I found a tick attached to my dog yesterday and pulled it off. Could he have Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is caused by a tiny blood parasite that is spread by infected ticks. Not all ticks have Lyme disease, but the prevalence of Lyme infected ticks is increasing across the Midwest. Luckily, there are very effective measures that can be taken to prevent Lyme disease in our pets. First, use a monthly tick prevention such as Frontline or Vectra. These products cause the ticks to die before they are able to transmit diseases. Second, remove any attached ticks that you find on your pet immediately. Remove them by firmly grasping the body of the tick near the head and pulling back with firm traction. A tick must be attached for at least 24 hours to successfully transmit the Lyme parasite to a pet. Third, vaccinate and/or test your dog for Lyme disease if recommended for your specific situation. If you remove a tick that is attached but not engorged (filled with blood) it most likely has not been attached long enough to cause a problem. Watch any bite areas on your pet closely for continued redness or signs of infection like swelling and discharge. Signs of Lyme disease include fever, lethargy, joint pain, joint swelling, and lameness.
Question: I have a litter of baby kittens with red weepy eyes. Can I get an antibiotic ointment for them, or what can I do to help keep them comfortable?
Answer: At this time of the year we see many kittens with eye problems. Most of the eye problems begin when the kitten becomes infected with a virus- often a Herpes type upper respiratory virus. This virus typically causes inflammation of the eyes resulting in redness, irritation and discharge. We often see sneezing associated with this virus as well. If the discharge from the eyes and nose stays clear, it usually indicates that we are only dealing with a virus- which will need to run the course. Applying a warm wet washcloth to the eyes while they are irritated helps to decrease the inflammation present. The warm compresses also help to clean the discharge and keep any skin infections from occurring due to the excess moisture. If the eyes or nose develop a green or yellow discharge, I would recommend scheduling an appointment for the kitten as there is probably a secondary bacterial infection now present; this infection would need antibiotics to help clear. Even if the eye discharge stays clear, if it is not improving or worsens at any time I would also recommend examining the kitten as there are many other things which can cause red eyes such as corneal scratches or ulcers.
Question: My 10 year old dog seemed sore after a walk and is now limping on the left hind leg. I gave him an aspirin the last 2 days, is this something I can continue for her arthritis?
Answer: It has been thought over the years that dogs can tolerate and should be given aspirin for pain. In recent years it has been shown that even one microscopic dose of aspirin can cause ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding. Once in their system, aspirin is slowly excreted causing it to linger for almost 7 days. Aspirin cannot be combined with many other pain medications that we tend to prescribe. For arthritis in pets, I strongly recommend scheduling a consultation appointment where we assess the source of pain and get the pet started on safer medications. These medications may often be used in conjunction with other joint supplements so we can provide maximum comfort levels while minimizing the risks of long term effects to overall health. In addition to these items, ice and rest do wonders to alleviate some mild cases of discomfort.
If you think that your pet is experiencing discomfort from arthritis or another reason, give your vet a call and discuss options prior to administering anything from home.
Question: I just got a new puppy! I’m thinking about having her spayed, but I’m very nervous about the procedure. When is the best time to have it done? Someone told me to wait until she is at least one year old or even let her have a litter of puppies first. They said that waiting will help calm her down. Will she get fat after surgery? What should I do?
Answer: That is a great question! There are lots of good reasons to have your new pet spayed. Here are my top five:
1. Help control the pet over-population. There are many unwanted dogs out there due to “accidental” litters.
2. Help prevent “pyometra” or uterine infections. These infections can be fatal without intervention in the form of costly emergency surgery and medical therapy.
3. Prevent certain types of cancer (such as mammary cancer) later in life. Having your pet spayed before her first heat cycle reduces the risk of these types of cancer by 93%! If you wait until after the first heat cycle, but before the second heat cycle, the risk is still reduced by 75%.
4. Younger animals heal more quickly after surgery and have fewer complications.
5. Spaying can actually have positive behavior benefits. Females that are not spayed can have more erratic, aggressive or moody behaviors. These can occur especially around the time of her heat cycles.
It is important to remember that spaying and neutering your pet may slightly decrease their natural metabolism. Weight gain can be avoided by regular exercise and close monitoring of their diet.
In conclusion, we recommend spaying (and neutering) your pets between 4 and 6 months of age. Pipestone Veterinary Services thoroughly examines all of our patients immediately prior to surgery, and use the safest anesthetic drugs and monitoring techniques. We also recommend blood-work that will check for any conditions that may put your pet more as risk for going under anesthesia. All of these things will help minimize her risk to the lowest possible level. Don’t hesitate to ask your vet what their normal procedures are.
Question: Do I really need to have my cats teeth checked and cleaned yearly? He seems to be eating fine!
Answer: Without question, it is very important to have your cat’s teeth cleaned yearly! Most cats do not allow us to do a complete oral exam like when we go to the dentist. Therefore, performing a yearly dental allows us to address any oral abnormalities that may be causing your cat pain. Cats can develop various oral abnormalities at any given time including stomatitis, Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions (FORL), pathologic jaw fractures, fractured teeth, tumors, etc…. Cats are very stoic animals and majority of the time they do not stop eating because of mouth pain which makes it difficult to know if your animal is hurting. This is why it’s essential to have a dentistry done yearly!
Question: My 5 month old lab puppy was just biting at a bee outside a few minutes ago. Now his lips and nose are really swollen. Do we need to do something?
Answer: Your pet is experiencing an allergic reaction to a bee sting. Most reactions to stings will cause some amount of facial swelling, but in severe cases the reaction can lead to respiratory distress or difficulty breathing. If you suspect your pet is having a reaction you can give 1mg per pound of Benadryl (25mg for a 25 pound dog) at home. If the Benadryl doesn’t control the swelling, if the swelling is severe, or if your pet is painful or having difficulty breathing, it is time for an emergency trip to your veterinarian. A shot of steroid will quickly stop even a severe reaction. Prompt treatment for allergic reactions is very effective in preventing any serious complications.
Q: Is chocolate really toxic to my dog? My lab ate a Cadbury egg yesterday and nothing happened.
A: Yes, chocolate is harmful for your pet to eat. The compound that makes it toxic is called theobromine. Theobromine is in all chocolate, but varies in amount depending on the type of chocolate. Milk chocolate has some of the least amounts, while baking chocolate and dark chocolate have the highest amounts. Dogs can not metabolize theobromine the same way that humans can.
The level of toxicity depend on the weight of your dog, the amount they eat, and the type of chocolate that they eat. When your pet eats chocolate, it is best to call your veterinarian right away. Calculations can be done to find out if your pet has eaten too much. Even if not at a toxic level, any amount of chocolate can give your pet an upset stomach and can lead to vomiting and diarrhea, and even pancreatitis. If the amount of chocolate is toxic, your pet can have an elevated heart rate and can even start having seizures and can potentially die as a result. Treatment needs to be started immediately for these pets that eat toxic amounts. Treatment can include induction of vomiting, IV fluids, and administration of charcoal to help bind the theobromine and prevent absorption.
Your lab is probably big enough that the amount of theobromine in the Cadbury egg not enough to cause a toxicity problem, but we recommend you continue to monitor for vomiting and diarrhea. It is still best to keep all chocolate out of reach of your pets at all times.
If you’ve ever lost your pet, you know that terrible feeling at the pit of your stomach that you’ll never see them again. Pet parents find themselves running around plastering posters all over the neighborhood to no avail. Micro chipping is the best way to make sure your pet makes their way back home. A microchip is a permanent identification that can be placed in your pets. If your pet gets lost and is taken to an animal shelter or veterinarian, they will scan the microchip to read its unique dog or cat ID code. And the best part, it’s affordable!
It may sound “high-tech,” but dog and cat micro chipping is a simple procedure. A veterinarian simply injects the microchip (which is about the size of a grain of rice,) beneath the surface of your pet’s skin between the shoulder blades. The process only takes a few seconds, and is similar to a routine shot. Bonus: no anesthetic is required! Call your Veterinarian today to discuss getting a micro chip for your furry friend.
I thought I would email you to see if you could give me any suggestions on Bandit, our 4 year old Blue Heeler. Since we have had some nice warmer days recently; we have let bandit be outside running through the fields and playing down by the river. We have noticed that he doesn’t want to swim this season and when we play fetch with him he coughs some and doesn’t want to play as long as he normally does. This really concerns me since it seems like it has happened all of the sudden.
It sounds like Bandit may be having a problem with his heart. These symptoms you list of decreased exercise tolerance and coughing are commonly seen with Heart Disease and Heartworms. Although it seems like this is an acute problem if Bandit has been in the house with you all winter this problem has probably been building, but you are just now noticing it as his exercise level returns to normal.
I believe you should bring Bandit in right away for an examination and testing. We will perform a heartworm test to see if he has heartworms and may do a radiograph of his chest to evaluate his heart as well. Prevention should be given year round without interruption. Your proximity to the river is concerning as Heartworms are contracted through mosquito bites. You do not have to live next to a river to contract heartworms though. A mosquito may carry heartworms at anytime and may live through a winter if they are able to hide in warm areas, especially in urban regions.
If you have left over heartworm prevention from last year please do not start it until we test Bandit as giving prevention to a dog carrying a large burden of heartworms can be fatal to him. Please call us to schedule Bandit’s appointment at your earliest convenience.
Question: My cat is vomiting all the time and losing weight. I think he may have hairballs, what is the best hairball remedy?
Answer: Is your cat’s hacking getting the best of you? There are many hairball remedies on the market. Some of these remedies work great, others not so much. Laxatone is a supplement which can be given to help lubricate the hairball and move it through the intestinal tract. Using Laxatone generously during an actual hairball episode can help to move the obstruction. Often this takes several teaspoons rather than just a small squeeze. Hairball treats are also marketed, often these require too many to be effective. Many cat food companies also make hairball foods which certainly can keep the number of vomiting episodes down in many of our cats.
The part of your question which concerns me is that you mentioned weight loss. Usually cats do not lose weight with hairballs unless significant or severe. I would recommend trying the hairball remedies first, but if it is not helping, bring your cat into your vet for a check-up. Diagnostic testing such as blood work and x-rays are sometimes needed to help find the answer to the vomiting. Diseases such as thyroid disease, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease or food allergies can all cause vomiting in cats and are often accompanied by weight loss. If you cat is eating things around the house- hair bands, string, toys/stuffing, the vomiting could indicate a blockage, either partial or complete, and the cat should be seen immediately.
Question: I want to make my own dog treats, what ingredients do I need to avoid?
Answer: With all of the treat recalls of recent years, many people have gone to making their own treats. There are many recipe books specifically designed for homemade dog treats. We would hope that the authors would research the ingredients prior to publishing, but it is better to check out the recipe yourself. The main ingredients to avoid in the treats would be grapes, raisins, garlic, onion, chocolate, and macadamia nuts. These ingredients are the main toxic human foods. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure, however the quantity of ingestion is not known. Onions and garlic, while mythically said to keep away fleas, can cause the red blood cells within the blood stream to burst and not be able to carry oxygen. Chocolate has different degrees of cocoa which contains theobromine. This component can cause changes to the heart rate and rhythm which can be deadly in high quantities. Finally macadamia nuts can cause hind limb weakness and ataxia (incoordination) even in small quantities.
Don’t let this list of dog treat don’ts scare you though! There are plenty of healthy and delicious homemade dog treat recipes you can try for your pet! They look so delicious, I don’t know if they would ever make it into the dog bowl!
If you ever have questions about these or any ingredients, feel free to give your vet a call, or visit our website at www.pipevet.com.
Question: “Doc, my 9 month old lab puppy just ate some garbage out of the trash this morning. Since then he vomited three times. What should I do?”
Answer: As with any medical condition, we would be happy to perform an exam at any time, especially if the pet is vomiting severely or becoming dehydrated or lethargic. However, many of these episodes of vomiting are caused by gastritis, an inflammation of the lining of the stomach caused by eating something unusual. Most episodes of gastritis end on their own after a few hours if all food and treats are taken away. So the best thing you can do for your vomiting pet at home is to take away all food and treats for around 12 hours. It is important to continue to let your pet drink water though to prevent dehydration. If after 12 hours your pet seems normal, happy, and has stopped vomiting, it is time to try a little food. If your pet can keep that food down and continues to act normally, you probably just survived a minor episode of gastritis. Never hesitate to call your vet though if your pet continues to vomit, if you think your pet ate an object like a sock or toy, if your pet seems painful, or if you have any other concerns regarding your vomiting pet.
For this edition, I am going to cover some of the most commonly asked questions while in the exam room.
Question: I think my dog has worms. I caught him scooting on his bottom the other day. How do we treat him?
Answer: Often times when a dog is seen scooting, all it indicates is some kind of irritation of the rectum. The most common cause of this irritation is full anal glands (scent marking glands). The scooting is a way for the dog to try to release these glands by applying pressure to them. Other reasons for scooting could include allergies, feces stuck to the rectum, or potentially parasites. A good history and examination of the anal glands can help to differentiate the causes of the scooting.
Question: My dog’s nose is wet/dry/hot/cold. What does this mean?
Answer: The nature of a dog’s nose being wet or dry, hot or cold is all a fairly good wives tale. The temperature of a dog’s nose is not a good indicator of a fever or overall wellness. If you think that there may be a fever, a rectal temperature should be taken. A normal temperature for dogs and cats range from 99.5F-102.5F. The dog or cat can certainly still be at a normal body temperature of 101F or 102F and feel hot to a human’s sense of touch.
Questions: Why do cats spray? How do I stop it?
Answer: First and foremost, one must differentiate if the cat is spraying (also called marking) or having inappropriate elimination. This differentiation is extremely important in order to diagnose the correct cause and administer the appropriate treatment. Urine marking consists of the cat standing with the tail up and twitching and usually has an underlying anxiety component such as moving to a new house. Where inappropriate elimination consists of the cat squatting to urinate and is due to either medical abnormalities like a urinary tract infection or undesired environmental factors like a dirty litter box. One must understand that urine marking is NORMAL feline communication and that the cat does not know it is undesirable to the owner therefore, punishment is NEVER acceptable in any circumstance! Thankfully, treatment is available and consists of environmental modification and/or pharmacological treatment which may include antibiotics or anti-anxiety medications. The sooner that treatment is initiated, the greater likelihood we have a chance to stop the inappropriate behavior.
Did you know, despite what we think, that cats NEVER purposely urinate in inappropriate places just to spite us. If you think about it, cats can’t talk! That’s no news to anyone! So they must communicate in a different way to let us know something is not quite right.
Cats don’t realize that urinating in places other than the litterbox is undesirable to us humans, but what they do know is something has made the litterbox unpleasant. Whether it’s behavioral or medical, both are treatable conditions! Behavioral conditions can include simple little changes that we many times don’t realize how stressful it can be to a cat. Such stressors include adding a new pet to the family, buying a different brand of litter or not having enough litterboxes available. Medical conditions include urinary tract infections, bladder stones, and so on. Without question, always, ALWAYS consult your veterinarian in times like this. We are more than happy to help in any way we can to make living with your pet enjoyable!
Question: My dog gets really nervous when he rides in the car, and often throws up. What can I do to keep this from happening?
Answer: Your dog might actually be getting car sick, or he may have anxiety about riding in the car.
Try to ease your dog into the “car” experience. You can start by getting in the car with your dog, but not starting it. Sit in the car with your pet for a few minutes, and reward them if they are calm. Try this a few times. Next, get in the car with your dog, start the car, but do not go anywhere. Again, reward your dog with praise! Finally, drive a short distance, continuing to reward your pet while they are calm. Little by little, increase the distance that you drive. It helps to make riding in the car an enjoyable experience. Go for a ride to the park or to visit a doggie friend! Try to make sure that not every trip in the car with your dog ends up with a visit to your vet clinic.
If the vomiting still seems to be an issue, it may be car sickness or motion sickness. To avoid a potential mess, it is best to withhold food from your dog at least 3-4 hours prior to going in the car. There are medications that can be prescribed if this is the case. Always contact your vet if you have concerns of questions.
These are heartworms that have been removed from a dogs heart. Not a pretty sight!
Heartworm disease is a serious condition caused by worms living in the arteries of the lungs and occasionally in the right side of the heart. Did you know that dogs and cats of any age or breed are susceptible to infection?
Ready to get a little nerdy? Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes that become infected while taking a blood meal from an infected dog. When the mosquito then bites another dog or cat (like your pet,) larvae are deposited on the skin. The larvae then take a 2 month road trip through the connective tissue, under the skin, then pass into the animal’s blood stream and are quickly transported to the arteries of the lung. It takes a total of approximately six months for the infective larvae to mature into adult worms that begin producing offspring. Adult heartworms can live for five to seven years in the dog.
The consequence of these worms residing in the dog is the development of problems with their lungs and heart, like heart failure. Many dogs do not show any signs of heartworm disease until the disease is in advanced stages. It is important to test dogs on a regular basis in order to catch the disease before it gets to that point. The American Heartworm Society encourages testing on an annual basis. When was the last time your pets were tested for heartworms?
Don’t let your pets heartworm end up in your heartache! It is very easy to prevent heartworm disease. It can be as simple as giving your dog a tablet once a month all year round. There are topical forms of the medication as well. Call you vet to discuss the options for your pet.
Question: My kitten has started meowing incessantly within the last few weeks. I also caught her urinating on the wall during one of these episodes. She is only 6 months old, do you think she has a urinary tract infection or could she be going into heat? Kris
Answer: Kris, the likely answer to your question is that your kitten is going through a heat cycle. Cats go through a heat (estrus) cycle around 6 months of age. Cats are induced ovulators which means that they will continue to go through heat cycles until bred. Urinating on vertical surfaces often is a visible sign of urine marking, her way of signaling for a mate. I would recommend that a vet take a look at her to be certain that there is not a more serious problem occurring. Once a normal physical exam is completed, you could get her scheduled for a spay. Often spaying is all that is needed to eliminate the urine marking, but should it continue to occur then we need to look at other methods of behavioral control. Be certain to clean the marked area with an enzymatic cleaner which breaks down the urine molecule thus eliminating odor and the urge to remark. If a standard household cleaner is used, the scent will fade but not be completely eliminated and the animal will often remark the area. If this inappropriate urination behavior continues- the sooner you address the problem, the easier it may be to correct.