Heartworm disease is still a serious and potentially fatal disease in dogs (and occasionally cats) in the United States. Northeast Texas remains a real hotspot for this deadly parasite due to the year round mosquito population in this part of the state. It is caused by a foot long "worm" (yup, up to 14" in length and the diameter of a pencil lead) that lives in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of infested animals. It can lead to severe lung disease, heart disease and will cause damage to other organs and systems, especially the kidney. Because it is also a parasite of wild dogs, coyotes and foxes, we have an incredible reservoir of infestation in our part of the world.
Sara Bell, a 9 year old Boston Terrier, came for an exam in early February with the chief complaint of cloudy, painful eyes with excessive tears. On exam, we found significant inflammation in the part of the eye in front of the iris/pupil and conjunctivitis. She was in a lot of pain and didn't want to open her eyes.
We tried to treat with drops and oral pain relief, but two weeks later she had conreal ulcers and the pain continued. Now the intra-ocular pressures were very high. Glaucoma had developed. We sent Sara Bell to Dallas the next week (3/16) for an ophthalmic consult and their diagnosis was the same, but included dislocation of both lenses. Prognosis was very poor. Their suggestion was bilateral enucleation (eye removal). She was already blind in both eyes with no hope of medical improvement.
Every week we have clients who bring in their pet due to lameness, respiratory issues, or abdominal pain. These patients often require radiographic imaging to “see” what is inside. Radiographs give us an opportunity to look beneath the skin to examine underlying tissues and determine the root of whatever is causing the patient’s issue. Obviously, fractures of bones are easily visible but we can also see many soft tissue abnormalities and even the occasional foreign body (like the magnets the kids knocked off the refrigerator or maybe your keys…..we’ve even seen a superball!). Technology in the veterinary industry is continuously evolving. At Westridge, we like to keep up with all of the state-of-the-art equipment available to better diagnose and treat your pet. One of the most valuable pieces of equipment that we use daily is our digital radiology system.
"Doctor, why does Fido's breath smell so bad, has he eaten something dead?" How many times do we have this question asked daily? It is TNTC (doctor acronym meaning too numerous to count). February was National Pet Dental Health Month and we celebrated it at Westridge by performing over 40 prophys (cleanings) complete with digital radiographs, ultrasonic scaling and polishing (and quite a number of extractions!!!). We commend you all who are still taking advantage of the 10% discount we always extend on dentals during February (and continue on into March in order to finish!!) each year. There are a bunch of happy dogs and cats that have a sparkling smile now and more than a few that feel so much better now that one or more bad teeth have been removed.
Do you think it’s time to add a puppy to your family? There are many things to consider when adding what you hope will be a loving, long lasting member of your family. Let’s discuss some of the most important things to consider before you make this addition.
One of the most common emergency calls we receive is the one that starts with, “My pet just ate…..” We have seen dogs and cats eat some crazy things…including, but not limited to, Polly Pocket toys, jewelry, coins, fishhooks, needles and thread, hair ties…the list is endless. But today I would like to concentrate on the items that our beloved pets eat that can be toxic.
In March 2017, H3N2 canine influenza was identified in dogs in Los Angeles (LA) County. Most of the dogs were imported from Asia and seen by a veterinarian upon arrival into LA County. The dogs showed signs consistent with influenza such as coughing, sneezing, fever and nasal discharge. A total of 27 dogs were sick with the disease and treated with supportive care. Final testing of two dogs revealed a strain of canine influenza (H3N2) commonly found in Asia, further testing is pending. Most of the dogs have recovered.
H3N2 canine influenza usually causes mild disease in dogs and on rare occasions can also infect cats. This strain of canine influenza was first found in the US in 2015 when it caused a large outbreak in the Chicago area that spread to other parts of the country. Infected dogs start shedding the the virus 2 days before the start of clinical signs (meaning the virus was "available" to other dogs if exposed), and for 21 days or longer afterward. Transmission of influenza usually occurs through contact with infected respiratory secretions (e.g. coughing, sneezing) as well as from contamination of the environment (e.g. bedding, floors, bowls, collars, leashes).
Every day we are surrounded by images and reports telling us that Americans are overweight. We are reminded constantly about the health benefits of weight loss. But did you know that obesity is also an epidemic among the furry members of our families as well? It is estimated that over 58% of cats and 54% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese!
We are the only ones responsible for what we eat and how much we exercise, however for our pets WE control what and how much our pets eat and exercise. Until they learn how to open the fridge door (and before I get all the comments I bet there are a few smart dogs out there that can open the door) we are the only ones responsible for our pet’s health and potential obesity.
Rabies: Educate. Vaccinate. Eliminate.
In recognition of World Rabies Day, I thought I might remind all of us about the importance of vaccinating our pets to protect them from this always fatal disease.
Rabies is a viral infection that has an affinity for neurological tissue, especially the brain. It is found to infect mammals in the wild and can be transmitted to humans as well. It causes anxiety, convulsions, fear of light and water (hydrophobia) and other abnormal behaviors. The virus will make its way to the salivary glands quickly after infection. This is why the normal way that rabies is contracted is through an animal bite and exposure to infected saliva. The virus can be transmitted through any break in the skin by contact with infected tissue. This could include scratches or other wounds contacting saliva or infected tissue.
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