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COVID-19 UPDATE & FAQ’s

by admin on April 6th, 2020

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Firstly may we say a massive thank you to all our customers for being so understanding and accommodating at this difficult time.

And a huge thank you to all our amazing vets, nurses and receptionists for pulling together to find the best possible means by which to provide local pets with the care they need.

Small teams are working 24/7 on a roster to provide emergency care and urgent treatment where animal welfare would be compromised by delay.

In line with government guidelines we are now only open for emergencies and for patients that need essential care to avoid unnecessary suffering or maintain animal welfare.

Our main Littlehampton hospital REMAINS OPEN however as you would expect we have put in place all the necessary steps to ensure that we reduce the risk of virus transmission, and are keeping the main door closed. We need to keep everyone safe.

Concerned about your pet’s health but don’t think it’s an emergency?

If you are worried about your pet, phone us and explain your situation. We’ll arrange a suitable way of conducting your appointment that is in everyone’s best interests.

There are a variety of options available to everyone – the important thing is to let us know and we’ll work together!

To respect social distancing rules, we are replacing our standard consultation service with video and telephone consultations. Please contact the practice to arrange an appointment and discuss suitable communication platforms (eg Skype, Facetime, WhatsApp). Payment can be made over the phone.

What constitutes an emergency that needs immediate care?

If any of the below apply to your pet, contact us IMMEDIATELY:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Open wound injuries
  • Trauma (e.g. car accidents)
  • Male cats struggling in the litter tray to pass urine
  • Rabbits neglecting food
  • Swallowing hazards ie.toys/clothes
  • Ingestion of poisonous/harmful substances
  • Eye problems
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea especially if your pet appears quiet or depressed or if it is going on for a long time (more than 24 hours)
  • Swollen abdomen or retching (especially large dogs)
  • Loss of thirst & appetite
  • Struggling to give birth
  • Seizuring/fitting
  • Collapse

If the recommendation is to come into the practice, please follow the advice given by our staff. 

  • We will ask that you telephone us when you arrive in the car park. 
  • A member of staff will come out and take your pet into the clinic. 
  • After making an assessment we will ring you on your mobile to discuss the necessary treatment and way forward.
Our governing body, RCVS, and BVA advise us that current restrictions will remain in place for 3 weeks from Monday 23 March and will be reviewed in light of any further government instructions or relevant information, after that period.
 

COVID-19 FAQ’s

Can I bring my pet in for an INITIAL VACCINATION COURSE?

A vaccination is not deemed an emergency and we will not be offering an initial vaccination course. If you have a puppy, we recommend that they are kept inside and not exposed to other dogs. You should book a vaccination course as soon as possible after normal service resumes.

We will review this and provide a further update if the government extends the initial three weeks of enhanced measures to slow the spread of the virus.

Can I bring my pet in for their ANNUAL VACCINATION BOOSTER?

We can postpone this vaccine for up to 3 months after the due date without requiring a restart. During these exceptional times, we ask that you delay the booster until up to a maximum of 3 months after the due date.

Can I bring in my pet for a HEALTH CHECK?

Not at this moment in time because this is not deemed critical. However, if your pet is ill we will be able to conduct a consultation via a video or telephone consultation. Please ask the practice for further information.

Can I bring my pet in for NAIL CLIPS? Or to have their ANAL GLANDS expressed?

This should be postponed if your pet is not in any danger of feeling discomfort. If you are uncertain whether this is the case, please arrange a video or telephone consultation with the vet.

How can I get my REPEAT FOOD or MEDICATIONS?

It is important that you continue to give your pet the appropriate food and medication. We are looking at ways of getting these to clients who are due them and postal / delivery services may be an option. Please contact us to make suitable arrangements.

How can I get my FLEA, WORM, TICK and FLYSTRIKE treatments?

It is important that you continue to give your pet the appropriate treatments. We are looking at ways of getting these to clients who are due them and postal / delivery services may be an option. Please contact us to make suitable arrangements.

Can my pet still have ELECTIVE OPERATIONS such as Neutering and Lumps removals?

These operations are not deemed to be critical during these extraordinary times and we therefore ask that you postpone these procedures, until government guidelines on social distancing change.

What about ULTRASOUNDS and BLOOD TESTS?

It depends whether these are deemed critical or not – please contact us to discuss.

Cat

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Hip dysplasia

by admin on March 3rd, 2020

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What is hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia means abnormal development of the hip joint. It inevitably leads to the development of arthritis (osteoarthritis). Either the hip dysplasia or the secondary arthritis may cause hip pain.

Hip dysplasia is a genetic disorder caused by the combination of genes from the parents (dam and sire). During the first few months of life, as the hips are developing, they become unstable. As a result the ball (femoral head) and socket (acetabulum) move apart during weight bearing. This causes abnormal forces on the soft bones which leads to the ball becoming flattened and the socket becoming shallow.  The process is self-perpetuating and causes damage to the covering of the bones (the articular cartilage). Cartilage damage is a key feature of the secondary osteoarthritis.

What are the signs of hip dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia is a common condition, especially in large breed dogs. The key signs are hind limb lameness and stiffness. The latter is generally most evident after rest following exercise. Difficulty rising and reluctance to jump or exercise are also common features. A rolling hind limb action may be seen in young dogs. More subtle signs include restlessness, moaning and licking the skin over the hip.

Signs tend to develop when the dog is immature and growing (five to 10 months of age) or when adult (perhaps a few years of age). When immature, it is the instability of the hip that causes the pain whereas in adult dogs it is the osteoarthritis which results in discomfort.

How is hip dysplasia diagnosed?
Examination may reveal muscle wastage (atrophy), especially over the hips. Manipulation of the joints may cause increased pain and instability may be palpable.

X-rays (radiographs) are necessary to diagnose hip dysplasia. They enable the severity of the abnormal joint development and presence of secondary osteoarthritis to be assessed.

How can hip dysplasia be treated?
The majority of dogs with hip dysplasia can be managed satisfactorily without the need for surgery. Exercise often needs to be controlled to some degree. Each dog will have its own threshold of duration and type of activity beyond which hip pain may increase. Hydrotherapy is often beneficial. Dogs that are overweight benefit from being placed on a diet. Tit-bits may need to be withdrawn and food portions reduced in size. Regular monitoring of weight may be necessary. Painkillers (anti-inflammatory drugs) may be indicated to make the dog more comfortable. Long-term drug therapy should be avoided if at all possible in view of potential side effects.

Some dogs with hip dysplasia fail to respond satisfactorily to conservative treatment and in these cases surgery may be indicated. The two key types of surgery are (1) reconstructive and (2) salvage.

Reconstructive surgery
In some young dogs (usually less than a year of age) the abnormal hip joint may be reconstructed to make it more stable. This involves cutting the pelvis and rotating the cup (acetabulum) over the ball (femoral head). The rotated section is secured in the new position with a specially designed plate. Either a triple pelvic osteotomy (TPO) or a double pelvic osteotomy (DPO) can be performed. Reconstructive surgery has the advantage of maintaining the dog’s own joint tissues and hopefully reducing the development of osteoarthritis. Unfortunately many young dogs with hip dysplasia are not good candidates for reconstructive surgery.

The aftercare following DPO or TPO surgery is very important. Exercise has to be restricted for eight weeks until the cut bones heal. Long-term hip function is generally good. Further surgery or long-term medication is generally not necessary.

Salvage surgery
Adult dogs with hip dysplasia and secondary osteoarthritis that fail to respond to medical management may require salvage hip surgery. The principle options are to replace the hip with an artificial one (total hip replacement) or to remove the ball (femoral head removal or excisional arthroplasty).

Total hip replacement generally results in significantly better limb function compared to femoral head removal and the recovery is much quicker. However, although uncommon, there are potential complications with total hip replacement surgery that need to be carefully considered prior to making a decision. With modern systems total hip replacement can be performed successfully in all sizes of patients.

Femoral head removal provides a ‘false joint’ where the limb is supported on the pelvis by scar tissue and the surrounding muscles. Recovery following surgery is slow and the limb ends up slightly shorter. Aftercare, especially physiotherapy and hydrotherapy, is very important.

Total hip replacement
Total hip replacement surgery involves replacing the painful joint with a plastic cup and a metal ball (acetabular and femoral prostheses). Care following surgery is critical to reduce the possibility of complications, such as dislocation of the prostheses. A rapid reduction in joint pain and improvement in limb function are to be expected.

What is the outlook with hip dysplasia?
The outlook or prognosis with hip dysplasia and the associated osteoarthritis is generally good. As mentioned above many dogs can be managed successfully with conservative treatment involving modification of exercise and weight, with or without the need for anti-inflammatory painkiller drugs. Those that fail to respond satisfactorily may necessitate reconstructive procedures (DPO or TPO) or salvage surgery such as total hip replacement. The outcome of these procedures is generally very good, albeit that there are potential complications.

 

HIPS NORMAL

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Asthma and Bronchitis in Cats

by admin on February 3rd, 2020

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What is asthma and feline bronchitis?

Asthma is a common respiratory condition in cats. The disease is caused by activation of inflammation in the lungs in response to irritants or allergens in the environment. The cells in the lungs respond by increased production of mucus and reversible narrowing (spasm) of the small airways. The condition is similar to the well described human form of the disease. In most cases the exact cause or trigger is unknown. A similar condition exists called chronic bronchitis. This shares many similarities with asthma. In cats with chronic bronchitis inflammation of the small airways is present however the reversible spasm is not.

What are the signs?

The signs of both conditions are similar and can vary in severity and frequency. The most common include:

  • Coughing
  • Rapid breathing/open-mouth breathing
  • Increased noise or wheezing sounds when breathing
  • Breathing difficulties/increased effort whilst breathing

Some cats can have a sudden life-threatening asthma attack. The signs of this would include breathing difficulties, open mouth breathing and weakness/collapse. This can happen in cats with previously diagnosed asthma or can be the first sign in some cases. Immediate veterinary attention is required in any cat with these signs at home.

How are the conditions diagnosed?

A diagnosis of asthma or chronic bronchitis is normally reached after a series of diagnostic tests. Often these are performed to exclude other causes of coughing/breathing difficulties in cats. Firstly a thorough history is taken. A physical examination is then performed. Harsh or wheezy sounds can be heard when the chest is auscultated.

In addition a combination of some or all of the following tests can be performed:

  • Blood tests to assess general health and to evaluate white blood cell number and type.
  • Faecal tests to check for feline lungworm infection may be performed.
  • X-rays or a CT scan of the chest. In some asthmatic cats X-rays and/or CT scan can be normal. In others thickened airway walls are seen or signs of ‘over-inflation’ of the lungs. These tests are also important to rule out other causes of coughing/breathing abnormalities in cats.
  • Bronchoscopy or video camera into the lungs to examine the inner lining of the airways.
  • An airway wash may be performed. The fluid is then examined under the microscope to check inflammatory cell type and number and whether there is any evidence of bacteria or parasites. In addition the fluid is often cultured and a test for bacterial and/or parasitic DNA performed.

What is the treatment?

Both conditions are treated with anti-inflammatories (normally corticosteroids). Generally the medication is administered in one of three ways

  • By injection: in cats which are hospitalised short-acting injectable forms of steroids may be administered, especially in patients that are experiencing breathing difficulties. Rarely long-acting injectable forms that can last between 3-6 weeks can be used in patients who cannot be given medication by mouth or inhaled medication.
  • By mouth (tablet or occasionally liquid form): to begin with a higher dose is used before gradually reducing to the minimum effective dose.
  • By inhalation: metered dose inhalers (MDIs) can be used as an alternative to oral medication. These are administered using a spacer device attached to a specially designed face mask for cats. Once a cat has become accustomed to the device it is normally well tolerated.

The advantage of this method of administration is that the steroids are delivered directly to the lungs and absorption to the rest of the body is minimised. This can reduce systemic side effects associated with oral steroid therapy. Further information regarding the Aerokat™ spacer device including a video demonstrating how it is used can be found on the following website: https://www.trudellmed.com/trudell-animal-health

In addition some cats require bronchodilators which are drugs that can help to relax (or dilate) the small airways. This medication can be given by injection in patients that are hospitalised or by mouth (tablets) at home. Inhaled bronchodilators are also available.

What is the prognosis for feline asthma?

With appropriate treatment the prognosis is normally good. Many cats will require life-long therapy. Unfortunately some cats can have progressive signs despite treatment. Uncommonly in some asthmatic cats a severe attack can be fatal.

If you have any questions about your cat’s condition, or his or her treatment, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Cat

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Addison’s Disease (Hypoadrenocorticism)

by admin on January 3rd, 2020

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What is Addison’s Disease?
Addison’s Disease is also called ‘hypoadrenocorticism’. This is a potentially life-threatening disorder caused by inadequate levels of hormones produced by small glands which are located in the abdomen (the tummy) near the kidneys. The adrenal glands produce two types of hormone that are critical for life:

  • Glucocorticoids
  • Mineralocorticoids

These hormones circulate through the blood stream and have effects on cells and tissues throughout the body. Dogs or cats with insufficient levels of these hormones can become very unwell.

Glucocorticoids are a natural form of cortisone (steroid). Cortisone is essential for life and must be at the right levels in the body for animals (and humans) to feel well. Steroids improve appetite and have effects on the function of the immune system that fights off infections.
Glucocorticoids can also be used as a drug for the treatment of some diseases.

Too little natural circulating cortisone is one of the components of Addison’s Disease (too much circulating glucocorticoid also causes a problem called Cushing’s Syndrome). Mineralocorticoids are also hormones produced by the adrenal glands.

Mineralocorticoids help to control the body’s ‘salt’ concentrations of both sodium and potassium. As with glucocorticoids, too much or too little mineralocorticoid in the body generally results in serious medical problems.

Addison’s Disease occurs when the body has insufficient circulating levels of both glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids.

What causes Addison’s Disease?
Addison’s Disease results when both of the adrenal glands are damaged. This most commonly occurs when the affected animal’s own immune system, which normally fights off infections, becomes overactive and damages the adrenal glands (so called ‘immune mediated’ disease). Less common causes of Addison’s Disease are cancers or infections that can invade and kill the adrenal gland tissues.

Which animals are predisposed to Addison’s Disease?
Although Addison’s Disease is not very common, it occurs most frequently in young to middle-aged female dogs. Addison’s Disease is considered rare in cats, but the condition has been diagnosed in dogs and cats of all ages and of either sex (including neutered animals of both sexes).

Breeds that appear to be predisposed to Addison’s Disease include Portuguese Water Dogs, Standard Poodles and Bearded Collies, although it can affect any breed and crossbred dogs.

What are the symptoms (signs) of Addison’s Disease?
The signs of Addison’s Disease come on quickly, usually over a few days, although they can also appear over a period of months. Most owners notice that their pet develops several problems at about the same time including;

  • Reduced appetite
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Weight loss
  • Tremors

In severe cases some dogs will suddenly collapse and develop shock-like symptoms.

What tests are needed to diagnose Addison’s Disease?
The signs of vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, and weight loss are extremely non-specific – many other conditions such as stomach and intestinal disease, kidney disease and pancreatic disease can cause these symptoms. Further tests are therefore needed to determine the cause of these problems.

Changes that may be noted on blood tests include changes in the salt levels in the blood – an increase in potassium and a decrease in sodium are major findings. However, these changes can also be seen with other disease processes, and if Addison’s Disease is suspected, a specific test is then recommended for confirming the diagnosis – this is called an ‘ACTH stimulation test’.

What treatment is needed if Addison’s Disease is diagnosed?
Initially, most patients with Addison’s Disease have severe dehydration and electrolyte (salt) loss, meaning that they need to be hospitalised for initial treatment and stabilisation.

Once stabilised, patients with Addison’s Disease require long term (lifelong) treatment with hormone replacement, to substitute for the missing mineralocorticoids and glucocorticoids. These drugs can be given at home in the form of tablets or injections.

The amount of medication may need to be changed over time, and frequent blood tests are recommended to monitor the condition and improve the chances of good control of the disease.

If dogs are stressed (for example due to going to boarding kennels, or because of other illness) your vet may guide you to administer some additional steroid therapy.

What’s the prognosis (outlook)?
Once dogs and cats with Addison’s Disease are correctly diagnosed and properly treated, they can live long and happy lives. Treatment is almost always successful and rewarding.

Dog

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Chronic liver failure

by admin on December 2nd, 2019

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The liver is a vital organ – animals and people cannot survive without their livers. The liver performs many complex functions that are essential to life and good health. Its main functions are:

  • To convert food into useful substances such as proteins for repair and growth of the body
  • To maintain normal functions such as blood clotting, fighting infection and secretion of substances to the bloodstream
  • Bile production, which assists with the absorption of fat and certain vitamins
  • To store the body’s primary sugar (glucose) as glycogen and be able to release it into the bloodstream when it is needed
  • To neutralise and break down toxic substances such as chemicals and some medications, for later elimination in bile or through the kidneys

What is chronic liver failure?
Chronic liver failure occurs due to long-term damage to the liver, resulting in a liver that fails to work. Chronic liver failure can be caused by chronic exposure to toxins, heavy metals (copper, iron and zinc), chronic infections, chronic inflammation/irritation, cancer, blood vessel abnormalities (congenital portosystemic shunt – an abnormal blood vessel that a pet is born with that bypasses the liver), immune disease and fatty liver syndrome in cats.

The liver is very good at regenerating itself (unlike other organs such as the kidneys), but serious ongoing damage to the liver can cause long-term failure of its function – this is known as chronic liver failure. Over 75% of the liver is usually damaged before liver failure occurs.

What are the signs of chronic liver failure?

  • Reduced appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Increased thirst
  • Strange behaviours
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea – occasionally blood in the stools, or dark, tarry stools
  • Bloated tummy due to fluid accumulation
  • Yellow skin, urine, gums (jaundice)
  • Weight loss

How is chronic liver failure diagnosed?
Liver failure is diagnosed by blood tests which indicate dysfunction of the liver. Further investigations, such as ultrasound scans, urine cultures, blood cultures or other tests for infections, may be required in individual cases. Samples of the liver may be required to diagnose the cause of liver failure in many cases – these may be obtained through a needle placed in the liver under guidance on an ultrasound scan; alternatively the liver may be visualised by using keyhole surgery (laparoscopy) or by a full surgical procedure. The technique that is chosen will depend on a number of factors, and these will be discussed with you in the event that biopsies are required. In some cases of chronic liver disease the initial cause of the problem may no longer be present at the time of investigation, but the disease itself may still cause symptoms, and the damage to the liver may also continue.

How is chronic liver failure treated?
Chronic liver failure requires multiple treatments. It is important to try to remove the initiating cause (e.g. toxins, infections, cancer etc). Sometimes, this is not possible and it is best to support liver function and make the patient as comfortable as possible. Some diseases e.g. blood vessel abnormalities such as congenital portosystemic shunts (abnormal blood vessels that bypass the liver) can be corrected by Specialist surgical procedures.

Treatments which may be required in chronic liver failure include:

  • removing fluid from the abdomen that accumulates due to scarring of the liver
  • antibiotics to prevent infections
  • antacids to reduce gastrointestinal ulceration
  • drugs to support the liver including anti-oxidants, anti-scarring drugs and drugs that bind to heavy metals i.e. copper and zinc
  • dietary modification to reduce protein and copper levels in some patients
  • nutritional support – an adequate intake of vital nutrients including calories is very important in cases of chronic liver failure.

What is the long term outlook?
Considering the severity of this disease process, this is a challenging condition to treat. Early intervention and aggressive treatment can be successful in some cases where the extent of damage is not too severe. At the present time, liver transplants are not available in veterinary medicine.
If your pet develops chronic liver failure, we will discuss the treatment options in detail with you and give you the help you need in making decisions about what you wish us to do to help your pet.

Dog Jaundiced

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Hiatal Hernia

by admin on November 5th, 2019

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What is a Hiatal Hernia?
A hiatal hernia is the abnormal movement of part of the stomach from its normal position in the abdomen into the chest.

The diaphragm is a sheet of muscle which separates the chest and abdomen. The oesophagus (food pipe) and major blood vessels and nerves pass through the diaphragm via small openings within the muscle. During the development of a puppy, these openings may be excessively large, allowing organs which should remain in the abdomen to pass into the chest. The stomach can become permanently displaced but more commonly slides back and forth between the abdomen and the chest.

What breeds are affected?
English Bulldogs are the breed most commonly seen with this condition in the UK. Brachycephalic dogs (those with a shortened nose such as English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs and Pugs) are at an increased risk of displacement of the stomach into the chest as the negative pressures within the chest created by their abnormal airway, act to ‘suck’ the stomach through the opening in the diaphragm.

What are the symptoms?
Dogs with hiatal hernia frequently vomit or regurgitate (passive reflux of stomach contents) due to the abnormal position of the stomach. These signs most commonly occur during peak exercise or when the dog becomes excited. Reflux of acidic stomach contents into the oesophagus results in inflammation (reflux oesophagitis) which can trigger a self-perpetuating cycle of regurgitation causing further inflammation.

Other symptoms which may be observed include excessive salivation, poor appetite and weight loss. Vomiting and/or regurgitation of stomach contents can result in inhalation of this material and the development of secondary pneumonia. In this scenario symptoms such as a cough, nasal discharge and breathing difficulties will be observed.

How is the diagnosis made?
Hiatal hernia is most commonly diagnosed via fluoroscopy (a moving x-ray study). Whilst the dog is eating, a continuous run of X-rays are taken which allows the swallowing process and position of the stomach to be closely observed. Typical findings consistent with a diagnosis of hiatal hernia are food entering the stomach and then passing back up the oesophagus (reflux) along with movement of the stomach back and forth across the diaphragm.

As the stomach typically slides back and forth from a normal to abnormal position, there is the possibility that the imaging study documents a normal stomach position. This does not exclude the diagnosis of hiatal hernia as the most likely explanation for a normal stomach position is that the stomach has not been ‘captured’ in an abnormal position at the time of the imaging study. If this scenario arises, a presumptive diagnosis of hiatal hernia may be made based on the breed of the dog and the symptoms.

What treatment options are available?
The management of hiatal hernia can be broadly divided into medical and surgical options.

Medical management consists of the use of medication to reduce inflammation within the oesophagus (antacids) and aid motility of the gastrointestinal tract. Medication often reduces the severity and frequency of the symptoms but is unlikely to eliminate them completely due to the persistently abnormal position of the stomach.

Surgical correction is often indicated to resolve the clinical problems. In some patients surgical correction of the upper airway problems, as seen in Brachycephalic dogs, eliminates the problems. In other patients the surgery will consist of reducing the size of the overly large opening in the diaphragm and stitching the oesophagus and stomach permanently in a normal position. This technique prevents movement of the stomach into the chest.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for my dog?
The prognosis following surgery is good. The aim is to eliminate the symptoms (regurgitation and vomiting) completely. Rarely, dogs may continue to regurgitate and/or vomit after surgery although with a markedly reduced frequency compared to before surgery. If this is the case, these mild symptoms can usually be controlled with the use of medication.

Hiatal Hernia

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Canine Flank Alopecia

by admin on October 1st, 2019

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What is canine flank alopecia?
Canine flank alopecia is a localised, often cyclic, disease of the hair follicles resulting in hair loss over the flanks of affected dogs. It is also known by the names cyclic flank alopecia, recurrent flank alopecia and seasonal flank alopecia, but these terms are not always accurate as the condition can appear at various times of the year, vary in duration, be continuous or be sporadic in nature.

What causes flank alopecia?
The cause of this condition is not known. However, as hair loss often occurs at times of the year when day length is at its shortest, light exposure may be involved. The mechanisms by which this might occur are not understood at present.

What are the clinical signs?
Canine flank alopecia occurs in dogs with ages ranging from 1 year to 11 years, although most cases develop between 3 and 6 years. This condition is seen more commonly in breeds such as Boxers, Airedale terriers, English Bulldogs and Schnauzers.

The condition causes areas of non-itchy hair loss over the flanks of affected dogs (Figure 1). The skin at the affected sites usually appears normal, although it often becomes very dark with pigmentation, and hair re-growth of a different colour sometimes occurs. Surrounding hair and skin is usually normal. Canine flank alopecia can occur on both sides of the dog or be limited to one side, and hair loss can also occur over the base of the back (Figure 2). The disease in some dogs is cyclic, with hair loss occurring at the same time each year and hair re-growth occurring in the times between. In other dogs, hair loss is more permanent, and no re-growth is seen following the initial loss. Some dogs are reported as only having one cycle of hair loss and re-growth in their lives.

How is it diagnosed?
The diagnosis of canine flank alopecia can often be made based on the clinical findings, since the lesions are so striking. Some hormonal diseases of dogs can present with non-itchy hair loss, so blood and urine tests may be warranted if there is a concern about these diseases.
Additionally, biopsies of affected skin can be taken which are then sent off for analysis at a laboratory. Biopsies can be supportive of a diagnosis of canine flank alopecia.

What are the treatments available?
Canine flank alopecia is a cosmetic disease. As dogs remain healthy, with many re-growing their hair eventually, a decision not to treat the affected dog is often taken.
If treatment is requested, melatonin is generally considered the treatment of choice as it is relatively safe and inexpensive. It is difficult to judge the response to medication though due to the high rate of spontaneous hair re-growth.

What is the outlook/prognosis?
The prognosis for this cosmetic disease is good, with dogs remaining systemically healthy despite unpredictable hair growth. The prognosis for full and normal hair re-growth at affected sites is also often good, but the disease is highly variable.

Seasonal_flank_alopecia

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Nasal Disease

by admin on September 2nd, 2019

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What diseases can affect the inside of the nose?

There are several different types of problem that can affect the nasal cavity of dogs and cats. The most common conditions in dogs include inflammation of the nasal cavity (rhinitis) and nasal tumours (cancer). Rhinitis in dogs can be due to a number of problems including allergy (called lymphoplasmacytic rhinitis), fungal infection (most commonly a fungus called Aspergillus) and foreign bodies (such as grass blades). In cats fungal disease is rare, whilst polyps (benign outgrowths of tissue) in the nose/ throat, rhinitis of unknown cause and tumours are more common. Bacterial infection can occur as a consequence of the underlying disease but does not cause nasal disease by itself.

What are the signs of nasal disease?

  • Sneezing
  • Snorting
  • Nasal discharge
  • Nose bleeds
  • Nasal pain
  • Nasal ulceration or loss of pigment around the nostrils
  • Reverse sneezing (this can look like spasms of choking or difficulty breathing and can be quite disturbing to see but is not a life threatening problem)

How is nasal disease diagnosed?
Bloods tests may be performed as part of an initial investigation, looking at general organ health prior to performing an anaesthetic or other tests. Sometimes blood tests are performed to look at how well the patient’s blood is clotting in patients with nose bleeds. Most commonly X-rays or a CT scan of the nasal cavity are performed under general anaesthesia and a procedure called rhinoscopy is carried out, in which an endoscope camera is inserted up the nose or used to look at the back of the throat.

Nasal X-rays may show damage to the small bones in the nose and they may reveal the presence of fluid or tumours. X-rays can sometimes look normal even when nasal disease is present, however.

A CT scan is a much more effective and sensitive way of detecting disease in the nose and will not uncommonly reveal abnormalities that haven’t shown up on an X-ray. A CT scan will also help to define the extent of any damage or the location of a tumour.

Rhinoscopy (passing a small camera inside the nose) is performed to look for abnormalities including fungal infection, tumours, and foreign bodies and to help take a tissue biopsy from the nose to send for analysis.

How is nasal disease treated?
The treatment for nasal disease depends upon its underlying cause and severity. Sometimes medication in the form of tablets is prescribed; anti-fungal solution must be put into the nose or the sinuses to treat the fungal infection Aspergillus, whilst either radiation therapy or chemotherapy may be required for the treatment of nasal tumours.

What is the long term outlook (prognosis)?
The long term outlook depends upon the underlying disease. Patients usually recover well from removal of a foreign body. Allergic rhinitis is not a life-threatening problem, but treatment is generally aimed at controlling rather than curing the problem and some patients may not respond as well as would be hoped. Aspergillus can respond well to therapy, but the condition may be recurrent and difficult to cure in some patients.
More specific advice and guidance about treatment of nasal disease for individual patients can be given once the diagnosis has been made and detailed information has been obtained from the diagnostic work-up.

Dog Boxer (1)

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Spinal Fractures

by admin on August 1st, 2019

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Spinal Fractures
Fractures (breaks) of the spine occur when dogs and cats are involved in road traffic accidents or suffer other major trauma such as a fall or running into a patio door. Spinal fractures are often associated with varying degrees of injury to the spinal cord (the bundle of nerves inside the vertebrae) and, therefore, nerve damage. Although many animals may be paralysed as a result of the fracture, they will often recover, provided that they retain the ability to feel pain and that they are managed appropriately. Some cases can be treated medically, but it is often necessary to consider surgery to stabilise a fractured spine.

What is involved in a spinal fracture?
In a spinal fracture, the bones (vertebrae) of the spine break (fracture) or come apart from each other (dislocate or luxate). Fracture of the spine usually occurs as a result of a significant injury, such as being hit by a car, although occasionally the bones in the spine may fracture with minimal, if any, trauma because they are already weakened by a condition such as a tumour (referred to as a ‘pathological fracture’).

When the vertebrae of the spine fracture or dislocate (luxate) the associated vertebral displacement often injures the nerves of the spinal cord. The concussion and compression of the spinal nerves affects nerve function, and the signs that develop may vary from only mild weakness through to paralysis (inability to voluntarily move the limbs). Severely affected patients may become incontinent and lose the ability to feel pain in their limbs and tail.

How are spinal fractures diagnosed?
Physical examination of the patient by the specialist may enable detection of instability of the spine or abnormal alignment of the spine. Importantly, examination also enables assessment of the severity of any associated spinal cord injury – in particular, whether or not the patient can still feel pain.

X-rays (radiographs) are often obtained to look for evidence of fracture (or luxation) of the vertebrae and are generally sufficient to make a diagnosis in the majority of cases. Occasionally a more advanced imaging technique is preferred, to provide additional detail of the spine. CT scanning is particularly good at looking at the bony detail of fractures which may not be apparent on normal X-rays. MRI scanning is not so good at detecting damage to bones of the spine, but it is excellent for assessing any damage to the spinal cord.

How are spinal fractures managed?
Spinal fractures (and luxations) are often emergencies because of the associated spinal cord injury and risk of further damage. As a result, they need to be treated with the minimum of delay. Affected dogs and cats are often in significant pain, and care should be taken to avoid the handler being bitten or scratched. Patients should be moved with great caution in case the spine (vertebral column) is unstable, as further movement may aggravate the injury and any nerve damage. Strapping the patient to a rigid board may be helpful in some cases.

Some fractures of the spine may be treated conservatively without the need for surgery. This is particularly appropriate in patients with relatively stable vertebrae and minimal spinal cord injury. Conversely, dogs and cats with unstable fractured spines, those with significant spinal cord injuries and those in severe pain are often best treated surgically. Surgery aims to re-align and stabilise the affected vertebrae. The procedure most often involves placing screws or pins in the bones on either side of the fracture (or luxation) and securing them with either a plate or cement.

What is the outlook (prognosis) in patients with spinal fractures?
The outlook in dogs and cats with spinal fracture is primarily dependent on the severity of the spinal cord injury and how the patient is treated. Provided the ability to feel pain in the limbs and tail is maintained and the patient is managed appropriately, the outlook is generally good. Recovery may take a number of weeks (or even months in severely affected cases) and supportive care, including physiotherapy/hydrotherapy exercises, may be necessary. In contrast, patients with spinal fractures that can no longer feel pain are very unlikely to recover, no matter how they are treated, since the spinal cord injury is generally severe and irreversible.

 SPINE LUXATION

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Pancreatitis in Dogs

by admin on July 3rd, 2019

Category: News, Tags:

What is pancreatitis?
The pancreas is an organ in the abdomen (tummy) which is responsible for releasing enzymes (types of proteins) to digest food. The pancreas also releases important hormones (such as insulin) into the bloodstream. Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed (tender and swollen). In most cases pancreatitis occurs for no apparent underlying reason, although sometimes it can have a particular cause (such as scavenging food). Pancreatitis most commonly affects middle aged to older dogs, but in addition, dogs of certain breeds (e.g. Cocker Spaniels and Terrier breeds) are more prone to developing the condition.

What are the signs of pancreatitis?
Pancreatitis can cause a variety of symptoms, ranging from relatively mild signs (e.g. a reduced appetite) to very severe illness (e.g. multiple organ failure). The most common symptoms of pancreatitis include lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, abdominal pain (highlighted by restlessness and discomfort) and diarrhoea.

How is pancreatitis diagnosed?
The possibility that a dog may be suffering from pancreatitis is generally suspected on the basis of the history (i.e. loss of appetite, vomiting, etc) and the finding of abdominal pain on examination by the veterinary surgeon. Because many other diseases can cause these symptoms, both blood tests and an ultrasound scan of the abdomen are necessary to rule out other conditions and to reach a diagnosis of pancreatitis. Although routine blood tests can lead to a suspicion of pancreatitis, a specific blood test (called ‘canine pancreatic lipase’) needs to be performed to more fully support the diagnosis. An ultrasound scan is very important in making a diagnosis of pancreatitis. In addition, an ultrasound scan can also reveal some potential complications associated with pancreatitis (e.g. blockage of the bile duct from the liver as it runs through the pancreas).

How is pancreatitis treated?
There is no specific cure for pancreatitis, but fortunately most dogs recover with appropriate supportive treatment. Supportive measures include giving an intravenous drip (to provide the body with necessary fluid and salts) and the use of medications which combat nausea and pain. Most dogs with pancreatitis need to be hospitalised to provide treatment and to undertake necessary monitoring, but patients can sometimes be managed with medication at home if the signs are not particularly severe. At the other extreme, dogs that are very severely affected by pancreatitis need to be given intensive care.

One of the most important aspects of treating pancreatitis is to ensure that the patient receives sufficient appropriate nutrition while the condition is brought under control. This can be very difficult, because pancreatitis causes a loss of appetite. In this situation it may be necessary to place a feeding tube which is passed into the stomach, and through which nutrition can be provided. If a dog with pancreatitis is not eating and will not tolerate a feeding tube (e.g. due to vomiting), intravenous feeding (using a drip to supply specially formulated nutrients straight into the bloodstream) may be necessary.

What is the outcome in pancreatitis?
It may be necessary for dogs with pancreatitis to be hospitalised for several days, but fortunately most patients with the condition go on to make a complete recovery, provided that appropriate veterinary and nursing care is provided. In some instances, dogs can suffer repeated bouts of the condition (called ‘chronic pancreatitis’) and this may require long term management with dietary manipulation and other approaches which the specialist will discuss with you in detail, as required.

 

Pancreatitis

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