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How to Help Your Pet Age Gracefully

By Sara Hogle, DVM use sh

The majority of dog breeds have reached their golden years by 7 to 10 years old with large and giant breeds becoming seniors earlier than small breed dogs. Cats are typically considered seniors around 10 years of age. Many dogs will experience some graying of the coat (especially around the muzzle or face) as they age but there are many, more subtle signs of aging to watch for.  Some owners will report diminished hearing in their geriatric dogs and cats. Often times older animals are noted sleeping more and tiring more easily when playing. These changes in activity tend to be very gradual in the healthy older dog or cat. Rapid changes in activity level, or excessive lethargy/sleepiness are often indicators of health problems and a visit to your veterinary is strongly recommended if this is noted at home.

senior dogsOther aging changes to watch closely for include excessive thirst, unexpected weight loss or gain, large changes in activity level or ability, and any signs of pain or discomfort. I recommend regularly evaluating your pets ears and mouth for odor or debris, feeling the belly for tenseness, pain, or bloating/distention, running your hands through the coat to feel for masses or lumps, and to screen for any eye or nasal discharge. Additionally, monitor your pet’s activity level and abilities on a daily basis. For example, if you start to notice hesitation, difficulty or reluctance to sit down, climb stairs, get in or out of the car, go for walks, changes in how they are posturing to urinate or defecate, or with a cat, difficulty or inability to get into or out of the litter box, these may all be indicators of pain and possible underlying arthritis, back problems (e.g. disc disease), or even cancer. If any of these changes in odor, activity, etc. are noted at home we strongly recommend a visit to your veterinarian as soon as possible. Many of the problems that our senior pets face can be managed and/or resolved more easily early in the course of disease, making early diagnosis very important.

Additionally, we recommend regular senior wellness exams, every 6 months ideally. Annual blood work, fecal examination Labwork when indicated, and urinalysis can allow for early detection of diseases. Many diseases can be managed and progression prevented by early detection and medical treatments. For example, cats may appear healthy and happy for a long period of time early in the course of kidney failure but kidney problems can be detected during this time by regular bloodwork monitoring in the older cat. If caught early kidney disease progression can be slowed or prevented keeping your cat healthy and happy at home. Once a cat is clinically sick from kidney disease it has progressed to a point where treatment is more challenging, more expensive, and the cat’s quality of life may be affected long term or altered due to the condition.

older-dogFinally, it is important to consider your aging pets changing dietary and exercise/comfort needs. We recommend feeding a complete and balanced, high quality diet specifically formulated for geriatric or senior pets. Some pets will require a specialty or prescription diet due to other concurrent illness, so we advise following your veterinarians dietary recommendations in these cases. Additionally, older dogs can have more difficulty effectively maintaining their body temperature, so keeping them comfortably warm (not hot) and dry is important. Arthritic dogs may benefit from ramps to get up steps and extra padding where they sleep and arthritic cats may require litter boxes with lower sides for easy access. If your older dog or cat is losing sight or hearing, removing obstacles and avoiding unnecessary movement of furniture, food/water dishes, etc. can help to reduce anxiety and maintain mobility and comfort in the home. If at any time you notice any unusual symptoms or evidence of pain/discomfort we strongly recommend an exam with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Ultimately, with you and your veterinarians tender loving care, support, and guidance we can keep your aging pet comfortable, happy, and healthy into their golden years.

West Nile Virus
Authored by: Centers for Disease Control and PreventionCDC-Logo

*A recent article (Austgen et al. Experimental Infection of Cats and Dogs with West Nile Virus, EID, Vol. 10, no.1 Jan 2004) in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases discusses WNV infection in dogs and cats in detail.

Can West Nile virus (WNV) cause illness in dogs or cats?

A relatively small number of WNV infected dogs (<40) and only 1 WNV infected cat have been reported to CDC during 2003. Experimentally infected dogs* showed no symptoms after infection with WNV. Some infected cats exhibited mild, nonspecific symptoms during the first week after infection–for the most part only showing a slight fever and slight lethargy. It is unlikely that most pet owners would notice any unusual symptoms or behavior in cats or dogs that become infected with WNV.

  1. How can my veterinarian treat my cat or dog if they are/may be infected with WNV?  
    There is no specific treatment for WNV infection. Full recovery from the infection is likely. Treatment would be supportive (managing symptoms, if present) and consistent with standard veterinary practices for animals infected with a viral agent.
  2. Does my dog/cat becoming infected pose a risk to the health of my family or other animals?
    There is no documented evidence of dog or cat-to-person transmission of West Nile virus. The evidence suggests that dogs do not develop enough virus in their bloodstream to infect more mosquitoes. Cats develop slightly higher levels of virus in their bloodstream, but it is unclear if this would be enough to infect mosquitoes. It is very unlikely that cats would be important in furthering the spread of the virus.  If your animal becomes infected with WNV, this suggests that there are infected mosquitoes in your area. You should take measures to prevent mosquitoes from biting you (use repellent and wear protective clothing.)

How do cats and dogs become infected with West Nile virus?  Dogs and cats become infected when bitten by an infected mosquito. There is also evidence that cats can become infected with the virus after eating experimentally infected mice. *

  1. Can I become infected with WNV if a dog with the virus bites me?  Preliminary studies have not been able to detect virus in the saliva of infected dogs. This suggests that dog bites pose a low risk, if any, of transmission of WNV from dogs to other animals or people.
  2. Is there a vaccine for cats or dogs?     No
  3. Q. Can I use insect repellent on my pets?   DEET-based repellents, which are recommended for humans, are not approved for veterinary use (largely because animals tend to ingest them by licking.) Talk with your veterinarian for advice about the appropriate product for use on your pet.

Fun in the Sun 2014

CheeseThe Fun in the Sun Photo Contest is back. Please send us a picture of your pet enjoying the summer days. Whether it be outside or taking a cat nap we want to see. All the photos will be posted on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/baringvet .  We have some new rules this year  about voting be sure to read the details below. This year the winner will receive a $50 dollar gift card to Baring Blvd Veterinary Hospital. Be sure to follow these steps below to  register.

1. Find an adorable picture of your pet enjoying the summer season.

2. Email it to us at Baringvet@gmail.com (as a jpeg please).  Subject line : FUN IN THE SUN, be sure to include your first and last name, your pet’s name and your phone number that we use at BBVH as a contact number.

3. Login and check out your pet’s picture on our Facebook page. (And don’t for get to like it! )Facebook-Like

4. Ask  your friends and family to help by liking the picture on our page (if you share it ask them to click through to our page, other wise their like won’t count).

Rules:

The winner will be determined by a percentage of the likes on facebook, and votes from the staff.  Photos can be submitted from July  21- August 22 (to the email above). We will post all the photos at the same time on August 25. The voting will take place from August 25 through September 1. The winner will be announced after the staff vote on September 4  Good Luck !

Here are some of last years pictures:

Our HomeAgain Chip-a-thon is back on!  During the summer months more dogs go missing than any other time of the year. We will be offering the HomeAgain microchip, life time registration, and 1st year of extra benefits for $28 (normally $47). No appointment is needed, and we are open 7 days a week. Check out Gabby’s story about how she went missing and found her family thanks to her HomeAgain microchip. This promo will go on until the end of July.

FoundPetImageWhile away on vacation, our German Shepherd, Gabby, decided to jump the electronic fence and the wooden fence that protected her in our backyard.

When our caretaker came to watch over Gabby (since we were away), she discovered that Gabby was missing. Two days later when the caretaker was finally able to contact us about our missing furbaby, we immediately reported it to HomeAgain and put out a HomeAgain poster.

Two weeks after Gabby went missing, a PetRescuer saw the HomeAgain poster and immediately recognized Gabby as a dog that was brought into the clinic. After scanning Gabby and seeing the HomeAgain poster, the kind PetRescuer was able to confirm that this was indeed the dog in the poster! HomeAgain got in touch with me as soon as a possible and I rushed to the clinic. Fifteen minutes after arriving at the clinic, a patron arrived with my Gabby!
home_again_320
After two whole weeks, my precious furbaby is home again! Thanks to the great people at HomeAgain. We could never repay you for reuniting us again with our precious pup. Thank You HomeAgain!

 

Hind Dewclaws Dr. Laura Leautier

By: Laura Leautier

Does your dog have rear dewclaws? Most dogs do not, but some breeds, like Great

Pyrenees, actually must have a double set of rear dewclaws to be considered “normal.”

If your dog has rear dewclaws, you have the option to let them be, or remove them.

Ideally, the best time to remove dewclaws (front or back ones) is at 3-5 days of age. But

since most of us don’t get our puppies until 8 wks or later, we will often do the dewclaw

removal surgery at the time of the neuter or spay, so there’s just one anesthesia. In

dewclaws that have a definite bony joint, the surgery is a bit more involved and a little

dewclawscostlier to remove than the “floppy” ones. The floppy dewclaws hang out to the side and

may get snagged on things, so they should be removed. Also, dogs who don’t appreciate

their nails being trimmed should have them removed. Since the dewclaws don’t touch

the ground, they can grow very long and curl around, cutting into the pad. If you decide

to have the surgery done, know in advance that the two weeks of healing and bandage

changes can be a bit of a bear. Dogs tend to want to remove their bandages and chew at

their stitches, so an Elizabethan collar is needed. We usually see them back for bandage

changes every 3-5 days until suture removal at 14 days post-surgery. Our doctors are101_3579

happy to discuss any questions you may have about the procedure.

Acupuncture for Animals

Frequently Asked Questions

Kim Luikart, DVM, cVMA

Certified Veterinary Medical Acupuncturist

Dr Luikart

 

 

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points on the body via the insertion and manipulation of very small, sterile needles into the superficial tissues of the body.  Each treatment is carefully tailored to your pet’s unique situation.  Treatment plans are based on a thorough medical history review, careful physical examination and assessment of musculoskeletal and neurologic systems, as well as any additional diagnostics that may be required.  Our practice incorporates the cutting edge of neuroscience to provide a treatment that is a powerful adjunct to other therapeutic 100_5180modalities.

 

How does it work?

Acupuncture invokes neuromodulation by stimulating nerve endings and inducing local and distant changes in the body. Acupuncture enhances blood and lymph flow at the local level, relieves myofascial trigger points, modulates traffic in the spinal cord and peripheral nerves, causes release of anti-pain and anti-inflammatory molecules from the brain stem and local tissues, and improves balance between the sympathetic (stress response) and parasympathetic (rest response) nervous systems.

 

Anatomic and physiologic studies confirm the presence of specific “afferent” nerve endings at acupuncture points, which transport input to the peripheral nerves, associated spinal cord segments, and brain.  This information is processed and endogenous regulation results in improved circulation and organ function, analgesia, muscle relaxation, and normalized immune function.  Dr. Luikart and other medical acupuncturists study these connections and choose acupuncture sites according to the desired neuromodulatory effect.

 

Effects include:

Improved nerve function

Relaxation of muscles and fascia

Improved circulation and faster healing

Control of pain and inflammation

 

What types of conditions can you treat?

Nearly any medical condition can benefit from acupuncture.  Some of the most common conditions treated include:

Arthritis

Neurologic injury (such as intervertebral disc disease)

Digestive disturbances (gastroenteritis, pancreatitis, colitis, diarrhea, constipation)

Allergies (itching, ear infections, chronic licking)

Urinary dysfunction (cystitis, incontinence)

Post operative/trauma recovery

Chronic pain (from injury, surgery, or other disease process)

Behavioral problems

In addition, many hospitalized pets can benefit from daily acupuncture treatment while in our hospital.

 

Does acupuncture hurt?100_4659

Most pets find their treatment enjoyable, or at least tolerable.  Some pets even fall asleep during treatment. We try to maintain a relaxed and nonstressful environment as much as possible.  Some pets however, may be very sensitive, and we never force treatments on any pet.

 

Are there any side effects?

Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years as a safe treatment for many health problems.  In the hands of an appropriately trained professional, acupuncture is very safe.  On occasion, some pets may seem lethargic or even a little worse for a day or two after the first treatment.  This usually passes and the pet feels much better.

 

What is a typical treatment like?

First Appointment: On your first visit, Dr. Luikart will book an entire hour to spend with you and your pet.  This visit is very important, because every case is different and we need to thoroughly understand your pet’s specific situation.

Dr. Luikart will perform a complete physical examination, including a careful evaluation of your pet’s musculoskeletal and nervous systems.  One of medical acupuncture’s main tenets is that appropriate treatment stems only from appropriate diagnosis.  Therefore, Dr. Luikart may recommend further workup prior to setting a treatment program, which could include diagnostics such as bloodwork or radiographs.

Dr. Luikart is trained in osteopathic myofascial palpation and trigger point diagnosis.  This helps to identify fascial restrictions and painful spots, directs attention to specific joints or body parts, and guides the selection of points for acupuncture treatment.

Finally, Dr. Luikart will proceed with needling.  We often go very slow and easy on the first treatment since we do not want pets to find the treatment stressful.  First treatments may only involve needling of 3 or 4 points, although this is highly variable.  The success of treatment does not depend on the number of needles used.  Often we may use adjunct therapy at this time such as laser or massage.  The needles often stay in for 10-15 minutes, and we may incorporate electrical stimulation in some patients.  Once the fascia has relaxed, and the tissues have responded, the needles may fall out on their own, or Dr. Luikart will remove them.

Follow up appointments: During subsequent appointments, various parts of the initial visit will be repeated, but normally follow up treatments will take about 30 minutes.

How many times do animals need to be treated?

100_4960-001Often 2-3 treatments lasting 20-30 minutes are given in the first 2 weeks, then the frequency is tapered to what is appropriate for each case.  Depending on the type of illness, severity of symptoms, and overall health of the pet, this may be once weekly, once per month or two, or simply as needed.

 

 

Does acupuncture always help?

Not always.  Like any treatment, we see a few miraculous cases and a few do not respond at all.  The majority of pets will get some significant benefit.  Acupuncture does not replace regular veterinary medicine and other treatment modalities, and we do encourage a thorough diagnostic workup prior to initiating treatment.  Every animal is different and the benefits may increase over time.  Acupuncture is a valuable adjunct tool for many problems and can often reduce dependency on more invasive or side effect prone treatments.

How much does acupuncture cost?

The initial consultation and treatment as described above is $180, and all follow up visits are $70.

Hospitalized patients are treated on a case by case basis and prices range from $45-65 per treatment.

Please call our hospital to schedule an appointment with Dr. Luikart or give us a call for more information.

 

Hot Spots: What are they and how did my dog get them?

By: Michelle Caldwell Dr. Caldwell

 

What are hot spots?

“Hot spots,” or pyotraumatic dermatitis, are areas of skin that are weepy, wet, red, and sometimes bloody.  They are caused by over-zealous self-licking and chewing and they can arise quickly.  These areas can be solitary or there may be multiple patches of affected skin.  These lesions hot spotalmost always look worse than they really are.

 

How did my dog get them?

The most common underlying cause for “hot spots” is an underlying allergy (food or environmental). However, contact with an irritating substance, trauma (i.e. clippers from grooming), or pain in the area from underlying tissues can cause the dog to lick and chew, resulting in a “hot spot.”

 

What should I do if I think my dog has a hot spot?

Prompt veterinary attention is recommended as these lesions can get larger and are painful if not treated. Your veterinarian will most likely clip and clean the area to allow the wound to dry or “air out.” Sometimes the wound is 101_3579small enough for topical treatment, however in many instances, systemic antibiotics and even corticosteroids are needed to clear up secondary bacterial infection and decrease inflammation. An Elizabethan collar will most likely be recommended as well to prevent further licking/chewing.

Puppy Play

TIPS ON HOW TO SAFELY SOCIALIZE YOUR PUPPY

By:  John Crumley, DVMDr. Crumley

I want to socialize my puppy, but I was told not to take him around any other dogs what can I do?

Early socialization is a very important step in the early behavioral development of puppies. Current recommendations are to get puppies into a structured puppy class before 16 weeks of age, but the vaccine and deworming series is not completed until after 16 weeks of age. Since the vaccine series is paramount to prevent terrible diseases, such as parvovirus, this can seem like a “Catch 22” scenario. We want our puppy exposed to the proper social environment, but we don’t want them exposed to disease, right? Well, it can be done and safely.

In the past, veterinarians would always recommend keeping a puppy inside the home and away from other dogs or places dogs have been until the vaccine series was completed, but recent evidence does not support this recommendation. In fact, veterinary behaviorists believe we may be harming a puppy’s early social development by keeping them isolated from other dogs and new people. The current recommendations from veterinary behaviorists is to get puppies into socialization classes before 12 weeks of age.

317468_2569437720581_1313997226_n

Our biggest infectious disease concern in Reno is parvoviorus. The vaccines are very effective in preventing the disease, but they must be given in sequence starting around 7 weeks of age until a final puppy vaccine after 16 weeks of age. During the vaccine sequence the immunity builds with each successive vaccination so the risk of infection reduces, but it is complete until after the final puppy vaccine is given after 16 weeks of age.

So, is my puppy going to get parvovirus if I go to puppy classes before 16 weeks of age?

Very unlikely. In the spring of 2013, researchers looked into puppies that were enrolled in puppy classes before 16 weeks of age after receiving at least one vaccination for parvovirus from a veterinarian. More than 200 puppies in four cities were studied and not a single puppy developed parvovirus. So, it appears that puppy classes are safe if your puppy has received at least one vaccine by a veterinarian. We recommend enrolling in puppy classes around 12 weeks of age (after we have given at least one vaccine). We have never documented a puppy getting Puppies playing sick from parvovirus that could be traced to a puppy class here in Reno.

So I can take my puppy anywhere after you give a parvovirus vaccine?

No! There is still parvovirus in our town, so going to places where many dogs have been is a big risk for parvovirus until the vaccine series is complete. Your home, your yard, and puppy classes are safe, but avoid anywhere else many dogs have been to reduce your puppy’s risk.

But I should enrol my puppy in puppy classes?

Yes! At your first puppy vaccine visit, ask your veterinarian about when to get your little one started in classes. In the meantime, get your puppy used to a collar, leash, and harness. Also pug pack start teaching them to sit and stay and work on crate training. All these things will give your little puppy a “leg up” on the future classes!

LEPTOSPIROSIS IN DOGS
Bob Baker, DVM   

Dr. Baker

Leptospirosis is a potentially life-threatening bacterial disease that can affect animals, as well as humans. In northern Nevada, we have not typically vaccinated against this disease, but it is increasing in frequency.  Northern California is now considered a leptospirosis “hotspot.”
The Leptospira bacteria is typically spread through the urine of infected wildlife or domestic animals.  The bacteria pass into water and soil, where they can survive for months.  When animals come in contact with this contaminated environment, the bacteria can enter the body through broken skin and mucus membranes.  Drinking contaminated water is another source of infection.
Leptospirosis is a very serious disease that can cause liver problems, kidney failure, and death.  It can also be difficult to diagnose.  There is no one perfect test to confirm the disease, although some of the newer polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are much better than the older (titer) tests.  The incubation period for leptospirosis is usually between 5 to 14 days.
Early treatment is much more successful than delayed intervention.  Treatment involves antibiotics, fluid therapy, and, in some instances, referral for dialysis.
318619_166854683394618_1910788172_n Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be transmitted between animals and humans.  The infected animal’s urine, blood, and tissues are contagious, and humans get lepto if the bacteria enters cuts or broken skin, or if they drink contaminated water.
Leptospirosis is rare here in northern Nevada, but, as mentioned above, northern California is considered a hotspot for the disease, so dogs that travel there definitely run a higher risk of contracting leptospirosis.  To minimize your dog’s risk of exposure:


Avoid exposure to standing water, especially where wildlife or livestock congregate.  Bring your own source of water for your dog to drink.  Vaccinate your dog.  The leptospirosis vaccine is not a core or required vaccine, but we strongly recommend it for dogs that have an exposure risk.  A small dog that lives in an apartment in northern

ca_map_outline_naus

Nevada does not need to be vaccinated for lepto.  A dog that hunts or has exposure to cattle farms would be at risk and should be vaccinated.  Leptospirosis vaccines have been available for years, but they were not very effective and ran a high risk of side effects, so they became unpopular. With newer technologies, the vaccine is highly effective with less risk of allergic reactions. We recommend the Merial RECOMBITEK 4 vaccine for the best available protection while having a high margin of safety. Initial vaccination requires a booster in 3-4 weeks, followed by annual vaccination to afford the best protection.  Again, not all dogs need to be vaccinated for leptospirosis.  It is a non-core vaccine for a specific population of at-risk dogs. Our doctors are happy to answer any questions you may have.

Dental Month is Back!

That’s right everybody dental month is back ! If your pet comes in for a dental cleaning during the month of February you will receive a $35 discount off the cost of the dental cleaning, and a dental kit (values at around $10).  Spots are limited so please give us a call if you would like to make an appointment. Here is a sample of a before and after picture from one of our dental cleaning.

Pre dental cleaning Post dental cleaning

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