Saturday, September 24, 2011

Crystal Clear

One complaint we see often from pet owners about their dog or cat is frequent urination and straining to urinate. Sometimes, they may even notice blood in their cat or dog's urine. Although there are any number of things that may cause your pet to suffer from hematuria (blood in urine), this blog is focused on the formation of crystals and bladder stones.

Some people reading this may think "oh yes, I know ALL about THAT!" While others may find themselves saying "I didn't even know dogs and cats could GET crystals in their urine, let alone bladder stones!"

While cyrstalluria (crystals in the urine) and bladder stones may be related, having crystals does not necessarily mean your pet will develop a stone. There are a number of reasons crystals can form in the urine, and not all crystals are the same. Treatment of crystalluria in your pet will depend on the type of crystals present in their urine. Your veterinarian will start by obtaining a urine sample and having a cytologist examine the urine sediment under a microscope. This will determine what type of crystal is present in your pet's urine, as well as rule out any other causes for the appearance of blood, or difficult urination.

Often times your veterinarian may want to take an x-ray of your pet's bladder just to make sure there isn't a stone present. If there is not a stone, crystalluria can usually be treated with a special diet. If a stone is present, surgery is required to remove the stone. This is important because if the stone is not removed, it could potentially cause an obstruction.

Urinary Obstruction is an emergency situation. This happens when crystals or stones block the dog or cat from being able to pass urine. When this happens, the body is unable to eliminate waste products, causing them to build up in the kidneys and then the blood stream. Acute kidney failure may result from an obstruction that has been left too long. One thing in particular that can build up is potassium. High amounts of excess potassium in the blood stream can cause severe heart arrhythmia's and result in death. For these reasons, urinary obstruction must be relived immediately by your veterinarian. Not all dogs and cats of who have crystals and/or bladder stones will develop a urinary obstruction. In fact, most pets will be treated and make a full recovery. However, it is important to be aware of what can happen should a urinary obstruction occur.

Early recognition is key in all aspects of veterinary medicine, especially urinary issues. Finding and treating the problem early will make things easier on both you and your pet.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ultrasound For Your Pet

Ultrasound is a valuable tool in the medical field. Over the last decade ultrasound has been used more and more in veterinary medicine to aid in important diagnostics. We all know ultrasound is used frequently in human medicine, but what, exactly, are it's uses in the veterinary field?

Like people, ultrasound can be used to examine a variety of organs, for a variety of reasons. For example, in an abdominal ultrasound, the doctor will look at the stomach, liver, kidneys, intestines, gallbladder, bladder, spleen, and adrenal glands. Sometimes they can also look for more detailed images like blood flow and determining pregnancy.

Cardiologists can perform an ultrasound on the heart called an echocardiogram, or "echo." During an echo the thickness of the heart's wall can be measured, as well as the size of the heart's chambers and assessment of the heart valves.

Most importantly, ultrasound is used to detect abnormalities. Masses, benign or malignant can be often be seen on ultrasound. Certain diseases like pancreatitis will show up on ultrasound as well.

Some imporant things to note about ultrasound: 1. There is no radiation. Unlike x-rays, radiation is not part of an ultrasound examination. 2. Your pet's fur will most likely be shaved over the area being ultrasounded. 3. Anesthesia is not required, sometimes, however, it does help when a patient is uncomfortable to have them slightly sedated. 4. Since the ultrasound waves will not pass through air, ultrasound can not be used to examine the lungs. 5. Bone also stops ultrasound waves, therefore the brain, spinal cord, and obviously the bones themselves can not be assessed with ultrasound.