Tag: canines

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

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Pyo- Oh No!

UntitledWhat is a Pyometra?

“Pyometra” is an infection of the uterus of unspayed cats or dogs after a heat cycle. This condition can happen at any age but is more commonly seen in older pets and can be deadly if left untreated.

After several heat cycles, the uterus changes! The uterus becomes very thick and has excess tissue that would be used to support a potential pregnancy. Without a pregnancy to support, the uterine lining grows in thickness and cysts can form in the tissues, resulting in condition known as “Cystic Endometrial Hyperplasia.” This cyst-covered lining secretes a fluid into the uterus, creating an ideal environment for bacteria to grow in. High levels of progesterone (a hormone involved in heat cycles) do not allow the uterus to contract so as to expel fluid, leading to an accumulation of bacteria inside the uterus. While the bacteria inside the vagina is healthy, if it crosses into the cervix it can cause the infection which leads to a pyometra. Not all dogs who develop a pyometra will contract “Cystic Endometrial Hyperplasia.”

Untitled1Bacteria enters into the uterus by way of the cervix. The cervix is normally tightly closed, except during a heat cycle where it remains open and relaxed so sperm can enter freely into the uterus. A healthy vagina contains bacteria which can cross over into the cervix during a heat cycle and develop into a pyometra.

What are the possible signs of a Pyometra?

The signs can be different depending on whether the cervix is open or closed. In an open-cervix pyometra, the pus and/or discharge can drain out through the vagina. A pet may also have a fever, become very tired or lethargic and may not want to eat or drink.

In a closed-cervix pyometra, the uterus continues to swell with accumulation of pus and fluid, resulting in the abdomen becoming distended. The bacteria within the uterus can release toxins into the bloodstream, affecting the rest of the body very quickly. These pets seem to fall ill very quickly – they are incredibly lethargic and depressed, refusing water or food and may vomit or have diarrhea.

Untitled3

How is a pyometra diagnosed?

Dogs seen by a veterinarian early on in the condition may not show all of the above signs. They may just have slight vaginal discharge with not many other signs of illness. Because of the seemingly quick onset of a pyometra, most dogs are not seen until later on in the condition.

If a pyometra is suspected, a veterinarian will perform radiographs to see if the uterine is enlarged. However, if it is a closed-cervix pyometra, radiographs may not show an enlarged uterus. An ultrasound can also be performed to differentiate a pyometra from a normal pregnancy. A veterinarian will also perform bloodwork to see how the organs are functioning within the body. An elevated white blood cell count (a tell-tale sign of infection) and elevation of globulins (a protein associated with the immune system) may be present in a dog with a pyometra.

What is the best way to treat a Pyometra?

Untitled4A pyometra can be life-threatening if not treated immediately. The preferred treatment is surgical removal of the entire uterus, otherwise known as an ovariohysterectomy or “spay”. The spay procedure is very routine, however when a pet develops a pyometra, the procedure becomes more complicated and risky as the patient going under sedation is sick. The surgeon will remove the infected uterus and ovaries and take precaution as to not accidentally puncture the swollen organs. Pets who are diagnosed early on in this condition are an excellent candidate for surgery. Pets that are further along in the infection will require a longer period of hospitalization while running on intravenous fluids to stabilize the pet before and after undergoing surgery. Antibiotics may be added to treatment as well.

The chance of survival without surgery is very low. If treatment is not started promptly, toxins from the infection can spill into the bloodstream, affecting the rest of the body system. In a closed-cervix pyometra, there is an additional risk where the uterus could potentially burst, causing pus and bacteria to spill over into the abdomen.

What is the best way to prevent a pyometra?

Spaying your pet is the best way to prevent a pyometra. Spaying your pets also reduces their risk of developing mammary cancers and completely eliminates unwanted pregnancies. If you have decided to breed your pet and do not want more litters, you should promptly spay your pet. As the amount of heat cycles increase without development of pregnancy, the greater the chance of uterine infection.

Sources:
https://www.texvetpets.org/article/pyometra-in-unspayed-pets/
https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/pyometra-in-dogs
http://veterinarymedicine.dvm360.com/canine-pyometra-early-recognition-and-diagnosis?id=&pageID=1&sk=&date

By: Madison Cole

It’s been a bad flu season… for dogs!

By: Tara Sansing

As you have most likely already seen via the news there have been recent outbreaks of the flu in dogs across the country. At least two positive cases have been confirmed in the Houston area in the last couple of weeks.

Please be aware that this is the second strain of dog-flu-symptomsinfluenza that has been known to affect dogs. In the past, we have seen outbreaks of the Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) otherwise known as the H3N8 strain. The current flu virus, H3N2, emerged in Asia in 2005 and spread to the United States in 2015. Since then, there have been scattered positive cases in dogs across the country and more recently large outbreaks in several states.

Just like the H3N8 flu virus, H3N2 is an upper respiratory virus. The most common symptoms are coughing, fever, nasal discharge, lethargy and lack of appetite. Dogs are contagious for 5-7 days prior to showing the first symptoms and it is for this reason that H3N2 has spread very quickly. Because the virus is relatively new, dogs have no natural immunity against the virus—if unvaccinated and exposed, the chances of being infected is close to 100%.

The significance of an influenza infection is that it compromises the normal defense mechanisms of the canine respiratory tract so that secondary bacterial infections, including pneumonia, are common. The mortality rate for the virus and resulting infections is 8%. The dogs most at risk of dying are very old, young or are immune compromised because of another condition. Breeds such as Bulldogs, Boston terriers, German shepherds, etc. are more susceptible to secondary lung infection.

Who should be vaccinated?

Any dogs that walk in the neighborhood, visit with neighbor dogs through the fence, get dogs-playing-dog_parkbathed/groomed, board, go to training classes or play at the dog park are at high risk.  It is important to understand, however, that a dog does not have to come in direct contact with a dog that has the virus. The virus can live in the environment for several days and so any dogs that are in the same area later are also at risk.  The H3N2 virus can also be brought home by any person that has come into contact with the virus.

Please note that much like the flu vaccine in humans, the vaccine does not guarantee that a dog will not contract the virus but the symptoms will be much less severe and the dog should recover more quickly.  Any dog that has not received the vaccine in the past will need an initial vaccine followed by a booster in 2-4 weeks. The H3N2 vaccine should continue to be administered annually along with the H3N8 vaccine.

Starting July 1st, all dogs that drop off for baths and boarding at our clinic will need be vaccinated for both strains of influenza. This is for the safety of all patients in our care.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a time for your pup(s) to come in for the vaccine, please contact the clinic at 281-282-9944.