Friday, March 25, 2016

Canine influenza

We have had multiple clients asking questions about canine influenza virus as there are many misconceptions about the disease out there. We do not want to scare owners, but are trying to protect our friends (dogs) and in the last 14 months there have been outbreaks in over 26 states.

Canine influenza is a relatively new disease commonly referred to as “dog flu.” and just like in humans, it can be caused by multiple strains of Canine Flu. And just like human flu is among humans, canine influenza is highly contagious among dogs. In fact, unless a dog has already had the illness and recovered, almost every dog exposed to the virus will become infected. Two different strains of canine influenza virus have been isolated in the US. Canine influenza virus H3N8 was first reported in 2003, and canine influenza virus H3N2 emerged in March 2015. These strains are not related. Therefore, dogs at risk should be vaccinated against both strains.  

This is because the viruses are relatively new, and dogs have no natural immunity to it.  Canine Flu Vaccine H3N8 was the first vaccine for canine influenza and still is highly effective against this strain. It has been clinically proven to significantly reduce the severity of influenza and the length of time that a dog is sick.  Canine Influenza Vaccine H3N2 has recently been developed to combat the rapid spread of the newer H3N2 canine influenza virus.

It is important to note that canine influenza is currently not like human influenza.  Human influenza will mutate, or change, frequently producing new strains of the virus. However, if a single dog contracts both strains of influenza, both H3N2 and H3N8, the virus will be able to mutate, or change, into a new strain of the virus.  Therefore, the influenza virus will have the capability to turn into a virus like the human influenza virus, which continually changes.  There is also a possibility that if this occurs, the virus may be able to jump to new species including humans. 

Currently neither strain has been shown to be transmittable to humans.  Since both strains of the virus have been noted in dogs in close proximity we need to protect canines and ourselves from the possibility of a mutating virus.  Therefore we are recommending that dogs be vaccinated against both strains of the influenza virus. 

The clinical signs of this disease vary from mild to severe, and some dogs have even died from the respiratory disease.  In Chicago there was an estimated 10,000 dogs affected by canine influenza virus. Some practices even closed their doors to treat only sick dogs.  One of Dr. Bailey’s friends was treating 20 or more dogs a day for this disease.  Also, there have been some cases in Northwest Indiana that were confirmed, but thankfully there has not been an outbreak like Chicago.  We have your pet’s best interest in mind and do not want to see anyone’s dog get infected by this virus. 

There are two separate strains of Canine Influenza and so there are separate vaccines for each strain. The drug companies are working on a vaccination that combines both strains but we have no time frame for when that will be completed.  The new vaccination requires a booster in 2 to 3 weeks when given for the first time.
To help with cost, the new vaccine will be $24.50 per shot and we will be offering the old vaccine at $12.50. If you have any more questions regarding Canine influenza you may contact us at Michigan City Animal Hospital 219-872-4191.

The Canine influenza virus (H2N8) has been around since 2004 when there were multiple outbreaks specifically in racing greyhounds.  Canine influenza is a respiratory disease that can cause clinical signs ranging from mild to extremely serious.  

The pharmaceutical companies were able to develop a vaccination to protect canines from the H2N8 strain of influenza and this vaccination has been on the market for years.  The outbreak of influenza that has recently occurred is from a different strain, H3N2 that originated from Asia. It is important to note that these two influenza strains have been the same for the last 5 years without mutation.  The Good news is that we now have a new vaccination to better protect our dogs from the most recent strain of influenza.  The pharmaceutical companies are continuing to guarantee the original H2N8 influenza vaccination for the next year.  If a dog was only vaccinated with the H2N8 influenza vaccine and the dog becomes infected with either strain of influenza, the manufacturer will pay for treatment through 2016. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Traveling by Car with Your Pet

Traveling with a pet usually involves more than putting the animal in a car and driving off, especially if you will be driving long distances or be away for a long time. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) offers these tips to help you prepare for a car trip with your pet and make it go a little smoother.

If your pet is not accustomed to the car, take it for a few short rides before the trip. This can help keep your pet from becoming nervous or agitated, and may lessen the effects of motion sickness. If, after a number of practice trips, your pet continues to cry excessively or becomes sick, consult your veterinarian.

Buckling up is an important safety precaution for your pet. Many states now require that pets be restrained while in a moving vehicle, and restraints have several advantages. They help protect pets in case of a collision, and they keep pets from running loose and distracting the driver. They also keep pets from escaping the car through an open window or door. Cats and smaller dogs are often most comfortable in pet carriers, which can be purchased in various sizes at most pet stores.

Carriers give many animals a sense of security and familiar surroundings, and can be secured to the car seat with a seat belt or a specially designed carrier restraint. There are also pet restraints available that can be used without carriers, including harnesses, seat belt attachments, pet car seats, vehicle barriers, and truck/pickup restraint systems. No matter what kind of restraint you use, be sure that it does not permit your pet’s head to extend outside the car window. If pets ride with their heads outside the car, particles of dirt can penetrate the eyes, ears, and nose, causing injury or infections. Excessive amounts of cold air taken into lungs can also cause illness.

While packing for your trip, remember to throw in a few of your pet’s favorite toys, food and water bowls, a leash, and food. You should also carry a first aid kit for your pet, and know basic pet first aid. If your pet is on medication, be sure to have plenty for the trip -- and then some. Dr. Walt Ingwersen, AAHA veterinarian in Whitby, Ontario, points out that veterinarians cannot write a prescription without a prior doctor/patient relationship. This means that in order to get any drugs, your pet will need to be examined first by a new doctor. This may be inconvenient if you need medication right away. Also, if your pet is on a special therapeutic diet, bring along an extra supply in case you can’t find the food in a strange area.

Stick to your regular feeding routine while traveling, and give your pet its main meal at the end of the day or when you’ve reached your destination. It will be more convenient to feed dry food if your pet is used to it. Dispose of unused canned food unless it can be refrigerated. Take along a plastic jug of cold water to avoid possible stomach upset the first day, as new areas can have minerals or bacteria in their water supply that pets need time to adjust to. Give your pet small portions of both food and water and plan to stop every two hours for exercise.

Remember that your veterinarian is a good source of information about what your pet will need when traveling. Consider having your pet examined before you leave as well, to check for any developing problems. If an emergency occurs while you are on the road, you can call the American Animal Hospital Association at 800/883-6301 or visit our hospital locator for the names and phone numbers of AAHA veterinarians near you. Have your current veterinarian’s phone number handy in case of an emergency. Also, be sure to travel with a copy of your pet’s medical records, especially if the animal has a difficult medical history.

Some pets travel better while tranquilized. Tranquilizers can lessen agitation and motion sickness in pets traveling by car. Discuss this with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian may suggest giving your pet a tranquilizer three to four weeks before your trip to check the dosage and adjust it if necessary.
Find hotels, motels, and campsites that accept animals and book them ahead of time. "Vacationing with Your Pet" by Eileen Barish is a directory of pet-friendly lodging throughout the United States and Canada. Copies can be ordered by calling (800) 496-2665.

Learn more about the area you will be visiting. Your veterinarian can tell you if there are any diseases like heartworm or Lyme disease and vaccinations or medications your pet may require. A health examination following your trip should be considered to determine if any internal parasites (roundworms, hookworms, heartworms) or external parasites (ticks, fleas) were picked up in contaminated exercise or wooded areas. Also, be aware of any unique laws. Some places have restrictions on exotic animals (ferrets are not allowed in some cities), and there are restrictive breed laws in others, such as no pit bulls allowed. Your pet could be affected by these laws, so call ahead to the city or travel information bureau for more information.

To avoid losing your pet during a trip, make sure your pet is wearing an i.d. tag. To be doubly protected, consider having your pet tattooed or having a microchip implanted. "The more methods of identification, the better chance that the owner will be found," says Dr. Ingwersen. Microchip databases are specific to the United States and Canada, so register your pet in both countries if you will be driving from one to the other. Dr. Ingwersen also suggests owners register the name and phone number of a relative who can identify the pet in case the owner can’t be reached while traveling.

It’s important to carry health and rabies vaccine certificates, particularly if you will be crossing the border into Canada, the US, or Mexico. All three countries allow dogs and cats to enter if they meet stringent entry requirements. Depending on the country, exotic pets may be allowed to enter, though they may need further documentation. Call the Agriculture Department or embassy of the country or state to which you are traveling for information on the vaccinations, documentation, fees, or quarantine that may be required to bring your pet into the country.
Most importantly, try to plan ahead for unusual or emergency situations. What you don’t need in the middle of a trip is one more thing to worry about. "People get into a panic if they don’t have enough medication for their pet, no appropriate documentation for travel to other countries, or money to pay for border fees," says Dr. Ingwersen. "Be prepared by bringing a copy of your pet’s medical records, proper documentation and medication and knowing the laws going into the new city or country." Preparation is the most effective way to help ensure a smooth, enjoyable trip for you and your pet.

Originally published by Healthy Pet.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Don't Ignore Breathing Difficulties in Short-nosed Dogs

Unfortunately, the only thing normal about noisy breathing for dogs with "pushed-in" faces is that it is an expected response to a shortened upper jaw, which creates excess soft tissue in the back of the throat.

Some dogs are affected to the point where they experience brachycephalic (the scientific term for breeds with pushed in faces) obstructive airway syndrome or BOAS. If left untreated, problems can get worse to the point where an animal can collapse due to a lack of oxygen.

Owners of affected dogs may be putting them at risk if they do not recognize the problem and seek treatment, according to researchers Rowena Packer, Dr. Anke Hendricks and Dr. Charlotte Burn of the United Kingdom's Royal Veterinary College.

In their 2012 study, the researchers discovered that owners of such dogs as pugs, English bulldogs, Pekingese, French bulldogs, Boston terriers, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Shih tzus and others were not aware of the signs of BOAS. In fact, 58% of surveyed owners said their dogs did not have breathing problems even when more than two-thirds of the dogs showed difficulties during exercise.

What to watch for
According to Packer, while it is not yet known which are the best predictors of BOAS, signs to look for include:
  • Increased and abnormal breathing noise that sounds like snoring, both when the dog is awake and asleep
  • A shortness of breath while exercising or playing
  • Effortful, labored breathing with obvious abdominal movements
  • Interrupting exercise, play or eating to catch their breath
  • Inability to exercise for reasonable periods of time without becoming out of breath
  • Difficulty cooling down after a walk; panting for long periods
  • Physical collapse while exercising
  • Difficulty sleeping and/or periods where the dog stops breathing during sleep
  • Restlessness and difficulty getting comfortable at rest, stretched out head and neck position, forelegs spread and body flat against the floor
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) problems, such as difficulty swallowing, and bringing up food, stomach content or a lot of saliva.
"If you notice these signs, take your dog to your veterinarian for an assessment to learn whether they are compatible with the disease or due to a different problem," says Hendricks.
"If left to develop," says Burn, "BOAS can lead to secondary problems due to the effort required to breathe—putting pressure on the voice box, digestive system and heart. In addition, the more severe the breathing problems, the greater the severity of GI signs. They may reflect inflammation of the esophagus, stomach ulcers and, in some cases, hiatal hernias, when part of the stomach can become displaced into the chest cavity during breathing."

Option for severe BOAS
If your veterinarian believes the dog may have BOAS that requires treatment, he or she may refer you to a veterinary surgical specialist. There, the dog's airway is likely to be examined under general anesthesia to assess whether it shows the abnormalities associated with BOAS—an elongated soft palate, collapsing voice box and narrowed nostrils.

If present, these abnormalities would be surgically corrected, says Packer. That could mean, for example, that excess tissue in the nose and throat would be removed.

Surgery may improve clinical signs, she says, but the dog may never be "normal," because of the head structure and is likely to remain susceptible to heat stress.

For severely affected dogs, where significant secondary problems have occurred—for example, severe laryngeal collapse—then treatment choices may be limited. In some cases, either permanent tracheostomy or euthanasia may be recommended.

"That is why it is vital," says Hendricks, "that owners recognize the clinical signs of BOAS and perceive them to be a ‘problem' as early as possible, so that these secondary changes can be avoided by early intervention."

Options for mildly affected dogs
For all dogs, including those that have had surgery or have been determined by a veterinarian to only be mildly affected, owners can help with some lifestyle changes, says Burn. Owners should do the following:
  • Closely monitor the dog to keep it at a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can exacerbate the condition.
  • Use body harnesses rather than collars on walks so the airway is not compressed by a neck collar if the dog pulls at the leash.
  • Avoid walking on hot or humid days. On particularly warm days, keep dogs calm and indoors in a cool, aerated room with access to water.
  • Avoid having dogs in particularly stressful or exciting situations.

Originally published by Healthy Pet.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

ASPCA Guide to Pet-Safe Gardening

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) experts field tens of thousands of calls each year involving animal companions who’ve had potentially hazardous contact with insecticides, weed killers and pet-toxic plants.  

"Keeping animals safe from accidental poisonings should not end once you've stepped outside," says Dana Farbman, APCC pet poison prevention expert. "Protecting your pet from potential hazards in your yard is just as critical."

While gardens and yards are lovely for relaxing, they can also prove dangerous for our animal companions.
Our experts recommend you watch out for the following:

Poisonous Plants
When designing and planting your green space, it's a good idea to keep in mind that many popular outdoor plants—including sago palm, rhododendron and azalea—are toxic to cats and dogs. Sago palm and other members of the Cycad family as well as mushrooms can cause liver failure, while rhododendron, azalea, lily of the valley, oleander, rosebay, foxglove and kalanchoe all affect the heart. Please visit our full list—and pics!—of toxic and non-toxic plants for your garden. 

Just like you, plants need food. But pet parents, take care—the fertilizer that keeps our plants healthy and green can wreak havoc on the digestive tracts of our furry friends. Ingesting large amounts of fertilizer can give your pet a good case of stomach upset and may result in life-threatening gastrointestinal obstruction. Be sure to follow instructions carefully and observe the appropriate waiting period before letting your pet run wild outside. 

Cocoa Mulch
Many gardeners use cocoa bean shells—a by-product of chocolate production—in landscaping. Popular for its attractive odor and color, cocoa mulch also attracts dogs with its sweet smell, and like chocolate, it can pose problems for our canine companions. Depending on the amount involved, ingestion of cocoa mulch can cause a range of clinical signs, from vomiting, diarrhea and muscle tremors to elevated heart rate, hyperactivity and even seizures. Consider using a less-toxic alternative, such as shredded pine, cedar or hemlock bark, but always supervise curious canines in yards where mulch is spread.

Like fertilizer, herbicides, insecticide baits, sprays and granules are often necessary to keep our gardens healthy, but their ingredients aren't meant for four-legged consumption. The most dangerous forms of pesticides include snail bait with metaldehyde, fly bait with methomyl, systemic insecticides with the ingredients disyston or disulfoton, mole or gopher bait with zinc phosphide and most forms of rat poisons. Always store pesticides in inaccessible areas—and read the manufacturer's label carefully for proper usage and storage. 

You're doing the right thing for your garden and Mother Earth—you're composting! Food and garden waste make excellent additions to garden soil, but depending on what you're tossing in the compost bin, they can also pose problems for our pets. Coffee, moldy food and certain types of fruit and vegetables are toxic to dogs and cats, so read up on people foods to avoid feeding your pet.

Fleas and Ticks
Since fleas and ticks lurk in tall brush and grasses, it's important to keep those lawns mowed and trim. Fleas can cause excessive scratching, hair loss, scabs, hot spots and tapeworms as well as anemia from blood loss in both cats and dogs. Ticks can cause similar effects and lead to a variety of complications from tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Babesia.

Garden Tools
Unattended garden tools may seem like no big deal, but rakes, tillers, hoes and trowels can be hazardous to pets and cause trauma to paws, noses or other parts of a curious pet's body. Rusty, sharp tools caked in dirt may also pose a risk for tetanus if they puncture skin. While cats don't appear to be as susceptible as dogs to tetanus, care should be taken by storing all unused tools in a safe area, not haphazardly strewn on the ground.

Allergy-Causing Flora
Ah-choo! Like their sneezy human counterparts, pets have allergies to foods, dust and even plants. Allergic reactions in dogs and cats can even cause life-threatening anaphylactic shock if the reaction is severe. If you do suspect your pet has an allergy, please don't give him any medication that isn't prescribed by a veterinarian. It's also smart to keep your pet out of other people's yards, especially if you're unsure of what kinds of plants or flowers lurk there. Keeping your pet off the lawn of others will make for healthy pets and happy neighbors.

Originally published by the ASPCA.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Helping dogs with Severe Phobias during Fireworks

The fourth of July is fast approaching and a lot of our canine companions can have severe anxiety during this time.  The ideal way to treat this phobia is training with behavior modification techniques.  However, since we are so close to the holiday this is not possible we can use medications to help our pets deal with the situation.  There are some medications that are over the counter that can be used such as Benadryl one 25 mg tablet for 25 pounds and/or melatonin one 3 mg tablet for 25 pounds. Another option to use is Valerian 200 mg for a small dog and 400-600 mg for any dog over 50 lbs. Some of our furry friends will need stronger medications such as anti-anxiety medications.  Thunder shirts may be used for this situation; however they will only work in approximately 30% of dogs. Another concern this time of year is overheating with excitement, please be weary hot days with our pets and make sure there is always shade and water available.  Overheating can be a life threatening event.  Also avoid allowing your pets get near any fireworks.  Some are toxic if chewed even after being set off. 

Some other summer tips to keep our companions healthy:

·         Visit your veterinarian: with our dogs spending more time outdoors there is more possibility for infectious diseases to be transmitted.  Heartworm disease is an issue all year around however is more prevalent during the summer months.  Our pets, both dogs and cats, should be on heartworm prevention all year around.  There are other infectious disease our animals are prone to please contact your veterinarian for more information.

·         Keep Cool: Dogs and cats can become dehydrated very quickly so make sure they have plenty of water and a shady place to rest.  Do not allow for your dog to linger on hot asphalt, this may cause burns to his/her paw pads. It is very important to never leave our animals unattended in a parked vehicle.  Cars, even with windows open can lead to heatstroke or death for your animal. Symptoms of overheating in pets include: increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, excessive panting or difficulty breathing, weakness, seizures, and elevated body temperature.  Dogs that are more susceptible to heat stroke include: older dogs, overweight dogs, or animals with lung or heart disease.  Also brachiocephalic dog breeds (short muzzle breeds: bulldogs, pugs, etc.) are more susceptible to overheating.

·         Lawn and flea and tick products: Most flea and tick products cannot be used for both dogs and cats.  Never give a cat a dog flea or tick medications, this can lead to seizures and even death.  Some lawn products can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested so make sure they are out of reach.

·         Cookouts.  Summertime is great for get together however it is very important to remember that some foods that we eat can be very toxic to our pets.  Make sure to avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate, products with sweetener xylitol, and alcoholic beverages.  Remember even one new meal can cause severe digestive issues.

·         Pool safety: Do not leave your dogs unsupervised around pools or lakes not all dogs are good swimmers.  Keep your dog from drinking pool water because it contains chlorine and other chemicals that can cause stomach upset.  Make sure they do not have access to concentrated pool chemicals because these are highly toxic to animals if ingested.

·         Fireworks: Do not ignite fireworks around pets.  Exposure to the lit fireworks can be harmful via burns or trauma.  Also many fireworks contain substances that are toxic to dogs if ingested.

·         High rise syndrome: High rise syndrome occurs when animals fall from windows or doors and are seriously or fatally injured.  Keep all windows and doors in your home secured.

If any of the options above are needed for your dog, or you have any questions, please contact your regular veterinarian or Michigan City Animal Hospital at 219-879-4191 before the 4th gets here. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Hot Weather Concerns for Pets

The temperature is soaring, and it’s only going to get hotter. Make sure you know how to keep your cat safe in the summer heat.

  1. Watch out for heatstroke. Symptoms include panting, lethargy, drooling, fever, vomiting and collapse. If you think your cat may have heatstroke, get the vet ASAP — the condition can cause permanent organ damage and death. Learn more about heatstroke in pets.
  2. Offer your cat several ways to cool off. Leave a fan on in a place where your cat can sit in front of it, add some ice cubes to her water or offer her a cool treat (check out our recipe for catsicles.)
  3. Let your cat find cool spots in the house. Your cat will seek out the cooler parts of your home, so make sure she has access to areas with tile floors or rooms that don’t get much sun.
  4. Play in the morning or evening. Any exercise should take place during the cooler hours of the day. This is especially important for young kittens and seniors, both of whom are very vulnerable to heatstroke. (If your cat has just eaten, make sure you give her some time to digest before you begin playtime.)
  5. Brush your cat often. A well-groomed, tangle-free coat will help keep your cat cool. (Learn more about grooming your cat.)

Article originally published by PetFinder.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Celebrate Pet Safety this Memorial Day

As the unofficial start to summer, Memorial Day is a great excuse to get outdoors. But whether you’re partying, barbequing, or just soaking up some rays, it’s important to keep your pet’s safety in mind at all times. To prevent any Memorial Day mishaps, we’ve put together five tips to help protect animals during the “Dog Days” of the season.

Party Smart
Barbequing is one of the best parts of Memorial Day, but remember that the food and drink you serve your guests may be poisonous to pets. Keep alcoholic beverages away from animals, and remind guests not to give them any table scraps or snacks. Raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate, and avocado are all common at barbeques—and they’re all especially toxic to animals.

Be Cool Near the Pool
Don’t leave pets unsupervised around a pool or lake—not all dogs are expert swimmers! Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Also, try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains potentially dangerous chemicals like chlorine.

Skip the Spray
Unless specifically designed for animals, insect repellant and sunscreen can be toxic to pets. Signs of repellent toxicity include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, and lethargy. DEET, a common insecticide in products for humans, may cause neurological issues in dogs.

Made in the Shade
Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so if you’re spending time outside, give them plenty of fresh, clean water and make sure they have a shady place to get out of the sun. Note that animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible. 

IDs, Please
Time spent outdoors comes with the added risk of pets escaping. Make sure that your pet is fitted with a microchip or ID tag with identifying information, or both. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.