Archive for the ‘Medical Issues’ Category

Protecting dogs from Lyme disease starts with your veterinarian

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

ticksLyme disease in humans is garnering attention lately because it’s often misdiagnosed, but veterinarian Richard Goldstein, chief medical officer at Animal Medical Center in New York, reminds dog owners that canines are also susceptible to the disease. Protection begins with a conversation with a veterinarian, and a preventive vaccine is available. ChicagoNow.com/Steve Dale’s Pet World blog

Lyme Disease is getting more pub – how it’s being underdiagnosed in people. Dr. Richard Goldstein, chief medical officer of Animal Medical Center in New York City notes we can do more to protect our dogs than we can to protect ourselves. From my national radio show Steve Dale’s Pet World, listen HERE to Dr. Goldstien explain that Lyme isn’t any longer only associated with New England, it’s spreaded West and South and it continues to spread – even to places like in downtown Chicago!

The key is for veterinarians to screen for Lyme, for starters. Protection depends on where you are, but don’t guess at what you should do (you may guess wrong), ask your veterinarian. A vaccine is also available.

Lyme is most often transmitted to dogs in the fall – so it’s certainly not too late in the year to think about protection. Learn more through this website about dogs and ticks and tick disease.

Pet’s allergy diagnosis needs more than an oral swab

Monday, September 9th, 2013

dog scratchingAllergies in pets can’t be definitively diagnosed by taking an oral swab and sending it to a lab for evaluation, according to veterinarian Meridith Brand. Instead, a pet with skin problems should undergo a complete veterinary exam to rule out other potential causes. Dr. Brand notes that for diagnosis and management of canine atopy, intradermal skin testing is the gold standard. The Baltimore Sun

Swab tests and blood tests have been shown to be inaccurate in diagnosing pets’ allergies. If you think your pet might be suffering from allergies, the first step is to visit your veterinarian for a full evaluation to rule out other problems such as bacterial and fungal infections, skin mites, ringworm, fleas, or more serious diseases. Skin scrapings, skin cytology, skin cultures or skin biopsies may be necessary to identify your pet’s particular problem. Baseline blood work including thyroid testing should also be part of this evaluation. Once other diseases are ruled out and secondary infection is managed, your pet may be a candidate for allergy testing with a board-certified veterinary dermatologist.

Intradermal allergy testing has been considered the gold standard for diagnosing and treating canine atopy for many years and remains the primary testing method used by most veterinary dermatologists. Intradermal allergy testing allows us to test the skin where the allergic response is occurring. Most animals tolerate the procedure well and results are available immediately.  After allergy testing, your pet will be started on a series of injections tailored to your pet’s specific allergies that act to desensitize your pet to certain allergens.

If you are concerned that your pet has allergies, schedule an exam with your veterinarian to discuss all of your options.

This week’s expert is Dr. Meridith Brand with Eastern Animal Hospital, Baltimore.
Read more: https://www.baltimoresun.com/features/pets/bs-sc-pet-expert-allergy-test-0908-20130905,0,6925965.story#ixzz2ePcyksXR

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.”

Golden Retriever Lifetime Study takes aim at canine cancer

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Magnolia DuffThe Morris Animal Foundation’s Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is recruiting 3,000 healthy, young golden retrievers to be studied for clues to the breed’s high incidence of cancer. The foundation is partnering with veterinarians and owners around the country in the 10-year, $25 million study. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could tell [an owner] whether her dog has a high predisposition to a certain cancer so we can catch it really early?” said foundation President and CEO David Haworth, also a veterinarian. “Or if we know what a cancer’s pathway is, our drug partners can find a way to intervene.” Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.) (8/22)

At not quite 9 months of age, Cali has accomplished a lot. She knows her basic commands — that includes offering a soft yellow paw in both the standard shake, and an enthusiastic high five. She turns any occasion into a party, as I discovered Monday when we met at Partridge Animal Hospital in St. Petersburg.

And she may help unlock a mystery that has baffled many a veterinarian and grief-stricken family: Why do so many golden retrievers get cancer?

Cali is a healthy participant in the Morris Animal Foundation’s Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. It aims to recruit at least 3,000 dogs between ages 6 months and 2 years for an observational study planned to go on for 10 years at a cost of $25 million. Goldens all over the United States are needed for the project, which requires owners to bring their dogs to their own vet every year for a thorough exam and complete detailed questionnaires about diet and lifestyle.

Once she saw how happy Cali was to visit her vet, Dr. David Landers, Pamela Hogle felt comfortable committing to the study. Landers will be doing a lot of the work — and is happy to, being a big fan of the breed himself.

Hogle’s inspiration was another beloved golden, Oriel, who died of cancer two years ago at age 13.

“When you think about why people love their dogs, Oriel was the embodiment of all of those reasons,” said Hogle, a St. Petersburg freelance editor who works with a service dog organization in California. “She was sweet, gentle, calm, but always up for an adventure.”

Canine cancer is the leading disease cause of death in dogs over age 10. Goldens appear to be among the most susceptible, but no breed is immune. The study aims to establish whether cancer disproportionately afflicts certain dogs — and why.

Dr. David Haworth, a veterinarian who is president and CEO of Denver-based Morris Animal Foundation, described the golden study as the canine equivalent of the famous Framingham Heart Study. Morris (you may have seen the group promoted by its most famous board member, actor Betty White) has funded scientific research for 65 years. But this, Haworth said, is the largest veterinary study ever.

It could reveal information valuable to human health, too. Two cancers common in goldens — lymphoma and osteosarcoma — have so many molecular similarities to the human diseases that they’re considered models for studying the conditions in people.

But the primary purpose is to help dogs by examining the genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that may contribute to cancer and other disorders. With that kind of information, in the future vets and pet owners might be able to find a cancer early enough to cure it — or even prevent it altogether.

“Wouldn’t it be great if we could tell someone like Cali’s owner whether her dog has a high predisposition to a certain cancer so we can catch it really early?” Haworth said. “Or if we know what a cancer’s pathway is, our drug partners can find a way to intervene.”

Goldens are one of America’s most popular breeds. But Haworth (whose puppy Bridger is in the study) explained the main reason they’re using purebreds is because they are so genetically similar, it’s easier to detect differences that might be connected to disease.

Which prompted me to ask: Are mixed-breed dogs and cats healthier than purebreds?

He paused. “That’s controversial. There have been conflicting studies. For the most part, purebred dogs that are responsibly bred — by which I mean breeders are paying attention to health conditions — are as healthy as mixed breeds.”

It will be a while until results start coming out of the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. Meanwhile, we can do a lot to protect the furriest members of our families. Do your homework before you get a pet, and if you want a purebred, ask your vet how to find a reputable breeder. Look for changes in your dog or cat that might be a signal of trouble; as in people, some canine cancers can be successfully treated if caught early. Keep current on checkups (even if, unlike Cali, yours doesn’t adore the vet).

And if you have a healthy young golden, consider joining the study (get details at morrisanimalfoundation.org). You both could be doing a lot for your four-legged and two-legged friends.

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.

 

Older animals make good pets, too

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

660_JenniePhotographer Lori Fusaro is compiling photos of older animals for a book she hopes will inspire people to think about adopting older pets from shelters. Fusaro’s idea for the book coalesced when she met Sunny, an ailing 16-year-old mixed-breed dog, at a Los Angeles shelter. Fusaro adopted her, and a year later, they are still together. Fusaro knows letting go will be difficult. “I didn’t want to open my heart for that kind of pain, but how much sadder and more horrible for me would it be to leave her at the shelter,” said Fusaro. “It will be terrible to lose her but much worse to leave her to die alone.” The Washington Post (tiered subscription model)/The Associated Press

CLICK HERE to read the full story

Canine epilepsy study recruiting subjects

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

EnglishBulldogSonnyPuppy9Weeks2North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine is one of several centers across the country participating in a study of canine epilepsy, the most common neurological disorder in dogs. Goals include generating a clearer understanding of the condition and developing pathways to treatment. The centers are looking for canine patients to include in the study. Eligible dogs have to meet specific age and treatment history criteria, but they can be of any breed. American City Business Journals/Raleigh/Durham, N.C./Traingle BizBlog (8/15

 

For the more than 780,000 dogs diagnosed with canine epilepsy each year, an ongoing study at North Carolina State University could offer relief.

North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine is among investigator sites participating in a nationwide canine epilepsy clinical trial. Epilepsy is the single most common neurological disorder in dogs, and researchers still haven’t identified a cause. That’s where the national study comes in, aiming to provide important evidence-based research that could lead to improved understanding, as well as new treatment options.

To qualify for the trial, dogs must be at least 4 months of age, have received no more of 7 days of prior treatment with an anti-seizure medication, and meet certain other requirements. All breeds are eligible.

Dog owners will net up to $150 to help with travel-related expenses.

All medical care, including physical and neurological exams, blood and urine testing, MRI and medication, will be offered free of charge to participating canines. The study is sponsored by an unnamed major animal health pharmaceutical company and is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Enrollment of patients is expected to run into 2014 and additional study sites are located in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Main, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Tennessee. Raleigh-based Raleigh-based Visionaire Research & Education is recruiting for the trial.

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.”