Archive for April, 2015

Tackling Ticks

by on April 2nd, 2015

Category: Special Offers, Tags:

Apr 15 Ticks

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Pet of the Month – April 2015

by on April 2nd, 2015

Category: Pet of the Month, Tags:

AlfOur Pet of the Month for April is Alf, a handsome Burtonion Bulldog. As is often the case when puppies leave their mother and move to their first ‘home’ Alf suffered a bout of diarrhoea almost immediately.

As with ourselves, simply providing plenty of fresh water, temporarily withholding food then reintroduction of small amounts of an easily digestible bland diet such as plain chicken and boiled rice or a little scrambled egg, is all that is required to provide some ‘gut rest’ and for the diarrhoea to settle. In cases where very plentiful diarrhoea occurs, especially if accompanied by vomiting, a more proactive approach may need to be taken and this may include temporary provision of oral or intravenous rehydrating solutions if dehydration is identified as a risk. There is very little indication for antibiotics to be given in most cases of short-term diarrhoea.Whilst there are many medical treatments which may act as ‘adsorbants’ purported to ‘soothe’ the gut, in many cases, just as in their human owners, dogs and cats with short bouts of diarrhoea require no treatment. Investigation as to a cause of acute diarrhoea in otherwise healthy cats and dogs is rarely undertaken since this is not only usually fruitless, but results in both unnecessary expense and, more importantly, potential for completely unnecessary medical tests to be performed on a pet.

The are numerous potential predisposing factors such as dietary change, internal parasites and the stress of moving home. We checked that his worming program was up to date and are pleased to report that Alf’s tummy has settled and he is doing very well.

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Disc Disease in Dogs

by on April 2nd, 2015

Category: News, Tags:

DachshundDachshunds and similar breeds such Pekingese, Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus, have short legs and a relatively long back. These breeds suffer from a condition called ‘chondrodystropic dwarfism’. As a result they can be prone to back problems, more specifically disc disease.


What are intervertebral discs?
The intervertebral disc is a structure that sits between the bones in the back (the vertebra) and acts as a shock absorber. The structure of a disc is a little like a jam doughnut with a tough fibrous outer layer (annulus fibrosus) like the dough, and a liquid/jelly inner layer (nucleus pulposus) like the jam.


In chondrodystrophoid breeds like dachshunds, the discs undergo change where the nucleus pulposus changes from a jelly-like substance into cartilage. Sometimes the cartilage can mineralise and become more like bone and show up on an x-ray. In these breeds, this change occurs in all discs from approximately one year of age and is considered part of usual development for these dogs. This change in the discs is a degenerative process and predisposes the disc to disease.


The most common type of disc disease in dachshunds and other chondrodystrophoid breeds is ‘extrusion’. This is where the annulus fibrosus ruptures and allows the leakage of the nucleus pulposus into the spinal canal. An analogy we often use is the jam leaking from a jam doughnut when it is squeezed.


What are the signs of disc disease in dachshunds and other breeds?
The first evidence that there might be a problem is that your dog may be in pain. This may consist of yelping and/or a hunched back and more subtle signs such as quietness and inappetence (lack of appetite). Back pain is commonly mistaken for abdominal pain.


After pain there may be mobility problems. The first thing to occur is wobbliness of the hind limbs – termed ‘ataxia’. After this, weakness can develop with the wobbliness, which is termed paresis. Subsequently, the patient may lose control of the back legs altogether and not be able to walk. If there is no movement in the hind limbs this is ‘paralysis’.


Will my dog need to be referred to a specialist?
Spinal disease can sometimes be difficult to manage and your dog may be referred to a specialist. At the referral clinic, your dog will be assessed by the specialist neurologist or neurosurgeon. They will test various reflexes to decide where they think the issue may be. They will perform a clinical examination which will assess for other disease processes and look for any areas of pain. One thing that is important to assess is the presence of pain sensation. We call this ‘deep pain sensation’. To assess this, the specialist will pinch your dog’s toes, usually with fingers initially but it may need to be with forceps. This is not a pleasant test to perform but it is necessary as the presence of deep pain comes with a more favourable prognosis. The loss of deep pain sensation means the prognosis is worse and without surgery is considered very poor.


What investigations will be performed?
After the clinical examination, we will generally have a good idea where the problem is and the next step is to confirm the diagnosis. The best way of diagnosing disc disease is with MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or CT (computed tomography). With MRI we get detailed information about the soft tissue such as the disc itself and the spinal cord. Computed tomography uses the same technology as x-ray and provides good information about the bone and mineral structures and can tell us where the lesion is and whether or not surgery is indicated.


How is disc extrusion treated?
If a disc extrusion – the ‘jam out of the doughnut’ scenario – is diagnosed then we can opt for conservative care or surgical management.


Conservative care is a non-surgical management and can be considered in dogs where the signs are mild or intermittent and when there is only mild compression of the spinal cord. It can also be considered if there are concerns regarding the cost of surgery.
Surgical treatment involves making a window through the bone structures of the vertebra, into the spinal canal, a procedure called a ‘hemilaminectomy’. Once into the spinal canal, the disc material (nucleus pulposus) is removed and the spinal cord is decompressed. Surgical treatment tends to give a speedier and more predictable recovery and is often considered the treatment of choice, where indicated.


What is the prognosis for a dog with disc disease?
When dealing with spinal injury, particularly from disc disease, we aim for patients to achieve a functional recovery. This means the patient is pain free, is able to get around on their own (although they may still be wobbly) and able to toilet themselves unaided. Whether a patient will return to normal or whether there will be residual deficits is down to the individual.


The prognosis for patients who have intact deep pain sensation is favourable, with most patients (80-90%) achieving a functional recovery. In patients without deep pain sensation, the prognosis is guarded, with only 50% of cases achieving a functional recovery but without surgery the prognosis for a functional recovery is approximately 5%.


Surgery tends to speed recovery and aid early pain control. We expect most patients to recover within the first 2 weeks after surgery, with a smaller number of patients taking longer (2-6 weeks). If there is no improvement after 6 weeks the prognosis becomes more uncertain and long term disability may be present. This occurs in approximately 1 in 10 patients.

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