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Otitis Externa

 

Overview

Otitis externa, commonly called an ear infection, is characterized by inflammation of the external ear canal and may be caused by yeast, bacteria or parasites. Ear infections are particularly prevalent in dogs with long, floppy ears. Otitis externa may affect 20 percent of dogs.

Dogs predisposed to otitis externa include those with genetic predispositions to abnormal ear canals, such as the Chinese shar-pei; breeds with hair in the ears like poodles and terriers; breeds with long floppy ears such as cocker spaniels; or outside and working dogs that are exposed to water or foreign bodies. Breeds prone to allergies are also at increased risk for ear infections, such as golden retrievers.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

    • Otitis externa is generally diagnosed by thorough physical examination, including an ear exam and microscopic examination of the discharge from the ear, and culture of the ear discharge to determine the underlying cause and the best antibiotic.
    • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. The majority of animals with an ear infection are treated with topical ear medication. Some are also treated with oral antibiotics and possibly steroids. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:

      • Scratching or rubbing the ears
      • Head shaking or head tilt
      • Abnormal odor or discharge from the ear
      • Pain when the ear is manipulated

*Please notify us if you notice any of the above signs or if you have any questions!

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Trouble Urinating

 

Overview

Trouble urinating is defined as difficult or painful urination. It is characterized by straining to urinate, frequent attempts at urination, and evidence of discomfort when urinating. Discomfort may be demonstrated by crying out during urination, excessive licking at the urogenital region or turning and looking at the area.

Trouble urinating can be caused by many different things including urinary tract infection, bladder stones, inflammation of the urethra, tumors of the urinary tract and neurologic problems affecting the urinary tract.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Diagnosing the underlying cause of urinary problems is typically done through history, physical examination findings, and urinalysis. Further testing may also be recommended including bloodwork, abdominal x-rays, special contrast x-rays, and abdominal ultrasound.
  • Treatment depends on the underlying disorder, severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Treatment may include antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, special diet or surgery. Discuss treatment details when your pet is evaluated and the underlying condition causing the trouble urinating is diagnosed.

What to Watch for*:

  • Straining to urinate
  • Frequent attempts at urination
  • Blood in the urine
  • Excessive licking at the urogenital area
  • Passage of only small amounts of urine
  • Vocalization when attempting to urinate
  • Inappropriately urinating (in the house)
  • Unproductive urination (no urine passed)

* Please notify us if you notice any of the above signs or if you have any questions!

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Scooting

 

Overview

Scooting refers to the act of rubbing or dragging the anal area or perineum (the area between the anus and genitals) on the ground. Typically, the hind legs are extended in front of the animal as the pet drags forward. Dogs will scoot much more commonly than cats. Anything that causes an irritation or itching to the area under the tail may cause an animal to scoot.

The most common cause of scooting is anal gland disease. Diseases of the anal gland include impacted anal glands (by far the most common cause), infected or abscessed anal glands and anal gland tumors. Other causes of scooting include allergic dermatitis (allergies), acute moist dermatitis (hot spots), abnormal materials adhered to the anal area (hair mats or fecal material), tapeworms, skin parasites (fleas or ticks), and perianal fistulas.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Scooting is typically diagnosed through history and physical examination findings. Determining the cause of the scooting requires further testing such as a rectal examination, fecal examination, or aspiration or biopsy of a mass.
  • Treatment depends on the cause of the scooting, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Treatment may include manual expression of the anal glands, antibiotics, surgical drainage, topical medications, antihistamines, corticosteroids, parasite control or surgical removal of any tumors or anal glands.

What to Watch for*:

  • Dragging the hind end on the ground
  • Licking at the anal area
  • Quickly circling trying to lick the area
  • Licking at air while sitting
  • Foul odor from the anal area
  • Discharge or swellings in the anal area

* Please notify us if you notice any of the above signs or if you have any questions!

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Pruritis (Itchiness)

 

Overview

Pruritus or itching is an unpleasant sensation that causes a pet to scratch or bite. It is caused by chemical reactions that occur in the skin and stimulate the nerves, causing the brain to feel the itch. In fact, the act of scratching itself may stimulate these inflammatory reactions in the skin and make the condition worse. Any skin condition that causes inflammation can cause pruritus.

Pruritus is associated with other skin diseases, including secondary bacterial skin infections and secondary yeast infections. But it is the main symptom of skin conditions like allergies and skin parasites.

How pruritus affects your pet’s health depends on the degree of the pruritus. Mild pruritus may hardly have any effect at all. However, severe pruritus leads to intense scratching, which may result in painful skin lesions that may become infected. Your pet may cry out and have trouble sleeping.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Pruritis is generally diagnosed by a complete history and physical examination. Skin scrapings and fungal cultures may be recommended to try to determine an underlying cause of the itchiness.
  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. The underlying cause should be treated but temporary relief can be obtained with antihistamines, fatty acid supplements, soothing shampoos and corticosteroids. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:

  • Scratching or biting
  • Chronic licking, especially of feet
  • Excessive grooming in cats
  • Hair loss
  • Skin lesions

*Please notify us if you notice any of the above signs or if you have any questions!

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Skin Lump

 

Overview

Skin lumps are growths of tissue that are within the skin or can be felt under the skin. Pets can develop small bumps (papules) or larger bumps (nodules) on their skin. These lumps and bumps are fairly common occurrences, especially in the older pet.

Very often the word “lump” brings the word “cancer” to mind. However, there are many other causes of lumps. A skin growth or mass may be a malignant or benign tumor, an abscess, a cyst, a hematoma (bruise) or a reaction by the skin to an allergen (hives). Lumps may also be benign accumulations of fat called lipomas. However, all lumps should be evaluated for the possibility of malignancy.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • The presence of a skin lump is typically diagnosed through history and physical examination findings. Determining the cause of the lump requires further testing such as an aspirate and cytology of the mass or biopsy. In some situations, a sample of the lump may be submitted for culture.
  • Treatment depends on the cause of the mass, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Treatment may include monitoring, various medication such as antibiotics, antihistamines or topical medication or surgical removal. Discuss treatment details when your pet is evaluated and the underlying condition causing the lump is diagnosed.

What to Watch for*:

  • Appearance of new lumps on skin
  • Rapidly growing lump
  • Warm or painful lump
  • Ulceration or bleeding from the lump

*Please notify us if you notice any of the above signs or if you have any questions!

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Polyuria and Polydipsia

 

Overview

The term polydipsia refers to excessive thirst manifested by excessive water intake, which in turn usually leads to polyuria, which is the formation and excretion of a large volume of urine. Polydipsia and polyuria are early signs of several diseases including kidney failure or infection, diabetes, pyometra (uterine infection), liver disease, high blood calcium and others.

Dogs and cats normally take in about 20 to 40 milliliters per pound of body weight per day, or 3 cups per day for a 20 pound dog or 2.5 cups per day for a 10 pound cat. This includes any water they take in with their food, such as in canned food. Anything more than that, under normal environmental conditions, is considered polydipsia.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Polyuria and polydipsia is typically diagnosed through history and physical examination. Increased water consumption can be done by measuring the exact amount of water that is consumed per day. Determining the cause of the increased thirst and urination requires further testing such as bloodwork, urinalysis, x-rays, specialized blood tests or even CT or MRI.
  • Treatment depends on the underlying cause, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Treatment may include intravenous fluid therapy, insulin, or even surgery. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:

  • Drinking large amounts of water
  • Frequent urinations
  • Change in appetite
  • Change in behavior
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting/diarrhea
  • Weakness

* Please notify us if you notice any of the above signs or if you have any questions!

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Urinary Incontinence

 

Overview

Urinary incontinence is the loss of voluntary control of urination, often resulting in leaking. Normal urination requires that the nerves and muscles of the bladder work properly.

The most common form of incontinence in dogs is called “primary sphincter mechanism” incontinence and is thought to be caused by weakness of the urethral muscle. It is most common in middle-aged medium- to large-size spayed female dogs.

Urinary incontinence can have neurogenic (problems from the nerves that work the bladder) and non-neurogenic causes. Neurogenic causes of incontinence include those that are caused by abnormalities of parts of the nervous system involved in regulation of urination. Non-neurogenic causes of incontinence over-distension of the bladder due to partial obstruction, hormone-responsive incontinence, incontinence associated with urinary tract infection and abnormalities present at birth such as a misplaced ureteral opening (ectopic ureter).

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Urinary incontinence is generally diagnosed by physical examination and history as well as a urinalysis, urine culture, bloodwork and X-rays. In some cases, contrast dye studies to evaluate for congenital abnormalities and bladder position may be helpful.
  • Treatment depends on the severity of the incontinence, underlying cause, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Depending on the cause, some animals will benefit from surgery, catheterization or antibiotics. If the cause of the incontinence is not known, some dogs will benefit from a drug to help the urethral muscles (phenylpropanolamine) and female dogs may benefit from estrogen supplementation. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.

What to Watch for*:

  • Dribbling of urine
  • Finding of wet spots where the pet was sleeping
  • Irritated skin from contact with urine

*Please notify us if you notice any of the above signs or if you have any questions!

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Coughing

 

Overview

Coughing is a common protective reflex that clears secretions or foreign matter from the throat, voice box (larynx), windpipe (trachea) or airways, and protects the lungs against aspiration. It affects the respiratory system by hindering the ability to breathe properly.

Common causes include obstruction in the windpipe, bronchitis, pneumonia, heartworm disease, lung tumors, kennel cough and heart failure.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Coughing is typically diagnosed through history and physical examination findings. Determining the cause of the cough may require additional testing such as bloodwork, chest x-rays, chest ultrasound, and heartworm test. In some cases, bronchoscopy, aspirates or biopsy may also be recommended.
  • Treatment depends on the underlying disorder, severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Treatment may include antibiotics, cough suppressants, anti-inflammatory drugs, or other drugs to treat the underlying disease. Discuss treatment details when your pet is evaluated and the underlying condition causing the cough is diagnosed.

What to Watch for*:

  • Continued coughing
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Weakness
  • Lack of appetite

*Please notify us if you notice any of the above signs or if you have any questions!

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Lameness

 

Overview

Any decrease in an animal's ability to bear weight on a limb or a decrease in the normal mobility and function of a limb can be considered lameness. Lameness can be extremely subtle or profound, affecting one limb or several limbs. It can be intermittent or constant, worse in the morning, worse at night, worse after rest, worse after or during exercise.

There is no breed, age or sex predilection for lameness. There are many causes of lameness from muscle injury, broken bones, arthritis, ligament injury, tumors or nerve damage, inflammation of growing bones in young puppies. For example, lameness may be associated with a traumatic event, such as being hit by a car, or it may develop gradually, as in a bone tumor in an affected leg. The underlying cause of a lameness may be life threatening or it may be detrimental to a good quality of life such as debilitating and painful hip dysplasia and its associated arthritis.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Lameness is typically diagnosed through history and physical examination findings. Determining the cause of the lameness requires further testing such as a neurologic exam, x-rays of the affected area, joint taps, ultrasound, CT, MRI, biopsy or specialized x-rays using dye.
  • Treatment depends on the underlying disorder, severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Treatment may include rest, anti-inflammatory medications, pain medication, antibiotics or surgery. Discuss treatment details when your pet is evaluated and the underlying condition causing the lameness is diagnosed.

What to Watch for*:

  • Inability to walk or run normally
  • Reluctance to perform normal activity, like going up or down stairs
  • Refusing to place any weight on a leg
  • Pain

* Please notify us if you notice any of the above signs or if you have any questions!

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Trouble Breathing

 

Overview

Respiratory distress is labored, difficult breathing or shortness of breath that can occur at any time during the breathing process, during inspiration (breathing in) or expiration (breathing out). When your pet has trouble breathing, it may be difficult to get enough oxygen to the tissues.

Trouble breathing may be associated with accumulation of fluid in the lungs or the chest cavity, heart disease, lung disease, infections, pneumonia, weakened trachea, cancer, trauma or obstructions that occlude the airway. Some breeds are predisposed to breathing problems, such as pugs and bulldogs

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Trouble breathing is typically diagnosed through history and physical examination findings. Determining the cause of the breathing problem requires further testing such as bloodwork, chest x-rays, chest ultrasound, blood pressure measurement and electrocardiogram (EKG).
  • Treatment depends on the underlying disorder, severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Treatment may include oxygen therapy, antibiotics, chest taps to drain fluid from the chest, and/or medications to reduce fluid accumulation (diuretics) or to treat heart disease. Discuss treatment details when your pet is evaluated and the underlying condition causing the trouble breathing is diagnosed.

What to Watch for*:

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue

* Please notify us if you notice any of the above signs or if you have any questions!

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