Friday, January 30, 2015

Breed Focus: Labrador Retriver

Handsome and sturdy Labradors can make excellent pets! (Image Source)
Labrador Retrievers (labs) are consistently in the top ten dog breeds registered with the American Kennel Club (In fact they were the number one breed in 2003, 2008, 2012, and 2013). Their lovable, goofy personality and sturdy build seems to draw many owners to them. Originally they were bred to help fisherman, however over the years breeding led to an increase in their retrieving qualities which helped lend them to hunting various game. They are an energetic dog and will need a lot of exercise but they can make excellent intelligent pets.
Three main colors are solid chocolate, solid black and solid yellow (Image Source)
 While they don’t require much grooming, they do love water and may try to jump in any body (lake, pond, puddle) of water they see. This may lead to more frequent bathing but can easily be done at home for most people. Another important thing to remember is that they are RETRIEVERS. It is not uncommon for them to carry things around in their mouths. One of the top reasons veterinarians see labs is because they have eaten something they should not. Keeping a close eye on them and offering appropriate toys and training can help minimize the risk of ingesting unwanted materials.
They need regular exercise to keep their energy in check (Image Source)
As far as heath concerns go labs do seem to have a genetic pre-disposition for hip and elbow dysplasia. Researching the breeder and verifying that the parents of your potential puppy have been screened can help minimize the risk. While not a genetic risk normally, labs tend to be rambunctious and may need to be seen for minor injuries such as cuts or lameness. Again proper supervision, training and regular controlled exercise may help decrease the frequency of veterinary visits.
Water and Retrieving, two of a labs favorite things! (Image Source)
Overall this is a great breed for many families. They can be destructive if not given a proper outlet for their energy, which may be a reason we see many end up in shelters or being re-homed. With proper training (for the family and the pet) everyone can enjoy a happy and healthy life! For more information about Labrador retrievers you can visit the following websites here and here

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Doodle Days #36

Do you ever get so tired you just have to rest your head?

I know I do.

I can rest my head on just about anything!

especially if there is food around! (The sad eyes rarely work, but i have to try!)

Usually I just want some attention, it seems to work!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Focus on Joints: Cruciate Ligament Injury

(Image Source)
Probably one of the most common joint related injuries we see in general practice is a tear (or partial tear) or the cruciate ligament. This ligament helps to stabilize the knee joint by keeping the femur and tibia in line. It is very similar to the ligament many pro-athletes injure commonly called the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament in people). There are two parts to the cruciate ligament. In pets these are call the cranial and caudal cruciate ligament. Typically we see injuries associated with the cranial portion. When this ligament is torn or injured the knee loses its stability and can become very painful.
Limping on rear leg could indicate injury to the cruciate ligament (Image Source)
Typically pet owners will notice a sudden lameness in a rear leg. If left alone many times it will slightly improve but still cause discomfort during exercise or after extended periods of laying down. Pets may not put any weight on the affected leg or they may only toe touch or put partial weight on it. Large breeds tend to be over represented with this injury but smaller dogs can be affected as well. Obese dogs are MUCH more likely to damage the ligament then those of an ideal body condition.
Extensive shaving is required prior to surgery on the knee (Image Source)
There are several indications that the ligament may be damaged. On physical exam there may be swelling around the knee or a ‘click’ feeling when it is placed through the range of motion. Because this ligament is used to stabilize the femur and tibia, if it is damaged there may be laxity or extra movement in the joint. X-rays may also help indicate there is an issue. While x-rays cannot show the ligament they may reveal evidence of an injury. This could mean fluid on the joint, the tibia sits more cranial than normal, or that the fat pad that is normally centrally located has moved.
No matter which procedure cage rest will be necessary to help healing (Image Source)
There are several treatment options available and it is important to work with your veterinarian to determine which will be the best for your pet. Depending on the size of the dog and nature of the injury there are several surgical corrections that can help stabilize the joint. Many veterinarians may even refer to an orthopedic surgeon if they do not feel equipped to correct this injury. While some dogs will respond to STRICT cage rest and leash walks only for 6-8 weeks. Surgical correction is still the ideal way to correct this injury. Without surgery pets are much more likely to develop arthritis sooner and could even deal with chronic pain for the rest of their lives. While surgery is invasive and can be expensive many times it is the best option.

For more information on cruciate ligament injury you can visit the following website here

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Toxin Tuesdays: Salt

One of the unexpected sources of salt toxicity in pets (Image Source)
Salt may seem like an odd toxin to our pets but it is definitely one to consider due to the potential profound effects on our pets.  One way to develop a salt toxicity is to have no access to water. This is not common in our household pets but can happen in livestock especially if water sources become frozen. If you pet spends a good amount of time outside ensure that their water source is fresh and accessible. There are other causes of increased salt around the house that may surprise you. Items like homemade play dough (or play dough ornaments), paint balls and salt used to melt snow have very large amounts of salt and can cause issues if ingested by our pets.
Paint balls are another source of salt toxicity in our pets (Image Source)
Symptoms of a salt toxicity can vary depending on amount and time of exposure. In mild cases you may only see some gastro-intestinal upset such as vomiting, diarrhea or lack of appetite. These tend to happen fairly quickly after a toxic level is reached, usually within hours. From there symptoms can progress to neurological signs. These would include tremors, stumbling, seizures, or in extreme cases a coma.
While pets affected by salt toxicity do need to be re-hydrated it needs to be done under veterinary supervision (Image Source)
 To confirm the diagnosis, blood samples will be taken to assess the sodium level. If over the threshold, treatment should be instituted immediately. While this is a serious condition, and aggressive treatment is needed, it must be done appropriately. In this case overloading with fluids to dilute the sodium will not work, in fact it may make the patient worse. It has to be done slowly with frequent blood draws to assess the sodium levels. If treatment is initiated prior to severe symptoms it is possible to have a positive outcome and unlikely lifelong effects. Unfortunately many cases reach the late stages prior to us noticing anything is wrong and many times treatment will not help them.

It is important to monitor your pets to prevent their exposure to unwanted materials. Even if it does not seem appealing to us (because really who would want to eat ice salt or a hard play dough ornament) pets tend to find these items irresistible. If you think your pet may have been eaten something containing a good deal of salt it is best to contact your veterinarian immediately. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Breed Focus: American Staffordshire Terrier (Pit Bull Terrier)

Pit Bulls are often misunderstood but can make great pets for the right family (Image Source)
The American Staffordshire Terrier, more commonly known as the Pit Bull Terrier, is probably one of the best recognized breeds in our country today. This is thanks in part to news stories of dog fighting rings and the perceived viciousness of the breed by the public. Overall this breed is fairly misunderstood. As with any breed with the right home and training they can make an excellent pet and can be some of the biggest cough potatoes and best cuddlers among the canine population!
While they can have bursts of energy, many pit bulls are couch potatoes (Image Source)
Pit Bulls have received a bad reputation largely from their use in illegal fighting operations. They strong build and determination as well as extremely strong jaws make them ideal candidates for this disgusting trend. Their strong build but smaller size did help them with hunting a variety of pests from rats all the way to bears. They love people and are very loyal. One thing to note is that some maybe more reactive to smaller animals (cats, small dogs) so if you are considering this breed in a house that already had pets make sure they have been tested safe around other animals.
That's a whole lot of cuteness coming at you! (Image Source)
As far as health conditions go there are few to be aware of in the American Staffordshire Terrier. These include hip dysplasia. The breeder can screen the parents which if cleared can minimize the risk of your puppy developing  hip dysplasia. Also as a breed they tend to be very prone to allergies. This includes allergies to fleas, food and environmental allergens such as pollen, dust mites and dander.  It is important to remember that both of these conditions will likely be managed for the duration of your pets life rather than cured.
They tend to love people especially their family! (Image Source)
Pit Bull Terriers have a very bad reputation and it is largely undeserved. Most of them aresweet, calm and loyal to their family. They are more likely to flop over on their back for a belly rub than to viciously attack for no reason. It is VERY important as with any breed to institute a training regimen from the beginning so they will be well balanced and happy. This will minimize the chance of unwanted behaviors developing. As with any breed if pushed or frightened they can become more aggressive, but this is not exclusive to pit bulls. Before getting a pit bull you will also want to check your living arrangements. Some rental properties and cities have bans on specific breeds.
Simply Adorable (Image Source)

For more information on this breed please visit the following websites here and here

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Doodle Days #35

It's a little dark but if you look closely you can see quite a bit of mud on my right leg!

Well this week the weather warmed up a little and let's just say things got a little crazy outside!

I just had to smell the camera...I may have licked it too!
It is possible I may have gotten up to my own shenanigans in the yard and may or may not have brought a bunch of mud in the house!
mini bath!
Good thing my people like me! I was a mess!
I like playing but cleaning up is not my favorite!
All that running made me really tired! I sure do love a good romp in the yard but I really love curling up on my bed!
nothing beats a good night's sleep!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Focus on Joint Disease: Elbow Dysplasia

Limping on the front RIGHT leg (Image Source)
Conditions affecting the joints are very common in our pets today. Some of this comes from breed predisposition and their genetics. It can also be exacerbated by excess weight that many of our pets carry around today. Today we are going to focus on the elbow. While this is not the first joint we think about when we begin to think of joint issues it can still cause frequent issues and is a leading cause of lameness in the front legs.
Here are some of the conditions that can affect the elbow (Image Source)
The elbow joint is made up of three different bones. This include the humerus with is the big bone that comes from the shoulder down to the elbow. The radius and ulna are the smaller bones located lower on the arm. If there is a problem with any of these bones (and sometimes all three) during development it can lead to discomfort when walking. Some severe cases may be seen when patients are young, some may be mild but repeated use of the joint leads to arthritis (or chronic inflammation in the joint) as they age.
Basset Hounds typically have slightly turned out front legs (Image Source)
As mentioned above there are several breeds that seem to be more likely affected with elbow disease than others. This includes many of our large breed dogs or breeds referred to as chondrodystrophic (think of the basset hound with their crooked front legs).
This patient is ready for a CT scan (Image Source)
There are many ways to diagnose elbow disease. Many times starting with an x-rays to rule out other causes of limping is a good idea. Sometimes it is difficult to assess joints fully without giving patients mild sedation. Even with sedation it may be necessary to use advanced imaging such as a CT (computed tomography) to get a clear picture of the joint. In some cases surgical examination of the elbow by a board certified orthopedic surgeon may be necessary.
Soft bedding may also help pets rest comfortably (Image Source)
Once elbow dysplasia has been diagnosed there are things that can be done to help manage and keep their discomfort under control. This includes ensuring that they do not get over weight (a very common theme with any joint disease). Also regular controlled exercise will help keep the joints and muscles strong. Joint supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin may be recommended by your veterinarian. During bad days some pain medication may also be prescribed to help keep pain to a minimum.

Joint disease is not uncommon in our pets and elbow dysplasia is a common cause of front leg lameness in our pets. There are many things we can do to help keep our pets comfortable and happy. For more information on this condition you can visit the following website here

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Toxin Tuesdays: Human Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Medication

We want to see our pets feel better but call a vet before giving OTC meds (image source)
No one likes to see their pets in pain. We would do just about anything to make them feel better. One important thing to remember before reaching into the medicine cabinet is to check with your veterinarian before giving ANY over the counter medications. This is especially true for pain relievers. Although they can be relatively safe when used as directed in people, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (such as Advil and Aleve) can have devastating effects on our pets.
Our pets metabolize medications different from us so always call your vet first (image source)
One reason these drugs can cause such damage is that they are designed to be fast acting in humans. This means once ingested they will be absorbed fairly quickly. They will then start to enter circulation and can cause damage to the kidney and liver along the way. Once ingested, there can be a range of symptoms that develop. The most common signs associated with lower doses include gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting, diarrhea or decreased appetite. As the dose gets higher or treatment is delayed ulcers can begin to develop throughout the stomach and intestines. This can be very painful and also in severe cases can lead to blood loose in the gut and even anemia. At higher doses or if treatment is delayed even longer we can start to see acute renal failure. The kidneys can being to shut down within 12 hours of ingestion of very high doses or out to 5 days with lower doses. This is another good reason to contact your veterinarian if you believe your pet may have gotten into the medication. Or to be up front with your veterinarian if you administered the medication. This way appropriate treatment can be initiated without delay.  Remember that veterinarian pain medications are made to be very appealing so pets can over dose on these medications even though they are designed and safe for pets. Keep all medications in a secure and safe location away from pets and children.
Treatment will include hospitalization with fluid therapy (Image Source)
Treatment depends on when ingestion was suspected to have happened. If ingestion occurred within the last hour and there are no current symptoms, veterinarians may elect to induce vomiting to remove any of the tablets that are undigested. If it has been longer or unknown they may elect to draw baseline blood work to evaluate the red blood cells and the kidney and liver values. Many times even if the kidney values are not elevated it may be recommended to begin supportive care. This include hospitalization, intravenous fluids and medications that will help coat and protect the gastrointestinal system.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) toxicity is a very serious and very common occurrence in our pets. The outcome many times depends on rapid treatment. As treatment is delayed the prognosis tends to become worse. Again ALWAYS speak with your current veterinarian prior to giving ANY over the counter medications.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Breed Focus: Irish Setter

Many know them for their deep red coat (Image Source)
The Irish Setter is a breed many recognize for their beautiful deep red color. They were first bred in Britain and Ireland as bird hunting dogs.  They are very active and will require a lot of physical and mental stimulation if not used for hunting. Another important aspect of this breed is that they are smart and stubborn. Starting training courses at a young age will make everyone in the household much happier!
Don't let their cuteness fool you! These little guys need lots of training and exercise! (Image Source)
In addition to the training and exercise, regularly grooming will be needed to maintain their luxurious coat. This means brushing and bathing to avoid matted fur that can lead to discomfort. When grooming you can also clean the floppy ears that tend to harbor a lot of dirt and even bacteria. Keeping them clean will help decrease their risk for ear infections.
This is the face of a dog that loves to run! (Image Source)
As far as health concerns go there are just a few to highlight with the Irish Setter. Hip dysplasia is something to be aware of in this active breed. When looking at breeders make sure the parents have been screened. While this will not completely eliminate the risk to your puppy, it does help minimize it. Although they are not a giant breed, Irish Setters are prone to osteosarcoma (cancer of the bone). Unfortunately there is no screening test for this condition. One other condition to monitor for is progressive retinal atrophy. This is a condition affecting the eye and ultimately their vision. Overtime it can lead to blindness. Breeders can have their dogs screened for this condition. This will help ensure your puppy is the healthiest it possibly can be.
Stubborn and determined! (Image Source)

If you have an active life style and are looking for a companion to exercise with, this could be the breed for you. While you may have to invest some time early for their training, the payoff could be great for both of you over the coming years! For more information on this breed please visit the following websites here and here.  

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Doodle Days# 34

Guess what?! I got ANOTHER late Christmas present. People must really like me! This one was made special just for me!

I really like it! 

It will definitely help keep me warm while a patrol the yard for any shenanigans!

It also helps me show some school spirit! I-L-L-I-N-I!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Intervertebral Disk Disease

Anatomy of the disk and spinal cord. (Image source)
Intervertebral Disk Disease is a broad term referring to a disorder in the spinal column. This condition is most commonly seen in short leg long backed dogs. (Think dachshund, basset hound, shih tzu, and Pekinese breeds.)
Good advice for any breed! (Image Source)
Typical presentation for this condition is acute pain. Many patients will seem uncomfortable when laying down or have difficulty using their back legs. They may also have a hard time navigating stairs or refuse to jump when they normally would. The pain can be anywhere along the spinal column. It comes from the disk being inflamed and pushing on the spinal cord. Depending on the degree of inflammation this pressure puts on the spinal cord, it could lead to temporary or permanent paralysis.
X-ray with special dye showing compression of spinal cord (Image Source)
In mild cases radiographs (x-rays), can be used to show if there are boney changes along the vertebrae. These can typically be managed with strict cage rest and medications. These medications will include those to decrease inflammation, pain and possibly muscle relaxation. The most important aspect of treatment however is CAGE REST. With constant motion, inflammation will continue and could lead to permanent damage. In more severe cases referral to a specialty clinic may be necessary. Here they may look at advanced imaging such as a CT scan or an MRI. This will help them pin point the lesion and proceed with surgery if necessary.
Typically surgery will require a very large incision! (Image Source)
Surgical intervention is used in very advanced cases. Typically a portion of the vertebrae is removed to relieve some of the pressure placed on the spinal cord. Surgery is used to alleviate pain but also hopefully preserve limb function, if we intervene quickly enough. In some cases their limbs may never function normally again. They may need help moving and this is where carts may be necessary.
Many dogs in carts can lead happy lives! (Image Source)

Getting your pet into the vet at the first sign of illness may help minimize their risk for more advanced disease. It will also help make them more comfortable. For more information on this condition please view the following website here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Toxin Tuesdays: Lilies

The Easter Lily can lead to serious health problems in our cats! (Image Source)
Flowers are a great gift and a way we show our appreciation or affection for someone. Did you know that there are some flowers that can be toxic to our pets? Today we are going to look at the Lillium family which poses the greatest risk to cats. Just because the word Lily is in the name does not mean it is toxic, however you need to verify the species before bringing it into your home with pets.
Make sure your cat isn't chewing on your fresh cut flowers!  (Image Source)
The most common toxic species include the Easter lily, the tiger lily, the Japanese snow lily and the daylily (member of the Hemerocallis family). If these flowers are present in your bouquet best to leave them at work or where your cat friends cannot get to them.
No question this cat got into pollen! It needs a bath and a vet visit! (Image source)
Cats are naturally curious so new items in the house will be very enticing to them. Most parts of the plants are considered toxic, so even pollen exposure can lead to issues. If you notice your pet has been chewing or playing with the flower and there is pollen on them it is best to rinse them off then call your veterinarian immediately.
He may not be happy about it, but a bath could save your cat! (Image Source)
The symptoms for exposure can range from vomiting and diarrhea to sudden kidney failure. It is very important to start supportive care of fluids to protect the kidneys from further damage. It is possible that even small amounts, as little as one to two pieces of the plan, can cause irreversible kidney damage and even death. In extreme exposure situations you may even note neurological signs such as seizures or muscle tremors.
Iv catheter in place and ready for fluids (Image Source)

Once at the veterinarian blood work may be obtained to ensure that the kidneys are still functioning appropriately. Then, as mentioned above, with known exposure it is best to start fluid therapy to protect the kidneys. At this time there is no antidote for lily poisoning. Avoidance is the best option. If exposure does happen, quick and aggressive treatment gives our feline friends the best chance of survival without any permanent effects.