Saturday, September 3, 2016

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Steroids Used in Veterinary Medicine, Understanding Parvovirus, and more ...

7 Types of Steroids for Dogs

Dr. Jennifer Coates/petMD

Photo Adrianna Calvo

When I hear the word steroids, the first thing that comes to my mind are glucocorticoids, more specifically cortisol. At low doses this is used to reduce inflammation, at high doses they suppress the immune system. Most often they are used for allergies and immune-mediated diseases. Jasmine got them to reduce inflammation with her neck injury. There are a few other uses. They work very well to do what they're meant to but they also do a bunch of things in the process that are less than desirable. For me, their use is for dire situations only. With Jasmine stayed away from them, in spite of them being recommended a number of times. When her neck got bad, that was a dire enough circumstance to finally agree to their use. They helped. But they also might have contributed to the downward spiral that ultimately resulted in Jasmine's passing.

That said, did you know that there are six other types of steroids used for stuff? Estrogen, for example? We've been using that to control Cookie's incontinence.

Find out which other types of steroids are used in veterinary medicine.

Hey! Dogs and cats get anaphylaxis, too

Dr. Tony Johnson

EpiPen is a simple, easy-to-use, life-saving device. It can mean the difference between life and death for allergic patients. It counteracts the shock brought on by anaphylaxis.

The first time I saw the news that the EpiPen now costs $600 plus was when a friend of mine posted that on Facebook. She is allergic and has always made sure she had one on hand. These things don't keep very well, the longest you can have one is up to a year. They used to cost around $100. What the heck happened?

Dogs can go into an anaphylactic shock too. It has always been in the back of my mind that it might be a good idea to have one of these things in the doggy first aid kit. Our dogs don't have any known severe allergies and I haven't seen it recommended by any vets but still ...

Well, at this price nobody can afford one even for themselves, can they? I can't even begin to imagine how the price could have skyrocketed like this.

There are some alternatives, such as a vial of epinephrine along with a syringe for administration. For that, of course you cannot be afraid of needles. It may or may not be legal to get one of these. But it's worth looking into it.

Parvovirus Infection in Dogs – Part I: Cause and Diagnosis

Dr. Christopher Byers/CriticalCareDVM

Photo Caio

Parvovirus is a small but deadly virus. It can be found about everywhere in the environment worldwide. Preventing exposure is nearly impossible. The virus is present in dog parks, backyards, floors ... Puppies are particularly susceptible. Mortality of untreated cases can be as high as 91%.

Why is parvovirus so nasty? It targets rapidly diving cells. It goes after white blood cells formed in the bone marrow and destroys them. In this way it incapacitates the dog's immune response. It attacks the ability of the intestinal tissue to regenerate itself, which results in loss of the surface that absorbs nutrients and fluid. That's what is behind the severe diarrhea. Don't forget, fluids and nutrients are not being absorbed. Instead, with the intestinal barrier devastated, bacteria from the GI tract can enter the bloodstream and result in systemic infection. Tell me if that doesn't sound like one of the scariest horror movies.

It is the severe dehydration and blood infection that kills.

Parvovirus Infection in Dogs – Part II: Treatment and Prevention

Dr. Christopher Byers/CriticalCareDVM

Photo CriticalCareDVM

There is no treatment for parvovirus; the only available option is aggressive supportive care. To have a chance at survival, the affected dogs often require at least a week of hospitalization.

Parvovirus vaccine is one of the core vaccines for dogs. I would not skip that one with a puppy. While we might discuss how long immunity lasts once acquired, I believe that vaccinating puppies is a must. Some argue that naturally acquired immunity, meaning puppies who got sick and survived, is stronger, more effective and beneficial for future generations. While that might be true, even Dr. Dodds, who is an advocate to prevent over-vaccinating, insists that mortality rate of such approach is not acceptable.

Do vaccinate your puppies. Once immunity is present, a booster might be needed after 3 years or more. Titer testing is an option in adult, already immunized dogs.

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