Monthly Archives

September 2014

Halloween

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Halloween has the potential for your four legged pet getting into all of their halloween loot. Having your pets getting into high fatty treats can result in pancreatitis (for details on pancreatitis see the above paragraph) and chocolate contains a toxic ingredient called theobromine which can result in seizures or even death. The more chocolate liquor the product contains the more toxic (more theobromine) the chocolate is. Although milk chocolate (most Halloween chocolate bars are milk) is less toxic than semi-sweet and dark chocolate it can still result in serious illness. Be sure to put all Halloween candy and treats out of reach of your critters and do not share your chocolate treats with your dogs and cats. Click here for further details on chocolate toxicity.

Many people also think of bats when Halloween comes around every year. Bats are notorious rabies vectors and although there is a low risk of transmission, even indoor cats can be affected when these animals get into our homes. Ensure that your cats are vaccinated against rabies even if they are indoor kitties. Please see Cat and bats and rabies posted by Dr. Scott Weese.

Thanksgiving

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With Thanksgiving approaching, there may be a tendency for many pet owners to offer an abundance of leftovers and turkey bones to their furry family members. Of course they will be taken with no hesitation and gladly gobbled down. However, you could be doing more harm than good in offering these “treats” to your pets. In dogs, the ingestion of a fatty meal, like meat trimmings, can result in the inflammation of the pancreas, also known as pancreatitis. The pancreas has two main jobs – the secretion of digestive enzymes (helps to break down the food that has been ingested) and the secretion of insulin and glucagon (to regulate sugar metabolism). With pancreastis, the digestive enzymes that are secreted from the pancreas are released prematurely (when there is no food passing through) and they begin to digest the body itself, resulting in the inflammation and tissue damage of the surrounding living tissue. Common signs include vomiting, anorexia, diarrhea, depression and dehydration. In cats, the cause of pancreatitis is rarely uncovered, however there are a number of factors that could contribute to it like certain medications, and an inflammatory bowel disease association. In regard to bones, owners beware!! Bones can cause a number of injuries to your pets including blockage of the esophagus or wind pipe (if they inhale a small bone or splinter from a larger bone), blockage of the intestines (may lead to surgery), mouth and gum injury, and broken teeth. For further information please see No Bones About it: Bones are Unsafe for Your Dog.

Fall Related Conditions and Information

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c4f76825-7f00-0001-2e8d-0049116c3f43_thumbnail1) Skin Allergies

Allergic skin disease equally affects males and females, regardless of age or breed. Causes of skin allergies can be divided into four main categories – food allergies, contact allergies, insect bite allergies (flea bite hypersensitivity), and allergic inhalant skin disease (pollens, mold spores, and dust mites).

allergy causes picture

a) Food allergies

Food allergies are very common in dogs, with dietary protein being the culprit for this allergy. This allergen often affects the face, ears, feet, groin and armpit region, however a chronic ear infection can often be the only sign. Food allergies can also affect cats, although much less than dogs, with clinical signs including skin lesions and itching around the face, neck and ears. Typically in order to diagnose and treat suspected food allergies provide a diet that contains proteins to which your pet has not been exposed for a minimum of eight weeks, ensuring that no other foods are given. Individual proteins can be removed, then reintroduced to determine whether or not they are the cause of the allergy. At the Victoria Road Animal Hospital we sell specific veterinary diets that are targeted for food allergic pets, once an allergen has been identified.

b) Contact allergies

Contact allergies are not common in pets, but when they do occur reactions are typically found only at the sites of contact with the allergen, or areas where the hair coat is thin. Possible allergens include plants, plastic food dishes, wool, carpet deodorizers and cleaning products. The diagnosis of a contact allergen is not easily made, but by eliminating potential sources and identifying any reduction in clinical signs, the culprit is usually uncovered.

fleac) Insect bite allergies

Insect bites, particularly from fleas, can also cause allergic reactions in pets. Flea allergy dermatitis can occur in dogs and cats that are hypersensitive to the saliva in a flea’s bite. The reaction produces a raised bump or scab and hair loss along the backbone to the base of the tail. Mosquito bites can also leave raised red bumps, like they do in humans. Biting flies will target the tips of ears, and cause thick, dark, scabby lesions that will easily bleed, with pets usually showing a distinctive head shaking motion. There are a number of flea prevention options are available at the Victoria Road Animal Hospital, please enquire, as to which one is best suited for your pet.

d) Allergic inhalant skin disease

This is the most common form of allergy in pets. Inhaled substances cause an allergic reaction by animals that are genetically predisposed to them. This type of allergy is known as atopic dermatitis, or atopy. Atopy affects 10%-15% of the dog population, and usually appears within the first three years of life. The most common allergens include airborne pollens (trees, weeds, grasses), mold spores, and dust mites. While some pets may only experience seasonal itchiness (like pollen allergies in fall), most often more than one allergic trigger exists, and some pets experience discomfort year round. Lesions can appear in many locations of the body, including the face, ears, ventral neck, chest, and abdomen, and lower parts of the limbs (between toes) usually due to self-induced trauma from excessive itching. Pets that suffer from chronic itchiness, may develop a secondary chronic skin and ear infections that required antibiotic treatment. Treatments for atopy may include supplements (e.g. essential fatty acid), antihistamines, prescription drugs (e.g. corticosteroids), and desensitization injections (as long as specific allergens can be determined by skin or blood testing).

There is no cure for allergies, and lifelong avoidance measure and symptom treatment might be necessary to ensure the allergic pet maintains a high quality of life.

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c4f76847-7f00-0001-6911-d68a8096a8422) Ear infections

Inflammation of the ears can fall into one of three categories: otitis externa – inflammation of the external ear canal, otitis media – inflammation of the middle ear, and otitis interna – inflammation of the inner ear (see diagram of the ear below).

We will only expand on otitis externa here. Otitis externa is usually characterized by pain when the ears are touched, head shaking, scratching at the pinnae, ear exudate (yellow-tan to dark brown) and malodorous ears. The primary cause is usually one or more of the following – parasites, hypersensitivities, foreign bodies, obstructions, or autoimmune disease. Perpetuating factors include secondary bacterial infections due to yeast overgrowth, bacteria, and rarely fungus, and chronic water exposure (from swimming regularly). Otitis externa is best diagnosed from microscopic examination of aural exudate – which is the single most important diagnostic tool after complete examination of the ear canal has been performed. Treatment usually consists of the prescription of a topical therapy and an ear cleaner. If the infection is due to severe amounts of bacteria then oral antibiotics may also be prescribed. For dogs that swim regularly, ensure that their ears are dried well after each dip in the water.

dog ear4

leptospirosis2

3) Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a serious infectious disease that can affect both animals and humans. Caused by the Leptospira bacteria, dog are especially susceptible when they come into contact with infected wildlife (through bite wounds or ingestion of infected tissues), or areas where infected wildlife have contaminated the environment (puddles, ditches, or streams). Early stages of leptospirosis can have the same flu symptom appearance, and progress to potentially become fatal. Currently at the Victoria Road Animal Hospital, we offer a Leptospirosis vaccine for dogs (either as part of your dog’s annual vaccines or at any other time) that protects them against the four (4) most common strains of Leptospira that affect dogs.

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Leptospirosis

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Leptospirosis is a serious infectious disease that can affect both animals and humans. Caused by the Leptospira bacteria, dog are especially susceptible when they come into contact with infected wildlife (through bite wounds or ingestion of infected tissues), or areas where infected wildlife have contaminated the environment (puddles, ditches, or streams). Early stages of leptospirosis can have the same flu symptom appearance, and progress to potentially become fatal. Currently at the Victoria Road Animal Hospital, we offer a Leptospirosis vaccine for dogs (either as part of your dog’s annual vaccines or at any other time) that protects them against the four (4) most common strains of Leptospira that affect dogs.

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Falling into FALL!

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With the days getting shorter and the temperatures dropping, it is clear that fall is in full swing! As we embrace this season, your team at the Victoria Road Animal Hospitalwants to help keep you informed and your pets safe during the fall season.

Reminder: Don’t forget to continue giving monthly heartworm and/or flea prevention to your pets until the end of October (October 31/11). Mosquitoes and fleas are still present until the first frost.

Tip #1: Ensure that you wipe your pet’s feet off after going for walks outside – it is very common for your pet to contract intestinal parasites or leptospirosis if they have stepped in contaminated areas and then lick their paws (ingesting the parasite or parasite eggs).

Tip #2: Ensure that you run your hands over your pet once they have come in from being outside to check for the presence of ticks, wasps and bee stings, burrs, bites, or any other lumps or bumps. These can lead to illness and can go unnoticed for days, especially if you have a long haired pet.

Intestinal Parasites

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Intestinal parasites are very common in both dogs and cats, and especially puppies and kittens, since egg transmission can occur transplacentally, transmammarily, through grooming, or regurgitated meals. In adult dogs and cats egg transmission can occur through direct ingestion of the eggs from the environment, through ingestion of a definitive (an animal harbouring a sexually mature parasite), paratenic (an animal serving as a transport for an immature parasite with no development taking place) or an intermediate host (an animal used during the immature stages of the parasite’s life cycle to continue their development), like a flea, mouse, bird, snail, etc., percutaneously (internal access obtained through the skin), from grooming other infected animals, and through grooming themselves (licking paws that have stepped in infected feces or soil). For the reasons above fecal analysis is the number one most common laboratory test run in a small animal clinic. At the Victoria Road Animal Hospital we recommend a fecal analysis for any new pet or puppy or kitten, and then yearly for adult pets. If your pet has tested positive for an intestinal parasite then we will contact you and prepare the appropriate medication that targets that parasite. We will also ask that you bring in another fecal sample 3-4 weeks after treatment has been finished to ensure that the medication has cleared up all parasite eggs.

LISTED BELOW ARE THE MOST COMMON INTESTINAL PARASITES FOUND AT THE VICTORIA ROAD ANIMAL HOSPITAL.

roundwormsIMG00932Roundworms (ZOONOTIC)

There are 3 different species of roundworm or ascarids that readily affect dogs and cats – Toxocara canis (affects dogs only), Toxacaris leonina (affects both dogs and cats), and Toxocara cati (affects cats only). The eggs of all three species can remain infective in the soil for months to years even through the winter, and can be transmitted to humans. Both Toxocara canis and Toxocara cati eggs can be transmitted through direct ingestion or ingestion of a paratenic host.

Toxocara cati life cycle

Toxocara cati life cycle

Toxocara cati life cycle

Step One: Toxocara eggs are passed in the host’s feces. If a fecal sample is tested, the eggs can be detected. The embryonic worm develops in the outdoor environment inside its microscopic egg for one month before it becomes able to infect a new host. If environmental conditions are favorable, it takes about a month for the egg to become infective but Toxocara eggs are famous for weathering harsh environmental conditions. Eggs can remain infective for months to years.

Note: Fresh feces are not infectious.

Step Two: The egg containing what is called a second stage larva is picked up orally by a cat or by some other animal. The egg hatches in the new host’s intestinal tract and the young worm burrows its way out of the intestinal tract to encyst in the host’s other body tissues. If the new host is a cat, the life cycle proceeds. If the new host is a member of another species, such as a rodent, the larvae wait encysted until the new host is eaten by a cat.

Step Three: These second stage larvae can remain encysted happily for years. If the host is a cat, though, most larvae waste no time encysting and continue their migration straight to the lungs. The majority of the incoming larvae have reached the cat’s lungs by the third day after infection. Those larvae that stay behind encysted do so in the cat’s liver. Once they get to the lung, they develop into third stage larvae and burrow into the small airways, ultimately traveling upward towards the host?s throat. A heavy infection can produce a serious pneumonia. When they get to the upper airways, they cause coughing. The worms are coughed up into the host’s throat where they are swallowed, thus entering the intestinal tract for the second time in their development.

If the host is a nursing mother, second stage larvae can migrate to the mammary gland instead of the lung. Kittens can thus be infected by drinking their mother’s milk. Larvae that had encyst in the liver and gone dormant will re-awaken during the host’s pregnancy, continuing their migration just in time to infect the nursing kittens. In this way, a well-dewormed mother cat can still infect her kittens.

Note: When cats are dewormed, this affects only worms in the intestinal tract. It does not affect encysted larvae. It is very difficult to prevent mother-to-kitten transmission and routine deworming is not adequate.

Step Four: Once back in the intestine, the larvae complete their maturation and begin to mate. The first eggs are laid about one week after the fourth stage larvae have arrived in the intestine and about 4 to 5 weeks after infection has first occurred. From here the cycle repeats.

Toxocara canis life cycle

Toxocara canis life cycle

Toxocara canis life cycle

Step One: Toxocara eggs are passed in the host’s feces. If a fecal sample is tested, the eggs can be detected. The embryonic worm develops in the outdoor environment inside its microscopic egg for one month before it becomes able to infect a new host. If environmental conditions are favorable, it takes about a month for the egg to become infective but Toxocara eggs are famous for weathering harsh environmental conditions. Eggs can remain infective for months to years.

Note: Fresh feces are not infectious. Soil contaminated with feces is infectious.

Step Two: The egg containing what is called a second stage larva is picked up from the dirt by a dog or by some other animal, usually in the course of normal grooming. The egg hatches in the new host’s intestinal tract and the young worm burrows its way out of the intestinal tract to encyst in the host’s other body tissues. If the new host is a dog, the life cycle proceeds. If the new host is a member of another species, the larvae wait encysted until the new host is eaten by a dog.

Step Three: These second stage larvae can remain encysted happily for years. If the host is a dog, the larvae mostly encyst in the host’s liver. When the time comes to move on, the larvae excyst and migrate to the host’s lungs where they develop into third stage larvae. They burrow into the small airways and travel upward towards the host’s throat. A heavy infection can produce a serious pneumonia. When they get to the upper airways, their presence generates coughing. The worms are coughed up into the host’s throat where they are swallowed, thus entering the intestinal tract for the second time in their development.

If the host is pregnant, the larvae do not migrate to the lung after they excyst; instead they home to the uterus and infect the unborn puppies. The second stage larvae make their way to the puppies’ lungs to develop into third stage larvae.

If the host is a nursing mother, second stage larvae can migrate to the mammary gland instead of the lung after excysting. Puppies can be infected by drinking their mother’s milk, although due to the intrauterine cycle described above, the litter would probably already be infected. Note: When dogs are dewormed with traditional dewormers, this affects only worms in the intestinal tract. It does not affect encysted larvae. It is difficult to prevent mother to puppy transmission and routine deworming is not adequate. It is possible to prevent infection in unborn puppies by using a specific daily protocol of fenbendazole or with the new generation products containing moxidectin (your veterinarian can provide details).

Step Four: Once back in the intestine, the larvae complete their maturation and begin to mate. The first eggs are laid about one week after the fourth stage larvae have arrived in the intestine and about 4 to 5 weeks after infection has first occurred. From here the cycle repeats.

hookwormsIMG01857Hookworms (ZOONOTIC)

There are 3 different species of hookworms that readily affect dogs and cats – Ancylostoma caninum (affects dogs only), Ancylostoma tubaeforme (affects cats only), and Uncinaria stenocephala (affects both dogs and cats). The eggs of all three species can live in cool, moist soil for several weeks, and can be transmitted to humans. Eggs can be transmitted through direct ingestion, percutaniously, transplacentally and transmammarily.

 

 

tapewormsIMG03054Tapeworms (only Dipylidium caninum is ZOONOTIC)

There are 3 different species of tapeworms that readily affect dogs and cats – Taenia pisiformis (affects dogs only), Taenia taeniaeformis (affects cats only), and Dipylidium caninum or flea tapeworm (affects both dogs and cats). Generally, tapeworms are diagnosed by owners finding and bringing in dried out tapeworm segments called proglottids (they look like grains of rice) found in the perianal area of their pet or in the bedding of their pet.

Both Taenia spp. and Dipylidium caninum are transmitted through a definitive host (your dog or cat) ingesting an intermediate host, where the intermediate host differs for each. For Taenia pisiformis, the intermediate host is either a rabbit or ruminant, for Taenia taeniaeformis, the intermediate host is a rodent, and for Dipylidium caninum, the intermediate host are fleas or biting lice.

giardiatrophozoiteGiardia (ZOONOTIC)

Giardia intestinalis (aka Giardia lamblia) is a one-celled parasitic species that affects the intestines of both animals and humans. In humans Giardia is a common cause of what is commonly known as “Traveler’s Diarrhea” or “Beaver Fever”. There are two forms of this species, the fragile feeding form called a trophozoite exists in the gut of infected species and the hardy cystic form, is shed in feces and can survive for several months in the environment, particularly in water and damp environments.

 

 

 

isosporaIMG00342Coccidia – Isospora canis/felis

Coccidia are single-celled organisms that infect the intestine. They are also not visible to the naked eye. Coccidia infection causes a watery diarrhea that is sometimes bloody; it can be a life-threatening problem, especially to a young or small pet. Oocysts (pronounced o’o-sists), like those shown above, are passed in stool. In the outside world, the oocysts begin to mature or sporulate. After they have adequately matured, they are infective to any host (dog or cat) that accidentally swallows them. To be more precise, coccidia come from fecal-contaminated ground. They are swallowed when a pet grooms/licks the dirt off. In some cases, sporulated oocysts are swallowed by mice and then the host is infected after eating the mouse. While there are species of coccidia that can infect people (like Toxoplasma and Cryptosporidium, for example), the Isospora species of dogs and cats are not infective to people.