Tag: bloodwork

Parvovirus – Deadly, but Preventable!

First things first – What is Parvo?

Almost every mammal species has its own parvovirus. The canine parvovirus was discovered in 1967. At first the strain present CPV-1 did not represent much of a threat except to newborn puppies. In 1978 a new variant appeared called CPV-2. At this time the virus was still new and no dog had any kind of immunity against the virus. With no resistance and no natural immunity to the virus, the resulting epidemic was disastrous.

canine-parvovirus-parvo-in-dogs-1In 1979, the virus mutated again creating the CPV-2a. This strain was even more aggressive that the first two. Vaccine manufacturers were unable to keep up with the demand. The virus is able to rapidly spread and infect dogs because it is shed in large numbers by infected dogs and is especially hardy once in the environment.

At this point in time, the virus is considered to be in every environment. Simply trying to keep a puppy from exposure to the virus is a futile task. Luckily, most dogs have some level of natural immunity to the virus and vaccination against it is common practice now.

How is it spread?

Parvo is spread through the feces of infected dogs. Very little fecal material is needed to transmit the virus. Parvovirus can remain in the environment for six months to a year. It is especially tough and it can survive both extreme heat and subzero temperatures. The virus enters the body through the mouth as the puppy or dog cleans itself or eats food off the ground. There is a three to seven day incubation period. First, the virus hangs out in the lymph nodes in the throat and begins to multiply. Once the virus has reached sufficient numbers, it then begins to attack the bone marrow and begins to kill the young cells of the immune system. 

dogs

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of parvovirus include severe, bloody diarrhea, lethargy, vomiting, weight loss, lack of appetite, and fever. Parvo should be considered as a possible diagnosis for any young dog presenting with vomiting and diarrhea.

The GI tract is where the most damage is done by the virus. The lining of the intestinal tract is covered in finger like projections called villi. The villi are covered in even smaller finger like projections called microvilli. These projections increase the surface area of the intestine allowing for absorption of nutrients. The cells that make the the microvilli are short lived and are replaced by cells deeper in the tissue that rapidly multiply. The parvovirus strikes these cells. The villi then become blunted and the dog is not able to absorb nutrients. The lining between the digestive bacteria and the blood stream is broken down. This is what causes the characteristic bloody diarrhea of parvo. Bacteria can now enter the bloodstream causing widespread infection.

The virus kills in one of two ways. The first is dehydration and fluid loss brought on by diarrhea and vomiting. The second is bacterial infection from the loss of the intestinal barrier.

parvotestHow is it Diagnosed?

A diagnosis is made by Parvo ELISA test. This is performed in clinic and takes about 15 minutes to run. The biggest drawback to the ELISA test is that recent vaccination with a live virus vaccine can cause a false positive. In this case, doing a complete blood count to look for a drop in white blood cells may also be done.

Treatment

With proper treatment and hospitalization, the survival rate is 75-80%. Treatment of parvovirus centers around supportive care. Supportive care includes keeping the dog hydrated, comfortable, and as strong as possible. There is no way to kill the virus inside the dog. The only way to cure parvo is to keep the dog strong enough that eventually the immune system is able to make enough antibodies to the virus to fight it on its own. When treating parvo, be prepared for a 5-7 day hospital stay and intensive care. Unfortunately, treatment can be expensive. 

puppy-diarrhea-vetThe first step in treating parvo is keeping the dog hydrated. IV fluids are needed to replace the fluids lost by the extreme vomiting and diarrhea. Antibiotics are also needed to help prevent septicemia. The loss of the intestinal barrier allows bacteria from the GI tract into the bloodstream. Since the virus destroys the the immune system, the dog has no way to fight on its own. Keeping the patient comfortable is a key part in treating any disease.

Tests are done to monitor the progress of the disease and effectiveness of the treatment throughout the puppy’s time in hospitalization. These tests include white blood cell counts, complete blood count, electrolyte and glucose levels, urine specific gravity, lactate levels, and total blood protein.

There are some additional treatments that can be done to help the puppy (such as plasma transfusions and certain kinds of cold medicine). However, these options are not a substitute for hospitalization and need to be discussed in detail with your veterinarian before starting them. 

Aftercare

Once the puppy has recovered from the worst of the infection, they can then be sent home. They will most likely be sent home with antibiotics, anti-nausea, and anti-diarrhea medications. It is important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions for the medications and home care.

puppyeatingYour puppy will probably be very hungry after going so long without solid food. He should be fed in small portions every 1-2 hours. If he is allowed to gorge himself, this can upset his already delicate tummy.

Your puppy should be considered contagious to other puppies for at least a month after infection. It is important to keep him confined from any dogs that have not had the full vaccine series. Your veterinarian will let you know when it’s ok to resume vaccines. It is possible that your puppy has developed a life long immunity from the parvovirus since the infection. You should still continue vaccinating him for parvo along with all other recommend vaccines. There should be no permanent ramifications from the parvovirus. After the 2-3 week recovery period your dog should go on to lead a happy, healthy life.

Prevention

To prevent parvovirus infection in your puppy, you must follow the recommended vaccine schedule. Starting at six weeks of age your puppy should be vaccinated every 3-4 vxweeks until he is 16 weeks of age. Until your puppy has completed the vaccine series, he should be kept away from other puppies and kept out of dog parks or other social situations. Once your puppy has had all necessary vaccines he is ready to begin exploring the world with you!

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

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.

Early Detection- Why Diagnostic Tests are Important for Your Pet(s)

By Tara Sansing

Did you know?

  • If detected early, 75% of common diseases in dogs and 63% of common diseases in cats can be prevented by dietary modifications alone over a one year period.
  • Kidney disease is one of the major causes of illness and death in dogs and cats, but symptoms do not usually appear until 2/3 of kidney function has been lost. If caught early, the animal can live with condition for many years.
  • If a liver problem is detected at an early stage of the disease and is administered proper treatment, the chance of your pet’s recovery is in your favor.
  • Early detection of diabetes is extremely important because an early therapy regimen can be more effective and easier on the animal. Detecting and monitoring diabetes early can also prevent damage to other organs.

Our pets can’t talk and often seem perfectly fine when something is wrong. So how do you know when there is a problem? The answer is early detection.

Early detection is not one test, a series of tests, or just one visit. It is a new way of caring for your pet, just like human medicine allows us to care for ourselves. Medical advancements enable us to diagnose potential diseases before they become a serious issue including heartworm, thyroid disease and intestinal parasites in our pets.

While a physical examination is vital to your pet’s healthcare, there are several conditions that cannot be diagnosed by simply looking, listening and touching. Chemistry and hematology blood tests provide a detailed look at your pet’s health from the inside. Since our pets age almost seven times faster than we do, we recommend that these tests be performed annually.

Here is a breakdown of critical diagnostic tests we recommend to ensure that your pet is as healthy on the inside as he or she appears to be on the outside.

Fecal Exam
We check your pet’s stool once a year for signs of intestinal disease and parasites. We will examine the stool for outward signs of disease such as blood, mucous and abnormal consistency. We’ll also send a sample of your pet’s stool to the lab so that they can test it for the presence of parasites including hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, coccidia and giardia.

Heartworm Test
Each year, we draw a few drops of your pet’s blood so that it can be tested for heartworms. The test can be run in the clinic and only takes 10 minutes to process which means that you can get results right away! Heartworms can be fatal in both cats and dogs and are spread by infected mosquitoes. Even pets that stay indoors are at risk because mosquitoes often slip into the house and can infect unprotected pets. It is important to perform this test annually even if your dog or cat is on heartworm prevention year-round as even one missed dose or late dose of preventative can put them at risk.

Serum Chemistry Panel and Complete Blood Count (CBC)
It is important to perform this test annually to detect and prevent disease as early as possible. These blood tests can tell us if your pet is anemic, fighting infection and whether or not their internal organs are functioning properly. In some cases, treatable diseases such as diabetes can be detected with these tests.

Urinalysis
Like a blood test, a urinalysis can give us an understanding of what is happening on the inside of your pet. A urinalysis once a year can help us to diagnose underlying diseases such as bladder infections, diabetes and renal failure.

These tests will help your pet live a long, healthy life but staying on top of internal disease. Once we have the results of these tests, we will have a better picture of your pet’s internal pet health and we will be well on our way to detecting disease as early as possible.