Pancreatitis results from sudden inflammation of the pancreas and is characterized by activation of pancreatic enzymes that can cause the pancreas to begin digesting itself.
The cause of pancreatitis is poorly understood. Predisposing causes include obesity, high fat diet, liver disease, infection and recent abdominal surgery. For unknown reasons, miniature schnauzers tend to be predisposed to pancreatitis.
Pancreatitis can range in severity from mild to life-threatening. The body's reaction to the inflammation often determines the severity and prognosis. Recurrent bouts of pancreatitis can lead to chronic pancreatitis and may contribute to other disorders such as diabetes mellitus or exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.
Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:
- Pancreatitis is generally diagnosed by a thorough history, physical examination and bloodwork. Abdominal x-rays and abdominal ultrasound may also be recommended.
- Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Pets with pancreatitis are treated with fluids, antibiotics, pain medication and a special diet. In some cases, surgery may be necessary. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.
What to Watch for*:
- Poor appetite
- Abdominal pain
*Please notify us if you notice any of the above signs or if you have any questions!
General Practice & Preventative Medicine
APPLYING TOPICAL MEDICINE
Medications come in a variety of forms – pills, liquids and ointments. New flea and tick products are most commonly associated with topical application but other drugs are also available, such as antibiotic creams and ointments for wound care.
Some topical medications include an applicator for easy administration. For flea and tick products, once applied to the skin, the medication is absorbed by the skin, where it enters the bloodstream. From there, it is distributed throughout the body. Some, like antibiotic creams and ointments, are intended to work primarily at the site of injury, although a small amount does get absorbed into the system.
Administration of topical medication is quite simple but it requires your pet to remain still for a brief time. The medication needs to be placed in an area that the dog cannot lick. If the medication is intended to treat a wound, your pet may need an Elizabethan collar to prevent licking the wound and medication. For flea and tick treatments, the best recommendation is to place the medication on the skin between the shoulder blades.
Try the following method:
- Hold the applicator upright and snap off the tip to allow the medication to flow out of the applicator.
- Hold your dog still. Your dog can be standing, lying down or even sitting. Just make sure you have access to the necessary area.
- For flea and tick products, read the instructions on the medication to determine if the manufacturers recommend applying in one area or multiple areas.
- For wound treatment, follow your veterinarian's recommendation on the frequency of medicating the wound.
- Place the tip of the applicator through the hair and place directly against the skin or against the wound.
- Squeeze the applicator until all of the medication has flowed out of the applicator. Try to avoid application of the medication on the hair.
Nicholas H. Dodman, BVMS, DACVA, DACVB BVMS, MRCVS, DACVB / PhD, CAAB
Territorial aggression is defined as a dog's physically aggressive response to a human visitor. The behavior goes beyond normal alarm barking to alert the household of a visitor; it includes threatening postures and sounds meant to intimidate, lunging, nipping and biting. The "territory," as perceived by dogs, generally includes the house and yard, sidewalks that the dogs regularly patrol and mark, and family vehicles.
When dogs exhibit aggression to visitors to their own territory, but do not respond aggressively to strangers in neutral territory, territorial aggression is the likely diagnosis.
DIAGNOSIS OF TERRITORIAL AGGRESSION
ETIOLOGY AND RISK FACTORS
- Causes - There are two primary motivations for territorial behavior, dominance or fear:
- Territorial aggression associated with dominance - Dominant dogs have a natural inclination to warn other pack members of a stranger's approach and they do this with confidence and authority. If a dominant dog detects the sound of footsteps on the driveway, he will spring to attention, run toward the door, barking, and will stand guard at least until the owner heeds the alarm. Dogs that are very dominant and do not heed their owners can provide a serious obstacle for any visitors to the home territory. Where owners have some control they can usually reassure the dog that the person is in fact welcome, at which point the dog will settle down. In most cases, once a stranger has been welcomed into the home, the dominant-territorial dog will relax and enjoy the visitor's company but it is necessary for them to run the gauntlet of intimidation first before being accepted into the inner sanctum.
- Territorial aggression associated with fear - Less confident dogs show a variation on the theme of territorial aggression that involves insecurity, fearfulness and learning. Such dogs seem to have a blend of dominance and fear and act aggressively to visitors to the home because of this dual motivation. As youngsters, they may have backed up and barked at the sound of approaching people, but as time goes by and they get larger, they find themselves progressively more intimidating. In short, they learn that their aggressive actions can have the desired effect, striking fear into unwelcome visitors and often causing them to leave in a great hurry. Uniformed visitors like the mailperson or delivery person are prime targets for this learned type of aggression. The mailperson comes, the dog barks, the mailperson leaves, and the dog takes credit. The behavior is reinforced. On the street away from their territory, such dogs may not have the courage to intimidate strangers but on their own tuft, or from behind closed doors or a fence, their courage wells.
DIAGNOSIS AND PROGNOSIS
The clinical picture is of a dog that barks and is aggressive toward strangers only on his own territory. The motivation is subtly different from aforementioned dominance-related territoriality. To distinguish fear-related territorial aggression from the purely dominance-driven variety, it is helpful to consider the following factors.
- Posturing dog shows during displays of aggression can help distinguish the fear-related type of territorial aggression from the territorial displays of a more confident dog. Territorial/fear aggressive dogs frequently show ambivalent body language similar to fear-aggressive dogs, including approach-avoidance behavior, tucked or semi-tucked tail, slinking gait, and an indirect approach.
- Territorial/fear aggressive dogs do not usually settle down completely while visitors are in the home and are prone to violent outbursts if visitors move suddenly or get up to leave the house.
- The bites of territorial/fear aggressive dogs are usually directed towards backside of the offender (buttocks, thighs or calves). Or, because of a tentative nature, they may simply nip at the person, ripping clothing. The bite is often in the form of a "cheap shot" hit-and-run nature.
- The difference between territorial-fear aggression and overt fear aggression is the level of confidence that the dogs possess. Fear aggressive dogs have enough confidence to be aggressive to strangers on or off their own territory. Territorial-fear aggressive dogs have less confidence so that their fear aggression occurs only on their home turf.
- Differential Diagnosis - Consider testing the dog for medical conditions that might be contributing to increased anxiety, especially hypothyroidism.
- Prognosis - Although dominance-based territorial aggression is easier to manage than fear-based territorial aggression, both forms of territorial aggression can be addressed reasonably well by means of appropriate management measures, proper supervision, control and containment.
TREATMENT OF TERRITORIAL AGGRESSION
Safety Precautions - Owners should keep doors secured to ensure that no visitor arrives without warning. A dog that has bitten a stranger coming onto the property should not be allowed to roam unsupervised if there is the faintest chance of a stranger entering the home zone. Territorially aggressive dogs should, at all times, be supervised by an informed owner who has realistic expectations of the dog's behavior.
Off-lead exercise should be conducted in a safe place. Electronic fences pose something of a dilemma with respect to territorial aggression. These e-fences clearly define limits for the dog but not for visitors, who may unwittingly cross the line. In general, territorial dogs are more aggressive when they are fenced in, because a fence allows the dog to know precisely where the boundary of his territory lies and he will patrol and protect it. Finally, owners should consider posting a "Dog on Premises" sign as a responsible reminder that a dog is on the property.
Harsh, punitive tactics will only serve to increase the dog's negative response to the situation at hand and the end result over time will be an increase in the unwanted behavior.
- Nothing in Life is Free - When dealing with territorially aggressive dogs, it is essential that the owner establish a leadership role with respect to the dog in order to manage the dog's territorial tendencies safely. Taking a non-confrontational approach is the most humane, productive way to accomplish this important task. The approach we advocate is the "Nothing in Life is Free" leadership program.
- In order to receive any needs or desires, such as food, toys, attention and access to the outdoors, the dog must "earn" the valued resource by first obeying a command, such as SIT.
- If the dog sits automatically before the owner issues the command, the owner should issue an alternative command, such as DOWN before the dog receives the desired resource.
- The objective is that the dog should quickly follow the owner's directives and not be guided by his own agenda. If owners are consistent with this program, the dog will to look to them in order to obtain needs or desires, which are important resources from a dog's perspective. If the dog learns to look to his owner for all necessities and treats, he will be more likely to turn to the owner for cues when feeling challenged or fearful.
- Exercise - Regular daily exercise is beneficial; 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily should be minimum for a healthy dog.
- Diet - Artificial, preservative-free, low protein diets may help in some cases (18 percent dry matter, as fed).
- Obedience Training - Regular daily obedience training sessions will sharpen the dog's response to commands and increase owner leadership. One to two 5-minute sessions per day are often sufficient. "Click and treat" training is a good method of improving owner-dog communication.
- Head Halter - Head halters are very useful to help owners gain control of the dog and signal their leadership in aggression-inducing situations. They send a biological signal of the owner's leadership to the dog by exerting gentle pressure around the muzzle (maternal point) and at the nape of the neck (leader point). Pressure at these points will cause the dog to defer to the owner's authority so that he can be introduced to people and rewarded for remaining calm. In addition, head halters help to ensure visitor safety.
- Basket Muzzle - All dogs that have shown aggression should be trained to wear a basket-style muzzle. A basket muzzle allows the dog to pant, drink, and accept small treats, but prevents biting. We find these muzzles to be not only effective but also more humane and safer for the dog than standard muzzles. Once trained to the muzzle, the territorial dog can be required to wear one in any particularly challenging situations.
TREATMENT FOR DOMINANCE-RELATED TERRITORIAL AGGRESSION
Some dogs restrict their territorial behavior to alarm barking and posturing. While they can appear to be quite menacing, these dogs rarely resort to frank aggression unless overtly challenged. This type of territoriality is normal canine behavior and may be considered advantageous by some owners. It is important, however, for owners to be able to turn off alarm barking if a stranger poses no threat or challenge.
For some dogs all that is necessary is a "good dog, thank you" response from the owner and the dog will quiet down. Other dogs must be trained to "shush," preferably using positive reinforcement. The concept of a "shush" cookie, a delicious reward that is provided when the dog stops barking, works wonders. A "no bark" or "stop it" command can be used to signal the owner's wish. The reward is given when the dogs stops barking for at least 3 seconds. The idea is to reward silence instead of punishing barking.
Suppression of dominance-related territorial aggression is facilitated if the owner is viewed as the dog's strong leader. Proper physical control of the dog with a head halter is important for visitor safety, and to teach the dog the right way to behave around visitors.
TREATMENT FOR FEAR-RELATED TERRITORIAL AGGRESSION
The approach to controlling this behavior is more problematic. The key to the entire program is desensitization to approaching strangers along with counterconditioning to alter the dog's perception and behavior during progressive planned exposure to visitors.
Avoid Confrontations - Except during training sessions, avoid exposing the dog to situations and specific people that may trigger an aggressive response. Bear in mind that the territorial dog wants the intruder to go away. If a territorially aggressive dog is allowed to threaten visitors and they subsequently retreat, the dog will see their withdrawal as a reward for aggressive responding. This will cause the unwanted behavior to escalate.
Counterconditioning - Counterconditioning interrupts unwanted behavior by training the dog to respond to a command or activity that is incompatible with continued performance of the aggressive behavior. This technique is most effective when owners can identify and predict the situations that trigger the dog's territorial response. If the dog can be distracted by food rewards or games, counterconditioning on its own may be sufficient to reverse the problem. For dogs that do not readily respond to food or play, it is helpful to train them to sit down and relax when given certain verbal or visual cues by the owner.
- First under non-threatening conditions, owners should teach their dogs to sit and watch them (command "watch me") in order to receive praise and food treats. If the dog responds appropriately, by paying attention in a relaxed and focused manner, he should immediately be rewarded with a food treat and lavish praise. This relaxation exercise should be performed daily for 5 days. Each day the owner should increase the amount of time that the dog must pay attention before receiving a reward. By the end of the fifth day, the dog should be able to remain focused for 25-30 seconds, no matter what the distraction. At this stage, when owners sense that their dog is about to engage in the unwanted behavior, they can use this counterconditioning technique to interrupt the behavior before it is initiated. It is important to practice this exercise on a periodic basis to ensure its effectiveness when it is needed.
- For indoor sessions, owners can also train the dog to perform a 20-minute down-stay on a specific bed or mat that is used only for training. Once the dog has learned the basic obedience commands he can be trained to perform long down stays while the owner moves progressively farther away. First train the dog to "down-stay" on a mat or dog bed. Initially, reward the dog every 10 seconds for lying still, then every 20 seconds, 30 seconds and so on. Once the dog understands the concept, the owner can institute intermittent rewards. Every time the dog breaks the stay, a verbal correction should be given to indicate that there will be no reward and the dog should be escorted back to the mat. The dog will quickly learn that breaking the stay will result in his being put back on the mat, but holding the down-stay will be rewarded. Once the dog performs a reliable "down-stay" when the owner is in the room, the owner should ask for this behavior while moving progressively farther from the dog. Next, the "down-stay" should be utilized while the owner is in the room but otherwise occupied. Then the dog should be required to remain in position as the owner exits the room but remains nearby. The distance and time the owner is away from the dog should be increased a down-stay can be maintained for 20-30 minutes in the owner's absence.
Systematic Desensitization - The next step is to desensitize the dog to people and situations that trigger aggression while engaging it in a behavior that is incompatible with an aggressive response (counterconditioning). We recommend that all exercises be performed with the dog on lead, preferably with a head halter and basket muzzle, if necessary, for extra control and safety. This will help keep the dog, handler and volunteers in a more relaxed frame of mind. The key point to remember is not to expose the dog suddenly to the full intensity of the stimulus (visitor) but to very gradually "up the ante." This is accomplished by decreasing progressively the distance between the visitor and the dog. At no point should the dog be challenged so much that aggressive behavior results during training. If aggression occurs, the training has proceeded too quickly and the owner will have to return to an earlier stage of training. For desensitization, the owner should start by exposing the dog to people least likely to cause aggressive behavior and train the dog in a comfortable location.
- Ask the dog to "sit and watch me" or remain in a down-stay.
- Introduce a mildly anxiety-inducing person at a distance. For example, it may be possible to cue the dog to lie down in a relaxed posture or sit and watch the owner while a stranger walks by the end of the drive, rewarding the dog with a food treat for remaining relaxed, calm and in position.
- Next, the stranger may stop at the end of the driveway and momentarily dip into the driveway before leaving again.
- Following a progressive series of incursions, eventually the stranger should be able stand a few feet from the dog while the dog remains calm and under control. At this point, the stranger should be asked to toss one of the dog's favorite food treats in order to stimulate interest and an appetitive response.
- Next the dog can be trained to rest on a training mat or sit while focused on the owner as the visitor approaches the door.
- Once the dog calmly accepts this level of approach, the visitor can knock at the door and finally enter the home as long as the dog remains calm. Occasional delicious food treats should be issued to the dog throughout this procedure. If the dog prefers, visitors can be asked to present the dog with a tennis ball or other preferred toy instead of food.
- These exercises should be performed frequently and with an assortment of strangers, starting with the least threatening and working up to the most threatening individuals. The dog learns that their presence is associated with a feeling of relaxation and other positive experiences. If the dog is resistant to remaining still, an alternative strategy is to have the person stand still and walk the dog around the person in progressively decreasing circles.
During the early stages of training, assistants should be advised not to make direct eye contact with the dog and not approach the dog head on. Volunteers should be asked to move slowly (but normally!), avert their gaze or look at the dog's ears or nose, and to approach the dog via a circuitous route as this approach is less threatening to most dogs. No stranger should ever reach out toward the dog at this stage of the training.
If the dog cannot maintain a sit and focus on the owner because of barking and lunging at the stranger, the owner needs to return to an earlier phase of training. Ideally, during the training process, no one should come close enough to the dog to trigger an aggressive response. If someone approaches too close and the dog becomes aggressive, the assistant should stand still until the owner can get the dog's attention, preferably using an obedience command and a treat for the performing the requested behavior. The owner can then ask the person to retreat quietly to a distance at which the dog was previously comfortable and resume training if the dog is not too aroused.
Once the dog is relaxed with people quietly sitting in the home, the dog can be taught to accept them moving about. Owners can start by having the guest slowly stand up and then sit down. If the dog does not respond adversely, the visitor can then try taking a few steps before returning to his seat. The amount of movement the dog will tolerate while remaining relaxed should be increased incrementally. Keep in mind that dogs with fear-related aggressive behavior have a tendency to snap at people when they move away, for example, when they are preparing to leave.
The dog should initiate all interactions with visitors to the home, not vice versa. If the dog chooses to approach a guest, have the person passively offer a hand for the dog to sniff and a treat if the dog is not "grabby." If the dog indicates that he would like to be petted, the guest may do so briefly, but visitors should avoid reaching over the dog's head and prolonged eye contact. Petting on the chest is best.
Avoid punishment - Dogs that appear to be becoming aroused should be brought under control by means of a command and the enforcement of that command, as by means of a head halter. Physical punishment is inappropriate and has the potential to increase the dog's anxiety and worsen the situation.
In rare cases, it may be necessary to treat territorial aggressive dogs with medication. Fluoxetine (Prozac), clomipramine (Clomicalm), buspirone (Buspar), or a dietary supplement such as the amino acid 5-HTP, are all reasonable treatment options. The efficacy of such treatments will vary from case to case, but price, side effects, and other logistical concerns may determine the order in which these treatments are introduced. The effects of most pharmacological treatments take a few weeks to peak. The duration of treatment should be months, rather than weeks, and, in many cases, a good fraction of a year. Needless to say, appropriate behavior modification therapy, as described above, should be conducted simultaneously to take advantage of the therapeutic window that medications may provide.
Dr. Debra Primovic
General Practice & Preventative Medicine
Delaying or not having a recheck exam can hurt your cat. A recheck examination is an appointment that allows your veterinarian to assess the progress and follow-up on your cat's disease or problem. Maybe you are thinking you can skip it because your cat is doing better? Even if your cat physically looks and feels better, he or she may not be completely back to normal. Some diseases can progress undetected.
It is often more difficult to treat diseases or conditions that have been going on for a long time or are not thoroughly treated the first time. Consider the possibility that recheck exams may actually save you time and money in the long run. Some chronic diseases can spiral out of control if not closely monitored for subtle changes. This could ultimately lead to more lengthy procedures, hospitalizations, trips back and forth to your veterinarian, and significantly higher veterinary bills.
The recheck visits to your veterinarian will depend on the medical condition your cat has. If the condition is chronic, they may require life long-term treatment.
Recheck exams are a worthwhile investment in your cat’s overall health. By taking your cat in for a “re-check” you are providing your cat the best possible care by allowing his progress to be professionally monitored. By finding, diagnosing and treating these problems early and thoroughly, your cat will live a much healthier and longer life.
Dr. Dawn Ruben
Dermatology & Otic Diseases - General Practice & Preventative Medicine
GIVING EAR MEDICATION
Frequently, your veterinarian prescribes medication after an ear examination. Administering these medications can be confusing and difficult. Some dogs, especially if their ears are painful, are resistant to the administration of medication. Diligence and patience are necessary and this technique may be helpful:
- Have the medication container ready and the cap off.
- Hold your dog’s head still with one hand, while the other hand is used to administer the medication. Many people hold the tip of the affected ear to help hold the dog still. Be very careful to not hold the ear too firmly so that it causes pain. Be prepared for your dog to flinch once the medication touches the ear.
- Place the medication container just inside the opening to the ear. Do not push the container into the canal.
- Administer the prescribed amount of medication into the ear opening.
- Remove the container from the ear opening and gently rub the base of the ear to distribute the medication deeper inside the ear.
Dr. Douglas Brum
General Practice & Preventative Medicine
UNDERSTANDING THE FLEA
For millions of pets and people, the tiny flea is a remorseless enemy. The flea is a small, brown, wingless insect that uses specialized mouthparts to pierce the skin and siphon blood.
When a flea bites your cat, it injects a small amount of saliva into the skin to prevent blood coagulation. Some animals may have fleas without showing discomfort, but an unfortunate number of cats become sensitized to this saliva. In highly allergic animals, the bite of a single flea can cause severe itching and scratching. Fleas cause the most common skin disease of cats – flea allergy dermatitis.
If your pet develops hypersensitivity to flea saliva, many changes may result.
· A small hive may develop at the site of the fleabite, which either heals or develops into a tiny red bump that eventually crusts over.
· The cat may scratch and chew at himself until the area is hairless, raw and weeping serum (“hot spots”). This can cause hair loss, redness, scaling, bacterial infection and increased pigmentation of the skin. Remember that the flea spends the majority of its life in the environment, not on your pet, so it may be difficult to find. In fact, your cat may continue to scratch without you ever seeing a flea on him. Check your cat carefully for fleas or for signs of flea excrement (also called flea dirt), which looks like coarsely ground pepper. When moistened, flea dirt turns a reddish brown because it contains blood. If one cat in the household has fleas, assume that all pets in the household have fleas. A single flea found on your pet means that there are probably hundreds of fleas, larva, pupa and eggs in your house.
If you see tapeworm segments in your cat’s stool, he may have had fleas at one time or may still have them. The flea can act as an intermediate host of the tapeworm, Dipylidium caninum. Through grooming or biting, the animal ingests an adult flea containing tapeworm eggs. Once released the tapeworm grows to maturity in the small intestine. The cycle can take less than a month, so a key to tapeworm prevention is flea control. Anemia also may be a complication of flea infestation especially in young kittens.
THE LIFE CYCLE OF THE FLEA
The flea’s life cycle has four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult.
· Eggs. The adult flea uses your cat as a place to take its blood meals and breed. Fleas either lay eggs directly on the cat where they may drop off, or deposit eggs into the immediate surroundings (your home or backyard). Because the female may lay several hundred eggs during the course of its life, the number of fleas present intensifies the problem. The eggs hatch into larvae that live in carpeting, cracks or corners of the cat’s living area.
· Larvae. The larvae survive by ingesting dried blood, animal dander and other organic matter.
· Pupa and adult. To complete the life cycle, larvae develop into pupa that hatch into adults. The immediate source of adult fleas within the house is the pupa, not the cat. The adult flea emerges from the pupa, then hops onto the host. This development occurs more quickly in a warm, humid environment. Pupa can lie dormant for months, but under temperate conditions fleas complete their life cycle in about three weeks. The inside of your home may provide a warm environment to allow fleas to thrive year round.
FIGHTING THE FLEA
Types of commercial products available for flea control include flea collars, shampoos, sprays, powders and dips. Other, newer, products include oral and systemic spot-on insecticides.
In the past, topical insecticide sprays, powders and dips were the most popular. However, the effect was often temporary. Battling infestations requires attacking areas where the eggs, larvae, pupae and adults all congregate. Because some stages of a flea’s life can persist for months, chemicals with residual action are needed and should be repeated periodically. Sprays or foggers, which required leaving the house for several hours, have been used twice in two-week intervals and then every two months during the flea season.
Treating animals and their living areas thoroughly and at the same time is vital; otherwise some fleas will survive and re-infect your pet. You may even need to treat your yard or kennel with an insecticide, if the infestation is severe enough.
The vacuum cleaner can be a real aid in removing flea eggs and immature forms. Give special attention to cracks and corners. At the end of vacuuming, either vacuum up some flea powder into your vacuum bag, or throw the bag out. Otherwise, the cleaner will only serve as an incubator, releasing more fleas into the environment as they hatch. In some cases, you may want to obtain the services of a licensed pest control company. These professionals have access to a variety of insecticides and they know what combinations work best in your area.
TREATMENT AND PREVENTION
As one might expect, flea control through these methods is very time consuming, expensive and difficult. The good news is that currently, with the newer flea products on the market, flea control is much safer, more effective and environmentally friendly. Current flea control efforts center on oral and topical systemic treatments. These products not only treat existing flea problems, they also are very useful for prevention. In fact, prevention is the most effective and easiest method of flea control.
It is best to consult your veterinarian as to the best flea control and prevention for your pet. The choice of flea control should depend on your pet's life-style and potential for exposure. Through faithful use of these systemic monthly flea products, the total flea burden on your pet and in the immediate environment can be dramatically reduced. Keeping your pet on monthly flea treatments especially in areas of high flea risk is an excellent preventive method of flea control. These products often eliminate the need for routine home insecticidal use, especially in the long run. Although it may still be prudent in heavy flea environments to treat the premises initially, the advent of these newer systemic flea products has dramatically simplified, and made flea control safer and more effective.
Diagnostic and Therapeutic Procedures - Nephrology & Urology
WHAT IS A URINALYSIS?
A urinalysis is a laboratory test of urine commonly referred to by medical professionals as a “UA.” The urine is evaluated for the presence of certain chemicals. A microscopic exam of the urine is also done to look for abnormalities.
A urinalysis is indicated for evaluating pets with urinary abnormalities such as increased urine production, increased urinary frequency, straining to urinate, bloody urine or abnormal color to the urine. This test can also be helpful in cases of unexplained fever, loss of appetite or weight loss. A urinalysis is often done when indicated by the results of an X-ray, results of blood tests indicating a problem with the urinary system or as a follow up to physical examination when abnormalities are detected.
Any evaluation for health or illness should include a urinalysis. Urinalysis results can give an idea of hydration and kidney function; it can also indicate inflammation or infections in the urinary tract.
There is no real contraindication to performing this test. Even normal results help determine health or exclude certain diseases.
WHAT DOES A URINALYSIS REVEAL?
A urinalysis helps to evaluate the function of the kidneys and the quality of the urine produced. A urinalysis usually consists of three parts; examining the physical sample, a dipstick analysis to evaluate the presence of certain substances and microscopic examination of the sediment. A urinalysis can evaluate for pyuria (white blood cells in the urine), hematuria (blood in the urine), crystalluria (crystals in the urine), the presence of abnormal amounts of glucose, ketones and protein, and urine concentration.
Normal urinalysis results include a specific gravity (SG) of 1.020 to 1.070. This measures the ability of the kidneys to concentrate urine. In the normal patient, dipstick results for protein show negative to trace amounts, negative blood, negative glucose, negative ketones, and negative to trace amounts of bilirubin. The results of the sediment testing (microscopic evaluation) is slightly dependent upon the method of urine collection (free catch, catheterization, or cystocentesis). Essentially a few red blood cells and white blood cells can be normal.
In some cases, additional procedures such as X-rays, abdominal ultrasound, X-rays with contrast (IVP or cystogram) or even exploratory surgery are needed to diagnose a problem.
How Is a Urinalysis Done?
A urinalysis is begun with the collection of a urine sample. Urine can be obtained by three methods:
Catheterization consists of inserting a flexible plastic tube into the urethra, then up into the bladder (the reservoir inside the body where urine is stored until the pet urinates).
Cystocentesis is a very common method to obtain urine from dogs and cats. This procedure involves introducing a needle directly into the bladder through the body wall. This is a relatively painless and quick procedure. The pet can be lying or standing. The bladder is palpated (felt) and a needle is inserted into the bladder.
Free catch urine samples are obtained by catching a sample when the pet urinates. This is easy in some pets and quite difficult in others. Plastic containers, ladles, scoops and various objects can be used. The container should be as clean as possible for the most accurate of results. This method is the least “sterile” and is associated with the most lab error.
Most veterinary hospitals have the equipment to perform a urinalysis although some choose to submit samples to outside laboratories.
A urinalysis generally takes about 30 to 40 minutes to complete.
IS A URINALYSIS PAINFUL?
Whether a urinalysis is painful or not depends on the method by which urine is obtained. Catheterization is “uncomfortable” in most pets although many male pets tolerate the procedure well. Females are more difficult to catheterize due to the anatomical location of their urethra.
If urine is obtained by cystocentesis, the needle insertion through the skin can be associated with brief pain, just as any injection.
IS SEDATION OR ANESTHESIA NEEDED FOR A URINALYSIS?
Neither sedation nor anesthesia is needed in most patients; however, some pets resent positioning for a catheter placement (especially females) and may need tranquilization or ultrashort anesthesia.
DAILY EXERCISE RECOMMENDED
Exercise is as important for your dog as it is for you. Young dogs and healthy adults alike need lots of it, and even senior pets need a regular daily workout to maintain their health. The type of exercise you choose depends on the age and fitness of your dog and your own lifestyle. Dogs are adaptable and are happy to play Frisbee in the park or take long walks in the neighborhood.
Exercise is one of the best ways to spend time with your pet. It's especially important for large breed, working, and active breed types. Dogs are wonderful athletes and most adapt to even strenuous exercise, provided they have had adequate opportunity to "train" and the environmental conditions are not too extreme.
Daily exercise is recommended unless the weather is especially dangerous or a medical problem limits your dog's activity. If there is a medical problem, consult your veterinarian about exercise limitations. Keep in mind that obese dogs and those with heart and lung diseases may have a problem, and be sure to consult your vet before starting a new regime.
Be certain your dog has plenty of water available at all times, and provide a place to cool down out of the sun. When the temperature drops below freezing, exercise should be limited, unless your dog is really used to this weather. This will often vary with the breed and hair coat. If the wind picks up to more than 10 mph, be careful to prevent hypothermia or frostbite. If your dog is shivering, get him back indoors or in some form of warm shelter. If you live in an area that gets cold and icy, remember that road salt can burn your dog's feet. Don't forget: even in cold weather, an exercising dog needs plenty of water.
Almost all dogs, especially those with heart and lung problems and those with thick hair coats, are likely to have trouble with hot and humid conditions. It's better to exercise in the early morning or evening when the heat is less than 80 degrees and the humidity is less then 30 percent (avoid hot and humid conditions).
WHAT SHOULD YOU FEED?
Your dog knows that what’s on your plate is infinitely better than what he’s eating at the moment – and you may be tempted to prove it by giving him some. Before you do, remember that good nutrition and a balanced diet are essential elements for good health in a dog. And that means watching your canine’s caloric intake carefully.
Your dog needs plenty of fresh water and should be fed good quality food in amounts just right to meet his energy requirements. Inadequate or excess intake of nutrients can be equally harmful.
Most dry dog foods are soybean, corn or rice based. Some of the better brands have meat or fish meal as the first listed ingredient. Although higher priced, they are worth looking into. Dogs eat less of the higher quality products, thus reducing the cost. Dry dog foods also have greater "caloric density" which means simply, there is less water in a cup of food as compared to a canned food diet. This is not a big issue for our smaller canine friends, but large dogs may have difficulty eating enough volume of canned food to fulfill their caloric needs (because they also get a lot of water in that food). Overall, the choice of "dry" vs. "canned" vs. "semi-moist" is an individual one, but larger dogs (such as those greater than 30 pounds) should be fed a dry or semi-moist food in most circumstances
Proteins, fats and carbohydrates are necessary for energy. Dietary requirements for dogs can vary according to activity and stress levels and medical history. Dogs expend energy in many different ways. For example, outdoor dogs are likely to experience increased levels of exercise and thus require a higher percentage of protein and fat for energy production than a dog who stays indoors most of the time. Dogs in various life stages [including puppy ("growth"), adult and senior ("geriatric")] require different amounts of nutrients. Special situations such as pregnancy and nursing puppies can dramatically affect nutritional needs. Working dogs need more calories, while the "couch potato" needs less (just like us!).
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is an organization that publishes regulations for nutritional adequacy of "complete and balanced" dog and cat foods. Your pet’s food should conform to minimal AAFCO standards. Diets that fulfill the AAFCO regulations will state on the label: "formulated to meet the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profile for…(a given life stage).
· AAFCO Standards: All foods should conform to AAFCO standards (check the label). This indicates the manufacturer is following the national consensus recommendations for dog foods.
· Food Type: The choice of canned, semi-moist or dry food is an individual one, but if your dog is more than 30 pounds, dry food is preferred as the base diet for its greater caloric density (more calories per volume of food). There are a number of excellent dog food manufacturers.
· Water: Always provide plenty of fresh water.
CONSIDER YOUR DOG'S AGE
· For puppies (less than 8 to 9 months and less than 30 pounds): Feed your puppy a consistent canned, semi-moist or dry dog food designed for puppies. If your dog weighs more than 30 pounds, dry food is preferred for greater caloric density.
· For adult dogs (8 to 9 months to 6 years): Feed your dog a consistent canned, semi-moist or dry dog food designed for an "adult" dog.
· For senior dogs (over 7 years): Feed your dog a consistent canned, semi-moist, or dry dog food designed for a "senior" dog.
CONSIDER YOUR DOG'S BODY WEIGHT
· Underweight dogs: Feed your dog 1 1/2 times the "usual" amount of food and make an appointment to see your veterinarian about your dog’s body condition. Consider switching to a food with higher protein and fat content.
· Lean dogs: Many healthy dogs are a bit thin, especially active young male dogs. Consider increasing total daily food or caloric intake by 25 percent. Weigh your dog every week if possible to chart progress.
· Chubby dogs: If your dog is a bit overweight, try increasing the daily exercise routine. Gradually increase exercise over 2 weeks unless limited by a medical condition. If these measures fail, cut out all treats and reduce daily intake of food by up to 25 percent.
· Fat or obese dogs: Stop all treats except vegetables. Increase exercise gradually over 2 to 3 weeks if not limited by a medical condition. If these measures fail, reduce the total daily food amount by 25 to 40 percent, switch to a low fat/high fiber diet, and call your veterinarian to discuss your plans. Inquire about prescription-type reduction diets that can really be effective while providing balanced nutrition.
Always consult your veterinarian first regarding any specific foods or dietary adjustments required for a dog with heart, kidney, intestinal or liver disease, or for a dog with cancer. Special dietary measures may also be important for dogs with allergies, certain metabolic diseases, or other medical conditions.
There are a number of prominent manufacturers of high quality dog foods, including Iams® (Eukanuba®), Hill’s® (Science Diets®), Nature’s Recipe® products, Nutra Max®, Purina® and Waltham®, among others. Follow the label recommendations, but use your own judgment in determining how much to feed.
Dr. Debra Primovic
General Practice & Preventative Medicine - Theriogenology
Pregnancy is the period of gestation when the young are developing in the mother’s uterus. Normal gestation in cats is 58 to 68 days (the average is 63 days).
The litter size in cats varies from one kitten to more than 10. Litter sizes are often smaller in young and old animals and largest when the mother is around three to four years of age.
Conditions that may be confused with pregnancy include mastitis (inflammation of the mammary glands), mammary gland neoplasia (cancer), abdominal enlargement due to fluid accumulation or organ enlargement, or pyometra (infection of the uterus). WHAT TO WATCH FOR
· Nesting behavior (attempting to make a nest by tearing up papers, blankets, etc.)
· Mothering activity (this may include mothering of shoes, toys and other articles)
· Weight gain (which typically occurs after the 4th week of pregnancy)
· Abdominal enlargement or swelling
· Mammary gland enlargement. The mammary glands may be large and secrete milk or serous fluid (usually one to two days before delivery)
· Abnormal behavior. If your pet does not eat, acts lethargic or you notice excessive vaginal discharge, please call your veterinarian as soon as possible. Be aware that many cats seek seclusion before delivery, and this is considered normal delivery behavior.
Your veterinarian may perform some diagnostic tests to confirm your cat’s health and to determine if she is pregnant. These include:
· A complete medical history and physical examination.
· Evaluating your cat's behavior and noting any potential breeding episodes
· Abdominal palpation (technique of examining the organs and other parts of the body by touching and feeling). However, kittens can seldom be felt until at least 26 to 35 days after breeding and fetuses can be difficult to feel in some cats.
· Abdominal radiographs or X-rays (the skeleton of the kitten is visible on an X-ray after 45 days of pregnancy)
· Abdominal ultrasound can be used to diagnosis pregnancy after 21 to 24 days post breeding. This is a safe and excellent way to diagnose pregnancy and verify the health of the kittens. Ultrasound can also be used to estimate litter size.
· Testing for feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) Your veterinarian may recommend other tests (not typically done with a normal pregnancy) based on a case-by-case basis. Tests may include:
· Complete blood count (CBC). There are no practical blood or urine tests available to diagnose pregnancy in cats.
· Serum biochemistry (bloodwork to look for abnormalities in liver and kidney function)
· Normal pregnancy does not usually need any “treatment;” however, it is important to see your veterinarian for regular check-ups to ensure the health of your pet.
· It is extremely important that your cat be cared for properly during the pregnancy.
· If you decide that you do not wish to have further litters, or if your pet has significant problems during the birth process, you may wish to have her spayed to prevent further pregnancies.
· Have your veterinarian recheck your cat one week before the due date. The doctor may then palpate for kittens and perform a pelvic exam to establish a rough estimate of pelvic canal size vs. kitten size to try to anticipate problems that might occur during the delivery.
Good nutrition is essential for healthy kittens and mothers so feed your pet a high-quality diet formulated for pregnant or nursing cats.
· Although nutritional needs change little during the first 4 weeks of gestation, your cat's nutritional needs may double or triple during the last 5 weeks. Your veterinarian may recommend a special diet and/or vitamins for your cat.
· Be sure to provide the increased amounts of food she needs in several small meals each day, rather than feeding it all at one time. It is particularly important to feed frequent small meals during the last part of gestation. A pregnant cat may not feel like eating much as delivery nears because her abdomen is full of kittens, which leaves little room for the stomach to enlarge. Continue feeding a high-quality diet until after the kittens have been weaned.
· Be sure that fresh water is always available, since pregnancy increases your pet's fluid needs.
· Moderate exercise is recommended. Neither forced rest nor strenuous exercise is a good idea. Keeping your cat indoors is often recommended (especially during the last couple weeks of pregnancy).
· If you would like to know more precisely when delivery is near, check the rectal temperature of the mother twice daily from the 58th day of pregnancy until labor begins. Normal rectal temperature varies between 100.5 and 102.0 degrees Fahrenheit. Within approximately 24 hours of the onset of labor the rectal temperature drops nearly two degrees in most cats.
The more that you can learn about queening (birth of the kittens), the better prepared you will be for any difficulties that might occur. Once you know that your cat is pregnant, you should begin preparing for the birth.
Provide a queening box for the mother to begin sleeping in to ensure that she gives birth to the kittens in an area that you have chosen (but this does not always happen). Allow her access to the box so she can become accustomed to it before delivery. The box can be covered and placed in a quiet (secluded) area where she will feel comfortable and protected. Newspapers or a soft blanket or towel can also be used.