Archive for December, 2012

Hairballs in Cats

December 28, 2012

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Hairballs, which are spit up, are a common problem seen in cats. Accumulation of hair in the stomach of the cat is a direct result of the significant portion of the cat’s life that is spent grooming it. It has been estimated that cats groom themselves for up to 1/3 of their waking hours.

The problem begins as the cat swallows the hair it has licked off during the cleaning process. The barb-like projections on the cat’s tongue pull the hair loose from the skin and hair coat. These barbs point inward on the tongue, which causes the hair to remain lodged on the cat’s tongue until it is swallowed. 

Hair is mostly undigestible and therefore begins to knot up in the stomach. As the hairball enlarges, it is unable to pass out of the stomach down into the small intestine. It then becomes an irritant to the stomach lining eventually being vomited up in most cases. Should the hairball get so large that it cannot pass back up through the opening into the esophagus, it becomes a surgical procedure to get it out.

Signs of “hairballs” include vomiting, constipation, listlessness, and coughing. It frequently causes a loss of appetite and even depression. The regurgitated “hairball” is often not actually round in shape, but rather “tubular.”

Finding regurgitated hairballs is a definite sign that your cat has a problem and needs help.  Although rarely fatal, hairballs are an inconvenience to cleanup, very uncomfortable for the cat, and can lead to serious complications.

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RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PREVENTING HAIRBALLS

Daily brushing of the cat to remove loose hair is the best prevention. Longhaired breeds especially need special attention. During the spring when all cats shed, daily brushing is most important. After brushing, wipe the cat’s haircoat with a damp towel to remove loose hair. 

Medications are available to eliminate hairballs and help prevent reoccurrence. Laxatives in the form of  Pastes, or even petroleum jelly, have been recommended for many years. There are many different brands available that will be readily accepted by the cat.  It is usually recommended the gel be rubbed on the cat’s mouth, nose, or even on its feet. It will then be swallowed during the cat’s normal grooming process.

Questions?

Give us a call- 918-455-7107

The Veterinarians of Arrow Springs Animal Hospital

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Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2012

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Healthy Holiday Pet Tips

December 15, 2012

Christmas Trees– If you will have a real Christmas tree this year, make sure your pet is not able to drink the tree water. Keep the water covered. Sap from pine trees is dangerous if swallowed. Make sure your tree is stable. A secure tree will help to prevent injuries.

After you have decorated your tree, clean up any ornament hooks, ribbon, tinsel, etc. Pets love shiny things but they can get sick from ingesting decorations. Often, surgery is needed to remove these types of items. If you have a particularly curious pet, consider placing only wood or plastic ornaments on the bottom part of your tree.

Remember to turn off or unplug your tree lights when you are not around just in case your pet gets tangled in the lights.

Food– Your pet will be very interested in the delicious smells this time of year but table scraps should be avoided. Chocolate, alcohol, raisins can be toxic. Xylitol, an artificial sweetener, can also be toxic. Bones can cause choking, digestion problems and possibly a blockage which requires surgery.

Decor– Poinsettia, holly and mistletoe can be dangerous to pets. Keep pets away or buy artificial plants.  Burning candles that can be tipped over need to be moved out of reach of your pet.

Your pet’s holiday– The holiday season can be very busy. Keeping your pet in a routine will help limit your pet’s anxiety. Routine walks, feeding, and playtime is comforting. If your pet is shy around company, consider a quiet place for your pet to stay such as a bedroom or even a veterinary clinic to board for the day.

From the Veterinarians of Arrow Springs Animal Hospital 918-455-7107

Parvovirus

December 8, 2012

WHAT IS IT?

Canine Parvovirus is a viral disease of dogs that was first reported in early 1978. Parvovirus is capable of causing two different sets of clinical problems. The first to be recognized, and most common, is the “intestinal” form, which is manifested by diarrhea; often bloody vomiting, loss of appetite, depression, fever, and sometimes death. The second syndrome, the “cardiac” form, occurs in very young pups and is manifested by an acute inflammation of the heart muscle.

Any age, breed or sex of dog could be affected by Parvovirus. However, infection with Parvovirus does not automatically mean illness. Several factors such as age, environment, stress, parasites and general health status of each individual dog infected could affect the severity of illness. The degree of illness could range from very mild to unapparent to very severe, often resulting in death. The disease is usually more severe in young dogs (less than 6 months of age) or old dogs.

Experts agree that canine Parvovirus is closely related to Parvoviruses that affect other animals. Where the virus originally came from remains unknown, but it is possible that it is a mutant from another Parvovirus that affects other species of animals. Man is not known to be affected by canine Parvovirus. Since its first appearance in 1978, canine Parvovirus has spread to every continent in the world, probably the result of the hardy nature of the virus. It is resistant to extremes of temperature (i.e., it survives freezing and extreme heat) and is unharmed by detergents, alcohols and common disinfectants. Direct transmission occurs when an infected dog comes in contact with a healthy dog. The virus is found in heavy concentration in the infected dog’s stool. The virus particles can be easily spread on shoes, clothing and other inanimate objects. Fleas, as well as people, can therefore act as indirect sources of infection.  Once it gets a foothold in a kennel, it is difficult to eliminate.

Oral Phase:

 The disease process begins with the oral ingestion of Parvovirus from the feces of an infected dog. The virus initially invades the lymph glands of the throat (lymph nodes and tonsils) where it multiplies. Following multiplication in the lymph glands for l to 2 days, the virus then enters the blood stream, which causes the VIREMIA phase (virus in the blood).

Viremia Phase:

 This phase is characterized by massive amounts of virus in the dog’s bloodstream, which in turn is spread to all parts of the body, such as, the intestine, bone marrow, spleen, other lymph nodes and the heart (in young pups less than 8 weeks of age).  As infection spreads, the symptoms of illness become apparent. (See “symptoms” in next section).  The Viremia phase can last for approximately l to 9 days.

Contagious Stage:

The final phase in the cycle is the contagious or “shedding” phase.  As many as 30 billion Parvovirus particles can be shed from the intestines of an infected dog in every ounce of stool. The highest concentration of virus in the stool is seen when the infected dog is showing signs of illness.  A dog can, however, be a source of infection to other dogs without having observable signs of illness. Transmission can occur for at least 3 weeks after a dog becomes infected with the virus.  Chronic “carriers” are not know to exist as in other virus disease.  Parvovirus in the environment can infect susceptible dogs for many months once shed in the stool.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms below indicate a problem warranting medical attention.  Early, vigorous treatment of illness caused by canine Parvovirus infection is imperative since vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration and chemical imbalance in the body. If your dog shows these signs, see your veterinarian. Early treatment can save lives.

Cardiac Form (less than 8 weeks of age)

Sudden death

Crying, difficulty breathing, gasping for breath

Extreme depression

Weakness

Unwillingness to nurse

Irregular heartbeat

Intestinal Form (any age dog affected, but more severe in puppies).

Depression

Loss of appetite

Fever (above 103 degrees F)

Vomiting

Diarrhea with or without blood (more serious if blood present)

Low white blood count

How is it controlled?

Control of Parvovirus by sanitation measures alone is extremely difficult because the virus is such a resistant, hardy organism and because it is so easily spread.  Contact with other dogs and especially their stool, should be minimized.  Clorox diluted one part to 30 parts with water has been effective in disinfecting inanimate objects such as clothing, floors, kennels, etc.  However, it is impractical, if not impossible, to disinfect public streets, parks, etc.  Isolation of infected dogs is another method of control, although moderately effective.  Both of these measures will help reduce the amount of contagious virus in the environment, but only vaccination will control the actual source of infection, the contagious shedding dog.

Vaccination:

The most effective control measure for canine Parvovirus disease.  A properly immunized dog will have circulating antibodies in the blood that will destroy Parvovirus following exposure.

Maternal antibodies are antibodies against Parvovirus, which are passed from the mother to the puppies through the “first milk” or colostrum.  They provide the puppy with an immediate temporary or “passive” immunity.  The mother obtains these antibodies from prior vaccination or by natural exposure to Parvovirus.  However, maternal antibody is a two-edged sword; it protects the puppy against disease early in life, but it also blocks active immunization.  In the case of Parvovirus, maternal antibody can interfere with vaccination for as long as 14 to 16 weeks of age in some pups.  A refractory period can exist in some pups where very low, almost undetectable levels of maternal antibody will inhibit the vaccination process but will not prevent Parvovirus infection.  Since the level of maternal antibody varies from puppy to puppy, it is important to begin vaccination at an early age and repeat every 2-3 weeks until the puppy is at least 16 – 18 weeks old.

The Veterinarians of Arrow Springs Animal Hospital 918-455-7107