Archive for the ‘Healthy Pets’ Category

Dr. Joe Cortese Dog Park Dedication

Monday, September 9th, 2013

On August 17th, the city of San Juan Capistrano dedicated their new dog park in honor of beloved local veterinarian Dr. Joe Cortese, also know as “Dr. Fleas”Dr. Joe Cortese.The dog park welcomes small and large dogs and features picnic tables, benches, and an access ramp for people with disabilities. Enjoy the beautiful mature oak, avocado, and Valencia orange trees that are being preserved as part of this wonderful new park. The area will include drinking fountains for both people and pooches.

Dr. Cortese was a past president and member of the Animal Health Foundation’s Board of Trustees.  He passed away suddenly in 2008 while visiting friends in New Mexico with his wife, Goldee.

The AHF is proud to have made a donation to the park to honor such a dedicated and loved individual.

Why urban dogs need heartworm prevention

Monday, September 9th, 2013

As part of an owner Q&A column, veterinarian Ernie Ward explains that the rare and mild adverse reactions to heartworm prevention treatment are no reason to avoid the potentially life-saving preventive medication. Responding to a question about whether an urban dog needs the prophylactic care, Dr. Ward says any dog that might be exposed to mosquitoes is at risk. “The treatment [for heartworm] is no fun and has the potential for side effects,” Dr. Ward says. “And treatment is expensive. Prevention is best.” The Hartford Courant (Conn.)/Tribune Content Agency (9/7)

Q: We’re reluctant to give our 3-year-old Shih Tzu heartworm medication because of all those side effects. We’re thinking of stopping it. We live in the city and don’t visit the park; our dog spends a lot of time in our yard. What do you think?

A: “Absolutely, this is wrong,” saysDr. Ernie Ward, of Calabash, N.C. “The benefits of heartworm preventatives far outweigh any potential chance of an adverse affect. And if there are side effects, which again are rare, most often it’s diarrhea or vomiting, which go away. If a pet gets heartworm, the disease doesn’t just go away. The treatment [for heartworm] is no fun and has the potential for side effects. And treatment is expensive. Prevention is best.”

Mosquitoes transmit heartworm, so where there are mosquitoes, there’s likely heartworm. Whether you live in the big city or not doesn’t matter; mosquitoes like urban life, too. And with your dog spending lots of time in the yard, it seems your dog is even more susceptible to mosquitoes.

Transfusion from dog saves poisoned cat, veterinarian says

Monday, August 26th, 2013

bag-of-transfusion-bloodNew Zealand veterinarian Kate Heller says she was out of conventional options and time to save a cat that had ingested rat poison, so she took an unorthodox approach and used dog blood for a transfusion. Because she was unable to determine the cat’s blood type, Dr. Heller could not use cat blood — using the wrong type would have sparked a fatal response. “If we didn’t do it, he would have died, so we had nothing to lose by giving it a go,” Dr. Heller said. An hour after the transfusion, the cat had made a remarkable recovery, Dr. Heller said. FoxNews.com/Agence France-Presse (8/21), The New Zealand Herald/APNZ News Service (8/20)

Traditional animal rivalries were set aside in New Zealand when a dog’s blood was used to save the life of a poisoned cat in a rare inter-species transfusion, reports said Wednesday.

Cat owner Kim Edwards was frantic last Friday when her ginger tom Rory went limp after eating rat poison, rushing to her local veterinary clinic at Tauranga in the North Island for help.

Vet Kate Heller said the feeble feline was fading fast and needed an immediate transfusion to survive, but there was not enough time to send a sample to the laboratory for testing to determine the cat’s blood type.

Instead, she decided to take a gamble and use dog blood to try to save the animal, knowing it would die instantly if she gave it the wrong type.

Edwards called up her friend Michelle Whitmore, who volunteered her black Labrador Macy as a doggie blood donor in a last-ditch attempt to save Rory, a procedure Heller said she had never performed before and was very rare.

“People are going to think it sounds pretty dodgy — and it is — but hey, we’ve been successful and it’s saved it’s life,” Heller told the New Zealand Herald.

Edwards said the cat appeared to have come through its ordeal unscathed, seemingly without any canine side effects.

“The vets just went above and beyond… it’s incredible that it worked,” she said.

“Rory is back to normal and we don’t have a cat that barks or fetches the paper.”

Itchy pet’s problem may be more than skin deep

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

dog scratchingDiagnosing and treating itchy pets is a tall order, writes veterinarian Lyssa Alexander, who explains the many causes of itchy skin in pets. Some pets have only mildly itchy skin while others are so irritated that it affects their quality of life. In many cases, an underlying allergy is to blame, according to Dr. Alexander. Causes of allergies in pets are numerous and include environmental allergens, flea allergies and food allergies. Other causes of itching include mite and ringworm infections or systemic or immune diseases. AnnArbor.com (Mich.) (8/14)

The end of the summer is a beautiful time. The plants are mature and the fields are abloom with gorgeous yellow and purple flowers. It is truly one of my favorite times of year.

Unfortunately, for many of our dog friends, the end of the summer comes with bad allergies. Dogs who have environmental allergies can react at any time of the year, depending on what they are allergic to. However, this time of year seems to bring me a lot of itchy pets.

Humans are no stranger to allergies. Many of us can chart the change of the season with levels of snot and congestion. Though our allergy symptoms overlap quite a bit with what we see in dogs, the main presentation of an allergic dog is itching.

They lick their paws (major sign of itching), scratch their bodies, shake their heads and get widespread skin and ear infections. For many dogs, these signs are mild, and they come and go with the season. However, many dogs can develop debilitating skin and ear infections or are simply too miserable to sleep. These are the dogs that come through my doors in droves.

When an itchy dog walks through my door, the first step is to try to determine if they have any infections. Regardless of why they are itching, hot spots, skin infections and ear infections can develop. Dogs with ear infections will have debris, inflammation and a foul smell in their ears and will exhibit head shaking or pawing at the ears.

Skin infections will take the form of scabs, ulcers and crusting along any part of the body. The skin is a complex organ with many important jobs. Besides keeping your insides on the inside, the skin also has to serve as a complex cellular barrier against naturally-occurring yeast and bacteria in the environment.

Every dog and person has low numbers of these organisms living on their skin at all time. However, for most of us, the skin’s barrier function and intelligent immune system keep these organisms in check. When the skin is inflamed and immune compromised, the yeast and bacteria grow to impressive numbers and cause even greater levels of rashes and itching.

Once we have diagnosed and treated the infections that come along with itchy conditions, we need to determine the underlying cause. Sometimes this is easy and sometimes it takes a lot of time and patients.

The most common reasons for an itchy pet are environmental allergies, food allergies, flea allergies, ringworm infections and mange. Other less common reasons include local reactions to insects or chemicals or certain systemic illnesses and immune conditions. Cats also get a similar variety of itchy conditions.

Environmental allergies or (Atopy or Atopic Dermatitis) is by far the most common itchy condition in dogs. There is usually a history of recurrent itchiness or skin and ear infections that come and go throughout the year. As a dog’s immune system matures, their allergy season may change or expand.

Dogs can be allergic to almost anything (just like people). Some of the main offenders are pollens, grasses, plant materials, dust, dust mites, molds, cats and insects. For many pets, we can decrease their itching through dietary supplementation, environmental management, antihistamines (please ask your veterinarian before giving your dog any medications) and judicious use of steroids for short periods of time.

For animals with severe allergies, more elaborate measures are needed. For these pets we recommend either going on a long term medication protocol with an immune modulating agent or starting a series of vaccines to try to desensitize their immune system to the allergens that are most offensive to your pet. Both of these strategies have their pitfalls at times, but for miserable dogs they can be lifesaving.

Another leading cause of itchy pets is food allergy. This is a well recognized condition that has been a bit twisted by dog food marketing. You can’t walk down a pet food isle without encountering bags that advertise “grain free” diets or “low allergen formulations.” Though wheat and corn are common food allergens in dogs that are truly food allergic, they are by no means the only offending ingredients. Diagnosing a food allergy in dogs can be tricky.

The best way to diagnose food allergy is to do a strict food allergy trial. This can be done with various veterinary prescription diets, but is most effective when done with a strict home-cooked diet formulated from novel ingredients (ask your vet for advice on how to do a trial). If an itchy dog clears up on the food, it is important to challenge them with their previous diet to make sure that the food was really the cause.

I have seen a lot of people switch their pets’ diets in the fall and see a big improvement. But many dogs with environmental allergies get better as the winter sets in anyway, so it is hard to say why the dog actually got better without doing a proper challenge at the end of the trial. For dogs with true food allergies, finding the right diet can be life-changing.

Flea allergies are also fairly common. hen a dog is heavily infested with fleas they can be quite itchy. However, dogs with flea ALLERGIES only have to be bitten occasionally to become wildly itchy. It can sometimes be a big challenge to convince owners that their dog has flea allergies when they haven’t seen any fleas.

Depending on the dog’s environment, even if they are on a good flea preventative they can get an occasional flea bite that can cause a flare-up. These cases can be frustrating at times, but as long as we keep them as flea free as possible, they can usually be managed well.

Mites and ringworm infections are also somewhat common, especially in puppies. Some of these conditions can spread to humans. Scabies mites cause dogs to be extremely itchy, especially on their ears. People in contact with scabies mites can develop itchy red rashes.

 

Vaccinations, boosters key to protecting horses from EEE

Monday, August 19th, 2013

CS Equine CenterThis summer, South Carolina has reported 30 confirmed cases and two suspected cases of Eastern equine encephalitis, a vector-borne disease that is fatal in 90% to 95% of cases. Horse owners have the best chance of protecting their animals with twice-yearly vaccines and mosquito prevention efforts, says veterinarian Adam Eichelberger of Clemson University. “Horses that are sick with EEE, don’t get sick from other horses that have EEE. They get sick from mosquitoes that are infected with EEE,” Dr. Eichelberger said. Aiken Standard (S.C.)

Preventative measures are the best way to protect a vulnerable equine inventory.

There have been 30 confirmed positives, and two suspected cases, of Eastern equine encephalitis this summer in the state of South Carolina.

The number of cases of EEE continues to be prevalent, as there were seven cases diagnosed during the five day period from Aug. 5 to 9, and five more during the past week, said Dr. Adam Eichelberger, Clemson University director of animal health programs. The first positive confirmed case of West Nile Virus was diagnosed this past week in Lancaster County. There haven’t been any confirmed positive cases of either EEE or WNV in Aiken County.

However, there are ways horse owners can preclude their horse from being diagnosed with the vector-borne pathogen, which is usually 90-95 percent fatal.

Vaccinations and booster shots are critical in maintaining the best protection, said Eichelberger.

“Preventative vaccines are very effective,” said Eichelberger. “Horses that have never been vaccinated or have an unknown vaccine history will have to be boostered four to six weeks after the first vaccine. The series of injections is required to be effective and protective. In South Carolina, we recommend that horses are vaccinated twice yearly (every six months) for Eastern-Western equine encephalomyelitis and West Nile virus. These vaccines usually come in single doses or multiple combinations known at EWT, EWT/WN or EWT/FR. The ‘T’ in the abbreviation is short for tetanus, which is also a very important vaccine for horses.”

Mosquito prevention plays a critical role in preventing the disease, said Eichelberger. Eastern equine encephalitis is spread by infected mosquitoes.

“Horses that are sick with EEE, don’t get sick from other horses that have EEE,” said Eichelbeger. “They get sick from mosquitoes that are infected with EEE.”

If a horse owner suspects their horse may be infected with Eastern equine encephalitis, they should contact their local veterinarian and make an appointment for evaluation and treatment, said Eichelberger.

There are clinical signs horse owners should be aware of, if they suspect their horse may be infected with the virus. Symptoms can include a change in the way a horse presents itself, loss of appetite, depression, lethargy, severe fever, acting out of the ordinary, incoordination, inability to swallow and drooling, said Eichelberger.

The incubation of the disease can be as short as one week but as long as three weeks.

“Encephalitis means inflammation in the central nervous system, basically the horse’s brain is inflamed,” said Eichelberger. “Inflammation of the brain leads to the horse becoming neurologic. Horses initially febrile (elevated temperature) often becoming depressed or sluggish. Another name for EEE is sleeping sickness.”

Horses infected with the virus should be isolated, said Eichelberger.

“Horses should be approached with extreme caution because of concerns of large unstable animals falling on people, animals or structures,” said Eichelberger.

Ben Baugh has been covering the equine industry and equestrian sport for the Aiken Standard since 2004.
Read more: Vector borne diseases in horses can be prevented | Aiken Standard
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Animal Connections: Our Journey Together

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

smithsonianHave you ever wished a popular Smithsonian exhibit could come to you rather than the other way around? Thanks to an exciting collaboration initiated by the AVMA and joined by the Smithsonian and Zoetis, “Animal Connections: Our Journey Together” recently made its debut at the AVMA Convention. Housed in a mini-museum inside an expandable 18-wheeler, the exhibit features interactive displays introducing visitors of all ages to the many roles veterinarians play and the complex bond between humans and animals. View a video from Tuesday’s public opening of the exhibit.

Physical therapy gets bunny back in action

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Veterinarian and rehabilitation specialist Cory Sims of North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine has been helping 5-year-old Belgian hare Edie get back on her feet. Edie was diagnosed with a degenerative condition that left her weak and lacking coordination in and awareness of her hind limbs. Edie’s therapy includes strolling on an underwater treadmill, stretching on a peanut-shaped ball and zipping around in her custom-made mobility cart. Dr. Sims says she also works to support Edie’s bond with her owner because the human-animal bond is the driving force behind what veterinarians do. PhysOrg.com (7/24)

 

At NC State, underwater treadmills aren’t just for humans undergoing physical therapy. They’re also proving useful for treating hares – as in rabbits – suffering from degenerative illnesses.

Meet Edie, a five-year-old Belgian hare (which is a breed of domestic rabbit, not an actual hare) who came to NC State’s exotic animal service and was diagnosed with a progressive spinal disease that affects her rear legs.

Edie first started showing symptoms of the degenerative disease last October. As the disease progressed, Edie became unable to control the movements of her back legs. By the end of the year, the condition seemed to have plateaued, leading NC State veterinarians to recommend physical to preserve her mobility as much as possible.

Cory Sims, clinical veterinarian and rehabilitation specialist, uses a variety of tools to help Edie: time on the underwater treadmill, which slows movement and allows Edie to focus on where her legs are and how to keep them in position; stretching on the “therapy peanut,” a rubber exercise ball that encourages balance and strengthens the core; and finally a cart that will keep Edie upright so that she can practice balancing on her .

“Edie’s condition is chronic – we can’t make her back into the bunny she was,” Sims says. “But what we can do is support her as long as possible so that she maintains mobility over a longer period. It’s about promoting the quality of life.”

As exotic pets become more popular, the range of therapies available to these animals has increased. Rehabilitation and therapy are still fairly new and unique services for exotics, according to Vanessa Grunkemeyer, assistant professor of exotic medicine with NC State’s exotic animal service. But the benefits of these new services go beyond helping pets like Edie.

“We provide primary medical care and for ,” Grunkemeyer says, “but part of our job as veterinary scientists involves doing research, which helps us learn more about these species, improve their treatment options and educate the next generation of veterinarians.”

Family Pet Clinic in Anaheim Helps Client

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Dr. Lee of the Family Pet Clinic in Anaheim applied to Angel Funds through the AHF to help a client afford luxating patella surgery on Harley so that the 10 year old dog would no longer be in pain and be able to walk again!

The AHF thanks Dr. Lee for utilizing the Angel Fund to help Harley!

Mark the NEW Date for AHF Dog Walk

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

finalAHF_PawLogoMark your calendars for the new date for AHF’s Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound!

March 30, 2014

Registration at 8 a.m.

Walk Begins at 9 a.m.

Irvine Regional Park, Section 4

Agility Demos; Flyball Demos; Disc Dog Demos; Vendors; Silent Auction and MORE!

Mark your calendars!  Registration will open soon!

Dog’s excessive licking may indicate GI trouble

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Dog lickingResearch indicates dogs who lick surfaces excessively could have a gastrointestinal disorder, and treatment of the underlying problem is likely to resolve the behavior, writes veterinarian Lee Pickett. The many functions of purring in cats are also addressed in Dr. Pickett’s column. BerksPets.com (Reading, Pa.) (7/1)

Q.  Henry, my 3-year-old shep-collie mix, has been licking the couch, carpet and other surfaces lately. What’s behind his behavior change?

A. Ask your veterinarian to investigate Henry’s gastrointestinal tract. Recently published research suggests that stomach and intestinal problems can trigger excessive licking of surfaces (ELS).

Researchers evaluated 19 dogs exhibiting ELS and 10 healthy dogs through blood work, neurologic examinations, oral exams under anesthesia, abdominal ultrasounds, endoscopies and biopsies of stomach and intestines.

Fourteen of the 19 ELS dogs (74 percent) were diagnosed with specific gastrointestinal diseases, whereas only three of the 10 apparently healthy dogs (30 percent) were similarly affected.

After treatment of the gastrointestinal diseases, ELS stopped completely in nine of the dogs and was significantly reduced in one additional dog.

If your veterinarian doesn’t find a gastrointestinal disorder, Henry may be experiencing anxiety. Your vet can help address that too.