Pages and links with regard the health of our precious dogs

PRA- Loss of eye sight
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Canine Fucosidosis

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General Health Checks to carry out on your dogs
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HOW TO TREAT EAR INFECTIONS

Ear infections in dogs are as painful as ear infections in humans. The symptoms the dog presents are very clear and include:

The infected ear emits a strong odor.
The dog exhibits pain anytime the infected ear is touched or moved.
The dog will shake its head more than usual.
The dog will rub the infected ear excessively.
A yellow or dark discharge may be noticed on the ear.
The skin on the ear is bright red or may even be bleeding.
Any dog with these symptoms should be taken to a veterinarian where a diagnosis can be made.

The veterinarian will examine the ear canal with an otoscope.
The veterinarian will take a sample of any discharge for cytology and culturing.
There are three types of ear infections and diagnosing these requires a culture of the discharge found inside the ear. These types are:
Yeast infection
Bacterial infection
Fungus infection
After the veterinarian has examined the dog and it has been determined that the dog has an ear infection and which type the infection is, treatment can begin. Treatment for Canine Ear Infections includes:

Use an ear-cleaning solution to clean the infected ear. Never use water or peroxide. Hold the dog's earflap and pour the ear-cleaning solution into the ear, filling the ear canal. Massage the canal gently to work the debris loose. Take a tissue and wipe the ear canal as deep as you can reach with your finger. Repeat the procedure until no wax or debris is on the tissue.

The veterinarian may have to anesthetize the dog and clean the ear if the dog is in pain, or to remove a tick or foreign body.
The veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics or an anti-yeast agent to put in the ear, depending on the type of infection that was found.
Canine Ear Infections usually take 3 to 6 weeks to clear up with treatment, including cleaning the ear twice daily. If this condition goes untreated, it can lead to surgery due to complications such as an infection that penetrates the ear drum or an ear canal that has closed.

To prevent canine ear infections, the dog owner should:

Clean the dog's ears weekly.
Clean the dog's ears after each swim.
Remove hair from the dog's ears if the dog has a lot growing in it.
Canine ear infections are usually caused by:

Water left in the ear after swimming.
The dog has a thyroid condition.
The dog has allergies.
The dog has parasites.
The dog may have a foreign body in the ear.
The dog may have a tumor in the ear.


HOW TO TREAT YOUR DOG FOR WORMS


Canines can become afflicted with several different types of internal parasites, commonly called "worms." The most prevalent type of worm that dogs may have is roundworms and tapeworms. Roundworm infestation can be quite high in puppies. Tapeworm infestation may also be a problem for your canine, especially if he has fleas.

If your dog has worms, he may experience weight loss, blood in his stools, dry hair and vomiting. If you think your dog has worms, you should take him to the veterinarian. While there are over-the-counter medications available, they can be dangerous to your dog if they are not given in the proper dosage. You should also know that not all canine worms can be killed with over-the-counter medication.

When your take your puppy in for his vet visit, you should also take a stool sample from your puppy. The vet will look to see if your dog has any microscopic worms which may also need to be treated.



Roundworms

A female roundworm produces hundreds of thousands of eggs each day. These eggs are deposited in the soil. When Fido plays in contaminated soil and ingests worm eggs, they will hatch in your pup's intestines. The larva is then carried into your puppy's lungs through the bloodstream. Once in the lungs, the larva will crawl up your pup's windpipe and get swallowed. This will normally cause your puppy to gag or cough. Once the larva has been swallowed, they will live in your pup's intestines and grow into adult roundworms.

If your pup has roundworms, he will have a pot-bellied appearance. Your pup may also have poor growth.
Roundworms can be seen in a pup's stool and even his vomit.
Roundworms can grow up to seven inches long.
A severe infestation of roundworms can be very dangerous. It can cause an intestinal blockage which can lead to your pup's death.
Tapeworms

Tapeworms are transmitted through fleas.

Your dog may be susceptible to tapeworms if he is a hunting dog and has ingested a "game" animal which has tapeworms. Likewise, your dog may get tapeworms if he ingests fleas which have been on wildlife.
If your dog has tapeworms, you may see eggs or "segments" in his stool. These segments will move for a while after they have excreted from your dog. They are flat and resemble rice. These segments may also become stuck to the hairs around your dog's rear.
Tapeworms cannot be killed by over-the-counter medication. You will have to take your dog to the veterinarian for treatment.


CANINE DISTEMPER

The Canine Distemper virus is responsible for causing Canine Distemper, which is a dog virus that is contagious to other dogs and is preventable but not curable. This virus is usually fatal to the dog who contracts it because it affects the dog's respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous systems.

Canine Distemper is highly contagious among dogs, especially younger dogs. Infection occurs by breathing in airborne particles that contain the Canine Distemper virus and through contact with infected bodily fluids, including food and water contaminated with these fluids.

Symptoms of Canine Distemper are listed below. However, note that sometimes a brief fever and mild depression may be the only signs of Canine Distemper at its onset.

Fever
No appetite
Eye inflammation
Runny nose
Watering eyes
Lethargy
Depression
Diarrhea
Coughing
Rapid breathing
Vomiting
Enamel hypoplasia
In puppies, the quick erosion of unenameled teeth
Hyperkeratosis
Footpads and nose harden
Infection with the Canine Distemper virus can be hard to diagnose with certainty. In diagnosing your dog with Canine Distemper, your veterinarian will analyze the following:

Vaccination history
Physical exam to observe clinical symptoms
Drawn blood for blood tests
Veterinarian looks for certain cells indicative of the presence of Canine Distemper virus
Veterinarian looks for Canine Distemper viral antigens by using proteins containing fluorescent chemicals capable of binding to the antigens, making them visible
Veterinarian looks for Canine Distemper virus's genetic material by performing a polymerase chain reaction
Drawn cerebrospinal fluid
Veterinarian looks for Canine Distemper virus antibodies
Veterinarian looks for elevated levels of specific proteins and cells indicative of Canine Distemper Virus
Following a diagnosis of Canine Distemper by your veterinarian, treatment will include the following:

Clean, warm environment that has no drafts
Hygiene that includes keeping the eyes and nose clean of discharge
Medications
Anti-nausea
Anti-vomiting
Anti-diarrheal
Antibiotics
Anticonvulsants
Bronchodilators
Restoration of enamel to the teeth of puppies
Hydration
Prognosis for Canine Distemper

Incurable
Once a dog has contracted the Canine Distemper virus, he will always carry the virus
Usually fatal
Most dogs die between the second week and twelfth week of treatment
Dogs suffering from quickly spreading, severe neurological complications are usually humanely euthanized
If your dog survives Canine Distemper
Chronic or fatal central nervous system conditions may occur
Dogs with less serious case of Canine Distemper
Have a chance of recovery
May have symptoms for several months
Prevention of Canine Distemper

Vaccinate
Yearly for prevention
Within 4 days of exposure (Note that the vaccination is not likely to be effective in preventing the disease when it is given after infection occurs.)
Isolated infected dog
To prevent spreading the disease to other family dogs
Care for area contaminated by infected dog
Clean using bleach and water solution
Isolate area from other dogs for at least one month

Canine Distemper is easily prevented with a simple yearly vaccination. This prevention can save a dog owner and his dog undue pain and heartache.


The Canine Distemper virus is responsible for causing Canine Distemper, which is a dog virus that is contagious to other dogs and is preventable but not curable. This virus is usually fatal to the dog who contracts it because it affects the dog's respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous systems.

Canine Distemper is highly contagious among dogs, especially younger dogs. Infection occurs by breathing in airborne particles that contain the Canine Distemper virus and through contact with infected bodily fluids, including food and water contaminated with these fluids.

Symptoms of Canine Distemper are listed below. However, note that sometimes a brief fever and mild depression may be the only signs of Canine Distemper at its onset.

Fever
No appetite
Eye inflammation
Runny nose
Watering eyes
Lethargy
Depression
Diarrhea
Coughing
Rapid breathing
Vomiting
Enamel hypoplasia
In puppies, the quick erosion of unenameled teeth
Hyperkeratosis
Footpads and nose harden
Infection with the Canine Distemper virus can be hard to diagnose with certainty. In diagnosing your dog with Canine Distemper, your veterinarian will analyze the following:

Vaccination history
Physical exam to observe clinical symptoms
Drawn blood for blood tests
Veterinarian looks for certain cells indicative of the presence of Canine Distemper virus
Veterinarian looks for Canine Distemper viral antigens by using proteins containing fluorescent chemicals capable of binding to the antigens, making them visible
Veterinarian looks for Canine Distemper virus's genetic material by performing a polymerase chain reaction
Drawn cerebrospinal fluid
Veterinarian looks for Canine Distemper virus antibodies
Veterinarian looks for elevated levels of specific proteins and cells indicative of Canine Distemper Virus
Following a diagnosis of Canine Distemper by your veterinarian, treatment will include the following:

Clean, warm environment that has no drafts
Hygiene that includes keeping the eyes and nose clean of discharge
Medications
Anti-nausea
Anti-vomiting
Anti-diarrheal
Antibiotics
Anticonvulsants
Bronchodilators
Restoration of enamel to the teeth of puppies
Hydration
Prognosis for Canine Distemper

Incurable
Once a dog has contracted the Canine Distemper virus, he will always carry the virus
Usually fatal
Most dogs die between the second week and twelfth week of treatment
Dogs suffering from quickly spreading, severe neurological complications are usually humanely euthanized
If your dog survives Canine Distemper
Chronic or fatal central nervous system conditions may occur
Dogs with less serious case of Canine Distemper
Have a chance of recovery
May have symptoms for several months
Prevention of Canine Distemper

Vaccinate
Yearly for prevention
Within 4 days of exposure (Note that the vaccination is not likely to be effective in preventing the disease when it is given after infection occurs.)
Isolated infected dog
To prevent spreading the disease to other family dogs
Care for area contaminated by infected dog
Clean using bleach and water solution
Isolate area from other dogs for at least one month

Canine Distemper is easily prevented with a simple yearly vaccination. This prevention can save a dog owner and his dog undue pain and heartache.



HOW TO TREAT SEIZURES

Canine seizures are a brain malfunction which causes a dog's body to convulse uncontrollably. Seizures may also cause loss of consciousness, excessive salivation, and loss of bowel and bladder control. Whether your dog is having his first seizure, or his twenty-first seizure, the actions you take can make a difference.

Stay calm. Staying calm is very important even though it may be difficult. Remember, your dog depends on you, and you have to stay calm to keep him calm, just as you would a small child.

Time the seizure. Timing the seizure is important. The first time your pet seizures, he should receive a physical examination and blood work as soon after the seizure as possible. But after an initial examination has been performed, your dog doesn't neeed to return to the vet each time he seizures unless he has a cluster of seizures or an individual seizure that lasts longer than 5 minutes.
Clear out the area around the dog. Make sure there is nothing the dog can hurt himself on while he is having the seizure.
Put a towel under the dog's head. Putting a rolled up towel under the dog's head will help keep him from banging his head while having convulsions.
Do no allow the dog to inhale anything. If the dog were to inhale anything, he could choke and cause more damage. Note that dogs do not swallow their tongues.
After the seizure has ended, recovery begins. There are important actions you should take during this time as well.

Give your dog a blood sugar boost. Low blood sugar levels can be the cause or the result of a seizure. When your dog regains consciousness, feed it Breyers All Natural Vanilla Ice Cream. Small dogs get 1 teaspoon, medium dogs get 1 tablespoon and large dogs get 2 tablespoons. This little bite of ice cream will restore the dog's blood sugar levels to normal. After feeding the dog the ice cream, feed him a couple of handfuls of his usual dog food, pasta or rice with butter, to keep the blood sugar levels stable. Do not let the dog eat this food fast.

Stay with the dog for a while. You remaining with the dog will make him feel safe and secure, which he may need after having a seizure. A little reassurance will go a long way for a dog.
Make a log of the event. Write down date, time and any observations you made concerning this seizure. These effects may range from confusion to blindness. These details will help the veterinarian with his diagnosis.
Make a trip to the vet. Not every seizure warrants a trip to the vet. The ones that do are:
If the dog is a healthy adult and this is his first seizure.
If the dog has more than one seizure per day.
If the dog's seizure continues longer than 5 minutes.
Follow through on treatment. Depending on his diagnosis, the veterinarian will make recommendations which could include administering anticonvulsants. In general in treating seizures, the goal is to keep seizures to a minimum, while avoiding serious side effects. Follow your veterinarian's advice on how best to treat your dog's seizures.


CANINE STROKE
Canine stroke, although rare in dogs, occurs when the blood flow is disrupted to the brain due to either a blocked artery or a hemorrhage.

There are two types of canine stroke.

Ischemic Strokes -- lack of blood flow to the brain due to a blocked artery. These strokes can be linked to the following conditions:

Kidney disease
Heart disease
Cushing's disease
Diabetes
Hypertension
Obstruction due to the fragment of a tumor, spinal cartilage, parasites or fat
Under- or over-active thyroid glands
Hemorrhagic Strokes -- proper blood flow to the brain is disrupted by actual bleeding in the brain. These episodes can be prompted by the following conditions:
Kidney, Heart, Cushing's and Thyroid diseases once more, since they can lead to high blood pressure
A certain type of lung worm called angiostrongylosis
Rodent poisons
Arterial inflammation
Immune-mediated thrombocytopenia
Brain tumor
Atypical blood vessel development in the brain
Head trauma

Symptoms of canine stroke are not exclusive to this medical condition, which can complicate diagnosis. The following are common canine stroke symptoms.

Head tilt.

Turning the wrong way when called.
Eating out of one side of food dish.
Blindness.
Loss of balance.
Lethargy.
Loss of bladder and bowel control.
Abrupt change in behavior.
If a dog owner suspects that her dog has had a stroke, a veterinarian should definitely check out the dog. The veterinarian will make a diagnosis by:

Performing a physical exam, carefully studying the symptoms that are presenting themselves.

Conducting an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or CT (computed tomography) scan. The dog must be anesthetized in order to perform the MRI and CT diagnostic work.
Most diagnostic tests are used to rule out other possibilities for the cause of the symptoms. The vet will help you determine cause of stroke after confirming the dog has had a stroke.

Treatment of canine stroke begins by identifying the underlying cause of the stroke and treating it to prevent it from causing any more strokes in the future. There is no way for us to repair the damage inflicted by a canine stroke, but stroke is not as debilitating for dogs as it can be for people. Most dogs recover in several weeks. This recovery will depend on the severity of the dog's stroke and how much damage was done, but the potential for recovery is good news for the dog owner. The dog generally recovers most of her motor functions and movement with time and patience, but behavior may be slightly altered fro what it was before the stroke, which may be something that the dog owner will just have to learn to accept. Whatever the case may be, dogs usually survive a stroke.


CONSTIPATION
Everyone has those days where you just don't feel "regular." Canines do too. Canine constipation is a condition that, while not usually life-threatening, can be immobilizing, uncomfortable, and painful for dogs. Here is how to recognize the symptoms and what you can do to help alleviate, and better yet, prevent, canine constipation.

How to recognize canine constipation. Your dog may have constipation if she has any of the following conditions: Straining to have a bowel movement without any "results," stiff stools, prolonged periods of time in between movements but frequent attempts to defecate, bloating, yelping or signs of discomfort during bowel movements, and/or loss of appetite.

Who suffers from canine constipation? All breeds and any age of dog can have a bout with constipation, however, older dogs are more prone to the condition. Younger pups who eat things they should not be eating also are apt to have defecating problems, as well as any dog who is fed certain types of "people food" from the table. Foods that contain flour, excess sugar, rice, dairy, and foods high in protein are leaders in the constipation competition. Thus, feeding Fido meat, cookies, ice cream, and leftover Chinese food is not a good idea. Additionally, make sure your pet does not have access to objects that may block the colon or bowels. Notorious blockers are coins, buttons, keys, and anything a puppy might decide to munch on.
Common causes:
Lack of fiber. Most dogs that suffer from constipation do not have enough fiber in their diets. A simple solution to this is to give them dog food high in fiber or to supplement their meals with fiber.

Dehydration. Dogs, like humans, need liquid to jump-start their bodies. If your pooch does not have enough water during the day, she may become constipated. Solve this by always having the doggie water dish full of fresh water. Try adding water directly to the food as well.
Supplements: Supplements are available for canines with a constipation problem. You can find companies like "The Natural Canine" that specialize in holistic solutions to constipation and other ailments that dogs can experience. These supplements have additives such as acidophilus, folic acid, and vegetable enzymes, all which can be cures to canine constipation. Again, seek a vet's guidance before you change the diet of your dog.
Laxatives. Giving your dog a mild laxative, if advised by your vet, can solve the problem. Smaller dogs, obviously, will require smaller amounts than larger dogs, so make sure you get the correct dosage from a professional.
Enema. Although it is not a pleasant thought, your dog might need an enema. Have your vet explore this option.
Milk of Magnesia. A small dose of Milk of Magnesia milk might do the trick for Fido. Ask your vet, however, before administering anything to your dog.
Canned Pumpkin. Adding canned pumpkin to your dog's meal might produce a successful movement. A small dosage of 1/8 a teaspoon might do the trick for a small Bichon Frise, while a larger portion will be needed for a German Shepherd. Ask your vet about this solution.
Wheat Bran. Adding wheat bran to every meal can regulate your dog's system.
Megaproblem: Megacolon. Megacolon is a condition in which the dog (or any animal) cannot discharge waste successfully. An animal with a megacolon has an inflamed colon that cannot operate normally. This can be a serious condition, so if you sense your dog has more than just a bout of constipation, seek a vet's guidance.
The above remedies might provide relief to your pooch, however, the best solution is prevention. Even if you have a "regular" dog, you should keep your best friend free from constipation by giving her regular exercise, plenty of water, and a diet full of fiber. Even though she is your best friend, avoid giving her table scraps. Ice cream, cookies, bread and excess meat will may make her happy in the present, but will cause her discomfort in the near future.


DIARRHEA.
Diarrhea is not uncommon in dogs. When a dog eats something he shouldn't have consumed, he may develop diarrhea as a way of ridding the substance from his body. If you are concerned about your dog's health, you may rush him to the vet immediately but this isn't always necessary in the case of diarrhea. Most vets will be happy to see your dog if he has a bout of diarrhea but are also willing to offer advice about managing your dog's diarrhea on your own in the future. Unless your dog is exhibiting the following symptoms, you can treat the diarrhea on your own:

Lethargy - Listless and uninterested in normal activities including eating or drinking
Bloating - Appearing larger than usual in the abdominal area
Abdominal pain - Pulling away or wincing when pressure is applied to the abdomen
Fever - Rectal temperature over 103.5 degrees Fahrenheit
Bloody stool - Blood evident when the dog has a bowel movement. It is important to note that black stool should also be considered as bloody stool and may be an indication of internal bleeding.
Dehydration - The dog's gums may feel dry or tacky when he is dehydrated
Vomiting - Vomiting is another symptom which should be considered serious when present in conjunction with diarrhea. The combination of vomiting and diarrhea can lead to rapid dehydration and can also indicate more serious concerns.
Aside from the above listed exceptions, it is usually safe to treat acute cases of diarrhea in your dog as long as he appears strong and healthy with the exception of the diarrhea. The following steps can help you to treat and manage diarrhea in your canine companion:

Reduce the quantity of food the dog is fed. Some people eliminate feedings until the bout with diarrhea subsides while others cut normal portions in half. Either way or anything in between is acceptable. Assuming your dog is reasonably strong, he won't suffer adversely from little or no food for a day or two.
Feed your dog a bland diet. Those who opt to feed their dogs in reduced quantities should consider creating their own meals of bland foods for their dogs. A formula of 2 parts rice to 1 part lean, cooked meat works well for treating diarrhea. Do not season the meat or rice in preparing the food. This homemade remedy is superior to commercially prepared foods because it is low in fat and bland.
Administer a probiotic such as Lactobacillus Sporogenes. This is a beneficial bacterium which can help to maintain or restore the health of the intestinal tract.
Administer Gastriplex. This substance contains glutamine, which is an essential amino acid used to treat diarrhea.

Consult your veterinarian if the condition persists. Canine diarrhea typically lasts for a few days but it may persist for a week or two. While your dog has diarrhea, monitor him carefully and if he begins displaying the warning signs listed above or if the diarrhea lasts for more than two weeks, contact your veterinarian for an examination.
Although acute diarrhea may not be life-threatening in most cases, it is important to note that chronic diarrhea can have much graver consequences. Acute diarrhea can be an indication of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) which can result in a number of potentially fatal illnesses such as Lymphocytic-plasmacytic IBD, Eosinophilic IBD, Regional Granulomatous IBD and Suppurative or Neutrophilic IBD. If diarrhea is persistent, the dog should be taken to the vet for further examination and testing to determine the cause of the diarrhea.


SKIN CONDITIONS DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT.

Many conditions can affect your dog's skin, from dry weather to contagious skin diseases, causing itching, redness, infection and pain. Caring properly for your dog's skin is vital to his overall health, well-being and appearance.

Choose the proper shampoo. There are many varieties of shampoo made specifically for dogs. If your dog has dry skin and flakiness, choose a moisturizing or sensitive skin shampoo. Also available for dry skin and associated itching are medicated shampoos with oatmeal, papaya or aloe. Use an antiseptic shampoo for inflamed skin to relieve excessive itching and prevent infection. There are also flea and tick shampoos, shed control shampoos and, if your dog is fearful of water, waterless shampoos. For certain skin conditions, a veterinarian will provide a prescription shampoo.

Treat parasites quickly. Fleas, ticks, chiggers, mange and ringworm all affect your dog's skin.
Fleas cause itching, skin irritation and, in some cases, allergic reactions. There are many flea shampoos and dips on the market to treat your dog for fleas but be sure to treat your whole house in addition to treating your dog. This may include a spray or powder for carpet and upholstery or a fogger for an entire room. Once you have rid your house and dog of fleas, you can use one of the convenient spot treatments on your dog once a month to prevent reinfestation.

Ticks may carry diseases that are dangerous to humans and dogs in addition to causing itching and irritation. Many shampoos, dips and once-a-month spot treatments are labeled as effective for both fleas and ticks. To treat the house, treat the same as you would for fleas, but be sure the products are specifically labeled for killing ticks. To remove single ticks by hand from your dog, use tweezers and grab the tick as close to the skin as possible. Gently pull the tick out and apply antiseptic to the skin. Flush the tick down the toilet or immerse it in alcohol to kill it. Be sure to thoroughly clean your hands and sanitize the tweezers afterward to prevent the possible spread of diseases.

Chiggers are mites that feed on a dog's blood and cause itching and irritation. They can be found most often around the head and neck and are red, orange or yellow. If you suspect chiggers, see a veterinarian for prescription creams to apply to the areas that are affected.

Mange is a type of mite infestation under the skin that causes bald red patches and itching and could lead to secondary infection. A veterinarian's diagnosis and treatment is required to rid your dog of mange.

Ringworm isn't actually a worm; it's a fungus that causes circular red or gray bald patches on a dog's skin. If your dog has ringworm, see the veterinarian for the treatment of medicated shampoo and ointments. Ringworm is contagious to humans, particularly children, so avoid contact with the area.

Feed your dog the right food. A high quality dog food provides the correct balance of fatty acids and nutrients needed for healthy skin. There are many nutritional supplements for the care of a dog's skin but if your dog eats a quality dog food then supplementing may be unnecessary. To prevent an imbalance, give your dog nutritional supplements only under the advice of a veterinarian. Many dogs can also suffer from food allergies that cause itchy skin. A trip to the vet and possibly an elimination diet will determine if your dog has a food allergy.
Brush your dog daily. The natural oils on a dog's skin are distributed by brushing. These oils keep your dog's skin and coat healthy and shiny. To better stimulate the skin's oil production without irritating the skin, use a brush with rubber bristles or a grooming glove.
Inspect skin frequently. Check your dog's skin for anything out of the ordinary, such as lumps, discolored areas, sores, or painful spots. See a veterinarian if you find anything unusual.

HOW TO TREAT LYME DISEASE

Dogs become infected with Lyme disease by a deer tick that passes Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria into the bloodstream. In order for a deer tick to infect a dog with this bacterium, the tick must remain attached to the dog for 48 hours.

Dogs who live in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic states, including New York, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and all the coastal states from Maine to North Carolina as well as dogs in the midwestern states, including Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Missouri and Iowa or along the west coast, especially California and Oregon, are more susceptible to Lyme disease. Dogs that have traveled to these areas are also prone to becoming infected with this disease.

Symptoms associated with Lyme disease include:

High fever
Swollen lymph nodes
Lameness
Loss of appetite
Inflamed joints
Lethargy
If a dog owner notices that his dog has these symptoms, he should take his dog to the veterinarian. The veterinarian will make a diagnosis of the problem by:

Taking a history of the ill dog's recent traveling experience to determine if it has been in an endemic area, where it could have been exposed to a deer tick.

The veterinarian will perform a physical exam to look for typical clinical signs.
The veterinarian will draw blood in order to perform a blood test to look for Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria.
Treatment for dogs with Lyme disease may include:

Antimicrobial therapy After being treated initially, there should be an improvement in the dog's condition within 48 hours.

Antibiotic therapy
Doxycycline, given orally every 12-24 hours is lipid soluble and is relatively inexpensive, but cannot be given to growing dogs. This antibiotic also treats other tick borne diseases.

Other antibiotics, such as Cephalexin, Amoxicillin, and Tetracycline, are frequently used with much success.

Antibiotic therapy does not eliminate the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria responsible for Lyme disease, but does suppress the bacteria so that the symptoms subside. The bacteria will remain latent in the dog's body.

Prognosis for dogs with Lyme disease is very good. With treatment, dogs diagnosed with this disease should begin to see signs of improvement in as little as 2 to 3 days. But it is important to keep the dogs on treatment for the full term of the prescribed antibiotic therapy. Even if treatment has been successful, a recurrence of Lyme disease can occur; if it does, the dog should be put back on antibiotics.

Prevention can be the key to keeping dogs healthy and free from Lyme disease. Prevention will include using tick repellents and grooming daily. Dogs can be given a vaccination for Lyme disease, but there is much controversy over whether or not this vaccination actually protects the dog from this disease.

HOW TO TREAT ARTHRITIS

Dogs, like humans, can experience arthritis as they age. Canine arthritis is a condition that affects many breeds, and is a serious ailment that should be addressed by pet owners. This article can help you make educated observations if you are concerned that your dog may have arthritis.

Canine arthritis: what is it? Canine arthritis is the inflammation or swelling of the joints in a dog. This swelling causes the dog pain when he moves and, in bad cases, some associated pain results even when the dog remains stationary. Canine arthritis is a condition that worsens as a dogs ages. One in five dogs over the age of seven is affected by arthritis in some form. Although more rare, arthritis can be present in younger dogs as well. The most common forms of canine arthritis are Rheumatoid, Osteoarthritis, and Septic arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the dog's immune system creates antibodies that kill the body's proteins. The cartilage in the joints becomes inflamed as a result of the autoimmune response. Steroids are typically administered to kill the antibodies and strengthen the tissue around the joints.
Osteoarthritis. This brand of the disease is almost always genetic, beginning with swelling in and around the joint and worsening with age. The effects of the swelling cause the cartilage and bone to weaken in the joint. In some cases the condition worsens so quickly that an owner will not have a problem recognizing her dog's pain. However, Osteoarthritis can be a slow process, sometimes so slow that it is difficult for an owner to recognize.
Septic arthritis occurs when an infection in the dog's system is transported to the joint. The infection travels through the blood stream and nestles itself in the joint.
Symptoms. How do you know if Fido has an arthritic problem? The following are some of the common symptoms to look out for:
Lameness in a limb.
Lethargy.
Hesitancy to jump.
Noticeable decrease in desire to go for walks or to climb stairs.
Stiffness in the morning.
Signs of limping or wincing when using the leg joints.
Uncharacteristic yelping and barking before the onset of or during exercise.
Causes. Each form of arthritis can be associated with different causes. Septic arthritis, as mentioned above, is the direct result of an infection in the bloodstream. Osteoarthritis is usually genetic, and Rheumatoid arthritis is usually the bi-product of an autoimmune system defect. Hip Dysplasia also is a cause of this form or arthritis in the hip area. This condition describes the abnormal formation of the dog's hipbone; in essence, dogs with this displacement were born with loose joints at the hip. This abnormal set-up creates swelling and the problems associated with canine arthritis. Excessive exercise and repeated injuries to the same part of the body can also be causes of canine arthritis.
Age and size can also lead to arthritis. Dogs, particularly larger ones, often acquire arthritic problems. In the case of arthritis in larger dogs, the culprit is often Osteoarthritis in the form of Hip Dysplasia.

Treatments:

Medication. There are ways to combat the ailment and relieve discomfort. As discussed above, pain medication is usually administered to dogs suffering from Osteopathic arthritis. It is important to understand the possible side effects of the medications you are giving your dog. Vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and hair loss are some typical side effects of pain medication in dogs, but extended use can even lead to kidney and liver problems.

Natural. Supplementing your dog's diet with Glucosamine Sulphate and Chondroitin Sulphate helps prevent cartilage deterioration. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfates draw liquid to the joint, thereby increasing lubrication at the cartilage. This fosters a smoother motion of the bones and muscles for your pet. It also kills the dangerous enzymes that attack the cartilage. You can get tablets for your dog to eat with his or her meals. Veggies, in particular celery, are great for joint strength too. Cut up or blend some vegetables and add the mixture to the dog dish the next time your dog has a meal. Don't use mushrooms or onions, however, since sometimes these can be toxic for dogs.

Prevention:

Bad fat and good fat. Keep your dog healthy by monitoring his or her eating habits. Larger, overweight dogs are prone to canine arthritis because of the excess baggage they must carry. Puppies that experience rapid weight gain sometimes develop joint displacement. Remember, a fat dog is not always, or often, a happy and healthy one.

Omega 3 fatty acids are lacking in many dogs' diets. Omega 3 helps regulate joint pressure. Fish oil capsules, slipped into a tasty meat treat, are an excellent source of "good fat" for your dog.

Keep him warm. Dogs, like humans, can get sore in the damp, cold weather. Keep your dog's sleeping area nice and cozy with blankets and comfy bedding. The cold tightens up the joints and makes motions more difficult and painful. If your dog is older and has symptoms of arthritis do not keep him outside at night, even in the summer when wind and moisture are present.
Surgery. Canine arthritis, in some cases, can be prevented by surgery. Doctors use x-ray equipment to find joint deformities. The surgeries will remedy the malfunction, but cannot guarantee your dog will not develop some degree of arthritis as she ages. Surgery can be performed on an aging dog as well; total hip replacement is an option for dogs with bad Hip Dysphasia and associated arthritis. This method can be very taxing on a dog, and the recovery can be painful. If you can prevent arthritis or decrease the effects with the aforementioned solutions, do so. Prevention, starting at an early age, is always the best answer.
Work with your vet to understand the exact nature and intensity of your dog's condition. Together, determine the right treatment path and remain positive. It's better for you and your dog to have a good attitude to combat this pain. Remember, too, that the little things can improve the quality of life for your dog. Build a ramp to his dog run, raise the food dish a little higher so he doesn't have to use his neck as much, and make sure his sleeping area is easy to access without having to jump or climb stairs. Massages are great for a dog's condition, too. Treat your arthritic dog as you would a human relative with small considerate actions such as these.
A time bomb that’s ticking

Ticks are benefiting from climate change, posing a threat to both human and animal health. Vet REBECCA BAILEY looks at what you can do to protect both your dog and yourself.

It is widely reported that tick numbers are increasing. The apparent changes in seasons are also favouring the spread of ticks that were previously only found in warmer parts of the continent towards northern Europe and the UK. As well as being unpleasant for you and your dog they can also be involved in the transmission of some diseases.

What are ticks?

Ticks are blood sucking parasites which are capable of attaching to the skin of most animals and birds. They are generally found in damp areas of dense vegetation and attach to the animal to feed then drop off. The main areas for tick attachment on the dog are the head, ears, legs and undercarriage.

When a tick attaches it uses its mouthparts to cut into the top layer of skin. It then inserts a tube with backwards facing teeth through the skin and towards the vessels below. A cement-like substance passes down the tube and helps to anchor everything firmly in place before enzymes and anti-clotting agents are released to allow the tick to start feeding.

When they first attach they are the size of a small pinhead but some may grow to the size of a large pea and may be mistaken for a bluish-grey lump or wart. Some dogs never experience a problem when ticks attach but others will experience a reaction at the tick site, varying from the development of a small scab to a huge swelling the size of a walnut or more.

If the body of the tick is removed but the mouthparts remain a lump often develops; dogs will find this irritating and if they scratch it often creates an infection at the site. Fortunately nearly all of these cases will get better without treatment or, if needed, respond to a short course of antibiotics.



Disease transmission

Several types of tick are present in the UK but not all of them are associated with disease transmission. One that is, however, is Ixodes ricinus - the sheep or deer tick - which has been identified in the spread of Borrelia burgdorferi the agent that causes Lyme disease.

These ticks are most frequently found on moorlands, in areas of rough grazing, woods and copses. Currently they appear to be more common in Wales and the West Country and the west of Scotland.

Small rodents are the source of the Borrelia and when the tick larvae hatch they will feed on mice and rats and pick up the organism. As the larvae mature they will remain infected and spread quantities of the organism to anything they feed on, including dogs and man. An adult tick can lay several thousand eggs so in infected areas there is a huge possibility for the generation of ticks that carry and spread disease.

Lyme disease was first described in people in Lyme, Conneticut, USA in the 1970’s and later in the 1980’s it was identified in cats and dogs. Although not very common in the UK at the moment there have been some reports that cases in humans are on the increase.

Signs associated with Lyme disease:

DOGS

Stiffness or lameness that may shift from one joint to another
Temperature
Lack of appetite

MAN

Skin rash which may progress to arthritis and neurological disease
To try and confirm Lyme disease there are tests available to look for antibodies in blood samples or the organisms in joint fluid samples, but sometimes they are present in such low numbers that they are difficult to find. If a dog is showing the right clinical signs for Lyme disease and has a history of exposure to ticks then it is important to start treatment even before a diagnosis is made.

Antibiotics are usually very effective and painkillers are given to make the dog more comfortable. If the disease is confirmed then treatment may last for a few weeks to ensure all the Borrelia organisms have gone.

How to remove a tick

Historically there has been lots of advice between friends regarding tick removal. Some say apply butter to suffocate the tick while others recommend alcohol or cigarette ends. Some of these methods may work, but the two most effective ways of removing a tick are either using a proprietary licensed treatment, which will cause the tick to die and drop off, or manual removal.

To remove a tick it is important to break the seal between the mouthparts and skin surface. One way is to hold the tick with your index finger and thumb and twist the tick with a slight rocking motion. Another way is to use a specially designed hook which does all this for you in one swift twisting motion, this is generally the best method for inexperienced hands.

Either way it is important that the mouthparts come out to prevent further irritation or problems.

Prevention of disease

Although many ticks will not be carrying disease you cannot tell which ones are. It is safer to treat them all in the same way and make sure that once they have attached they come off as soon as possible. Most of the tick treatments on the market are designed to kill ticks, a few also claim to be able to repel ticks as well but are not yet 100% effective.

When a tick has attached it usually takes between 24 and 48 hours before it starts to transmit any disease. It is important therefore that the tick is killed or removed before this time. The various ‘spot-on’ formulations, collars and sprays marketed through the veterinary profession have all been proven to be effective at doing this provided they are used properly. It is very important that you follow the instructions on the packaging. A tick has such a thick body wall it takes a relatively high level of chemical to penetrate and take effect compared to fleas.

Most of the ‘spot on’ products that are advertised for tick and flea treatment must be applied on a MONTHLY basis so that it will be effective against the ticks all the time. Be careful with respect to bathing or swimming the dog soon after treatment as you don’t want to wash the product away or contaminate the environment with the chemical.

It is very important to be diligent in our approach to ticks – we can now provide our pets with passports so that they can travel freely, without quarantine, to Europe and back. Despite measures to prevent foreign ticks from entering the UK there is always a possibility that one will slip through. There are different tick borne diseases in Europe which not yet seen in Britain, but hopefully we can learn by experience and try to limit the threats that ticks pose to our dogs.

Stop the cough - kennel cough is at best uncomfortable and at worst fatal

One of the commonest diseases among gundogs, kennel cough is at best uncomfortable and at worst fatal. Vet REBECCA BAILEY explains the causes and treatment.

Everyone has heard about kennel cough and many of us have owned dogs that suffered from it. We know it is a highly contagious condition, but do we understand it? And more importantly, do we do anything to prevent it?

Firstly, then, what is it?

Kennel cough is caused by a combination of highly infectious viruses and bacteria that will spread rapidly in the air or by direct contact among a group of dogs in the right conditions. It usually presents with a few days of being off colour, then a hacking cough that starts whenever the dog gets excited or exercises.

The cough usually results in the production of white froth, or mucus, which some owners describe as retching. Generally healthy dogs are not too ill; they may have a mild temperature 103°F (normally 101-101.5°F) and may be a little off their food. The cough will get worse over the first few days then, if untreated, gradually resolve after three to four weeks. In very young or old dogs, or if there is concurrent disease, kennel cough may become more severe and lead to bronchopneumonia. This is very nasty and uncomfortable for the dog and in some cases may result in death.

Predisposing factors for catching and spreading kennel cough:

Close contact with other dogs; for instance in kennels, backs of trucks, or at shoots
Exercise, excitement and exposure to cold air stimulates the cough and spreads the viruses and bacteria
High levels of humidity, such as foggy mornings, warm and poorly ventilated kennels
Stress situations such as boarding kennels,or lots of barking
Mixing with dogs of uncertain or no vaccination history
What happens to cause the cough?

The virus is inhaled as an aerosol which causes inflammation and damage to the cells lining the windpipe (trachea) and allows the bacterial part of kennel cough to move in. The bacteria are responsible for the paralysis of the small hairs (cilia) that line the airway which normally help to stop dust and foreign particles from entering the lungs.

The combination of the effects of the invaders results in irritation of the wind pipe and therefore the cough. Unfortunately the more the dog coughs, the more damage will occur to the airway, in severe coughing cases the animal’s defences are so poor that there is a chance that bacteria will reach the lungs and a pneumonia will begin. The mucus production from the cough occurs because it is the body’s only way to remove the build up of fluid that is present when the cilia are damaged.

The ‘tracheal pinch’ test

Obviously there are different reasons for why a dog will cough. To decide whether it is due to upper airway irritation (ie. the larynx or windpipe) or a lower airway irritation (ie bronchi or lungs) you can do a gentle test. It is known as the ‘tracheal pinch’ test and involves gentle squeezing of the windpipe behind the larynx.



If the dog coughs when this area is pressed it suggests that there is irritation here. This test is by no means definitive for kennel cough but just allows you to have a better understanding of what part of your dog hurts and therefore how you can help.

Management of kennel cough

The disease usually takes about five days from contact with the viruses and bacteria to the start of the cough. Once the cough is there it is important not to do anything to exacerbate it. Therefore avoid excitement, cause for barking and exercise, especially in cold morning air.

It is logical that every time the dog coughs it is producing an explosion of contagious particles into the air around it, so do not mix it with dogs who are not your own. Unfortunately, by the time the cough is evident, all of your dogs are likely to have been exposed. This usually means that all the dogs will become infected, however in some cases, like people with colds, the odd dog will be lucky and miss out.

I would always take a dog suspected of having kennel cough to the vet. When you arrive at the surgery leave the dog in the car and wait until the vet calls you – try to avoid further spread to any dogs already waiting. In most cases the vet will give the dog something to suppress the cough, this reduces further damage to the airway and allows the body to start the healing process. In many cases, especially those running a temperature, antibiotics will be provided to address the bacterial part of the disease. Unfortunately, as we know with ourselves, a virus must be left to be dealt with by the body’s own immune system.

Remember do not take your dog to meet other dogs until it has completely stopped coughing, this can be anywhere between five days and a month.

Remember do not take your dog to meet other dogs until it has completely stopped coughing (no beating or picking up). Even with treatment, this can be anywhere between five days and a month. Every time the dog coughs it is spreading the disease. If you are boarding your dog or sending it for training, check whether the establishment vaccinates against kennel cough or asks for it before accepting dogs. If not you should get your dog vaccinated at least seven days before it goes in.

Prevention of disease

The normal ‘full’ booster vaccination will protect against most viruses but does not include Bordetella bronchiseptica. The kennel cough vaccination includes Bordetella as one of its components and in some cases also boosts protection against the para-influenza virus. The vaccine will last between six months and a year depending on type of vaccine and the level of exposure to disease. Better protection is obtained by giving the vaccine intra-nasally or up the nose which is generally not a problem for most dogs. There is a small amount of liquid used which is trickled into either one or both nostrils and it helps to stimulate a local protective response in the passages that air will first encounter when it enters the body.



Incidence of disease

Unfortunately a wet, warm summer and winter will allow kennel cough to flourish. The Bordetella bacteria can survive in the environment for months if conditions are favourable. Towards the end of last year there was an outbreak of kennel cough reported in Devon and already this year I have seen more coughing dogs than I can remember.

As a breeder it is easy to say ‘get your dog vaccinated’ but I hope that having read this article you will seriously consider doing so, both to protect your dog and to help prevent the spread of kennel cough.

If you are unsure what your dog is already vaccinated against, don’t hesitate to ask your vet – different drug companies use different ways of recording their vaccines so it is not always obvious when checking your record card. Above all, by keeping your dog healthy you should be able to enjoy as many days of the season as possible.