the virus. Infected mosquitoes may then transmit the virus to humans and other animals. The virus cannot be transmitted directly between animals or from animals to people.


At risk
The risk West Nile virus poses to pets is very small. Elderly and young dogs, and those with compromised immune systems could be at higher risk. Pets have been exposed, but they have not fallen ill in great numbers. Cases of infection causing disease in pets are very rare and likely only in immunocompromised animals.
Cats may become ill with the virus, but dogs seem to be relatively resistant to developing clinical illness as a result of exposure to West Nile.

Pain Management for Pets

Decades ago in veterinary medicine, pain was thought to be good for an injured or sick animal. This wasn't because veterinarians were cruel or wanted pets to suffer; they believed that pain helped keep animals sufficiently quiet in order to heal. Plus, it was thought that there really wasn't any way to know whether a pet was feeling pain or needed some relief. Today it's just the opposite: some veterinarians now believe they should treat for pain until there is proof that an animal isn't hurting.


Why it's important to manage your pet's pain
Pain management has become an important issue in veterinary medicine, with organizations such as the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine Center for the Management of Animal Pain, the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine, the Humane Society of the United States, and the Companion Animal Pain Management Consortium studying pain and pain management in animals. Studies like these have shown that by helping your pet avoid pain you may be able to speed the recovery process, whether from surgery or injury. Best of all, because it reduces stress and increases a sense of well being, pain management may even help your furry friend live longer.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cognitive Dysfunction--Alzheimer's in Animals

Sometimes older dogs get confused, maybe soil the rug or lose their way in the house. It's perfectly natural. Or is it?
In the past ten years, veterinarians have come to realize that severe cognitive (or thinking-related) problems are no more normal in older dogs than they are in aging people. While older dogs may move a bit more slowly and get a little gray around the muzzle, they shouldn't experience a complete change in personality. A dog that suddenly seems confused, distant, or lost may be showing signs of cognitive dysfunction.


Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (or CDS) is a degeneration of the brain and the nervous system in dogs, roughly comparable to Alzheimer's disease in people. Like Alzheimer's, it is caused by physical changes in the brain and brain chemicals, and it is not a part of normal aging. It results in a deterioration of cognitive abilities, causing behavioral changes that can disrupt the lives of pets and the families that care for them. An ongoing study performed at the University of California-Berkeley has shown that 62 percent of dogs between ages 11 and 16 demonstrate one or more signs of CDS, and the percentage goes up as dogs get older.

Feline Hepatic Lipidosis

Feline hepatic lipidosis (FHL), also known as "feline fatty liver syndrome," is the most common form of liver disease in cats in North America. The disease is unique to cats; it is not found in other companion animals.
The condition is triggered when a cat stops eating due to stress, another disease or for any other reason. After a few days without food, the cat's body will begin to use fat for energy. Cats do not metabolize fat well; therefore the fat cells build up in the liver and eventually prevent it from functioning normally. FHL is very dangerous for cats and can be life threatening if left untreated.
I strongly urge pet owners to contact their veterinarian if their cat has not eaten in one or two days. Feline hepatic lipidosis can progress rapidly and become life-threatening in a few days to a week after onset.


While cats of all breeds and any age are at risk, middle-aged, obese cats are most susceptible to the disease. The most common form of the disease is idiopathic (of unknown origin), however the disease can also occur in conjunction with other diseases of the liver.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Feline Urological Syndrome

Feline Urological Syndrome (FUS) is a common problem that affects cats. Its exact cause is still unknown.
Diet, inadequate water intake, bacteria, viruses, and stress may all be involved.
Four common disorders are often associated with FUS include:
Cystitis — inflammation of the lining and wall of the urinary bladder.
Infections — blood or mucus associated with inflamed tissue is a perfect place for bacterial infections.
Urethral Blockage — crystallization of minerals and irritation of the lining of the bladder and urethra can plug up or block the urinary outflow tract. This blockage is life-threatening if not relieved.

Uremia — a life-threatening accumulation of poisonous wastes in the bloodstream. The lack of urination causes a full bladder and this prevents the kidneys from discharging wastes from the body. Unless the blockage is promptly removed, the cat will suffer a painful death. Straining to urinate, depression, weakness, vomiting, and collapse are the signs which, if not corrected, lead to coma and death.

Heart Disease

While the mortality rate from heart disease is declining among humans, it seems to be increasing among pets. Pets are living longer and more heart disease is being detected.
The general types of heart disease:
  • Heart valve problems are the most common cause of heart disease in dogs. The heart valves thicken and then leak when the heart pumps.
  • Inflammation (myocarditis) is caused by an infection of the heart muscles or lining of the heart.
  • Heartworm disease is caused by worms, which actually lodge in the heart. This disease is transmitted by mosquitoes.
  • Arrhythmia or irregular heart beats are caused by malfunctions of the heart's electrical control system known as the pacemaker.
  • Blockages of the heart arteries cause the death of part of the heart muscle. This disease is not common in pets.
  • Other heart diseases may be caused by birth defects.

It is important to know some of the general symptoms of common heart disease, since early detection can help save your pet. The signs include restlessness, coughing, fatigue, fainting, a bluish tongue, loss of appetite, body swelling, and a rapid or very slow heart beat.
Just as in humans, most heart disease in pets can be controlled through proper treatment and care. Contact your veterinarian if you suspect your pet is suffering from some form of heart disease.

Feline Leukemia

If your cat has frequent contact with other cats or kittens, you should be informed about feline leukemia virus. The presence of this virus causes major problems with the cat or kitten's immune system and other organs, and may even cause cancer.
Research indicates that feline leukemia virus is highly contagious among cats of all ages. Current research indicates that it does not affect humans or other species. Among cats, it is spread by saliva, urine, and blood. A cat can also pass the virus along to its kittens in a number of ways before they are born.

Some of the symptoms include:
  • Anemia, lack of pink or red color in the gums
  • Weight loss
  • Recurring or chronic illness
  • A progressive weakness
  • Lethargy, fever, diarrhea
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Yellow color in the mouth and/or the white of the eyes
Remember, avoiding exposure with infected cats and updating vaccinations are the best tools of preventive medicine. Your veterinarian can determine the best program for your cat.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus is a disease involving glucose (sugar) in the blood and insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the body to regulate blood glucose. Diabetes occurs when your pet's body has too much blood glucose because he either doesn't produce enough insulin or is insensitive to the available insulin in his body.
Diabetes is one of the most common hormonal disorders in dogs and cats. The disease is most often seen in older, overweight female dogs and cats.


There are two types of diabetes. Type I diabetes results from a deficiency of insulin in the body due to an insufficient number of insulin-producing cells. Type I diabetes is the most serious form of the disease and most often develops in young pets. Type I diabetes is not preventable.
Type II diabetes is more common, resulting from a body's resistance to the effects of insulin. Older, obese pets are more susceptible to type II diabetes because fat cells may become resistant to insulin. Weight control through diet and exercise may help prevent the onset of type II diabetes.
Since obesity is an underlying factor in the disease, keeping your cat or dog trim and healthy may help prevent diabetes.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Diseases Transmitted by Pets

In 58 million American households, pets are a source of joy and perhaps even the key to longer, healthier lives. However, pet-owning households with young children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems need to be aware that their animals can play host to disease-causing microorganisms.
Humans are not likely to catch a disease through their pets, but in very rare cases it can happen. Fortunately, most of these diseases rarely occur in healthy individuals, are mild and can be easily treated. Others, like toxoplasmosis, can be far more serious. Diseases transmitted from animals to humans are called zoonotic diseases. Zoonotic diseases usually live out their complex life cycles in animals, but sometimes cross into human bodies. Usually contracting a pet-borne disease requires very close contact with animals or their excretions, so zoonotic diseases can be avoided with common sense, cleanliness and regular pet examinations and vaccinations.


Children often put their hands in their mouths, providing an easy route for bacteria to travel into their bodies. For example, children who eat dirt are more susceptible to contracting zoonotic diseases. Children also are more susceptible to pet-borne illness because they carry fewer antibodies than adults do. The same holds true for puppies and kittens, making them more likely to carry disease than older dogs and cats.

Cancer

When you're standing in an exam room, holding your dog or cat and waiting for a diagnosis, the last thing you want to hear your veterinarian say is "cancer." It brings to mind a rush of complex, confusing emotions. Maybe you are reminded of your own experiences, or a friend or a relative who dealt with cancer. You feel powerless to help your pet, almost like you're under attack. You have a whole list of new decisions to make about treatment, finances, and caretaking. A minute ago, you were thinking of your pet as healthy and happy; now you are afraid that he will suffer, or lose mobility, or even that you could lose him. In an instant, one word has changed your whole world.
All of these feelings, confusing and conflicting as they might be, are completely normal. Cancer can be a complex, frightening disease that brings on a lot of very emotional reactions. But once your initial fear starts to fade, you'll learn that there are a lot of reasons to take heart. Though all cancers are different, cancer is, in general, a very treatable disease. In fact, it is the most curable of all the chronic diseases pets can get. When cancer is caught early enough, there are a lot of options. Veterinarians have all kinds of advanced treatments to treat your furry family member, with new therapies being developed all the time, and animals often respond very well to treatment. There is plenty of reason to hope that you and your pet will have a lot of happy years together. As scary as it seems at first, you can make it through your pet's bought with cancer. If you get informed, work together with your pet's healthcare team, and take good care of yourself and your pet, dealing with cancer doesn't have to be a frightening process.


First Off - Educate yourself
One reason cancer can be so scary for us is that it seems so mysterious. Nothing is as frightening as the unknown. You can work through your fear by informing yourself about the disease, the dangers it poses and the hope it offers. Knowing something about cancer will not only help you to make better decisions about your pet's treatment, but will also help you to feel more in control of your situation.
You first need to understand the disease as a whole. The term cancer is a general one. It refers to any disease in which cells divide out of control. For some reason, the genetic code that tells cells when to stop dividing breaks down, and the cells reproduce at high speed until they form a big mass of cancer cells, called a tumor. This tumor can interfere with and damage other, healthy cells. If they keep growing, the cancer cells can start to spread--or metastasize--to other parts of the body, like the bones or lungs, and the cancer cells can damage them as well.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Oral Ulceration and Chronic Ulcerative Paradental Stomatitis in Dogs

Oral ulceration and chronic ulcerative paradental stomatitis (CUPS) is a disease of the mouth which causes painful ulcers on the gums and mucosal lining of the mouth cavity. The cause of this condition has been determined to be a hypersensitive immune response to bacteria and plaque on the tooth surfaces, and sometimes signs of CUPS will start subsequent to a dental cleaning, when these materials are loosened in the mouth.
While it appears that manipulation and antigenic stimulation (substances that stimulate the production of antibodies in the body) in the oral cavity may trigger stomatitis, it is also believed that such animals would probably have eventually developed the disease anyway. In some cases, the only resolution is to remove all of the teeth, so that the bacteria that is normally found on the surface of the teeth is no longer present in the mouth at all.


Certain breeds of dogs appear to be at higher risk for developing this disease. Maltese, cavalier king charles spaniels, cocker spaniels and Bouvier des Flandres have been found to have a higher incidence. One of the complications of CUPS is idiopathic osteomyelitis, inflammation of the bone and marrow, which cocker spaniels have been found to be predisposed to.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Herbal Supplements

You can hardly turn on the television any more without seeing an ad for an herbal supplement. Advertisers tout claim herbal products can do everything from improving memory to improving your mood to helping you lose weight. Like most events in human medicine, this movement has carried over into veterinary medicine, and a number of herbal supplements are now available to animals. Along with the benefits of herbal treatments, however, have come questions about the safety and effectiveness of "natural" or "alternative" therapies.


The case supporter
Proponents of alternative treatments point out that the difference between herbal and prescription treatments is not as large as we think. Medications have been derived from plants for at least 3000 years, and 25 percent of our prescription drugs still are. Many of the drugs that are now synthesized originated from plants at some point. Clearly, plant-based medications can be dependable and effective.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cat's Eating Habits

Cats love their meat. In fact, these furry carnivores must eat animal tissue to maintain their long-term health. Cats require high amounts of amino acids, "building blocks" that prevent disease. Vegetarian diets, therefore, are out of the question for cats.
Kittens (cats less than a year old) need food specially designed for their young systems- with an increased level of the necessary proteins for growing muscles and bones.


Many cats enjoy raiding a dog's food bowl. But cats are not small dogs and do not receive proper nutrition from dog food products. That means meal swapping is not allowed: Cats should eat only cat food. When choosing a food, cat owners should look for one that contains proteins, fats, minerals, and vitamins. Extra vitamin and mineral supplements are not only unnecessary but potentially harmful. Supplements can unbalance a complete and balanced cat food.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Pet First Aid

We cannot stress enough that you SHOULD NOT get on-line during a pet emergency or when your pet is seriously ill. In an emergency, first aid is not a substitute for veterinary treatment. However, before you are able to get your pet to a veterinarian, knowing some basic first aid can help. Always seek veterinary care following first-aid attempts.
Bite Wounds
Treatment/Action:
Approach the pet carefully to avoid getting bitten. Muzzle the animal. Check the wound for contamination or debris. If significant debris is present, then clean the wound with large amounts of saline or balanced electrolyte solution. If these are not available, then regular water may be used. Wrap large open wounds to keep them clean. Apply pressure to profusely bleeding wounds. Do not use a tourniquet. Wear gloves when possible.
Bite wounds often become infected and need professional care. Call your veterinarian.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pet CPR

It's not a scenario you want to imagine: finding your dog unconscious on your living room floor or your cat hit by a car. Finding your pet not breathing or with his heart not beating can be a terrifying experience, but there are things you can do. The most important step you can take is staying calm. If there's another person with you, have her call your veterinarian while you perform CPR.


Step 1: Check for responsiveness
Before you begin doing anything to your pet, make sure he is truly unresponsive.
  • Check his breathing by placing your hand in front of his nose and mouth. (Be sure not to cover them and block his airway!)
  • Check for his heartbeat by placing your ear against area where your pet's left elbow touches the chest.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Microchipping - HomeAgain

It's always sad to see a flyer stapled to a signpost or on a bulletin board at the grocery store with a picture of a lost Snuggles or Scruffy. You imagine a child waiting for the phone to ring, hoping that some kind person happens to find his kitty and see his flyer.
Sadly, once a pet is lost, the odds are against her finding her way home again. According to the American Humane Association, only about seventeen percent of lost dogs and two percent of cats ever find their way back from shelters to their original owners. Almost 20 million pets are euthanized every year because their owners can't be found. There are ways to beat these odds though, and they're a little higher-tech than the nametag and collar you're used to. To give your pet the best chance to be identified, no matter how far he roams, have him implanted with a microchip.


Tags and collars are a good start—they're certainly better than no ID at all—but they aren't 100 percent dependable. Tags can fade, rust, or get scratched and be impossible to read. Collars can tear or slip off, or even worse, get caught on something while your pet is wandering in the wilderness and hurt or kill him.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Pet Vaccinations

Vaccinations are the most important preventive measure you can take for the health of your pet. Health threats vary from city to city and even in various sections of cities. Therefore, your veterinarian can tailor an immunization program for your pet based on local conditions.
Your dog or cat generally can be immunized for the following diseases:
  • Dogs can be immunized against distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, parvovirus, coronavirus, Bordetella, rabies, and Lyme disease.
  • Cats can be immunized against feline panleukopenia (distemper), rabies, feline rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, chlamydia, feline leukemia, and FIP.
In recent years, some veterinarians have changed their recommendations regarding the frequency of vaccinations. The following fact sheet provides answers to important questions concerning vaccinations.

Tips to Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy

Simple Steps Ensure a Long Life for Your Pet
As a responsible pet owner, you can take a few simple steps that will go a long way toward keeping your pet healthy and happy. The American Animal Hospital Association suggests these practical tips that can ensure your pet's health and happiness.
Make your home a safe environment
Unfortunately, making your home pet safe often is a job that is overlooked. Pet proofing your home can lower the risk of a serious pet accident occurring. A pet owner needs to be aware of several potential dangers. Poisons in the home that can kill or seriously injure your pet include some kinds of house plants (dieffenbachia, philodendron, hyacinth, and mistletoe), pesticides, and medications. Low electrical cords are extremely hazardous when chewed. Keep harmful objects out of your pet's reach. A little prevention may be just enough to avoid a pet tragedy from happening in your home.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Paracetamol Poisoning in the Cat

Paracetamol is one of the most widely used drugs in the world. At manufacturer recommended doses it has an excellent safety record in humans. However, this is not the case in cats. Cats are simply unable to remove the drug from their bodies fast enough to prevent toxicity developing.
 NEVER ADMINISTER PARACETAMOL TO A CAT.



Symptoms of Paracetamol Poisoning
In the first few hours, an affected cat's breathing may become faster and more laboured. Her tongue may go blue and her heart beat faster. These are all effects of a reduced oxygen carrying capacity of the blood. The cat is likely to be depressed, may vomit, or develop swellings of the head and paws. If the cat survives these early symptoms, over the next few days, she is likely to produce blood-stained urine, develop abdominal pain, and may become jaundiced (where the whites of the eyes become yellow). Seizures are possible, as is a lapse into a coma. Death can occur up to 6 days after the consumption of paracetamol.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pet Toenails Trimming

Depending on your pet's attitude, you may not want to say N-A-I-L T-R-I-M too loud. While some cats and dogs barely notice when you're trimming their nails, others just plain don't like it and will let you know by squirming, whining, or worse-growling or biting.
By knowing beforehand the proper way to do a nail trim on your pet, you may be able to save Kitty or Rover (and yourself!) some distress. But if your pet simply refuses to cooperate, becomes aggressive, or if you just don't feel comfortable doing it yourself, it may be better to let a professional groomer or veterinarian conduct the dreaded deed.


First, you should know why trimming your pet's nails is important. While long nails may be fashionable for supermodels, your dog's or cat's overgrown nails will drag on the ground and make walking or running uncomfortable for your pet. This, in turn, could result in soreness or other problems further up the leg. Dewclaws (the sixth toenail that's found higher up on the paw near a pet's "ankle") that are not trimmed regularly can curve back into the skin, which is very painful, and cause infection. Although it's common for many dogs to have their rear dewclaws removed when they're young pups, dewclaws on their front legs often remain. Cats have them, as well.
In addition to trimming nails for health reasons, a pet's blunt nail tips are less likely to hurt you or your furniture by scratching.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Senior Pet Care

Thanks to advances in veterinary medicine, pets are living longer than ever before. However, with this increased lifespan comes an increase in the types of ailments that can afflict senior pets. As pets reach the golden years, there are a variety of conditions and diseases that they can face, including weight and mobility changes; osteoarthritis; kidney, heart, and liver disease; tumors and cancers; hormone disorders such as diabetes and thyroid imbalance; and many others.
Just as the health care needs of humans change as we age, the same applies to pets. It's critical for pet owners to work closely with their veterinarian to devise a health plan that is best for their senior pet.
When Does "Senior" Start?
So when is a pet considered a senior? Generally, smaller breeds of dogs live longer than larger breeds, and cats live longer than dogs. Beyond that, the life span will vary with each individual, and your veterinarian will be able to help you determine what stage of life your furry friend is in. Keep in mind that some small dog breeds may be considered senior at 10-13 years, while giant breeds are classified as seniors at ages as young as five. Your veterinarian is your best source for more information to determine when your pet reaches the golden years.


Pet Dental Care

Meat Toothpaste
Dental care can add as much as five years to your pet's life.
Dental care is a little known yet absolutely necessary component of caring for your pets. By the age of three, some 80 percent of all dogs and 70 percent of all cats show signs of dental disease, which can lead to the more serious problems of heart, lung, and kidney disease. Fido's dog breath and Tabby's tuna breath aren't something to be ignored---they are probably indicative of an oral problem, and the sooner you have it treated by your veterinarian (and learn to care for it yourself), the sooner you and your pet can smile proudly.
The stages and faces of oral disease
Periodontal disease---an infection of the tissue surrounding the teeth---takes hold in progressive stages. Plaque and tartar form naturally when food remains in the cracks and crevices of the teeth, especially at the gum line. (Because canned food tends to stick more easily to the surfaces of the teeth, it is somewhat more likely to cause plaque than dry food. But any food will cause problems if the teeth are never cleaned.) At this stage the plaque is still soft, and brushing or chewing hard food and toys can dislodge it. If left to spread, plaque can lead to gingivitis--an inflammation of the gums--causing them to become red and swollen and to bleed easily.


Plaque soon hardens into tartar that forms a wedge separating the tooth from the gum. At this point plaque can grow below the gum line, causing more damage, and professional cleaning is needed to help manage it. If the plaque and tartar buildup continue unchecked, pus can form at the root of the tooth and the tooth becomes impacted. In the final stages of periodontal disease, the tissues surrounding the tooth are killed, the bony socket holding the tooth in erodes, and the tooth falls out. This is a very painful process for your four-legged friend, but the problems can be averted before they even start.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Toxoplasmosis in Pets Preventive Measures

Toxoplasmosis is an infectious disease found in some farm animals and household pets. Cats are the carrier of the disease and can transmit it to people through feces-especially when fecal material handled or allowed to sit until old and dry. The fecal matter is then either ingested or can become airborne and then is inhaled.
Although cats can transmit the disease, they are not the major sources of infection to humans. People are more likely to pick up toxoplasmosis by handling or eating raw meat or not cleaning up thoroughly after handling the meat.
Cats can get toxoplasmosis from eating raw meat or prey of animals such as mice. Therefore, cats who hunt stand a greater chance of being exposed or infected. In most cases, cats will show no signs of being infected. However, lethargy, loss of appetite, and fever may indicate early infection with the disease.


Declawing or Onychectomy

Cats use their claws to climb and scratch, to defend themselves, and to hunt. Displaying their claws and scratching objects are also considered by many to be a social behavior of our feline friends. Outdoor cats may scratch trees to mark their territory and to remove frayed or worn outer layers from their claws. Unfortunately, this can pose a problem when indoor cats choose their owners' furniture or curtains as tree substitutes.

What can you do about your cat's destructive scratching?

A variety of options are available; however, owners often choose declawing as a means to end destructive scratching in the home. Declawing is controversial, as it provides no health benefit to the cat and is done strictly for human benefit. Opponents say it is unnatural and cruel, and can result in psychological damage to the cat. Proponents say that declawing has no more negative effects than does any other surgical procedure, and that by ridding unwanted behavior, it could increase the chances for a cat to enjoy a safe, permanent indoor home.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Grooming Your Pet

Grooming your pets doesn't mean that they have to be made-up and untouchable; it simply means that you're taking good care of their health by keeping a watchful eye on their hygiene. Pets, like humans, are more likely to remain healthy when they are clean and well groomed. Contrary to popular belief, dogs and cats are not wild animals; they require regular grooming attention to keep them healthy in their domestic environments. One of the major benefits of a regular grooming regimen is that you will become familiar with your pet's body. This allows you to quickly recognize problems with his health, so you can bring them to your veterinarian's attention sooner. Remember that you should seek help from your veterinarian if you think that your pet will be difficult to groom alone.

 

Exercising Your Pet

You know it's good for you. You know that exercise can give you energy, help you maintain a healthy weight, keep your muscles and joints flexible, help you live longer, and above all, make you feel better. For all the same reasons, your pets need to get up and get moving. Not only can exercise extend your furry friends' lives; it may also expend some of their nervous energy and make them a little less likely to chew on the living room drapes.
The thing is, nobody's filled pets in on all of these benefits of exercise. Without someone to lead the way, they're not going to run laps or do leg lifts in their spare time. So as a wonderful pet parent, part of your job is ensuring your animal family members get safe, enjoyable exercise on a regular basis--whether they're cats, dogs, turtles, or ferrets! All pets need some physical activity to live a happy, healthy life.


Different pets need different amounts of exercise, so you'll want to talk to your veterinarian before starting your pet's workout program. With your veterinarian's approval, you can embark on an exercise program that won't seem like work at all--to your pet, it's play.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Toy Hazards

Things to Remember

  • Sticks and bones can splinter and cause choking or vomiting, or they can perforate the mouth, throat or intestine. Hard bones can easily damage teeth. Instead, use hard, non-splintering chew toys to play fetch or to allow your pet to gnaw.
  • Soft, latex toys can be shredded by a chewing pet. If the toy includes a squeaking mechanism, the squeaker can be easily swallowed or cause choking.
  • Superballs can cause intestinal obstruction if ingested. Other types of balls, such as tennis balls or handballs, may be too small for the pet playing with them and cause choking.
  • Towels, socks, underwear and other similar clothing or materials can be swallowed by a rambunctious pet, causing intestinal obstruction.
  • Some dogs like to chew on or eat rocks-bad idea! Rocks can cause broken teeth and serious intestinal obstruction if swallowed.

Brushing Your Pet's Teeth

Too often we overlook the need for dental care for our pets. Untreated teeth can cause serious problems in the pet's overall health.
Periodontal disease is the number one dental problem in dogs and cats, and cats often develop defects below the gumline which may be hard to detect. As in humans, abscessed teeth or periodontal disease can affect other parts of the body. In dogs and cats, they can cause heart and kidney disease.
A regular veterinary dental checkup can help prevent serious problems and keep your pet healthy. Pet teeth cleaning includes use of a short-lasting anesthetic that allows for gumline probes, removal of tartar and tooth polishing. A good way to remember to schedule a dental exam is to combine it with your pet's annual booster vaccinations.
Equally important to annual dental exams is home dental care, such as brushing your pet's teeth at least three times per week.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Prevent Poisonings in your Pet

If you suspect your animal may have ingested any of the substances on this list or if you pet shows any of the symptoms indicated below, you should consider the situation a medical emergency and should contact your veterinarian immediately. Be sure to bring any containers or the remains of any substance you think your pet may have swallowed with you.
Organophosphates, identified as malathion, diazinon, and fenthion, and carbamates, most commonly known as carbaryl and carbofuran, are neurological poisons found in lawn and garden pesticides and flea and tick products. Signs of toxicity include apprehension, excessive salivation, urination, defecation, vomiting and diarrhea, and pinpoint pupils. If an animal has absorbed enough of any neurological toxin, sudden death may be the only sign.


Pyrethrins and pyrethroids, both natural and synthetic, are also neurological poisons. Natural names include pyrethrin I and II. Synthetic compounds include allethrin, resmethrin, and permethrin. They are found in insecticidal aerosols, dips, shampoos, and house and garden products. Signs of ingestion include excessive salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, and hyperexcitability or depression.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Cataracts

Cataracts are one of the most common eye problems affecting pets. They can affect all breeds and ages of dogs and cats, but the condition is found more commonly in certain dog breeds, such as Cockers, Poodles, Miniature Schnauzers and Terriers.
The normal, transparent lens in the eye focuses beams of light onto the retina so that your pet can see clearly. A cataract is a disruption of the normal arrangement of the lens fibers that interferes with sight by partially or completely blocking the clarity of the lens. A cataract may be quite small and not significantly interfere with your pet's vision, but if the cataract becomes dense enough, vision may be lost.


It is not unusual for your pet's eyes to become slightly blue-gray as they age. As a normal part of the aging process, the lens becomes thicker, making the eyes appear grayer. This condition, called nuclear sclerosis, usually occurs in dogs over six years of age and typically does not affect their vision. Therefore treatment for this condition is not recommended.