Friday, August 14, 2015

Vomiting in Cats

Vomiting is a very common problem with cats with a multitude of causes. They range from eating something poisonous or inedible (like string), to infection, urinary tract disease, or diabetes to hairballs. Symptoms are usually obvious, and include drooling and abdominal heaving. Vomiting can quickly leave your cat dehydrated. Vomiting can be a result of something minor, like a cat consuming his meal too quickly, or it can be a sign of a much more serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Usually, a cat vomits because he ate something disagreeable, ate too much or played too soon after dinner. Vomiting can also be associated with gastrointestinal or systemic disorders.

Some causes for a sudden episode of vomiting, or acute vomiting, include:
  • Bacterial infection of the gastrointestinal tract
  • Diet-related causes (diet change, food intolerance)
  • Gastric or intestinal foreign bodies (toys, hairballs)
  • Intestinal parasite
  • Acute kidney failure
  • Acute liver failure or gall bladder inflammation
  • Pancreatitis
  • Post-operative nausea
  • Toxins or chemicals
  • Viral infections
  • Certain medications.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Chronic / Idiopathic Hepatitis of Dogs

In dogs, as in humans, the liver is a vital organ—it is essential for life. It performs many functions: it eliminates toxins absorbed by the intestinal tract; processes the body’s energy supplies of sugar, fat, and proteins; participates in digestion; and stores large supplies of energy in the form of sugars and some fats. The liver is also involved in many hormonal and regulatory processes as well as the production of many important building blocks for the body, including the proteins that keep up muscle mass and prevent abnormal fluid shifts into the body’s tissues, and the proteins that are critical to forming blood clots to prevent hemorrhage.
Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. In human beings, hepatitis happens most commonly due to viral infection (hepatitis A, B, C, etc.), but these viruses do not affect dogs at all. Rather, dogs that develop hepatitis do so most often as a result of self-directed damage of liver tissue by the dog’s own misguided immune system. That is, a trigger creates a case of mistaken identity whereby the immune system perceives the body’s own liver tissue as foreign and slowly begins to attack it. In most instances, the trigger of this process is unknown, or idiopathic, giving rise to the name of the disease, idiopathic hepatitis. 

Another name given to this same disease in the past was chronic active hepatitis. No matter what the underlying cause, once the immune system starts to damage the liver, the liver’s ability to function can become greatly reduced. This can cause limited production of necessary nutrients, inefficient digestion, pooling of fluid in the belly (abdominal effusion, ascites) and abnormal hormonal balances. In severe cases, blood clotting disorders can develop, causing unusual or excessive bleeding. In addition to a reduction in liver function, idiopathic hepatitis can cause destruction of liver cells. This does not immediately make a difference because the liver has a great deal of extra reserve but ongoing destruction of liver tissue can, over a period of time, cause severe permanent damage and scarring of the liver (known as fibrosis or cirrhosis).

Corneal Ulceration

In dogs and cats, like in humans, the cornea is the transparent, front part of the eye through which one sees the pupil (black center) and iris (colored [brown, blue, green] part of the eyes). A corneal ulcer (also sometimes called a “scratch on the cornea”) is an injury to the surface of the cornea that may be superficial or deep. There are many potential causes of corneal ulcers in dogs and cats. The most obvious is direct trauma, such as when a stick or toy strikes the eye during play or a piece of gravel
strikes the eye while a pet has its head out the window of a moving car. Other causes include entropion and distichia, conditions in which one or more eyelashes rub against the cornea. Some diseases indirectly predispose to corneal ulcers, such as disorders that affect the nerves to the eyelids and result in poor or absent blink reflexes, which can also lead to dry, ulcerated corneas. Diseases that cause inadequate tear production (keratoconjunctivitis sicca, or “dry eye”) also invariably cause corneal ulceration because the cornea becomes dry and unhealthy. 

Various ocular infections (bacterial, viral, fungal) can cause corneal ulcers. For example, in cats, infection with feline herpesvirus may cause corneal ulcers. Corneal ulcers are generally uncomfortable or painful, and squinting (blepharospasm), redness of the eye, and excessive tear production (lacrimation) are common symptoms. Depending on whether the corneal ulcer is superficial or deep, the length of time before treatment, and whether the ulcer is infected, vision may or may not be affected and corneal scarring may or may not occur. Any eye injury should be treated as an emergency and veterinary care should be sought immediately.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Dermatophytosis / Ringworm

Ringworm (dermatophytosis) is a skin disease that is caused by a fungus, not a worm. It can affect cats, dogs, other animals, and people. Long ago, it was thought that a parasite (worm) was responsible, but it is now known that ringworm is caused by a type of fungus called dermatophytes, which infect tissues containing keratin. Keratin is a protein produced by skin cells. The outer most layer of skin cells contains keratin. Hair and claws/nails are also made of keratin. Therefore, dermatophytosis is a contagious fungal infection that can affect the skin, hair, and claws.
Ringworm skin infections tend to enlarge in a circular pattern as the organisms continuously infect more skin and hair on the edges of the area—hence the “ring” in the name ringworm. Microsporum canis, is usually transmitted from one pet to another. The other two, Microsporum gypseum and Trichophyton mentagrophytes, are normally found in soil and on rodents, respectively, but can infect pets as well. People can become infected with any of the three types of ringworm from contact with infected pets.

Three types of ringworm/dermatophyte infections are common in dogs and cats. One,


Skin and hair ringworm infections cause hair loss in a circular pattern. The ringworm infection weakens the hairs,causing them to break off easily, leaving the skin bare in affected areas. Small red bumps, scales (dandruff), and hyper pigmentation (darkening) of the skin may occur.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Systemic Hypertension

Systemic hypertension is defined as persistently high blood pressure. As in humans, high blood pressure is initially a silent disease, meaning that it exists without producing any obvious symptoms. When symptoms do occur in pets, the most common one is sudden blindness due to hypertension-induced retinal damage inside the eyes. Since blood pressure monitoring has become more available in veterinary hospitals, more pets are diagnosed before severe damage occurs. Pets with any of several disorders known to predispose to high blood pressure should have blood pressure measurements taken. These disorders include chronic kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease), and pheochromocytoma (a rare tumor of the adrenal glands). In addition, certain medications can contribute to high blood pressure, including corticosteroids, cyclosporine A, erythropoietin, and phenylpropanolamine (a drug sometimes used for controlling urinary incontinence). 

In healthy dogs and cats, as in humans, regulation of systemic blood pressure is dependent upon complex interactions between the nervous system, endocrine system, kidneys, and cardiovascular system. Blood pressure is determined by cardiac output (the amount of blood pumped by the heart per unit of time) and resistance of the small blood vessels (vascular resistance). This is similar to pumping water through a system of pipes—if the size of the pipes is made smaller, resistance to the flow of water is higher, and pressure within the system increases. If the pump is made to pump a larger volume of water, the pressure will also increase.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


Eclampsia is a sudden onset of potentially life-threatening symptoms resulting from low blood calcium (hypocalcemia) in the female dog (bitch) or female cat (queen) that has given birth in the preceding 3 weeks. In the bitch, eclampsia can occur at any time during lactation (nursing), but it is most likely to occur during the first 3 weeks of lactation, which begins within minutes after birth. Eclampsia occurs most commonly in small dogs with large litters, but it can occur in any bitch after whelping (giving birth). Symptoms of eclampsia include panting, pacing, restlessness, muscle stiffness and trembling, inability to rise, seizures, and coma. If eclampsia progresses to produce severe symptoms such as seizures and coma and is not treated immediately, death is possible. Eclampsia does not occur during pregnancy (before giving birth). Eclampsia is a well-known disorder in dogs, but it occurs very rarely in cats. Timing (postpartum) and symptoms are the telltale features that lead a veterinarian to suspect eclampsia.

There is no relation between eclampsia in dogs and cats and preeclampsia in humans, which is a disorder involving blood pressure and proteinuria in women during –not after- pregnancy.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis (also called atopy) is an allergy to substances from the environment. Substances that can elicit such allergic reactions are called allergens or antigens.
Atopic dermatitis is a common problem in dogs and cats, although dogs are more likely to have it than cats. A genetic basis is suspected since it occurs more commonly in certain breeds and lines. Allergen that are well-recognized triggers for atopic dermatitis include pollens, molds, dander (shed skin cells), house dust, tobacco smoke, and a variety of other substances.
The primary symptom of atopic dermatitis is itching, and the problem typically first becomes apparent when a pet is between 6months and 3 years old.

Early symptoms in dogs may be mild and can include foot-licking, face-rubbing, ear problems, and scratching behind the elbows, all without any visible reason (no visible fleas, no plant material caught in the hair coat, etc.). The problem is often seasonal. As time goes on, the allergy worsens and more areas of the body become involved. Itching that at first occurred only seasonally may become present all year round.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Anal Sac/Glands Diseases

The anal sacs (also called anal glands) are two small pockets located just inside the anus, on the left and right sides of the anal canal in dogs and cats. Normally they produce a smelly, clear to light yellow liquid secretion, which is expressed from two small pores when the animal defecates. They can also discharge this odorous secretion spontaneously, or when the dog or cat is startled, injured, or excited.
Several different types of problems can arise from the anal sacs. These include inflammation, infection, and even tumor formation.Dogs, especially small breeds, are more commonly affected than cats. The most common anal sac problems are:
  • Impaction—failure of the anal sacs to discharge, resulting in inspissation (drying out and hardening) of the contents, which then accumulate, causing discomfort as for hemorrhoids in people.
  • Abscessation—bacterial infection of the sacs, usually following an impaction. Inflammation and pain in the area will be present. The abscess can often burst through the sac, draining pus and blood onto the skin and hair coat around the anus. 
The diagnosis of anal sac disease is made based on history (what you have observed as your pet’s symptoms) and the physical exam performed by the veterinarian. 

In terms of symptoms, dogs with anal sac impaction or abscessation are often reported to“scoot,” meaning they drag their rear end across a floor or carpet by pulling themselves along with their front legs while sitting upright. They also may attempt to lick the area frequently or seem “bothered” by discomfort. You might notice a change in their stool habits. This can be either a variation in the shape of the feces (thin, like a ribbon) or pain when attempting to defecate.