Tag Archives: Pet Medicine

Is your dog having knee problems? (by Dr. Jenna Koenigstein)

Medial Patellar Luxation (MPL) in Dogs

“Trick knees”, more properly termed medial patellar luxations, are a relatively common finding on physical examinations here at OCVH and in most veterinary practices of small breed dogs.  In many cases, it is an incidental finding during a routine exam, while in other cases it is found when a dog comes in for sudden limping.  When found on routine physical exam, veterinarians will mention it as a finding but may not go into much detail since it is not usually a cause for concern. But since it is so common, here is some additional information about the condition and what, if anything should be done about it.

What is it?

The patella is the fancy name for the knee cap.  It is attached to the tendon of the quadriceps muscle in the front of the thigh and sits in a groove of the femur (thigh bone). The function of the patella is to act like a pulley and to facilitate the bending actions (flexing and extending) of the knee.  The term “patellar luxation” means that the knee cap has slipped out of its normal position within the groove of the femur, most often toward opposite leg (medially).  Sometimes it may slip toward the outward direction, which would be called lateral patellar luxation, but this is much less common.  While patellar luxation can be seen in any breed, smaller breed dogs are much more prone to it.  About 50% of affected dogs have the abnormality in both knees.

What causes it?

Medial patellar luxation (MPL) is most often due to a congenital (inherited) abnormality and is usually present from a young age.  The groove in which it resides may be too shallow or an abnormal rotation of the shin bone may cause the attachment of the tendon to be more to the side.  In either case, the patella is tends to pop out of place with normal motion of the leg. Trauma or injury can also cause luxation but this is relatively rare.

Clinical signs

In most cases, there is no obvious sign to the owner that a pet has this condition.  Some owners will note that the pet will occasionally hop or skip on one leg when running and then return to normal without ever acting painful, indicating that the patella has shifted out of groove but then popped back into place.  Some dogs may become lame during exercise if the patella shifts and does not return to normal position, causing discomfort and inflammation. Long term effects of frequent displacements can lead to arthritis in some pets and may make them more prone to injury of ligaments in the knee.

Types of Luxation

Patellar luxation is graded on a scale of 1 to 4, with higher numbers indicating more severe luxation.

Grade I – Patella can be manually moved out of groove during examination but immediately returns to normal position.   These dogs are unlikely to show lameness.

Grade II – Patella is able to be easily manipulated out of place but does not return to correct location once pressure removed.  These cases are more likely to show mild signs of lameness.

Grade III – Patella is always luxated, can be slipped back into place but immediately re-luxates.  These dogs show more persistent lameness.

Grade IV – Patella always out of groove and cannot be put back in place.  These dogs will have significant lameness and cannot straighten knee. They may have bow-legged appearance.

 Diagnosis

MPL can be easily diagnosed on routine orthopedic examination.  Radiographs or other imaging modalities may be needed to determine the extent of abnormalities (structural deformities, depth of femoral groove, etc). 

 

Treatment

Those pets with Grade I or II luxation that rarely or never show any clinical signs are unlikely to need surgical treatment.  For those with Grade II or greater that show more persistent lameness, surgery can help to correct the underlying abnormalities.  If both legs are equally affected, most surgeons recommend correcting one leg at a time and allowing time for the first to heal prior to correcting the second (at least 8 weeks).  The exception to this may be a dog that is still growing as correcting one at a time may lead to conformation changes if the bones are still growing.

 

Trochlear Modification – this surgical correction is meant for those small breed dogs with a shallow groove.  The goal is to deepen the groove by removing some of the bone below the cartilage, then replacing the cartilage to keep the smooth surface.

 

Tibial Tuberosity Transposition – this is a more complicated surgery which is meant to change the alignment of where the patellar tendon attaches to the top of the tibia (shin bone) to prevent the patella from being pulled to the side.  The tibial tuberosity (crest where the ligament attaches) is removed and pinned in a different location to adjust the pull on the patella.  In some severe cases, the entire bone must be cut and realigned.

 

Post- operative care

In simple cases of trochlear modification, 3-4 weeks of rest is sufficient for recovery.  With more complicated surgery, a longer period of confinement, possibly up to 8 weeks or more, may be recommended.  Some of these dogs also benefit from physical therapy.

 

Need More Information?

If you suspect your dog may have patellar luxation or another orthopedic problem please contact one of our veterinarians or schedule an examination.

 

Jenna Koenigstein DVM

 

 

Thinking About Getting a Reptile? (Dr. Golodik)


OCVH recommends that when thinking about adding a reptile as a family pet there are many things to consider. To avoid common problems ask yourself these important questions before setting foot inside a pet store and making an impulsive purchase. What is the life expectancy of this animal? How big do they get? What kind of enclosure do they require to keep them safe and comfortable? What is their normal behavior and temperament? Is this a good pet for a household with young children? What are the costs of keeping this kind of a pet? Do they have any special health concerns? And most important, have you done enough research to be confident that this future pet will be a cherished and welcome addition to your home and your life?

 

The popularity of reptiles as pets is growing and so is the diversity of available reptilian species. Unfortunately, some retailers may not provide sufficient information about appropriate care of the reptiles they are selling. For this reason it is best to consult a veterinarian who has a special interest and training in reptilian care and diseases before and immediately after you purchase your new pet.

 

The most common causes of illness in reptiles are feeding an improper or imbalanced diet, and poor husbandry. Husbandry is the care and management of your pet and its environment. This includes temperature levels, lighting, enclosure size and safety, ventilation, bedding, humidity levels and sources of water. Certain diurnal species, that is, reptiles that are active during the daytime, require UVA/UVB rays. These rays naturally come from the sun and are essential for calcium metabolism and overall health. In captivity, these rays need to be artificially supplemented with special UV light bulbs. Improper levels of this kind of light can lead to bone disease and other illnesses. It is also important to know that UV bulbs lose their strength over time. I have personally measured UV output on new and used bulbs and have found drastic differences. I recommend changing UV bulbs every 4 months in order to make sure your reptilian friend is getting the healthy amount of rays it needs.

 

You are what you eat! This saying is especially true for our reptilian pets. Certain species eat a steady diet of insects and it is important to make sure those insects are “gut loaded”. Gut loading is a process of feeding the proper nutrients to the prey insects so they are a healthy food source for your pet. Be sure the insects you purchase or raise for your pet’s food satisfy this requirement. Adding supplements to the diet is also important. Calcium is the most common oral supplement and comes in several forms. Dusting prey with a calcium supplement before feeding is an easy way to administer it. The same can be done for reptiles that eat mostly fruits and leafy greens. Many lizards and chelonians (tortoises/turtles) require steady diet of fruits and vegetables. As an owner of one of these reptiles you should be prepared to make lots of salads! Also, using the proper multivitamin supplement several times per week can help ensure good health.

 

Shedding of skin and scales is a normal process for all reptiles. Around the time a reptile is getting ready to shed, be prepared to see changes in behavior and coloration. For example, some will not be as hungry or as active and may retreat or hide. Typically scale color will become dull. In turtles and tortoises, the skin over the head, neck, and legs sheds in pieces. The layer covering the boney scoots of the shell will start to peel off. Lizards tend to shed in small sheets and over time will rub off pieces of their outer skin. Snakes will often shed their skin in one piece; however, they may shed in sections if the humidity is not right. Difficulty shedding or “dysecdysis” is a problem we veterinarians see very frequently. Retained shed over the eyes, nostrils, toes, and tails is common. If old shed is left on, over time it can cause serious eye damage and can kill tissues by strangulating the blood supply. This is a major concern during the shedding period. In general, DO NOT pull shed if it is not ready to come off easily. This can lead to serious damage to the underlying tissues. Consult our exotic veterinarians when in doubt. Learning what’s normal and what’s not normal for your species of pet is essential. 

 

For the first time reptile owner I recommend corn snakes, ball pythons, bearded dragons, and leopard geckos. These are what I would consider good “starter reptiles” as they are easier to care for and generally heartier. Newly acquired pets should be examined by one of our exotic veterinarians as soon as possible to be sure there are no underlying problems. Our veterinarians will discuss all the important aspects of diet and husbandry so that you get off to the right start. Just as with cats and dogs, we advise examinations on an annual basis and whenever you notice symptoms of illness or changes in behavior.

 

A fun way to learn about what kinds of reptiles are commonly available as pets is to go to a reptile show. The New York Reptile Expo is being held in White Plains, NY, on Sunday, September 7, 2014. Hundreds of breeders and vendors will exhibit pets and products. Lots of valuable information is available and it is really fun too!

 

If you are really considering getting a reptilian pet it is important to be honest with yourself. What commitment in time, care and money are you willing to devote to have a healthy, happy pet? If you have questions or concerns, please call us first. It is a very satisfying and enjoyable experience when you are adequately informed and prepared. Think, learn, plan and go for it!

 

Daniel Golodik DVM

Tick-Borne Disease in Dogs ( Dr. Danowitz)

In our area of New  Jersey ticks are a concern, both for humans as well as animals.  Of the many diseases that ticks carry, several are transmissible to both species.  Although very small and seemingly fragile, ticks are actually tremendously hardy parasites, capable of surviving through a wide range of climate conditions.  This is one of the reasons that OCVH, FVH & NPVH advocate treating our pets with a flea/tick preventative all year round in our area.

To learn about the tick life cycle, please click here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0g_lt0FcQag

Of all the diseases that ticks can transmit to dogs, four are most prevalent:  Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. We have seen cases of all 4 of these conditions at OCVH and our family of practices over the past year, so they are present in our area!

 

LYME DISEASE

Lyme Disease is one of the most common tick-transmitted diseases in the world.  It is caused by microscopic bacteria called spirochetes, which ticks ingest when feeding on wildlife or other dogs that are infected with the spirochete. The tick then spreads the infection to another animal when it bites them looking for its next blood meal. The species of tick that transmits Lyme Disease is Ixodes Scapularis (Deer Tick).

 

Despite all the research into Lyme Disease in both human and veterinary medicine, there are many aspects of the disease that still remain a mystery.  Dogs that are exposed to Lyme Disease can exhibit a variety of clinical signs, ranging from no signs at all to an irreparable kidney failure and death. The most common clinical signs are joint inflammation leading to lameness, fever, and lethargy or depression.  Many dogs test positive for Lyme Disease and never develop clinical signs of the disease. Kidney disease secondary to Lyme Disease seems to be more prevalent in Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and Burmese Mountain Dogs.

How is it diagnosed?  There are several blood tests that can detect Lyme Disease.  Our heartworm test, called an Accuplex, also screens for exposure to Lyme Disease as well as 2 other tick-borne diseases.  Often if your dog is diagnosed with Lyme Disease the veterinarian may recommend a urine sample to make sure the kidneys are not affected, as well as, other more specific blood tests.  Test results, in combination with any clinical signs that the dog has, is considered before initiating treatment.  The treatment for Lyme Disease is a long course of an antibiotic, typically either doxycycline or amoxicillin.

In some patients it is impossible eradicate the organism from the body no matter what antibiotic is used. Therefore, even with appropriate treatment, the signs of disease may flare-up again in the future.

 

EHRLICHIOSIS

Ehrlichiosis is another bacterial organism transmitted to dogs through a tick bite.  The Brown Dog Tick (Rhipicephalus), the Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma) and the American Dog Tick (Dermacentor) have all been linked to the transmission of this disease.

Clinical signs associated with Ehrlichiosis vary greatly, but can include fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, enlarged lymph nodes, eye and nasal discharge, lethargy, difficulty breathing and swollen limbs.  The disease can progress to the nervous system, causing muscle twitching and other neurologic problems. Long term, blood platelet levels (cells that assist with clotting) may drop to dangerously low level and become life-threatening without treatment. Diagnosis of Ehrlichiosis can be made with the Accuplex blood test, as well as other blood tests available at our laboratory.  Doxycyline for at least 4 weeks is the treatment of choice for this serious disease.

 

ANAPLASMOSIS

Anasplamosis is another type of bacterial disease transmitted by ticks, including both the Brown Dog Tick (Rhipicephalus) and the Deer Tick (Ixodes).  In general, Anaplasmosis causes milder clinical signs when compared to Lyme Disease or Ehrlichiosis.  Clinical signs can include: fever, depression, weakness, lameness, reluctance to move, loss of appetite, enlarged lymph nodes and enlarged spleen. Anaplasmosis can also lead to low platelet numbers, much like Ehrlichiosis.  Diagnosis can be made with the Accuplex blood test. The treatment of choice for animals showing clinical disease is doxycycline, although often this disease is self-limiting and some animals never progress to the clinical state of needing treatment.

 

ROCKY MOUNTAIN SPOTTED FEVER

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) is a potentially fatal disease of both dogs and humans due to an intracellular bacterium called Rickettsia. It is transmitted by the American Dog Tick (Dermacentor), the Brown Dog Tick (Rhipicephalus) and the Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma).  In humans, RMSF is often associated with a rash from the tick bite; however, in dogs a rash is much less common.  Clinical signs of infected dogs include: fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, reluctance to move, stiffness or swelling of joints, enlarged lymph nodes and neurological signs.  Destruction of platelets can lead to bleeding and severe inflammations of blood vessels.  In some dogs the disease is self-limiting, while in others it can become a fatal condition. Diagnosis of RMSF is through a special blood test. The treatment of choice once again for this disease is doxycycline.

 

PROTECTION FROM TICKS AND THEIR DISEASES

So how can we protect our furry companions from these diseases?  There are 2 main ways: vaccination and topical preventative.  The only tick-borne disease that we have a vaccination for is Lyme Disease. The Lyme vaccine that is available, although not 100% effective in preventing the disease in all dogs does dramatically reduce the chances of infection and can minimize the seriousness of Lyme Disease in a large majority of the pets that receive the vaccine before they are bitten by ticks carrying the Lyme bacteria.

We recommend the Lyme vaccination for all dogs in our area.

 

 

Topical tick preventative has become a cornerstone in our efforts to prevent the spread of

these four diseases.  Often these products are also designed to kill and / or prevent flea infestations as well.  Although there are several products on the market that kill ticks, the product preferred by the veterinarians at OCVH, FVH & NPVH for dogs is Vectra 3D.

Vectra 3D, in addition to killing fleas and ticks, has the extra bonus of repelling the ticks, making it less likely that they even attach to the dog.  Please see the video below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmhth6fKtGQ

Protect your canine companion from these diseases by having them vaccinated annually against Lyme Disease and protecting them year-round from tick and flea infestations by using Vectra 3D.

 

William Danowitz DVM

Shining A Light On Your Pet’s Pain Relief (Dr. Pearlman)

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If pets could talk, many would probably ask for K-Laser therapy and to have those treatments done at OCVH, of course!  Class 4 (the most advanced) therapy Lasers are used to treat arthritis, fractures, ear infections and many other conditions that affect our pets. Laser treatments have been used in human medicine in Europe for over 20 years and were approved for use in the United States about 10 years ago. Medical doctors, chiropractors and physical therapists all use the K-Laser to help their patients. Professional sports teams have also started using this healing modality.

 

Laser treatments work by delivering energy in the form of light waves past the fur and skin into deeper tissues where healing is needed – for example, an arthritic hip joint in an older dog. Arthritis occurs because hip joint has lost much of its joint fluid for lubrication and some of the cartilage has been replaced by bone. Why K-Laser?  All of these changes lead to one thing – pain!!  The Laser helps the body heal more quickly and dramatically reduce pain at the source.  Some dogs with arthritis or back pain that needed assistance to get into the clinic for the first few Laser sessions and have been able to walk on their own again.  The Laser also has many other uses such as wound healing, soft tissue sprains, infections, gingivitis and more.

 

At OCVH we like use the K-Laser because it is a pain-free, drug-free treatment option for many degenerative conditions in our pets. Typically a Laser session takes around 5 minutes for each area to be treated. For a chronic condition like arthritis, pets would likely need to have treatments several times each week for the first 2-3 weeks, and then the frequency of visits decreases. Some pets continue to have treatments on an as needed basis to maintain their comfort. During therapy you will be with your pet and you get to wear fancy, protective safety goggles.  Pets very quickly learn that the Laser does not hurt and actually helps them feel better. My own dogs love the extra TLC. It feels good!

 

I have been able to witness the beneficial effects of this treatment on my very own dogs. Ginger, Sara, and Ernie have all gotten K-Laser treatments and are still doing well. Ginger, is 11 years and weighs 90 pounds.  She tore one of the cruciate ligaments in her knee – this is the most common orthopedic injury in large dogs. She had surgery on her knee over a year ago. We used the K-Laser on her injured leg as part of her rehabilitation program. She is able to walk normally now, and still gets the treatments once per week. Sarah, our 8 year old German Shepherd dog has one of the worst cases of hip dysplasia (her hips have been this bad since she was the age of 5 when we first rescued her), yet she is able to run and play without any arthritis drugs. Ernie came to us with a broken back and although he is still paralyzed in his back legs, he is pain free and we are hopeful that he will walk someday – with the help of the K-Laser.  Thanks to the K-Laser my dogs are living a better quality of life with more walks, more play, and lots more happy pain-free time.

 

There is hope, if your pet is in pain he or she may be helped by Laser therapy. Contact one of our staff members to schedule an appointment for a consultation to get started with K-Laser therapy. Your pet will thank you!

Laurie Pearlman DVM

Keep your Feline on the Mainline to Health! (by Dr. Iaquinto)

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As humans, it is recommended to see your family physician once a year for your annual check up. Now imagine only seeing your doctor every 4-7 years! Do you think some medical problems would have easily been prevented or managed better with more frequent visits? That’s the concern with our feline family members. Since cats age more rapidly than people and are very good at hiding ailments, it is recommended they have twice yearly visits.

 

Twice yearly visits to OCVH, FVH or NPVH allow our veterinarians to examine your cat’s mouth and thoroughly examine her teeth. By three years old, 85% of cats have some form of dental disease. We can give you a detailed assessment of her dental health and give you recommendations on how to maintain it. We will listen to her heart and lungs. We will identify any murmurs (abnormal blood flow) or arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms). This is very important as cats may not show any signs of heart disease until it is very advanced and then are at risk of sudden death. We will palpate her abdomen to assess organ size and any pain.  Lower urinary tract (bladder) disease is more prevalent in cats age 1 through 10, whereas upper urinary tract (kidney) disease is more prevalent in cats over 8 years old. We will check her weight and address any signs of obesity or weight loss. Overweight cats are more prone to diseases such as arthritis, diabetes mellitus, heart disease, constipation, and more. Weight loss may indicate metabolic disease, over active thyroid disease, or cancer. We will also assess her body condition, skin, coat, eyes, ears, lungs and neurologic health. Surprisingly 90% of cats over age 12 have some degree of arthritis! Most owners simply chalk it up to “slowing down” or “getting older” when actually these cats are experiencing pain. Many conditions are treatable with timely diagnosis and medical management.

During the physical examination the doctor will make recommendations for vaccines based on your cat’s lifestyle. The doctor may make recommendations for blood tests in senior cats or those that show changes from their previous visit. These tests allow us to address problems before they become too advanced or reduce your cat’s quality of life.  It gives us a chance to be proactive in preventing the complications frequently associated with medical problems. By investing twice yearly in exams, you may dramatically extend your cat’s lifespan and comfort.

Twice yearly visits also provide you with the opportunity to discuss any concerns you have with the doctor. It gives you a chance to share information with us as it pertains to your cat’s health and behavior. We value your insight! You are our eyes and ears in the home setting. By incorporating your observations with our medical findings and expertise we can help your cat live a longer and healthier life.

 

Erika Iaquinto DVM

 

 

An Alternative Approach to Vaccinations (By Dr. Lorri Mitchell)

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Vaccination is a controversial subject in both the human and animal world. The dangers of an unprotected individual succumbing to disease need to be balanced against the risk of infrequent side effects from an approved vaccine. We have valid concerns about what vaccines should be administered and how often they should be given.

 

At Ocean County, Fischer and New Prospect Veterinary Hospitals we strive to stay current with the ever-changing world of vaccine recommendations for your pet. In past years, adaptation to new research and guidelines has resulted in several changes to keep our patients safe and protected. These include:
-moving to a three year interval for adult dogs getting the Distemper combination vaccine as new research showed they did not always need it yearly
-similarly, adult cats also get their Distemper combination vaccine every three years now
-we now use an improved Rabies vaccine for cats that has less additives and is therefore less reactive for them

In addition to the above, we recognize that each pet is unique and evaluate them at their yearly well-visit to determine which vaccines are best recommended for them. For example, an outdoor barn cat will have different risks than a strictly indoor-only solo cat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or a toy poodle that lives alone in a city setting will have different risks than a beagle or retriever who hikes and hunts. OCVH, FVH & NPVH veterinarians want to know the lifestyle your pet leads so we can help you make the right decisions for their well care.

Some of you may be familiar with the term “vaccine titer” (pronounced “tighter”) test. These tests have been around for a while but more and more pet owners are having these tests performed instead of boosting vaccines annually. They are available for some vaccines but not all. Most commonly, titers are run for dog Distemper, Parvovirus and Adenovirus (Infectious Canine Hepatitis).

What is a titer test?

A titer test is a simple blood test that allows us to measure how much antibody (a protein produced by the body in response to a foreign material, either natural disease or a vaccine) is in the animal’s bloodstream. From research we know what levels of antibodies are needed for protection. Animals with protective levels in the bloodstream will be able to successfully fight off the disease without the need for revaccination that year. This gives us an alternative to repeatedly vaccinating pets when they actually do not need it.  Research has shown that many adult dogs can maintain protective antibody titers to Distemper, Parvovirus and Adenovirus for more than four years and in some dogs even longer. The problem is we don’t know which dogs can do that and which dogs need more frequent boosters.

We are excited that we are now able to offer this alternative to the Distemper/Parvovirus/Adenovirus vaccine for your dog at our facility. We will be running the tests weekly and will call you with results. If your pet has a positive titer then there is no need to give the vaccine. If your pet has a negative titer then we will recommend a vaccine booster.

For more information on the test go to www.vaccicheck.com.

Other uses for the Vaccicheck test would be to test your puppy two weeks after they complete the puppy series to determine whether they have mounted adequate immunity or whether they need an additional booster. Or if you adopt a dog and are unsure if it had received the Distemper vaccine you could titer test them to see if one is needed.

Titer tests are not available for Bordetella, Leptospirosis or Lyme vaccines. These diseases are not viral and so create a different immune reaction. These vaccines continue to be recommended yearly for protection, if your pet’s lifestyle warrants it.  Rabies vaccine titers are available at outside labs but in NJ dogs are still required to have the vaccine by law. Even if they have a positive titer to the Rabies vaccine, it will not be recognized as equivalent to the proof of current vaccine by the animal control authorities.

What about cats? The same company that offers the titer test for dogs that we use will be coming out with a similar one for cats shortly. We hope to be able to offer it for your feline companion soon.

The lifestyle of each pet is different and all of our doctors are prepared to tailor your pet’s care to their individual needs for maximum protection and comfort.

 

Lorri Mitchell DVM

OCVH Veterinarian Dr. Pearlman discusses the risks of LEPTOSPIROSIS

 

Ocean County Veterinary Hospital veterinarians want to know… Do your dogs go outside? If they do they may be at risk for Leptospirosis. This disease is caused by one of the many strains of the Leptospira bacteria. Wild animals that walk through your yard, day or night, can leave the bacteria behind wherever they urinate. Remember, there is not a yard or park in New Jersey that does not have a squirrel or mouse run through it! Dogs most often become infected with Leptospirosis through contact with the bacteria that live and multiply in contaminated puddles or moist areas. Any dog that goes outside is at risk. Even when I walk my own dogs on a leash they sometimes reach down before I can stop them from investigating a puddle. We used to think that only dogs that swam in lakes or rivers, such as hunting dogs, were at risk. The fact is that many dogs diagnosed with Leptospirosis are medium to small dogs that are mostly indoors. People are at risk as well because Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease which means it can spread from animals to people.

The signs of Leptospirosis infection in dogs may vary. Some dogs do not show any signs of illness but may continue to shed the bacteria in their urine. Some develop a transient illness but recover, while many others become very sick and can even die. The signs can be nonspecific such as: lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, increased thirst and urination, vomiting, diarrhea and yellowing or bruising of the skin. There are different strains of the Leptospira bacteria and different strains target different organs. Kidney and liver failure may occur. The treatment will vary depending on the extent of the illness. Some dogs are treated with oral antibiotics alone, while others need to be hospitalized for intensive care.

If your veterinarian suspects Leptospirosis, diagnostics must be run to confirm infection. New tests, such as the Leptospirosis PCR for blood or urine, allow us to detect active infections in a shorter period of time (a few days). Chronic infections may require a blood antibody titer to be run initially and again 4 to 6 weeks later. Other tests may be recommended depending on severity of the disease and the condition of the patient.

The good news is that there is a vaccination that can help prevent Leptospirosis. We recommend it for all dogs living in New Jersey. Discuss your dog’s risk of exposure and the vaccination with your veterinarian. All of my dogs are vaccinated for Leptospirosis every year. Even though they are not outside often, I want them to be protected. Remember “Lepto” and remember there is a way to prevent this deadly disease.

 

 

 Laurie Pearlman DVM

The Obese Pet. (Dr. Billy Danowitz)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Has one of the veterinarians at OCVH, FVH or NPVH said that your beloved pet is overweight?

Did you know that 55% of dogs and 54% of cats in theUnited Statesare considered overweight or obese?  That is a tremendous number!  So while your veterinarian may make a passing comment about “Rex

eating a few less treats” or “we need to get Fluffy a treadmill”, there are real medical reasons why we are concerned for your furry family member!

 

PRIMARY RISKS OF EXCESS WEIGHT IN PETS:

  1. Osteoarthritis
  2. Diabetes Mellitus
  3. High Blood Pressure
  4. Heart and Respiratory Disease
  5. Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury
  6. Kidney Disease
  7. Decrease life expectancy (up to 2.5 years)

These are very real medical problems that could potentially shorten an overweight pet’s lifespan up to 912 days.  That is a lot of quality time missed!  No one wants to hear that their pet is overweight, but we as veterinarians are responsible for making the patient our number one priority.  With the exception of a few medical problems that can slow metabolism and some medications that enhance appetite, the most common cause of pet obesity is the owner themselves.  Food is love, right??  NO!  Let’s find another way to show it!

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR PET IS OVERWEIGHT

The first step towards helping your furry friend battle a weight problem is to admit that there is a problem to begin with.  Schedule an examination with your veterinarian, and ask them candidly about what “Cuddles’ ideal weight should be”.  During the history part of the examination we will ask about any medications that the pet may be taking.  Corticosteroid medications (such as prednisone, Vetalog, and Temaril-P) notoriously increase appetite and can have an influence on weight gain.  If there has been unexpected weight gain, your veterinarian will likely recommend some baseline blood tests, to make sure that there is no medical cause for weight gain, such as hypothyroidism.

If blood work does not reveal any causes for weight gain, then it is time to examine the diet. To put it simply, an obese animal is taking markedly more calories than they are burning off, leading to the weight gain.  There are two factors that we as the human owners have direct control over:

1)      How many calories they eat

2)      Exercise

DIET (And I mean everything, not just the dog food)

When I ask an owner what their pet is eating, I often hear “Science Diet Healthy Weight”, or something of the like.  I usually follow that up with “…is that all?” More often than not is followed up with a list of “small amounts of daily treats and food off of the table.” I would say that the great majority of overweight dogs we treat at our hospitals are fed table food supplementing their dog food.  Pet owners do not realize that these small amounts of treats and table food are adding a surprising number of calories!  Another problem with diet is portion size.  The average pet owner puts food in the bowl without measuring exactly how much is going in.  When I ask how much of a particular food someone is feeding, I often hear “2 cups” or something similar.  Often this is not a measuring cup that is being used, but some other sized-cup that can frequently be at least 2-3 cups on its own.  Our hospitals are equipped with FREE pet food measuring cups to assist you in providing the correct amount of food to your dog or cat, pick one up next time you come to visit!

Cats often have a different type of problem leading to obesity.  Unlike dogs, who can typically be trained to become “meal feeders” (eating their meal in one sitting), cats are often “free feeders” or “grazers” that pick and choose as they please.  In multiple cat households it often becomes virtually impossible to provide a certain amount of calories to any one particular cat, since the community food bowl is never empty.  This is a challenge as veterinarians that we encounter often.

The bottom line with pet food, treats and table food is that often changes need to be made.  The hardest change is often changing the perception as an owner that you are “depriving” your beloved friend from a well-deserved treat.  As a caretaker you must take the approach of “I want to have you around and healthy as long as I can, so your doctor thinks we need to make some changes”.  Speak to your veterinarian about some healthy treat ideas, such as baby carrots or frozen green beans, or some management changes that may prevent Bella from begging at the table while your family is eating.

 

 

TREATMENT AIDS FOR OBESITY:

  1. Stop table food and excessive treats.  Make sure you are not over-feeding your pet.
  2. Therapeutic Diets.  There are several prescription diets that are designed for weight loss. Unlike commercial “light” or “healthy weight” formulas, the      prescription foods have an even greater calorie restriction, or in the case of onefood can up-regulate the gene for metabolism, which in turn “burns more calories”.  Hills      Prescription Diet R/D and W/D are both calorie-restricted and can be used to promote weight loss while inducing satiety.  Hills Prescription Metabolic Diet is a relatively new food that up-regulates the gene for metabolism. Higher metabolism means weight is accomplished by burning more calories.  Please contact your veterinarian for more information about these diets and which one would be best for your pet.
  1. Slentrol. Prescription medication that makes a dog to be “less hungry,” allowing the owners to feed less calories without the pet seeming hungry all the time.
  2. More exercise!  You can look into dog parks, of course, but even more frequent or longer walks could make a big difference.  Not only are you improving the medical state of your beloved companion, but you can also increase your bond with them. Of course, you will get the added health affect of exercise too!  Don’t forget about swimming for dogs, as well. With cats, try using a laser-pointer to get them to chase around the house.

 

 

 

 

 

William Danowitz DVM

BEAT THE HEAT: How to keep your pet safe this summer ( Dr. Lorri Mitchell)

Help Your Pet Avoid Heatstroke!

Ahh, summertime. We have already weathered one heat wave and we can be sure there are more to come. This time of the year there are always warnings about heat stroke, and keeping pets inside on those hot days. We have all heard the precautions about leaving pets in cars but what is the real risk?

Heat Stroke occurs when a warm blooded animal is no longer able to self-regulate their body temperature due to environmental conditions. For our furry pets that are not able to sweat, this means the outside world is too hot for them to cool themselves down by panting. It cause hyperthermia (their body temperature gets too hot like a super fever!). What quickly follows is internal organ damage and that can lead to death or long term health problems if not immediately and aggressively treated.

At our hospitals we usually see several cases of heat stroke per season that range from a pet being forgotten in the car to a pet exercising in the heat when they were not used to it. Sometimes, just lying outside in the heat and humidity can lead to heat stroke.

Risk Factors for Heat Stroke

Pet Risk Factors:

–  The very old and the very young (just like us!)

–  Overweight pets

–  Sudden exercise of pets not conditioned for physical activity (even at moderate   temperatures)

–  Underlying medical issues such as heart or respiratory disease

–  Short nosed breeds (pugs, bulldogs, pekes or mixes of these) whose respiratory systems are less able to cope with extreme temperatures

Environmental Risk Factors:

–  High temperatures especially when coupled with high humidity

–   Lack of shade, water or ventilation

And of course, the CAR!

Leaving your pet in the car in the warm months is never a good idea. Even at moderate outside temperatures the inside of a car is much hotter. We posted this chart on Facebook recently but here is another look.

How do I recognize that my pet is overheated?

Signs that you need to take action, including calling us right away are:

–  Excessive panting even at rest

–  Dark or bright red tongue and gum color instead of salmon pink

–  Sticky or dry gums

–  Extreme lethargy, staggering or appearing unaware of surroundings

–  Bloody diarrhea or vomit

–  Seizures

What do I do?

–  Call us right away to let us know you are coming with an emergency

–  If you are delayed in transport move the pet to a cooler environment or at least shade. Use COOL water (NOT ICE WATER) to cool your pet. Using towels or cloths soaked in COOL water are best. Wrap around feet and head.

–  Offer ice cubes or small amounts of water but do not force drinking

 It is important to remember that even if your pet seems to recover from an over-heating episode you cannot assume that all is well. Their organ systems may have been affected and will need blood tests to evaluate their health. They may require a hospital stay for intravenous fluids and other medical support. With immediate treatment, heat stroke patients can be saved and live normally. Unfortunately, some do experience terminal changes to their brain or other organs causing them to lapse into coma and death despite the best efforts. The outcome is affected by factors such as how high and how long the pet’s internal temperature was elevated and how quickly aggressive medical treatment is started.

So how do we enjoy summer with our pets then?

–  Avoid activity at the hottest part of the day

–  On hot/humid days play indoors

–  If pets will be outside ensure they have shade and lots of water

–  Leave your pet at home when you go shopping or try to shop at pet friendly stores. If your pet must run errands with you, do not leave them in the car alone for more than a minute. Use solar shield blankets and shades for windows or kennels with portable fans and keep the air conditioning running. If you don’t have AC in the car, park in the shade, open all (not just one) windows at a safe level to allow a cross breeze. When you arrive home bring the pet in first before unloading the car.

–  For the techie, there are thermometers you can mount in the car with a radio transmitter to your central locking/alarm key fob and will trigger an alarm when temperatures rise in the car. But, you must be close by to rescue the pet before the temperature becomes excessive.

–  Some pets love to swim and even kiddie pools will help keep them wet and cool.

–  Dog friendly beaches can be a fun way to stay cool and there are some in NJ. Check out www.bringfido.com to find some!

Have a great summer and stay cool!

Lily

Lily Toxicity in Cats (Dr. Jenna Koenigstein)

 

Lilies can be fatal in your cat

Beautiful flower, right?  But did you know this pretty and seemingly harmless plant could actually kill your feline companions with a single nibble?  It’s true!  Certain types of lilies are among the most dangerous types of flowers for felines, and far too people are aware of this until it may be too late.  With Spring slowly starting to make its reappearance and stores full of flowers waiting to make their way into your home, we need to take a moment to discuss this potentially deadly toxicity.

The types of lilies that you need to worry about include:

  • Easter
  • Tiger
  • Stargazer
  • Japanese Show
  • Rubrum
  • Any other members of the genus Lilum (“true lilies”)

The toxic compound in lilies is extremely destructive to a cat’s kidneys.  It only takes a nibble on a single leaf or stem, drinking the vase water, or ingesting a small amount of pollen from these flowers (as with grooming) to send your cat into acute (sudden and often irreversible) kidney failure and have you rushing them to the nearest emergency room.

The prognosis for acute kidney failure from lily ingestion may be good as long as it is caught early so that aggressive treatment can be started.  However, if too much time elapses between ingestion and the start of treatment, the prognosis becomes significantly worse and death from disease or euthanasia is much more likely.  Without treatment, acute kidney failure is fatal.

Treatment for lily-induced acute kidney failure involves aggressive IV fluid diuresis, injectable medications, nutritional support, and very close monitoring.  If these fail, advanced procedures could be attempted, such as different types of dialysis, however these are quite expensive and are not readily available even at most specialty veterinary hospitals.

Hopefully it is clear based on all of this information that the best thing you can do is to PREVENT their exposure to lilies.  Here are some suggestions for doing this.

  • If you have cats in your household, do not have lilies!  There is no such thing as “out of reach” for most cats, and even a fallen dead leaf or airborne pollen could be enough to cause toxicity.
  • Keep your cats indoors as many people have lilies in their garden.
  • If you are buying or sending a bouquet to friends or family members with cats, ensure there are no lilies present.
  • Share the knowledge of lily toxicity with family, friends, and florists to try to prevent feline exposure.  From personal experience, it crucial to share knowledge of toxins with those who may inadvertently bring these plants into the house without realizing the danger.  I suggest making a list of toxins for whatever types of animals you have in your home and placing it somewhere important such as on the refrigerator so everyone is aware.  You can ask your veterinarian to help with the making of such a list.

 

Hopefully this entry has helped provide some information to you regarding a dangerous toxicity we see far too often.  Happy Spring!

 

Dr. Jenna Koenigstein