NOSE-TO-TOESģ

We present Nose-To-Toes for your reading pleasure.

Everything you always wanted to know about your pets but didn't know who to ask.

 

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Please select a featured topic:

 

June - What Are Ear Mites?

Acupuncture

Anal Sacs

Animals Have Allergies Too!

Antifreeze

Arthritic Nutriceuticals

Assessing Pain

Aural Hematoma

Bacteria Alert

Bad Weather? Exercise His Mind

Bladder Infections

Bump On Dogís Gum

Canine Aquatic Therapy

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Canine Influenza

Canine Seizures

Cherry Eye

Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

Degenerative Meyelopathy

Demodex Canis

Dental Health

Distempter

Elbow Dysplasia

Exercise His Mind When You Canít Go Outside

Exercise Tolerance  & Collapse

Feline Aortic Thromboembolism

Feline Infectious Peritonitis

Feline Leukemia

Feline Leukemia Virus

Feline Stomatitis

Feline Upper Respiratory Disease

FIV

Flea Facts

Fleas

Food Allergy Myths

Food For Cancer Treatment

Fourth of July

Getting Your Cat To The Veterinarian

Giardiasis

Heart Murmur

Heat Hazard

Hemotropic Mycoplasmosis

High Blood Pressure in our Pets

Holiday Tips for Pet Safety

Hospice

Hyperparathyroidism

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy in Cats

Infected Toe

Kidney Failure

Leptospirosis

Lice

List of Ingredients in Pet Foods

Lymphoma

Mammary Cancer

Middle Ear Infections

Monkeypox

Neosporosis

Oral Masses

Osteoarthritis

Osteosarcoma

Palliative Measures for the Cancer Patient

Pamidronate - Help Manage Bone Cancer Pain?

Parvo

Pet Rabbit

Polysulfated Glycosaminoglycan

Prebiotics / Probiotics

Prenatal

Pseudoephedrine alert issued

Puppy Kindergarten

Puppy Strangles

Rabies Vaccinations

Raisins, Grapes, and Dogs

Reduce Stress For Vet Visit

Roundworms

Salmonella Contamination

Seizure Disorders

Suet

Summer Fleas

Summer Hints & Hazards

Tapeworms

Tea Tree Oil

Umbilical Hernias

Upper Respiratory Disease

Urinary Incontinence

Wart or Tumor

West Nile Virus

What are Ear Mites?

What Causes A Heart Murmur?

Xylitol Poisoning

 

 

     We are pleased to introduce our new monthly feature, Ask Our Vet. Each month, Dr. Susan Neary will answer your pet questions.

     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your pet's immediate health needs and concerns.

     Dr. Susan Marie Neary, D.V.M., graduated from Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine.  She also has a D.V.M. degree from Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1994 summa cum laude.

     Dr. Neary co-owns an animal and exotic practice, performing medicine, surgery, and acupuncture.

 

To ask Dr. Neary a question about your pet or any other pet and animal-related topic, please email her at NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

what are ear mites?

 

     Ear mites are tiny infectious organisms resembling microscopic ticks. Since the mite can barely be seen it is usually detected by examination of a sample of earwax under a microscope. Infection usually produces a characteristic dry black ear discharge composed of earwax, blood, inflammatory biochemicals, and ear mites themselves. The presence of the mites is inflammatory and can generate very irritating ear infections. Skin disease can also result.

     The mite lives on the surface of the ear canal skin, though sometimes migrates out onto the face and head of its host. Eggs are laid and hatch after 4 days of incubation. The larva hatches from the egg, feeds on ear wax and skin oils for about a week, and then molts into a protonymph, which in turn molts into a deutonymph. The deutonymph mates with the adult male.

    After mating, the deutonymph molts into either an adult male or an adult female. If she becomes a female, she will be gravid with eggs as a result of the mating. If he develops into a male, there are no consequences to the mating and he is ready to mate with deutonymphs of his own choosing. The adult mite lives approximately 2 months happily eating ear wax and skin oils. The life cycle (the time it takes for an egg to develop into an adult mite ready for parenthood) requires 3 weeks.

     Most ear mite cases are found in cats. Dogs can be infected as well but since dogs more commonly get ear infections of other types, ear infections in dogs rarely involve mites.

     Ear mites readily transmit from host to host by physical contact. Ear mites came from some other animal with whom your pet has been socializing. Because mites are easily transmissible by physical contact, treatment for mites often must include all household pets.

     Ear cleaning is needed at the beginning of therapy (and possibly at the end) to remove the irritating wax and debris. Be sure to have the ears re-checked according to your vetís recommendations.

     Do not make the diagnosis of ear mite infection yourself. If you think your pet has an ear infection, see the vet for proper evaluation rather jumping straight to an over-the-counter remedy. You will need the right diagnosis before an effective treatment can be started.

 

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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Click here for our next Ask Our Vet feature

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CANINE AQUATIC THERAPY

 

     Canine aquatic exercise has become very popular in the past decade. The buoyancy of the water can effectively cancel out up to ninety percent of the weight of a dog.

     The effect of buoyancy allows for gentler active exercises by decreasing the loads placed on the injured tissues and weight bearing joints compared to exercises performed on land. For this reason, aquatic therapy is a wonderful choice for the treatment of osteoarthritis, spinal pathology, obesity, post-surgical conditions (especially knee and hip surgeries), post-injuries or other disorders in which a dog is reluctant to use the limb or there is lack of strength, range-of-motion (ROM), proprioceptive ability, or weight bearing status.

     Water exercises are generally less painful than land exercises because of the support that buoyancy provides. Therefore water exercises may result in less discomfort and provide a better sense of security when initiating active movements. This helps maintain ROM and functional movement before the strength gains needed to perform the same movements on land.

     The hydrostatic pressure of water provides a constant pressure to the body or limb immersed in water providing an improved environment for working with swollen joints or edematous tissues. Also, aquatic exercises may be used as a transition to land based exercises in post-surgery or post-injury rehabilitation.

     The potential benefits of aquatic therapy are strengthening, restoration of muscle mass, cardiovascular endurance, speeding recovery time after surgery or injury, increasing blood flow to injured tissues, helping with weight management, providing strong, positive psychological benefits, improving daily function, and relieving pain.

 

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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CANíT GO OUTSIDE? EXERCISE

 

     Winter weather tends to keep us all indoors, especially those of us who are weather wimps. But, for those dogs who enjoy the outdoors regardless of the temperature and hazardous conditions, they just donít understand why they canít go to the dog park. If they are going to exercise, the owners must be involved.

     How fortunate though that mental exercise can be satisfying to bored, bounce-off-the-wall pups on days when an outing isn't possible. Most breeds were developed to work, and few dogs today are asked to. Giving them a job to do is good for them, and they like it.

     Every trick, whether useful or just plain fun, was born on a gloomy winter afternoon. Teaching dogs new tricks, such as balancing a dog biscuit on the nose, then flip it into the air and catch it on command, barking on request, shaking hands, or finding their toys and putting them in a basket.

     Search games, where a toy is hidden and then asked to find it can keep a dog occupied for hours and they just light up with pride at their accomplishment when they find the toy. Such games are to dogs what the daily crossword puzzle or the latest computer game is to us. Dogs have to think, they have to learn, and when they get it right, their sense of accomplishment and joy is palpable and contagious. And as pleasurable as these games are, with plenty of praise for a job done right, they also reinforce a dog's place in the pack structure we humans call "family."

     Start with a simple game and build on it. If your dog likes to retrieve, begin with simple in- sight fetching and then slowly make things harder. Add a "stay." Then "hide" the toy in an easy-to- find spot, making the game a little trickier as your pet learns you want him to "find," instead of merely "fetch."

     Just don't let them sit around doing nothing. You'll all enjoy a rainy day better if you find something useful to do.

 

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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Click here for our next Ask Our Vet feature

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ARTHRITIC NUTRICEUTICALS

 

     Degenerative joint disease is the number one cause of chronic pain in the dog and cat. In this summary, we will focus on some nutriceuticals, i.e., nutrients with medicinal properties. Keep in mind, these products do not produce rapid results like pharmaceuticals; one to two months are needed for them to build up adequate amounts.   

Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate - These products are cartilage components harvested chiefly from sea mollusks. By taking these components orally, the patient is able to have plenty of the necessary building blocks needed to repair damaged cartilage.

Adequanģ Injections - Adequan is polysulfated glycosaminoglycan, which is also a cartilage component but is derived from the windpipe cartilage of cattle.

Adeequan has numerous beneficial effects including inhibition of harmful enzymes involving joint cartilage destruction, stimulation of cartilage repair, and increasing joint lubrication.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids - Certain fats have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties. While primarily utilized in the treatment of itchy skin, many arthritic dogs and cats have also benefited from supplementation.

MSM - MSM stands for methyl sulfonyl methane and represents another nutriceutical anti- inflammatory agent. MSM is present in most plant and animal tissues and is a natural source of sulfur, however, for commercial sale MSM is derived from DMSO.

     Note: Proper exercise is excellent physical therapy for the arthritic pet as it is crucial to maintain as much muscle mass as possible to support the abnormal joint. Massage and gentle flexion/extension of the joint may also help.

 

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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Click here for our next Ask Our Vet feature

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HOLIDAY TIPS FOR PET SAFETY

 

AVOID Holiday Food Items that could cause problems for your pet - alcoholic beverages, chocolate, coffee, moldy or spoiled foods, onions and onion powder, fatty foods, salt, yeast dough.

AVOID Holiday Plants: Lilies could be deadly to your cat. Many types of lily can cause kidney failure in cats. Poinsettias, if ingested, can be irritating to the mouth and stomach, and may cause mild vomiting or nausea. Mistletoe has the potential to cause cardiovascular problems and may cause gastrointestinal upset. Holly ingestion could cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and lethargy.

HAZARDS Around the Tree:

     ē Christmas tree water may contain fertilizers, which, if ingested, can cause stomach upset. Stagnant tree water can be breeding grounds for bacteria, which can also lead to vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea, if ingested.

     ē Electric cords - If cords are chewed, your pet could be electrocuted. Cover up or hide electric cords.

     ē Ribbons or tinsel can get caught up in the intestines and cause intestinal obstruction.

     ē Batteries contain corrosives. If ingested they can cause ulceration to the mouth, tongue, and gastrointestinal tract.

     ē Glass ornaments can cut the tissues of the gastrointestinal tract.

OTHER WINTER HAZARDS:

     Antifreeze has a pleasant taste but a very small amount can be lethal. As little as one teaspoon of antifreeze can be deadly to a cat; less than four teaspoons can be dangerous to a 10-pound dog. Thoroughly clean up any spills. Store antifreeze in tightly closed containers in secured cabinets. If you think your pet has consumed antifreeze, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-4-ANI-HELP) right away!

     ē Liquid potpourris - Pets are often exposed to liquid potpourri by direct ingestion, by rubbing against leaky bottles, or from spilling the containers upon themselves. Oral exposures result following grooming. Exposure of pets to some types of liquid potpourris can result in severe oral, dermal and ocular damage.

     Ice melting products can be irritating to skin and mouth. Depending on the actual ingredient and the quantity, signs of ingestion would include excessive drooling, depression, vomiting or even electrolyte imbalances.

REMEMBER - You should keep telephone numbers for your veterinarian, a local emergency veterinary service, and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-4 ANI-HELP) in a convenient location. If you suspect that your pet has ingested something poisonous, seek medical attention immediately.

Always be prepared!

Have a Happy and

Safe Holiday Season!

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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Click here for our next Ask Our Vet feature

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Q&A - BLADDER INFECTIONS

 

Q:  I have several pets. Are bladder infections contagious?

A: The bladder is a sterile area of the body, which means that bacteria do not normally reside there. When bacteria gain entry and establish growth in the bladder, infection has occurred and symptoms can result. With pets with bladder infections, we see some of the following signs:

  √ Excessive water consumption

  √ Urinating only small amounts at a time

  √ Urinating frequently and in multiple spots

  √ Inability to hold urine the normal amount of time/apparent incontinence

  √ Bloody urine (though an infection must either involve a special organism, a bladder stone, a bladder tumor, or be particularly severe to make urine red to the naked eye)

     It is especially important to realize that many animals do not show any externally visible signs of their bladder infections and, since they cannot talk, screening tests are the only route to discovering the infection.

     It is the inflammation associated with infection that causes these symptoms. There can be infection without much inflammation (particularly if the patient is on a cortisone-type anti- inflammatory medication) and there can be inflammation without infection (the usual situation in feline lower urinary tract disease).

     Because bladder infections are localized to the bladder, there are rarely signs of infection in other body systems: no fever, no appetite loss, and no change in the blood tests.

     The external genital area where urine is expelled is teeming with bacteria.

     Bladder infection results when bacteria from the lower tract climb into the bladder, defeating the natural defense mechanisms of the system (forward urine flow, the bladder lining, inhospitable urine chemicals, etc.). But bladder infections are not contagious.

    

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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SALMONELLA CONTAMINATION

 

     There has been a lot of media coverage lately on pet food recalls due to possible or confirmed Salmonella contamination.

     No pet food is immune from the possibility of Salmonella contamination. There is evidence that feeding raw foods, such as raw meat and eggs, increases the risk of Salmonella infection and shedding of the bacteria leading to possible infection of other animals and of people.

     Because pet foods and treats contain animal-origin products, they are at risk of contamination with Salmonella, E. coli, and other organisms. In general, these products are cooked to temperatures that will kill these organisms Ė however, if a contaminated additive (a flavoring, for example) is added to the food after cooking or if the food comes in contact with contaminated materials, the food will be contaminated.

     Salmonella infection, like many other food-borne infections, usually occurs after the bacteria are ingested Ė this can occur by eating or drinking contaminated products, or by coming in contact with contaminated products and then touching your mouth, face or food. The organism enters your gastrointestinal tract and causes disease.

     Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have a decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Not all pets carrying Salmonella will appear sick. Apparently well but infected animals can be carriers and may infect other animals or humans, particularly through exposure to their feces. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these signs, please contact your veterinarian.

     People infected with Salmonella often develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12-72 hours after infection. If you have any of these symptoms, contact your physician.

    

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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CATARACTS

 

     The normal lens of the eye is a focusing device. It is completely clear and is suspended in position by tissue fibers called zonules just inside the pupil. The lens focuses an image on the retina in the back of the eye in a process called accommodation. The focusing power of the dog's lens is at least three times weaker than that of a human and a cat's lens is at best half the focusing power as a human's. (It is helpful to remember that dogs and cats have a sense of smell at least 1000 times more accurate than ours and this is their primary means of perceiving the world.)

     Despite its clarity, the lens is in fact made of tissue fibers. As the animal ages, the lens cannot change its size and grow larger; instead, it becomes more compact with fibers. This condition is called nuclear sclerosis and is responsible for the cloudy-eyed appearance of older dogs but these lenses are still clear and the dog can still see through them; these are not cataracts.

     A cataract is an opacity in the lens. The patient with a cataract is not able to see through the opacity. If the entire lens is involved, the eye will be blind.

     Many things can cause the lens to develop a cataract. A special cause is diabetes mellitus. In this condition the blood sugar soars, as does the sugar level of the eye fluids. The fluid of the eye's anterior chamber (see illustration above) is the fluid that normally nurtures the lens but in the diabetic pet the lens can only utilize so much sugar. Excess absorbed sugar is transformed into sorbitol within the lens, which unfortunately draws water into the lens causing an irreversible cataract in each eye. Cataracts are unavoidable in diabetic dogs no matter how good the insulin regulation is; diabetic cats have alternative sugar metabolism in the eye and do not get cataracts.

     Cataract treatment generally involves surgical removal or physical dissolution of the cataract under anesthesia. This is invasive and expensive and is not considered unless it can restore vision.

     A cataract by itself does not necessarily require treatment. If there is no associated inflammation and no associated glaucoma and the only problem is blindness, it is perfectly reasonable to have a blind pet. Blind animals have good life quality and do well though it is important not to move furniture around or leave any hazardous clutter in the home. 

    

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

Return to INDEX

Click here for our next Ask Our Vet feature

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     Many of you with dogs are aware that they can have debilitating anxiety attacks to the fireworks on Independence Day. Even though this holiday comes on the same date every year, it can still catch us off guard.

     There are numerous ways to help your pet deal with the loud noises of fireworks. Some of the options include desensitization, which unfortunately takes a great deal of time and can make some pets more fearful. 

     Desensitization involves playing a sound track of loud noises such as thunderstorms or fireworks at a low level and gradually over the course of weeks, increasing the volume.

     An important part of desensitization is to intermittently reward calm behavior with praise or a treat. Again, not all pets respond well to this. Western Washington does not have thunderstorms frequently and they are difficult to predict. However, a pet that has been desensitized would be better able to handle the unpredictable.

     The most common option is to give pets sedatives during the period around the Fourth of July. Some pets are unable to tolerate certain sedatives due to medical conditions or age. Always ask the advice of your veterinarian before giving a medication. Sedatives are a prescription medication and your veterinarian is REQUIRED by law to examine your pet before prescribing medications. Anti- anxiety medications and sleep aids for humans are more common in many households these days. Dogs and cats are not little humans and some of these human medications can be fatal for your pet.

     A final option that we as Washingtonians enjoy is the chance to visit our Canadian neighbors on the 4th.  July is a nice time to visit British Columbia.

     Be certain to check with your veterinarian for border requirements when traveling with your pet to Canada. Also make sure you know the requirements for returning to the U.S. Depending on the length of stay, a health certificate and a Rabies Vaccination Certificate may or can be required.

 

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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     The adrenal gland is so named because it is located just forward of the kidney (renal means kidney).

     The center of the gland is called the medulla and the outer area is called the cortex. While both areas produce hormones, Addison's Disease concerns the hormones produced by the cortex; these hormones are called corticosteroids.

     Corticosteroids are the hormones that enable us to adapt physiologically to stress. They gear the metabolism towards the preparation of burning (rather than storing) fuels so as to be ready for a fight or flight situation.

     The mineralocorticoids influence the electrolytes: sodium and potassium. As a general biological rule, where there's sodium or salt, there's water. When the mineralocorticoids circulate as part of the fight or flight preparation, sodium is conserved in anticipation of blood loss so that there will be extra fluid in the vascular compartment (spare blood). When sodium is conserved, potassium is lost as part of the biological balance.

     The fight or flight preparation is far more complex than can be reviewed here but the bottom line is: Corticosteroid hormones are needed to adapt to stressful situations and without these hormones, even small stresses could lead to physiologic disaster.

     In animals with Addison's Disease, there is a deficiency of the corticosteroid hormones.

     Patients are usually young (age 4-5 years) female dogs. At first signs are very vague - listlessness, possibly some vomiting or diarrhea. Ultimately, the disease results in a phenomenon known as the Addisonian Crisis. The animal collapses in shock. The patient may not survive this episode. Corticosteroid hormones are needed to adapt to stressful situations and without these hormones, even small stresses could lead to physiologic disaster.

     Because of the numerous symptoms Addison's Disease can be present with, Addison's Disease has earned the medical nickname "the Great Imitator." The only definitive test for Addison's Disease is the ACTH stimulation test. A lack of response is diagnostic for Addison's Disease. The most important aspect of treatment for hypoadrenocorticism is the replacement of the missing mineralocorticoids hormones.

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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     Ear mites are tiny infectious organisms resembling microscopic ticks. Since the mite can barely be seen it usually is detected by examination of a sample of ear wax under a microscope. Infection usually produces a characteristic dry black ear discharge. The discharge is composed of ear wax, blood, inflammatory biochemicals, and ear mites themselves. The presence of the mites is inflammatory and can generate very irritating ear infections. Skin disease can also result from an infection.

     The mite lives on the surface of the ear canal skin, though sometimes migrates out onto the face and head of its host. Eggs are laid and hatch after 4 days of incubation. The larva hatches from the egg, feeds on ear wax and skin oils for about a week, and then molts into a protonymph, which in turn molts into a deutonymph. The deutonymph mates with the adult male.

     After mating, the deutonymph molts into either an adult male or an adult female. If she becomes a female, she will be gravid with eggs as a result of the mating. If he develops into a male, there are no consequences to the mating and he is ready to mate with deutonymphs of his own choosing. The adult mite lives approximately 2 months happily eating ear wax and skin oils. The life cycle (the time it takes for an egg to develop into an adult mite ready for parenthood) requires three weeks.

     Most ear mite cases are found in cats. Dogs can be infected as well but since dogs more commonly get ear infections of other types, ear infections in dogs rarely involve mites.

Ear mites readily transmit from host to host by physical contact. Ear mites came from some other animal with whom your pet has been socializing. Because mites are easily transmissible by physical contact, treatment for mites often must include all household pets.

     Ear cleaning is needed at the beginning of therapy (and possibly at the end) to remove the irritating wax and debris. Be sure to have the ears re-checked according to your vetís recommendations.

     Do not make the diagnosis of ear mite infection yourself. If you think your pet has an ear infection, see the vet for proper evaluation rather jumping straight to an over-the-counter remedy. You will need the right diagnosis before an effective treatment can be started.

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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Q: Can raisins and grapes really poison dogs?

A: Yes - fresh grapes of both red and white varieties from grocery stores or vines in private yards and fermented grapes from wineries. In the cases reported, the estimated amount of ingested raisins or grapes to cause toxicity ranged from 0.41 to 1.1 oz/kg. Because 4 pounds of grapes equal about 1 pound of raisins, fewer raisins need to be ingested to reach toxic levels.

     Dogs can exhibit problems ranging from acute gastrointestinal signs to life- threatening renal failure or even death.

     Vomiting occurs in all dogs and begins within the first few hours of ingestion. Because there are still many unknowns about the toxic potential of grapes and raisins, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center had advised that grapes, raisins, and any food containing grape extracts not be given to pets in any amount. If ingestion should occur, owners should seek veterinary assistance immediately to initiate aggressive medical management. For more information on the toxicity of grapes or raisins, see the ASPCA APCC web site (www.apcc.aspca.org).

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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     A heart murmur is one of several types of abnormal sounds your veterinarian can hear when listening to your petís heart with a stethoscope. Normally, two distinct sounds are heard when listening to the heart of a normal dog or cat. These are often described as lub and dub. When listening with a stethoscope one hears, lub-dub...lub-dub...lub-dub.

     A murmur is an abnormal extra sound which can sometimes drown out the normal sounds. Murmurs most commonly occur between the lub and the dub and have a shooshing or whooshing quality.

     Hearing a heart murmur during a routine physical examination will often be the first hint that your pet has heart disease.

     Hearing a murmur is only a hint that something is wrong, a clinical sign, not a final diagnosis.

     Hearing a murmur is reason to consider more discussion and tests to determine the cause of the murmur (the diagnosis).

     Knowing the diagnosis and severity of the cause of the murmur allows your veterinarian (or a cardiologist they consult) to provide you with an educated guess (prognosis) regarding how this heart problem may affect your pet in the future.

     Hearing a murmur is not a reason to panic. Many dogs and cats with murmurs live normal lives and never need any treatment for heart disease. But the only way to know for certain is to work with your veterinarian to determine the cause and severity of the cause of the murmur.

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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     Good basic handling and training prevent most problems from turning into serious issues as your dog matures. We all want to enjoy our puppies and have them grow into safe dogs that spend long and happy lives in our homes. Puppy kindergarten is a great start to making this happen.

     Your puppy needs this learning environment during critical development stages. If socialization during these stages is missed, some puppies will never be as successful as they could otherwise have been at fitting into your home. Sadly, when a dog canít function safely with humans, it can ultimately mean a lost home and a lost life.

ē When Is Your Puppy Ready?

Puppies mature at different rates, but classes typically try to get the pups into class prior to 6 months of age, heading off many potential behavior problems. Consult your veterinarian about the best timing for your puppy to take classes. This will depend on the pupís health and immune status as well as what illnesses are going around. Discuss when to start your pup in class with the instructor, too.

ē Goals and Benefits of Puppy Kindergarten  

     Several things can be accomplished through puppy kindergarten classes, especially if you keep these objectives in mind:

1. Your pup can begin a lifelong love of going to dog events and gatherings that include other well-behaved dogs.

2. A good class is an opportunity for a weekly outing with your puppy with the supervision of a skilled instructor to help you.

3. Your puppy can gain a love of learning new things that will last for life. Itís amazing what dogs can learn, once they know how to learn and have the confidence that they can do it.

4. You and your puppy develop a working relationship that enables you to safely take the puppy out for other social experiences and continued training.

5. A puppy that might otherwise have grown up fearful and defensive can gain confidence and overcome early problems with people and other dogs.

     Puppy kindergarten is very helpful to humans and dogs. For a small fee you get to participate in something that is mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy for you and your dog. Seeing the other puppies and sharing the experience with the other puppy-loving humans adds to the fun. Be sure to take the opportunity to do this with and for your puppy.

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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     Canine aquatic exercise has become very popular in the past decade. The buoyancy of the water can effectively cancel out up to ninety percent of the weight of a dog.

     The effect of buoyancy allows for gentler active exercises by decreasing the loads placed on the injured tissues and weight bearing joints compared to exercises performed on land. For this reason, aquatic therapy is a wonderful choice for the treatment of osteoarthritis, spinal pathology, obesity, post-surgical conditions (especially knee and hip surgeries), post-injuries or other disorders in which a dog is reluctant to use the limb or there is lack of strength, range-of- motion (ROM), proprioceptive ability, or weight bearing status.

     Water exercises are generally less painful than land exercises because of the support that buoyancy provides. Therefore water exercises may result in less discomfort and provide a better sense of security when initiating active movements. This helps maintain ROM and functional movement before the strength gains needed to perform the same movements on land.

     The hydrostatic pressure of water provides a constant pressure to the body or limb immersed in water providing an improved environment for working with swollen joints or edematous tissues.

     Also, aquatic exercises may be used as a transition to land based exercises in post-surgery or post-injury rehabilitation.

     Overall, the potential benefits of aquatic therapy are strengthening, restoration of muscle mass, cardiovascular endurance, speeding recovery time after surgery or injury, increasing blood flow to injured tissues, helping with weight management, providing strong, positive psychological benefits, improving daily function, and relieving pain.

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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FOOD ALLERGY MYTHS & FACTS

 

 

MYTH: ďFood allergy ought to produce intestinal signs.Ē

FACT: In pets, it is usually the skin that suffers with a food allergy. Food allergy is one of the itchiest conditions in veterinary dermatology. Making matters worse, food allergies tend to be resistant to cortisone therapies which makes itch control especially difficult.

v v v

MYTH: ďFood allergy is a less likely cause of my petís skin disease as we have been feeding the same food for years and the allergy is a recent development.Ē

FACT: It takes time to develop a food allergy, typically months to years. The immune system must be exposed and must develop enough antibodies to trigger an allergic reaction, requiring many exposures. A reaction to a food that occurs on the first exposure is not an allergic reaction but a ďfood intoleranceĒ and involves toxins within the food but not an allergic reaction.

v v v

MYTH: ďSoy and corn are common food allergens. It is best to seek pet foods without these ingredients to avoid problems.Ē

FACT: The most common food allergens for dogs are: beef, dairy, and wheat. These three ingredients account for 68% of canine food allergies. The most common food allergens in cats are: beef, dairy, and fish. These three ingredients account for 80% of feline food allergies.

v v v

MYTH: ďIf my pet might have a food allergy, I can manage the problem by switching to another diet.Ē

FACT: Unfortunately, most pet food diets contain some sort of mixture of beef, dairy, wheat, lamb, fish, and chicken, so simply changing foods is bound to lead to exposure to the same allergens. There are two ways to address food allergy: feeding a diet based on a truly novel protein source (this usually means an exotic diet like venison, duck, kangaroo, rabbit or even alligator) OR feeding a diet where the protein has been pre-digested into units too small to interest the immune system.

v v v

MYTH: ďMy pet got only partly better after the food trial so that means it didnít work.Ē

FACT: Animals commonly have several allergies concurrently. A food allergy responding to a test diet at the same time an inhalant allergy is active will look like a partial response. On the other side of the coin, an inhalant allergy can become inactive should the weather change substantially during the diet trial. This would make a diet appear to be successful by coincidence. In order to determine if a response to a diet trial is real, at the end of the trial the patient is challenged with the original diet. If itching re-starts within feeding 2 weeks of the challenge, food allergy can be diagnosed.

 

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE IN OUR PETS

 

 

     High blood pressure is an extremely important concern in human medicine but our pets can get it as well, especially in age.

     Problems from high blood pressure arise when a blood vessel gets too small for the high pressure flow going through it and bleeding results. Since the affected vessels are small, the bleeding may not be noticeable but a lot of little bleeds and a lot of blood vessel destruction can create big problems over time.

     The retina of the eye is especially at risk, with either sudden or gradual blindness often being the first sign of latent high blood pressure. The kidney also is a target as it relies on tiny vessels to filter toxins from the bloodstream. Kidney disease is an important cause of high blood pressure and also progresses far more rapidly in the presence of high blood pressure.  High blood pressure also increases the risk of embolism: tiny blood clots that form when blood flow is abnormal. These clots can lodge in an assortment of inopportune locations including the brain.

     There are numerous diseases in pets that are associated with high blood pressure:

*  Chronic renal (kidney) failure

*  Hyperthyroidism

*  Glomerular disease (protein is lost in urine)

*  Cushing's disease (an adrenal cortisone excess)

*  Diabetes mellitus (inability to properly reduce blood sugar)

*  Acromegaly (growth hormone excess)

*  Polycythemia (an excess in red blood cells)

*  Pheochromocytoma (an adrenaline secreting tumor of the adrenal gland)

     Blood pressure measurement is performed similarly to the way it is in humans. An inflatable cuff is fit snuggly around the petís foot or foreleg or the base of the tail. The cuff is inflated so as to occlude blood flow through the superficial artery. Instead of a stethoscope, an ultrasonic probe is held over the artery.  The sound of the systolic pressure is converted into an audible signal.  In pets, this measurement should not exceed 160. A reading of 180 is considered to indicate high risk for organ damage.  At least five measurements are taken so that the pet becomes accustomed to the process and understands that no pain is involved.

     In humans, high blood pressure is frequently considered ďprimary,Ē meaning there is no underlying disease causing it. In animals, primary hypertension is unusual; there is almost always another disease causing it and if routine screening does not identify the problem, more tests may be in order.

     When hypertension is identified, controlling the underlying disease may totally reverse the hypertension (especially true for hyperthyroid cats). As with people, medication to actually lower blood pressure is often in order. This typically involves some type of pill that dilates peripheral blood vessels, effectively making them larger so as to accommodate the high pressure blood flow going through them.

     Hypertensive patients should be rechecked every 2 to 4 months to keep their blood pressure in a healthy range.

 

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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HYPERPARATHYROIDISM

 

 

Q:  My dog just was diagnosed with hyperparathyroidism Ė what is that?

A:  Most dogs have four parathyroid glands, though the actual number may vary.  The parathyroid glands are located in the neck region. 

     The parathyroid glands generate, store and secrete parathyroid hormone (PTH).  PTH is secreted in response to decreased extracellular calcium concentrations. 

     Special calcium calcium-sensing receptors reside within the chief cells of the parathyroid glands that send signals to either increase or decrease PTH synthesis and release. 

     A dog with primary hyperparathyroidism (PHP) may have gastrointestinal (e.g., vomiting, anorexia), urinary (e.g., infections, bladder stones) and musculoskeletal (e.g., weakness, tremors) signs. 

     An increase in calcium may be noted incidentally on routine geriatric blood work. 

     Further tests will show an increase in the ionized calcium concentration (most accurate way of assessing the true calcium status) with a concurrent normal or increased PTH concentration.  Because increased calcium provides a negative feedback loop to the parathyroid glands, a dog with hypercalcemia should have a very low PTH concentration.

     Once PHP has been diagnosed, treatment is given to prevent the effects of prolonged hypercalcemia. 

     The most common and effective treatment method is surgical excision of the hyperfunctional parathyroid nodule or nodules.  The surgical cure rate is 95% is all hyperfunctional tissue is removed. Success depends on the surgeonís experience level.

     A less invasive treatment is glandular ablation whereby an ultrasound probe is used to detect the enlarged gland(s) and heat is used to ablate the tissue.  The cure rate is about 90%, but the patient may require multiple treatments.

     ŚA common misconception is that their pets are too old for anesthesia and surgical treatment. 

     If the surgery is being performed by an experienced surgeon, the anesthetic time and risks are low, and the success rate is high.

 

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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CATARACTS - 2

 

 

     The normal lens of the eye is a focusing device. It is completely clear and is suspended in position by tissue fibers called zonules just inside the pupil. The lens focuses an image on the retina in the back of the eye in a process called accommodation. The focusing power of the dog's lens is at least three times weaker than that of a human and a cat's lens is at best half the focusing power as a human's. (It is helpful to remember that dogs and cats have a sense of smell at least 1000 times more accurate than ours and this is their primary means of perceiving the world.)

     Despite its clarity, the lens is in fact made of tissue fibers. As the animal ages, the lens cannot change its size and grow larger; instead, it becomes more compact with fibers. This condition is called nuclear sclerosis and is responsible for the cloudy-eyed appearance of older dogs but these lenses are still clear and the dog can still see through them; these are not cataracts.

     A cataract is an opacity in the lens. The patient with a cataract is not able to see through the opacity. If the entire lens is involved, the eye will be blind.

     Many things can cause the lens to develop a cataract. A special cause is diabetes mellitus. In this condition the blood sugar soars, as does the sugar level of the eye fluids. The fluid of the eye's anterior chamber (see illustration above) is the fluid that normally nurtures the lens but in the diabetic pet the lens can only utilize so much sugar. Excess absorbed sugar is transformed into sorbitol within the lens, which unfortunately draws water into the lens causing an irreversible cataract in each eye. Cataracts are unavoidable in diabetic dogs no matter how good the insulin regulation is; diabetic cats have alternative sugar metabolism in the eye and do not get cataracts.

     Cataract treatment generally involves surgical removal or physical dissolution of the cataract under anesthesia. This is invasive and expensive and is not considered unless it can restore vision.

     A cataract by itself does not necessarily require treatment. If there is no associated inflammation and no associated glaucoma and the only problem is blindness, it is perfectly reasonable to have a blind pet. Blind animals have good life quality and do well though it is important not to move furniture around or leave any hazardous clutter in the home. 

 

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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HYPERTROPHIC CARDIOMYOPATHY IN CATS-2

 

 

     Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common heart disease in cats today. 

     Cats with HCM have thicker than normal heart walls seen with an echocardiogram.

     The first sign of HCM often will be your veterinarian reporting that your cat has a heart murmur but, most cats with HCM show no signs until the later stages. Or the first sign may be quite distressing:

              - difficulty breathing (a result of fluid build up in the chest and/or lungs)

              - sudden and often very painful hindlimb or forelimb

              - weakness or paralysis (as a result of a clot blocking flow to the limbs)

              - sudden death (at home, or during an elective procedure involving anesthesia).

     Young cats (even those less than 6 months old) can be affected, but the diagnosis is most often made in middle-aged and older cats.

     HCM tends to run in families, and is seen most often in American Shorthair cats, Maine Coon, and Persians, but it can be seen in any cat.

     Signs of HCM can be as subtle as a lack of appetite. Observant owners often note an increase in the resting respiratory rate and weight loss.

     Because cats tend to hide signs of disease until they are very sick, you should check in with your veterinarian when you see subtle signs, such as those that persist for more than a day or two.

     There is no surgical treatment or definitive medical therapy to cure HCM.

     Medications are often prescribed for cats with congestive heart failure, rapid heart rates, or clots or high risk of clots to the legs.

     If there is fluid in the lungs, a diuretic and possibly an ACE inhibitor will be prescribed. If there is fluid in the chest, the veterinarian may have to physically drain the fluid from the chest (prior to beginning treatment and intermittently thereafter).

     Prognosis is not easy to predict. Many cats can live a long time with HCM and never need medications. Others will die suddenly or progress to develop congestive heart failure.

     The worst outcome, in terms of discomfort and frustration because of a lack of proven ways to prevent the first or future recurrence, is clots to the limbs or other organs.

     Your veterinarians, working with a veterinary cardiologist, are your best guide to diagnosis and treatment for your cat.

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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FELINE AORTIC THROMBOEBMOLISM

 

 

     FATE (feline aortic thromboembolism) is a serious and painful condition with serious implications. It comes on suddenly and appears to paralyze the cat, causing one or both rear legs to become useless and even noticeably cold. The cat will hyperventilate and cry out with extreme pain. Despite the extreme presentation, the cat may be able to recover from the episode but it is important to understand how it came to be in order to make decisions.

     A thrombus is a large blood clot. An embolism is a small blood clot lodged somewhere inappropriate.

     The aorta is the largest artery in the body. It stems from the heart itself, where it arches back and runs down the length of the back, ultimately splitting into the arteries supplying the back legs. The split where the aorta becomes the left and right iliac arteries is called the saddle.

     A saddle thrombus is a blood clot that breaks off from a larger blood clot in the heart, travels down the aorta and lodges at the saddle. Not only is the blood supply to one or both rear legs cut off but a metabolic cascade results leading to the release of assorted inflammatory mediators, especially serotonin. The muscles of the rear legs become hard, and the foot pads become bluish in color; the condition is extremely painful. The inflammatory mediators readily lead to circulatory shock.

     72% of cats with a saddle thrombus have both rear legs affected.

     The saddle thrombus comes from a larger clot in the left atrium of the heart. In fact, 89% of cats with a saddle thrombus have heart disease. Heart disease leads to turbulent blood flow which encourages the formation of clots.

     Not every cat with heart disease will form an abnormal clot, in fact most will not; but there is presently no clear why to predict which cats will form these clots and which ones will not. In cats with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the most common form of feline heart disease, the size of the left atrium is one factor that is considered. The presence of ďsmokeĒ in the atrium during echocardiography is another factor. (Smoke is the wispy material seen in the circulating blood.) Both these factors are considered controversial.

     In 76% of cats with saddle thrombus, the FATE episode was the first sign of heart disease.

Once the doctor determines that the cat most likely has a saddle thrombus, further diagnostics will be needed as well as treatment. The cat will need medication for the pain and medication to reduce the ability to clot. Usually treatment is started with injections and changed to oral after the cat is eating. The pain of the condition generally is subsiding after the first 24 hours and the muscles become softer after 2 to 3 days.

     Cats with a rectal temperature of 98.9ļ or higher have a 50% or higher chance of survival. Body temperature turns out to be a very important parameter for prognosis.

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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FLEA FACTS

 

 

     Fleas are the most common external parasite of companion animals. Flea allergy dermatitis is the most common skin disease of dogs and cats! Flea control has always been a challenge for veterinarians and pet owners because the adult fleas cause the clinical signs, yet the majority of the flea population (eggs, larvae and pupae) are to be found off the pet in and around the home. The ideal flea control program utilizes products that target the various stages of the flea life cycle, not only the adult fleas on the pet.

     Eggs are laid in the hair coat and are designed to fall off the host. They are resistant to insecticides, but susceptible to various insect growth regulators. Larvae develop in the hostís environment and feed on adult flea feces (blood) that fall out of the hair coat of the pet. Larvae are susceptible to traditional insecticides, borates and insect growth regulators. Larvae eventually spin cocoons (often within carpet fibers) for pupation. Pupae are resistant to freezing, desiccation, and insecticides. Pupae can lie dormant for many months; they are stimulated to expupate as emergent adults by vibration, warming and increased carbon dioxide.

     Normally, expupation occurs when a host is near and the new flea finds the pet within seconds

of emergence. Emergent fleas are fairly mobile and can survive a few days without a host if in a suitable environment. New fleas begin feeding within hours of finding a dog or cat. Once a blood meal has been taken, the flea can survive only a short time if it is dislodged from the host. New fleas experience very high mortality on healthy adult hosts. Most fleas do not survive 72 hours on an animal that is itching and able to groom.

     Unfortunately, limited egg production does occur even on allergic animals. The entire life cycle can be completed in as few as 16 days! For the flea allergic patient, continuous excellent flea control is required to remain symptom free. Even very minimal exposure may be sufficient to perpetuate itching in a hypersensitive patient.

     In the past, veterinarians and pet owners always tried to control fleas by treating the environment for the immature stages of the flea. Today, veterinarians have some great flea control products in our arsenal. There are now several highly efficacious, long lasting and very safe new products to choose amongst: Programģ and Sentinelģ (lufenuron), Nylarģ (pyriproxifen), Advantageģ (Imidacloprid), K9 Advantixģ (with permethrin), Advantage Multiģ (with moxidectin), Frontlineģ Spray, Frontline Plusģ and Frontline Top Spotģ (fipronil), Capstarģ (nitenpyram), Comfortisģ for Dogs (spinosad), Promeris for Catsģ, Promeris Duo for Dogsģ (metaflumizone/ amitraz), Vectra 3-D for Dogsģ (dinotefuran, permethrin, pyriproxifen), Vectra for Catsģ (dinotefuran, pyriproxifen).

 

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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MAY - RABIES VACCINATIONS

 

 

Q:     Do indoor cats need to be vaccinated for rabies?

A:     Descriptions of rabies go back thousands of years as rabies has classically been one of the most feared infections of all time. It is caused by a rhabdovirus which in most cases is transmitted via a bite wound from wildlife. The virus ultimately reaches the brain and at this point, the disease becomes transmissible and symptoms begin.

     Prodromal Stage (the first 1Ĺ days after symptoms have started) Ė a change in personality is noted.

     Excitative Stage (next 2-3 days) Ė classically, the ďmad dogĒ stage. The animal has no fear and suffers from hallucinations. The larynx is paralyzed resulting in an inability to swallow thus drooling and ďfoaming at the mouthĒ result.

     Paralytic or Dumb Stage (next 2 days) Ė weakness and paralysis sets in and the animal dies when the muscles which control breathing are paralyzed.

     There is no treatment for animals or humans once clinical signs appear.

     If the biting animal has been legally vaccinated against rabies, only routine first aid may be necessary; bacterial infection of the wound may still be possible.

     If the animal has not been currently vaccinated, it must be confined for 10 days for observation and then vaccinated at the end of that period.

     An animal infected with rabies will be dead within 10 days.

     Many cat owners are under the impression that indoor cats need not be vaccinated against rabies.

     It is important to recognize that there is reasonable potential for wildlife exposure within the household and there is the legal liability should an unvaccinated animal bite a person.

     The American Association of Feline Practitioners considers rabies vaccination to be necessary for ALL CATS.

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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Q:  I found a lovable stray cat (probably abandoned) that I wish to keep but she has been diagnosed with FIV.  Can I get the disease too if I keep her?

A:  FIV stands for feline immunodeficiency virus, just as HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus.  In fact, these two viruses are closely related and much of the general information that has become common knowledge for HIV also holds true for FIV.  FIV is a virus that causes AIDS in cats; however, there is a long period without symptoms before AIDS occurs and our job is to prolong this asymptomatic period.  The average life expectancy from the time of diagnosis for FIV is 5 years.  Humans cannot be infected with FIV; FIV is a cats only infection.

For a lengthy description of this virus and FAQ, search the Cornell Feline Health Center and American Association of Feline Practitioners.

     ImmunoĖsuppressed cats and immune suppressed owners do not mix well.  Those who are immune suppressed, be they human or non-human, are inclined to become infected with opportunistic organisms and in turn shed larger numbers of those organisms than one might naturally come into contact with in the environment.  This means that someone who is immune suppressed (human or not) can serve as an amplifier for infectious agents and vice-versa.  This is obviously not a good situation.  The sam is true for multiple immune suppressed cats living together.  If possible, there should be only one immune suppressed individual per home.

The Feline Immunodeficiency virus is NOT transmissible to humans in any way.

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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    Dogs and cats can develop growths in their mouths similar to humans, which may be benign or malignant.  But once a mass is noticed, analysis must be made to determine the cause of the growth.

     Some masses are due to infections in the gums or of the tooth itself.  Many are due to tumors with some breeds predisposed to certain oral tumors.

     Most pets will not show signs of oral masses until the mass has grown to interfere with chewing or swallowing.  In some cases there will be bad breath, excessive drooling and a bloody oral discharge.

     Pets that have benign tumors can usually be cured by surgical removal or radiation therapy.  Cancerous tumors usually need more aggressive surgery and/or radiation and chemotherapy to decrease tumor spread.  Beforehand, the entire patient will be evaluated for tumor spread prior to surgery with examination of the regional lymph nodes and chest x-rays.  

     The prognosis is directly related to the type of mass.  With treatment, benign tumors usually result in a normal life span.  Those animals affected with aggressive malignant tumors may live only weeks to months after diagnosis with or without treatment.

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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    Winter weather tends to keep us all indoors, especially those of us who are weather wimps. But, for those dogs who enjoy the outdoors regardless of the temperature and hazardous conditions, they just donít understand why they canít go to the dog park. If they are going to exercise, the owners must be involved.

     How fortunate though that mental exercise can be satisfying to bored, bounce-off-the-wall pups on days when an outing isn't possible.

     Most breeds were developed to work, and few dogs today are asked to. Giving them a job to do is good for them, and they like it.

     Every trick, whether useful or just plain fun, was born on a gloomy winter afternoon.  

     Teaching dogs new tricks, such as balancing a dog biscuit on the nose, then flip it into the air and catch it on command; barking on request; shaking hands: or finding their toys and putting them in a basket, are great fun.

     Search games, where a toy is hidden and then asked to find it can keep a dog occupied for hours and they just light up with pride at their accomplishment when they find the toy.

     Such games are to dogs what the daily crossword puzzle or the latest computer game is to us. Dogs have to think, they have to learn, and when they get it right, their sense of accomplishment and joy is contagious. And as pleasurable as these games are, with plenty of praise for a job done right, they also reinforce a dog's place in the pack structure we humans call "family."

     Start with a simple game and build on it. If your dog likes to retrieve, begin with simple in- sight fetching and then slowly make things harder.

     Add a "stay." Then "hide" the toy in an easy-to- find spot, making the game a little trickier as your pet learns you want him to "find," instead of merely "fetch."

     Just don't let them sit around doing nothing. You'll all enjoy a rainy day better if you find something useful to do.

 

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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    By providing good healthcare, especially preventative health care, we can help our cats to live longer, happier lives.  In order to provide this care to your loved one, a trip to the veterinarian is required. If we can make this process easier, it would decrease the amount of stress for both you and your cat.

     Cats are creatures of habit.  Try to familiarize your cat with their carrier, making it a positive place for them.  Place the carrier in a room where your cat spends most of its time.  Leave the carrier door open and place soft bedding in it. 

     You can also place treats, toys, or even catnip to make the carrier more inviting.  In the beginning you may notice some treats missing, eventually you may find your cat sleeping in the carrier.  This may take days or weeks, but in he meantime reward your cat for any positive behavior.

     If your cat needs immediate medical attention and has not yet become familiar with the carrier, try to place the cat and carrier in a small room with few hiding places.  Slowly encourage your cat to move towards the carrier, coaxing with treats or toys.  If your cat will not walk into the carrier, remove the top half of carrier if possible.  Gently cradle your cat and lower it into the carrier, placing the top back on and closing it securely.

     The best type of carrier has hard sides, is easy to take apart in the middle, has openings on the top and front and is easy to carry.  An easily removable top allows a fearful, anxious cat to stay in the bottom half of the carrier while the top half is removed.  This helps to avoid dumping or pulling a cat out of a carrier, therefore decreasing the amount of stress for your cat.  The carrier provides a secure means of transportation for your cat.

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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    Pet owners have long been frustrated by age related behavior problems involving loss of house-training, apparent memory loss or disorientation, sleep disturbances (either waking at the wrong time or sleeping unusually deeply) and loss of interest in social activities with the family. Such behavior changes are often written off as being normal aging. A recent study at the University of Cali

AVOID Holiday Food Items that could cause problems for your pet - alcoholic beverages, chocolate,  coffee, moldy or spoiled foods, onions and onion powder, fatty foods, salt, yeast dough.

AVOID Holiday Plants

     Lilies could be deadly to your cat. Many types of lily can cause kidney failure in cats.

     Poinsettias, if ingested, can be irritating to the mouth and stomach, and may cause mild vomiting or nausea.

     Mistletoe has the potential to cause cardiovascular problems. Mistletoe ingestion usually causes gastrointestinal upset.

     Holly ingestion could cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and lethargy.

HAZARDS Around the Christmas Tree

     Christmas tree water may contain fertilizers, which, if ingested, can cause stomach upset. Stagnant tree water can be breeding grounds for bacteria, which can also lead to vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea, if ingested.

     Electric cords - If cords are chewed, your pet could be electrocuted. Cover up or hide electric cords.

     Ribbons or tinsel can get caught up in the intestines and cause intestinal obstruction.

     Batteries contain corrosives. If ingested they can cause ulceration to the mouth, tongue, and gastrointestinal tract.

     Glass ornaments can cut the tissues of the gastrointestinal tract if ingested.

OTHER WINTER HAZARDS

     Antifreeze has a pleasant taste but a very small amount can be lethal. As little as one teaspoon of antifreeze can be deadly to a cat; less than four teaspoons can be dangerous to a 10-pound dog. Thoroughly clean up any spills. Store antifreeze in tightly closed containers in secured cabinets. Propylene glycol is a safer form of antifreeze. Low Toxô brand antifreeze contains propylene glycol and is recommended to use in pet households.

If you think your pet has consumed antifreeze, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-4-ANI-HELP) right away!

     Liquid potpourris - Pets are often exposed to liquid potpourri by direct ingestion, by rubbing against leaky bottles, or from spilling the containers upon themselves. Oral exposures result following grooming. Exposure of pets to some types of liquid potpourris can result in severe oral, dermal and ocular damage.

     Ice melting products can be irritating to skin and mouth. Depending on the actual ingredient and the quantity, signs of ingestion would include excessive drooling, depression, vomiting or even electrolyte imbalances.

 

REMEMBER - You should keep telephone numbers for your veterinarian, a local emergency veterinary service, and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-4 ANI-HELP) in a convenient location. If you suspect that your pet has ingested something poisonous, seek medical attention immediately. 

Always be prepared!

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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Q: Are bladder infections contagious?

A: The bladder is a sterile area of the body, which means that bacteria do not normally reside there. When bacteria gain entry and establish growth in the bladder, infection has occurred and symptoms can result. With pets with bladder infections, we see some of the following signs:

√ Excessive water consumption

√ Urinating only small amounts at a time

√ Urinating frequently and in multiple spots

√ Inability to hold urine the normal amount of time/apparent incontinence

√ Bloody urine (though an infection must either involve a special organism, a bladder stone, a bladder tumor, or be particularly severe to make urine red to the naked eye)

     It is especially important to realize that many animals do not show any externally visible signs of their bladder infections and, since they cannot talk, screening tests are the only route to discover the infection.

     Also realize that it is the inflammation associated with infection that causes these symptoms. There can be infection without much inflammation (particularly if the patient is on a cortisone-type anti- inflammatory medication) and there can be inflammation without infection (the usual situation in feline lower urinary tract disease).

Because bladder infections are localized to the bladder, there are rarely signs of infection in other body systems: no fever, no appetite loss, and no change in the blood tests. The external genital area where urine is expelled is teeming with bacteria.

     Bladder infection results when bacteria from the lower tract climb into the bladder, defeating the natural defense mechanisms of the system (forward urine flow, the bladder lining, inhospitable urine chemicals, etc.). But bladder infections are not contagious.

 

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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MYTH: Food allergy ought to produce intestinal signs as it is the intestinal tract that is exposed to the allergen.

FACT: In pets, it is usually the skin that suffers with a food allergy. Food allergy is one of the itchiest conditions in veterinary dermatology. Making matters worse is the fact that food allergies tend to be resistant to cortisone therapies which makes itch control especially difficult.

 

**  **  **  **  **

 

MYTH: Food allergy is a less likely cause of my petís skin disease as we have been feeding the same food for years and the skin problem is recent.

FACT: It takes time to develop a food allergy, typically months to years. The immune system must be exposed and must develop enough antibodies to trigger an allergic reaction and this requires multiple exposures to the food in question. A reaction to a food that occurs on the first exposure to that food is not an allergic reaction. Such reactions are called ďfood intolerancesĒ and involve toxins within the food but not an allergic reaction.

 

**  **  **  **  **

 

MYTH: Soy and corn are common food allergens. It is best to seek pet foods without these ingredients to avoid problems.

FACT: The most common food allergens for dogs are: beef, dairy, and wheat. These three ingredients account for 68% of canine food allergies. The most common food allergens in cats are: beef, dairy, and fish. These three ingredients account for 80% of feline food allergies.

 

**  **  **  **  **

 

MYTH: I should be able to manage my petís food allergy the problem by switching to another diet.

FACT: Unfortunately for food allergic pets, most pet food diets contain some sort of mixture of beef, dairy, wheat, lamb, fish, and chicken. This means that simply changing foods is bound to lead to exposure to the same allergens. There are two ways to address food allergy: feeding a diet based on a truly novel protein source OR feeding a diet where the protein has been pre-digested into units too small to interest the immune system.

 

**  **  **  **  **

 

MYTH: My pet got only a little better after the food trial so that means it didnít work.

FACT: Animals commonly have several allergies concurrently. A food allergy responding to a test diet at the same time an inhalant allergy is active will look like a partial response. Also, an inhalant allergy can become inactive should the weather change substantially during the diet trial, making a diet appear to be successful by coincidence. In order to determine if a response to a diet trial is real, at the end of the trial the patient is challenged with the original diet. If itching re-starts within feeding 2 weeks of the challenge, food allergy can be diagnosed.     

 

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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     The most common bone tumor is osteosarcoma.  This cancer destroys bone, a painful condition that may result in abnormal fractures.  Treatments that minimize or reverse the rate and degree of pathologic bone destruction can provide pain relief as well.

     When we think of our skeletons we commonly imagine a structure made of white bones that serves as a supportive structure to our softer tissues.  It is easy to forget that living bone is an active tissue that grow, remodels, heals, and requires blood flow.  Its marrow serves as the source of our red blood cells.  The bone stores and releases calcium and phosphorus that our soft tissues need for proper muscle contraction and metabolism.  As we exercise and create greater demand on our muscles, our bones must change as well to strengthen and offer greater support.

     New bone is constantly being laid down by cells called osteophytes and old bone is constantly being removed and reshaped by cells called osteoclasts.  In the course of removing bone, the osteoclasts free up calcium for the circulation and are part of the complex hormonal system we use to regulate our blood calcium.

     Bisphosphonates (e.g., pamidronate) can be used to reduce bone destruction by the tumor, which is helpful in managing the pain as well as in strengthening the damaged bone.

     This medication is given as an intravenous infusion, meaning it is mixed into a large volume of fluid and given over several hours through a vein.  When used to help bone tumor pain, infusions are given every 3 to 6 weeks.

 

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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     Neosporosis is a neuromuscular disease caused by Neospora caninum, a coccidian parasite similar to Toxoplasma gondii

     Neosporosis can affect the nervous system at any age but for reasons that are not known, this protozoan has a predilection for the lumbosacral spinal nerve roots of young dogs. Lesions also are present in these spinal cord segments and in the hindlimb muscles, but the spinal nerve lesions are the most extensive.

     Antibodies in the blood for N. caninum will confirm infection.  Confirmation of this agent as the cause of the disease requires necropsy with staining to demonstrate the organism in the lesions. In adult dogs, the lesions are usually confined to the CNS (central nervous system), and although the lesions can occur at any level there is a predilection for the cerebellum. 

     It has been recognized that starting antiprotozoal treatment as soon as there is any evidence of neurologic clinical signs in puppies, the disease can be prevented from progressing.  Adult dogs most likely acquire the protozoal agent from the infected feces in their environment as well as by ingesting tissue cysts in the muscles of intermediate hosts (cow, sheep). 

     Be aware that his organism can be acquired by transmission from the bitch to the puppies in utero and may occur in subsequent litters.

The first signs seen often involve changes in the hindlimb(s). 

     Affected dogs may have muscle atrophy and stiffness that gradually leads to paresis (partial paralysis), rigid hyperextension, and paralysis.  Paralysis can be ascending, affecting the forelimbs as well.  Dogs typically remain bright, alert, and responsive as the disease progresses.

     About 50% of treated dogs will make a full recovery.  Others may be left with an unusual gait.  Prognosis is poorer for dogs with neurologic signs, and dogs with rigid hyperextension are unlikely to see changes to their hind limbs.

 

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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Q:  My dog has started eating the suet that drops onto the deck from our bird feeder. Is it okay for dogs to eat Suet? Can it make him sick?

A:  Suet is beef fat.

     When preparing homemade diets, if the dog is not fat intolerant, even adding up to 10% of the daily calories is probably okay. More could unbalance the rest of the diet.   

     According to the USDA, suet provides about 242 kcal per ounce! It is far better to give molecularly distilled fish oil capsules instead.

     But, if too much is ingested, the worse issue would be dealing with gastrointestinal upset! 

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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How to Reduce the Stress of Veterinarian Visits for Your Cat

     By providing good healthcare, especially preventative health care we help our cats to live longer, happier lives.  In order to provide this care to your loved one, a trip to the veterinarian is required.  Many cats do not appreciate being placed in a carrier, so this is where the difficulty begins.  If we can make this process easier, it would decrease the amount of stress for both you and your cat.

 

How to help your cat become familiar with their carrier:

     Cats are creatures of habit.  They are most comfortable in their own familiar setting.  The carrier, car and veterinary office are all unfamiliar places to your cat.  Try to familiarize your cat with their carrier, making it a positive place for them.  Place the carrier in a room where your cat spends most of its time.  Leave the carrier door open and place soft bedding in it.  You can also place treats, toys or even catnip to make the carrier more inviting for your cat.  In the beginning you may notice some treats missing here and there, eventually you may even find your cat sleeping in the carrier.  This make take days or weeks, but in the meantime reward your cat for any positive behavior.

 

Placing an unwilling cat into a carrier:

     In the event your cat needs immediate medical attention and has not yet become familiar with the carrier, try to place the cat and carrier in a small room with few hiding places.  Slowly encourage the cat to move towards the carrier, coaxing with treats or toys.  In the event that your cat will not walk into the carrier, remove the top half of the carrier if possible.  Gently cradle the cat and lower it into the carrier, placing the top back on and closing it securely.

     The best type of carrier has hard sides, is easy to take apart in the middle, has openings on the top and front of the carrier and is easy to carry.  An easily removable top allows a fearful, anxious cat to stay in the bottom half of the carrier while the top half is removed.  This helps to avoid dumping or pulling a cat out of carrier, therefore decreasing the amount of stress for your cat.  For safety and security, please do not bring your cat to the hospital without using a carrier.  They can scratch, bite and even escape from your arms.  The carrier provides a secure means of transportation for your cat.

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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     Osteosarcoma is by far the most common bone tumor of the dog, and usually occurs in middle aged or elderly dogs but can occur in a dog of any age.

     Osteosarcoma can develop in any bone but the limbs (appendicular osteosarcoma) account for 75-85% of affected bones. It develops deep within the bone and becomes progressively more painful as it grows outward and the bone is destroyed from the inside out. The lameness goes from intermittent to constant over 1 to 3 months. Obvious swelling becomes evident as the tumor grows and normal bone is replaced by tumorous bone. Tumorous bone is not as strong as normal bone and can break with minor injury. This type of broken bone is called a pathologic fracture and may be the finding that confirms the diagnosis of bone tumor. Pathologic fractures will not heal and there is no point in putting on casts or attempting surgical stabilization.

     One of the first steps in evaluating a persistent lameness is radiography (x-rays).  The osteosarcoma creates some characteristic findings.  Usually a radiograph is all that is needed for a diagnosis, but a biopsy (a tiny section of bone can is removed for laboratory analysis) is considered to be absolute proof of diagnosis.

     Treatment involves two aspects Ė treating the pain and fighting the cancerís spread. 

Keep in mind that dogs are

usually euthanized due to the pain in the affected bone. Treating the pain successfully will allow a dog to live comfortably. 

     Removal of the affected limb resolves the pain in 100% of cases.  Running and playing are not inhibited by amputation once the surgical recovery period is over.

     At this time there are numerous analgesic medications available for dogs with osteosarcoma. No single medication, however, is a match for the pain involved in what amounts to a slowly exploding bone. A combination of medications is needed to be reasonably palliative and should be considered only as a last resort if amputation or radiation therapy will not be pursued. There are several types of drugs that can be combined. 

     Chemotherapy is the only meaningful way to alter the course of this cancer.  Median survival time for dogs who do not receive chemotherapy for osteosarcoma is 4 to 5 months from the time of diagnosis regardless of whether or not they have amputation.

     Additional information can be found at Bone Cancer Dogs, Inc., a nonprofit corporation.

 

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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     Lice are an uncommon parasite in dogs and cats in the U.S.  When lice are found, itís usually in dogs who are living in or were obtained from filthy, crowded conditions.  Lice are host-specific. Human lice affect only humans.  Dog lice affect dogs.  Cat lice affect cats.  Rarely, a dog or cat louse might end up on a human, but it doesnít stay there.  Children who have lice (head lice) get them from other humans.

      Lice are flat, six-legged, wingless insects that can be seen with the naked eye making diagnosis easy.  Lice donít move much or quickly. They spend their entire 21-day life cycle on a pet. They lay eggs, which are called nits, on the shafts of the hair.  They attach only to the petís hair and look like white flakes on the hair shaft.  Both types of dog and cat lice are transmitted by direct contact with an infested dog or cat, or by contact with nit-contaminated grooming equipment, bedding, etc.

     What you will notice with lice is severe itching and a scruffy dry coat with bald patches. Lice generally congregate around the ears, neck, shoulders, and anus, so those areas will be most affected.

     Lice are usually fairly easy to eliminate because they havenít yet built up any resistance to insecticides.

     There are several treatment options your veterinarian may employ:  (1) bathing your dog (matted areas may need to be shaved) with an insecticide shampoo to quickly eliminate the adult lice, and then using Fipronil (Frontline) or Selamectin (Revolution). Treatment will be repeated to kill lice that have hatched from the eggs. Commonly, the pet will be treated every 2 weeks for 3 to 4 treatments. However, in some cases, treatments may be needed every 7 days for 2 to 4 treatments.  Dispose of or wash bedding.  If your pet continues to have louse infestations after that point, your veterinarian may switch to another treatment, and may suggest environmental control.   

 

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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Pseudoephedrine alert issued

 

     "Pseudoephedrine has a very narrow margin of safety in dogs, cats, and other animals," says Dr. Steve Hansen, senior vice president of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, which has issued the warning.

      Pseudoephedrine is found in certain cold, allergy, and sinus medications used in humans. As little as one tablet containing 30 mg of pseudoephedrine can induce clinical signs in a 20-pound dog, including nervousness, hyperactivity, and other behavioral changes; panting; fast heart rate; and high blood pressure. A dose as small as three 30-mg tablets in the same size dog can be lethal.

      Clinical effects can sometimes be seen as quickly as within 30 minutes after ingestion, therefore, it is critical that veterinary treatment is sought quickly when an ingestion occurs.

      As with most medications, an animalís exposure to pseudoephedrine products usually are accidental, such as a pet chewing into a medication bottle or ingesting pills left unattended. Others may occur as a result of pet owners inappropriately medicating their pets.

      Pseudoephedrine and other medications should be kept out of the reach of animals, preferably in a secure cabinet above the counter, according to the poison control center.

     It is very important for owners to understand that even childproof containers are not effective in preventing accidental drug exposures in pets, as dogs and other animals can easily chew open a bottle or vial. 

      Individuals who suspect a pet may have ingested a pseudoephedrine-containing product or other drug should contact their local veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 for immediate assistance.

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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HEMOTROPIC MYCOPLASMOSIS

 

     These parasites are bacteria (mycoplasms) that attach themselves to the red blood cell membranes of their host, feeding and reproducing until the host's immune system sees them and begins destroying red blood cells in an attempt to remove them.  Mycoplasmas are different from other bacteria because they do not have a cell wall surrounding and protecting their microscopic bodies. They cannot be cultured in the lab like most bacteria because they require living hosts.

     A cat becomes infected from a bite from an infected flea and soon the catís red blood cells are covered with free-loading mycoplasma organisms. The catís immune system eventually detects foreign proteins on red blood cells and begins to mount an attack in the form of antibodies which bind to the mycoplasma organism as a coating, which serves to mark the infected red blood cell for removal and destruction. The problem is that if many red blood cells are parasitized, then so many red blood cells are destroyed that the cat becomes anemic.

     The infected sick cat is pale, sometimes even jaundiced, and weak. Anemic cats often eat dirt or litter in an attempt to consume iron. An infected cat may have a fever. The initial blood tests show not just red cell loss but a responsive bone marrow (the source of new red blood cells), which means that the cat's body knows it is losing red cells and is trying to make more as quickly as possible to keep up. Cats with concurrent feline leukemia virus infection tend to have more severe anemia as the virus does not permit the bone marrow to respond.

     When a cat is newly infected, it can take up to one month before there are adequate numbers of parasites to actually make the cat sick. Mortality is highest during the month following this initial stage. If the cat recovers, it becomes a permanent carrier, though stress can re-activate the infection.

     The cats at highest risk are those that roam outside in the spring and summer (obviously these cats have the highest risk for flea infestation). Cats that are statistically likely to be infected are male cats younger than 4 to 6 years of age, have a history of cat fights, and have incomplete vaccination histories (in short, cats with somewhat casual care, most likely including casual flea control). Infection with the feline leukemia virus is also a factor in diagnosis.  An abnormal immune system is absolutely not a necessity; normal cats are infected as well.

     Blood sucking parasites such as fleas, ticks, lice, and mosquitoes are the leading candidates for spread of the organism. This makes flea control paramount in protection.

     If hemotropic mycoplasma infection is suspected, initiating treatment is probably a good idea as treatment is much easier than diagnosis. All mycoplasma infections are susceptible to tetracycline. Killing the mycoplasma is only part of the therapy, however; it is the host's own immune system that removes the red blood cells and this must be stopped. Prednisone or similar steroid hormone is typically used to suppress this part of the immune system so that the red blood cells are not removed as quickly. Very sick cats will probably require blood transfusions to get through the brunt of the infection. Happily, prognosis is fair if the diagnosis is made in time, as cats generally respond well and quickly to treatment.

 

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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SEIZURE DISORDERS

 

     Any involuntary behavior that occurs abnormally may represent a seizure. Seizures are classified as:  

     Generalized (Grand Mal) Seizures - This is the most common form of seizure in small animals. The entire body can be stiff and/or undergo contractions. The animal loses consciousness and may urinate or defecate.

     Partial Seizures - This form of seizure originates from some specific area in the brain and thus involves the activity of a specific region of the body. Partial seizures may progress to involve the whole body.

     Psychomotor Seizures - This type of seizure is predominantly behavioral with the animal involuntarily howling, snapping, circling, etc. The abnormal behavior may be followed by a generalized seizure.  Seizures (neurological events) are often difficult to differentiate from fainting spells (cardiovascular events). Classically, true seizures are preceded by an aura, or a special feeling associated with a coming seizure. As animals cannot speak, we usually donít notice any changes associated with the aura. The seizure is typically followed by a post-ictal (post seizure) period during which the animal appears disoriented, even blind. This period may last only a few minutes or may last several hours. [Fainting animals are usually up and normal within seconds after the spell.]

     Seizures may be caused by situations within the brain (such as trauma, tumor, or infection) or by situations centered outside the brain (such as low blood sugar, circulating metabolic toxins, hypothyroidism, or external poisons). The first step is to rule out situations centered outside the brain, accomplished with blood testing. An ophthalmic exam may also be performed as the retina may show signs of a brain infection. If these tests are negative, the next step is determined by the age of the pet.

     Animals less than One Year old - Seizures are usually caused by infections of the brain. Analysis of cerebrospinal fluid, obtained by a tap under anesthesia, would be important.

     Animals between Ages 1 and 5 Usually no cause can be found and the term epilepsy, which simply means seizure disorder, is applied. If seizures are occurring frequently enough, medication is used to suppress them. Schnauzers, Basset hounds, Collies, and Cocker spaniels have epilepsy two to three times as often as other breeds.

     Animals over 5 Years old - Seizures are usually caused by a tumor growing off the skull and pressing on the brain (a meningioma). Most such tumors are operable if found early. A CT scan or MRI would be the next step. For patients where surgery is not an option, corticosteroids may be used to reduce swelling in the brain. Treatment to suppress seizures may also be needed.

 

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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TAPEWORMS

 

     Tapeworms are long, flat worms that attach themselves to your dogís or catís intestines. A tapeworm body consists of multiple parts, or segments, each with its own reproductive organs. Tapeworm infections are usually diagnosed by finding segments,  which appear as small white worms that may look like grains of rice or seeds, on the rear end of your dog, in your dogís feces, or where your dog lives and sleeps.

     Dogs with tapeworm infections usually are not sick and do not lose weight from the worms.

     Contrary to popular belief, dogs that ďscootĒ on their rear ends are generally doing it for reasons other than having tapeworms, such as blocked or irritated anal sacs or other skin inflammation of the rear.

     To prevent your dog from getting tapeworms, try to keep your dog from coming in contact with intermediate hosts (fleas and small rodents) that contain tapeworm larvae.  Consistent, safe, and effective flea control is an essential prevention measure against the most common kind of tapeworm, Dipylidium caninum.  Keeping your dog from eating prey animals is also important.

     Certain tapeworms found in dogs or cats may cause serious disease in humans. Fortunately, these tapeworms (Echinococcus species) are uncommon in the United States and are readily treated by prescriptions available from your veterinarian.    

     If you think your dog may have tapeworms, your veterinarian can test for them, and will have save and effective treatment options.

 

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     As always, we recommend that you check with your veterinarian for your petís immediate health needs and concerns. 

     If you have questions about your petís health, care, and well-being, email your question to: NtTAskOurVet@hotmail.com

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High Blood Pressure in our Pets