DOG ARTICLES 1

Happy Tail

The term “Happy Tail” is a bit of a misnomer. It actually refers to an injury to the tail caused by exuberant wagging against a hard surface. Sometimes called “Kennel Tail”, a dog may wag so hard while in a confined area that the skin and blood vessels at the tip of the tail become ruptured when repeatedly struck against the wall or any vertical surface. These injuries can be very messy as blood is “wagged” all over the place. In fact, an owner may think that the dog has lost a life-threatening amount of blood although...

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Happy Tail

The term “Happy Tail” is a bit of a misnomer. It actually refers to an injury to the tail caused by exuberant wagging against a hard surface. Sometimes called “Kennel Tail”, a dog may wag so hard while in a confined area that the skin and blood vessels at the tip of the tail become ruptured when repeatedly struck against the wall or any vertical surface. These injuries can be very messy as blood is “wagged” all over the place. In fact, an owner may think that the dog has lost a life-threatening amount of blood although rarely is the volume significant. Still, this injury will probably require the veterinarian’s attention. It can be very difficult to stop the bleeding as the tail is constantly reinjured, and antibiotics should be started to prevent infection.

Most of the dogs susceptible to Happy Tail are large breed, short hair dogs. The reason that they are more prone to this type of injury is two-fold. First, the tail is larger and has more mass than smaller breed dogs. When the “happy” muscles get started wagging, that tail can become a dangerous weapon as owners of these dogs are already aware after being whacked in the shins and thighs a few times. There is a lot of momentum driving the delicate tip of the tail into a hard surface. Secondly, the short hair makes the tail more aerodynamic, allowing it to wag faster through the air. Dogs with skirted tails rarely have a problem with Happy Tail injuries.

Treating a Happy Tail injury starts with stopping the bleeding. Tails are difficult to bandage, and the extra padding necessary to absorb the blood and cushion subsequent blows will make the bandage heavy and prone to slippage. Cooling the wound with an ice pack will speed blood coagulation and clotting, but be careful to avoid frost bite injury from over-cooling the tissue. Any bandage applied must be able to breathe and should not strangulate the tail. Duct tape is a horrible choice for bandage tape because it is waterproof and will not stretch. Many veterinarians will cover the end of the tail with a prescription vial or syringe case that has holes drilled for ventilation. These are light weight and will protect the delicate tip from further injury.

Once the bleeding has stopped, and an adequate scab has formed, the wound must be cleaned of matted hair and debris. These types of wounds are difficult to keep clean, and bleeding often recurs afterward. Oral and topical antibiotics will help to prevent infection from becoming established.

Ultimately, many persistent Happy Tails will require moderate amputation. The flexible section of the tail is surgically removed to prevent the whipping action that causes the injury and delays healing. As a general rule, at least 2/3rds of the tail will be amputated if Happy Tail cannot be prevented.

The best solution is to avoid the injury in the first place. If possible, the dog should not be confined where the tail may be struck against a hard wall. During crate-training or kenneling, the crate should be large enough for comfort, but small enough to stop unimpeded tail wagging.

Avoid shaving a skirted tail, as the hair protects the tail from injury.

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Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint. It is a genetic condition that can be affected by diet. There is no cure for Hip Dysplasia; however, there are many treatment options available today for pets diagnosed with the condition. Hip Dysplasia can affect many pets, however, it is predominantly found in large breed dogs such as Great Danes, Mastiffs, St. Bernards, Labradors, German Shepherds, mixed breeds and more. Understanding the condition and available treatment options is important to ensuring that your pet can live comfortably with the condition. Hip Dysplasia is a heritable defect caused by the malformation of the pelvic and hip joints in large breed dogs. The...

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Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint. It is a genetic condition that can be affected by diet. There is no cure for Hip Dysplasia; however, there are many treatment options available today for pets diagnosed with the condition. Hip Dysplasia can affect many pets, however, it is predominantly found in large breed dogs such as Great Danes, Mastiffs, St. Bernards, Labradors, German Shepherds, mixed breeds and more. Understanding the condition and available treatment options is important to ensuring that your pet can live comfortably with the condition. Hip Dysplasia is a heritable defect caused by the malformation of the pelvic and hip joints in large breed dogs. The hip joint is a ball and socket joint. In order to form correctly, the ball and the socket must grow at uniform rates. In some large breed dogs, these joints do not grow correctly or at the same speed. This variability leads to looseness in the joints, the buildup of arthritis and abnormal movement of the hips and legs. Each of these problems can lead to varying amounts of pain and lameness for the animal.

Hip Dysplasia is diagnosed by taking an X-Ray of your pet’s hips. However, there are several different external signs to look for if you suspect your pet may be suffering from dysplasia. These signs include: stiffness in the hip joints, hesitancy to stand up from a laying position, lameness, reluctance to run or jump and swaying of the hips when walking. Hip dysplasia is best diagnosed between the age of one and a half to two years. A pet that is x-rayed sooner may not be showing the full signs of dysplasia as the hip joints continue to develop until two years of age in large breed dogs.

There are many different treatment options available for animals diagnosed with hip dysplasia. These options vary based on your pet’s pain level, the effect of the dysplasia on his quality of life and cost effectiveness. Your preferred method of treatment should be discussed in detail with your veterinarian. Treatment methods include:

Weight- Maintaining proper weight is essential in animals diagnosed with hip dysplasia. Animals that are obese put extra pressure on the hip joints, causing pain and stiffness.
Diet- Diet plays a key role in animals diagnosed with dysplasia. Large breed puppies that are fed special large breed diets that are balanced with nutrients and vitamins may have a reduced risk of dysplasia or may minimize the severity of the problem.
Natural Supplements- There are many natural supplements on the market today that may help to minimize the joint problems associated with dysplasia. Some of these supplements contain Glucosamine, condroitin and other vitamins and minerals to aid with joint movement and cartilage regeneration.
Medications - The most common medications for the pain and stiffness caused by hip dysplasia are NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.) Each of these drugs varies in effectiveness based on your pet’s tolerance and pain level. It may be necessary to try several before finding the one that works best for your dog.
Artificial Hip Replacement- In animals with severe hip dysplasia, it may be necessary to replace the affected joint. The decision for this surgery will often be based on your pet’s activity level and quality of life.
In addition to total hip replacement, other surgical options include triple pelvic osteotomy, juvenile pubic symphysiodesis, and excision arthroplasty with consideration given to the age of the animal and the degree of joint degeneration.
Physical therapy is also an appropriate adjunctive therapy
It is important to remember that hip dysplasia is a genetic condition. Before purchasing or adopting a large breed dog, check with the breeder to determine if the animal’s parents are certified free of dysplasia by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). If the parents are not OFA certified or the breeder will not guarantee the animal to be free of dysplasia, it is best to select another breeder. It is also important to remember that if your pet has been diagnosed with dysplasia, do not allow breeding as the condition could be passed down to the next generation.

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House training Tips

Congratulations on bringing home your new puppy! A new puppy can be an exciting and rewarding experience. However, along with the fun, often come some challenges for the new owners. One such challenge is housetraining your new pet. However, with the positive tips in this handout, housetraining outside can be a quick and rewarding experience for both the new puppy and its...

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House training Tips

Congratulations on bringing home your new puppy! A new puppy can be an exciting and rewarding experience. However, along with the fun, often come some challenges for the new owners. One such challenge is housetraining your new pet. However, with the positive tips in this handout, housetraining outside can be a quick and rewarding experience for both the new puppy and its owners. In order to assist your puppy with learning housetraining quickly and easily, it is important that you recognize your pets cues that they need to eliminate. Most puppies need to use the restroom every three to four hours during the day and within thirty minutes of eating, drinking, exercise, play or sleep. Most puppies will also exhibit some outward signs that they need to eliminate such as, sniffing the floor, walking in circles, squatting, slinking, or trying to hide behind objects. Closely supervising your pet and being in tune to their body language will make the housetraining transition easier for everyone involved.

Puppies learn quickly and easily when a positive routine is established. When it is time to take your pet outdoors to eliminate, use the same path, door and elimination location each time. Speak to your pet in an upbeat and encouraging tone. When you have reached the elimination area, use a key phrase to encourage your pet to eliminate, such as “Go Potty”. This key phrase will become his cue to eliminate and will be helpful in times when you are not in a familiar location to give him permission to eliminate. Once your puppy has done his business reward him immediately with lavish praise and treats. It is important that you accompany your pet each time he eliminates; this allows you to make sure that he has done his business and to reward him immediately for his good efforts.

Until your new puppy is successfully housetrained, it is recommended that they be kept on a leash at all times. This allows you to carefully observe their body language, behaviors and cues that it may be time for a trip outside. If you cannot supervise your pet, then the dog should be confined in a puppy proofed area of your home. This area should have a warm bed, food, water and area for elimination. Before confining your pet, be sure that he has been allowed to relieve himself and has been exercised. If your puppy does have an accident while you are not supervising him, remember, that punishment after the fact only serves to scare and intimidate your puppy at a time when bonding is crucial. If your puppy does begin to have an accident while you are supervising him, then quickly startle the puppy by clapping or staying Stop. Then proceed to follow your routine and then reward the puppy when he finishes in the proper location. Remember that with proper supervision and practice housetraining will be a rewarding experience for both you and your new puppy.

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Inappropriate Chewing

Dogs use their senses to explore the world around them. Chewing is one way to investigate the objects that intrigue them. They use their mouths to play and learn to hunt. Puppies start chewing as soon as their baby teeth erupt. Chewing gives a dog a satisfying way to curb hunger and boredom and is a healthy way to expend pent up energy. A rawhide or rubber toy may be just fine for Fido to chew on, but the dining room table legs and the couch cushions are off limits. A dog must be taught what is appropriate to chew on, and ...

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Inappropriate Chewing

Dogs use their senses to explore the world around them. Chewing is one way to investigate the objects that intrigue them. They use their mouths to play and learn to hunt. Puppies start chewing as soon as their baby teeth erupt. Chewing gives a dog a satisfying way to curb hunger and boredom and is a healthy way to expend pent up energy. A rawhide or rubber toy may be just fine for Fido to chew on, but the dining room table legs and the couch cushions are off limits. A dog must be taught what is appropriate to chew on, and if inappropriate chewing occurs despite training, it may be a sign of separation anxiety, stress, or even disease.

A dog cannot distinguish between acceptable “chewables” and your expensive belongings. When a new dog is brought into the household, anything that is off limits for chewing should be picked up and out of reach. Childrens’ toys and shoes are included. Never confuse a dog by giving him his own shoe or sock to chew. Dog toys should not resemble household items. Crate training is a very good method of teaching a dog a schedule so that boredom and anxiety do not cause him to become destructive. Boredom is the number one cause of destructive chewing. Give the dog plenty of attention and time to expend energy. High energy dogs like hunting and working breeds need a job to do in order to exercise their brains. Fetching a Frisbee or ball for a period of time every day can satisfy this need.

Give the dog many options of appropriate chew toys. Real bones are not healthy for dogs. Rawhides are a great alternative. Hard rubber toys that have a cavity on one end allow you to place a treat or smear a little peanut butter inside to keep the dog’s interest.

Destructive chewing that suddenly begins with a well trained dog can be a sign that something is wrong. Separation anxiety can cause a dog to seek solace in chewing. The dog may chew the owner’s belongings as a way to seek attention. Punishing the dog can negatively reinforce the bad behavior. The dog is not chewing to spite you. Cushing’s disease can cause a dog to have a ravenous insatiable appetite that may lead to inappropriate chewing. A dog that suddenly begins destructive chewing should be examined by the veterinarian.

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Kennel Cough

Infectious Canine Tracheobronchitis, more commonly known as Kennel Cough, is a contagious disease that affects the respiratory system. Like similar illnesses in people, it can be caused by a variety of organisms. How Dogs Get Kennel Cough Kennel cough is spread mainly by airborne viruses and bacteria expelled when infected dogs cough. People can inadvertently spread it on their hands, shoes, or inanimate objects. The organisms most often implicated in cases of Kennel cough are Bordetella bronchiseptica, Canine Para influenza Virus, and Canine Adenovirus. Kennel cough spreads readily in places where many dogs are housed in close confinement, such as kennels, animal shelters, grooming parlors, and dog shows.

Not every dog exposed to the organisms that cause Kennel Cough will get sick. Stress, health status, and respiratory irritants like dust or smoke also play a...

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Kennel Cough

Infectious Canine Tracheobronchitis, more commonly known as Kennel Cough, is a contagious disease that affects the respiratory system. Like similar illnesses in people, it can be caused by a variety of organisms. How Dogs Get Kennel Cough Kennel cough is spread mainly by airborne viruses and bacteria expelled when infected dogs cough. People can inadvertently spread it on their hands, shoes, or inanimate objects. The organisms most often implicated in cases of Kennel cough are Bordetella bronchiseptica, Canine Para influenza Virus, and Canine Adenovirus. Kennel cough spreads readily in places where many dogs are housed in close confinement, such as kennels, animal shelters, grooming parlors, and dog shows.

Not every dog exposed to the organisms that cause Kennel Cough will get sick. Stress, health status, and respiratory irritants like dust or smoke also play a role.

What the Disease Does
Most dogs with Kennel Cough are only mildly ill. The main symptom is a dry, hacking cough, sometimes accompanied by poor appetite. Most dogs recover within a few weeks. However, very young or highly stressed dogs can get seriously ill, progressing to bronchopneumonia. They may have a fever, greenish nasal discharge, and a productive cough.

How Kennel Cough is Diagnosed
Diagnosis is based on medical history and physical examination. Dogs with this illness usually cough when the windpipe is palpated. Accurate information about vaccination history is valuable, because the veterinarian must make sure that coughing is not caused by Canine Distemper.

Treatment for Kennel Cough
Dogs with mild illness may not require treatment, but cough suppressants and anti-inflammatories can help them feel more comfortable. More severe infections are treated with antibiotics and bronchodilators.

Preventing Kennel Cough
The combination vaccination routinely given to all dogs gives partial protection against two of the organisms that cause Kennel Cough, Canine Para influenza Virus and Canine Adenovirus. Dogs at higher risk include show dogs and those that are boarded or groomed professionally. They should be given a comprehensive Kennel Cough vaccine. One dose of vaccine is given initially, and is safe for puppies as young as two weeks old. Re-vaccination is recommended annually, although some boarding facilities require more frequent boosters. Both injectable and intranasal (nose drops) vaccines are available. The intranasal type is more effective, but the injectable type is helpful for dogs that dont tolerate nose drops. The injectable vaccine requires two doses initially. Vaccinated dogs sometimes still get Kennel Cough, but the vaccine reduces its severity.

Dogs with Kennel Cough should be isolated from other dogs since the disease is contagious. Contaminated objects should be disinfected with a dilute bleach solution. It is possible, although uncommon in household situations, for Bordetella bronchiseptica to be passed to cats, rabbits, and guinea pigs.

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Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE)

Diarrhea in dogs can occur for a number of reasons. Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE) is a particularly serious form of diarrhea that causes massive fluid, protein, and electrolyte loss over a very short period of time. Without medical intervention, this condition can quickly result in life-threatening systemic dehydration and death. Vomiting, anorexia (starvation), and depression often accompany HGE. Anything that causes typical diarrhea as a symptom can advance to HGE; although for unknown reasons, some dogs seem to be predisposed. Heat exhaustion is a common contributor. It...

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Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE)

Diarrhea in dogs can occur for a number of reasons. Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE) is a particularly serious form of diarrhea that causes massive fluid, protein, and electrolyte loss over a very short period of time. Without medical intervention, this condition can quickly result in life-threatening systemic dehydration and death. Vomiting, anorexia (starvation), and depression often accompany HGE. Anything that causes typical diarrhea as a symptom can advance to HGE; although for unknown reasons, some dogs seem to be predisposed. Heat exhaustion is a common contributor. It should be noted that many dogs that develop HGE will have experienced no other preliminary health problems; this disease process can occur in completely healthy pets without warning.

The blood vessels and tissues of the body are designed to carry fluids and cells within them. The normal function of the intestinal tract includes conserving water. In the healthy dog, the ratio of blood cells (solids) to fluid (water) in the blood, or the packed-cell volume (PCV), is about 35 to 55 percent. In HGE, the intestinal wall becomes permeable to water (but not cells), and the PCV will rise to well above 60 percent. Electrolytes and protein, which are important chemical transporters in the blood, are also leaked through the vessels and intestinal walls. Uncontrollable bloody diarrhea ensues, and the dog quickly dehydrates. This can upset kidney function and can even have impacts on heart rhythm and brain function.

There are no specific tests for HGE, but the symptoms combined with an elevated PCV and a decreased total serum protein are sufficient reasons to suspect the condition and begin treatment.

A dog suspected of HGE should be treated aggressively with intravenous replacement fluids. Because vomiting may coincide, injectable medications are preferred over oral. Antiemetics (to stop vomiting and improve intestinal function) and antibiotics are administered. There is often a bacterial overgrowth in the gut that may be responsible for or secondary to the symptoms. Clostridium is one strain of pathogenic (harmful) bacteria that is thought to contribute to HGE.

A major problem with treating HGE is that the rate of fluid loss may exceed the rate of fluid replacement. In this case, dehydration is not resolved despite rapid IV fluid administration. The reason for this is that the IV fluids given also leak through the vessels and intestinal walls. Protein must be replaced as well to correct the vessel permeability. Plasma or artificial colloid (Hetastarch) transfusions may be required to stop the diarrhea. At extremely low serum protein levels, the fluids may even leak into the abdomen and lungs. This effect is called ascites (fluid in the abdomen) and pleural effusion (fluid in the space around the lungs).

The dog with HGE will usually be hospitalized for several days, until the diarrhea is abated and the PCV returns to an acceptable range. Food will be withheld during treatment until vomiting is controlled.

The prognosis for HGE is good for dogs that are recognized early and treated aggressively. A full recovery is expected. Dogs that have survived HGE should be considered at risk for a future episode; therefore, contributing factors must be especially avoided for these individuals.

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House Soiling

Inappropriate elimination is a common complaint from dog owners. It may be a matter of proper house training, a behavioral problem, or an underlying medical condition. House soiling may be intermittent or a chronic problem. In any case, it should never be assumed that the dog is eliminating in the house to spite the owner. Punishment can actually reinforce the behavior especially when the cause is anxiety related. Attributing human emotions to dog behavior is a natural assumption to make, but dogs are not people and their...

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House Soiling

Inappropriate elimination is a common complaint from dog owners. It may be a matter of proper house training, a behavioral problem, or an underlying medical condition. House soiling may be intermittent or a chronic problem. In any case, it should never be assumed that the dog is eliminating in the house to spite the owner. Punishment can actually reinforce the behavior especially when the cause is anxiety related. Attributing human emotions to dog behavior is a natural assumption to make, but dogs are not people and their motivations are not the same as ours. This topic addresses potty training specifically and assumes that there are no underlying medical or behavioral reasons for inappropriate elimination or incontinence.

Be patient with a puppy. Their attention span is short, and like a child, puppies do not predict when they might need to “go”. They may be in the middle of play or eating when the urge strikes them. Sometimes a puppy will urinate or defecate as soon as you let them back in the house. This is especially frustrating, but they will get the idea soon. Never punish a puppy for an accident, and never let him see you clean up the mess.

Crate training is an excellent way to house train a puppy. This method should be distinguished from convenience crating, which is simply locking a dog up when you leave to keep them out of trouble. Convenience crating teaches the dog nothing and is only – as the name implies – for the owner’s convenience. Crate training to potty train a puppy lets the dog establish a routine. Eliminations begin to occur on a schedule, reducing the randomness that puppies tend to have with their bowel movements and urination.

Feeding wakes up the entire digestive tract. Bowel movements occur shortly after feeding a puppy. Keep this in mind, and spend as much time as it takes to let the puppy eliminate outside afterward. Lavishly reward the puppy during and after elimination with praise or a small food reward for positive reinforcement. Playtime outside will also stimulate a bowel movement. Just keep the play somewhat subdued since the pup just ate. You don’t want him to regurgitate or vomit his food.

Crating for a short period of time teaches the puppy that it is time to rest. He should not be, however, crated for longer than he can control elimination, or he may be forced to eliminate in the crate. If the puppy must be left for longer than it can control elimination, a larger confinement area such as a pen or puppy-proofed room will be necessary. The exception to this rule is overnight. As soon as a puppy can sleep through the night without needing to eliminate, let them.

Try to plan crating on as close to the same schedule as possible for two weeks. If the puppy is picking up on the schedule well, slight variations can be made to the crating times. If you are an hour late getting home, expect an accident.

When the schedule is fairly routine, begin leaving the puppy in a small area that is blocked off from the rest of the house. Take the door off the crate, and leave it in the room with the pup to use as his bed. Leave the house for very short periods of time, no more than twenty minutes at first. When you get home, take the puppy outside to urinate, and praise the good behavior.

A few follow-ups on the crating schedule will correct any mistakes that the puppy makes. This will usually not take more than a few weeks. Soon, he will be able to have free reign of the entire house while you are away. If the puppy continues having accidents, if he urinates in the crate or overnight, or if he’s not getting the routine down at all, it may be an indication that some part of the crate training technique needs to be revisited or a medical problem may be present. Consult a veterinarian for advice and treatment.

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Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a very common disease in dogs. The term hypothyroidism denotes an underactive thyroid gland, as opposed to hyperthyroidism, which is very rare in dogs and involves an overactive thyroid gland. The thyroid produces a hormone called T3 (Triiodothyronine) that regulates growth and development, and metabolic function of every cell in the body. As a result, a decrease...

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Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a very common disease in dogs. The term hypothyroidism denotes an underactive thyroid gland, as opposed to hyperthyroidism, which is very rare in dogs and involves an overactive thyroid gland. The thyroid produces a hormone called T3 (Triiodothyronine) that regulates growth and development, and metabolic function of every cell in the body. As a result, a decrease in T3 can be devastating to all systems, slowing heart-rate, brain function, and calorie utilization. T4 (Thyroxine), the other hormone produced by the thyroid, circulates in the bloodstream until it is needed by the cells. It will be converted to T3 as needed. Hypothyroidism is easy to treat with synthetic hormone replacement; however, diagnosis is not always straightforward.

While the effects of hypothyroidism are system-wide, dogs will generally exhibit a classical appearance with obvious clinical symptoms. Almost all dogs will have some type of skin disease, and at least half of those will have alopecia (hair loss) especially around the tail and collar areas. Some owners will describe a “puppy coat” on an older animal when the coarser hairs break off leaving the softer undercoat. Hair may not grow back at all after a summer grooming. Thickening of the skin folds on the face and head, and odor from the skin is a common finding. Half of hypothyroid dogs will be overweight and lethargic, and half of those may be anemic. On examination, patients may have a slow, arrhythmic heart beat. Severe and chronic hypothyroidism can lead to neuropathies (dysfunction of the nerves) and paralysis of the face and limbs. These animals may exhibit a drunken gait, head tilt, facial nerve paralysis, or nystagmus (rapid eye motions associated with dizziness).

Testing for hypothyroidism has changed as new methodologies have been developed. As previously mentioned, the thyroid produces two hormones, T3 and T4. Low levels of these hormones should indicate disease. However, T3 fluctuates constantly throughout the day, making it unreliable for predicting hypothyroidism. The majority of T4 (called total T4) is bound by proteins and is not available for use by the cells. Because it is susceptible to being low during times of stress and illness, total T4 being low does not confirm disease either. A hormone produced by the pituitary gland called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) should be elevated when thyroid levels are low; however, in about 25% of hypothyroid dogs, this is not the case. The newest testing protocol measures free T4, the portion of T4 that is available to the cells. The other tests may be used to gain supporting evidence of disease but are not analyzed alone. Free T4 does not fluctuate as severely as the other hormones and is more predictive of disease. The name of this laboratory test is Free T4 by Equilibrium Dialysis (fT4ed). A lab result called fT4 that does not designate “ED” is not useful to predict hypothyroidism.

Sometimes a classical appearance and symptoms make a patient highly suspicious of being hypothyroid, but lab results come back in the “gray zone”. In these patients, supplementation may be started to measure response to treatment even when a clear diagnosis is not confirmed with blood work.

Treatment should resolve most if not all symptoms of illness. A synthetic T4 hormone is given orally twice daily, and lab work is periodically rechecked to ensure proper dosing. Hair loss and skin problems may take several months to completely resolve. Once well regulated, some patients can be reduced to once a day dosing of thyroid supplement. It should be noted that dogs require a much higher dose of thyroxine than do humans. Thyroid supplement for dogs is not available at human pharmacies, and people should never take the dog form as a substitute for their own thyroid supplement. Long term overdosing of thyroid supplement can lead to weight loss, vomiting, rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, abnormal pupillary light reflexes and rapid or difficult breathing.

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Introducing the Family Dog to Your New Baby

Congratulations on your new baby! When most pet owners learn that they are expecting, they begin to wonder how their pets will react to the new baby and how to introduce them to each other. Introducing your dog to the new arrival is an important process and should be started well before the baby is born and arrives home. When working through the training process, remember that no matter how well you know your pet, accidents do happen and a baby should never be left alone with a pet under any circumstances. The process outlined below will help you as you begin the introduction process and your life...

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Introducing the Family Dog to Your New Baby

Congratulations on your new baby! When most pet owners learn that they are expecting, they begin to wonder how their pets will react to the new baby and how to introduce them to each other. Introducing your dog to the new arrival is an important process and should be started well before the baby is born and arrives home. When working through the training process, remember that no matter how well you know your pet, accidents do happen and a baby should never be left alone with a pet under any circumstances. The process outlined below will help you as you begin the introduction process and your life with the new addition.

Most dogs learn quickly to adapt to a new baby in the home. However, extra precautions should be taken if your pet has ever shown aggression to adults or other babies and toddlers. Great care should also be taken if your pet has ever demonstrated predatory behaviors in the past. Predatory behaviors are such things as stalking, catching and/or killing small animals, such as birds, squirrels, mice, cats, other dogs etc. If your dog has ever demonstrated these aggressive behaviors, it is best to err on the side of caution and consult with a behavioral specialist. This specialist will be able to work with you one on one to develop acceptable behaviors in your pet and ensure the safety of your new baby.

The introduction process and essential steps should begin well before the baby arrives home from the hospital. Most non-aggressive dogs will view your new infant with great curiosity and after an initial period of exploration will adapt easily to the changes in your household. However, in any new situation it is essential that your pet know, understand and quickly obey certain obedience commands.

The two most essential commands for this introduction are sit and stay. These two commands may initially be encouraged with food rewards and should be practiced frequently. However, as these commands will soon be associated with the new baby, they should not be used as punishment or taught in a harsh manner. Instead, treat the learning process as a game and work to make it an enjoyable experience for your pet, as this process will soon be associated with the new baby.

Once the basic commands of sit and stay have been successfully mastered, begin teaching your pet to remain in the sit and stay positions as you move away from him. Once your pet will hold the sit and stay commands as you walk and turn away, begin adding in some elements that the animal will experience once the baby is home. For example, while holding a baby doll, give the sit/stay command and then proceed to feed, burp or diaper the baby. This will acclimate your pet to many of the new behaviors that will occur around the house and will soon be associated with the positive reinforcement of the sit/stay games. Be sure to reward your pet with praise, attention and food rewards during each step of this process, as the hopefully positive experience will soon be associated with your new baby.

Once the baby is born, but before it is brought home, bring home some of the babys personal items, such as a blanket or outfit. These items may initially be given to the pet to sniff and lick in order to become familiar with the babys scent. After this period, take the items and practice the sit/stay game by giving the sit/stay command and then performing common actions while holding the scent items. Also practice having the animal sit/stay while you are standing close to them with the scent items, this allows them to practice proper behavior with the new scent close by.

Your pet should be introduced to the new baby in a calm, quite and controlled environment. Unfortunately, this is not usually the description of a family just arriving home from the hospital. Therefore, the best time to introduce your pet to the baby is after the initial excitement period. Do allow your dog to greet the mother upon arrival and get used to the babies scent on her skin and clothing.

When the initial excitement has calmed, the introduction can take place. Depending on your pet, one person should either sit or stand while holding the baby. A second person should hold the leashed dog and give the sit/stay command. The dog should be allowed to slowly move closer to the baby as long as it obeys the sit/stay commands and is not unduly aroused by the babies cries, movements or scent. If your pet becomes agitated, then stop the exercise and begin again after the animal calms down. Once the animal is acclimated to the babies noises then, depending on your comfort level, allow the animal to sniff the baby, but do not allow him to get close enough to bite. After the animal is calm and obedient on the leash, then the same exercises should be practiced with the dog off the leash. Your initial introductions may take anywhere from an hour to a few days, depending on the comfort level and calmness of your pet. Once you are confident in your pets ability to remain calm around the new baby, allow him to wander supervised around the house. Be sure to watch his reactions and interest level in the baby, as you make this acceptance period a fun experience for everyone involved.

As a responsible pet owner, it is essential to remember that no matter what amount of introduction or socialization has occurred, an infant should never be left unsupervised at any time with a family pet. Unfortunately, accidents and aggression do happen. If you are at all concerned with your pets reaction to a new addition consult a behavioral specialist.

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Learning Behavior in Dogs

Dogs are not born knowing the difference between right and wrong. Instead, they are conditioned by the positive and negative consequences that follow their actions. We train dogs purposely and inadvertently by our responses to their behavior. Environmental consequences can also condition a dog’s behavior which may result in favorable or undesirable traits. Dogs begin to respond to stimulus the second they leave the womb, and they are never too old to continue learning.

Consequences for behavior can be classified as either positive or negative (giving or taking away), ...

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Learning Behavior in Dogs

Dogs are not born knowing the difference between right and wrong. Instead, they are conditioned by the positive and negative consequences that follow their actions. We train dogs purposely and inadvertently by our responses to their behavior. Environmental consequences can also condition a dog’s behavior which may result in favorable or undesirable traits. Dogs begin to respond to stimulus the second they leave the womb, and they are never too old to continue learning.

Consequences for behavior can be classified as either positive or negative (giving or taking away), and either reinforcement or punishment (encouraging or penalizing). Do not think of positive and negative in terms of good and bad. Rewards can come in the form of verbal praise or satisfying feedback such as a tasty treat or a comforting pat on the head. This would be an example of positive reinforcement. A reward is given after “good” behavior. Rewards can inadvertently reinforce inappropriate behavior as well. Such is the case when a treat is given to “calm” an aggressive or agitated dog. A soothing voice saying “it’s okay” to a fearful dog may actually positively reinforce anxious behavior that is undesirable. Human emotions do not translate into dog emotions, and many training problems stem from our instinct to reassure a dog in situations where we would want reassurance ourselves.

Positive punishment would seem to be a contradiction in terms, but remember that positive simply means to give something for an action. This is the most common form of punishment that we institute. Giving something unpleasant for an inappropriate behavior, such as a stern “NO” for barking at the cat, is an example of positive punishment. It is well known that punishment is effective to curb behavior, but must be used consistently in order to establish strong boundaries. Unless a bad behavior is already established, positive reinforcement is a more effective training method.

When something unpleasant is removed after a behavior, it is referred to as negative reinforcement. This is almost always an inadvertent reaction to the dog’s behavior of which we might not even be aware. Separation anxiety is started and made worse by this action and consequence. A dog that dislikes being left alone (and acts out with inappropriate, often destructive, behavior) is rewarded when the owner comes home and removes the unpleasant situation. This reinforces the bad behavior, and the dog learns that his actions caused the owner to come home. Reassuring the dog afterward adds positive reinforcement to the already confusing situation.

Negative punishment is the last learning method, and is rarely utilized to train a dog. It involves removing a reward when behavior is inappropriate. In human terms, this almost equates to spitefulness. Taking away a treat or a bone after a dog does something wrong is difficult for the dog to associate with the bad behavior. A verbal rationalization for the punishment is needed to point out the cause and effect. This might work for a child, but it is hard to communicate the consequences to an animal.

Learning behaviors in dogs are easy to conceptualize, but because of our human instincts, they can be hard to implement. Often, we misleadingly interpret our dog’s behavior as the way we would react to a situation. Dogs are highly intelligent animals, and with the right training they are always eager to learn.

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Legg-Perthes Disease

Legg-Perthes disease is a painful condition affecting the hip joints of mainly young, small breeds of dogs. It is overall fairly rare, but breeds that have a genetic and heritable predilection to the disease include the terriers, miniatures, and toy breeds. Also known as avascular necrosis of the femoral head, this problem occurs when there is an interruption of the blood...

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Legg-Perthes Disease

Legg-Perthes disease is a painful condition affecting the hip joints of mainly young, small breeds of dogs. It is overall fairly rare, but breeds that have a genetic and heritable predilection to the disease include the terriers, miniatures, and toy breeds. Also known as avascular necrosis of the femoral head, this problem occurs when there is an interruption of the blood supply to the head of the femur, part of the ball and socket joint between the pelvis and femur. Most of the time, symptoms will occur between 5 and 8 months of age and occasionally up to a year old. The puppy may cry out when the rear limb is extended or during activity. Limping and avoidance to bear weight is very common in one rear leg. Very occasionally, the disease affects both hip joints.

Specifically, the hip joint is a ball and socket type attachment between the rear leg and the pelvis. The femur (thigh bone) runs vertically through the hind leg and is topped with a neck that points toward the body. At the end of the neck is a smooth ball that fits snugly into a socket in the pelvis called the acetabulum. The ball and neck collectively are referred to as the femoral head. This is the portion of the femur bone that is affected by the loss of blood supply associated with Legg-Perthes disease.

Usually, the affected puppies are born with normally developed and functional hip joints. For some reason, the blood supply is reduced to one or both femoral heads causing the surface of the bone and cartilage covering it to necrose, or die. This causes a poorly fitting joint with a rough and painful surface. Trauma can also cause aseptic (non-infectious) avascular necrosis of the femoral head; but, in most cases Legg-Perthes is thought to be a genetic defect.

As the hip becomes progressively more and more painful, the puppy will use the limb less and less. Overall range of motion becomes decreased, and the leg muscles begin to atrophy, or shrink from lack of use. Advanced cases will often show a visible decrease in the muscle mass over one hip.

Along with a physical examination, x-rays are used to diagnose the symptomatic animal. Compared to the smooth surfaces of the healthy hip joint, the femoral head affected by Legg-Perthes will appear rough and dysplastic (malformed and misshapen). The density of the bone will be decreased; and, in the very early stages of the disease, this may be the only change evident on the radiograph.

Medications can be used to treat the pain associated with Legg-Perthes, but ultimately the condition will require surgical treatment. Because the problem stems from blood supply problems, and because the animal is still growing, hip replacement is not typically an option. Instead, a salvage procedure called a femoral head and neck ostectomy (FHNO, or FHO) is performed to remove the diseased portion of the femur.

During a femoral head ostectomy, the ball and neck portion of the femur are removed, and any irregularities remaining on the femur are removed. This requires disarticulation (separation) of the joint unless the hip is already severely dysplastic or traumatically separated. The muscles that support the limb attach below the neck of the femur and are not affected by an FHO surgery. The joint capsule tissue is then closed if possible, followed by the muscle and subcutaneous tissue. Finally, the skin is closed with sutures that will be removed in a couple of weeks. Usually, there is no need for bandaging; although, an e-collar is recommended to keep the puppy from chewing at their sutures.

An FHO is sometimes referred to as a “salvage procedure”; so called because the bone and joint are not restored to their original form and function. Instead, a portion of bone is removed, and a “false” joint, or scar tissue pad, forms in place of the hip joint. The result is alleviation of pain and close to normal function of the limb. FHO’s have been successfully performed in four-legged animals as large as horses. Small dogs do very well with this type of surgical correction.

This is one procedure where activity is not restricted afterward. The growth of the scar tissue pad that forms in place of the joint is dependent on the limb being used. Range of motion exercises should be performed as soon as the dog will tolerate them. These involve gentle flexion and extension of the entire leg in repetitions several times a day. Good pain control will help the pet begin using the limb within a couple of weeks of surgery. If all goes well, it will be difficult to visually discern which leg has received an FHO procedure after complete recovery.

Even though a femoral head ostectomy is sometimes called a salvage procedure, it is actually a very practical and effective remedy for pain. It is the treatment of choice for Legg-Perthes Disease.

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Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a bacterial disease spread by ticks. While it is most prevalent in the Northeastern U.S., it has been found in all but a few states as well as other parts of the world. The name has nothing to do with fruit, but comes from the place where the disease was first reported, Lyme, Connecticut. Lyme Disease affects people and dogs. It is rare in other domestic animals. How...

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Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a bacterial disease spread by ticks. While it is most prevalent in the Northeastern U.S., it has been found in all but a few states as well as other parts of the world. The name has nothing to do with fruit, but comes from the place where the disease was first reported, Lyme, Connecticut. Lyme Disease affects people and dogs. It is rare in other domestic animals. How Lyme Disease is Spread: Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. It is transmitted to people and dogs by the bite of ticks, most commonly the black-legged deer tick. Wooded, brushy areas outdoors are likely locations for these ticks. The tick lives by attaching to a host and feeding on blood. While attached, it can spread Lyme disease through its saliva. Research has shown that in most cases, the disease is not transmitted until the tick has been attached for 48 to 72 hours. Lyme disease is not spread directly from one person to another or from a dog to a person.

Symptoms in People
The first symptom in people is usually a red, bulls-eye shaped rash, which appears a few days to a week after exposure. The rash may be accompanied or followed by fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. Without treatment, the disease can progress and cause swollen and painful joints, meningitis, and heart problems. Doctors can often diagnose Lyme disease based on a physical examination, but laboratory tests can be helpful.

Symptoms in Dogs
As in humans, a rash may appear around the tick bite soon after infection. Unfortunately, this is much less noticeable since it may be hidden by fur. Other symptoms are fever, lethargy, swollen lymph nodes, loss of appetite, and limping. Some infected dogs do not show any symptoms. The disease can cause inflammation of the kidneys, especially in Labrador Retrievers, and can damage the heart and nervous system in later stages. Some cases of Lyme disease in dogs can be detected on a physical exam, but tests of blood or joint fluid are often needed.

Treatment
Both people and dogs are treated for Lyme disease with antibiotics like Doxycycline. Additional medications may be prescribed to help with pain and inflammation. Treatment may take a month or longer, and is most successful when started within a few weeks of infection. It is possible for the organism to remain in the body long-term, leading to periodic flare-ups.

Preventing Lyme Disease
Whenever possible, avoid areas likely to be infested with ticks. If you do enter tick-infested areas, wear a long-sleeved shirt and tuck your pant legs into your boots or socks. Light colored clothing can make it easier to spot ticks. Tick repellents are beneficial to protect people and pets just be sure to read the label carefully and follow all safety precautions. Your veterinarian can recommend some excellent tick control products that are safe for dogs. After leaving a tick-infested area, check yourself and your dog carefully for ticks.

Attached ticks can be removed using tweezers or inexpensive tick removal tools. To remove a tick, it should be grasped as close to the skin as possible and pulled straight out. Applying insecticide or a hot match to the tick is not a good practice because it may actually increase the amount of disease-carrying saliva released by the tick. After the tick has been removed, cleanse the area with antiseptic soap and wash your hands thoroughly. Let your doctor know if you have been bitten by a tick. Some physicians recommend antibiotic treatment of tick-exposed people even before any symptoms occur.

A vaccination against Lyme disease is available for dogs. It is recommended for dogs living in areas where the disease is prevalent. Check with your veterinarian to see if your dog should be vaccinated. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine currently available for people.

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Mange – Demodectic

Demodectic mange is a skin condition caused by a microscopic mite that lives in the hair follicle. A small number of Demodex mites live in the skin of most dogs without causing any problem. When a dogs immune system is compromised due to illness, parasites, or poor nutrition, Demodex mites can multiply rapidly. It is especially common in young dogs. The...

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Mange – Demodectic

Demodectic mange is a skin condition caused by a microscopic mite that lives in the hair follicle. A small number of Demodex mites live in the skin of most dogs without causing any problem. When a dogs immune system is compromised due to illness, parasites, or poor nutrition, Demodex mites can multiply rapidly. It is especially common in young dogs. The overgrowth of mites damages the hair follicle, resulting in hair loss and skin irritation.

Signs
The first sign is one or more small patches of hair loss. These can occur anywhere on the body, but the most common areas are the face, ears, and front legs. The skin in these areas may become reddish or crusty, but is not itchy. Most cases of demodectic mange never progress beyond this stage, which is called localized demodecosis.

Generalized demodecosis is a more serious condition, in which the areas of hair loss and skin injury cover much of the body. Dogs with generalized demodecosis usually have very weak immune systems, so it may take much longer for them to recover. The damaged skin is also very susceptible to infection. Bacteria, yeasts, and other microbes that normally exist in the environment can invade the skin and internal tissues. These secondary infections can be serious, even life-threatening.

Diagnosis
Although the areas of hair loss may lead the veterinarian to suspect demodectic mange, the final diagnosis is made by performing a skin scraping test. The skin is scraped in several areas to loosen cells and mites which are then examined microscopically. Large numbers of Demodex mites are seen in most cases. Occasionally, the mites are more difficult to find, requiring repeated testing. Other tests may be performed to make sure the hair loss is not due to a cause other than mites.

Treatment
The veterinarian will select the treatment plan based on the condition of the dog and the severity of the skin condition. Treatments may include skin creams, dips, or medications given by mouth or by injection. In cases of generalized mange, antibiotics and other treatments may be required as well. The length of treatment varies depending on the unique ability of each dog to recover. It may range from weeks to months or more. Follow-up skin scraping tests will be performed to confirm full recovery.

Because the Demodex mite is normally present in all dogs in small quantities, the condition is not contagious to other pets or to people.

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Medicating Your Dog

Having to give your dog medication is not a task most pet owners look forward to performing. However, in order for your pet to get well it is important that they receive their medication. This handout includes some tips that will, hopefully, make medicine time a more enjoyable experience for both you and your pet. The easiest...

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Medicating Your Dog

Having to give your dog medication is not a task most pet owners look forward to performing. However, in order for your pet to get well it is important that they receive their medication. This handout includes some tips that will, hopefully, make medicine time a more enjoyable experience for both you and your pet. The easiest way to medicate your pet is usually going to be to hide the pill in food. Simply, place the pill in a small amount of your pets food or in a treat, such as cheese, meat, canned food or peanut butter. It is usually best to hide the pill in a small amount of food, rather in the animals entire dinner bowl, so that you can closely monitor if your pet actually consumed the medication. Some pets are quite adept at eating around their pill or spitting out their medication.

Some pets are not able to take a pill in a tasty treat due to dietary restrictions. Other pets are simply tricksters to maneuvering around the pill and spitting it out. For these pets it may be necessary to manually administer the pill. To give a pill by mouth for your dog, follow these easy steps:

Gather the correct dose of the medication and place it in a quick and easily accessible location.
Lubricate the medication with a small amount of butter or margarine. This will allow the pill to slide smoothly down your pets throat.
Bring your pet to a safe location where you can comfortably control his movements
Hold the pill between your thumb and index finger
From above, grasp the dogs muzzle with the hand not holding the pill. Your grasp should be placed so that your thumb and fingers are on opposite sides of the mouth behind the canine teeth. Be careful not to get your fingers fully in the mouth.
Using a firm, but gentle grip, tilt your pets head toward the ceiling. If the mouth does not drop open, use your ring and pinkie fingers of the hand holding the pill to press down on the lower teeth between the canines.
When the mouth is open, quickly place the pill on the back of the tongue. The pill will be swallowed quickest if it is placed behind the arch of the tongue.
Close your pets mouth and hold it closed while lowering the head back to a normal position.
If your pet does not automatically swallow the pill, then gently rub the underside of its throat, and lightly blow on or rub its nose. These actions will stimulate a swallow reflex in your pet.
Closely observe your pet after performing this procedure to make sure that the pill is not regurgitated or spit out.
Remember, throughout the entire procedure to offer praise and encouragement. And when the pill is swallowed, lavish your pet with praise and a tasty food reward.

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New Puppy Behavior

Congratulations! Owning a new puppy can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. However, as with any new addition to a family, there are often adjustments and changes that can be made to make the transition easier for everyone in the household. This handout will address some of the questions and challenges facing the owners of...

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New Puppy Behavior

Congratulations! Owning a new puppy can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. However, as with any new addition to a family, there are often adjustments and changes that can be made to make the transition easier for everyone in the household. This handout will address some of the questions and challenges facing the owners of a new puppy.

Puppies learn a great deal about the world around them and acceptable social behavior between the ages of four and twelve weeks. During this time it is important for you to expose to your new addition as many positive experiences with men, women, children, dogs, cats and other pets as possible. Positive experiences in many different settings during this time will help prevent your puppy from becoming scared or skittish in new environments and around strangers.

It is also important to stimulate your new puppy with many types of play and socialization in order to foster proper muscle development and to teach proper social skills. Two types of essential play behaviors are stalking and pouncing. These behaviors can be encouraged by providing toys that are lightweight, easily movable and have unique sounds to attract your puppys attention during play. Some examples of these toys are small balls, crumpled paper and objects that rattle when moved. Remember, however, that your puppy should always be supervised when playing with small items that may present a swallowing or choking hazard.

Puppies are naturally rambunctious and inquisitive. Unfortunately, these normally cute characteristics can also lead to destructive behavior. If your puppy is caught in the act of destructive behavior, it may be necessary to discipline it. Physical and harsh punishments are never recommended. Instead it is best to use a punishment that will be associated with the undesired behavior and not the enforcer. Some examples of these types of punishment include using a squirt bottle, horn, or hand clap to startle the puppy and stop the behavior.

One type of behavior considered destructive is chewing. Most puppies will experience a normal period of increased chewing while they are teething. At approximately four to six months of age, your new puppys baby teeth will be replaced with his permanent adult teeth. During this period, your puppy will want to chew on many different objects to relieve any mild discomfort he may feel. In order to protect your household items, be sure to provide your puppy with many appropriate chewing toys. These appropriate items may include softer bones, toys that can be refrigerated (which will soothe your puppys gums), and other puppy proof items.

As with any new pet, proper veterinary care is essential to maintaining a healthy happy puppy. Your new pet will receive a series of vaccinations to help protect it against seven different diseases. These diseases include rabies, hepatitis, parvovirus, distemper and parainfluenza virus. The vaccinations are given as a series of injections and are normally administered between six to eight weeks of age, at 12 weeks and again at 16 weeks. Vaccinations are also available for Lyme disease and Kennel Cough. However, consult your veterinarian about these vaccines as they may not be necessary for your puppy if it is not exposed to ticks or will not be visiting a boarding facility.

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Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects both humans and animals and can cause serious symptoms. Vaccination of dogs and the use of common sense precautions can reduce the risk of exposure for you, your family, and your pets. How Leptospirosis is Spread People and dogs are exposed to the Leptospira bacteria via contact with infected urine or contaminated water, food, or...

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Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects both humans and animals and can cause serious symptoms. Vaccination of dogs and the use of common sense precautions can reduce the risk of exposure for you, your family, and your pets. How Leptospirosis is Spread People and dogs are exposed to the Leptospira bacteria via contact with infected urine or contaminated water, food, or soil. Wild animals and rodents are the natural source, but dogs and other domestic animals spread the disease too. The bacteria can enter the body by being swallowed, through contact with mucous membranes such as the eyes, mouth, or nasal passages, or through contact with broken skin.

Leptospirosis is found all over the world but is particularly problematic in warm, tropical climates. Sewer workers and people who work with animals or on farms are at higher risk for exposure. Many people and dogs contact the Leptospira bacteria by drinking or swimming in contaminated water while camping or engaging in outdoor water sports.

Symptoms in People
Symptoms appear within a few days or weeks after exposure and include a high fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, vomiting and/or diarrhea, abdominal pain, skin rashes, or jaundice. The disease can cause severe damage to the kidneys or liver, difficulty breathing, or meningitis. Because many of these symptoms are also seen in other more common illnesses, blood and urine tests are needed for diagnosis. Information given by the patient about possible exposure is also very helpful.

Symptoms in Dogs
Symptoms in dogs include fever, vomiting, dehydration and increased thirst, unwillingness to move, and jaundice. However, some dogs do not show any symptoms. Leptospirosis can progress to severe disease of the kidneys or liver, and can be fatal. Blood and urine tests are useful in diagnosis.

Treatment
Leptospirosis is treatable in both pets and people but may require hospitalization. The bacteria are directly treated using antibiotics like Penicillin or Doxycycline and additional medications are used to reduce the symptoms. Intravenous fluids are helpful to reverse dehydration cause by vomiting or diarrhea. The key to effective treatment is prompt medical attention, before the bacteria has a chance to damage the kidneys and liver.

Preventing Leptospirosis
Dogs should be routinely vaccinated against the Leptospira bacteria. Unfortunately, there are many subtypes of the bacteria and vaccination against one subtype will not protect against another. Talk to your veterinarian about the most effective vaccine for the subtypes prevalent in your area.

Avoid drinking or swimming in water that is likely to be contaminated with wild animal urine. Discourage dogs from drinking this water as well.

Control rodents and clean up areas where mice and rats have urinated.

Wear protective clothing if working with contaminated soil or other material on farms, in sewers, or during rodent control. Wash your hands after handling animals or potentially contaminated material.

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Mammary Tumors in Dogs

Tumors of the breast tissue are very common in un-spayed female dogs. Some statistics cite as many as one in four intact female dogs will develop mammary tumors. About half of the cases are benign hyperplasia (non-cancerous tissue growth), and about half are malignant neoplasia (cancer). Malignant tumors carry a more guarded prognosis, but even benign mammary tumors can cause problems if not removed. Fortunately, spaying (ovariohysterectomy) at a young age, especially...

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Mammary Tumors in Dogs

Tumors of the breast tissue are very common in un-spayed female dogs. Some statistics cite as many as one in four intact female dogs will develop mammary tumors. About half of the cases are benign hyperplasia (non-cancerous tissue growth), and about half are malignant neoplasia (cancer). Malignant tumors carry a more guarded prognosis, but even benign mammary tumors can cause problems if not removed. Fortunately, spaying (ovariohysterectomy) at a young age, especially before the first heat cycle, almost completely eliminates the chance of breast tumor development. There is less than a 1% incidence of breast tumors of any kind in dogs spayed before their first heat cycle.

Mammary tumors, whether benign or malignant, are very often hormone-responsive. Estrogen and progesterone receptors in the tissue cause the masses to grow as the hormone levels fluctuate. The physical appearance of the tumor gives no evidence of whether it is cancerous. A surgical biopsy must be performed, and affected tissue must be analyzed by a pathologist (a specialist in tissue diseases).

Malignant mammary tumors have the potential to metastasize, or spread to other tissues and organs in the body. The mammary glands drain into lymph nodes adjacent to the breast tissue. Cancer cells are delivered through specialized vessels throughout the body via the lymphatic system. The lungs and lymph nodes are common sites of metastasis. X-rays may help reveal tumor development elsewhere in the body. Breast tumors, even if they have not spread to other parts of the body, can become a health problem as they continue to increase in size. The tissue can actually out-grow its own blood supply and become devitalized. When this occurs, the skin covering the tumor will often ulcerate and become infected.

Treatment of mammary tumors involves surgical excision of all abnormal tissue with submission of the tissue for histopathology (testing to determine tissue health and presence of malignancy). The tumor type determines the prognosis. If the pathologist determines that the mass is indeed malignant, a consultation with an oncologist – a specialist in cancer – is recommended to decide upon further treatment options to extend and improve quality of life. For benign mammary masses, surgical excision is most often curative.

Spaying your dog at a young age will almost completely eliminate the risk that she would develop mammary tumors as an adult.

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Mange – Sarcoptic

Sarcoptic mange, also called scabies, is an intensely itchy skin disease caused by a Sarcoptes scabei, a microscopic mite that burrows into the skin. Although dogs, cats, and humans all have a similar condition known as scabies, the mites are different for each host. Scabies in dogs is not the same...

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Mange – Sarcoptic

Sarcoptic mange, also called scabies, is an intensely itchy skin disease caused by a Sarcoptes scabei, a microscopic mite that burrows into the skin. Although dogs, cats, and humans all have a similar condition known as scabies, the mites are different for each host. Scabies in dogs is not the same as scabies in people.

Signs
Red, crusty lesions are most commonly seen on the ears, elbows and trunk of infected dogs. The lesions are extremely itchy, helping to distinguish sarcoptic mange from other skin conditions like ringworm and demodectic mange. The skin irritation is caused by the burrowing mites, which also release allergens and toxins into the skin. Constant scratching makes the skin susceptible to secondary infections with bacteria.

Diagnosis
Although the areas of hair loss may lead the veterinarian to suspect sarcoptic mange, the final diagnosis is made by performing a skin scraping test. The skin is scraped in several areas to loosen cells and mites which are then examined microscopically. Because the mites are difficult to find, repeated scrapings are often indicated. Other tests may be performed to make sure the hair loss is not due to a cause other than mites.

Treatment
Treatments may include dips or medications given by mouth or by injection. Treatments are usually given every two weeks until the symptoms have resolved and the pet tests negative for mites.

Prevention
Sarcoptic mange is highly contagious among dogs. Infected dogs should be separated from other dogs until treatment is complete. Most other mammals, including humans, can be infected with a type of Sarcoptes, but the mite is different for each host. Mites from animals may get on people and cause itchiness for a few days, but will not actually cause an infection. However, until the pet is treated, mites may continue causing problems for their owners. People with skin irritations caused by canine scabies should consult their doctor for treatment to reduce the temporary itching sensation.

Cats do not get Sarcoptes, but have a similar disease caused by a different mite, Notoedres cati. It spreads easily among cats. Infected cats should receive prompt treatment and should be separated from other cats until treatment is complete. Like Sarcoptes, Notoedres does not cause scabies in people but may occasionally cause temporary, itchy skin lesions.

True scabies in people is always contracted from close contact with other people. Children, the elderly, and immunosuppressed individuals are at higher risk. Infection is usually the result of prolonged, direct contact between sexual partners or members of the same household. The organism can live for about 72 hours in the environment, so it is possible to spread scabies via sharing of unwashed clothing or bedding.

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Neutering Your Dog

Neutering, or orchiectomy, is a surgical sterilization procedure that can provide major health benefits for dogs. Here are some important facts you should know before getting your dog neutered. The Neuter Surgery: Orchiectomy is a surgery that is performed under general anesthesia. Your dogs belly will be shaved and cleansed, and an incision will be made between his scrotum and the base of his penis. The veterinarian will remove both testicles and tie off the spermatic cords. ...

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Neutering Your Dog

Neutering, or orchiectomy, is a surgical sterilization procedure that can provide major health benefits for dogs. Here are some important facts you should know before getting your dog neutered. The Neuter Surgery: Orchiectomy is a surgery that is performed under general anesthesia. Your dogs belly will be shaved and cleansed, and an incision will be made between his scrotum and the base of his penis. The veterinarian will remove both testicles and tie off the spermatic cords. The skin incision is closed with stitches or surgical adhesive. Following neuter surgery, your dog will no longer produce sperm and he will have lower testosterone levels.

Although neutering is very routine, it still carries the risks associated with general anesthesia and surgery. Your veterinarian takes numerous measures to keep your dog safe, such as checking his heart and lungs before administering anesthesia and monitoring him constantly while he is asleep. You can ask whether your veterinarian recommends any additional safety precautions, such as pre-anesthetic blood tests or administration of IV fluids during the procedure.

Benefits
The normal behavior of an un-neutered dog is often incompatible with being a household pet. Intact dogs tend to wander from home, seeking a mate or defending their territory. This puts them at risk for being hit by a car or being injured in a dog fight. Urine marking and some types of aggression are more pronounced in un-neutered dogs as well. Although neutering may not entirely eliminate these behaviors, it can diminish them by 50-90%.

Intact male dogs suffer from a high incidence of inflammation and enlargement of the prostate, as well as testicular tumors. Older dogs commonly develop swollen and infected prostate glands. These conditions are painful and can interfere with urination and defecation. After neutering, the prostate shrinks considerably. Tumors of the testicles, common in older intact male dogs, are eliminated entirely.

The final benefit of neutering is that its the best way you can help end pet overpopulation. Every year, 3-4 million cats and dogs are euthanized in U.S. animal shelters. None of us wants to contribute to that sad statistic, but we may do so unwittingly. Puppies adopted to apparently good homes may be given away or lost. Even purebred dogs end up homeless. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that 25% of the dogs in U.S. animal shelters are purebred!

Considerations Before Surgery
Consult with your veterinarian about when to schedule your dogs neuter surgery. Traditionally, pets are neutered at around six months of age. However, some veterinarians advocate performing the procedure earlier. The night before your dogs surgery, remove his food and water before you go to bed. He should not eat or drink anything during the night or the morning of his surgery.

Considerations After Surgery
Your dog may go home the day of his surgery, or may stay in the hospital overnight. If he goes home the same day, expect him to feel a little groggy. Keep him indoors, in a warm, safe, quiet room away from other pets. During the first week after surgery, try to restrict his activity level. Leash walks are OK, but avoid excessive running, jumping, and roughhousing.

Check his incision daily. Stitches, if present, will need to be removed in about 10-14 days. If you notice your dog licking his incision frequently, ask for an Elizabethan collar. Many dogs develop a swollen or slightly bruised scrotal area following neuter surgery. Some swelling is normal, but dont be afraid to ask your veterinarian if you are concerned about your dog.

The effects of neutering on your dog will not be instantaneous. Testosterone levels wane over a period of weeks or months, followed by a reduction in fertility and territorial and mating behaviors.

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Orphaned Puppies

Caring for orphaned puppies, especially newborn, is a challenging commitment that should not be taken half-heartedly. It will require a great deal of time and attention to ensure that the pups are receiving proper nutrition and staying healthy. Feedings given every two to three hours during the daytime and possibly a couple of...

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Orphaned Puppies

Caring for orphaned puppies, especially newborn, is a challenging commitment that should not be taken half-heartedly. It will require a great deal of time and attention to ensure that the pups are receiving proper nutrition and staying healthy. Feedings given every two to three hours during the daytime and possibly a couple of times during the night should be expected until the puppies are at least 3 to 4 weeks old. They will also have to be kept clean at least daily to prevent urine and feces scalding. Raising an orphaned puppy can be a big job, but it is also a very rewarding experience. The strongest bond is made with an animal that is nurtured at such a fragile point in its life.

Very young puppies are susceptible to heat loss because of their undeveloped coat and lack of mobility. A warm padded box will make a good artificial nest for the puppies. A rectal temperature of less than 95 degrees is dangerously low for a puppy. The heart rate will slow down, and the digestive tract “turns off”. They will need to be warmed slowly over 1 to 2 hours to prevent shock and eventual death. A heating pad or water bottle can be placed beneath half of the box, but be sure that the pups can move away from the heat source if they need to cool down. Too many blankets will make it difficult for them to squirm around and adjust their body temperature.

Since dogs are mammals, they are born unable to eat solid foods and must be nursed by their mothers. Ideally, if a nursing female dog will accept an orphaned puppy, it will receive colostrum not found in milk replacer. Colostrum contains antibodies that will protect the puppy from contagious diseases until it is old enough to receive vaccinations. Never leave the puppy unsupervised with the surrogate mother, however. If she rejects it, she may kill the puppy.

Replacement milk formulas are available from veterinarians and pet stores. The artificial milk will be warmed gently to body temperature and delivered by bottle. Never microwave the formula as you may scald the pup. Always test the milk for temperature first. A pinhole should be placed in the end of the rubber nipple so that it will drip slowly when the bottle is inverted. When the puppy nurses, the nipple should not collapse like a straw. If it does, widen the hole slightly. Feed the puppies every 2 to 3 hours and once or twice during the night if they are active and crying. The puppies should be rubbed after feeding to burp them. They will also need gentle stimulation of the perianal area to stimulate urination and defecation and should be gently cleaned with a warm dampened soft cloth or cotton ball afterwards. If a small amount of milk comes out of the nose, the puppy is drinking too fast. If milk continues to come from the nose, the puppy may have a cleft palate. Look for a hole in the roof of the mouth, and have the puppy checked by a veterinarian.

Bathing should be done as needed to keep the puppy clean with non-detergent, non-flea and tick shampoo and warm water. Do not allow the puppies to become chilled.

Puppies should be gaining weight and thriving. If you are in doubt, have them checked by a veterinarian. Puppies often come with intestinal parasites and may need to be de-wormed. At 3 to 4 weeks old, begin offering solid foods. The food must be soaked in formula or water so that it can be mashed into a paste. Or use canned puppy food and smear a little on the puppy’s mouth.

Orphaned puppies are very susceptible to disease. Keep them indoors and away from other dogs to prevent exposure. They should be vaccinated first at 6 weeks old and then adopted out to new owners at 7 to 8 weeks of age.

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Parvovirus

Canine Parvovirus is a serious, highly contagious disease that affects the digestive system. It is most common in puppies. How Dogs Get Parvovirus: Susceptible dogs are infected by swallowing the virus, which is found in the droppings of infected dogs. The virus is difficult to kill with ordinary disinfectants and can survive in the environment for years. People can inadvertently spread it on their hands, shoes, or inanimate objects.Not every dog exposed to Parvovirus will get sick....

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Parvovirus

Canine Parvovirus is a serious, highly contagious disease that affects the digestive system. It is most common in puppies. How Dogs Get Parvovirus: Susceptible dogs are infected by swallowing the virus, which is found in the droppings of infected dogs. The virus is difficult to kill with ordinary disinfectants and can survive in the environment for years. People can inadvertently spread it on their hands, shoes, or inanimate objects.Not every dog exposed to Parvovirus will get sick. Puppies, especially those that have not completed their vaccine series, are most vulnerable. Those born to mothers that were not vaccinated are at extremely high risk. Other factors that influence susceptibility include stress, genetics, parasite infection, and general health. Some breeds, such as Doberman Pinschers and Rottweilers, seem to be more likely to become seriously ill.

 

What the Disease Does
Parvovirus infects the bone marrow and lymph system, weakening the dogs immunity. It simultaneously destroys the lining of the intestinal tract, preventing absorption of water and nutrients. The damaged intestine can leak bacteria into the body. In newborns the virus also damages the heart. Signs of Parvovirus include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and dehydration. Dogs can die from dehydration or from bacteria in the bloodstream.

 

How Parvovirus is Diagnosed
Diagnosis begins with a physical exam but also includes laboratory testing of the feces. Other tests that can help the veterinarian treat the disease more effectively include a blood panel and a fecal test for parasites.

 

Treatment for Parvovirus
There is no specific treatment that kills the virus, but sick dogs are treated for secondary infections and to reduce the symptoms. Hospitalization is usually required. Treatment may include IV fluids to help with dehydration, IV electrolytes and nutrients, antibiotic injections, medications to control vomiting, and drugs that stimulate immunity. Up to 90% of puppies recover with treatment.

 

Preventing Canine Parvovirus
The key to preventing Canine Parvovirus is a good vaccination program. Puppies are vaccinated starting at 6-8 weeks of age and boostered every 3-4 weeks until the puppy is at least 16 weeks old. In highly susceptible breeds, boosters are given as old as 22 weeks of age. After that, vaccinations are given every 1-3 years depending on the type of vaccine. Its especially important for female dogs intended for breeding to be vaccinated. This allows them to provide immunity that protects their puppies until they are old enough to receive vaccinations.

 

Adult dogs that have never been vaccinated before are given one or two vaccinations initially, followed by re-vaccination every 1-3 years. Ask your veterinarian about the best vaccination protocol for your dog.

 

Dogs with Parvovirus should be isolated from other dogs since the disease is highly contagious. Contaminated objects should be disinfected with a dilute bleach solution.

 

Because puppies that have not yet received their entire vaccination series are susceptible to Parvovirus, veterinarians recommend minimizing their likelihood of exposure. Avoid taking them to parks or other public, outdoor areas where soil may harbor the virus. If possible, choose puppy socialization and training classes that require the puppies to have started their vaccines. The classes should be held in places that are disinfected regularly. It is also preferable to avoid boarding very young pups.

 

Keeping your puppy healthy will reduce his susceptibility to Parvovirus. Be sure he receives regular veterinary checkups, gets all recommended vaccines on time, is treated to control parasites, and enjoys a healthy diet.

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Post-Operative Care

Your dog has just undergone surgery. While welcoming him home, there are some things to remember to assure a speedy recovery. Anesthesia: Your dog may not feel himself for the next 12 to 24 hours. Keep him in a warm, quiet area, away from other pets, where he can rest and is not likely to injure himself. An airline kennel or a small room is ideal. Never feed or give water to a ...

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Post-Operative Care

Your dog has just undergone surgery. While welcoming him home, there are some things to remember to assure a speedy recovery. Anesthesia: Your dog may not feel himself for the next 12 to 24 hours. Keep him in a warm, quiet area, away from other pets, where he can rest and is not likely to injure himself. An airline kennel or a small room is ideal. Never feed or give water to a dog that still seems groggy. Once your dog seems awake and alert, take things slow. Some anesthetics can cause nausea. Introduce water first. If all goes well, a small amount of food can be offered a few hours later. Wait until tomorrow to return to his normal feeding schedule.

Exercise
Your dog should be kept quiet today. During the next week, his exercise should be restricted moderately. Short leash walks are OK unless your veterinarian advises otherwise. Discourage vigorous running, jumping, or rough play. Avoid leaving him unattended with other pets with whom he normally rough-houses. Excessive exercise after surgery can cause swelling and delayed healing.

Some surgeries require more severe restriction or specific types of exercise. Be sure you understand your veterinarians instructions, and follow them diligently.

Environment and Grooming
Keep your dog in a warm place today and tonight, preferably indoors. Make sure his bedding and the area where he lives are especially clean and dry.

Because the incision should stay dry, do not bathe your dog or allow him to swim for at least one week. If the area around his incision appears soiled, you can carefully wipe his skin with warm water and a mild antiseptic soap, then rinse by wiping with plain water. Avoid getting soap or water directly on the incision.

Self-Trauma
A surgical incision may feel sore, itchy, or just different to your dog. His natural instinct is to lick, scratch or chew. If you notice him bothering his incision, ask your veterinarian if he might need an Elizabethan collar. The Elizabethan collar should be worn at all times when you are not watching him, its amazing how quickly a dog can pull out a stitch when you turn your back.

Monitoring
Check your dogs incision daily. Notify your veterinarian if you see any increase in swelling, discharge, bleeding, redness, or if you think stitches might be missing.

If your dog has a cast or bandage, check it daily to be sure its dry, clean, and has no foul odor. Bandages can be kept clean and dry during trips outdoors by putting a plastic bag over the limb and taping it in place.

Medications
If your dog has medication, thoroughly read and follow all label instructions. If you have any questions, your veterinary office can help. Always use the medication for the full duration prescribed, even if your dog seems better sooner.

Getting Help
Never hesitate to call your veterinarian or local emergency veterinary clinic if you think your dog may be having a problem. Your diligence may catch a complication before it becomes serious.

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Prostate Disease in Dogs

Prostate problems occur typically in older male dogs, especially intact (not neutered) males. Prostatitis describes inflammation of the gland, of which there are three categories: benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), bacterial prostatitis, and...

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Prostate Disease in Dogs

Prostate problems occur typically in older male dogs, especially intact (not neutered) males. Prostatitis describes inflammation of the gland, of which there are three categories: benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), bacterial prostatitis, and prostatic neoplasia (cancer). Because the prostate surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine outside of the body, symptoms usually include urinary tract disorders.

A dog with prostatitis may present with lethargy, a strained gait and arched back, blood in the urine, or a purulent discharge (pus). He may be constipated and pass narrow diameter stools because of prostate enlargement. Prostatitis can be chronic with subtle symptoms as well.

The veterinarian will confirm prostatitis by rectal palpation of the gland to feel for enlargement, asymmetry, obvious masses, or fluctuant areas (soft spots). Lab work should include a complete blood count, chemistry panel, and urinalysis. These tests are used to categorize the prostate disease and rule out other systemic illness. An x-ray or ultrasound of the urinary tract will help to visualize the degree of enlargement or masses associated with the gland. Urine sediment analysis may reveal increased numbers of red and white blood cells which are not found in healthy urine. Bacteria may be seen which would warrant a culture and susceptibility test. This would be indicative of primary or secondary bacterial prostatitis.

The most common type of prostate disease in dogs and man is benign prostate hyperplasia. This simply means non-cancerous enlargement. It is associated with changes in the male sex hormone levels as the dog ages. Neutering can reduce the chance of BPH significantly. Studies indicate that neutering at less than one year can all but eliminate BPH in male dogs. The treatment for BPH is in fact, neutering. This type of prostatitis is almost always chronic and recurrent if the dog remains intact. Secondary bacterial infection is common with BPH because the normal antibacterial secretions from the prostate are diminished and red blood cells provide food for the organisms.

Acute or chronic bacterial prostatitis occurs in both intact and neutered male dogs. Usually the bacteria have ascended the urethra from the outside world. Broad spectrum urinary tract specific antibiotics are prescribed while the results of a culture and susceptibility test are pending. Bladder stones and other urinary tract disease may be associated with bacterial prostatitis.

Prostatic neoplasia is the rarest of the prostate diseases comprising about 5% of all cases. Neoplasia means new growth and refers to cancer. In humans, there is an antibody specific to prostate cancer that can be measured in the blood. Unfortunately, there is no reliable blood test for dogs at this time. The prognosis for prostate cancer in dogs is poor. The cancer is aggressive and has likely metastasized to other organs by the time of diagnosis. A needle biopsy and histopathology report can help to diagnose prostatic neoplasia. Poor response to other treatments and progression of disease usually verifies cancer as the diagnosis.

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Rabies

Rabies is the most infamous disease that can be passed from animals to people. It has been the subject of so many novels and movies that it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. Knowing the truth about rabies can help you protect your dog and your family from this deadly disease.

What is Rabies?
Rabies is caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. It infects all warm-blooded animals, including people and is almost always fatal. In the United States, human cases of rabies are rare, only a few each year. The risk is still present though,...

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Rabies

Rabies is the most infamous disease that can be passed from animals to people. It has been the subject of so many novels and movies that it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. Knowing the truth about rabies can help you protect your dog and your family from this deadly disease.

What is Rabies?
Rabies is caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. It infects all warm-blooded animals, including people and is almost always fatal. In the United States, human cases of rabies are rare, only a few each year. The risk is still present though, since rabid animals are found in most states.

How Is It Spread?
More than 90% of reported cases of rabies today in the U.S. occur in wild animals. The species most likely to carry rabies include raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, and coyotes. Even though rats have been targeted as a major source of rabies in fictional stories, they are actually very unlikely to harbor the disease. The number of cases in domestic animals is small but still represents a significant risk, since people are more likely to come into physical contact with them.

Rabies is usually transmitted via the saliva as a result of a bite from an infected animal. The virus enters the nerves near the site of infection, and travels through the nervous system to the brain over a period of weeks or months. Symptoms occur once the virus reaches the brain. This is also the time when the saliva becomes infectious.

Rabies in Animals
Animals with rabies often exhibit behavioral changes. Wild animals may act friendly, groggy or unafraid of people. Pets may act fearful or agitated. Other symptoms include excessive salivation, difficulty swallowing, lack of coordination, and paralysis. The only accurate tests for rabies in animals are performed postmortem. Animals suspected of rabies are euthanized rather than treated, because there is no cure.

Rabies in People
The symptoms of rabies in people are similar to those in animals. People with rabies are kept as comfortable as possible in the hospital, but there is no effective treatment for the disease.

Rabies Prevention
Fortunately, this terrible disease can be prevented. Here are some of the ways you, your family, and your dog can stay safe.

Vaccinate your pets regularly, even if they live indoors. Vaccines are available for dogs, cats, ferrets, and horses. Vaccinated pets act as a buffer zone between rabid animals and you. If your unvaccinated pet bites someone or is bitten by a wild animal, he may be subject to a lengthy and costly quarantine.
Help minimize the stray animal problem in your community. Have all of your pets spayed and neutered. Call your local animal control agency to remove strays in your neighborhood.
Avoid contact with wild animals. Do not feed wildlife or allow your dog to chase or hunt wild animals. Keep garbage and pet food inside or in secure containers. Never try to keep a wild animal as a pet, or nurse a sick one back to health. Instead, contact a wildlife rescue agency for assistance.
If your dog is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary care right away.
If you are bitten by a wild animal or an unvaccinated pet, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water. Seek medical attention immediately. Be able to provide your doctor with the location of the incident, the type of animal that bit you, how the bite occurred, and whether the animal has been captured. Treatment immediately after exposure is extremely effective. Dont be scared away by horror stories about countless shots in the stomach the current procedure is much less unpleasant than it used to be, and is certainly preferable to risking the disease.

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Renal Failure

The kidneys normally filter the blood, cleansing it of waste products, toxins, and other substances. They maintain the correct balance of water and electrolytes, help regulate blood pressure, and keep the blood pH at the right level. Unfortunately, failure of the kidneys is one of the most common diseases of cats. In this condition, the functional tissue of the kidneys is damaged,...

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Renal Failure

The kidneys normally filter the blood, cleansing it of waste products, toxins, and other substances. They maintain the correct balance of water and electrolytes, help regulate blood pressure, and keep the blood pH at the right level. Unfortunately, failure of the kidneys is one of the most common diseases of cats. In this condition, the functional tissue of the kidneys is damaged, leaving them unable to filter the blood adequately. Toxins build up within the body, a condition known as azotemia.

Acute Renal Failure (ARF)
Acute Renal Failure means that the kidneys are damaged suddenly. This is usually caused by poisoning or a lack of blood flow. Poisons that can cause ARF are ethylene glycol (antifreeze); heavy metals such as zinc and lead; and large doses of certain antibiotics, acetaminophen, and chemotherapy drugs. Inadequate blood flow can be caused by shock, hemorrhage, low blood pressure, or dehydration. Infectious illnesses like Leptospirosis can also cause ARF.

Signs of acute renal failure are not very specific. Loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea or dehydration may be seen. Some pets with ARF urinate excessively while others stop urinating altogether. Information on the pets recent experiences is crucial in diagnosis of ARF. Once the veterinarian suspects kidney disease, blood and urine tests are used to determine the cause and the severity of the condition.

Animals with ARF are treated with IV fluids. Additional medications are used to correct electrolyte and pH imbalances and to reduce symptoms. Specific treatment for the original cause of the kidney damage is given if the cause is known. Healing can occur in tissues that are merely damaged, and viable parts of the kidneys will work harder to compensate. Unfortunately, the portions of the kidneys that have been destroyed will not recover.

Pet owners can do several things to reduce the chance of ARF. Keep antifreeze away from pets, and clean up spills immediately. Follow medication dosage instructions, and never give people medicine to pets without first consulting your veterinarian. Make sure that pets, especially older ones, always have access to fresh water.

Chronic Renal Failure (CRF)
Chronic Renal Failure is seen most often in pets over eight years of age, particularly cats. CRF occurs when the functional structures of the kidneys wear out. The damage happens gradually, so months or years may pass before symptoms appear. As much as 75% of the kidney tissue may be destroyed by that time.

Like ARF, symptoms of CRF can be vague. Early signs include loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and sores in the mouth. As the illness progresses, animals drink more water, urinate more, and may have urinary accidents in the house. Eventually, toxin buildup and electrolyte imbalances can damage the nervous system and the eyes, causing seizures, coma and blindness. Many animals with CRF become anemic, because the kidneys are also responsible for stimulating production of new blood cells. The veterinarian will perform blood and urine tests to confirm a diagnosis of CRF and to assess the severity of symptoms.

CRF is a progressive, irreversible disease. Treatment is aimed at slowing the rate of damage and minimizing symptoms. Diets for pets with CRF usually contain restricted amounts of high quality protein and are low in minerals. Many pets require supplemental fluids given periodically under the skin or intravenously. Medications are given to manage nausea, correct electrolyte and pH imbalances, control high blood pressure, and stimulate blood cell production.

The newest treatments available for pets with CRF are hemodialysis and kidney transplantation. These procedures are very costly and are only available at certain veterinary teaching hospitals and specialty practices. Hemodialysis is used as a temporary, emergency method for cleansing the blood. Transplantation can extend a pets life for two or more years. Kidney transplants are complex surgeries with a success rate of about 80% in cats. Pets that receive transplants must remain on anti-rejection medicine for life. Regardless of the type of treatment, the goal is to maintain the pets quality of life. When this is no longer possible, euthanasia may be considered.

Chronic Renal Failure is not preventable. Although some have suggested that low protein diets might have a protective benefit for animals with healthy kidneys, scientific research does not support this belief

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Pododermatitis

Pododermatitis means inflammation of the skin on the feet. It can occur for a number of reasons including bacterial or fungal infection, inhalant allergies (atopy), immune-mediated disease such as pemphigus foliaceus, or environmental factors (wet or soiled quarters). It manifests as red,...

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Pododermatitis

Pododermatitis means inflammation of the skin on the feet. It can occur for a number of reasons including bacterial or fungal infection, inhalant allergies (atopy), immune-mediated disease such as pemphigus foliaceus, or environmental factors (wet or soiled quarters). It manifests as red, ulcerated, crusty lesions between swollen, edematous (accumulation of water in tissues) pads of the feet. The condition tends to be very itchy, and hair loss and licking is common. Any dog may be affected, but males of short-coated breeds are more commonly represented. Hormonal disorders like hypothyroidism and hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s Disease) can lead to secondary infections of the feet. Occasionally, refractory pododermatitis (doesn’t respond to treatment) may actually be a tumor on the foot causing chronic inflammation.

Pododermatitis is first classified by its underlying cause. Skin scrapings, impression smears, and skin biopsies can all help to discern the cause of the disorder. There is almost always secondary bacterial or fungal infection by the time the problem is discovered. Cultures are useful to determine what antifungal or antimicrobial agents will be most effective at reducing populations of fungus and bacteria. The patient’s history, and whether all of the feet are affected, can shed light on an allergic or hormonal disorder. Blood tests are performed to check thyroid and cortisol hormone levels. Demodectic mange is a common contributor which will require a specific course of treatment. Environmental factors such as wet and soiled boarding quarters must also be resolved.

If an underlying cause is discovered, the primary disease process must be treated in order to see improvement with the feet. Otherwise treatment may be symptomatic. Self-trauma plays a significant role in delaying healing and contributing to secondary bacterial infection. An Elizabethan collar may be required to prevent the dog from licking and chewing at the feet.

Specific treatments for infection may include systemic antibiotics and antifungal drugs. Topical antimicrobial agents may be applied, and corticosteroids may be prescribed to reduce an allergic or auto-immune reaction.

Overall, the prognosis for pododermatitis depends upon the origin of the inflammatory process. Underlying hormonal, immune-mediated, and tumor related causes carry more guarded prognoses. The goal of treatment is to provide relief from symptoms and improve the health of the affected tissue.

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Pregnancy

Having a litter of puppies can be a fun and rewarding experience. However, it is important to know what to expect and how to keep close track of the progress of your pet. With proper, attentive care, you can be confident that your pet will produce a healthy litter. The first step to a pregnant dog is a successful breeding experience. Before beginning any breeding program, be sure that your pet is healthy by having her examined by a...

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Pregnancy

Having a litter of puppies can be a fun and rewarding experience. However, it is important to know what to expect and how to keep close track of the progress of your pet. With proper, attentive care, you can be confident that your pet will produce a healthy litter. The first step to a pregnant dog is a successful breeding experience. Before beginning any breeding program, be sure that your pet is healthy by having her examined by a veterinarian. If your pet is healthy and sexually mature, begin to watch for signs of estrus or heat. Common signs are a swelling of the vulva and a bloody vaginal discharge. During this time, the female will also begin to sniff and lick the area frequently. Between the 10th and 14th day, allow your pet to mate. If using a stud dog, most owners will mate the dogs twice during this time period.

A typical canine pregnancy lasts an average of 63 days. As your pet nears her due date, it is important to begin preparations for a successful birth. During the last third of your pets pregnancy, gradually increase her food supply. It may be beneficial to allow her to eat many small meals throughout the day as her stomach may be compressed by the pressure of the babies. It is also important to begin preparing the birthing box in order to help your pet become accustomed to her new area and to feel secure. The birthing box should be large enough for your pet to move around comfortably and have low sides or a hole in the side for her easy access. Line the box with plenty of clean newspapers that can be easily removed during the birthing process.

As your pet nears her time to deliver she may begin to show some unusual behaviors. Some animals try to hide during this time, while others want to be continuously near their owners. It is important that you watch for and respect your pets needs during this time. It is also important that your pet has been introduced to and is comfortable with her birthing area before hand, so that she will seek out this new safe haven. As your pet goes into labor, she will start to strain and begin delivering. Delivery times vary greatly based on breed, head size and litter size. Consult your veterinarian regarding your specific pet. If a successful delivery has not occurred within two hours after your pet begins straining, consult your veterinarian immediately.

Most puppies are born within ten minutes after they are visible in the birth canal and are encased in a placental sac. This sac is known as the afterbirth and will either be delivered with or after the puppy. It is normal for the mother to eat this sac shortly after delivering each pup. The hormones contained in each afterbirth trigger milk production in the mother. After birth, the mother may also lick and nudge the new puppy somewhat roughly. This behavior will clean the puppy and encourage it to begin breathing. If the mother does not remove the sac from the puppy, it may be necessary for you to quickly remove the sac and stimulate the puppy to breathe. Do this by making sure the puppy’s airways are clear by gently blowing in its face. Gently rub the puppy with a warm towel to clean it and encourage respiration. If the mother has not chewed the pups umbilical cord, you may also need to assist her by tying a clean string around the cord and cutting it approximately an inch from the puppy’s belly. Remember that if your female dog appears unable to deliver a puppy or is in distress, call your veterinarian immediately!

After delivery, watch your new mother and pups carefully. Monitor the temperature around the animals and if it is cool, add a heat lamp. For the first few days the ambient temperature should be kept between 85 and 90 degrees, until the puppies are able to maintain their own body temperature. Be sure to closely monitor the mother to make sure she is producing an adequate milk supply and monitor the puppies to ensure that they are receiving adequate nourishment during this time.

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Puppy Strangles

A rare but serious immune-mediated disorder called Puppy Strangles may occasionally be seen in young dogs between 3 weeks and 4 months of age. It begins with acute swelling of the muzzle, eyes, lips, ears, and lymph nodes. Within 24-48 hours, papules, draining pustules, and crusts develop in these areas. Retrievers, Dachshunds, and Gordon Setters seem to be predisposed to this...

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Puppy Strangles

A rare but serious immune-mediated disorder called Puppy Strangles may occasionally be seen in young dogs between 3 weeks and 4 months of age. It begins with acute swelling of the muzzle, eyes, lips, ears, and lymph nodes. Within 24-48 hours, papules, draining pustules, and crusts develop in these areas. Retrievers, Dachshunds, and Gordon Setters seem to be predisposed to this disease. Sometimes called Juvenile Cellulitis / Lymphadenitis, Puppy Strangles can present with joint pain, fever, and anorexia (loss of appetite). Without appropriate treatment, the disease can be fatal. Fortunately, almost all puppies respond quickly to treatment and make a full recovery.

Strangles will have a very rapid onset of symptoms and is often initially mistaken for an insect sting. The skin of the face and head will become edematous (thickened by cellular uptake of water) and painful, but not necessarily itchy. The submandibular lymph nodes (below the jaw) will become so enlarged and painful, they may rupture and drain. With a fever, the puppy will become very depressed and may stop eating.

Severe swelling causes damage to the outer layers of the skin including the hair follicles. The hair will easily fall out, and permanent scarring can occur if the disease persists. The edema will cause the skin to “ooze” a sticky serum, and crusts and scabs will begin to form.

Puppy Strangles is treated with immuno-suppressive doses of oral corticosteroid drugs like prednisone. Treatment should be swift and aggressive to yield the best results and prevent permanent scarring. The lesions are susceptible to secondary bacterial infection, so antibiotics may be prescribed concurrently. Topical therapy may be useful with cool water soaks and mild astringents, but puppies often find the restraint and pain undesirable making the struggling and stress associated with topical therapy counterproductive.

The veterinarian may perform skin scrapings, fungal cultures, cytology, bacterial cultures, or skin biopsies to definitively diagnose the skin disorder.

Fortunately, Puppy Strangles is fairly rare, and the majority of dogs respond well to treatment. Within a week, there should be notable improvement. Therapy may be continued for up to a month, and the disease does not recur after complete resolution.

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Raising Puppies

Raising a puppy is a way to build an unbreakable bond with a loving companion. Watching the puppy grow, learn, and mature under your care is very rewarding. There is a lot of responsibility involved however, and the owner should be prepared for the level of dedication required of them.

Puppies can not fend for themselves. They need good nutrition, exercise, socialization, and training to become good pets. A puppy should receive proper veterinary care as well. Vaccinations are...

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Raising Puppies

Raising a puppy is a way to build an unbreakable bond with a loving companion. Watching the puppy grow, learn, and mature under your care is very rewarding. There is a lot of responsibility involved however, and the owner should be prepared for the level of dedication required of them.

Puppies can not fend for themselves. They need good nutrition, exercise, socialization, and training to become good pets. A puppy should receive proper veterinary care as well. Vaccinations are given to protect the pup from contagious disease. They are boostered several times while the immune system is developing. Young puppies are susceptible to intestinal parasites, and will probably require de-worming to keep them healthy. Spaying or neutering should be planned around five to six months old.

Puppies should be fed at least three times a day, and they should always have access to fresh water. A name brand premium puppy food will provide proper nutrition to grow up healthy and strong. Supplemental vitamins are not usually required when a good balanced diet is fed. Puppies should be fully weaned before adoption.

Crate training is the fastest way to house-train a puppy. It helps to establish a schedule for sleeping, playing, feeding, and eliminating. The crate is never used for punishment, as the puppy should consider it a safe and happy place to be.

A puppy’s stools should be checked to be sure they are formed. If the puppy has diarrhea, it can quickly become dehydrated. Blood in the stool is a sign of serious illness or intestinal parasites. If the stools are not normal, seek veterinary care as soon as possible.

Obedience training begins as soon as the puppy’s attention span allows for it. Around six weeks old, dogs can begin learning basic commands like sit. Patience, persistence, and time are all that are required to properly train the puppy. Commands can become more complex as the puppy matures.

Puppies should be well socialized to people and other pets. Beginning at a very young age, the pup should learn proper interaction and social skills. Fear of people when the dog is older stems from improper socialization when it was young. Many behavioral problems can be avoided in this way.

Caring for a puppy is a challenge that will bring many rewards. Having a well trained, happy, and healthy dog begins with raising a puppy properly.

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Reverse Sneeze

The first time an owner witnesses their dog having a reverse sneeze episode, they will often mistake it for a seizure or think the pet is dying. But within a minute or two, the dog returns completely to normal. A reverse sneeze is actually a NORMAL nasopharyngeal (nose and throat) gag-reflex that may cause a FALSE perception of suffocation in its most severe form. The dog ...

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Reverse Sneeze

The first time an owner witnesses their dog having a reverse sneeze episode, they will often mistake it for a seizure or think the pet is dying. But within a minute or two, the dog returns completely to normal. A reverse sneeze is actually a NORMAL nasopharyngeal (nose and throat) gag-reflex that may cause a FALSE perception of suffocation in its most severe form. The dog will extend its neck forward and snort air violently through its nose in an attempt to get air into the lungs. It will not suffocate; the dog will recover completely as it relaxes. There may be a honking sound associated with the episode. Smaller breeds and brachycephalics (pug-nosed breeds) experience this condition more so than large breed dogs. Rarely does it require medical treatment unless the episodes last unusually long or occur very frequently.

Many things can trigger a reverse sneeze. Allergies and inhalant irritants like air pollution and cigarette smoke are common contributors. An episode may occur after exercise, excitement, or even eating and drinking. Dogs which are prone to the reflex will often experience a reverse sneeze episode while recovering from anesthesia. The irritation caused by an endotracheal tube (artificial airway used during anesthesia) can exacerbate this. Pulling on a leash will often cause a reverse sneeze in susceptible dogs.

Some dogs will experience occasional reverse sneezing all of their lives, and others will seem to out grow the problem. As long as the episodes are short and relatively infrequent, treatment is usually unnecessary. In the case that a reverse sneeze causes extreme exhaustion afterward, the veterinarian may prescribe oral antihistamines or low-dose corticosteroids. Antihistamines are used to treat an underlying allergic component that may be triggering the reverse sneeze. They also possess a mild sedative effect that may help to reduce the anxiety experienced during an episode. Steroids are usually reserved for more serious cases to avoid potential side effects. For brachycephalic dogs, which inherently have excess tissue in the pharyngeal (throat) area, a surgical procedure called a soft palate resection may help to reduce the recurrence of episodes.

At home, the owner can help to alleviate a reverse sneeze by blowing in the nose and gently stroking the throat. This may cause the dog to swallow which will correct the gag-reflex. An owner should NEVER attempt to grab the tongue or place fingers in the gagging dog’s mouth, for risk of being bitten by even the sweetest dog. As long as the episodes are infrequent and mild, there should be no fear of leaving the dog at home alone. As frightening as the reverse sneeze appears, it will almost always resolve on its own.

Exposure to irritants like smoke should be avoided in susceptible dogs. A persistent allergy may require medical treatment. It may also help to walk smaller dogs using a harness instead of a collar, especially for dogs that are prone to collapsed tracheas (a more serious problem requiring medical attention). Elevating the food and water bowls may also help reduce reverse sneezing.

Reverse sneezing should be distinguished from more serious conditions that involve coughing, vomiting, and wheezing. These are not symptoms of a reverse sneeze and would warrant further investigation and treatment.

Cats are less likely to experience a reverse sneeze. Although this is a possibility, any symptomatic cat should be assessed for feline asthma, a much more serious condition that requires medical treatment.

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Ringworm

Not Really a Worm At All

Ringworm, technically called dermatophytosis or dermatomycosis, is a skin condition that can be transmitted between people and pets. It is caused by one of several kinds of microscopic fungal organisms. The disease gets its confusing name from the fact that a common symptom in people is the appearance of a reddish ring on the skin which was...

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Ringworm

Not Really a Worm At All

Ringworm, technically called dermatophytosis or dermatomycosis, is a skin condition that can be transmitted between people and pets. It is caused by one of several kinds of microscopic fungal organisms. The disease gets its confusing name from the fact that a common symptom in people is the appearance of a reddish ring on the skin which was once thought to be cause by a worm.

Ringworm in Pets
Ringworm fungi can infect dogs, cats, rabbits, farm animals, and other mammals. Pets with ringworm often have areas of hair loss. The skin in these areas may become crusty or scaly, and the hair breaks off easily. The lesions increase in size quickly and can spread over the entire body. However, some infected animals, especially cats, do not show any symptoms at all.

Ringworm is diagnosed by the appearance of the lesions, plus the results of one or more tests. Some types of ringworm will glow under ultraviolet light. Hairs or a skin scraping from the affected area can be examined under the microscope to look for the fungal organisms. The most sensitive test is culturing; hairs are applied to a growth media and observed for development of the ringworm fungus.

Mild cases of ringworm can be treated with topical antifungal creams. Sometimes it is beneficial to shave the affected area prior to application of the medication. Antifungal shampoos and dips are also available. In more severe cases, hair is shaved from the entire body of the pet and repeated shampoos or dips are performed. Oral medication may also be prescribed in these more serious cases. A ringworm vaccine is available for cats but is not helpful in all cases your veterinarian can advise you whether it would be of benefit.

Ringworm in People
A telltale ring-like marking on the skin is the most common sign of ringworm in people. Lesions can be seen on the skin or on the scalp. In people, the disease is also called tinea. Most people recover quickly from this condition, especially with treatment.

Ringworm in people is mainly diagnosed by the appearance of the lesions, but a skin scraping may be performed to confirm the disease.

Most human cases of ringworm are treated with a simple antifungal cream applied to the lesion. Keeping the skin clean and dry is also helpful. Because people are not as hairy as pets, the condition is more easily treated in humans, and most people recover within a few weeks. People who are properly applying antifungal medication are generally not considered contagious during treatment. Unless your doctor advises otherwise, it is usually OK to go to school or work.

Preventing the Spread of Ringworm
Ringworm is highly contagious. The fungus produces spores on the skin or hair these tiny spores can fall off and survive in the environment for long periods of time. People and pets may be exposed to the spores by contact with other people, pets, or soil. Ringworm can be spread by objects such as brushes, combs, unwashed clothing, and in showers and pools.

People most commonly get ringworm from other people. Avoid sharing brushes, combs, or clothing. Wear sandals when using public showers. Keep your skin and hair clean and dry.

Animals can also be an important source of infection. Avoid handling stray animals showing signs of ringworm. Pets with signs of ringworm should be seen by the veterinarian, tested, and treated. During treatment, minimize handling of the animal and keep it separate from other pets. Infected pets can be contagious even after the obvious symptoms have resolved, so it is important to use medications for the full duration prescribed and see your veterinarian for follow-up testing. Some animals, most commonly cats, can be carriers of ringworm without showing symptoms. If you become infected with ringworm and the source of infection is unknown, your doctor may recommend having your pets tested.

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Spaying Your Dog

Spaying, or ovariohysterectomy, is a surgical sterilization procedure that can provide major health benefits for dogs. Here are some important facts you should know before getting your dog spayed.

The Spay Surgery
The ovariohysterectomy is an abdominal surgery that is performed under general anesthesia. Your dogs belly will be shaved and cleansed, and an incision will be made a few inches below her belly-button. The veterinarian will remove both ovaries as well as the uterus....

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Spaying Your Dog

Spaying, or ovariohysterectomy, is a surgical sterilization procedure that can provide major health benefits for dogs. Here are some important facts you should know before getting your dog spayed.

The Spay Surgery
The ovariohysterectomy is an abdominal surgery that is performed under general anesthesia. Your dogs belly will be shaved and cleansed, and an incision will be made a few inches below her belly-button. The veterinarian will remove both ovaries as well as the uterus. Several layers of stitches will close the incision internally. Your veterinarian may also close the skin with stitches, or may use a surgical adhesive. Following spay surgery, your dog will no longer go through heat cycles and will be unable to get pregnant.

Although the spay surgery is very routine, it is still a major abdominal operation. It carries the risks normally associated with general anesthesia and surgery. Your veterinarian takes numerous measures to keep your dog safe, such as checking her heart and lungs before administering anesthesia and monitoring her constantly while she is asleep. You can ask whether your veterinarian recommends any additional safety precautions, such as pre-anesthetic blood tests or administration of IV fluids during the procedure.

Benefits
Unspayed female dogs usually go through two heat periods each year. During her heat period, your female dog may drip blood. She will also make every effort to sneak out to find a mate. As a result, she is at high risk for being hit by a car.

Unspayed female dogs suffer from a high incidence of mammary tumors, false pregnancies, uterine infections, and reproductive cancers. Breast tumors are the most common type of cancer in dogs. One out of every four unspayed dogs will get breast cancer, and half of the tumors are malignant. Unspayed dogs are also prone to pyometra, a life-threatening infection of the uterus. Spaying removes the possibility of diseases of the ovaries and uterus, and comes close to eliminating the chance of mammary tumors.

The final benefit of spaying is that its the best way you can help end pet overpopulation. Every year, 3-4 million cats and dogs are euthanized in U.S. animal shelters. None of us wants to contribute to that sad statistic, but we may do so unwittingly. Puppies adopted to apparently good homes may be given away or lost. In six years, one female dog and her offspring can produce as many as 67, 000 dogs!

Considerations Before Surgery
Consult with your veterinarian about when to schedule your dogs spay surgery. Traditionally, pets are spayed at around six months of age. However, some veterinarians advocate performing the procedure earlier. If possible, schedule your dogs surgery when she is not in heat.

The night before your dogs surgery, remove her food and water before you go to bed. She should not eat or drink anything during the night or the morning of her surgery.

Considerations After Surgery
Your dog may go home the day of her surgery, or may stay in the hospital overnight. If she goes home the same day, expect her to feel a little groggy. Keep her indoors, in a warm, safe, quiet room away from other pets. During the first week after surgery, try to restrict her activity level. Leash walks are OK, but avoid excessive running, jumping, and roughhousing. Be sure to check her incision daily. Mild swelling and soreness are common, but let your veterinarian know if you see any discharge or if the swelling is excessive.

If your dog was in heat when she was spayed, she will continue to attract males during this time. Keep her away from male dogs during her recovery so that she isnt accidentally injured. Stitches, if present, will need to be removed in about 10 14 days. If you have any concerns about your dog following her surgery, do not hesitate to call your veterinarian.

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The Itchy Dog

There are many causes of pruritus (itchiness) in dogs. We all have an occasional itch that needs scratching, but when the itch persists or is associated with broken skin or hair-loss, it is time to see the doctor. In dogs, reasons for an incessant itch can include skin parasites; fungal, bacterial and yeast infections; food and inhalant allergies; and hormone related disorders that...

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The Itchy Dog

There are many causes of pruritus (itchiness) in dogs. We all have an occasional itch that needs scratching, but when the itch persists or is associated with broken skin or hair-loss, it is time to see the doctor. In dogs, reasons for an incessant itch can include skin parasites; fungal, bacterial and yeast infections; food and inhalant allergies; and hormone related disorders that make the dog more susceptible to all of these. The longer an itch is scratched, the more likely that self-trauma will lead to secondary or deep-seated infections that can be difficult to clear.

Fleas are the number one cause of canine dermatitis in the world. They are easy to diagnose and easy to eliminate. Fleas cause an insatiable itch as their saliva is highly allergenic. Hair-loss, self-trauma, and secondary skin infection is very common with infestation. Fleas also spread tapeworms. Monthly topical products are available that kill and repel fleas, flea eggs, and flea larvae.

Inhalant allergy (atopy) is the second most common cause of skin itchiness in dogs. It can be difficult to eliminate, because the allergens are in the air we breathe. Atopy is a complicating and/or primary factor in many skin disorders. It responds to antihistamines and corticosteroids. Allergy testing and desensitization serum injections are recommended to reduce the need for oral medications which may have side effects.

Sarcoptic mange (scabies) is a microscopic mite that burrows under the skin causing severe itchiness. It can be hard to detect on skin samples under the microscope; however, it makes its presence well known. Often, it is treated as a rule out cause for itching before pursuing other diagnostics. Dips and extra-label use of injectable de-wormers are used to kill scabies mites.

Ringworm isn’t a worm at all. It is a fungal infection of the skin. It causes the hairs to break off and leaves a scaly red patch on the skin that may itch. Mild cases may respond to topical anti-fungal ointments; whereas, generalized infection requires the use of oral antifungal drugs concurrently with medicated shampoos or dips.

Yeast (Malassezia) infections of the skin are notoriously itchy. They also exude an offensive musty odor from the skin. Hyperpigmented and thickened skin (elephant skin) is a common appearance for dogs with Malassezia infections. They require the use of anti-fungal drugs and shampoos, and are almost always secondary to an underlying hormone disorder or primary allergic dermatitis.

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Training Your Dog

Our dogs retain many of the instincts of their wild canine ancestry. One of which is the dependence on a pack of family members to provide safety and sustenance. The pack establishes roles for each of its members to play, and knowing that role provides a level of confidence and security to all in the group. Likewise, our domesticated dogs seek the boundaries and rules that we as the “pack leaders” establish to keep them safe from harm. Viewing dog training in this manner, an owner will realize that a dog’s actions are never out of spite; rather, the dog is conforming to the...

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Training Your Dog

Our dogs retain many of the instincts of their wild canine ancestry. One of which is the dependence on a pack of family members to provide safety and sustenance. The pack establishes roles for each of its members to play, and knowing that role provides a level of confidence and security to all in the group. Likewise, our domesticated dogs seek the boundaries and rules that we as the “pack leaders” establish to keep them safe from harm. Viewing dog training in this manner, an owner will realize that a dog’s actions are never out of spite; rather, the dog is conforming to the rules – or lack thereof – established in the first place.

Inappropriate behavior stems from inconsistency in our training methods. An untrained dog is an insecure dog that does not know what is expected of it; as a result, it will revert to its own survival instincts which may not comply with our expectations.

The goal of training should be to establish and reinforce the trust between the dog and its owner. Consistent techniques will result in a confident dog that is outgoing in all types of situations. The dog will be attentive to the owner’s commands not only to receive instruction but also to provide reassurance. Training begins as soon as the puppy is receptive. Its attention span and ability to learn will be lacking at first, but as it matures the dog will look more to the owner for leadership.

Basic obedience training is the precursor to more complex commands. A search and rescue dog, for example, would not be capable of the complicated task of victim retrieval if it was not able to follow simple sit and stay commands. These basic instructions should be taught in order to build a foundation for further training. Positive reinforcement is the easiest method to make a connection between an action and a pleasurable consequence. Communicating a desired action is not taught with correction. Instead, correction is given when the dog strays from the command, and reward is given when the action is accomplished successfully.

“Sit” is the easiest command for a puppy to learn. The word and hand gesture that is chosen to convey the command should be simple and consistent. A closed forward facing hand works well. Dogs are capable of following multiple word commands, but they really tune in to the one key word and hand signal. To teach a dog to sit, get its attention with a treat. Hold the treat over its head, and say in a low slow voice only one time “sit”. Draw out the word so that it is clear. Move the treat forward passing over the dog’s head as the command is given. Looking up at the treat will naturally cause the dog’s hind end to lower. If the dog turns without sitting, or if he jumps up to retrieve the treat, do not give the reward. Stop, look away, and start over. As soon as his rump hits the ground, give the treat with a ridiculous amount of praise. Make the consequence very rewarding. Afterward, wait a few minutes, and repeat the procedure. Practice the command about five times, two to three times a day. When the command is well understood, give only the hand signal to teach a response with or without a verbal command. This will provide very useful if the situation is distracting or if the dog is out of earshot. Reinforce the command every time the dog is fed a meal. The dog should sit before the food is placed into the bowl.

“Down” is the next logical obedience command to teach the puppy after “sit” is well established. Start by having the dog sit using the closed hand signal method along with the verbal command. Move the hand down and open it, palm facing the ground. “Down” is said one time in a low slow voice. The dog’s nose will follow the hand in anticipation of a treat. After the dog is lying completely head down on the floor, give a treat from the free hand, along with a ton of praise. This command should be practiced verbally and with a hand gesture alone in the same manner as the sit command. “Sit” and “down” should remain separate commands.

“Stay” is more complicated to learn. The duration that the dog will actually stay will be very short at first. Praise and reward should increase as the dog displays more effort. Begin with the sit and down commands, followed by an upward facing open palm with the arm extended. A sharp “stay” will alert the dog that this command has changed from the “down” instruction. Keep the hand out and slowly back away two to three steps. If the dog follows, step forward, and repeat the “stay” command and gesture. When the dog is receptive, slowly lower the hand to your side. Repeat the stay command as necessary to reinforce the behavior. After a short period of time, eventually increasing the duration, say “okay” or “come” to allow the dog to receive treats and praise. The command to “come” can be quickly taught in the follow up to “stay”.

Training more complicated instructions can be built upon these simple commands. As stated before, a dog can not be expected to perform a complex task before understanding these basic concepts. Keep in mind that training provides the dog not only instruction but also reassurance that he is performing his expected job. A good foundation of positively reinforced training will minimize the need for discipline.

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Urinary incontinence in dogs

Urinary incontinence (lack of the control of urination) is distinguished from other causes of inappropriate urination by the fact that it occurs without the dog being aware, such as when she is sleeping. Dribbling urine and leaking at night are signs of incontinence. There are several physiological reasons that urinary incontinence occurs, but the most common problem is associated with reproductive hormone (estrogen) levels in older spayed female dogs. This topic...

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Urinary incontinence in dogs

Urinary incontinence (lack of the control of urination) is distinguished from other causes of inappropriate urination by the fact that it occurs without the dog being aware, such as when she is sleeping. Dribbling urine and leaking at night are signs of incontinence. There are several physiological reasons that urinary incontinence occurs, but the most common problem is associated with reproductive hormone (estrogen) levels in older spayed female dogs. This topic does not address pathological, infectious, or behavioral reasons for inappropriate elimination or house training issues.

The dog’s history of symptoms and a urinalysis can quickly rule out a bladder infection or kidney disease as being the cause of bed wetting. Excessive water consumption due to underlying diseases like Diabetes and Cushing’s should be ruled out as well. In the case of hormone related urinary incontinence, the urine is completely normal. It should be noted however, that incontinent dogs are more susceptible to ascending bacterial bladder infections because of the mechanism that causes the bladder to leak.

The cause of estrogen responsive urinary incontinence is not completely understood, but the fact that it occurs in spayed females and responds to estrogen supplementation leads us to believe that the mechanism involves reduce levels of the hormone or reduced estrogen-receptor function. Urine is kept in the bladder by a sphincter muscle at the top of the urethra, the tube that carries urine outside the body. In older spayed female dogs, this sphincter muscle loses tone, and urine begins to leak. During rest and sleep, the muscles especially relax, leading to complete incontinence. Obesity further complicates this condition, probably from excess weight pushing on the bladder. Not all spayed female dogs will develop urinary incontinence; therefore, the exact role that estrogen plays is uncertain.

Supplementation with synthetic estrogen will correct incontinence in about half of symptomatic dogs. Diethylstilbestrol (DES) is the drug that is most commonly prescribed. Overdosage carries serious side effects, and long term usage can occasionally cause bone marrow suppression leading to reduced blood cell counts. People should not handle the medication. Overall, DES has a good margin of safety, but unavailability and less than ideal response to the drug has caused doctors to seek alternative therapies.

Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) is a stimulant drug that helps strengthen bladder muscle tone. It is effective in controlling estrogen-responsive urinary incontinence in 85-90% of dogs. PPA has a wide margin of safety; however, it should be used with caution in dogs with heart or kidney failure, or those with high blood pressure, because of its stimulant effect. Side effects may be controlled by lowering the dose, but efficacy in controlling incontinence may be reduced.

A combination of the two drugs may be used in dogs that do not respond to single drug therapy, or for those dogs who do not tolerate high doses of either. If incontinence suddenly becomes more frequent, or accidents occur when the pet is not at rest, a bacterial infection should be considered as a complicating factor.

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Submissive Urination Behavior

Dogs are descendants of pack animals, and they retain many of their wild canine instincts. Packs have well established hierarchies and strict greeting gestures that confirm each member’s position within the group.

These behaviors are essential to keep the pack working as a unit. Whether hunting prey, establishing...

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Submissive Urination Behavior

Dogs are descendants of pack animals, and they retain many of their wild canine instincts. Packs have well established hierarchies and strict greeting gestures that confirm each member’s position within the group.

These behaviors are essential to keep the pack working as a unit. Whether hunting prey, establishing territory, or protecting their offspring, each member must know their own role and be reassured by the role that others play. Some of these instincts make dogs very good companions of people, and some behaviors are incompatible in the human household. Submissive urination is a greeting gesture that dogs use to confirm another pack member’s dominance. It is a normal behavior for dogs, but an annoying one for people.

Puppies will often submissively urinate when approached by a person. This is actually a good sign that the dog considers the person dominant. Aggression can stem from a dog that tries to establish dominance over a human. Nevertheless, urinating in the house is unacceptable behavior and needs to be addressed. Reprimand has no place in this situation, as it will only cause more of the same behavior and confuse the dog.

Although a dog of any age and either sex may submissively urinate, this behavior is more common in female puppies. It can be triggered by any gesture of dominance by a human or another dog. A loud voice or excited greeting can cause it, and many times a person is unaware that they acted in any particular way at all. In any case the dog is displaying, in its instinctive way, that it is completely submissive and means no threat.

When a dog makes this submissive display, it may squat or roll over on its back while urinating. The dog may also “grin” by pulling back the edges of its mouth exposing its teeth. This facial gesture could be easily confused with an aggressive snarl. The exposed belly is a signal that the dog wants to “give up” the perceived challenge and is not displaying a desire to be petted. Reaching for an unfamiliar dog when this posture is observed can result in a snap at the fingers – a fear bite.

Puppies can usually be desensitized to submissively urinating over time. Greetings that initiate the posture should be avoided. The dog should be ignored when the owner first arrives home. A high pitched “hello sweetie” will cause the dog to urinate every time. Once the dog has settled down, the owner should move away from the dog and squat down to its level. Without saying anything, the dog is then allowed to approach. At the first hint of the dog squatting, the owner should turn away. Eye contact is a dominance display and can be a trigger for submissive urination.

Everyone who enters the house must follow the same steps to prevent the behavior. A dog that has a tendency to submissively urinate should be let outside before the front door is opened to a visitor. After the visitor is inside, the dog can be introduced slowly, but the visitor should be told to ignore the dog as well. Eventually, the dog will understand that there is no threat, and the submissiveness should subside. Most dogs grow out of this problem. Expect that a dog with this trait will act in the same way during new situations and around new people.

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Seizures

Seizures are a neurological anomaly that may occur in some pets. They are caused by a wide variety of reasons and may manifest differently from animal to animal. Seizures, although frequently frightening for the owners, can often be managed by medication once properly diagnosed. This handout will provide general information on the description, causes and solutions for seizure disorders in pets.

Seizures, often called convulsions or fits, will manifest themselves differently in each...

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Seizures

Seizures are a neurological anomaly that may occur in some pets. They are caused by a wide variety of reasons and may manifest differently from animal to animal. Seizures, although frequently frightening for the owners, can often be managed by medication once properly diagnosed. This handout will provide general information on the description, causes and solutions for seizure disorders in pets.

Seizures, often called convulsions or fits, will manifest themselves differently in each animal. It is important to remember, that while frightening for the owner, your pet does not feel any pain during the episode. And contrary to popular belief, your pet will not swallow its tongue during a seizure episode. In fact, you are more likely to be bitten severely if you try to force anything into the animals mouth. The only precaution that you should take is to make sure that your pet is not in danger of falling or striking a limb or its head on anything during the episode. After the seizure is complete, take time to observe and comfort your pet as they may be disoriented.

As seizures appear differently in each animal, it is best to look for some of the common signs:

Sporadic muscle contractions over the entire body
Falling to the side with a drawn back position of the head and neck
Loss or semi-loss of consciousness
Involuntary vomiting, salivation, urination or defecation
Changes in mental awareness from unresponsive staring to hallucinations
Behavioral changes including panting, pacing, odd running patterns, extreme docility, extreme viciousness and not recognizing known individuals
During the seizure, your pet will experience three different stages. The first stage of a seizure is called the pre-ictal or aura phase. During this phase your pet may exhibit a wide range of behavioral changes. These changes may include hiding, whining, nervousness, shaking and many others. This stage may continue for a few seconds to a few hours. It is important to remember, however, that some pets do not experience or manifest any signs of this phase.

The second phase to a seizure is the ictal phase. This phase may last from a few seconds to five minutes and is the period in which the body convulses and displays the typical signs of a seizure described above. If the seizure lasts longer than five minutes, it is known as prolonged seizure or status. Status is a severe and extreme seizure condition and you should seek immediate medical attention.

The third phase of the seizure is known as the post-ictal phase. This phase may include changes in mental awareness, confusion, restlessness and temporary blindness. This phase varies by pet in length, symptoms and severity.

Seizures may be caused by many different factors and they are often indicators of other physical problems. The most common cause of seizures in pets is epilepsy. A common form of epilepsy is caused by the rapid over-stimulation of the neurons in the brain. This over-stimulation may be caused from a head injury or may be genetic and inherited from birth. However, seizures may also be a side effect and indicator of other physical problems. These problems may include brain tumors, poisoning, low blood sugar, nerve or muscle problems and organ disease.

Depending on the frequency and severity of your pets seizures, it may be started on oral medications to help control the seizures. Once started, however, these medications must be given reliably, for the rest of the pets life. Therefore, your veterinarian will do careful screening and testing before placing your pet on these medications. It is important to remember that your pets seizure disorder is a manageable condition and many pets live long, happy and rewarding lives with epilepsy.

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The Limping Dog

The reasons a dog may start limping are numerous and are not always the result of an injury. Young dogs can have growth related pains, and old dogs can suffer from arthritis. There are neurological causes of lameness that can look like limping and diseases that can cause joint pain and stiffness. The limping dog should be given the benefit of a thorough exam by a veterinarian and...

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The Limping Dog

The reasons a dog may start limping are numerous and are not always the result of an injury. Young dogs can have growth related pains, and old dogs can suffer from arthritis. There are neurological causes of lameness that can look like limping and diseases that can cause joint pain and stiffness. The limping dog should be given the benefit of a thorough exam by a veterinarian and may be prescribed a short course of pain medication or anti-inflammatory drugs for a minor sprain. In some cases, x-rays and blood work may be performed to investigate an underlying disease process responsible for the symptoms.

Problems associated with limping in the growing dog include Osteochondritis Dessicans (OCD) and panosteitis. OCD occurs primarily in the shoulder (front limb) and involves a piece of cartilage floating freely in the joint. This condition can require either extended rest or surgery to repair the injury. Panosteitis is an inflammatory process that occurs on the surface of the long bones in the limbs during the rapid growth phase of large breeds. It is a self-limiting condition that is treated with pain medications.

Arthritis is very common in older dogs as an aging process. It can be very painful, cause limping and lameness, and lead to muscle atrophy (wasting) from reduced exercise. This condition is called degenerative joint disease and is a consequence of wear and tear on the cartilage that pads the bones from rubbing together. Inflammatory joint disease is an arthritic process that is not related to aging. Instead, infection or immune-mediated disease is the cause of joint stiffness and pain. Tick-borne diseases such as Lyme and Ehrlichia are common causes of this painful joint condition. Treatment for pain is indicated, but the underlying illness must be treated as well.

Hip dysplasia is a common cause of limping in dogs. It is not a disease, but a mal-formation or a poor conformation of the hip joint. The femur bone in the rear leg is topped with a ball that fits into the acetabulum (socket) of the pelvis. In this heritable condition, the ball can slip around or completely out of the socket causing discomfort. Over time, arthritic changes occur as abnormal wear occurs. An x-ray can confirm hip dysplasia, but it may not predict the severity of symptoms that may arise as a result. Hip replacement and a “salvage” surgery called a femoral head ostectomy are recommended when pain is not controlled with joint health supplements and medications.

It is important to have any persistent limping checked by the veterinarian to determine the cause and provide pain relief.

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Understanding Canine Coronavirus Infections

Canine coronavirus is a disease that invades the intestinal tract and causes diarrhea in dogs. It is similar to parvovirus infection but usually causes milder symptoms. Symptomatic disease caused by coronavirus alone occurs only in very young puppies. Infections in adults are usually unapparent. Most severe cases involve parvo and corona. Vaccines are available specifically for coronavirus; however, most Veterinary Schools are not including it as part of their core vaccine protocol. The coronavirus damages the intestinal villi, the finger-like projections on the wall of the intestines that move food through the body and absorb nutrients. Yellow-green or orange diarrhea results that can be semi-formed to projectile liquid. Vomiting is uncommon,...

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Understanding Canine Coronavirus Infections

Canine coronavirus is a disease that invades the intestinal tract and causes diarrhea in dogs. It is similar to parvovirus infection but usually causes milder symptoms. Symptomatic disease caused by coronavirus alone occurs only in very young puppies. Infections in adults are usually unapparent. Most severe cases involve parvo and corona. Vaccines are available specifically for coronavirus; however, most Veterinary Schools are not including it as part of their core vaccine protocol. The coronavirus damages the intestinal villi, the finger-like projections on the wall of the intestines that move food through the body and absorb nutrients. Yellow-green or orange diarrhea results that can be semi-formed to projectile liquid. Vomiting is uncommon, unlike in parvo infections. Protein and electrolyte loss, and dehydration are the biggest concerns for corona infected dogs. Corona can be complicated by other infections of parvo, hookworms, or giardia, making the symptoms much more severe.

Because corona is a virus, there is no specific cure for the disease. It must “run its course” over about 10 days. During this time, symptoms may be mild or transient. Supplemental electrolyte solutions such as Pedialyte, and bland diets low in fat may help minor cases of diarrhea. For dehydrated, anorexic dogs, IV fluids are administered to replace water and electrolytes. Antibiotics may be used to prevent secondary bacterial infection of the intestinal tract.

The key to preventing coronavirus infection is eliminating exposure and proper vaccination strategies. Your veterinarian will decide whether to use the parvo vaccine alone or in combination with a corona specific vaccine. Sanitation and disinfection of areas soiled by sick pets should be thorough. The virus can continue to be shed in the stool for up to two weeks after all symptoms have subsided.

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Urinary Problems in Dogs

Dogs are much less prone to disease of the bladder and urethra as compared with cats. However, the lower urinary tract can be a site for inflammation, infection, stones, or obstructions. Signs that your dog may have lower urinary tract disease include difficulty urinating,...

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Urinary Problems in Dogs

Dogs are much less prone to disease of the bladder and urethra as compared with cats. However, the lower urinary tract can be a site for inflammation, infection, stones, or obstructions. Signs that your dog may have lower urinary tract disease include difficulty urinating, urine that appears bloody or cloudy, foul-smelling urine, and frequent licking of the urinary opening.

Bacterial Cystitis
Cystitis means inflammation of the bladder. The most common cause in dogs is bacterial infection. Bacteria from the skin surface enter the urethral opening and migrate inwards, where they attach to the bladder lining.

Diagnosis of cystitis starts with a careful medical history and a physical exam. Urinalysis is used to detect bacteria and inflammatory cells. A urine culture further identifies the types of bacteria present and the antibiotics most effective to treat the infection.

Infections of the bladder are treated with antibiotics. Its very important to follow medication instructions and give the antibiotics for the full duration prescribed, even if your dog seems to feel better sooner. Incomplete treatment can result in relapses and the formation of resistant bacteria.

Urinary Stones
Urinary stones (uroliths) occur in approximately 1% of dogs. Uroliths are composed of crystallized minerals, such as struvite, oxalate, urate, cystine, or calcium phosphate. Certain breeds are more prone to urolithiasis, including Dalmatians, Dachshunds, Basset Hounds, English Bulldogs, Yorkshire Terriers, Irish Terriers, Lhasa Apsos, Miniature Poodles, Schnauzers, Shih Tzus and Chihuahuas. Stones can be found anywhere in the urinary tract. In the bladder they cause irritation, increasing the likelihood of cystitis or bacterial infections. In the urethra they can cause partial or complete obstruction. When this happens, urine flow is reduced. With complete obstruction, urine is trapped in the body. The kidneys are unable to continue cleansing the blood and death can result within a few days.

Dogs suffering from uroliths have signs similar to cystitis. If the stones interfere with urination the dog may also dribble urine, strain to urinate, vomit, stop eating, and have a painful abdomen. Diagnosis of urolithiasis is based on a physical exam and urinalysis. X-rays, ultrasound and blood tests may also be beneficial. For proper treatment, the veterinarian must identify the mineral content of the stones, either by finding crystals on the urinalysis or by collecting stones via urinary catheterization or surgery.

Some stones can be dissolved with special diets or flushed out of the bladder through a urinary catheter, but others require surgical removal. Following stone removal, dogs are treated to prevent recurrence. Stones typically form in concentrated urine at a pH specific to each type. Therefore, diet changes are aimed at increasing water intake, reducing mineral content of the urine, and producing urine with a pH incompatible with the type of stone involved.

Other Diseases
Other conditions that can cause urinary problems include tumors of the urinary tract and prostate ailments. Tumors of the bladder and urethra are uncommon in dogs. They can cause blood in the urine and urethral obstruction. Surgery and chemotherapy are beneficial, but the prognosis is uncertain because the tumors have a high rate of malignancy.

Prostate disease is quite common in older, un-neutered male dogs. Although the prostate is really part of the reproductive system, prostate disease can result in urinary symptoms. The prostate can become inflamed or infected, can grow abnormally large, or can become cancerous. All of these conditions increase the size of the prostate, leading to bloody urine, frequent urinary tract infections, difficulty defecating, and pain. Most types of prostatic disease are treatable.

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16367 South FM 4,

Santo, TX 76472

Phone. 940-769-2222

Fax. 866-632-3365

Email. texaswestvet@gmail.com