Opening 1-27-14 For Veterinary Services

Pet Health Hospital will be officially opening for business on Monday, January 27 2104. We look forward to providing you with the highest quality veterinary services and animal care in Las Vegas. Please contact us directly to arrange for your appointment at our new facility, and feel free to stop by and see the new animal hospital for yourself. Dr. B and the staff are anxiously waiting to see you again, and welcome you to the Pet Health family.

Our philosophy is different than other veterinarians. We believe that animal care is most effective through prevention of disease and maladies, and our primary focus will be to prevent the costly surgeries and longtime care that complicates so many pet owner’s experiences. Through ongoing, small preventive services and care, we have found that many cases of sickness in animals can be prevented, saving the thousands of dollars in treatment and potential heartache that comes with a sick pet. We feel that through ongoing wellness plans we will more effectively lengthen the life and happiness of your pet. We will be performing the services that you will find standard at all veterinary hospitals, but will also be offering this unique approach to animal health to those who choose it.

When you visit our new facility, be sure to inquire about our feline and canine wellness programs, and get a sense as far as the added quality of life that these approaches to veterinary medicine can bring. We want you to be involved in your pet’s health plan, just like you would be for yourself or your children. After all, aren’t those furry little guys your kids anyway?

A New Type Of Veterinary Center

Pet Health Hospital will be the first veterinary center and animal hospital of it’s kind to service the Las Vegas area.  This unique concept was developed by Dr. Mark Beerenstrauch in order to provide better animal care to his patients, reducing costs and improving the health situations of pets at the same time.  This is accomplished by applying the concepts of “preventive medicine” and “lifetime care” that are generally reserved for humans to animals.  “The body of an animal is affected by the same types of diseases, maladies, injuries and age-related problems that the human body is, so why not utilize the concepts that have assisted humans in prolonging our lives to animals as well,”  Beerenstrauch said.

Preventive medicine concentrates on keeping the body of the patient healthy in order to prevent the larger-scale problems that become associated with poor health.  Essentially, the concept is based on the idea that small preventive procedures at regular intervals over the course of a lifetime will keep the body healthier and stronger, giving the patient the ability to avoid larger maladies more effectively than weaker patients.  This form of prevention over the course of a lifetime will assist both the patient to avoid the larger diseases and health problems, but additionally will help the ones paying the bills to avoid procedures which are far more costly than small preventive procedures.

Keeping regular vaccination schedules and check-ups may cost a small visitation fee, but adding up the costs of these small procedures pales in comparison to the costs of large treatments that come about as part of emergencies.  A single operation to save a life might cost thousands of dollars, where regular vaccinations only costs a few hundred over a pet’s lifetime.  Through these types of regular maintenance, pet owners are able to avoid the larger bills many times, and potentially also avoid having to make grave decisions based on their monetary situation that they would not otherwise have to make.

Animal care has rarely been approached this way, as most people are not able to keep up with the routine maintenance of their animals as they do not understand when regular checkups should happen, or what to request at those times.  Pet Health Hospital has made these programs easy by mapping out the specifics of pet’s lives and the routine maintenance associated, and providing these plans to the patients.  From the day you bring your new puppy home until the end of his or her life, Pet Health Hospital can provide the plan that will keep their health as tip-top as it possibly can be.  While all large health situations can not be avoided, many can be prevented if a lifetime plan is followed.  Pet Health Hospital is bringing this concept to Las Vegas, and pets as well as their owners will enjoy a happier and healthier life as a result.

 

Pet Obesity

OVERVIEW

Over half of pets are considered overweight or obese, and according to studies, the number is climbing every year. It is the most common concern for pets in our society today when it comes to nutrition-related health.

The obvious, and most primary, cause of obesity is too much food and not enough exercise. As pet’s overeat without burning off excess calories, the calories become stored as fat. For some owners, it’s difficult to recognize that their pet has slowly become overweight until they visit their veterinarian for another reason. This creeping weight gain can be subtle and dangerous.

Sadly, pets that are overweight or obese may have difficulty breathing, walking, playing, exercising, and tolerating heat, just like humans.

DIAGNOSIS

Your veterinarian will give suggestions for weight loss. They should also recommend overall health examinations and tests along with possible diagnostic tests to determine the best, and safest, treatment for your pet’s obesity.
A diagnostic test will likely include:

  • A veterinary exam that includes a measure of body weight and a body condition score. A review of past body weight and its incline may be helpful in detecting a pattern in weight gain. It may even help identify a certain event or environmental change that relates to the weight gain.
  • Routine blood work that contains a serum profile and complete blood cell count. These and a urinalysis are needed to find out if there is any underlying disease. If these are normal, a weight loss program can begin. Otherwise, if the results show a problem, more diagnostics may be needed for further identification before a program can be safely applied.
  • An assessment of your pet’s complete daily caloric intake and exercise schedule. It’s important to calculate any and all food, treats, snacks, and table foods your pet ingests daily and see if their regular exercise balances it out. If the calories exceed the amount of energy burned by activity, it’s clear that this is the cause, or at least a great contributor, of the pet’s obesity.

TREATMENT

It is recommended to treat any disease that affects obesity.

  • You can easily lower your pet’s caloric intake by changing the type of food to a diet formulated for weight loss. Whether you change the type of food or not, it’s a good idea to change the amount you feed to the amount recommended by your veterinarian.
  • An increase in fiber or water intake may be needed to keep your pet satiated.
  • Increase your pets exercise activity. This can include long walks to vigorous play. A variety of leashes and toys are available to improve activities.

HOME CARE

Weight loss will only be successful if it is considered a family endeavor. Your family must all agree and admit that the pet is overweight and commit to the pets weight loss program. It might be a good idea to make just one person in charge of the feeding of the pet. Also, monitor how many treats the pet is getting. The family could even keep a log to keep track of food intake and exercise.

If your pet is obese, you need to change their food to a diet specifically designed for weight loss. If you simply change the amount of food you feed your pet, it’s not likely you’ll get a significant amount of weight loss. One way to find out the right amount to give your pet is by checking the bag to see if they have a measurement specifically for overweight pets. However, the best thing to do is consult your veterinarian for advice. Treats should be minimized as well. The best treats to give an overweight pet is something light, like air popped popcorn or pieces of vegetables (like carrots).

Medical progress exams with your veterinarian are very important to keep up with every 4 to 6 weeks to monitor weight loss. Adjustments to the feeding plans are often needed and, as your pet approaches their ideal body weight, caloric intake will need to be reduced further to maintain the weight loss.

The majority of pets will need an 8-12 months weight loss program to get to their ideal weight. This can only be achieved when the owners and all family members are committed to improving their pet’s health. When the pet reaches their goal, most owners will continue to feed them the weight management diet, but at a larger food dose. That way the pet maintains their ideal weight.

Recommendations depend on the underlying disease. For obesity due to:

  • Excessive caloric intake. After the pet’s ideal weight is reached, the low-calorie diet should be continued, treats should keep being regulated, and the exercise program should continue.
  • Diabetes mellitus. Medical progress exams are needed to monitor insulin dose and effectiveness, and to measure any changes in the pet’s weight.
  • Hypothyroidism. Medical progress exams are needed to keep track of thyroid dose and effectiveness, and to measure any changes in the pet’s weight. If the pet is losing weight, blood thyroid levels should be checked as well.
  • Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease). Medical progress exams are needed to monitor medical management, and to measure any changes in the pet’s weight.

IN-DEPTH INFORMATION

Obesity in pets more commonly is due to over-eating than disease, but whether your pet is obese due to an overfeeding problem or an underlying disease, in the end they are still consuming more calories than they are using. These excess calories are stored as fat by the body.

Some other causes of obesity are due to a changed energy metabolism. The following are diseases that contribute to obesity:

  • Diabetes mellitus. Overweight and obese animals will become insulin resistant. The early signs of diabetes mellitus in an animal are an increase in hunger, thirst, and urination. The pet will eventually lose weight as the disease progresses.
  • Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease). This disease happens when the pet’s adrenal glands produce too much of the hormone cortisol. Pet’s with Cushing’s don’t usually gain weight, but will have fat redistributed to the abdomen, causing a pot-bellied appearance that looks like weight gain.

You want to talk to your veterinarian if you think your pet is overweight, experiences difficulty breathing, exercising or getting comfortable. They will be able to determine if any of these abnormalities are present before beginning a weight loss program.

IN-DEPTH DIAGNOSIS

Your veterinarian will want to perform diagnostic tests on a pet that is overweight or obese to determine if there are any underlying problems. These include:

  • A comprehensive physical examination with a precise measure of body weight and a judgment of body condition score.
  • Review of your pet’s intake of food, treats, and table scraps daily along with exercise.
  • Routine blood work that will show a serum profile, complete blood cell count, and urinalysis. With normal blood work results, the obesity is likely the result of excessive calorie intake, and reduced energy use. However, if the test results are abnormal and indicate a problem, more tests would be needed for an accurate diagnosis. These additional tests may include:
  • Urine cortisol:creatinine ratio. The disease Hyperadenocorticism should be suspected with a high ratio.
  • ACTH stimulation test. For a better diagnosis, an adrenocorticotrophic hormone stimulation test is used.
  • Low dose dexamethasone test. This test gives the doctor a definitive diagnosis of hyperadenocorticism and is used in concert with the urine cortisol:creatinine ratio and an ACTH stimulation test.

IN-DEPTH TREATMENT

Before you start your pet on any kind of exercise plan, make sure you talk to your vet to rule out any major disease that could be causing the obesity.

Recommendations for obesity due to excessive caloric consumption:

  • Change your pet’s caloric intake to 50 percent less than what your pet needs for his ideal body weight.
  • Here is an idea what to check on the food before you buy it:
  1. less than 340 kcal per 100 grams of food on a dry matter basis
  2. between 5 to 10 percent fat for dogs, 7 to 12 percent fat for cats
  3. between 10 to 30 percent crude fiber
  4. reater than 25 percent crude protein for dogs, greater than 35 percent crude protein
  • Keep our pet on this diet with the prescribed amount numerous times daily.
  • Give treats sparingly only as directed. It’s best to use low calorie treats or vegetables.
  • Increase your pet’s daily exercise.
  • Swimming is an excellent way for a pet to lose weight and it also helps patients with orthopedic disabilities, so try to get them to swim.
  • Visit your veterinarian monthly for a medical progress exam and so any adjustments to the diet or exercise can be made.

Recommendations for obesity due to diabetes mellitus:

  • When controlling diabetes, a special diet will most likely be required. The new pet food should have a moderate level of fiber (5 to 10 percent) with lowered levels of readily available carbohydrates.
  • Insulin treatments will vary depending on the patient.
  • Sometimes in patients with diabetes, a pet will lose weight. This usually means the clinical signs of diabetes are no longer there and treatment is unnecessary.
  • Recommendations for obesity due to hyperadenocorticism:
  • Any pet with ACTH need to do medical progress exams every 3 to 4 months. The treatment will usually involve maintenance medication doses.
  • Generally, a weight loss program is unnecessary to arrive at an ideal body weight.

Pet Obesity

Hot Spots In Dogs

ACUTE MOIST DERMATITIS (HOT SPOTS) IN DOGS

Acute moist dermatitis is one of the most common canine skin disorders. Also referred to as hot spots, it appears as an intensely itchy, painful and swollen patch of skin that is warm to the touch. Hair loss in the affected area is common. The skin develops a plaque-like appearance that may weep. The infection progresses as the dog licks and chews the area, which becomes moist with pus and gives off a foul odor.

Hot spots appear as a secondary infection caused by self-induced trauma. They can be found anywhere on the body, and frequently in more than one spot. While some breeds are more prone to hot spots than others, especially those with heavy, hairy ears or coats, any breed of dog is susceptible to developing the infection. Golden Retrievers, Saint Bernards, Rottweilers, German Shepherd Dogs, and Labrador Retrievers are the most susceptible to hot spots, which may occur during the shedding cycle when moist, dead hair is trapped against the skin. Other underlying causes include fleas, mites, or other skin parasites. Skin allergies, food allergies, allergies to flea bites, and other skin irritants may also lead to scratching and trauma. Ear or anal gland infections or a lack of grooming may also be responsible for hot spot infections. Hot, humid weather may worsen the condition. The affected area is often so intensely itchy that skin damage may occur in a matter of hours.

Since hot spots can be very painful, the dog will usually be anesthetized or sedated to allow the veterinarian to clip away the hair and examine the skin. The skin may be scraped to test for yeast or bacterial infections. Once the area is exposed, the skin will be cleaned with a chlorhexidine or diluted povidone iodine shampoo, followed by the application of an antibiotic cream or powder. Oral antibiotics are usually prescribed. The dog may also be given oral corticosteroids to control itching and be required to wear a cone collar to prevent further damage. In addition to treating the hot spots, the underlying condition must also be identified and treated to prevent reinfection.

Hot Spots In Dogs

Grief In Dogs And Cats

GRIEF IN PETS WHEN LOSING A COMPANION

Our pets can’t talk to us to tell us what they’re thinking. Because of this, we have to base their emotional status on their actions and behavior.

An animal that loses a companion animal or human may react similarly as when a person experiences the death of a loved one. People are able to communicate how they feel in their grief, but many times it’s the actions that really tell us that they are suffering. A grieving person may become disoriented, listless, confused, and lose their focus even with regular daily activities. Sometimes they won’t eat, become disinterested in what’s going on around them, cry often, and sleep too much or too little.

Monique D. Cretien, MSc, AHT, Animal Behavior Consultant says, “Some animals can actually become depressed when they lose a loved one. They show symptoms similar to humans such as loss of interest in their favorite activities and sleeping more than usual. However, sometimes dogs and cats hide and sleep more than usual when they are ill, so you should consult with your veterinarian before seeing a behaviorist if your pet exhibits symptoms such as these.”

Your pet may become less interested in food or playtime, or act more clingy. Sometimes, if their companion was taken to the veterinarian to be euthanized, or passed away in a hospital, they may spend days watching and waiting for their return. Veterinarians and behaviorists call this highly emotional state separation anxiety.

In 1996, the well-known American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or ASPCA, performed a Companion Animal Mourning Project with cats. The study established that 65% of cats grieving for their lost companions showed four or more behavioral changes. In appetite, 46% ate less and, in very extreme cases, the cat even starved to death. Around 70% of cats changed their meowing habits and were more vocal or less vocal. Most cats changed their amount and location of sleep and more than 50% became more clingy with their care givers.

Try giving your pet more affection and attention if you notice they are taking the loss of their friend, human or animal, hard. “Try to take her mind off it by engaging her in a favorite activity,” recommends Chretien. If your pet is a sucker for the company of humans, invite friends they are comfortable with and spend time with her. You could also try environmental enrichment techniques like treat filled balls to keep her busy, or even hide treats and toys around the house for her to find.

We all know the saying “Time heals all wounds.” Sometimes it takes a while for your pet to become okay enough with her loss to respond to activity. “Time is one thing that may help,” Chretien says.

If your dog is becoming more vocal after the loss, like barking and whining to extremes, be careful not to reinforce the behavior. If you give her treats to distract her, she thinks her vocalization is acceptable and even encouraged. “Giving attention during any behavior will help to reinforce it so be sure you are not reinforcing a behavior that you don’t like,” says Chretien. “Give attention at a time when your dog is engaging in behaviors that you do like, such as when she is resting quietly or watching the birds. As the pain of the loss begins to subside, so should the vocalizing as long as it is related to the grieving process.”

Chretien also advises consulting with your veterinarian about drug therapy to help decrease your dog’s anxiety.

It’s very important to wait until you and your surviving pet have adjusted properly to the loss of a companion before adding another pet to the family. You pet is already anxiety-ridden and emotional. Having to get to know a newcomer will only add to her distressed state. Please be patient with a grieving pet. She may miss her loving companion as much as you do.

Grief In Dogs And Cats

Getting A Pet Sitter For Your Dog

A good professional pet sitter is a true find. Instead of relying on a friend to feed your dog, walk him and spend an hour or so playing with him, you can relax while you’re away, knowing that your dog is in capable hands.

A knowledgeable sitter should be able to spot medical problems and handle emergencies – and make your absence less stressful all around. “The pet gets to stay in his own environment,” says Lori Jenssen, president of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS), which lists more than 1,200 members. “He gets to stay in his own house, his own bed. And he gets fed with his own food. And when you get home, your pet is there to greet you.”

In fact, she says, some animals get spoiled when their owners are away. “We spend a half hour, but that half hour is 100 percent with the pet. So, when you get home, they’re going to expect the same from you.”

CHOOSING A SITTER

All of this is good news for pet owners. But how do you choose the best sitter and make sure your pet gets the care you expect? Here are some tips from the NAPPS and other professionals:

  • Make sure you’re making the right choice in deciding to leave an animal at home alone for most of your time away. For example, if your pet has medical or behavioral problems and needs close supervision, a kennel might be the best option.
  • Ask fellow pet owners or your veterinarian, groomer or pet-supply store for referrals or look in the yellow pages. NAPPS’ sitter referral line is (800) 296-PETS.
  • Know your price range. Sitters charge an average of $12 per half-hour visit.
  • Ask questions. Is the pet sitter bonded? Does he or she carry commercial liability insurance? Ask for documentation. Is the sitter a member of a professional association? How long has he or she been in business? Does the sitter provide references? A service contract?
  • Ask more questions. What is the sitter’s training background? How extensive is his or her knowledge of medical problems? Has the sitter taken pet health-care seminars or had any training through a pet sitters’ group, humane society or other organization? Does the sitter have a backup plan if he or she is unable to make it to your house?
  • Expect questions. The best pet sitters will want to know all about your animal, its eating habits, toilet habits, grooming needs, exercise routines, medications, etc. The sitter should also ask for important telephone numbers.
  • Have the sitter meet your pet in advance and watch how the sitter interacts with your pet.
  • Always leave a telephone number where you can be reached and the number of your veterinarian. Call the sitter if you plan to return early or late.
  • Make reservations – the earlier the better – and confirm a day or two before you’re planning to leave.
  • Have your own contingency plan, especially during the winter in colder climates. Provide the pet sitter with the name of someone, maybe a neighbor, who can take care of your pet should bad weather or other unexpected circumstances prevent the sitter from getting there.
  • Have plenty of supplies on hand.
  • Inform the sitter of your pet’s special habits – favorite hiding places, for example, or phobias.
  • Give the pet sitter detailed but simple instructions in writing. Leave a measuring cup, for instance, and indicate exactly how much Rover should be fed. A “handful” or “bowlful” doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone.
  • If a pet sitter is not for you, you may want to consider kenneling your dog.

Getting A Pet Sitter For Your Dog

Gastrointestinal Parasites

WORMS

Most people are aware that their pets have worms, but just what are these worms, where do they get them and how do you get rid of them? When pet owners talk about worms, they are really talking about all gastrointestinal parasites. And there are several gastrointestinal parasites that commonly affect our dogs and cats.

ROUNDWORMS

Roundworms are visible in your pet’s stool or vomit. They are long and thin, similar to thin spaghetti. This parasite can pass through the placenta (only in puppies), through the milk (puppies and kittens) or be ingested (puppies and kittens). Some animals become infected after ingesting another animal with roundworm eggs. It is thought that nearly all puppies are born with roundworms since they pass through the placenta. In kittens, most become infected after nursing.

The roundworm that affects dogs is Toxocara canis. The roundworm that affects cats is Toxocara cati. The roundwormToxascaris leonina is shared between dogs and cats. The roundworm eggs are very resistant to chemicals and weather and remain infective in the soil for years, which can result in repeated reinfection.

Typically, the eggs are found on the soil or grass. As the dog or cat walks by, the eggs are picked up on the animal’s fur. During normal grooming, the animal then ingests the eggs. After reaching the stomach, the eggs hatch. The developing larvae continue to mature in the small intestines and become adults in about three to four weeks. At this point, the mature worms are able to reproduce and shed more eggs. These eggs pass out the intestines in the feces. Once in the soil, the eggs will become infective in about one week.

WHIPWORMS

Whipworms are another type of gastrointestinal parasite that affects dogs. The most common whipworm is Trichuris vulpis and it is a significant cause of large bowel diarrhea. The whipworm eggs are quite resistant and can live in the environment for up to five years.

Typically, a dog becomes infected after ingesting eggs from the environment. The eggs then hatch once they reach the stomach. It takes about three months for the eggs to mature to adults and being shedding eggs. The adults then burrow into the small intestine and feed on blood and tissue. The eggs are intermittently passed in the feces and become infective in about one month. Since the eggs are not shed all the time, repeated fecal examinations may be necessary to diagnose whipworm infection.

HOOKWORMS

Ancylostoma caninum is the most common hookworm in the dog. Ancylostoma tubaeforme is the most common hookworm in the cat. The eggs are relatively susceptible to cold weather and the eggs are usually destroyed after a hard freeze. Hookworm infection can occur as the worms pass through the placenta, are spread during nursing, penetrate through the skin or are ingested.

After ingestion, the eggs hatch in the stomach and develop into adults into about two weeks. If the larvae penetrate the skin, it takes about four weeks for the larvae to mature. Once mature, the worms begin reproducing and shed eggs in the feces. It then takes two to eight days until the eggs are infective. The adult worms attach to the lining of the small intestine and feed on blood. In a severe infection, profound anemia can occur.

GIARDIA

Giardia are pear-shaped, one-celled organisms that infect the small intestine of dogs and cats. Most cases of Giardia in young animals cause explosive, watery diarrhea, dehydration, weight loss and an unkempt appearance. Adult animals are capable of harboring the infection without showing clinical signs.

The eggs are susceptible to chemical disinfection. Once ingested, the infective cysts develop in the small intestine. Diarrhea can begin as early as five days after exposure and cysts can appear in the feces one to two weeks after exposure. Most domestic animals contract Giardia from drinking contaminated pond or stream water.

TAPEWORMS

Tapeworms are very common in dogs and cats and, despite what you may think, rarely cause illness. Most people see the tapeworm egg packets as they pass out the rectum and crawl on the animal’s fur. These egg packets, referred to as proglottids, contain multiple eggs and appear about six to eight weeks after ingestion of an infective tapeworm egg. In order to become infective, the tapeworm egg is either ingested by a rodent, rabbit or flea. The egg then matures and becomes infective. Eggs or egg packets eaten after they pass out in the stool are not infective and do not result in more tapeworms.

There are two types of tapeworms, Taenia and Dipylidium. Taenia tapeworms are acquired when an animal ingests an infected rabbit or rodent. Dipylidium tapeworms are acquired when an animal ingests an infected flea. Once the tapeworm egg is ingested, it hatches in the stomach and begins to invade the walls of the intestines. The worm then matures to a larva and then to an adult. About 35 to 80 days later, the adults begin to shed egg packets, which pass in the stool. The adult tapeworm can survive in the intestine for about seven to 34 months.

Animals infected with tapeworms may scoot on the floor since the egg packets tend to crawl on the skin, causing itchiness.

COCCIDIA

Coccidia are intestinal protozoa that invade and infect the lining cells of the small intestine. There are many species of coccidia and almost all domestic animals can become infected. Of the numerous types that infect dogs and cats,Isospora is the most common. Coccidia spread when an animal eats infected fecal material or an infected host, such as a small rodent. Many researchers maintain that virtually all dogs and cats have been infected with the organism at one time or another during their life.

Most coccidial infections are harmless, cause minimal symptoms and are eliminated by normal body defense mechanisms. More serious coccidial infections cause severe watery or bloody diarrhea and are often seen in high-density confinement situations such as kennels, catteries and pet shops.

Gastrointestinal Parasites

Fleas And Your Pet

UNDERSTANDING THE FLEA

For millions of pets and people, the tiny flea is a remorseless enemy. The flea is a small, brown, wingless insect that uses specialized mouthparts to pierce the skin and siphon blood.

When a flea bites your pet, it injects a small amount of saliva into the skin to prevent blood coagulation. Some animals may have fleas without showing discomfort, but an unfortunate number of pets become sensitized to this saliva. In highly allergic animals, the bite of a single flea can cause severe itching and scratching. Fleas cause the most common skin disease of pets – flea allergy dermatitis.

If your pet develops hypersensitivity to flea saliva, many changes may result.

  • A small hive may develop at the site of the fleabite, which either heals or develops into a tiny red bump that eventually crusts.
  • The pet may scratch and chew at himself until the area is hairless, raw and weeping serum (“hot spots”). This can cause hair loss, redness, scaling, bacterial infection and increased pigmentation of the skin.

Remember that the flea spends the majority of its life in the environment, not on your pet, so it may be difficult to find. In fact, your pet may continue to scratch without you ever seeing a flea on him. Check your pet carefully for fleas or for signs of flea excrement (also called flea dirt), which looks like coarsely ground pepper. When moistened, flea dirt turns a reddish brown because it contains blood. If one pet in the household has fleas, assume that all pets in the household have fleas. A single flea found on your pet means that there are probably hundreds of fleas, larva, pupa and eggs in your house.

If you see tapeworm segments in your pet’s stool, he may have had fleas at one time or may still have them. The flea can act as an intermediate host of the tapeworm, Dipylidium caninum. Through grooming or biting, the animal ingests an adult flea containing tapeworm eggs. Once released the tapeworm grows to maturity in the small intestine. The cycle can take less than a month, so a key to tapeworm prevention is flea control. Anemia also may be a complication of flea infestation especially in young kittens and puppies.

THE LIFE CYCLE OF THE FLEA

The flea’s life cycle has four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult.

  • Eggs. The adult flea uses your pet as a place to take its blood meals and breed. Fleas either lay eggs directly on the pet where they may drop off, or deposit eggs into the immediate surroundings (your home or backyard). Because the female may lay several hundred eggs during the course of its life, the number of fleas present intensifies the problem. The eggs hatch into larvae that live in carpeting, cracks or corners of the pet’s living area.
  • Larvae. The larvae survive by ingesting dried blood, animal dander and other organic matter.
  • Pupa and adult. To complete the life cycle, larvae develop into pupa that hatch into adults. The immediate source of adult fleas within the house is the pupa, not the pet. The adult flea emerges from the pupa, then hops onto the host.
    This development occurs more quickly in a warm, humid environment. Pupa can lie dormant for months, but under temperate conditions fleas complete their life cycle in about three weeks. The inside of your home may provide a warm environment to allow fleas to thrive year round.

FIGHTING THE FLEA

Types of commercial products available for flea control include flea collars, shampoos, sprays, powders and dips. Other, newer, products include oral and systemic spot on insecticides.

In the past, topical insecticide sprays, powders and dips were the most popular. However, the effect was often temporary. Battling infestations requires attacking areas where the eggs, larvae, pupae and adults all congregate. Because some stages of a flea’s life can persist for months, chemicals with residual action are needed and should be repeated periodically. Sprays or foggers, which required leaving the house for several hours, have been used twice in 2-week intervals and then every two months during the flea season.

Treating animals and their living areas thoroughly and at the same time is vital; otherwise some fleas will survive and re-infect your pet. You may even need to treat your yard or kennel with an insecticide, if the infestation is severe enough.

The vacuum cleaner can be a real aid in removing flea eggs and immature forms. Give special attention to cracks and corners. At the end of vacuuming, either vacuum up some flea powder into your vacuum bag, or throw the bag out. Otherwise, the cleaner will only serve as an incubator, releasing more fleas into the environment as they hatch. In some cases, you may want to obtain the services of a licensed pest control company. These professionals have access to a variety of insecticides and they know what combinations work best in your area.

TREATMENT & PREVENTION

As one might expect, flea control through these methods is very time consuming, expensive and difficult. The good news is that currently, with the newer flea products on the market, flea control is much safer, more effective and environmentally friendly. Current flea control efforts center on oral and topical systemic treatments. These products not only treat existing flea problems, they also are very useful for prevention. In fact, prevention is the most effective and easiest method of flea control.

It is best to consult your veterinarian as to the best flea control and prevention for your pet. The choice of flea control should depend on your pet’s life-style and potential for exposure. Through faithful use of these systemic monthly flea products, the total flea burden on your pet and in the immediate environment can be dramatically reduced. Keeping your pet on monthly flea treatments especially in areas of high flea risk is an excellent preventive method of flea control. These products often eliminate the need for routine home insecticidal use, especially in the long run. Although it may still be prudent in heavy flea environments to treat the premises initially, the advent of these newer systemic flea products has dramatically simplified, and made flea control safer and more effective.

Fleas and Your Pet

Allergic Dermatitis

Allergic dermatitis in dogs refers to inflammatory skin conditions caused by any type of allergy, and may be temporary or life-long. Aside from the common symptoms of the allergic condition itself, the pet will frequently suffer from more than one allergic condition at once. This, along with the propensity for them to develop secondary infections as well, can make the diagnosis and treatment of allergic dermatitis very challenging.

The most common classes of allergic dermatitis seen in dogs are flea bite allergy, food allergy and atopy. Atopy, or atopic dermatitis, is a hypersensitivity reaction caused by inhaled allergens, or absorption of allergens through the skin. Some other causes of allergic dermatitis in dogs may arise from urticaria and angioedema, contact hypersensitivity, hypersensitivity to the bites of ticks, mosquitos, or other insects, ear mites, or intestinal parasites. Bacterial infections such as staph infections, or Malassezia overgrowth may also cause symptoms.

The clinical signs of most allergic hypersensitivity reactions display similar symptoms, including pruritis (itching), erythema (redness), hair loss, raised red pimple-like skin lesions with a scaly appearance, hyperpigmentation or discoloration of the skin, and lichenification (leather-like thickening from constant scratching, licking, or rubbing of the skin).

Some of the factors that may be responsible for the development of allergic dermatitis include the predisposition of certain breeds, genetic factors, and environmental or seasonal conditions. Diagnosis can be complicated by the presence of secondary or underlying conditions, so other diseases and characteristic symptoms must first be excluded. Allergic dermatitis is generally diagnosed by collecting a thorough medical history, physical examination, skin scrapings, skin cytology and bloodwork. Additional tests such as allergy blood tests, intradermal allergy testing and dietary trials may also be necessary.

Treatment depends on the diagnosis of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Pets with allergic dermatitis may be treated with special shampoos, topical medications, antibiotics, antihistamines, steroids, special diet or immunotherapy. Food allergies may be treated by experimenting with hypoallergenic diets or the exclusion of ingredients known to cause the symptoms. Treatments targeted at preventing insect bites are also helpful. Discuss treatment details with your veterinarian when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

Allergic Dermatitis In Pets

Addison’s Disease In Dogs

Addison’s disease , also called hypoadrenocorticism, is an endocrine disorder that is caused by a lower than normal production of adrenal gland hormones. The adrenal glands are located near the kidneys, and are responsible for the production of hormones that control the salt, sugar, and water balance in the body. In Addison’s disease there is usually a deficiency of cortisol and a mineralocorticoid (aldosterone). The most common cause of Addison’s disease is destruction of the adrenal gland tissue by the pet’s own immune system. Cortisol is responsible for combating stress, while Aldosterone controls the water, sodium, potassium, and chloride concentrations in the body.

It can be challenging to diagnose Addison’s disease in dogs because of the vagueness of its symptoms, which is why it is often referred to as “The Great Imitator”. The most prominent symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, weight loss, lethargy, poor appetite, shaking and muscle weakness, low heart rate and body temperature, depression, pain in the back end, and possible collapse. There may be no obvious signs of the disease until 90% of the adrenal cortex is no longer functioning.

Diagnosing Addison’s disease may include the presence of elevated potassium levels and abnormally low sodium levels, but this is not true in all dogs. The most reliable diagnostic test for this disease is an ACTH stimulation test, and usually is accompanied by a thorough medical history, physical examination, bloodwork, and a urinalysis. If the adrenal glands have deteriorated far enough, an acute episode may occur, called Addisonian crisis. When this occurs, it can cause a cease in kidney function, arrhythmia, and dangerously low blood pressure levels. Addisonian crisis is considered a medical emergency, and may result in death if not treated promptly.

Addison’s disease is an uncommon disorder in dogs, most frequently found in young to middle-aged and female dogs, and is extremely rare in cats. It is thought to be inherited in Leonbergers, standard poodles, and Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers. Certain other breeds may also be predisposed, such as the Airedale, bearded collie, German shepherd dog, German shorthair pointer, Great Dane, St. Bernard, English springer spaniel, West Highland white terrier, wheaten terrier, and Portuguese water dog.

Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Pets with Addison’s disease are treated with cortisol and mineralocorticoid replacement therapy. Since it may take some time to establish the correct levels of the hormones for each individual dog, routine blood work may be necessary initially to establish the maintenance dose. Some will need fluid and electrolyte support, and it is imperative that they are provided with plenty of drinking water. Discuss the treatment options with your veterinarian when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

Addison's Disease In Dogs