Pet Care Awareness
Before your veterinary appointment:
- Be sure you know if the veterinarian needs anything special for the appointment, such as samples.
- Make a list of any medications or treatments your dog is receiving.
- Inventory any treatments, such as medications, heart worm pills or flea and tick treatments, so you know if you need a refill.
- Even for a routine checkup, observe your cat or dog closely in the days leading up to the visit. Check ears, eyes and coat for anything unusual. Observe any behavior changes – is your pet moving differently, or not doing things he used to? Any changes to eating or elimination? Ask your veterinarian about anything of note.
- If your visit is for a specific issue or concern, write down any symptoms, when they happened, and any possible triggers. The more detailed the information your veterinarian has about what happens outside the office, the more informed her diagnosis will be.
- And of course, remember to prepare for your pet’s time in the office – even if your pet is calm and well-behaved, this can be a stressful and unpredictable situation for pets. Be sure to have a carrier for your cat or leash for your dog so you can keep waiting-room interactions under control.
Foreign Body Ingestion Threatens Pets
Understanding The Dangers From A Veterinarian’s Perspective
An In-Depth Look with Dr. Ingrid Pyka
Like toddlers, pets have a tendency to chew anything they can get into their mouths. This becomes a serious and potentially life-threatening problem if the objects are swallowed. An animal ingesting a long string or ribbon can develop a linear foreign body which is even more dangerous.
Foreign Body Ingestion Becoming More Common
VPI Pet Insurance reports foreign body ingestion as one of its most common claims, demonstrating the severity of this pet safety issue. In 2007, VPI policyholders filed more than $3.2 million in claims for foreign body ingestion for dogs and cats combined.
Where Do “Foreign Bodies” Get Stuck?
The digestive tract is essentially a long tube, passing food from the mouth, down the esophagus, into the stomach, through the lengthy small intestine, then forming stool in the colon and out the rectum.
It generally takes ingesta (all that is swallowed) from 10-24 hours to move through the entire digestive tract. Some objects, however, can actually remain in the stomach for longer periods of time, even months.
When objects are too large to pass, they usually obstruct at the stomach outflow or within the small intestine itself. With linear foreign bodies, the continual movement of the intestinal tract can literally bunch the intestines into an accordion-like mass.
If the foreign body has managed to move to the colon, it will probably successfully pass. But, defecating a sharp object may prove painful and may even need veterinary assistance. Never pull protruding objects from your pet’s rectum. If it is still lodged inside, you can cause serious damage to the internal tissues.
Symptoms of Foreign Body Ingestion
Animals with ingested foreign bodies generally do not feel well. They often stop eating and/or act depressed. Initially, some cases with intestinal foreign bodies may have diarrhea.
Most patients with digestive foreign bodies exhibit vomiting. If the object has not fully clogged the digestive tract, the vomiting may be intermittent. But with a complete blockage, the dog or cat will be unable to keep anything down, including liquids. The longer the blockage lasts, the more critical the animal’s condition becomes.
Dogs and cats maintain no more than a toddler’s level of sense for their entire lives. Certainly some have a stronger tendency to swallow foreign objects, but all have the potential.
How to Diagnose Foreign Body Ingestion
In any medical issue, the first step is an examination by your veterinarian. Sometimes, feeling the abdomen may be enough to diagnose an obstruction.
If your veterinarian suspects an intestinal foreign body, he or she will probably recommend x-rays. Though a cloth or plastic object might not be obviously visible, anything metal, rock, or bone will be seen on the x-ray.
In a complete obstruction, the radiograph might reveal the tell-tale ballooning intestines at the blockage, similar to the pressurized, tied-off water hose seen in cartoons. Linear obstructive patterns also may be detectable.
Despite having clinical signs, however, the intestines may not have enough changes at the time of initial radiographs to diagnose the intestinal blockage. These patients may require repeat x-rays or a contrast study. This may not be an option if the patient is not stable or is actively vomiting.
In contrast films, the patient is given a contrast agent to swallow and a series of x-rays are taken over several hours. These monitor whether the contrast material moves through the intestines in a normal period of time, or, if it lingers or even stops at a certain point.
Sometimes an ultrasound can also help in finding obstructions in the stomach or intestines.
More difficult obstructive cases may not be diagnosable with imaging. Based on the history, symptoms, condition of the patient, and test results, the veterinarian may even recommend an exploratory surgery to find the suspected obstruction.
The Disastrous Cascade
If an intestinal obstruction has occurred, the dog or cat’s condition will decline. Repeated vomiting causes dehydration and electrolyte loss. This can severely weaken the patient.
The effect of the object on the gastrointestinal tract itself will also prove devastating to the body. The pressure of the foreign body against the intestinal wall together with the continued stretching or bunching of the intestines result in poor blood circulation to the tissues. This ultimately causes necrosis (dying off) of those tissues. In addition to being extremely painful, toxic enzymes release into the blood stream, initiating shock.
Eventually, the intestinal wall may break down and perforate (develop a hole). Once this occurs, the acidic and bacterial-contaminated intestinal contents leak into the abdomen. This results in peritonitis (infection of the abdominal space) and sepsis (infection of the bloodstream).
At this point, the patient is very critical. Without intensive intervention, this animal will die. With treatment, such patients can recover. Even the best of efforts, however, some may not survive.
Treating Foreign Body Ingestion
The patient must first be stabilized with IV fluids/electrolytes, pain control, and, if appropriate – antibiotic therapy. Blood tests help guide the veterinarian in assessing the pet’s status and addressing his or her needs.
If lucky, the animal may still have the object in the stomach. On occasion, vomiting does actually produce the offending item.
Some foreign bodies in the stomach may be removable with an endoscope. This approach uses a long fiber optic tube via the mouth, potentially allowing the veterinarian to retrieve the object without surgery.
Unfortunately, once the article lodges in the intestine, only abdominal surgery can remove it.
After removal of the foreign body, the patient will need a period of hospitalization for continued monitoring and recuperation. Critical patients may require intensive care for several days after the surgical procedure. These are NOT patients to treat conservatively.
Keeping Your Pet Safe
Dogs and cats maintain no more than a toddler’s level of sense for their entire lives. Certainly some have a stronger tendency to swallow foreign objects, but all have the potential.
Monitor your pet’s habits. Especially with puppies and kittens, keep small swallowable items picked up and out of their way. Discuss with your veterinarian appropriately sized chew toys, considering ALL the pets in your home.
Examine all chew toys and stuffed animals you offer your pets for small pieces that may be chewed off and eaten. Monitor the toys for damage. Discard any smaller remnants. Never leave strings or ribbons within reach of your pets – especially cats.
If you suspect that your pet has swallowed a foreign body, call your veterinarian immediately. If your pet exhibits signs suspicious of foreign body ingestion, your veterinarian will guide you in the best diagnostic approach at the time.
The sooner your pet receives medical attention, the better his or her chances of full recovery with fewer complications.
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Equine Infectious Anemia – Jul 17th, 06
A Bayer HealthCare Animal Health brochure
Equine Infectious Anemia: The Only Protection is Prevention
Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) is a disease that threatens the world’s horse, donkey and mule populations. Despite testing and measures to eradicate the equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV), more than 500 new cases are identified each year in the U.S. There is no cure for EIA. Although most infected horses show no symptoms, they remain contagious for life, endangering the health of other horses. For this reason, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA, www.usda.gov ) and state animal health regulatory agencies require euthanasia or strict lifelong quarantine for horses testing positive for EIAV.
Equine infectious anemia is a potentially fatal viral disease. EIAV reproduces in white blood cells that circulate throughout the body. The immune system, via antibodies, may attack and destroy red blood cells, leading to anemia. Inflammation associated with the viral infection may damage vital organs, such as bone marrow, liver, heart and kidney. Secondary infections (e.g. pneumonia) may occur due to subsequent immunosupression. EIAV-infected horses may die from the direct effects of the virus or from secondary infections. EIA generally has three forms:
• Acute: Seen within one to two weeks after the horse’s first exposure to the virus, this phase is the most detrimental. It may be difficult to accurately diagnose acutely infected horses, as antibodies are not immediately produced and anemia is not present at this stage. However, the virus is active, multiplying and damaging the immune system and other organ systems.
• Chronic: If the horse survives the acute phase, a subacute or chronic phase may occur. The classic signs of EIA, such as fever, depression, weight loss, anemia and petechial (pinpoint sized) hemorrhages on the mucous membranes, are most likely seen in this phase. Repeated flare-ups of clinical signs often occur. Such episodes are seen with recrudescence of the virus and viremia (virus present in the bloodstream) during periods of stress or the administration of corticosteriods.
• Inapparent: Over time, the periodic episodes decrease in severity and frequency. Within a one-year period many horses begin to control the infection and show no clinical signs. These inapparent carriers are infected for life and may be a source of infection for other horses
EIAV is transmitted by blood or by in-utero passage from mare to foal. Blood transmission can occur via blood-sucking insects, such as horse flies, deer flies and mosquitoes. The virus is carried in the residual blood on the insect’s mouthparts as it travels from one horse to the next. Transmission may also occur via blood transfusion or blood-contaminated needles and instruments. The virus may also be found in semen and milk. EIA is also known as “swamp fever” because the disease has been associated with warm, wet regions, but the disease is not limited by geography. States reporting the highest incidence of EIA (2001 data) include: Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, South Dakota, Mississippi, Minnesota, Michigan, Alabama and Florida.
EIA may be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are not specific and may vary from horse to horse. Additionally, individuals may demonstrate no obvious signs (inapparent carriers). Signs may include one or more of the following:
• Fever (temperature may even exceed 105 degrees F)
• Mucosal petechial hemorrhages
• Decreased platelet numbers (thrombocytopenia)
• Decreased red blood cell numbers (anemia)
• Swelling of legs, lower chest and abdomen (edema)
• Decreased appetite (anorexia)
• Fatigue, reduced stamina or weakness
• Rapid breathing
• Rapid weight loss
• Nasal bleeding (epistaxis)
• Pale or yellowish (icteric) mucous membranes
• Irregular heartbeat and/or weak pulse
THE COGGINS (AGID) and C-ELISA TESTS
The only way to accurately determine whether a horse is infected with the EIA virus is by identifying antibodies in the blood via agar gel immunodiffusion (AGID) or competitive enzyme linked immunoadsorbent assay (C-ELISA) tests. The AGID method is considered the “gold standard” and is commonly known as the Coggins test. This test was developed 25 years ago by veterinary researcher Dr. Leroy Coggins. A negative Coggins test means there are no detectable antibodies at the time of testing. A positive test indicates the horse is infected and a carrier of the virus. C-ELISA tests offer the advantage of rapid results. However, false-positive results are more common with the C-ELISA tests and positive results should be verified by a standard Coggins (AGID) test. Foals may be false positive due to maternal antibodies passed via colostrum for as long as six months with either test.
FEDERAL & STATE REGULATIONS
The USDA requires that horses being imported from foreign countries have a negative AGID EIAV test. Within the U.S., each state drafts its own specific requirements regarding EIAV and the movement of horses interstate, intrastate and in change of ownership. Learn what is required in your state and states you will be visiting. Be aware that laboratory results take time and plan to have your horse tested in time to get results before you must transport your horse. By law, EIA is a reportable disease. All positive cases must be filed with the state veterinarians and the federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS, www.aphis.usda.gov).
There are management and geographic factors that put horses at greater risk for contracting EIA. These include:
• Close proximity to regions where EIA outbreaks have been identified.
• Stabling or pasture environments that have a steady influx of new horses, especially if negative Coggins certificates are not required.
• Exposure to horses at shows, sales or events, especially where stringent health care regulations are not enforced and verification of a current negative Coggins test is not required.
• Pasturing horses in swampy areas and in areas where all horses have not been regularly tested for EIA.
THE ONLY PROTECTION IS PREVENTION
There is no effective treatment for EIA. There is no vaccine to prevent it. There is no cure. However, good management can reduce the potential of infection. The following guidelines will help:
• Use disposable needles and syringes (one per horse) when administering vaccines and medications.
• Test all horses for EIA at least annually.
• Test horses at the time of purchase examination.
• Stable owners, horse show and event managers should require and verify current negative Coggins certificates for all horses entering the premises.
• All stable areas should be kept clean, dry and waste-free. Good pasture management techniques should also be practiced. Remove manure and provide adequate drainage to discourage breeding sites for pests.
• Horses that are at greater risk (such as animals who are in frequent contact with outside horses or who live or travel in geographic regions known for EIA outbreaks) should be tested more frequently, ideally every four to six months.
If your horse tests positive for EIAV, your options are extremely limited. Federal and state health agencies, as well as the American Association of Equine Practitioners, support euthanasia as the most prudent, albeit emotionally difficult, option. Lifelong quarantine in a screened stall is another, less acceptable alternative. EIAV-positive horses will always pose an unnecessary health risk to other horses, whether or not they show signs of illness. Even in the best management situations, blood-sucking insects cannot be totally controlled or eliminated. The only way to eradicate the disease is to eliminate the carriers. Horses testing positive for EIAV are required by law to be permanently identified via branding or tattooing and be quarantined. Transportation and housing are severely restricted. You should contact your state animal health agency for specific requirements. Owners who choose quarantine must post signs clearly stating: “Quarantined: Equine Infectious Anemia” or “Swamp Fever.” Horses should be quarantined at least 200 yards away from all other animals.
CONTINUED VIGILANCE NEEDED
Stopping the spread of EIAV is everyone’s responsibility. If you suspect a horse has EIA, call your veterinarian or state animal health agency immediately. They can assess the animal and initiate the required tests. Owner compliance with EIAV testing and the destruction of most known reactors has aided in a marked decline in EIA cases in the last 20 years. Today less than one percent of the 1 million horses tested annually are found to be carriers. But with an estimated 6.6 million horses in the U.S., more widespread screening is needed. Even backyard horses that never leave the property will benefit. By having your horse tested, you will be doing yourself and the entire equine industry a favor. The cost is minimal and the price well worth the peace of mind.
Click here to view this article and more from the AAEP
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Maintaining Hydration in Horses: The Roles of Water and Salt
By Mary Beth Gordon, PhD • Jun 03, 2013 • Article #31985
The old adage is accurate: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” That’s especially true for severely dehydrated horses in medical crisis. But there are ways to keep your horse well-hydrated from the start and avoid these potentially dangerous scenarios.
First, provide fresh, clean water in clean troughs or buckets at all times. Check frequently for dirt, debris, manure, dead animals, or other contaminants. (These truly are deterrents: I have seen horses dehydrated and colicking in a paddock because they would not drink water from a trough with a dead opossum in it.) Scrubbing dirty troughs and buckets and refilling them is part of the nitty-gritty of horse keeping–don’t overlook this important first step.
In cold weather horses drink less water, especially if the water is cold as ice (or literally is ice). Warm up the water in the wintertime by regularly adding hot water or by using bucket or trough heaters. Studies have shown that horses prefer drinking water that is around 50°F.
On the other hand, horses drink more water in hot and/or humid weather conditions, especially if they have been exercising and sweating. Horses’ water intake can double under these circumstances, so make sure they have enough fresh, clean water; refilling water receptacles frequently or add buckets/troughs as necessary to account for this increase in water intake.
Next, make sure your horse’s diet is meeting his sodium requirements; correct sodium balance in the horse is necessary for proper thirst response and body water equilibrium. There are multiple ways to provide salt to your horse. Salt blocks or salt licks are an affordable and convenient approach. However, researchers have shown that individual intake of salt from these blocks is highly variable, and horses might not consume enough salt from these sources to meet their daily sodium requirements, especially if they are exercising and sweating regularly.
Offering plain, loose table salt free-choice or along with daily concentrate meals is another way to supplement sodium in a ration. This is also relatively convenient and inexpensive, but it’s important to consider these points when choosing this option as well: Top-dressing large quantities of salt can lead to inconsistent intake (some horses can sort salt from the feed with their lips, leaving the supplement uneaten) or palatability problems (top-dressed salt can reduce feed consumption because some horses might not like the taste).
Additionally, researchers at Oklahoma State University showed that feeding repeated daily doses of electrolytes (which are compounds typically used in a similar fashion to salt, usually containing sodium, potassium, and chloride) correlated with an exacerbation of gastric ulcers. If you have a horse prone to ulcers, discuss the type and amount of salt or electrolytes you feed with your veterinarian to help prevent additional damage.
At this point, you might be wondering, “Do I need to supplement at all? Doesn’t my feed and hay cover the sodium requirements for my horse?” And this is a great question, to which the answer is: Maybe. Sodium content varies widely among hays—with most offering low amounts—and horse owners should not rely on hay for meeting horses’ sodium requirements. Commercial concentrate feeds usually contain some sodium, typically as added salt at 0.1 to 1.0%. This might be enough for some horses at rest, in addition to their hay, but once horses begin exercising and sweating, sodium requirements must be met with supplementation. In these cases, provide salt or seek a product that offers sodium in sufficient amounts to meet body hydration requirements and maintain thirst response while, importantly, retaining palatability.
In conclusion, it’s simple to keep your horse hydrated if you follow some simple steps: Provide plenty of clean, fresh water and ensure horses’ diets meet their sodium requirements. If concerns arise about a horse’s hydration or sodium status, contact a veterinarian or equine nutritionist for further advice.
Seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian before proceeding with any diagnosis, treatment, or therapy.
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Trifexis® (spinosad + milbemycin oxime) for Dogs:
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is Trifexis?
Trifexis is a monthly chewable tablet for dogs. Trifexis kills fleas and prevents flea infestations, treats and controls hookworms, whipworms and roundworms, and prevents heartworm disease. Trifexis is for use in dogs and puppies 8 weeks of age or older and 5 pounds of body weight or greater.
Q: Should I give Trifexis each month all year round?
The doctors at Argyle Veterinary Hospital recommend giving Trifexis each month all year round. Due to the warm climate of North Texas, mosquitoes are present throughout the entire year.
Q: Will Trifexis kill heartworms?
Trifexis prevents heartworm disease by killing certain stages that develop after an infected mosquito bites a dog. As with other heartworm preventives, Trifexis does not kill adult heartworms. Speak to your veterinarian about treatment options if your dog is diagnosed with an adult heartworm infection.
Q: Will my dog still need to be tested for heartworm infection while taking Trifexis?
We recommend annual blood testing for heartworm disease even if your pet is up-to-date on monthly prevention, for a few reasons. In the case of missed or late dosages, protection against heartworm disease decreases. Most importantly, in the unlikely event that an animal on prevention contracts heartworm disease, your veterinarian needs to know as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment are very important in terms of your pets well being and prevention of any permanent changes in the heart or lungs.
Q: How should I give Trifexis to my dog?
Give Trifexis with food for maximum effectiveness. Trifexis is a chewable tablet and may be offered as a treat. To help you remember the monthly dosing schedule, stick-on labels are included for your calendar.
Q: How quickly will Trifexis kill fleas?
In a laboratory study of spinosad alone, an active ingredient of Trifexis, spinosad started to kill fleas within 30 minutes and killed 100% of the fleas within 4 hours. Trifexis kills fleas before they can lay eggs.
Q: Does seeing fleas on my dog mean that the treatment is not working?
Trifexis kills fleas before they can lay eggs when used monthly according to the label directions. Remember that all animals in the household should be treated with an approved flea product to help control the flea population. Your dog can continue to be exposed to the fleas that live in the environment. When fleas jump onto your dog, they will be killed by Trifexis. If within a month after your dog receives Trifexis you see fleas on your dog, it is most likely that these are new fleas. These new fleas will be killed before they can produce eggs that contaminate the environment. Continued monthly use of Trifexis can prevent any new infestations.
Q: What if I see worms in my dog’s stool during the month after administration of Trifexis?
Trifexis is indicated to treat and control intestinal parasite infections of adult hookworms, roundworms and whipworms. In occasional cases, it is possible that the action of Trifexis in killing the intestinal worms will lead to the dog expelling them in the stool.
Q: Can other medications be given while my dog is taking Trifexis?
Yes, Trifexis has been given safely with a wide variety of products and medications. Your veterinarian should be made aware of all products that you administered and/or intend to administer to your dog.
Q: Can Trifexis be given to cats?
No. Trifexis is not registered for use on cats. Trifexis was developed exclusively for administration to dogs.