MCAH Blog

Mentally Stimulating Toys

Friday, September 25, 2015 | Comments (0)

Anyone who has ever owned a puppy can say: puppies have ENERGY!  Sometimes, it seems like never-ending, boundless energy.  The takeaway of this fact is that puppies need an outlet for all that energy to create a happy, healthy, well-rounded companion.  The importance of playtime for puppies cannot be overstated.  Dogs are natural investigators, and play expends energy while fulfilling their exploring desires.  Dogs are also smart, curious problem-solvers.  This combination leads to a need for not only physical but mental stimulation.  If not provided with adequate stimulation and puzzles to conquer, they will find it on their own…frequently in places they shouldn’t!  Dogs need diverse and continual opportunities to expend both mental and physical energy.  While it is dog-dependent, on average a puppy needs between two to three hours of physical and mental stimulation daily.

Dogs that have the opportunity to play are generally happier, more emotionally stable and calmer than those who do not.  Playtime allows for a suitable outlet of energy that would otherwise go to less desirable occupations.  Bad behaviors such as chewing, digging, stealing, jumping, anxiety and aggression can stem from the buildup of energy that lacks an appropriate outlet. 

Physical expenditure of energy is more straight-forward to satisfy.  Doggy daycare, playdates, long walks, or an invigorating game of fetch can release a large amount of a puppy’s energy.  Mental stimulation can be a harder goal to attain. With this in mind, we have begun to carry a variety of mentally stimulating toys and games for our canine companions.    Playing with this type of toy allows for a safe and appropriate outlet for curious energies.  If we do not give them something fun to satisfy their active minds, they will inevitably find their own “toys” to play with, such as your shoes, furniture or baseboards.  By supplying our dogs with safe and interesting toys we can help to avoid potential problems (destructive chewing behavior, stealing inappropriate objects).  Adequate mental stimulation can also contribute to decreasing other behavioral issues such as barking, unruliness, anxiety and aggression.  A physically and mentally drained dog is too tired to be badly behaved!  Stop by our reception area to see the fun new options for our canine friends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kennel Cough

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 | Comments (0)

During summertime, there is a large increase in the number of vacations and trips for us humans, and consequently an increase in the number of dogs at kennels and boarding facilities.  As is the case with the first week of preschool, summer is the time of year for dogs to spread upper respiratory infections to their friends at “camp.”  The most common of these infections is kennel cough.  Kennel cough is an infectious bronchitis, most commonly caused by the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica.  Dogs infected with kennel cough have a classic harsh, hacking cough, most commonly described as “something caught in my dog’s throat.”

The incubation period for dogs exposed to kennel cough is anywhere from 2 to 14 days.  Dogs can be sick from anywhere from 1-2 weeks.  Typically, kennel cough is a self-limiting upper respiratory infection.  Dogs that are otherwise healthy are usually able to clear the infection on their own and aside from coughing, act completely normal.  We typically will prescribe a cough suppressant (such as Hydrocodone) to help keep them comfortable while they recover.  Complicated cases of kennel cough can progress  to dogs feeling sick, with them becoming lethargic, inappetent and febrile.  In extreme cases, it can spread down the respiratory tract and cause pneumonia.  For more clinically significant cases, we prescribe a course of antibiotics (such as Doxycycline) to help clear the infection. 

To help prevent the spread of kennel cough, vaccination prior to boarding is strongly recommended.  The kennel cough vaccine lasts for one year and can be included in your dog’s yearly exam.  The kennel cough vaccine is not 100% at preventing an infection, but it also helps stimulate a dog’s immune system to help them clear a potential infection faster in the future.  If your dog needs to be updated with its kennel cough vaccine, please give us a call to schedule a check-up (preferably at least two weeks before boarding)!

 

 

Heartworm Disease

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 | 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.

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 worm burden 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.

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.  Sentinel is a once-a-month chewable 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 at Mt. Carmel Animal Hospital to discuss your dog’s heartworm prevention needs.

 

 

 

 

Fleas

Wednesday, May 06, 2015 | Comments (0)

Winter is over, the flowers are blooming, and with the warm weather comes a rather unwanted side effect…fleas come out of hiding!  This time of year, it is especially important to protect our canine and feline companions with an effective flea and tick preventative to keep them happy and healthy through the warmer months. 

Fleas are not only a disgusting pest for us humans, but are also a significant health risk for our pets.  Animals can suffer from flea allergy dermatitis, the most common skin condition in dogs in the United States and one of the causes of feline military dermatitis.  When feeding, fleas inject saliva that contains a variety of histamine-like compounds, causing an allergic reaction and strong itching sensation.  Large amounts of fleas, as they are blood-sucking parasites, actually can cause an anemia in our companion pets, leading to lethargy, inappetence and exercise intolerance.  Fleas also carry tapeworms, and when ingested by a dog or cat can transmit a tapeworm intestinal infection to our pets.

Treatment of fleas has become much simpler with the invention of oral flea medications.  One of the best options for an active flea infection is an oral pill, Comfortis.  The active ingredient in Comfortis is  spinosad.  This drug affects the nervous system of insects, causing death.  It works within 30 minutes of administration, and 98-100% of adult fleas are killed within 4 hours.  The additional benefit to a Comfortis administration is it lasts in the pet’s bloodstream for a full month, helping to prevent reinfestation from the environment during that time.

When it comes to fleas, even better than treating them is PREVENTING them from entering your home!  Comfortis can be used monthly in our pets, both canine and feline, to help protect against flea infestations.  Another flea preventative that we like for our feline companions is a topical product called Revolution.  The active ingredient in Revolution is a drug called selamectin.  Revolution is applied on the skin between the shoulder blades, and is then absorbed into the bloodstream for systemic distribution.  In addition to flea protection, Revolution also protects your cat from heartworms, ear mites, and intestinal parasites such as roundworms and hookworms, making it ideal for our indoor and ourdoor feline companions!

With the addition of Bravecto to our arsenal of flea and tick prevention, parasite control for our canine companions has become much easier!  Bravecto is an oral chew that has been shown to be protective against fleas AND ticks for 12 weeks.  Fleas die within 2 hours after arriving on a host.  Being an oral chew, it is also very easy for administration as there are no bathing or swimming restrictions, and doesn’t cause any allergy reactions on the skin at an application site.  If you would like to further discuss flea prevention options for your pet, don’t hesitate to give us at Mt. Carmel Animal Hospital a call to determine your spring and summer plans!

Lyme disease: part 2

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 | Comments (0)

If a dog does become infected with Lyme disease, there are medications to help treat it.  The medication of choice is an antibiotic, Doxycycline.  Doxycycline has been shown to be effective against many tick-borne diseases.  Treatment entails a two to four week course of doxycycline, combined with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (Rimadyl, Deramaxx or Previcox) for pain control.  Most dogs see relief within 48 hours after starting treatment.  Treatment with doxycycline, unfortunately, does not completely clear the Lyme spirochete from the body.  The goal of treatment is to put the dog into a “premunitive state,” indicating that the infection is latent but not active.  Dogs infected with Lyme disease frequently have flareups again over the course of their lifetime.  Treatment of dogs with kidney disease secondary to Lyme disease, however, requires a much more extensive treatment program, which sometimes can prove to be ineffective.

The goal of most diseases, however, is PREVENTION, not treatment!  The easiest way to help protect our canine companions from Lyme disease is to use a tick preventative.  Tick prevention has now become even easier with the development of oral tick preventatives, such as Bravecto.  Bravecto is an oral chew that has been shown to be protective against fleas and ticks for 12 weeks.  Fleas die within 2 hours after arriving on a host, and ticks in under 12 hours.  This is extra important in tick prevention, as it takes 48 hours for ticks to transmit Lyme disease to our dogs!  Being an oral chew, it is also very easy for administration as there are no bathing or swimming restrictions, and doesn’t cause any allergy reactions on the skin at an application site.  Call us at Mt. Carmel to discuss your tick prevention options as spring is coming!

 

 

Lyme Disease: The Basics

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 | Comments (0)

As the weather begins to warm and we are all able to spend more time outside with our pets, we are not the only ones coming out of winter hibernation…fleas and ticks are coming, too!  With tick exposure increasing in the warmer months, so does the potential for exposure to Lyme disease.  Lyme disease is transmitted via the deer tick, Ixodes scapularis.  Ticks are able to transmit Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease) to canine hosts during their feeding period (when it is attached and actively sucking blood from its host).  In order to continually feed, ticks must prevent the blood flow from the host from clotting.  To do this, they regurgitate enzymes to keep the blood flow smooth.  It is during this regurgitation process that the Lyme spirochete is brought up and can be transmitted to the dog.  This infection process requires at least 48 hours to occur.  The good news for us and our canine companions, then, is if the tick can be killed within 48 hours after attaching to a host, it cannot transmit the spirochete and the disease can’t be transmitted!

If one of our dogs does get infected with Lyme disease, the clinical signs can be very similar to those seen in people.  Dogs can develop fevers, lethargy, and painful swollen joints.  These dogs can be so painful that they are unwilling or unable to get up and walk around normally.  While these dogs are easily identified as possible Lyme disease exposure patients, the other trickier place Lyme disease can hide is in the kidneys.  When the body is fighting a Lyme infection, it creates antibody complexes to attempt to clear the infection.  These complexes can be deposited within the kidneys, causing damage over time.  This damage, if left untreated, can cause a condition known as protein-losing glomerulonephritis.  Eventually, this can lead to kidney failure for those dogs.

Diagnosing Lyme disease exposure is very easy in today’s veterinary clinic.  Here at Mt. Carmel, we have an in-house antibody test that takes 10 minutes to get results.  The in-house snap test detects circulating antibodies to the Lyme disease pathogens.  The difficulty with this test, however, is it is not capable of detecting between an active infection or a dog that has been exposed to the disease.  If a dog is positive on a Snap test and is showing clinical signs of the disease, we will begin a treatment protocol.  If the dog is positive on the test but not showing clinical signs, we will typically submit a urine sample for analysis and/or a C6 specific antibody test to determine Lyme infection.  Due to the propensity of Lyme disease to hide in the kidneys and cause damage, this results in blood protein levels “leaking” into the urine.  A urinalysis can determine if those protein levels in the urine are increased, indicating a potential ongoing infection.

Zoey's Return to Function

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 | Comments (0)

There are many benefits to a TPLO procedure following an ACL injury.  One of the greatest advantages to the procedure it creates an almost complete return to normal function following complete healing.  Zoey is ready to rock and roll this spring on her new knee!

Chocolate and Lily Toxicity

Saturday, February 14, 2015 | Comments (0)

As we approach the Valentine’s and Easter holidays, the potential toxic side effects to our pets from our presents becomes more of a risk.  While there are numerous human products that can be toxic to our furry companions (rat poison, human anti-inflammatories, raisins/grapes or gum that contains xylitol), we are going to be focusing on chocolate and Easter lilies. 

Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest holidays for chocolate (aside from Halloween!), and dogs frequently fall prey to its temptations.  Chocolate is toxic to dogs for two reasons: 1) caffeine and 2)theobromine.  Theobromine is a chemical component of the chocolate plant.  Initial signs of a chocolate overdose are due to the caffeine ingestion.  Dogs become hyperactive, have increased thirst or urination, or develop vomiting and diarrhea.  These can occur 2-4 hours after ingestion.  The secondary toxic signs are due to theobromine ingestion.  These signs include an increased heart rate, muscle rigidity, dilated pupils, or seizures.  The type of chocolate ingested is very important in determining the potential toxicity.  The darker the chocolate, the more cocoa it contains.  This makes baking or extra dark chocolate the most toxic, and white chocolate the least.  Fortunately, chocolate ingestion is such a common occurrence that we are able to calculate out potential side effects based on your pet’s weight and the amount/type of chocolate ingested.  While avoidance is the best policy, if your dog does get into chocolate, please call us right away so we can determine if it is a problem or not!

While dogs tend to be a problem in terms of chocolate ingestion, it is the cat population that can’t seem to keep their mouths off Easter lilies!  Both the leaves and flowers of the lily are toxic to cats, with as little as 2-3 leaves ingested have been shown to be lethal.  We are not sure what the component is in the lily that makes it so toxic to our feline friends, but what we do know is if left undiagnosed or untreated it can be fatal.  Lilies affect the ability of cats’ kidneys to function normally, and can lead to kidney failure.  After ingestion cats show immediate signs of tummy upset by vomiting, which will subside in 2-4 hours.  They then become depressed and lethargic, and can die within 24 hours if left untreated.  Fortunately, as long as treatment is started within 12-24 hours of ingestion, cats typically make a full recovery.  The treatment therapy is an in-hospital stay with IV fluids to help flush their systems and protect their kidneys.  If during the Easter season you are at all concerned your cat may have chewed on your decorative flower arrangements, please call us right away!

 

At-Home Dental Care

Wednesday, February 04, 2015 | Comments (0)

As we get into our second month of dental awareness, a frequent question that we get from owners is what they can do at home to help promote healthy teeth.  What we need to keep in mind is these are options to help PREVENT dental disease, not to treat it, so they are most effective on teeth that have either a) minimal dental disease or b) are post-dental cleaning. 

The gold standard (and most difficult!) for at-home dental care is brushing your pet’s teeth.  Clenz-a-dent toothpaste comes in both poultry and vanilla flavors depending on your animal’s preference.  The toothpaste uses an enzyme formula to provide natural antibacterial action and decrease plaque formation.  It also helps to freshen breath to make their kisses even more enjoyable!

A great option for at-home dental care is Clenz-a-dent chlorhexidine rinse.  It is an easy-to-use gel that can be applied directly to the teeth and gumline with either the enclosed applicator or a fingertip/q-tip.   Its palatable antimicrobial formula helps protect the teeth and gums, and freshen breath. The combination of chlorhexidine, zinc acetate and cetylpyridinium chloride offers protection against plaque, tartar and bacterial proliferation.

An easy option to do at home is feed a specialized dental diet, such as Purina DH.  These are veterinary diets to help promote healthy teeth and decrease plaque and tartar accumulation.  These foods are designed to have a kibble that is large enough to encourage increased chewing time and have a special texture to allow the teeth to penetrate deep into the food before it breaks.  This greater tooth penetration extends the contact time between the teeth and food, creating a cleaning effect.  Another option is the Clenz-a-dent Food Additive PlaqueOff.  It contains Ascophyllum nodosum, a seaweed which acts naturally to decrease tartar and bad breath.    

A different option for our canine companions are Clenz-a-dent chews or sticks.  .  These can be given daily as a treat or reward, and help promote healthy teeth and gums.  A special enzyme coating helps the natural antibacterial salivary system that prevents bacterial proliferation in the mouth and the development of plaque and tartar.   They have a minimally abrasive texture that works with a dog’s own chewing action to loosen tartar and decrease plaque accumulation.  They also taste great (or so it seems!) and our doggy friends get an enjoyable treat while cleaning their teeth!

Another easy alternative to help promote dental health in our furry companions is a water additive.  Clenz-a-dent mouth rinse/water additive is a product that helps fight plaque and also freshen breath.  It’s as close to doggy and kitty mouthwash as we can get!  As long as your animals will drink the water (it does mildly change the taste and some of our more picky patients are less than thrilled), it is a very easy way to help maintain clean teeth.  This 2-in-1 product can be used either as a mouth rinse or as water additive.  In addition to the anti-plaque effect, Clenz-a-dent Mouth Rinse / Water Additive is mint flavoured for an immediate breath freshening effect.

 

Dental Cleaning

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 | Comments (0)

During our dental awareness months (January and February), all our dental procedures are 20% off.  It is important to understand all that goes into a thorough dental cleaning and exam on our furry companions, which contribute to the overall cost.  First and foremost, dogs and cats require general anesthesia for a full dental probing and cleaning.  All our patients have an IV catheter for their dental, to allow intravenous medications and fluids during their procedure.  They are put on anesthetic gas to maintain unconsciousness throughout their cleaning.  Throughout the dental, they are continually monitored by a technician for temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, heart rhythm, respiratory rate, and the amount of circulating oxygen in their bloodstream.  All of these parameters are kept within a safe range to allow a smooth and easy procedure and healthy recovery.

A dental cleaning itself is a rather extensive process.  Oral disease begins with the normal mouth bacteria mixing with food and saliva.  The food/bacteria/saliva combination leads to plaque, which accumulates on the teeth, starting most usually the back molars, as they are the main chewing teeth.  Given enough time, the bacterial numbers in the plaque increase and calcium salts are deposited on the teeth surfaces, leading to tartar.  A technician begins by “scaling” the teeth, which is removing all the built-up plaque and tartar that have accumulated.  Depending on the amount of tartar, this is a variable period of time.  We use an ultrasonic scaler, which allows for a continuous flow of water over the tooth during the scaling.  This water flow prevents the heat in the machine from damaging the tooth surface, as well as flushes bacteria and debris away from the teeth and gums. 

After the technician has finished cleaning the teeth, the doctor then does a full dental examination and probing, similar to what happens when you go to the dentist.  An instrument, graded in millimeters, is used to examine the integrity of the tooth and to explore for any gingival pockets that can’t be seen by the naked eye.  In a dog’s mouth, the examination probe should be anywhere from 1-3mm under the gumline; anything more than that can be indicative of periodontal disease.  In a cat, a normal probe depth should only be 0.5-1mm.  If pockets are found, it is an indication for a dental radiograph to determine the health of the root of the tooth underlying the gumline. 

The final step of the dental procedure (not including extractions or any other necessary medical treatment) is the polishing of the teeth.  The polishing helps the gingiva seal tightly around the tooth, and removes any superficial scratches in the enamel.  This is the most important step in helping to prevent future dental disease.