Category: Medical Conditions

The Big Fat Truth About Pet Obesity (and What You Can Do About It)

We all know that face our pets make at us when they want a treat. But let’s stop for a second and think before we give in.

Obesity is a growing epidemic not just for humans but for our furry companions as well; a recent survey done by the veterinary students at University of Georgia showed that 54% of our nation’s pets are overweight or obese. That’s 88.4 million pets!

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So keeping this in mind, how will being overweight affect your pet? There are many conditions that can develop from your pet being overweight such as osteoarthritis, decreased stamina, hypertension, diabetes, lipomas (fatty mass), respiratory compromise and most of all it can shorten their life span. Scary stuff right?

Well I know what you’re thinking, “how do I know if my pet is over weight?” Sometimes it can be hard to recognize that your pet is overweight as the weight gain can come on gradually or it is hard to actually accept that your pet is more than just a little chunky and is now fully obese. To assist in this evaluation, body condition scoring has been developed and is fairly easy to accomplish. There is a five-point system (where three out of five is considered optimal). What you want to do is evaluate your pet, feel for a small amount of padding over the ribs. It should be possible to feel the ribs and there should be a small tuck in the belly where the hind legs meet the body. See the graph below.

BCS

A question you may be asking yourself is “What can I do to prevent my pet from becoming overweight?” Let start with two words; portion control. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to figure out exactly how much each individual pet should be eating. Determining the correct size for meals depends on the type of food they are fed, how many times a day they eat, their size, their metabolic rate, the amount of exercise they get, and more. To start the process, take a look at the feeding guide on your pet’s food’s label to see how much they should be eating.

dietSo say your pet is already over weight and you’re ready to get some of that extra chunk off your furry friend. This may sound simple, but in fact when one simply tries to cut back on food; it just doesn’t seem to cut it. As with humans, a more formal approach seems to work best. This means feeding a prescription diet made for weight loss (typically “lite” or “less active” diets are meant to prevent weight gain, not actually cause weight loss), exercise, and coming in for regular weigh-ins at the vet’s office.

This means:

  • There must be control over what the pet eats. That’s easy enough if there is only one pet, but trickier if there is more than one pet in the home. Use your ingenuity to feed the pets separately.
  • Feed in meals. Leaving food out encourages snacking. Feeding in meals makes it easier to feed multiple pets different foods or different amounts of food.
  • Commit to regular weigh-ins. Know what the goal weight is and how long it should take to reach this goal/or how to tell if the pet is on target. It is important not to try to go too fast. If the weight loss is not on track, sometimes it is necessary to feed more rather than less. Your veterinarian may need to be in contact with the clinical nutritionists at the pet food company so as to make the best recommendations.
  • Consider interactive toys that can be used when you are not home or where your own participation is minimal.

icecreamIf you have concerns about your pet’s weight, talk to your veterinarian. Be sure to rule out any health issues that might specifically cause obesity as an initial step in obesity management.

By: Shelly Crosson

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Welcome to The (Bladder) Stone Age

Bladder stones are no joking matter!
While kidney stones are fairly common, another type of stone that can develop are called bladder stones. These stones are made of the build-up of minerals in the urine that collect in the bladder, producing a single or multiple crystallized, rock-like structure(s). They can range in size, making them very difficult to pass on their own. These can be very painful and even damage parts of the urinary system.

Causes of bladder stones:
There are several causes attributed to bladder stones.

  1. Mineral Crystals: Urine that contains an abnormal amount of specific minerals can potentially form bladder stones. There minerals are magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and ammonia. These are all minerals that derive from our diet.
  2. Urine pH: pH is an indicator of how acidic a liquid is. The urine of cats and dogs are typically acidic, meaning that they have a lower urine pH. An abnormal pH reading is a good indicator of an infection.
  3. Bacteria: Some stones are caused by bacteria in the urine. Bacteria in the urine can be discovered by running a culture & sensitivity plate. The urine is spread across a culture plate and placed in an incubator. If there are any bacteria present, it will grow on the plate and the doctor will determine what the best antibiotic would be for the patient. Bacterial infections can alter the pH of the urine, which can lead to crystal formation.
  4. Abnormal Metabolism of Minerals: A pet’s system can inappropriately be metabolizing the minerals leading to the formation of crystals in the urine. Some breeds are more prone to this than others.

The stones can develop anywhere between weeks or over a period of months. The rate of growth can be anywhere between a couple weeks or a few months depending on the crystals present or the degree of infection.

Symptoms:
The typical symptoms of bladder stones can be straining to urinate or only producing small amounts of urine frequently. Blood may even be visible in a pet’s urine as well. Sometimes, a pet will be noticeably uncomfortable during urination, appearing lethargic or unwilling to eat or drink.

Diagnosis:
To diagnose bladder stones, a veterinarian will typically perform a urinalysis. The urinalysis will give information regarding the pH, increased white blood cells, protein and bacteria which will aid in diagnosis. The presence of crystals will alert the veterinarian to do further testing.

The presence of crystals can indicate that a bladder stone is growing or is already present. Some bladder stones can be felt during a physical exam by your veterinarian but typically, your veterinarian will request radiographs or an ultrasound to be performed to confirm a potential diagnosis of bladder stones.

stonesTreatment:
After a confirmed diagnosis of bladder stones, your veterinarian will decide how to proceed. Some stones are able to be broken down with medication or specific kidney diets but more often than not, surgery to remove the stones will be performed so as to prevent further pain to the pet. Surgery can be performed either with a laser to break down the stones or through surgical removal of the stones.

Specifically in male dogs, the stones can get lodged in their urethra, causing immense pain. These stones cannot pass on their own and will need to be removed through flushing and subsequent surgical removal.

After the stones are removed, your veterinarian will recommend sending the stones out to a laboratory for further testing so as to ascertain what type of minerals are present

Case at TLC Animal Hospital:
We had a patient this past year who was diagnosed with bladder stones. Dr. Richardson was the attending surgeon and removed the bladder stones during a cystotomy surgery. The pictures are shown below. We are pleased to say that the patient has made a full recovery and is being monitored for prevention of re-occurrence.

stones2

Prevention of re-occurrence:
After surgery, your veterinarian will recommend prevention of further stones. While some pets can achieve this through a diet formulated to promote kidney health, others may require long-term medication. This will depend on the type of dog and also what type(s) of crystals are removed. Some breeds can be predisposed to formation of stones no matter what prevention is taken and should be placed on a medication regimen. The veterinarian will advise on what they think is best. Pets may need to come in periodically to recheck or culture their urine and bladder x-rays to monitor the kidney function.

Always make sure that your pet has access to fresh water and the ability to go to the bathroom. This can go a long way to preventing recurrence. Pet food that has more moisture will increase the amount of water that your pet receives and minimize crystal formation.

Sources:
https://www.lbah.com/word/canine/bladder-stones/
https://www.vetwest.com.au/pet-library/bladder-stones-in-dogs
https://www.acvs.org/small-animal/urinary-stones

By: Madison Cole

Feline Heartworm Disease

cat-confusedWhile cats are not natural hosts for heartworms, they are still at risk for contracting them. Just like with dogs, heartworms are contracted through mosquito bites. As we’ve mentioned before, we’re in prime mosquito territory. In areas that have mosquitoes, an incidence of 2-14% exist in cats.

Feline Heartworm Disease causes severe lung disease, heart failure, along with damage to other organs. Adult heartworms can grow to be 12 inches long. Cats will typically only have 1-3 adult worms, but they can have up to 6. It only takes 1-3 adult heartworms to cause the cat to collapse and die.

mosquito-illustration_2092x1660Cats are not natural hosts for heartworms. Their immune system is very reactive against heartworms and this makes it next to impossible to detect microfilaria in an infected cat. Microfilaria is the off-spring of adult heartworms born in the host body and found in the blood stream. If a mosquito bites a dog that has microfilaria in their blood stream, they become infected. The mosquito can then transfer the microfilaria to any cats or dogs that they bite next.

hwcats2
The tests currently available detect an antigen that is given off by mature female heartworms. It takes heartworms 6 months to mature. This is why with dogs, we recommend doing a heartworm test once they’re at least 6 months of age and repeating test in 6 months if there was a lapse in prevention. However with cats, due to the limited number of heartworms that grow to maturity, they can be difficult to detect with these tests.

While heartworms can be treated in dogs, the medication used (Immiticide) is toxic to cats. Unfortunately at this time, there are no treatments available for heartworm positive cats.

revHowever, there is good news! The disease is 100% preventable. Our recommendation is Revolution. Revolution prevents fleas, roundworms, hookworms and ear mites as well as heartworms. Revolution is a topical preventative instead of an oral, making it easier to administer.  If you apply once every 30 days, your cat will not only be flea-free, but they’ll also be protected against heartworms!

Twelve common symptoms of Feline Heartworm Disease are:5625pt1

  1. Coughing
  2. Weight Loss
  3. Lethargy
  4. Gagging
  5. Vomiting
  6. Collapsing
  7. Lack of Appetite
  8. Abnormal Rapid Breathing (Tachypnea)
  9. Difficulty Breathing
  10. Blindness
  11. Convulsions
  12. Sudden Death

Remember – Mosquitos are everywhere! Just because your cat is strictly indoors only doesn’t mean that they aren’t at risk. Every pet should be on both flea and heartworm preventatives year round.

By: Candace Ivey

Concerned about your canine companion? Read about Double Defense here to learn more about heartworms in dogs & the best way to prevent your pup from them.

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

Creepy Crawly Skin Mites

Is your pet loosing hair on their face/around eyes/mouth/ears for no reason? They might be scratching themselves silly or not at all? It is a possibility that your pet has mange. Luckily, this is a treatable disease.

Kinds of Mange

  • Demodectic Mange “Demodex”
  • Sarcoptic Mange “Scabies”

Demodectic Mange “Demodex” is a mite that is normally found in the hair follicles of all cats and dogs, but can become a health problem when found in excessive amounts. The immune system usually keeps the mite numbers in check. Demodex mites can become excessive if the animal has a compromised immune system (ex. puppies, poor nutrition, stressed animals, parasite infestation, or chronic disease). Demodex is commonly found in young animals (3 months-1 year old) and animals that have had a history of demodex earlier in life. Demodex mites in canines are named Demodex canis and demodex mites in felines are named Demodex cati and Demodex gatoi. There are three different forms of demodex: Localized (isolated spots on body), Generalized (entire body is affected), and Demodectic Pododermatitis (paws are just affected).

Clinical SignsUntitled2

  • Alopecia (hair loss) on face, around eyes, mouth, and ears. If severe case, they can have hair loss on forelegs and trunk too.
    • The mites feed on the hair follicle, which is what makes the hair fall out.
  • Erythema (redness) with crusty patches can be seen. When this is seen it is called “Red Mange”.
  • In severe cases (Generalized Demodex) the animal can have a fever, whole body hair loss, and a secondary skin infection.
  • The most important clinical sign is that the animal is NONPURITIC (not itchy). This helps identify Demodex compared to other mange mites.

Diagnosis

  • Skin scraping. After treatment, the animal should be rechecked twice and have two negative scrapings to verify that treatment is working.
  • Culture if secondary skin infection is present.

Treatment Options

  • Oral treatments
  • Topical treatments
  • Injections
  • Shampoos/Dips
  • Oral antibiotics if secondary skin infection present.
  • In the old days there was a myth that dipping the animal in motor oil was a good home remedy. This is FALSE. Motor oil can cause severe rashes and destroy healthy skin. It can also be absorbed through the skin and cause blood pressure issues. PLEASE – do not dip you animal in motor oil.

Untitled1Prognosis

  • Prognosis is good in localized and pododermatitis forms if proper treatment is followed.
  • The generalized form of Demodex can be fatal because of the severity of infection.
  • Demodex canis and Demodex cati are not contagious to humans and other animals.
  • Demodex gatoi is contagious to other animals and all animals in the household should be treated.
  • It is important to know that treatments will never completely remove the mites. It will just help control them to normal numbers so it does not affect the animal’s skin.
  • Relapse is possible because every mite cannot be killed, but it is more likely to happen if no recheck skin scrapes were preformed. Relapse is common 6-12 months after treatment.
  • Breeders should not use previously infected animals because it can be hereditary.

Prevention

  • There is currently no preventative measures against Demodex. There are a few simple things you can do to avoid it. A healthy immune system can help prevent the recurrence of mange. It’s therefore important to keep your dog on a regular feeding schedule, with lots of water and healthy meals, and plenty of exercise.

Sarcoptic Mange “Scabies” is a mite that burrows into the epidermis and lays eggs. This causes severe itching and inflammation within the skin. Scabies can infest almost all species of haired animals. It is very contagious to other animals and humans by direct contact. Scabies can occur in dogs/cats of any age, sex, or breed. Canine scabies mites are named Sarcoptic scabiei and feline scabies mites are named Notoedres cati.

Clinical Signs

  • Red, crusty lesions on ears, elbows, and trunk of animal.
  • Severely puritic (itchy)
    • This distinguishes it from Demodectic Mange
  • Secondary bacterial skin infections due to self trauma from itching.

Diagnosis

  • Skin scraping
  • Skin biopsies

Treatment Options

  • Oral treatments
  • Topical treatments
  • Injections
  • Shampoos/Dips
  • Antibiotics to control secondary bacterial skin infection
  • Anti-itch medications

Prognosis

  • Prognosis is good if proper treatment is followed and the secondary bacterial infection is not extreme.
  • Animals can remain contagious for 2-4 weeks during treatment.
  • If you see red papules on yourself there is a chance you could have scabies. Contact your physician.

Prevention

  • There is currently no preventative measures against Scabies. There are a few simple things you can do to avoid it. A healthy immune system can help prevent the recurrence of mange. It’s therefore important to keep your dog on a regular feeding schedule, with lots of water and healthy meals, and plenty of exercise. Also avoid contact with infected animals.

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Sources
Brooks, Wendy C. “Demodectic Mange in Dogs.” Demodectic Mange in Dogs – VeterinaryPartner.com, http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=630.

Brooks, Wendy C. “Notoedric Mange.” Notoedric Mange – VeterinaryPartner.com, http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=512.

Brooks, Wendy C. Demodectic Mange in Cats – VeterinaryPartner.com, http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=1415.

Brooks, Wendy C. “Sarcoptic Mange (Scabies).” Sarcoptic Mange (Scabies) – VeterinaryPartner.com, http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=616.

“Mange Mites.” Common Diseases of Companion Animals, by Alleice Summers, Elsevier/Mosby, 2014.

By: Jamie McAfee