May 8, 2013 / 9:00 am
Summer tends to be a very busy time for veterinary practices. Naturally people are more engaged in outdoor activities which can be very pleasurable for both humans and pets but at times can bear risks. Here, you’ll find in brief the most common summer related hazards for dogs.
The Okanagan Valley can get very hot in the summer. Heat stroke is one of the most common reasons for emergency visits to the vet. In order to prevent heat stroke try to exercise your dog in the morning and early evening hours. Try to avoid any excessive physical activity in the outdoors during the hot hours of the day. Make sure your pet has access to drinking water at all times. If you place your dog in the yard, even for resting, make sure it has a shaded area to stay in. Never leave your pet in the car without an open window or air conditioner, not even for few minutes. In the summer the temperature in a parked car can be very high and even a few minutes can jeopardize your pet’s life.
Many people like to take their dog to the lake. People usually assume that all dogs are good swimmers but this is actually not true. Most dogs know how to swim, but some dogs, in particular small breed dogs and young dogs, are at higher risk of drowning. Nowadays pet stores carry dog’s life jackets. If you are taking your dog along with you for boating or any other activity in which the dog might fall into the water, it would be safer to first equip your dog with a life jacket.
Summer time makes everybody more active, including the snakes. Snake bites around the face and neck are the most dangerous. On top of the damage done by the snake’s venom, the face and neck might swell up and cause respiratory impairment. Unfortunately those areas in the body are the most common to be involved, because the snakes tend to attack the dogs when the dogs get closer to sniff them. I recommend to keep the dog on a leash so you would be able to control its actions. If your dog is bitten by a snake, seek immediate veterinary care.
“Hit by car” is one of the most common reasons for emergency visits to the vet all year around, but there is a higher incidence of “hit by car” cases during the summer season. Always keep your dog on a leash - don’t let your dog roam around free on its own with no supervision and, keeping your dog in a fenced yard, are a couple of the things you can do to prevent your dog from getting injured.
I would like to remind pet owners that preventative medicine is extremely important in summer time. As discussed before in different articles, fleas and ticks are vectors of different diseases. These external parasites, along with the mosquitoes that transmit heartworm are all temperature dependent and hence the diseases attributed to them are more prevalent in the summer.
I strongly recommend to keep your dog up to date on its deworming, flea and tick control and apply heartworm medications every month during the heartworm season (April- November).
Please consult your veterinarian about more advice on how to enjoy a safe summer with your furry friend.
Apr 20, 2013 / 5:00 am
The fact that the Okanagan is one of the areas in Canada in which there is infestation of heartworm has been discussed before. Most animal owners are diligent about regularly vaccinating their pets, and now in the heartworm season, applying heartworm control medication. However, it seems that the regular deworming of pets is slightly overlooked. Many people attribute the infestation of intestinal parasites only to puppies and kittens. Adults pets are also prone to contract intestinal parasites.
Gastrointestinal parasites are very common in both dogs and cats. In general there are few different types of parasites:
Protozoa are are single cell parasites. The most common protozoa that infect dogs and cats are Coccidia and Giardia. Giardia is commonly found in stagnant water so dogs that are taken to swim in the lakes or drink from ponds are in higher risk of getting infected by Giardia.
Intestinal worms consist of Roundworm, Hookworms, Whipworms and Tapeworms. Intestinal worms are most common in puppies and kittens but very commonly infest also adult pets.
Gastrointestinal parasites affect the animal in few different ways. Firstly they are located in the animal’s intestine and utilize the food that the animal eats for their own body and needs which deprives the food from the pet itself. A pet with gastrointestinal parasites will often have diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss or poor weight gain in young animals, listlessness and anorexia. Blood in the stool is also typical for intestinal parasites infestation.
Hookworms are blood suckers, their presence can lead to severe anemia and even acutely kill a puppy or a kitten.
Pets infested with intestinal parasites often have a pot belly appearance. The belly swells because of the excess gas given off by the worms. This gives a noticeable rounded appearance to the belly.
You may notice the worms that are expelled in the feces. Some worms are very large, others are as tiny as a grain of rice.
Another typical sign for presence of intestinal parasites is scooting. Adult worms, eggs and larvae are expelled out of the anus, which can cause intense discomfort for your animal. Your pet may sit on the floor and drag his behind across the ground to scratch it. He may also bite at his rear end repeatedly.
Some intestinal parasites affect pets that will transmit to people as well. Small children are the most at risk for serious problems related to intestinal parasites. Worms often are transmitted from one species to another. If one of your pets has been diagnosed with worms, all of your pets will need treatment as well.
Many people are not aware of the fact that Tapeworms are transmitted through fleas. The worm grows inside of the flea. Fleas cause itchiness that makes the pet bite itself and swallow the flea and get infested by the Tapeworm. A complete deworming treatment should include anti fleas product as well.
There are different methods for diagnosing the presence of gastrointestinal parasites. The most common method is a microscopic examination of stool sample. Giardia can also be diagnosed by a specific in house lab test of the stool.
There are different deworming products available for treating and preventing gastrointestinal parasites. If you suspect that your pet might be infested by parasites take it to see your vet. The protocols for deworming vary according to the different types of products and also depending whether the deworming is given as prevention or as a treatment for an actual existing infestation. As a general recommendation, I recommend to pet owners as prevention to routinely deworm their pet every 3-6 months.
Heartworm is a serious matter that was discussed on a separate article in the past. In general Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes, hence when the weather gets warm the disease spreads. The Okanagan Valley is one of the only areas in Canada that Heartworm is found in. This is a life threatening condition that can be prevented by monthly administration of one of the heartworm medication. I recommend to my clients to start applying heartworm prevention medication as early as April.
Regular deworming is an essential part of pets' health keeping. There are numerous options of parasites control products available. A dog that is taken often on hiking trips in the woods or camping, obviously will not be treated similarly to an indoor cat, for an example. Knowing you and your specific lifestyle and needs, your veterinarian is best to advise you which product, and deworming protocol are best for your pet.
Apr 3, 2013 / 6:00 am
Who doesn’t like to spoil his pet with a treat? We all do it, it’s so hard not to - you are eating and your pet is looking at you with its big yearning eyes and you just give in. However, it is crucial to know that not all items consumed by humans are safe for animals. Some foods on the list are considered super food for humans because they are so nutritious and healthy, but when it comes to your pet it is not the case. Here is the list of the most common food related hazards to pets.
One of the most common intoxications I get to treat, especially around Christmas time, is chocolate poisoning. Chocolate contains Theobromide which is toxic to the pet’s heart, lungs, kidney and central nervous system
Onion and garlic can cause destruction of the red blood cells, a process called Hemolytic anemia. Symptoms of hemolytic anemia are usually pale gums, rapid heart rate, weakness and lethargy. Other signs include vomiting, diarrhea, and bloody urine. Poisoning can result from raw, cooked and dehydrated forms of onion, garlic and chives.
Coffee or tea contain caffeine which is toxic for pets. The caffeine effect on the body is pretty similar to the chocolate effect.
Grapes/resins contain unknown toxins which can lead to kidney failure in pets.
Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs and affect the nervous system.
Sugar free gum and candy are dangerous to pets when they are sweetened with Xylitol. This mimics the action of sugar in the body, causes release of Insulin from the pancreas which leads to a condition called Hypoglycemia- low blood sugar. This condition is manifested by weakness, drunken gait, collapse and seizures.
Another food to avoid is avocado. Avocado is dangerous for pets as it contains a toxic fatty acid called Persin. The symptoms of toxicity are usually of gastrointestinal irritation.
It is well known that pets should not be exposed to alcohol. Alcohol contains Ethanol, a seriously toxic chemical compound that causes central nervous system and respiratory depression. Uncooked yeast dough and rotten fruits also produce ethanol. Even small amounts of ethanol can cause toxic effects.
Please avoid giving bones to your pet, especially chicken and pork bones. These bones are very sharp and can cause damage and even perforation of the intestine. I would also recommend avoiding giving to pets any food items that can lodge and obstruct the gastrointestinal system, such as corn cobs or fruit pits.
Symptoms of intoxication depend on the organ affected. In general the symptoms are usually vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, and loss of appetite and energy. When the kidneys are involved you might note lack of urine production. Toxins which affect the nervous system will lead to signs such as depression, wobbliness, and even seizures or coma.
Remember that feeding your pet greasy food, or any food high in fat, can easily elicit pancreatitis. I know you want to share your turkey dinner with your furry friend, but the gravy for instance, will not be a good choice. Being aware and mindful about your pet’s feeding habits can spare you both a lot of grief.
If your pet was exposed to any toxic or harmful food item seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Early intervention is critical. Depending on how long it has been since the pet has ingested the poisonous food, the vet will attempt to prevent the poison absorption by inducing vomiting, performing stomach lavage (pumping the stomach) or by feeding active charcoal which absorbs some of the toxins.
Some toxins have an antidote - a chemical that reveres the toxin effect. The earlier the antidote is given the better chances of the pet to recover. Supportive treatment including intravenous fluids is also essential in many cases.
Pets are part of the family, they enjoy many family activities which obviously includes food. There is a large variety of pet commercial food and treats. If you wish to feed homemade food, seek advice from your vet to keep your pet healthy and safe.
Dr. Oz can be reached at www.KelownaVet.ca
Mar 20, 2013 / 5:00 am
The good news is that the winter is almost over. The bad news is that we are not the only creatures that are going to enjoy the upcoming spring. Mosquitoes are also thrive in the warm weather. Besides being a nuisance to people, mosquitoes have the capability of transmitting a dangerous disease to our pets known as Heartworm.
Heartworms (Dirofilaria immitis) are large roundworms that live in the right side of the heart and the blood vessels that supply blood to the lungs. The mature form of the worm can grow to a length of 23-30 cm, and in severe cases a dog may be infested with hundreds of worms.
Heart worm infestation can potentially cause damage to the heart, lungs and liver as well as obstruction of blood flow and eventually, death due to respiratory and heart failure.
Although dogs are the natural hosts for heartworms, cats will occasionally become infested as well.
Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are active in warm temperature environments. The high-risk areas in Canada are the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, southern Ontario, southern Quebec and Manitoba. Heartworm is also found in most states in the US.
A mosquito bites an infected dog and sucks its blood. The worm develops in the mosquito’s body, and passes to an uninfected dog with the mosquito’s saliva in its next bite. The worm in its immature form travels through the bloodstream and lodges in the right side of the heart and the blood vessels that supply the lungs, where it matures and multiplies.
There are no symptoms at all until the disease is very advanced. Then, the symptoms are those of congestive heart failure: dull coat, lack of energy, coughing, difficulty breathing, perhaps fainting spells and an enlarged abdomen.
A blood test is available and is the most common method of diagnosis. It takes approximately 6 – 7 months from the time of infection until the test becomes positive. The dead worm poses a lot of potential damage by breaking loose, obstructing blood vessels and causing respiratory failure and death.
Treatment for heartworm disease is available. However, treatment is costly and not without risks. The treatment consists of a series of injections. While on treatment the dog has to be kept to strict activity to allow the body to absorb the dead worm.
Prevention is the key. Preventive drugs are highly effective and when regularly administered will protect more than 99 percent of dogs and cats from heartworm.
There are few different types of preventative medications. The medications differ in their administration route, spectrum of activity and cost.
In general, I recommend to my clients to administer the preventative medications throughout the warm months of the year, in the active period of the mosquitoes. Here in our beautiful warm Okanagan Valley the medications should be administered between April and October.
Discuss heartworm prevention with your vet, and get specific recommendations for keeping your beloved pet safe and heartworm free.
Read more Dr. Oz's Vet Advice articles
- Feline acne Mar 6
- Foreign body ingestion Feb 20
- Dental health in pets Feb 6
- A new baby and the family pet Jan 23
- Pancreatitis Jan 2
- Candy for us, deadly for them Dec 19
- Spaying & neutering pets Nov 28
- Anterior Cranial Cruciate Nov 14
- Winterize your pet Oct 23
- Outside the litter box Oct 9
- Fire danger and pets Sep 25
- Toxoplasmosis Sep 11
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