What is arthritis & does it occur in pets? By definition, arthritis means inflammation of a joint. It is very common in pets for a variety of reasons.

Is arthritis curable in pets? Probably manageable is a better term. Cure could be considered in the event of a joint that is replaced with a synthetic joint. Because in these procedures the diseased joint is removed, the procedure could be considered as curative.

What causes arthritis in pet’s? As in humans, there are many causes: injuries, infections, autoimmune processes, obesity. Anything which causes damage to joint tissues can lead to arthritis.

What are some signs that my pet might have arthritis? Pain, reluctance to move, go up steps, jump in the car, etc early on signs may be more subtle. As the disease progresses, it tends to be more continuous.

What are the best drugs to treat arthritis? It depends. Many of the newer drugs for arthritis can lead to improved clinical signs (note, we did not say “cure”). However, as with most drugs, side effects can occur. That’s why blood tests must be done when patients are placed on these drugs to monitor organ system function.

Many of the most effective treatments may not involve drugs. New modalities such as underwater treadmills, e-stim, etc are showing improved potential. Along these lines, one of the best modalities is weight control. Every extra pound that isn’t needed puts undue stress on joints that may already have disease. Many specially formulated digests can aid pet owners in efforts to control weight.

What should I do if I suspect my pet has arthritis? Contact your DVM. You may need to seek special help like Dr. Jurgena & his team who have had special training in rehabilitation medicine. Also, many of our technicians have received advanced training in how proper diets can be an asset in treating arthritis. Remember, you can make a difference.

 

Can my pet’s allergies be cured? Cured may not be the correct word. As with humans, sometimes the best we can do is manage allergies & greatly improve the quality of life of the patient. We strive to cure, but with allergies, sometimes this is not attainable.

Before I make an appointment with my DVM, anything I can do for my allergic pet? Yes, one allergist refers to long hair as “the dust mop effect”. So, keeping your pet’s hair trimmed short will not allow as many allergens to stick to your pet. Along this line, keep your pet out of the grass as much as possible. You might consider walking your pet on the sidewalk or bike path instead of the grass. Another trick is to wipe your pet with a damp cloth frequently. This will help by again eliminating allergens that can stick to the pet’s coat & skin. This is especially helpful after the last trip outside at night.

What about Benedryl? We often include benedryl in our treatment plans. However, you should first check with your DVM before giving it to your pet. As with all medications, dosing & safety are key.

Anything new available for allergic pets? Yes! Some new weapons have been added to our arsenal. One of them is a new class of drug called a monoclonal antibody. These drugs take a radically different approach to dealing with allergies & show great promise for many of our furry patients?

What can I do? Make an appointment with your DVM. Hopefully your DVM has a special interest in dermatology. If not, ask around, make some phone calls & find that Doctor with a special interest. Help is out there.

cat naughty

“Just hear those ornaments crashing and cookies smashing…uh-ooo!”

We wrote about this a few years ago and feel it is a very important topic this time of year. In fact, we just had a call today about a dog swallowing garland. Because the tree is a “new” toy pets do not see often, they are very curious about the shiny objects hanging on it.

If you have curious pets, glass ornaments are usually not a good idea. Even placed up high, they can be shaken from the tree and break. And it isn’t just a cut paw worry, it is amazing what pets will eat. We have seen dogs come in that have eaten broken ornaments.

Who hasn’t seen those hilarious videos of cats and Christmas trees? If you have a kitty-“klimber” in your home, try tethering your tree to the wall or a secure spot. Not only will this keep from having injury from the falling tree, but broken ornaments and torn light cords. We have also seen suggestions on cat sites to hang lemon or citrus scented air fresheners in your tree to repel cats. (Cats are reported to dislike citrus scents).

Tinsel is very attractive to pets; particularly cats (see our cautionary tale of CC the cat on our Facebook page from 2013). The problem with tinsel is that once it’s consumed, it can cause serious injury to your pet. Tinsel is linear, so it doesn’t pass through the intestines very well. As the intestines contract, it can bunch the tinsel up and cause blockage or perforation, which requires surgical intervention.  

Holiday lights are a pretty site but may be another source of danger to your curious pets.  Chewing on cords can create an electrical shock, causing tongue lacerations and possible death. Check your light strands for signs of fraying or chewing and use a grounded three-prong extension cord as a safety precaution.

Every firefighter can tell a tale of a fire started by pets and open flames. Prevent holiday disaster by placing candles and open flames in a hard-to-reach spot so that your pets can not access them. Even on counters and tables, pets can knock over candles with wagging tails causing burns and even house fires.  Try the new flame-less variety for a safe and economical option. 

And should an emergency situation arise, we are here at Hawthorne 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (including major holidays) for any holiday “cat”astrophes.   

Anyone who “owns” (I use this term lightly as I always question whether my dog owns me or vice-versa) an animal or has in the past, knows that this wonderful bond is on borrowed time. We adopt our animals knowing we will outlive them and will need to go through the loss process at some point. I have personally experienced this 4 times in my life and have a 13-year old lab on very borrowed time. At work, we experience the loss process daily. We often get questions like, “How can you do all those euthanasias? I’d be in tears all the time.” While we sometimes put on our “game faces” so we can handle the business side of things, what many don’t see is the tears, sadness and grief as we provide final care for our beloved patients. Many times, we cannot hold the emotion in and we a crying alongside our clients as they say their final goodbyes. So why do we put ourselves through this? Why do we continue to adopt, care for and keep such wonderful animals knowing we will say good-bye?

Many organizations have done extensive research on this subject. In 1982, Purdue University even created the Center for the Human-Animal Bond within their College of Veterinary Medicine to study these relationships and to communicate its findings to scientists and the public. There are also professional groups, such as the American Association of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians, that focus on advancing the “role of the veterinary medical community in nurturing positive human-animal interactions in society”.

Zoetis, a global animal health company, puts it simple stating, pets are good for people. Pets give people a loving companion to care for. They encourage touch, conversation and often laughter. They cause us to exercise and offer an antidote for loneliness.  They teach children responsibility. By caring for pets, pet owners benefit, too. Additionally, continued research into the human-animal connection shows that the benefits are not just emotional. For example, pets can boost infant immunity to infections, help with mental health disorders by affecting brain chemistry, and lower blood pressure.

After 10 years in vet medicine, I would wholeheartedly agree. The unconditional love we get from our animals can make the dreariest moments brighter and our hearts lighter. And whether it’s 2 or 20 years, we will cherish each moment we get with our beloved “fur” babies. Wouldn’t you agree?

This blog entry is dedicated to all of our animals that have passed over the Rainbow Bridge. bogie stone

vaccineAgain, we hear this question a lot:  My pet is on heartworm prevention every month, why do I need the annual test?  We wanted to help provide some basic info to help clarify why we heartworm test and when.

Annual testing is necessary, even when dogs are on heartworm prevention year-round, to ensure that the prevention program is working. Heartworm preventives are highly effective, but not 100 percent effective. If you miss just one dose of a monthly medication—or give it late—it can leave your dog unprotected. Even if you give the medication as recommended, your dog may spit out or vomit a heartworm pill—or rub off a topical medication. There can be lapses in the manufacturing of the medication that effects the efficacy of the drug. Annual testing also protects your pet (and wallet). If your pet tests positive, with proof of continual purchased from an authorized* source and past heartworms test, most manufacturers will help cover the cost of treatment.

When should my pet be tested for heartworms?

All dogs should be tested annually for heartworm infection, and this can usually be done during a routine visit for preventive care. Following are guidelines on testing and timing:

  • Puppies under 7 months of age can be started on heartworm prevention without a heartworm test (it takes at least 6 months for a dog to test positive after it has been infected).
  • Adult dogs over 7 months of age and previously not on a preventive need to be tested prior to starting heartworm prevention.  They then need to be tested 6 months after beginning prevention to ensure the initial test wasn’t a false negative.   After these initial tests, they are then tested annually as long as they stay current on prevention.
  • If there has been a lapse in prevention (one or more late or missed doses), dogs should be tested six months from the first missed dose. (If the pet missed in July and August, we would test in December.) As long as the pet remains current, testing is done annually after that.

*Manufacturer authorized sources are licensed veterinary practices and VIPPS approved online pharmacies (such as our Pet Portal). 1-800 PetMeds, Drs. Fosters & Smith, etc are not manufacturer authorized distributors. Any manufacturer guarantee is null and void through these sources.

Since we know many canine owners use peanut butter as a treat or to give medications, we wanted to share this news release from DVM360 Magazine. 

Jul 15, 2015

By Katie James DVM360 MAGAZINE

Xylitol, a natural sugar alcohol sweetener popular for its low glycemic index but known to cause hypoglycemia and hepatic necrosis in dogs, is now also found in several specialty peanut and nut butter brands. Nuts ‘n More, Krush Nutrition and P-28 Foods all make peanut butter and nut-based spreads containing the ingredient.Krush Nutrition’s “Nutty by Nature” xylitol-containing peanut butter.

Though xylitol has been popping up in all kinds of foods and dental products in the last several years, peanut butter is a special concern, says Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS, DABT, DABVT, associate director of veterinary services for Pet Poison Helpline and SafetyCall International. “First, dogs fed straight peanut butter as a treat or fed treats baked with xylitol-containing peanut butter may certainly be at risk for harm,” she says. “Second, a dog that nabs the entire jar of xylitol-containing peanut butter and happily gorges on his or her treasure without anyone knowing could quickly become extremely ill. If this occurred during the day while the owners were not home, it’s possible the dog could die before people returned.”

So far, mainstream peanut butter brands haven’t started using xylitol—only the three specialty brands include it in their formulations. Because toxicity is based on the amount ingested, it’s helpful to know the concentration of xylitol found in these products. But at press time, only P-28 Foods had released its concentration information to Pet Poison Helpline. Based on the information from P-28, Brutlag created the chart below to help owners understand how much of the spread was safe to give a dog based on its weight.

Brutlag is urging pet owners to be vigilant about checking labels and looking for keywords that can indicate that a food contains xylitol. “The most obvious thing to look for is the word ‘xylitol’ itself. It may be prefaced or followed by clarifying words,” she says.

In some cases, xylitol’s position on the ingredient list can be helpful in estimating its quantity in the product. “In the United States, food products must list their ingredients in descending order of predominance by weight. This means that the ingredient that weighs the most is listed first, and the ingredient that weighs the least is listed last,” Brutlag says.

Something else to check is whether the packaging says “sweetened naturally” or that it uses a “natural sweetener.” Brutlag says, “It’s a common misconception that xylitol is an artificial sweetener—but it’s not. It’s normally found in small amounts in fruits and vegetables, so if you see those terms, look deeper to see if xylitol is listed. Chemically, xylitol is classified as a sugar alcohol, so this is another phrase to look for.”

Other sugar alcohols, such as erythritol, glycerol (also called glycerine), maltitol, mannitol and sorbitol are not known to be toxic to dogs; however, some food labels do not list the specific sugar alcohol used. “When in doubt, if you want to feed a product to your dog that lists ‘sugar alcohol’ as an ingredient, but doesn’t list which one, don’t use it,” Brutlag advises. Because xylitol and other sugar alcohols are not technically sugar, they may also be found in products labeled “sugar free” or “no sugar added.”

While it seems unlikely that xylitol will become so mainstream that it begins to replace sugar in most foods, it’s very likely that more products will contain it, which Brutlag says has been the trend for several years.

 

franny

 

One day, Franny the Flea decided to hop a ride on Cuddly-Cute the Canine cutting through the park. Unfortunately, this delightful doggie’s owner didn’t protect her with a monthly flea medication. Franny found her new home quite comfy and began to produce her babies (40-50 eggs per day). As her eggs began to grow and hatch, poor Cuddly-Cute began to itch and scratch. She wasn’t so cuddly-cute with her mussing and fussing. Then one day while she chewed and stewed, she ingested one of those fickle fleas. Several weeks later, Cuddly-Cute’s owner noticed dry rice-like segments on Cuddly’s cushy-tushy. Tammy the Tapeworm had emerged! Oh-no! What’s a canine to do?

Luckily, Cuddly-Cute’s owner decided enough was enough and took her to her to see Dr. Hawthorne. Dr. Hawthorne diagnosed Cuddly-Cute with tapeworms and fleas. Tapeworms and fleas are the best of friends. Tapeworm toddlers (cysticercoids) think adult fleas are the best and they love to hitch rides with them into the unsuspecting systems of alluring animals. These temperamental tapes like to absorb the nice nutrients of their trusting hosts, thus causing turmoil in tummies and intestines. Fortunately for Cuddly, Dr. Hawthorne knew the answer. He prescribed a de-wormer to take care of the current infection and started Cuddly on monthly heartworm/intestinal parasite/flea prevention combo medication.

Soon, Franny the Flea and Tammy the Tapeworm had to say goodbye to Cuddly-Cute. Cuddly-Cute thanked her owner with many happily ever after yips and yipes.

And thus,we learn the moral of our “tail”, to keep you pets happy and healthy and prevent pesky pests, use flea prevention or better yet, a combo heartworm/flea medication, every month, for the life of your pet. Or Franny the Flea and her friend Tammy the Tapeworm may come for a visit!

Veterinarians are always talking about the importance of dental care for your pets, but why?  It’s estimated that more than 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats develop tooth and gum disease by the age of three.  Much of this damage could be prevented through routine dental care.  Because pets are not known to sit still and open wide, annual cleanings done under anesthesia give the DVM an opportunity to thoroughly look in your pet’s mouth to check for cracked or loose teeth, gum pockets, or improper tooth alignment.  We can also do dental xrays to check under the gum line and ensure there is no damage to roots. 

There are also additonal health issues that can arise from bad teeth.  Periodontal disease is a painful infection between the tooth and the gum that can result in tooth loss and spread infection to the rest of the body. Signs are loose teeth, bad breath, tooth pain, sneezing and nasal discharge.  Bacteria from periodontal disease affects the entire body, leading to kidney and heart disease and eventually organ failure. 

Signs of dental issues can include:
Bad breath (halitosis)
Broken tooth/teeth
Excessive drooling
Reluctance to eat, especially dry food, or to play with chew toys
Chewing with or favoring one side of the mouth
Pawing at or rubbing the muzzle/mouth
A mass/growth in the mouth
Bleeding from the mouth
Loss of symmetry of the muzzle and/or lower jaw
Swollen/draining tracts under (or in front of) the eye
Sudden change in behavior (aggressive or withdrawn)
Chronic eye infections or drainage with no exact cause or cure
Inability to open or close the mouth
Chronic sneezing
Discolored tooth/teeth
Abnormal discharge from nose

To learn more about routine dental cleanings, watch this fun video created by our friends at VMG.  Then talk to your vet about your pet’s oral health. 

We posted about this in 2013, but it has become prevalent again, so we updated and revised our post to give you current information.

On-line pharmacies. You have read a lot about them lately and there is a constant question of who to rely on and who is not what they seem. We get a lot of questions regarding on-line pharmacies for discounted or cheaper heartworm prevention and medications. Many people think the only reason we don’t endorse online pharmacies such as 1-800 PetMeds or Dr. Fosters & Smith is for financial reasons. But in fact, quality control issue.

Manufacturers such as Virbac, Elanco and Pfizer DO NOT sell directly to these sites. So where do these sites get their medications? Best case scenario, it comes from a veterinary practice over ordering product for their facility and turning around and selling the product to the Internet companies for a small profit (which actually is a big no-no with the manufacturers). Worst case scenario, the medications may actually be repackaged expired drugs or medications purchased from another country (so they may not be FDA compliant). While your box may look like a normal box of Trifexis or Sentinel, buyer beware.

Another reason we don’t endorse these sites, the guarantee for the product is not actually the manufacturer’s guarantee. It comes from the website. The reason the guarantee sounds so good, since we aren’t sure where the product comes from, they better give some kind of guarantee!

Heartworm treatments can run up to $1500, many on-line sites have monetary caps on what they will reimburse. Besides a monetary cap, they have strict guidelines some of which are if the product hasn’t been purchased from them in the last 9 months of use, there is no guarantee. So if you purchased 6 months from your vet and 6 months on-line, the guarantee from neither the manufacturer nor on-line source would be valid!

Many veterinary practices are now offering their own online pharmacies. These pharmacies are a direct source to the manufacturers and are usually VIPPS certified. The products purchased from AUTHORIZED pharmacies carry all manufacturer guarantees. By using these sources, you can save money without sacrificing quality.

Visit our on-line pharmacy at www.glencarbonhawthorne.com.  Click on the orange box to visit our on-line store and view your pet’s medical records.