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imgresDoes your pet get motion sickness during car rides? The signs of motion sickness in dogs and cats are drooling, and vomiting. Sometimes it is accompanied by anxious behaviors such as excess vocalization, pacing and panting. Motion sickness occurs when conflicting signals from the eyes and inner ear are sent to the brain. The result is varying degrees of nausea. So what can we do about it? In cases where anxiety is the suspect cause you can try behavior modification. This involves desensitization or getting the pet used to the car. This can be done by bringing the pet to the car for short periods of time. Once the pet sees that nothing bad is going to happen you can gradually increase the amount of time in the car and begin taking short drives working your way up to a drive to the vet or groomer. If behavior modification doesn’t work there are several different medications to chose from. Benadryl is a safe and inexpensive option. This is a good option to start with. Side effects include sedation and rarely hyperactivity. Another option is Diazepam, also know as Valium. This medication is indicated where anxiety is a big factor. Valium can cause sedation and increased appetite. Valium needs to be used with caution in cats as some cats can develop liver disease as a rare but serious side effect. Acepromazine is another option. Acepromazine is a tranquilizer but also helps prevent nausea associated with motion sickness. It is great for long car rides or plane trips. It needs to be used with caution in older animals because it lowers blood pressure. It does cause significant sedation so physical activity is usually out of the question for the day. If using this medication for a long car or plane trip a trial dosing is recommended at home a few days before to make sure the pet handles it ok. A very small percentage of animals will become aggressive on Acepromazine. Another option is Dramamine. Dramamine can cause mild sedation. If you want to avoid sedation then Cerenia is a great option. In additon to being an effective medication for vomiting Cerenia is the only approved medication for the prevention of motion sickness in dogs,. For more information on Cerenia check out: http://www.cerenia.com/dog-motion-sickness.html . If you are planning on traveling with your pets it is always a good idea to plan ahead. If you feel that your pet may need medication for motion slickness contact your veterinarian to discuss available options.

itchThis was a hard winter for dogs and their owners. For months it seemed like we were living on the frozen tundra. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Soon enough the days will be sunny and our pet dogs can frolic and romp to their heart’s content. And with good weather comes allergies. Just like us dogs can be allergic to grasses, pollens and molds. But unlike us dog allergies usually manifest as scratching, licking and chewing.

In addition to the old standbys (antihistamines, medicated shampoos, fish oil) we have some new exciting options for treating allergies. The first one is sublingual immunotherapy or SLIT. Immunotherapy for allergies involves blood testing and sometimes skin testing to determine what the patient is allergic to. The results are used to formulate a customized treatment given to the patient to desensitize the immune system leading to less itching. Immunotherapy has been around for a long time but up until recently the only way to administer treatment was via injections. The good news is that there now exists an oral form of immuntherapy that involves sublingual treatment or drops under the tongue. For more information on sublingual immuntherapy check out http://www.heska.com/Products/ALLERCEPT/Allercept-Drops.aspx

The second new therapy consists of an oral medication called Apoquel. Apoquel is unique in that it specifically works on chemical messengers in the body responsible for itching and inflammation. These messengers are called cytokines. We are excited about this medication as it has minimal side effects and works very well. For more information check out https://online.zoetis.com/US/EN/Products/Pages/apoqueldvm/pdfs/Pet_Owner_Brochure.pdf

Last month we discussed body language in dogs. This month we will go over the exciting world of body language in cats. Just like dogs, cats use body language to communicate. As pet owners and veterinary professionals it serves us well to receive the message and respond accordingly. While there are different levels of intensity there are 3 general messages: 1) Happy cat 2) Scared cat and 3) Angry cat. (There is a bit of an overlap between scared and angry).

See examples below (I also find the similarity between human and feline body language amusing).

HAPPY CAT      

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HAPPY PERSON

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SCARED CAT

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SCARED PERSON

scared20woman

ANGRY CAT

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ANGRY PERSON

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ok, so you get my 2 points; cats can exhibit their emotional state via body language and cat body language is similar to human body language. As I mentioned before this simple information is very useful for pet owners. For example if your cat frequently appears scared or angry then you may want to take some steps to decrease her stress level. Stressed cats are not happy and are more likely to bite. Some causes of stress are visual disturbances like seeing stray cats walking in the yard, auditory stresses like a barking dog in the neighborhood or a combination of both like another pet or child in the house. Medical issues like urinary tract infections and thyroid disease can make cats irritable also. If you notice changes in your cats behavior and body language we recommend contacting your veterinarian and setting up an appointment for a physical exam and any tests that may be indicated.

Happy New Year from all of us at Countryside. We hope this year is a good year for you and your pets. Today I’d like to talk about body language in dogs. Dogs communicate with each other through a number of modalities including sound, smell and vision. Some examples of sound are growling, barking and crying. An example of smell is territorial urine marking.

I’ve always found it fascinating that even though dogs and humans are different species their body language is so similar. Here are some interesting and amusing examples.

 Happy dog:

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 9.09.56 PM

Happy person:

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Scared dog:

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 9.31.56 PM

Scared person:

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 9.39.46 PM

Angry dog:

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 9.42.23 PM

Angry Person:

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 9.45.14 PM

Stay tuned for next months blog entry: Body Language in Cats. Pictures courtesy of Google Images.

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Recently at a staff meeting we discussed what to do if a pet owner finds a tick on their dog. In response to questions from staff I have prepared a list of frequently asked questions.  While there is no “one size fits all” answer to every question this covers many of the questions and concerns that pet owners have when finding a tick.

1)      I found a tick on my dog. What should I do? Any tick found on a dog should be removed ASAP. You can remove it yourself or we can do it for you. Make sure to check your dog and any other pets in the house thoroughly for any additional ticks.

2)      How do I remove the tick? Grab the tick with a tweezers where it is attached to the skin and pull it off. There may be some thickening and crusting of skin. Clean skin with hydrogen peroxide or water. If area is mildly irritated you can apply Neosporin twice daily for 1 week. If area is significantly irritated (swelling, crusting, continual bleeding), or if you are not sure then we recommend bringing your dog in for an exam. Make sure to wrap the tick in a paper towel and crush it before discarding it.

3)      What if I was unable to remove the whole tick? Sometimes the sharp mouthparts of the tick remain in the dog. Usually the skin around the area will become thickened. Crust will develop and the area of skin containing the mouthparts will slough off. If you are not sure that the tick was completely removed an exam is recommended.

4)      Will there be a charge for tick removal? If a nurse removes tick then no. There may be an exam charge if a doctor needs to look at the pet.  

5)      What diseases can be transmitted by ticks? Ticks can transmit many infections. The 3 main ones that we are concerned about are: Lyme Disease, Anaplasmosis , Ehrlichiosis 

6)      What are the symptoms of these diseases? What should I look for?

a.      Lyme disease: 2-5 months after infection dogs can have joint pain and fever. Rarely dogs will develop kidney disease (symptoms are lethargy, vomiting, and decreased appetite).

b.      Anaplasmosis: Fever, decreased appetite, lethargy, bleeding disorders, joint pain

c.       Ehrlichiosis : There can be an acute phase (decreased appetite, lethargy, fever) and a chronic phase (bleeding disorders, joint pain)

7)      Why does the tick need to be removed ASAP?

a.      The longer a tick is attached the more likely it is to transmit infection

8)      How will I know if my dog is infected with any of the above diseases? There is a blood test called 4dx that tests for antibodies to the above infections.

9)      When should this test be done? It can take the body several weeks to produce antibodies to theses tick-transmitted infection so it is recommended that the test be run 4 weeks after exposure to a tick.

10)   Does my dog need to go on antibiotics after having a tick removed. Infection with the above agents is uncommon so antibiotic treatment is only recommended in patients with a definitive diagnosis.

11)   My dog is on a topical flea/tick preventative and she is still getting ticks. Why is this? The available products are very good but not 100%. This means that if your dog is exposed to hundreds of ticks the rare one may attach. If you find that the product you are using is not working talk to your vet about other options. We cannot vouch for products purchased over the counter or online. 

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Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection transmitted by a number of wild animals including rodents, raccoons, squirrels and skunks. It is transmitted in the urine of animals. Dogs can become infected either by ingesting the bacteria or through the skin. Leptospirosis has a variety of clinical presentations. The organs affected are the liver and kidneys. It can also cause low platelets. Infection is treatable if caught early. Unfortunately in some cases it can be fatal.

There is a vaccine available for Leptospirosis. For many years pet owners and veterinarians were resistant to vaccinate for Leptospirosis due to what appeared to be a higher incidence of vaccine reactions compared to other vaccines. Reactions included pain at injection site, lethargy, vomiting, facial swelling and very rarely anaphylactic shock. Fortunately the vaccine has been reformulated and the new version does not have any more reactions than other vaccines.

We do not recommend vaccinating all dogs for Leptospirosis. The decision to vaccinate a dog for Leptospirosis is based on risk assessment. The following are risk factors for Leptospirosis: dogs that go to dog parks, dogs that have exposure to standing or stagnant water, dogs that spend time in an environment frequented by carriers of the bacteria (skunks, squirrels, rodents, raccoons, etc…). Leptospirosis vaccination is required for all dogs that go to dog parks in Cook County.

Another concern about Leptospirosis is that it is zoonotic, or transmissible to people. Infected dogs can shed the bacteria in their urine. For more information on Leptosprirosis in dogs check out: http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=1745 . For information on Leptospirosis infection in people check out: http://www.cdc.gov/leptospirosis/index.html

If you would like your dog vaccinated for Leptospirosis or would like to discuss it further please contact your veterinarian.

dogs and cats together 07[1]

Just like us dogs and cats can get hypertension, or high blood pressure. There are some differences though. Unlike people, dogs and cats rarely get coronary artery disease and heart attacks. When a pet suddenly dies of heart disease it is usually due to an arrhythmia, or irregular heart rhythm. Another factor in our pets favor is that they do not consume as much sodium as the average American.

Hypertension can be either primary or secondary to other disease processes. Primary hypertension is rare. Secondary hypertension can be caused by kidney disease, thyroid disease (high thyroid- usually in cats), diabetes, various hormonal diseases and certain types of cancer.

It is useful to detect hypertension because it can be detrimental to the pet’s health. The following diseases can be caused by hypertension: worsening of kidney disease, retinal detachment, stroke and disease of the heart muscle.

Once hypertension is detected it can usually be managed with medications.

There are many ways to measure blood pressure. The most common way to measure blood pressure is to use a blood pressure cuff and a device called a Doppler (see below).

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One of the complications in measuring blood pressure in pets is “White Coat Syndrome”. This occurs when a pet with normal blood pressure has a brief elevation due to stress. Sometimes to counteract this we will take the blood pressure with the pet sitting on the owner’s lab or lying on a blanket with the owner. We may also take repeated measurements throughout the day or have the pet come back on a different day for another measurement.

If your pet has any of the above mentioned diseases make sure to discuss blood pressure screening with your vet.