Saturday, September 27, 2008

Outer Banks Dog Care


This article was published by http://www.pamperedpetsguide.com/ Outer Banks edition
in Vol.5 page 6

Dear Pet Owners,
Welcome to the wonderful beaches and sound accesses here on the Outer Banks. While vacationing here is usually a wonderful reprieve from the humdrum of daily life, having a sick pet can put a real damper on your visit. Listed below are a few brief examples of common problems that affect visiting pets as well as a checklist of things to do before you leave home.


Before You Go Checklist

*Make sure the place you are renting allows pets. If not make sure you have a place to board them long before you jump in the car. Most kennels are booked weeks in advance during the summer months, especially on holidays.

*Get your pooch up to date on vaccinations. Even if you don't plan on boarding your dog, unexpected events may require them to stay at a boarding facilty or veternary hospital. Most boarding facilties require a current Rabies vaccine, Distemper-Parvo combo vaccine, and Kennel Cough vaccine. Also, don't forget to bring records of these vaccinations. If you have any questions about these, please consult a veterinarian.

*Apply flea and/or tick preventative shortly before you leave. Due to our mild winters, these external parasites are abundant on the Outer Banks.

*Bring extra leashes, collars, and doggy bags to collect your pet's feces. Littering on the beach doesn't stop with soda cans and trash!

Tail Sprains

Many dogs love to jump in the ocean. Waves, however, can topple them and cause them to hurt thier tail. Symptoms of this include, restlessness, holding the tail between their legs, and other signs of pain. If this happens to your pup, consult a veterinarain.


Ocean / Sound Water

Sound water and other areas where the water is stagnant is a host to bacteria and parasites that can cause vomiting, diarrha, and even more serious diseases such as kidney failure. Drinking too much ocean water can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and severe dehydration. For your pet's best interest, keeep their drinking sources limited to bottled water or tap water during your stay.


Leash Laws

It can be very tempting to let Fido have free run of the beach during your stay. Pleawe monitor yoru pets closely when they are not confined. Our roads are very busy and the last thing you want to happen is to have your four-legged friend wander from the beach and into the path of a moving vehicle. Most communities here require your pet to be on a leash. Some do not allow per on the beach at all during the summer months. Find out if your beach allows dogs before you take your pooch for a walk.

If you have any questions about your pet, please feel free to contact one on the veterinary hospitals in the area and ask. Enjoy your stay and have a safe, fun vaccation!

Jay Taylor DVM
Martin's Point Veterinary Hospital

Precautions for Beach Dogs


This article was published by http://www.pamperedpetsguide.com/ Outer Banks edition
in Vol.6 page6


Dear Pet Owners,

Welcome to our beautiful Outer Banks. Please take a few minutes to read over this article and it's precautions as we want your vacation to be as enjoyable as possible! Regardless of the type of dog you have, they will find much pleasure and joy running on the beach and into the water. Be careful on days when the waves are especially rough, for dogs can get injured and sometimes drown if you let them get too fatigued. Activities like throwing a tennis ball or retrieving an object floating in the water can cause breeds like Golden Retrievers and Labradors, who are especially prone to overheating, to become fatigued very quickly. Another problem we see is that some dogs find sand fascinating - they dig and play in it, and sometimes they eat it - No Kidding! If dogs eat enough sand, it can obstruct their GI tract and they will develop severe vomiting. This is called a "Sand Colic" and the diagnosis requires simple x-rays that show the sand as it collects in the small intestines. This problem can be fatal if not treated, but treatment is almost always successful.

Heat Exhaustion - Very Serious! Every summer we see several dogs die from this condition. Did you know that on a 95 degree Fahrenheit day, in a parked car (even with the windows cracked); temperatures can increase to 130 degrees Fahrenheit in just ten short minutes! Please remember this when you run into the store for 'just a few minutes to grab a drink.' If for some unfortunate reason you do witness an animal that is suffering from heat exhaustion, medical help MUST begin immediately! On your way to the closest veterinarian's office, use wet towels with cold water to lie across your pet to help cool him. If Available, Put ice under the dogs' neck and in the groin area to help cool the blood flow to the body and back legs, by cooling the blood the internal organs are in less danger of being damaged. It is critical that the cooling process begin before you reach the vet's office, because this greatly increases our chance of treating and hopefully saving your dog with shock therapy.

In closing, have a great vacation; but remember that by far the number one disease on the beach is the 158 By-pass. Please keep your dog safe on a leash or confined in your house so that everyone has a wonderful vacation here on the Outer Banks!

Barrett Welch DVM
Animal Hospital of Nags Head

Friday, September 26, 2008

Allergies


This article was published by http://www.pamperedpetsguide.com/ Outer Banks edition
in Vol. 6 page 16

Well, it is once again that time of year. You know the signs-the constant jingling of your dogs collar as he incessantly scratches, the bald dog whose coat is so thin he looks embarrassed, the glowing dog whose skin is so red and hot you could roast a hot dog and of course the scabby dog who everyone avoids touching as though he has the plague. Yes, indeed it is allergy season.

There are 3 main types of allergies. The first and most common is the flea allergy, which left untreated leads to flea allergy dermatitis. Second, would be atopic dermatitis or inhaled allergies, which tend to be a seasonal allergy which retrievers Labradors and Goldens are genetically predisposed. The least common allergy and probably most commonly misdiagnosed are food allergies which tend to be a year round allergy. All allergies, whether flea, inhaled or food, cause the immune system to become reactive which in manifested by the red and itchy skin. The allergic response weakens the skin's natural immunity. At this point the normal bacteria and fungi, which live on the skin then grow in numbers they would not normally and cause skin disease. Typical signs of bacterial infections are pustules on the back or abdomen, which can be dry scabs or large, moist lesions, such as with "hot spots". Fungal infections can be seen on the skin and most commonly in the ears. It has a characteristic "sweet" odor when on the skin in large numbers and has a dry, scaly yellowish appearance and can cause the skin to become very thickened like that of an elephant. It is important to remember that the skin infections, whether yeast or bacterial are secondary to the underlying primary allergy. These secondary infections must be treated with the proper ani fungal or antibiotic to resolve the infections, but unless the underlying allergy is identified and addressed the cycle will continue.

Flea Allergy - Flea saliva is very allergenic and can cause an intense itch response. Typically the scratching is focused primarily around the rump or tail area but generalized signs as skin redness, hair loss and scabs are the standard. These allergies tend to be worse in the spring, summer and fall seasons, but we see fleas year round in this moderate climate. It is important to treat not only the animal with the adulticide to kill the fleas, but also the environment so that flea egg and larvae can be eliminated or reduced so multiple phases of the flea life cycle are attacked, not just the adults on the animal. Your local veterinarian can answer all your questions about the different flea medications an developing a comprehensive flea treatment plan.

Atopic Dermatitis - Inhaled allergies are very common on the Outer Banks. Unlike people who develop runny noses and itchy eyes, dog's primary allergic organ is their skin. Classic signs of inhaled allergies are foot and face itchiness as well as along the sides and underneath of the abdomen, although these symptoms can occur anywhere on the body. The allergens are usually environmental such as weed and grass pollen. There are literally dozens of common inhaled allergens endemic to this part of the country from house mites to ragweed. Most inhaled allergies begin as seasonal allergies and have a tendency to worsen with age and for the most severely affected animals the symptoms may become year round in duration. There are many different treatment approaches depending on the severity and duration of signs. Most dogs can be given short courses of corticosteroids or antihistamines to keep them comfortable during these high allergen periods. Other treatment options are desensitization injections or cyclosporine. We always advocate supplementation of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to diet. This is an effective and natural way to help the dogs skin build up its immunity.

Food Allergies - Food allergies are different from the two before-mentioned allergies because this allergy is not seasonal but year round. Hallmarks of this allergy are chronic ear infections and feet chewing. Occasionally we also see chronic anal itchiness, yes the classic butt scott. The key to treatment is first identifying that this is the allergy, which is done with food trial. This is where the animal is fed a presciption hypoallergenic diet for a minimum of 4-6 weeks. During the trial period it is imperative that the dog be fed nothing but this diet, no milk bones, pig ears -even their monthly heartworm preventative must be non flavored. The most common cause of food allergies are corn, beef and dairy protein. The hardest part about this allergy is that the owner must be very vigilant and disciplined, but once the allergy is established via the food trial, treatment is to continue the diet or begin reintroducing single proteins if you wish to identify the offending allergen.

There are many other diseases which can mimic allergies, such as hormonal imbalances, skin parasites and cancer so be sure with your veterinarian if you have any questions about your pets skin health. We hope you all have a happy, safe and itch-free summer!

Stephen M. Samson DVM
Coastal Animal Hospital

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Caution Pet Poisonings & Dangers



This is an article published by http://www.pamperedpetsguide.com/ Outer Banks edition
in Vol. 5 page24

The Outer Banks of North Carolina is a wonderful place to live & vacation and a great place to bring your pet. But don't get caught off guard because it's so beautiful here. Just as anywhere else, there are many ways your four-legged friend can become accidentally poisoned. Here are a few helpful tips to keep your pet healthy and safe.

1) Antifreeze has a pleasant taste to dogs and cats but unfortunately very small amounts can be lethal. As little as one teaspoon of it can kill a dog. I have seen some rental units "winterize" the cottages by pouring antifreeze into the toilets & some dogs tend to use these as drinking bowls. Check your house & garage to be sure there are no spills left around. If you think your pet became exposed to antifreeze, contact your veterinarian right away!

2) Keep all prescriptions and over the counter drugs out of the reach of your pets, preferably in closed cabinets. Remind guest to store their medications safely as well. Pain killers, cold medicines, anti-cancer drugs, antidepressants, vitamins, & diet pills are common examples of human medication that could be potentially lethal even in small dosages.

3) Toxic plants: Oleander, is very toxic. As little as one leaf can kill a pet. Rhodedendron, Azalea, Rosebay & Foxglove are cardio toxic. And don't forget mushrooms. Even though most are safe, since it is difficult to tell, all mushrooms should be considered toxic. Don't allow your pet to eat mushrooms for this reason.

4) There are many pesticides that can cause harm to your pet. The most dangerous form of pesticides include: snail bait containing metaldehyde, fly bait containing methomyl, systemic insecticides containing disyston or disulfaton, zinc phosphide containing mole or gopher bait and most forms of rat poisons. Watch for these products and keep them away from your pets.

5) The ocean & sound, while fun to play inn can cause special problems. Ingestion of too much salt water can make your dog very sick. It can produce sever vomiting and diarrhea which may require aggressive medical attention. And sand can cause either diarrhea or sand impaction. Dogs are pretty resistant to jelly fish but if they eat or lick one, it can cause pretty nasty mouth inflammation.

6) One last point. Be certain your pet is properly vaccinated especially for rabies and have their tags with them. Also have id tags on them too in case they become lost in this "far away world." Have a Great Vacation!!!

Mark Grossman DVM, MS
Roanoke Island Animal Clinic