Latest Entries »
Hiking Hazards, How to Keep You and You’re Pet Safe.
By: Dr. Ben Davidson
If you are anything like me, you love exploring this wonderful wilderness that surrounds us. If you’re reading this, you must love taking your faithful four-legged companion with you. There are a few things you can do to make the hiking experience much safer and more enjoyable for everyone. Most importantly is controlling the severe elements that we experience on our treks. In our area, these include the heat and the dry climate. Our pets tend to walk at least 50% further than we do, running ahead, circling back, and chasing that chipmunk off the trail. Between the extra exercise and their hair coat, they get a whole lot hotter than we do. Try to hike in shaded areas, with water around to cool off in. Try to leave early enough to avoid the hottest part of our day, the afternoon. Make sure you bring plenty of water and a good drinking bowl for them. Even if it’s a cool day, they need plenty of water.
Hopefully accidents and injuries won’t be a problem, and a few careful steps can prevent a lot of them, but just in case, a few simple additions to your first aid kit are a good idea. The most common injury we see is pad wear, or blisters on the bottom of their feet. Just like us, if their little feet aren’t accustomed to long walks, they can get very sore, or crack and blister. Try to get your pet back into good shape before you take off on that long walk. Also, wet feet are more prone to injury, so if you are hiking up to some beautiful alpine lake, make sure you plan on letting your pup dry out before heading back down. It’s hard to prevent little nicks and cuts from them running through the bushes and jumping rocks, but if it is possible to avoid those situations, it’s probably a good idea. Exercising a little caution and moderation, especially early in the season can also prevent injuries such as muscular and ligament strains, sprains and tears. Like I said, some basic first aid may be necessary for some of the unavoidable problems. A pair of tweezers for cactus, foxtails, or other thorns is useful. Superglue or any commercially available tissue adhesive can quickly repair a small cut on the fly. Saline eye flush (not a medicated Visine type product) is helpful in case they get something in their eye. There are some really nice pet first aid kits available at the pet stores or at the large sporting good and outdoor stores.
Finally, just know where you are hiking. Do a little research into what toxins and wildlife you might encounter. If you’re headed off to the east, or just locally, you need to be aware of rattlesnakes. Up in the mountains it’s not as much of a threat, but still, if you hear that suspicious rattle, get Fido back to you and walk on bye carefully. Flea, tick, and absolutely heartworm prevention is important when out in the elements. There are certainly other predators out there, and although these incidents are incredibly rare, it’s important to keep an eye out. If you are a horticulturalist and without question know the difference between toxic and safe plants, you are in a great place to go hiking. For the rest of us, don’t let your pets eat plants out there. They may be unsafe both in toxins and also by causing GI upset or obstructions.
Everybody have a great hiking season!
Road trip with your furry friend?
I remember the first time I took my dogs to the dog beaches in California – I thought being a vet would have prepared me for the unanticipated trials that arose from being with my girls for 24 hours a day in a non local area. But I wasn’t prepared, and now I have some advice for you!
Traveling with your pet can be a terrific experience, but only if you plan ahead. Make sure vaccines are current (and this means young animals should have at least 3 sets ending around 16 weeks of age), and always bring a copy of your vaccination certificate with you. Rabies is a nationwide concern and many state borders require proof of vaccination before allowing access to their state. As well as the certificate, a copy of your pet’s medical records is recommended, especially if they have a history of illness or chronic disease. I think it’s a great idea to locate a veterinarian along the way or at your final destination just in case you need some help. It is helpful to have a permanent ID implant such as a microchip – collars and leashes with ID can easily be removed or lost… It usually costs around $45 and will significantly increase your pet’s chance of recovery. Some companies such as Home Again aid in that recovery (with signs and notifications to the surrounding animal groups/hospitals) or even medical bills if your pet is injured while lost.
Many diseases are geographic, so please check to see if you need preventative medications or additional vaccinations prior to travel (i.e. – Heartworm disease, Lyme disease, Leptospirosis). Fleas and ticks can be a nuisance to both you and your pets, and can cause serious disease as well, so talk to us about prevention treatment options.
If this is your pet’s first trip, you should make sure they are able to travel for long distances. Try a shorter trip and see how it goes. Would sedation have been nice? An anti anxiety medication? Motion sickness drugs? Sedation can be a great option for long trips, but do you want the potential 12 hour effect? Always bring towels for cleaning up those nasty side effects of motion sickness (or puppy pads work well to line your seats). Keep in mind that tired dogs are usually calmer in the car, so make sure your friend gets plenty of exercise prior to loading into the car. And cats, well…you might call us and we can have a chat.
Keep those pets buckled! Or at least contained – no one wants a 70 lb dog climbing over their shoulder while driving down the freeway at 75mph… Kennels, pet barriers, and seatbelts/harnesses have been created to prevent unwanted risks. Again, practice with these PRIOR to your trip.
Be sure to stop for rest breaks! You should ideally stop every 3-4 hours along the road to offer water and a potty break. Stay clear of heavily soiled areas – although vaccines prevent diseases like parvo and distemper, it would be no fun to pick up a gastrointestinal parasite on vacation.
Many motels/hotels accept pets for a small deposit, but be sure to call ahead to make your reservations. When you do have to leave your pet in your room, make sure they are either in a crate or kennel, and stand outside the door to make sure they don’t bark or howl – although pet friendly, there are limitations! And not that you haven’t heard this one before – do not leave your pet in the car –temperatures can rise too quickly with very serious consequences.
Have fun with your pet, and be sure to call us if you have any questions!
How Long is Too Long for My Dog/Cat Not to Defecate?
I always recommend monitoring both the quantity and quality of what your pet ingests (food and water intake) and what they eliminate (urination and defecation habits). The quantity and color of urine and the feces color, texture, odor, and presence of mucus or blood are all indicators of how well your pet’s body is functioning overall. Often times changes in the characteristics of your animals feces or urine can be the first sign of a health problem developing, so it is important to be aware of your dog or cat’s elimination habits and to regularly monitor for changes in the fecal or urine appearance.
Constipation is defined by inadequate or complete lack of defecation (stool passage). The majority of dogs or cats will look like they are trying to go, need to go, or are experiencing discomfort when defecating without producing stool or producing a very small volume of firm/dry feces. If this difficulty or discomfort associated with defecation produces little stool and is persistent (lasts more than a day or 2) it is very important to seek veterinary assistance. Constipated pets may also appear bloated, uncomfortable, may have a decrease or loss of appetite, and can even start to vomit if left untreated. It is recommended that we determine the cause of the constipation through diagnostics and physical exam and resolve it prior to the dog or cat exhibiting any of these symptoms.
Ultimately, it is very important to regularly monitor not only what your pet is eating but also what they are eliminating in an effort to catch and resolve health problems early in the course of disease. If resolved sooner these problems tend to improve more completely and quickly, therefore, getting your beloved pet back on track sooner!
Every Year Around the Same Time My Dog Gets Itchy.
Many pets, like people, can get seasonal allergies. These allergies usually occur in the warmer months when grasses, trees, and sagebrush are blooming. Some signs of seasonal allergies are: red/inflammed skin, scratching and even excessive paw licking.
Dealing with seasonal allergies can be a frustrating endeavor for the pet, the owner, and also the veterinarian. There are multiple treatments for seasonal allergies, and as the old adage goes, when there are multiple ways to treat something, there isn’t a great way to treat it. Certain antihistamines can be used orally to try and decrease the itchiness. However, unfortunately only 30% of pets respond to antihistamines. The nice thing about antihistamines are their side effects are minimal with drowsiness being the most common.
The most common treatment for seasonal allergies are corticosteroids. These medications are relatively inexpensive and highly effective. The major disadvantage to corticosteroids are their side effects. The side effects are directly proportional to the dose needed to control the allergies, and include: increased water consumption and urination, increased appetite, and increased panting. Long term, high dosage treatment can cause ligament and muscle weakening, skin and liver changes. When using corticosteroids we always try to use the lowest effective dose which controls the allergies in order to minimize these side effects.
Another treatment for seasonal allergies in dogs is hyposensitization therapy. With this therapy we try to find out what the dog is allergic to by either a blood test or by injecting different allergens under the skin in small amounts to see if they form a welt (this is done by a veterinary dermatologist). Once we know what the dog is allergic to, a company formulates allergy injections to these allergens. We then teach the owner how to give these injections (in small amounts) at home in the hope of desensitizing the dog’s immune system to what they are allergic to. Unfortunately these injections don’t work all the time, and the testing and injections can be somewhat expensive. Approximately 25% of patients see no improvement, 50% see some improvement, and the remaining 25% can see complete improvement.
There are currently two additional medications which help to minimize the immune systems response to allergens. These medications are Atopica and Apoquel. Atopica is usually effective, but has the disadvantage of being expensive for larger dogs. Apoquel has just recently come on the market and appears to be very effective and relatively inexpensive with minimal side effects. We are hopeful that Apoquel will replace corticosteroids as the most common treatment for seasonal allergies. The biggest hurdle to Apoquel currently, is it is very difficult to get ahold of.
If you think your pet is having seasonal allergies, please give us a call and schedule an appointment with us, and we can help you determine which treatment is the best fit for your situation.
Vaccines,What are the Risks and Benefits to Your Pets.
As a veterinarian I am faced with questions about vaccinations every day, what are the risks? what are the benefits? To say that vaccines are safe is true, however there are adverse effects associated with vaccination. While extremely rare, anaphylactic allergic reactions can occur and must be dealt with immediately. Other allergic reactions, fever, vomiting, facial swelling occur on occasion, but are still rare. The old feline vaccinations were associated with development of an injection site sarcoma; this occurred more commonly in patients with a genetic predisposition to cancer. So yes there are some risks associated with vaccination. When it comes to vaccination, we have to assess the relative risk of vaccination vs. the risk of the disease. Rabies vaccine however is always indicated as it is state law to vaccinate dogs and cats. Most pets however, do not have the social risk factors of humans, there are some such as those that go to groomers, boarding kennels, and day care. These pets have risk factors more like us, where we go to work, school, shopping; where we interact with others that may or may not be vaccinated or be incubating or spreading a contagious disease.
When an animal or person is vaccinated, most will form antibodies to the false infection that will protect from the real infection when the subject is exposed to the pathogen. There are however, some individuals that are genetic non-responders, meaning they cannot form antibodies to the vaccine. These are the individuals that get sick despite vaccination. This happens in canine parvovirus on occasion because the dog, no matter how many times they have been vaccinated, simply cannot respond to the presented antigen. So how do we protect these “non-responders” in the population, along with the individuals that cannot receive vaccines because of illness, immunocompromise, or allergies. The key is a concept called herd immunity, and it derives from infectious disease management mostly in the cattle and dairy industry. The more individuals that are vaccinated, the more protected the herd, including those that cannot be vaccinated or are non-responders. The more individuals that do not receive the vaccine, the more likely the herd immunity will fail and an outbreak will occur.
Measles is a virus that belongs to a group of viruses called Morbillivirus. It evolved from a cattle virus called Rinderpest around 1100-1200 A.D. When the measles virus first adapted to infect humans, it had a high mortality rate, killing up to 60% of those infected. Over time, the virus (and us) have changed to be less fatal, but still is very infective. It is interesting to note that Rinderpest, the cattle morbillivirus, has been eradicated by a global vaccination protocol, similar to what we did with the Smallpox virus in humans, and almost did with the Polio virus until the Taliban in the tribal areas of Pakistan started shooting the vaccinators. The canine morbillivirus causes a disease called distemper, which most veterinarians in practice today will never see because enough people continue to give their dogs the vaccine to keep herd immunity up and individuals protected by a highly safe and effective vaccine.
Sugar Substitute Xylitol is Poisonous to your Pet
By: Dr. Anne Dayton
Sugar substitutes may sound wonderful and may they are if you are a human. If you are a dog, one particular sugar substitute, Xylitol, is potentially lethal. It is often found in sugarless gum, certain baked goods, and some sugarless candies. It may also be found in certain flavored human medications and toothpaste. The potential toxicity to cats is still unknown.
There are two deadly effect Xylitol can have. The first is Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). In a dog the pancreas confuses xylitol with real sugar ad releases insulin to store the “sugar”. The problem is that Xylitol does not offer the extra calories of real sugar and the rush of insulin only serves to remove the real sugar from the circulation. Blood sugar levels plummet resulting in weakness, disorientation, tremors, and potentially seizures.
The other reaction associated with Xylitol is Hepatic Necrosis the actual destruction of the liver tissue. How this happens remains unknown, but the doses of Xylitol required to produce this effect are much higher than the hypoglycemic doses described above. Signs take longer to show up (typically 8-12 hours) and surprisingly not all dogs that experience hepatic necrosis, will have experienced hypoglycemia first. A lucky dog experiences only temporary illness, but alternatively, a complete and acute liver failure can result with death following. Internal hemorrhage and inability of blood to clot is commonly involved.
It does not take many sticks of gum to poison a dog, especially a small dog. Symptoms typically begin within 30 minutes and can last for more than 12 hours. Vomiting and diarrhea may also occur. A example of a Hypoglycemic dose of Xylitol would be if you have a 10 lb dog it could be poisoned by as little as a stick and a half of gum. The dose to cause the Hepatic Necrosis would be a whole unopened pack of gum for the same 10 lb dog.
To treat a dog with Xylitol toxicity the patient ideally should be seen quickly (within 30 minutes) and hopefully can be made to vomit the gum/ candy. Beyond that point a dextrose (sugar) IV drip is prudent for a good 24 hours. Liver enzyme and blood clotting test are monitored for 2 to 3 days. Blood levels of potassium are ideally monitored as well. If you are worried about your pet, and think that they might have gotten into a product that contains Xylitol please first contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435 (please note there is a fee of $65). If they recommend treatment give us a call, or if you have questions please give us a call at (775) 358-6880.
By: Renaud Houyoux, LVT
The Companion CTS therapy laser unit used that we use at Baring Boulevard Veterinary Hospital also has a surgical fiber with which we can do surgical procedures on soft tissues. Examples include wart removal, soft pallate resection, overgrown gum-line resection, and various other soft tissue surgery. The advantages of laser surgery include less pain post – operatively, as well as less bleeding and reduced inflammation / edema to the tissues. Small warts can also be removed with a local anesthetic and some patients may not even require anesthesia or sedation. This surgical adaptation to a therapy delivery platform is the latest development in this area of medicine.
February is National Pet Dental Health Month, and Baring Boulevard Veterinary Hospital is joining in. You may ask “Are you serious?”. Yes we are. Pet dental health is very serious. You take care of your own teeth multiple times every single day, but most of us can’t or don’t give the same kind of attention to our pets teeth. Because of this, 85% of household pets suffer from dental disease. Once pets have reached this point, a professional dental cleaning is necessary to address the disease.
So what does a professional dental cleaning entail? It is an anesthetized procedure in which a team of our doctors, veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants evaluate and treat whatever problems are present. The evaluation includes a full dental charting and periodontal diagnostics including radiographs of any questionable or affected teeth. The teeth are then cleaned using an ultrasonic device to clean the visible surface of the teeth, but most importantly below the gum line where the most serious disease occurs. If any teeth need advanced procedures, such as periodontal antibiotic infusion, sealing and bonding, or extraction, those are performed at this time. The teeth are then polished to complete the procedure and your pet is recovered in our post anesthesia ICU.
These procedure are performed at BBVH every weekday, year round, but if you schedule during February you will receive a $35 discount off the cost of the dental cleaning, dental health kit (valued at about $15). If you have any questions about these procedures or would like to schedule your pets dental evaluation, please call our office. We also are happy to have you swing your dog or cat by for what we call a “flip of the lip” exam, where one of our doctors or technicians will do a free check on your pets teeth to better tell you if a dental procedure is necessary, and if so, what it will likely entail.