Arthritis is a common problem for both cats and dogs. We have gathered some information to help you identify the symptoms and take action to keep your pet enjoying their normal daily activities.
What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is an inflammatory disease that affects joints. It is characterized by the breaking down of smooth cartilage that covers and protects the bones that form a joint. Any stress on the joint will increase the rate of degeneration. Once the cartilage is gone the bones grind against each other with regular movement, making even the slightest movement quite painful.
Limping, lameness, or favoring certain limbs
Showing stiffness or discomfort when getting up from a lying-down position
Stiff, swollen or sore joints
Painful when touched in certain areas
Uncomfortable or painful in certain positions
Loss of flexibility in their joints
Hesitation to jump, run or climb stairs
Arthritis is a common ailment and should be discussed during your pet’s annual physical exam as they get older. Radiographs, as well as other diagnostic tests, can help determine the cause and location of the inflammation. The patient’s medical history, such as previous injuries or possible congenital conditions, can help your veterinarian determine the type of arthritis and best course of treatment.
Dislocation or Trauma
Congenital conditions such as hip dysplasia
Immune-Mediated Polyarthritis (IMPA)
Ligament, tendon or muscle injury
Fracture of a bone that involves a joint
Aging and natural erosion of cartilage
Keeping your pet at a healthy weight may help prevent arthritis or slow its progression once the condition has developed. However, arthritic conditions cannot always be predicted or prevented, especially those that are congenital. Genetic tests are available to determine if your pet has the specific genetic markers and is at risk for developing these conditions.
Once arthritis has developed, there is no cure. The goal then is to prevent progression of the disease and minimize your pet’s pain. Some treatment options may include:
Prescription medication such as analgesics or anti-inflammatories
Nutritional supplements such as Glucosamine, Chondroitin or Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Physical Therapy or regular, low-impact exercise such as walking or swimming
Weight loss, if necessary
Holistics Treatments such as Acupuncture, Herbal medications, & other alternative therapies
Note: Advil (Ibuprofen), Tylenol (Acetaminophen), & Aleve (Naproxen) are toxic and NEVER should be given to pets. Do not give your pet any other human over-the-counter medications without first checking with your veterinarian.
Feline Note: Cats are more sensitive to drugs and should only be given medication and supplements intended for use in cats.
At home suggestions to make your pet more comfortable:
Provide proper bedding such as an orthopedic foam bed
Have short, gentle play sessions
Provide gentle massages and physical therapy
Elevate food and water to shoulder level
Groom the areas that may be hard to reach
Provide ramps in place of stairs or a place they usually jump up to
Daily low-impact exercise such as walking or swimming
For cats, provide a little box with shorter walls
If you notice any of these symptoms or changes in daily routine, your pet’s yearly physical exam is a perfect opportunity to discuss these issues with your veterinarian. Give us a call at 444-5797 to schedule an appointment.
A few weeks ago, one of the bosses got a new puppy. Of course, they had to give him a job, no nepotism here (heavy on the sarcasm). So, he’s been assigned to me as my intern. Being the upstanding employee that I am, I enthusiastically accepted the task. I know now this was a big mistake.
He’s extremely green, must be right out of school. It’s obvious he has no qualifications and is not going to work out in this business. His lack of work ethic is obvious. I have even caught him napping on the job. No excuse for this behavior. I’m even required to escort him to the restroom. It’s embarrassing.
He has a poor attitude and doesn’t hide it. He is vocal about his dislike for the job and this office. I caught him crying at his desk. He talks back to our bosses and the other employees. Not very mature or respectful. I wouldn’t stand for that if I was management.
You all know I take my job seriously and keep my toys…. I mean tools in proper working order. This guy has been stealing my tools and not putting them back where they go. He’s even broken a few of them and not had them fixed. And the tools he brings to work he won’t even share. Same goes for my lunch and snacks. He’s a greedy little bugger.
I must nip this in the bud and set this young whippersnapper straight. So that’s just what I did. I laid into him, or on him. He struggled a bit at first, but finally gave in. Perhaps it was my excellent mentorship, or maybe the lack of oxygen. He might just come around. Time will tell.
During the dog days of summer, the temperatures can be uncomfortable for two legged and four legged friends alike. While humans have multiple ways to cool off it can be harder for dogs. Canines do not have the ability to sweat throughout their body to cool down. Panting is their best way of regulating temperature. Heat stroke or heat exhaustion are both terms used for hyperthermia or elevated body temperature.
The symptoms can vary widely depending on how high the body temperature is and the patient’s other concurrent health issues. Symptoms may include:
Elevated respiratory rate and/or panting
Rapid heart rate
Gums may be dry, sticky, dark red in color, with possible bruising.
Shaking, shivering or muscle tremors
A rectal temperature provides most accurate reading. A dog’s normal temperature ranges between 100 to 103°F. A thorough history and questions regarding the pet’s recent environmental situation can help determine if the high body temperature is due to fever brought on by infection or other internal causes vs hyperthermia from external sources. Critical temperatures of 107-109 °F or above can lead to organ failure and death.
Dogs are not able to sweat over their entire body like humans. They have a small number of sweat glands in their foot pads. Applying alcohol or cool water to their foot pads can help reduce temperature due to evaporation. Utilize cool wash clothes on the pet’s head, stomach, groin, and armpits. Do not use cold water or ice packs. Cold restricts blood flow to the skin. The goal is to cool the blood and circulate it back through the body. Also, a drastic temperature drop can cause shock. Change the wash clothes frequently. Providing airflow, such as a fan, across their body will aid in evaporation. It is important to take their temperature frequently. A rectal temperature is the most accurate. Stop cooling when it reaches 103 or they may go into hypothermia.
In severe cases, hospitalization may be required for supportive care such as IV fluids and oxygen therapy. Medications can be given to control seizures. Your veterinarian may want to run blood work to assess the damage to the organs as prolonged hyperthermia can cause organ failure.
Patients who have suffered from hyperthermia are at greater risk for heat stroke due to damage to the thermoregulatory center. These patients should be carefully monitored in situations that could cause hyperthermia.
Hyperthermia is a condition that can be easily prevented by following reasonable standards of pet care.
When possible, keep pet indoors in air conditioning.
Provide adequate shade (with ventilation) if pets need to be left outside.
Always have water available.
Never leave pets in vehicles; temperatures rise quickly.
Exercise in morning or evening when outdoor temperatures are cooler.
Patients with heart disease, obesity, or Brachycephalic breeds are at greater risk.
If your pet is exhibiting symptoms of hyperthermia, record their body temperature and take action to reduce it if elevated. Contact your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary service for further instruction.
All the sudden your dog stops being able to wag his tail. It is droopy and just hangs limp. He sits funny, maybe to the side, as to not put pressure on it. There are many names for this including rudder tail, limber tail, swimmer’s tail, or broken wag. The technical term for this condition is acute caudal myopathy. Although this can happen to any breed, but it is most common in working or hunting breeds such as Retrievers, Points, Setters, and Hounds.
This condition often occurs at the start of hunting season or in the early spring. The muscles in the tail are sprained or strained from overuse without proper conditioning. Dogs use their tail like a rudder to steer and maintain balance while swimming. The cold water in spring and fall may also play a role. During hunting, working, or playing the dog may wag their tail excessively. Dogs who are crated for long periods of time can also develop this condition. Dogs may not show symptoms immediately, but possibly the next morning after rest. Much like a human’s muscles are sore the next day after exercise. The pain can be substantial enough to make the dog not want to eat and act lethargic.
Symptoms may include:
Tail is painful to touch
Completely or partially limp tail
Inability to wag tail
Licking or chewing at tail
A tentative finding can be made based on the patient’s recent history, but a full physical exam will help confirm the diagnosis. Your veterinarian may need to rule out other issues such as a fracture, back injury, anal gland issues, or prostate disease. Radiographs may be helpful in excluding other issues.
Patients will recover with rest and anti-inflammatory pain medication. More severe cases may require prescription muscle relaxers. Ice or hot packs may also be recommended. This may take a few days to a week depending on the severity of the injury and if the patient complies with resting. It is a difficult request to ask a happy dog not to try and wag its tail.
Since overuse of the muscles is the cause, simply taking it easy will help prevent this issue. Instead of allowing the dog to jump into an activity full bore, introduce it slowly. Condition them with short amounts of exercise, training, or swimming to build up their endurance and stamina. Allow ample time to rest in between. For hunting dogs, start preparing them well before the season, or keep them conditioned throughout the year. Don’t expect your dog to go from couch potato to field champion in one day.
A very common subject of phone calls received at veterinary clinics is a pet that is “scooting”. A common misconception is that it has worms, but often the cause is anal glands that need expressing. Most people are not even aware that pets have anal glands and what they do.
Purpose & Location
Anal glands are small sacs located just inside the rectum with ducts that exit at the anus. Also called the “scent glands”, they produce a foul-smelling, yellow to brown colored, liquid substance used for marking. The contents are excreted with the pressure of a normal, firm bowel movement. Most pets do not have issues expressing the material on their own. However, due to loose stools, allergies, diet, or differing anatomy, some patients need help expressing the glands. Anal glands can become impacted, infected, and can abscess. Also, leaks can occur when pets are either very relaxed or scared/startled.
Some symptoms are very noticeable, while others are more subtle. Pet’s may exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:
Excessive licking at rear end
Sudden need to sit down
The glands will need to be expressed manually if the patient cannot express them naturally. Though this can be done from the outside, it is much more successful to express them internally. It is highly recommended that a veterinary professional express them, but with proper training and patient cooperation a client can do them at home. If any abnormalities are noticed, please seek veterinary care.
Abscessed anal glands may need oral antibiotics, and in severe cases may need to be infused with liquid antibiotics. Most patients will need to be sedated for this procedure. Tumors can also develop in or around the anal glands, which is a good reason to have them expressed by a veterinary professional.
There are multiple products on the market that claim to alleviate anal gland issues. The key ingredient in all of them is fiber. Fiber helps to keeps pet’s gastrointestinal system regular, which helps to naturally express the glands. A low-cost home remedy would be to add a small amount of canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) to your pet’s diet.
For patients with known anal glands issues, expressing them regularly can prevent them from becoming impacted and abscessing. All patients are different, but it is common to need expressing monthly. If your pet is having anal gland issues, give us a call at 444-5797 to schedule an appointment.
April is National Pet First Aid Awareness Month. We have created a list of items to keep at home or in your field first aid kit.
Having the correct materials and knowing how to use them can make a big difference in wound management. A pressure wrap can help to control or minimize bleeding. Bandaging can be helpful in protecting a wound from contamination as well as from the patient licking it. Bandages should be removed if they become too tight or swelling is observed, or if they become dirty or wet.
A non-adhesive pad (such as a Telfa pad) should be placed over the wound itself, then a stretch bandage (Example: Vetrap®) material can be used to keep it in place. When bandaging an extremity, start at the bottom and work your way up to avoid constriction. A tape can be used to reinforce the ends. When actual bandage materials are unavailable, items such as lady’s maxi pads and a little duct tape may suffice in an emergency.
A dog and cat’s normal rectal temperature is about 99-103 degrees Fahrenheit. An increased temp is hyperthermia and decreased is hypothermia. Warming or cooling of the patient should start immediately if able. The patient’s temperature can be helpful information when calling your veterinarian and can aid in diagnosis.
Aspirin is an over-the-counter medication that can be given to dogs that have a sprain/strain or are sore after hunting. Call your veterinarian for dosing. Long term use of Aspirin may cause stomach upset or ulcers. Never use Aspirin in conjunction with steroids (Prednisone) or other pain meds. Aspirin should not be given to cats. Prescription anti-inflammatory medications, such as Vetprofen/Carprofen or Rimadyl, are more effective but must be prescribed by your veterinarian.
NEVER give pets Ibuprofen (Advil®), Acetaminophen (Tylenol®), or Naproxen (Aleve®).
Benadryl® (Diphenhydramine) is an over-the-counter antihistamine frequently used for symptoms related to allergies including hives, facial swelling, rashes, etc. It is usually found in 25 mg tablet or capsule form at most pharmacies, but for dogs under 12 pounds, the children’s liquid may be easier to dose. Contact your veterinarian for dosing.
Nail Trimmer & Styptic Powder
Having your own nail trimmer at home can come in handy for broken nails. Styptic powder (Kwik Stop®) is a product that helps stop bleeding when nails are clipped too short. Baby powder, corn starch, or baking flour can be used in place of styptic powder but are less effective. Styptic powder should not be used on large or deep wounds.
A hemostat is a practical tool to include in a first aid kit. It can aid in removing porcupine quills, slivers, weed seeds, etc. In a pinch, a needle-nose plier can stand in for a hemostat. Hemostats can be purchased in the fishing department or at any bait & tackle store.
Helpful tip: Do not cut porcupine quills off before removing. Pull the quills straight out with slow, steady pressure.
A pair of bandage or athletic scissors can make removing bandages much easier. Different from regular scissors, they have a protective edge that shields the patient from the sharp blades of the scissors. They can also be used in case a collar or hunting vest gets caught and needs to be cut off.
An ophthalmic saline solution can be used to flush debris out of eyes. This can be useful to remove weed seeds, pollen, and other eye irritants. With any eye injury, a veterinarian should examine the eye promptly for corneal scratches or stuck foreign material. Do not use Visine® or any other contact solution.
Even the nicest pets may bite when they are fearful or painful. A properly fitting muzzle helps protect you from getting bit, but please still use caution and firm restraint. Muzzles are also helpful in distracting your pet while performing procedures.
E-collar vs Clothing
A pet can do more harm than good when licking or chewing at a wound, abrasion, lump, etc. Protecting the affected area from the pet can be just as important as protecting it from the elements. Having an E-collar available can be a great advantage. In place of an E-collar, a T-shirt can be worn by your pet to prevent it from licking or scratching a wound on its chest or abdomen. A sock or booty on the foot can prevent the pet from using that paw to scratch with or prevent them from getting to a wound on the foot.
Hydrogen peroxide has multiple uses. It can be used to rinse debris out of a wound, though it can be irritating. Peroxide can be used orally to induce vomiting if your pet ingests a toxin or foreign body. Consult your veterinarian promptly if your pet has ingested a toxin or foreign body. Peroxide is also an ingredient in the home remedy for a “skunk bath” (peroxide, baking soda, dish soap).
A dilute Betadine or Iodine solution is useful when cleaning and flushing out wounds. It has antibacterial properties and is less irritating than peroxide.
Dogs do not sweat from their body like we do; they only sweat through their paw pads. Isopropyl or rubbing alcohol can be applied to the pet’s paws when overheated. As it evaporates, the alcohol pulls heat away from the body, mimicking the effects of sweating.
Carefully trimming the hair around injuries can help you assess how extensive it is. Letting air reach certain wounds can allow them to heal quicker. Trimming matted fur can prevent a hidden infection underneath. Please do not use scissors to trim mats.
Your pet’s annual physical is a great time to discuss with your veterinarian which items would be more important for your pet. If you have any questions on specific products, please bring them along to your appointment. Give us a call at (218)444-5797 to schedule an appointment.