Saturday, June 24, 2017

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Heartworm, Aspergillosis, and Colorado Protocol for Canine Parvovirus?

A Banner Year for Heartworm Disease

Dr. Nancy Kay/Spot Speaks

"If ever there was a year to be vigilant about heartworm prevention, this is it. The number of dogs and cats diagnosed with heartworm disease within the United States is expected to increase this year because of above-average precipitation and temperatures, ideal conditions for the propagation of mosquitoes that transmit heartworms to our pets." ~Dr. Nancy Kay


Up here in Ontario, heartworm doesn't get much publicity. It seems that it's not nearly as prevalent here than south of the border. However, it is the last thing I'd be willing to take any chances with and I do use a preventive monthly, period, no arguments. This is definitely one of the diseases where preventive is by far the lesser of the evil.

Are you using heartworm preventive for your dog?

Read Dr. Kay's report on the subject.


Aspergillosis in Dogs – A Destructive Sinus & Nasal Disease

Dr. Christopher Byers/CriticalCareDVM

Microscopic appearance of Aspergillus fumigatus. Photo CriticalCareDVM

Which type of infection scares you the most? Bacterial, viral of fungal? When it comes to bacterial infections, my answer would be that it depends. Generally, bacterial infections are relatively easy to treat with antibiotics. There is the looming armageddon of increasing resistance.

Viral infections are trickier. You cannot kill something that technically isn't alive in the first place. There are very limited treatments and the go-to strategy are vaccines; priming the immune system to be prepared to tackle certain serious viral infections should they come about. This, of course, works only for viruses that have been around long enough for the vaccine to have been developed. Other than that, medicine cannot even treat a common cold.

So what about fungal infections? Fungi are technically "alive" and can be killed but it's not easy and treatments are quite nasty and potentially dangerous. Look at the little success there has been with something as common as athlete's foot.

The most common fungal infection dogs get is aspergillosis. Aspergillus is found pretty much everywhere. It's impossible to prevent by avoidance. Most dogs have an effective defensive system in their nasal passages and sinuses that stops the fungus from doing any harm. In dogs who actually get sick, this defense doesn't function properly, resulting in actual disease.

Aspergillosis is one of the things that can be behind a dog's nose bleeds.

Read Dr. Byers' comprehensive article explaining what aspergillosis is.


Using the Colorado Protocol for Canine Parvovirus 

Dr. Justine Lee

Canine parvovirus is a highly infectious, life-threatening disease. It requires aggressive supportive treatment and three to five days hospitalization. The term "golden standard" represents the best, accepted treatment known at the time. But that sometimes means a treatment that many people cannot afford. Is there an alternative?

The "Colorado protocol" is an alternative, "outpatient" treatment protocol for parvovirus.

"While this study stated that it was an assessment out an outpatient protocol for dogs with parvovirus, it wasn’t." ~Dr. Justine Lee

The "outpatient" dogs were still hospitalized for an average of 3.8 days before the actual outpatient therapy.

So is this option any good and is it really more affordable? Read Dr. Lee's thoughts.

And don't forget, vaccination is almost 100% effective in preventing this disease in the first place.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Are Spider or Snake Bites an Emergency?

86.49% survey participants checked snake or spider bites as being an emergency.


Photo whiterussian

What kind of snakes or spiders your dog might encounter depends on where you live. Some of the most dangerous species include rattlesnakes, copperheads, and water moccasins. The outcome depends on the amount of venom injected, location, size of the dog ... but I would treat any and all of these as an emergency because the sooner your dog gets help the better.

A prompt and aggressive treatment can save your dog's life.


I would like to note that even a bite from a non-venomous snake can become devastating because of the potential for serious infections.

The signs that should make you suspect a snake bite even if you didn't see what happened include sudden yelp, intense pain, and rapid swelling. You may or may not be able to find puncture marks. The wound might bleed, and your dog might show signs such as drooling, rapid breathing, dilated pupils, pale gums, weakness, vomiting, neurological signs ...

I can't imagine even considering not to rush to a vet if I knew or suspected my dog was bitten by a snake.


Spider bites are generally much less scary and can even slip under the radar. But how dangerous a spider bite might be depends on what spider did the deed. Most spider bites might cause some itching and irritation, and that's about it.

Some can cause swelling and major infection. And some can be extremely dangerous, particularly for smaller dogs.

Know what species might be crawling in your area.


The most dangerous spiders are the black widow and brown recluse.

Most spider bites don't require medical attention. But if your dog acts sick or develops a lesion at the bite site, it’s time to call your veterinarian.


Further reading:
Protect Your Dog from Snake Bites
More Creepy Crawlies

Related articles:
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey Results
Is Unproductive Retching an Emergency?
Is Difficulty Breathing an Emergency?
Is Panting an Emergency?
Is Severe Pain an Emergency?
Is Limping an Emergency?
Is Vomiting Bile in the Morning an Emergency?
Is Profuse Vomiting an Emergency?
Are Convulsions or Seizures an Emergency?
Is Loss of Appetite an Emergency?
Is Reduced Activity an Emergency?
Is Severe Lethargy an Emergency?
Is Inability to Stand an Emergency?
Is Inability to Urinate an Emergency?
Are Cuts and Abrasions an Emergency?
Is Bleeding an Emergency?
Is Blood in Vomit an Emergency?
Is Fresh Blood in Stool an Emergency?
Is Black, Tarry Stool an Emergency?
Are Pale Gums an Emergency?
Is an Unresponsive Dog an Emergency?
Is Coughing an Emergency?
Is Choking an Emergency?
Is Head Pressing and Emergency?
Are Bug Stings an Emergency?



Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog now available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Adoption Monday: Red, Rottweiler & Labrador Retriever, Page, AZ

This lonely heart is still looking for his forever home!


Red would benefit from being the only dog so he could give you all of his love! Do you have room in your heart to help Red become the best dog he can be?


Red has been part of the PAAA pack for over 3 years and we would like to see him finally find a home of his own.

***

Page Animal Adoption Agency is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that provides animal adoption, education, and low-cost spay and neuter services to Page, Arizona, and the surrounding communities.

Page Animal Adoption Agency began about four years ago as a small group of people who wanted to reduce the number of unwanted pets being euthanized in the city shelter. Now, they are in the process of renovating a building donated by the city to turn it into an Adoption Center of which Page can be proud. Through fundraising efforts and generous donations, that goal gets closer every month.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Low Platelet Counts, Preventing Summertime Dehydration, and more ...

Low Platelet Counts Are Big Trouble for Dogs

Dr. Marty Becker

"Does your dog have black school or bruises or other marks on his skin? This could be a lights and sirens emergency, and definitely requires a fast trip to the vet." ~Dr. Marty Becker

One thing about blood is that it's a well-designed, carefully regulated concoction of life-sustaining bits. One of those are platelets. The principal function of platelets is to prevent bleeding. If platelet count drops low enough, not only it would result in uncontrolled bleeding for any wound but it can even lead to spontaneous bleeding anywhere in the body. Such situation is life-threatening and a dog can die from internal bleeding.

The while cute "guys" are platelets. Photo Thrombocyte

During her drug-induced hyperthermia, Jasmine's platelets got destroyed in large numbers. Among other fallout from the event, bruises started appearing on her tongue and elsewhere on her body. When the teaching hospital's emergency veterinarians also discovered a large abscess in Jasmine's abdomen, they could not operate until her platelets got high enough to do the surgery safely. While the abscess was a high-risk ticking bomb, we did have to wait for the platelet numbers to rise. If the abscess ruptured, it could have killed Jasmine. But surgery without enough platelets to prevent profuse blood loss would kill her also.

A dog with insufficient platelets needs emergency care and the cause of platelet loss needs to be figured out.

Read Dr. Becker's article about the signs and dangers of low platelet count.


Preventing Summertime Dehydration

Dr. Nancy Kay/Spot Speaks


80% of a dog's body mass consists of water. That should tell you how important water is for life. There is water in the blood, there is water in the cells and surrounding tissues. Water is involved in every function the body performs. Water and its properties is what makes life possible.

"An adequate amount of water within the body is essential for maintaining normal blood pressure, circulation, and bodily functions." ~Dr. Nancy Kay

Dehydration happens when the loss of water is higher than intake. This can happen with diarrhea, vomiting, kidney failure, or increased panting when the loss isn't matched by supply.

On a hot day, particularly with physical activity, a lot of water is lost through panting. Panting is how dogs expel excess body heat but it comes at a price of higher water loss. If a dog doesn't have access to sufficient amount of water to drink, or they are too busy having fun to remember to drink, they can get dehydrated quickly.

Make no mistake, dehydration is a common emergency and can be life-threatening.

First signs of dehydration include saliva pooling on the tongue in little foamy streaks. Next signs are dry, sticky gums, lack of skin elasticity, dark, concentrated urine, followed by delay in capillary refill time, lethargy and other serious signs.

Learn more about summertime dehydration and how to prevent it in Dr. Kay's article.


Protein-Losing Enteropathy (PLE) – When Protein Passes in the Poop

Dr. Christopher Byers/CriticalCareDVM

At one point, protein-losing enteropathy was on the board as a differential diagnosis for some of Jasmine's issues. Rottweilers are one of the breeds highly susceptible to this problem. I was glad to have it ruled out.

What is protein-losing enteropathy?

Firstly, it's not just any protein that is being lost, it is a particular one, called albumin. Albumin is one of the two main functional proteins in the blood. It is partnered with globulins. Globulins are blood proteins involved with immune function. Albumin is a transporting protein and plays a major role in keeping fluids where they belong, such as inside the blood vessels. Without enough albumin the blood, fluid goes where it pleases and accumulates in places where it doesn't belong.

You can check out My Brown Newfies blog for a real-life story on how all hell can break lose when all these things happen.

Potential causes of this condition include infectious diseases, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as in Leroy's case and as we temporarily figured in Jasmine's case ... Believe it or not, those are the better ones from the potential diagnoses.

Check out Dr. Byer's comprehensive article about PLE.


Medical Cannabis and Its Impact on Pets

Dr. Jean Dodds

To cannabis or not to cannabis? That is the question. I see more products out there, now even to treat anxiety. I was asked whether I'd use it for my dog(s). Like with anything else, it depends. If there wasn't any other effective way to treat something, I'd consider anything that could work. That's for sure.

Dr. Dodds, however, points out risks other than issues of legality or potential toxicity. For example, what about regulations about pesticides, fungicides, chemicals and other toxins or impurities in medical cannabis?

Check out Dr. Dodds' thoughts.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Dog Medical Emergencies Survey: Are Bug Stings an Emergency?

27.78% survey participants checked bug stings as being an emergency.


Our guys got their share of bee stings. While painful and distressing, most bug stings indeed are not an emergency.

Because the hornet stung Cookie on the face, we kept the key in the ignition and watched carefully. I gave Benadryl immediately and the swelling started going down in couple of hours. If it got any worse, we'd gone to a vet.

Last time when Cookie stepped on a bee, she was very unimpressed. She was limping, shaking her foot, I could see it hurt a lot. Typically, I give Benadryl, but because Cookie was showing major signs of pain, I also gave her one Deramaxx. (As much as I am not a fan, I keep renewing my stash, so I have some dog-appropriate NSAID on hand when needed.) That time it didn't even swell much, though some other times it did, such as when she got stung by a hornet it did swell up.

I tried and ice pack too, but Cookie hates it. I didn't want to traumatize her more in the attempt to help her.

Half an hour later she seemed back to normal. I was watching her carefully, though.

There are times when bee or hornet stings can be an emergency.


Just like with people, in some cases, a sting can cause a violent allergic reaction and even anaphylaxis. Fortunately, this is rare, but it could happen.

Swelling itself can lead to an emergency if severe and/or mouth or throat are involved.

If my dog showed any further signs beyond initial pain and moderate local swelling at the site, I'd see a vet quickly.


Allergic reactions to stings can range from mild to severe and life-threatening.

Mild reactions can include fever, loss of appetite, and mild lethargy. A moderate reaction can present with hives or swelling and redness of the lips, around the eyes and neck, This can progress to anaphylaxis. Would you want to take a chance?

A severe reaction, then, is the anaphylaxis itself. A dire emergency.

I should note that crawling insects can be even more dangerous.


A sting may or may not lead to major trouble. Spider bites, on the other hand, depending on the species, can be a major disaster depending on the species living in your area.

Be diligent, don't take chances.



Related articles:
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey
Dog Medical Emergencies Survey Results
Is Unproductive Retching an Emergency?
Is Difficulty Breathing an Emergency?
Is Panting an Emergency?
Is Severe Pain an Emergency?
Is Limping an Emergency?
Is Vomiting Bile in the Morning an Emergency?
Is Profuse Vomiting an Emergency?
Are Convulsions or Seizures an Emergency?
Is Loss of Appetite an Emergency?
Is Reduced Activity an Emergency?
Is Severe Lethargy an Emergency?
Is Inability to Stand an Emergency?
Is Inability to Urinate an Emergency?
Are Cuts and Abrasions an Emergency?
Is Bleeding an Emergency?
Is Blood in Vomit an Emergency?
Is Fresh Blood in Stool an Emergency?
Is Black, Tarry Stool an Emergency?
Are Pale Gums an Emergency?
Is an Unresponsive Dog an Emergency?
Is Coughing an Emergency?
Is Choking an Emergency?
Is Head Pressing and Emergency?



Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog now available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.
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