The holidays are upon us, don’t let this season be spoiled by an unexpected trip to the veterinarian. Here at Town and Country Animal Hospital we see many animals come in this time of year with entirely preventable maladies. It can be heartbreaking watching pets and their families suffer at a time when they should be focused on celebrating. So, listen up Portland, I’m going to try and spread some holiday cheer by giving everyone a few tips on how to avoid potential disaster.
One of the most common holiday hazards comes from the abundance of tasty treats in the household. There are many foods that are harmless to you or I that are toxic to our animal companions. Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, seizures, and death. The more chocolate your pet eats the more dangerous it is. Macadamia nuts are also toxic to dogs, this toxicity is made even worse when combined with chocolate. A small number of macadamias can be enough to make a dog very sick. If your dog eats macadamia nuts it will cause vomiting, fever, muscles tremors, and weakness in the back legs.
Grapes and raisins can cause serious illness and even death in dogs specifically. Dogs that eat even a very small number of grapes can suffer from severe kidney failure. As you may be able to tell by now, many of our sweet treats are just not safe for animal consumption. It can be tempting to share all those delicious holiday treats with your pets, but that act of generosity can very easily result in a very sick furry friend.
Even foods that are technically pet safe can make them sick. An excessive amount of fatty foods like meat scraps and baked goods can make animals experience severe vomiting and diarrhea. In some instances, it can cause a disease called pancreatitis, which is painful and potentially deadly. This winter, keep your pets safe by giving treats in moderation and only giving treats that are made specifically for animals. Save the human food for the humans and everyone will be a great deal safer. Remember, if you are at all in doubt about how safe a food is for your pets, call us at Town and Country. We will be happy to help you. If you think your pet has consumed something that is potentially toxic, call your veterinarian and have it seen as soon as possible. Oftentimes the longer you wait to treat a toxic ingestion the worse the prognosis is for your animal’s recovery. Stay safe Portland, and happy holidays!
The week of March 20th to the 26th is National Animal Poison Prevention Week. We’d like to use this time to inform people of many of the common household toxins that our animal companions can get into. One of the most common animal poisonings we see at Town and Country is the accidental ingestion of pharmaceuticals. Any drug can be toxic if ingested in high enough quantity, so anytime your pet consumes any medication please call a veterinarian immediately. However, there are certain medications that are more toxic than others. A single acetaminophen (Tylenol) pill can be a lethal dose if consumed by a cat, causing severe liver damage and destruction of red blood cells within 30 minutes of ingestion. Tylenol can be toxic to dogs as well, two or three pills can be enough to cause irreversible liver damage in a small dog. If your pet eats an acetaminophen pill you may see signs like: vomiting, lethargy, brown or blue discoloration of the gums, abdominal pain, rapid shallow breathing, collapse, and death.
Another common animal poisoning that I’ve seen at every practice I’ve worked in, but more so now that I’ve moved to Portland, OR is accidental ingestion of marijuana and THC containing products. In small amounts, ingestion of marijuana can produce signs like lethargy, increased reactivity to movements and sounds, bloodshot eyes, and disorientation. In larger doses the effects of THC ingestion become more severe. Larger doses can cause difficulty walking, hypotension, vomiting, diarrhea, urinary incontinence, slowed heart rate, respiratory depression, coma, and death. Because of the way that THC is stored in the fat an animal can suffer the ill effects of THC toxicity for several days and may need extensive medical care and hospitalization. Bringing your pet to the vet immediately after ingestion is the best way to get quick treatment that may lessen the severity and duration of the effects. If your pet has ingested THC products, be open and honest with your veterinarian about exactly what and how much it has eaten. You will not get in trouble; your doctor is only interested in helping your pet and knowing the dose and form of the toxin can be vital to getting your pet the appropriate treatment quickly and effectively.
I could easily fill a large book with an all-inclusive list of every toxic drug, household product, food, and plant found in the average home. Avocados, onions, garlic, macadamia nuts, chocolate, coffee, grapes, pizza dough, lilies, rhododendrons, palm leaves, naproxen, blood pressure medications, the list goes on and on. Suffice it to say that if your pet eats anything that isn’t pet food or pet treats the safest thing to do is call your veterinarian to see if it is safe for that species. The best treatment is prevention, keep your drugs off the floor and the countertops and in closed containers. Keep food sealed up and stored away, educate yourself on which houseplants are toxic to your pets, and keep household cleaners out of your animal’s reach. As always if suspect your pet has been exposed to a poison or toxin please call us at Town and Country Animal Hospital and we will be happy to help you treat your animal companions in the best way possible.
Owners can see all kinds of allergy symptoms in their pets such as: red itchy skin, paws stained from constant licking, weepy/tear stained eyes, bald patches, and even deep self-inflicted wounds from non-stop scratching. Allergies are one of the most common health issues pet owners have to deal with.
Whatever signs you may see, there are many options for relief. Allergy testing is often a powerful first step in finding a solution to your animal’s itchy problems. Your veterinarian can take a blood sample from your pet and send it to a lab for analysis. At the lab the sample is tested for its response to over a hundred types of common allergens including native plants, fabrics, insects, and common food items. With these results your veterinarian can help you determine the best ways to limit or even eliminate your pet’s exposure to the things that make them itch. If avoidance isn’t possible, then there are still many options at your veterinarian’s disposal. With the data from the allergy test, your doctor may be able to start your pet on a hypo sensitization regime. This is a series of shots, or in some cases an oral formulation, that is given to your dog over a long period of time. These doses are designed to expose your pet to low levels of their allergens and help them build up a natural tolerance.
If allergy testing or hypo sensitization is not an option for you or your pet, there are still a variety of medications that could help to bring your pet relief. Anti-histamines are a powerful tool used to help fight seasonal allergies. However anti-histamines are not always enough, in those instances a medication like oclacitinib (commonly called Apoquel) can help. Unlike anti-histamines, Apoquel works by suppressing a chemical that plays an important role in producing inflammation and itching. It does not get rid of the allergy itself, just the itching effects. This medication is a very useful tool for treating persistent and chronic allergy issues.
In the most severe allergy cases these medications may not be enough, in which case we need to take measures to suppress the immune system which is responsible for creating an allergic reaction. Steroids and cyclosporine are both immune-suppressants which can be given in low doses to treat severe allergies. These medications can be used as for a short period of time to stop flare ups, or over a long course to stop chronic allergy problems. Regardless of what treatment option you choose, there are many avenues for treatment for our animal companions suffering from itchy skin. If you find that your pet is suffering from itchy/scratching skin, I encourage you to bring it to your veterinarian as soon as possible for evaluation. Here at Town and Country Animal Hospital, we’ll be more than happy to help you and your pet find relief from allergy blues.
If you have been following the news about animal health lately, you may have seen some interesting or scary news about canine influenza outbreaks all across the United States. The fact is that Canine Influenza is a highly contagious form of influenza that effects dogs year round. It is spread through the air, on clothes, exposed objects and even on your skin. The virus can survive in the environment for up to two days and once exposed it can take two to four days for an animal to begin showing signs.
The inflammation caused by a Canine Influeza infection causes a wide range of severe respiratory signs such as: bronchitis, rhinitis, and tracheitis. About 80% of infected animals develop signs of the disease while the remaining 20% show no signs at all while still carrying and spreading the virus. If your dog has Canine Influenza you will often see a persistent cough, thick nasal discharge, sneezing, lethargy, and anorexia. Canine influenza is not responsive to antibiotics, and can become severe enough to cause dehydration and even death. Like many viral infections there is no "cure" for Canine Influenza. If your dog becomes infected it will need supportive care to prevent dehydration and secondary infection while the disease runs its course.
The best treatment for Canine Influenza is prevention. Avoidance and cleaning are significant factors in prevention of Canine Influenza infection. However, there are times, such as trips to the dog park or keeping your dog at a boarding facility, when you cannot avoid interactions with strange dogs or exposure to dirty surfaces. In these incidences the most important thing you can do to prevent or mitigate infection is vaccination. Vaccination can help prevent and reduce the severity of infection. Like human influenza, Canine Influenza comes in different strains.
Currently there are vaccines available for two different strains of canine influenza H3N8 and H3N2. Here at Town and Country we carry the H3N2 strain, which is the newest strain to come into the United States and has been spreading rapidly throughout the country. If you are concerned about Canine Influenza and would like to know more about the disease or the vaccination, please feel free to call us at Town and Country Animal Hospital, our veterinarians and veterinary technicians will be happy to answer any questions that you might have.
More than just a vet, Portland Oregon's Town and Country Animal Hospital is your animal's second family.