Fourth of July Safety

We have found an amazing article from the ASPCA that we would like to share with all of you about Fourth of July safety.



For many people, nothing beats lounging in the backyard on the Fourth of July with good friends and family—including the four-legged members of the household. While it may seem like a great idea to reward Rover with scraps from the grill and bring him along to watch fireworks, in reality some festive foods and products can be potentially hazardous to your pets. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center offers the following tips:

  • Never leave alcoholic drinks unattended where pets can reach them. Alcoholic beverages have the potential to poison pets. If ingested, the animal could become very intoxicated and weak, severely depressed or could go into a coma. Death from respiratory failure is also a possibility in severe cases.
  • Do not apply any sunscreen or insect repellent product to your pet that is not labeled specifically for use on animals. Ingestion of sunscreen products can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy. The misuse of insect repellent that contains DEET can lead to neurological problems.
  • Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pets’ reach. Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing—or even kidney disease in severe cases. Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin, and if ingested can produce gastrointestinal irritation and central nervous system depression. If lighter fluid is inhaled, aspiration pneumonia and breathing problems could develop.
  • Keep your pets on their normal diet. Any change, even for one meal, can give your pets severe indigestion and diarrhea. This is particularly true for older animals who have more delicate digestive systems and nutritional requirements. And keep in mind that foods such as onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes & raisins, salt and yeast dough can all be potentially toxic to companion animals.
  • Do not put glow jewelry on your pets, or allow them to play with it. While the luminescent substance contained in these products is not highly toxic, excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation could still result from ingestions, and intestinal blockage could occur from swallowing large pieces of the plastic containers.
  • Keep citronella candles, insect coils and oil products out of reach. Ingestions can produce stomach irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression. If inhaled, the oils could cause aspiration pneumonia in pets.
  • Never use fireworks around pets! While exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws of curious pets, even unused fireworks can pose a danger. Many types contain potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals.
  • Loud, crowded fireworks displays are no fun for pets, so please resist the urge to take them to Independence Day festivities. Instead, keep your little guys safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area at home.

Can you hear me now?

This months newsletter is about the all too common parasite, ear mites.  The scientific name for the common ear mite is Otodectes Cynotis.  The parasite lives in the ear canal of dogs and cats.  The parasite breeds and the female exits the ear and lays eggs in the pets ears, hair and bedding.  The eggs will hatch in about 4 days and the young will make their way back into the ear canal to start feeding on ear wax and skin oils.  The total time from hatching to being able to lay more eggs (the life cycle) is about 3 weeks.  We think the life span of an ear mite is about 2 months.  The parasite is contagious between pets when they spend time laying together or other intimate contact.itch2

Pets will develop itching of the ears and neck and their ears will develop a classic dark wax debris.  This debris is a result of the mites secretions mixed with the pets ear wax.  The pet will secrete more wax due to the inflammation from the mite and thus their ears are usually full of this brown to black debris.  However, ear mite infections may be the most over diagnosed condition we see in our clinic.  Owners will see their pet becoming sensitive with their ears and having excessive ear wax formation and then just assume their pet has ear mites and begin treating the pet with over the counter ear mite treatments.  It is much more common for pets ear problems to be caused from some form of ear infection from bacteria and/or yeast and not from ear mites.  The diagnosis of ear mites should be only made when live mites in the ears can be found either on an ear exam directly or indirectly by finding the mites on an ear cytology swab.

Once a pet has been diagnosed with ear mites, how are they treated?  There are many different treatments on the market.  A major component of ear mite treatment is cleaning.  The excessive wax needs to be removed before medication is initiated.  Based on what treatment is being used, that can dictate the cleaning schedule from that point forward as you do not want to wash medication out from the ear canal once it has been applied.  The key to treatment is using a medication that will kill the mites in the ear canal and then continue to treat for a full 3 weeks to break the life cycle completely.  We are currently using a medication called Milbemite that is a one time treatment.  One tube of medication is applied to each ear and the medication will remain in the canal killing mites for 21 days.  There are multiple other treatments on the market and over the counter.  These medications can be effective but need multiple applications over the 3 week period and the label instructions need to be read and followed to achieve effectiveness and maintain safety.   It is recommended to have a recheck in 3-4 weeks after starting treatment to assure that all mite activity is gone from the ear canal.itch

So the recap is that ear mites are a real problem and are contagious from pet to pet.  Specific treatment for the appropriate time period is needed on all affected pets to achieve a cure.  The key is to make a correct diagnosis before treatment is started.  If your pet is having sensitive ears or excessive wax type ear debris, then make an appointment to bring them in for an ear exam so the correct diagnosis can be made and effective treatment prescribed.

Matt Thompson, DVM



Senior Pets

We all know our pets age, and it is something we don’t really want to spend a lot time thinking about or discussing.  We have the memories of them as kittens and puppies, full of energy and vitality. We still picture them that way in our minds.  Sadly, they do age and at a more accelerated pace than we humans.  The good news is that we can take steps to make their senior years some of their best years if we choose to be proactive in our pets care.

We have identified seven areas of health that tend to be the most common areas that creep up on our senior pets and rob them of their health during adulthood.

  1. Dental Disease
  2. Organ Disease
  3. Arthritis
  4. Obesity
  5. Hormone Disorders
  6. Lose of Special Senses / Senility
  7. Cancer

photo-senior-pet-careAs we wrap up National Pet Dental Month, no issue is more common in senior pets than dental disease. Dental problems can cause pain and open our pets up to infection that can damage organs. Starting good dental hygiene early in life that consists of good home care, and regular dental cleanings can be a huge factor in preventing disease and increasing quality of and quantity of life in our pets.

The organ disease category covers a large spectrum of problems.  Some organ problems can be prevented with good health care while others have either a genetic or age related base that can only be managed.  Either way, the best way we can provide support for our pets is by early detection of these problems.  The best way to accomplish detection is by regular physical exams and regular routine testing with blood work, x-rays, and urinalysis.

Arthritis is another very common problem that can rob our pets of quality life.  Some pets with arthritis are easy to recognize.  However, some pets are very skilled at hiding their arthritis symptoms and suffer with pain that is unseen to casual observation.   Some of those pets that are just looked at as “old” or “lazy” may actually be sedentary because of arthritic pain.

Obesity can tie in with arthritic conditions and cause a spiral downward.  The more arthritic pain they experience, the less they will exercise and the more weight they will gain.  The more weight they gain, the more pounding on their joints, and the more advanced their arthritis can become.  We also now know that fat tissue can and will produce a tremendous amount of inflammatory products that will accelerate joint disease.

sleepytabbyWe do see a significant increase in hormone disorder type diseases as pets reach their senior years.  This disease usually has symptoms of rapid weight gain or loss, large changes in water intake and urine out put habits.  Some of the common diseases in this category are thyroid disease, diabetes, and adrenal gland disorders.  Again, these diseases are diagnosed by routine blood work and urinalysis.

Loss of special senses such as hearing, vision, and smell as well as senility can look very much the same to an owner.  If you feel your pet is showing loss of senses or seems confused or lost at times, then it is a good idea to have a physical exam to determine what tests and treatments may be needed.

As our pets are living longer, disease such as cancer seems to be more common.  Saying a pet has cancer is fairly open statement because we see such a wide range of different types of cancers and in different locations of the body.  However, regardless of the type of cancer, our best possible position to try and intervene and have success with any treatment is centered around early diagnosis.

We strongly feel that old age is not a disease but that diseases are much more likely as our pets age.  We feel that routine physical exams coupled with regular testing with blood work, urinalysis, and x-rays will give us the information that we need to make the correct individual treatment plans to provide your pet with the best quality and quantity of life possible.

If you own a senior pet and would like to know more about senior testing, then give us a call and schedule an appointment for a senior exam and discussion on senior testing.  We will be offering a 10% discount on senior work ups for the month of March.

Matt Thompson DVM

Canine Flu

As we enter the fall and winter season, we all become aware of the risk for contracting influenza for ourselves and our family members.  However, there is one family member that we don’t always consider as being at risk, our family dog.

In 2004, a new strain of influenza was found affecting racing greyhounds at race tracks in Florida.  It was discovered that this strain of flu was a mutation from equine influenza and had jumped from the horses at the tracks to the dog population.  This flu stain was given the name of H3N8.  Initially it was contained to just the track population of greyhounds but in 2005 it started to be found in other dog populations in the Florida area.  With this being a new viral strain to the dog population, no dogs had any natural immunity and the disease has spread across the United States at a rapid pace. Dog flu

So we have a very high infection rate in exposed dogs and their symptoms of the disease can vary a great deal in the population.  The disease is spread through the oral and nasal secretions of a sick dog being either directly shed onto an unexposed dog or the virus can persist for days on bowls, toys, and leashes.  We feel that between 20-50% of the dogs infected will mount an immune response and have no or minimal symptoms of the disease.  However, 50-80% of the exposed dogs will become sick and show symptoms.  Runny nose, coughing, soreness, and fever are the most common symptoms.  Of these sick dogs, a small percentage will develop pneumonia and national numbers suggest about a 5-8% mortality rate, especially if not treated aggressively.  The pets will usually show symptoms in 2-5 days after exposure and symptoms can persist for 14-28 days.

The infection can be difficult to diagnosis because the symptoms initially are the same as several other less sever upper respiratory infections.  A PCR test from a nasal or throat swab can be done to ID the virus but must be done in the first 3-4 days after symptoms develop and many times pets are not seen that quickly for this test to be effective.  Flu titers can be done as well but you need two blood samples taken 2-3 weeks apart, so this test is not effective for rapid diagnosis.  If your pet starts showing the symptoms of coughing, nasal discharge, soreness, and fever, they should be seen promptly by your veterinarian and testing and treatment can be initiated.

The good news is we now have a very effective vaccine for the canine influenza virus.  The vaccine has a great track record for safety and effectiveness at preventing the serious pneumonia complications of canine flu infection.    If a dog has never been vaccinated prior for the flu virus, the vaccine is given as an initial vaccine and then a booster 2-4 weeks later.  Protective antibody levels can be maintained from that point with just one annual booster.

As we approach the time of year when we see an increase in dogs being boarded as their owners travel for the holidays, the need for getting our dogs vaccinated for influenza increases.  If you have plans to board your pet in the near future, you should make sure they are current on their vaccinations to include Rabies, Distemper/Parvo/Para-influenza, Bordetella, Influenza, and a negative fecal test.   Don’t let time slip away and find out at the last minute your pet is unprotected for their boarding appointment.

Matthew Thompson DVM

Itchy Skin in the Fall

Well, it is nice to see some cooler temperatures and perfect weather for getting outdoors with our pets and being more active.  We are still seeing a lot of fleas on pets as well as high amounts of mosquito activity, so stay diligent with your pets heartworm and flea control measures.itchy cat

This time of year we always see a spike in itchy pets.  Most of the pets with fall time skin problems are related to environmental allergies called Atopy.  This is a large class of allergens made of things like pollen from grass, weeds, and trees as well as molds which have been very high as of late.  Pets carry a high level of “Mast” cells (which carry histamine) in their skin organ.  If these cells have been preset to respond to some of our fall allergens, they release histamine and cause large amounts of inflammation.  This leads to the classical symptoms we see of hair loss, redness, chewing, and scratching.

Trying to relieve these symptoms can be a challenge.  Things that can be tried at home are daily doses of Benadryl, medicated and soothing baths, and omega fatty acid supplementation.  Some pets need more aggressive support and can be seen at the clinic to see if they have any secondary infections from bacteria or yeast on the skin that needs to be addressed.  Some pets may need a short course of steroids to help relieve the severe inflammation in their skin.

Basset pup scratching her earIf you want to look deeper at trying to find better long term management, pets can be either blood or skin tested to identify exactly what they are allergic to.  With this information, it may be possible to limit their exposure to those allergens.  If exposure cannot be limited, then a specific therapy made up of your pets allergens can be formulated and given to your pet either via injections or by mouth.  If your pet is having skin problems this Fall and you would like us to help you work through these steps, give us a call and set up an appointment.

Also, with Halloween time around the corner, we will have more candy and sweets in our homes.  Remember that chocolate is potentially toxic to pets if ingested in high enough doses.  You also need to be very careful with potential exposure of pets to the artificial sweetener Xylitol that is found in some candy and gums.  This is very toxic to pets.

Matt Thompson DVM
Affordable Pet Care

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