Wednesday, May 25, 2011

FROM OUR VETS: Hold that chocolate!

Dr. Noemi Plantz reminds dog-owners that, although chocolate is nutritious for humans (not to mention delicious), it is quite toxic to our four-legged friends.

Be wary of chocolate and your pets!

Chocolate contains two substances that are toxic to dogs: theobromine and caffeine. The amounts vary with the type of chocolate. Baking chocolate contains the most, followed by dark chocolate, and milk chocolate. White chocolate contains the least amount of theobromine and caffeine.

Signs can vary when a dog eats chocolate, although not every dog will develop toxicity. Watch for gastrointestinal upset (diarrhea and vomiting), nervous system disorders (hyperactivity, tremors, seizures), and cardiovascular changes (arrhythmias). Your veterinarian can calculate the amount of toxic substance consumed, and determine if treatment is needed. Treatments can be as simple as subcutaneous fluids, stomach protectants, and a bland diet. More difficult cases might call for hospitalization, intravenous fluids, and anti-convulsants.

Variables can involve the type of chocolate, the amount eaten, and the weight of the dog. Call us when you think your dog has eaten chocolate and we'll be glad to consult. At the clinic and in our homes, we keep all foods containing chocolate out of reach of our dogs, and well within our own reach instead!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cat Facts

We were interested to read some material from Darlene Arden's new book The Complete Cat's Meow. Here's a sample of fun facts about your favorite feline.

1. A domestic cat can run about 31 mph. (!)
2. Cats walk on their toes, which probably accounts for their graceful movements. In ballet there is a step called pas de chat -- the cat step. It's a little jump to the side.
3. Your cat will only respond to catnip if she has the catnip gene. Not every cat is born with this gene, and it doesn't show up right away, so don't expect a young kitty to respond to catnip the way an older one will.
4. Thirty-two muscles control a cat's outer ear, and he can rotate it ten times faster than a dog. In fact kitty can rotate each ear 180 degrees.
5. Cats have scent glands in their cheeks, so if your cat rubs against you she is "marking" you as hers. She really does love you. She'll also mark furniture and clothing this way. Everything she likes is hers. It's also her way of leaving her "mark" to say that she was there.
6. Cat whiskers are extremely sensitive. They not only help the cat locate where she is in the dark, but how the cat moves them is an indicator of the cat's feelings at any given time. The top two rows of whiskers can move independently of the bottom two rows.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

FROM OUR VETS: Leptospirosis and Dogs

New Report on Leptospirosis

Cedar Pet Clinic vets have reviewed a new report, based on a literature review, which offers a consensus opinion on leptospirosis and provides evidence-based justification for recommendations regarding the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of this disease. This consensus statement was presented at the 2010 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) forum and was published in the Jan./Feb. 2011 issue of the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

"While we should still suspect leptospirosis in dogs with kidney or liver disease, the clinical presentation of leptospirosis can vary widely. Some dogs may not even show signs of clinical illness, while others will become severely ill and ultimately die of the disease. Dogs with renal involvement may have signs typical of renal disease such as increased water consumption, increased urinarion, dehydration, vomiting, and diarrhea. It is important to note, however, that infected dogs not in kidney failure may show similar symptoms. Dogs that present with liver involvement may show signs of jaundice, vomiting or diarrhea. Respiratory signs may also be present.

"Typically, dogs become infected with leptospirosis by exposure to contaminated water, soil, food, or bedding. Dogs that drink from or are exposed to rivers, streams, or lakes may have an increased risk; however, it is important to note that even dogs in urban environments may contract the illness. In areas where wild animal species (such as raccoons, opossums, deer, fox, coyote and even rodents) access suburban backyards, all dogs may be at risk.

"Diagnosis of leptospirosis is difficult and testing is not totally accurate. Dogs frequently are treated based on symptoms and screening blood tests that do not confirm the disease.

"Treatment plans depend on the severity of the disease. If the patient is able to take oral medications, doxycycline should be administered for two weeks. Other antibiotics may be effective but are not the drug of choice.

"The prognosis for dogs that are treated appropriately and aggressively and that do not have complicating respiratory involvement is good. Blood test for kidney function would be expected to return to normal by two weeks, although it may take more than four weeks in some cases. In some dogs, permanent kidney damage may occur.

"Most human cases of leptospirosis in the United States result from recreational water activities. The incidence of transmission from pet contact is low; however, while the risks of human exposure require further study, appropriate handling of these patients is warranted.

"The consensus panel recommends that dogs considered to be at risk for leptospirosis infection be vaccinated annually with the leptospirosis vaccine that contains the four most common vaccine types."

That's the recommendation of the Cedar Pet Clinic vets, too. In our area, all our dog patients are at risk of wild animal contact and exposure to water contaminated by wild animals, and should be vaccinated for leptospirosis.