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.

28 comments

  1. These are such helpful articles! I adore Dr. Becker, he's the best. Thank you for sharing this information.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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    1. Yes, Dr. Becker is awesome. There were a few others who started fantastic blogs but just stopped writing.

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  2. If I take Layla out on a hot day I make sure there is a lot of shade and loads of water, I don't care if she does not eat but as long as she is hydrated I am relaxed. I also carry her to protect her paws, thanks for all the info

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    1. Yes, hot pavements are another thing to be aware of. Fortunately, where we are we have none. But in the city it's important to remember.

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  3. Each of these articles is worth a good read. Dog owners everywhere need to be aware of summertime hazards!

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    1. There are some wonderful veterinary blogs out there and I love highlighting their work.

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  4. Great articles! The dehydration one is very timely, considering how warm it's getting where we live. I've also been seeing a lot about cannabis lately for pets. Thank you for this roundup!

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    1. Yes, heat and dehydration go hand-in-hand and can be very dangerous.

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  5. Good information - very helpful and I pray EVERYONE keeps their pets hydrated all year but even more so for outside pets in the summer! This worries me greatly!

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    1. Yes, it is crucial to provide plenty of fresh water, particularly in the summer.

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  6. We are always super careful with the heat! Vino struggles and has extra cooling needs that need to be met if we are out for long!

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    1. I would recommend not even leaving the house in the summer without a water bottle for the dog.

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  7. Thank you for sharing this wealth of information. The dehydration portion is especially relevant to each and every dog owner this time of year. Monitoring your dog's water intake and panting is so important in the summer heat.

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    1. Yes, it's important to be diligent.

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  8. Water is the biggest concern I have for my pets and clients. It is so easy to become dehydrated in this summer heat and I spend all day at horse shows. Often there is not enough water available.

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    1. Yes, we always have a several water bottles in the truck.

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  9. I love Dr. Becker! This is great information,especially during this hot weather.

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    1. Yes, Dr. Becker is great. Love his fear-free movement too.

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  10. Proper water intake and hydration is not only vital in dogs but in cats as well. If they go beyond a day without, they can start to shut down very quickly.

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    1. It is for sure. Cats particularly can suffer from lack of hydration as it seems they don't have the same drive to actually drink water.

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  11. I always learn something new when I come to your blog! My pets share a water bowl, and since I don't always notice right away when it is empty, I just added another water bowl.

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  12. Proper water intake is essential for both dogs and cats. Cats need to be enticed to drink lots of water and I've found pet fountains help.

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  13. Very interesting! Blood is so much more complex than we give it credit for being. There are so many tiny little parts and jobs that blood does. I have heard of humans needing to be given platelets, so it doesn't surprise me too much that dogs would need a similar treatment from time to time. I suspect that this would be needed for cats on occasion too.

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  14. Great information to share thanks! I never even think about my dog's platelets but have experienced it personally so realize the dangers.

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  15. So important to keep dogs hydrated, especially in summer, and to get regular check ups. Great information.

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  16. Thank you for sharing these. I had no idea about the platelet issue, but now at least have a frame of reference for symptoms to look for, thanks again!

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  17. Keeping water intake up during the summer is vital. We had a heat wave this weekend.

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  18. These are all such great and informative articles! I learned a lot about a few things, particularly the platelet count and PTE. Thanks for sharing!

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