Tag: lethargic

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. 

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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

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