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Making the holidays safe for our pets!

The holidays are rapidly approaching once again. I thought I would take a moment to discuss some of the common holiday items that can cause our pets and us some undue stress at this happy time of year.  There are numerous plants and foods that are always a part of this time of year that can cause our pets to become sick, or occasionally, seriously ill. When we talk about something being toxic it is almost always with respect to how much of that substance an animal or person consumes. A small amount may not cause a problem and the signs of toxicity increase with the amount ingested. Therefore, the smaller our pet the more likely there is going to be a problem.  We all know that puppies and kittens explore their new world by putting anything they find directly in their mouth and are more likely to have issues with indiscriminate eating. This column is not written to be a damper on the season or meant to imply that these items need to be completely avoided, rather just a reminder of some of the hidden concerns that we all need to be aware of.

When we think about winter flower arrangements, the first plant that usually comes to mind is Poinsettia.  These plants have a reputation for being extremely toxic, but that is more of an urban legend than truth. They do cause nausea and vomiting if ingested, but are unlikely to cause a life threatening situation. So placed in the proper location, they can still be a part of the holiday decorations.  The plants that need the most concern are mistletoe and any plant in the lily family.  These plants can cause anything from nausea and vomiting to organ failure with the kidneys being most commonly affected. These plants should absolutely be kept in a place where they can have no contact with our pets.  For our readers out there with feline friends, make sure that these items are kept way out of reach.  If you are planning on using live holly with the bright red berries as part of your garland or wreaths be aware that the berries can cause your pet to have increased salivation (drool) but the affects of this are usually self limiting and can be corrected by washing your pets mouth out with tap water.  Live Christmas trees can also cause mild toxicity and there is always the family cat out there that makes the Christmas tree there winter home, so be aware!  The most common signs are similar to the holly berry but if the needles are consumed in large enough quantities they can lead to irritation of the stomach and even blockage of the intestine.

At my house, the holidays are all about eating lots of delicious and savory foods.  While these incredible foods are what makes me and my family happy, they are not well tolerated by our pets. The best way to approach this issue is not to feed our furry friends anything other than their normal dog food.  Our pets do not tolerate changes in their diet very well for the simple reason they are not use to having their diet changed. They eat the same food every day, so when we give them something new it can cause serious issues. Any food that is high in fat is exceptionally bad for our pets. At our hospital we treat countless animals every holiday season because they either helped themselves to the Thanksgiving spread or were given left overs as a “special treat”. The most common signs that we see related to eating human food are vomiting and diarrhea, but the illness can develop into a very serious and even life threatening situation. I know it’s hard to resist those loving eyes as they stare at you begging for that last piece of ham or turkey, but the potential consequences are not worth the risk.

If your pets start to show any of these clinical signs, you should contact your veterinarian immediately. There are very few over-the-counter medications that are safe to give our pets, so it is always best to get medical advice before treating your pet yourself.  I hope that everyone and their pets have a happy and safe holiday season. If anyone has any questions or topics they would like discussed, feel free to contact us at www.argylevet.com.

 

Ryan Royse DVM
Argyle Veterinary Hospital

 

Argyle Veterinary Hospital

What’s In a Blood Test?

Article courtesy of : The Horse

  • By The Horse Staff, Oct 09, 2013, Topics: Vital Signs & Physical Exam

 

Red blood cells, white blood cells, serum, platelets … let’s face it, veterinarians look for a lot of things when they run a blood test on your horse.

Called a combined complete blood count/chemistry profile, or CBC for short, this test’s results show what’s happening in the horse’s bloodstream at the moment the sample is drawn. While they can’t produce a perfect report stating that your horse has disease X and needs treatment Y, the various numbers, shapes, and sizes of the blood components can tell the clinician the horse is possibly anemic, losing blood, or fighting an infection or an immune-mediated disease.

Because all these figures and indicators are confusing, we’ve taken a visual route of describing a typical blood test and what its results might mean for your horse.

 

Click here to view this article and similar articles from The Horse

Therapy Lasers Improve Patient Care

Therapy Lasers Improve Patient Care

By Somyr McLean Perry
For Veterinary Practice News

 

Therapeutic lasers’ popularity continues to grow as pet owners seek out alternative healing and pain control techniques for their animals, laser therapy manufacturers say.

Kristen Grady, director of sales for Grady Medical Systems of Temecula, Calif., said that while it’s difficult to estimate, about 10 percent of clinics practice with laser light therapy, in general.

And approximately 5,000 Class IV laser machines have been purchased in the veterinary market in just the last three years, said Phil Harrington, DC, CMLSO, manager of training and clinical support for K-Laser USA of Franklin, Tenn.

It’s interesting to note that although some specialty clinics and certain universities are investing in the modality, most clinics adding therapeutic laser therapy to their regimens are general practices.

“These clinics are seeing wounds, dermatology cases and animals experiencing osteoarthritic pain—all conditions the laser can greatly improve,” said Grady. “The use of the laser can also be tied in to post-operative healing. For these reasons, laser is definitely not just for specialty hospitals.”

Carl Bennett, marketing director for Companion Therapy Laser by Lite Cure based in Newark, Del., and James D. Shanks, veterinary director at Erchonia Corp. of  McKinney, Texas, agree.

“The great thing about therapeutic laser technology is it allows you to increase your outcomes, provide alternative forms of therapy, allow more flexibly to your practice and increase patient referrals,” Shanks said.

“Any practices that see patients for whom they would like to speed healing, reduce pain or inflammation, or have a drug-free alternative for treating acute or chronic conditions” will benefit in patient care, Bennett said.

 

Preventing Gastric Ulcers in Horses

Preventing Gastric Ulcers

Gastric ulcers can affect upwards of two-thirds of all performance horses and can cause weight loss, colic, and poor performance. Ulcerogenic factors identified include low-forage diets, intense/increased exercise, high-concentrate diets, regular/prolonged transport, feeding at intervals, management/housing changes, water deprivation, weaning, moving to a new home, and prolonged stabling. Prevention is therefore key to keeping your horse healthy and at the top of his game. The most effective prevention strategy involves a comprehensive combination of feeding, management, and pharmacologic approaches.

By understanding the physiology of horses’ gastrointestinal systems, we can feed them in a manner that reduces their likelihood of developing gastrointestinal problems including gastric ulcers. Horses are by nature continuous grazers that eat coarse grasses 16 to 18 hours a day in natural settings. However, many performance horses have significantly restricted grazing access and often require additional caloric supplementation to meet their energy requirements.

This predisposes these horses to ulcer development. Feeding strategies veterinarians recommend to decrease ulcer incidence include allowing free access to or long periods of grazing; providing constant hay access during periods of confinement longer than six hours; using restrictor/slow feeders to promote “foraging” and saliva production; feeding frequent small grain concentrate meals; replacing simple carbohydrate calories with fats and fiber-based diets; offering alfalfa hay/cubes/pellets; and providing continual access to clean, fresh water. Of these feeding practices, maximizing consistent daytime fiber intake and providing free water access are the most important.

When used as part of a comprehensive approach, some oral supplements might be beneficial when administered longterm. Administration recommendations are directed at maximizing their effect (for example, when they are fed relative to known periods of gastric hyperacidity), but the scientific evidence of their efficacy is sparse, so ask manufacturers for published evidence before purchasing.

Minimizing stress relative to housing, common routines, and transport may also be beneficial. Horses housed permanently on pasture with light exercise are six times less likely to get ulcers than stalled, moderately exercising horses, and horses with constant access to forage are four times less likely to get ulcers.

Minimizing changes in routine and applying stereotypy-reducing strategies—particularly in young horses—may be beneficial, as these behaviors’ development is often associated with ulcers. Researchers have shown that installing mirrors in stalls and trailers can help reduce blood cortisol (stress hormone) levels and potentially lower ulcerogenesis.

Although these feeding and management changes can result in lowered ulcer incidences overall, these practices often cannot overcome the isolated, high-stress, ulcerogenic nature of showing/competing. Many horses in these circumstances benefit from pharmacologic acid reduction prior to and during competition. Owners can administer UlcerGard (omeprazole), the only FDA-approved and scientifically proven ulcer prevention medication in horses, as a once-a-day dose just prior to and during stressful events. Other unapproved medications (i.e., ranitidine) are used with varying success in treating ulcers—often combined with decreases in training/stress—but researchers have not extensively studied doses, dosing intervals, and length of administration for prevention.

The important thing to remember is that not all horses are the same, and they might respond differently to the recommended approaches. Consult your veterinarian when instituting comprehensive feeding, management, and medication programs to maximize your success and to help avoid any unforeseen complications.

 

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Dental health: where overall pet health begins

Dog dental problems are the most common health issue among U.S. pets, affecting at least 70 to 80 percent of dogs.  Problems that develop in the mouth can seriously affect the overall health of pets and could potentially affect quality of life, as well as longevity. That’s why daily dental care plays such an important role in the overall health of your dog.

Recognizing dental problems

A pet’s bad breath can be a sign that dog may be developing dental problems, including the buildup of plaque and tartar. If ignored, many types of dental conditions are not only irreversible, but can eventually result in tooth loss or cause severe health issues.
But how do you know if your dog’s bad breath is more than simply annoying? There are other signs you may notice that could mean a serious dental condition is developing. These include:

  • excessive drooling
  • painful chewing
  • gum discoloration

Dental-Cleaning

 

The power of nutrition: everyday dental health

Tartar control treats offer a temporary fix to help with your pet’s dental health. But taking your pet to the veterinarian for regular cleanings is also recommended. Daily brushing is important, but that can be difficult. Specific dental formulas can provide the everyday feeding solution to help promote your pet’s optimal dental health.

Other ways to manage your pet’s dental health

In addition to regular dental cleanings by your veterinarian, there are many things you can do at home to promote your pet’s dental health. Your pet may benefit further from:

  • daily tooth brushing (using specially formulated toothpastes for pets—ask your veterinarian)
  • chew toys
  • edible chews

Article Courtesy of:  http://www.purinaveterinarydiets.com

Physical Exam of the Horse Hoof

Physical Exam of the Horse Hoof

  • By Erica Larson, News Editor, The Horse,  JUL 21, 2013

Abnormal hoof conformation has become so very common that many horse owners and veterinarians have become “numb” to it. So says Debra Taylor, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM, of Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. But taking some time to become familiar with the healthy hoof can sharpen their ability to readily identify problems that could be contributing to lameness.

During a presentation at the 2013 Western Veterinary Conference, held earlier this year in Las Vegas, Nev., Taylor reviewed healthy hoof conformation characteristics and described some common and potentially function-affecting abnormalities practitioners should watch for during a hoof examination.

Equine Hoof

Hoof Asymmetry—”Although it is not always associated with lameness, asymmetry of the equine hoof should not be overlooked as a possible indication of previous, impending, or chronic lameness,” Taylor said.

Taylor said it’s important to look for asymmetry in the hoof itself and differences between paired limbs. A horse can develop hoof asymmetry as a result of uneven weight bearing caused by a variety of issues, including asymmetrical movement, stance, and tendon tension, along with pain.

Coronary Band—The coronary band is dynamic, Taylor said, and asymmetric weight bearing can influence its shape. She described a healthy coronary band (as viewed from the side) as nearly straight or with a slight upward arch. Often, horses develop one-sided coronary band asymmetry in the heel that is referred to as sheared heels. Horses with sheared heels frequently experience displacement of one hoof quarter along with the heel bulb, and they commonly develop painful conditions such as quarter cracks or thrush.

Veterinarians can use the angle the coronary band forms with the ground to estimate the position of the coffin bone within the hoof capsule. A normal coronary band angle is considered to be about 20° to 25°, Taylor said; if the coronary band angle is greater than 30°, the horse probably has an extremely low or negative palmar/plantar angle (the angle bottom of the coffin bone make with the ground; hooves with an angle of greater than 45° undoubtedly have a negative palmar/plantar angle, she added). Simply put, negative palmar/plantar angles mean the horse’s heel is being crushed.

“At the other extreme, a coronary band parallel to the ground as viewed from the side is indicative for a high palmar angle,” she said, noting this is often seen in laminitic horses or those with a club foot.

The coronary band angle could also indicate other problems within the hoof capsule. Taylor explained that the coronary band angle correlates with the normal forces the coffin joint encounters and the force the deep digital flexor tendon exerts on the navicular bone. For instance, she said, as the coronary band angle increases, the palmar/plantar angle decreases, and both the torque on the coffin joint and the force on the navicular bone increase. These biomechanical forces could initiate or aggravate heel pain, deep digital flexor tendon strain, and/or coffin joint disease.

Additionally, Taylor said, in a healthy hoof, the hair along the coronary band should lie flat on the hoof wall; consider hair pointing in an outward direction an abnormality because it could indicate excessive ground reaction forces on the hoof wall.

Hoof Walls—Healthy hoof walls are smooth; have a light sheen; are free of prominent growth rings; and lack flares, cracks, and bruising, Taylor said.

The presence of prominent growth rings can indicate a number of problems, including reduced blood perfusion in the corium (the hoof’s dermis, or the middle soft tissue layer that connects the coffin bone to the rigid hoof capsule and contains the hoof’s blood supply). resulting from abnormal hoof loading, diet changes, exercise intensity, or systemic disease. Growth rings can also indicate a negative palmar/plantar angle; Taylor said growth rings in these horses are “often wider in the toe region and narrower in the heel region due to uneven blood flow caused by overloading of the heel.”

Chronic and excessive overloading of the hoof wall also can cause flares or cracks, Taylor said.

Hoof wall bruising is indicative of trauma, she said, and bruises can form near the coronary band when ground reaction force pushes the hoof capsule against the coronary region’s vascular (blood vessel-rich) tissue. While some isolated bruises can be caused caused by a single acute event, others—typically seen as a wide band of bruising—are an indication of chronic trauma, such as laminitis, Taylor explained.

Frog—The frog is a “highly dynamic” structure that changes in response to terrain and other hoof demands, Taylor said. A frog’s width should be approximately 50 to 60% of its length, and the portion closest to its apex (point) should be substantial enough to touch the ground when the horse is bearing weight.

“If this portion of the frog does not engage the ground, fibrocartilage in the (rear) of the foot is hypothesized to develop poorly or atrophy, contributing to a weak heel,” she said.

A healthy frog has a shallow central sulcus, wide enough for a ring or index finger to fit, Taylor said. A common frog defect is a contracted (too narrow) central sulcus, which creates an anaerobic (lacking oxygen) environment ideal for thrush development. The central sulcus will remain contracted until the thrush resolves.

“When thrush gets in there, the horse may try to avoid using the back of his foot,” she said, creating a mechanical situation that can predispose the foot to lameness.

Collateral Sulci— When seeking information about potential internal problems, Taylor said, a horse’s collateral sulci (the grooves located adjacent to the frog) can be very telling. The sulci run parallel to and remain a fixed distance from the bottom of the coffin bone in the front half of the hoof and the collateral cartilages in the rear half of the hoof. The sulci should be relatively linear

and shouldn’t undulate in depth. She explained that unlike many other hoof structures, the depth and contour of the collateral sulci aren’t typically altered by hoof care efforts.

In a healthy foot, the distance between the ground and the collateral sulci, where they converge at the apex of the frog, is 10 to 20 millimeters, Taylor said. The coffin bone’s concave solar surface (located on the bottom of the bone, just above the sole of the foot) sits about 10 to 11 millimeters above this point.

There could be problems when the collateral sulci develop a stair-step or undulating shape and become significantly deeper in the heel, Taylor said: This shape, often found on horses with long toes and “underrun” heels, is likely indicative of poor heel development. She recommended veterinarians perform radiographs on hooves with this conformation to evaluate the coffin bone’s position; the palmar/plantar processes of these coffin bones might be dangerously close to the ground, she said. Some veterinarians hypothesize that the negative palmar/plantar angle is associated with lameness in not only the foot but also proximal (higher) portions of the limb.

“This conformation in hind feet may be associated with pain in the hocks, suspensory ligaments, gluteal and lumbar regions,” Taylor said.

Heel Base—Next, Taylor described the heel base, which includes the hoof wall, buttress (the back the part of the hoof that makes initial contact with the ground from a heel-first landing), sole angle (the degree between the coffin bone and a straight horizontal line), and bars. In a healthy hoof, she said, the heel bulbs shouldn’t touch the ground, and the heel tubules should be straight and nearly parallel (within 5°) to the tubules in the toe region. The heel tubules’ most palmar (furthest to the rear) weight bearing surface should be at the base of the frog.

Underrun heels—which can be caused by a variety of issues ranging from a horse’s conformation to improper trimming aand/or shoeing—can lead to an array of problems. “Underrun heels that grow forward towards the widest part of the foot often collapse under the weight of the horse, causing heel tubules to run nearly ground parallel,” Taylor explained. “The bars and the angle of the sole may be crushed, deformed, or injured as a consequence of the severely underrun heel.”

Additionally, Taylor said, researchers have recently postulated that inadequate fibrocartilage development in the digital cushion (a soft tissue structure in the hoof capsule, above the frog) is a precursor to tissue injury and lameness. She recommended practitioners become familiar with what a healthy heel looks and feels like. “A sense of normal can be learned by palpating the digital cushions of sound horses with good feet and comparing those findings with those of horses with poorly conformed feet,” she said.

In a healthy hoof, the combined tissues of the frog and digital cushion should measure about two inches, she said; hooves with combined tissues measuring less that that will likely be predisposed to injury. Underrun or collapsed heels with underdeveloped digital cushions deform easily when you apply thumb pressure, while healthy heels will not give way as readily. Horses with suboptimal digital cushion volume and fibrocartilage usually have either narrow, contracted or wide, thin underrun heels, and they likely are at risk for lameness, she said.

Hoof Sole—The sole surface should be concave, calloused, and about as wide as it is long, measuring 12 to 15 millimeters thick under the distal rim of the coffin bone, she said. A sole with this thickness can effectively protect the coffin bone from trauma. A simple way to predict sole thickness is by placing a ruler (calibrated in millimeters) in the collateral sulci at the apex of the frog, measuring the distance between the deepest part of the sulci and the bottom of the hoof, Taylor explained.

She explained that thin-soled horses have very little or no depth of the collateral sulci at the frog apex. Horses with zero collateral groove depth at the apex of the frog generally have a sole depth of less than 7 millimeters, she said, which can predispose them to sole brusing, subsolar infection, and coffin bone remodeling or rim fractures.

Take-Home Message

While not all abnormally formed hooves contribute to unsoundness, some hoof abnormalities can have potentially function-altering consequences. Taylor relayed that differentiating normal and abnormal is crucial when performing a physical exam of the hoof for both horse owners and veterinarians. “The key is to know what a healthy hoof looks like so when you see an unhealthy one, it’s recognizable,” she concluded.

Thank you guys so much for coming out on such short notice when I was panicked about one of my horses. He turned out to be ok, but I may have had a melt... Read More

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