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What’s a “Pyo” and Why Should I Be Concerned

lethargic-dog

“Pyo” is how some veterinary staff refer to a pyometra, an infection of the female’s uterus.  Today, I tentatively diagnosed two of these infections – both older female dogs that had not been spayed.  The diagnosis is said to be tentative because prior to surgery, you can only observe the preponderance of symptoms (with test results that are consistent with but not diagnostic of infection) and conclude that it’s most likely a pyometra.

What are the symptoms?  Not every pet will display the same symptoms, and the symptoms are general enough that they could be signs of other illnesses and diseases as well.  Many dogs will be brought in because the owners see a vaginal discharge, but there does not have to be a discharge present in every dog that has an infected uterus.  Most dogs will be lethargic with decreased appetites, some will have vomiting and diarrhea, and others will also have excess urination and/or thirst.  (Note that the discussion is focusing more on dogs, since we rarely see female cats with a diagnosis of pyometra.)

What do we do when we suspect pyometra as one of the possible diagnoses?  At West Kendall Animal Hospital, we’ll perform a basic work-up: a CBC (complete blood count), blood chemistries and Xray, and sometimes a urinalysis.  While a normal CBC does not rule-out a pyometra, many times we’ll see an abnormal white blood count.  Blood chemistries usually show elevated kidney and possibly elevated liver enzymes.  On Xray, we’ll possibly see an enlarged uterus.

So how do we treat a pyometra?  While only rarely can there be a medical (i.e., non-surgical) solution for pets that are “reproductively valuable,” surgery is almost always the preferred treatment.  For most dogs the surgical procedure is a spay (ovariohysterectomy, or removal of the female reproductive organs).

How can I prevent my dog from having this problem?  Spaying your dog at a young age (I recommend between 6 and 12 months) is the best way to avoid an infected uterus in the future.  Spaying at this age will also help protect your dog from breast cancer later in life.  There are very few good reasons to not spay your dog.  Your dog does not need the experience of having a litter of puppies to be a happy, loving family member.  Some people worry that their dog will become fat and lazy after being spayed, but that does not have to happen with a healthy life style that includes an appropriate diet as well as exercise. Are you concerned about your pet undergoing anesthesia?  Yes, spaying your dog is a surgical procedure that, like all surgical procedures, has an element of risk.  At West Kendall Animal Hospital we manage the risk by careful monitoring during surgery as well as in recovery.  Is cost a concern, too?  There are free spay (and neuter) clinics that are offered by Miami Dade Animal Services for healthy pets.

It’s nearing the end of our day.  One of the two dogs is scheduled for surgery tomorrow; the other owner is not pursuing either additional diagnostics or treatment at this time.  I’m very optimistic about the outcome for the dog that’s scheduled for surgery, and I’m very concerned about the other one.  But tomorrow is another day, and maybe we’ll be able to persuade the more-reluctant pet owner to provide some follow-up.  That’s all we can do…

 

 

 

 

 

Oh no, my dog bit a toad!

If you live in South Florida, you’re already familiar with so many of our creepy-crawly critters: palmetto bugs, lizards, stinging red ants, mosquitoes (even before we worried about Zika), and – of course, fleas and ticks.  But the largest, ugliest, most worrisome of them all for pet lovers is the Bufo Marinus, or Giant toad.  If your pet tries to bite one, they risk being poisoned by the highly toxic substances that these toads secrete from a gland in the back of their head.

According to the University of Florida Wildlife Extension, these ugly creatures breed year-round, anywhere there’s a lake, river, creek or standing water.  And with the recent rain that we’ve been having, West Kendall Animal Hospital has been seeing a larger number of toad poisonings than usual.

So what should a pet owner do to protect their pet?  First, do what you can to eliminate these toads in your yard by removing pet food and standing water.  Second, supervise your pet when they go out in your yard.  Third, know the basic first aid to administer if you suspect your pet might have bitten (or even mouthed) a toad – immediately rinse your pet’s mouth with water, carefully rubbing the teeth and gums to remove the sticky toxins.  Observe your pet for signs of toxicity including excessive salivation, twitching eyes, staggering, redness to the gums, vomiting, irregular heart rate (either too fast or too slow), and even seizures.  If your pet is showing any of these symptoms, your pet will need immediate veterinary care.

Many pets with toad poisonings will survive with treatment, but toad poisonings can be deadly.  And don’t believe that your dog or cat will learn from the experience and never try it again!

 

 

 

Veterinarians are cooler than physicians

We should celebrate how multi-species knowledge, multidisciplinary work and amazing levels of client service help us outperform other medical professionals.

Source: Veterinarians are cooler than physicians

Heartworms and hookworms and ticks … oh my!

All these creepy crawlies you can see, others that you think you can feel, still more that you’re told you can’t see but are microscopic. How scared and worried should you be for your pet?  We don’t think you need to panic, but you should definitely protect your pet.  And safe, effective protection is available.

So let’s first discuss heartworms and heartworm prevention.  Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes – an infected mosquito’s bite can infect your unprotected pet with heartworms.  Here’s a visual of how your dog or can be infected:

Heartworm lifecycle-color-petowners

Heartworm preventives don’t stop your pet from becoming infected; they work by killing the heartworm larvae and stopping the heartworms from growing.  The majority of pet owners prefer a monthly oral heartworm preventive.  At West Kendall Animal Hospital, Dr. Davidson recommends Heartgard Plus, Sentinel, or Trifexis for dogs.  For dog owners that prefer the convenience of a 6-month injection, ProHeart is also becoming popular.  While some of our cat owners want to give an oral preventive like Heartgard, many are using the monthly topical, Revolution.

Intestinal parasites are also a concern for pet owners who want to keep their pets healthy.  At West Kendall Animal Hospital, Dr. Davidson follows the recommendations of the Companion Animal Parasite Council and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and checks pets’ stools for intestinal parasites every six months.  Most of these parasites are only seen microscopically.  Roundworms are the most common intestinal parasite in dogs, but in Florida, hookworms are most common.  Statewide, hookworms are found in approximately 2% of all dogs tested; at our hospital, we find 10-15% of tested dogs are positive for hookworms.  It’s relatively easy and inexpensive to treat for most intestinal parasites but it’s better to prevent an infection.  Conveniently, the monthly heartworm preventives that Dr. Davidson prescribes for dogs at West Kendall Animal Hospital also prevent intestinal parasites – Heartgard for hookworms, and Sentinel and Trifexis for hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms.  For cats, Revolution also protects against the three major species of intestinal parasites.

Tapeworms are intestinal parasites that you can see without a microscope, occasionally found in your pet’s stool.  (If you want to see a slightly disgusting but excellent video of live tapeworms in a pet’s stool, follow this link to our Facebook page, where one of our pet owners made this video:  https://www.facebook.com/WestKendallAnimalHosp/videos/vb.269761456469145/683975171714436/?type=2&theater .)  Tapeworms (Dipylidium caninum) infect your dog or cat when they swallow an infected flea.  Pieces of tapeworms are often described as looking like grains of rice, and may be found in your dog or cat’s feces, on or around their anus, or in their bedding.  Because tapeworms are only shed intermittently, a microscopic analysis of their stool will not always show a tapeworm infection.  While oral treatment for tapeworms is available, prevention is usually better.  USDA-approved prescription flea control is safe for your pets and effective against fleas.  Dr. Davidson prescribes the monthly oral NexGard, or – for pet owners that prefer an all-in-one tablet, Sentinel and Trifexis are also effective.  For dog owners that like to use a topical product for fleas, he prescribes Parastar Plus.  For cats, topically-applied Revolution is excellent; so is oral Comfortis.

Ticks are particularly despised by pet owners, perhaps because they’re so ugly and alien-looking.  Ticks also transmit diseases including the well-known Lyme disease, which is not a particular threat in South Florida because of the low presence of the deer tick.  Canine Ehrlichiosis, however, is common in our area and is considered to be one of the most dangerous tick-borne disease organisms.  Symptoms of Canine Ehrlichiosis may not appear for months after a dog is infected and can include fever, loss of appetite, depression, weight loss, runny eyes and nose, nose bleeds and swollen limbs.  The Companion Animal Parasite Council predicts that cases of Ehrlichia will continue to increase in 2015, especially throughout the South and Southeast.  The good news is that several of the safe, effective products that are prescribed for flea control also work on ticks, including NexGard and Parastar Plus for dogs and Revolution for cats.

So how do you begin protecting your dog or cat?  First, if your pet hasn’t had a physical exam in the last 6-12 months, call to schedule one immediately.  If your pet hasn’t been checked for intestinal parasites in six months or longer, make sure that’s included in your pet’s complete preventive care check-up.  Dogs that have never been on a heartworm preventive or dogs over 1 year old that have not had a heartworm check in the last twelve months should be tested for heartworms with a simple blood test called an occult heartworm test.  Puppies under 8 or 9 months old can generally begin heartworm prevention without a blood test.  Cats may be tested for heartworms (at West Kendall Animal Hospital, it’s part of our test for Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus), but – unlike dogs – they’re not required to be tested before Dr. Davidson prescribes a heartworm preventive.  For flea and ticks control and prevention, our knowledgeable staff can help you select the prescription product that’s right for you and your pet.

For more information about pets and parasites, we’d suggest http://www.PetsandParasites.org., the website of the Companion Animal Council.  For information about heartworms, go to the American Heartworm Society’s webiste, https://www.heartwormsociety.org/pet-owner-resources.

It may be scary to think about the creep crawlies that can infect your pet, but know that there’s lots that you and your veterinarian can do to help.

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