Thursday, April 30, 2015

Doodle Days #49

I had a visitor this weekend!!!
I think we were playing king (or queen) of the mountain!

Maggie came to see me and I am pleased to say she played with me! Sometimes I come on a little strong and scare her but she warmed up and we had a great time!
She was going after a toy (and maybe hiding from me a little). 

So great we both had to take a little break!
I can rest my head just about anywhere!
Maggie preferred to lounge on someone's lap!

I just love when I have friends come over!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


The barium shows how LARGE this esophagus is (Image Source)

The esophagus is a part of the gastro-intestinal tract that is extremely important for eating. It is the tube that gets the food down into the stomach. There are many reflexes, muscles and nerves that coordinate to ensure food goes down the esophagus and does not end up in the trachea and then into the respiratory system. If there are any disease processes that alter the structure of the esophagus it could lead to issues with digestion.
The dotted line shows where a normal esophagus would lay vs a megaesophagus (Image Source)

Megaesophagus is typically a condition that is secondary to something else. Once the esophagus becomes flaccid or loses its tone, we will begin to see symptoms of megaesophagus. These symptoms can include regurgitation and coughing, chocking whenever the patient is eating. There may also be symptoms associated with whatever the underlying cause of the megaesophagus is. It is important to not the regurgitation is different from vomiting. Regurgitation is passive, the food can sit in the esophagus and then just come back out of the mouth. Vomiting is active where the body is forcefully expelling the food or item. It can include gagging, muscle contraction and is typically very noisy. To confirm a diagnosis of megaesophagus, x-rays are required. This can show an enlargement of the esophagus in the chest cavity.
Elevated feedings are a must in these pets! (Image Source)

Treatment will include determining the underlying cause and deciding if this can be fixed or managed. After that, the megaesophagus can then be managed as well. This will include using gravity to help move food from esophagus to the stomach. In addition to the elevated feeding, many times making the food into a meat ball consistency, works for the majority of cases. However sometimes it requires trial and error may be required to find what works for your pet. There are some medications that can be added that may help control the regurgitation as well. It is important to see if the underlying condition can be managed, to reduce the risk of worsening the megaesophagus.
There are many different methods of elevated feedings. You will have to find the one that works best for you and your pet! (Image Source)

For more information on this condition please visit the following website here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Toxin Tuesdays: Pyretherins

Pyretherins can be found in over the counter flea products. Always check with your veterinarian prior to applying a product to your pet (Image Source)

Pyretherins are a class of medications that were widely used as insecticides. They are found in some of the early versions of topical flea medication. This is before many people started to realize they pose a toxic threat to many of our pets. While they have mostly fallen out of favor there are still over the counter flea products that contain these drugs. It is important to know what you are purchasing prior to administering to your pet! Just because it is over the counter does NOT always mean it is safe.

When applied to skin the toxicity is lower than if the patient ingests it. This would include grooming it off of themselves. The onset of clinical signs can be rapid and severe. Sometimes we will see patients start to have symptoms as soon as 30 minutes after application or ingestion. These can include seizures in cats, skin irritation, increased salivation and vomiting. If you applied this product to your pet and they become symptomatic you need to call your veterinarian right away. Depending on the symptoms they may have you give your pet a bath prior to coming to the clinic to help remove further exposure to the product.
Local reactions can occur where the product is applied. Call your veterinarian if this happens! (Image Source)

Cats seem to be particularly sensitive to this product. It is imperative that you NEVER use a dog product on a cat. Also some cats are so sensitive that if they come into contact with the dog after the medication has been applied, they can start to demonstrate side effects. In some cases the exposure can become fatal despite our best efforts to treat the symptoms.

Once the patient is presented to the veterinary clinic they may recommend blood work to rule out other causes for the symptoms. From here treatment will depend on the clinical signs. If patients are seizing they will need medication to help calm their nervous system. If they are vomiting it will be important to ensure they do not become dehydrated. If the symptoms are confined the skin, repeated bathing and treating the lesion locally is usually required.

NEVER put a dog product on a cat!!!! (Image Source)

While these products are not widely used today they are still available over the counter. If you are looking for flea and heartworm preventatives for your pet ask your veterinarians prior to purchasing and applying any medications! This can save a lot of heart ache in the future. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Breed Focus: Puli

Their coat tends to be the most distinctive feature (Image Source)

The Puli is a breed that could actually be confused with a mop! They have a very distinct coat that sets them apart from all other breeds. Originally bred for herding, this breed will do best in an active family and one that is committed to the somewhat daunting task of maintaining their coat.
Be sure to invest in a brush...or two! (Image Source)

Grooming is probably one of the biggest commitments you will have to make with this breed. They will require daily brushing OR separating the corded hair. If left unchecked a mess of knots and snarls will be waiting for you. As far as personality goes, they are active and will love spending time with the family. They tend to be slightly cautious around strangers so socializing them at a young age is a good idea.
They have a look all their own in the show ring (Image Source)

As with many purebred dogs, there are a few health conditions to be aware of prior to obtaining this breed. One health concern is for their joints. This includes ensuring the parents are free from hip dysplasia and luxating patellas (where the knee cap moves in and out of place). There are also some congenital eye defects that all breeding stock should be screened for. It is best to research the breeder and ensure they have achieved appropriate certification. This will decrease the risk of your puppy obtaining certain conditions.
Even though you can't always see their eyes well they find ways to tell you how happy they are! (Image Source)

This breed could be a real conversation starter in your neighborhood. They are not very common and many people may stop to ask you about them. It could be a great way to meet new friends! They will require dedication to their coat maintenance and will need regular exercise. If you think this could be a good fit for your lifestyle then you can find more information here and here.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Doodle Days #48

Well there isn't much to report in my world this week. I hear that there may be some excitement this weekend again, as in I may have a visitor!
I think he and I will get along swimmingly!

I did get a new toy yesterday!This is my whale!
He smells like a new toy! That is one of my favorite smells!

So far I love him! He fits perfectly in my mouth and makes great noises when I squeeze him.
Action Shot!

I sure am a lucky doodle!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)

FIP affects cats (typically < 1 year of age) (Image Source)

Feline Infection Peritonitis (FIP) is a fatal condition that, as the name suggestions, affects cats. It can be very devastating as there is no treatment. Unfortunately there are not many good ways to prevent this condition either. FIP is caused by a mutation in a corona virus. Most cats, especially those that are from shelters, will be exposed to the corona virus at some point in their lives. The corona virus itself is not fatal, however, if a mutation occurs to the virus while in the cat’s body it can develop into FIP. There are many MANY frustrating aspects of FIP. Part of the problem is that we have yet to determine what causes the mutation, so we are unable to screen cats to see if they are carriers. This makes it difficult to know prior to brining a new cat into your house if they could be affected because on the outside they will look completely normal.

One important thing to remember is that FIP is not considered to be contagious. Yes the corona virus can be spread from cat to cat, but the mutation is not contagious and we have no way of knowing in which cats it will occur. Cats housed in group settings will be at an increased risk because their exposure to the corona virus will be greater.

In the wet form of the condition the abdomen will become distended with fluid (Image Source)
So what would FIP look like in a cat? Typically it will affect younger cats (those < 1 year). Many times it will start with a fever that does NOT respond to medications or fluids. After that FIP can go into two different forms. These are called the wet and the dry form. In the wet form, the abdomen will become distended with fluid, sometimes this will also spread to the chest. In the dry form, small granulomas will begin to develop on the intestines. The dry form almost always progresses to the wet form.

Another frustrating aspect of FIP is that there is no definitive test to determine if that is in fact what is causing the patient’s symptoms. There are tests that will make us more suspicious when used in conjunction with the clinical signs but no one test is 100% accurate. Testing can range anywhere from submitting blood samples to taking biopsies of the intestines.

Removing some of the fluid may temporarily provide comfort for the affected patient. (Image Source)
As mentioned before, there is NO treatment for this condition. Trials have been conducted to see if different therapies may be effective but so far there is no treatment and once a cat has FIP it is 100% fatal. While there are vaccinations available, they are not recommended. It is not clear whether the vaccine is even effective, and it must be given to pets that are not developing FIP. Again this is difficult as we have no test to determine who could be harboring the mutation.

Feline infectious peritonitis is not the most common cat disease we see, but due to its devastating nature cat owners need to be aware of this condition. For more information you can visit the following website here

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Toxin Tuesdays: Batteries

Batteries can pose a threat to our pets. (Image Source)
Almost every household will have batteries of different shapes and sizes in it. While most of the time they will be kept in an out of the way location, if our pets do have access to them it can lead to devastating results. Batteries pose a significant toxic threat to pets (and children!). With the variety of batteries out there, it is very helpful if you know what type your pet may have had access to as the toxic effects can vary.
Exposure to batteries can come from a variety of unexpected places. (Image Source)
Lithium disc (or button batteries) actually pose some of the greatest risk. When ingested, they can lead to necrosis (or death) of the tissue they come in contact with. This would include the esophagus, stomach and the intestines. The longer they have contact with the tissue, the more damage can occur which could even lead to a perforation (or hole) in the tissue. When the gastro-intestinal tract is compromised in this way, bacteria can leak into the abdomen and it can become life threatening if not dealt with immediately. Other batteries can have side effects as well. As they break down, dry cell batteries can lead to the development of ulcers. If batteries stay in the system too long or a large quantity is ingested, it can also lead to heavy metal toxicity.
Although in this case it is a coin, a battery would look similar on an x-ray (Image Source)
As mentioned above, symptoms will often include the gastro-intestinal track. These could be ulcers anywhere from the esophagus to the intestines. If the battery is chewed, the skin around mouth could become ulcerated or irritated. With heavy metal toxicity, the liver can become damaged due to prolonged exposure.
Your veterinarian may check the mouth and gums for signs of ulceration. (Image source)
While most of us keep our batteries put away in a safe place, we need to remember that there are other areas our pets could be exposed. This could include toys, remote controls or the garbage if old batteries have been discarded. If you pet has been exposed it is best to contact your veterinarian right away. Likely they will start with a full work up including x-rays and blood work. If the battery is still present they may recommend surgery to remove it. This could help prevent development of secondary heavy metal toxicity. If the pet is stable oral medications may be prescribed to help soothe any ulcers or gastro-intestinal irritation. While this is not one of the most common exposure it can lead to serious side effects.  If you ever have any concerns be sure to contact your veterinarian and try to keep old and new batteries out of reach of our pets! 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Breed Focus: Devon Rex

They wavy coat gives the Devon Rex its distinctive look. (Image Source)
The Devon Rex is a breed of cat that many people may not be familiar with as compared to other breeds. Their most distinctive trait is their wavy hair. Although they may not shed quite as much as some other cat breeds, they still have the potential to cause allergies in people. So if you are allergic to cats, this is likely not the breed for you.
They do come in a variety of different colors! (Image Source)
Overall the breed tends to be fairly active and smart. They will do best in a home that can set aside specific play time each day. They can also be trained to do many tricks! Even though they have a longer coat, they will not require regular haircuts. Gentle brushing will help alleviate any tangles, and a bath every few weeks may help prevent oils from building up on their skin but that is about all the care their hair coat will require.
They are very inquisitive and seem to be highly trainable. (Image Source)
As far as health conditions, there are only two that potential owners need to be aware of. One is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This is a heart condition that seems more prevalent in pure bred cats. It is essentially a thickening of the wall of the heart that makes it much less efficient at performing its job. There is no guarantee that cats will not develop this condition. Screening potential breeding stock and help but will not be 100%. If any cat does develop HCM (Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) it should be removed from the breeding stock immediately. The other condition is luxating patellas. This is where the knee cap is not always stable in the joint and can jiggle around a little. If the condition progresses to where the knee cap moves in and out of place, then surgical correction may be necessary.
This image really shows off their wavy coat. (Image Source)

If you are looking for a cat to be a great companion but also loves a more active life style, the Devon Rex could be a good fit for you! For more information on this breed, please visit the following website. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Doodle Days #47

This weekend I got to visit my friend Percy. I call him my friend because I'm not so sure I'm HIS friend. But never fear I will win him over! He likes to use my water bowls, pretty soon I'm sure he will want to play with me.
Excuse me, is he supposed to be using my bowl?

I also helped with work around the yard. We picked up sticks and got the lawn ready for mowing.
I'm an excellent stick finder!

I like to lay here because then I can see my human friends but also be on the look out for Percy coming down the stairs JUUUUUUST in case he wants to play with me.
This is my spot! I can survey everything from here!

Even though I have a great time visiting other places and friends I am always glad to come home. I enjoy car rides with my people.
I had fun with my friends but I like being home too!

I especially LOVE win the weather is nice enough to roll the windows down. Nothing beats a nice breeze in my beard!
Now this is living!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

'Cherry Eye'

A great example of  'cherry eye' affecting both sides (Image Source)
Cherry eye is a condition some people may be familiar with. It is actually a prolapse of the nictitating membrane. What?! Those are a lot of technical terms so let’s break it down. The nictitating membrane, also called the third eyelid, is a part of the eye that helps keep the cornea moist and protects it from damage.  If the tissue that holds the third eye lid in place weak the lacrimal gland will prolapse (or pop out of place). This creates what we know as cherry eye. The name likely came because it looks like a little red cherry sitting in the corner of the eye.
Anatomy of the eye, the gland of the third eyelid prolapses in 'cherry eye' (Image Source)
Why do we care about cherry eye? If left untreated it can lead to the eye not getting adequate moisture which will then lead to dry eye. (A condition we discussed a couple of weeks ago.) A long time ago, corrective surgery involved removing the gland all together. This turned out to not be the ideal procedure as it led to a severe decrease in tear production and then dry eye developed. Treatment now includes tacking the gland back in place.
This is a great before and after picture! (Image Source)
Although this is not an emergency, it is recommended to have the gland replaced to normal position before long term damage to the tear duct and secondarily, the eye, occurs. Consulting with your veterinarian will determine the best course of action for your pet. For more information on this condition please visit the following website here

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Special Report: Canine Influenza Virus

CIV is HIGHLY contagious (Image Source)
Many of you may have heard about the recent outbreak of Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) in the Chicago area. Being somewhat close to Chicago (about 2 hours south) and having a lot of students that travel back and forth, we wanted to take the opportunity to spread the word about this highly contagious condition.

So what is Canine Influenza Virus (CIV)? As the name suggests this is a virus that can be VERY easily spread throughout our canine population. One of the reasons it is so highly contagious is that it is considered an aerosolized virus. This means if the patient coughs or sneezes the virus can be transmitted to another dog through particles in the air. It can also be transmitted on shared toys, bowl, etc OR if they have direct contact with the infected dog. People’s clothing can also carry the virus and then transmit it to other dogs. One of the good things about this virus is that it is exclusive to dogs, it cannot currently be transmitted to people or other species. One of the most concerning aspects of this virus is that patients will be able to spread the virus most effectively PRIOR to them showing any clinical signs. So by the time we start seeing symptoms, many other dogs could have already been exposed.

Which dogs are at risk? Unfortunately all dogs are at risk. However some dogs are at an increased risk. These would include dogs that visit dog parks, boarding or daycare facilities, grooming facilities and those that live in apartment complexes with a large number of dogs. Basically any dog that comes in contact with other dogs is at increased risk, but all dogs are susceptible to this condition.
These are the most common symptoms of CIV but can be confused with other upper respiratory conditions. (Image Source)
What are the symptoms we may see with Canine influenza Virus (CIV)? Symptoms are primarily confined to the upper respiratory system (nose and throat) and can mimic other respiratory diseases. Many times CIV can be confused with the Bordetella bacteria which is the most common cause of kennel cough in pets. Symptoms can range from mild nasal discharge, cough, a low grade fever and a lack of energy. As the condition progresses, it can lead to very elevated fevers, pneumonia, and a significant decrease in appetite. CIV has been noted to be fatal but it is typically in less than 8-10% of the confirmed cases. In several of these instances the affected patients had other debilitating or chronic conditions.

How do we know if our pet is infected with the virus? There are tests available to confirm the diagnosis of CIV. These can be done by a nasal swab or a blood draw. They can be quite costly (in some cases the cost can be over $200). Without a confirming test, treatment is based on how the pet is presenting and how they are responding to treatment.

A map depicting areas affected with CIV (Image Source)
What is the treatment for Canine Influenza Virus (CIV)? This really depends on the severity of the condition. If it is caught early and there is only a mild cough with mild nasal discharge and no evidence of dehydration or lack of appetite, then outpatient treatment can be initiated. This may include a cough suppressant, an antibiotic and will definitely involve keeping your pet isolated from other animals so that they do not continue to spread the disease (whether it is CIV or Bordetella).  In more severe cases if the patient is dehydrated or has developed pneumonia or extremely high fever in hospital treatment may be required. This could be intravenous fluids with injectable antibiotics if the patient will not eat. In EXTREME cases oxygen support may be required. This is not the normal outcome but has been noted in several severe cases.
My dog is coughing, what should I do? You should always call your veterinarian with any abnormal symptoms in your pet. With the current outbreak, it is important to tell the veterinary staff if you have traveled with your dog, if they have boarded recently or regularly go to doggy daycare. This will help them take measures to minimize spread of these conditions.

The sooner your veterinarian is contacted the sooner treatment can begin. (Image Source)
Is there a vaccine available? There is a vaccine available. Initially it is a series of two vaccinations separated by 2-4 weeks. After that it can be boostered yearly. It is not considered a core vaccination but is now being recommended in affected areas for ANY dogs that spend time in dog parks, grooming or boarding. (Basically dogs that can come in contact with other dogs). As with any vaccine we still need to monitor for any signs of vaccine reactions such as pain at the injection site, vomiting, or diarrhea. If these occur please call your veterinary clinic. Overall the vaccine seems to be fairly well tolerated. Another important aspect of the vaccine, is that it is not 100% effective. As with many vaccines it will not completely prevent an infection but it will lessen the duration of the illness as well as decrease the amount of time the patient is shedding the virus. If you are interested in this vaccine it is a good idea to contact your veterinarian to see if they carry it and if they think it would be appropriate for your pet. Currently our office is requiring this vaccine for all boarding animals. This is due to the large amount of clients and pets that we see coming to and from the Chicago area.

Where can I go to find more information? The following websites offer great information concerning Canine Influenza Virus. You can always call your veterinary office to obtain further information as well.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Breed Focus: Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherds can come in a variety of colors! (Image Source)
The Australian Shepherd is a breed known for its intelligence and energy. They will be extremely devoted to your family, but will need a large amount of exercise and ‘jobs’ to keep them out of trouble. They excel at advanced training courses such as agility and fly ball. They have become one of the top breeds for these particular sports. Australian Shepherds were originally bred for herding and farm work in the west part of the United States. (Not in Australia as many people would suspect!) With this background, they can sometimes be a little more high strung when there is a lot of activity and may even try to nip or herd small children to ‘keep them in line’. Early training is a must for this very smart breed.
Of course the puppies are VERY cute! (Image Source)
One thing to consider about this breed is that they will shed. Typically light shedding throughout the year but twice a year they will blow most of their coat. If you maintain a regular brushing schedule early on it will help alleviate some of the shedding around the house. There are a couple of health conditions to be aware of when seeking out this breed. Make sure that the parents have had their hips and eyes certified. This means that they are clear from hip dysplasia and several of the genetic eye conditions common in this breed. One other condition that is prevalent in this breed is call multi drug sensitivity. Patients affected by this condition, are unable to use or metabolize some common medications used in veterinary practice. The most common of these is ivermectin (frequently used in heartworm preventatives). There is a simple test that can be performed by swabbing your puppy’s cheek to see if they carry this gene. There are other medications that can be used for heartworm prevention but it is a good idea to know if your pet is a carrier for future medical needs.
This breed will excel at many sporting events!! (Image Source)
 Overall the Australian shepherd can be a great family dog. They will do best with an active life style and with people who are committed to continued training and socialization. If this sounds like it could be you then this could be a great match! For more information on this breed, please view the following websites here and here.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Doodle Days # 46

The Easter bunny didn't forget me even though I love to chase his friends!
So this Sunday was Easter and I had a visit from a big Bunny! Good thing I didn't see him because I probably would have chased him off before he gave me a special gift!
I can't wait to get that in my mouth!
He must know me really well.....he brought my Marshmallows!!!
I can be patient....
I love them! Now these ware a little bigger than my usual sweets, so I got one that was broken into several pieces!
Action shot!!! Marshmallow almost in my mouth!!
I will do just about anything for Marshmallows!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


Overview of how glaucoma can occur in the eye (Image Source)
Glaucoma is another condition affecting the eye that people may be somewhat familiar with because it can occur in people as well. This condition is when the pressure in the eye becomes too high. As pressure rises the eye becomes more painful and if left untreated could lead to blindness.  While there are some breeds that can inherit this condition, many times it will be secondary to something else.
Eyes affected by glaucoma may sometimes look red, irritated and be painful. (Image Source)
Normally the eye is constantly bathed in fluid. There is a drain like structure inside the eye that allows the fluid to be removed. If this drain is not functioning properly it can lead to fluid building up with then leads to increased pressure. In inherited conditions this could happen spontaneously. If there is another underlying condition this may happen gradually. For example, if the pet develops cataracts (as we discussed last week), any movement of the cataract could block drainage and then lead to a secondary glaucoma.
Special machines are used to read the pressure of the eye (Image Source)

To detect if glaucoma is present, we first need to check the ocular pressures. Depending on the machine used by your veterinarian, this may require a topical anesthetic in the eye. If the pressures are elevated medication can be started to bring the numbers down to a normal range. If this is a hereditary condition, treatment may be required for the pets entire life. However, if the underlying cause can be determined and corrected then the medication may only be temporary.  These medications can be quite costly so it is definitely worthwhile to see if any underlying conditions are present. For more information on glaucoma, you can visit the following website here