Tag: canine

The Effects of Diets on Neurological Health in our Canine & Feline Friends

Diets can have a huge effect on your pet’s body and long term health. They rely primarily on the amount of vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and proteins present in their diets. Not only are these key ingredients important, but they can significantly increase your pet’s overall neurological health and, in theory, help prolong their life.

C18A5373Neurological health is vital to dogs and cats of all breeds and ages. A few symptoms to be aware of that typically come with age are problems with balance, loss of muscle mass, head tilt, difficulties walking, seizures, and weaker reflexes. These are all signs of possible underlying neurological issues and should be addressed sooner rather than later. We always want to be proactive instead of reactive (read more about our services and recommendations for senior pets here). An easy place to start is with a nutritiously balanced brain healthy diet.

Vitamins
The first key ingredients to look for when talking about your pet’s neurological health are vitamins. Lots and lots of vitamins! Most pet foods will already contain some vitamins, so be sure to check the label on your pet’s food so see what is included. But if you’re looking to use a separate supplement in addition to what is already in the food, be sure to check with your veterinarian about the concentrations beforehand.

Some Key Vitamins and Their Functions:
Vitamin A: Aids in optimal retinol function and skin improvement
Vitamin D: Used to help regulate phosphorus and calcium levels for optimal growth
Vitamin E: Used to help fight oxidation in cells, protect against heart disease, cataracts, and other various neurological diseases
Vitamin B1: Helps regulate thiamine levels
Vitamin B2: Responsible for metabolizing fats and carbs into energy
Vitamin B5: Also used in metabolizing energy
Vitamin B6: Responsible for glucose generation, healthy nervous system function, and hormone regulation
Vitamin B12: Helps aid in a healthy nervous system function, brain functions, and new cell growth

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Another key ingredient that is linked to neurological health in cats and dogs are Omega-3 Fatty Acids (aka “Lipids”). Fatty acids can be found primarily in marine sources such as phytoplankton or fish oil. Similar to vitamins, fatty acids have numerous health benefits.

sleeping old catThese benefits include: Modulating inflammation, aiding in fat soluble vitamin absorption, providing energy, promoting growth, promoting healthy skin and a healthy coat, and supporting joint and cartilage health.

Our beloved pets cannot provide the appropriate amount of fatty acids that their bodies require on their own. Omega-3 Fatty Acids are essential in overall health regardless of the neurological benefits.

Protein
The last key ingredient is protein. Proteins play several important roles in your pet’s body such as building and repairing muscles and tissues, along with growing new cells. The most common proteins are found in various meats, dairy products, some grains, legumes, and eggs. Our pets can store protein just like fat, so it is vital to supply it in their daily diets. Pets that are larger in size, or tend to be more active, may require a higher protein diet due to energy being used more frequently. The amount of protein needed varies depending on your pet’s lifestyle, breed, size, and activity levels.

That’s a lot of things to consider, we know. What happened to just picking up a bag of food? But feeding the correct diet is very important, especially when it comes to our older pets! Always be sure to read the labels and understand what your pet’s food contains. When in doubt, ask your veterinarian for their recommendations. There are several prescription and over the counter diets available for both dogs and cats that are formulated with neurological health in mind.

Canine Diets:
Purina Pro Plan Neurocare – Contains EPA, DHA, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and high protein levels. Can help treat idiopathic epilepsy along with medications, can also help treat Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome. For puppies, adults, and senior dogs. Dry formula only. Requires prescription. dvsdsv
Hill’s b/d Brain Aging Care – Contains antioxidants to help protect brain cells as well has support a healthy immune system. Has high levels of L-Carnitine to help preserve muscle mass. Also contains Omega-3 Fatty Acids for cell membrane health. Low sodium to help the heart as well. Dry formula only. Requires prescription. 
Royal Canin Mature Consult –
Powerful antioxidants neutralize free radicals, support brain function, and protect against cell aging. Also contains specialized amino acids to help maintain muscle mass. Available in both dry and canned formulas. Requires prescription.
Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind – Contains enhanced botanical oils to promote alertness and mental sharpness. EPA, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Glucosamine for joint care. Available for adults and seniors. Dry and canned formulas in various flavors available.
Purina Pro Plan Focus – High in protein and fiber. Contains Omega-3, Omega-6, as well as DHA for healthy brain development. Available for both puppies and adults. Dry and canned formulas in various flavors available.

Feline Diets:
Royal Canin Mature Consult –
Reduced phosphorus content to help with kidney function, L-Carnitine to help preserve muscle mass. ETA, DHA, EPA, and antioxidants. For sgsdgmature cats only. Available in both dry and canned formulas. Requires prescription.
Purina Pro Plan Focus Kitten – DHA for brain and vision development, rich in antioxidants for a healthy immune system. For kittens under one year old. Available in dry and canned formulas.
Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult – Omega-6, vitamins, linoleic acids for skin health. Antioxidants and natural fibers to help prevent hairballs. For cats one year and older. Dry and canned formulas in various flavors available.
Pruina Pro Plan Prime Plus – Formulated with vitamins and Omega-3s to help improve digestive health, support a healthy immune system, and to help maintain lean body mass. For cats 7 years and older. Dry and canned formulas in various flavors available.

old-boyAlways consult with your veterinarian first before switching your pet’s diet or adding on a supplement, especially if your pet has other health issues to consider. For example, pets that are having kidney issues or are in renal failure should not be on a high protein diet.

No one likes to see their pets get older, but there are things that you can do to help! Who would’ve thought something as simple as a diet change could make all the difference?

By: Cecilia Cardenas

“My Dog Isn’t Mean – It’s Had The Distemper Shot!”

Annotation 2020-02-18 150926Canine distemper is a contagious viral disease that attacks multiple parts of the body in dogs like the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems. The virus has also been present in canidae species like wolves, coyotes, raccoons, and skunks (or “creatures that party in the night” as Dr. Kuecker refers to them). Even ferrets can get distemper!

The distemper virus is airborne meaning that is spread by the spit and mucus particles from an infectious dog. The virus can also be transmitted by fomites like water bowls, equipment and food, or by a mother dog to her puppy through the placenta. Infectious wild animals can also transmit distemper.

Symptoms include:
STAGE ONE: Pus-like discharge from eyes, fever, nasal discharge, coughing, lethargy,  reduced appetite, and vomiting.
STAGE TWO: The nervous system becomes infected and dogs begin exhibiting neurological signs like walking in circles, head tilt, muscle twitches, seizures and potentially paralysis – either partial or full.
In wildlife species, the infection symptoms seem to closely resemble rabies.

Annotation 2020-02-18 150957Unfortunately, pets don’t usually survive distemper. Most that do survive end up having lasting, irreparable damage to their nervous system.

Infected dogs are usually diagnosed by how they present in-clinic, bloodwork, and other laboratory testing. There is currently no cure for distemper, so treatment consists of supportive care: Fluids to replenish hydration that is lost through vomiting/diarrhea, medications to control and reduce vomiting/diarrhea, and medications to help with the neurologic symptoms. Care to prevent secondary infections must also be taken. It is also recommended that infected dogs be isolated from all other dogs to help prevent the spread of the disease.

While all dogs are at risk for acquiring distemper, puppies younger than four months and unvaccinated dogs are at a much higher risk of catching distemper.

Annotation 2020-02-18 151023Prevention is key!
Consistent and complete vaccination has proven to be extremely effective in preventing our canine friends from contracting distemper. The distemper vaccine is normally combined with some other common vaccines, such as parvovirus, parainfluenza, hepatitis, and sometimes leptospira. We’ll call it the five-in-one special! Along with the rabies vaccine, distemper is considered to be a “core vaccination” that every dog should have.

This vaccination is given as a series. Depending on the age of your dog, your doctor may administer the first distemper vaccine and then have you come back in a couple weeks to re-administer. After that, your dog may only need to be re-vaccinated once a year. As with all vaccinations, the repeated exposure to the virus helps the dog’s immune system build immunity to the disease that they are being vaccinated for.

-Madison Cole

Sources:
https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/petcare/canine-distemper

Distemper in Dogs – Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment

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!

Hyperadrenocorticism? Is that even a real word?

What is it?

Hyperadrenocorticism (more commonly known as Cushing’s disease) is an overproduction of cortisol hormone. At normal levels, cortisol helps in response to stress and regulate the immune system. Cushing’s disease is one of the most common endocrine diseases in dogs.

Some common symptoms include:

  • Increased thirstcushings2
  • Increased urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Increased panting
  • Distended abdomen
  • Obesity
  • Loss of hair
  • Muscle weakness and loss
  • Darkening of skin
  • Lack of energy
  • Increased Urine Cortisol:Creatinine Ratios

Not all symptoms are present in every patient and some of these symptoms can also be seen with other diseases. Only your veterinarian can diagnose if your pet has Cushing’s.

There are multiple causes:cushings1

  • Excessive administration of corticosteroid medications.
  • Benign pituitary tumor (rarely can be malignant).
  • Adrenal gland tumor (adrenal-dependent hyperadrenocorticism/ADH).
  • Pituitary-dependent hyperadrenocorticism (PDH) – the body naturally produces too much hormone.

Diagnosis

Your pet’s veterinarian will first take a detailed history and do a complete physical exam. Next step is to perform a full blood chemistry, complete blood count, and urinalysis. These diagnostics will help the veterinarian get a bigger picture of what is happening in the body. Further testing that can help diagnose specific causes include: urine cortisol/creatinine ratio then ACTH stimulation test or Dexamethasone suppression test. The stimulation and suppression tests help determine specifically how much cortisol is being produced and how best it should be treated.

Treatment

  • Excessive administration of corticosteroid medications: Treatment is to slowly wean off the medications according to your veterinarian’s instructions.
  • Benign pituitary tumor and Adrenal gland tumor: First, a metastases check is performed to make sure the tumor has not spread to other organs. Then, a medication is given called trilostane (Vetoryl) to shrink the tumor. Once the tumor has decreased in size, it is removed.
  • Pituitary-dependent hyperadrenocorticism: The pet is put on trilostane for life. This controls the production of cortisol.

Living with Cushing’s Disease

This is a serious disease, but it can be managed if pet owners and veterinarians work together. This is a lifelong diagnosis and does require medications to be given long term. Periodic monitoring will be required to make sure the treatment is going as it should and to help the veterinarians know if an adjustment needs to be made.

cushings3

Sources:
Common Diseases of Companion Animals By Alleice Summers
Google images

By: Jamie McAfee

Help Your Dog’s Old Joints Feel New Again!

adequan1Osteoarthritis is common as our pups move into their senior years and it’s the number one cause of chronic pain in canines.  This condition is the result of wear and tear on a joint, either from overuse, repetitive activity, an injury, or from the natural development of a poorly formed joint. When a dog has arthritis the cartilage starts to break down and the fluid in the capsule dries up. This in turn causes inflammation, pain and deterioration of the joint.

Symptoms of Arthritis

Difficulty Moving – Trouble climbing stairs, sitting, or standing.

Showing Signs of Pain – Limping or favoring one leg, especially in the morning or after lying down for a while.

Decreased Activity – Sleeping more and not wanting to play. Some dogs will also distance themselves from their family.

fb-fixed-posts3

If your pet is suffering from arthritis, it’s important to give them the best possible care. Arthritis is incurable and can worsen over time. In this case, the best thing you can do for your pet is to speak with their doctor and start treatment plan that slows the progression of the disease and improves their quality of life by relieving painful symptoms. Lets be honest its sad to think about our fur baby not being able to join usual activities but thanks to Adequan, it’s changing that for many.

So first things first, what is Adequan?

adequancanine_prodboxAdequan is an injection-based prescription medication that helps prevent the cartilage in your dog’s joints from wearing away. It is a water-based polysulfated glycosaminoglycan. Okay, that probably just sound like gibberish so here what that actually means: It helps to lubricate the joints and relieve pain. Although it helps protect all of your dog’s joints, because arthritic joints have more circulation, more of the drug makes its way to the affected joints. Most importantly. it’s the only arthritis drug available that can actually slow down the loss of cartilage because it treats the underlying cause of arthritis instead of just treating the symptoms of arthritis pain. Adequan can also be used with daily pain medications if necessary.

howtograph5

How is Adequan administered?

Adequan is an intramuscular or subcutaneous injection that is administered in a series. So here is the jist: You would start with one injection twice weekly for four weeks, then monthly injections thereafter. It’s important to note that this is a lifelong medication and it may take up to 4 injections before any improvement is noticed. We understand that giving your dog injections at home can sound scary. We’re more than happy to teach you how to do this when starting your pup on Adequan, so there’s no need to worry!

adequan2

At the end of the day we all want our pets to live their best life. So think about trying Adequan to ensure “Fido” gets to continue going on those long summer walks and playing fetch well into his senior years!

By: Shelly Crosson