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by ARLnow.com Sponsor February 22, 2018 at 11:45 am 0

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic and winner of a 2017 Arlington Chamber of Commerce Best Business Award. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Ever wondered what that smell was permeating from your pet’s mouth?

Bad breath is a very common complaint among pet owners, and for good reason. Bad breath or halitosis is most often related to infection or inflammation in the mouth, and most often due to periodontal disease.

This diagram shows the correlation between the various stages of dental disease in our pets’ mouths and what that would look like in our own mouths (be prepared — it’s not pretty!):

February is National Pet Dental Health month, so it’s a good time to revisit some fun facts on oral health that we presented a few years back:

  • Dental disease is undoubtedly one of the most common diseases veterinarians diagnose and treat. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, approximately 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats will have some degree of oral disease by the age of 3.
  • In the majority of cases, dental disease is a condition where “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Small preventative measures such as regular brushing can significantly slow the progression of tartar accumulation and subsequent periodontal disease. While daily brushing is by far the ideal, even brushing every 72 hours will make a significant difference in the amount of tartar accumulation on your pet’s teeth. Every three days is the minimum frequency recommended as beyond that the plaque will already have hardened into tartar, which cannot be removed via brushing.
  • Most dogs, and even cats, can learn to love (or at least tolerate) brushing — check out the video link here for instructions on how to brush your pet’s teeth.
  • While the jury is still out on exactly how the low-grade infection associated with periodontal disease affects our pets systemically, in people there are consistent correlations between periodontal disease and
    systemic diseases such as diabetes, cardiac and kidney disease, likely related to the chronic inflammation and infection originating from the mouth.
  • If brushing is out of the question, there are other options to help decrease the plaque and subsequent tartar buildup in your pet’s mouth. Look for products that carry the VOHC — Veterinary Oral Health Council — seal of approval, such as CET products, Greenies or antiplaque water additives. Most of these products need to be used on a daily basis to make an appreciable difference.
  • Routine brushing and home care can reduce the chances of needing aggressive or emergency dental care, such as tooth extractions and root canals for problems such as severe gingival infections or tooth root abscesses.

If you missed Dr. Gloor at the Aurora Hills Library this past Tuesday evening — she’ll be doing her Pet Dental Health lecture LIVE on facebook Tuesday, February 27 @ 12:30 p.m.!

Have a topic you’d like us to write about? Email us ([email protected])! We want to tailor these posts to the topics that interest you the most.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor February 8, 2018 at 11:45 am 0

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic and winner of a 2017 Arlington Chamber of Commerce Best Business Award. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

February is the month of LOVE, and who better to shower love on than your pets! Human-Animal relationships have many benefits similar to Human-Human relationships. Here are some interesting facts about the Human-Animal Bond:

  • Oxytocin, which you may have heard about in relation to mother-baby bonding, is also the hormone that bonds us to our pets and produces that sense of happiness and well-being in your interactions with your pet. Amazingly, dogs also have a surge of oxytocin when interacting with their owners, as opposed to strangers.
  • February is also American Heart Month, which is appropriate to mention here since many research studies have shown that owning pets great for our heart health. The American Heart Association has gone as far as to publish a summary of all the research that demonstrates how pet ownership can directly improve cardiovascular health. The main benefits are that interactions with pets lower stress hormones in the body and that pets (especially dogs) make you more active. Exercise and reduced stress help lower blood pressure, which helps prevent many cardiovascular diseases.
  • Mental health benefits of pet ownership are also a popular research topic. Studies have shown the benefits of pet ownership/assistance for anxiety, depression, PTSD and dementia disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Animal-assisted therapy programs are becoming more and more popular as a tool in treating those with mental health disorders.

You probably already knew that your bond with your pet was special, but science absolutely confirms that is true! Shower your pet with lots of love this month, but be sure to keep them away from your chocolate.

Check back in 2 weeks  for our blog on DENTAL DISEASE — and feel free to join us at the Aurora Hills Branch Library on Tuesday, February 20 from 5-6:00 p.m. — we (Clarendon Animal Care/Dr. Gloor) will be presenting on pet dental health. Sign up here!

Have a topic you’d like us to write about? Email us ([email protected]). We want to tailor these posts to the topics that interest you the most.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor January 25, 2018 at 11:45 am 0

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic and winner of a 2017 Arlington Chamber of Commerce Best Business Award. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Leash pulling is a common and frustrating dog behavior, but walking calmly on a leash is not a natural instinct for dogs and learning to do so requires training.

One important component of training is using an appropriate collar or leash that provides secure restraint, gentle control and can aide in discouraging leash pulling.

Not all collars and harnesses are created equal and here are some points to consider when making the right choice for your dog:

Flat Collar or Martingale Collar — These collars are excellent for keeping identification and tags on your dog at all times. They can also be used with a leash for walks, but are best for dogs that never pull or require leash corrections. With leash pulling these collars can cause strain on the neck, press against the airway or elevate pressures in the eyes. For dogs with neck pain or discomfort — these should be avoided.

Head Halters — These are a great training tool for dogs who are persistent leash pullers, especially large breed or strong dogs that are difficult to control. Since the point of leash attachment is the head and not the chest, a head halter disrupts the drive to pull against the leash.

When used appropriately, it also allows for gentle control and correction during training without causing pain or pressure. Again, for dogs with neck pain or discomfort — these should be avoided.

Chest Harness – These can be a good alternative to a neck collar or head halter as they provide secure control of the body and avoid any risk of neck strain or pressure. There are many varieties and styles, but they can be simply divided into harnesses with a leash attachment on the top of the back and ones with a leash attachment on the front of the chest.

These are the best to use when there is any neck or back discomfort. They can also be useful in dogs with mobility issues as a “handle” for the front end.

Choke Chain or Pinch/Prong Collar — These are designed to be training device that provide a negative stimulus for leash pulling or other unwanted behaviors. However, punishment training techniques for dogs can increase fear, anxiety and stress. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor January 11, 2018 at 11:45 am 0

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic and winner of a 2017 Arlington Chamber of Commerce Best Business Award. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Taking your pet in for a nail trim — it sounds so simple, and for many dogs and cats it is. But, for others, it is truly a terrifying experience. For many pets that are anxious or resistant to nail trims it is the handling of their feet that really drives them bananas; for others, they resist the pressure from the clippers. Others get anxious coming into the veterinary hospital or grooming facility, setting them up for a negative experience. For others, it may have been a previous experience that has set them up for fear and anxiety with future nail trims.

While it is true that in many cases a nail trim could be done with enough restraint, this often is not in the best interest of the pet — as future attempts will likely only elicit more severe anxiety and stress, making them that much more difficult and even dangerous to the pet. Our philosophy, and that of many veterinary hospitals that embrace the Fear Free/Low Stress philosophies is to never struggle with a pet for an elective procedure such as a nail trim. Therefore, we often recommend that our clients work on desensitization of their pets at home. In this process, the pet comes to associate the anxiety-provoking procedure with a positive experience.

Veterinary behaviorist Dr. Sophia Yin was a wonderful resource for all things behavior-related in dogs, and has a wonderful (and rather impressive!) video demonstrating how to counter-condition and desensitize a dog to nail trims linked here.

In some cases, behavioral modification enough is not alone and sedation (ranging from very mild to heavy) is needed to safely perform a nail trim. This may include “pre-medicating” with mild anti-anxiety medications prior to the visit or short-acting injectable sedatives administered under the supervision of a veterinarian.

In other cases, pets may do better at home with nail trimming. Many owners are concerned about trimming the nails too close to the “quick,” but with a few precautions this can be easily avoided. Your pet’s veterinarian or groomer will also likely be willing to demonstrate their technique in person.

If nail trims are a source of stress for your pet (and you as their caring owner!), we recommend consulting with your pet’s veterinarian about desensitization techniques and coming up with a plan that works best for your pet.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor December 28, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic and winner of a 2017 Arlington Chamber of Commerce Best Business Award. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

2017 is almost over and we’ll be in a new year next week. What are your resolutions? There is nothing special about 2018 — you’ll probably make resolutions that you’ll struggle to keep after the first week — again. But that doesn’t mean resolutions are hopeless. Make a real difference in the new year and forge a pact for healthy change with your pet. These resolutions will help keep your pet happy, healthy and safe throughout the year. And well, what’s more important than that?

Be more active

  • Studies show one of the biggest health benefits of owning a dog is improved cardiovascular health. Not only is it great for you, it’s great for your dog as well. Some dogs are satisfied with a walk around the neighborhood once a day, while others require additional exercise time. Parks, hiking trails and city walks abound in this area. Grab the leash and go! It’s good for you and your dog.
  • While it is true that cats have the evolutionary advantage of a high metabolism that works even as they lounge around (see lions in the wild), they do still need some physical activity to keep them from a sedentary life of sloth and eventual obesity. Find a toy that keeps your kitty moving and active. Look into expanding their space vertically with floating shelves — and marvel at their acrobatic prowess.

Get in shape

  • Along with being more active, good nutrition and portion control are essential for getting into better physical condition. Obesity is a huge deal in our fur children and is linked with orthopedic disease, metabolic disease and a shortened lifespan. While having your own personal chef to keep you on track with what and how much you eat — your pets do have that luxury. Talk to your veterinarian about what your pet should be eating and how many calories per day. You may be surprised with how many calories are in that cup of dog or cat food… and how few calories your pet actually needs. Help them get to their weight goals but not overfeeding them.

Get more sleep

  • Did you know that cats sleep anywhere from 16-20 hours per day, and dogs sleep approximately 12-14 hours per day? If there’s one thing our pets are constantly showing us — it’s how to relax. You may want to keep the cat naps a little bit shorter though. Experts say that a power 30 is the perfect amount of time to help get you through the day. Turn the electronics off at night, go to bed earlier and snuggle up with that fur ball of yours.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor December 14, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic and winner of a 2017 Arlington Chamber of Commerce Best Business Award. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Winter is finally here and we cannot stress enough the importance of keeping pets in a warm, protected environment this time of year. So, for this week’s post, we’re reminding everyone about some winter weather tips for our canine and feline companions. Because, even though our four-legged family members have fur, they too are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia (low body temperature) and other winter-related ailments.

What is frostbite?

Frostbite occurs when damage to the skin and underlying tissues caused by exposure to extremely cold agents and weather occurs. Sub-freezing temperatures cause constriction/narrowing of blood vessels, which after long periods of time, reduces blood flow to certain parts of the body, especially the extremities. Together, the nearly freezing temperature and reduction of blood flow can result in severe injury to the exposed tissues. This is how frostbite develops in our furry friend’s paws, ears and tails (body parts farthest from the heart and most susceptible to becoming cold). Keep in mind young animals outdoors, or those in poor body condition, are at greater risk.

  • Signs/symptoms of frostbite
    • Often, mild cold injury to the extremities may go undetected (toe tips, ear tips, tail tips) until changes to the skin are noted, sometimes days later
    • Acutely affected animals may have pale gray or bluish areas of skin that are cool to the touch
    • Body parts may be numb, overly sensitive to touch or painful
    • As the affected areas of the body thaw, the tissues may become red or swollen and painful
    • Skin may blister or ulcerate
    • Days after the frostbite has occurred, tissues may appear shrunken and discolored and may begin to slough if the tissue becomes necrotic or dies
    • Days to weeks after injury, hair loss and sloughing may occur
  • What to do if your pet is suffering from hypothermia (and at risk for frostbite)
    • Remove any snow from in between the paws pads
    • Dry your pet off if their hair coat is wet or damp
    • Wrap your pet in a blanket or towel and contact your primary veterinarian, or the closest emergency hospital for further care and diagnostics
  • Prevention
    • No matter how thick-coated your furry friend is, no pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather.

For those short-coated pets, this is a perfect time of the year to play dress-up with the pet winter sweaters and coats. Some pets may also benefit from booties to protect their feet. It’s best to have a few options since wet clothing can actually be more detrimental to the body, so after coming from outside, remove or change your pet’s winter gear.

Other winter preparation/safety tips

A warm vehicle engine can be an appealing heat source for outdoor and feral cats as well as wildlife — but that can lead to some pretty disastrous consequences. Check underneath your car, bang on the hood, and honk the horn before starting the engine to encourage wanna-be hitchhikers to abandon their roost under the hood. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor November 30, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic and winner of a 2017 Arlington Chamber of Commerce Best Business Award. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Online, 3rd party, pet pharmacies such as 1-800-Petmeds, Allivet and many others, have become very popular over the recent years, and with good reason. They often are able to offer lower prices on many of the medications commonly prescribed by veterinarians, with the convenience of having it shipped directly to your home. It seems like a no-brainer that this would be a win-win. After all, in most cases we fill our own prescription medications at pharmacies rather than our doctors’ offices, so why should it be any different for our pets?  

It turns out the situation is not quite as straight-forward as it may seem. Most of the major pharmaceutical companies claim to not sell their products directly to these online pharmacy sources and that they cannot track their product. As such, they do not guarantee the product for its efficacy, expiration date or validity. They will guarantee safety, so long as it is not a counterfeit product. This does beg several questions:

  • Where are these drugs coming from, if not from the manufacturer? In some cases, they are coming from unscrupulous veterinarians who purchase a large quantity at cost and then sell it to an online pharmacy for resale to the customer. In other cases, counterfeit product is sold. 
  • What happens if my pet experiences an adverse reaction, or the product is ineffective? When many brand-name prescription medications are purchased directly from your veterinarian the manufacturer stands behind the product, guaranteeing both its safety and its efficacy for the labeled indications. As such, if there is a product failure, or an adverse reaction, the veterinarian can contact the manufacturer to report the incident and often obtain some financial compensation for the client for necessary treatments or even diagnostic tests. However, when the product is purchased through a 3rd party online pharmacy avenue, the manufacturer does not support the product because they cannot guarantee that it the product has been labeled or handled correctly, or that it actually is their product.  

Lets use heartworm prevention as an example. Heartworm disease can be very serious medically for the pet, but also very expensive to treat. If a pet has been on heartworm preventative diligently, and the veterinarian has records to indicate appropriate purchase intervals, the company will help to cover the cost of treatment.

In our area of Northern Virginia, heartworm disease is not especially endemic, but the intestinal parasites roundworms and hookworms both are. Both are on the label for treatment for many heartworm preventatives. We have, on more than one occasion, been able to report a treatment failure to the appropriate manufacturer and obtain compensation for treatment costs and follow-up testing for the client. Testing and follow up that may otherwise cost hundreds (sometimes thousands in the case of heartworm disease) of dollars.

Issues and complaints with online pet pharmacies have become frequent enough over recent years that the FDA has created a program called AWARE to educate pet owners about what to be on the look-out for when it comes to online pet pharmacies.  

(more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor November 16, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic and winner of a 2017 Arlington Chamber of Commerce Best Business Award. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

November 13-19 has been declared World Antibiotic Week. While at first glance it might be easy to roll your eyes at this, think about how much antibiotics have done for health and medicine over the last century, and you’ll see few things are more deserving of their own week than antibiotics. Antibiotic, by definition, means “opposed to life” — specifically the life of bacteria. Antibiotic is often used interchangeably with the term antimicrobial, but antimicrobial refers more generally to all microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoal organisms)

The original antibiotic, penicillin was first discovered by biologist Alexander Fleming in 1928, purified by Ernst Chain, Howard Florey and Edward Abraham in 1942, and further developed for wide-scale production by Norman Heatley. Penicillin arrived on the scene just in time to be the decisive factor in saving countless lives during World War II, and it’s difficult to overestimate the importance of antibiotics since then. However, as “bigger and better” antibiotics have been developed in the 89 years since their initial discovery, many of the bacteria they are targeting have also developed coping mechanisms or resistance to the antibiotics designed to destroy them.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability of a microbe (which includes bacteria, viruses and certain parasites) to prevent an antimicrobial agent from working against it. This has become an increasingly serious problem as microbes develop resistance against more and more antimicrobials and is seen with all kinds of microbes — not just bacteria. While all resistance is a concern, antibacterial resistance typically receives the most attention as bacteria account for so many of the infections seen worldwide, both in humans and animals.  

One of the ways that health care professionals, including veterinarians, determine if a bacterial infection is resistant to common bacteria is to “culture” the organism and perform sensitivity testing — in this process the organism is grown on a petri dish in a lab and various antibiotics are tested against it to see which are effective and which are ineffective at hindering growth in a lab setting. Ideally, all suspected bacterial infections would be cultured; however, from a cost, time and resources standpoint this is not often practical and often health care professionals need to make an educated guess about which antibiotic would be most appropriate for the type of infection they are treating.  

Many of the general recommendations from human medicine for decreasing the chances of resistance apply to veterinary medicine as well:

  • Antibiotics should only be used when prescribed by a licensed health professional.
  • The full course of antibiotics should be finished, unless otherwise directed by a health professional.
  • Antibiotics should not be shared with other people or animals.
  • Left-over antibiotics should not be used for similar signs down the road, unless under the direction of a health professional (and if they were used for the full course initially, there shouldn’t be any leftover regardless).

(more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor November 2, 2017 at 12:45 pm 0

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic and winner of a 2017 Arlington Chamber of Commerce Best Business Award. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Cats are often forgotten members of the household in terms of veterinary care, since they are by nature self-reliant and hide illness and discomfort remarkably well. According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), a “senior” cat is defined as a cat over 11 years of age, while a “geriatric” cat is defined as being over 15 years of age.

As age increases, cats are more prone to developing subtle changes in behavior that can help clue us into various common diseases in older kitties, such as arthritis, chronic kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, hypertension (high blood pressure) and small intestinal disease.

Chronic pain caused by osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) is the most common condition we diagnose that causes a chronic, negative impact on quality of life. Studies have shown that up to 90% of older cats will have changes consistent with osteoarthritis on x-rays, affecting many different joints in the spine and limbs.

Recognition of feline pain and pain management in cats has come a very long way in the last two decades. Some cats will develop visible lameness or signs of discomfort, but often the signs are much more subtle, such as:

  • Hesitation before jumping.
  • Relocating favored perches and sleeping areas to more accessible areas.
  • If in a home with stairs, limiting themselves to one level of the home.
  • Under grooming or over grooming.
  • Not using the litterbox, especially to defecate.
  • Reclusiveness and/or changes in temperament.

Treatment of osteoarthritis is often multimodal, meaning approached from many different angles. We generally start with omega-3 and joint supplements, as well as some prescription foods to manage the disease from a nutritional angle. Weight management is also an important part of nutritional management, as obesity creates a pro-inflammatory state in the body that can worsen disease symptoms (this is true of humans and dogs, as well!). Pain management with various drug therapies are often recommended; as well as physical therapy, cold laser therapy and acupuncture.

Osteoarthritis and common systemic diseases in cats, such as chronic kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, hypertension and gastrointestinal disease, often have an insidious onset and a nonspecific set of symptoms (weight loss, increased or decreased appetite, vomiting and/or diarrhea, increased water consumption and accidents outside the litter box, etc… ).

The non specificity of symptoms, and often coexistence of multiple diseases in a single cat, is why we recommend a blood pressure and comprehensive blood work and urinalysis profile any time a senior or geriatric cat presents with any combination of these symptoms. We may also recommend diagnostic imaging such as x-rays and abdominal ultrasound to be able to further define symptoms and come to a diagnosis. Treatment of the various common systemic diseases in older cats is also multimodal, often employing a combination of supplements, diet and drug therapies.

In the generally healthy senior or geriatric cat, the annual physical examination is a great opportunity to review the happenings of the past year with your veterinarian, and have a discussion as to the “normals” and “abnormals” of your unique kitty. We very often have findings on our examinations that are so subtle that clients have not noticed them at home, such as weight loss and painful joints. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor October 19, 2017 at 2:15 pm 0

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic and winner of a 2017 Arlington Chamber of Commerce Best Business Award. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Halloween is right around the corner, so this week we’re going to discuss… candy!  These tasty sweets can be dangerous for dogs, particularly those that contain chocolate, are sugar-free candy and those containing raisins. Although not life-threatening, ingestion of high-sugar candy can cause diarrhea by pulling water into the gastrointestinal tract and giving gut bacteria too much “food,” leading to excess growth of bacterial populations. Specific candy toxicities are discussed below:

Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine, which is related to caffeine. Dogs do not metabolize these compounds quickly, so they can experience more intense and lasting effects of these stimulants. Common signs of chocolate toxicity are anxiousness, panting, muscle twitches, rapid heart rate, and even seizures. Vomiting and diarrhea are also common and will sometimes be the only symptom in mild cases.

The weight of the dog, the amount of chocolate, and type of chocolate ingested are all factors that determine whether chocolate ingestion is toxic. As a general rule the darker the chocolate is more toxic it is (baking chocolate is far more toxic than milk chocolate), and larger amounts of any chocolate consumed by smaller dogs carries more risk of toxicity. Milk chocolate is often more concerning for the potential to cause illness and symptoms from pancreatitis, as a result of ingestion of sugar and fat, than true chocolate toxicity from theobromine.

Sugar-free candy with the sweetener xylitol is extremely dangerous to dogs. Xylitol causes large amounts of insulin release in the dog. This leads to a rapid drop in blood sugar levels which can manifest as  uncoordinated walking (ataxia), extreme lethargy and/or seizures.

Xylitol can also induce liver failure and blood clotting abnormalities. Any amount of xylitol ingested should be considered very toxic to Any size dog; if you suspect your dog has ingested this substance, you should immediately visit your veterinarian or the nearest emergency veterinary clinic  for emergency treatment, hospitalization and monitoring.

Raisins (and grapes) have the potential to cause acute kidney failure in dogs. The frustrating thing about this toxicity is that we do not know what in the grapes or raisins causes the toxicity, and there is not a widely accepted toxic dose. Raisins tend to be more concerning than grapes as they present a more “concentrated” version of the fruit. Any ingestion comes with recommendations for emergency care to induce vomiting and, preferably, 48-72 hours of IV fluids and monitoring of kidney values.

In all cases of suspected toxin ingestion, it is advised to call your veterinarian, go to an emergency veterinarian or call ASPCA Poison Control  (888) 426-4435 immediately for further direction. If it is determined a toxic dose of a candy has been ingested, seeking medical care to induce vomiting as soon as possible is the best course of action. Depending on the amount ingested, further treatments may be indicated such as: administration of activated charcoal to help absorb toxins within the gastrointestinal tract, intravenous fluids, hospitalization, and drug therapy.

We wish everyone a happy and safe Halloween — and remember to keep that candy out of reach of the pups, which means the more for you as well!

by ARLnow.com Sponsor October 5, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic and winner of a 2017 Arlington Chamber of Commerce Best Business Award. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Arthritis is something that we see pretty commonly in our pet cats and dogs. Most people think of big dogs and their predisposition to getting hip dysplasia — but we’ve come to recognize that cats and every size of dog are prone to getting arthritis as they age…much like us. They are just SO much better at hiding the symptoms for so much longer than most of us wimpy humans.

When we break it down to it’s Latin & Greek roots arthritis means “inflammation of a joint.” There are two main classes of arthritis — osteoarthritis: which is a chronic use/degenerative process of a joint that develops from overuse or poor conformation of the joint; and inflammatory/immune mediated arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Inflammation, in short/brief doses is good for the body — but when uncontrolled can lead to destruction of the cartilage. In attempts to stabilize the joint and reduce pain, inflammation often leads to excess bone production along the joint edge (such as bone spurs) that actually lead to more pain and inflammation…and the cycle continues.

Symptoms of arthritis can include overt joint pain (i.e. lameness, stiffness) but also more subtle changes such as reduced activity (reluctance on walks, jumping, etc…), inappropriate elimination (many times because it is painful to posture to urinate/defecate) or changes in behavior or mood.

True diagnosis of osteoarthritis is made with x-rays — but we are often suspicious of it and may will manage accordingly based on physical exam findings and history alone. Management of arthritis involves nutrition, weight management, exercise, nutritional supplements and depending on the severity prescription pain medications.

A multi-modal approach to pain management often results is better comfort and many times less needed drug. Two of the most important things to start with are weight and exercise.  A trim/fit dog or cat is going to be able to deal with arthritis much better than an overweight/out of shape pet, as the physical stress on the joints is going to be less.

Regular, controlled exercise is also so important as it helps maintain a normal joint range of motion as well as muscle mass — which is necessary to support a joint. As our pets get older they tend to lose muscle mass and get overweight — which exacerbates any predisposition for arthritis development.

Diagnosis of other types of arthritis (such as infectious arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis) often involves a much more extensive work up with blood work, joint taps or other diagnostics, and may involve additional treatments such as antibiotics or immunosuppressive drugs.  

Arthritis, while potentially painful for our pets, can often be well-managed — if you are concerned that your pet may be suffering from arthritis, we recommend talking with your pet’s veterinarian about the best options for him/her.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor September 21, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic and winner of a 2017 Arlington Chamber of Commerce Best Business Award. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

We’ve discussed fleas previously, but since we’re just starting to see the first real fleas of the season figured it’s a good time to revisit these icky insects.

What exactly is a flea?

Fleas are small (~2-3mm), reddish-brown insects. They feed on the blood of mammals and birds. While they cannot fly, they have incredible jumping ability. According to the website fleascience.com, the average flea can jump about 5 inches high and 9 inches horizontally, though they can reach 8 inches high and nearly 20 inches horizontally.

What diseases can they carry?

Fleas can cause symptoms of mild itchiness to severe itching/scratching and significant secondary bacterial infections, depending both on the flea burden and the individual animal’s sensitivity to flea bites. Additionally, in young puppies and kittens, or severely infested animals, fleas can cause anemia due to blood loss.

Other parasites and diseases can also be carried or transmitted by fleas:

  • The most common form of tapeworms, Diplydium caninum, are carried by fleas. Tapeworms are rarely a significant health concern but can be uncomfortable to the pet and disturbing to the owner who discovers them.
  • Bartonella, the causative agent of Cat Scratch Disease, is also carried by fleas. Typical transmission is from the scratch of an infected cat (who got the disease from fleas), but there is some thought that infected fleas can transmit directly to humans via a bite.
  • Plague, caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis, can also be transmitted by fleas.

What is the lifecycle of the flea? And why does it matter?

Adult female fleas feeding on an animal can start laying eggs within hours, laying up to 50 eggs per day. Eggs develop in the environment, preferring cool dark places (like under fallen leaves — which is why we tend to see an increase in cases of flea infestations in the fall) and indoors along baseboards, carpets and crevices of furniture or floors.

Larvae then develop into pupae, typically preferring the same places as the larval stages. Finally, adults emerge from the pupal stage and start looking for a host to feed on. This whole process can take as little as a few weeks in optimal conditions. However, the larval and pupal stages can also lie dormant for months, and hatch only once they sense the environmental factors are ideal (vibrations from movement, heat and CO2 can all trigger this).

Because of the prodigious egg-laying of the adult flea, it is possible for a single adult female to quickly lead to an infestation. The environment (which can be outdoors or indoors) quickly becomes contaminated with eggs, larvae and pupae.

How do I know if my pet has fleas?

Sometimes you will actually see the flea moving along the skin under the hair coat, or even jumping from the pet as you rub their belly. A more reliable way to detect them is to look for “flea dirt,” which is digested and excreted blood. The tail area and behind the ears are two common places to see this.

However, sometimes it’s not a simple diagnosis, especially early on. Some pets are very sensitive to flea bites, and will demonstrate intense itching with only a single bite — in these cases, it may be difficult to detect the fleas.

The classic signs of a pet with fleas are intense itching or chewing around the tail base (and in general). The itch associated with fleas is often more intense than we might see with other causes of itchiness (namely, allergies). (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor September 7, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic and winner of a 2017 Arlington Chamber of Commerce Best Business Award. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Lets face it, our pets age.  Just like us, some maintain cognitive function and stay sharp as a razor, and others … not so much. Whether you call it dementia or cognitive dysfunction, the symptoms we see in our pets are similar to what is seen in humans with Alzheimer’s or senile dementia.

These pets can get lost in the house, become ornery, not want to do things they used to enjoy, lose house training and litter box habits, pace/vocalize or otherwise seem agitated or anxious (and often at night), just to name a few common symptoms.

Cognitive Dysfunction is relatively common in an aged pet population – though the symptoms are not “normal” signs of aging. When screening and intervention occurs earlier in the process of this syndrome, we can often improve longevity and quality of life for the pet (and often their human companion), though we cannot cure it.

It is important to realize that these symptoms can be seen with many other diseases or chronic pain (such as from arthritis). Ruling out other treatable or manageable conditions is helpful and increases our chances of keeping our aged pets comfortable.

Adequate pain management is by far the most common issue we have to address before determining if additional therapies for cognitive dysfunction are needed. Our fur family is just so good at being stoic that sometimes we don’t adequately recognize subtle signs of pain until it becomes so bad and starts to alter their behavior.

Some other diseases that can cause similar symptoms are other primary neurologic diseases (brain tumors, inflammation around the brain, etc…), kidney disease, hypertension, altered thyroid function and altered adrenal gland function. Blood testing and a comprehensive physical exam are important screening tools for some of these underlying diseases.

Once any and all underlying problems are adequately addressed, management of cognitive dysfunction generally involves dietary management (there are some newer diets that specifically help address the altered brain nutrient needs), increased antioxidant supplements, melatonin and anti-anxiety medications such as selegiline or Prozac.

Reducing outside stressors on our pets has also been shown to be beneficial. If your pet is showing symptoms of cognitive dysfunction – then it is not ideal to make major changes in their life (such as getting a new pet or changing their environment), if possible those stressors can trigger things to get much worse for them, and more quickly.

If major stressors are inevitable, then easing them into the change may be helpful. Additionally, similar to doing crossword puzzles as a human, keeping cognitive skills fresh is important for our pets as well.

Environmental enrichment and mental stimulation is really important: ways we can work on these skills are with tools like puzzle and feeder toys, climbing and agility and general maintenance of a good activity level and ongoing task and obedience training.

If you have an older pet who is experiencing disorientation, changes in their sleep/wake cycle, loss of house training, changes in social interactions, increased agitation or anxiety and/or changes in activity level – talk to your veterinarian about looking into what underlying causes might be present and ways to help support your old friend’s brain health and comfort.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor August 24, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic and winner of a 2017 Arlington Chamber of Commerce Best Business Award. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Heart disease in various forms is quite common in dogs and cats.  In fact, veterinarians frequently diagnose patients with heart murmurs, arrhythmias, congestive heart failure and enlarged hearts, just to name a few.

Heart disease in pets can be due to congenital defects (such as a hole in the heart), age-related change (a thickened valve that becomes leaky), problems with the heart muscle itself, heart-worms living in the vessels around the heart or the heart itself, or even be secondary to an unrelated problem that causes changes in hormone levels or electrolytes.

It is interesting to note that, unlike people, cats and dogs rarely have high cholesterol or triglycerides as the underlying cause of their heart disease, and rarely have true “heart attacks.”

The first step in diagnosing heart disease is obtaining a full history, as often there are clinical signs that may be noted at home even before the pet comes in for a full exam.  These include:

  • Elevated resting respiratory rate
  • Persistent coughing and/or difficulty breathing
  • Decreased exercise tolerance or energy in general
  • Collapsing or fainting episodes
  • Decreased appetite
  • Distended abdomen

Other symptoms that may not be apparent at home, but can be picked up by your pet’s veterinarian, include:

  • Irregular heartbeat / arrhythmia
  • Heart murmur (the sound of turbulent blood flow through the heart)
  • Lung sounds that may indicate fluid build-up in or around the lungs
  • Signs of poor oxygenation such as discolored gums
  • Fluid build-up in the abdomen
  • Abnormal blood pressure

Because pets are very good at “hiding” their heart disease, it is not unusual that they can be seemingly asymptomatic for a long period of time and then quite quickly develop severe symptoms of heart disease such as coughing, respiratory distress, or collapsing episodes.  This is especially true in cats, as they are well-known for showing very few symptoms of heart disease until their disease is quite advanced.

If your pet is diagnosed with a heart murmur or arrhythmia on routine physical exam additional testing may be recommended.  This may include bloodwork to look for underlying metabolic or electrolyte abnormalities, chest x-rays to evaluate the shape and size of the heart and to further evaluate the lungs for evidence of fluid build-up, and/or an EKG to diagnose an abnormal rhythm.

In some cases, referral to a veterinary cardiologist may be indicated. Veterinary cardiologists have special training in diagnosing and treating heart-related conditions.

One of the most important tests they perform is an echocardiogram, or ultrasound of the heart. This allows visualization of the structure of the heart muscle and valves, as well as flow of blood through the heart. This is a specialized test not routinely performed by most family veterinarians, but provides very valuable information about the underlying cause of the symptoms and can help us more effectively manage the heart disease.

Studies have shown that pets in congestive heart failure may live up to 75 percent longer when co-managed by a veterinary cardiologist and their primary veterinarian.

We are fortunate in the Northern Virginia/D.C. metropolitan area to have one of the country’s premier veterinary cardiology groups nearby – Chesapeake Veterinary Cardiology Associates. Their website is a wealth of information for any pet parent whose furry friend has been diagnosed with heart disease.

When caught early, most heart disease conditions in our pets can be managed,and some for quite a long time. If your pet is experiencing any of the symptoms above please consult with your family veterinarian for further evaluation. If your pet has been diagnosed with a heart condition, additional resources and educational material can be found with the links below.

Additional Resources:

by ARLnow.com Sponsor August 10, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic and winner of a 2017 Arlington Chamber of Commerce Best Business Award. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Having had two cases develop acute kidney failure from this bacterial organism in the last nine months, we felt it prudent to discuss Leptospirosis: what it is, how dogs and humans can get it, and ways to prevent it.

Leptospirosis is a disease that is caused from infection with bacteria in the Leptospira family. These bacteria can cause acute kidney and/or liver damage that can lead to organ failure in many cases. It is also one of the most important zoonotic disease worldwide – meaning it is one of the most common diseases transmitted from animals to humans.

We don’t see much Leptospirosis in humans in the U.S. because we have toilets and good sanitation, but in developing countries it is a significant problem. There is also currently an outbreak of this disease in homeless human populations in New York City. The organism is carried in the urine of infected animals and can be acquired from contact with contaminated water or with the urine of an infected animal.

Late summer and early fall generally bring an increased incidence of Leptospirosis in dogs. Leptospira bacteria are most commonly transmitted in the urine of mammalian wildlife — generally rodents, raccoons, and deer.

Even though we aren’t teeming with wildlife in the Arlington and DC area, we do have plenty of a very important carrier of this organism: city rats. Because of the rodent populations in urban environments most dogs in our area are in fact at risk for contracting Leptospirosis. Interestingly enough, cats do not contract the disease.

Leptospirosis is often under-diagnosed due to the vague signs it can cause. The liver and kidneys are the most common organs to be affected by Leptospirosis, ranging from mild to life-threatening illness. The common signs dogs exhibit after contracting Leptospirosis are fever, lethargy, muscle and joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea and increased thirst or urination, much like having the flu in people.

If your pet exhibits symptoms of Leptospirosis, his or her veterinarian will generally run bloodwork and a urinalysis, as well as testing to detect an immune response in the blood or the presence of the bacteria itself in the blood and urine.  Most animals with illness consistent with Leptospirosis need to be hospitalized on intravenous fluids and antibiotics for several days, and sometimes can be left with permanent liver and kidney damage.

A vaccination against four different strains of the Leptospira bacteria is widely used and reliable for preventing and decreasing severity of disease, as well as prevention of bacterial shedding in the urine to prevent human infection.  Even though there are over 200 strains of Leptospira, the four that are included in the canine vaccine are the ones responsible for about 90 percent of infections.

After an initial series of two vaccines given three weeks apart, the vaccine is given annually. Leptospirosis is an important disease to prevent due to the risk of severe, life-threatening illness to both pets and humans. Given the prevalence of this disease in this area, the severity of the course of the disease, and the safety and efficacy of the vaccination we recommend vaccination for the majority of our canine patients.

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