Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that travels through the blood and can affect joints, organs, or give an overall feeling of illness. Ticks, particularly deer ticks, are carriers of Lyme Disease.
The tick needs to be attached to your pet for 24 to 48 hours before the disease can be transferred. Adult ticks are not killed off by frost and will often just lie dormant for a warmer day. Therefore, ticks present a health concern year round.
Symptoms for Lyme Disease include but are not limited to:
- Loss of Appetite
- Lameness—which can be intermittent, reoccurring, or shifting from joint to joint
- Stiffness, Discomfort, and Pain
- Swelling of Joints
There are two different blood tests that can be used to check for Lyme Disease. There is an in-house blood test available with results in ten minutes. There are more in-depth blood panels that can be sent out if Lyme Disease or other tick-borne diseases are suspected.
If discovered early, Lyme Disease can be treated with a short dose of antibiotics. More difficult cases, which have affected the organs, may require more extensive treatments. Lyme Disease may also lay dormant for a while and occasionally reoccur and need another course of antibiotics.
There are simple ways you can help prevent Lyme Disease in your pet:
- Year round flea and tick prevention is available through your veterinarian, online or local participating retailer. It is best to administer your pet’s flea and tick prevention year round since adult ticks are active almost all year.
- Check your pet after playing outside and immediately remove any ticks found.
- Avoid letting your pets play in higher grasses and thickly wooded areas.
- You can do treatments for your own yard to protect against ticks.
- Yearly blood tests are recommended to catch any possible positive results that are asymptomatic.
- Lyme Disease vaccines are available through your veterinarian as well. They can be started at any age. An initial injection is followed up with a booster two weeks later with a yearly vaccine recommended.
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) and Feline Urologic Syndrome (FUS) are not just one problem, but a myriad of clinical symptoms involving the cat’s urinary system. It is very important to address these with your veterinarian promptly. Symptoms include:
- Painful or more frequent urination
- Prolonged squatting in the litter box
- Increased visits to the litter box
- Bloody or cloudy urine
- Dribbling urine
- Excessive licking at the urinary opening
- Excessive water intake
- Inability to urinate
FLUTD and FUS can have many different causes which include:
- Cystitis (inflammation of the bladder)
- Bladder stones, crystals, or debris
- Urinary tract blockage
- Trauma to the urinary tract
- Congenital abnormality
Male cats are more prone to urethral blockage due to their narrow urethras which is the tube that carries the urine from the bladder. Urinary blockage can lead to rupture of the bladder and/or kidney failure.
Urinary problems can be very serious and potentially fatal if left untreated. If you notice any of the symptoms listed above—seek immediate veterinary care for your cat or kitten.
The importance of heartworm prevention cannot be overstated. Heartworm disease is caused by the bite of a mosquito that is a carrier of the disease. Heartworm is not spread from pet to pet—it is only caused by the bite of a mosquito. Heartworm disease causes lung disease, heart failure, damage to other organs, and death in dogs, cats, and ferrets. It has been reported in all 50 states, but is prevalent along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.
Your pet is at risk for contracting heartworm disease even if he or she lives inside or only goes outside briefly. Mosquitos do get into homes and can be found in our area throughout the year. This puts your pet at constant risk. Year round prevention is strongly recommended!
Your pet should be tested for heartworm disease before a preventive treatment is started. This can be done in minutes at your veterinarian’s office. If your pet is negative for heartworm disease—a preventive treatment should be started immediately. There are many options available for heartworm prevention. These include chewable and non-chewable tablets, topical liquids that are applied to the skin, and injectable products. Ask your veterinarian which is the best choice for your pet.
If your pet is diagnosed with heartworm disease the treatment is not easy on the pet physically or on the owner’s finances. The treatment includes an injection with an arsenic-containing drug, exercise restrictions, other oral medications and/or topical medications. Treatment can be very toxic to the pet and can cause serious complications including blood clots in the lungs. It also requires multiple veterinary visits and possibly hospitalization. The cost for treatment can add up quickly.
For the sake of your pet’s health please talk with your veterinarian about using a heartworm preventive. It could save your pet’s life and save you a lot of money in the long run.
Diabetes in pets is common in the veterinary world. Genetics, certain breeds, obesity, and underlying diseases can be factors for diabetes. Most pets with diabetes will need to be managed and monitored for the rest of their lives. In some cases, diet and weight loss can cause a remission of the disease.
What Are the Symptoms?
- Increased thirst and urination
- Increased appetite
- Increased possibility of infections, such as urinary tract infections
- Severe weight loss
- Trouble breathing
- Coma/loss of consciousness
If early signs of diabetes are present, the testing is often simple. There are two ways to check for diabetes. Both are quick and these tests can be run in the hospital for immediate results:
- Bloodwork is run to check blood glucose levels. Depending on when your pet last ate, glucose levels should range from 80-120. New unmanaged diabetics often have numbers in the 200s to 300s.
- Urine is also collected and checked for Ketones or sugar. When the blood glucose is over 180 the kidneys are unable to filter the sugar and it is released into the urine. When both blood and urine sugar is positive, a diagnosis of diabetes is made and insulin should be given immediately.
When starting to care for a diabetic pet, most hospitals will provide owners with an in-depth diabetic consult. This includes showing owners how to administer insulin, providing them with safety tips, noting the symptoms to watch for, and providing other important diabetic disease information. This consult gives the pet owner the knowledge and confidence to manage their pet’s diabetes at home.
After starting insulin more blood testing is done until the appropriate dose of insulin is found. Your pet might have to make several day trips to the vet until blood glucose levels are regulated. Diabetes can then be managed from home with the owner’s vigilance with regard to administering insulin and observing the patient for any changes. At-home glucometers can be purchased through your veterinarian. They can enable owners to check levels immediately in case of a potential emergency.
Diabetes can be a daunting diagnosis at first but with your veterinarian’s help—your pet can live comfortably and happily for many years.
Laryngeal Paralysis, a common condition in middle- to old-age dogs, is usually seen in large breed dogs such as Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Saint Bernards, Newfoundlands, and Pointers. In hot, humid weather or with strenuous exercise—the symptoms can snowball leading to respiratory distress and collapse.
The larynx, located at the back of the throat over the opening to the trachea (wind pipe), opens when the dog is breathing and closes when the dog is eating or drinking. With this condition the larynx remains closed leading to difficulty in breathing. In most cases this condition is idiopathic, meaning there is no underlying cause.
- Early symptoms include noisy breathing, dry cough, and voice changes
- Progressive symptoms include difficulty breathing during exercise, easily fatigued, and cough or gag when eating and drinking
- Symptoms may progress for months or even years before becoming a problem
- The surgery most commonly performed is called laryngeal tie back
- The laryngeal tie back procedure carries the risk of aspiration pneumonia
- A tracheostomy can be performed as a last resort
With the pet owner’s diligence after surgery, a good quality of life can be achieved.
Vacation time has arrived. Many of us will bring the family pet(s) with us. Here are some helpful tips for traveling with your pets.
- Our pets like to be comfortable for the trip. They need the comforts of home to make sure the trip goes as smoothly as possible. These include their blanket or bed, food and water bowls, and toys.
- If your pet is not fond of traveling, there are medications your veterinarian can recommend or prescribe to make the experience a good one.
- Safety in the car is important. Pets can be injured in a moving vehicle. Whether we stop suddenly or an unfortunate accident occurs, we need to ensure that our pets are safe when they travel. If you are traveling with a small pet such as a dog or cat—a hard carrier or crate is the best option. These can be seat belted in for security. Here are some crates for car travel: https://www.amazon.com/Plastic-Kennels-Rolling-Airline-Approved/dp/B01CIR8BXK/ref=sr_1_1?s=pet-supplies&ie=UTF8&qid=1496194148&sr=1-1&keywords=dog+crate+for+travel or http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?c=3307+12+24433&pcatid=24433.
- If your pet is large enough to ride in the seat beside you, then a safety belt is recommended. These enable your pet to be belted into the car safely. Here are some ideas for pet safety belts: https://www.kurgo.com/dog-car-restraints/ https://www.amazon.com/Pawaboo-Safety-Harness-Adjustable-Suitable/dp/B01KNUM15S/ref=sr_1_5?s=pet-supplies&ie=UTF8&qid=1496194452&sr=1-5&keywords=pet+seat+belt+harness.
- If you are flying with your pet—keep in mind that flying can be stressful for them. Be sure to have your pet examined by your veterinarian prior to flying to give them a clean bill of health. Also, make sure that your pet is the appropriate weight and in the correct carrier/carry-on for the specific airline on which you are traveling. We only recommend flying with your pet if it is absolutely necessary.
Water activities are part of summer. Whether it’s fun at the beach, swimming in the pool, or adventures on a boat—your dog can enjoy these with you. Please follow these safety tips to ensure a wonderful summer for you and your dog.
- Not Every Dog is a Good Swimmer and Not Every Dog Can Swim—just because your dog enjoys the water, does not mean he/she can swim well. If you are planning a fun day on the boat, make sure that everyone, including your dog, has a life vest on for safety. You can find pet life vests almost anywhere. Here are a few options: https://www.chewy.com/b/outdoor-gear-1733?gclid=COTdwOTImNQCFRlWDQoddGsM4g&gclsrc=aw.ds and https://www.amazon.com/Outward-Hound-Ripstop-Jacket-Preserver/dp/B0081XIK4Q
- Do Not Force Your Dog into the Water—water can be scary. Forcing your dog into the water can cause them to panic and drown. Fear can also set in and leave a permanent scar. The water can be fun, and making your dog comfortable with it is the best way to approach it. Use treats or their favorite toy as positive reinforcement around the water.
- Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Water? Yes. While we love playing in the water with our dogs, we need to remember that they can experience too much water. While your dog is enjoying his/her swim and jumping in after a toy, each time they do this they are also taking water into their mouth. Water intoxication can be scary and life threatening. Symptoms of water intoxication include:
- Loss of Coordination
- Urinary Incontinence
- Difficulty Breathing
If your dog experiences any of these symptoms you should take them to the vet immediately.
Summer is a time for water fun. Please remember to enjoy the water safely with your pets.
Summer brings some hazards for our beloved pets.
Warm weather brings out the bugs. Ticks love our furry pets and unfortunately many of them carry serious diseases.
- Lyme disease causes fever, lethargy, joint pain/swelling, loss of appetite, and, in extreme cases, kidney disease.
- Ehrlichiosis causes fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, joint and muscle pain/swelling, enlarged spleen and lymph nodes, and abnormal bleeding.
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever causes fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, edema in limbs/face, depression, and joint and muscle pain/swelling.
You can get a safe tick preventative from your veterinarian. Always check your pets for ticks—especially around their ears, paws, and abdomen.
One tiny flea can lead to an infestation both on your pets and in your home. Fleas can cause anemia in our pets and leave them with nasty bites. With people, fleas can transmit diseases such as cat scratch fever (bartonella) and the bubonic plague. Your veterinarian can recommend a safe flea preventative for your pets. There are many options available including collars, topicals, and oral preventatives.
Infected mosquitos can infect our pets with Heartworm Disease. The treatment for this in dogs is extremely painful for them and quite pricy. Unfortunately, for our feline family members no treatment is available. Talk with your veterinarian about heartworm prevention. In our area it is important to give it monthly year round since we can have such mild winters. Before starting a heartworm preventative, please visit your veterinarian for a heartworm test.
Make sure that your pets have areas to cool down and plenty of water to stay hydrated. It is very easy for our furry friends to overheat. Some signs of heat stroke include:
- Excessive Panting
Heat stroke can be fatal. If your pet experiences any of these symptoms, please take them to a veterinary hospital immediately.
Many plants and flowers are not safe for our pets to eat. Here is a list of plants/flowers that you should keep away from your pet:
Our pets can experience seasonal allergy symptoms just as we do. Symptoms include:
- Runny Eyes/Nose
- Reverse Sneezing
- Swelling of the Face
Your pet may also develop ear or skin infections. Your veterinarian can recommend some allergy relief medications that are safe for your pet to take.
Help your pet have a safe, healthy, comfortable summer!
Summer is here and with it comes the heat! Our pets love playing outside and soaking up the sun. Here are some tips to keep our four-legged friends cool.
Water is a necessity when our pets are outside. Also, we can provide them with frozen snacks to keep them cool and hydrated including:
- Frozen Banana Bites
- Berries and Ice
- Frozen Carrots
- Chicken Pops (made with frozen baby food)
Here are some great recipes to try: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/summer-dog-treats/.
You can purchase effective cooling items. Puppy paws ice cream is a favorite. This is a yummy treat every pet can enjoy outside in the heat. In addition to cooling treats, these products can keep your pets cool:
- Cooling Vest
- Cooling Mat
- Cooling Collar
- Baby Pool/Sprinkler
Help your pet beat the heat this summer!
The Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia is honored that six of our doctors were chosen as Top Veterinarian 2017 by the readers of Northern Virginia Magazine. Dr. Ethan Morris DVM and Dr. Richard Bradley DVM, DACVS were voted as Top Veterinarian 2017 in Surgery. Dr. Anne Chiapella DVM, DACVIM; Dr. Nichole Birnbaum DVM, DACVIM; and Dr. Todd Deppe DVM, DACVIM were chosen as Top Veterinarian 2017 in Internal Medicine. Dr. Amy Pike DVM, DACVB was voted Top Veterinarian 2017 in Behavior Medicine. Thank you to those who voted for us. We look forward to providing exceptional care for your four-legged family members.