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What is Mange?

What is Mange?

Has your pet suddenly started losing hair? Mange may be to blame. The common skin condition affects dogs, cats and rabbits, causing a variety of uncomfortable symptoms.

Tiny Mites Cause Big Problems

Mange is caused by a mite infestation. The microscopic parasites either burrow under your pet’s skin or inhabit hair follicles or oil glands in the skin. Mange can be confined to a small area of your pet’s coat or may affect the entire body. A small population of mites is always present on your furry friend’s body. Symptoms only occur if the number of mites multiplies, or your pet has a weak immune system. Although mange is more common in dogs, it does occur in cats and rabbits, particularly those that live with dogs.

Signs and Symptoms of Mange

If your pet has mange, you may notice these signs and symptoms:

  • Hair Loss. Hair loss may be widespread or patchy. Commonly affected areas include the face, head, ears, neck, elbows, abdomen, chest and legs.
  • Scratching. Mange causes severe itching, triggering almost constant scratching. Scratching can worsen hair loss and may break the skin, increasing the risk of infection.
  • Skin Irritation. You may notice red, inflamed skin if your pet has mange.
  • Infections. Bacterial and fungal infections of the skin can add to your pet’s discomfort.
  • Greasy Skin and Coat. A greasy skin and coat is not normal for most pets and may be a sign of mange.
  • Lesions. When mites burrow into your cat, dog or rabbit’s skin, crusty sores may form.
  • Dandruff. Does your pet suddenly have dandruff? The condition occurs when tiny pieces of skin begin to flake away due to the condition.
  • Bumps. Military dermatitis, tiny bumps on your pet’s skin, may also be a sign of mange.
  • Thick Skin. If mange is not treated promptly, the skin in the affected areas may thicken.
  • Poor Sleep. Itching usually intensifies at night and can affect the quality of your pet’s sleep.

How is Mange Diagnosed?

Your pet’s veterinarian can often tell your pet has mange simply by examining its coat. Skin scrapings examined under a microscope confirm the diagnosis.

How is Mange Treated?

Your pet’s veterinarian will prescribe topical or oral medications that kill mites. Medicated shampoos and dips can also be helpful. Antibiotics or anti-fungal medication may be needed if your pet develops an infection as a result of the mite infestation. Since your other pets can catch mange, it’s important to treat all of your animals, even if they show no signs or symptoms. Washing bedding, blankets and other items that your pet uses and vacuuming floors and upholstery will help prevent a re-infestation.

Can I Catch Mange?

Although many types of mites only affect pets, some can also cause symptoms in people. For example, you can develop sarcoptic mange, also called scabies, if your skin comes in contact with your pet’s. Symptoms of scabies in humans include itching that worsens at night, a red bumpy rash and lesions on the skin. Your doctor can prescribe topical medication that will kill the mites.

Does your pet have any of the signs or symptoms of mange? If you are concerned about a skin condition or other health problem, call us today to schedule an appointment for your furry friend.

Sources:

Peteducation.com: Demodectic Mange
http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+2101&aid=729

VetSTREET:Have a Mangy Cat? 5 Mites That Can Frustrate Your Feline, 5/19/14
http://www.vetstreet.com/dr-marty-becker/have-a-mangy-cat-5-mites-that-can-frustrate-your-feline

Merck Veterinary Manual: Mange in Dogs and Cats
http://www.merckvetmanual.com/integumentary-system/mange/mange-in-dogs-and-cats

Gastroenteritis in Pets

Gastroenteritis in Pets

Lengthy bouts of vomiting and diarrhea can be a sign that your pet has gastroenteritis, a common condition that occurs when the lining of the stomach and intestines becomes irritated. Since frequent diarrhea and vomiting can lead to dehydration, a visit to the veterinarian is a good idea if you notice any of the signs of gastroenteritis.

What Causes Gastroenteritis?

Gastroenteritis can occur if your pet eats something it should not, such as garbage, non-food items or feces. Although giving your pet a few scraps from the dinner table may seem harmless, eating people food can cause gastroenteritis. Unfortunately, some foods that you enjoy can irritate your pet’s gastrointestinal system. Other causes of gastroenteritis include:

  • Bacterial or parasitic infections
  • Viruses
  • Allergies
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Reaction to a medication
  • Eosinophilic leukemia
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

What Happens if My Pet Becomes Dehydrated?

Dehydration occurs when your pet loses fluids faster than it can replace them. Your pet also loses electrolytes in addition to fluids. Electrolytes are electrically charged minerals that regulate blood acidity, nerve and muscle function, and the body’s hydration level. If dehydration is not treated promptly, it can lead to kidney failure and even death. These symptoms may occur if your pet is dehydrated:

  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry mouth and nose
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Decreased urine production
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Panting
  • Changes in skin elasticity (When you lift you pet’s skin and let it go, it should quickly revert to its original position. If your pet is dehydrated, the skin will return to the original position very slowly.)

How Will My Veterinarian Diagnose Gastroenteritis?

Your veterinarian will perform a complete examination, which will probably include a few diagnostic tests, including fecal testing for parasites. A blood test may be ordered to determine if your pet’s blood cells are normal and to check for signs of problems with your pet’s organs. X-rays and ultrasounds can give your pet’s doctor a better view of the gastrointestinal system. If you furry friend has swallowed a non-food item, the outline of the item will probably appear in the X-rays.

During the visit, you may be asked if there were any changes to your pet’s normal routine, such as travel or recent changes in food. Your pet’s veterinarian may also want to know if your dog or cat was exposed to pesticides or cleaning products, or recently began taking a new medication or supplement. Because the cause of gastroenteritis isn’t always immediately apparent, any information you can provide will help the veterinarian make a diagnosis.

How is Gastroenteritis Treated?

Replacing lost fluid is a priority if your pet has gastroenteritis. Your veterinarian may recommend that your pet receive subcutaneous (under the skin) or intravenous fluids during your visit. Additional treatment will depend on the cause of the vomiting and diarrhea. For example, antibiotics can help treat bacterial infections, while surgery may be needed if a foreign body is stuck in your pet’s gastrointestinal tract.

Whether you are concerned that your pet may have gastroenteritis or another illness, or it’s time for your pet’s annual examination, we’re committed to helping you maintain your furry friend’s health. Call us if you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment.

Sources:

Pet Health Network: Gastroenteritis in Dogs, 10/21/11

http://www.pethealthnetwork.com/dog-health/dog-diseases-conditions-a-z/gastroenteritis-dogs

PetMD: Stomach and Intestinal Inflammation in Dogs

http://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/digestive/c_dg_eosinophilic_gastroenteritis_in_dogs_diarrhea?page=show

The Merck Veterinary Manual: Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis in Small Animals

http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/digestive_system/diseases_of_the_stomach_and_intestines_in_small_animals/hemorrhagic_gastroenteritis_in_small_animals.html

Acupuncture as Pain Management for Pets

Acupuncture as Pain Management for Pets

If your pet is suffering from pain or another illness but not responding to traditional veterinary care, veterinary acupuncture may be an effective treatment option. Veterinary acupuncture is very similar to the type of acupuncture used to treat humans. Long, thin needles are inserted at specific pressure points along an animal’s body to alleviate pain and stimulate the central nervous system. Typically, only a certified veterinary acupuncturist may administer acupuncture treatments for animals.

Veterinary acupuncture has its roots in traditional Eastern medicine. According to Chinese philosophy, the “chi” (a body’s energy) travels through energy pathways, known as meridians. A blockage or obstruction in these pathways affects the chi’s ability to travel through the body. Contemporary medicine recognizes that the concept of the “chi” is very similar to our understanding of the central nervous system. Stimulating different points along the central nervous system stimulates the release of chemicals in the muscles, brain, and spinal cord. These chemicals affect the brain’s perception of pain and stimulate the release of other chemical mediators to improve organ function.

Studies suggest that veterinary acupuncture may be beneficial for a variety of animal species, including dogs, cats and horses. In fact, Chinese and Korean farmers have treated horses and cattle with acupuncture for centuries. In recent years, the applications for veterinary acupuncture have expanded to include zoo animals, small mammals, and pet birds.

Veterinary acupuncture treatments are generally well tolerated by pets as these treatments are gentle and safe. In fact, some pets even fall asleep during treatment because they enter such a peaceful, relaxed state! Treatment sessions typically last between 15 and 20 minutes; a series of five to 10 sessions may be necessary to address a pet’s health condition.

When a pet is suffering from pain, it can be a very frustrating experience for pet owners if they are unable to do anything directly to alleviate this pain. If a pet is not responding to conventional anti-inflammatory medication or other pain medications, then acupuncture may be able to help.

In addition to pain management, veterinary acupuncture is also beneficial for treating the following conditions: (1) disorders of the musculoskeletal system such as arthritis, (2) paralysis of the rear limbs, (3) seizures, (4) back pain, (5) facial nerve paralysis.

Source:

American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture. “What Is Animal Acupuncture?”

Acute Kidney Injury in Dogs

Acute Kidney Injury in Dogs

Leptospirosis is a bacterial, worldwide disease that can also affect humans. Dogs are usually exposed by contact with the urine of affected animals, often wildlife, or by drinking contaminated water. There is a vaccine that can protect dogs from four strains of Lepto.

Antifreeze toxicity is another common cause of renal damage. Dogs like the sweet taste, and ingesting even a small amount can affect the kidneys. They are often exposed by licking the garage floor where the car radiator has leaked.

Drugs can cause kidney damage; NSAID’s, some antibiotics, and heart medications have been incriminated. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) can cause renal damage, especially if over dosed. This most frequently happens when a dog, receiving a chewable form for arthritis, chews up and eats the whole bottle of pills! Be sure these bottles are out of reach of all your pets. A class of antibiotics called aminoglycosides can cause kidney damage if over dosed or if the dog is dehydrated. Heart medications can stress the kidneys, as well as the heart disease itself can stress the kidneys. Heart patients on meds will usually have their kidney function checked regularly.

A bad infection of the kidneys called pyelonephritis will cause renal damage. A variety of bacteria can cause this. Cultures of the urine are important to determine which antibiotics are effective, then to assess if and when the infection resolves.

Foods and treats can even cause kidney damage. Raisins, grapes, and currants can cause kidney damage, although the toxin is unknown. It does seem to be from the flesh of the fruit and not the seed. Even just a handful of grapes has sickened dogs.

The chicken jerky treats from China have sickened, and even killed, hundreds of dogs. The FDA has released warnings, but the treats are still available on the market. There has been a great deal of study, and inspection of facilities in China, but the toxin has still not been identified. There are reports that the duck jerky and veggie jerky treats may also cause kidney disease.

Watch for Symptoms

Symptoms of acute kidney disease are vomiting, lethargy, poor appetite or not eating at all, possible diarrhea, not passing urine, or possibly urinating more volume than normal. Depending on the cause, there may be fever and abdominal pain.

Treatment always includes hospitalization and intravenous fluid therapy. Time is critical as the longer the disease process endures, the more kidney tissue damage may occur and may become permanent. If it is possible that your dog ingested antifreeze, call your emergency hospital right away as there is an antidote but it needs to be administered within a few hours. Other treatments, depending on the cause, may include antibiotics and drugs to control nausea.

If you suspect your dog may have developed kidney damage, an examination, blood tests, and urine tests are in order. Your veterinarian can diagnose and treat your dog. Better yet, discuss with your veterinarian methods to try to prevent kidney damage!

Sources:

“Acute Kidney Injury in Dogs of the Central Coast”. Colleen Brady, DVM. DACVECC, Pacific Tide newsletter , Volume 2, issue 1.

“Aminoglycosides: Nephrotoxicity”. Mingeot-Leclercq and Tullen, Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 1999 May; 43 (5) 1003 – 1012

Addison’s Disease in Dogs

Addison’s Disease in Dogs

Addison’s disease is an endocrine disorder where the adrenal glands, near the kidneys, fail to produce enough hormones. This disease is relatively uncommon (approximately one case per 3000 dogs) but it is more common in dogs than humans. It is very rare in cats.

The common symptoms of Addison’s are lethargy, occasional vomiting or diarrhea, weakness, low body temperature, low heart rate, and shaking. The symptoms are often vague, may be intermittent, and can be attributed to many other causes. The problem is probably under-diagnosed; the doctor must have a high degree of clinical suspicion. The disease can be fatal if left untreated.

Addison’s usually affects young to middle-aged dogs, but can occur in any age. About seventy percent of cases are female. Some breeds are more likely to be affected: Great Danes, Newfoundlands, Portuguese Waterdogs, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Westies, Wheaten Terriers, Springer Spaniels, but the breeds with the highest rates are Standard Poodles, Leonbergers, and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers.

A regular blood profile may have changes that suggest Addison’s, especially certain alterations in the electrolytes. The specific test for the disease is an ACTH stimulation blood test. This test involves two blood draws, one before, and one an hour after an injection of a drug named Cortrosyn. Both of these samples are sent to the reference lab, and the results are compared to one another. A normal animal will respond to the Cortrosyn by a big increase compared to the first sample. An Addisonian animal will not have an increase.

Treatment is either with an oral daily drug, Florinef, or an injectable drug, Percorten, that is given every 25 days. Most veterinarians use Percorten now as it provides better, smoother control of the disease, and does not rely on owner memory and compliance every day. A version of the disease called atypical Addison’s may need only oral prednisone. Talk to your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your pet’s health.

Cancer in Pocket Pets

Cancer in Pocket Pets

A tumor (also known as neoplasm) is an abnormal growth of cells; this growth may be either benign or malignant. Benign tumors do not spread throughout the body and often have a limited impact on a pet’s overall health. Malignant tumors can develop in one location, such as a hormone-producing gland, and then spread to other body parts. Treatment and prognosis for malignant tumors depends on the type of cancer, where the tumor is located, and at what stage it is diagnosed.

Pancreatic tumors are one of the most common diseases affecting ferrets. Insulinoma is a tumor in the pancreas that causes excess secretion of insulin; this affects the body’s ability to regulate blood glucose level. Excess insulin causes hypoglycemia, which causes weakness and can cause other symptoms including disorientation, seizures, collapse, and partial paralysis of the hind legs.

Tumors are common for many pocket pets, including hamsters and gerbils. For example, hamsters are frequently diagnosed with benign tumors in the adrenal gland or lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system that can affect many organs. Tumors are common in a gerbil’s ventral marking glands and appear as sores. Skin tumors may appear as large masses along different parts of a gerbil’s body, including the ears and feet. Tumors affecting the internal organs are more difficult to identify in the early stages since obvious physical symptoms are not present.

A veterinarian with experience treating tumors in small animals and pocket pets can best diagnose the precise health condition affecting your ferret, gerbil or hamster. Your veterinarian will start with a physical examination. Depending on the type of tumor and its location, a variety of different diagnostic tests may be necessary. For example, ultrasound may be used to look for tumors. Needle biopsies,blood tests, or urinalysis may also be necessary for an accurate diagnosis.

If your pet is diagnosed with a tumor, treatment will depend on the type of tumor. In some cases, surgery to remove the tumor may be highly effective at extending your pet’s life, especially if the tumor is not malignant and cancer has not spread. Early diagnosis plays a critical role; any type of tumor is easier to treat when it is detected early. While some forms of aggressive cancers cannot be cured, your pet’s quality of life can be greatly enhanced when detected early. New diagnostic methods are improving early detection and increasing treatment success rate. This is why regular veterinary exams are critical for every pet.

Source:

American Veterinary Medical Association. “Cancer in Animals,” March 2010.