Friday, October 31, 2014

Breed Focus: West Highland White Terriers

West Highland White Terriers or as many call them, Westies, are well known thanks in part to being the face of Little Cesar’s canned dog food. As with many terriers, Westies can be head strong and independent, but their antics can keep you laughing all day long!
Overall Westies tend to be active dogs. They require regular exercise to help keep their energy in check. Without daily walks they may find ways to entertain themselves that their owner may not appreciate. Another commitment will be to regular grooming. These dogs need to visit the groomer every 4-8 weeks to keep their coat under control.

As far as health concerns, one of the most common is allergies. The bad news is there is no way to screen for this condition. Just be aware when getting one of these dogs it is something you may have to manage. Luxating patellas (where the knee cap is not secure) are also seen in this breed. Addison’s disease (hypoadrenocorticsm) seems to be prevalent as well. This is a condition with waxing and waning of symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. While not a medical condition, aggression can also be seen in Westies. This is the case for many terriers that are not properly socialized. Getting a head start on puppy training can be very beneficial.
Westies can make excellent pets. They will do best in a household with an active life style that is willing to be a leader and follow through with training. It is also important to remember they will require regular trips to the groomer. If this sounds like a good fit for your family you should give these dogs a chance! For more information you can see the AKC website here or Vet Street here.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Doodle Days #23

Ok so I don't have an update on my yard yet but I did get a gift!

Along with my new house came an elevated food bowl stand! I love it! Now I don't have to bend over to eat or drink! It is great! No more neck cramps for me!

Also as it is Halloween I wanted to show off my bandannas for the occasion! I don't have a costume this year but I do have two stylish neck accessories. which do you like better? The orange one is from last year but the other one is new this year! 

I hope you all have a safe and happy Halloween! 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Atopic Dermatitis Part 2

**We left off last week discussing allergy testing. Now we will focus on what to do after the testing is completed.**
Image Source
If allergens are detected it is possible to start immuno-therapy. This is exposing the pet to small amounts of the allergen to help desensitize the pet to it. There are currently two forms of this therapy. The first is an injections that are given at regular intervals. Typically we start with loading doses then go to once monthly then as needed. It can take anywhere form 6 to 12 months to see a response and even then not all patients will respond. Many will still need medication to manage symptoms from time to time. The other choice of treatment is drops that are placed under the tongue. This option tends to be slightly more effected but requires daily (sometimes twice daily) dosing which can become labor intensive for many owners. The goal of these treatments is to minimize the response the body has to the allergens and hopefully decrease the amount of other medications needed to control symptoms.
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When sudden flare ups of itching occur there are different medications that can be used to control these symptoms. These can include a antihistamines, steroids or cyclosporine. Each work in a different way to help keep pets more comfortable. There are definitely side effects to any medication and should be discussed with your veterinarian prior to starting any of these.
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While frustrating, it is possible for us to manage the symptoms of atopic dermatitis to help keep our pets comfortable. To find out more information about allergies you can visit the following websites here, here and here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)

To continue our discussing on diabetes from last Tuesday, I wanted to briefly focus on Diabetic Ketoacidosis. This is a serious consequence of unregulated diabetes.
As mentioned last week, diabetes occurs when the body is not producing enough insulin to drive glucose levels to a normal range. If this happens for long enough, the body becomes desperate for energy and starts producing ketones. These are not a very good source of energy for the body and can lead to drastic imbalances in the body’s electrolytes and other blood values.
These imbalances can lead to severe symptoms in addition to the common symptoms of diabetes (increased drinking, urination, eating and weight loss). You may also note, severe weakness, or lethargy, muscle loss, dehydration and an unkempt coat. Some animals can even look jaundice (or icteric), which is a yellowing of the eyes or mucous membranes. If these symptoms are noted, your pet needs to be seen immediately. Many times they will need supportive care at a 24 hour facility if the symptoms are severe. Hospitalization will allow of intravenous fluids to combat dehydration and also allow a way to deliver necessary electrolytes that are typically depleted. It will also allow for regular glucose checks and insulin administration as needed.
So why did DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) occur? In the majority of patients it is a newly diagnosed diabetic whose symptoms were undetected or not displayed until they were very sick. It can also be from a patient that is having a hard time being regulated on their insulin regimen. A third possibility is a patient that has been well regulated but has another disease process occurring. This could be anything from an infection, to another chronic condition or even neoplasia. Regular vet checks and sticking to strict scheduling if your pet is diabetic can help minimize the chance that DKA will occur. However, even following these protocols, it is possible for patients to decompensate. That is why it is extremely important to work closely with your veterinarian to manage any chronic condition.  

For more information on diabetic ketoacidosis you can visit this website

Friday, October 24, 2014

Breed Focus: Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees is a breed that many people can recognize. They were originally used for guarding sheep for their masters. With a thick coat and high level of intelligence they were ideally suited for their rugged life style. Overall they tend to be a fun loving, playful breed that might be a good fit for an active family as they will require regular exercise.
One of the biggest commitments Great Pyrenees owners have to make is to the upkeep of their pet’s coat. Their thick coat protects them from the elements but also snags and knots very easily. Regular brushing will be a necessity as well as regular trips to the groomer. Some owners prefer to shave them down in the summer time to keep them from overheating. Either way there is a definite time commitment that needs to be made to their hair.
Overall they tend to be very sturdy breeds. As with many large breed dogs, Great Pyrenees are more prone to hip dysplasia and bone cancer (osteosarcoma). It is important to make sure the parent animals have had their hips checked. Another concern in Great Pyrenees is their heart health. They are prone to certain congenital defects in the heart. Ensuring that the parents have been assessed by a cardiologist can help decrease the risk that they have passed anything to their litter.
Most Great Pyrenees dogs are fairly well tempered. However if they feel something needs to be protected they will guard it. Ensuring that they are well socialized with other people and animals can help decrease this guarding tendency. This breed can make excellent pets and have a great disposition. Following through with regular training and maintaining the coat are very important to keep in mind prior to adding this breed to your family.

For more information you can visit the AKC website here or Vet Street here.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Doodle Days #22

Well I finally found out what all the boxes were about! We moved to a new home. So far I love it.

I have already claimed my spot! I like to guard the door to my back yard! It is glorious! Hopefully I'll have a full review of the yard soon. I love to frolic and run around free!

I also like to be on high alert to make sure no small furry creatures invade my new domain! No rabbits in here on my watch!

I am happy to report that my bed also made the move and I love it even more! I actually use it how it is supposed to be used now (instead of just using it for my head!) Don't worry more update of my new digs will come as things get organized! I love all the space and can't wait to show it off!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Atopic Dermatitis Part 1

Allergies can be one of the most frustrating conditions pet owners face. Many times there are no cures, just management. While we can control the food and flea exposures it is extremely difficult to control environmental allergies. Atopic Dermatitis (or atopy) is allergies to environmental agents. When we talk about the environmental allergens these can range from pollens, to dust mites, to animal dander (yes, dogs can be allergic to cats too!), and mold. It is nearly impossible to avoid contact with these, however when we know what the specific allergy is we can try to minimize contact.
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Typically atopy will begin with younger dogs, but again can be seen across all age groups.  Symptoms include intense itching, reddening of the skin, increased pigment (or coloring) of the skin, and hair loss. The areas most commonly affected are feet, face and under portion of the body. The skin may also become very thickened in these places as well. Depending on the allergen the symptoms may occur seasonally. Dust mites and other pet dander however may be present year round.
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A diagnosis cannot be made on symptoms alone. Many other conditions need to be ruled out first. Typically a full work up will be needed. This could include skin scraping to rule out mites, cytology to assess for bacterial or yeast infections as well as blood work to ensure there are no other underlying causes. It is definitely possible to have more than one condition going on at the same time. Without treating any underlying or secondary diseases it will be difficult to resolve the symptoms.
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Allergy testing is the only way to determine what a pet is allergic to. There are two different methods of testing. One is very similar to people which is called intradermal skin testing. This is where small amounts of allergens are injected under the skin and then evaluated for response. If there is a large response the patient is considered allergic to that material. The downside of this procedure is that patients must be sedated and a large area must be shaved. The advantage is that this testing is usually very accurate. Another form of testing is a blood sample that can be submitted for analysis. This is becoming more accurate over time but still is not quite as accurate as skin testing. The advantage is that most general practices can perform this test and patients do not have to be sedated. The disadvantage is that many times this will not always indicate if the animal is actually allergic to the material or just showing a large amount of exposure.

**Next week we will pick up with what to do after allergy testing.**

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes is a condition many pet owners may be familiar with in people, but may not associate with our pets. We will only give a very brief overview of this complex disease. As in people, pets that are overweight have an increased risk of developing diabetes. This is another good reason for keeping our pets at an ideal weight. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas is not producing enough insulin. Insulin is used to decrease glucose levels in the body. Without the insulin, the glucose levels continue to rise. This is when patients become symptomatic.
The most common symptoms of diabetes include increased drinking, increased urination, weight loss and possibly increased eating. If left unchecked or unregulated patients can become critically ill. They will begin vomiting, become very lethargic and can become weak. 
To diagnose diabetes blood work must be performed. This will show an elevated blood glucose level. A urinalysis is also helpful which can determine if there is glucose and/or ketones present. If ketones are present this means the diabetes is unregulated and is a more serious condition that may require hospitalization. Once a diagnosis is made, management must be initiated.
We say management because diabetes can rarely be cured. It is a life long condition that we try to control the symptoms. It is important to realize that once your pet is diagnosed and you elect to pursue managing the condition it will be a lifestyle change for everyone. They will need to receive insulin twice daily (12 hour apart) with meals at these times. Everyone in the house hold must be on board for this. Initially there is a financial commitment as well. Insulin is not cheap, and there need to be some dietary changes made that will help make regulation of the glucose easier. There will also be regular trip to the veterinary office to ensure the glucose is responding but also not getting too low. Once regulated the cost becomes less of an obstacle.
Watching for signs of hypoglycemia is very important. This means that the patient is receiving too much insulin, or they did not eat enough of their meal to raise the glucose as suspected. Signs of hypoglycemia can be weakness, vomiting, or even seizing.

Diabetes is unfortunately very common in our house hold pets today. This is largely due to the fact that many of our pets are overweight. While keeping them fit does not completely eliminate their risk fort diabetes, it does decrease it. This again, is only a very brief overview of this condition. For more information please visit veterinary partners diabetes mellitus center (here). It has a lot of excellent resources about diabetes. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Breed Focus: Scottish Folds

The Scottish Folds is a relatively new cat breed. Their name derives from their commonly folded ears. It definitely gives them a distinctive look! Interestingly not every Scottish Folds cat has the folded down ears.
Scottish Folds typically are curious and out-going. They can adapt to many indoor living situations. Many have reported that they are very friendly to their family and strangers. They come in a variety of colors. Most have medium length hair that just needs to be brushed regularly. It is typically not necessary to shave them.
For health considerations it is important to assess the parents of the litter. Scottish folds can have a genetic predisposition to joint deformities that will make their legs very stiff and painful. It is best to avoid kittens with stubby legs or tails. As with many pure bred cats they are also predisposed to kidney disease, which can be screened with regular blood panels. The folded ears may also be more prone to collecting debris so checking them regularly and cleaning as directed by your veterinarian can be very important.
Overall this breed can have a very distinctive look and seem to adapt well in family settings. For more information you can visit these two websites. (here and here)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Doodle Days #21

Hey its a Throw back Thursday today!!

We've been pretty busy around our house. I've seen a lot of moving boxes, but I'm not exactly sure what is going on. While I go investigate I thought I'd leave you with some pictures from earlier this year and all the snow. I just love snow! I can't wait for snow again....I'm not so sure my people feel the same way!

It's just getting started!!
I'm the king of the snow mountain!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Allergy Spotlight: Fleas

Another common cause of allergies is fleas. These insects can be highly irritating to both animals and their humane counterparts. The allergic response typically comes from the protein founding flea saliva. This begins the cycle of itching that is very difficult to stop. The good news about flea allergies is that they can be managed with monthly preventatives!
Flea dirt found on pets (photo source)
Flea allergies typically result in an intense itching with hair loss. In dogs this is typically located near the base of the tail but can extend to anywhere the fleas start biting. Cats are a little more difficult, there is no one pattern of itching they demonstrate but will sometimes get scabs all over the body.
Flea Life Cycle (photo source)
The most important part of treatment is removing the fleas. Otherwise any medications used to treat the secondary itching are not going to work. It is necessary to treat all animals in the household even if they are not showing symptoms. Treating the environment is also a good idea. Female fleas are very proficient at laying eggs and therefore the environment can become infested very quickly! The flea life cycle makes it difficult to kill all life stages with just one product. Vacuuming and washing bedding in warm water can help decrease the population. Remember when vacuuming once emptying the canister take that outside to dispose of it so that the fleas do not just go right back into the house.
Flea allergies (photo source)
Any pets with allergies NEED to be on an effective flea preventative. We can’t control the pollen counts but we can control their exposure to fleas. It is a good idea to stay on monthly prevention year round as some winters are milder than other. Also remember that our houses are typically kept warm during the winter so if the fleas are already in the house, they will continue to thrive even in the winter.
Flea preventatives come in a variety of shapes and sizes. While many products can be found over the counter it is extremely important to work with your veterinarian to ensure that the product is safe for you pet and effective against the fleas.
Although this may seem more like a nuisance than anything else, it is extremely important to remember that fleas can kill pets. With heavy infestations or if the pet is already ill the fleas can actually make patients so anemic they die. Preventing infestations or breaking the life cycle early can help prevent serious consequences in the long run.
For more information on fleas you can visit Veterinary Partner’s website here and here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Hepatic Lipidosis

Hepatic lipidosis is a condition more commonly known as fatty liver disease. It primarily affects our cat population. While any cat can be affected it seems to be more prominent in overweight cats. Fat will infiltrate the liver and essentially cause it to stop functioning appropriately. This can lead to a very sick cat! Many times fatty liver will occur in an overweight cat that has lost a significant amount of weight in a short amount of time. This could be due to an underlying disease (consider diabetes, primary liver disease, pancreatitis inflammatory bowel disease or infectious agent), stress or too aggressive weight loss program. A full work up is needed to rule out underlying conditions.

Symptoms of this condition can be demonstrated in a variety of ways. One is yellowing of the skin, the sclera of the eye or the mucous membranes. In people this symptom is known as jaundice but in animals many times we call it icteric. Other signs can include vomiting, severe weight loss, becoming weak or lethargic. Some animals are so nutrient deficient that they will be unable to lift their head. The liver also plays an important roll in proper blood clotting so some animals may not be able to clot proficiently. This can lead to bruising throughout the body or even internal bleeding.
Yellowing of the gums (photo source)
As mentioned above a full body work up is necessary to ensure all possible underlying causes are ruled out. This will include blood work which will generally demonstrate abnormalities in the liver values. Radiographs (x-rays) can help visualize for any masses that could be present as well as assess the size of the liver. Abdominal ultrasound can be beneficial for assessing structures. Ultrasound guided aspirates (or samples) from the liver can be helpful in making a diagnosis.
Feeding tube in cat (photo source)
The most important aspect of treatment is providing calories for these cats. In some cases they may even need a feeding tube if they refuse to eat. Most cases need at least a few days in the hospital for supportive care with fluids and management of feeding tubes. Treatment time varies depending on severity of the condition and animal’s response. It can take months. Dedication to a strict diet and correcting any underlying conditions that are found can improve the prognosis.

Fatty liver (hepatic lipidosis) is a very serious conditions and needs to be addressed immediately. It is important to work with your veterinarian should this condition arise in your cat. For more information you can visit this website

Friday, October 10, 2014

Breed Focus: Beagle

Beagles are a typically and easily recognized breed (either by sight or sound)! They are consistently in the top ten of AKC most popular breeds. With an adorable face and a great personality it is not hard to understand why they are so popular. Beagles are a part of the scent hound family. Their nose is on the ground constantly in hunt of any fragrance. They were initially bred for pack hunting of rabbits. During hunts their howling, barking and baying can be heard from quite a distance! Prior to bringing this breed into your family, make sure that everyone is prepared for a very vocal pet.
Overall beagles are high energy fun loving dogs! They need a lot of exercise or they will definitely get up to shenanigans in the house! There are a few general health concerns when dealing with beagles. They are very prone to hereditary seizure disorders. Remember to check health history on the parents of any litter you may consider. With their floppy ears they are also prone to ear infections. Getting puppies used to regular ear cleanings early will help make life much easier in the future should they get infections.
Probably two of the biggest health risks for beagles are obesity and eating items they shouldn’t. Being in the scent hound family beagles are typically extremely food motivated. This can at times get them into trouble. Their adorable faces are very hard to say no to and many times they end up getting extra treats or food throughout the day. Although eating may be their favorite thing, it is important to stick to a strict diet so they do not get overweight. This will help prevent many other health problems down the road. Having owned a beagle for 13 years I can assure you they are excellent at finding food anywhere and getting into it. I have a very long list of things my beagle got into throughout her life. It is best to crate them when not supervised and try to keep any thing that may resemble or smell like food away from therm. While eating something they shouldn’t could just lead to some gastrointestinal upset, it could also lead to an obstruction that could need surgery.

Beagles make great pets but they are not the right fit for everyone. You need to be prepared for a high energy, loud and mischievous companion. If this sounds like a good fit ofr you they will reward you with endless devotion and hilarious antics. For more information on beagles you can visit these two websites. (here and here

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Doodle Days #20's that time again. I got another hair cut!

I thought I would show off my new hair cut with  my new fall bandana.....

the only problem is I had trouble standing still......

I'm not always the most cooperative of subjects!

I do look handsome though don't I?