Category: Medical Conditions

A Whole New Meaning to “Take My Breath Away”

Imagine not being able to breathe because your windpipe is falling in on itself!aa

This is a real condition called “Tracheal Collapse” where the trachea (windpipe) collapses during breathing. Typically seen in smaller breeds as they get older, tracheal collapse is an irreversible condition that affects the ability to breathe easily.

The trachea is a like a hose – it’s thin and flexible with small cartilaginous rings to help hold the airway open. In some cases of tracheal collapse, the cartilage in the rings become weak and lose their flexibility, causing the airway to fall flat. This doesn’t allow passage of air into or out of the windpipe, triggering an episode of coughing or gasping.

Who’s Most At Risk?
Smaller breeds such as Yorkshire terriers, Pomeranians, Poodles and Chihuahuas are at a higher risk. Even dogs that are overweight or even live in household with smokers can be at risk for developing this condition.

abWhat Does It Sound/Look Like?
A pet affected by this disorder could develop a harsh cough that sounds like something is stuck in their throat or even a honking sound. This could happen after being picked up, periods of activity or when their collar is pulled. Overall, the pet will have difficulty breathing and their tongue may turn blue/purple when excited or after an episode of tracheal collapse.

How Do I Know If My Dog Has It?
Calling your clinic to set up an appointment with your veterinarian is a great first step. At the appointment, your veterinarian may discuss how long it’s been going on, what the cough/difficulty breathing sounds like. Your veterinarian may recommend diagnostic testing such as a general blood profile and x-rays of the chest. In more severe cases, your vet may recommend a referral to a specialist where they can do more specific diagnostic testing like a an endoscopy, where the inside of the pet’s throat may be clearly viewed with a fiber optic camera or an echocardiogram to evaluate the heart function.

How Do I Treat This Condition?
While the condition is irreversible, your pet can still have a great life! After diagnosis, your veterinarian may recommend weight loss if your pet is overweight, medications to help reduce spasms or irritation of the airway or mild sedatives you can give at home to help reduce coughing fits. Your pet may benefit from a harness as opposed to a collar that can put stress on the neck and trigger a tracheal collapse episode. Dogs should be kept away from smoke or other environmental pollutions. Additionally, your pet could develop a secondary infection that may need to be treated with antibiotics at the discretion of your doctor.ac

Treatment with medication works for most dogs, however the medical management may be life-long. In most severe cases, a specialist can perform surgery by placing plastic rings around the outside of the trachea or a stent, which helps to hold the trachea open.

By: Madison Cole

Sources:
https://www.acvs.org/small-animal/tracheal-collapse
http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/what-you-need-to-know-about-collapsing-tracheas-in-dogs
https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/tracheal-collapse-in-dogs

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Don’t let canine flu give your dog the blues!

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Just like people, dogs can be affected by different strains of influenza. There are two strains of the influenza virus known to affect dogs; H3N8 and H3N2. H3N8 broke out around 2004 in Florida and H3N2 was first seen in Chicago in 2015. Since then it has been seen in almost all parts of the United States and several other countries as well.

Unfortunately, Texas has seen confirmed cases of both strains of the canine influenza virus (or CIV). This respiratory infection is relatively new. Because of this, almost all dogs are susceptible to infection when exposed because they have not built up natural immunity to it yet. Most dogs that develop an infection caused by this virus have a mild illness, but some dogs get very sick and require treatment from their veterinarian. Virtually all dogs exposed become infected with the virus, but only 80% develop clinical signs. The other approximate 20% of infected dogs that do not exhibit clinical signs can still shed the virus and spread the infection. Scary, right?

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So, how is it spread?

Canine Influenza can pass between dogs through virus particles in the air (coughing or sneezing) or by coming into physical contact with other dogs. It can also be transferred indirectly—say if a dog touches or plays with objects that were touched by infected dogs (food bowls or toys). Humans can even transfer the virus between dogs if they do not properly sanitize after touching an infected dog, or if their clothing isn’t properly cleaned. Incubation of the virus is typically 2-5 days from exposure to the onset of clinical signs and it can still be spread during that time.Untitled

We are doing everything we can to help keep this virus contained in our community. Education is the first step to preventing more outbreaks! Vaccines are available for both the H3N8 and H3N2 strains. There is even a combination vaccine (or bivalent vaccine) that covers for both strains in just one vaccine. Just like when your dog was an adorable puppy, if this vaccine is new to their system they would need to get one booster done 2-4 weeks after the initial vaccination was given. After that, the vaccine is done once yearly.

You can do your part by vaccinating your dog for canine influenza. If your pet is not currently vaccinated, you should avoid places where dogs congregate such as dog parks, grooming salons, kennels and daycares. Be sure to check with your groomer and/or boarding facilities about their vaccination policies to make sure you are in compliance with them! We highly recommend that every dog be vaccinated for both strains of the canine influenza, regardless of their lifestyle.

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If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to get your dog vaccinated, please contact us at 281-282-9944 (or your regular veterinarian!). We’re happy to talk about this and help you decide what is best for your dog!

By: Shelly Crosson

 

Itchy Itchy Scratchy Scratchy – Can you get my Backey?

We all hate allergy season sneezing watery eyes and headaches. Luckily there are medications that relieve us from these symptoms, but did you know that your dogs can get allergies too? Dogs can experience skin luhf,allergies due to the pollen and other substances in the air. Dogs can also experience a chronic inflammatory skin condition called atopic dermatitis that could need lifelong management; in fact 10% of dogs have some kind of atopic dermatitis. Whether it is seasonal allergies or a chronic condition, dogs’ instinct will have them licking, scratching, and chewing at their skin to relieve the itch. This can cause hair loss and major irritation to the skin which can result in skin infections. But don’t worry – relief is just a short drive to your neighborhood veterinarian clinic!

There are medications similar to humans’ Claritin and Zyrtec, that are given orally on a daily basis. But what if those don’t help or your dog doesn’t like to take pills? Another option? Cytopoint, an injection that can relieve itch for 4-8 weeks. Cytopoint is a protein based (not chemical) medication that works similar to the cytodog’s immune system. When the “itching” signal is sent by your dog’s body to the brain it causes the reaction to start scratching or chewing. Cytopoint intercepts that signal to prevent your pet from scratching and allowing their skin to heal working similar to antibodies in their immune system. Because Cytopoint is not a chemical medication dogs’ bodies are able to break it down naturally. Meaning it does not get eliminated through the liver and kidney so no harm can be done to your pets’ organs. This makes it safe for dogs of all ages and can be used alongside other medications your pup may be taking.

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If you and your veterinarian decide Cytopoint injections are the best option for your furry friend, they can began feeling relief within 1 day and damaged skin can begin to heal within 7 days. After the first injection your vet may want to see your dog in 4 weeks to see the progress of the Cytopoint after which the two of you can discuss how often your dog may need an injection. The idea is to extend the time between shots and get your dog longer relief.  Your veterinarian will help you recognize signs that it is time for your pup to get their next injection. Another helpful tool is the itch tracker located on the Cytopoint website (https://www.cytopoint4dogs.com/resources.aspx), this chart can help you determine when it is time to bring your pet in for the next injection.

If you think your dog has allergies or an atopic dermatitis, set up an appointment with your veterinarian and ask about using Cytopoint. Start the journey to a longer itch free lifestyle because both you and your dog deserve relief from allergies!

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By: Deanna Smith

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/

The “Kissing Bug” Disease

Chagas disease is an infection with a parasitic protozoa called Trypanosoma cruzi. An insect that carries the protozoa in called a triatomine bug, commonly found in our area.

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The triatomine bug is nocturnal and comes out at night to feast on the blood out of their sleeping victims, which includes humans and animals both. The bug typically feeds around the eyes or mouth (hence the name, the “kissing bug”). At the time of feeding, the bug defecates on the skin, releasing the parasite in its feces. The feces enters the skin through the bite or through mucous membranes.

Chagas can be life-threatening if left untreated, but treatment for Chagas is most effective in the early stages of the disease. Symptoms include fever and swelling where the bite took place. If left untreated, the infection can lead to complications with the heart, esophagus, and colon. Contact your health provider if you think you might infected or at risk.Tcruzi_thin_giemsa5_zoom

Alternate ways of infection:

  • Congenital transmission (pregnant mother to baby)
  • Blood transfusion/Organ transplantation
  • Accidental lab exposure
  • Consumption of uncooked food or drinks contaminated with feces from infected bugs

Three-Triatoma-TX-smWho is at risk:

  • People living in substandard housing
  • Animals living in/People who have animals living in collective animal housing (henhouse, stables)

Prevention:

  • Do NOT touch the bug with bare, uncovered hands
  • Any surfaces that come into contact with the bug can be disinfected with bleach or other common household disinfectants
  • Insecticides can be used in the house and yard to target these bugs
  • Screening blood donations for the disease

More information can be found online at:
http://www.kissingbug.tamu.edu/found-a-bug
http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/chagas

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By: Madison Cole