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.

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 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.


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.