Category Archives: Dogs

Rat bait poisoning

Dogs love the taste of most rat and mouse poisons so keep them well out of reach of pets. Do not allow pets near areas where you have laid rat bait.

Most rat and mouse baits contain a form of warfarin. Warfarin stops the blood clotting. Owners often don’t notice signs of rat bait ingestion for a couple of days.

If you know your pet has consumed a rat bait come straight to the Veterinary Surgery. An emetic will make your pet vomit up the bait and minimise absorption of the poison.

Signs of warfarin poisoning:

  • Pale gums
  • Lethargy or resting more than usual
  • Blood in urine
  • Blood on faeces
  • Blood around teeth and mouth
  • Bruises on belly
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sore joints, reluctance to walk

A special form of Vitamin K reverses the toxic effects of rat bait. Because we are never sure how much poison your pet has consumed it is difficult to know how much Vitamin K should be given and for how long. We will ask you to watch for signs that more is needed.

After the Vitamin K is finished return to the Surgery for a blood test to check that the blood’s clotting ability is back to normal.

Pyometra or infections of the uterus

What is pyometra?

Pyometra is an accumulation of pus in the uterus. Toxic products form and make the bitch very sick.

How do I know if my dog has pyometra?

If the cervix is open pus drains from the vagina and can be seen on the skin or hair under the tail or on bedding and furniture.

If the cervix is closed, the trapped pus distends the uterus and abdomen. The bacteria in the pus release toxins into the circulation.  The dog goes off her food, vomits or passes diarrhoea, drinks a lot of water and becomes very depressed.

How is it treated?

Pyometra is an emergency. Surgery to remove the uterus and ovaries ensures complete recovery. If not treated toxins cause organ damage. If the cervix is closed the uterus may rupture and spill into the abdominal cavity. Either of these is rapidly fatal.  Intravenous fluids and antibiotics before and after surgery reverse the toxicity and control residual infection.

When does it occur?

Pyometra is most common in older bitches after many years of oestrus cycles without pregnancy.  Occasionally younger bitches are affected.

Pyometra occurs about 1-2 months after oestrus.

How is it diagnosed?

A non-desexed female dog that is very ill , drinking a lot of water, and has a vaginal discharge or an enlarged abdomen could have pyometra. They also have a high white blood cell count and serum globulin level. Toxins reduce the ability of the kidneys to concentrate the urine.

An ultrasound examination identifies an enlarged uterus and differentiates pyometra from pregnancy.

Why does my dog have pyometra?

Hormonal changes cause pyometra. After a bitch is on heat or in season (oestrus), progesterone levels stay high for 8-10 weeks, thickening the lining of the uterus in preparation for pregnancy. If pregnancy does not occur for several oestrus cycles, the lining continues to thicken and cysts form in it. The thickened, cystic lining secretes fluid creating an ideal environment for bacterial growth. High progesterone levels also inhibit contraction of uterine muscles preventing expulsion of the fluid.

Drugs containing progesterone and/or oestrogen also predispose bitches to pyometra.

How do bacteria get into the uterus?

The cervix is the gateway to the uterus. It remains tightly closed except during oestrus. When the cervix is open during oestrus vaginal bacteria can enter the uterus easily. If the uterus is normal, bacteria won’t survive.  However, when the uterine wall is thickened and weak, conditions are perfect for bacterial growth.

Pancreatitis

Fatty foods like sausages, cheese and the cat’s biscuits, cause acute pancreatitis in overweight middle-aged dogs.

Dogs with acute pancreatitis vomit, refuse their food, withdraw from the family and show signs of pain in the belly.  They hunch over, adopt a praying position, or are reluctant to move.

To treat pancreatitis we ban all food  and give intravenous fluids, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs and pain relief. The pancreas produces enzymes that digest food, and hormones like insulin that help the body utilise glucose.

Under normal conditions, digestive enzymes produced by the pancreas are activated when they reach the small intestines. In pancreatitis, these enzymes are activated prematurely and digest the pancreas itself. The severity of the disease depends on the quantity of enzymes activated.

Some cases of pancreatitis are in reaction to particular medications or toxins.

Inflammation of the pancreas sometimes allows digestive enzymes to spill into the abdominal cavity resulting in damage to surrounding organs, such as the liver, bile ducts, gall bladder, and intestines.  Toxins spilling into the bloodstream cause shock and problems in more distant organs.

If we suspect pancreatitis we check the level of pancreatic enzymes in the blood. Some dogs with pancreatitis have normal enzyme levels. If we still suspect pancreatitis we run a pancreatic specific lipase test.

Recovery depends on the extent of the disease and the response to initial therapy. Dogs that present with shock and depression have a very guarded prognosis. Most of the mild forms of pancreatitis respond quickly to treatment and have a good outlook.

Most dogs recover with no long-term ill-effects. However, there are three possible long-term complications of severe or repeated pancreatitis.

  1. If a significant number of cells that produce digestive enzymes are destroyed, proper food digestion is compromised. The dog loses weight despite a ravenous appetite and produces voluminous, soft faeces.  This is known as pancreatic insufficiency and is treated with by adding the missing enzymes to the food.
  2. If the cells that produce insulin are destroyed diabetes mellitus can result.  Signs of diabetes include weight loss despite a good appetite coupled with excessive drinking and urination.  Insulin therapy may be necessary.
  3. In rare cases, adhesions between the abdominal organs cause momentary “catches” as your dog moves are a consequence of pancreatitis.
  4. After a bout of pancreatitis, dogs are prone to relapse and owners must make sure that their dog has no access to fatty foods. We recommend a low fat good quality dog food.

Dogs are good for you!

The doctors and scientists have confirmed what pet owners have known for centuries – dogs are good for you!

Pet ownership increases physical activity and reduces obesity, but also reduces stress and builds community.

Owning and walking a dog significantly increases the amount of walking a person does. Young girls who own a dog spend 29 minutes more per day in physical activity than their friends without a dog.

Scientists proved some years ago that obese people who diet and exercise with their obese dogs are much more likely to lose weight and keep it off than people who diet and exercise alone.

Recent studies of school age children have shown that just incidental play and interaction with the dog were enough to prevent obesity.

Children of dog-owning families were in better physical condition even if they did not personally walk the dog.

Dogs owners report that their dogs are a strong source of motivation, companionship and social support – that is great mates!

Dogs have social benefits and build community networks because owners interact with other people on walks and at dog related activities like obedience classes.

Snake repeller

Protect family and pets with a solar powered snake repeller. Makers of the Sentinel snake repeller claim that it repels all snake species and is safe to use around children and animals.

The repeller emits a pulsing vibration that makes snakes retreat immediately. A solar charged power cells operates the unit so you can place it away from power sources and head snakes off from sheds and homes.

The Sentinel repeller is available locally from Andrew Ochiltree on 0418 631 909.

More information on www.stop-snakes.com

(Hall Vet Surgery has no experience with this product and passes on the information for your interest)

Exaggerated and irresponsible article in today’s Canberra Times

An article on a report published by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (AVPMA) in the Canberra Times today magnifies adverse effects in some animals to veterinary vaccines, flea treatments and other chemicals. It fails to mention the sickness, suffering and death prevented by these treatments in the vast majority of animals.

This morning we admitted an unvaccinated pup into hospital with parvovirus gastroenteritis. He is very dehydrated and is suffering severe abdominal pain. His chances of survival are 60:40. If he had been vaccinated he would not have developed this nasty disease. The vaccine is close to 100% effective in preventing parvovirus disease and only has to be administered once very 3 years to adult dogs.

Many hundreds of thousands of dogs are vaccinated every year and only a handful suffer any side effects. Most often the side effects are mild, a swelling at the site or of the face.

This summer is the worst for fleas and ticks in many years because of the high rainfall. Tick antiserum is in short supply and it is imperative that all dogs travelling to the coast are treated with a tick preventative and searched daily for ticks.

Advantix, permethrin spray and Frontline are the most effective tick prevention available. Compared to the number of dogs treated we see very few side effects. They are usually mild skin irritation or hair loss, and usually reversible.

Dogs infested with ticks die without tick antiserum and intensive treatment. Tick antiserum is far more likely to cause serious side effects than any of the preventative chemicals. Tick prevention is far better than cure.

Fleas and flea allergy dermatitis cause far more discomfort in far more dogs than the occasional side effect to any of the flea preventatives. Millions of doses of fipronil, imidacloprid and permethrin are applied every year but, as the APVMA reports, only a few cause side effects.  The benefits of flea prevention far outweigh the risk of side effects.

Each individual cat should have a tailored vaccination programme. Specialists from around the world debated the frequency of immunisation in cats at this year’s veterinary immunology conference. Factors affecting our recommendation for your cat include whether she goes outdoors or to boarding catteries, or how many other cats live in the household. We have not seen significant adverse effects to the vaccines in any of our patients but we often see very sick unvaccinated cats.

Feline AIDS caused by the cat immunodeficiency virus circulates in our outdoor cat population. It is incurable and reduces affected cats’ ability to fight off common infections and afflictions.  We see fever in the occasional cat on the day following the AIDS vaccination.

We see unexpected but occasional side effects with many things we give our pets. This article exaggerates the APVMA’s report and the likelihood of serious problems If you have concerns about any treatments you currently use please discuss the costs and benefits with your veterinarian first.

Snakes in the grass

Miss Lucy found a snake this morning. After all the rain there is plenty of long grass for snakes to slither through. Jack Russells are notorious snake killers so snake envenomation was top of our list this morning when Lucy came in wobbly and shivery. Although Lucy lives in the suburbs snakes feel quite at home in our sprawling city. They wander in to our yards from nearby paths and paddocks in the warm weather surprisingly often.  Usually we don’t notice them. It is only when a dog like Lucy finds them that we even know they are there. Keep your grass cut and your dogs on leads when out walking so that they don’t end up in hospital like Lucy.

PS Lucy has had a dose of snake antivenom and is recovering well!

Itchy bottom?

Dogs scoot their bottoms along the ground when they have anal gland problems, tapeworms or allergies.

If you catch your dog rubbing along on the carpet, worm him with a good quality wormer such as Drontal or Milbemax that covers all worms, especially tapeworm.

If he is still irritated or if he seems off colour then bring him in to the surgery. Many small dogs suffer from anal sac problems. The gland fills up with material too thick to empty through the small ducts in the anus. Usually we just express them and all is well.

Sometimes the material gets infected and the glands become swollen and painful.  Your dog might have trouble defecating or lick the area a lot. The glands may break through the skin and discharge foul smelling fluid. At the surgery we clip and clean them as well as starting antibiotics and pain relief. If your dog has repeated anal gland infections we recommend surgery to remove them.

In spring and summer many allergic dogs rub, lick and scratch all over including their bottoms. Some dogs allergic to food proteins also rub their bottoms on the ground. Treatment for the allergies usually stops the rubbing and licking.