Category: Labwork

You had one job Thyroid, one job!

1What is Hypothyroid Disease?

Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid is not functioning properly and there is a deficiency of the thyroid hormone. It is considered one of the most common hormone imbalances in dogs.

What causes Hypothyroid Disease?

Thyroid deficiency can be caused by immune-mediated destruction of the thyroid gland, by natural atrophy of the gland, by dietary iodine deficiency, or as a congenital problem. Some breeds that can be predisposed to this disease are:
Golden Retrievers, Dobermans, Irish Setters, Schnauzers, Cocker Spaniels, and Dachshunds. This does not mean that only those breeds can get it, it is possible for any breed to develop hypothyroidism.

What are the signs of Hypothyroid Disease?

Some signs you could see are: weight gain with no diet change, “rat tail” (loss of hair on tail), dry hair/skin, cold intolerant, recurrent skin infections, lethargy, and reproduction problems. The pet could have all or maybe just one symptom. Annual labwork is important for early detection.

How do we diagnose Hypothyroid Disease?

To check thyroid levels, we have to send blood from the pet to the lab. This test is called a Total T4, which is usually included in all well health screening labwork. If the Total T4 comes back low, then it could indicate hypothyroidism. If the thyroid levels come back low we do more investigating before diagnosing hypothyroidism, because some other factors could cause low Total T4. For example, some other disease or medications can cause low Total T4. If no other factors could cause it, we add on a different blood thyroid testing at the lab to confirm low levels. This test is called a Free T4. The Total T4 testing can be falsely lowered because of other non-thyroidal disease and drugs, and Free T4 levels are less subject to be falsely lowered. Thyroid ultasonography and biopsy can also be performed for diagnosing, but owner’s rarely do these diagnostics for the pet.

How do you treat Hypothyroid Disease?

Once the pet has been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, then they will need to large_thyrotabssbe on a LIFE LONG supplement to replace the hormone. The pet will need to take a medication twice daily for the first 4-8 weeks, then more blood will need to be taken to check the T4 levels again. We do this so that we know the pet is on the right dose for them. If the levels come back too low or even too high we can easily change the dose so that it is perfect for them. Any symptoms should start to resolve with the correct dosing, and the pet should become their happy self again. Once the pet is regulated we check labwork every year to be safe (or earlier if the pet starts having issues).

We have to check the levels frequently because of two main reasons. The first is that we are not giving enough of the supplement, which causes all the symptoms to still be present and ongoing low thyroid levels can start to disrupt other organ functions. The second is that we can start to cause the opposite of hypothyroid disease, hyperthyroid disease. Hyperthyroid disease is increased thyroid hormone.4

Prognosis

Once a pet has been diagnosed with Hypothyroid Disease and is regulated properly with a daily supplement, they can live happy healthy lives.

 

By: Jamie McAfee

Sources
https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&sterm=hypothyroid%20disease&species=All

Common Diseases of Companion Animals, By Alleice Summers

http://for-dogs-sake.org/hypothyroidism/

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Ew! What is that in my dog’s stool?!

Oh no! It looks like your pet may have some kind of intestinal parasite!

parasites2Intestinal parasites are parasites that live inside a host’s gastrointestinal tract. Some feed off of the nutrients that the host ingests while others ingest the host’s blood. Whatever their food of choice may be, they can cause numerous issues for the host.

Examples of common intestinal parasites:
-Roundworms
-Whipworms
-Hookworms
-Tapeworms
Giardia
-Coccidia

While some parasites are large enough to see with the naked eye, this is not the case for all of them. For example, tape worms break apart and are usually passed as segments which can look like small grains of rice in your pet’s stool. Round worms resemble noodles or string. Others are much, much smaller and you may not physically see them in your pet’s stool. These parasites can cause all sorts of issues for your pet.

Symptoms include:
-Vomiting
-Weight loss
-Diarrhea
-Distended abdomen
-Scooting
-Occasionally coughing
-Anemia

How do cats and dogs get intestinal parasites?
Parasites are usually transmitted when an animal inadvertently ingests parasite eggs or spores in contaminated soil, water, feces or food. In the case of tapeworms, they can also be transmitted when a dog eats an infected flea. Puppies and kittens, on the other hand, usually get intestinal parasites from their mother. Transmission can occur in uterus or from nursing.
parasites
Many intestinal parasites are zoonotic, meaning that they can also infect humans. Simply practicing good hygiene is usually enough to prevent this from happening. You should always remove your pet’s stool from the yard and be sure to thoroughly wash your hands afterwards. The same goes for your cat’s litter box. Wearing shoes while outside can help protect you against hookworms.

Diagnosing and Treatment:
But don’t worry – these pesky parasites are easily treated! There are many types of dewormers available. Some parasites can be seen in the stool, such as tapeworm segments or roundworms. Others are much, much smaller and harder to detect. Here at TLC Animal Hospital, we send your pet’s stool to an outside lab for thorough testing to identify which parasites are present to ensure that the correct dewormer is used to treat any and all parasites that your pet may have. Some dewormers require a second dose that is given a few weeks later to ensure that all of the parasites are gone. Depending on the parasite, repeat testing of your pet’s stool may be needed as well once treatment is done.

tapeworm-cycle3-cat-rf1

Prevention:
10765_001_xxlWhile there is, unfortunately, no way to 100% prevent against intestinal parasites, there are steps that you can take that will drastically reduce the chance of your pet becoming infected. Most monthly heartworm preventatives also contain a broad spectrum dewormer. This helps get rid of any eggs or larvae that your pet may have picked up during the previous month. Picking up after your pet helps reduce the chance of any eggs or larvae from getting into the soil.

The best way to prevent against tapeworms is to use a monthly flea preventative. Having your yard treated by an exterminator for fleas will also help. The less fleas there are in the environment, the less of a chance your pet has of eating an infected flea. As we’ve written about before, every pet should be on a monthly flea preventative, even if they are strictly indoors. Read more about the flea preventatives that we offer in our previous post to help you decide which preventative is the best for your pet’s lifestyle.

puppy_kitten_careIf your pet is not already on monthly parasite preventatives, take them to your veterinarian to discuss how you can protect your pets and family from intestinal parasites.

Remember that the best way to protect your pets against parasites is to keep them on parasite preventatives and have their stool checked at least once a year. If you have any questions or concerns, you should always contact your veterinarian. They are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

By: Pigeon Tyler and Ashley Elliott

TLC – Where Dentals are More than just a Cleaning!

UntitledWhen you drop you beloved pet at TLC for a dental cleaning, they receive the best personal care possible. We only schedule 2 dentals on a surgery day so that we can focus on each individual pet and give then the time we need to make sure they leave with a nice, clean, healthy mouth. We pride ourselves on quality not quantity.

When they arrive at the clinic for their cleaning, they are given a premed that helps them relax. Once that takes effect, we put in their catheters and draw blood. Normally, the blood work is done prior to the dental cleaning, but we are able to do it the same day if needed. The blood work tells us that all organ systems are functioning properly and you pet is in good shape to be placed under anesthesia.

UntitledsWe then give them an induction medication and place them under gas anesthetic. We then use an ultrasonic tool that uses vibrations and water to scale the tarter from the tooth and then a different probe is used to get under the gum line. We use a stain on the teeth to make sure we are getting all the tartar off, even the small pieces that are hard to see.

We have dental radiography to help give us a complete picture of your pet’s mouth. This allows us to see what is going on inside the teeth and aids in telling us if the teeth should be removed. If extractions are needed, you pet receives a pain injection and sometimes a nerve block. Dr. Richardson will then remove the infected, diseased teeth with precision and care. We have a synthetic bone graft particulate that helps fill the hole the tooth left. She will then suture the area with dissolvable suture.

PerioDisease1AThroughout this whole procedure, the surgery technician is monitoring heart rate, oxygen level, temperature, blood pressure, ECG and gum color. Your pet is kept on a heating pad and we have warm towels close by. The technician monitors the whole time as well as staying with your pet until they are extubated and awake. Their recovery is in a nice warm cage with blankets and warm towels. When they are awake and able to walk, then we release them.

Patients will go home with pain medications when they have extractions. The surgery technician will go over all aftercare instructions with you when you pick up your pet. You’ll be given a copy of these instructions to take home as well. These instructions also have the contact information for the local VCA Animal Emergency Clinics, just in case something happens and we are closed. Our staff will follow up with you the next day as well to check on your pet.

Each pet receives the individual attention they deserve. When you schedule 10 or more dentals in a day, it becomes more like an assembly line and your pet is one of many instead of an individual with specific needs. At TLC, we know your pet and we love and care for them like they were our own.

By: Candace Ivey

I Gave the Medications – Now What?

cat_at_vet_examWhile annual exams are crucial to your pet’s health, medical progress exams are also an important part of your furry pal’s health plan. In fact, they are just as important as their annual exams!

Medical Progress exams can help us with keeping track of any changes in your pet’s individual values. Bringing your pets in for regular exams also allows us establish a baseline of what is considered “normal” and “abnormal” for your animal. This leads to better health care because of the consistency, allows us to diagnose conditions sooner, and allows us to better assess and address chronic issues.

Ear Exam Dog 5For example, let’s say your pet comes in for an examination. Her ears are all red, inflamed, have an odor and are painful to your pet. The doctor looks sets up an ear cytology and looks at it carefully under the microscope. She confirms that there is an abundance of yeast and bacteria on the slide. To treat the ear infection, the doctor prescribed ear cleaner/antibiotics, with instructions to see your pet back in 2 weeks for a medical progress exam.

In about a week, you notice that your pet’s ears appear to be better. No more itching or shaking their head, and you’re pleased. The medications must have cleared up the infection! You figure that there’s no need to come back in for that medical progress exam because the ears are better and there’s no need to spend more money.

615473-dog-and-sadA few weeks later, however, you discover her ears have doubled in inflammation, redness, soreness, and she’s in a lot of pain. Not only is the infection back, but it’s worse than before! That’s because the infection was never completely gone before and has flared up with a vengeance.

Now you have to return to the clinic and the veterinarian must repeat the cytology and other necessary tests, which in turn costs you more. Odds are that the infection won’t even respond to the same treatment this time because it is now resistant to the previous course of medications. Your girl is going to need different medications now as well. Animals’ bodies are changing all the time, so it’s important that tests are redone, especially if a medical progress exam was not followed through the first time.

Now your pet’s ears are having double the trouble, and so is your wallet!

moneyHere’s the catch! Your dog or cat could be free of symptoms and still have an underlying infection or other disease that your veterinarian will be able to monitor best with medical progress exams.

This doesn’t just apply to only ear infections. Skin infections, urinary tract infections, eye injuries, wounds, upper respiratory infections…all of these (just to name a few!) are common issues that require following up with your veterinarian. In some cases, especially for reoccurring issues, further diagnostics (such as cultures or blood work) are needed to pinpoint the exact treatment needed for your pet.

It is important to follow through with medical progress exams so that we can ensure that all infections and diseases are being properly controlled and treated. After your pet’s initial visit for whatever issue is causing them discomfort, you’ll be asked to schedule their medical progress exam before you’re invoiced out. That way you don’t have to worry about remembering to schedule something later on, it’s already been taken care of!

All of us at TLC know that your pets are family to you. We want to do everything we can to make sure that they stay healthy and happy!

happy dog

By: Alexus Farr

Wellness for All Ages

“Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” -Anatole France

Senior Wellness

At TLC, we recognize that no two animals are the same. We respect their individuality and their

individual needs throughout all stages of their lives. Unfortunately, aging is a fact of life and can take its toll on the body. That’s why we specialize in senior wellness and care. We monitor senior pets closely for age related changes so that we can address developing medical conditions as soon as possible.

We work with you to create and customize a care plan for your pets as they age so that they can remain happy and comfortable in their later years and so that you can spend as many years with them as possible.

Some of the services that we offer and recommend for our senior patients include:

Extensive Bi-Annual Examinations

Pets age at seven times the rate of humans. It is for this reason that we recommend bi-annual examinations for all of our senior patients. The Doctor will check your pet from nose to toes looking for any physical changes that need to be addressed or monitored. This includes monitoring their weight, listening to the heart and lungs, checking their eyes and ears, palpating their abdomen and checking the joints for stiffness or discomfort.

Bloodwork & Urinalysis

While a physical examination is vital to your pet’s healthcare, there are several conditions that simply cannot be diagnosed by just looking, listening, and touching. Chemistry and hematology blood tests and urinalysis provide a detailed look at your pet’s health from the inside.

Radiographs

As pets age they experience many changes internally such as changes in their organs and joints. Radiographs give us a better picture of what is happening inside the body and allow us to address and monitor these changes. All radiographs are reviewed by board certified radiologists who can help identify and diagnose these changes and make additional recommendations for care.

Blood Pressures

Just like humans, dogs and cats can also suffer from high blood pressure, especially as they get older. Hypertension in pets is often caused by some other underlying disease and thus is a very important wellness screening tool. All senior pets should have a screening blood pressure with every exam.

Ocular Pressures

Glaucoma is a serious condition where the pressure of the eye becomes elevated. It can be extremely painful for dogs and cats and can cause irreversible, rapid blindness. It may not be obvious to pet owners when they eye is only mildly affected so it is recommended that screening pressures be performed twice a year. Medications, when administered regularly, can help to lower eye pressure and slow down vision loss.

Schirmer Tear Tests

As dogs age, they frequently develop a condition called KCS or dry eye. Many breeds such as Shih-Tzus, Pugs and Boston Terriers are pre-disposed to this condition. It can be painful and lead to other damages to the eyes if left untreated. Schirmer Tear Tests allow us to monitor the eyes’ ability to produce tears. Medications can be prescribed if needed to ensure that your pets’ eyes stay properly lubricated.

Laser Therapy

Our Class III Therapeutic Cold Laser is specifically designed to treat pain and inflammation due to arthritis. Low level laser light has both anti-inflammatory and immunostimulate effects. Following a laser session approximately 75-80% of clients that have patients being treated notice improvement in their condition.

Medication Therapy

There are many pet-safe medications available to relieve arthritic discomfort and pain. These medications have been tested for long term use in pets. We can recommend and prescribe these medications based on your pets’ personalized wellness plan.

Geriatric Boarding

As pets age, many require care beyond basic boarding. That’s why we offer Geriatric Boarding for our senior patients. This service is available for pets that are physically restricted and/or have medical conditions that make it difficult for them to stay at general boarding facilities. Our team is specially trained to deliver exceptional care to senior pets including monitoring them closely while here and administering their medications. All senior boarders are walked every hour and we provide hygienic baths as needed to make sure that they remain clean and comfortable.  You can have confidence that your pets’ are receiving the care that they need while you are away.

In addition to beds and mats, we also provide Pet Cots for our boarders. Unlike regular bedding which has been known to clump and become uneven, Pet Cots evenly distribute a pet’s weight and relieve stress on the joints. The raised design protects pets from excessive cold, heat & moisture and yet is low enough to the ground to allow older pets to climb step easily on and off the cot.

Products
In addition to providing senior specific services, we carry a variety of products that address age related changes including:

  • Purina Neuro-Care, a diet designed to promote healthy brain activity and joints in aging dogs
  • Hills J/D, high levels of glucosamine and fatty acids promote healthy joints
  • Therapeutic Diets for medical conditions such as renal disease
  • Planet Dog “Old Soul” Balls  Senior dogs are only as old as the wag of their tail. The Old Soul Ball is designed to address the issues dogs experience as they grow older and wiser: reduced vision and snout strength, weakened jaw muscles, and brittle teeth. High contrast colors make the Old Soul Ball easy to spot, and the extra mint makes it easier to sniff out. The material is given extra pliability to offer a satisfying chew that’s easy on the gums and snout

By: Tara Sansing