Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mange / Demodicosis in Dogs

Mange (demodicosis) is an inflammatory disease in dogs caused by various types of the Demodex mite. When the number of mites inhabiting the hair follicles and skin of the dog become exorbitant, it can lead to skin lesions, genetic disorders, problems with the immune system and hair loss (alopecia). The severity of symptoms depends upon the type of mite inhabiting the dog.

Symptoms

Demodectic mange may either be localized and affect specific areas of the body, or generalized, where it affects the entire body. If localized, symptoms are usually mild, with lesions occurring in patches, especially on the face, trunk, or legs.


If generalized, symptoms will be more widespread and appear across the body. These symptoms include alopecia, a redness of the skin (erythema), and the appearance of scales and lesions.

Flea Bite Allergies in Dogs

Flea bite hypersensitivity and flea allergic dermatitis is the most common skin disease in pets. And although the allergies usually develop when dogs are young (less than one and up to five years of age), flea allergies can begin at any age. It is the saliva from the flea is actually believed to be the cause of the allergy or sensitivity.
The flea life cycle includes the adult flea, egg, larva and pupa. Adult fleas do bite, but cannot survive long if they are not on the dog. Once the adult flea lays its eggs on the host it will fall off, leaving the eggs to mutate through the rest of their life cycles. This generational process continues on the host pet until the flea population has been eradicated entirely.

Symptoms

Flea bite hypersensitivity or flea allergic dermatitis usually causes severe itching of the skin. This condition is medically referred to as pruritis. As few as one or two flea bites a week can cause pruritis, so symptoms will often persist even after some form of flea control has been used.


Symptoms are often episodic, but most dogs will have symptoms that worsen with age. Some dogs can also suffer behavioral problems as a result of flea bite hypersensitivity, with a condition called neurodermatoses.

Dog Ticks


Tick Paralysis in Dogs

Ticks act as carriers of various diseases in animals, including in dogs. Tick paralysis, or tick-bite paralysis, is caused by a potent toxin that is released through the saliva of certain species of female tick and which is injected into the blood of the dog as the tick infests the skin of the dog. The toxin directly affects the nervous system, leading to a group of nervous symptoms in the affected animal.
The toxins released by ticks cause lower motor neuron paralysis, which is defined as a loss of voluntary movement and which is caused by a disease of the nerves that connect the spinal cord and muscles. With lower motor neuron paralysis the muscles stay in an apparent state of relaxation.


An infestation of ticks is not necessary for a diseased state to occur. While multiple ticks are usually present on a dog that is showing symptoms of tick paralysis, tick-bite paralysis can take place after being bitten by only one tick. Conversely, not all animals, infested or not, will develop tick paralysis.
Symptoms usually begin to appear around 6-9 days after a tick has attached to the skin of the dog. This disease is somewhat seasonal and more prevalent in the summer time in certain areas of the U.S.. In areas where the seasonal temperatures are more consistently warm, such as in the southern states and northern Australia, ticks may be present throughout the year.
In the U.S., this disease is more commonly seen in dogs than in cats. In fact, cats in the U.S. appear to have a resistance to the tick toxin.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Grain Free Pet Food

Grain free pet foods are currently very popular. But are they really healthier for your pet than other types of pet foods? 
While it is true that many pets do well on grain free diets, it is also true that these diets were developed more in response to consumer (i.e., human) preference than to the actual nutritional needs of our pets.
Nutritionally, the most important aspect of a pet food is whether the food provides complete and balanced nutrition. If the food contains excesses or deficiencies of specific nutrients, the pet will suffer as a result. This concept is true regardless of whether the food contains grains or not.
Each ingredient in the diet provides a unique set of nutrients to the overall makeup of the food.



Together, the ingredients need to combine to provide a complete nutrient profile for your pet, without any excesses or deficiencies that can cause illness for your pet. It is certainly possible for grain free diets to provide this type of complete nutrition for your pet. However, these diets are not the only option, or even necessarily the best option, for each individual pet. There is no one diet or type of diet that is perfect for all pets. In other words, no pet food is a one-size-fits-all nutritional solution.

Alopecia in Cats

Hair loss (alopecia) is a common problem for cats. The hair loss can be partial or complete, and the patterns varied or symmetrical. Treatment options exist, though they are limited.

Symptoms

Signs include partial or total hair loss. The skin surrounding the area of hair loss can appear normal or it can have redness, bumps, scabs, and skin loss. Alopecia may appear in a symmetrical form, or it can be random on the cat's skin.

Causes

In older cats diagnosed with cancer, alopecia is common. Nervous disorders (e.g., over-grooming) can also cause cats to lose their hair.


Hormonal imbalances, specifically too much thyroid or increased levels of steroids in the body, may lead to hair loss. Some cats experience skin allergies, which can also cause hair loss to occur. Parasites that bring about mange, and fungal issues like ringworm, are also a common cause of alopecia. Another less common factor is heredity.

Diagnosis

A complete blood count (CBC) is often done to determine if there are hormonal or thyroid imbalances causing the alopecia. Various imaging tools, such as X-rays, are used to rule out signs of cancer or abnormalities in the adrenal glands. Meanwhile, if the veterinarian believes hair loss is due to a skin issue, a skin biopsy or culture may be done.

Treatment

If the alopecia is due to a skin disorder (e.g., skin erosions), thyroid imbalance, or other hormonal imbalance, there are medications and topical treatments available. If hair loss is due to a behavioral issue, modification treatment can be taught to lessen the problem. Overall, treatment options are fairly limited.

Living and Management

Other than administering the appropriate medication, you should observe the cat's condition to make sure it does not become worse.
There are no surefire methods to prevent hair loss in cats.

Differences Between Cat & Dog Food

Although both dogs and cats are members of the Order Carnivora, only cats are considered “obligate” carnivores. This term indicates that cats must eat some animal-derived protein to remain healthy or receive dietary supplements to supply them with crucial nutrients. Overall, approximately one-third of a healthy, adult cat’s diet should consist of protein, although not all of it needs to be supplied in the form of meat.
Proteins are made from only 22 building blocks called amino acids. Animals can make some of these amino acids themselves; these are called the non-essential amino acids. In comparison, essential amino acids must be supplied by the diet. Cats have 12 essential amino acids while dogs only have 11.


Taurine is an amino acid that is essential for cats but non-essential for dogs. Cats that don’t get enough taurine in their diets can eventually become blind, deaf and develop heart failure. Taurine deficiency is now almost exclusively diagnosed in cats that eat something other than a well-balanced cat food.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Constipated Cats Management

Constipation is a troubling and common digestive tract problem for cats. It occurs when the stool is too large and/or too firm to be expelled. Constipation is the likely culprit when a cat is straining in the litter box and produces few or no stools, or those stools that do come out are dry and firm.

Conditions cause constipation in cats, including:

Dehydration — caused by:
  • Disease
  • Dietary factors (e.g., inadequate water intake)
  • Medications

Danger of High Protein Dogs Feed

Marketing tactics by some pet food companies have fueled a common misconception among pet owners that dogs are obligate carnivores and require a diet that consists mostly of meat. This is not true. Dogs, like people, are omnivores and do best with a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Excessive protein consumption is unnecessary for dogs at best and for some dogs with medical conditions can actually be harmful.
Proteins are the building blocks of the body and an absolute necessity for daily function. However, when a dog consumes too much protein in a meal it cannot all be utilized at one time, nor can it be stored for later. The body will then excrete the excess protein through the kidneys and out of the body via urine. Thus the quality of the protein actually becomes more important that than actual amount as a high quality protein is more bioavailable and can be better absorbed by the body.


Another issue is that the meat in these diets acting as the protein source contains other nutrients that you do not want in excessive amounts. For example, when a diet is mostly meat it becomes very difficult to maintain a proper calcium-phosphorus ratio. When this ratio is out of balance disruptions in bone growth or kidney damage can occur. Well formulated dog foods have an appropriate balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates to prevent this from happening.