Bloat; The Mother of All Emergencies
I want to take this opportunity to let you know of a severe, life-threatening syndrome that affects large breed dogs and a recent advance in preventative surgery for the condition.
Since your pet is a large breed dog, you may have heard of gastric dilatation volvulus complex, also referred to as “bloat” or “GDV.” This syndrome occurs in certain breeds, specifically large “deep-chested” breeds. The stomach dilates with gas and food and then begins an abnormal rotation (illustrated on the image to the left). This can happen very rapidly, often in hours, and if untreated results in obstruction of the stomach and death. Treatment consists of aggressive fluid therapy and prompt surgical correction. The success of treatment ranges from 60 to 80%, thus unfortunately, some of the patients die despite our best efforts. Cost of the procedure, excluding the obvious emotional cost, can range from $1,500 to $5,000.
Although this syndrome is not encountered every day in predisposed breeds, the severity of the condition has incited us to explore the latest surgical techniques to both correct and prevent it.
In the past the surgical procedure to prevent this syndrome (gastropexy) had to be performed with a more traditional surgical approach with a recovery time of 7 to 10 days and a 6 to 12 inch abdominal incision. Our hospital has invested in laparoscopic equipment and advanced surgical training for our doctors to enable us to perform surgeries such as this with minimal incision size and recovery time for the patient. We often recommend preforming this procedure during the time of the spay or neuter. The surgery for the gastropexy can now be performed with two small incisions (less than 1 inch in many cases) with a recovery time of 2 to 4 days. If you have any questions on whether your pet would benefit from a preventative surgery please call us and speak with Dr. Baker, Dr Davidson, or me about the details of this surgery.
The Fun in the Sun Photo Contest is back. Please send us a picture of your pet enjoying the summer days. Whether it be outside or taking a cat nap we want to see. All the photos will be posted on our Facebook page.
We have some new rules this year about voting be sure to read the details below. This year the winner will receive a $50 dollar gift card to Baring Blvd Veterinary Hospital. Be sure to follow these steps below to register.
1. Find an adorable picture of your pet enjoying the summer season.
2. Email it to us at Baringvet@gmail.com (as a jpeg please). Subject line : FUN IN THE SUN 2015, be sure to include your first and last name, your pet’s name and your phone number.
3. Login and check out your pet’s picture on our Facebook page. (And don’t for get to like it!)Facebook-Like
4. Ask your friends and family to help by liking the picture on OUR page (if you share it ask them to click through to our page, other wise their like won’t count).
The winner will be determined by a percentage of the likes on facebook, and votes from the staff. Photos can be submitted from July 1- August 12 (to the email above). We will post all the photos at the same time on August 15. The voting will take place from August 15 through August 22. The winner will be announced after the staff vote on August 29. Good Luck !
Here are some of last years pictures:
My Dog Eats Grass, Does That Mean He’s Sick?
The short answer is no; eating grass does not mean your dog is sick. Eating grass is a normal behavior in dogs. A study revealed that the majority of dogs eat grass routinely (79% of the dogs studied ate grass daily). The same study revealed less than 20% of dogs that ate grass vomited after eating the grass. This means that grass is a poor inducer of nausea and/or vomiting. So dogs eat grass normally and it doesn’t make them vomit enough to give support to the claim that dogs eat grass to make themselves vomit.
I’ve always heard dogs ate grass when they feel sick to intentionally cause themselves to vomit and I never questioned it until
veterinary school. Why is this “wives tale” so pervasive that most of us have accepted it as truth if it has been proven to be false? Nobody really knows, but consider this explanation. Grass if indigestible by dogs, so if grass is ingested it will remain in the stomach longer than digestible items. If the majority of dogs eat grass daily, when they vomit for any reason there is a strong possibility there will be grass in the vomitus. We see grass in the vomit and jump to a simple, but wrong conclusion that the grass caused the vomiting. I think over the years we have come to the erroneous conclusion that the grass causes vomiting just because it is present in the vomitus so often.
So if your dog eats grass, don’t worry so much. However, if you dog is vomiting please have him seen by one of our veterinarians to try and determine the real cause of the vomiting.
Hiking Hazards, How to Keep You and You’re Pet Safe.
By: Dr. Ben Davidson
If you are anything like me, you love exploring this wonderful wilderness that surrounds us. If you’re reading this, you must love taking your faithful four-legged companion with you. There are a few things you can do to make the hiking experience much safer and more enjoyable for everyone. Most importantly is controlling the severe elements that we experience on our treks. In our area, these include the heat and the dry climate. Our pets tend to walk at least 50% further than we do, running ahead, circling back, and chasing that chipmunk off the trail. Between the extra exercise and their hair coat, they get a whole lot hotter than we do. Try to hike in shaded areas, with water around to cool off in. Try to leave early enough to avoid the hottest part of our day, the afternoon. Make sure you bring plenty of water and a good drinking bowl for them. Even if it’s a cool day, they need plenty of water.
Hopefully accidents and injuries won’t be a problem, and a few careful steps can prevent a lot of them, but just in case, a few simple additions to your first aid kit are a good idea. The most common injury we see is pad wear, or blisters on the bottom of their feet. Just like us, if their little feet aren’t accustomed to long walks, they can get very sore, or crack and blister. Try to get your pet back into good shape before you take off on that long walk. Also, wet feet are more prone to injury, so if you are hiking up to some beautiful alpine lake, make sure you plan on letting your pup dry out before heading back down. It’s hard to prevent little nicks and cuts from them running through the bushes and jumping rocks, but if it is possible to avoid those situations, it’s probably a good idea. Exercising a little caution and moderation, especially early in the season can also prevent injuries such as muscular and ligament strains, sprains and tears. Like I said, some basic first aid may be necessary for some of the unavoidable problems. A pair of tweezers for cactus, foxtails, or other thorns is useful. Superglue or any commercially available tissue adhesive can quickly repair a small cut on the fly. Saline eye flush (not a medicated Visine type product) is helpful in case they get something in their eye. There are some really nice pet first aid kits available at the pet stores or at the large sporting good and outdoor stores.
Finally, just know where you are hiking. Do a little research into what toxins and wildlife you might encounter. If you’re headed off to the east, or just locally, you need to be aware of rattlesnakes. Up in the mountains it’s not as much of a threat, but still, if you hear that suspicious rattle, get Fido back to you and walk on bye carefully. Flea, tick, and absolutely heartworm prevention is important when out in the elements. There are certainly other predators out there, and although these incidents are incredibly rare, it’s important to keep an eye out. If you are a horticulturalist and without question know the difference between toxic and safe plants, you are in a great place to go hiking. For the rest of us, don’t let your pets eat plants out there. They may be unsafe both in toxins and also by causing GI upset or obstructions.
Everybody have a great hiking season!
Road trip with your furry friend?
I remember the first time I took my dogs to the dog beaches in California – I thought being a vet would have prepared me for the unanticipated trials that arose from being with my girls for 24 hours a day in a non local area. But I wasn’t prepared, and now I have some advice for you!
Traveling with your pet can be a terrific experience, but only if you plan ahead. Make sure vaccines are current (and this means young animals should have at least 3 sets ending around 16 weeks of age), and always bring a copy of your vaccination certificate with you. Rabies is a nationwide concern and many state borders require proof of vaccination before allowing access to their state. As well as the certificate, a copy of your pet’s medical records is recommended, especially if they have a history of illness or chronic disease. I think it’s a great idea to locate a veterinarian along the way or at your final destination just in case you need some help. It is helpful to have a permanent ID implant such as a microchip – collars and leashes with ID can easily be removed or lost… It usually costs around $45 and will significantly increase your pet’s chance of recovery. Some companies such as Home Again aid in that recovery (with signs and notifications to the surrounding animal groups/hospitals) or even medical bills if your pet is injured while lost.
Many diseases are geographic, so please check to see if you need preventative medications or additional vaccinations prior to travel (i.e. – Heartworm disease, Lyme disease, Leptospirosis). Fleas and ticks can be a nuisance to both you and your pets, and can cause serious disease as well, so talk to us about prevention treatment options.
If this is your pet’s first trip, you should make sure they are able to travel for long distances. Try a shorter trip and see how it goes. Would sedation have been nice? An anti anxiety medication? Motion sickness drugs? Sedation can be a great option for long trips, but do you want the potential 12 hour effect? Always bring towels for cleaning up those nasty side effects of motion sickness (or puppy pads work well to line your seats). Keep in mind that tired dogs are usually calmer in the car, so make sure your friend gets plenty of exercise prior to loading into the car. And cats, well…you might call us and we can have a chat.
Keep those pets buckled! Or at least contained – no one wants a 70 lb dog climbing over their shoulder while driving down the freeway at 75mph… Kennels, pet barriers, and seatbelts/harnesses have been created to prevent unwanted risks. Again, practice with these PRIOR to your trip.
Be sure to stop for rest breaks! You should ideally stop every 3-4 hours along the road to offer water and a potty break. Stay clear of heavily soiled areas – although vaccines prevent diseases like parvo and distemper, it would be no fun to pick up a gastrointestinal parasite on vacation.
Many motels/hotels accept pets for a small deposit, but be sure to call ahead to make your reservations. When you do have to leave your pet in your room, make sure they are either in a crate or kennel, and stand outside the door to make sure they don’t bark or howl – although pet friendly, there are limitations! And not that you haven’t heard this one before – do not leave your pet in the car –temperatures can rise too quickly with very serious consequences.
Have fun with your pet, and be sure to call us if you have any questions!
How Long is Too Long for My Dog/Cat Not to Defecate?
I always recommend monitoring both the quantity and quality of what your pet ingests (food and water intake) and what they eliminate (urination and defecation habits). The quantity and color of urine and the feces color, texture, odor, and presence of mucus or blood are all indicators of how well your pet’s body is functioning overall. Often times changes in the characteristics of your animals feces or urine can be the first sign of a health problem developing, so it is important to be aware of your dog or cat’s elimination habits and to regularly monitor for changes in the fecal or urine appearance.
Constipation is defined by inadequate or complete lack of defecation (stool passage). The majority of dogs or cats will look like they are trying to go, need to go, or are experiencing discomfort when defecating without producing stool or producing a very small volume of firm/dry feces. If this difficulty or discomfort associated with defecation produces little stool and is persistent (lasts more than a day or 2) it is very important to seek veterinary assistance. Constipated pets may also appear bloated, uncomfortable, may have a decrease or loss of appetite, and can even start to vomit if left untreated. It is recommended that we determine the cause of the constipation through diagnostics and physical exam and resolve it prior to the dog or cat exhibiting any of these symptoms.
Ultimately, it is very important to regularly monitor not only what your pet is eating but also what they are eliminating in an effort to catch and resolve health problems early in the course of disease. If resolved sooner these problems tend to improve more completely and quickly, therefore, getting your beloved pet back on track sooner!
Every Year Around the Same Time My Dog Gets Itchy.
Many pets, like people, can get seasonal allergies. These allergies usually occur in the warmer months when grasses, trees, and sagebrush are blooming. Some signs of seasonal allergies are: red/inflammed skin, scratching and even excessive paw licking.
Dealing with seasonal allergies can be a frustrating endeavor for the pet, the owner, and also the veterinarian. There are multiple treatments for seasonal allergies, and as the old adage goes, when there are multiple ways to treat something, there isn’t a great way to treat it. Certain antihistamines can be used orally to try and decrease the itchiness. However, unfortunately only 30% of pets respond to antihistamines. The nice thing about antihistamines are their side effects are minimal with drowsiness being the most common.
The most common treatment for seasonal allergies are corticosteroids. These medications are relatively inexpensive and highly effective. The major disadvantage to corticosteroids are their side effects. The side effects are directly proportional to the dose needed to control the allergies, and include: increased water consumption and urination, increased appetite, and increased panting. Long term, high dosage treatment can cause ligament and muscle weakening, skin and liver changes. When using corticosteroids we always try to use the lowest effective dose which controls the allergies in order to minimize these side effects.
Another treatment for seasonal allergies in dogs is hyposensitization therapy. With this therapy we try to find out what the dog is allergic to by either a blood test or by injecting different allergens under the skin in small amounts to see if they form a welt (this is done by a veterinary dermatologist). Once we know what the dog is allergic to, a company formulates allergy injections to these allergens. We then teach the owner how to give these injections (in small amounts) at home in the hope of desensitizing the dog’s immune system to what they are allergic to. Unfortunately these injections don’t work all the time, and the testing and injections can be somewhat expensive. Approximately 25% of patients see no improvement, 50% see some improvement, and the remaining 25% can see complete improvement.
There are currently two additional medications which help to minimize the immune systems response to allergens. These medications are Atopica and Apoquel. Atopica is usually effective, but has the disadvantage of being expensive for larger dogs. Apoquel has just recently come on the market and appears to be very effective and relatively inexpensive with minimal side effects. We are hopeful that Apoquel will replace corticosteroids as the most common treatment for seasonal allergies. The biggest hurdle to Apoquel currently, is it is very difficult to get ahold of.
If you think your pet is having seasonal allergies, please give us a call and schedule an appointment with us, and we can help you determine which treatment is the best fit for your situation.