Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing's Disease)

Hyperadrenocorticism, also known as Cushing’s disease, is in some ways the opposite of Addison’s disease we discussed last week. With this condition, the body is producing too much circulating hormone. Certain breeds such as poodles, dachshunds, boxers and beagles seem to be more prone to this condition. Typically it is seen in middle to older patients. In some cases a patient on prolonged steroid use may also demonstrate these symptoms. If the external source of steroids is removed they may return to normal.
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Symptoms of Cushing’s disease include increased drinking and increased urination. In some cases this is extremely excessive! Externally owners may note hair loss, increased pigment in the skin and also black heads in the skin. Additionally the abdomen will sometimes look distended or drooping. With any of these symptoms a visit to the vet is definitely warranted!
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There are several ways to start a diagnosis of Cushing’s disease. A chemistry profile can show a significant elevation in the liver enzymes, while a urinalysis will likely show a very low concentration. To diagnose Cushing’s disease a blood test can be run which usually requires a series of blood draws throughout most of the day. There are also urinary screening tests that can be used to help determine if Cushing’s is a likely cause for the symptoms. Further diagnostics such as x-rays, ultrasound or even advanced imaging such as MRI or CT (computerized tomography) may be necessary to determine the cause for this condition. These advanced tests are not always needed but are sometimes recommended depending on the specific pet.
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Treatment typically involves a medication that will be given life long. If there are specific tumors that are contributing to the condition then surgery could be an option. This however is not always financially possible or physically possible for each patient. Regularly blood work and monitoring for recurrence of symptoms is imperative to help regulate Cushing’s disease. Every patient is different and what may work for one pet may not be appropriate for another. They also can have different responses. It is possible to over treat for this condition and cause a depletion of steroids which will lead to symptoms similar to those mentioned with Addison’s disease last week.
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If you see any of the symptoms especially increased drinking/ urination in your pet it is a good idea to make a trip to the veterinarian. They can help direct diagnostics so the appropriate course of action is taken. For more information please visit Veterinary Partner’s Cushing’s Center here.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Breed Focus: Airedale Terrier

The Airedale terrier is a very loveable and fun dog! This breed however may not be the fit for every family. Extremely intelligent and energetic, they need both mental and physical stimulation…and a lot of it! As the largest of the terrier group they are known as ‘King of the Terriers.’ Their playful personalities definitely live up to that nick name!
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As a member of the terrier group they do require grooming regularly, so be sure to account for this in your budget. Typically the bigger the dog the higher the price tag on the grooming. Another common characteristic of terriers is stubbornness. Again their size can make them seem even more stubborn! It is strongly recommended to start obedience classes as soon as your puppy is vaccinated (and typically starting them at home prior to this is a good idea!) This breed is also known as active diggers, so it is advised to not leave them unattended in your yard!
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Overall Airedale terriers are typically very healthy. As with many large breed dogs they are more prone to hip dysplasia. This is a genetic disorder of the hip joint that can cause discomfort. Ensuring that the parents have sound hips certified by the Orthopedic Foundation of America can decrease the risk of this condition in their offspring. Another condition to be aware of is dilated cardiomyopty. In this disease the muscles of the heart are not able to contract normally and therefore function of the heart is compromised.  There is no definitive test that will tell which dogs will contract this condition. Regular physical exams and x-rays can help assess the heart and hopefully catch this disease in the early stages. For more information on dilated cardiomyopathy you can visit this website.
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Airedale terriers are generally very sturdy and happy dogs! They will fit in well with families that have an active life style and can set boundaries for their behavior. If you thinks they will make a good choice for your family you can find more information about the breed here and here

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Doodle Days #18

Last night we went on an adventure! I LOVE car rides!

Ok our adventure was only going to get ice cream....and even though I don't get any it is still fun!

Nothing beats the feeling of wind in my hair!

Some of the pictures are a little blurry and dark but I just wanted to share my adventures with you!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Senior Pet: X-Rays

Another good screening tool in senior pets includes x-rays. While a physical exam done by a veterinarian can be a very good indication of disease, it does not always tell the full story. Even if there is no evidence of disease externally many veterinarians recommend x-rays in older pets to help rule out conditions that if not detected early may not be treatable.
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Screening the abdomen can help rule out tumors that may not be palpable. The liver and spleen are organs that can sometimes develop cancerous growths that if not detected could rupture and actually cause the patient to die. While this is extreme it can happen. Although many times these can be detected on a physical exam in some dogs who are nervous, tense or very deep chested it is not always possible to appreciate small changes. X-rays and even sometimes abdominal ultrasound may be necessary to determine if there are any abnormalities.
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X-rays of the lungs can help detect early changes in the heart which could indicate heart disease. If detected in the beginning there is a much better chance of managing heart failure and keeping pets comfortable for longer. X-rays of the lungs can also be used to look for signs of metastasis. This is a spreading of cancer to a site other than its original location. The lungs are a very common place for tumors to metastasize and early detection may afford owners more options for their pets.
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As mentioned last week x-rays can also be used to assess joints and determine the extend of disease present. This can help with managing the condition and give a more clear picture of what the pet is up against.
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X-rays can become a very valuable diagnostic especially when paired with a physical exam. The more information we have, the better we can help keep our pets happy and healthy for as long as possible.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison's Disease)

Hypoadrenocortism (more commonly Addison’s Disease) is a condition not many pet with which not many pet owners are familiar. This condition is present in dogs that can not produce normal circulating steroids in the body. Steroids produced by animals (and people) are essential to the body to help deal with stressful situations. Without these steroids patients can become very will and in a crisis could even die.
Probably the most difficult aspect of Addison’s disease is that the symptoms mimic MANY other conditions. They are very generic and can range from intermittent vomiting and diarrhea, to weakness, lethargy, increased drinking and increased urination. This can at times make it very difficult to diagnose in a patient on its first episode, especially if it is mild. Many times pet owners may not even notice the symptoms as the patient will just not be them self for a day or so and then be back to normal. However many owners tend to pick up a pattern if this continues to happen and at that time a trip to the vet is a good idea!
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To diagnose Addison’s disease there are special blood tests that are performed. Typically these are sent to an outside laboratory. There are several tests and depending on the symptoms and your pet your veterinarian may choose one test over another. While it is not diagnostics in house blood work can be indicative that further testing may be needed. In Addison’s disease the ratio between Sodium and Potassium (Na/K) typically becomes very low. If this is seen in combination with waxing and waning of symptoms it may be a good idea to screen for this condition. There may also be slight increases in the kidney values however this alone is not enough to make a diagnosis.
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If a patient is having an acute crisis they can become extremely sick and may even need to be hospitalized. Once however the steroids are replenished from an external source, usually either injectable or oral, these patients can do very well.
Addison’s disease is not curable but rather is managed. Basically we need to replace what the body can no longer produce. This means steroids. There are many treatment choices and depending on the patients and the external stressors they may be exposed to will determine which treatment protocol your veterinarian will recommend. Finances can also be a determining factor. The injectable replacement while convenient can be costly in large dogs. Regular blood work is typically done to ensure that the condition is managed and to hopefully catch changes in blood work prior to a crisis.
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While not the most common conditions in pets, it can be life threatening. It is important to monitor pets closely and if you notice they are not feeling well at regular intervals this is worth mentioning to your pets doctor! For more information on this condition you can go to this website. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Breed Focus: Sphinx

Few species bring up as much mixed reactions as the Sphinx cats do. Their most notable feature is the lack of a furry coat like most cats. This can has endeared them to many owners while caused others to label them as unattractive. If you can get past their appearance Sphinx cats can actually make good pets!
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As a breed Sphinx cats can be traced back to 1966 in Canada. Here a normal haired cat gave birth to a cat with out any fur. From there a mixture of cross breeding has brought us to the breed we know today.
With the lack of hair, many believe them to be the ideal cat for allergies. This is typically false though. They will still produce dander (dead skin cells), which are the major culprit in most pet allergies. To fully ensure that an animal is hypoallergenic though there are certain tests that may be done. Although they do not have a typical cat coat that may require grooming, they will require regular baths. Oil can develop on their skin naturally since there is no fur to take it away from the skin. If left there, it can lead to clogged follicles and skin issues. Regular bathing can help prevent these symptoms. It is best to get them used to this at a young age. Over time many may even enjoy it!
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Overall sphinx tend to be very healthy, but as with any purebred especially one as recent as the Sphinx there are certain conditions to watch for. As mentioned above skin issues can develop so monitoring their exterior closely can help catch symptoms early. Another conditions that is fairly common in purebred cats is hypertrophic cardiomypothy. This is a thickening of the heart wall which interferes with proper function. Diagnostics such as x-rays and echocardiograms are necessary to diagnose and evaluate management of the heart condition. Ensuring the that parents are healthy prior to adopting this breed is a very good idea. For more information on the heart condition you can visit this website

Overall the Sphinx .tend to be out going and can make great companions. If you are interested in an unusual pet that may elicit mixed reactions from your friends they could make an excellent addition to your home. For more information about the sphinx please visit the following website here

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Doodle Days #17

Yesterday I got to go to work!!!! I love going to work! I had a mini photo shoot with my favorite vet!

Then I jumped on and off the treatment table a few times! I get distracted easily!

The phone rang in this one!

I also got on the scale. It's not very scary.

Then (and this is the best part!) we went on a walk at lunch! It was so much fun!!!

This is where I spend my time when my favorite Dr is doctoring!

I hope the rest of my week is a great as yesterday was!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Senior Pet: Joints

Senior pets can start to slow down a little as they age. There can be many reasons for this change. One of the major causes could be joint disease. This is especially true for large breed dogs, although small breed dogs can have joint issues as well. If a patient is overweight this will increase their risk of having arthritic changes in the joints. When there is discomfort in any joints, this can lead to a decrease in activity which can actually lead to more soreness or stiffness and can become a vicious cycle.
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To identify if your pet may have some degenerative joint disease the first step is a physical exam. Many times veterinarians can appreciate small changes in the joints that could indicate discomfort. They can also assess if a pet has the full range of motion in a particular limb. However to appreciate the extent of the condition many times x-rays will need to be performed. Hips and knees are typically the primary culprits in joint disease; however elbows and intervertebral spaces can also be affected.
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Managing joint disease in older dogs can be difficult at times. One of the mainstays that many veterinarians use are joint supplements such as glucosamine/ chondroitin. These can sometimes help protect the joints from further damage. Many times they will not hurt anything but may help.  Another supplement that may be recommended is a fish oil capsule which can also help with overall joint (and skin!) health. A common group of medications used to help control discomfort associated with joint pain include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications. Prior to prescribing these for long term use it is very important to rule out any underlying conditions such as kidney or liver disease. Over the counter pain relievers made for humans should NEVER EVER be used in our pets. They can be very hazardous and are more likely to cause side effects. There are additional medications that can be added to NSAIDs to help keep our pets comfortable as needed. Remember in any extreme weather (heat or cold) it is possible that the joints will become more stiff and therefore cause more discomfort. It may be necessary to work with your veterinarian to change the regimen during these times.
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Some alternatives to medication include exercising in a controlled manner at home. (i.e. on a leash rather than running around like a maniac) This can also include passive range of motion exercises. These are done with the patient laying on their side and moving the legs to help keep them limber. Another exercise is swimming or if you have access to a facility with an underwater treadmill. It offers great exercise with minimal impact on the joints.
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Just because a pet is aging does not mean they will have joint disease, but it is a common finding in our aging pets. Keeping weight under control when they are younger and offering good exercise regimen may help keep them off pain medications for a long time, however we do have options available to help keep your pet comfortable. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Hyperthyroidism as the name implies is the opposite of hypothyroidism that we looked at last week. Another opposite of this condition is that cats are typically the ones affected not dogs. It also seems to occur mainly in older cats, however it is possible to see it in younger cats.
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Symptoms of this condition include increased appetite with weight loss, vomiting and diarrhea, increased urination, increased respiratory rate, hyperactivity and even aggression. On physical exam a veterinarian may also note an abnormal heart rhythm or murmur. Owners may note that the pet is very thin and the nails are very thickened. Patients can demonstrate one or several of these symptoms.
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To determine if the cat has hyperthyroidism one of the first steps will be blood work. A general blood screening is a good place to start. This should include a complete blood count and chemistry profile as this may be needed in order to start treatment. On the chemistry profile many times there is a liver value (Alanine Aminotransferase or ALT) that will be elevated. While not elevated exclusively in hyperthyroidism, if this is increased along with several symptoms we may become very suspicious of hyperthyroidism. To make the diagnosis a blood sample screening the T4 will be required. There are panels as mentioned with hypothyroidism but many times a T4 can be diagnostic in cats. If elevated in conjunction with these symptoms it is recommended to consider treatment options.
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There are many options to help manage thyroid disease. One of the most popular is a daily medication called Methimazole. This will help lower the thyroid levels temporarily so it must be given daily for the rest of the patient’s life. A newer option is a prescription diet that is extremely restricted in iodine which is necessary for thyroid function. This would have to be fed exclusively with no treats or other food. It is not ideal for patients that spend time out of doors and could ingest other products. Another options that can actually be curative is radio-iodine treatment. While expensive this will prevent the need for life long medication or dietary change. Working with your veterinarian can help determine which option will be best for your pet.
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In addition to managing the thyroid disease, it may also be necessary to work up some of the secondary diseases. As mentioned above many cats will have an abnormal heart rhythm or heart murmur present. A work up with x-rays and possibly an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) may help determine if there is an underlying heart condition as well. It is also recommended to monitor blood pressure and kidney values regularly. Unregulated thyroid disease can actually mask underlying kidney disease and once the thyroid levels come down a patient can start demonstrating symptoms of kidney failure.

For more information on hyperthyroidism you can visit this website.

Friday, September 12, 2014


Dog Shaming

If you have been on social media at all, you might have heard of dog shaming.  Starting with the viral video of Denver the guilty dog, dog shaming is a way to poke fun at the less than pleasant aspects of dog ownership.  By hanging a sign on or near your dog, describing in pitiful detail the naughty behavior they have been up to, you laugh away your minor annoyance at the silly, but usually destructive, things your dog has been up to while you were away.  ENJOY!!
I like to steal Mommy's clothes and wear them all over the house.  I am a fashonista.

My name is Missy.  I'm a hoarder.  I've been a hoarder for 2 and 1/2 yrs.  If my mom hadn't moved the couch, I would still be hoarding.

I think I own the outdoors, that's why I've been sprayed by 2 skunks in 2 weeks, in the face.

I eat Mom's underwear, and I taught him how.

I hate Hello Kitty.

Breed Focus: Pug

Fun loving and outgoing are just two of the characteristics that have made Pugs a very popular breed. They can make great companions as they love to socialize with just about anyone. It is still a very good idea to pursue puppy classes and training to help harness some of their excitability. Even though they are small, they can be mighty if they put their mind to it. Sometimes they need a firm hand to get them back on track! That being said once they are bonded to you they will love you forever!
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Although they are compact dogs, they do have several issues that prospective owners need to be aware of before committing to this breed. One of the most obvious is that they have a brachycephalic face. This means their nose is very short and their eyes tend to bulge when compared to other dogs. Because of their more squished nose structure they can have difficulty breathing especially when the weather is warm. They may also be loud when they are sleeping. It is not uncommon for them to snore! With regards to their eyes since they stick out it is more likely for trauma to occur to them. Breeds with more prominent eyes also tend to be more likely to have what is called cherry eye. This is were the sack the tear duct sits in actually protruded when it is not supposed to. Surgery it typically necessary to correct this defect.
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Some other considerations is that they are very prone to obesity. Even thought hey are small they still need regular exercise as well as diet control. It’s very hard to say no to those cute wrinkly faces but sometimes it is for the best. Speaking of their wrinkles, those also need to be kept dry or it is easy for infections and irritation to occur. One final health consideration is due to the body structure, many female pugs will need a c section to deliver their litter. It is important to be prepared for this if you are considering breeding them.
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Small in stature but mighty in personality, pugs tend to fit in wherever they go. They make great companions and could be a good fit for your family. For more information you can visit some these websites (here and here) to see if this may be the right dog for you!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Doodle Days #16

Well today it was raining.....I do not like the rain. It stops me from being able to go outside. So I did not get my walk today. This makes me very grumpy.
I got really wet when I had to go outside!
I am actually starting to make great progress in my walk training. I am not as easily distracted. It is definitely more fun for everyone! Hopefully I can show picture updates later when it is not pouring outside.
It took hours for me to dry out!
I have spent some quality time with all of my stuffed friends since I've been cooped  up inside all day. Hopefully I will be dry by tomorrow!
I'll probably be a crazy man tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Coping with your Pet becoming a Senior Citizen

Everyone who loves their pet, never loves the prospect of their pet aging.  It is true, that as your pet becomes a senior citizen, there are special considerations, and steps you must now take to support their health, and well-being, it definitely doesn't have to mean your pet can’t live life to the fullest.

Cats and Dogs are considered to be in their senior years at 7 yrs old, here are some important steps you can take to make sure your pet can age with grace!

The most important thing we try to convey to pet owners is that a year in between comprehensive physical examinations by your pet’s veterinarian may seem frequent to you, but as your pet ages so much faster, this is several years in pet years from one checkup to the next.  A lot can change in the health of your senior pet in a year, and often your veterinarian may recommend your senior pet visit more frequently for check ups, like every 6 months.  Routine health screenings, like bloodwork and xrays are so important to the health of your senior pet.  If you haven’t been routinely doing health screens every year at your pet’s check up, the senior years are when you want to make that change.  Often, common health concerns like Diabetes and Kidney disease are easily noted in the early stages on blood panels, but often owners won’t notice clinical signs and symptoms at home until much later in the disease process, when it is much harder to manage.  By catching these common diseases early, you can easily manage and extend your Senior pet’s life with easy changes.  Routine radiographs, or xrays, might seem excessive, but often your veterinarian is screening your pet for heart disease and cancer, and other organ changes, while those diseases are more manageable and intervention is less of a risk.  Speak with your veterinarian about routine Senior Profiles and find out what routine screening is right for your pet!

Dogs, and even cats, can develop arthritis as they age, just like people.  This is not something that we want to see slow your pet down, and it shouldn’t have to.  Arthritis is easily managed, but often, is very difficult for owners to be aware of, as the signs are subtle.  Routine physical examinations will allow your veterinarian to examine your pet’s joints and ask targeted questions, to help decide if your pet might be having mobility issues.  We find that pet owners often are taken by surprise at how much improvement they notice once their pets are started on appropriate changes, medications, diet, and supplements meant to manage this common disease.  Talk to your veterinarian at your next senior visit to help determine if arthritis might be slowing your pet down.  Our goal is always to keep your pet feeling the most comfort at all life stages.

Dental Health is another very important aspect for extending your dog’s health and wellbeing well into his senior years.  Current recommendations for dental health include regular yearly dental cleanings starting at the age of 2 years old.  If your dog has not had regular dental care and he has reached his senior years, its highly likely he will have some level of gum and dental disease.  The bacteria that reside in his mouth can spread throughout his body leading to increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, and many other issues.  In addition, that unhealthy mouth is likely painful, and many senior pets loose teeth due to poor dental health.  Speak with your veterinarian about whether a dental treatment is the right choice for your senior pet.

The last most common issue in senior pets is obesity.  If your senior pet has slowed down his activity level, but is still eating the same amount of his adult dog food, sometimes this can lead to weight gain.  Unfortunately, obesity, or even just being overweight, can make some common diseases worsen.  Arthritis is harder on the joints if your pet is carrying extra weight, and overweight dogs are more prone to disease they may already be at risk for such as heart disease, and kidney disease.  Feeding your senior pet a high quality senior pet food, in the right quantity for their activity level is the best way to keep your pet at an ideal, healthy weight.  If your pet has a few pounds to shed before reaching that goal weight, work with your veterinarian and clinic staff to achieve your pet’s weight loss goals, making those senior years the most years yet. 

Your pets age is only a number.  Don’t let your pet’s senior years go to waste.  There are so many things you can do as a pet owner, in conjunction with the veterinary staff at your pet’s regular veterinary hospital, to make these years the most memorable yet!