Category: Routine Health (page 3 of 4)

The Very Basics of Eyes, Noses & Toenails

The Very Basics of Eyes, Noses & Toenails

Welcome to part 2 of 2 of a collaboration with Miss Edie the Pug.  We’re going to finish up our discussion of simple care things you can do at home to keep your pets healthy by focusing on the eyes, nose, and those pesky toenails this week.

Corneal ulceration with corneal edema

Corneal ulceration with corneal edema

Maybe your pets stares into your soul with those eyes when you get ready to clean their ears or trim their nails.  Those eyes are not something I ever recommend anyone messing with.  They only get one set so it’s best not to self-treat.  Discharge from the eyes could be indicative of an infection or a scratch.  Squinting is often associated with a scratch, which if not treated promptly, can hurt and may be difficult to heal, or in the worst cases can result in permanent damage.  Other things to watch for are swelling of the eye or cloudiness of the cornea.  Get to your vet as soon as possible if this is noted.

Normal dog nose

Normal dog nose

Depigmentation

Depigmentation

Let’s be nosey…  The very front of your fur-baby is one of the few hairless spots (unless you have a Sphyx or other type of exotic breed).  In general, you don’t need to clean the nose but you may see color changes or texture changes on the surface of the nose.  For some dogs, this could be a seasonal change or a breed related condition.  On the other hand though, some conditions involving the immune system will manifest with changes in the nasal appearance so your veterinarianshould be consulted.

Yet, in some breeds such as pugs, bulldogs, & other brachycephalic breeds, we have to deal with folds around the nose. french-bulldog-nasal folds Sometimes these folds will get dirty or retain moisture and can lead to infections so we do recommend cleaning them.  A wash can be obtained from your veterinarian but I have also recommended using baby wipes, a wash cloth with mild dish soap, or if there is more greasy build up you can safely use human acne pads.

Oddly enough, I think more dogs & cats mind getting their nails trimmed than they do ever getting any type off needle or brushing of their coat.  Some of the reason may be the restraint involved while other times they had a bad experience once and the quick, or blood vessel, was clipped causing bleeding & pain.  If nails are left too long, they can catch & break off causing more severe pain, limping, and in the worst case, an infection.  Again, like brushing teeth, I always try to get people to handle the feet of their puppy or kitten to get them used to it.

nailThe clear nails are simple, just don’t cut into the pink part and everything will be okay.  But those black nails?  Those buggers can be a problem.  There are two tips to trimming these.  First, I say make them flush with the bottom of the paw pads; the vessel typically does not extend past that.  Second, start trimming a few millimeters at a time keeping perpendicular to the curve of the nail and if you look at the nail from an end-on perspective, you can start to see concentric rings like a target – STOP!  You’re getting close at that point of the vessel.  Give your dog a treat and maybe one for you (not from the same container though!) and then repeat in about 4-6 weeks.

Hopefully this has been helpful to do some simple things to avoid bigger problems with your pets.  Your veterinary clinic can help you with a demonstration of these things – all you have to do is ask!  But if your pets won’t cooperate, we’ll always be there to help!  If there’s something you want to find out more about, or to hear my opinion on a topic, leave a comment below or over on my Facebook page.  Thanks for reading & sharing!

Disclaimer: All blog posts are personally written and my opinion and do not reflect those of current or former employers.

Don’t forget to check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and now Pinterest to see more events in my day & more shared info!  And on the right side of my blog you can now subscribe so you can always get the updates when a new post is published!

Pet Vasectomies…Are You Nuts?!

Pet Vasectomies…Are You Nuts?!

 

A reader has asked me about vasectomies in cats & dogs and why they aren’t being recommended.  I’ll do my best to answer and have a discussion about this but also use this as an opportunity to discuss the more common procedure of orchidectomy, or otherwise known as castration or neutering.  I have chosen not to include any graphic medical photos though they really would emphasize some of the complications & problems.

I’ll be honest.  A vasectomy on a cat, dog, chinchilla, horse, and other animals is not something that I was taught in veterinary school.   Neither did my wife who graduated 2 years after me or the vet students or recent graduates (within the last 2 years) that I spoke to.  This really means that the first barrier to actually doing the procedure is actually most veterinarians not knowing how to do the procedure.  The procedure is described in some surgery textbooks but the caveat is that there are two ways to do the procedure.  This typically means there are risks to both ways as neither procedure is perfect.

EnlargedProstate radsSome complications can include scrotal swelling, bleeding, and failure of the procedure (meaning if not done properly by someone familiar with the procedure, a pregnancy can still occur).  There are also options for chemical castrations but there is similarly a possibility of complications particularly due to the technical skill needed to carry out the procedure as well as the chemical that is being placed into the body.

I always love doing surgery and learning new procedures.  So why do we veterinarians recommend castration as opposed to vasectomies?  The real issue is hormonal influence and behavioral tendencies of intact dogs.  Certainly, a dog or cat that has had a vasectomy will not be able to impregnate a female but they will still have the impact of testosterone on their body.  This is the reason the zoos often do vasectomies in their population of animals so that they can’t rampantly breed but will still maintain the behavior they would often exhibit in the wild.

Let’s be honest though…your cat is not a bengal tiger and your dog is not rare breed of wolf.  Sex hormones are good foraggressive dog helping manage weight.  Dogs that are intact do have a slightly higher metabolic energy requirement but not as significant a difference as seen in female animals.  Weight problems do not tend to be an issue as long as you manage food intake and proper exercise.  Additionally, we do not recommend neutering before 5.5 months as doing the procedure too early can cause bone growth to go on longer meaning that dogs will get larger.  This is not necessarily a good thing as it can lead to bone & joint problems.  Testosterone replacement appears to be more effective in humans than in dogs and is not a practice typically carried out in companion animal medicine.

cat fightCats & dogs that are intact do have a higher tendency to fight and roam.  From my time working in an emergency clinic, it would be a fair approximation to say that about 80% of dogs that I saw that were hit by cars, they were intact males.  Animals that are still intact also run the risk of testicular cancer.  More commonly though, the prostate becomes enlarged due to the hormones and this can cause enough swelling of the prostate gland that animals can having difficulty defecating or urinating.  There can also be an increased risk of perineal hernias which can cause further problems defecating or even the incredibly painful testicular torsion.  Lastly, have you ever smelled the urine of an intact cat?  Would you really want that in your house?

Feasibly, the benefits to castration far outweigh any potential gain from your cat or dog “keeping their manhood.”  Neutering your dog just makes sense in terms of pet over-population and the control of unwanted behaviors.  It is also a simple and cost effective procedure that can be done by your family veterinarian.  Maybe someday there will be a larger place in the veterinary community for this procedure but for now I’ll leave you with this classic bumper sticker I saw from Texas…neuter bumper sticker

Disclaimer: All blog posts are personally written and my opinion and do not reflect those of current or former employers.

Don’t forget to check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and now Pinterest to see more events in my day & more shared info!  And on the right side of my blog you can now subscribe so you can always get the updates when a new post is published!

Annual Examinations – Not “Just Shots”

Annual Examinations – Not “Just Shots”

 

I’ve seen two animals in the past week that unfortunately were euthanized.  But they didn’t have to be.  The first was a diabetic cat who presented to me in a dehydrated, lethargic state.  He also was showing signs of diabetic neuropathy and had lost half of his weight.  His family mentioned that he was peeing buckets and the litterbox was flooding.  He had been sick for some time.  The second was a cat who came in paralyzed in the back legs.  She had not been seen by a vet for at least 3-4 years and was now in immense pain and unable to move.  She had a heart murmur and I suspect her heart disease had been chronic.  Her back legs were cold and now at 10 years of age, she was going to leave this world at an age when most cats are considered middle aged.  Two distraught families…two lives cut short when their health issues could have been prevented or managed.

 

dog exam

Yep, we veterinarians can sometimes make miracles happen and prevent death.  We can help your pets live happy and healthy lives.  The secret to making this happen is the annual exam.  There are almost 160 million owned cats & dogs in the USA (1).  Approximately, 37% of homes in Canada have cat & dogs totalling around some 15 million pets.  The problem lies in that many of these pets don’t get seen by their veterinarian except once a year (sometimes) or when they are sick.  Cats are half as likely to be examined than the family dog.

 

feline physical examFor many of these pets, they are often only brought in for vaccines every few years.  One of the most common things I can hear from clients when they come in is that “he just needs his shots.”  Well, I have to break the news to these people that it’s “not just shots.”  The annual physical exam is just as important, if not more so, than the vaccines.  We need to run our hands over the dog and feel for lumps that could be tumors.  We need to listen to that Fluffy’s heart for any signs of a murmur.  And how about those teeth in Rover’s mouth?  Dental disease, or rather the smell of bad breath, is one of the main complaints about animal health along with pet obesity and skin issues.  As pets become older, an annual exam or even twice yearly exam is even more important.

old dog 2

In many areas, before medications can be dispensed, a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) must be established.  The definition of this means that we as the veterinarian have examined your pet and had a discussion regarding our exam findings.  So for pets who are on long term medications, even if they are not due for vaccines, they need to be examined annually for this relationship to persist.  We would be in violation of our licensing body if we did not uphold this portion of the laws.  It’s not just good sense to have your pet examined annually, but from our standpoint, we have a legal obligation.

 

annual examinations

Image courtesy of TheSocialDVM.com

Back to our patients from before…  The diabetic cat could have been diagnosed earlier and perhaps his family may have been better able to treat him even though treating a diabetic is not as difficult as one might think.  The second cat had a fairly significant heart murmur that had likely led to thickening of the heart walls and also changes in blood pressure.  She had thrown a clot to her back legs, commonly known as a saddle thrombus.  Had she been seen earlier and her heart disease treated, the current problem could have been avoided and her quality of life could have been better over the past while.  Remember, our job is to advocate for your pet’s health.  When we encourage and remind you to bring them in for an annual check up, it is only for their benefit.  And yes, everything might be normal and healthy, but for every completely healthy animal, I see at least 10 more that have at least one addressable health problem.

 

Disclaimer: All blog posts are personally written and my opinion and do not reflect those of current or former employers.

Don’t forget to check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and now Pinterest to see more events in my day & more shared info!  And on the right side of my blog you can now subscribe so you can always get the updates when a new post is published!

« Older posts Newer posts »