Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Holiday Hazards #2: Raisin, Grape and Xylitol Toxicity

There are many different toxins that can affect our pets. Most of the toxins are also toxic to humans so we know to be careful with pet exposure. However, some agents are toxic to pets while being non-toxic to humans, and it is these agents that are dangerous as most people do not know they are pet toxins. The mose common example of this is chocolate, as some forms are highly toxic to pets.

A less known toxin for pets is raisins and grapes. Recently we were presented with a 15 week old puppy who may have been eating raisins and experienced kidney failure. The ASPCA Poison Control Center indicates that raisins and grapes may be toxic to some dogs. The ASPCA Poison Control Center managed 140 cases of raisin or grape toxicity in the last year. over 50 of these dogs developed symptoms ranging from vomiting to kidney failure, and 7 of these dogs died. The toxic principal causing these symptoms has yet to be identified. One specific case involved a 2 year old Australian shepherd that ingested 1 cup of raisins. The dog developed acute renal failure a few days later and died.

Another toxin the ASPCA is cautioning owners about is xylitol. Xylitol is a sweetener found in certain sugar-free chewing gums, candies, and other products. According to the ASPCA veterinarians, dogs ingesting significant amounts of gums and candies containing xylitol may develop a sudden drop in blood glucose level resulting in depression, loss of consciousness, and seizures. After known ingestion of this chemical, it is important to get your pet to a veterinarian immediately. Although it is possible cylitol causes liver failure in dogs, this has not been proven and the mechanism of toxicity is still not known. It is important to realize products safe for humans are not always safe for pets.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Always something new...

The thing I love about veterinary medicine is that you go into the day not knowing what will happen. Last week, I got two surprises in one day. The first was with a puppy exam. I go into most puppy exams assuming that the pet is nice and healthy, especially when nothing is mentioned over the phone about the puppy being sick.

Well, I walk into the exam room and immediately know something is going on. The pup was nice and energetic, but had a lot of hair loss with some crusting around the eyes and legs. I am a big fan of dermatology issues, so immediately suspected Demodex mites as the problem. These are organisms that normally live in the skin, but typically it is a symbiotic relationship where the dog isn't bothered by them. Occasionally (maybe because of genetics or other sickness), the mites can overgrow and cause hair loss, secondary skin infections, and just general misery in puppies. We did a quick skin scraping and found the most mites I have ever seen on a scraping. Fortunately, we have a few options for treatment and started the puppy on treatment right away. Usually we treat for a couple of months.

The second surprise was a younger dog who was not feeling well. This dog had surgery around a month prior for a corn cob that became lodged in its intestine. He recovered well and had been doing fine until that morning where he was lethargic and not himself. We took some radiographs and noticed some distended loops of intestines, so determined we needed to go to surgery to determine the cause. Well, we get in there and find that a 2 foot portion of small intestine had made its way through a small hole in the omentum (the structure associated with the intestine responsible for blood supply). It was essentially strangling its blood supply causing that section to die. Fortunately, there was plenty of healthy intestine left, so we performed a resection and anastomosis (removed the dead tissue and sutured the healthy tissue back together) and crossed our fingers.

I saw both of the patients back this morning and am happy to say that both are doing very well. We will see what this afternoon has in store for us.