What is Canine Hip Dysplasia?

Dr. Robert Brady

What Is Canine Hip Dysplasia?

Canine hip dysplasia is a painful disease that affects millions of dogs each year. It is an inherited developmental disorder of the hip joint and can lead to debilitating arthritis. Its progression can be influenced by environmental factors, such as weight gain, nutrition, and exercise. Certain breeds, especially larger ones, are particularly prone to hip dysplasia, but the disease can affect dogs of any size, breed or age.

Just as in humans, the hip joint in dogs is a “ball and socket” joint. In healthy dogs, the ball and socket fit together tightly. With dogGerman Shepherd Hip Dysplasias suffering from hip dysplasia, the joint is “loose,” and the ball part of the joint may even rotate partially out of its socket. In time, this looseness causes wear and tear on the joint cartilage, leading to osteoarthritis.

Canine hip dysplasia is an inherited problem, meaning that certain breeds or families of dogs may be prone to it. For this reason, when purchasing or adopting a puppy, especially if it is a breed that is known to be predisposed to hip dysplasia, make sure the parents (if known) do not have hip problems and that the puppy has been screened by a veterinarian for any early signs of the disease.

  • Canine hip dysplasia is a painful disease that can lead to debilitating arthritis.
  • It affects the “ball and socket” joint of the hip.
  • Canine hip dysplasia is a hereditary problem that can be influenced by lifestyle factors. Certain breeds are predisposed.
  • Hip dysplasia can sometimes be treated medically, but surgery is often required.
  • Early recognition and a program of weight management and regular exercise can sometimes slow disease progression.

What Are the Signs?

The disease is painful and progressive and can affect one or both hips. It can affect very young dogs (many are less than 1 year old), but dogs of any age can be affected.

  • Decreased activity level
  • Difficulty risingHip Dysplasia Radiographs
  • Stiffness or lameness upon waking or after exercise
  • Running with a “bunny hopping” gait
  • Difficulty climbing stairs or getting in and out of vehicles
  • Discomfort in a sitting or lying position
  • Lameness
  • Muscle atrophy (wasting) in the hip area

Breeds that are most commonly affected include:

  • German shepherd
  • Labrador retriever
  • Rottweiler
  • Great Dane
  • Golden retriever
  • Saint Bernard

Diagnosis

A diagnosis of hip dysplasia is made based on clinical signs, physical examination, and radiographs (x-rays). Two systems have also been developed for screening and/or diagnosing dogs with hip dysplasia. Responsible breeders use at least one of these systems before including a dog in their breeding program:

  • The OFA System: The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) oversees a multibreed hip registry database. The OFA’s system, which has been in use since 1966, has developed a standardized evaluation system and radiographic test to help breeders and owners assess the hip health of prospective parents as well as any puppies they may produce. Dogs must be 24 months of age or older to be included in the registry.
  • The PennHIP System: The PennHIP system, which was developed at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, has been in use since 1993. It uses a series of three radiographs to assess a “distraction index”—or DI—for each dog. The greater the DI, the higher the chances that the dog has or will develop hip dysplasia. The PennHIP analysis can be performed in puppies as young as 4 months of age.

Treatment

Canine hip dysplasia is a serious, progressive disease, and better outcomes are typically achieved when it is diagnosed as early as possible and management and treatment measures are initiated promptly. Risk factors for the development of hip dysplasia in dogs that are genetically prone to the disease include obesity and overfeeding large-breed puppies during growth phases.

A proper diet that helps maintain an ideal weight, combined with a regular exercise plan, can help slow the progression of hip dysplasia for some dogs. In less severe cases, medical management can also include providing pain medications as needed under veterinary supervision as well as administering oral or injectable joint supplements or medications. “Comfort care,” such as keeping dogs out of cold weather and performing massage, therapeutic laser or physical therapy, can also help keep affected dogs comfortable and slow progression of the disease for as long as possible.

In severe cases, surgery may be indicated. Surgical options include total hip replacement surgery, reconstructing the hip joint, or removing the abnormal part of the joint and allowing the surrounding structures to form a “false joint” over time.

NOTE: Canine hip dysplasia can be an expensive disease to manage and/or treat. Before purchasing or adopting a puppy, be sure to find out the hip “status” of the parents. If that is not possible, be sure to have your puppy’s hips evaluated by your veterinarian as soon as possible.

 

posted in:  Pet Health

Dog Flu H3N2: What Every Dog Owner Needs to Know About Canine Influenza

Dr. Kerri Blackburn

 

 

What is the H3N2 Canine Influenza Virus?

H3N2 is a very contagious influenza virus that infects dogs. It emerged in the United States in 2015 and has recently been reported in the Carolinas, having spread here from Florida and Georgia through the dog show circuit. Several dogs in multiple counties have become ill and we are beginning to see the illness spread from show dogs to pet dogs. All total this virus has effected thousands of dogs in more than 30 states. It has also effected a small amount of cats but there is NO evidence that it can infect people.

 

What does H3N2 cause?

H3N2 causes a respiratory infection which we refer to as dog flu. Common signs include sneezing, nasal discharge and coughing that can last for 2 weeks or more. Many dogs will also have a decreased appetite and fever. A small number of dogs will have a more severe form of the illness that leads to pneumonia and requires in hospital care.

 

How do dogs get dog flu?

The illness is spread by direct contact with infected dogs or contact with objects and surfaces that have also been contacted by infected dogs. Infected dogs can cough or sneeze and spread the virus up to 20 feet. The virus can survive in the environment for 24-48 hours, but can be easily killed with simple hand washing and laundering/washing objects.

 

What dogs are at risk?

Most dogs do NOT have a natural immunity to the virus. This means ANY dog can be infected if they are exposed. Dogs at most risk are those that participate in social activities with other dogs. Trips to pet stores, dog parks, grooming facilities, dog shows, boarding kennels and day care centers pose an increased risk.

 

What should I do if my dog is showing signs of dog flu?

Your dog may have a respiratory infection caused by other respiratory viruses and not the Canine flu virus. This can only be determined by a diagnostic test performed by a veterinarian. If you think your dog is showing signs of dog flu, here are the important steps to follow:

Call our office right away. Do NOT come to the clinic without calling first. If your dog does have dog flu coming into the clinic may put other pets at risk. Be sure to have the following information when you call:

  • Your dog’s symptoms and when they started
  • If your dog has been involved in any social behaviors
  • Whether there were any coughing dogs at said social activity

When you call, our veterinarians will assess your situation and provide specific instructions on when and how they will see your dog to minimize potential exposure to other pets. Based on your pet’s unique situation we may perform the test to confirm dog flu which involves swabbing the throat and nose and submitting these samples to an outside lab. For analysis.

 

What if my dog is diagnosed with dog flu?

Most dogs recover at home without any complications. Most dogs will recover within 2 weeks but they may remain infectious to other dogs for up to 1 month. It is very important that during that month they remain isolated from other pets.

A small number of dogs with a more severe form of the illness may develop pneumonia and will have labored breathing. Please call our clinic right away if you see these signs as your dog may need special hospitalized care to recover. Fortunately, death from dog flu is rare.

 

What can be done to PROTECT my dog from dog flu?Nobivac Canine Influenza Vaccine

The most important step is to vaccinate your dog against the canine influenza virus. We are strongly recommending that any dogs who participate in doggy social events, boarding, day care or grooming are vaccinated against this virus. The vaccine must be boostered 2-4 weeks after the first dose to ensure adequate response. Just like the human flu vaccine, getting vaccinated does NOT guarantee against infection, but it will make it less likely. Additionally, if your pet has been vaccinated and contracts the virus, the disease is likely to be milder and of shorter duration.

Knowledge and common sense are your best protection against dog flu. Please be aware of any outbreaks in your immediate community and take necessary precautions in avoiding doggy social events in the event of an outbreak.

 

*Adapted from “Pet Owners H3N2 Canine Influenza Virus Fact Sheet” (June 2017) retrieved from www.vetmed.ufl.edu

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posted in:  Pet Health

How Smartphones Can Improve Your Veterinary Visit!

Dr. Sofia Gaviria

In this day in age, it’s inevitable; we are all glued to our smartphones, for better or for worse.  They are intended to make our lives easier, so let’s put ‘em to use!  Listed below are three ways that smartphones can help in the veterinary setting:

Assist in the Initial DiagnosisDog with Phone

As veterinarians, when we can’t hear directly from our patients about their issues, we rely heavily on history and our physical exam findings. Smartphones can help immensely, particularly when your pet is exhibiting clinical signs at home that may be difficult to describe once in our office. On countless occasions, I have had clients come in and tell me about how their pet is coughing or limping or having seizure-like activity, but the pet does not show any of these clinical signs during my physical exam. This can lead to frustration for you, the owner and for the veterinarian that wants to make a correct diagnosis. We need to know what’s going on so we can address it properly. This is where smartphones come in handy. Given how hard it is to describe many of these events the value of a video can’t be overstated. A video is worth more than a thousand words.

Another veterinarian once told me a story that beautifully exemplifies this point. A dog presented to her for evaluation of suspected seizures. Based off the owner’s description, it sounded like seizure activity: generalized shaking and odd behavior surrounding the event. The pet was started on anti-seizure medication, but the original events continued, so more medications were added. Again, the pet still had the episodes! When the doctor finally received a video of the episodes, it was discovered that the pet wasn’t having seizures at all, but was just desperately trying to scratch itself, shaking its whole body, rolling around on the bed, acting very oddly in an attempt to relieve the itch! The pet didn’t need any seizure medication, it needed anti-itch medication! The pet could have been treated more effectively and could have avoided unnecessary anti-seizure medication, if the doctor had a video to watch from the get go!

Assist in Tracking Progression

In addition to helping us form our initial diagnoses, they can also help us track progress during treatment. I love using smartphones for this as well. I do this a lot for my patients with skin disease or to track the healing of wounds, but there are many other uses.

Veterinarian with PhoneAssist in Organizing your Pet’s Records

Smartphones can also help us organize our lives- including pet medical records.  you always have access on the go. I love an app called Evernote; it’s free and easy.  Just take a picture of your pet’s records and put them into a separate folder that you have made on Evernote for your pet. That way if you ever find yourself in a situation in which you need access, you have everything handy and don’t have to recall when things were done. It might save your pet from unnecessary tests or vaccines!

So go ahead, take pictures and videos of your pet! We know you want to! Then, bust them out during your next appointment; your pet and your vet will thank you for it.

 

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posted in:  Pet Education

What Happens if My Pet Gets Bit by a Snake?

Dr. Ashley Gray

Spring is an exciting time of year where we start to come out of our winter hibernation mode and explore the great outdoors again. The weather starts to get beautiful as the flowers bloom, and we see an influx of wildlife in our backyards and parks. If you have your pets in a backyard, go to parks often, or hike in the mountains, you may come in contact with some critters that could cause harm to your pets. One of the most common injuries we see this time of year through our emergency department is snake bite wounds. Snakes are most active between March and October, which can pose a threat to your pets. The most common venomous snakes we see in the greater Charlotte region are Copperheads and certain types of Rattlesnakes.

            I would like to provide you with some tips to try to decrease the amount of snakes in your yard so that you can help keep your pets safe at home.Dog snake bite

  • Keep your yard tidy by cleaning up and removing any undergrowth, leaves, toys, wood, and tools that can be hiding places for snakes.
  • Keep all walkways and paths around your house clear.
  • Try to prevent and remove any food, bird seed, etc, which can attract rodents, which are prey for snakes.
  • It is favorable to walk your pet on a leash so you can control where they go in your yard if it is wooded or has areas that could hide snakes.
  • It is important to know that snakes can strike at a distance equal to about half their body length. If you see one, it is imperative to head back the way you came from.
  • You may want to familiarize yourself with what the common venomous snakes look like in the event you witness a snake bite so that you can better prepare your emergency veterinarian as this can guide your pet’s treatment.

 

 

 

Below are signs you may see if your pet experiences a snake bite so that you can quickly bring them in to us or your local emergency veterinarian to be seen.

  • Local or Generalized Swelling in the region of the bite (if generalized swelling, it can cause other signs such as difficulty breathing based on location of bite)
  • BleedingDog snake bite wound
  • Extreme pain
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Dead tissue around the region of the bite
  • Shortness of breath or Respiratory Difficulty
  • Weakness
  • Kidney failure

If your pet experiences a snake bite or you notice some of the above clinical signs, you must remain calm as well as try to keep your pet calm by reducing their activity. If your pet was bit around the neck region, remove their collar to decrease issues with swelling. Bring him to us or your local emergency veterinarian right away so that your pet can get immediate veterinary attention. Treatments you may read online to do at home such as icing, tourniquet, alcohol, sucking out the venom, etc will not help and ultimately waste precious time when it comes to giving your pet the best care. Your veterinarian will assess the wounds, determine the current health status of your pet, and discuss next steps in their diagnostic and treatment plan.

We hope these tips help keep your pets safe this spring and summer. If you have any questions, you can always call us for advice!

 

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What is Heartworm Disease?

Dr. Abigial Brady

Heartworm disease is very common in North Carolina and has been diagnosed in all 48 states within the continental US. Heartworm disease is a fatal disease in dogs and cats. Heartworms are spaghetti-like worms that live inside the heart of dogs, cats, and wild mammals such as wolves, coyotes and foxes. When the worms are living in the heart they can cause heart failure, lung disease and severe disease in other organs of the body.

 

How do our pets get heartworms?

Heartworms are spread through mosquito bites. Wild animals are natural carriers of heartworms. When a mosquito bites an infected animal, they ingest the heartworm larvae (immature heartworms). The larvae mature into the infective stage while inside the mosquito. When the mosquito moves on and bites the next dog or cat they come across, they transfer the larvae into the pet. The immature mosquitos then migrate from the bite into the bloodstream and then to the heart, where Image result for Heart Worm Life Cyclethey will continue to mature and cause signs of disease.  From the time of the bite to the time that the worms are matured and able to be detected by a blood test is an average of 6 months.

Dogs are a natural host of the heartworm, meaning that the worms can mature and reproduce in the heart. Because of this, the worms can continue to reproduce and there can be up to several hundred worms living in one dog if they are left untreated. The heartworms can live in the dog for 5-7 years.

Cats are not natural hosts of heartworms. This means that they rarely develop to adulthood and typically do not reproduce. Normally when a cat is infected with heartworms, there are only 1-3 worms present. Even though they rarely have adult worms and in comparison to dogs, there are only a few present, heartworm disease can still be severe and even fatal in cats. The heartworms can live in the cat for 2-3 years.

 

What are the signs of heartworm disease?

In heartworm positive dogs, the most common signs seen are associated with heart disease. In early stages of disease there are usually no clinical signs that you will be able to detect. The most common signs that are seen by owners include a persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, becoming tired/worn out more quickly, weight loss and loss of appetite. In late stages of disease or severe disease you may see a distended abdomen, collapse, labored breathing or pale gums.

Cats with heartworm disease may have no signs or very severe signs. They commonly have respiratory signs including coughing or asthma-like breathing but they may also have vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss, difficulty walking, fainting or a distended abdomen. Unfortunately in cats the first sign may be sudden collapse or even sudden death.

 

How do I get my pet tested for heartworms?

All dogs should be tested for heartworms every 12 months (starting at 1 year of age). This can be done with the annual blood work that your veterinarian runs. There are in-hospital, rapid tests that can be run, or your veterinarian may elect to send your pet’s blood to an outside lab to run a heartworm test.

Because cats do not usually have adult heartworms, they can be more difficult to detect. The preferred method to test cats is to took for both the antigen and antibody (the presence of worms and the exposure to them) but your veterinarian may also recommend x-rays or an ultrasound to help detect the worms if your cat is showing clinical signs of heartworm disease.

 

How can I prevent heartworm disease?

There are many veterinary approved heartworm preventions on the market. There are some preventatives that you may be able to find over the counter but these medications are not regulated so please consult your veterinarian before starting your pet on one. Heartworm prevention is available in many forms. There are several brands of oral medications, both pills and chewable “treats”. You can also purchase topical liquids, which can be convenient for Image result for heartworm preventionpicky eaters or pets with food allergies. Most preventatives should be given monthly, 12 months a year. Many of the available preventatives also protect pets from intestinal parasites and fleas, ask your veterinarian for more information on this!

How is heartworm disease treated?

In dogs there are a few different protocols that are available to treat heartworms. Before treatment is performed, many diagnostic tests such as blood work and x-rays will be done to make sure your dog is getting the best care.  Your veterinarian will come up with the best treatment protocol for your dog, most of which include several visits to the veterinary hospital, strict exercise restriction and close monitoring. Treatment can be very difficult on a dog’s body and there are side effects that can occur, but without treatment heartworm disease can be fatal. The treatment protocols can be several hundred to a couple thousand dollars. Monthly prevention is very important. The cost of prevention is much less than the cost of treatment and is much easier on the dog’s body.

Unfortunately for cats there are no approved drug protocols. Strict monitoring and close veterinary care is crucial to maintaining your cats health if they are diagnosed with heartworm disease.

Please talk to your veterinarian about any questions you still have about heartworms and how to protect your pets.  The American Heartworm Society also has an abundance of information on their website.

posted in:  Pet Health

What is Canine Arthritis?

by Dr. Robert Brady

What Is It?

Arthritis is a joint problem that can reduce mobility and cause pain. Often seen in older dogs, arthritis can be caused by injury, infection, the body’s own immune system, or developmental problems. The most common form of arthritis is called osteoarthritis (osteo = bone; arthr = joint; itis = inflammation) or degenerative joint disease. Normally, joints form smooth connections between bones. Osteoarthritis involves thinning of joint cartilage (a protective cushioning between bones), buildup of fluid within the joint, and the formation of bony growths within the joint. Over time, this can lead to reduced joint mobility as well as pain.

  • Osteoarthritis affects one of every five dogs.
  • Thinning of joint cartilage can lead to a vicious cycle of joint deterioration, reduced mobility, and pain.
  • Supportive care is important, and treatment may include pain medication, NSAIDs, corticosteroids,supplements, massage, therapeutic laser, warm compresses, and/or surgery.
  • Regular, moderate exercise may help delay canine arthritis.

Signs and Diagnosis

  • Stiffness after exercise or rest
  • Wasting away of muscle
  • Limited movement
  • Joint swelling
  • Trouble getting up, laying down, walking, climbing stairs, or jumping
  • A grating sound in a joint
Normal Canine Hips- Arthritis

Normal Canine Hips

Recognizing arthritis in dogs can be difficult because the condition progresses slowly and dogs don’t complain about their aching joints. Also, some owners assume that signs of arthritis are “normal” in older animals.

Bringing your dog in for an annual checkup can help your veterinarian identify clinical signs early. Radiography (x-rays) can reveal bony growths and joint abnormalities.

Severe Hip Dysplasia and Osteoarthritis- Arthritis

Severe Hip Dysplasia and Osteoarthritis

Treatment

  • Getting or keeping your dog slim can help by decreasing the load on his or her joints.
  • Feeding your dog the right amount of high-quality food should help with weight control.
  • Carefully monitored exercise on soft surfaces can help affected dogs..
  • Because arthritis is aggravated by cold and damp, keep your dog warm and dry. Padded dog beds can help.
  • Warm compresses can soothe affected joints.
  • Massage and passive range of motion can increase your dog’s flexibility, circulation, and sense of well-being. Professional animal massage therapists are available.
  • Pain medication, including nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (commonly called NSAIDs), may help relieve signs, but you should never give your dog a drug without your veterinarian’s recommendation. Ibuprofen (Advil), Aspirin, and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be toxic to dogs and cats so never give these medications to your pets.
  • Corticosteroids can be used to suppress inflammation, but they are usually used for short periods.
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin have been used to help manage arthritis in dogs and other animals.
  • Acupuncture isn’t just for people. It’s painless and has shown some success in animals.
  • Therapeutic Laser therapy has also been proven to reduce inflammation and pain associated with arthritis in dogs.
  • Surgery may be a good choice in advanced cases of canine arthritis including total hip replacements.
  • A low-stress environment, plenty of affection, and supportive care can help improve your dog’s quality of life.

 

Prevention

Regular, moderate exercise and a high-quality diet can help delay aging, keeping your pet thin, and early intervention when a problem is suspected all help delay the progression of arthritis.

 

Aids for Arthritic Dogs

  • Slip-free flooring/ grip enhancement for your pets feet
  • Soft bedding
  • Ramps (instead of steps)
  • A warm, dry environment
  • Assisted grooming
  • Regular veterinary visits
  • Pain medications when warranted
  • Rehabilitation and Therapeutic Laser treatments

 

 

posted in:  Pet Health  |  Uncategorized

Why does my pet need vaccines?

Dr. Kerri Blackburn

 How do Vaccines Work?

Vaccines are a method to teach the body’s immune system how to fight off a disease.

  • A vaccine has parts of a virus or bacteria in it- not the whole bacteria or virus. This is enough for the immune system to recognize that there is an invader present.  The body then fights off the vaccine’s Puppy receiving vaccinesbacterial and viral parts. This is why we sometimes feel sick after a vaccine.
  • The immune system stores the knowledge of how to fight the disease for a period of time. This in turn protects your pet in case the virus or bacteria comes back.
  • After awhile, if not used, the immune system will forget this knowledge. Your pet still needs this knowledge since many of the diseases you pet was vaccinated against, exist in the environment at all times. For this reason “booster vaccines” are given to remind the immune system how to fight these diseases.

Why are Vaccines Necessary?

  • Vaccines are very important to your pet’s health. They prevent several very dangerous, often severe and life-threatening diseases like rabies, distemper and parvovirus.  Kitten receiving vaccines
  • Aside from your pet’s health, the health of you and your family is also a reason that vaccines are necessary. Some of the diseases that your pet will be vaccinated for can pose a risk to humans.
  • North Carolina rabies law requires that all owned dogs, cats and ferrets must be vaccinated against rabies by four months of age. Rabies vaccinations must then be kept current with booster vaccines.

 

 

Vaccines are selected based on diseases frequently seen in a geographical area, the risks to humans (rabies), legal requirements and a pet’s individual lifestyle risks. At Animal Medical Hospital we take vaccines and the diseases they prevent very seriously. We routinely review our vaccine protocols to ensure the health and safety of the pets and their families that we see. If you have questions about our protocol or the vaccines we use, please ask our veterinarians. We are always happy to discuss and know that this can be a hot button issue for some families.

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Why Does My Pet Need Senior Wellness Bloodwork?

The Importance of Senior Wellness Bloodwork

 One of the most frequent questions I receive from pet owners is “Doc, why does my dog need bloodwork?  We just did that last year and everything was normal.”  Senior Wellness Bloodwork semi-annually in our pets is an important part of their physical exam.  Animals age much more rapidly than humans, and dramatic changes to bloodwork values can happen in a short period of time.

Senior Wellness Bloodwork allows us to screen for numerous diseases and begin treating them before our pets become ill or debilitated.

Often times our owners do not recognize that the signs their pet is having could be indicative of disease.  Changes in thirst, urination, appetite, activity, coat quality, weight, or mobility could all be early indicators of potentially serious diseases that often go undiagnosed until pets are ill.  An up to date blood panel can also aid your veterinarian in selecting which medications are safest for your pet to use.

What is included in Senior Wellness bloodwork?

  1. A CBC (complete blood count)
    • The CBC evaluates red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Red cell, white cell, and platelet counts can change very rapidly over a period of hours.  Often veterinarians will evaluate the CBC daily in critically ill patients.
      • Red blood cells carry hemoglobin and are responsible for delivery of oxygen to the tissues of the body.
      • White blood cells are an important component of the immune system and are the first line of defenseagainst infections.
      • Platelets are important for allowing the blood to clot normally in response to injuries.
  2. A blood chemistry
    • Provides information on numerous organ systems in the body such as the liver, GI tract, kidneys, and immune system.
      • The liver has several enzymes which can indicate dysfunction such as the Alanine transaminase (ALT), Alkaline Phosphatase (ALKP).  These values can also be affected by toxins and certain medications your pets may take.  Many pets on arthritis medications or seizure medications will have mild liver enzyme elevations that are important to monitor over time.
      • The kidney is assessed by Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) and Creatinine (Crea).  Elevations in these enzymes can indicate dehydration, urinary disease, or kidney dysfunction.  Kidney disease is the number one systemic disease in elderly cats with almost all geriatric cats developing some degree of kidney disease in their lifetime.
  3. Senior Boston TerrierScreening the urine
    • It is important to assess urine concentration.  Low urine concentration can be the very first sign of kidney dysfunction.  The urine can also help indicate diseases such as diabetes and Cushing’s disease which are common in the aging pet population.
  4. T4
    • Assessing the T4, allows your veterinarian to evaluate the thyroid.
      • Elderly cats frequently will have elevated thyroid levels which can predispose to heart disease and blood clots.  Thyroid disease can also mask the signs of kidney disease in older cats.
      • Elderly dogs are prone to low thyroid levels which can predispose to hair loss, skin/ear infections, and weight gain.

 

Semi-annual bloodwork can help your veterinarian to help your pet before illness becomes severe.   Finding diseases before your pet becomes ill allows them the best chance at enjoying a long, healthy life.

 

Visit our Services page for more information about Senior Wellness visits here at Animal Medical Hospital.

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posted in:  Pet Health  |  Seniors  |  Uncategorized

What is the Fear Free Initiative?

Fear Free Initiative: Taking the Pet out of Petrified

Dr. Monica Tarantino

Fear Free is taking over at AMH and we cannot wait!

Let’s face it, we here at AMH love your animals… but they don’t always love us!  The concept that many animals experience anxiety, stress and fear at the vet is driving a new method of pet management at veterinary offices across the US.  This method is called Fear Free and is an initiative that changes the way we approach and handle animals starting from home, through waiting room, exam room and checkout.   At AMH, our doctors and staff are proud to be one of the first hospitals in the US to embrace this method.  Check out the below link to see a short video with Dr. Marty Becker and Dr. Deborah Horowitz, talk about the path to the Fear Free initiative ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MV685GjC0ns ):

So, what should you expect?  Here’s a few things you’ll start seeing:

fear-free-3

Here we are feeding a nervous, submissive pet treats in order to decrease stress before performing services.

  • Separate Dog and Cat Waiting Areas: we will be doing basic things like trying to keep our dog and cat friends in separate areas in the waiting room to help decrease stress.
  • Take A Walk or Wait in the Car: for dogs, allow them to walk outside in designated areas while you wait. For cats, if the waiting room seems stressful, ask the front desk staff if you can wait in your car with your cat until their room is ready.

3) Withholding Food/Treat Rewards:  To help us bond with your pets even more, please withhold food from your pet prior to coming to see us (unless medically contraindicated). Treat rewards allow us to create a more positive experience at the vet!

Fear free socialization- some cats like their exams on a lap rather than a table!

4) Low Stress Pheromone Sprays: prior to your exam room appointment, our staff sprays exam rooms and towels with pheromone sprays designed to decrease stress.  We have both a cat specific pheromone spray and a dog specific pheromone spray.  Our staff is consistently doing this prior to all our appointments with your beloved animal to assist in creating a low stress visit.

5) Low Stress Holding and Management Techniques: our staff actively practices low stress animal holding techniques (see picture below of our technician Jess G. expertly holding our feisty kitty friend).  Each of your pets are special and unique and we approach them as such using body language cues, previous exam tips and other methods to help figure out what works best for them! Our hope is to help make the experience your pet has with us a positive one.

 

 

fear-free

Here our technician Jess expertly holds a feisty cat with minimal restraint.

Please stay tuned for more future blogs on Fear Free at AMH and how it will impact you. Ultimately, we hope that we can create changes that help reduce stress as much as reasonably possible for your beloved pet.  As always, thank you for trusting your beloved pets with our care.

 

 

 

 

 

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posted in:  Pet Education

Why Does My Pet Need Fish Oils?

The Little Magic Pill: Fish Oils

Dr. Mari-Ashli Foy

Itchy skin? Achy joints? Kidney disease? Heart disease? What do all 4 of these medical problems have in common? Studies over the years have shown that with this simple addition to your pets diet, there are numerous benefits to be gained.  On the human side of things, we hear all the time about adding essential omega-3 fatty acids to our diet. However, many do not know what these essential fats are why they are important.

 

What are omega-3 fatty acids?fish-oil

Omega-3 fatty acids are a part of a group of fats known as essential fats. These essential fats are those that are not made by the body and instead must be consumed.  Examples of food that contain omega-3’s include primarily food from the fish family such as salmon, tuna, and trout. The other group of essential fatty acids are known as omega-6’s, can be found in plant oils and nuts like walnuts, flaxseed, and sunflower oil. Most of the pet foods animals consume have more of the omega-6 fatty acids, than omega-3 fatty acids.  To ensure a well balanced diet and help with certain medical conditions, the addition of fish oils have become an important part of veterinarians diet recommendations.

 

What can these fish oils do for my pet?

Below are just a few examples of  how omega-3 fatty acids can positively impact the health of your pet.  Always remember to check with your veterinarian before adding fish oils to your pet’s diet. They will be able to advise you on an appropriate dosage based on the amount of omega-6’s and omega-3’s your pet is already consuming. It is imporfoy-2tant that there is an appropriate balance of these two essential fatty acids to provide well rounded coverage.

  1. Inflammatory skin disorders: If you’ve noticed that your furry friend has been scratching more than usual, even with a monthly flea medication, try adding fish oils to his/her treatment regimen. Fish oils help with inflammation caused by allergies and will leave your pet’s coat looking shinier than ever!
  2. Osteoarthritis: Arthritis is a natural part of growing old. Studies have shown consistent use of fish oils in arthritic patients can improve weight bearing and lameness.
  3. Kidney Disease: Protective to the kidneys. Will help with hypertension which is damaging to the kidneys. Additionally, it has been shown to lessen the amount of protein in the urine.
  4. Heart Disease: Reduces the frequency of arrythmias. Decreases inflammation associated with chronic heart disease and heart failure patients.

 

 

Favorite Brands

  1. Nature Made Fish Oil
  2. Welactin Canine Liquid or Softgel
  3. Welactin Feline Liquid or Softgel

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posted in:  Allergies  |  Pet Health  |  Seniors