When Does Your Pet Need a Professional Dental Cleaning

Daily dental care is just as important for your pet as it is for you. Bacteria in your pet’s mouth is deposited as plaque every day. If the plaque is allowed to accumulate, it will become tartar which usually requires a professional dental cleaning under anesthesia to scale and polish the teeth.

Dog Owners’ Homes Swarming With Bacteria

Homes with dogs have more bacteria than those without — but that’s not necessarily bad news. Continue reading →

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Lyme Disease: The Tragic Effects on Our Pets and Us

Having been in veterinary practice on both the East and West coasts, I’ve witnessed the impact bacteria, fungal, parasitic, and viral organisms have on the health of my patients. However, few are as dreaded as Lyme disease, one of the most common tick diseases in the world.

I treated Lyme disease — a bacterial disease caused by Borrelia burgdorferi — many times while living in Washington, D.C., but never in Los Angeles. As the warm and dry climate of Southern California doesn’t support …

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Giardia

Giardiasis is an intestinal infection of both man and animals caused by a single cell, flagellated protozoan parasite Giardia intestinalis (also known as Giardia lamblia).
Giardia is composed of just one cell and it is not a bacteria, virus or a “worm”. This parasite is found worldwide and is a common cause of
“Traveler’s Fever”. Other names are “Montezuma’s Revenge”, “Rocky Mountain Hershey Squirts”, and “Beaver Fever”. Well, you get the idea. The parasite is found in contaminated water and if not properly treated can cause a diarrhea in people as well as our four legged friends.  A lot of dogs can be infected without displaying any signs of illness.
The Giarida life cycle consists of two phases. The delicate feeding form is a single cell with flagella, (the string like tentacles that make it mobile) and it lives in the gut of the infected animal. The cystic form is hardier and is shed in the feces of the animal and can survive several months in the environment, especially in water and damp areas.
Your canine friend can be infected  when it swallows the giardia cyst in contaminated water. The cyst then passes into the dog’s intestine where it develops into the trophozoite or the feeding form. It then attaches to the intestinal wall and begins to feed. If the giardia population is large enough, then there is enough damage to cause the clinical signs of diarrhea, which can be fatal in small puppies. The organism then becomes the cystic form which is passed in the feces and can re-infect the dog, or be picked up by other dogs or even people.
Giardia can be diagnosed with a special fecal floatation test or a direct smear but is often missed becgiardia_2009ause of its small size and inconsistent shedding. If Giardia is suspected, a .snap test can be performed on the feces to detect specific cell antigens to the organism. It is more expensive than the standard fecal tests, but is more accurate. Often times, a presumptive diagnosis is made with the clinical signs and the dog is treated without a definitive diagnosis.
Treatment for giardia consists of a round of antibiotics, such as metronidazole, for 5 – 7 days. Other parasiticides, such as fenbendazole, are often administered in addition to the antibiotics. If the diarrhea is severe, other medications to soothe the intestinal tract and even IV replacement fluids may be necessary.
Because of the potential exposure to the human members of the family, if your dog is diagnosed with giardiasis, disinfection of the area and good personal hygiene is important. Particularly, people that are immune compromised, such as AIDS or cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, should use extra care when handling feces or giving medications.
giardia
To disinfect the pet’s area, diluted bleach (1 part bleach mixed with 32 parts water) can be used and other surfaces can be sprayed with Lysol. The cysts are also susceptible to drying so avoid over-watering the backyard so it can dry out. Wash the pet’s bedding with some bleach added to the water and then toss them into the dryer on hot setting should kill the majority of the cysts.
The best way to avoid infestation of your pet is to avoid areas where other dogs and wildlife aggregate. Bring your pet’s own water with you when you do go on excursions so they will not be tempted to drink from steams or standing pools of water. If you take your dog camping or swimming and they do break with diarrhea when they return, alert your veterinarian to the possibility of contamination so treatment can be started right away.
There was a giardia vaccine available called GIARDIAVAX, however, it was not a preventative. At best it may have reduced the shedding of cysts if a dog was infected. It has been removed from the market due to lack of sales.under license.

Dog Health Problems : How to Relieve a Dog’s Stuffy Nose

A stuffy nose in a dog can be caused by allergies, foreign bodies, viral infections or bacteria, so relieving a stuffy nose starts with identifying the cause. Find out when it’s necessary to see a veterinarian about a stuffy nose with help from a veterinarian in this free video on relieving a dog’s stuffy nose. Expert: Robert T. Pane Contact: www.southkendall.com Bio: Robert T. Pane, DVM is a veterinarian in Miami, Fla. Filmmaker: Paul Muller

Dog Health Problems : Causes of Urinary Infections in Dogs

Urinary infections in dogs are usually caused by bacteria that migrates up through the urethra, but they can also be caused by internal problems, such as Cushing’s disease. Discover how frequent urination may be a sign of a urinary infection in dogs with help from a veterinarian in this free video on urinary infections in dogs. Expert: Robert T. Pane Contact: www.southkendall.com Bio: Robert T. Pane, DVM is a veterinarian in Miami, Fla. Filmmaker: Paul Muller

Dog Health : How to Get Rid of Bad Breath for Dogs

A dog with bad breath, or halitosis, comes from bacterial buildup in the mouth, and brush kits can be used to remove tartar and bacteria. Learn about products that can be placed in a dog’s water or treats to help them overcome halitosis with help from a veterinarian in this free video on bad breath in dogs. Expert: James Talbott Contact: www.belleforestanimalhospital.com Bio: Dr. James R. Talbott is a staff veterinarian at Belle Forest Animal Hospital and Kennel in Nashville, Tenn. Filmmaker: Dimitri LaBarge

What are “Hot Spots” in Dogs?

The dog’s skin is the largest organ of the body, yet there is a very restricted number of ways in which it responds to trauma. “Hot Spots” or acute moist dermatitis are locations on the dog’s skin due to your dog’s itching, biting and scratching and may often arise quite suddenly. These places may become very large and may develop just about anywhere on the dog. I see it sometimes in the spring time once the temperatures are warmer as well as the humidity is high. The dogs with the thick undercoat, such as Labs, golden retrievers and rottweilers are susceptible to getting these spots on their face and neck. Typically, spots located at the base of the tail are very likely resulting from fleas simply because fleas choose to congregate in these areas. Quite a few dogs happen to be so hypersensitive to fleas, the bite of one flea is sufficient to induce the dog to itch all over. Almost any injury can begin the process which the dog then exacerbates by continual chewing and licking which in turn results in a vicious cycle and will cause the hot spot to spread.

The dog normally has bacteria that lives on their skin and so long as the skin is healthy, the microorganisms almost never result in any issues. However when something occurs, such as a fleabite, cut or allergies, the dog begins to lick, bite, chew and scratch which in turn disrupts the defensive layer of the skin. As soon as that takes place, the bacteria on the skin, as well as the germs in the mouth, set up housekeeping in the skin. This creates a swiftly spreading infection which may be quite painful. The area on the skin is red, raw and seems moist because the wound oozes serum and pus. The hair then mats down over the wound and the infection then spreads beneath the hair.

A visit to the veterinarian is usually called for. In many cases the fur must be clipped off to stop the spread of the infection. Sometimes, these hot spots are so painful, the dog may need to be sedated in order to have the region cleansed and shaved. Antibiotics are prescribed to take care of the infection and follow-up antibiotics are sent home. Sprays, ointments and medicated shampoos can also be prescribed to continue treatment at home.. For some dogs, a special collar may be used that can help deter the dog from chewing at the places.

The particular underlying reason for the insult should likewise be tackled. If fleas can be found, then year round flea control may be prescribed.(over-the-counter flea control is not recommended) Pollen, food, and other allergens can also precipitate an attack. Sometimes specific diets with essential fatty acids and a novel protein source for example salmon, lamb or venison may be recommended to help heal the skin. Blood and skin tests can be preformed to help discover what the dog is allergic to and special allergy injections or prescription diets is often given.

Check your dog daily for itchy spots and use flea control suggested by your veterinarian year round to help avert hot spots as a result of flea allergies. Daily grooming and brushing can keep mats from developing. If your dog is itching continuously, take him to the veterinarian to handle the itching before the infection can progress.

Cat Bite Wounds

Cats are highly territorial and often fight when they meet outside or, less commonly, within the household. During fights, cats inflict deep bite wounds that inject bacteria from the mouth into the internal tissues. Cat bite wounds frequently become infected and abscessed. An abscess is a pocket of infection that the body has walled off.

Signs of Abscesses
If you know your cat has been in a fight, its a good idea to examine him carefully for signs of injury. Bite wounds may leave only tiny puncture holes on the skin. Veterinary care is always recommended for cat bite wounds. More often, you wont know that your cat has been fighting until an abscess forms. Signs of an abscess include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, pain and the appearance of a swollen area. Hair may be lost in the area, and the skin may rupture, leaking foul-swelling pus onto the fur. The most common areas for bite wounds and abscesses are the face, legs, and the base of the tail.

Your veterinarian can usually diagnose the abscess based on a physical exam. It may be necessary to shave hair from parts of the body to look for bite wounds.

Abscess Treatment
Cats typically require anesthesia for initial drainage and cleansing of the infected area. All of the pus and dead tissue will be removed. The wound is encouraged to heal without trapping bacteria under the skin again. This usually means that the wound is left open so that the internal tissues heal first, before the skin. Drains may be placed temporarily under the skin. In addition to giving oral medications, it may be necessary for you to administer topical antiseptics or antibiotics directly to the wound area. Hot packing the area with a warm, wet washcloth for 5-10 minutes twice daily is also beneficial. Most cats heal well with proper treatment.cat bite wounds

Even though an untreated abscess usually ruptures and drains on its own, recurrence is extremely common without professional care. Cats with abscesses can also get sick enough to stop eating and become severely dehydrated. Prompt medical attention is a must for all cat bite wounds and abscesses.

Biting is the most common means by which some serious cat diseases are spread. Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV), Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), and Rabies can all be spread by bites. If your cat goes outside he should be vaccinated against FeLV and Rabies. Your veterinarian may also advise testing for exposure to FeLV and FIV after a bite.

Preventing Abscesses
The main mechanism for preventing abscesses is keeping cats indoors, where they are less likely to fight. Routinely checking your cat for injuries is also a good idea.

Debra Garrison, DVM