Archive for the ‘Pet Health’ Category

The Top 10 Reasons to Immediately Go to the Vet   Leave a comment

It is inevitable that some day a dog owner will worry about their cherished pet knowing without a doubt something is wrong but is not certain if it constitutes a definite emergency. How does one know when a problem is life threatening and requires immediate veterinary attention? Here is a compilation of the most common definite emergencies seen in the veterinary ER.

1. Trauma
If your dog has sustained some form of trauma such as a fall, gunshot wound, getting hit by a car or is involved in a dog fight then immediate veterinary attention is needed. Even if your dog appears fine initially a check-up with your vet is still necessary because sometimes injuries sustained from a traumatic event such as a ruptured lung, diaphragmatic hernia or internal bleeding will not manifest symptoms immediately. Wounds such as lacerations and bite wounds may be deeper than they appear and complications such as infection can result from delaying veterinary attention. Sometimes the traumatic event is not witnessed by the owner, if you find your dog limping, seemingly in pain or is just not acting right then it would be best to have her checked out.

2. Difficulty Breathing
Dyspnea is also known as difficulty breathing and can manifest as wheezing, choking, weak and raspy breathing or respiratory arrest. This can be caused by a foreign body in the throat, allergic reaction, heart disease or pulmonary disease. If there is a foreign body present it is important not to try and extract it yourself – doing so may lodge the object even deeper, completely obstructing the airway. Breathing problems almost always indicate major medical problems so do not wait to take immediate action.

3. Neurological Conditions
Neurological problems can manifest in your dog as disorientation, incoordination, severe lethargy, unresponsiveness, and coma. A normal healthy dog is bright, alert and responsive; any pronounced change in your dog’s mental status requires immediate veterinary attention. Lethargy and weakness can be seen with any serious illness and should never be ignored. Sometimes neurological disorders do not affect mentation (for instance loss of use of the hind limbs can sometimes be cause by a ruptured intervertebral disc). Again these are serious disorders that need prompt veterinary attention to achieve the most favorable outcome.

4. Seizures
Seizures are also considered a neurological condition but are so common in dogs it deserves its own category. Any dog that has never experienced a seizure before needs to be seen immediately. Signs associated with a seizure include uncontrollable shaking and tremors, loss of consciousness, paddling with the legs and possible loss of bowel or urinary control. The most common cause of seizures in dogs is epilepsy. If your dog is diagnosed as epileptic not every seizure will constitute an emergency. If your dog has multiple seizures within a 24-hour period or if a seizure lasts longer than a couple minutes then your epileptic dog may need immediate veterinary attention. Talk to your veterinarian more about how to manage epilepsy and what to watch for. Other causes of seizures include hypoglycemia in puppies, insulinoma in older dogs and toxicities in dogs of all ages. Read more on seizures here.

5. Suspected or Known Toxic Exposure
You found a chewed up rat bait while running some laundry down to the basement or you notice the bag of fertilizer in the garden shed has been ripped open. If you suspect your dog has gotten into something potentially toxic call the ASPCA animal poison control at (888) 426-4435 for immediate advice on what to do. A veterinary toxicologist may advise you to induce vomiting, seek immediate veterinary attention or simply monitor at home if the substance ingested turns out to be innocuous. Keep a bottle of hydrogen peroxide in the house at all times in case you are ever asked to induce vomiting. Please refer to our list of the top 10 common household toxins that could harm your dog for more information.

6. Vomiting and Diarrhea
Vomiting and diarrhea are common problems in dogs and while they can be signs of a serious problem the majority of cases are simple gastric upset that typically resolves within 24 hours. If your dog is otherwise acting fine then rest the stomach by withholding food for 4 to 6 hours and make sure your dog has access to plenty of water so they can stay hydrated. If she develops additional clinical signs such as lethargy, weakness or seems to be in pain then immediate veterinary attention is indicated. Also if vomiting or diarrhea persists more than 24 hours OR you notice blood in the vomitus or the diarrheas then go see your vet immediately. If your dog has a chronic medical problem such as diabetes and starts vomiting then it is not recommended to wait 24 hours and to seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.

7. Distended Abdomen or Abdominal Pain
If you notice your dog’s abdomen is distended and she seems to be in pain and/or uncomfortable then a serious medical problem necessitating immediate veterinary care is likely. Abdominal distension may be accompanied by dry heaves, retching, weakness, collapse and difficulty breathing. Abdominal distension can be caused by air trapped in the stomach which can cause the stomach to twist over on itself. This condition is known as gastric dilatation-volvulus—or commonly “bloat” – and usually occurs in large breed dogs. This is life threatening if not treated and the sooner you go to the vet the better your dog’s odds for a positive outcome will be. Other reasons for abdominal distension can be fluid distension (ascites) from heart disease and hemoabdomen from internal bleeding such as a ruptured spleen.

8. Ocular Problems
Eye problems in dogs have a nasty tendency to deteriorate faster than problems in other areas. These problems can quickly escalate into loss of the eye and blindness if not treated especially glaucoma. Signs of ocular disease include redness of the eye, discharge, excessive tearing swelling, squinting and constant pawing at the eye. Even if it is just a foreign body in the eye or a superficial scratch on the cornea prompt veterinary treatment can prevent a minor problem from becoming a serious one.

9. Urinary Problems
If you notice your dog is not producing any urine then go see your veterinarian as soon as possible. While much more common in cats than dogs, urinary blockages do occur and are life threatening. If you notice difficulty urinating or blood in the urine then see your veterinarian as soon as possible because it may indicate a urinary infection or urinary stones that can escalate to blockage if not treated.

10. Whelping Emergencies
If your dog goes into labor and you notice that more than four hours pass without any puppies, strains for more than 30 minutes without results or more than two hours elapse between puppies then she may be experiencing dystocia. Call your veterinarian immediately for advice.

11.  Tick Fever/biliary/bosluiskoors

I’m adding this one as it’s not on the above list from the USA.  In SA we have a huge problem with tick related diseases for humans and dogs.  If your dog is at all listless and off his food for more than one meal, please have him checked out.  Biliary is a tick born disease that kills off red blood cells which can be fatal.  It is very common!

 

This list is by no means all inclusive of definite emergencies but is a compilation of the more common emergencies seen. If there is something going on with your dog and you are not sure if it is an emergency or not, be aware that help is just a phone call away. Always have the number of your regular veterinarian. As a dog owner you know your dog best – if you suspect something is wrong do not hesitate to call. This one act can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. Never feel embarrassed about calling or being a worrywart because it is better to be safe than sorry.

 

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Posted 10/08/2012 by Rose's Puppy School in Pet Health

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Fear of Fireworks   Leave a comment

By Niki Elliott – ThinkingPets.com
Unfortunately this is the time of year when fireworks are being set off in all our neighbourhoods, and every year the noise level of these fireworks increases. It is like living in the middle of a war zone in some areas. Many dogs and cats are developing bad reactions to fireworks as well as gunshots and other loud noises. A little fear or anxiety in response to loud noises is normal for animals as well as people but when these fearful responses are out of proportion to the real threat, the animals revert back to survival mode and this is where it becomes a problem.
It is vitally important to try and prepare your pets to help them get through the night of terror with the least amount of stress.
Make a safe place for your pet to go into. You will probably have noticed that your pet goes into the shower, under a bed or even into the garage when he is anxious or feels threatened. Make this place more comfortable, maybe even darker. Put his most favourite bed in there and encourage him to go and settle there, even when there is no noise going on. Put some of his favourite toys in there and some really tasty chewies. Get your pet to go in there and enjoy the chewies when he is not afraid. That way he will “like” his shelter and associate it with good things and will want to go there when times get tough.
Often the problem is made worse because your pet doesn’t know where to go to escape. These are the animals who end up just running wildly on the street or forcing themselves through security gates in an attempt to get away from the noise. You need somewhere for them to hide. Choose a room that is naturally quiet in the centre of the house and has no windows. Prepare this place well in advance. If your dog tends to try and dig or burrow to get away from the noise then put lots of blankets down for him. Put a piece of your clothing with your smell on down for him as well. Your scent will be a familiar smell and will comfort your pet. One person I know has built a bomb shelter in their garden for their dog to go into!
Put a DAP for dogs and Feliway for cats diffuser, obtainable from your Vet, in the cat or dog’s hiding place or get the DAP/Feliway Calming Collar to put on your pet or use the DAP/Feliway spray in the area. If you are using the diffuser, it should be left operating 24 hours a day, do not switch it on and off trying to save electricity – this just uses up more of the liquid in a shorter space of time. Install the diffuser a few weeks before the firework event and until 2 weeks after. There are always fireworks going off for a few days before and after the actual date. DAP/Feliway is a pheromone that helps pets feel much more relaxed and confidant when they might otherwise be stressed. Close the windows, draw the curtains and put on some music. Music with a good beat is best. This will minimise the amount of noise coming into the room from outside. You don’t want your pet to see the flashes of the fireworks as they explode.
You can leave some food and water for your pet as well as some chewies and familiar high value toys. This will help reduce the tension and make him feel better, but some animals are so fearful that they are physically unable to eat once the noise starts. Their bodies had flipped over into survival mode and the main organs have shut down allowing the body to prepare for flight. It is a good idea to make sure that your pet has emptied his bladder an hour before the noise starts. The place you and your pet decide is the best place must be accessible to your pet at all times. It is vital to make sure that doors are leading into and out area are not likely to shut and trap your pet inside or out of the room. On the day of the fireworks give your dog a large stodgy carbohydrate rich meal in the late afternoon. Pasta, mashed potato or overcooked rice is ideal, and will help to make him feel calm and sleepy as the night draws in.
If your vet has given you medication to reduce your pet’s fears make sure that you follow the prescription precisely. Also start with the medication long before the noise starts, otherwise it is too late and often won’t make any difference at all.
As soon as the fireworks start take your pet to his hiding place and encourage him to stay there. Don’t get cross with him when he is scared, it will only make him more frightened. Also don’t mollycoddle your pet. This will make him think there is something to be afraid of. Ignore his fearful behaviour and play games with him using treats as a reward. We want him to associate fireworks with a great game and some tasty treats.
You can also get some ear plugs to block out some of the noise. Just make sure they fit properly, you don’t want to hurt your pet’s ears when you push them in, nor do you want to push them in too far. Just far enough for them to block the ear canal and yet accessible for you to remove once the fireworks are over.
You will need to get some professional help to sort out your pet’s noise problem. Do this before New Year which will be the next time we will probably experience fireworks. Many animals can be treated using behavioural methods called desensitisation and counter conditioning. Specially made recordings of fireworks can be used to train animals not to react to the noises they fear and a CD called Sounds Scary from Kyron can be obtained from your Vet.
TTouch, which is a method of working with fearful animals, can be used to help your pet overcome its fear of fireworks. TTouch builds confidence and a confident animal is not a fearful animal. TTouch combines bodywork, which is certain touches with ground work exercises. These exercises boost the animal’s confidence. There is also a Thundershirt that can be used to help calm your pet. If you don’t have one of these you can use a dog coat or T-shirt. Secure it around the belly with a piece of elastic or make a knot on the back with a scrunchie. This can have a calming effect on your pet like a swaddling blanket on a baby. Doing some of touches on your pet’s ears will also help to calm your pet and most dogs really love it. If you decide to do touch work on your pet, don’t wait until the
fireworks start! You’ll be much more successful if you do the work before to relieve tensions in the body and boost your pet’s confidence. Then when the fireworks start, he’ll be less likely to react. By working with your pet before the firework “season” it will already be established as something good and not necessarily associated with the fireworks. There are names of all the TTouch Practitioners in
different area of the country on the TTouch website http://www.ttouchsa.co.za if you want some help with learning the touches.
Groundwork through a Confidence course helps to bring more awareness to the body of your pet. This is usually done for dogs but you can do some of the exercises with a cat. Simple exercises at a slow pace, allow the animal to feel its body in perfect balance. Set up a simple maze in your garden and lead your pet through it slowly. Put down some poles and see how well your pet picks up its
feet over them. Use dome boards on tyres for your pet to walk over. The more successful he is the better he will feel about himself and when the noise starts it won’t bother him as much.
Never punish an animal that is fearful of loud noises, this will only make the situation worse as he will associate the punishment with the noise and fear the noise even more. Also don’t flood your animal with loud noises, trying to show him there is nothing to be afraid of. This will make him even more fearful. If you have the Sound Scary CD only play it softly as back ground noise. You should
barely be able to hear it. Your pet’s hearing is so much better than yours.