Veterinary Laser Therapy Eases A Pet's Pain

Is your pet a good candidate for laser therapy? If your pet suffers from arthritis, your pet may be a good candidate for laser therapy.  Symptoms of arthritis include limping, or a general “slowing down” in movement; your pet may be unable to jump as high, run as far, or move as quickly. Over time, movement will appear labored.  However, if your pet also has cancer, your veterinarian may not recommend treatment. Laser therapy can increase the flow of blood to cancer cells, which may promote their growth.  Ask your veterinarian about your pet’s arthritis treatment options.
Is your pet a good candidate for laser therapy?

If your pet suffers from arthritis, your pet may be a good candidate for laser therapy.  Symptoms of arthritis include limping, or a general “slowing down” in movement; your pet may be unable to jump as high, run as far, or move as quickly. Over time, movement will appear labored.  However, if your pet also has cancer, your veterinarian may not recommend treatment. Laser therapy can increase the flow of blood to cancer cells, which may promote their growth.  Ask your veterinarian about your pet’s arthritis treatment options.

Laser therapy is a cutting-edge technique in veterinary medicine for managing many conditions, including chronic pain in pets. Class IV (cold) laser therapy is especially effective for treating pets that struggle with osteoarthritis pain whether or not they have orthopedic surgery.

Cold laser therapy is a noninvasive procedure that uses light to stimulate blood flow and increase circulation. It is not a surgical laser which cuts tissue, but a laser with different wavelengths to help heal tissues.  The laser may even be used as a part of acupuncture in place of the needles.

Your veterinarian will first assess a pet’s pain management needs to determine whether he or she is a good candidate for laser therapy. It is not recommended for pets with cancer to have laser therapy as it could worsen or spread the malignancy. The doctor will create a custom treatment plan. Dogs and cats generally receive the greatest pain relief benefits from a series of eight to ten sessions, usually starting two to three times weekly, tapering down to weekly appointments.

Treatment sessions are tailored to each pet’s individual  needs. Smaller dogs may only need eight to 10 minute sessions. A larger dog that suffers from arthritis in multiple joints may benefit from a longer, 30-minute session. During a treatment session, the pet reclines on a table or may even lie on a blanket on the floor. Some veterinarians will even dim the lights and play soothing music, creating a mini “spa” experience for the pet. Your veterinarian may allow you to be present for these sessions, but you will need to wear special goggles to protect your eyes.

Pets that undergo orthopedic surgery may need up to six months of recovery time. Physical therapy helps the pet to recover and become active again. Laser therapy is a common adjunctive treatment that allows faster healing of the surgical incision, and also helps to relieve the arthritic pain.

Many arthritic pets respond positively to laser therapy. In fact, some pets even fall asleep during treatment sessions as it is the first time they are finally able to relax and not be in pain.

In addition to helping manage arthritis pain, veterinary laser therapy has numerous other applications. Treatment with a Class IV laser may help heal wounds, treat skin disorders such as lick granuloma, and help surgical skin incisions heal faster.

Sources:

LiteCure LLC 

Veterinary Practice News

  

Understanding Renal Failure in Cats

Could My Cat Have Kidney Failure? Renal failure can occur in cats of any age, although senior cats are at increased risk for chronic renal failure. For both acute and chronic renal failure, early diagnosis can make a significant difference for a cat's long-term health prognosis. As a cat owner, look out for the following symptoms of kidney problems in your cats: •    Increased water consumption and urination, or greatly reduced water consumption •    Increased amount of urine in the litter box •    Marked weight loss/loss of appetite •    Vomiting If you suspect that your pet is suffering from chronic or acute renal failure, contact your veterinarian. Your cat's life may depend upon it.
Could My Cat Have Kidney Failure?

Renal failure can occur in cats of any age, although senior cats are at increased risk for chronic renal failure. For both acute and chronic renal failure, early diagnosis can make a significant difference for a cat's long-term health prognosis.

As a cat owner, look out for the following symptoms of kidney problems in your cats:
•    Increased water consumption and urination, or greatly reduced water consumption
•    Increased amount of urine in the litter box
•    Marked weight loss/loss of appetite
•    Vomiting

If you suspect that your pet is suffering from chronic or acute renal failure, contact your veterinarian. Your cat's life may depend upon it.

What Every Cat Owner Needs to Know

Acute renal failure and chronic renal failure are two health problems that commonly affect cats. Acute renal failure can affect cats at any age; emergency care is essential to treating this condition and saving a cat’s life. Chronic renal failure typically occurs in senior cats. According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, 49% of all cats over the age of 15 are affected by chronic renal disease. With the diagnosis of kidney problems and renal failure in cats increasingly common, it is essential that cat owners learn the symptoms of this disease and how best to manage the disease.

Kidneys play a critical role in day-to-day functions. The kidneys remove metabolic waste from the blood stream, and produce vital hormones that help control blood pressure and stimulate red blood cell production.  The kidneys follow a complex system for managing and regulating waste; when this system breaks down, severe complications may occur to a cat’s other organs that can ultimately lead to death.

Acute Renal Failure

Acute renal failure is caused by a blockage in the blood flow to the kidneys or the urine away from the kidneys, or due to damage to the kidney tissue itself.  The most common cause for acute renal failure is the ingestion of toxic substances such as antifreeze, anti inflammatory drugs, or lilies.  When acute renal failure is detected and treated early, a full recovery is possible.  Although many times the cat will have only a partial recovery from the acute crisis, and eventually go into chronic renal failure,

Chronic Renal Failure

Chronic renal failure is an incurable condition primarily affecting older cats. It is often the end-stage for other health problems, such as advanced dental disease or a kidney inflammation/obstruction. Thanks to veterinary care advancements, however, with early diagnosis and proper treatment, it is often possible to give the cat a good quality of life for many years. 

Treatment for renal failure depends on the condition’s cause and severity. In the case of acute renal failure, if a kidney is blocked by an obstruction, it may be possible to surgically remove the blockage and correct the problem. For chronic renal failure, treatment focuses on diet, fluids, and medications to control secondary problems, such as high blood pressure and anemia that may occur.

There are many brands of diets made for kidney problems in the cat; all have a reduced amount of protein and phosphorus, and may have added potassium.  Talk to your veterinarian before changing your cat’s diet. 

The main treatment for both kinds of kidney failure is fluids.  Hospitalization with intensive fluid therapy is required for acute kidney failure, and often also used for the more severe stage of chronic.  Once the cat is stabilized, many veterinarians will have you give fluids subcutaneously at home.  They will teach you how to give the special fluid under the skin.  Cats are surprisingly tolerant of this.

Other medications may include appetite stimulants, stomach acid reducers such as Pepcid, phosphate binders, potassium supplements, and injectable erythropoietin, which is used to stimulate red blood cell production in the anemic cat.  It is very common for cats with kidney problems to have high blood pressure, and therefore need hypertension medication.  
While kidney problems are very common in they cat, the disease can often be managed well for many years.

Sources: 

American Association of Feline Practitioners, “Feline Chronic Renal Disease.”

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, “Diagnosis: Kidney Disease.”

 

Put Some Teeth Into Your Pet's Dental Care

Ask Your Veterinarian About Pet Dental Care You are not alone in the fight against pet dental decay. Ask your veterinarian to show you how to brush your pet’s teeth and look for dental problems. Your pet care professional can also recommend pet dental care products, food choices and appropriate chew toys. Then the two of you can work together to set a schedule for professional dental care based on the condition of your pet’s teeth, age and breed. With regular care you and your veterinarian can help your pet experience a lifetime of healthy teeth.
Ask Your Veterinarian About Pet Dental Care

You are not alone in the fight against pet dental decay. Ask your veterinarian to show you how to brush your pet’s teeth and look for dental problems. Your pet care professional can also recommend pet dental care products, food choices and appropriate chew toys. Then the two of you can work together to set a schedule for professional dental care based on the condition of your pet’s teeth, age and breed. With regular care you and your veterinarian can help your pet experience a lifetime of healthy teeth.

According to the American Animal Hospital Association, nearly two-thirds of pets suffer from dental problems because their owners do not provide dental care for them. Imagine what would happen to your own teeth if they were never brushed or examined by a dentist. The same thing can happen with your pet’s teeth. Just as in humans, not brushing leaves bacteria and plaque in your pet’s mouth. As this hardens into tartar and builds up on the teeth, it starts invading between the teeth and gums. Left unchecked, your pet can experience gingivitis, loss of the gum and supporting structures, and eventually the loss of a tooth. Abscessed teeth frequently develop from this process or from a fractured tooth. These can lead to an infection, problems eating, or serious health complications in your pet’s heart, kidneys or liver.  Studies show that poor dental care shortens their life span by 20%.

Fortunately there are many steps that can be taken to insure good oral health for pets. Most importantly, you can begin at home by brushing your pet’s teeth regularly, this means every day!  Don’t use your toothpaste, it creates suds, which is ok for humans since we can rinse and spit. There are special pet toothbrushes you can use on pets and toothpastes that are ok for pets to swallow.  It’s best to start when you first bring your puppy or kitten home, but even an older dog or cat can be taught to tolerate regular brushing. Chewing hard food and playing with hard toys can also help dislodge some of the plaque in your pet’s mouth, but make sure the chew toy is not too hard or your dog could fracture a tooth.

You should also be sure to make regular appointments with your veterinarian for dental care. Dental specialists recommend annual dental cleanings under anesthesia with your veterinarian.  He will examine your pet’s teeth and may take x-rays to look for hidden lesions of dental decay, abscesses at the tip of the root, or retained roots from broken teeth. The doctor will remove accumulated plaque, clean and polish your pet’s teeth, and may apply fluoride or a protective sealant. In certain cases your veterinarian may need to perform dental surgery such as a root canal or extraction.

One sign that your pet may be having dental problems is bad breath. Other signs may include a disinterest in eating, drooling, loose teeth, pain when touched, inflamed or red gums, or bleeding. If you notice any of these signs in your pet, it is important to make an appointment with your veterinarian right away.  But don't wait for these signs to develop, brush their teeth daily. With annual dental cleanings and treatments and regular brushing, you could prevent these symptoms!

Don’t ignore your pet’s teeth. Work together with your veterinarian to take the steps necessary to insure your pet keeps those pearly whites for a long time to come!

Sources:

American Animal Hospital Association, Dental Care Guidelines

ASPCA, Ten Steps to Your Dog’s Dental Health

American Veterinary Dental College

 

Dog Allergies and Lesion Locations

Common Allergic Lesion Locations A flea allergy primarily affects the back half of the dog, especially over the hips and base of the tail. Food allergies are said to affect "ears and rears." It can also cause itching in the face and paws. Allergies to pollen, molds, and dust mites frequently cause the head and feet to be itchy. Talk to your veterinarian if you notice any “itchiness” in your dog that is out of the ordinary.
Common Allergic Lesion Locations

A flea allergy primarily affects the back half of the dog, especially over the hips and base of the tail.

Food allergies are said to affect "ears and rears." It can also cause itching in the face and paws.

Allergies to pollen, molds, and dust mites frequently cause the head and feet to be itchy.

Talk to your veterinarian if you notice any “itchiness” in your dog that is out of the ordinary.

Dogs are taken to the veterinarian for skin problems more than any other reason. Most often they are itchy and that itchiness is typically due to allergies. The text of canine and feline dermatological diseases is large because there are hundreds of skin diseases, however, it can help to start with some generalities when determining the cause.

Again, there are many causes of itchiness, but allergies are one of the most prevalent causes. The most common allergies are flea allergy, food allergy and atopy, which is an allergy to environmental allergens, especially pollen, molds, and house dust mites (which are in all houses). The location of the lesions and itchiness can give clues as to the type of allergy.  

Flea allergies are very common. With this allergy, pets are most itchy in the back half of the dog. Commonly there is hair loss, redness, and possibly scabs and infections over the dog's hips and tail base. You may not even see fleas!  If a pet is allergic to fleas, all it takes is one flea to make the dog incredibly itchy.  When the pet is licking and chewing at itself, he or she often eats the flea which then destroys the evidence.  The flea bite has still set off an inflammatory response so the pet is still itchy.  Veterinarians seeing dogs with lesions in these areas will suspect a flea allergy even if they don’t see any fleas.

A food allergy is also a very common allergy. Dogs show food allergy symptoms in their ears, face, feet, or rear. Pets don't become allergic to a brand, they are allergic to one or more ingredients. Thus just changing brands of food probably won't help the itchiness.  To make matters more difficult, research shows that that in the manufacturing process of pet foods, there is a lot of cross contamination of ingredients. This means there are ingredients in the food that are not on the label. There is no valid blood or skin test to determine if your pet has a food allergy, but your veterinarian can help you find a food to use as a test (commonly this is rabbit and potato by Royal Canin as this is manufactured  for food trials since there are no other ingredients.)

Atopy, the allergy to such environmental things as pollen, house dust mites, and molds, frequently causes the dog to be itchy in the face or feet. Unfortunately this type of allergy is harder to control because it is impossible to totally remove these items from the pets life. Luckily many dogs can be helped with hyposensitization by a veterinary dermatologist or by the drug Atopica.  

Skin lesions from allergies are frequent as well. These generalities are not hard-and-fast rules, but can used as a starting point. Your veterinarian will also check for any secondary skin infections as these will make the dog itchy even if you get rid of the allergen from the dog's environment. Your veterinarian can help your itchy dog, since this the most common complaint they see, they have lots of experience!

 

Canine Hip Dysplasia: Causes and Treatment

“My dog has hip dysplasia;  what should I do?” If your dog has been diagnosed with hip dysplasia, talk to your veterinarian about the different treatment options that are available. •    If your young dog qualifies for a TPO, early surgical intervention can restore joint function and reduce degenerative damage to the joint. •    For more advanced cases, an FHO or surgery for an artificial hip may be needed.   •    Talk to your veterinarian about which painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications are right for your pet. •    Ask about physical therapy, cold laser therapy, and acupuncture. •    Low-impact exercises, like swimming, will help your pet stay active without stressing the hip joint.

“My dog has hip dysplasia;  what should I do?”
If your dog has been diagnosed with hip dysplasia, talk to your veterinarian about the different treatment options that are available.

•    If your young dog qualifies for a TPO, early surgical intervention can restore joint function and reduce degenerative damage to the joint.

•    For more advanced cases, an FHO or surgery for an artificial hip may be needed.  

•    Talk to your veterinarian about which painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications are right for your pet.

•    Ask about physical therapy, cold laser therapy, and acupuncture.

•    Low-impact exercises, like swimming, will help your pet stay active without stressing the hip joint.

Canine hip dysplasia is the abnormal formation of the hip joint and one of the leading causes of rear leg lameness in dogs. Hip dysplasia is most prevalent in larger breed dogs, especially German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Saint Bernards and Rottweilers. On the other hand, hip dysplasia is uncommon in the Doberman, Great Dane, and Greyhound. The condition can occur in small and medium sized dogs as well, for instance, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Pug, and the Sussex and Clumber Spaniel. This condition affects male and female dogs equally. With hip dysplasia being a common condition in dogs, it is important that dog owners understand the symptoms, causes and treatment options.

Hip dysplasia is caused primarily by genetics, although other factors also play a role. Studies have shown that feeding a puppy too much of a high-calorie diet can cause the puppy to grow too quickly, which then increases the risk for hip problems.

The earliest symptoms can occur between four months and one year, although the signs may not be apparent until the dog is middle-aged or older. These symptoms include pain when walking, a swaying gait or limp, “bunny hopping” when running, and, most commonly, difficulty getting up due to pain in the hindquarters. Hip dysplasia is not an “all or nothing” condition, but occurs on a spectrum determined by the amount of hip dysfunction. 

In a normal hip joint, the head of the femur (thigh bone) fits snugly into the socket.  Dogs with mild dysplasia have a mild separation between the ball and hip socket. Dogs with moderate dysplasia will have more separation, which causes wear and tear leading to degenerative arthritis. Dogs classified as severely dysplastic have a full separation of the femur from the hip socket which leads to severe arthritis.

Diagnosing hip dysplasia requires x-rays of the hips; this almost always requires sedation or anesthesia for proper positioning.  This can be done by your veterinarian.  There are three methods of getting the hip x-rays:  OFA, Penn-Hip, and DLS. These are just different methods of positioning and measuring. With OFA and Penn-Hip you can also send the hip films to a radiologist for an official evaluation and certification. People who want to breed their dog often do this; if you breed two dogs with good hips you are more likely to get puppies with good hips. OFA will evaluate your dog at any age, but the dog needs to be at least 24 months of age to be certified.  DLS is a new system recently developed by Cornell University.

Treatment for hip dysplasia depends on the severity of the disease, the age of the dog, and what expense the owner is willing to incur. Some young dogs may be helped by a surgery called a triple pelvic osteotomy (TPO). Especially in small to medium dogs, another effective surgical option is an FHO (femoral head ostectomy) where the head of the femur is removed. On the other hand, the dog with a  severely arthritic hip may be helped only by surgery to implant an artificial hip.  Most cases will need pain meds, anti-inflammatory drugs, and glucosamine. Other treatment modalities are laser therapy, physical therapy, water treadmill, and acupuncture.

Source: 

Baker Institute for Animal Health, Cornell University

Acute Kidney Injury in Dogs

Kidney Disease & Your Dog Kidney disease can be very serious. Infections, toxins, drugs, and even some foods can cause renal damage. Symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, and a poor appetite. Treatment requires IV fluid therapy. Other medications depend upon the cause.
Kidney Disease & Your Dog

Kidney disease can be very serious.

Infections, toxins, drugs, and even some foods can cause renal damage.

Symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, and a poor appetite.

Treatment requires IV fluid therapy. Other medications depend upon the cause.

The kidneys, along with the brain and heart, are among the body's most important organs. They keep the blood clean and balanced by filtering out waste products and excess water. These wastes occur from the normal breakdown of tissues and food. The kidneys regulate other body processes such as electrolyte balance. They produce three important hormones: erythropoietin, which stimulates red blood cell production, renin which controls blood pressure, and calcitriol which is involved in calcium metabolism, keeping bones healthy.

Damage to the kidneys, sometimes called renal disease, can be very serious if enough renal tissue is affected. There are several things that can cause kidney damage, from drugs, to toxins, to infections. Kidney disease can be sudden (acute), or it can occur over time (chronic renal disease). So what causes acute kidney injury (AKI) in dogs?

Causes of AKI

Leptospirosis is a bacterial, worldwide disease that can also affect humans.  Dogs are usually exposed by contact with the urine of affected animals, often wildlife, or by drinking contaminated water. There is a vaccine that can protect dogs from four strains of Lepto.

Antifreeze toxicity is another common cause of renal damage. Dogs like the sweet taste, and ingesting even a small amount can affect the kidneys. They are often exposed by licking the garage floor where the car radiator has leaked.

Drugs can cause kidney damage; NSAID's, some antibiotics, and heart medications have been incriminated.  Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID's) can cause renal damage, especially if over dosed. This most frequently happens when a dog, receiving a chewable form for arthritis, chews up and eats the whole bottle of pills!  Be sure these bottles are out of reach of all your pets. A class of antibiotics called aminoglycosides can cause kidney damage if over dosed or if the dog is dehydrated.  Heart medications can stress the kidneys, as well as the heart disease itself can stress the kidneys. Heart patients on meds will usually have their kidney function checked regularly.

A bad infection of the kidneys called pyelonephritis will cause renal damage.  A variety of bacteria can cause this. Cultures of the urine are important to determine which antibiotics are effective, then to assess if and when the infection resolves.

Foods and treats can even cause kidney damage. Raisins, grapes, and currants can cause kidney damage, although the toxin is unknown.  It does seem to be from the flesh of the fruit and not the seed. Even just a handful of grapes has sickened dogs.  

The chicken jerky treats from China have sickened, and even killed, hundreds of dogs. The FDA has released warnings, but the treats are still available on the market.  There has been a great deal of study, and inspection of facilities in China, but the toxin has still not been identified. There are reports that the duck jerky and veggie jerky treats may also cause kidney disease.

Watch for Symptoms

Symptoms of acute kidney disease are vomiting, lethargy, poor appetite or not eating at all, possible diarrhea, not passing urine, or possibly urinating more volume than normal. Depending on the cause, there may be fever and abdominal pain.

Treatment always includes hospitalization and intravenous fluid therapy. Time is critical as the longer the disease process endures, the more kidney tissue damage may occur and may become permanent. If it is possible that your dog ingested antifreeze, call your emergency hospital right away as there is an antidote but it needs to be administered within a few hours. Other treatments, depending on the cause, may include antibiotics and drugs to control nausea.

If you suspect your dog may have developed kidney damage, an examination, blood tests, and urine tests are in order. Your veterinarian can diagnose and treat your dog.  Better yet, discuss with your veterinarian methods to try to prevent kidney damage!

Sources:

"Acute Kidney Injury in Dogs of the Central Coast". Colleen Brady, DVM. DACVECC,  Pacific Tide newsletter , Volume 2, issue 1.

"Aminoglycosides: Nephrotoxicity". Mingeot-Leclercq and Tullen,  Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 1999 May; 43 (5) 1003 - 1012