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Disease

Senior Pets: How Can We Help?

By | Dental Disease, Disease, Health, Nutrition, Patients, Registered Veterinary Technicians, Staff, Veterinarian | No Comments

Dr. Kim Quinn                                                                                                                                                                  December 2017

In general, we consider our dog and cats to be ‘senior’ pets when they are over 7 years of age.  This rule may differ with large breed dogs, since these breeds age faster than smaller breed pets.  Depending on the species, we can see different changes over time.  Some of these changes may be preventable, and some we can slow the development over time.  So, how do I know what to do and when?

Here are some of the more common diseases found in senior pets.

    1. Lenticular Sclerosis of the lenses of the eyes- This is seen with almost all geriatric pets, when the lens of the eye becomes gray and opaque over time. This is different from a true cataract, since dogs don’t become blind from the issue, but vision will decrease over time, especially in low light conditions. There is no treatment to reduce the progression, but dogs tend to do well with this issue over time.  Cataracts can also form in dogs and cats, though the majority of time they are due to other health conditions, such as diabetes.  If your vet is concerned there is a cataract present, they may recommend blood and urine testing to rule out diabetes as a possible underlying cause.
    2. Arthritis and Stiffness– Over time, joint wear and tear leads to inflammation, cartilage damage and pain. Most of these pets are stiff when they first get up, but as they start moving their joints produce synovial fluid to increase lubrication which facilitates easier moving as the day progresses.  Some other signs you may see with arthritis include: hesitation to jump or go up/down the stairs, limping, reduction in energy level, and specifically for cats- urinating/defecating outside the litterbox.  There are many different treatments available for arthritis such as: joint supplementation (i.e., glucosamine/chondroitin), pain medication, low impact exercises, and physiotherapy.   Walking and exercise are very important for our senior animals, since we want to keep their muscles intact as long as possible.  Continue bringing them for their daily walks, monitoring how well they are tolerating them.  More frequent number of shorter walks is the best recipe for the seniors.  Swimming is a great low-impact exercise, as well as hiding food in toys such as kongs- to keep their muscles and brain active!
    3. Urinary or Fecal Incontinence- Urinary incontinence is relatively common in spayed female dogs as they age due to estrogen level reduction in the body causing relaxation of the urinary tract sphincter muscle. Urinary incontinence can be seen by drips of urine in the place where the pet was laying.  There are times when urinary incontinence can be confused with a urinary tract infection, or when the open urinary tract sphincter can predispose to a urinary tract infection.  A urinalysis is performed first to help determine underlying causes, and which treatment (antibiotics, an estrogen supplement, or both), may be needed.  Fecal incontinence can be more difficult to diagnose and treat.  This can be caused by nerve issues, an issue with the anal sphincter, or gastrointestinal disease.  Depending on the cause, treatments may be completely different.
    4. Dental Disease- Plaque and tartar are made up of bacteria and food. Initially, they adhere to the teeth, but keep accumulating until they cause gingivitis, recession of the gumline, and finally root disease and decay.  Our senior patients are most at risk because of years of tartar accumulation.  Tooth root abscesses can cause infection, pain and severe disease necessitating emergency treatment. Daily tooth brushing helps to decrease accumulation of plaque and tartar over time.  Dental cleanings can aid in reducing the further progression of dental disease, and helps identify diseased teeth which may need removal prior to causing abscesses.
    5. Lumps and Bumps


 – It is common for humans and animals to have growths as we age. Most lumps will be benign (non-cancerous), but since they could be cancerous we would like to examine them to ensure this isn’t the case.  If there is any question, we may recommend either a needle biopsy, or to have the entire lump removed and sent away for analysis.  This will help us to plan if we need any further stages of treatment, or if the lump has been removed in its entirety.

6. Major organ abnormalities, i.e., Kidneys, Thyroid- These organs commonly have issues with function as time goes on. In cats, an overactive thyroid gland, as well as kidney disease are two different disease which require medical treatment.  An overactive thyroid gland can cause weight loss, hyperactivity, ravenous appetite, and heart disease.  In dogs, an underactive thyroid gland is a common issue, leading to decreased metabolism, weight gain, poor hair coat, and lethargy.  In either pet, kidney disease is a wearing out process over time, causing increased drinking and urination, weight loss, and loss of muscle mass.   With any of these issues, we would recommend blood and urine testing in order to diagnose, then determine types of treatment and prognosis

7. Senility– As we age, our cognitive function will decline, the same happens with our pets. This is often seen as disorientation or confusion, and especially disruption of normal sleep-wake cycles.  In cats, this may mean meowing at odd times of the day, often in the middle of the night.  They may ask for more food when the bowl is full, and otherwise have changes in behaviour over time.  In dogs, asking to go outside more often without needing to go to the bathroom, the development of anxiety disorders, and there is change in the amount they would like to interact with their owners.  With senility, there are a few different treatment types we may adopt such as: Selegiline, a supplement used to aid in cognitive dysfunction syndrome, brain health diets (i.e., Purina Neurocare), or antianxiety medications

8. Proper Diet- Ensuring the correct nutritional balance is important, older animals may need more fiber, less calories, and lower levels of protein, but this is all based on the individual. Calories are especially important for us to monitor over time, since so many senior pets are overweight!  We can calculate the approximate number of calories needed for your pet anytime.

 

This is just a quick overview of some of the common issues we deal with concerning our senior pets.  If you have questions or concerns about your pet, please give us a call!

Appropriate Treats for Pets

By | Disease, Health, Nutrition, Patients, Registered Veterinary Technicians, Saftey | No Comments

February 2017  Dr. Kim Quinn

The world is our oyster for foods and treats!  There is also a plethora of information regarding toxic foods for us humans, so we are less likely to ingest odd things.  It isn’t the same way for dogs and cats as for us humans, we have to be a bit more careful with them.  So many different toxins exist for our pets, which are not an issue for us.  Everyone knows about chocolate, grapes and raisins, but some of the lesser known toxins such as macadamia nuts and walnuts, caffeine, fatty foods being predisposed to cause pancreatitis, xylitol (in gums, candies, etc.,), onions or garlic.  This is just to name a few!

Do pets even need treats?
Nutritionally, treats aren’t really necessary for us to give our pets.  Many dogs love their kibble and will be just as happy with a piece of kibble as any other treat, and it is safer for their GI tract (less vomiting or diarrhea!).

Does your pet have allergies or food reactions (sensitive GI tract)? 

We have dogs in the clinic almost daily with vomiting or diarrhea issues with having a new treat.  If you have a pet with allergies, or has had issues such as these in the past- don’t get creative with new treats since they are at high risk of an issue.

Amounts of treats

Calorie content of treats should be less than 10% of the total amount of calories needed in a day.  Just like us, we can’t eat only treats or our nutrition will not be properly balanced.  If you would like to know the amount of calories your pet should ingest in a day, give us a call and we can calculate that for you! Everything in moderation.

So what types of treats should we offer our dogs?

We need to balance ‘tasty’ and ‘healthy’ for our pets.  Small amounts of vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers or apples can be great treats for our pets.

Since raw and freeze dried foods and treats carry the risk of bacteria which can make pets ill (and us!), we recommend using cooked food and treats (See: http://www.wormsandgermsblog.com/files/2008/04/M2-Raw-Meat-Owner1.pdf for more information).

With puppies, we can use bland items such as small amounts of plain cheerio cereal as training treats.  If they love their kibble, use that as training treats instead- just reduce the amount they would eat at their meals!

Cold Weather Safety

By | Disease, Health, Saftey, Staff, Veterinarian | No Comments

January 2017 Dr. Kim Quinn

It’s cold out there!  Just as in the heat of summer, we do need to take care of our pets in the cold of winter- protect them from the elements.  Each animal’s weather tolerance is different, depending on fat stores, fur coat, and other issues such as arthritis which can worsen with cold weather.  Animals with poor circulation due to other underlying issues such as kidney disease, Cushing’s disease, diabetes, etc., can also reduce a pet’s cold tolerance.

Walking Safety

If it is too cold outside for you, it’s too cold outside for them.  Have your dog will wear a sweater or jacket when outside to help shield them from the wind.  If you’re going out for a walk and it is below zero, there are some great booties dogs can wear to help protect their feet from the cold.  My dog will limp if she is outside in the cold because it hurts her feet.  While she doesn’t like having the booties put on, she is much more comfortable on the walk and doesn’t limp during or afterwards.

If your pet isn’t wearing booties, check between their toes and remove any snow or ice balls which may have accumulated.  This will make your pet feel much more comfortable.  Wipe their feet down after coming in from outside, to remove any salt or de-icer still on their paws.  Road salt poses a unique hazard for our pets.  Ingestion of these salts can cause major GI issues such as vomiting or diarrhea, or even neurological issues.  To reduce the risk of ingestion with your dog, use a dog friendly variety such as PetSafe Icemelter.  This is a safer product since it does not contain salt, but instead amides which can cause some GI upset if in high dosages.  Of course, try to avoid your dog getting into any of these products for their own safety.

Avoid ice, which could cause you and/or your pet to slip and fall.  This is another situation where booties can be helpful in increasing traction.

Car Safety

Don’t leave your pet alone in the car or outside for longer than 5 minutes in the cold.  They become subject to hypothermia from the lower temperatures much quicker than we do, they have a much higher surface area to lose the heat from!

When going outside to start up your car, bang on your hood a few times.  Animals can hide amongst the warm car engines during the wintertime, to seek out any heat.  This may save a life!

If you’re refilling any fluids for your car, keep your pets inside!  Clean up any messes left behind as soon as possible.  Antifreeze is very toxic to pets, causing fatal kidney failure if left untreated.

House Safety

Ensure you have carbon monoxide detectors around the house, especially near the furnace or other gas powered appliances. It could save many lives!

Stay safe out there!Dog Toe Impressions in Snow

Animal Wellness Bloodwork

By | Disease, Health, Patients, Saftey, Veterinarian | No Comments

Medicine is an adapting science- as it evolves, we similarly evolve to provide better care.  “Fire Engine” medicine was the norm years ago, only seeing the doctor when there was an emergency.  Now, we strive to practice preventative medicine- identifying and treating issues before they cause major health abnormalities. The old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is of the upmost truth and importance.

It is for this reason that human doctors perform yearly bloodwork, even when we are young and healthy.  At our Veterinary clinic, we are no different.  Before any anaesthetic procedure we perform wellness bloodwork, especially before spay or neuter surgery when our patients are a year of age or less.  Monitoring kidney and liver values at a young age will help identify certain genetic issues causing organ insufficiency, but also gives us a baseline for comparison for when your pet is ill in the future.

What a difference a year makes! Remember, pets age much faster than we do.  One year of their life can be akin to anywhere between 6 to 9 years of our lives.  Yearly bloodwork is always a great idea, but even more so when our pets become seniors.  In most dogs and cats, we consider a get to be a senior when they’ve surpassed seven years of age.

Here are some examples of blood tests we perform to identify abnormalities with our patients:

Kidney Function

– The kidneys are a paired organ which helps excrete toxins into urine, regulates blood concentration and pressure, and red blood cell production. Parameters such as Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN), Creatinine and Urine testing help elucidate function of the kidneys.  A newer parameter to us, SDMA, helps to identify when damage to the kidneys exceeds 25%, instead of waiting for BUN or Creatinine to elevate- which may only occur when over 75% damage has occurred!

Liver Function

– There are a few liver enzymes which are either released when liver cells die, or if they leak out of the cell.  Monitoring these trends over time help us to know overall liver health.  With very small breeds, often we will even perform a liver function test called Bile Acids, to help us identify possible genetic issues which may pose complications with anesthesia.

Gall Bladder/Pancreas/Intestines

– Organs very close to the liver, there are some blood values which give us hints as to whether these organs are functioning well.  If there are any abnormalities with these values, we may recommend other imaging tests such as abdominal ultrasounds to look into the issue further.

Complete Blood Count

– This panel of tests examines numbers and structure of Red and White Blood Cells in the bloodstream, helping to identify if there are infections or inflammatory issues which may be present.

Sodium/Potassium and other Ions

– Vomiting, reduced absorption or increased loss will change concentrations of these ions.  When it proceeds to one extreme or the other, we may need to intervene with treatments.

These are just a few examples of the parameters we evaluate with our wellness blood panels, depending on the blood panel which is chosen for your pet.  Help us find issues before they become major health concerns!

 

 

Patients

 

 

 

 

Feline Vaccines

By | Disease, Health, Saftey, Veterinarian | No Comments

By: Kimberley Quinn                                                                           October, 2016

Most owned cats are indoor only, reducing their risk of exposure to viruses from other cats which can make them ill.  Even indoor cats can be at risk, thus keeping their vaccines up-to-date is an excellent idea! Indoor cats can try to escape, or can be nose-to-nose with a feral cat through a screened window or door.  Interestingly, many cats are exposed to viruses from their mother cat around the time of birth.  During their lives, exposure may change.  Areas of higher exposure would include: being in a shelter, going outdoors, living in a multi-cat household, etc.

There are three different vaccines which we administer to cats to strengthen their immune system, helping them be prepared for a viral attack.  All vaccine plans are tailored to the specific patient.

  1. Feline Leukemia

The “friendly” cat virus, Feline Leukemia can be obtained from drinking from an infected puddle, through bites, while in mom’s womb, or through grooming.

This virus causes the destruction of T-cells, immune system cells needed to fight infections.  When this population of immune cells are destroyed, the cat is then susceptible to other infections, anemia, and cancers.

With any kitten, we recommend blood testing first for Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) to determine whether they have already been exposed to these viruses. Once we know they are negative for these viruses, they are vaccinated for Feline Leukemia twice, one month apart, to give some immunity.

When our cats grow, if they are deemed to not be an escape risk, are not going outside, then the vaccine can be stopped.

 

  1. Feline Upper Respiratory Complex “FVRCP”

    (Calicivirus, Rhinotracheitis, Panleukemia (Feline Distemper), Chlamydia)

Upper respiratory viruses (Calicivirus, Rhinotracheitis and Chlamydophila) are very easily transmitted between cats via grooming, sharing bowls, or when at high density locations (such as animal shelters, outdoor cats).  Persian cats are especially at risk due to their flattened facial anatomy. The most common symptoms would be upper respiratory or eye infections, but they can also cause oral ulcers.  Kittens will have three boosters of FVRCP when kittens, boostered at their annual appointment, then every 3 years (Depending on the vaccine which is used).

Panleukemia is a parvovirus which causes a suppression of the immune system as well as severe, life threatening diarrhea.

Viruses such as feline herpesvirus can stay dormant in the body until a period of stress causes them to re-emerge.  Vaccinating cats for upper respiratory viruses aids in the prevention of illness, or if they have already been exposed, to reduce the length and severity of illness.

 

  1. Feline Rabies

The incidence of rabies in the wildlife population has decreased exponentially due to excellent prevention and control programs such as wildlife vaccine baiting and domestic pet vaccination.  Hamilton area has had a few incidences recently of rabies in wild animals being transmitted to domestic dogs and cats within the last year, strengthening our resolve to continue protecting our pets. There have only been 4 cases of humans acquiring rabies in Ontario since 1985. In comparison with the rest of the world, the WHO estimates there are 55,000 human deaths from rabies each year in Asia and Africa, with 30-50% of cases occurring in children under 15 years of age. (Public Health Agency of Canada)

We vaccinate for rabies to protect our pets, ourselves, our friends and family.  Rabies virus is easily transferred by scratches or bites to people or other animals.  The virus can be fatal within days.

If a cat does scratch or bite a human, it is reported to the Health Unit and the animal is put under quarantine.  Quarantine is essentially a ‘house-arrest’ for the pet, the Health Unit re-evaluates the pet a certain number of days after the quarantine to ensure the pet is still alive and well.

KittenWellness

If your kitten or cat is due for vaccines, or you would like to discuss your cat’s risk further, please give us a call.

 

 

 

 

Quality of Life- A Discussion about End of Life

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Though a difficult topic to discuss, it is an important point of discussion nonetheless for so many families.  Living with a pet for many years is so fulfilling!  Geriatric pets especially can be a blessing, being calmer than kittens or puppies, and less likely to chew on our shoes!  Napping with a purring cat on your chest is one of the most soothing sounds. Playing fetch with a playful dog will fuel your happiness like a hug from a family member.  Determining when our pets are close to the end of their life is a very difficult thing to evaluate, especially as the pet owner.

How do we decide when it is time for our loving pet members, when quality of life has declined to the point where euthanasia is the recommended option?  It can’t be stated enough, this is the most difficult decision a pet owner ever has to make, since it concerns another animal’s life.

Here are the parameters we can use to help us reach a decision:

  1. Is your pet eating and drinking well?

Eating and drinking are arguably the most important parameters for life.  Nutrition and fluid help organs function properly, lack of these items lead to discomfort, pain, and death. Unless your pet went from having a ravenous appetite to no appetite at all, this sign can be confusing for some owners.  Animals who have been picky eaters through their whole life can be more difficult to evaluate.  If a pet has gone 48 hours without eating or 24 hours without drinking needs to be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Really, any change in your pets normal eating and drinking habits should be further investigated by a veterinarian.

  1. Are they able to go to the bathroom normally?

The way we rid toxins from the body is via urine and feces.  If either of these important functions cease, severe issues will follow as the toxins accumulate.  In households with multiple cats or dogs, these functions can be difficult to monitor.  If one animal is more concerning than another, house them separately.  Keep the dog or cat in one room apart from the others with litterbox (for cats), water and food available.  Keeping a diligent eye will help you to know if an issue is present.  No urination in 24 hours is a major medical issue, bowel movements depend a bit more on their regular habits.  If your animal typically has a bowel movement daily, having none after 48-72 hours would be very concerning.  If they typically have twice daily bowel movements, it would be more concerning to have no bowel movement after 36-48 hours.  We also need to take into account the amount of food they are currently eating: the less food intake, the less bowel movements.

  1. Do they still want to socialize well with family members?  Are they interacting well with other family members, no aggression issues?

Most animals are stoic and will not show us any abnormalities such as pain or discomfort.  An animal who does not wish to socialize with its family is a major concern, possibly hiding a severe underlying issue.  Animals who are in pain may react aggressively towards their family members, out of fear that being touched will cause the issue to worsen.  If there has been a personality change, your animal should be brought into the clinic as soon as possible.  For example, we once had a dog be brought in for severe aggression, only to learn it was in congestive heart failure.  After treatment was started, his demeanor went back to normal.  When his condition worsened, he became aggressive once again.

  1. Are they able to walk well, without assistance?

Ability to walk to the bathroom, food or water is absolutely necessary.  Any change in ability to ambulate should be seen by a veterinarian.  There are different options to help patients move with greater ease: joint supplements, food, medication, or walking aids, for example.  We can help you determine the best options for your pet.

  1. Are they breathing normally? (Not laboured)

Laboured breathing can mean a few different underlying conditions.  Heart and lung conditions can worsen very quickly, or can be slow to change over time.  If while your pet is sleeping, if their respiratory rate is greater than 30 breaths in a minute, it is time to be seen by a veterinarian.

  1. Do they still want to play?

Social interaction is food for the soul. If your pet has always been one to want to throw a ball around, or chase a toy, and they stop this behaviour, there can be something major going on.

  1. Are they showing anxiety or agitation?

Anxiety and agitation can take many forms: aggression, seeking alone time, objecting to a change in routine, reacting over-exuberantly to a situation, etc.  While behavioural changes can be subtle, they can give us hints to look into issues further.  Anxiety and agitation are more common as animal’s age.

With any animal, the decision to euthanize is difficult.  We keep all of these above parameters in mind in order to make a choice which is acceptable for the patient and ourselves.  If you ever have questions about your own pet, remember to give us a call.  We can help you through these situations, trying to let you know if and when the time is right for your pet to cross the rainbow bridge.  Life is about quality- how enjoyable it can be, not quantity- the amount of time we have.  When we get an animal, we need to remember the promise that we have made to them, to love them for life, and give them comfort at the end.24HourEmergency

 

 

 

Keeping our pets safe this winter

By | Disease, Health, Patients, Saftey, Veterinarian | No Comments

Dog Toe Impressions in Snow

When the snow and ice starts accumulating, you may want to think twice about throwing down the rock salt. Salts dissolve the surface of melted snow and ice and help keep us safer from slip and falls, but contact with paw pads can cause skin to dry and crack, and can cause irritation. Worse than skin irritation, ingesting (eating or licking) rock salt directly or off paws or from melted puddles of snow can cause major issues.  Salts can irritate the stomach, leading to vomiting, diarrhea, and GI discomfort.  In large amounts, salts can cause neurological issues such as seizures, lethargy, disorientation, and death in extreme cases.

 

So, what can we do? 

· If you have dogs at home, indoor/outdoor cats or rabbits, avoid the use of rock salt for snow if they will be exposed, if possible.  Reserve its use for areas which are icy and pets will not frequent.

· Inside the house, keep salts out of pet’s reach, in a closed container.

· After coming back in the house, wipe their paws with a clean, damp towel to reduce their exposure.  Keep a close eye on their paw pads to ensure they aren’t cracking or having any areas of irritation.

· Local pet stores do sell dog boots to wear outside to reduce their exposure.

· Prevent your pet from drinking from puddles of melted snow or eating snow where rock salt may have been used.

· You could also apply petroleum jelly to the base of the paw pads to act as a barrier to the salt.

· Next time you buy an ice melting product, consider using a ‘pet-safe’ product.  Many products with a ‘pet-safe’ label have not actually been tested.  Most veterinarians will recommend SafePaw, an amide-based product which is said to be safer than rock salt for dogs and cats, it is available at many stores.

· Shovel your driveway and walkways often to reduce ice accumulation. Use sand or kitty litter for traction instead of rock salt.

 

Keep yourself and your pets safe this winter season.

 

Happy Holidays from South Windsor Animal Hospital!

 

 

Information provided from:

Veterinary Information Network

BluePearl Veterinary Partners Newsletter

Summer Safety Series: Intestinal Parasites (WORMS!)

By | Health, Intestinal Parasites, Saftey | No Comments

Ever thought about what it would feel like to have worms living in your intestines? Most of our dogs or cats could tell us, since these parasites are extremely common especially in puppies or kittens.  The mother cat or dog can pass on parasites while the animal is developing in the uterus, they can ingest them in the milk, or when they are exposed to their parent’s feces.

With adult dogs, intestinal parasites can be easily picked up from the park when a dog either sniffs or licks another dog’s feces, the area where another dog’s feces has been, or contaminated water sources like puddles.  Cats are more likely to pick up these parasites from another cat’s feces, or from eating rodents.   These parasites can also be acquired from many other sources such as sniffing or licking another animal’s rear end, eating the intestines of deceased rodents, or ingesting fleas (this is common!), just to name a few.  We recommend sending away our pet’s feces at least yearly for parasitic testing, since many of these parasites are microscopic and cannot be seen with the naked eye.  Here are some of the more common intestinal parasites we see on a daily basis.

Roundworms (Nematodes or Ascarids)

Roundworms1

Fig. 2. Life Cycle of Roundworms

Fig. 2. Adult Roundworms

Fig. 1. Adult Roundworms

 

These spaghetti like worms live freely in the intestinal tract, feeding on partially digested intestinal contents.  The roundworm eggs are excreted into the feces, where they can be ingested by other animals sniffing or licking feces or the infected soil in the environment. It takes about one month for eggs shed in the environment to become infective when ingested.

What we see under the microscope: Eggs.

What you see with your eyes: Rarely with a dog or cat you may see the adult worm in stool or vomit.

 

Giardia

Fig. 3. Giardia, under the microscope

Fig. 3. Giardia, under the microscope

Giardia is a protozoan parasite picked up through ingesting contaminated water, soil, or feces. It has a sucker on its belly, helping it stay adhered to the inside walls of the intestines of our dogs and cats. The sucker is also what makes it Giardia one of the most stubborn parasites to treat.

Many parasites can be acquired from ingesting feces, but this one especially can be transmitted to people from their animals, it is zoonotic.  With any disease, especially one which is zoonotic, remember to wash your hands after petting your animal.  Many pets will lick their anus after defecating to keep it clean, then can lick our hands or face.  There is always a risk of ingesting parasite eggs if we don’t wash our hands after handling our pets, especially just before eating.

What we see under the microscope: The parasite, just like in the picture above.

What you see with your eyes: Occasionally we will see intermittent diarrhea, often stools will look normal unless the infection is more severe.

 

Tapeworms

Fig. 4. Adult tapeworm, thick end shows segments which break off

Fig. 4. Adult tapeworm, thick end shows segments which break off

These flattened worms are acquired from eating fleas, or eating rodents such as mice or rats.  Tapeworms can grow up to 10 inches long in the intestines!  They eat the food we eat, then shed segments of themselves just like a small purse containing thousands of eggs.  Unless the segments open in the fecal sample, sometimes we can’t see these eggs under the microscope.  With any animal who has had multiple fleas, when they bite at themselves, they often ingest the fleas, which releases the tapeworm eggs.

What we see under the microscope: Eggs, after the tapeworm segments have broken open

What you see with your eyes: Tapeworm segments around the animal’s anus or in the feces.
If your pet goes hunting, bring in their feces for testing more often than once yearly.  Remember they can pick up parasites at any time.  Many of these parasites are easily found on a fecal sample and can be treated with deworming products.  Give us a call if you have a question about parasites or would like more information about these worms.

Images from VeterinaryPartner.com

Dental Cleaning- Pets need Dental Care, Too!

By | Dental Disease, Disease, Health, Patients | No Comments
Brushing your dog's teeth

Brushing your dog’s teeth

With people, it is easy to see when our teeth hurt since we are vocal with dental pain. In contrast, dogs and cats hide their pain, performing their regular activities despite underlying issues.  Neat fact, adult dogs have 42 adult teeth, while cats have 30.  Our goal is to keep these numbers the same throughout their adult life.

Every year at their annual physical exam, we look at your pet’s teeth for tartar, gingivitis, cracked teeth, or poorly aligned teeth, just to name a few items.  Just as you and I need to have our teeth cleaned at the dentist, our pets need this same treatment.  Smaller breed dogs such as Yorkies, Shih Tzus, and Maltese seem more susceptible to accumulating tartar on their teeth.  Dogs with short noses, such as Boston Terriers and Pugs, have a large number of teeth fitting into a small area, which leads to mal-alignment of teeth, leading to dental disease.  Certain cats, and specific breeds of cats such as Maine Coons, can also develop chronic dental disease.

How can we prevent dental disease?  Just like us, our pets should have their teeth brushed every day.  There are some great animal toothpastes on the market in various flavours, which they tend to love!  For toothbrushes, you can use a soft child’s toothbrush, a finger toothbrush from a pet store, or even a damp washcloth.  Tooth brushing is the best method to prevent plaque and tartar from accumulating on teeth, but it needs to be done as often as possible to be effective.  When you brush your teeth at night, brush your dog or cat’s teeth as well!

What is involved with a dental cleaning for your pet?  This is a day procedure, every animal is assigned a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) to monitor your pet’s health throughout the day to provide the safest anesthesia event possible. Each patient would receive a full cleaning, where we remove the plaque and tartar off each tooth, the teeth are polished, and fluoride is applied to help strengthen the teeth.  In order to properly evaluate the teeth, we use a dental probe around every surface of every tooth to ensure no hidden pockets or disease under the gumline.  To perform this procedure, each animal needs to be under full general anesthesia.  With any areas of concern, we use dental radiographs to evaluate the teeth.  We would like to be able to save every tooth we see, but if a tooth is loose because it has lost attachment with the underlying bone, or if there is significant disease, we may need to remove that tooth.  A painful tooth is not a needed tooth!

The amazing thing about removing diseased teeth is how much happier our animals are without those painful teeth still in their mouths.  I can’t tell you the number of times our owners have told us that their dog or cat is ‘like a puppy/kitten again!’  This further strengthens our resolve to continue removing diseased teeth- it is the path to healing.

Our amazing technicians can provide a tooth brushing demonstration, or our veterinarians can help to determine the severity of your animal’s dental disease.  Just give us a call.

 

Heartworm Disease- What is it? Why is it so Important?

By | Disease, Health, Heartworm, Patients, Registered Veterinary Technicians, Staff, Veterinarian | No Comments

Heartworm DiagramThe warm weather is coming soon, its almost starting to feel like spring!  With warm weather comes mosquitoes which can transmit heartworm disease to our dogs (and cats extremely rarely).  Heartworm disease can be a fatal disease, but an easy disease to prevent with the appropriate medication.  Heartworm disease occurs most commonly in areas with prevalent mosquitoes, such as along the Great Lakes and other waterways and coastlines.  Windsor, Ontario is one of the most prominent locations for heartworm disease in Canada due to our warm weather and the surrounding Great Lakes.

How do dogs get Heartworm disease?

When a mosquito takes a blood meal from a dog infected with heartworm it ingests microscopic heartworm larva in the infected dog’s bloodstream.  These larva mature further within the mosquito before making their way back to the mouth parts of the mosquito.  When the mosquito bites another animal, these microscopic sized heartworm larva (microfilaria) can be injected into the bloodstream of a dog or cat and then make their way into the heart and blood vessels to the lungs. Over the period of 6 months, the worm grows to be an adult, ranging in size between 6-14” long and 1/8” wide!  At the largest size, that is over a foot long, and thicker than a piece of cooked spaghetti!  Adult heartworms can live up to five years, and during this time, the female can produce millions of microfilaria to circulate through the dog’s bloodstream.  The worms mainly live in the vessels of the lungs and the heart (hence the name, heartworm disease).  As you can imagine, having worms living in the bloodstream can cause difficulty with normal functioning of the heart and lungs.  With an increasing number of worms, more damage is done to these important organs. Animals can appear short of breath, have a cough, faint, be lethargic, or if only a small number of worms, may not show any signs or symptoms at all.  By the time clinical signs are seen, the disease is typically very well advanced.

At our clinic, we recommend yearly testing of all dogs for heartworm disease.  This is a simple blood test to detect adult worms in the bloodstream.  If our dogs have not acquired heartworm disease, they are kept on a monthly medication to kill any microfilaria from mosquitos they may have picked up from the last 30 days.  The most important months of the year for heartworm prevention is May through November, but with our weather varying from year to year combined with our proximity to the Great Lakes, we highly recommend yearly heartworm prevention.
What happens if my dog acquires Heartworm Disease?

If a dog tests positive for heartworm disease, there are multiple diagnostic tests which are done to help determine the severity of the infestation.  First tests include: repeating the heartworm test to ensure it is not a false positive, regular bloodwork to ensure the other organs are functioning normally, radiographs of the chest to evaluate the health of the heart and lungs, and may proceed to tests such as a cardiac ultrasound. Once a dog is deemed to be healthy enough, we would proceed according to the American Heartworm Society’s Guidelines for treatment based on the severity of the disease.  The treatment can be intensive, expensive, and does not come without risks.  For these reasons, it is much safer for your dog, and less costly, to be on a monthly preventative medication than to need to go through treatment.

For more information, give us a call about heartworm disease, prevention, and testing so we can tailor a plan appropriate for your dog!

References:

  1. Dr. Ruotsalo. 2009. Lifelearn: Heartworm Disease in Dogs – Testing. (https://www.lifelearn-cliented.com/page.php?id=19&rid=773)