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MCAH Blog

International Turtle Day

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 | Comments (0)

As May 23rd is International Turtle Day, we thought it would be a good opportunity to do a blog about a different kind of four-legged pet! While not as common as dogs or cats, many people enjoy having tortoises as household pets, and they do have specific needs based on their unique structure and breeds.

Turtles and tortoises have specific dietary and environmental needs that need to be fulfilled by their owners. Without these, they tend to have health problems that can lead to diseases. Like other reptiles, tortoises need specific wavelengths of ultraviolet light. They need lights in the 290-320nm UV-B spectrum in order to properly utilize vitamin D and calcium. Even if ingesting appropriate amounts of calcium in their diet, they cannot convert calcium into healthy bone without UV-V light. Any tortoises kept indoors should have a light that include at least 5% UV-B in their spectrum.

Temperature regulation is another important aspect of their overall health. An ideal temperature for terrestrial turtles can range from 75-90*F. When arranging housing, either indoor or outdoor, there should be adequate space for an area of heat and an area of shade so that they can appropriately move around to regulate their own body temperature.

Clean water is necessary for land turtles for several reasons. Soaking in water stimulates most turtles and tortoises to urinate. There are many tortoises who won’t urinate until they have a water source to urinate in! However, as they tend to use their water soaks for elimination purposes, it is important to change the water out daily to ensure it is clean and not a source of infection.

Dietary control is an important factor when it comes to tortoise husbandry. It is important to know what species each tortoise is, to allow an appropriate diet to be determined. Omnivorous tortoises (red and yellow foot, for example) require both animal and plant materials for adequate nutrition. Leopard or Russian tortoises are grassland tortoises who enjoy grazing on dark leafy greens. Ensuring a diet based on each individual species is essential for their overall health.


As the temperatures heat up, so do our pets!

Saturday, May 20, 2017 | Comments (0)

As the weather warms up, we tend to spend more time on indoor activities enjoying the air conditioning and relief from the heat. Despite having various hair coats that have evolved to help maintain a normal body temperature, our furry companions also suffer in the heat! Despite their love of sunshine and chasing the ball in warm weather, dogs can suffer from hyperthermia and heat stroke if allowed to get too warm.

While both dogs and cats can suffer from heat stroke, it is much more common in dogs. Dogs with long hair coats tend to be predisposed to issues. Another predisposing factor is breed; our brachycephalic friends tend to have a much higher incidence of heat stroke than other breeds (ie, our squishy face friends such as bulldogs, pugs, etc.). Overweight dogs or dogs with an underlying heart/respiratory condition also are predisposed to having issues.

Heat stroke is a very dangerous condition for our canine companions. It affects multiple organ systems, and if left unfound or untreated can be fatal. Typically, these animals present with excessive panting, drooling, heart arrhythmias, or an inability to stand. Their body temperature is over 106*F, whereas a normal temperature in a dog should be approximately 101*F. Even with medical intervention and supportive care, enough internal damage can be caused by excessive heat exposure that treatment may not be successful.

As we approach summer temperatures, it is important to keep an eye on the thermometer for our doggy friends. They should have limited time outside in direct sunlight. When outside, they should have access to water and a shady spot to relax in. If they appear to be getting too warm, it is important to bring them inside to cool off, even if they are having too much fun outside to want to come in! And it is important to remember to not leave your dog in an enclosed car. If you are concerned with how your pet is acting in the heat, please give us a call at Mt. Carmel Animal Hospital right away!


Heartworm Disease--the mosquitoes are out!!

Tuesday, May 09, 2017 | Comments (0)

 

Mosquitoes are more than an itchy pest for us humans. While they are an annoyance to us, they pose a substantial health risk to our furry companions in the form of heartworm disease. Mosquitoes can transmit heartworm disease to our pets when they bite them. Heartworm disease, if left untreated, is a potentially fatal disease that can affect both dogs and cats, but is much more commonly found in our canine pets in our area.

Heartworms are a fairly large worm that can grow almost up to 14 inches long. These worms can live in the heart and pulmonary (lung) arteries of a dog. The presence of heartworms in a pulmonary artery can create a strong inflammatory response, leading to a tendency for the dog’s blood to form inappropriate clots. If there are enough adult worms present, the heart has to work twice as hard to pump blood past the worms to reach the rest of the body. The other side effect is that, with enough adult worms present, the amount of space left for blood in the heart is decreased, allowing less blood to reach the rest of the body.  While treatable if caught early, there is a MUCH better option for our pet companions!

Fortunately for pet owners, heartworm disease is 100% preventable. A once monthly oral preventative will protect a dog against infection from heartworms while mosquitoes are out and about. Here at Mt. Carmel Animal hospital, we carry a product called Interceptor. Interceptor is a once-a-month tablet that protects your dog against heartworms, as well as roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms (intestinal parasites they might come into contact with in the environment). Give us a call at Mt. Carmel Animal Hospital to discuss your dog’s heartworm prevention needs!

 

 


 

 

Poison Prevention Month

Wednesday, March 22, 2017 | Comments (0)

We do our best to keep our dogs and cats safe from potential toxins in our house, but the difficulty is just trying to keep track of the sheer number of things that they can get into!  There are numerous innocuous household products that are actually toxic to our furry friends, and they even differ across species.  While it would be impossible to list ALL the possible things that our pet companions can get into, we will try to include an abbreviated list of those that are most likely to cause a problem.

Not surprisingly, dogs have a tendency to get into human food products most often (much more so than their feline counterparts!).  One of the most well-known toxins to dogs is chocolate.  Chocolate contains methylxanthines, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst , hyperactivity, heart abnormalities, tremors, seizures and even death.  The amount of chocolate is a product is directly related to the percentage of cocoa in it (aka, white chocolate has the least, while baking chocolate has the most).  The good thing about chocolate is that if you know what your dog got into, we are able to calculate out whether or not the amount ingested has the potential to be a problem!

In addition to chocolate, dogs tend to love sugar-free gum products that are in a purse or backpack.  The issue with these products (such as Trident or Orbit) is that they contain a substance called xylitol.  Xylitol is toxic to dogs, and has immediate issues.  Xylitol causes a dog's blood sugar to drop to a critical level for 24 hours, and then after that can cause liver damage.  

Human medications can be an issue for either dogs or cats.  It is not advised to give any human over-the-counter anti-inflammatories to our dog or cat friends.  Tylenol is toxic to both dogs and cats, but with cats can causes a life-threatening hemolytic anemia very quickly.  Aleve can cause substantial kidney issues when given to dogs.  Please don't give any over-the-counter medications to your pets without checking with one of our doctors first to ensure it is safe!!

While dogs have a tendency to get into our human food, cats have a liking for chewing on houseplants.  While many are benign, it is important to inspect any bouquets for lilies if there are cats in the house.  Both the petals and the leaves of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats.

Finally, many household cleaning and air freshening products can be toxic to our furry friends.  Bleach is caustic to the inside of mouth if ingested, as well as the esophagus and intestinal system if swallowed in larger quantities.  Essential oil plug-ins or air fresheners can be very appealing to cats, but can cause gastrointestinal upset, central nervous system depression and even liver damage.  

If you are concerned that your pet got into something that it shouldn't, or are unsure if a product can be a potential issue, please give us a call to discuss it!  It is always better to be on the safe side and double-check!
 


Anal Gland Expression

Wednesday, December 14, 2016 | Comments (0)

Anal sacs (also called anal glands) are two small glands located just inside your pet's rectum. The material secreted into these sacs is a thick liquid, which is typically oily, stinky, and “fishy”. While many wild animals can empty these glands voluntarily for scent marking, dogs and cats are less able to empty these sacs voluntarily. While normal defecation help help to empty the sacs, some animals become unable to empty their sacs on their own. These sacs can become impacted and uncomfortable.

The most common signs that dogs with full anal glands will demonstrate are scooting their rear across the ground or licking excessively around their tailbase. Cats frequently will lick all the hair off under or around their tails. Other signs can include shaking, holding tails down, reluctance to walk or hiding.

If your pet’s anal glands are filling and causing discomfort, they should be emptied. This can be done in one of two ways. With an external expression, the anal glands are squeezed from the outside of the rectum and the liquid is expressed. With thicker anal gland liquid or an infection, however, this method may be insufficient to completely empty the glands. The ideal way to express anal glands is by internal expression. With this technique, a finger is inserted into the rectum and the sac itself is squeezed to allow full expression of the anal gland liquid.

If anal glands are filling and are not expressed when needed, they can fill to the point of rupture and cause an anal gland abscess. These require drain placement and antibiotic/pain therapy to heal.

If your pet has an anal gland infection or abscess, that is a problem that would need to be addressed by a doctor. For regular and routine anal gland expression, appointments can be set up with our technicians for a full internal expression to relieve any issues your pet may be having. If you are concerned that your pet may be suffering from anal gland issues, please give us a call today!

 


Tick Control in the Fall

Monday, September 26, 2016 | Comments (0)

Ticks commonly are thought of as summer pests, something that we all need to start wearing Deet for as soon as we are able to get out and enjoy the warm weather!  Due to the life cycle of ticks, however, fall is equally, if not more important, to pay attention to in regards to tick prevention. 

Ticks are found in wooded areas along trails, in your backyard, or where deer frequent. The larvae and nymphs are active in the spring and early summer; adults may be active in both the spring and fall. The blacklegged / deer tick can transmit Lyme disease, babesiosis and possibly ehrlichiosis to both us and our canine companions, and the adults are active in our area in the fall.

Due to the nature of the tick life cycle, with different seasons showing heightened activity for different lifestyles, we support tick prevention throughout fall.  Here at Mt. Carmel Animal Hospital, we offer two options for tick prevention.  For puppies, due to their rapid growth and development, we offer single month-by-month doses of a product called Nexgard.  Nexgard is an oral chew that kills fleas and ticks for a full month, and is safe for puppies over four pounds and eight weeks of age or older.  For adult dogs who are done growing, we offer a product called Bravecto.  Bravecto is an oral chew that kills fleas and ticks for a full three months, making it one of the most effective and convenient products on the market!  Give us a call to discuss the best options to prevent tick-borne diseases in your dog throughout the year!


Periodontal Disease

Tuesday, January 12, 2016 | Comments (0)

With the start of each new year comes dental awareness months for our pets.  We humans are recommended to visit the dentist every 6 months for cleanings and teeth evaluation…and we brush our teeth twice a day, every day!  For our feline and canine friends, though they don’t brush and floss as regularly, dental care is just as important.  As part of your pet’s annual physical, we do an external dental examination to determine if your pet is in need of a dental cleaning.  On average, about 85% of our pets older than four years have periodontal disease.  "Perio" means around, and "dontal" refers to teeth.  Periodontal diseases are infections of the structures around the teeth, which include the gums, periodontal ligament and alveolar bone.  

Periodontal disease begins with plaque attachment to the surface of teeth.  Plaque is an adhesive fluid that is composed of mucin and bacteria.  If this plaque is not removed from the tooth surface, mineral salts combine with the plaque to form tartar on the teeth.  The tartar/calculus and plaque is very irritating to the gums, allowing bacteria to survive under the gumline.  The by-products of this bacteria eats away at the tooth support structures.

If you are concerned about your pet’s teeth, schedule an exam with us today!  During January and February, all dental procedures also are 20% discounted!

 

Diabetes Treatment

Wednesday, November 04, 2015 | Comments (0)

Once a diagnosis of diabetes has been reached, we then have to adjust a pet’s lifestyle in order to treat the disease.The most critical part of diabetic treatment is insulin injections.As the body cannot produce enough insulin on its own, we supplement with twice daily insulin injections.The injections go under the skin and help support normal sugar metabolism.Initially, we start at a low dose of insulin after diagnosis to ensure that we don’t send the animal too far in the other direction and make their blood sugar too low!It takes the body a week to adjust to any change in insulin, so at the beginning it takes several weeks of “tinkering” to come up with the appropriate dosage for each individual animal.

Appropriate feeding and diet also are important aspects of diabetes treatment.Diabetic animals need to be fed two meals daily, approximately 12 hours apart.The key to insulin administration is that an animal HAS to eat before receiving its insulin, otherwise there isn’t sugar in the bloodstream for the insulin to work on!We also need to ensure that a diabetic is eating an appropriate food.There are pre-formulated prescription diets that cater to diabetic needs, such as Purina DM.For cats, these foods are higher in protein and have a limited carbohydrate content.In dogs, their diets preferably have a higher fiber content.It is important to avoid lots of treats and human food snacks in diabetics, as the irregularity in their blood sugar levels can make it difficult to control their blood sugar levels.Dry diets also are preferably, as many wet foods use sugars in their preservatives.

Long-term maintenance in diabetic patients also includes annual dental examinations and cleanings.Dental plaque and tartar contain large amounts of bacteria, which can seed the rest of the body.When blood sugar levels run high, infections can take root in other organs, such as the heart, liver or kidneys.

 

 

Diabetes

Wednesday, October 28, 2015 | Comments (0)

In order to understand what diabetes is, it is important to understand the components of a normal metabolism.The pancreas is an internal organ that sits between the stomach and small intestine.It secretes digestive enzymes into the intestinal tract, but also secretesthe hormones that regulate blood sugar into the bloodstream.

The pancreas secretes a hormone known as insulin, which allow the cells of the body to utilize the blood sugar circulating in the bloodstream.Through digestion, food (protein and starches) is broken down to glucose (sugar) to be used on a cellular level.Without insulin production, the body can’t utilize the sugar circulating in its bloodstream for energy and starts to think it is starving.With diabetic animals, their bodies don’t produce enough insulin, making the body “blind” to the nutrients it is taking in.Normal digestive processes occur, allowing the breakdown of starch, protein and fat.This leads to an overabundance of sugar in the bloodstream that cannot be utilized properly.The kidneys usually don’t filter sugar into the urine, allowing it to be used for fuel.In diabetics, the kidneys are overwhelmed by the amount of sugar in the bloodstream, and sugar begins to leak into the animal’s urine.Sugar attracts water, pulling more water into the urine, thereby increasing urine production.This increases an animal’s drinking and peeing throughout the day.

The most common things that owners see at home initially are pets that are overweight with a dry haircoat.As the disease progresses, animals begin to lose weight, and begin to eat, drink and urinate more.The urine frequently has a “sticky” feel to it that can be noticed when cleaning up accidents.Diabetes also predisposes animals to urinary tract infections, so the urine may have a strong odor or small amounts of blood in it as well.

The diagnosis of diabetes is by a blood and urine check.On a chemistry panel, the amount of sugar in the blood stream is frequently very elevated.Additionally, in a urine sample, we will see an increase in glucose in the urine.These concurrent findings are consistent with a diagnosis of diabetes.

Underwater Treadmill to Walk Your Dog

Wednesday, October 07, 2015 | Comments (0)

With the importance of National Walk Your Dog Week this week, that begs the question...what if your dog has a medical condition that makes walking outside too difficult?  Dogs that have arthritis in the hips or elbows can have difficulty with walking on sidewalks or trails due to the impact on their already painful joints.  Brachycephalic dogs (smushy-faced dogs like pugs or bulldogs) can have difficulty breathing outside in more humid air conditions, and older dogs with a condition called laryngeal paralysis have to maintain a more regular breathing rhythm or they can struggle to adequately oxygenate their lungs.  Additionally, overweight dogs can have difficulty walking long distances initially due to poor conditioning.  Following orthopedic surgery, many dogs require a controlled, steady return to normal function to maintain their muscle mass and allow the bone time to heal.  Fortunately, we here at Mt. Carmel Animal Hospital have an alternative!  The underwater treadmill for dogs is a great option for dogs that have more specialized needs in regards to their exercise.  It is low-impact, and the water level can be varied to help give or decrease buoyancy to make walking easier or harder, depending on each individual patient.  If you think an underwater treadmill session could benefit your pet, give us a call to set up a rehab consult today!