Category Archives: Diseases of dogs

Patient Spotlight – Hermione the Schnauzer

Hermione came in to see us as she had been coughing for a few weeks.  We took some x-rays and found that she had a mass in her lungs.

We have outline the lung mass in yellow to make it easier to find

Luckily, there was only one mass, it was discrete, and there were no other changes – her chest wasn’t full of fluid and there was no sign of lymph node enlargement.  However, the mass was pushing down on her airways causing her to cough and if left untreated it would continue to grow and spread.  So, after careful consideration of the risks vs the benefits, Hermione went to surgery to have the affected lung lobe removed.

Prior to her surgery, she had a pre-anaesthetic check up and blood testing done to ensure she was well enough to undergo the procedure. Once she was under general anaesthesia she was prepared for surgery, the side of her chest was clipped and cleaned and because we were entering her chest cavity, one of the nurses had to use a breathing bag to breathe for her throughout the entire procedure.  Her vital signs, ECG, oxygenation and blood pressure were monitored very closely throughout the procedure.  The surgery involved careful removal of the affected lung lobe and tying off the blood vessels in the area to prevent bleeding.  She then had a chest drain placed.

Nurse Keely who monitored Hermione during and after her anaesthetic.

Hermione recovered well from her surgery, initially requiring oxygen support and intravenous pain relief.  Overnight, she was transported via the Pet Ambulance to the Animal Referral Hospital for monitoring.  She returned to us at Hall the next day and was then well enough to head home.

The mass was sent off to the lab for testing and found to be a minimally invasive lung tumour called an adenocarcinoma.  Hermione has been bright, active and well since her surgery, and is enjoying her new lease on life!

Dr Jenny and Dr Vickie with Hermione after her operation

 

 

‘Dementia’ and Age Related Changes

 

Behavioural problems in senior pets can result from medical issues like arthritic pain, loss of sight/hearing or diseases that affect the nervous system. They can also be attributed to age related deterioration of the brain known as Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome.

In mild cases the pet may sleep more, become less responsive or show less social interaction with family and other pets. More severe signs might include repetitive behaviours such as pacing, new fears and anxieties, house soiling, waking at night, confusion and disorientation or loss of recognition of training cues.

The behaviour changes may be noticed following changes to the household or environment that the pet has difficulty adapting to. Early detection provides the best opportunity to help these pets and slow cognitive decline.

Prevention: What can you do?
  • For healthy senior pets, twice-yearly wellness examinations and laboratory screening tests provide an opportunity to identify emerging problems, sometimes before there are outward signs.
  • Report changes in your pet’s health and behaviour to the vet early.
  • If you foresee changes in your pets environment or schedule, try to make these gradual so you elderly pet has time to adapt.
  • Providing mental and physical enrichment helps to maintain a healthy brain and body. If your pet begins to slow down, find new games, new toys and new ways to play to stimulate the brain and keep the body active.
  • Play and exercise help most if continued throughout life and adjusted for age related physical limitations, for example supported swimming for arthritic dogs.
  • Leash walking exercises muscles and provides mental stimulation via smell and social interactions. Use a harness, sling or pram/stroller if they can’t manage walking. Take a ‘sniff stroll’ rather trying to cover ground. Trim nails and hair under their feet for a better grip.
  • Supervise play and pick mates matched by temperament, ability and size. Redirect the new puppy play if your old pet tires. Watching play may be enough.
  • Car trips are fun for some dogs. They enjoy the tactile sensations of the breeze, the smells and company. A ramp may be needed for access and comfy padding in the vehicle to cushion old joints. Take care in warm weather to prevent overheating.
  • Be creative in seeking ways to make it easier for them. Elevate the water dish to shoulder height; warm food and add water/broth to food to increase palatability and water intake; give cats more litter trays for convenient access and cut down tray height; set up ramps to reduce the need to use stairs; cats benefit from stepped platforms leading to high perches; have the cat/dog flap at floor level; use hall runners or a paw friction product to provide grip on slippery floors; add psyllium to the diet to reduce constipation; clip heavy coats and matts for freer movement and summer comfort; provide a winter coat if they feel the winter chill.
Cats benefit from lower litter trays and ramps to their favourite places.
  • Smell provides great mental stimulation. Provide food puzzles and hidden treats. Visit unfamiliar places.
  • Hand signals or vibrating (NOT shock) collars can be used to communicate to deaf dogs. Lavender scent trails can guide the blind.
  • Practice massage and range of motion exercises for sore legs.

 

Treating problems: How can you help?
  • Medical problems need to be identified and treated, however retraining may also be required. For example, if your pet begins house soiling due to a medical issue, the problem may persist after the medical issue is resolved unless you use positive reinforcement to train the pet to return to the preferred locations and supervise access to the soiled areas.
  • For problems that cannot be completely resolved, you may need to make schedule adjustments to accommodate your pet’s needs. For example pets with kidney disease need to urinate more often so you may need to take your dog out to the toilet more frequently or reward them for using training pads. Provide extra litter trays or clean the litter tray more frequently if your cat urinates more due to kidney disease.
  • Maintain an enriched environment that stimulates your pet’s brain and body. Adjust their social play, exercise and training according to their health. Use their favourite food and toys to train new cues, practice previous training and play games of hide and find. Food release toys that provide manipulation to obtain the food or treats provide a challenge to stimulate your pet’s mind.

Veterinary treatment:
  • Medications can be prescribed to improve neurotransmitter function and brain activity or act as antioxidants. Medication that reduces physical pain, for example from arthritis, can allow your pet to enjoy more physical and mental activity.
  • A prescription veterinary diet is available containing antioxidants and fatty acids that reduce signs of cognitive decline by improving neurotransmission. It has been shown to help old dogs stay active, enjoy interactions, reduce sleep disturbances and retain house training.
  • Many natural products are touted to be effective and your vet will be able to advise you on supplements that may be useful.
If you are noticing changes in your senior pets
behaviour or would like more information on helping
your elderly pet get the most out of day to day life
please phone us on (02) 6230 2223.

Patient Spotlight – Theodore the Hungry Pug

It’s amazing the things that dogs will eat; we see dogs that eat toys, clothes, sticks, whole bones and so much more.

Theodore is one of such dogs who is quite the scavenger, he is known to eat all sorts of things that he probably shouldn’t!  He came in to see us because his owners noticed that he had been vomiting quite a lot.  Theodore is very lucky that his fantastic owners were on top of it because this little man had an unknown object or ‘foreign body’ stuck in his intestine, a life threatening condition if left untreated.

Having already known that Theodore has a tendency for eating things he shouldn’t, we knew that one of the first things we needed to do was take an x-ray of his abdomen. Sometimes x-rays will show the foreign body, other times we need to rely on gas patterns, ultrasounds, or repeat imaging to find them.

In Theodore’s x-ray below you can’t see the foreign body itself, however you can see that some of his intestine is small and narrow while other parts are wide and dilated. This shows an abnormal gas pattern, there is gas building up in parts of his intestine rather than moving through. This indicates that there is some sort of obstruction stopping the gas in its tracks.

Theodore then went straight into surgery, where we removed the offending object.  It had caused considerable bruising to the intestine, but luckily the damage was reversible.  On occasion if the damage is severe enough we have to remove part of the intestine luckily though, this wasn’t the case for Theodore.

Theodore was transferred to Canberra Veterinary Emergency Services to be monitored overnight and returned to us the following day for post operative monitoring. Theodore was bright, happy and eating and was then ready to return home to his loving family.

Unfortunately we know quite a lot of repeat offenders, some dogs (and cats) have been known to go back for seconds and even thirds so it is always important to pet proof your house!

Want more? You can read Harriet the 11 week old Cattle Dog’s story HERE.

Dreading Shedding?

Shedding is one way an animal can adapt to its environment. Changes in the amount of sunlight and the external temperature are the two of the main factors that determine when major shedding will occur.

Image result for dog shedding

While hair shedding is a normal process for many breeds of dogs and cats, the amount and frequency of hair that is shed often depends upon their health and breed type. It can also depend on the season —
many pets develop thick coats in the winter that are then shed in the spring. However, pets who are always kept indoors are prone to smaller fluctuations in coat thickness and tend to shed fairly evenly all year rather than seasonally.

When should you be concerned?
• You notice significantly more shedding than usual.
• Development of bald patches.
• Dull dry hair that falls off when touched.
• Your pet is continually itching, scratching or biting itself.

Image result for itchy dog

What can you do about it?
• Make some notes about the intensity and frequency of the shedding and discuss this with your vet.
• Groom your pet very regularly with an implement that causes no pain and pair grooming time with a great treat for your pet. This will make grooming something the pet enjoys rather than suffers through.

 

 

A day in the life of: Bonnie the 10wk old Bulldog puppy

Bonnie is a cute little 10 week old bulldog who came in to see us not long after arriving in her new home.   

As you can see from the picture above, Bonnie has a protruding red lump in the corner of her left eye – this is a condition called ‘cherry eye’. Cherry eye occurs when the third eyelid swells and the tear producing gland pops out of its normal position.  

Younger dogs, particularly those that are squishy faced (brachycephalic) or those with prominent eyes are prone to getting this condition.  If left untreated, affected eyes can become inflamed, irritated and have reduced tear production.  These animals require lifelong treatment of their sore eyes.  

So, Bonnie got to come and spend the day with us to have her cherry eye surgically corrected.  The surgery involved creating a little pocket to slide the gland into. Some very small sutures were used to hold it into place.  Bonnie recovered well from her procedure, and was quite pleased to spend the day having lots of cuddles and pats.  

Aches and Pains – How Can We Tell?

Our pets can’t tell us what they are feeling in words, however through observing their body language, we can notice changes in their behaviour that may indicate pain.

Pain can occur with a vast array of chronic diseases, some not so obvious, for example dental disease, arthritis, back pain, ear infections, pancreatitis and cancer.

Image result for pain in animals

Top five signs of chronic pain are:

  1. Decreased Activity. Is your dog less enthusiastic for walks lately? Does your cat lay around more than usual or have they stopped climbing on to their favourite perch? Be careful not to assume this is normal ageing. There could be a medical condition that will improve with treatment.
  2. Changes in habits. Is your cat grooming less? Has your dog stopped jumping into the car or onto furniture? Are they interacting less with family? Reluctance to use stairs or groom can often occur with back or joint pain.
  3. Loss of toilet training. Dogs and cats might start to toilet inside if it hurts too much to walk to their usual spot, squeeze through the dog door or navigate steps. It could be painful to squat.
  4. Lameness. Is your pet stiff when getting out of bed, hunched or favouring a leg? You might see them shifting their weight or unable to stand in one place for long if their joints are aching.
  5. Aggression. Perhaps your pet is growling or snapping when petted to protect a painful area. Are they avoiding a playmate who asks for a tumble because it’s going to hurt?

Detecting chronic pain in your pet can be challenging. Body language is their only way to tell us when something is wrong, physically or emotionally.

Watch carefully for changes in their behaviour and contact the practice to arrange a check up if you notice a change in your pet’s behaviour.

That’s toxic! The top 14 foods to keep your pets away from

There are a range of substances that can cause serious harm to pets. Listed below are just a few of the common products that you need to prevent your pet gaining access to.

Grapes, sultanas & raisins: The toxic substance in grapes, sultanas and raisins is unknown, however ingestion may cause kidney failure in sensitive pets and there is no ‘safe’ dose.Image result for grapes and sultanas

Caffeine: is a stimulant and pets are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than people. A couple of laps of tea or coffee are unlikely to do any harm, but if your pet swallows a handful of coffee beans, coffee grinds or tea bags they could be in danger.
Image result for caffeine

Chocolate: contains a stimulant called theobromine which is poisonous to pets. The darker the chocolate the more theobromine it contains. Signs of theobromine poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea, restlessness, hyperactivity and seizures this can lead to cardiac arrest.
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Mouldy foods: including bread, nuts and dairy products, contain lots of toxins that could make your pet very ill so keep all pets away from compost.
Image result for mouldy bread

Onions, garlic, and chives: eating these vegetables and herbs can cause stomach and gut irritation and potentially lead to red blood cell damage and anaemia.
Image result for onion and garlic

Alcohol: is significantly more toxic to pets than to humans. When consumed, even small quantities of alcoholic beverages and food products may cause vomiting, diarrhoea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors,
blood changes, coma and death.
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Macadamia nuts: within 12 hours of ingestion, macadamia nuts can cause dogs to experience weakness, depression, tremors, vomiting and increased body temperature.
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Yeast dough: the rising dough causes gas to accumulate in the pet’s digestive system. Not only can this be painful, but it may also cause the stomach or intestines to become blocked. So while small bits of bread can be given as a treat — never give your pet yeast dough.
Image result for yeast dough

Bones: dogs regularly present to vets for emergency surgical procedures to remove intestinal obstructions after swallowing pieces of bone that become stuck. Other conditions bones frequently cause include constipation, pancreatitis, teeth fractures as well as internal injury such as bone splinters which can puncture your dog’s digestive tract.
Related image

Corn on the cob: if your dog swallows large chunks of the cob, or even the whole cob, it can cause an intestinal blockage due to its size and shape. Signs to look out for are vomiting, loss of appetite or reduced appetite, absence of faeces or diarrhoea and abdominal discomfort.
Image result for corn on the cob

Xylitol: is an artificial sweetener found in many products that causes insulin release which can lead to potentially fatal hypoglycaemia (lowered sugar levels).
Image result for xylitol

Milk: feeding your dog milk and other milk-based products can cause diarrhoea or other digestive upsets.
Image result for milk

Blue cheese: the roquefortine C found in blue cheese may cause
vomiting and diarrhoea, can lead to tremors, twitching, seizures and
high temperature.
Image result for blue cheese

Death cap mushrooms: Are lethal to pets and humans –
no contact is safe.
Image result for death cap mushroom

If your pet ever ingests something you are unsure about please give us a call on (02) 6230 2223 straight away.

Patient Spotlight: Harriet’s Story

Harriet the Australian Cattle Dog was just 11 weeks old when she first visited Hall Veterinary Surgery.  Australian Cattle Dogs are known for being highly active, independent and brave but its safe to say that when Harriet came through our doors she was not feeling like any of the above.

Harriet’s attentive owners first noticed vomiting, and a lack of energy and appetite. They immediately knew that something wasn’t right and phoned to book an appointment with Dr Jenny.

When Dr Jenny examined Harriet she found that she was extremely uncomfortable in her tummy and that she was very dehydrated.  She was admitted to hospital where we started her on IV fluids and strong pain relief to keep her comfortable whilst we investigated further.

Harriet feeling less than 100% when first admitted to hospital at Hall Veterinary Surgery.

We then ran some diagnostic tests to find a cause for her symptoms.  These tests revealed that Harriet had a painful condition called an ‘intussusception’. This is where part of her intestine was telescoping inside itself.  Her ultrasound images (below) showed multiple loops of intestine inside each other.

Harriet’s ultrasound images showing multiple loops of intestine inside each other.
Harriet’s ultrasound images showing multiple loops of intestine inside each other.

Unfortunately this meant that little Harriet had to have a surgical procedure to correct the intussusception. Dr Jenny had to remove a small portion of her intestine that was dying. Harriet recovered well from her General Anaesthesia and was kept on her IV fluids and pain relief throughout the afternoon.

Harriet was taken to Canberra Veterinary Emergency Services via the Pet Ambulance for overnight monitoring and was discharged home to her loving owners the next day.

Just 2 weeks later we had another visit from Harriet and her family but thankfully this time it was just for her Puppy Vaccinations. We were all so pleased to see a gorgeous, energetic and bouncy puppy, a completely different dog to the one we had seen just 2 weeks earlier.

Harriet was a completely different dog when she visited Dr Candice just 2 weeks post surgery for her puppy vaccinations.
We were so pleased to see Harriet back to her normal, energetic and bouncy self.

If it wasn’t for Harriet’s dedicated and loving owners she may not be here with us today.

If your pet is ever vomiting, off their food or simply just not themselves, please phone us on (02) 6230 2223.

Grass Seeds and Your Dog

Spring and Summer means fun outdoor times for many Australian families and their canine companions. Unfortunately with beautiful weather comes rapid growth of vegetation meaning grass seeds are out and about. These little suckers can cause lots of pain and suffering to our pets and their owners, they have a sharp tip enabling them to pierce the skin easily and can migrate through the body often bringing infection with them.

At Hall Vet Surgery the most common places we find grass seeds caught are in ear canals, in between toes, up nostrils, in eyelids or even behind eyeballs, underneath skin in various parts of the body and lodged in the vulva/penis.

Below are a list of symptoms, possible complications and what to do/not to do depending on the location of the grass seed.

EARS

Symptoms:

A grass seed in the ear might make your dog shake their head, cry out in pain, hold their head to one side or scratch at their ear.
Potential Complications:
Grass seeds lodged in the ear canal can cause ear infection, rupture of the ear drum, loss of hearing or balance and even death if infection reaches the brain.
What to do:
Ring your vet to make an appointment as soon as possible.
What not to do:
DO NOT try to remove the grass seed yourself, the ear is likely to be very painful and sensitive and if your pets moves their head suddenly you could severely damage their ear drum. Do not put any ear cleanser down the ear, if there is a grass seed present you will push it closer to the ear drum making it more difficult and hazardous to remove.

PAWS

Symptoms:
A grass seed caught in your dog’s paw may cause a red, swollen and discharging lump on the paw, your dog may limp or lick/chew at their paw constantly.
Potential Complications:
Infection, migration of the grass seed into leg and possibly in between ligaments or tendons.
What to do:
Ring your vet to make an appointment. Keep area clean with warm salty water and where possible restrain your dog from licking – this can actually push the grass seed further into the skin and cause more damage. Avoid feeding your pet prior to your appointment in case surgical removal is required.
What not to do:
Do not try to remove the grass seed yourself.

 

NOSE

Symptoms:
Symptoms present when a grass seed has travelled into the nostril are often; sneezing, difficulty breathing, nasal discharge and rubbing or pawing at face.
Potential Complications:
A grass seed in the nostril can cause serious damage to airways and if the seed migrates into the lung it can become a life threatening emergency.
What to do:
Ring your vet to make an appointment as soon as possible. Restrict exercise. Avoid feeding your pet prior to your appointment in case surgical removal is required.
What not to do:
Do not delay treatment.

EYES

Symptoms:
Having a grass seed caught in the eye can be extremely painful for your dog, symptoms often seen are; eyes that are swollen closed, discharge from eye, visible third eyelid and some pets may paw at their eye or rub their face on the ground/furniture.
Potential Complications:
Ulceration of the eyes surface, if damage is severe enough eye removal can be necessary.
What to do:
Ring your vet to make an appointment as soon as possible. Avoid feeding your pet prior to your appointment in case surgical removal is required.
What not to do:
Do not delay treatment.

SKIN

Symptoms:
You will often an oozing lump sometimes with a visible entry hole, you may also notice your dog constantly lick at a spot on their body.
Potential Complications:
Infection, migration of the seed through the body.
What to do:
Ring your vet to make an appointment. Keep area clean with warm salty water and where possible restrain your dog from licking – this can actually push the grass seed further into the skin and cause more damage. Avoid feeding your pet prior to your appointment in case surgical removal is required.
What not to do:
Do not try to remove the grass seed yourself even if the tail is visible.

VULVA / PENIS

Symptoms:
Difficulty urinating, blood in urine, licking at the site and redness or swelling.
Potential Complications:
Infection, damage to structures, invasive surgery to remove.
What to do:
Ring your vet to make an appointment. If possible, try to catch a fresh urine sample and bring it with you to your appointment. Avoid feeding your pet prior to your appointment in case surgical removal is required.
What not to do:
Do not delay treatment.

Removal

The animal’s body is not able to break down a grass seed so when a grass seed is embedded it generally requires surgical removal. In the case of surgical removal your pet will usually have a general anaesthetic whilst we extract the offending grass seeds. General Anaesthesia allows the procedure to be painless for your pet and allows your vet to thoroughly investigate the area – we usually find more than one grass seed in any given case so it is important that we are able to have a really good look. Delaying the initial vet visit may result in more invasive (and more expensive) surgeries to find and remove the seed.

Grass Seeds surgically removed from a Dog’s ear here at Hall Vet Surgery.

Prevention is the best cure

Here are some ways you can prevent the risk of grass seeds to your dog:

  • Avoiding long grass when out walking/exploring (this also helps to minimise the risk of Snake Bites)
  • Keeping the grass in your yard tidy and mowed
  • Clipping the fur of long haired dogs. If your dog is prone to grass seeds in the ears or between the toes then we recommend regular clipping of these areas to keep the hair short at all times
If your pet is showing any of the above symptoms please give us a call on (02) 62302223.

 

Patent Spotlight – Gov’nor the brave Whippet (WARNING: Graphic Content)

Its two months now since Gov’nor, the bravest and sweetest of Whippets, presented to us collapsed after being severely attacked by a new foster dog. The skin on his chest and between his forelegs was punctured and pulled away from the underlying pectoral muscles which were also severely damaged. After initial emergency treatment overnight, he arrived at Hall Veterinary Surgery for ongoing care, still suffering from shock and having difficulty breathing.

Over the next few days, Gov’nor responded to treatment for shock which included intravenous fluids and nasal oxygen therapy. To manage his pain, he received a constant infusion of pain relief in his drip as well as intravenous antibiotics as his bruised skin was a prime target for infection.

X-rays of Gov’nor’s chest and blood tests showed that the injuries were confined to the skin, however as the days passed, it became clear just how large the affected area of dead skin had become. All of the skin between his forelegs and also behind and in front of his elbows turned grey and smelt of dead tissue bereft of blood supply due to the severe trauma of the attack.

Gov’nor’s loving owners agonised over the decision whether to proceed with treatment to remove all the dead skin, given the severity of the damage, and concern about what Gov’nor was going through.

We talked about the amazing healing capacity of skin and that Gov’nor’s youth, general fitness and calm temperament would help him to recover and cope with the treatment of the huge wound. We all decided to give him a chance.

Dr Lesa anaesthetised Gov’nor and removed all of the dead tissue and cleaned the wound. There was no option to suture the remaining skin closed over such a large area of skin loss. So we applied sterile dressings to protect the healing granulation tissue underneath and continue pain and infection control.

This was the large, open wound left behind after surgically removing all of the dead skin and tissue on Gov'nor's chest.

Twice a week, for these last 2 months, Gov’nor has patiently complied with dressing changes and wound cleaning. He would shuffle out after each session sporting a new brightly coloured vest of bandages that held his dressings in place.

The colourful bandage vests help to hold his wound dressings in place.

It has been amazing to witness the speed with which his skin is covering over the massive wound. On the home stretch now, his loving family are seeing the fruits of their efforts and Gov’nor is nearly back to his old self again.

2 months later, Gov'nor is well and truly on his way to feeling like his old self again.