Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Toxin Tuesdays: Bread Dough

Bread dough can cause more issues in our pets than you make think! (Image Source)

Bread dough may not seem like something that would classify as a toxin, but in our pets it can cause some serious side effects. While pets can be exposed to bread dough any time there seem to be spikes around holidays (Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc) as more people are making things from scratch. As pets ingest the dough, it will begin to rise in the warm, moist contents of their stomach. This will cause gas to be released and can lead to some of the clinical signs we see.
Best to keep pets away when cooking! (Image Source)
The most common side effect of ingesting uncooked bread dough is vomiting, bloating or most severely flipping of the stomach (GDV or gastric dilatation and volvulus). Other side effects can include an increased heart rate and hyperactivity, some pets will vocalize while others may become very depressed. Many times as the condition progresses they will become weak.  If you pet has a bloated stomach or is trying to vomit with nothing coming up this is an emergency and they should be seen by a veterinarian right away. (For more information on bloating and GDV please visit the following website).
Although they may want to help or sample your cooking, it is best to avoid uncooked food! (Image Source)

When presented to the veterinarian they will likely want to run blood work to assess electrolytes and glucose levels and also take x-rays to assess the stomach or look for a foreign body obstruction. The bread dough can be rapidly absorbed so if the patient is already symptomatic or we are unsure when the exposure occurred your veterinarian may not recommend inducing vomiting. In an emergency situation sedation may be necessary and a cold water lavage (where cold water is pumped into the stomach) can help decrease the rate at which the bread is absorbed and fermenting.
Accidental exposure to uncooked bread dough may make your pet feel sick! Get them to the veterinarian right away! (Image Source)
With aggressive and quick treatment most dogs will experience a full recovery. If the case becomes more complicated such as a progressing to a stomach torsion. Recovery can take much longer and may have a slightly worse prognosis. If you are baking especially around the holidays, make sure your pet is directly supervised or confined until all baking products are put away! 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Breed Focus: Boston Terrier

If you welcome a Boston Terrier into your home it is very likely you will both have very big smiles all the times (Image Source)
The Boston terrier is a small breed dog that packs a big and loveable personality! They can be the clown of the party if you let them! Their small size yet sturdy build lends them to many different living environments, but they will need regular exercise to harness some of their energy. They were bred in Boston (surprising I know!) and seem to adapt well to active or slower life styles. They require little in the way of grooming which makes their up keep fairly simple.
They will definitely add a little humor to your life! (Image Source)
There are several health concerns to be aware of prior to brining a Boston terrier into your home. For starters, they are considered a brachycephalic breed, which means their noses are slightly sunken in and they can have difficulty breathing. They also possess very large eyes which can make them more prone to ocular injuries. As with many other small breeds they are also prone to luxating patellas. This is where the knee caps are not secure in their location and can move in and out of joint. Overall though this breed tends to be fairly healthy!
Even as puppies they will take on just about anything! (Image Source)

Boston’s are such a versatile breed that they make a great addition to most families. Their abilities range from a calm therapy dog to an active agility dog dominating in the show ring! They seem to adapt to whatever life style their family has for them. As with most puppies it will still be important to socialize and go through basic training to make sure they continue to be a well-adjusted pet. But if you let them they will keep you and your family laughing for hours with their crazy antics and wonderful personality. For more information please visit the following websites here and here

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Doodle Days #44

The other day I was sleeping minding my own business (waiting for spring...I miss the outdoors!)
Just relaxing, trying to get some shut eye!
Then my people had the idea to get me to balance on my back legs! 
Look I'm balancing!
I did pretty well for awhile, and then all of the sudden. 
Still balancing....
I fell....it was a little embarrassing but I survived. Hopefully I can struggle through a few more days and then spring will come and I can frolic and find entertainment for my people elsewhere besides teaching me new tricks. 
Whoops! How embarrassing...

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS or Dry Eye)

One of the most common clinical signs for dry eye is a mucoid discharge covering the eye (Image Source)
Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca, also called KCS, is a condition that affects the eye. It is a very long name for dry eye. This means the patient is not producing enough tears. Our eyes are constantly bathed in tears in order to keep the cornea healthy. Without tear production the eyes can become very painful and lead to other diseases as well as decrease in vision.
Different stages of dry eye in our pets (Image Source)
There are many causes for KCS. This could include an immune mediated process where the body is not allowing proper tear production or destroying the cells that would produce tears. Other possibilities include viral infections, some medications, metabolic diseases (think hypothyroidism, diabetes or Cushing’s disease). Some breeds are also pre-disposed to this condition. These would include English bull dogs, Westies, pugs, cocker spaniels, schnauzers and Pekingese.
This Shirmer Tear test is showing great tear production! (Image Source)
Symptoms include painful or squinting eyes, red eyes, and a thick green mucoid discharge covering both eyes. Many times there will be vessels on covering the surface of the cornea as well. In extreme cases the eye can become so dry it leads to the formation of a corneal ulcer, which is very painful. The most common way to confirm diagnosis is to perform a Schirmer Tear Test. This measures the ability of the eye to produce tears. Normal production is > 15mm/ minute.
Management includes eye medication (Image Source)

Treatment is typically life long and depends on the severity of the condition. In early stages it is possible to just use artificial tears or saline to replace the tears. As the condition starts to progress there are medications that can be placed in the eye on a tail bases that stimulate tear production. Without treatment, the condition will continue to worsen and our pets will become even more uncomfortable and possibly lose their eye sight. For more information on this condition you can visit the following website here

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Toxin Tuesdays: Marijuana

Marijuana and your pet at a glance (Image Source)
Marijuana is a toxin that is seen in animals across the country. Our pets can be exposed by eating or by inhaling the smoke. Remember a brownie containing marijuana could lead to a double toxin exposure! Our pets seem to be drawn to the smell so it is important if you have these items in your home to keep them out of reach. Even more important is to admit to your veterinarian that your pet may have been exposed to this.  Your veterinarian will NOT turn you in to authorities, but it is information they need for appropriate treatment.
This is double trouble! Chocolate and Marijuana! (Image Source)
Symptoms of a pet that has ingested marijuana will be similar to people. Unfortunately many animals may not know when to stop so overdoses are much more common. These symptoms will include extreme lethargy or weakness, pupils may become dilated or in severe exposure seizures can occur. The other most common sign includes vomiting. These symptoms can occur anywhere from 5 minutes to 12 hours after the pet has ingested the material. If it is just marijuana (no chocolate), and the patient is not completely depressed, activated charcoal can be administered. This is used to help absorb anything that could be remaining in the stomach. Since marijuana is fairly rapidly absorbed in the gastro-intestinal tract is it not helpful to make the patient vomit. This is especially true if they are already lethargic as it increases their risk for aspirating vomit into the lungs.
Marijuana could make pets very sleepy and lethargic. The best option is to have them checked out by a veterinarian. (Image source)
 Most patients that are exhibiting significant side effects need treatment for up to 24 hours. This includes monitoring their temperature and actively keeping them warm. Also if they are lethargic to the point of comatose intravenous fluids will help keep them hydrated. Fortunately, most pets make a full recovery unless they have any underlying conditions. Once the marijuana is out of their system there should be no long term side effects. The most important thing out of all of this is to remember to be honest with your veterinarian so they can direct appropriate treatment. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Breed Focus: Dalmatian

Dalmatian's have a very distinct look. (Image Source)
Dalmatians are a breed many people recognize due to their spotted coat. They shot to popularity in recent years thanks to Disney’s 101 Dalmatians animated film. They were originally bred for their energy and protective nature as they would guard wealthy people and their carriages along the highway. Many of us may also associated them with fire engines. They were also used to clear the path for the horse drawn fire engines as they traveled to their destination.
This is a breed that NEEDS a job! (Image Source)
There are many things to consider prior to bringing a Dalmatian into your home. The first is that they are a VERY energetic breed and will needs lots of exercise. They will find alternative ways to entertain themselves that most owners may not appreciate. They will also need a large amount of socialization, as they tend to be more reserved and protective. Overtime this can change into aggression if not properly socialized.
That is a whole lot of spots and a whole lot of cute! (Image Source)
As far as health concerns go, the Dalmatian is a fairly sturdy, medium sized dog. There is a hereditary link for deafness in this breed. There are also certain bladder stones that are more prevalent in Dalmatians than other breeds. Unfortunately this may not always be detectable in growing puppies so researching your breeder offers you the best chance of minimizing the risk to your future pet.
If you lead a very active lifestyle and would like some canine companionship, this could be the right breed for you. They may require a little more training in the beginning but will make an excellent jogging or hiking partner that will match most people’s stamina. For more information on Dalmatians please visit the following websites here and here

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Doodle Days #43

Well we had some beautiful weather at the beginning of this week and I took full advantage of it! While I do like the snow I have to say I am really enjoying the sunshine.
I like to start my day with a perimeter check to make sure there were no shenanigans over night!
I helped out around the yard. By helped out I mean I stayed out of the way (mostly) and didn't carry things around the yard (often).
I'm ready to jump into action should my people need assistance!

Still waiting to be called up to help!
I also got to go on a run. This may be my favorite part of springtime. It means I get to join my people when they exercise. I love to see the sites and feel the wend in my hair (and beard!)
I was a little too excited to focus on a picture! We just got done with 3 miles!
After a full day of activity I really like to sit and watch the sunset through our screen door. What do you like most about spring?
I just love watching the sky and making sure no one is bothering my back yard!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Corneal Ulcers

An ulcer means the normal layers of cells lining the eye have been disrupted (Image Source)
Corneal ulcers are one of the more common eye injuries we see. Typically something (a scratch, or rubbing) has caused an abrasion on the surface of the eye. There are varying degrees of severity but all levels can be extremely painful to our pets. Often we will not know the cause. Certain breeds such a shih Tzus, boston terriers, pugs, and bull dogs tend to be more prone to scratching their eyes. This is because their eyes tend to protrude out more than other eyes do.  Another possible cause of an ulcer includes very dry eyes. Some dogs do not produce enough tears to keep the eye lubricated. This can lead to extremely dry eyes which can make them more prone to injuries.
The green area shows where the ulcer is located. This is a positive test with stain. (Image Source)
Anytime your pet has swollen or red eye, colored discharge (such as green or yellow), or they are squinting and pawing at their eye, it is a good idea to take them to your veterinarian.  There are many causes for a red eye and your pet’s doctor may recommend several tests depending on the presentation. One of these test could be a corneal stain. This is a special stain that will not stick to the normal surface of the eye, but if a scratch is present it will stick to the cells underneath that are not normally exposed. If the stain is positive this means an ulcer is present. It is possible to have an ulcer and the stain be negative. This occurs when the ulcer is VERY deep and may even require referral to a specialist.
E-collars are an important part of treatment. They help protect the eye as it is healing. (Image Source)
Treatment for ulcers include antibiotics to help prevent infection and also keep the eye lubricated. The eye needs moisture to heal. Many times there will also be pain medication administered. Depending on the patient it could be in the form of eye drops or oral medication or both! Most of the time an Elizabethan collar is recommend. This is to help prevent further trauma to the eye as it is healing. The cells that are being produced to fix the ulcer are very fragile and can be easily harmed even with gentle rubbing.
Eye medication is very important in helping the eye heal. (Image Source)
 Corneal ulcers can be very painful and need aggressive treatment. If left without medication it is possible for the ulcers to continue to worsen. This will not only lead to discomfort in our pets but in a worst case scenario could result in the eye rupturing and needing to be removed. This doesn't happen in the majority of cases but is something that owners need to be prepared for if treatment is unsuccessful of not followed. For more information on corneal ulcers please visit the following website here.  

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Toxin Tuesdays: Ethanol (Alcohol)

Alcohol is just not good for out pets! (Image Source)
Alcohol is probably not one of the more common toxins we think of in pets. However it is important to remember it can be harmful to our furry friends. There are several sources of alcohol (or rather the active ingredient ethanol) that can be found around the house. The most common source include alcoholic beverages, but we can also find it in some windshield wiper fluids, cleaning products,  and also in some types of paints. While it may not seem appealing to ingest some of these products many of our pets will do just that.
If an accidental exposure happens call your vet! (Image Source)
Symptoms for exposure to ethanol include decreased activity bordering on depressed attitude, stumbling gait and even sedation. In some cases their body temperature will begin to drop.
Water is the best source of liquid for out pets! (Image Source)
Treatment includes supporting the patient until the ethanol is out of their system and they are no longer symptomatic. Because alcohol is so rapidly absorbed in the gastro-intestinal tract many times inducing vomiting will not be beneficial. If large exposure they may require hospitalization with fluids. At home care will include warm bedding, monitoring their heart rate and respiratory rate.
If you want to share a drink with your pet share some water! (Image Source)

Happily, most cases will resolve in 24 hours and there seem to be no long term side effects. Even though the symptoms may seem small and generally there are positive outcomes, it is still best to keep your pets away from any products containing ethanol. Remember in our pets a little can definitely go a long way. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Breed Focus: Jack Russell Terrier

Image Source
Many may know the breed of Jack Russell Terriers (JRT’s) from Eddie on Frasier or Wishbone on PBS. These adorable dogs have made this breed loveable to the public. However there are MANY considerations to keep in mind before adding this breed to your home. JRT’s NEED a job. Let me say that again. Jack Russell Terriers NEED (must have, no way around it) a job. This is a very active breed, that must have both mental and physical stimulation or they will turn into a terror (I wonder if that is where terrier came from). But why then do Eddie and Wishbone seem like such calm well behaved dogs? It’s because they have trainers and full time jobs. Without such we may never have met these two loveable dogs!
I need lots of exercise! Look at all that energy! (Image Source)
So why do people own JRT’s if they are so crazy and destructive? It is because they can be a lot of fun and if you are high energy family and have an idea of jobs and the desire to continue training this could be an excellent match for you. As a side note even with a job and training it is probably best to not leave this breed unattended in a fenced in yard. They are notorious diggers and could destroy your yard very quickly.
Wishbone from the PBS show helped make this breed very popular! (Image Source)
Overall JRT’s tend to be quite healthy. There are a couple of ocular diseases that need to be screened by breeders. These include glaucoma and progressive retinal atrophy. We will touch on these conditions in future blog posts.
Lots of mischief can hide behind these cute little faces! (Image Source)

This is a spunky and fun loving breed and if you are ready to give them a job and a lot of exercise they will give you hours of entertainment and laughter. It is strongly recommended to enroll them in training courses as soon as you can. This will also help socialize them with other people and dogs which is very important. For more information on this breed, please view the following websites here and here

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Doodle days #42

She was trying to get my ID tags!
Where did I leave off? Oh yeah...Nika!!! 

She wore a snazzy bandanna for most of the weekend!
Just watching and waiting for my turn to play!
She is great, she is a pit bull mix and just delightful. She really likes toys, ESPECIALLY tennis balls. She could play with them for hours and hours and hours. 

She loves the tennis ball!
REALLY likes the tennis ball!

I just loved watching her play
After all the playing I need a few days to recover! 

Really tired after a fun weekend!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Laryngeal Paralysis

Anatomy of the larynx (Image Source)
Laryngeal paralysis is a condition many pet owners may not be familiar with. It is typically associated with older, large breed dogs, but in some instances can be seen in smaller dogs. Many people may know that the larynx is the organ responsible for producing vocalization, however it plays a much bigger role in our pet’s breathing than that.  As the larynx moves it allows deep full breathes to be achieved. It also covers the trachea so that when we are eating foreign material is less likely to get into the respiratory tract. In laryngeal paralysis this apparatus does not work appropriately. Therefore it is difficult for patients to achieve adequate breathes and can lead to other respiratory complications.
Most of the time laryngeal paralysis is a progressive disease, however many times a diagnosis is made after a sudden crisis. Early signs may of this condition may include a change in voice, intermittent coughing, and panting even when resting. In an acute crisis typically the patient is in need of a deep breathe, but cannot take one and begins to panic and it becomes a vicious cycle or panic and rapid breathing. In these cases a trip to the vet is warranted, and sometimes sedation may be necessary.
Diagnosis can be difficult and needs sedation and sometimes advanced equipment (Image Source)
Definitively diagnosing laryngeal paralysis can be difficult. This is because sedation is required as we need to view the back of the throat and visualize the larynx. With over sedation the larynx will be paralyzed, but with under sedation the patient will not allow us to view the necessary areas. There are special drugs that can be administered once sedation is achieved so the patient will take several deep breathes and we are able to assess how the larynx is functioning.
Surgery can be pretty invasive and lead to other side effects, but may help improve your pets quality of life (Image Source)
Once a diagnosis is made, there are several treatment options, however none of them are 100% effective or without side effects. To leave laryngeal paralysis untreated, would lead to repeated bouts of respiratory distress that could eventually lead to unconsciousness and even death (in extreme cases). Some areas at home that will help is trying to keep patients as calm and cool as possible, managing any secondary effects (such as aspiration pneumonia or megaesophagus, which are conditions we will talk about in future blogs), and keeping the patient lean as extra weight makes it difficult to breathe. There are surgical procedures that can help with the laryngeal function. In many cases this will need to be performed by a board certified surgeon. There are definite risks to the procedure and life style changes that will have to made post-surgery. Working with your veterinarians will help determine which options will be the best for you and your pet.
Older labs are some of the more common dogs we see affected by laryngeal paralysis (Image Source)

If you notice any change in your pets breathing it is always best to have them examined by your veterinarian, before things become too advanced. For more information on laryngeal paralysis, you can view the following websites here and here.