Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Medical Condition Spotlight

What is GDV?
     Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV) is a life threatening disorder most commonly seen in large, deep-chested dogs. The term refers to a gas-filled stomach (bloat) that then twists upon itself. It is a medical emergency that requires surgery to correct.
     The exact cause is still unknown. The most common history is a large breed dog that eats or drinks rapidly and then exercises. In recent studies, stress was found to be a contributing factor to GDV. Dogs that were more relaxed and calm were at less risk of developing GDV than dogs described as “hyper” or “fearful”. Sometimes the condition progresses no further than simple gastric dilatation (bloat) but in other instances the huge, gas-filled stomach twists upon itself so that both entrance and exit to the stomach become occluded.
     GDV is probably one of the most serious non-traumatic conditions seen in dogs. Immediate veterinary attention is required to save the dog’s life. Statistically we know that large, deep chested breeds are more prone to GDV. These include Great Danes, Saint Bernards, Weimaraners, Irish Setters, Gordon Setters, Standard Poodles, Basset Hounds, Doberman Pinschers, and Old English Sheepdogs. Most commonly the condition occurs two to three hours after eating a large meal.
     Gastric dilatation (bloat), usually without volvulus (twist), occasionally occurs in elderly small dogs. The distended stomach pushes the posterior rib cage so that the dog appears swollen or “bloated”. This is most obvious on the left side and gentle tapping of the swelling just behind the last rib often produces hollow, drum-like sounds. The enlarged stomach presses on the diaphragm and breathing becomes labored. The swollen stomach also presses on the larger blood vessels in the abdomen and circulation is seriously compromised, resulting in systemic shock.
Ultimately, the dog collapses and the huge size of the abdomen can be seen as the dog lies on its side.
The gas filled stomach presses on the large veins in the abdomen that carry blood back to the heart, compromising the circulation of blood. Vital tissues become deprived of blood and oxygen, resulting in systemic shock. In addition, the pressure of the gas on the stomach wall results in inadequate circulation to the wall, causing tissue death.   Digestion ceases and toxins accumulate in the blood, exacerbating the shock. As the distension continues to build, the stomach wall can rupture.
     It is imperative that the pressure on the stomach wall and internal organs is reduced as soon as possible. Immediate veterinary care is vital. The veterinarian may first attempt to pass a stomach tube. If this is not possible due to twisting of the stomach, a large bore needle may be passed through the skin into the stomach to relieve the pressure in the stomach. Shock treatment with administering intravenous fluids and medications will begin immediately. Once the patient has been stabilized, the stomach must be returned to its proper position. This involves major abdominal surgery and may be delayed until the patient is able to undergo anesthesia. The primary goals of surgery are to return the stomach to its normal position, to remove any dead or dying stomach tissues and to help prevent future GDV. In high-risk breeds, some veterinarians recommend prophylactic gastropexy. Gastropexy is the surgical attachment of the stomach to the body wall. This does not prevent dilatation (bloat) but does prevent twisting (volvulus) in the majority of cases. This surgery can sometimes be done at the same time as your pet is being spayed or neutered. Your veterinarian can discuss the technique or combination of techniques best for your pet’s future.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I Brake For Opossums

   Ticks have a two-year life cycle during which they have three life stages – larva, nymph, and adult. During each stage, the tick gets blood from a host mammal and then molts into the next stage. After an adult lays her eggs, she dies.
   When larval ticks hatch from their eggs, they are not infected with the pathogen that causes Lyme disease. Many ticks will never become infected but others, depending on which host animal they get their first blood from, will become infected.
   Despite how greasy and grungy opossums may appear, they actually pay lots of attention to their grooming habits. Opossums encounter thousands of ticks on their body on a weekly basis and end up killing 90% of them during their grooming ritual. Mice, on the other hand do a terrible job grooming ticks off themselves. This, in turn makes them a high rate of service to ticks, and gives them a greater tendency to infect those ticks that remain with the Lyme disease pathogen. Below is a table of information from a lecture presented by Dr. Richard S. Ostfeld. Disease Ecologist. Ph.D. Pretty staggering numbers.

     Dr. Ostfeld has found that the more diversity of alternate non-mouse hosts there are for ticks to feed on, the lower the number of Lyme disease infected ticks.
This is partly because other host animals don’t infect larval ticks with Lyme disease at the high rate that mice do, partly because the tick burden per white-footed mouse decreases and  partly because some of the alternate hosts, like fox, owls and hawks, do a good job of keeping the mice population in check.
     Our local wildlife plays an important role in ours lives whether we see it or not. Please do your part to protect them and our environment.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Why can't I feed my pet before surgery?

     Fasting is a medical term meaning to abstain from all food. The importance of fasting your pet prior to an anesthetic procedure should not go unnoticed. Nobody enjoys looking at those sad, pitiful  eyes staring at you and wondering why their human isn't going through the usual everyday routine. No matter how much they try to wear you down, you must stand your ground. In the end, it's for their safety. 

    Anesthetized patients lose their normal reflex ability to swallow. When an animal swallows, the epiglottis, a cartilage flap that closes over the entrance to the windpipe, prevents food or water from entering the lungs. Like humans, anesthesia can cause nausea. If there is food in the stomach, the animal could vomit while under anesthesia or in the early post-anesthetic period. If vomiting occurs before the swallowing reflex occurs, the vomited material can be aspirated or enter into the lungs, causing aspiration pneumonia. Aspiration pneumonia can usually be treated but it can also end up being life threatening.
    If your pet ever has to undergo an anesthetic procedure, make sure you are clear on the directions prior to bringing them in. Cats and dogs typically have the same fasting instructions, but that is not the case in all pets. Rabbits and some small pocket pets do not get fasted due to their fast metabolism. If your pet gets into food or you cave and give them a treat or two within the fasting period, make sure you notify your vet. We usually end up finding out anyways.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Top 10 Most Frequent Dog and Cat Toxins of 2013


     The items below are presented in order of frequency, with number one being the item that caused the most emergency calls to Pet Poison Helpline.


                            Dogs: Top 10 Toxins of 2013

  1. Chocolate: Bakers and dark chocolate are the most toxic. Milk chocolate can also be toxic if ingested in large amounts.
  2. Xylitol: This sweetener is found in sugarless chewing gum, candy, medications, and nasal sprays and can causes a rapid drop in blood sugar and liver failure in dogs.
  3. NSAIDs: Ibuprofen, naproxen, etc. Found in products like Advil, Motrin, and Aleve. Dogs don’t metabolize these drugs well so ingestion can result in stomach ulcers and kidney failure.
  4. Over the counter cough, cold and allergy medications: Those that contain acetaminophen or decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine are particularly toxic.
  5. Rodenticides (mouse poison): These may cause internal bleeding or brain swelling even in small amounts.
  6. Grapes and raisins: These harmless human foods cause kidney damage in dogs.
  7. Insect bait stations: These rarely cause poisoning in dogs. The bigger risk is bowel obstruction when dogs swallow the plastic casing.
  8. Prescription ADD/ADHD medications: These amphetamines such as Adderall, Concerta, Dexedrine, and Vyvanse can cause tremors, seizures, cardiac problems and death in pets.
  9. Glucosamine joint supplements: Overdose of products typically only cause diarrhea, however, in rare cases, liver failure can develop.
  10. Silica gel packets and oxygen absorbers: Silica gel packs, found in new shoes, purses or backpacks, is rarely a concern. The real threats are the iron-containing oxygen absorbers found in food packages like beef jerky or pet treats, which can cause iron poisoning.


                            Cats: Top 10 Toxins of 2013

  1. Lilies: Plants in the Lilium species, such as Easter, Tiger, and Asiatic lilies, cause kidney failure in cats. All cat owners need to be aware of these highly toxic plants since we all know cats love to chew on plants.
  2. Household cleaners: Most general purpose cleaners (e.g., Windex, Formula 409) are fairly safe, but concentrated products like toilet bowl or drain cleaners can cause chemical burns.
  3. Flea and tick spot-on products for dogs: Those that are pyrethroid based (e.g., Zodiac, K9 Advantix, Sergeant’s, etc.) cause tremors and seizures and can be deadly to cats.
  4. Antidepressants: Cymbalta and Effexor topped our antidepressant list in 2013. Cats seem strangely drawn to these medications. Beware – ingestion can cause severe neurologic and cardiac effects.
  5. NSAIDs: Cats are even more sensitive than dogs to drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen. Even veterinary specific NSAIDs like Rimadyl and Meloxicam should be used with caution.
  6. Prescription ADD/ADHD medications: These amphetamines such as Adderall, Concerta, Dexedrine, and Vyvanse can cause tremors, seizures, cardiac problems and death.
  7. Over the counter cough, cold and allergy medications: Those that contain acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) are particularly toxic, as they damage red blood cells and cause liver failure.
  8. Plants containing insoluble calcium oxalate crystals: Common houseplants like the peace lily, philodendron, and pothos can cause oral/upper GI irritation, foaming at the mouth, and inflammation when ingested, but severe symptoms are uncommon.
  9. Household insecticides: Thankfully, most household sprays and powders are fairly safe, but it’s best to keep curious kitties away until the products have dried or settled.
  10. Glow sticks and glow jewelry: These irresistible “toys” contain a chemical called dibutyl phthalate. When it contacts the mouth, pain and excessive foaming can occur.
*List courtesy of Pet Poison Helpline.

The most important thing an animal owner can do for their pet is to become educated on household dangers. Hopefully the list above will help. Further research can always be done on the internet. Here at Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod, your pets health is what's important to us so if there are ever any questions and/or concerns, please don't hesitate to ask. When is comes to pet safety, there are no "stupid" questions.