Canine Lyme Disease

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete called Borrelia burgdorferi. A spirochete is a type of bacterium. It is transmitted to dogs through the bite of a tick. Once in the blood stream, the Lyme disease organism is carried to many parts of the body and is likely to localize in joints. It was first thought that only a few types of ticks could transmit this disease, but now it appears that several common species may be involved. The most common type of tick to carry Lyme disease is the Deer Tick.

Can Lyme disease also affect people?

Yes, but people do not get it directly from dogs. They get it from being bitten by the same ticks that transmit it to dogs. Therefore, preventing exposure to ticks is important for you and your dog.

What are the clinical signs?

Many people with Lyme disease develop a characteristic “bull’s-eye” rash at the site of the bite within 3 to 30 days. For these people, the disease can be easily diagnosed at an early stage. However, symptoms of Lyme disease are more difficult to detect in animals than in people.

The characteristic rash does not develop in dogs or cats. Because the other symptoms of the disease may be delayed or not recognized and because the symptoms are similar to those of many other diseases, Lyme disease in animals is often not considered until other diseases have been eliminated.

Many dogs affected with Lyme disease are taken to a veterinarian because they seem to be experiencing generalized pain and have stopped eating. Affected dogs have been described as if they were “walking on eggshells.” Often these pets have high fevers. Dogs may also begin limping. This painful lameness often appears suddenly and may shift from one leg to another. If untreated, it may eventually disappear, only to recur weeks or months later.

Some pets are affected with the Lyme disease organism for over a year before they finally show symptoms. By this time, the disease may be quite widespread in the body.

How is Lyme disease diagnosed?

Dogs with lameness, swollen joints, and fever are suspected of having Lyme disease. However, other diseases may also cause these symptoms. There are two blood tests that may be used for confirmation. The first is an antibody test. This test does not detect the actual spirochete in the blood but does detect the presence of antibodies created by exposure to the organism. A test can be falsely negative if the dog is infected but has not yet formed antibodies, or if it never forms enough antibodies to cause a positive reaction. This may occur in animals with suppressed immune systems. Some dogs that have been infected for long periods of time may no longer have enough antibodies present to be detected by the test. Therefore, a positive test is meaningful, but a negative is not.

The second test is the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, or DNA testing, which is very specific and sensitive. However, not all dogs have the spirochete in their blood cells. If a blood sample is tested, a false negative may occur. The best sample for testing is the fluid from an affected joint. This option is not as common.

How is Lyme disease treated?

Because the Lyme spirochete is a bacterium, it can be controlled in dogs by the use of antibiotics. However, a lengthy course of treatment is necessary to completely eradicate the organism. The initial antibiotic selected to treat an infected pet may not be effective against the disease, especially if the infection is long-standing. In this situation, changing to another antibiotic is often effective. Occasionally, the initial infection will recur, or the pet will become re-infected after being bitten by another infected tick.

How can I prevent my dog from getting Lyme disease?

The key to prevention is keeping your dog from being exposed to ticks. Ticks are found in grassy, wooded, and sandy areas. They find their way onto an animal by climbing to the top of a leaf, blade of grass, or short trees, especially Cedar trees. Here they wait until their sensors detect a close-by animal on which to crawl or drop. Keeping animals from thick underbrush reduces their exposure to ticks. Dogs should be kept on trails when walked near wooded or tall grass areas. The use of a monthly preventative treatment is recommended. Your veterinarian will recommend an option appropriate for your dog.

 

How do I remove a tick from my dog?

Check your pet immediately after it has been in a tick-infected area. The Deer Tick is a small tick and only about pinhead size in juvenile stage, but a little more obvious in adult phase and after feeding. If you find a tick moving on your pet, the tick has not fed. Remove the tick promptly and place it in rubbing alcohol or crush it between two solid surfaces. If you find a tick attached to your pet, grasp the tick with fine tweezers or your finger nails near the dog’s skin and firmly pull it straight out. You may need another person to help restrain your dog. Removing the tick quickly is important since the disease is not transmitted until the tick has fed for approximately 12 hours. If you crush the tick, do not get the tick’s contents, including blood, on your skin. The spirochete that causes Lyme disease can pass through a wound or cut in your skin.

Is there a vaccine that will protect my dog from Lyme disease?

A vaccine is now available for protecting dogs against Lyme disease. This vaccine is initially given twice, at two-week intervals. Annual revaccination is also necessary to maintain immunity. The vaccine has been shown to be safe and very effective. If you think your pet may be at risk based on your lifestyle please reach out to your veterinarian to schedule an appointment to get vaccinated!

A little pudge can be a big problem: recognizing obesity in pets

Is my pet really obese?

Obesity is a growing national problem, not only in people, but in pets too! Approximately 40% of all Americans are obese. Unfortunately, this same number now applies to pets. Obesity can lead to several diseases both in pets and people. Type II diabetes, heart disease and arthritis are the most common weight-related disorders. Diet and weight reduction are the key to ensuring your pet lives as long and as healthy a life as possible.

 

 

What is obesity?

Obesity is defined as weighing more than 30% of the ideal weight. With humans, this is fairly straightforward and can be determined by consulting weight and height charts. Dogs and cats are often diagnosed as obese by a combination of weight charts and body scoring.

A simplified form of body scoring follows:

VERY THIN
RIBS – Easily felt with no fat covering
TAIL BASE – Bones protrude with no tissue between the skin and bone
SIDE VIEW – Severe abdominal tuck or “drawn” appearance
OVERHEAD VIEW – Exaggerated hourglass shape

UNDERWEIGHT
RIBS – Easily felt with no fat covering
TAIL BASE – Bones are raised with little tissue between the skin and bone
SIDE VIEW – Abdominal tuck
OVERHEAD VIEW – Significant hourglass shape

IDEAL

RIBS – Easily felt with slight (1/2”) fat cover
TAIL BASE – Smooth but bones can be felt under a thin layer of fat
SIDE VIEW – Abdominal tuck
OVERHEAD VIEW – Well-proportioned waist is present

OVERWEIGHT

RIBS – Difficult to feel with moderate (>1/2”) fat cover

TAIL BASE – Some thickening or widening but bones can be felt under a moderate layer of fat

SIDE VIEW – No abdominal tuck or waist
OVERHEAD VIEW – Back is slightly broadened

OBESE

RIBS – Difficult to feel under thick fat cover
TAIL BASE – Thickened and difficult to feel under a thick layer of fat
SIDE VIEW – Fat hangs down from the abdomen and there is no waist
OVERHEAD VIEW – Markedly wide

Why should I be concerned if my pet is overweight?

  1. Studies have shown that fat can actually act as an organ, producing it’s own set of hormones and enzymes. These chemicals can cause damage to your pet’s joints, leading to arthritis and even ligament damage and can have detrimental effects to other internal organ function.
  2.  Obese animals are more prone to certain conditions such as:

    • Cardiovascular disease

       

    • Joint Disease/Arthritis
    • Compromised immune function
    • Increased risk during anesthetic procedures
    • Pancreatitis
    • Decreased life expectancy
    • Diabetes
    • Heat intolerance
    • Skin disease
    • Higher veterinary expenses

If my pet is overweight, will his behavior change?

Most overweight pets are less active and do not play as much as normal pets. These pets may be reluctant to climb stairs or jump into cars and often pant excessively after very minor exertion.

What is the cause of obesity?

Obesity is the accumulation of excess energy stored as fat. It occurs when your pet receives more calories then he needs and expends. Hypothyroidism is another cause of obesity and weight problems. Any overweight pet should be tested for hypothyroidism before beginning a weight loss program.

I think my pet may be overweight…now what?

If your pet scores above the ideal range, we recommend making an appointment with your veterinarian. After a through exam and lab work; your veterinarian will be able to advise you on the best weight loss program for your pet!

Fear Free Is The Way To Be!

Telford Veterinary Hospital is embarking on a new and exciting journey in Veterinary medicine. Our Mission will always be to strengthen the human and animal bond within our community. We cannot achieve this mission without considering and treating your pet’s emotional well-being along with their physical well-being. We have been hard at work over the past year incorporating Fear Free techniques and philosophies in our every day practice. This year we’re taking it one step further!

Over the past year, our entire leadership team, our Doctors, and several nurses have all become certified Fear Free practitioners. We are excited to announce that we are on course to become a Fear Free Certified Practice by 2021! So, what does this all mean for you and your beloved pet? Let’s take a look at how Fear Free medicine positively impacts your pet’s experience at the vet, and every experience at the vet thereafter.

What is Fear Free®?

Founded and developed by Dr. Marty Becker, in conjunction with hundreds of experts in behavior, medicine, and handling; Fear Free has become one of the single most transformative initiatives in the history of companion animal practice. Veterinary professionals are taking into consideration your pet’s emotional health at every moment of their trip to the Vet and at home.

It all starts at home

Having our client’s fill out a  pre-visit questionnaire to gather information on their pet’s preferences allows us to make the experience as comfortable as possible even before they hop in the car! This information allows us to provide the support they need to get to the vet without anxiety. We may suggest training techniques to work with them prior to a visit, or, maybe we need to prescribe a mild anti-anxiety medication to administer prior to the visit. Some pets prefer to wait out in the grass, rather than in the busy lobby…we’ve got you covered! We remind you to bring your pet to their appointment hungry! Why? Because, we have a smorgasbord of tasty treats to distract and reward them during their visit with us! If they are hungry, eating that tasty spray cheese that is smeared on the mat under their nose is way more important to them than the little pinch of their vaccine injection! Tell us what their favorite treat is! Bring high value treats along with you (we’re talking tuna, hot dogs, cheese and liverwurst here!) Maybe they are more motivated by toys than treats! Bring that favorite tennis ball along! We’ll break out the feather wand for your active kitten as a distraction. These seemingly little things can make the world of difference in your pet’s emotional health, and it allows us to provide great care!

We’re at the Vet, now what?

When you arrive, we’ll break out their pre-visit questionnaire and our receptionists will utilize it to appropriately direct you! If your pet prefers to wait in the car, we’ll take down your information and call you when your nurse is ready. At every arrival to our lobby, we encourage you to borrow one of our calming aids for your pet while they wait with you for their appointment. For dogs, we provide a pheromone infused bandana to wear. For cats, we’ll ask that you cover their crate with a pheromone infused blanket.  These aids begin the process of easing any anxiety that may, or may not, occur during their visit with us.

Once your pet is settled in an exam room, we do our best to keep them in that environment for the entire visit. Less change of scenery has been proven to reduce FAS (fear, anxiety and stress) in pets. Our nurse will assess at every visit your pet’s FAS level. This level guides our treatment plans for the day. If your pet is cool as a cucumber, it’s smooth sailing for the appointment. If your pet is a little unsure of what is going on, we proceed slowly, one step at a time. This means we will not force your pet beyond their comfort levels with us to “just get it done.” Can we do that, yes; however, this is not the way it should be done. This means, we may not be able to get his nails trimmed, but because we didn’t push Fido past his emotional limit, we can schedule another visit to take care of that with ease! This new thinking in Veterinary care is changing pet’s lives for the better. They no longer slink in the door, tail tucked and ears back; now they trot into the office and excitedly greet our reception staff. They now run down the hallway to the exam room. Positive reinforcement breeds positive future experience. The change may not come overnight but, the more we practice, the better it gets!

Does it really help?

We have seen so many success stories over the past year as we have transitioned to offering Fear Free solutions for our clients and their pets. The Telford Veterinary Hospital staff is determined to provide the highest level of care for you and your pet. When you join us on this journey we know you’ll see the difference! Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing stories of successes and pet’s that have made great strides in having a positive experience at Telford Veterinary hospital!

Weathering the storm – Your pet’s care during the COVID-19 pandemic

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In a time of great stress and uncertainty, we would like to reassure our wonderful clients that we are still open, with abbreviated hours, for your veterinary needs and our staff’s safety. We will be available in hospital M-F 9-5 for curbside appointments and currently active clients have access to our Telemedicine option, Medici (instructions here).

In general, we ask you to:

🐾 Limit the number of people transporting your pet to our hospital to one primary caregiver.

🐾 Please phone us from your car on arrival and we will send one of our lovely team members out to collect your pet. Our doctor will contact you by phone to discuss treatment. Payment will be taken by phone after the visit with one of our team members and your pet will be returned to your car.

🐾 We will continue to practice extremely high levels of hand hygiene between contact points.

🐾 If you need to pick up acutely needed prescription refills or food please phone from the car, payment will be taken over the phone and your order will be placed in our pickup bin by the front door.

🐾 Let us know if you are running low on medication, food and other prescription items well in advance. We are maintaining a limited in-house pharmacy stock. We will be utilizing our online pharmacy heavily for daily medications and prescription diets. They will ship directly to your home. You can find your pet’s care cabinet here.

🐾 If you have returned from travel, international or domestic, please don’t come to the hospital. If your pet needs urgent assistance, please call us to discuss options.

🐾 If you have cold and flu symptoms, or are self-isolating, we ask that you delay your consultation until the period of self-isolation is complete or symptoms are resolved. If your pet needs urgent assistance, please call us to discuss options so we can determine the best course of action which may include collecting your pet from your car or conducting the consultation via phone.

🐾 Social distancing is being practiced in our building: Medical experts deem that social distancing keeps more people healthy and will help flatten the curve to slow the spread of the virus.

🐾 If you are running late, please let us know in advance so we can manage appointments accordingly.

We are working hard to ensure we can continue to provide complete veterinary care to your pets!

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation. This situation is rapidly evolving, and we will provide updates as required. We are 💯 here for you and your pets during this stressful time and urge you to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have.

Additional COVID-19 tips and information
From the CDC:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html#2019-nCoV-and-animalshttps://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/interim-guidance-managing-people-inhome-care-and-isolation-who-have-pets.htmlhttps://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/infection-control/controlrecommendations.htmlhttps://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html
From the AVMA: • https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/animal-health-and-welfare/covid-19

From the NASPHV • http://www.nasphv.org/documentsCompendiaVet.html

From the WHO: • https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
From the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE): • https://www.oie.int/scientific-expertise/specific-information-and-recommendations/questionsand-answers-on-2019novel-coronavirus/
From the World Small Animal Veterinary Association: • https://wsava.org/news/highlighted-news/the-new-coronavirus-and-companion-animals-advicefor-wsava-members/

PSA Regarding Pets and COVID-19

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We are keeping close watch on the current COVID-19 developments as cases begin to impact the direct communities that we serve.

Both the CDC and AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) suggest preparing your household for the possibility that you may be impacted by a quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19.

As you plan for your family, remember that we always suggest to have your pet’s needs factored in to emergency preparedness plans.

The AVMA suggests, “For responsible pet owners, preparing in advance is key, make sure you have an emergency kit prepared, with at least two weeks worth of your pet’s food and any needed medications. Usually we think about emergency kits like this in terms of what might be needed for an evacuation, but it’s also good to have one prepared in the case of quarantine or self-isolation when you cannot leave your home.

While we are recommending these as good practices, it is important to remember there is currently NO evidence that pets can contract and spread COVID-19 to other animals, including people.”

For your pet’s needs, remember that we are able to ship all medications and foods directly from our pharmacy to your home! https://telfordvet.vetsfirstchoice.com/

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For current clients impacted by a quarantine in relation to COVID-19, please remember that we do offer virtual consultations through our Medici app. Simply download the app, select your doctor using their direct code, or our hospital code, TVH, and you are set to connect for a virtual appointment!

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Please practice good hygiene and stay safe and healthy out there!

*If information changes we will update this post accordingly.*

Pet Safety Tips for 4th of July Festivities

The days around 4th of July are notorious for an increase in lost pets, emergency visits and upset belly for pets! We encourage everyone to put good safety measures into place this holiday as you celebrate with friends and family!

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Tips and Safety Measures:

  • Leave your pets safe at home:
    • If you are going to a gathering or having one at your home make sure your pets are secured in a safe space. A crate or a designated room with a warning sign on the door for guests work best.
    • Make sure that identification tags and microchip information are up to date.
    • If you need to let them out to potty, be sure to take them out on a leash so that they don’t get spooked by a rogue firecracker and run off.
  • Fireworks are not pet friendly:
    • Keep your pets inside if you our anyone in your neighborhood are setting off fireworks.
    • Keep any sparklers, poppers and firework remnants out of the reach of your pet.
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  • Beware of ingestion of potentially toxic foods:
    • Keep charcoal and other grilling supplies away from your pets reach.
    • Avoid feeding table scraps that could possibly be toxic or lead to foreign bodies.
  • Be sure to keep pets cool:
    • Heatstroke can set in quickly for pets
    • Too much sun, heat and humidity is dangerous to pets.
    • Be sure to provide them with plenty of shade, water or keep them inside in the A/C to protect them.

Keep your local emergency veterinary hospital’s phone number and address handy in case of an accident or emergency. Have  a safe and happy 4th of July Holiday!

What you need to know before your pet’s upcoming surgery!

adult animal care clinic
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Many people have questions about various aspects of their pet’s surgery, and we hope this information will help.  It also explains the decisions you will need to make before your pet’s upcoming surgery.

Is the anesthetic safe?

Today’s modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past.  For many of the surgical procedures, an inhaled anesthetic gas, known as Seveflurane, is used. This gas is the safest know anesethic agent and is currently the gold standard in human medicine as well.

Here at Telford Veterinary Hospital, we do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics, to ensure that a fever or other illness won’t be a problem.  We also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the health of your pet.  

Pre-anesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia.  Every pet needs blood testing before surgery to ensure that the liver and kidneys can handle the anesthetic.  Even apparently healthy animals can have serious organ system problems that cannot be detected without blood testing.  If there is a problem, it is much better to find it before it causes anesthetic or surgical complications.  Animals that have minor dysfunction will handle the anesthetic better if they receive IV fluids during surgery.  If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.

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We utilize in-house blood testing before surgery, which we will go over with you when you bring your pet in.  Our doctors prefer a more comprehensive screen, because it gives them the most information to ensure the safety of your pet.  For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, or x-rays may be required before surgery as well.

It is important that surgery be done on an empty stomach to reduce the risk of vomiting during and after anesthesia.  You will need to withhold food and water for at least 8 to 10 hours before surgery.  We ask that you give your pet nothing by mouth from midnight forward on the evening before surgery.

Will my pet have sutures?

For many surgeries, we use dissoluble sutures underneath the skin.  These will dissolve on their own, and do not need to be removed later.  Some surgeries, especially tumor removals, do require skin sutures.  With either type of suture, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling or discharge.  Most dogs and cats do not lick excessively or chew at the incision, but this is an occasional problem you will also need to watch for.  If there are skin sutures, these will usually be removed 10 to 14 days after surgery.  You will also need to limit your pet’s activity level for a time and no baths are allowed for the first 10 days after surgery.

Will my pet be in pain?

Anything that causes pain in people can be expected to cause pain in animals.  Pets may not show the same symptoms of pain as people do; they usually don’t whine or cry, but you can be sure they feel it.  Pain medications needed will depend on the surgery performed.  Major procedures require more pain relief than things like minor lacerations.

For dogs, we may recommend an oral anti-inflammatory the day after surgery and several days after to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling.  We use newer medications, which are less likely to cause stomach upset and can be given even the morning of surgery.  The cost of the medication ranges from $15 to $25, depending on the size of your dog.

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Because cats do not tolerate standard pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol, we are limited in what we can give them.  Recent advances in pain medications have allowed for better pain control in cats than ever before.  We administer a pain injection 10 minutes prior to surgery.  After surgery, pain medication is given on a case by case basis.  Any animal that appears painful will receive additional pain medication.

Injectable pain medications may also be used after surgery on both dogs and cats.  Providing whatever pain relief is appropriate is a humane and caring thing to do for your pet.

What other decisions do I need to make?

While your pet is under anesthesia, it is the ideal time to perform other minor procedures, such as dentistry, ear cleaning, or implanting an identification microchip.  If you would like prices and a medical care plan for these extra services, please call ahead of time.  This is especially important if the person dropping the pet off for surgery is not the primary decision maker for the pet’s care.

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When you bring your pet in for surgery, we will need to 5 to 10 minutes of time to fill out paperwork and make decisions on the other options available.  When you pick up your pet after surgery you can also plan to spend about 10 minutes to go over your pet’s home care needs.

We will call you the night before your scheduled surgery appointment, to confirm the time you will be dropping your pet off and to answer any questions you might have.  In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to call us with any questions about your pet’s health or surgery.

 

Ear Mites In Cats: What You Need To Know!

Is your pet shaking their head, scratching at their ears, producing a dark waxy substance that is visible in the ear? Your furry friend may have friends of their own called ear mites! Read on to learn more about these pesky parasites and how you can help eradicate them from your pet and home.

cat scratching

What are ear mites?

The ear mite (Otodectes cynotis) is a surface living mite that lives on cats, dogs, rabbits and ferrets. It is usually found in the ear canal but it can also live on the skin surface. The entire ear mite life cycle takes place on animals. Cats become infested by direct contact with an infested animal. The mite is just visible to the naked eye and can be seen as a white speck moving against a dark background.

What effect do ear mites have on cats?

Ear mites are the most common cause of feline ear disease. They are the second most common ectoparasite found on cats; the most common is the flea. Infestations are most common in kittens and young cats although cats of any age can be affected.

Clinical signs of infestation vary in severity from one cat to another and include combinations of:

  • Ear irritation causing scratching at the ears or head shaking
  • A dark waxy discharge from the ear
  • Areas of hair loss resulting from self-trauma – scratching or excessive grooming
  • A crusted rash
  • Aural hematoma – a large blood blister cause by rupture of small blood vessels between the skin and cartilage of the ear usually on the inner aspect – caused by scratching at the ears
  • Skin lesions most frequently affect the ear and surrounding skin but uncommonly other areas of the body may be affected.

ear mite

How are ear mite infestations diagnosed?

Ear mites cause over 50% of feline ear disease. However, other conditions can result in very similar clinical signs.

A veterinarian makes the diagnosis by seeing the mite. This is usually straightforward and may be done either by examination of the cat’s ears with an otoscope or by microscopic examination of discharge from the ear. If the ears are very sore, the cat may need to be sedated to allow the ears to be properly examined and treated.

How can I get rid of ear mites from my cat?

Three steps are required to successfully treat ear mites:

  • Treat the ears of all affected and susceptible pets
  • Treat the skin of all affected and susceptible pets
  • Treat the indoor environment because the mite is capable of limited survival off pets

Your veterinarian will advise you about which insecticidal products are suitable. There are several ear medications licensed for the treatment of ear mites. There are no products licensed for use on the house or on an animal’s skin but many products licensed for flea control are effective.

Your veterinarian may ask you to continue the treatment regime for at least 21 days after which they may check the cat to ensure that the mites have been eliminated.

Do ear mites affect people?

Ear mites may cause an itchy rash on susceptible people if there are infested pets in the household. Eradication of the mites from the pets will cure the problem.

If you suspect that your pet has and ear infection of any sort, make an appointment with your veterinarian right away!

Grain Free and BEG Diets: The Connection To Dilated Cardiomyopathy In Dogs

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Diet Associated Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM), or enlarged heart, has been a hot topic lately. The media outlets have been buzzing about grain free diets and sudden heart failure in dogs. Researchers have been hard at work looking into the correlation, and have uncovered the following:

1. It’s not just grain-free. This does not appear to be an issue with just grain-free diets. “BEG” diets – boutique companies, exotic ingredients, or grain-free diets better describes the at-risk categories. The apparent link between the diets and DCM may be due to ingredients used to replace grain in grain-free diets, such as lentils and chickpeas, but also may be due to exotic meats, vegetables, and fruits. In addition, not all pet food manufacturers have the same level of nutritional expertise and quality control and this could introduce potential issues with some products.

2. Most dogs with diet related DCM do NOT have low taurine levels. Some owners continue to feed BEG diets but supplement with taurine thinking this will reduce the risk of heart disease. However, more than 90% of patients with DCM have normal taurine levels. Yet some of these dogs improve when their diets are changed. This suggests that there is something else playing a role in most cases. Giving taurine is unlikely to prevent DCM unless your dog has a true taurine deficiency. Also, given the lack of quality control for dietary supplements, you can actually introduce new risks for your dog if you give a supplement they don’t need.

3. Raw diets and homemade diets are NOT a safer alternative. DCM has been diagnosed in some dogs eating these diets as well.

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Common Questions

1. What’s causing diet associated DCM in dogs? For most dogs, we do not know yet. There are definitely some dogs with DCM that have low taurine levels. For dogs that have normal taurine levels though, other nutritional deficiencies may be present. Some of these diets may have insufficient nutrients or reduced bio-availability that could trigger heart disease. The FDA continues to actively study this situation so we can resolve the issue as soon as possible.

2. My dog is eating a BEG diet but has no symptoms, what should I do? It is unlikely that most dogs eating a BEG diet will develop DCM. However, given the fact that we don’t yet understand the connection between the diet and developing cardiomyopathy, we would recommend reconsidering your pet’s diet. Contrary to popular belief, there are NO health benefits of a grain-free or exotic ingredient diet for dogs, unless they have a rare allergy to grains.

Be sure to watch for signs of heart disease – weakness, slowing down, exercise intolerance, shortness of breath, coughing, or fainting. If you notice any of these signs bring your pet to the vet immediately. Your veterinarian may notice a heart murmur or rhythm disturbance. They may also recommend additional tests such as x-rays, blood tests, ECG and ultrasound of the heart.

If your dog has no symptoms, additional testing is up to you. A recommended blood test (pro-BNP) can measure a cardiac enzyme that increases with heart enlargement. Getting a baseline level and monitoring it over time can give you an early indication that something may be wrong. However, realize that a normal value does not guarantee that your pet does not, or cannot, develop heart disease. A high level suggests that your dog’s heart should be further evaluated.

Taurine levels can also be monitored but this testing can be very expensive; and remember, some of these dogs will have normal taurine levels when they develop heart disease.

Finally, the definitive test for DCM is an ultrasound of the heart or echo-cardiogram. This may be recommended if heart disease is found on physical exam or screening tests, however it is usually not the first test performed.

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3. Has diet associated DCM been diagnosed in cats? At this time an association between diet and DCM has only been diagnosed in dogs.

If you have been feeding your dog an exclusive grain free or BEG diet and have concerns, schedule an appointment to start the discussion. We want to help the public understand the complexities of making safe and nutritionally balanced food, so that you as a consumer can choose the best diet for your pet.

 

My Pet is Lost – What Now?

Losing a pet under any circumstance is devastating for families. Many think that it can’t or won’t happen to them. A staggering statistic in the United States is that 1 in 3 pets will become lost in their lifetime!

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What to do if your pet is missing:

  1. Contact your primary veterinarian, local animal shelters, your local police department, veterinary hospitals and animal control agencies. File a lost pet report with every shelter within a 60-mile radius of your home and visit the nearest shelters daily, if possible.
    • Many pets found wandering are first taken to police departments or the nearest veterinary clinic.
  2. Search the neighborhood.
    • Inform your closest neighbors that your pet is missing as soon as you can.
  3. Advertise.
    • Print a recent clear photo of your pet and post (in permissible areas) in the immediate area of your home with your contact information.
  4. Try the internet.
  5. Don’t give up your search.
    1. While the first 24 hours are critical in recovery, there are many reunions that occur days, weeks, even months after being lost.

close up of dog
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Prevention and Proactive Measures:

The best measures to keep your pet safe can fail. We hear many times that a cat doesn’t need to be microchipped because they live indoors only, or that a dog doesn’t need to be on leash because he never goes anywhere on his own. Unfortunately accidents happen; doors are left ajar, deer run past the dog in the yard or any other number of mishaps and distractions occur. These are the moments where pets become lost. Without proper identification getting them back to their owner is infinitely harder!

  1. Keep identification collars on your pets, even indoor only pets in case of an accident.
  2. Microchip your pet. It is an inexpensive measure to have lasting and easily identifiable information available to the finder of your pet.
  3. Always leash your dog when out on a walk, hike or outside of a fenced area.
  4. Be sure to repair any broken areas of fencing in your yard promptly, check regularly for holes under the fence and latching mechanisms that may be failing.
  5. Practice a reliable recall, if your dog happens to get away from you while on leash, having an immediate backup of reliable manners training can help avoid a crisis.
  6. Be aware of your surroundings and keep your pets in a secure area when leaving the house, bringing in groceries or while contractors are in and out of the home.

selective focus photo of brown tabby cat on cushion
Photo by Luan Oosthuizen on Pexels.com

As always if you have any questions regarding microchipping, registration, proper harness and leash set ups, or anything pertaining to keeping your pet safe and secure, reach out to us at www.telfordvet.com