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Pancreatitis in Dogs - by Lexy Marcellus, (RVT) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Adam   
Monday, 03 September 2012 08:08

The pancreas is a flat, thin organ located in the front of the abdomen, near the stomach.  It contains 2 major types of cells. One group (endocrine pancreas) produces hormones (insulin, glucagon) that regulates blood sugar, and the other (exocrine pancreas) produces digestive enzymes that are released into the intestines to break down food.

What is pancreatitis?  Pancreatitis is inflammation of the exocrine part of the pancreas. When it becomes inflamed, it is very painful & swollen, and can affect the stomach, small intestines and liver.  Swelling and irritation of the pancreas and other organs are responsible for most of the clinical signs seen.

Dogs most commonly develop acute (brief and severe) pancreatitis, but chronic (of having long duration) pancreatitis can occur and is more common in some breeds than in others.  In many cases, the cause is unknown, but eating foods that are unusual (such as human food and garbage) or that are high in fat, are known to increase the risk for acute pancreatitis. Other risk factors include obesity and the presence of diseases of the liver, small intestines, or adrenal glands. Occasionally pancreatitis can develop following abdominal trauma or surgery, or from tumors or certain infections near the pancreas.

Pancreatitis symptoms include: vomiting, dehydration, painful abdomen, lethargy & fever. While these signs are vague & can often be seen with other diseases, it's always best to consult your veterinary team at the first sign of trouble. Dogs with chronic pancreatitis usually have a poor appetite, and are lethargic.  Above-mentioned symptoms can occur especially during flare-ups.  It's also quite common for signs of chronic pancreatitis to come & go. Even if they're feeling better, the pancreas can still be inflamed. If the inflammation persists, it can cause them to develop further issues with the pancreas and other organs.

What kind of testing is recommended?  Your Vet may suggest a couple of tests to rule out other diseases, and offer the best course of action. Bloodwork will show if there are any signs of anemia (low red blood cells), infection (elevation of white blood cells), and to ensure proper clotting. Other tests may include: Liver and kidney function, hydration status, blood sugar, and an overall look at their organs. Some are able to run with their tests in-house, others will send them out. One specific such test is called: pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity (SpecLipase) to assess the function of the pancreas. X-rays and ultrasound will rule out foreign bodies and confirm the pancreas is inflamed.

Dogs with acute pancreatitis often require hospitalization for fluid therapy, medications of pain and vomiting and other supportive treatments. Food and water are initially withheld to allow the pancreas to heal. A feeding tube may be recommended in some dogs. Severe acute pancreatitis can be life-threatening and can rapidly deteriorate if not treated promptly.

Chronic pancreatitis can normally be treated as an out-patient and not require hospitalization; however, those with severe bouts may need to be hospitalized for intravenous fluids. With chronic pancreatitis, staff may look at other abdominal diseases that can affect the pancreas and make treatment more manageable.

Will your dog recover?  The prognosis depends on the extent of the disease, and a favorable response to initial therapy. Dogs that present with shock and depression have a very guarded prognosis. Most with a mild form have a good prognosis.  It may help to keep your dog on a low fat diet, that's easily digested and especially made for the gastro-intestinal.  Such a diet will help keep the pancreas happy.  And best of all?   Most dogs will bounce back from this disease with no long-term effects!heartLexy

Parvovirus Diagnosis, Treatment & Prevention - by Lexy Marcellus, (RVT) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Adam   
Sunday, 12 August 2012 09:59

Canine Parvovirus is a highly contagious viral disease, that can be life threatening.  The virus attacks rapidly dividing cells in a dog’s intestinal wall, causing the villi which are used for absorbing nutrients to be destroyed. 'Parvo' also attacks the white blood cells, leaving animals unable to fight off secondary infections.  When young animals are infected, it can also damage the heart muscle and cause lifelong cardiac problems.  

High concentrations can be found in infected animals feces.  It can live in the environment for months and may survive on inanimate objects such as shoes, clothing, food bowls, floors & carpets. Transmission can occur by dogs ingesting it.

The primary Symptoms are gastro-intestinal and include: lethargy, severe vomiting, loss of appetite and bloody, foul-smelling diarrhea.  Fever may be present, and animals can become severely dehydrated very quickly. Affected dogs are often very weak, and shock may develop from the dramatic loss of body fluids. In some cases the heart may be affected, which can cause sudden death.

Veterinarians diagnose parvovirus based on clinical signs and laboratory testing. The specific test for parvovirus is tested on feces and takes 15 minutes to run at your vet’s office. This test is not 100% sensitive or specific; your veterinary team may recommend additional blood work and testing that will aid in the treatment of your dog.

Which dogs are prone to Parvovirus?  Puppies, adolescent dogs and canines who are not vaccinated are most susceptible to the virus.  Canine parvovirus affects member of the dog family (wolves, coyotes, foxes, etc.) Breeds at a higher risk are Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers, Labrador Retrievers, American Staffordshire Terriers and German shepherds.

Can Parvovirus be treated successfully?  Unfortunately, there's no treatment to kill Parvo, once it infects the dog.  However, it does not directly cause death; rather it causes loss of lining of the intestinal tract, and destroys some blood cell elements. The intestinal damage results in severe dehydration (water loss), electrolyte (sodium and potassium) imbalances, and infection in the bloodstream (septicemia).  When the bacteria that normally live in the intestinal tract are able to get into the bloodstream, it becomes more likely that the animal will die.

The steps in treatment are to help the animal with supportive care; administration of intravenous fluids containing electrolytes to help with the imbalance. Next, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs are given to prevent or control septicemia. Anti-nausea and anti-vomiting medications are used to help control vomiting and diarrhea that perpetuate the problems. Should your dog under-go this treatment, be prepared for considerable expense-the average hospital stay is about 4-6 days.

Please note that treatment is not always successful-so it’s especially important to make sure your dog is vaccinated.

How can Parvovirus be prevented?  The best method of protecting your dog against Parvovirus is proper vaccination. Puppies receive a parvo vaccination as part of their multiple-agent vaccines given at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age. All dogs should be given a booster vaccine at one year. Pregnant females should also be vaccinated prior to breeding - so that she will be able to pass on her immunity to the virus once the puppies are born.  Regular check-ups with your veterinary team - especially with a new puppy - with help keep them healthy & happy now and in future. winkLexy

Avoiding Heat Stroke - by Lexy Marcellus, (RVT) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Adam   
Saturday, 30 June 2012 20:21

The warmer weather's here and it’s great for taking dogs & cats outside for a little exercise in the sun!  While it's a good way to keep them healthy & happy, rising temperatures also increase the risk of heat stroke.

Heat stroke is the term commonly used for hyperthermia or elevated body temperature.  It is considered hyperthermic or abnormal when your pet’s body temperature is greater than 39.4⁰C (103 ⁰F).  Internal body temps greater than 41⁰C (106⁰F) without any previous signs of illness from your animals are most commonly associated with exposure to heat. The critical temperature in which your animal’s organs begin to fail and can result in death is 42.7⁰C (109⁰F).

The most common cause of heat stroke is leaving a dog in a car without proper ventilation.  In this situation, it only takes minutes for your dog’s body temperature rapidly (& dangerously) elevate!  It's important to remember that dogs cannot control their body temperature by sweating as humans do, as they only have a relatively small number of sweat glands located on their footpads.  Their primary way of regulating body heat is by panting.

Other common causes of heat stroke include: being left outside without access to shade or water on a hot day. Being exposed to a hair dryer for extended periods of time, and excessive or vigorous exercise during hot days will put them at risk.  This also holds true for excited or excessively exercised dogs - even if the temperature & humidity does not appear all that hot, to us (their humans/caregivers).  It's a good idea to keep them out of poorly ventilated environments.  If you don't KNOW what it's like inside their dog house, I urge to find out!

Brachycephalic breeds (flat faced dogs such as pugs, boxers, and bulldogs) that have restricted airways are at an even greater risk. In these breeds, clinical signs of heat stroke can occur when the outside temperature and humidity are only moderately elevated.  Other high-risk animals include: Dogs that are muzzled for any reason, since their ability to pant is restricted by the muzzle. 

NOTE: any infection causing fever (pyrexia) can lead to hyperthermia. Seizures or severe muscles spasms can also elevate the body temperature due to increase in muscular activity. 

Signs of heat stroke vary depending on the degree and time of the temperature elevation.  Panting and elevated temperatures are most common. The animal may be dull, weak, or wobbly, collapsed, convulsing, or in a coma.  Respiratory and heart rates are usually high, and breathing may be very noisy. Gums of the mouth may tacky and be bright red or blue (if not getting enough oxygen). Pulses may be weak. Vomiting and diarrhea may also occur.

Depending on the severity of the heat stroke, bleeding may be seen coming from the animal’s gums or skin, and also in the vomit or diarrhea. If your animal has underlying diseases, the heat stroke can cause further complications to the liver, kidneys, heart and lungs.

Consider "Hyperthermia" or heatstroke an immediate medical emergency.  First remove the animal out of the heat or sun right away. Then start to cool down your pet slowly, by placing cool wet rags, towels cloths all over your dog’s body especially the foot pads and head. Safe, controlled reduction of body temperatures is priority.  Rubbing alcohol may be applied to the footpads to dilate pores and increase perspiration.

**DO NOT use ice or very cold water! ** Extreme cold can cause the blood vessels to constrict, preventing the body’s core from cooling and actually causing the internal temperature to further rise.  Rectal temperature should be monitored, and treatment discontinued once the pet shows signs of recovery or the temperature has fallen to 39.4⁰C (103⁰F).

Here are my TOP ways of preventing heat stroke from ever happening:

  • NEVER leave your dog alone in the car on a warm day!  Even with Open Windows & moderately-warm temperatures, the inside of the car acts like an OVEN!  Temps can rise to dangerously high levels in a matter of minutes.
  • Avoid vigorous exercise on warm days. When outside, choose areas with shade.
  • Keep cool fresh water available at all times.
  • Monitor your brachycephalic dogs (pugs, boxers, bulldogs etc.) as they are more prone to heat stroke.

If caught early enough, some can fully recover.  Others suffer permanent organ damage and require lifelong treatment.  Sadly, many dogs do not survive. Prevention is important for keeping yourself & your animals safe during these hot summer months.  Your veterinary team has lots of great ways to keep to keep your pets COOL! cool  Lexy


Last Updated on Saturday, 30 June 2012 20:55
TICK DISEASES - by Lexy Marcellus, (RVT) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Adam   
Saturday, 02 June 2012 12:14

TICKS are starting to venture into Ontario.  Some of them carry diseases that are harmful to our pets.  The most common ones are: Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis.

Lyme disease: Caused by a bacterium borrelia burgdoferi, it's transmitted to dogs and humans through a tick bite.  Once in the blood stream, the Lyme disease organism is carried to many parts of the body, and is likely to localize in joints.  It's transmitted most commonly by deer ticks.

Initial clinical signs are: fever, lethargy, decreased appetite & lameness. Lameness tends to shift from leg to leg, over several weeks.  Joint swelling and enlarged lymph nodes may occur.  Multiple joints may be affected, and inflammation of the eyes (uveitis) may develop. If untreated, it may eventually disappear, only to recur weeks or months later.

Routine laboratory (blood & urine) tests, abdominal and joint x-rays, and an abdominal ultrasound may recommend investigating the source of these signs. Further blood testing for the antibodies & proteins of the bacteria will need to be run to confirm Lyme disease.

Treatment is recommended, and can be controlled by a lengthy course of antibiotics to eradicate the bacterium.  It is possible to be re-infected by Lyme disease, but using preventative medicine and looking over your dog for possible ticks, will help reduce this likeliness. 

Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis: These are systemic diseases caused by rickettsial bacterial, also transmitted by tick bites. The Brown Dog Tick is most notably the main source for these diseases.

Some animals may be infected, but show no clinical signs.  In others, signs may develop over time, or show themselves right away.  Symptoms can include: fever, lethargy, decreased appetite, and possible weight loss.  Enlarged lymph nodes & spleen, as well as areas of bruising or bleeding under the skin, in the mouth or nose.  Inflammation and hemorrhage within the eye - retinal detachment, vision abnormalities, joint and muscle pain, swelling and lameness are also possibilities.  Central nervous system signs such as seizures, neck pain, uncoordinated movement, head tilt & falling may also occur.

Similar to Lyme Disease, testing is recommended - as well as looking for antibodies or proteins in the blood from the bacteria.  Ehrlichoisis and Anaplasmosis can be treated, with a long course of antibiotics and pain medications to keep the dog comfortable and eradicate the bacteria.

The most important thing to consider?  Regular testing - which most Vet Clinics recommend in addition to Heartworm testing.  A small amount of blood can make a big difference. Planning on hiking with your dog in wooded areas?  Talk to your Veterinarian team to find out which Preventative medications and testing, would most benefit your dog’s active lifestyle!  Then get out there...and Enjoy! cool Lexy

IT'S "TICK SEASON" AGAIN! - by Lexy Marcellus, (RVT) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Adam   
Friday, 04 May 2012 05:25

It’s that time of year again! Thanks to our mild winter and the beautiful start to spring temperatures, ticks as well as other pesky insects are upon us.  Ticks are usually seen when the temperature is between 4-to-22⁰C and generally between April-thru-June and at the end of August-thru-November.  The tick population is increasing in our area too.  In the last few years, they weren’t much of a worry, but veterinary clinics have seen an increase in occurrences.

The tick 'lifecycle'

Ticks have four distinct life stages: Egg, six-legged larva, eight-legged nymph and adult. First the female adult tick finds a host animal (dog, cat, wild animals etc.) to feed on, then mates. Once the engorged female is ready, she will fall off the host and lay approximately 3,000-6,000 eggs at one time. From there the eggs hatch to larvae, and THEY search for a host as well to feed off of.  The larvae develop into the larger nymph. The nymph feeds on a host and then molts into a larger adult, ready to begin the cycle all over again.

How do dogs pick up ticks?

Ticks wait for host animals from the tips of grasses and shrubs.  Once they brush by, they quickly let go of the vegetation and climb onto them. Ticks can only crawl; they are not able to fly or jump.

There are at least 15 species of ticks in North America!  (Thankfully, only a few of them will ever come into contact with our dogs here in Ontario)

Here are some of the more (UGH) 'Popular' ones:

American dog tick: Attacks a wide variety of hosts, including humans and dogs, but rarely infests homes.  They're attracted by the scent of animals, and humans encounter them near roads, paths, trails and recreational areas. Although present year-round, they're most numerous in Spring.

Lone star tick: Named after the female’s distinct single silvery-white spot on its back, this tick will also bite dogs and humans like its American cousin. They live in wooded/brushy areas, and are most numerous in underbrush along creeks and river bottoms, & near animal resting places. Most often seen from March to May, and in July & August.

Deer (Blacklegged) tick:  All 3 stages of this tick will feed on a variety of hosts. Usually found in wooded areas along trails, the deer tick can transmit Lyme disease and possibly erlichiosis to dogs and humans!

Brown dog tick: This tick feeds on dogs, but rarely humans. Unlike other species, its lifecycle allows it to survive and develop indoors.  Found primarily in kennels or homes with dogs, it hides in cracks, behind furniture, under rugs and on walls or draperies. It enjoys tropical weather and cannot handle long, cold winters outdoors.

How can ticks be prevented?

Prevention in the form of a topical medication can be applied to your dog(s) once a month, to kill any ticks that may land on them. A vaccine is now available for protecting dogs against Lyme disease.  This vaccine is initially given twice, at a two-to-three-week interval.  Annual re-vaccination is also necessary to maintain immunity.

What should I do if I find a tick on me or my dog?

Use blunt tweezers or disposable gloves to handle the tick (infectious agents can be transmitted through mucous membranes or breaks in the skin). Remember: diseases that infect dogs, can also infect US!

1. Grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible. This reduces the possibility of the head detaching from the body upon removal.

2. Pull the tick out straight out with a steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick as this may cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin, increasing the chances of infection.  Continue to apply steady pressure even if the tick does not release immediately. It may take a minute or two of constant, slow pulling to cause the tick to release.

3. After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite area and wash your hands with soap and water.  After removing it, preserve it in rubbing alcohol and bring it to your vet, for testing.  Always consult your veterinary team for the best preventative medication and recommendations to keep you and your dog healthy & TICK-FREE! heart Lexy

Last Updated on Saturday, 05 May 2012 05:47
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