Category: Overweight / Obesity

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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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 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

Changes In Underweight And Overweight Cats

By- Erin Fitzpatrick-Wacker

Is your cat experiencing changes in its normal habits? Since our cats can’t tell us what is bothering them, we monitor their everyday behavior for changes to alert us that something may have changed.

In the case of diabetes, some early symptoms you might see are attacking you for food, inappropriate elimination, problems jumping on things, and worn off fur on the bottom of paws. Some late symptoms you might see are increased water consumption and increased urination.

In the case of hyperthyroidism, you might see increased appetite, changes in their coat, and weight loss.

If we are checking their lab work regularly, we are able to monitor many of these changes, and in the case of early diabetes, can even reverse the changes if caught early enough. We recommend screening lab work for every overweight and underweight cat, especially if they are over 10 years old, and every cat over the age of 7, especially if they are being anesthetized. 50% of diabetic and hyperthyroid cats have an underlying gastrointestinal issue (GI) and need additional screening lab, such as a GI panel with their regular lab work. Diabetic patients are also prone to urinary tract infections and require additional testing for their urine.

Properly diagnosed cats with gastrointestinal problems live 2 years longer, since skinny old cats have a reduced ability to digest fats and proteins, which is why we prescribe the special diet we put them on.

We also often like to check the quality of their stool to check and document consistency. Many cats with gastrointestinal problems have normal looking stool from the outside, but the inside will be waxy or liquid-like.

Monitor your cat closely for changes because of the special needs of senior pets and do yearly screening lab work to help evalutate their internal organs and identify underlying medical conditions. The sooner we identify their condition, the faster we can treat it. Bring these noticeable changes to the attention of your veterinarian for proper testing and diagnosis.