Thursday, October 29, 2015

Canine Parvovirus: a little virus with BIG consequences

Parvovirus can make puppies very sick! (Image Source)

Canine Parvovirus is a very serious condition that typically affects puppies or young dogs. Although adults can be affected, it is not very common unless they are under some sort of intense stress. One of the reasons parvovirus is so serious, is that it is found in pretty much any environment and once it is there it is EXTREMELY difficult to get rid of. It can even survive freezing temperatures!!
There are many ways puppies are exposed to the virus. Typically they get it from ingestion of something in contact with parvo virus. (Image Source)

Transmission of parvovirus, typically occurs through ingestion. This could be infected soil, toys or anything that has contacted the virus. Unfortunately, the virus is VERY good at sticking to our shoes and clothes as well, so even if your puppy hasn't been somewhere the virus was, you may have been. There is a very short incubation period, with some dogs showing symptoms within 3-7 days of exposure. Practicing good hygiene and keeping your puppy from chewing on inappropriate or unknown objects (That's easier said than done I know!) can help minimize their risk of infection. While socialization of your puppy is very important, especially at young ages, it is also equally important that you ensure the animals with which they are socializing are healthy and up to date on their vaccinations.
Puppies are growing quickly, they should have a good appetite, if they stop eating, that is one of the first signs they need to go to the veterinarian's office. (Image Source)

Why is parvovirus so serious? The virus actually likes to attack rapidly dividing cells. In most cases it targets the lining of the gut. It will destroy the intestinal walls which leads to many of the symptoms we commonly see. This includes vomiting and severe diarrhea typically with blood in it. Because the lining of gut is affected, absorption of nutrients is also diminished, so even if your puppy feels like eating, they are not able to obtain what they need from the food. You can see where this becomes a very vicious cycle. They are losing large amount of water and nutrients from the vomiting and diarrhea, and even if they feel like eating (which many don't) they can't replenish their needs. I have seen puppies that were happy and healthy one day and within 24 hours they were in need of EMERGENCY attention. This is not a disease to wait and see if they get better. At the first signs of vomiting or diarrhea in your puppy, you should definitely take them to the veterinary office. Additional signs may also include anemia, lethargy, and weakness.
Parvo tests are one of the quickest ways to identify if your puppy has the virus. (Image Source)

There are many causes for vomiting and diarrhea in puppies so it is important to make sure we are treating the correct condition. This is why veterinarians may recommend parvo testing which is done via a fecal swab. They may also want blood work to check for anemia and electrolyte imbalances and some may also need x-rays to rule out foreign bodies. Puppies are into everything and signs of an intestinal obstruction can look very similar to parvovirus. Many veterinarians will chose to start with the parvovirus test, because this can be done out in the parking lot and if positive, the necessary measures can be taken to prevent further spread throughout the clinic environment.
Hospitalization with intravenous fluids and supportive care is recommended for parvo positive puppies. (Image source

Once a diagnosis of parvovirus is made, treatment needs to be instituted quickly. While there is no drug to cure parvovirus, it is STRONGLY recommended to hospitalize the patient and begin supportive care. This will include intravenous fluids, medications to settle the stomach, possibly starting antibiotics (which will not treat the virus, but will help with any secondary infections), and in extreme cases if the anemia is severe, they may need a blood transfusion. This is not a disease that should be taken lightly. It is very serious and many patients can pass away, despite aggressive treatment. The earlier treatment is instituted the better chance we have for a positive outcome.
Vaccinations are one way to help prevent parvovirus infection in your puppy. (Image Source)

The good news is, there is a vaccination to help prevent this virus. Although puppies are not considered fully protected until their puppy series if completed, appropriate vaccination timing may lead to less severe clinical signs. If you are picking out a puppy from a breeder, make sure the parents were both up to date on their vaccinations, this will also help minimize the risk of your puppy contracting this potentially deadly virus.

For more information on parvovirus you can read the following article here.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Halloween Safety Reminder!

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Halloween is a lot of fun for everyone in the family, including pets, but there are several things we need to consider to help keep our pets safe!
Leave the trick or treating to the humans! (Image Source)

Most people know that out pets shouldn't have candy, however they can be VERY creative in how to get to the candy. Make sure that the goodies are stored in a place that they cannot get to, for example a cabinet they cannot open. Also aside from chocolate, sugar free candies and gums may also pose a threat. Remember that if the ingredient Xylitol is present in the product this could pose an even greater risk to your pet. Xylitol is typically found in sugar free products but can be found in other candies and gums. If they ingest a product with this ingredient you need to call your veterinarian immediately.
Good tips! (Image Source)

It is also important around this time of year to have your pets identification information up to date and make sure they are wearing their collars. There is a lot of opening of doors and excitement surrounding Halloween. It only takes a split second for your pet to dart outside. If they do not have proper identification is may be very difficult for you to find them!
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If your pet has high anxiety, this could be a very stressful day for them. First there will be a lot of commotion outside that could set them on edge. They also may become stressed with repeated ringing of the doorbell. Some pets are also frightened by costumes. If your pet is easily stressed, it may be best to set up a safe place for them away from all the excitement. This could be a bedroom, or their kennel, where it is quiet and more relaxing. As long as it it out of the way of the main traffic areas, that should help them relax. If they are REALLY stressed, be sure to contact your veterinarian to see if they may need some anti-anxiety medications or supplements.
These safety tips apply to ALL our furry friends (Image Source)

Another thing to consider are costumes. It is so much fun to dress up your pet (and your family members). Make sure if you do dress your pet up, that the fit of the costume is appropriate and not causing any harm. Also make sure all pieces of their costume and your family members' costumes are accounted for. It is not unheard of for a pet to ingest a portion of a costume which could lead to big trouble later!
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Hopefully with these tips in mind, you  and your furry friend will have a fun and safe holiday!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Emmett is a 2 year old Great Pyrenees, and he is tall enough to get to anything unattended.  This can be a pet owner’s worse nightmare.  When you have a curious puppy or young dog, there are all kinds of household hazards you need to constantly be aware of, so we are going to use Emmett’s constant escapades to help our pet owner’s navigate through the tricky health concerns of all puppies and young dogs.

Episode #4  Chocolate
Emmett and his partner in crime, Haley, have had many opportunities for encounters with chocolate, and many owners are well aware that chocolate is a potential toxin for dogs.
The most important information owners need to be aware of with chocolate toxicity is it is amount and size dependent, and there are different types of chocolate with different potential concerns.

The encounter:
Its Halloween season, and almost everyone has some candy stashed in the house, whether their child came home with a bucket of goodies, or they have some stocked up to pass out to all those ghouls and goblins for the big night.  If your pet is curious about the shiny packages and yummy smells, they are highly likely to eat some of that candy goodness when your back is turned.  In Emmett’s case, that included the wrappers and all.  Luckily, it was well past Halloween and most of the candy was gone. 

Image result for chocolate toxicity dog 

The scoop:
The good news is that most of the time if your pet gets into chocolate candy, it is usually milk chocolate and this has much less potential to be toxic to your pet.  The bigger the pet, the more chocolate they can consume without serious ill effects, minus a tummy ache.  If you have a small dog that ate a large amount, or a large dog that ate a ginormous amount, you might have a more serious condition to control.  The dark chocolates and the baker’s chocolates are more concentrated with the actual toxin component, theobromine, and these are the chocolates we become more concerned about if your pet consumes them!

The plan:
The most important thing to do first is to call your local veterinarian or the ASPCA poison control, and determine if the amount of chocolate consumed will be a toxic concern. 
Often, if the professionals determine that it is a concerning amount, your veterinarian can safely induce vomiting, and this often solves the immediate problem before symptoms can occur.  A tummy ache may still be in the cards, and your pet may be monitored for possible toxicity signs in the hospital for a period of time.  If it is not a large toxic amount of chocolate, then your veterinarian will likely make you aware that GI signs, like diarrhea, and vomiting are likely from a general upset stomach from eating something so rich, and sugary.

In severe cases of ingestion, or in cases that were not caught right away, symptoms can include hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, racing heart beat, and sometimes death.  Luckily, most cases do not go undetected, as it is a fairly messy item for your dog to ingest.

Happy Halloween!!!
Thank you for reading!! and Join us for the next episode of #stuffemmetteats

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Books for Pet Lovers

As the seasons are changing, some people may be looking for a good books to curl up with a hot drink and enjoy. Here are some books that pet lovers may really love!

1. Tell Me Where it Hurts: A Day of Humor, Healing and Hope in My Life as an Animal Surgeon
By: Nick Trout
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This book is both touching and entertaining. It follows several cases through the eyes of a board certified veterinary surgeon. It provides a brief glimpse into what the life of a veterinarian is like and the ups and downs that can occur on any given day. People in the veterinary profession will love it because they can relate to many of the issues Dr. Trout is facing. Pet owners will enjoy it because it is a refreshing look at what goes on behind the scenes and they will be able to understand what many of the pet owners are going through. If you like this book, Dr. Trout has several others as well! 

2. Marley and Me
By: John Grogon
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Many people may have heard of this book, as it was also made into a major motion picture. This is a book for anyone that loves pets. It follows the antics of family dog, Marley, that forever changes his owners' lives. There are both highs and lows in their life and Marley is with them through it all. In fact he brings around a few of their MANY trials. This book will have you both laughing and crying until the end. (Note: We recommend keeping a box of tissues handy!)

3. Dewey the Library Cat: A True Story
By: Vicki Myron and Bret Witter
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Dewey is a true story about a cat that changes the lives of a whole town! If you love cats or have ever owned one, this story will resonate with you. Occasionally the book can seem a little long, but overall it is a great story that is very touching. 

4. Amazing Gracie: A Dog's Tale
By: Mark Beckloff and Dan Dye
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This is truly an inspiring story about a Great Dane that overcame many odds in her life. She also changed the lives of her owners. Inspiring them to start a new dog bakery business as well as cook books for pets. This is a touching story that is a quick read and will warm your heart in many ways!

5. Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul
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This book is a compilation of many different inspiring pet stories. Most of the stories are submitted by regular pet owners that just want to share their pet's life. It will make you laugh and cry and leave you wanting more. This is a great book to pick up and put down any time since they are natural breaks in the short stories. It makes a great gift for pet lovers and there are many different sequels that can keep you inspired and wanting more.