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Lake Country Animal Hospital Presents: Farley Fair Fundrasier

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We are excited to announce our Annual event for The Farley Foundation!!!
This year we are having a BBQ, Bake Sale  and hosting a Pet Expo!
We will have different pet related businesses come to our event. From Invisible Fencing to Groomers, Pet Stores and More! This is a unique opportunity for pet lovers in our area!
Of course our raffle and games will add to the fun!

Please share with your friends!

All Proceeds are for The Farley Foundation to help seniors and people on social assistance obtain assistance for veterinary care for their pets. We request a donation of $10 per family or $5 for an individual to attend the event. We look forward to a fun day!

Sneezy, Breezy & Beautiful!

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The summer is generally a very happy time for your pets–they get to play outside, go for long walks and bask in the sun. It can also be a very itchy time for your pets, though, all because of allergies!

What Are Allergies?

Allergies occur when the body is exposed to an allergen that causes an ‘overreaction’ in the immune system. When a dog has an allergy, their body will react in order to rid themselves of it (even though it may actually be a completely harmless substance!) The body becomes hypersensitive nonetheless, and in an attempt to shed themselves of the allergen, various unpleasant symptoms will occur.

What Are Common Allergies for Cats and Dogs?

In both cats and dogs, the flea allergy is the most common! It may not seem like fleas are there, but take a closer look! They are harder to spot than you think. If you want to learn more about fleas, visit this link. Following flea allergies, food allergies, and atopic dermatitis are the most common. If a food allergy is suspected, then it is common for a veterinarian to suggest feeding your pet a strict diet with only ingredients it has never eaten before. After a trial period, if the itching has stopped, then it is likely that a food ingredient caused the allergy! The original diet will be re-instituted, and if itching returns then it is confirmed. Atopic dermatitis is the term used for a reaction to the allergens that we most commonly envision when we think of allergies–i.e. dust mites and pollen. For this kind of allergy, various diagnostic tests can be taken to find the root of the issue, and a treatment plan will be created from there.

What are the Symptoms for Allergies in My Pets?

In humans, it is common to experience symptoms such as asthma, or a runny nose. For animals, though, it is more common to see skin problems. These can exist in the form of redness, infections, itching, hair loss and even increased sensitivity when coming in contact with their owners! Other symptoms include: sneezing, vomiting, diarrhea, paw chewing and constant licking.

How Can I Treat Allergies in my Pets?

Unfortunately, allergies cannot be fully cured, and often are life-long ordeals. Many treatment options are available though for all animals depending on their specific allergy. Many symptoms can be improved, or eliminated if the allergy is diagnosed by your veterinarian, and the subsequent treatment plan is administered properly. This can take the form of oral medications, injections, creams and supplements.

In the meantime, it is a good idea to bathe your dog regularly, especially following walks. This can help to remove any pollen or other allergen that may have stuck to your pet! You can even purchase special prescription shampoos to help with itching. If dust is the problem, then cleaning your pet’s bedding and frequent vacuuming can help to reduce symptoms. Removal of the allergen altogether is the best way to keep your pet feeling comfortable!

References

Foil, C. S. (2007, July 9). Itching and allergy in dogs. Retrieved from Veterinary Partner website: http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=2604

(n.d.). Allergies in dogs. Retrieved from Web MD website: http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/allergies-dogs

Content Contributor: Dr. Sandy Drury

If You Can’t Take The Heat–Spay Your Pet!

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Many pet owners know a few main things about spay surgeries–they are costly, common, and highly recommended. Do you really know what a spay surgery involves, though? Why is it important to have your pet spayed? These are the kinds of questions you should be asking as an informed pet owner!

What is a spay surgery?

A spay surgery (ovariohysterectomy surgery) is the procedure undergone to sterilize a pet by completely removing the uterus and ovaries from the abdomen. The pet will be put under anesthetic and will be asleep for the entire process! The procedure lasts about 45 minutes and is among the most common tasks performed by veterinarians.

Why should I have my pet spayed?

This seems like a simple question with a simple answer, right? “So my pet doesn’t get pregnant, of course!” Well yes, but that is arguably the most insignificant benefit to having a pet spayed. Sterilizing your pet before its first heat can save its life by reducing their risk of developing mammary cancer to almost ZERO. This form of cancer is very dangerous and can often be fatal, so spaying your pet before their first heat is the best way to keep your pet safe!

This will also eliminate the risk of acquiring pyometra. Pyometra is a fatal illness characterized by a swelling infection of the uterus most commonly seen in middle-aged dogs following their heat. This particular disease is unfortunately quite common in unspayed dogs–25% of dogs who reach age 10 will get it. The bright side? Spaying your pet will prevent it from ever happening!

What happens if I don’t spay my pet?

If your pet is not spayed, then its uterus, ovaries, and reproductive system is all intact. As a result, just as with the female human, they will have a menstrual cycle aka ‘going into heat‘. For dogs, around every 8 months they will experience a bloody vaginal discharge (which can have an unpleasant odour), and will need to wear a diaper. This cycle will last about 2-3 weeks but the occurrence and duration of cycles varies between breeds. For smaller dogs, it will be more frequent, and for larger dogs, it may be as infrequent as once every 12-18 months. For cats, it is quite different, and they will cycle frequently during their breeding season (which varies geographically). During the right season, their heat will last 1-7 days and then they will be out of heat every 1-2 weeks. Unlike dogs, discharge is not as common, but rather behavioural changes will be apparent. They will become more affectionate, attention-demanding, and vocal.

One commonly held belief is that if you wait to spay your pet until after they have their first heat, this will positively affect their personality, making them more affectionate. This is a MYTH! Spaying should be done as soon as possible, and the experience of going into heat or giving birth does not affect a pet’s personality. The female dog’s reproductive tract is dormant for most of the year therefore from a behavioral stand point, the female dog acts spayed most of the time.

Just like with any surgery, your pet will be fatigued for a few days following surgery. It is not uncommon for them to show signs of nausea, or to show a disinterest in their food for a day or two. Please let your veterinarian know if this happens. Pain medication may be administered to some animals if they are feeling discomfort, and physical activity should be restricted to allow for healing. In some cases where the pet continuously licks their stitches, they may require an Elizabethan collar to restrict access to the area. This is not a comfortable experience, but necessary if the incision is to heal properly!

Resources

Brooks, W. C. (2001, January 01). Canine spay faq. Retrieved from Veterinary Partner website: http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=584

Estrus cycles in cats. Retrieved from VCA Animal Hospitals website: http://www.vcahospitals.com/main/pet-health-information/article/animal-health/estrus-cycles-in-cats/5635

Estrus cycles in dogs. Retrieved from VCA Animal Hospitals website: http://www.vcahospitals.com/main/pet-health-information/article/animal-health/estrus-cycles-in-dogs/5778

Content Supervisor: Dr. Sandy Drury

Mangy Mutts and How They Got That Way

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What is sarcoptic mange?

Sarcoptic mange is a highly contagious, (not to mention ITCHY), disease caused by tiny microscopic mites called sarcoptes scabei. These practically invisible critters are not so much insect-like as they are spider-like, burrowing in the skin and leaving a nasty allergic reaction in their wake.

They are most often spread from direct contact between hosts, meaning your pet likely was infected by contact with another animal. Joyously rolling around on a recently dead wildlife carcass may be all it takes. Once the mites find themselves on your pet’s skin, they will begin to mate. After mating, the female will then burrow itself into the skin, leaving 3-4 eggs in the tunnel behind her. After 3-10 days, the eggs will hatch and tiny larvae are born! They then move around on the surface of the skin, where they will stay until they reach maturity. At this time, the process begins again.

What are the symptoms of sarcoptic mange in my pet?

Sarcoptic mange is difficult to diagnose indefinitely, because the symptoms are the same as any other allergic reaction–red, scaly, itchy skin. Skin scrapings can be done but because the mite burrows so deeply into the skin, the scrapings are often negative. The characteristic inflamed skin will most likely be noticed first on the abdomen, ear tips, and elbows because these mites prefer hairless skin. These are the most commonly affected areas, but if left untreated, the pet’s whole body will become involved.

How can I treat and prevent sarcoptic mange in my pet?

Although sarcoptic mange is difficult to diagnose, it is very easy to treat. It is a good idea to give your dog a thorough bath with an anti-itch shampoo to help with their discomfort, as well as to get rid of any crust and residue before applying a medication. Clipping the dog’s coat may also be a good idea, depending on their coat length and severity of the disease. At this point, your veterinarian will be able to prescribe a medication to help kill the mites. The prescription will likely be in the form of a drip, oral medication, or spot-on product. Additional medication may be given to control the itch or treat infection. REMEMBER: You must treat ALL animals in your household once one pet has been diagnosed, EVEN IF THEY SHOW NO SYMPTOMS. The disease is highly contagious, and it is very likely they have contracted it. Let your veterinarian know if you have other pets in the house. Additionally, the diagnosed dog may remain contagious long after treatment, and they should be quarantined from other pets for 2-4 weeks until the check-up appointment.

Can I be infected with sarcoptic mange?

YES. Because the disease is so contagious, it is not unlikely that you will contract the disease if you notice it on your animal. The good news is that on humans, the disease is self-limiting. This means that it will most often go away on its own, unlike your pet! While you have it though, it can be very uncomfortable so seek advice from your doctor. If the disease is noticed on your pet, it is advised to wash all bedding immediately as well as collars and harnesses.

Resources

Brooks, W. C. (2001, January 01). Sarcoptic mange (scabies). Retrieved from Veterinary Partner website: http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=616

Foil, C. S. (2003, November 30). Sarcoptic mange. Retrieved from Veterinary Partner website: http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=1586

Content Contributor: Dr. Sandy Drury

Lub, Dub, and Something Else

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What is a heart murmur?

‘Heart murmur’ is the term used to describe any of the many abnormal sounds your veterinarian can hear when using a stethoscope on your pet.

Normally, the heart should make two distinct sounds, lub followed by dub. Any extra sound, most often a ‘whooshing’ occurring between the lub and the dub, will be considered a heart murmur!

The murmur itself is not dangerous, but the cause of the murmur could be. Not all heart murmurs are signs of serious problems, though. Many animals can live normal lives with heart murmurs and never receive any treatment at all. It can, though, be a sign of heart disease. This is why if a murmur is noticed, it is advised to work with your veterinarian to find out for sure if there is an underlying problem.

What causes heart murmurs?

What causes the murmur to exist is the blood flow in that area of the heart–or the kind of blood flow. In normal, healthy animals, the blood flow will be smooth and undisturbed–imagine a tranquil, babbling brook. When murmurs are present, this is due to the blood flow being turbulant–i.e. noisy and not smooth–imagine a surging river during a thunderstorm.

But what causes an animal’s blood flow to be turbulant in the first place? There are many reasons! The heart is a complex structure, involving valves, arteries, veins, and chambers to allow the blood to flow properly and in the right direction. If any of these elements experiences problems, then the whole system is thrown off–causing a murmur!

Most common causes of murmurs include:

  • Leaky mitral valves
  • Holes between chambers that should not be connected
  • Narrowing of a chamber or vessel
  • Thin blood (due to anemia for example)

How common are heart murmurs?

Heart murmurs are quite common, and receive one of six number grades which indicates the loudness of the murmur (1 being the softest, and 6 being the loudest). A loud murmur does not necessarily indicate severity! A murmur can be benign, meaning it has no apparent disease that explains the murmur, which is commonly seen in puppies and all ages of cats. Murmurs can even be heard if an animal gets too excited, and these are also considered benign. Animals can even be born with murmurs (these are called congenital murmurs)!

How is a heart murmur treated?

The murmur itself is not treated, but the underlying cause of the murmur can be treated depending on the severity of the heart problem, age of the patient, cost of treatment and other factors. A murmur can mean many things, so there is no way of knowing if it even needs treatment until your veterinarian performs a few tests.

For dogs, your veterinarian will likely be able to determine the severity of the murmur simply by listening. If warranted, a simple blood test can be performed that evaluates if the heart is under stress; this test is helpful to determine if the murmur is significant.

For cats, the severity and cause of the murmur is generally not determined by listening alone, and will often need further testing. This same blood test used for dogs to asses heart health is also available for cats.

In both cats and dogs, your veterinarian may elect to go one step further and perform x-rays, ultrasounds, or other imaging studies, even referring your pet to a specialist. It all depends on the pet!

References

Rishniw, M. (2007, January 29). Heart murmurs. Retrieved from Veterinary Partner website: http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=2488

Content Contributor: Dr. Sandy Drury

Soak Up The Sun! (But Not Too Much of It)

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Did you know that your pets can get sunburns just as easily as humans can? It may seem as though your pets’ fur would provide enough protection from the sun’s rays, and in part this is true, but there are areas of your pet that do NOT have this natural protection. It is up to you to keep your pets safe!

What areas of my pet are susceptible to sunburns?

Animals with light-coloured noses and skin, and very short or missing fur are the most vulnerable to the sun’s harmful rays. Pets who have suffered hair loss from allergies, hot spots, disease, surgical preparation, or radiation are also vulnerable. Even if your dog does not fit these categories, if he/she enjoys facing their belly to the sun, or if their normally thick hair has been shaved down, they could also be at high risk! The areas that are the most at-risk for a burn include:

  • Abdomen
  • Inside legs
  • Groin
  • Bridge of nose
  • Ear tips
  • Skin surrounding lips
  • Areas with low pigmentation
  • Paw pads

Although paw pads are not often burnt from prolonged exposure to the sun’s rays, they CAN be easily burnt from walking on hot asphalt for too long! Most pet owners believe that these pads are resilient enough to handle all weather conditions, but they can be quite sensitive!

What are the symptoms of sunburn in my pets?

If your pet is sunburned, it can make itself known by the appearance of red skin, or hair loss. These are the common signs of burns due to prolonged heat exposure. If your dog is limping during a walk in the heat, they may have burnt pads. If the center of the pads have patchy white blisters, this confirms the suspicion.

How can I prevent and treat a sunburn in my pets?

The solutions to the problems discussed in this article are quite simple. You may have guessed it– sun screen! That’s right, sunscreen can and SHOULD be used on your pets. Buying a sunscreen specific to your pet (cat, dog, kitten, puppy etc.) is important! Using ordinary human sunscreen is a bad idea, because it can be toxic upon digestion, and we wouldn’t put it past our furry friends to lick it all off! The sunscreen you purchase should be fragrance-free, non-staining, and contain PABA as the active ingredient. (It should be noted that sunscreen with Octyl Salicylate should not be used on cats).

Remember to be very generous with your sunscreen applications! It is recommended to use about 1 tablespoon for every AREA treated, and should be re-applied every 4-6 hours.

As for the pad burns, wearing booties is recommended for long walks. Your pet will not be happy at first (remember when you made them wear a collar for the first time?), but they will get used to it eventually. Wearing booties once a day will be a lot nicer than wearing bandages from burnt pads!

Resources

Foil, C. S. (2013, July 23). Sunscreen for pets. Retrieved from Veterinary Partner website: http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=2367

Gfeller, R. W., Thomas, M. W., & Mayo, I. (1994, December 31). Sunburn. Retrieved from Veterinary Partner website: http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=380

Kuhly, P. (2009, June 24). Burnt pads, sunburn and other often overlooked, hot-weather hazards. Retrieved from Pet MD website: http://www.petmd.com/blogs/dailyvet/2009/June/24-4294

Content Contributor: Dr. Sandy Drury

The Cat Contagion

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What is feline leukemia virus?

Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is a very common infection among cats which impairs the cat’s immune system and causes certain types of cancer. The virus has three different ‘types’ which all display varying effects on the animal. A cat with FeLV can be infected with one, two, or all three types! This infection is most likely to affect outdoor cats during the summertime, because this is when they have the most exposure to unfamiliar and unvaccinated animals.

FeLV can be transmitted in three basic ways:

1) Through contamination of eye, mouth and nose membranes when licked or bitten by an infected cat

2) Through passing of infected blood

3) Through pregnancy

What problems does feline leukemia virus cause?

FeLV is a very serious illness which, unfortunately, often results in the death of the animal. As high as 85% of the cats who are diagnosed with the disease will die within the following three years. The immune system is severely impacted in most cases, which results in an array of unique problems for the cat. All cats with FeLV are experiencing FeLV-A, which impacts the immune system. About 50% of cats will also be infected with FeLV-B, which causes tumors and abnormal tissue growths. A mere 1% of cats infected will also have FeLV-C, which causes anemia.

How common is feline leukemia virus?

FeLV is a very common infection, causing more cat deaths directly or indirectly than any other organism. It is more common among male cats as well as cats between the ages 0-6 years.

What are the symptoms of feline leukemia virus in my pets?

As the main problem associated with FeLV is immunosuppression, the symptoms will vary for each animal, depending on how the immune system is reacting. A diagnosis cannot be made based on symptoms alone, and the veterinarian may have to do a series of tests before they arrive at an accurate diagnosis. These tests may include a blood test (most common), urinalysis, or a bone marrow biopsy. That said, some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Anemia
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Abscesses
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Infections of the external ear and skin
  • Fever (seen in about 50 percent of cases)
  • Wobbly, uncoordinated movement
  • Inflammation of the nose or the eye
  • Inflammation of the gums or mouth tissues
  • Lymphoma (the most common FeLV-associated cancer)
  • Fibrosarcomas (cancer that develops from fibrous tissue)

How can I treat and prevent feline leukemia virus in my pets?

There are many preventative measures that can be taken to prevent this disease. First of all, new cats brought into the home can be tested for the virus and vaccinated if they are negative. Kittens are the most susceptible to the disease, and if they are given the proper vaccines when they are young, this makes a huge difference to lower their risk later on in life. Finally, keeping your cat indoors prevents exposure to the virus if you choose not to vaccinate.

Treatment methods in these cases will vary from animal to animal. Some animals will simply need a prescription medication to treat infections or symptoms that arise from their impaired immune system. Other animals may need special diets to help combat weight loss, or blood transfusions if affected by anemia. It all depends on the pet, and a proper treatment plan will be planned especially for them. Talk to your veterinarian today about how to keep your cat healthy and disease-free!

Resources

VIN Community Contributors. (2003, July 12). Feline leukemia virus. Retrieved from Veterinary Partner website: http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=1482

(n.d.). Leukemia virus infection in cats. Retrieved from Pet MD website: http://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/infectious-parasitic/c_ct_feline_leukemia?page=2

Content Contributor: Dr. Sandy Drury

Reunited, and It Feels So Good!

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Having a pet run away is an experience that many of us have gone through at least once in our lives. For children it can be especially traumatic, and is a difficult situation to deal with. As pets become members of the family, keeping them safe is a priority, especially during seasons where they will be spending more time outdoors! Microchipping can reunite you with your pet–and even save their life!

What is microchipping?

A Microchip ID is a tiny transmitter the size of a grain of rice. Microchipping, (although it may sounds like a complicated procedure), actually only takes a few seconds to do. It is commonly believed that the process requires surgery, but this is not the case. In fact, the microchip is so small that a needle between the shoulder blades does the trick to implant it. Often times, the owners will be allowed to be in the room while their pet receives the needle, just like any other injection! On the chip is an identification code that is unique to your pet, which is then registered in a central registry. This is the ONLY information that will be on the chip! If the pet needs to be identified, the chip is scanned, the registry is contacted, your contact info is matched, and then you are notified!

It should be stated here that a microchip does NOT work like a GPS system, and cannot help to locate your pet in any way! It only holds the identification number which can be scanned when the animal is found.

What are some situations where microchipping my pet would be useful?

When considering microchipping your pet, you should be aware of some common situations where the chip could mean life or death. The most common is a lost pet. If your pet runs away and is recovered by an animal shelter or taken to a vet clinic, then the chip can be scanned and identified as yours. The clinic will be able to contact the registry and notify you, reuniting your pet with your family. Another situation is natural disaster. Sometimes, as it has been with hurricanes, tornadoes and tsunamis in previous years, pets become separated from their owners. In some cases, Animal Control will evacuate the pets all into one area. If your animal does not have any distinctive markings, or does not photograph well due to their shaken up state, then you may never be able to locate it. Finally, if a pet becomes injured while roaming your neighbourhood, and a good Samaritan finds it and brings it to a vet hospital, they will need a way of identifying that it belongs to you. The Samaritan may not be able to afford whatever costs arise, and the future of your pet will forever be unknown to you.

Does microchipping really reunite owners with their pets?

YES! A study retrieved from the American Veterinary Medical Association conducted by Linda K. Lord et al and published on July 15, 2009 found that of 7,700 stray animals, non-microchipped dogs were returned 21.9% of the time, versus 52.2% of the time for microchipped dogs. For cats, the results are even more astonishing, with 1.8% for non-microchipped pets, and a whopping 38.5% for microchipped!

What are the potential problems associated with microchips?

As with all medical procedures and injections, there is always a risk. The British Small Animal Veterinary Association created a database in 1996 which tracked all of the reported adverse reactions associated with microchip implantation. This was a summary of reported incidences of adverse reactions in the United Kingdom from the years 1996-2009. Seeing as the United Kingdom database reports more than 3.7 million registered, micro-chipped pets, the numbers are very low for problems at 4- 75 per year. Migration or movement of the micro-chip from the standard location of mid shoulder blade is the most common problem, followed by lost microchips, and then infection or swelling.

How can I have my pet microchipped?

As it is a simple procedure, merely contacting your veterinarian and booking an appointment is all you have to do. Because the needle is larger, some owners will ask to have the chip implanted during their pet’s neuter or spay surgery while they are still under anesthetic. Often times, there will be residual paperwork to be filled out after the chip has been implanted. This paperwork is crucial, for if it is not filled out and mailed to the registry or completed online, then the chip will never be registered. Not only does this leave your pet unidentified, but it could end in a dispute if somebody else finds the pet and decides to register the chip under their name!

How do I maintain the chip?

All you have to do is make sure your contact information stays up-to-date and that’s it! Microchipping is a one-time procedure that rarely results in an adverse reaction, but often reunites beloved pets with their owners!

Resources

AVMA. (2013, July 30). Microchipping of animals. Retrieved from American Medical Veterinary Association website: https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Reference/Pages/Microchipping-of-Animals-Backgrounder.aspx

Brooks, W. C. (2011, July 5). Microchipping could save your pet’s life. Retrieved from Veterinary Partner website: http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=3264

Lord, L. K., Ingwersen, W., Gray, J. L., & Wintz, D. J. (2009). Characterization of animals with microchips entering animal shelters. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 235(02), 160-167. Retrieved from http://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/abs/10.2460/javma.235.2.160

May, K., & Wohlferth-Bethke, P. (2013, July 30). Microchipping of animals faq. Retrieved from American Medical Veterinary Association website: https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/FAQs/Pages/Microchipping-of-animals-FAQ.aspx

Content Contributor: Dr. Sandy Drury

Wash Your Paws and Cover Your Muzzle!

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What is kennel cough?

Kennel cough is an infectious bronchitis which is transmitted through the air, and is most susceptible to dogs which are stressed, overly exposed to dust and smoke, or receiving poor ventilation. These may be qualities of dogs who are kept in kennels, which is why recent boarding experiences is a number one cause for an infected animal. This is how the disease gets its nickname (the scientific name is canine tracheobronchitis)! Kennel cough is very common, infecting a high percentage of dogs at least once during their lifetime. The bronchitis causes a hacking cough which is often described as sounding like there is an obstruction in the throat of the animal. The sickness can range from uncomplicated, lasting one or two weeks and requiring no treatment, to complicated, possibly resulting in a life-threatening pneumonia.

How is kennel cough contracted?

An infected animal will shed their bacteria or virus through respiratory secretions, which then become air bound, ready to be inhaled by a healthy dog. As mentioned previously, ventilation and stress are major causes, but the disease can also be contracted through exposure to infected toys or food bowls too.

A more in-depth explanation requires mention of a very important structure in a dog’s respiratory system called the mucociliary escalator. This structure is sticky with mucus and its job is to help remove debris and infectious agents by allowing them to stick to it, and then pushing them up where they can be coughed out or swallowed.

This mucociliary escalator becomes damaged in the presence of shipping stress, crowding stress, heavy dust exposure, cigarette smoke exposure, cold temperature, and poor ventilation! When it is damaged, the infections can waltz right down into the lungs, and this is how infection occurs.

What problems does kennel cough cause?

The mildest cases, as mentioned previously, will cause no problems at all. The pet will cough for a week or two and will not need to be treated.

Complicated cases on the other hand, may result in fever and listlessness, as well as pneumonia. Young puppies, and older or pregnant dogs are the most at risk because their immune system’s capabilities are the weakest.

What are the symptoms of kennel cough in my pets?

The symptoms of the disease are easy to spot and may include:

  • Dry hacking cough
  • Cough which sounds like honking
  • Retching
  • Watery nasal discharge
  • In severe cases, symptoms can include pneumonia loss of appetite, fever, lethargy and even death

How can I prevent and treat kennel cough?

Prevention can be difficult because the main causes of the disease are generally difficult to avoid (e.g. obedience classes, dog parks, toys and bowls, boarding kennels, doggie daycares). If desired, a vaccination can be provided by your veterinarian which immunizes the animal from a few of the agents that can cause the disease. If you are going on vacation and your pet is being boarded, make sure you make your appointment at least one week ahead so there is time for the vaccine to take effect. Certain members of the kennel cough complex cannot be immunized against. Additionally, nasal vaccines can be provided for puppies as young as three weeks of age which aims to immunize the puppies for their first year of life. Talk to your veterinarian to determine which choice is best for your pet!

These vaccines are not helpful for pets who are already infected, so this is when treatment becomes a focus. To reiterate, uncomplicated cases can go away on their own and do not require treatment. That said, antibiotics and cough suppressants can be provided to increase comfort and possibly speed recovery. If pneumonia is detected, then more progressive treatments will need to begin–but that’s another article altogether!

If you are unsure about the severity of your dog’s cough–do not hesitate to make an appointment with your veterinarian.

Resources:

Brooks, W. C. (2001, January 01). Kennel cough. Retrieved from Veterinary Partner website: http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=600

(2012). Kennel cough in dogs. Retrieved from Pet MD website: http://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/respiratory/c_dg_canine_tracheobronchitis

Content Contributor: Dr. Sandy Drury

You Can’t Give an Old Dog New Hips!

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What is Hip Dysplasia?

Canine hip dysplasia is a condition that all current and future owners of large breed dogs should be aware of. The term ‘dysplasia’ simply means ‘abnormal growth’. So, you can imagine a hip being like a ball-and-socket structure, with the head of the femur as the ball, and the acetabulum in the pelvis as the socket. These bones are covered in smooth cartilage to facilitate frictionless, easy movement. This is the normal growth. Now, the abnormal growth, i.e. dysplasia, is typified by the ball-and-socket structure not fitting quite right. The two do not fit smoothly, the socket may be flattened and the ball will not be held tightly in place. As a result, this may cause slipping, and as the body attempts to stabilize the joint, it only causes joint damage, inflammation, and pain for the animal.

What causes it?

The most common cause of hip dysplasia is simply genetics. That said, no test has been developed to adequately test DNA to predict the inheritance of this gene, so the best way to prevent hip dysplasia is to breed only dogs with normal hips. Many breeders of high risk dogs have their dogs certified free of hip dysplasia before accepting them into their breeding program.

Another cause is nutritional. It is not uncommon for large breed dogs to be ‘pushed’ into growing at abnormally fast paces by their owners with overfeeding or administering extra protein and calcium into their diets. This has resulted in disastrous consequences, causing many unwanted conditions among these animals–hip dysplasia being one. Many companies have recently developed large breed puppy diets specifically designed to slow the puppy’s growth and reduce the risk of this disease.

How common is Hip Dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is one of the most commonly seen skeletal diseases in dogs, and can occur in 50% or more of some of the larger breeds of dogs!
Large dogs with relatively high incidence of hip dysplasia include:

  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Bloodhound
  • Boxer
  • Brittany Spaniel,
  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • English Setter
  • English Springer Spaniel
  • Golden Retriever
  • Gordon Setter,
  • German Shepherd Dog
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Standard Poodle
  • Rottweiler
  • St. Bernard
  • Welsh Springer Spaniel
  • Welsh Corgi

Large dogs with relatively low incidence of hip dysplasia include:

  • Borzoi
  • Doberman
  • Pinscher
  • Great Dane
  • Greyhound
  • Irish Wolfhound
  • Siberian Husky

What are the symptoms of Hip Dysplasia in my pets?

Oftentimes, a dog experiencing hip dysplasia will show symptoms within the first 4-12 months of life. The first sign is usually a decrease in activity due to joint pain. You may see your pet drawing their hind legs forward more than usual, attempting to put more weight on their front legs. When they run, they may appear to be moving in a ‘bunny hop’ like motion. As the condition progresses, more severe symptoms will begin to reveal themselves, such as difficulty rising after sitting or lying down, or whimpering while climbing stairs.

How can I prevent and treat Hip Dysplasia in my pets?

Hip Dysplasia is most commonly caused by genetics, so sometimes prevention isn’t possible. Making sure not to overfeed a large breed dog may be a smart preventative measure though (and will also help reduce the risk of other conditions such as obesity and diabetes!) Speak to your veterinarian about proper diet choices when your pet is as young as 8 weeks of age.

If any of the symptoms mentioned above have been noticed, then making an appointment with your veterinarian is the best way to help your pet. In order to diagnose the condition, a veterinarian will have to perform a physical examination of the hips, and the diagnosis can be confirmed with a radiographic image. Hip dysplasia will be apparent on a radiographic image if there is a lot of space surrounding the bones, or if the femoral head appears to be out of place.

There are a few options when it comes to treatment of hip dysplasia. Most importantly, it is advised that dysplastic animals participate in activities such as walking, swimming and slow running, but NOT in activities like jumping or prolonged running. Often-times, anti-inflammatory drugs and narcotics may be prescribed to relieve pain, but they will not cure the disease or prevent its progression. With this in mind, products such Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Omega 3 fatty acids and Cartrophen (pentosan polysulfate sodium) can be prescribed to stop the degradation of the cartilage and foster cartilage growth and repair. These products can also improve the production of synovial fluid. Synovial fluid is the lubricant in a joint that allows the joint to move smoothly. Mobility diets are also available which contain many of these products. A joint health plan should be started as soon as hip dysplasia is detected!

If medical therapy is not enough, other treatments are available. A newer procedure, denervation of the hip joint capsule, can be performed. The goal of this procedure is to remove the pain immediately and reactivate the active component of the hip joint. Finally, in severe cases, more invasive surgery is an option where the bones may be rearranged or completely replaced by prostheses.

Resources

Brooks, W. C. (2005, February 21). Canine hip dysplasia. Retrieved from Veterinary Partner website: http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=1916

(2005, February 21). Diagnosis and genetics of canine hip dysplasia. Retrieved from Cornell University website: http://bakerinstitute.vet.cornell.edu/contentimages/library/File/Canine_Hip_Dysplasia_brochure_11_05.pdf

Content Contributor: Dr. Sandy Drury