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by ARLnow.com Sponsor April 21, 2017 at 10:30 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.

As anyone who loves a cat knows, cats are interesting creatures. It is easy to fall in the trap of thinking if your home is comfortable and happy for you, it will be perfect for your animals. But cats are not tiny humans — or dogs — and have their own set of unique set of preferences and needs.

Safe Spaces

Cats value their personal space. They need enclosed and secluded locations to allow them the opportunity to withdrawal and ability to control their surroundings.

A cardboard box placed on its side is a perfect place to hide (or perch). Flip the lid up inside the box so the top is clear for sitting. Another great safe place is a cat carrier. If you leave your cat’s carrier out at all times and make it somewhere your cat is happy, it becomes a safe space at home as well as a portable safe space. Think of your cat’s carrier as a tool of security and comfort, rather than a tool primarily for transportation.

The more cats in your household, the more safe spaces you will need in your home. A good goal is the number of cats in the house plus one. So if there are two cats, you’ll need a minimum of three different good hiding spots. Also consider any health issues your cats may have when choosing locations. For example, a geriatric cat probably has some arthritis and will need locations with floor access, whereas a kitten will enjoy higher perches. Finally, think about your cat’s outside environment, if they do venture outdoors, and make sure hiding options are provided there as well.

Resources

Aim to provide multiple, separated key environmental resources of: 1) food/water 2) bathroom 3) scratching posts. Provide a minimum of two of each resource (two water bowls, etc) and spread everything out. Even the food and water bowl should be separated from each other across multiple rooms for maximal feline comfort. Some cats want to cuddle with their housemates, but sometimes when we provide the option to spread out, we find that the cats end up resting separately. They didn’t actually want to sleep together – there was just nowhere else to go.

Play and Predatory Opportunities

Cats require opportunities to hunt and play. Putting food down twice a day does not allow cats to exercise their predatory instincts and leads to begging, obesity, stress and anxiety. In the wild, cats hunt 10-20 times each day. This is an entire topic unto itself, so hop over to our last post for suggestions of fun and easy ways we can use food to give our cats a chance to engage in these normal behaviors.

Human-Cat Interaction

This one is simple. Provide positive, consistent and predictable human-cat social interaction. Do not force your cat to play with you, and allow it space to retreat. If you need to train your cat, use positive methods rather than punishment, so no shaking a can of pennies to scare your cat off the counter. It’s nearly impossible for humans to be 100 percent consistent with punishments, as sometimes you’re not home or are otherwise occupied when your cat jumps up on the counter, so we can appear unpredictable and therefore scary to our cats.

Smell

Provide an environment that respects the importance of a cat’s sense of smell. When it’s time to launder a cat’s bedding, don’t wash everything at the same time. Leave a few things out of the wash until the washed load is back in the home and smelling “normal” again to your cat. If you wash everything at the same time, all her beds/toys will be foreign to her, which can be very unsettling for cats.

The smell of their housemates is also very important for cats. If one leaves and comes back smelling different it can cause discord in the household. To minimize this, arrange vet trips for all cats at the same time. Use a pheromone diffuser (such as Feliway) upon return. If you have to take just one cat, take some care reintroducing that cat to the house. Separate the recently out-of-the-house cat from the others until all is calm.

Establish a “common scent profile” to get everyone smelling the same and minimize signals that the cat who was gone is now an outsider. To establish a common scent profile, use a cloth to rub down the cat who was out of the house, then take that fabric and rub down a housemate, continue with the same fabric for each cat in the house and end by re-rubbing the cat who was out of the house. More information about successful transportation can be found here.

If we can meet as many of these needs as possible, we can maximum the healthy and well being of our feline companions.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor April 6, 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. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Cats love to hunt! Their instinct to display predatory behaviors is incredibly strong. In the wild, cats are mentally occupied by the constant activity of obtaining their next meal. Only 25-50 percent of a wild cat’s hunting attempts are successful and they eat 10-20 small prey per day, which averaging 20-30 calories each. That can mean up to 80 hunts every day.

House cats, on the other hand, are usually offered canned food once or twice a day and have a bowl of dry food nearby that is kept full, at the cat’s insistence. So that’s three really easy “hunts” — it doesn’t require much mental gymnastics to sneak up on a bowl of kibble.

No wonder your kitty is asking for more food as soon as she finishes her meal – -it’s just too easy! Letting cats outside would give them opportunities to hunt, but puts them at risk for picking up infectious diseases and car accidents, and can have deleterious effects on wildlife populations.

Without adequate opportunities to hunt, cats tend to have more anxiety, struggle with obesity, frustration, and are prone to stress-related diseases. Luckily, we can use food and play indoors to provide cats opportunities to engage in pseudo-predatory play and feeding behaviors.

Uses of dry food (kibble):

  • Hide small amounts of food in multiple locations throughout the house. This works best in single cat homes, but can work for multi-cat homes as well. If you have one cat who is much more assertive about getting food and another who is more laid back about food, you may need to do a combination of separate bowl feeding and food scattered around the house. Use the bowl feeding to balance out hunting differences.
  • Your average cat kibble has between two and three calories in each piece, which means to mimic hunting behavior, each “kill” should be about 10 pieces of kibble.
  • Food toys or puzzle feeders greatly increase the mental and physical effort that goes into mealtimes. There are many products you can buy online or in stores, but homemade puzzle feeders are also great and very low cost.
  • Cat Amazing is a cardboard treat maze that many cats love
  • Videos of DIY toys made from common household materials

Uses of wet food:

  • Feed a very small amount of wet food at regular intervals, between two and five times per day depending on your schedule
  • Instead of putting the wet food in a bowl, fill a shallow cardboard box with empty yogurt cups (open side up) and put a teaspoon of wet food in just a couple of the cups

Uses of non-food toys:

  • “Kill the bear” — This is a game to play with your cat to allow them to go through all the motions of hunting and killing prey in a safe way. Designate a plush toy that is only for this game. Get on the ground, get your cat’s attention by shaking the toy rapidly at ground level, then throw it across the floor in front of your cat. The goal is for your cat to pounce on the bear, sink her teeth in and grab it with both front feet — this is a full hunting sequence. Play this game once every other day with your cat for a great emotional outlet.

With changes in feeding strategies, it’s important to watch out of weight loss or gain. Many indoor cats can stand to lose a couple pounds, and feeding in a way that encourages movement around the house can help with this weight loss. We don’t want more than 1 percent weight loss a week, about 0.1 pound a week for the average cat) If you think over/under eating will be a problem in our household, bring everyone by for a weight check before changing feeding strategies and then reweigh them a month later.

For best results, include both dry and wet food in your cat’s daily routine and use as many of the above strategies as you and your kitty have energy for. Happy Hunting!

by ARLnow.com Sponsor March 23, 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. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

As veterinarians, we are fortunate to have a wealth of prescription medications, supplements, vitamins, and other oral products at our disposal to help us effectively treat conditions ranging from thyroid disease to separation anxiety, skin infections to chronic arthritis pain, and dry coats to liver dysfunction.

Veterinarians are able to prescribe not only FDA-approved veterinary-specific drugs, but also can prescribe medications designed for human consumption “off-label” — thanks to the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act of 1994, which allows veterinarians to prescribed approved human drugs for appropriate animal uses.

But…the actual act of administering these medications is often easier said than done.  There’s no argument that having to administer a pill is a bit of a hassle, but more so for some pets than others.  The occasional very food-motivated dog may be willing to gobble down their medications simply thrown in with their meals; others need to be enticed with all sorts of delicacies in order to get them down…and cats are a whole other story!

Here are some of our tips:

  1. As mentioned above, some cooperative pets will eat a pill simply mixed in with their food – especially if a bit of canned food is used.
  2. Hot dogs, deli meats, chicken, cheese, peanut butter or bread – often something really enticing or high value such as these foods will be all that’s needed to administer a medication.  For example, the pill can be wrapped in a small bit of cheese and administered.  The caveat here is that any of these have the potential to cause mild GI upset — so we recommend using as small amount as possible, and monitoring to be sure your pet is tolerating them well.
  3. Pill Pockets and similar products, have been a game-changer for administering pills.  These are soft treats with a divot or hole in the center to allow a pill to be placed.  When the treat is “smooshed” around the pill it creates a palatable treat, effectively disguising the medication.  For especially finicky pets, we recommend using one hand to place the medication in the hole, and the other to “squish” the treat, so that there is no residue from the medication on the outside of the treat.  In our experience, about 50 percent of cats will also take Pill Pockets willingly — so this is often our first recommendation for cats.
  4. Manual administration – this involves using hands, fingers, or a special “pill popper” to get the pill to the back of the pet’s throat, where it will then be swallowed.  Care needs to be taken to follow this type of administration with a bit of water, to be sure that the pill does not become lodged in the back of the throat or the esophagus — where certain medications can cause a lot of damage.
  5. Some medications can be specially compounded into a more palatable or easy-to-administer form such as chicken-flavored liquid (surprisingly, we have found that chicken-marshmallow is a popular flavor), or a meat-flavored soft-chew (instead of a bitter tablet).  We recommend talking with your pet’s veterinarian about whether this may be an option for difficult-to-administer medications.  In some cases, two medications can be combined together, to allow only one administration.
  6. For some pets, a liquid formulation is preferable to a tablet or capsule formulation — if you know your pet does better with pills versus liquid, or vice versa, be sure to mention this to your pet’s veterinarian, so they can dispense the medication in the preferred form, if available.  Additionally, For a few conditions, a long-acting injection may be substituted for a daily or twice daily oral medication, so it is worthwhile asking your veterinarian about this if you know your pet is difficult to medicate.

To make matters worse, some medications are best given on an empty stomach due to how they are absorbed. In these cases, we often recommend putting the medication in a mini marshmallow, as this is palatable to many dogs and does not stimulate the gastric secretions like cheese, peanut butter, or even bread might.

Here are some videos demonstrating various techniques of administering medications to cats, who tend to be the most unwilling participants.

While it may take a bit of trial and error, it’s quite often possible to find a method that works consistently and with as little stress to both owner and pet as possible.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor March 9, 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. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Heartworm disease is something with which some dog and cat owners will unfortunately have to deal, but there is good news: it is preventable.

The disease is caused by the parasite Dirofilaria immitis. This is a worm that lives in the heart, lungs, and surrounding vasculature. It is a serious disease that primarily affects the heart and lungs but can also affect the liver, kidneys, central nervous system, and if left untreated, can cause death. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes: they take a blood meal from an infected animal and transmit the microfilariae (larval stage/baby worms) into another animal with subsequent blood meals. These microfilariae will then make their way to the heart where they grow into adult worms, causing heartworm disease. Mosquitoes are required for the parasite’s life cycle which means that a dog cannot re-infect itself.

Both dogs and cats can get heartworm disease from mosquitoes! A cat is an atypical host, and unfortunately many times goes undiagnosed. In some cats, 1-3 adult worms can be devastating and create respiratory issues, and one of the main risk factors for cats developing feline asthma is heartworm! The treatment that we use for dogs cannot be used in cats, so prevention is key for kitties.

What are the symptoms?

Some dogs are asymptomatic, meaning that they act normally. There are no changes in their breathing, exercise levels, or appetites. With chronic infections or heavy worm-burdens, owners can notice coughing, exercise intolerance (unable to go on a walk without stopping and/or coughing), decreased appetite, sleeping more, and even weight loss.

Clinical signs in cats can be very subtle to very dramatic. These symptoms can include coughing, asthma-type symptoms, vomiting, weight loss, lack of appetite, and fluid build up in the abdomen.

Grading Scale

There are 4 grades to heartworm disease:

  1. Grade I: Asymptomatic dog, tests positive on the annual test that is recommended by veterinarians. Chest x-rays, blood work and urine testing is normal.
  2. Grade II: Asymptomatic or mild symptoms in dogs. Chest x-rays will show some abnormalities or the pet may have mild changes on blood work and urine testing.
  3. Grade III: Symptomatic dogs, chest x-rays show obvious changes and blood work and urine testing is very consistent with chronic inflammation and parasitic infection.
  4. Grade IV: Severely symptomatic dogs, chest x-rays show enlarged and abnormal vessels; they may have fluid build-up in the abdomen and are in right-sided congestive heart failure. These pets have a guarded prognosis (and in some cases treatment may need to involve surgical extraction of the worms from the heart, through the jugular vein)

Why is annual testing recommended if my pet is on regular prevention?

Heartworm disease can be devastating. The earlier the detection, the better chances for survival. Since many dogs are asymptomatic at time of diagnosis, the only way it is found is through an annual test, which requires only a small amount of blood

All pets over the age of 7 months old should be tested for heartworm disease on an annual basis, but we start giving the heartworm preventative medication as young as 8 weeks of age.

How is heartworm disease treated?

If your dog has been found to have heartworm disease and all the testing indicates that it is safe to then go ahead with treatment, it is done with a medication called Immiticide (an arsenic derivative!). The American Heartworm Society recommends giving three injections: one injection on day one and the other two injections one month later, 24 hours apart. Post-injection care includes strict exercise restriction for 30 days (so, for a traditional treatment – that means TWO MONTHS of STRICT restrictions), keep them on all prescribed medications (often steroids to reduce inflammation in the lungs, sedatives as needed and pain medications for injection-site discomfort) for the heartworm disease, and monthly heartworm prevention.

There is no approved treatment for cats.

What is the best way to prevent this disease?

Keeping dogs and cats on monthly prescription preventatives, year round (even in the cold months), is the best way to prevent this disease. The two main ways to administer this are topical or oral medications. Both are only available as prescriptions through a veterinarian.

This is definitely a disease where prevention is a lot better (and cheaper) than treatment!

The life cycle and intricacies of treatment are a lot more complicated that the basic information we’ve provided here. If you’re interested in learning more — ask your veterinarian! At Clarendon Animal Care we work with a number of local rescue groups and manage heartworm positive dogs frequently – we’re always happy to answer any questions you may have about this disease — detection, prevention, management, and general biology/life cycle.

The American Heartworm Society is also a great point of reference for pet owners. Please visit www.heartwormsociety.org for additional information.

 

by ARLnow.com Sponsor February 23, 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. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Chewing is such an important part of our pet’s dental health (and with dogs, helps with mental stimulation as well!) – yet we commonly see dogs presenting with broken teeth from chewing seemingly “appropriate” treats; and cats and dogs with severe periodontal disease despite regular dental treats. What gives?

So, about brushing, that’s not happening. What other options do we have?

As we discussed in our last article, brushing your pet’s teeth regularly is the best way to prevent periodontal disease – but as we all know, that is not always feasible.

So, I guess we should start with why chewing is so important. The mechanical act of chewing does two important things: 1.) it causes mechanical massage/stimulation of the tooth/gingival surface which increases blood flow and can help physically remove plaque and 2.) it causes salivary stimulation which has anti-microbial properties and can reduce plaque (bacterial colonies) buildup.

When we start thinking about what dental chews, treats and water additives we give our pets – our first question is: has it been proven to actually help? There is a group called the Veterinary Oral Health council whose mission is just that – to determine if and set standards for products that claim to reduce plaque and tartar in our pets. We particularly like the Tartar Shield chews and treats for dogs and cats and the OraVet chews for dogs

Another consideration with chews, especially for dogs, is if they will cause physical trauma to their teeth. We regularly see dogs present with fractured teeth, dental pain and dental abscesses secondary to trauma to their teeth. This generally happens when chews that are too hard are given to our pets (such as antlers, cow hooves, dried natural bones or hard nylon products) – they may be tempting to give as dogs would chew on bones in the wild, however these products are too hard and do not mimic the effect of a dog tearing meat off a carcass.

Some non-dental considerations with chews/treats and water additives:

  • Dietary sensitivities and food allergies: some dogs have sensitive stomachs and can’t tolerate the ingredients of a chew/treat or water additive and some dogs have food allergies that needs to be taken into consideration when giving these treats. Bottom line – if you give your dog a chew/treat or water additive and they develop diarrhea or vomiting, don’t give it!
  • The daily caloric impact of the treats: It’s easy to lose track of how many calories your pet is getting each day when you factor in all the treats and “extras” they get. Remember that even if a treat is 50 calories – that may be 10-15 percent of the daily caloric requirements for a 20-pound dog. Those calories really add up, and while we want to take care of our pet’s teeth we don’t want to give them another problem (obesity) instead.
  • The size of the treat needs to be appropriate for the size of the pet. This is especially important for small dogs trying to ingest a chew that is too large and large dogs given a treat that is too small (and then “inhaling” it). If your pet does not chew the product thoroughly, discontinue use of the treat, as this can pose a risk for the treat becoming lodged in the esophagus (as well as no longer being effective for it’s intended purpose of reducing plaque/tartar.)
  • Pet dogs should be monitored while chewing a chew treat or toy, as they may swallow large pieces, leading to a variety of digestive system disorders.

Is my pet’s dental health really that important?

Well, like people, every pet’s mouth is different. Some animals and breeds are more susceptible for dental disease than others. In some animals a neglected mouth will result with some degree of plaque build up over time, and gingivitis (or inflammation and infection of the gums). But in some animals that neglected mouth will lead to severe infectious of the mouth, abscesses, pain, bad breath, and can make it more difficult to regulate other disease processes (such as diabetes). In the more severe cases, treatment may involve tooth extractions or complicated dental procedures and can lead to infections of the liver, heart and other internal organs.

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, appropriate chews, treats and water additives can significantly slow the progression of gingivitis, plaque and tartar accumulation.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor February 9, 2017 at 3:45 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. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

February is “National Pet Dental Health Month,” so we’re going to dedicate our post this week and the end of the month to pet dental health. Now, this doesn’t mean your pet’s dental health should be neglected for the rest of the year.

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, appropriate chews, treats and water additives can significantly slow the progression of gingivitis, plaque and tartar accumulation. So regular dental upkeep and monitoring (yes, that means year-round, and that means actually looking in your pet’s mouth) are such an important aspect of whole-pet wellness and care.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is the inflammation and infection of the structures around the teeth, which include the gums, the ligament that attaches the tooth to the bone, and alveolar bone itself. In the earliest stage of periodontal disease — gingivitis — the inflammation and infection of the gums. In more severe forms of the disease, all of the tissues are involved.

Plaque is the build up of a “slime” layer of bacterial colonies along the gum line. As this plaque sits there longer it starts to mineralize and becomes Tartar.

What is the best way to prevent periodontal disease?

Well, it’s brushing! Unfortunately, though, in order for brushing to be most effective you need to brush your pet’s teeth at least 3 times a week, and like with us, daily is best. Obviously, your safety is first and foremost in all circumstances, but for most dogs, and even cats, teeth brushing can be a pleasant, non-stressful experience.

Check out our video for instructions on how to brush your pet’s teeth. There are fancy pet toothbrushes and enzymatic toothpastes out there — which are all great — but sometimes they create barriers or excuses that keep the brushing from actually happening. One way we recommend to brush teeth is to take a gauze square on your finger — no toothpaste or anything else on it — and wrapping your finger in it; then using that to brush/massage the gum line. You’d be amazed the amount of plaque you can get off (and you can actually SEE it on the gauze) with that technique.

The take-away: The best brushing is the one that actually happens, and we tend to find that the fewer gimmicks involved set us up better for success. That may be with a classic toothbrush, with a fingertip toothbrush or with a gauze square.

Is my pet’s dental health really that important?

Well, like people, every pet’s mouth is different. Some animals and breeds are more susceptible for dental disease than others. In some animals a neglected mouth will result with some degree of plaque build up over time, and gingivitis (or inflammation and infection of the gums). But in some animals that neglected mouth will lead to severe infectious of the mouth, abscesses, pain, bad breath, and can make it more difficult to regulate other disease processes (such as diabetes). In the more severe cases, treatment may involve tooth extractions or complicated dental procedures. Additionally, periodontal disease in general can lead to infections of the liver, heart and other internal organs, so should never be considered “just a dental” problem.

What happens when we have disease that can’t be managed with at-home care? Well, then we would discuss an anesthetized dental procedure for your pet. This allows us to fully assess the tooth and gingival health, take dental x-rays to assess tooth root and bone health and fully clean (including beneath the gum line) the teeth. Sometimes we find that teeth are far more diseased that what initially meets the eye and extractions or referral to a veterinary dentist may be indicated to bring the mouth back to health.

In our next post we’ll discuss treats and chews for our pets and give some guidance on how to pick the right one for your pet to maximize on their dental health.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor January 26, 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. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

In a followup to our last post, we will discuss below some of the different veterinary specialties and why we might refer to them.

To recap, many of our daily appointments consist of pets that are not feeling well for a variety of reasons. In many instances we can determine the problem and treat effectively by obtaining a thorough history, performing a comprehensive physical exam, perform in-office diagnostics or send lab work out to a reference laboratory, and dispensing appropriate medications or treatments.

However, in some instances, problems may be more complicated or require diagnostics beyond the scope of a general practice, and a veterinary specialist may be recommended.

Behaviorist: A veterinary behaviorist is sort of a mental health professional for dogs. For some dogs, anxiety is such a large issue that certain medications we prescribe are not enough to help and, unfortunately, some dogs will hurt themselves in their crates by chewing or scratching (think of it like a panic attack). In these extreme instances, utilizing a behaviorist can help narrow down certain triggers and they can also help prescribe different medications in conjunction with a training program to help resolve these issues. Behaviorists can also be invaluable in handling a pet with difficult aggression issues that may provide a safety concern if not handled appropriately.

Dentist: It’s safe to say that most of our veterinary patients have a varying degree of periodontal disease. A dental cleaning, complete with dental radiographs, and polishing/fluoride treatment, can be done with your primary veterinarian. Many extractions can also be done with your primary veterinarian. However, sometimes the pathology in the mouth is so severe that referral to a veterinary dentist is required. They are trained to perform root canals and other endodontic treatments, or even remove parts of a jaw if there are tumors or abnormalities within the jaw bones.

Dermatologist: Veterinary dermatologists are incredibly helpful in diagnosing a multitude of skin disorders that we see on a daily basis, including allergies. After trying many different types of therapies here at our clinic, sometimes the use of a dermatologist, who may have access to newer drug therapies or diagnostics, is the best way to help your pet find relief. They can also perform skin biopsies, intradermal skin allergy testing, and different skin cultures/cytologies, etc…

Ophthalmologist: Veterinary ophthalmologists examine and correct a variety of different ocular diseases – both within the eye and on the surface. Their expertise includes, but is not limited to, performing surgeries (such as cataract surgery or third eyelid/”cherry eye” correction), managing glaucoma and complicated corneal defects, treating inflammatory conditions of the eye, etc…They also have special equipment to look at ocular structures better than most general practices.

Radiologist: Sometimes our veterinary patients eat abnormal things, or have recurrent bouts of vomiting/diarrhea. Other times we may find something abnormal while we are palpating the abdomen during a routine physical exam. Radiographs (X-rays) are a useful tool for looking at the size and shape of organs and noting if anything appears abnormal.

However, if your pet ingested something soft and we are unable to see it on an X-ray, an abdominal ultrasound will look at the internal structure of organs and determine if this object is stuck. Ultrasounds can also find tumors on some organs that are not easily identifiable via X-ray, such as the adrenal glands. Radiologists also have additional training in reading X-rays, MRIs and CT scans which can help us pick up and find subtle changes that can help us with a diagnosis.

For cats with hyperthyroidism, a veterinarian in a specialty hospital with the capacity to handle radioactive material can also administer a highly regulated radioactive isotope that can treat hyperthyroidism in one injection (with several days in the hospital for monitoring afterwards) if it is indicated by your primary veterinarian. Sounds crazy, but it’s also the treatment of choice in people, as well.

Veterinary specialists are great resources for your pets when your primary care veterinarian thinks their expertise will be needed to help make your pet feel better, faster! We are fortunate to live in an area with numerous specialty-trained veterinarians to help us provide the best care for our pets.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor January 12, 2017 at 3:00 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. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Many of our daily appointments consist of pets that are not feeling well for a variety of reasons. In many instances, we can determine the problem and treat effectively by obtaining a thorough history, performing a comprehensive physical exam, perform in-office diagnostics or send lab work out to a reference laboratory, and dispensing appropriate medications or treatments. However, in some instances, problems may be more complicated or require diagnostics beyond the scope of a general practice, and a veterinary specialist may be recommended.  

Many people are surprised to hear that there are specialists for animals! So, what exactly is a veterinary specialist you may ask? A veterinary specialist is a veterinarian who has gone through at least four additional years of training above and beyond the four-year veterinary school education. This typically consists of a one-year internship program, followed by a three-year residency program focusing on their preferred area of specialty. They then have to sit for their national specialty examination before receiving their board-specialty certification.  

Below are some examples of specialists and why we may refer a pet to them. We’ll discuss other specialities in two weeks with our next post.

Emergency & Critical Care SpecialistLet’s face it, sometimes our pets get so sick that they needs some pretty intensive care! Emergency clinics that have a criticalist on staff have the capacity to do some extremely intensive care, including ventilatory support (i.e. breathing for the patient in an acute lung injury), in-hospital feeding tubes, extensive nursing management and tend to be on the cutting edge with treatment options for some really complicated, really sick cases.

InternistWhen we just can’t seem to find the answer to a pet’s metabolic woes or advanced diagnostics (such as endoscopy or bronchoscopy) are needed — and an internal medicine specialist is often recommended. They excel at complicated case work-ups and are very good at long-term patient and chronic disease management. The types of cases that we often request their assistance with are complicated diabetics, certain respiratory disease, multiple metabolic disease processes occurring at once, and certain infectious, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Their wealth of knowledge can be invaluable with making treatment decisions and when changing medications, doses, etc. to find just the right balance for a given patient. Subspecialties within internal medicine include:

Cardiologist: Sometimes we will hear a heart murmur or abnormal heart sound when performing a physical examination. A murmur is turbulent blood flow through the heart, but just listening to the heart doesn’t tell us exactly why the murmur is present. In these cases, we will refer your pet to a veterinary cardiologist to perform an examination and an echocardiogram (an ultrasound of the heart). This will help determine the source of the abnormality. Puppies and kittens may have congenital abnormalities that can be fixed via surgery. Cardiologists also can place pacemakers in certain conditions where the abnormality has to do with the electrical conduction through the heart.

Neurologist: Unfortunately, sometimes our pets go through a variety of neurological disorders. This can include herniated disks in their back, tumors within the brain, congenital abnormalities, seizures, etc. Seeing a veterinary neurologist can help narrow down the cause for some of the signs you are noticing at home and they can also perform MRIs/CT scans on your pets to determine the next best step for treatment. Veterinary neurologists are also trained to perform spinal and brain surgeries.

Oncologist: Many types of cancers in veterinary patients can be surgically removed by your primary care veterinarian, but there are certain types of cancers that do best with surgical removal followed by chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. These are two types of treatments have to be administered by a veterinary oncologist and may help prolong the quality of life-span of your pet.

SurgeonMost primary care veterinarians can perform routine surgeries, including limb amputations. However, sometimes your pet has injured themselves to the point of needing a veterinary surgeon to repair the damage, or requires a complicated surgery that is beyond the scope of general practice. Examples of this include torn ACL repairs, performing a total hip replacement, complicated tumor removals, surgery entering the chest cavity or around the heart, repairing complicated congenital defects, to name a few.

Veterinary specialists are great resources for your pets when your primary care veterinarian thinks their expertise will be needed to help make your pet feel better, faster! We are fortunate to live in an area with numerous specialty-trained veterinarians to help us provide the best care for our pets.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor December 29, 2016 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. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

We all know the drill — new year, new commitment to healthier living, lifestyle and relationships!

From your pet’s point-of-view, here are a few:  

  • I will resolve to limit myself to a strict calorie intake appropriate for my lean body weight — just like the rest of us, maintaining a lean body weight is the number one thing we can do for our pets to help them stay healthy! Unlike us, pets can’t count calories, so it’s up to us to be sure they are being fed an appropriate and balanced diet. It’s also important to be sure your pet is eating an age-appropriate diet — the AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) designates every food as appropriate for all life stages, maintenance, or growth and lactation.  

While an all life stages food may seem appealing, this often may not be the best choice for a pet with underlying health conditions or that is overweight. Additionally, for some medical conditions (i.e. kidney disease, pancreatitis) a prescription diet may really help to prolong the health and well-being of the pet.  

  • I will bug and pester my owners until they take me for at least two (preferably three to four) long walks a day, or engage in an appropriate play session with me — getting plenty of exercise is good not only for the waistline, but also for your pets. Exercise is critical for maintaining balanced behavior and reducing boredom in dogs and cats.
  • I will be sure that my parents pay attention to those pesky reminders from the veterinarian letting them know when I need to get my vaccines updated, so that I stay protected from some of those icky diseases out there.  
  • I promise to take my heart-worm and flea/tick prevention regularly and won’t spit it out — even though I sometimes resist, I know that these are good for me and are protecting me from lots of gross bugs and diseases! — in addition to preventing heart-worm disease, the monthly preventative pill also protects against hookworms and whipworms, which are intestinal parasites quite common in our area.
  • I will get my owners involved in a new activity — I’ve even heard of activity-specific meet-up groups for other dog owners! 
  • I will be cooperative for getting my teeth brushed, much as it pains me! — Daily (or a minimum frequency three days a week) teeth brushing is the single best (and least costly) way to maintain good oral health. Most dogs will get very comfortable with this once it becomes a routine — some even come to love brushing thanks to flavored toothpastes (cats too!)  
  • I will work on my obedience during leash walking so I pay full attention to my owner and no other dogs on walks — Many dogs are leash reactive and this is a very common occurrence that is hard for some owners to pick up. Working with a certified trained dog trainer and daily “homework” on walks can help solve some leash aggression and can also help the dogs (and owners) anxiety!
  • I will try to love when my owners play with my feet! — Many dogs and cats are scared of getting their nails cut. Petting their paws at home and getting them used to you feeling their nails and isolating each digit can actually help the anxiety that comes with nail trims, as this can de-sensitize them to the feeling of their nails being touched for the trims.
  • I resolve to experiment with new serving equipment for my food. It’s out with the bowl and in with the puzzle toys for me! Traditional food bowls are unstimulating and allow for too fast meals. Puzzle toys and food toys for both dogs and cats increase mental activity and decrease regurgitation from rapid eating.

Happy 2017 to you and all your furry family members!

by ARLnow.com Sponsor December 15, 2016 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. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.Dogs Healthy Paws

In keeping with a tradition we started last year, and since shopping for our pets is a holiday highlight, here are some of the cool products we’ve come across in the past year:

The Odin — a durable toy to hide treats in, that also can be connected with another “unit” to make a larger toy.

Snooze Pal  — a hammock and box all in one — this is definitely on Tommy’s list!!    

No Bowl Feeding System — keep your cat entertained and help control feeding portions with this nifty feeding system that has your cat “hunting” around the house.

KoolCollar 4 Dogs — help keep your dog cool on those hot summer days (we especially like this for those smoosh-faced breeds).

IFetch Interactive Thrower — a must for that dog that refuses to let you stop playing fetch! And, also comes in smaller sizes for those little guys.  

Cat & Dog “Wine” — our personal pets have not yet tested this, but a clever idea so your pet can partake in cocktail hour too!  

CatAmazing puzzle toy — a cardboard box puzzle toy to keep your kitty entertained.

And, of course, please keep in mind those less fortunate pets out there who are still looking for homes and the wonderful shelters and rescue groups who do so much to help them:

Animal Welfare League of Arlington — online donations, donate from their wish list on Amazon or stop by on December 17th or 18th from 10am-4pm for gift-wrapping to support them.   

Homeward Trails Animal Rescue — online donations or add an item from their wish list on Amazon to your next order.

Lucky Dog Animal Rescue — we have a collection box (through New Years) in our lobby if you happen to pick up any extra goodies at the pet store while out shopping for your own pet.  

Lab Rescue of Potomac — monetary gifts are always appreciated!

Lu’s Labs — they have a holiday boutique and you can support them through the Combined Federal Campaign.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor December 1, 2016 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. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Does your cat hide as soon as you break out the carrier from the garage or the closet? Have you ever had to cancel or reschedule an appointment because you can’t corral your kitty?

Read on for some tips on making transportation (be it to the vet office or just for a trip) a little bit easier for everyone.

Preparation:

Easy transportation starts with a good carrier. A hard sided carrier with an easy to remove top is best. Hard sides provide structure and prevent the carrier from collapsing in on your cat while you’re carrying it. A removable top circumvents the need to remove the cat from the carrier once they arrive for their appointment. Many cats prefer to stay in the bottom half of their carrier while being examined and receiving vaccines because it is familiar.

Pheromones on the bedding will also help many cats enjoy the experience of being in their carrier. The kitty pheromone we particularly like is called Feliway and can be purchased as a spray or a plug-in diffuser. Feliway is a synthetic version of the facial pheromone cats leave naturally while rubbing their faces against an object or a person when they are comfortable in their environment. The spray is most appropriate for use with the carrier; 10 sprays should be applied to the bedding at least 15 minutes before your cat will be going in the carrier, to allow time for the alcohol solvent in the spray to evaporate. This application will last for up to 5 hours, but can be reapplied as needed.

After you’ve picked out an appropriate carrier, put it somewhere your cat already likes to sit. Most cats will prefer it on an elevated surface. Take the top half of the carrier off so it’s more open.  Play with your cat in and around the carrier. Place bedding (towel, old sweater) that you cat likes, food, treats, toys, or catnip in the carrier to entice your kitty to enter the carrier on their own. Once they enter the carrier, reward with treats. If your cat is suspicious of this new piece of furniture, leave it out (with the top off) with food or toys inside and allow them to explore it over a period of days or weeks.  It’s crucial to leave the carrier out all the time, rather than pulling it out just before a car ride – as then they know something is up and only associate it with potentially traumatic experiences.

Game time:

Again, when it’s time to transport your cat in the carrier, spray pheromones in the carrier at least 15 minutes before it’s time to go. Allow your cat to get in on their own whenever possible. Transport one cat per carrier. Even cats that share a bed or sleep in a carrier together at home may become overly stressed when transported together and fights could occur. Cover the carrier with a pheromone-sprayed blanket to reduce sights and sounds both during transport and upon arrival to the clinic. If your cat enjoys them, place treats, toys, or catnip in the carrier.

When moving the carrier, hold it with both hands at chest level to avoid swinging and the cat being at eye level with dogs. Ignore the handle on the top of the carrier – it’s not a suitcase! When the handle is used, the carrier will tend to swing slightly and that can be very scary for the carrier’s occupant. Avoid startling noises during the transport. Quiet, familiar, calm music or silence in the car is fine. Secure the carrier on the floor behind the passenger seat. Once in the hosptial, face cat away from unknown people and pets in the waiting room.

Returning home:

It can be hard for cats to reintegrate with housemates after a vet visit. Your cat will smell very different, be stressed, might not be feeling well, and could even be sedate from medications used in the hospital. If any sedation was used, keep your cat in a separate space until the sedation has worn off. A good rule of thumb is 12 hours of separation. When it’s safe to re-introduce your cats, start by re-establishing a common scent profile. Take a rag or shirt and rub down the cat who was out of the house, then take that fabric and rub down the other cat, continue with the same fabric for each cat in the house, end by re-rubbing the cat who was out of the house. This will get everyone smelling the same and minimize signals that the cat who was gone is now an outsider. Supervise interactions until you’re sure they are getting along well. This may sound excessive, but we hear horror stories from owners whose cats have been at odds for weeks after one has visited the vet or other outside situation.

These steps can help reduce the stress of a vet visit for your cat and for your family. If you experience any issues during this process, let your veterinarian know and they can help you troubleshoot. A less stressed cat is a calmer and happier cat, and a happy cat can be examined fully and allow necessary tests to be done more easily so the highest quality medical care can be provided for your furry friend.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor November 17, 2016 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. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Sometimes it’s hard to say that our fur-kids really are not human. Many of us love them and treat them like they are. While we could argue behavioral and psychological reason for and against that perspective, one thing that is pretty straight forward is drug metabolism…

Dogs and cats are not small humans and cats are not small dogs. Each species has very different abilities to metabolize certain drugs and as such, there are some human medications that should NEVER be given to our pets, some that can under direct supervision of a veterinarian, and some that are fine to use but may require a different doses for our pets than humans.

NEVER:

Tylenol (acetaminophen), in cats: Causes a life-threatening inability to deliver oxygen to tissues.

Pepto Bismol in cats and dogs: Contains aspirin in a form that is not useful for treating any condition and often causes GI bleeding.

Breath Fresheners in dogs and cats: Some human breath fresheners can contain xylitol, which has the potential to cause the blood sugar to drop dangerously low (hypoglycemia), causing loss of motor control or even seizures; and even liver failure.

Ibuprofen in dogs and cats: Very easy to overdose and can cause symptoms ranging from upset stomach, gastrointestinal bleeding, kidney failure and acute neurologic symptoms.

Pseudophedrine and phenylephrine in dogs and cats: Can cause gastrointestinal symptoms, agitation and heart rhythm disturbances.

ONLY UNDER VETERINARY DIRECTION & SUPERVISION:

Aspirin in dogs and cats: If given at high enough doses to help with inflammation, aspirin almost always causes gastrointestinal bleeding. There are far better and far safer medications to help with inflammation (arthritis and pain). We can use it safely in very low doses to reduce platelet activity and clotting in certain disease situations that predispose clotting.

Immodium AD in dogs: While not toxic to most dogs, some dogs may carry a genetic mutation that makes the more sensitive to the effects of this drug and can lead to seizures and even coma.

GenTeal Eye Lubricant: This is a useful artificial tear supplement when your dog has been accurately diagnosed with Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (AKA “Dry Eye”). Eye issues can quickly go awry, so always have a veterinarian exam before trying to treat at home.

Tylenol in dogs: The dose range is pretty narrow and it’s definitely not a first-line pain medication in dogs. We tend to use it more with severe pain, and in combination with codeine. Overdosing can cause severe liver disease and so should only be used exactly as directed and prescribed by your veterinarian.

Antihistamines in dogs and cats: Claritin (loratidine), and Zyrtec (cetirizine) can be used to reduce itching. Claritin and Zyrtec tend to be better for general allergies in our dogs, but they do not cause drowsiness in dogs and cats they way they do in humans, so don’t try these as a sedative. Talk to your veterinarian about dosing. **Be sure NOT to use an antihistamine that contains Pseudophedrine – such as Zyrtec-D or Claritin-D**

SAFE TO USE (though we still recommend consulting with your veterinarian before starting these medications):

Pepcid AC (famotidine) in dogs and cats: Pepcid and other antacids such as Zantac (ranitidine) or Prilosec (omperazole) are safe for pets and used for many different diseases (such as gastroenteritis, kidney failure and liver failure). Check with your veterinarian for dosing.

Antihistamines: Benadryl (diphenhydramine) tends to be better for acute allergic reactions (such as bug bites and contact allergies that cause hives) and may cause mild drowsiness. It doesn’t do nearly as good a job for general allergies as some of the newer antihistamines. The dose is 1mg per pound of body weight every 8-12 hours for allergic reactions (so a 25lb dog would get 25mg every 8-12 hours). If the symptoms are not improving within 24 hours of starting Benadryl or if the allergic reaction is getting worse in spite of using Benadryl — your pet needs to be seen by a veterinarian!

Meclizine in dogs: This is a motion sickness medication, similar to Dramamine, that can be helpful for reducing car sickness and doesn’t cause much drowsiness. The dose is 12.5mg-25mg per dog given 1-2 hours before a car ride.

Topical ointments with a numbing cream: In most cases, a topical Bacitracin ointment is likely okay to use, but when they are supplemented with a pain numbing cream, such as hydrocortisone or tetracaine, these can be toxic if ingested.  Most dogs and cats tend to lick ointments immediately after application and we often recommend the use of an e-collar (i.e. the cone of shame) when using topical medications.

Additional resources on toxic and non-toxic household items, plants and medications can be found at ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control’s website: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control

by ARLnow.com Sponsor November 3, 2016 at 12:00 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. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Does your pet have chronic or intermittent diarrhea, but otherwise feels great? Does he or she itch and scratch constantly, have hair loss, repeated skin infections, ear infections or rashes? If you answered yes, read on, as your pet could possibly have a food allergy.

What are the most common food allergies?

Contrary to all the pet-food company marketing, it is rarely grains! The vast, vast majority of the time, the allergy is to the animal protein source, with chicken being the most common, and then beef.

What’s the difference between a food allergy and a food sensitivity?

An allergy implies that the body’s immune system is involved in the symptoms; whereas food sensitivities can cause similar but often milder symptoms that are due to a local reaction in the GI tract (think lactose intolerance in people). A food sensitivity may improve simply with a diet change to a new brand or variety, whereas a food allergy is related to the body being sensitized via the immune system to a specific ingredient.

How is a food allergy diagnosed?

Unfortunately, a true food allergy can be difficult to definitively diagnose. There is no accurate blood test for food allergies (though Dr. Google may suggest otherwise), and the only way to really diagnose a food allergy is to do a STRICT trial with a hypoallergenic or hydrolyzed diet for 8-12 weeks. Because it can take days to weeks for an offending protein to fully be eliminated from the body, and also significant time for the GI tract to heal following insult, the full 8-12 weeks is vital to ensure we allow enough time to see clinical improvement if it is going to happen!

Not only that, in order to make a truly definitive diagnosis, at the conclusion of the food trial one must reintroduce the original food to see if the symptoms return! Understandably, many owners are reluctant to go this final step if their pet’s symptoms are significantly improved, but without it we do not know if improvement was just a coincidence (or perhaps due to some other treatments that may have been initiated at the same time or a changing of seasons).

Essentially, a food trial is a diagnostic test — but one that takes 8-12 weeks to get results.

What make a diet hypoallergenic?

A hypoallergenic diet is designed to be absent of the ingredients most likely to trigger a true allergic response. Again, protein sources are much more likely to be the culprit than grain or other ingredients. There are two ways to address this protein issue — one is with a “novel” protein — i.e. a protein that the patient has never been exposed to previously — and the other is with a “hydrolyzed” protein — i.e. a protein that is broken down into such small pieces during the manufacturing process that it is not recognized as foreign by the body.

A thorough dietary history is very important when figuring out which hypoallergenic diet route to go. If the pet has been exposed to a variety of protein sources throughout their life, a hydrolyzed diet may be a better option.

It is important to note that many of the over-the-counter (OTC) diets that may tout themselves as being lamb, bison, turkey, etc. actually do have chicken further down the ingredient list. OTC diets are frequently contaminated with minuscule amounts of non-ingredient proteins as well. Thus, for the purposes of a strict food trial, we are more apt to recommend a prescription diet that is strictly controlled in the manufacturing process and is guaranteed to be a single protein source. In a very sensitive pet, even having a trace of the offending protein (such as, may remain if there was not strict cleansing of the equipment between processing of different diet varieties) could be enough to trigger symptoms. There are a limited number of OTC options that may be viable alternatives to a prescription diet, but these should be discussed with and approved by your pet’s veterinarian prior to going to the effort of a full food trial with them, as in some cases they may not be sufficiently “hypoallergenic.”

This sounds hard!  

There’s no arguing that a strict food trial requires some restraint and diligence on the part of the owner! Treats play an important role in our relationship with our pets, and having to be really strict can be tough…but it important to remember that it’s for a relatively short period of time and that eventually you will be able to slowly reintroduce things into your pet’s diet.

It is also important that all members of the family be on board with a food trial before it’s initiated — again, all it takes is a single exposure to the offending protein to set things back to the beginning!

Good news — you finished the food trial and your pet’s symptoms are improved. Now what?

At this point, we’d typically recommend SLOWLY reintroducing things back into your pet’s diet, but still being sure to avoid the suspected offending protein — i.e. each week, add one new item back into the diet, monitoring for recurrence of the original symptoms.

Bad news — you finished the food trial and your pet’s symptoms are not improved. Now what?  

Fret not — all is not lost! You’ve still gleaned some very valuable information by ruling out a food allergy. In the case of skin symptoms, environmental allergies may be a factor and in the case of GI symptoms, a whole plethora of other possibilities remain. It will be important to work with your pet’s veterinarian to continue looking for the cause of chronic skin or GI symptoms.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor October 20, 2016 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. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Have you ever heard your doctor or pet’s veterinarian rattle off a list of strange words that seem to make no sense? Most of these are derived from Latin roots and serve to concisely describe what otherwise may be a wordy description.

Borborygmi  of Greek origin, indicating a rumbling of the gastrointestinal tract as the small intestine contracts to move ingesta through

Brachycephalic  Greek for “short head,” or a “smooshed”-faced skull conformation — i.e. Pugs, Boxers, Boston terriers, Shih Tzus

Coprophagia  The eating of feces, derived from Greek copros – “feces” and phagia – “to eat.” This rather icky tendency, especially in dogs, is also typically behavioral in nature, rather than due to a nutritional deficiency. Though animals such as rabbits will do this to maintain gut bacterial populations.

Crepitus  Grinding, creaking, cracking, grating, crunching or popping that occurs when moving a joint; Latin for “rattle” or “crack,” most often appreciated in arthritic joints

Cryptorchid — A condition that occurs when one (or both) testicle does not descend into the scrotal sac

Dolicephalic — Greek for “long”-faced skull conformation — i.e. Collies, Greyhounds, many other sight-hound breeds

Emesis — Vomiting, from the Greek word emein, which means “to vomit.” We often prescribe antiemetics to control or stop vomiting in our patients.

Hematemesis — Blood in the vomit

Hematochezia — Blood in the stool

Hematuria — Blood in the urine

Idiopathic — A condition with unknown cause or spontaneous origin and derived from Greek idios – “one’s own” and pathos – “suffering.” Basically, a fancy way to say “we don’t know.”

Melena — of Greek origin. The passage of black, tar-like stools indicating the presence of digested blood (happens with gastric or small intestinal ulceration & bleeding).

Ovariohysterectomy — Removal of the ovaries and uterus (commonly referred to as a spay)

Orchiectomy — Removal of the testicles (commonly referred to as a neuter or castration)

Peristalsis — Muscle contractions that propel food throughout the gastrointestinal tract

Pica — The appetite for non-nutritive substances such as dirt, hair or paper. In dogs and cats, is more often due to behavioral or primary gastrointestinal tract disease — that results in inadequate absorption of nutrients — reasons rather than an inadequate diet. Derived from the Latin name of the magpie bird, who reportedly was willing to eat nearly anything.

Polydactyl — Quite literally, “extra fingers,” typically seen in cats that will have more than the typical five digits

Stomatitis — Inflammation of the mouth; from Greek work stoma for “mouth”

Tenesmus — Straining to defecate; via Greek teinesmos, “straining,” from teinein, “stretch, strain.”

And, even though this isn’t particularly relevant to us in veterinary medicine, this one is just too fun to not mention:

Sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia An “ice cream headache,” which is actually referred nerve pain at the sphenopalatine ganglion area of the brain caused by quick consumption of COLD beverages or foods

by ARLnow.com Sponsor October 6, 2016 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. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

So you want to run with your dog?

Running with your dog can be great exercise for both of you, especially since most pets don’t get the opportunity to really stretch their legs as much as they like living in the more urban environment that we do. We’ve put together a few tips to keep your pup safe, happy and healthy while engaging in an running regimen:

AGE — The first thing to take into consideration when considering running with your pet is the age of your pet. Dogs should be near skeletal maturity before any sort of serious running routine is started (this can be 9-12 months in a smaller breed dog, but not until closer to 18-24 months in a large/giant breed dog). Short, relaxed runs are okay starting at around 9 months for most breeds.

TRAINING — It is important that your dog has basic leash and obedience manners in order for you to safely run with them. If he/she is pulling and barking uncontrollably at every dog or person you pass, this will not likely lead to a safe, fun or efficient work-out for you.

ENDURANCE — Just as we need to work up our endurance, so do our pets! As a very general rule, we recommend starting with 10 minutes of exercise, and working up in 5 minute increments over the course of each week until you reach your desired time/distance. There is no exact formula for how much a dog can do, so it is important to watch for your dog for signs of exhaustion — these may include lagging behind, stopping to catch their breath, prolonged panting post-exercise, lameness associated with exercise, or coughing or labored breathing.

WEATHER — Again, just as for us, the time of day/year is important to take into consideration. As a general rule of thumb, if it is a hot day outside, place your hand directly on the cement. If you cannot keep your hand on the cement for 5 full seconds, then it is too hot for a dog’s paws. It is also preferred to run early in the morning or later in the evening, when the sun has gone down when it is >75 degrees outside. Humidity also plays a huge role for dogs as they do not get rid of body heat in any significant fashion through sweating. Sweating is important for evaporative cooling — but since they really only sweat in their feet and most of their evaporative cooling is done through panting — they are working with a really small surface area to get rid of heat. When it is very humid out — that evaporative cooling mechanism doesn’t work well at all — which means heat transfer doesn’t work well. This is why in the DC summers, even in the air conditioning, dogs tend to act hot (panting, wanting to sit near fans, etc…). It’s cooler inside, but the humidity is still much higher than in the winter at similar temperatures and so they have a harder time staying cool.

INJURIES — The weekend warrior or rare/intermittent/poor training is, similar to us, one of the main causes of musculoskeletal injuries in our dogs. We can’t expect a dog with little training to up and run without minimally being sore afterward. Other injuries we can see from a lack of training and conditioning are cruciate injuries (i.e. ACL tears), meniscal injuries, as well as any number of muscle, ligament and tendon sprains and strains.

In addition to the musculoskeletal system — we can see dogs injure their foot pads from running on rough/abrasive surfaces; or even burn their pads from running on hot surfaces. These injuries tend to hurt the worst a few hours after the happen and can lead to significant pain as well as secondary infection.

Just like you or I, dogs also need to be kept hydrated. Dehydration and overheating are two of the most common non-orthopedic problems that we see dogs present for when they are not appropriately conditioned for their run, when they are pushed too hard or when they are run in high heat or humidity.

Individual health concerns to consider are health issues (such as heart disease, kidney disease and breed type). Dogs with underlying medical conditions often need to go at a slower pace and go shorter distances. Brachycephalic breeds (i.e. “smoosh-faced”) physically cannot get the same amount of oxygen through their nose/mouth and into their lungs as a dog with normal conformation and are at risk of overheating, fainting or developing significant respiratory problems if they are pushed too hard.

INDIVIDUAL TEMPERAMENT/DRIVE — this may seem a little silly because we’re talking about dogs, right? Don’t they all want to run? Well, actually…No. Some dogs just won’t ever be good running buddies, and that’s okay. Some dogs will be on the other side of the spectrum and will be so devoted to you and the run that they will end up pushing themselves to significant injury. Know your pet and their individual drive and respect that when training.

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