Archive for the ‘Healthy Pets’ Category

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. 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. (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. (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. (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.

Proper pet care keeps us all healthy and happy

Monday, July 15th, 2013

person walking with dogsHappy, healthy pets are key to human and animal health, according to this article. Veterinarian Joan Hendricks, dean of veterinary medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, explains how owners can ensure good health and well-being for their animals and themselves. It’s important to start by researching the species and breed of pet that best fits your family, Dr. Hendricks points out. Pets need proper training to prevent injuries to people, regular veterinary care and good nutrition, and it’s essential to properly handle animal waste to prevent disease, Dr. Hendricks explains. U.S. News & World Report (7/3)

Sudden outbreaks like swine or bird flu remind us all too well that humans are not immune to diseases animals carry. These particular illnesses are most likely to affect people who work with animals regularly, like in a farm setting, but being at risk to an animal’s health hazards can happen in your own home. Improper care for a pet can lead to diseases, and a misbehaved pet can be dangerous to families.

At the same time, being around animals has been shown to increase a person’s well-being. The American Heart Association released a study this year that showed people who own pets have improved cardiovascular health. Animals often are used to help children with special needs or in visits to hospitals. Their presence can abate loneliness, increase altruism and reduce anxiety.

With pet ownership at 62 percent among American households, according to the American Pet Products Association, it is important people understand their risks and benefits. Having a healthy pet requires first learning about the animal you want, then caring and providing for it accordingly, says Joan Hendricks, the Gilbert S. Kahn dean of veterinary medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. U.S. News turned to Hendricks for advice about pet and family dynamics.

Understand your pet’s natural tendencies. Before you adopt a pet, know what role you want it to have in your family. Do you want a pet for companionship or to guard the house? Do you expect that your pet will join you on your morning run? Do you have the finances to pay someone to take care of your pet while you work or while you’re on business trips?

“People should know enough about their animal when they get it and after they get it,” Hendricks says. “They also must be open to the idea that they may not know as much as they thought.” Even dog breeds vary in terms of what they need from people, Hendricks says. Some dogs are meant to work, some need intellectual stimulation and some need little exercise. Bulldogs, for instance, are happy to lie at home sleeping a lot and show affection when you return from work. Great Danes also don’t need to run around much.

“If a pet’s specific needs are not attended to then they will not be good pets,” Hendricks says. They can even get sick with gastrointestinal upsets and develop behavior disorders – which could lead to wrecking furniture – if a family is not the right match. There are cases when pets aren’t the right fit for the family, she says, which is why it’s important to become informed before you adopt.

When it comes to exotic animals, such as tarantulas or pythons, there isn’t as much information available for pet owners. “There’s always a health concern for veterinarians that anyone who has one of these animals doesn’t know how to take care of them,” she says.

Train your pet properly. Animal bites are the single biggest health risk to kids when it comes to pets, Hendricks says. Avoiding this danger returns to the first principle of understanding your pet’s needs.

“People treat animals as if they were people, and they treat us as if we were their species,” she says. For example, dogs often bite each other out of play, but owners must reinforce that this kind of behavior isn’t acceptable when playing with people. Work with your pet to manage its behavior so everyone is happy. Make sure your children show mutual respect by not teasing or harming the pet, she says.

An irritated cat, for instance, could scratch its owner and spread bartonellosis, commonly called “cat scratch disease,” which causes swollen lymph nodes in people as well as possible fever, headache and fatigue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Veterinarians make sure D.C. working dogs are in shape

Friday, July 12th, 2013

police k9 dog insigniaVeterinarians at Fort Belvoir in Virginia have kept a keen eye on working dogs — including those that watch over airports, the White House, the Capitol and other locations — for two decades. Routine preventive care as well as treatment for health problems are some of the issues addressed by veterinarian Nancy Vincent-Johnson and her colleagues at the clinic.

By , for the Washington Post

The waiting room is comfortably cool, but the mood is slightly tense. That’s because the patients who seek treatment at this clinic on the grounds of Fort Belvoir are a breed apart from many who seek medical care on the base.

The giveaway?

 The dog-biscuit jar on the reception desk.

For more than 20 years, the squat, red brick building at Fort Belvoir is where the D.C. region’s law enforcement dogs — the ones who patrol airports, the Capitol, the White House and other high-profile locations — have been taken for care.

The region is home to one of the biggest concentrations of working dogs in the country, officials say. Canines from the Secret Service, the Transportation Security Administration, Amtrak and the U.S. Capitol Police come here for their yearly checkups. The dogs are a variety of breeds — German shepherds, Labrador retrievers, Belgian Malinois, even beagles.

“I have nothing but good things to say,’’ said Sgt. Kevin Murphy, who heads the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s K-9 Unit at Dulles International Airport. “They help keep our dogs healthy.”

During the swelter of Washington’s summer, clinic workers have traveled to Dulles to conduct special sessions on spotting heatstroke and exhaustion. During the winter, handlers may receive training on spotting frostbite and hypothermia.

Belvoir’s veterinarians, a mix of civilian and military personnel, understand the special needs of their patients. These working dogs may suffer from ailments not necessarily seen in their civilian counterparts. Sometimes it’s back trouble from all their leaping into trucks and cargo hatches. Their joints can suffer strain from the same jumping. Hip dysplasia — a condition caused by improperly formed hip joints — is another common ailment.

And like the jobs held by people, the dogs’ work can be stressful, with long hours and large crowds, said veterinarian Nancy Vincent-Johnson, a 21-year Army veteran who retired and rejoined the clinic as a civilian.

Take Igor, a 9-year-old German shepherd who works for the Capitol Police. Vincent-Johnson said she had squeezed Igor, whose specialty is explosives detection, in between appointments because he has been having intestinal issues. His weight is down, and his handler says Igor — Iggy to his intimates — is just not himself.

Vincent-Johnson strokes Igor’s rich black and brown coat as she examines him, feeling the area around his rib cage and gently lifting his impressively large paws. Igor stands patiently as she moves her stethoscope along his midsection and his handler summarizes the shepherd’s symptoms.

“Maybe the food he’s on is too rich,” Vincent-Johnson theorizes. She consults Igor’s chart and notes that blood work done during his previous visit indicated a Vitamin B12 deficiency, which can lead to a type of anemia that brings on weakness and fatigue.

The poking and prodding complete, Igor settles on the floor and lets out a deep sigh.

The doctor prescribes special food for dogs with intestinal issues and a series of shots to help with the B12 deficiency.

There is now good news: Igor has put on weight — six pounds since his last visit — so the hope is that whatever is ailing him will soon be cured.

Igor’s handler leaves the office with a large bag of dog food and several bottles of medicine. Igor gets a doggie treat as a reward.

One room away, the doctor’s next patient waits with his handler, Inspector Alexandra Hassler. Upton is a TSA dog specializing in passenger screening and experienced in sniffing out explosives.

The 4-year-old black Labrador is here for the first of two physicals he’ll have this year. As part of that, Vincent-Johnson will run him through a full exam, testing his peripheral vision by waving her hands at the side of his head, eyeing his gait as he walks down the sidewalk and drawing blood for a full screening.

“His ears look good,” she says. Upton is an enthusiastic patient, eager to sniff and show approval by licking the doctor’s arm. His friskiness belies his status as one of the oldest of the TSA dogs working at Dulles. He’s also observant: Only a few minutes into the exam, he’s figured out that on the shelf that holds the jars of tongue depressors and cotton balls is one that holds crunchy treats. He can’t take his eyes off the shelf.

Vincent-Johnson says Upton is healthy. The one exception: his left back teeth. “He may need some dental work,” Vincent-Johnson tells Hassler.

Finally, Upton’s enthusiasm is rewarded. A treat flies through the air and disappears into his mouth.