Nov 20, 2013 / 5:00 am
Canada is one of the major participants and contributors to the celebration of “Movember”, the month of November in which men are encouraged to grow a mo to raise the awareness to men health. The main concern for men specifically, is the pathology of the prostate gland. All men older than 50 years old are advised to get their prostate gland checked regularly. Male dogs can also suffer from prostatic abnormalities.
The prostate is an accessory sex gland in males that completely surrounds the urethra at the neck of the bladder. The prostate produces the sperm fluids.
The most common abnormalities in the prostate glands are infection (AKA Prostatitis), benign enlargement of the prostate or prostatic cancer.
Prostatitis is an infection of the prostate. This infection is usually accompanied by systemic signs of illness such as fever, inappetence, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and painful urination. Many of the dogs suffering from prostatitis will have an arched back.
The infection can become chronic and severely affect the dog’s fertility.
Your veterinarian may want to collect prostatic secretions for culture and cytology. Once the diagnosis is made, the dog is placed on an oral antibiotic selected on the basis of culture and sensitivity tests. Antibiotics have difficulty penetrating the swollen prostate, so long-term administration is necessary. Culturing a sample of fluids from the prostate allows the isolation of the specific causative agent of the infection and the best drug to treat it.
Any diagnosis of the prostatic abnormalities is done first by a physical exam. Palpation of the prostate via rectal exam yields essential information. The prostate gland size, symmetry, and existence of pain upon palpation, are all important data required in order to reach a diagnosis.
When infection is suspected, the dog will be treated with systemic antibiotics. If the infection complicates and a prostatic abscess is formed, a surgical intervention is usually required.
The second and most common prostatic abnormality in dogs is a benign enlargement of the prostate gland. This condition is called hyperplasia. Prostatic hyperplasia is a symmetric enlargement of the prostate. This condition is caused due to testosterone effect, thus can only affect intact dogs.
The process of the enlargement usually starts when the dog is around five years old. The prostate gland gradually increases in size. Because of its location, when the prostate gland enlarges significantly, it presses on the rectum and disturbs normal passage of feces, leading to constipation. Although less common, the prostate gland can also alter urine passage in the urethra and urination. The typical symptoms associated with that condition are straining to urinate and the presence of blood in the urine.
The best treatment for the benign enlargement of the prostate gland is eliminating the testosterone from the body by neutering the dog. The enlarged prostate decreases in size shortly after the dog gets neutered.
The third type of prostatic pathology is prostatic cancer. This type of cancer is fairly rare in dogs. It is not influenced by testosterone, so it can occur in both neutered and intact male dogs.
Ultrasonography provides additional information and may be helpful in guiding a needle into the prostate to obtain a biopsy, a procedure indicated when cancer is suspected.
Unfortunately, usually by the time of the cancer diagnosis, the condition is too advanced to be treated.
I am a strong believer that knowledge is power. Unfortunately the prostatic cancer can’t be prevented, but the other two main phenomenons- prostatitis and benign enlargement can be treated or even prevented.
Dr. Oz can be reached at www.KelownaVet.ca
Oct 31, 2013 / 5:00 am
Taking your family pet to the vet is an ordeal most people are not too thrilled about, both because of the stress involved in some animals as well as the financial aspect. Pet owners frequently face the dilemma of whether the problem the pet is showing is worth taking it to the vet or not. The most confusing cases are the ones that appear intermittently (symptoms come and go). Many people are under the impression that if the pet has a serious problem, the symptoms will persist. In many cases this is true, however not in all of them.
An orthopedic condition known as Patellar luxation is a good example. Lately I encountered a few limping dogs that were diagnosed with Patellar luxation. Interestingly enough, in all of those cases, the owners noticed the limping long before they approached me for help. The sudden appearance and the disappearance of the limping made them doubt whether their dog actually had a real problem. The patella is the kneecap. It is situated between the two long bones of the back leg, the Femur and the Tibia. In normal leg anatomy the patella is situated in a special groove in the femur (the thigh bone), attached to the two long bones by tendons and muscle. The Patella location in the femur groove allows normal gliding motion in flexion and extension of the knee joint. Patellar luxation is a condition in which the patella jumps out of the groove sideways when the knee is bent. This causes the leg to “lock up” with the paw up in the air.
The condition has four grades of severity. In grade 1 the patella is normally in the femoral groove but can be manually manipulated outside of the groove. The 2nd and 3rd grades are the most common, in which the patella intermittently slides outside of the groove. In the most severe 4th grade the patella is permanently situated outside of the groove.
Patellar luxation is the most common congenital abnormality in dogs, affecting about 7% of puppies. Small breeds are most commonly affected especially Boston Terriers, Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Miniature Poodles and Yorkshire Terriers. The incidence in large breed dogs has been on the rise over the last 10 years.
Beside being a congenital abnormality, patellar luxation can also be caused in normal dogs as a result of a traumatic injury.
The most common sign associated with the condition is limping. The duration and the severity of the limping depends on the grade of the condition. The more severe the condition is, the more frequent the limping episodes are. In a typical patellar luxation case the limping will be intermittent (on again, off again) and will be resolved spontaneously, sometimes after only few minutes.
The diagnosis of the condition is done by a manual manipulation of the joint. An x-ray exam can confirm the presence of the patella outside of its normal groove.
Unfortunately conservative treatment has little to offer, and the best permanent treatment for patellar luxation is by corrective surgery.
Over time, if untreated the condition worsens and severe arthritis develops which may lead to permanent damage and compromise mobility.
If your dog shows signs of permanent or intermittent episodes of limping on his back leg, along with yelping and signs of discomfort take it to be checked by your vet.
Early treatment of patellar luxation can yield a long, happy and pain free life for your dog.
Sep 26, 2013 / 5:00 am
This column is dedicated to a lovely Golden Retriever with a golden heart named Kayda and his loving owner Ken. Kayda was suffering from an intractable problem in his mouth that eventually made him feel miserable. Ken did everything he could for his dog, but sadly nobody can stop time and nature’s course of aging. Ken had to face one of the most painful aspects in raising pets and make a heartbreaking, but yet very brave decision of letting Kayda go.
So when is it the right time to say goodbye to your darling pet? Well, that is probably the hardest question veterinarians get asked by pet owners. The decision to end a life is never easy. It is a personal, loving decision to euthanize a pet for which the quality of life has deteriorated. It takes courage to assume this last duty and it is our last responsibility to a pet which has given us love and companionship. One of the most difficult decisions people have a hard time with is making the decision for the animal that obviously can’t express its own wants.
Euthanasia is recommended by veterinarians when the pet is sick or very old and when its quality of life has deteriorated in an irreversible manner. When a pet is showing signs of illness your veterinarian will probably recommend performing some tests in order to evaluate the general health status of your pet and the extent of the damage caused by the disease. Some people debate whether it is worthwhile to invest money in performing tests on old animals. At times people are frustrated that they spent the money and still ended up euthanizing their pet. The decision of performing euthanasia is a very hard one for both pet owners and veterinarians, hence the tests are recommended. Euthanasia is recommended when a medical condition is uncontrollable, or is going to cause pain and suffering to your pet. Medical tests help veterinarians assess the severity of the pet’s condition and make it easier to reach the decision whether to try to treat the animal or let it go.
So when is it the right time to say goodbye? There is no one answer for this question. The answer is very personal and individual. Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself. Is my pet suffering? Is it in pain? Does it have good quality of life? Does it eat and drink well? Is it uncomfortable? Is treating and trying to prolong it’s life going to cause suffering to my pet? Can I afford the treatment my pet needs? Am I just holding on because I simply can’t say goodbye?
The legitimacy of ending one’s life has been a controversial issue for decades for both humans and animals. Many people believe in letting nature taking its course. Personally, as a veterinarian I feel privileged to be able to help animals and put an end to their misery in a humane manner.
So what should you expect when you have decided to euthanize your pet? At the vet’s office you will be asked to give written permission to perform the euthanasia. The euthanasia is done by intravenous injection of lethal dose of an anesthetic drug. Depending on your pet’s nature and condition the vet will decide whether sedation is needed prior to the euthanasia. The process is very quick and peaceful. As soon as the vet establishes access to the vein and injects the drug the pet will immediately relax and within couple of minutes will just stop breathing. The vet will listen with a stethoscope to confirm that the pet has passed away. Usually the procedure is very quiet, painless and peaceful. Rarely the animal will make strange sounds, express an excited reaction or take deep breaths. All of those reactions are just reflexes and are not signs of pain and suffering, it is just a side effect of the medication and the nerve system’s reaction to it. Some people prefer not to be present for the procedure itself and that is a very legitimate choice.
The last decision you will need to face is what to do with the remains. Your options are either burial or cremation. There two kinds of cremation- either communal or private in which you will get the pet’s ashes back.
Deciding whether to euthanize your pet is probably one of the hardest decisions you’ll ever need to make for your pet. This decision should be taken very seriously. Please consult with your veterinarian when the time comes. Your veterinarian will support and guide you through this emotional process and will make the experience for you and your family as easy as possible.
Dr. Oz can be reached at www.KelownaVet.ca
Sep 11, 2013 / 5:00 am
Cats are almost the ideal pet to have. They are relatively low maintenance creatures and very independent. They can be as loving, loyal and affectionate as dogs. One of their only negative features that most cat lovers get to experience is their tendency to claw the house furniture or other inanimate objects. Some people find this behaviour unbearable, therefore this is one of the most common reasons for surrendering cats to animals shelters.
Clawing by scratching inanimate objects is a part of a normal behaviour in cats. It is very important to remember that your cat does not scratch your furniture in order to spite you. They do that to sharpen their nails as a part of self grooming, marking their territory, to exercise, and yes, also out of pleasure. It would be unrealistic to expect your cat to stop scratching. You better accept the scratching as a part of your cat behaviour and try to guide it to scratch on legitimate items instead of on your furniture. In order to do that, you should supply your cat with an alternative options. A scratching post is your best bet. Some cats take after the post right away, others might need some training. I know, you won’t find the scratching post in home decoration magazines, and this is probably the last thing you want in your living room, but remember cats are social creatures. Because they use scratching to mark their territory I would place the scratching post in the common living area, preferably close to the area it is used to scratching on. The idea is to try to make the cat like and use the post. Different cats have different preferences. The post you choose should be tall enough for the cat the dig its claws in and to stretch. Cats tend to like it when there is a toy attached to the post and many cats adopt the post as their sleeping area. Avoid any fluffy posts, cats prefer rough and coarse consistency. Pet stores carry all kind of different posts. Buying more than one post, and placing them in different areas of the house, will increase the chances of your cat getting to like and use the posts. In order to make the post more inviting, you can rub some catnip on it. It is okay to place the cat on the post, but don’t hold its paws and make it scratch it, this can have an negative effect of rejection of the post. Every time your cat uses the post, praise him with a treat or a hug.
If your cat continues to scratch on your furniture you can try a few other methods. First, do not punish the cat. This will not help. The cat will continue scratching but not in front of you. Another way to try to break the habit is by placing aluminum foil on the area. This makes the area not pleasant for scratching. Cats are also averted by citrus smell. Spraying the area with a citrus odor can help keep the cat away. One more method I find successful is using a water spray bottle to spray the cat every time it scratches the furniture. It is important that the cat will not associate the spraying with you. The idea is to associate scratching the furniture with a bad consequence that “comes out of nowhere”. This not a punishment.
Some cats are very stubborn. You are more likely to train the cat if you start at an early age. It might be very difficult to break the habit in an older cat. In order to prevent the damage done by the nails you can apply soft plastic covers, that are glued on the cat’s nail. They should be replaced periodically depending on the cat’s nail growth rate. This should only be used on strictly indoor cats. Cats that are exposed to the outdoors need their nails for self defence.
Some people choose to surgically declaw their cat. This is a permanent drastic solution. This surgical procedure is very controversial and is not done by all vets. If performing this surgery crossed your mind, consult your veterinarian to learn all the aspects involved in this kind of procedure.
Protecting your furniture and other household items is not impossible but it may take a little effort and patience on your behalf. Perseverance and understanding that this process might take a while can lead to the desired harmony of sharing your home with your feline friend.
Dr. Oz can be reached at www.KelownaVet.ca
Read more Dr. Oz's Vet Advice articles
- Cats and abscess injuries Aug 14
- Anal glands disease Jul 17
- Beware of Spear grass! Jul 5
- Cancer is a scary word Jun 5
- Summer hazards for dogs May 8
- Deworming pets Apr 20
- Hazardous foods for pets Apr 3
- Heartworm prevalent in Okanagan Mar 20
- Feline acne Mar 6
- Foreign body ingestion Feb 20
- Dental health in pets Feb 6
- A new baby and the family pet Jan 23
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