Category Archives: Medicines & Treatments

Alfred ate WHAT!?

Alfred the 6 year old Standard Poodle visited us recently after he refused his breakfast and vomited multiple times at home.

Dr Emily performed a thorough physical exam, whilst palpating his abdomen there were no obvious masses found however Alfred did show signs of pain. We then ran some diagnostic blood tests to see if we could get an indicator of the cause of Alfred’s vomiting. When Alfred’s blood results came back relatively normal Dr Emily and Alfred’s owners decided to perform an abdominal x-ray to check for any gastrointestinal foreign bodies or masses.

As you can see in Alfred’s x-ray above there were 2 foreign bodies found in Alfred’s stomach and small intestine. The decision was made to surgically remove these as they seemed to be stuck in their tracks which was causing him to vomit.

Dr Lesa performed his surgery and removed both items which turned out be stones from the garden! Oh the things dog’s eat..

Thankfully Alfred is feeling much better now and is back to his bright, happy and hungry self!

‘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.

Patient Spotlight – Frankie the 5mo Pug

Frankie is a very excitable and wriggly 5 month old Pug puppy that came in recently for desexing.

Frankie is very lucky, as his owners are well informed about some of the breathing problems that Pugs and other squishy faced (Brachycephalic) dogs such as Bulldogs and Boxers are prone to getting. Because of the excess soft tissues in their airways dogs with squished faces can have great difficulty breathing.  It can even get to the point where these dogs collapse and need oxygen support and emergency treatment after something as little as a short walk on a warm afternoon.

So, while he was in for his desexing, we checked Frankie over to make sure he wasn’t going to have problems in the future.  Frankie had very narrow nostrils which makes it much harder to breath in oxygen, and the effort of breathing in through narrow passages changes the pressures throughout the airways and lungs.  Early intervention is key as these pressure changes can cause long term complications.

Try pinching your nose and then breathing through it, and then imaging breathing like that all the time, even when excercising.  It’s certainly not comfortable, and can cause great distress for affected dogs during exercise, times of high temperature, and periods of stress.

While Frankie was under anaesthetic for his desexing, we surgically widened his nostrils.  You can see the difference in his before and after photos below.

The good news is Frankie can now breathe more easily making him much happier and more comfortable.  Frankie woke up as if nothing had happened and wanted nothing more than some food and some cuddles!

A day in the life of: Trent – Kidney Disease

Meet Trent, a gorgeous and very friendly 11 year old Domestic Short Hair cat. Trent visited us a few weeks ago after his owner Hayley noticed that he had been losing weight and the quality of his coat had been lacking.

In order to investigate Hayley’s concerns Dr Jenny decided that a senior check-up was in order. A senior check-up involves a thorough history and examination with a focus on issues that our senior cats are commonly affected by.  Our comprehensive examination includes a mobility assessment, dental health check, dietary assessment, parasite control review and a vaccination review.   The senior cat check-up also includes a full blood profile, blood pressure and urine testing all run in our state of the art in house laboratory.

Trent was an angel, he let us check his blood pressure without a fuss, we used a blood pressure cuff and a Doppler ultrasound to do this.  We made sure to use headphones so that Trent didn’t notice the noise at all. Blood pressure testing is extremely important as cats with high blood pressure have no clinical signs until they develop organ damage.  Sudden onset blindness is often the first sign we see.  Early detection and treatment can help prevent this, Luckily Trent’s blood pressure was normal.

We then went on to collect blood and urine samples from Trent, the blood test we ran measured his kidney enzymes, liver enzymes, thyroid hormone, glucose, and red and white blood cells.  The urine sample was to check urine concentration allowing us to assess kidney function, and to check for urinary tract infections which are common in our older cats.

 

After running these tests we found that Trent had early stage kidney disease, and this was what caused his weight loss and other symptoms such as changes to his coat.  Kidney disease can also cause increased thirst and increased urination – this is often what owners notice first.

Because of Trent’s vigilant owner we were able to detect the kidney disease at such an early stage that all Trent needed was a diet change to a special prescription kidney diet.  Trent actually quite liked his new diet, but don’t worry we have plenty of tips and tricks for cats that are more fussy.  In a few weeks we will follow up with Trent and recheck his blood and urine tests to make sure that he is improving with his treatment.

Image result for hills k/d cat Image result for royal canin renal cat

 

If your cat is 7 years of age or older, book in for their Senior Cat Check-up today, give us a call on (02) 6230 2223 or click HERE to book online now!

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.

Snake Bites and Your Pet

Every year in Australia thousands of family pets are bitten by snakes, the types of snake vary depending on where in Australia the bite occurred. Here in Canberra the most common snakes we encounter are Brown Snakes followed by Tiger Snakes and less commonly Red-Bellied Black Snakes.

As snakes hibernate during the colder months the vast majority of snake bites take place in the Spring/Summer months. Snakes are commonly found in areas with long grass, rocks and other hiding holes, often near a fresh water source such as a creek or dam.

It is important to remember that most snakes will try to avoid you and your pets. However, whilst we humans may simply walk away from a snake, our pet’s are inquisitive, armed with natural hunting instincts and when given the chance, will harass snakes often resulting in snake bites.

What can I do to prevent a snake bite to my pet?

  • Avoid areas with grass any longer than ankle height
  • Always keep your dog on lead when walking
  • Do not let your dog investigate off path/in long grass
  • Keep your backyard tidy, mowed and remove any rubbish that would make a nice hiding spot for a snake
  • Consider building a cat enclosure for cats that like to venture outdoors

What are the signs of snake bites that I should be aware of?

There are several factors that may determine the reaction your pet may have to a snake bite. These can include the type of snake, where on the body your pet was bitten and how much venom was injected.

Signs and symptoms of snake bites vary but can often show some of the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Sudden weakness
  • Collapse (can seem to ‘recover’ shortly after)
  • Twitching of the muscles
  • Hyper-salivation
  • Dilated pupils non-responsive to light

And in later stages:

  • Blood in urine
  • Paralysis

I think my pet has been bitten by a snake, what should I do?

If you suspect your pet has been bitten by a snake you should keep them as quiet/still as possible whilst seeking immediate veterinary attention. The sooner your pet is treated the better their chances of survival.

Unless you are certain the snake is dead do not put yourself at risk trying to identify it.


Variations in colour of the Eastern Brown Snake.

What will the Vet do to treat my pet?

Once you arrive at the Vet they may recommend a series of tests to determine whether a snake bite has occurred.
After receiving confirmation of a snake bite your pet will be placed on intravenous fluids and possibly oxygen depending on their current condition.
Your vet will administer the appropriate anti venom to your pet slowly whilst intensive monitoring and supportive care continues.
Subject to your pets reaction to the anti venom occasionally more than one vial is needed.
Depending on the severity of your pets condition, intensive nursing, hospitalisation and supportive care such as IV fluids and oxygen may be necessary for a number of days whilst they recover.

What is my pet’s prognosis?

Approximately 80% of pets survive snake bites if treated quickly.
The survival rate of pets that are left untreated is much, much lower.

What can I do to remove a snake from my property?

If you see a snake do not try to catch or harm it. All Australian snakes are protected and you will expose yourself to unnecessary danger.

If you need a snake removed/relocated please phone:

Access Canberra Contact Centre on 132281.
or visit their website HERE for more information.

Patient Spotlight: Floyd the ‘Wonder-cat’

Floyd is an 18 year old Domestic Short Hair Cat with a lovely personality, he has lived his 18 years in the care of his dedicated owner Margaret, who has tended to all of his hunger needs!

Unfortunately, Floyd recently suffered from an Aortic Thromboembolisim. This is a serious and often fatal condition where a blood clot forms in the heart and moves down the aorta. As the clot forms it causes pain, decreasing pulses, cold limbs, loss of blood flow and hind leg paralysis. A very small 30-50% of cats will recover fully from this condition. Due to this, Floyd had become bedridden and unable to move his hind legs.

Luckily for Floyd, his lovely owner was more than dedicated to help him get through it.

Floyd was admitted to hospital every day whilst his owner was at work, each day he went through a rigorous routine of hourly massaging, physio and assisted stands. He was offered as much food as his heart desired, was brushed daily by our nurses and even had his own radio to listen to while spending his days in our cat ward!
Each night Floyd’s owner picked him up and continued his physio routine over night, turning him hourly and massaging his legs.

After 2 weeks of intensive physio we are so pleased to say that Floyd is making amazing progress!  He has regained some strength in his hind legs and is now able to stand and walk around with minimal assistance! Floyd’s road to recovery is a long one but without the wonderful dedication from Floyd’s owner Margaret, he certainly would not be where he is today.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Paralysis ticks have moved to Canberra!

Every year many companion pets die from tick paralysis. Until recently the risk of tick paralysis was confined to pets that visited the coast or contacted a tick brought back from the coast, for example in rugs or vegetation.

However, we are now seeing tick paralysis in pets whose owners have not recently travelled outside of the Canberra region.

Paralysis ticks appear to have developed the ability to survive the cooler, drier Canberra climate and whilst more prevalent from August to March and after heavy rain, ticks are a risk to pets all year round.

Paralysis ticks are capable of killing a pet within three to four days of attaching, so don’t delay.

Early signs include tiredness, staggering, vomiting, breathing difficulty, progressing to paralysis. The signs may continue to worsen even after the tick is removed.

Although most pets treated for tick paralysis survive, prevention is much safer and far less expensive. Tick prevention products vary between dogs and cats. They also vary in efficacy as well as length of protection. Please talk with our staff about the most suitable tick protection for your pet.

Not all ticks are dangerous. Bush ticks are occasionally seen locally but do not cause illness. The most effective action is, if you find a tick on your pet, bring it with you to the vet to be identified.

PREVENTION

 

TICK PREVENTATIVES

Newer products in the form of chewable tablets, such as NexGard and Bravecto are providing effective tick protection for dogs. The rinses and top spots that we previously used for dogs are less effective and can be toxic to cats that groom or have close physical contact with recently treated dog.

For cats, prevention options are more limited and we recommend Frontline® spray, although the Frontline® Plus top spot or Seresto flea collars may provide some protection.

DAILY SEARCHING

This is recommended even in pets receiving tick prevention treatment as none are 100% reliable. The ticks may attach anywhere but are more often found on the front half of the body.

 CLIPPING THE COAT

Trimming the hair assists in searching for ticks. Be prepared, if your pet has a long coat and presents to us with suspected tick toxicity, we may want to shave their entire coat to aid the tick search.

If symptoms of tick toxicity are noticed, a thorough search of the animal should be made and a veterinarian contacted immediately. Do not offer food or water to animals suffering from paralysis as their inability to swallow may cause an aspiration pneumonia.

Ticks can be very hard to find, so don’t rule out tick paralysis if you cannot find one. There may also be more than one tick on the pet. If a tick is found on a pet which is not exhibiting signs, remove the tick by firmly grasping the tick close to the skin and plucking it off. Keep searching and remove any other ticks.

So long as signs do not develop, there is the option to keep your pet quiet and cool for 24 hours. Please keep the tick in case it is required for identification.

If you are at all uncertain, call for an appointment and bring your pet in for a vet check. Depending on the case, we may recommend home monitoring, or monitoring for signs in hospital
+/- treatment with anti-serum.

TREATMENT

Veterinary treatment of tick paralysis includes:

  • Thorough searching and removal of all ticks. This may require clipping the coat.
  • Application of a tickicidal wash or spray.
  • Administration of tick anti-serum.
  • Oxygen supplementation if necessary which may require transfer to an emergency centre for overnight monitoring or ventilation.
  • Maintaining hydration using intravenous fluid treatment, until the pet is able to swallow and therefore eat and drink again.
  • Keeping the pet cool, relaxed and comfortable

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF TICK PARALYSIS?

Signs of tick paralysis vary depending on the length of time the tick has been on the animal, as well as the potency of the toxin, which can vary between ticks.

Signs include:

  • A change in vocalisation
  • Increased or laboured breathing
  • Coughing
  • Excessive salivation
  • Vomiting or regurgitation
  • Weakness in the hind legs, which typically progresses to involve the forelimbs

IF YOU FIND A TICK ON YOUR PET CONTACT YOUR VET IMMEDIATELY

The toxin produced by paralysis ticks is very potent. Even when the tick is removed, most animals get worse before they get better. This is because the toxin already in the animal’s body continues to circulate and attaches to nerves for a period of time. Remove food and water as your pet’s ability to swallow may be compromised, putting your pet at risk of inhaling food and developing aspiration pneumonia.

Why fat sucks! Pancreatitis – what it is and what you can do to minimize the risk to your pet

What is pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is part of the endocrine and digestive system that is integral for the digestion of food. One of the functions of the pancreas is to produce enzymes which enable food to be digested. When the pancreas is inflamed (pancreatitis), the flow of enzymes into the digestive tract can be distrupted and the digestive enzymes move out of the pancreas and into the abdominal area — this spells trouble!

When the body eats itself!

When the digestive enzymes wrongly move into the abdominal area they will begin breaking down fat and protein in the other organs as well, that should not happen — it causes the pet’s body to begin to digest itself. Clearly then, pancreatitis is a very painful illness that can cause can cause permanent organ damage and death if left untreated. If treated, pancreatitis can be resolved and your vet will put together a life treatment plan to help prevent recurrences. Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic and certain breeds seem more prone than others.

Some of the symptoms of pancreatitis

There are many symptoms which can include:

  • Diarrhoea.
  • High temperature.
  • Vomiting.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Weight loss (more common in cats than dogs).
  • Dehydration.
  • Fatigue.
  • Sluggishness.
  • Depression.
  • Mild to severe abdominal pain (pain can become more severe after eating).
  • Increased heart rate.
Some of the causes of pancreatitis

There many causes of pancreatitis. Below is list of the most common causes.

  • A high fat diet.
  • High levels of calcium
    in the blood.
  • Pet obesity.
  • Some medicines used to
    treat other conditions.
  • The marrow from bones commonly triggers a case of pancreatitis.
  • Festive eating – the pet that is usually on a suitable diet who gets into the BBQ sausages, bacon or large amounts of cheese or dessert foods. This is enough to trigger a bout of pancreatitis.