Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV), commonly referred to as Bloat, is an emergency condition in dogs. When a dog’s stomach dilates or becomes enlarged, it can twist. The stomach is not able to release any of the gas that builds up inside and this can cause a pet to become very ill in less than an hour. GDV is life threatening and will not resolve on its own. Immediate intervention is essential. GDV can also occur without the stomach twisting. The stomach twisting is called torsion. GDV with and without torsion has the same symptoms. Both types of GDV need to be treated right away.
Causes of GDV
- Large, deep-chested dogs are at risk. Examples include Great Danes, German Shepherds, Weimaraners, St. Bernards, Rottweilers, and Standard Poodles.
- Dogs are more at risk of developing GDV if they are running, jumping, and playing outside immediately after eating. Let your dog rest after eating a meal or play before a feeding.
- Dogs who eat one or two large meals a day are at greater risk than dogs who eat multiple smaller meals a day.
- Dogs who eat very quickly are more likely to develop GDV. Owner of dog breeds who are at risk can encourage slower eating by purchasing special food bowls that make it harder for their pet to eat too quickly. Please see the image included.
- Drinking large amounts of water—usually after exercise—can increase a dog’s risk.
Signs of GDV
- Distended abdomen
- Non-productive vomiting/retching
- Severe abdominal pain
- Rapid shallow breathing
- Hypersalivation (drooling more than usual)
Problems Associated with GDV
- Loss of blood flow to/from the abdomen
- Pressure on the diaphragm from the stomach being filled with gas which causes difficulty breathing
- Rupture of stomach
GDV is easily diagnosed so if you suspect your dog has Bloat bring them to your emergency veterinarian immediately. If you have a dog that is at risk for GDV due to breed, activity, or eating patterns, talk to your veterinarian about a procedure called Gastropexy. Gastropexy, the internal tacking of the stomach to the abdominal wall, can be done during other procedures such as spays to prevent the stomach from twisting in the future.
Fleas are a nuisance that most pet owners have to deal with at some point. For most pets it is not a serious issue as long as owners stay on top of their flea treatment year around. If your pet is one of the unlikely few who has been diagnosed with flea allergy dermatitis—you will have to be more diligent about flea control than the average pet owner. Here are some tips for treating your pet and your home if you find fleas on your pets.
Treatment for Fleas for Pets
- Bathe with Dawn dishwashing liquid or a flea shampoo. Be careful as this will strip all flea product from your pet so make sure to apply flea product one or two days after the bath.
- Apply flea/tick topical spot-on treatment.
- Use a flea-control collar. Some are effective for up to eight months.
- Administer an oral product to kill live fleas. This can be obtained from your veterinarian.
Treatment for Fleas for the House
- Sweep, mop, and vacuum all floors and furniture.
- Use carpet sprays for fleas to get into tighter places, such as upholstery and carpets.
- Fog your house. Be sure to use enough to cover every room.
- Throw away the bag each time you vacuum.
- Wash all bedding, sheets, rugs, and toys in hot water.
If you find fleas on your pet, alert your veterinarian as soon as possible so that the flea infestation does not get out of control.
With so much going on during the holidays, planning ahead for our pets may not occur. There are many hidden dangers associated with the holiday season.
- Company coming in and out of the house may allow pets to leave through an open door
- Decorations can easily be swallowed or cause an electric shock if chewed on
- Extra treats that we enjoy can be very toxic to our pets
We recommend taking the following simple steps to protect your pets during the holidays.
When company is coming:
- Watch the exits
- Have a quiet room where your pets can go if there is too much commotion
- Ask your guests not to feed your pets any treats
- Be aware of the weather if you are going to leave your pet outside
Before leaving the house:
- Unplug all decorations
- Take out the trash
- Do not leave food out on counters
- If your pet cannot be trusted around decorations, crate them while you are gone
Have the following information easily accessible:
- The nearest 24/7 Emergency Veterinary Hospital
- Your veterinarian’s hours and contact information
- ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: 1.888.426.4435 (a fee may apply)
“I found my pet licking the Poinsettias I displayed as holiday decorations. What should I do?”
Poinsettias are often feared by pet owners as a toxic plant. While it isn’t good for our pets to eat or lick Poinsettias, the plant is not as toxic as the public thinks. The Poinsettia is considered to be only mildly toxic. The white sap the plant produces can be mildly toxic if your pet is exposed. Look for signs like drooling or licking their lips more frequently. The sap can also cause skin irritation. If a large amount of sap is ingested it can cause vomiting and diarrhea. If your pet is showing interest in your Poinsettias, sternly but verbally tell them no and redirect their interest. Take precautions by placing your poinsettias in areas where your pets do not have access without your supervision. Our warmest wishes to you for Happy Holidays!
Christmas decorations can be especially dangerous for cats. Cats are naturally attracted to garland, tinsel, small ornaments, and ribbon. They look like fun toys for our kitties. Since cats are able to reach high places many more of these items are accessible to them. Some cats ingest parts of these items which can require you and your pet to visit the emergency room during the holidays. You might not realize that your cat is secretly eating tinsel from your Christmas tree while you are sleeping until it is too late. You can take precautions by keeping small, edible decorations and garland, tinsel, and ribbon out of their reach.
If you notice your cat playing with a dangerous ornament or piece of ribbon, tinsel, or garland you should remove it right away. If you think your cat has a loss in appetite, is lethargic, or you notice vomiting or diarrhea, it is important to call your veterinarian immediately for a check-up.
The Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia just re-opened our completely renovated and expanded state-of-the-art emergency clinic. The clinic has a hospital design with an intensive care unit, oxygen cage, isolation unit, treatment room, radiology, on-site lab, surgery unit, all new equipment, four exam rooms, and a large waiting room. Open 24 hours a day/365 days a year including holidays—our Emergency Clinic treats all types of dog and cat emergencies.
It is easy to give table scraps to our dogs and cats after the Thanksgiving meal. It is not advisable to offer table scraps to pets on a regular basis but Thanksgiving can be an exception if you follow the recommendations below:
- Set aside a small amount of turkey and sprinkle it over your dog’s or cat’s normal food for several meals.
- Allow your pet to have a small bowl of cooked vegetables or raw vegetables.
- Add a small amount of mashed potatoes to their food.
- Let them have a small bite of pumpkin pie or canned pumpkin.
- Split a dinner roll with them.
Do NOT allow your dog or cat to eat any of the following from Thanksgiving dinner:
- Turkey Bones
- Raisins or Grapes
- Ham (which can be very hard for pets to digest)
Be sure to give your dog or cat only a small amount of the approved table scraps above. Avoid high fat foods because they can cause pancreatitis. If your pet has food allergies—be sure to adhere to their normal diet only.
Remember—if you have a pet emergency—the Emergency Clinic of the Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia is open 24/7 365 days per year including holidays to take care of your dog or cat. Our new state-of-the-art Emergency Clinic has a hospital design complete with ICU, oxygen cage, all new equipment, and more. Our number is 703.361.8287.
Just as many Americans struggle with weight loss, so do our pets. It affects pets the same as it affects their owners. Unlike people though, our pets cannot choose what they want to eat every day. We are the only ones who can decide what and how much our pets eat. Here are some helpful tips to enable your pet to shed some extra pounds:
- Feed your pet only a high-quality pet food
- Feed your pet TWICE a day using a measuring cup
- Feed the least amount of recommended food according to the instructions on the bag
- Do not feed any table scraps—feed your pet their dinner in a separate room while you eat and keep them confined in that room until you are done eating so no one is tempted to feed your pet table scraps
- Do not feed any extra treats or snacks
- Reward your pet with extra attention like a walk outside, a belly scratch, or play time
- If your pet craves a food reward use green beans or broccoli ONLY (fresh, frozen, or canned)
- Try rewarding your pet with ice cubes
- Take your pet on walks but do NOT over exercise an obese dog or cat though as you could injure them
- Make sure the entire family is on the same page—you might not be feeding your pet extra food but someone else in the household might be
If these tips do not work then try the following for dogs only:
- Pour all the dog food you normally feed in 24 hours in a bowl
- Remove 1/3 to 1/2 of the food
- Use this new amount as your dog’s daily intake and divide into two meals
- Feed one kind of food only—wet or dry but not both
- Put out only a small amount of food at a time
- Do not allow 24/7 access to food
- Encourage your cat to exercise
Helping your overweight pets lose weight will be much better for their health and can save you money by helping prevent health issues caused by obesity. You can bring your pet to your veterinarian on a monthly basis for weight checks—just remember to call first.
What is Cold Laser Therapy?
Cold laser therapy is the use of a low-level laser that interacts with cells in the body. The energy administered by the laser is absorbed by the tissue, affecting the cells. At the Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia we use cold laser therapy to enhance your pet’s health and comfort level and decrease recovery times. Our MLS Cold Laser is special because it is able to penetrate deeper tissue than traditional cold laser therapy devices without producing the harmful effects of higher powered lasers.
How Does Cold Laser Therapy Help My Pet?
- Increases blood flow to the affected area which brings vital nutrients, oxygen, and white blood cells.
- Decreases painful swelling by helping the body reabsorb excess fluid.
- Reduces pain by removing extra fluid and decreases healing time.
- Noninvasive—it treats areas that are very sensitive or hard to access.
- Is a drug-free option that can be used alone or in conjunction with medications.
When Would You Use Cold Laser Therapy On My Pet?
Cold Laser Therapy is very helpful for a broad scope of ailments and injuries.
- The laser is used for our patients with pulled muscles or strained ligaments. These patients benefit greatly from multiple laser treatments over a few weeks. We also prescribe pain medication and rest.
- We use the cold laser on incisions from surgery including knee surgeries, abdominal incisions, fracture repairs, back surgeries, and many more. This helps decrease swelling and healing time.
- Our patients who have back pain but do not require surgery are helped by multiple laser treatments along with cage rest. The laser helps bring blood flow to the area so they can regain normal function more quickly.
- Patients who are recovering from traumatic injuries that cause edema and severe bruising respond very well to laser treatment. It is noninvasive so pets who have survived car accidents or dog fights can be treated while resting comfortably in their cage.
- The cold laser is very effective for areas of infection. It increases blood flow to the affected area bringing white blood cells and other nutrients that aid in the healing process.
- Some areas are hard to treat due to location or pain. The cold laser is great for treating issues with ears, anus, and paws.
Contact the Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia at 703.361.0710 for information on how Cold Laser Therapy can help your dog or cat.
Also known as the “the cone of shame,” the Elizabethan collar is something most pets will need to wear at least once in their life. Your dog or cat will lick at an area as a natural response to heal themselves but it can cause more harm than good. They do it to clean the area and increase blood flow. With modern medicine and simple first aid care that owners and veterinarians can provide, it is not necessary for pets to lick a wound. Here are some tips about caring for your pet while using an e-collar.
Dogs or cats may have to wear an e-collar to keep them from licking at:
- A hot spot or allergic area on their skin
- A wound from an accident or dog bite
- A surgical site
- A splint or bandage
- Because the area is causing them pain or discomfort
To help keep the e-collar on:
- Use your pet’s collar to loop through the holes
- Make sure you can only get 2 fingers between your pet’s neck and the collar
- Your pet’s nose should NOT be able to come past the outer rim of the e-collar
- Raise your pet’s bowls off the floor if it is difficult for them to eat or drink with it on
- Leave the e-collar on at all times if your pet is pawing at it as they will learn to move around with it more easily if it is on constantly than if you are constantly taking it on and off
- Give your pet treats and praise when they are wearing the e-collar
- Put duct tape around the edge of the collar if your pet is running into the back of your legs or walls of your home
Most veterinarians carry plastic e-collars but there are other varieties that may be better for your pet:
- Soft paper-like e-collars *see picture
- Clear plastic e-collars
- Long plastic e-collars for long necked dogs *see picture
- ProCollar (inflatable e-collar that only goes around neck)
- BiteNot Collar (resembles neck brace)
- Comfy Collar (made of nylon and foam)