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Pet Library

Lyme Disease
Heartworm Disease
West Nile virus and your pet
Cats, Dogs and Internal parasites
Roundworms
Hookworms
Whipworms
Tapeworms
Preventing and Treating Worm Infections
Single-celled parasites
External Parasites
Fleas
Ticks
Ear Mites
Sarcoptic Mange Mites
Demodectic Mange Mites
Toxoplasmosis
Cats and Feline Lower Tract Disease
Feline Panleukopenia
Canine distemper
Canine Parvovirus
Rabies
Cancer in pets
Types of cancer in pets
Skin cancer
Mammary gland (breast) cancer
Head and Neck cancer
Lymphoma
Feline Leukemia Complex
Testicular cancer
Abdominal Tumors
Bone cancer
Cancer treatment
Help your pet lead a pain free, active life
Household Hazards to Pets
Kitchens
Chemicals
Bathrooms
Bedrooms and Living Rooms
The Yard and Garage
Plants
Other hazards
Holidays
Bird Owners
Suspect a poisoned pet?

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by the bite of three known specie of ticks although the transmission is usually caused by the deer tick. The disease is named after an early outbreak in Lyme, CT.

Dogs can contract the disease. Symptoms the animal can display are a high fever, swollen lymph nodes, lameness, loss of appetite, inflamed joints, and lethargy.

If a pet owner notices these symptoms, the pet should be taken to the veterinary immediately.  A blood test can be done to discover if the dog has antibodies against the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.

Treatment includes antibiotics such as Doxycycline given orally every 12-24 hours. This therapy can also treat other types of tick-borne diseases. Other antibiotics used in this treatment include Cephalexin, Amoxicillin, and Tetracycline. Antibiotic therapy does not get rid of the disease, but can suppress the bacteria so that the symptoms do not bother the animal.

Animals diagnosed with this disease do very well, but prevention is the key when it comes to Lyme disease. This includes proper grooming and using tick repellents.  A vaccination is also available.

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Heartworm Disease

Hearthworm disease can infect dogs, cats, and ferrets. Wild animals, such as exotic canids, can also become infected. Humans can become infected, but this is rare and does not usually result in clinical disease.

Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes. When a mosquito bites an infected animal, microfilariae (the form of heartworm in the blood vessels) are transferred to the mosquito. The mosquito then incubates the larvae for two weeks, and passes on the disease by biting other animals. During the first three months of infection, the larvae spread throughout the body finally reaching the blood vessels and lungs. During the next three months, the larvae continue to mature into adulthood and enter the heart. In the heart the heartworm grows upto 14 inches. If both male and female heartworms infect the animal than more microfilariae are developed. The heartworm can survive for five to seven years in dogs and two to five years in cats.

Dogs and cats can pick up the disease in every state except for Alaska.

There are no initial signs of heartworm infection in dogs. Eventually a dog may become lethargic, cough, lose its appetite, or have difficulty breathing. You may also notice your dog tiring easily from exercise. If any of these symptoms are noticed, your dog should be taken to a veterinarian for a blood profile, chest x-rays, and a possible echocardiogram. These tests will help diagnose and determine the best course of action.

An FDA-approved treatment is a available to treat dogs with heartworm, but there are some serious complications that can occur with treatment. It is easier to treat heartworm if the disease is caught early and the dog is generally in good health. The treatment aims to kill all of the heartworms and microfilariae in your dog’s body. This will require plenty of rest and possibly other medications to stop inflammation as the worms die and are absorbed by your dog’s body.

Cats infected with heartworm will cough, show respiratory distress, and vomit. In rare cases, cats can suddenly die from a heartworm infection. A series of tests can be completed to try and diagnose heartworm infection in a cat, but these tests are not always conclusive and it is difficult to diagnose the condition in cats.

Treating heartworm disease in cats is also difficult. The best course of action a veterinarian can recommend for treating a cat for heartworm disease includes anti-inflammatory medications.

Heartworms can be surgically removed from dogs and cats. This is a complicated procedure and is usually only performed on severe cases.

As with any disease, prevention is best. There are several FDA-approved heartworm prevention medications available for dogs and cats. A veterinarian will perform blood tests to detect a heartworm infection. As long as no infection is present, a preventive medication will be prescribed according your animal’s lifestyle and risk factors. Testing for and preventing heartworm annually is recommended.

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West Nile virus and your pet

West Nile virus is an arbovirus transmitted by blood-feeding insects. The virus causes encephalitis or inflammation of the brain. It typically infects wild birds, horses, and humans. However, domestic and wild animals can become infected with West Nile Virus.

Since the virus’s initial discovery in the West Nile District in Uganda in 1937, the West Nile virus has been detected in other parts of Africa, Eastern Europe, West Asia, the Middle East, and almost every state in the United States.

People and animals contract the West Nile virus from mosquito bites and the mosquitos contract the disease by biting infected birds. The virus cannot be spread from person to person or animal to animal. The risk of having an infected mosquito bite a person is one percent. Furthermore, the chance of contracting the disease from the bite from an infected mosquito is less than one percent. There have been instances of transmission of the virus through organ transplants, blood transfusions, transplacental infections, and breastfeeding, but theses are rare ways to contract the virus.

People who become infected with the West Nile virus do not always know they have contracted the disease. Symptoms of the virus are fever, headache, and body aches. Sometimes people will develop a rash and swollen lymph nodes. A severe infection can cause a high fever, neck stiffness, muscle weakness, convulsion, paralysis, and death. The rate of death is between three and fifteen percent and the chances of dying are higher among the elderly.

Horses with the West Nile virus may develop stumbling, weakness, muscle twitching, depression, or fearfulness. They usually do not have a fever. The death rate of horses with West Nile virus is 30 percent and is higher in recumbent horses. The rate has been dropping either because of vaccination or increased immunity.

Other animals may be infected, but will not exhibit any of the signs of the disease. Wild birds are usually found dead from West Nile virus.

The best way to not become infected with the West Nile virus is through prevention. Horses can become vaccinated. People and other animals can use mosquito repellent and should also limit exposure to mosquitos. Some of the things people can do are to make sure the screens of their house, patio and porch properly fitted. Also, eliminate any standing water. For bird baths and other types of standing water that cannot be eliminated, consider following the directions on a container of larvicides. If you do need to go outside during dusk and dawn hours when mosquitos are most active, cover up with long-sleeves, pants, socks, and shoes and apply mosquito repllent containing permethrin or DEET. Do not spray these on dogs and cats. Ask your veterinarian how to protect your pets.

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Cats, Dogs and Internal parasites

Internal parasites are either worms or single-celled organisms that thrive in the intestines of your cat or dog. Common worms that can effect your pet are roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. Coccidia and giardia are common single-celled parasites. These parasites can effect the health of your pet and your and your family.

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Roundworms

Animals infected with roundworms pass the parasite on to animals and humans when the worm eggs develop into larvae and are present in the infected animal’s feces (droppings). Animals can pick up the parasite by licking their contaminated paws and fur, eating contaminated soil, or drinking contaminated water. Infected female dogs can pass roundworms on to their puppies before birth and while nursing. Infected cats can only pass the parasite onto their kittens during nursing.

Since roundworms live in the small intestines, they rob the infected animal of essential nutrients which can lead to malnutrition and intestinal problems. If the larvae moves onto the rest of the body, serious respiratory problems can develop and lead to health issues such as pneumonia.

Humans who come in direct contact with infected animals can contract roundworms. However, most infections develop through the accidental eating if the worm larvae or the larvae entering the body through the skin. For example, children playing in areas where feces is present (like a sandbox that a cat uses as a litterbox) can come in contact with the parasite.

In humans, roundworms can cause problems if the condition is left untreated. The larvae can enter tissues and organs resulting in lung, brain, or liver damage. The parasite can also enter the eyes and cause permanent or partial blindness.

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Hookworms

Hookworms are more common in dogs than cats. The larvae enter the body through the skin or lining of the mouth. Female dogs can pass the parasite through their milk.

Because hookworms actually bite into the lining of the intestines and suck blood, they can result in life threatening loss of blood, weakness, and malnutrition.

Hookworms can also infect humans. This usually occurs through the accidental eating of larvae or if the larvae enter the skin. If eaten, the larvae can cause intestinal problems. When absorbed through the skin, tunnel-like red areas appear and severe itching occurs as the larvae moves through the skin.

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Whipworms

Whipworms have a whip-like shape when examined microscopically and are passed onto other animals when the larvae are eliminated in the waste of the infected animal. Animals can become infected by licking contaminated fur and paws or eating contaminated soil.

Whipworms attach to the lining of the intestines and suck the animal’s blood. Whipworms can cause serious health problems such as diarrhea, weight loss, and anemia due to blood loss.

Humans usually do not become infected with whipworms.

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Tapeworms

Tapeworms are thin, flat, and are made up of joined segments. Dogs and cats are infected with tapeworms by ingesting infected fleas and lice or by eating infected rodents and birds. Humans are usually not infected by tapeworms.

Tapeworms are usually discovered in the pet’s stool or when tapeworm egg sacs are discovered under the animal’s tail. The egg sacs look like flattened grains of rice. Dewormers can help, but the best way to prevent tapeworms is keeping your pet free of fleas.

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Preventing and Treating Worm Infections

If you notice changes in your pet’s appearance, appetite, diarrhea, or excessive coughing, consult your veterinarian. A fecal test is a reliable tool to determine if your pet is infected with worms.

Prevention is also key. Several heartworm products can help prevent infections. Also, if you have a pregnant or nursing female dog or cat, speak to your veterinarian about a dewormer program. Humans can avoid infection by practicing good hygiene, wearing shoes outside, and washing all raw vegetables. Animal feces should also be picked up and children should not be allowed to play in areas soiled with feces.

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Single-celled parasites

Coccidia and Giardia are single-cell parasites that can infect your pet by licking fur and paws and eating contaminated soil. Both parasites damage the intestines and effect your pet’s ability to absorb nutrients.

Both Coccidia and Giardia are contagious, especially with younger pets. These infections can be diagnosed with a simple fecal test. However, diagnosing a Giardia infection may require a few fecal tests. Medication can help rid the the body of either parasite.

Practicing good hygiene and picking up your pet’s droppings can help prevent parasite infections.

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External parasites

At some point in your pet’s life, it may experience discomfort of the skin or in their ears caused by external parasites. These parasites include lice, fleas, ticks, and mites. They can cause skin problems and these parasites can also carry disease.

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Fleas

Cats and dogs can play to host to fleas especially during warm and humid weather. Fleas may be hard to notice because the adult fleas are no larger than a sesame seed and they move quickly on your pet’s body.

A flea’s entire life cycle lasts anywhere from twelve days to six months. The female flea begins laying up to 50 eggs per day as quickly as 24 hours after choosing your pet as her new home. The eggs will fall off of your pet and land anywhere your pet goes, including furniture, carpet, and their own bedding. The life cycle continues as the eggs hatch, the larvae burrow into the carpet and spin a cocoon. The cocoon provides a home for a dormant flea pupae for several weeks and up to several months.

You may not notice a flea infestation until you see the black flea droppings also known as flea dirt on your pet’s fur. Your pet may also become uncomfortable from constant scratching, open sores, and skin infections.

Because fleas bite and suck the blood of the host animal, a small animal can suffer from anemia. Animals can also be infected by tapeworms or be allergic to the flea saliva resulting in severe irritation.

Fleas can spread other diseases and bite people, but this is rare.

A proper flea control program  provided by your veterinarian for your pet can help control fleas. Proper hygiene and cleaning of your home can also prevent flea infestation. Your veterinarian may also recommend treating your house and yard with insecticides safe to use around pets and children.

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Ticks

Dogs and cats can become the host for adult ticks. Tick exposure depends on geographic location and the season.

Ticks can be found on your cat’s face or neck. Dogs can have ticks on their neck, in the ears, in the folds between the legs and the body, and between the toes. Irritation can occur along with some serious infectious diseases including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

The best thing to do is prevent your pet from becoming a home for ticks by using a tick preventative recommended by your veterinarian. Your pets should also be examined regularly. If a tick is found, use a tweezers to carefully remove the tick. Crush the tick while avoiding contact with the tick fluids to avoid infection. Also, do not smother the tick with petroleum jelly or alcohol or apply a hot match to it as the saliva could be regurgitated into the wound and increase the risk for disease.

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Ear mites

Ear mites infect the ear and area surrounding the ear and are common in young dogs and cats. They can usually only be seen with a microscope. Signs of ear mites include shaking of the head and scratching the ears. Bleeding can be caused by excessive scratching. Black or brown discharge may also occur.

Your pet can be taken care of by cleaning its ears and with medication. A treatment plan can be recommended by your veterinarian.

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Sarcoptic Mange Mites

Sarcoptic mange mites can occur at any time, in any dog, and are highly contagious. They can cause sarcoptic mange also know as scabies. Infestation with sarcoptic mange mites burrow under the top layer of skin and cause itching, hair loss, rash, and crusting. People can also develop a rash if they come in contact with an infected dog.

Sarcoptic mange mite infestation requires medication to kill the mites, medication to soothe the skin, and a thorough cleaning of the dog’s environment.

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Demodectic Mange Mites

Demodectic mange mites are not contagious and generally only infect dogs. Females can pass the mites on to her puppies. The demodectic mange mites are cigar shaped and can be seen under a microscope.

An infection of demodectic mange can indicate an underlying health problem, so infestation treatment  should include a full examination. Your dog will display patches of scaly skin and redness around the eyes, mouth, and possibly the legs and trunk. Treatment is usually successful, but generalized demodectic mange (demodecosis) is difficult to treat. This disease may only be managed and not cured.

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Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. About eleven percent of the human population ages 6-49 have been infected with the parasite T. gondii, but the disease itself does not happen often. The symptoms of toxoplasmosis are fever, mild aches and pains and enlarged lymph nodes that occur for a short period of time.

There are three ways that Toxoplasmosis is contracted. The main way infection occurs in North America is by eating underooked or raw meat or drinking unpasteurized milk. T. gondii can be eliminated by cooking meat to the proper temperature. Visit http://www.cdc.gov/toxoplasmosis/prevent.html to find to proper temperatures.

Another way T. gondii can be transferred is through the feces of cats. The oocysts must spend at least 24 hours in the environment to become infectious. Once the oocysts are infectious, they can remain active for months or years in environments including extreme freezing or hot conditions. The oocysts can also be transported by wind and water. People can become infected with T. gondii by ingesting soil or water contaminated with cat feces.

A third way the infection is transmitted is from a mother to her unborn child. The mother must become infected with T. gondii during her pregnancy in order for this condition to occur. Pregnant women are considered at high risk for toxoplasmosis. Most infants born with the infection do not initially show signs of toxoplasmosis. The infection will likely show up later in life and the child may suffer from loss of vision, mental developmental disabilities, loss of hearing and in severe cases, death.

Other people at risk of developing a toxoplasmosis infection are those with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This usually happens because the person was exposed to T. gondii earlier in life and the suppressed immune system allows the infection to grow. People with HIV and toxoplasmosis can develop sever neurological disease, convulsions, paralysis, coma, and death even with
treatment.

There are a number of ways to prevent human exposure to T. gondii, the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis. One way is to change your cat’s litter box daily to prevent the oocysts in the feces from becoming infectious. Cat owners are advised to dispose of the waste in a sealed, plastic bag and pregnant woman should avoid changing the litter box. If a pregnant woman must change the litter box, she should wear rubber gloves and thoroughly wash her hands afterwards.

Other ways to avoid infection include:

  • Wash vegetables before eating, especially if grown in a backyard garden.
  • Cover sand boxes to prevent cats from defecating in them.
  • When hiking or camping, boil water collected from ponds and streams.
  • Always wash your hands after handling raw meat, vegetables or unpasteurized dairy products.
  • Avoid eating undercooked meat and drinking unpasteurized milk.
  • Always wash and disinfect cutting boards, knives, sinks and counters after handling raw meat.

Cats become infected with T. gondii by either eating infected mice, birds, and other small animals or by eating undercooked meat. The infected oocysts are then passed through the cats feces and the release of infected oocysts can continue for over two weeks.

Since it takes at least 24 hours for the oocysts in the feces to become infectious and cats tend to groom themselves frequently, people do not have to worry about contracting the infection after handling a cat.

Cats with a T. gondii infection typically appear healthy. Other cats will develop health problems including pneumonia, liver damage, lethargy, loss of appetite, coughing, difficulty breathing, diarrhea, jaundice, blindness, personality changes, and neurological problems.  A blood test can determine if your cat has toxoplasmosis. It is believed that cats with a compromised immune system are at a higher risk for becoming sick.  Even though there is not a vaccine available to prevent the infections, treatment can be effective if started early enough.

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Cats and Feline Lower Tract Disease

Feline Lower Tract Disease (FLUTD) can mean your cat has health problems that effect the bladder and urethra. The problems can occur at any age, but tend to develop in middle-aged, overweight cats that use an indoor litter box, get little exercise, either have limited or no access to the outdoors, and eat dry food.

Some of the signs that indicate your cat my have FLUTD include straining to urinate, frequent and/or prolonged attempts to urinate, crying out when urinating, excessive licking of the genital area, urinating outside of the litter box especially on a smooth surface ,and blood in their urine.

FLUTD is an easily recognized disease but it is very difficult to determine the underlying cause. A veterinarian will most likely begin with a physical examination and a urinalysis. If the problem is still not diagnosed, the veterinarian may run blood work tests, take x-rays and additional urine tests.

One of the more common causes of FLUTD is urolithiasis or urinary stones. The urinary stones are collections of minerals and usually need to be detected by x-ray or ultrasound. Some stones can be eliminated by a special diet. If the stones cannot be dissolved with the special diet then the veterinarian can try flushing the bladder with sterile fluid. Surgery is the final option if the stones cannot be eliminated or if they return.

Urethral obstruction is serious problem associated with FLUTD. This is a life-threatening condition where the cat’s urethra becomes blocked with urethral stones or plugs. Urethral plugs are made up of minerals, cells, and mucus-like protein. Male cats are more likely to suffer from this condition. Urethral obstruction needs immediate attention by a veterinarian because the condition can lead to kidney failure in 24 to 48 hours. Treatment begins with removing the obstruction by flushing the urethra with a sterile solution.

Cats who continue to suffer from urethra obstructions, surgery is an option. The procedure called perineal urethrostomy can cause a few problems including bleeding, narrowing at the surgical site, urinary incontinence, and have a greater risk of bladder diseases. It is usually considered a last resort.

Interstitial cystitis or Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC) is not fully understood, but is also the most commonly diagnosed lower urinary tract disease in cats. This disease can become a chronic condition and is usually caused by stress and a change in diet. Another episode of FIC can happen in 40 to 50 percent of cats.

Most cats will not develop FLUTD again, but prevention can help deter the condition. Some of the ways a cat owner can prevent FLUTD is by feeding the cat small meals, provide fresh, clean water, provide enough clean litter boxes for the number cats in the household and minimize changes in routine. If problems do persist, the veterinarian should be consulted.

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Feline Panleukopenia

Feline panleukopenia (FP), a once leading cause of death in cats, is not very common anymore because of the availability of vaccinations. FP is highly contagious disease caused by feline parvovirus. In the past FP has been known has feline distemper, feline infectious enteritis, cat fever, and cat typhoid.

When a cat is infected with the feline parvovirus, rapidly dividing cells such as those found in bone marrow, intestines, and a developing fetus are infected.  Bone marrow contains red and white blood cells. If feline parvovirus attacks bone marrow, anemia developes because of the loss of red blood cells. The loss of white blood cells can result in a weak immune system and the cat can become infected with other diseases. Feline parvovirus cannot infect people.

Cats are very good at hiding any illness or disease. Therefore, if you notice any abnormal behavior in your cat, you should take your cat to the veterinarian. Some of the symptoms of feline panleukopenia are depression, loss of appetite, high fever, lethargy, vomiting, severe diarrhea, nasal discharge, and dehydration. Your cat may also sit in front of its water bowl, but not drink any water. Your veterinarian can diagnose feline panleukopenia by testing a stool or blood sample for the feline parvovirus.

Hygiene is important to keep your cat infection free. The first step is to keep your cat away from infected cats. If your cat comes in contact with blood, urine, stool, nasal secretions, or fleas from infected cats, infection can occur. Bedding, cages, and  food dishes can transmit the virus. People who have handled an infected cat can transmit the the virus through unwashed hands and clothing.  Anything that has come in contact with an infected cat should be kept away from healthy cats. The virus is difficult to destroy, even with a disinfectant. Cats that have not been vaccinated should not be exposed to an area an infected cat has been for at least one year.

The virus is found throughout the United States and around the world. It is more common in places where cats are housed together including kennels, pet shops, animal shelters, and feral cat colonies.  The virus is also spread more often during warmer months and climates because cats tend to come in contact with other cats more often.

The infection is most commonly found in young kittens three to five months old, sick cats, and unvaccinated cats. About 75 percent of kittens less than 16 weeks old will likely die if infected with the virus. Feline panleukopenia infected pregnant cats that become ill can give birth to kittens with brain damage.

The feline parvovirus cannot be killed in an infected cat, so the only way to help a cat infected with the virus is to treat the symptoms. Treating the symptoms can help the cat’s immune system to fight the virus. Treatment can include hydration, nutrients, and prevention of secondary infections. Infected cats should also be kept warm and isolated from healthy cats. About 90 percent of cats that don’t receive treatment will die.

Prevention can develop naturally through a mild infection fought off by the immune system. Kittens that drink the first milk produced by the mother can also be temporarily protected because of antibodies passed on to the kitten.

Vaccinations should also be used to prevent infection. Kittens should begin a vaccination process between six and eight weeks of age and continue until the age of 16 weeks. Vaccinations of older cats depend on the age and health of the cat and the area the cat lives.

If you notice any changes in your cats health or behavior, contact your veterinarian.

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Canine distemper

Canine distemper is a higly contagious, serious disease caused by a virus spread by respiratory secretions of an infected dog or wild animal. It attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems of dogs. The infection can be spread between wild and domestic canids.

Puppies are at risk until four months of age or until they are vaccinated. Older dogs that have not been vaccinated are also susceptible. A series of vaccinations are administered to protect puppies from contracting the disease. Owners of puppies should be cautious when taking puppies to places that other puppies congregate including doggy daycare, pet shops, and obedience classes before the series of vaccinations is complete. Older dogs can be protected by keeping the canine distemper vaccinations up-to-date.

Canine distemper usually causes death. When the disease does not lead to death, irreparable damage can occur to the dog’s nervous system. The first sign a dog exhibits is a watery to pus-like discharge from the eye. This symptom leads to fever, nasal discharge, coughing, lethargy, reduced appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. As the disease progresses it begins to attack the nervous system causing seizures, twitching, or partial to complete paralysis. The dog’s footpads can also begin to harden.

The disease is diagnosed through laboratory tests and appearance of the dog. While no cure is available for canine distemper, the symptoms can be treated.

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Canine Parvovirus

Canine parvovirus is a contagious disease that was discovered in 1978. The virus can attack all dogs, but puppies less than four months old and dogs that have not been vaccinated are at the most risk of contracting the disease.

Canine parvovirus is spread through infected feces. The infected feces can store the hardy virus for long periods of time. Dogs can then pick up the infection where the virus is present on the paws and fur or through contaminated cages, shoes, and other objects that may have come in contact with the virus.

The disease attacks the gastrointestinal intestinal tract and cause lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. Dehydration also occurs because of the vomiting and diarrhea.  The virus can also damage the heart of young and unborn puppies. Once a puppy or dog begins to show signs of infection, death usually occur within 48 to 72 hours. It has been noted that more severe cases tend to develop in certain breeds including Rottweilers and Doberman Pinschers.

Dogs who exhibit any of the symptoms associated with the virus should be taken to a veterinarian immediately. The veterinarian will make a diagnoses based upon appearance and laboratory tests.  While there is not a drug to treat the infection, the symptoms can be treated by hydrating the infected dog, keeping it warm, replacing electrolytes, and preventing secondary infections.

Canine parvovirus is not an easy virus to kill and there are no drugs to treat the actual virus. Vaccination and proper hygiene are best ways to prevent dogs from becoming infected. Until a puppy receives the proper number of vaccinations, caution should be taken in avoiding places such as obedience class, doggy daycare, and pet stores. Ill puppies and dogs should be isolated from healthy dogs. Dog feces should also be picked up immediately to prevent contraction of the virus. Avoid allowing your dog from coming in contact with feces in public areas.

Contact your veterinarian with questions about canine parvovirus and ways to protect your dog including vaccinations and cleaning.

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Rabies

Rabies is a deadly disease only mammals can contract. The virus most commonly spread when an infected animal bites another animal or human. Rabies can also be spread when infected saliva comes in contact with an open wound or the eyes, nose, or mouth.

Vaccinations have helped stop the spread of rabies in most animals including cats, dogs, ferrets, horses, cattle, and sheep. Mass immunization of wildlife has also been used to control the spread of the virus.

The symptoms of infection in animals include fearfulness, aggression, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, staggering, and seizures. Wild animals with rabies may exhibit unusual behavior. For example, nocturnal animals may be seen in the daytime. Wild animals may also develop depression, self-mutilate, or display an increased sensitivity to light.

Humans are being infected less by rabies because of improved vaccination programs for animals and better treatments for people who have been bitten. Rabies in humans can be caused, but rarely, by corneal, organ, or tissue transplants if the donor was infected. Dogs in foreign countries can also be a source of rabies. Raccoons, skunks and bats can also cause the infection in humans.

There are several things people can do to prevent the spread of rabies. This includes vaccinating dogs, cats, ferrets, hoses, and other livestock. Also, do not let your animals roam free.  Do not leave exposed garbage outsides as this can attract wild animals. Do not keep wild animals as pets. Wild animals can spread rabies to other pets and humans. Wild animals should also only be observed from a distance. If you observe a wild animal behaving strangely, contact the local animal control department. Another way to prevent infection is to bat-proof your home.

If your pet bites someone, tell that person to seek a doctor’s recommendation as soon as possible. Also, make sure your pet’s vaccination records are up-to-date. Report the incident as soon as possible. A cat, ferret, or dog may be required to be confined and watched closely for fourteen days by local officials. Home confinement may be allowed. If you notice any strange behavior from you pet, let local officials know and speak to your veterinarian about the behavior. After the confinement period and your pet is not current on its vaccinations, have your pet vaccinate.

If your pet is bitten, contact the local authorities. Then speak with your veterinarian and have your pet revaccinated even if your pet’s vaccinations are current. Your pet should also be kept under your control and observed for any strange behavior. Pet’s with expired vaccinations will handled on a case-by-case situation.

Pets that have never been vaccinated against rabies, may need to be euthanized or isolated for six months. If your pet is an animal other than a dog, cat, or ferret, it may need to be euthanized.

If you are bitten by an animal, remain calm and wash the wound immediately. Appropriate treatment can stop the infection and prevent disease, so contact your doctor immediately. You will receive advice on how to handle the bite and the you may also receive treatment recommended by the United States Public Health Service.

Report the bite to the local authorities. If it is possible, confine the animal that bit you, but only if it can be done safely. Otherwise try to remember its exact appearance and where the animal went after the bite took place. If you cannot capture the animal, but can kill it try not to damage the head. The animal’s brain tissue needs to be tested for rabies.

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Cancer in Pets

Cancer is common in pets and the risk of developing cancer increases with the age of the animal. About half the pets over ten years old will die of cancer. Dogs develop cancer at the same rate of humans, while cats are less at risk of developing cancer.

Cancer is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. Cancer can develop inside or on the body, be benign or malignant, and stay localized or spread throughout the entire body. The cause of most cancers is not known. This makes it difficult to prevent. Early detection is best because treatment can help manage the cancer.

Some of the most common signs of cancer include abnormal swelling that persists or continues to grow, sores that do not heal, weight loss, loss of appetite, bleeding or discharge from any body opening, offensive odor, difficulty eating or swallowing, loss of stamina and desire to exercise,  persistent lameness or stiffness, and difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating. If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, contact your veterinarian.  A veterinarian can diagnose your pet. X-rays, blood tests, ultrasonography, physical examination, and medical history can help determine what is wrong with your pet’s health. A biopsy or the removal of tissue will be required to properly diagnose your pet. This will help determine if cancer exists. The test can also determine if the cancer is benign or malignant.

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Types of cancer in pets

Skin

Skin tumors in cats are less common, but more often malignant. Older dogs have a higher chance of developing skin tumors, but the tumors are usually benign. A veterinarian should be consulted to determine the malignancy of any tumors discovered on your pet.

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Mammary gland (breast)

Mammary gland (breast) cancer can occur in both dogs and cats. Mammary gland (breast) tumors in dogs are malignant 50 percent of the time and the tumors in cats are malignant 85 percent of the time. The best prevention is to spay your female dog or cat before their first heat. Surgery can be use to remove the tumors.

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Head and Neck

Dogs commonly get cancer of the mouth. Cats are less effected by this type of cancer. Dog owners should watch for a mass on the gums, bleeding, odor, or difficulty eating. Early treatment is the best course of action for mouth cancer.

Dogs and cats can both develop cancer in the nose. Symptoms of this type of cancer include bleeding from the nose, difficulty breathing, and facial swelling. These symptoms should be examined by a veterinarian.

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Lymphoma

A common form of cancer in cats and dogs is lymphoma. One or more lymph nodes can become enlarged. Feline leukemia virus is one cause of lymphoma in cats. Chemotherapy is used to treat lymphoma.

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Feline Leukemia Complex

The feline leukemia virus can cause cancer in cats. The virus is extremely contagious, but only in cats. Treatment has not been consistently effective for cats with the virus.

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Testicles

Testicular cancer is more common in dogs than cats. It is also more common in dogs with retained testes. Neutering can prevent testicular cancer. Surgery can cure the cancer if found early enough.

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Abdominal Tumors

A tumor in the abdomen is difficult to discover early. The symptoms are weight loss or abdominal enlargement.

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Bone

Bone tumors mostly seen in large breed dogs and rarely in cats. The tumors usually appear in the legs and near the joints. Symptoms include persistent pain, lameness, and swelling of the affected area.

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Treatments

Each cancer has its own best course of treatment. Some the ways cancer can be treated are surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, cryosurgy (freezing), hyperthermia (heating), or immunotherapy. Your veterinarian will help you decide the best treatment and if needed recommend a board-certified oncologist (cancer specialist)

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Help your pet lead a pain free, active life

Pain and inflammation can make your dog uncomfortable and inactive. One way to ease pain and inflammation is to treat your dog with Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). This class of pain relievers works by blocking the production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are the chemicals that cause inflammation as a reaction irritation or injury.

NSAIDs can help control stiffness, swelling, inflammation, joint pain, arthritis pain and pain associated with surgery. There are several NSAIDs approved for veterinary use in dogs including ETOGESIC (etodolac), RIMADYL (carprofen), METACAM (meloxicam), DERAMAXX (deracoxib), PREVICOX (firocoxib), ZUBRIN (tepoxalin) and NOVOX (carprofen).

If your veterinarian believes your dog would benefit from NSAID treatment, make sure you understand  what the NSAID will be used for, the dosage amount, how long your dog should receive the treatment and what your dog should avoid while taking the NSAID. Also, ask your veterinarian if any tests are needed prior to treatment and how often your dog needs to be re-examined. In addition to asking these questions, make sure your veterinarian knows your dog’s complete medical history, previous drug reactions and provide a complete list of current medications.

If you are treating your dog with NSAIDs, never give aspirin or corticosteroids to your dog. Also, if your dog suffers from kidney, liver, heart or intestinal problems use NSAIDs with caution. Follow the directions for NSAID use given by your veterinarian and never give an NSAID that is is safe for one dog to another.

Common NSAID side effects are mild, but they can affect the liver, kidneys and gastrointestinal tract. Side effects you should watch for include not eating or eating less, lethargy, depressions, changes in behavior, vomiting, diarrhea and black tarry-colored stool. Other side effects are yellowing of the gums, skin, or whites of the eyes, changes in drinking habits and changes in skin condition including scabs, redness or scratching.

If any of the above side effects are noticed, discontinue the NSAID treatment and call your veterinarian.

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Household Hazards to Pets

Every home is full of items hazardous to your pets. Knowing what can be fatal if ingested by your cats or dogs is the first step in protection.

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Kitchens

Your kitchen likely has food items that can be harmful to your pet’s health and even cause death. Some foods on this list include coffee grounds, grapes, raisins, chocolate, onions, tea and alcohol. In addition keep yeast dough, macadamia nuts, salt, avocado and garlic out of reach of your pet. Chewing gum, candy and breath fresheners containing xylitol can also be problematic for your pet’s health. Also, be sure to keep garbage away from your pet because rotting food can contain mold and bacteria which can  cause food poisoning.

Cleaning products can also cause serious health effects if ingested by your pet or the directions are not followed. Any products should be stored in original or tightly sealed packaging in a locked cabinet. If directions are not followed, your pet may suffer from an upset stomach, drooling, vomiting or diarrhea if swallowed. If your pet inhales the product, it may develop respiratory tract irritation. Skin contact can result in chemical burns. Cats are sensitive to especially to phenols.

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Chemicals

Do not use products made for one species on another such as flea or tick treatments. Your pet’s health could be seriously effected by incorrect use of such products. Also, if you need to use rat or mouse poison, make sure it is in an area completely inaccessible to your pet.

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Bathrooms

Hazards in your bathroom include the items people often keep in their medicine cabinet. Unless your veterinarian prescribed a certain medication for your pet, medication can cause serious side effects. The medications you should keep away from your pet include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibprofen or naproxen. Also, keep your pets away from acetaminophen, diet pills, antihistamines, cold medicines, vitamins, antidepressants and other prescription drugs.

Your pet can also suffer from irritation of the digestive tract, stomach upset, vomiting or diarrhea if they consume soap, toothpaste, sun block and water from a chemically treated toilet bowl.

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Bedrooms and Living Rooms

These areas often contain liquid potpourri solutions. These good smelling chemicals can cause oral ulcerations and other problems.

One moth ball containing napthalene can cause serious health problems in your pet. These conditions include digestive tract irritation, liver, kidney and blood cell damage, swelling of the brain, seizures, coma, respiratory tract damage and death.

Other products your should keep away from your pet are tobacco products, pennies and alkaline batteries.

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The Yard and Garage

A deadly substance typically stored in the garage is ethylene glycol-containing antifreeze. A less toxic version in propylene glycol, but it can still cause serious health effects. Other items in kept a garage including insecticides, plant and lawn fertilizers, weed killers, ice-melting products and gasoline can also harm your pet’s health.

After treating your lawn with chemicals, keep your pet away from the area for the recommended amount of time. If a pet licks its feet after walking on a treated area, the wet chemicals or granules can cause an upset stomach or other serious side effects.

Keep paint thinners, mineral spirits and other solvents away from your pet. These can cause skin irritation and chemical burns. If your pet swallows these chemicals, serious health effects can follow.  Latex paint can cause and upset stomach. Other types of paint can contain heavy metals and cause more serious problems.

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Plants

Plants commonly found inside and outside the house can cause a list of different health problems.

Your pet could develop heart problems if it eats Lily of the Valley, oleander, azalea, yew, foxglove, rhododendron and kalanchoe.

If your pet consumes rhubarb leaves and shamrock containing substances, kidney failure can occur. Cats can also develop kidney failure after eating the Lilium and Hemerocallis species of lillies.

Liver damage can result from the ingestion of the Cycad species of Sago palms and fungi including mushrooms.

Other toxic plants include philodendron, corn plant, castor bean, mother-in-law’s tongue, hibiscus and hydrangea. Visit the www.apcc.aspca.org for a more complete list of toxic and non-toxic plants.

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Other hazards

Small items that fall on the floor including buttons, jewelry, coins and small children’s toys can be swallowed by your pet and require surgery to remove the item from the digestive tract.

Also, keep your pets away from electrical cords. Chewing on electrical cords can result in burns or electrocution. Either block access to cords or use covers to keep your pets safe.

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Holidays

The holidays can pose a new host of problems for pet owners. Ask visitors to avoid feeding your pet extra treats, table food or poultry or other soft bones.  Halloween can also result in your pet consuming harmful candy or chocolate.  If your pet is exposed to any of these food items, digestive problems can cause vomiting, diarrhea and the inflammation of the pancreas.

Holiday decorations can cause health problems if ingested by by your pet. String-like items can cause intestinal damage and may need to be surgically removed. Poinsettia plants are not as dangerous as previously thought, but they can cause an upset stomach.  Holly and mistletoe can be dangerous if consumed by your pet. Also, keep your pet away from Christmas tree water. This stagnate water can be full of fertilizers and other chemicals which can lead to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

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Bird Owners

Hazards that can harm other animals can also harm pet birds. Birds are also susceptible to inhaled particles and fumes in aerosol products, tobacco products, certain glues, paints, air fresheners and aerosol products. Also, keep your bird out of the kitchen because certain cooking fumes, smoke, and odors cause cause health issues.

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Suspect a poisoned pet?

Immediately call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-800-426-4435. Be ready to provide information about your pet’s breed, age, weight, symptoms and information about the product or plant your pet may have consumed. This will assist in the treatment of your pet.

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Care Credit   

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Clark Veterinary Hospital • Kathy Clark DVM • 445 Shore Road • Old Lyme, CT 06371 • (860) 434-1763
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