Category Archives: Internal 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

 

 

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.

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.

Ten signs that your pet may have Heart Disease

As a pet owner, it is important that you are equipped to spot signs of heart disease in your pets, as you may well be the first person to notice. Early diagnosis and treatment can make a big difference when it comes to the quality and quantity of life of your valued pet. Bringing any concerns to your vet’s attention as soon as possible can have a great impact on your pets prognosis.

Some of the symptoms you may see:
Coughing: while coughing is a very common symptom of many illnesses, it is also a symptom of heart disease. Minor coughs will resolve in a few days. A persistent cough is an abnormal state.
Breathing difficulty: shortness of breath, laboured breathing, or rapid breathing.
Changes in behaviour: If you notice any behaviour changes in your pet, such as tiring more easily, being less playful, reluctance to exercise, reluctance to accept affection, being withdrawn, or an appearance of depression.
Poor appetite: No matter what the cause, a lack of appetite is always a concern.
Weight loss or gain: this can be a sign of a myriad of problems. Having a bloated or distended abdomen (pot belly) is a sign that needs investigation.
Fainting/Collapsing: if your pet faints or collapses at any time, seek veterinary help immediately.
Weakness: may be seen as a general sign of aging, but combined with other symptoms, a consultation and possibly blood tests may yield results that mean your pet’s quality of life is enhanced.
Restlessness: and change in demeanour, particularly if restless at night, may be a sign of heart disease.
Edema: is the swelling of body tissues. In regards to heart disease, your pet may show swelling in the abdomen and extremities if it has heart disease.
Isolation: If your pet starts to isolate itself or is keeping its distance from other pets and/or you, this indicates something has changed and warrants investigation.

There are a range of treatment options for heart disease and the earlier the intervention the better the outcome. If you feel your pet is not their normal self talk with your vet about your concerns. The above list is not exhaustive, just outlines some common symptoms.

Increase in Mosquito activity leads to Heartworm Warning for Dogs

The dramatic rise in mosquito numbers means pet owners need to be vigilant with their dog’s heartworm treatment. 

Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) is spread by a mosquito biting an infected dog (or ferret or fox) and ingests the heartworm larvae.

The next step is the mosquito buzzing off and biting another dog and infecting them with the heartworm larvae.

Without preventative products on board, the larvae continue to develop, eventually reaching the heart and lungs where the adult worms can strangle the heart and congest the lungs.

Year round treatment is required for all pet dogs.

If you are unsure when your dog last had a heartworm treatment please call Hall Veterinary Surgery on 6230 2223.

Where heart worm prevention has been intermittent or lapsed, our vets will restart prevention and advise a blood test to ensure your pet is still heartworm free.

Parvo epidemic

Little sad dog. Used under license from iStockphoto.comCanberra is in the middle of a nasty parvovirus epidemic. If your dog is less than 1 year old please check that he or she has had 3 puppy vaccinations, with the final one at 14 weeks of age or older.

Older dogs should have had a distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus booster at 15 months of age and then one every 3 years.
Please call us if you have any doubts about your dog’s vaccination status.

Parvovirus causes vomiting and diarrhoea. Often the diarrhoea is bloody. Infected dogs feel really sick and usually need a drip to keep them hydrated and antibiotics to prevent infections from escaping the bowel and entering the body.

Bloat or the dreaded GDV

In bloat, also known as gastric dilation, a dog’s stomach is over distended with gas. Often it twists as well, sending the dog into shock. When this happens it is called gastric dilation and volvulus, or GDV.

Factors thought to increase the risk of bloat and GDV include:

  • Gulping air down with food
  • Strenuous exercise soon after a meal
  • Leanness
  • Drinking a lot of water immediately after a large meal of dry food
  • Increasing age
  • An anxious or timid temperament

Factors thought to decrease the risk of bloat and GDV include:

  • Canned food
  • Table scraps in the diet
  • Happy or easy-going temperament
  • Two or more meals per day

Male, deep-chested large breeds like Great Danes, Irish Setters, German Shepherds, Afghan Hounds, Basset Hounds and Rottweilers are most often affected.

A bloating dog becomes uncomfortable and restless immediately after a meal. The left side of the abdomen distends and the dog tries to vomit. Some dogs adopt a “praying position” because of the pain.

An x-ray confirms the bloat and tells us if the stomach has twisted.

Affected dogs go into shock because the distended stomach puts pressure on the large veins in the abdomen that carry blood back to the heart. The output of blood from the heart drops and the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the rest of the body comes to halt.

The blood supply to the stomach wall also drops and with increasing internal pressure the stomach wall begins to die and may rupture.

If the stomach twists the blood supply to the spleen is cut off and it swells and soon dies.

In many dogs the heart goes out of its normal rhythm either before, during or up to 2 days after surgery.

When the stomach is distended, digestion stops. Toxins accumulate, move into the circulation and activate chemicals which cause inflammation. Blood clots then form within blood vessels. This is called disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) and is usually fatal.

How can we save the dog’s life?

We must act quickly to save the dog’s life.

  1. Large quantities of intravenous fluids treat the shock.
  2. The pressure in the stomach is relieved with a tube passed from the mouth to the stomach or with a needle pushed through the skin into the stomach.
  3. The stomach is returned to its normal position in surgery.
  4. Any dead areas of the stomach are cut out. If the spleen has died it is also removed.
  5. The stomach is stitched to the abdominal wall (gastropexy) to reduce the chance of recurrence of GDV.
  6. We monitor the heart for abnormalities in its rhythm (arrhythmias) before, during and after surgery, and treat as necessary.

What is the survival rate?

The survival rate depends on the severity of the distention, the degree of shock, how quickly treatment is begun, and the presence of other diseases, especially those involving the heart. Approximately 60 to 70% of treated dogs survive.

How do we prevent bloat and GDV happening again?

Gastropexy does not prevent bloat but it is usually successful in preventing twisting of the stomach and spleen. We assess each individual’s meal time habits for any of the predisposing factors mentioned above.

 

Heartworm

Heartworm live in the heart and major blood vessels of infected dogs.

How do dogs get heartworm?

Female heartworm produce millions of young, or microfilaria, which live in the bloodstream. Mosquitoes ingest microfilariae when they bite an infected dog.

The microfilariæ develop further in the mosquito. When the mosquito bites another dog it injects larval heartworm. These larvae migrate to the heart and adjacent vessels over a few months, and grow to adult heartworm.

Usually dogs do not show outward signs of infection for a few years.

How do heartworm affect dogs?

Adult worms:

Adult worms clog the heart and the major blood vessels leading from the heart. They stop the heart valves from closing and reduce blood supply to the rest of the body.

The most obvious signs are: a soft, dry, chronic cough, shortness of breath, loss of stamina, and weakness, especially after exercise. Heavily infected dogs may faint.

Sometimes we hear heart murmurs or abnormal lung sounds with a stethoscope. In advanced cases the abdomen and legs swell with fluid accumulation. Weight loss, poor condition, and anaemia develop with a chronic infection.

Severely infected dogs may die suddenly during exercise or excitement.

Microfilariæ (Young worms):

Microfilariæ circulate throughout the body but prefer small blood vessels. Because they are as wide as the vessels, they may block blood flow to vital organs such as the lungs, liver and kidney.

How do we prevent heartworm?

Annual injections of Proheart SR-12, or monthly tablets such as Heartgard or Proheart, or spot-ons such as Advocate or Revolution all kill larval heartworm before they reach the heart.

Before starting a preventative we run a blood test in the surgery to check for any existing infection.

If we detect an existing heartworm infection an effective treatment is available. Before admitting an infected dog for treatment we screen for damage to the liver, kidneys, heart and lungs to reduce the chance of complications.

 

Heart care for dogs

Dogs suffer from heart failure, just like humans. If dog owners recognise the warning signs of heart failure they can seek help earlier and enjoy a healthy, happy pet for longer.

Research shows that most dog owners are not aware of the risk of heart failure in older dogs, even though 1 in 10 dogs presented to vets suffer from heart disease.

Boehringer Ingelheim has launched a Heart Failure Awareness Program to raise owners’ awareness of the signs of heart disease in dogs. The company wants to reduce the numbers of dogs suffering unnecessarily from this life threatening condition.

The Heart Failure Awareness Program is aimed at dog owners because they are most likely to notice changes in their dog’s health and behaviour.

Early signs of heart failure, like loss of appetite, are subtle and often overlooked.

The common signs of congestive heart failure include:

  • Coughing, especially at night
  • Poor appetite
  • Reluctance to exercise and tiring quickly on walks
  • Laboured or fast breathing
  • Fainting – often associated with exercise
  • Weight loss
  • Enlarged abdomen
  • Weakness

If your dog is aged seven or more and showing one or more of the above signs visit a vet without delay.

Effective treatment of heart failure is available and when started early greatly improves affected dogs’ quality of life.

If owners recognise the signs of heart failure early and seek veterinary advice before the heart deteriorates markedly, treatment has the greatest benefit.

Research has shown effective treatment allows dogs with heart failure to enjoy many healthy, good quality years of life.

And that’s something all dog owners want.

Hookworm

Hookworms attach to the intestinal wall with hook-like mouthparts. They are hard to see because they are only about 3 mm long and very thin.

Dogs are infested with hookworms in one of three ways:

1. Hookworm larvae pass from the dam to the pups through the placenta before birth

2. Pups ingest larvae in the mother’s milk

3. Larvae penetrate the skin

 

What problems do hookworms cause?

Hookworms suck blood from the tiny vessels in the intestinal wall and cause anaemia especially in puppies.  Pale gums, lethargy and weakness are signs of anaemia.

Hookworm also cause bloody diarrhoea, weight loss and failure to grow.

Hookworm larvae burrow into the skin and cause itching and discomfort in a heavily infested environment such as kennels.

 

How do we diagnose hookworm infestation?

Hookworms produce a lot of eggs which are easily found in faeces under a microscope. Faecal examination is less reliable in very young puppies.

 

How is hookworm treated?

Most broad spectrum wormers, like Milbemax and Drontal, kill adult hookworms. We repeat the treatment 2-4 weeks later to kill the next wave of larvae maturing into adult worms.

 

Are canine hookworms infectious to people?

Adult hookworms do not infect humans. However, hookworm larvae can burrow into human skin and cause itching. They do not mature into adults. Wear shoes to avoid skin contact with hookworm infested soil especially in wet weather.

 

How do we prevent hookworm infection?

1. Deworm pups at six weeks of age

2. Deworm pets at high risk of reinfestation

3. Pick up and dispose of dog faeces, especially in yards, playgrounds, and public parks.

4. Do not allow children to play in potentially contaminated environments.

5. Treat nursing bitches concurrently with their pups.

6. Use broad spectrum worm treatments that are effective against hookworms.