2018 National Walk Your Dog Week

Take the Pledge

40 percent of dogs… a total of about 17 million in the United States alone, are overweight. If you walk your dog just 30 minutes a day, you (and your dog) will meet national recommendations for heart health.

Make the pledge to start walking your dog for at least 30 minutes a day for a week and share the changes you notice in your dog and yourself with us on Facebook.

Understanding Tapeworms

What Are Tapeworms?

Tapeworms are parasites that live in the small intestines of many different species of animals, including humans. 

Depending on the species, these tapeworms can vary greatly in length. For example, Echinococcus multilocularis is less than 1 cm long, whereas an adult Taenia saginata may be up to 10 metres long! Except for the head, a tapeworm’s body is made up entirely of small segments, called proglottids, which break off from the end of the worm’s tail as it grows and contain the parasite’s eggs. Both intact proglottids (which can move by themselves) and eggs may be passed in the feces.

Of all the tapeworms in pets, Echinococcus spp. pose the greatest disease risk to people.

Different Tapeworms, Different Risks

There are three main groups of tapeworms, each containing one or more species, that are a concern for most domestic animals and humans. Each group poses a different level of risk to people, and may be spread between animals and people in a different ways.

How do I know if my pet has tapeworms?

Tapeworm infection in adult animals rarely causes illness, even with large numbers of worms, but the motile proglottids may cause irritation around the anus, causing the animal to chew or rub the area or “scoot“. Your veterinarian can perform a fecal “float” on your pet to look for eggs of tapeworms (and
other parasites) in the feces. It is important to have this done regularly. It is impossible to tell Echinococcus eggs from the eggs of Taenia tapeworms based on
a fecal float. The intact proglottids (egg sacs) of Echinococcus are distinguishable from Taenia, but they are very small and extremely difficult to find.

Pets infected with Echinococcus may not pass tapeworm eggs in every fecal sample, so even if the fecal test is negative, it is still important to pick up after your pet and use good hygiene when handling your pet’s feces, especially if you live in an area where Echinoccoccus is endemic.

How are tapeworm infections treated?

In pets, intestinal tapeworm infections are easily treated using oral dewormers such as praziquantel. Nonetheless, if your pet needs to be treated for tapeworms, it is important to also take steps to prevent your pet from being reinfected afterwards. Pets may shed very high numbers of parasite eggs for a few days after being treated, so be particularly diligent about removing pet feces promptly and hand washing.

People with intestinal tapeworm infections are typically treated the same way as pets (using an oral dewormer).

How can I prevent tapeworm infection in me, my pets & my family?

The two major components of preventing tapeworm infection in people are preventing intestinal infection in pets and preventing human exposure to the parasite eggs and cysts.

Have your veterinarian check your pet’s feces at least once a year to detect parasite eggs. In areas where Echinococcus has been recently reported, it’s best to do this several times per year. Because pets may not pass tapeworm eggs in every fecal sample, testing three fecal samples collected over the course of a week is recommended to decrease the likelihood of a false-negative test.

Flea control is essential for preventing D. caninum infection in pets, because without adult fleas the parasite cannot be transmitted. Remember that pets can be exposed to fleas from other animals if they go outside, even if they don’t become infested themselves. Do not allow pets to hunt or scavenge other animals. Keep cats indoors and prevent rodent infestations in the house. Keep dogs on a leash or at least in sight when outdoors. Do not allow hunting dogs to eat raw offal. Ensure all meat or other animal-based products are properly cooked before being fed to pets, especially if the animal source is from an area where Echinococcus is endemic.

Meat for human consumption should also always be thoroughly cooked to reduce the risk of transmission of a variety of parasites and bacteria, including tapeworms. Pick up pet feces promptly and wash you hands thoroughly afterwards.

If working with soil, especially in an area where the soil may be contaminated by feces from foxes, feral dogs or similar animals, always wear gloves and wash hands thoroughly when done.

Overview of Feline Upper Respiratory Infections

Our feline friends can catch colds too.

As is the case with humans, the culprits to blame for these nasty colds are bacteria or viruses, sometimes both.

The bacteria and viruses that most commonly cause upper respiratory infections (URIs) in cats are:

  • Feline herpesvirus type-1 (FHV-1); also known as feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR)
  • Feline calicivirus (FVC)
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica (B. bronchiseptica)
  • Chlamydophila felis (C. felis)
  • Less commonly, Mycoplasma spp. (bacteria) or a feline retrovirus, such as FIV or FeLV, are contributing factors in an upper respiratory infection.

Bacteria and viruses are very contagious and are present in the saliva and discharge produced by the eyes and nose. Healthy cats can get infected when they come into direct contact with a sick cat. Cats with retroviruses are especially vulnerable to the contagions, both through direct contact or indirect contact with contaminated objects.

Symptoms of feline upper respiratory infections

Sniffling, sneezing, clear to pus-like discharge from the eyes and/or nose, coughing and lethargy are common symptoms of an upper respiratory infection in cats. On examination, your veterinarian may also check for oral ulcers, sometimes caused by FVR and FCV. Generally, a fever, poor appetite, and lethargy accompany the more specific symptoms of a URI.

Duration of feline upper respiratory infections

Generally an infection will last for 7–21 days. There is an incubation period, the time period from point of infection to when clinical signs become apparent, of 2–10 days. It is thought that the incubation period is the time of highest contagion.

Diagnosis of feline upper respiratory infections

The clinical signs and symptoms are usually enough to make a diagnosis of feline upper respiratory infection. Diagnostic tests, however, are required to determine the cause of the infection. So your veterinarian may recommend testing.

Treatment of feline upper respiratory infections

Your veterinarian will determine the best treatment course for your cat, which may include specific prescriptions and possible hospitalization, depending on the severity of clinical signs.

How Humans are Affected by a Feline Upper Respiratory Infection

Humans are at low risk for contracting the diseases responsible for causing upper respiratory infections in cats. Most of these infectious agents are species-specific – affecting only the one species – and are not “zoonotic” (spread between species). B. bronchiseptica and conjunctivitis associated with C. felis can be a potential risk to people with lowered immunity. To prevent the chance of infection, wash your hands frequently and be watchful for signs of respiratory illness.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

2017 National Walk Your Dog Week

Take the Pledge

40 percent of dogs… a total of about 17 million in the United States alone, are overweight. If you walk your dog just 30 minutes a day, you (and your dog) will meet national recommendations for heart health.

Make the pledge to start walking your dog for at least 30 minutes a day for a week and share the changes you notice in your dog and yourself with us on Facebook.

METACAM for dogs living with osteoarthritis

While dogs experience pain just like you or me, they don’t often show it. That’s why it’s up to your veterinarian to try to identify and minimize pain and increase comfort by offering pain medication.

 

Veterinarians can prescribe METACAM for dogs living with osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative joint disease, pain to help them find relief and get them back to doing the things they love.

 

 

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: METACAM Oral Suspension is only approved for use in dogs. The safe use of METACAM Oral Suspension in dogs younger than 6 months of age, dogs used for breeding, or pregnant or lactating dogs has not been evaluated. Of course, like any medication, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as METACAM may cause side effects. The most common side effects are vomiting and soft stool or diarrhea. These are usually mild and affect primarily the gastrointestinal system, but more serious side effects can occur. Therefore, NSAIDs should only be administered under the direction of a licensed professional. If you notice side effects in your dog during treatment, stop the drug and call your veterinarian. View the package insert for complete product information.

 

Bloat, Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus in Dogs

Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV) is a life threatening disorder most commonly seen in large, deep-chested dogs, although any dog may be affected.

In its early stage, the stomach fills with gas, causing a simple gastric dilatation or “bloat”. Sometimes, the condition progresses no further than a bloat. A GDV is a progression of the bloat into a volvulus, in which the huge, gas-filled stomach twists upon itself so that both the entrance and exit of the stomach become blocked.

This is a life-threatening emergency that requires surgery to correct.

What causes Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus?

The exact cause is still unknown. The condition is seen most commonly in large breed dogs that eat or drink rapidly and then exercise vigorously.

Additional facts about Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus include:

  • Dogs weighing over 100 pounds have approximately a 20% risk of bloat during their lifetime.
  • Gastric dilatation (bloat), usually without volvulus (twist), occasionally occurs in elderly small dogs.
  • The distended stomach pushes the posterior rib cage so that the dog appears swollen or “bloated”. This is most obvious on the left side and gentle tapping of the swelling just behind the last rib often produces hollow, drum-like sounds.
  • The enlarged stomach presses on the diaphragm and breathing becomes labored.
  • The swollen stomach presses on the larger blood vessels in the abdomen and circulation is seriously compromised, resulting in systemic shock.
  • Ultimately, the dog collapses and the distended abdomen becomes readily apparent as the dog lies on its side.

Factors that may increase the risk of Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus include:

  • Feeding only one meal a day
  • Having a family history of bloat (i.e. a parent or sibling that has suffered from this condition)
  • Eating rapidly
  • Being thin or underweight
  • Having a fearful, anxious or nervous temperament
  • Having a history of aggression toward people or other animals
  • Male dogs are more likely to bloat than females
  • Older dogs (7 – 12 years of age) were the highest risk group in a recent study
  • Moistening dry food particularly if citric acid is listed as a preservative

Is it possible to distinguish between gastric dilatation (GD) and gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV)?

No. These two conditions often look identical on physical examination. X-rays and other diagnostic tests are necessary to determine if the stomach has twisted.

What is the survival rate?

This depends on many factors; how long the pet has had GDV, the degree of shock, the severity of the condition, cardiac problems, stomach wall necrosis, length of surgery, etc. Even in relatively uncomplicated cases, there is a mortality rate of 15-20% for GDV. In a recent study, if heart arrhythmias were also present at the time of diagnosis, the mortality rate increased to 38%; if tissue damage was severe enough to require removal of part of the stomach, the mortality rate jumped to 28% to 38%; if the spleen was removed, the mortality rate was 32% to 38%.

Please do not hesitate to discuss any concerns you have regarding this serious condition with your veterinarian.