Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Information about dog influenza from the AVMA

Canine Influenza FAQ

Questions, Answers, and Interim Guidelines



 
Q: What is canine influenza?
A: Canine influenza (CI), or dog flu, is a highly contagious respiratory infection of dogs that is caused by an influenza A virus. In the U.S., canine influenza has been caused by two influenza strains. The first strain reported in the United States, beginning in 2004, was an H3N8 influenza A virus. This strain is closely related to the virus that causes equine influenza, and it is thought that the equine influenza virus mutated to produce the canine strain. In 2015, an outbreak that started in Chicago was caused by a separate canine influenza virus, H3N2. The strain causing the 2015 outbreak was almost genetically identical to an H3N2 strain previously reported only in Asia – specifically, Korea, China and Thailand. In Asia. This H3N2 strain is believed to have resulted from the direct transfer of an avian influenza virus  – possibly from among viruses circulating in live bird markets – to dogs. Since March 2015, thousands of dogs have been confirmed positive for H3N2 canine influenza across the U.S. 
Greyhound resting on a blanketTwo clinical syndromes have been seen in dogs infected with the canine influenza virus—a mild form of the disease and a more severe form that is accompanied by pneumonia.
  • Mild form — Dogs suffering with the mild form of canine influenza develop a soft, moist cough that persists for 10 to 30 days. They may also be lethargic and have reduced appetite and a fever. Sneezing and discharge from the eyes and/or nose may also be observed. Some dogs have a dry cough similar to the traditional "kennel cough" caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica/parainfluenza virus complex. Dogs with the mild form of influenza may also have a thick nasal discharge, which is usually caused by a secondary bacterial infection.
  • Severe form — Dogs with the severe form of canine influenza develop high fevers (104ºF to 106ºF) and have clinical signs of pneumonia, such as increased respiratory rates and effort. Pneumonia may be due to a secondary bacterial infection.

Q: Are all dogs at risk of getting canine influenza?
A: Because this is still an emerging disease and dogs in the U.S. have not been exposed to it before, almost all dogs, regardless of breed or age, lack immunity to it and are susceptible to infection if exposed to the active virus. Virtually all dogs exposed to the virus become infected, and nearly 80% show clinical signs of disease, though most exhibit the mild form described above.
However, the risk of any dog being exposed to the canine influenza virus depends on that dog’s lifestyle. Dogs that are frequently or regularly exposed to other dogs – for example at boarding or day care facilities, dog parks, grooming salons, or social events with other dogs present – are at greater risk of coming into contact with the virus. Also, as with other infectious diseases, extra precautions may be needed with puppies, elderly or pregnant dogs, and dogs that are immunocompromised. Dog owners should talk with their own veterinarian to assess their dog’s risk.
Q: Do dogs die from canine influenza?
A: Fatal cases of pneumonia resulting from infection with canine influenza virus have been reported in dogs, but the fatality rate is low (less than 10%). Most dogs recover in 2-3 weeks.
Q: How widespread is the disease?
A: The first recognized outbreak of canine influenza in the world is believed to have occurred in racing greyhounds in January 2004 at a track in Florida. From June to August of 2004, outbreaks of respiratory disease were reported at 14 tracks in 6 states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Texas, and West Virginia). Between January and May of 2005, outbreaks occurred at 20 tracks in 11 states (Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin). The canine influenza virus has been reported in at least 40 states and Washington, DC.
The H3N2 strain of canine influenza virus had been reported in Korea, China and Thailand, but had not been detected outside of those countries until 2015. In April 2015, an outbreak that started in Chicago was determined to be caused by an H3N2 strain that was genetically almost identical to the one one in Asia. Since May 2015, thousands of dogs have been confirmed positive for H3N2 canine influenza across the U.S. 
Q: Is there a vaccine?
A: The first canine vaccine for H3N8 canine influenza was approved in 2009, and there are several H3N8 canine influenza vaccines available. It is not known whether the H3N8 vaccine will offer any protection against the H3N2 strain. Canine influenza vaccines are considered "lifestyle" vaccines, meaning the decision to vaccinate is based on a dog’s risk of exposure. Dog owners should consult their veterinarian to determine whether vaccination is needed.
In November 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture granted a conditional license to Zoetis for the first commercially available H3N2 canine influenza vaccine​. Later that month, Merck Animal Health announced​ the availability of an H3N2 canine influenza vaccine, also conditionally licensed by USDA. 
Q: How is a dog with canine influenza treated?
A: As with any disease caused by a virus, treatment is largely supportive. Good animal care practices and nutrition assist dogs in mounting an effective immune response. 
The course of treatment depends on the pet's condition, including the presence or absence of a secondary bacterial infection, pneumonia, dehydration, or other medical issues (e.g., pregnancy, pre-existing respiratory disease, compromised immune system, etc.). The veterinarian might prescribe medications, such as an antibiotic (to fight secondary infections) and/or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (to reduce fever, swelling and pain). Dehydrated pets may need fluid therapy to restore and maintain hydration.  Other medications, or even hospitalization, may also be necessary for more severe cases. 
Q: Is canine influenza virus transmissible from dogs to humans?
A: To date, there is no evidence of transmission of canine influenza virus from dogs to people.
Q: Is canine influenza virus transmissible from dogs to cats, horses or other animal species?
A: At this time, there is no evidence of transmission of H3N8 canine influenza from dogs to horses, cats, ferrets, or other animal species. The H3N2 strain, however, has been reported in Asia to infect cats, and there’s also some evidence that guinea pigs and ferrets can become infected.
Precautions to prevent spread of the virus are outlined below, in the answer to "I work in a kennel/animal care facility. What should I do to prevent transmission of influenza virus from infected dogs to susceptible dogs?" 
Q: Do I need to be concerned about putting my dog in day care or boarding it at a kennel?
A: Dog owners should be aware that any situation that brings dogs together increases the risk of spread of communicable illnesses. Good infection control practices can reduce that risk, so dog owners involved in shows, sports, or other activities with their dogs or who board their dogs at kennels should ask whether respiratory disease has been a problem there, and whether the facility has a plan for isolating dogs that develop respiratory disease and for notifying owners if their dogs have been exposed to dogs with respiratory disease.
As long as good infection control practices are in place, pet owners should not be overly concerned about putting dogs in training facilities, dog parks, kennels, or other areas frequented by dogs.
Q: My dog has a cough...what should I do?
A: Consult your veterinarian. Coughing can be caused by many different medical problems, and your veterinarian can examine and evaluate your dog and recommend an appropriate course of treatment. If canine influenza is suspected, treatment will usually focus on maximizing the ability of your dog's immune system to combat the virus. A typical approach might include administration of fluids if your dog is becoming dehydrated and prescribing an antimicrobial if a secondary bacterial infection is suspected.

Canine influenza virus can be spread via direct contact with respiratory secretions from infected dogs (via barking, coughing or sneezing), and by contact with contaminated inanimate objects. Therefore, dog owners whose dogs are coughing or exhibiting other signs of respiratory disease should not participate in activities or bring their dogs to facilities where other dogs can be exposed to them. Clothing (including shoes), equipment, surfaces, and hands should be cleaned and disinfected after exposure to dogs showing signs of respiratory disease to prevent transmission of infection to susceptible dogs. Clothing can be adequately cleaned by using a detergent at normal laundry temperatures.
Q: I manage a kennel/veterinary clinic/animal shelter/dog day care center. How do I keep canine influenza out of my facility, and if it does enter my facility, what should I do?
A: Viral disease is usually best prevented through vaccination. A vaccine against H3N8 canine influenza has been available since 2009, and H3N2 vaccines were conditionally approved in late 2015. It is considered a "lifestyle" vaccine, which means that the decision to vaccinate a dog against CIV is based on the risk of exposure. A veterinarian should determine whether vaccination is needed based on related risks and benefits, and should administer these vaccinations at least 2 weeks prior to planned visits to dog activity and care facilities (e.g., kennels, veterinary clinics, dog day care centers, training facilities, dog parks). This differs from "core" vaccines - such as distemper, parvo and rabies - that are required for all dogs, regardless of lifestyle.
Vaccination against other pathogens causing respiratory disease (such as  Bordetella, adenovirus and parainfluenza) may help prevent more common respiratory pathogens from becoming secondary infections in a respiratory tract already compromised by influenza infection.
Routine infection control precautions are key to preventing spread of viral disease within facilities. The canine influenza virus appears to be easily killed by disinfectants (e.g., quaternary ammonium compounds, potassium peroxymonosulfate and bleach solutions at a 1 to 30 dilution) in common use in veterinary clinics, boarding facilities, and animal shelters. Protocols should be established for thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting cages, bowls, and other surfaces between uses. Employees should wash their hands with soap and water (or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner if soap and water are unavailable) before and after handling each dog; after coming into contact with a dog's saliva, urine, feces, or blood; after cleaning cages; and upon arriving at and before leaving the facility. (See "I work in a kennel/animal care facility. What should I do to prevent transmission of influenza virus from infected dogs to susceptible dogs?")
Animal care facility staff should be alerted to the possibility that a dog with a respiratory infection could be presented for care or boarding. If a dog with respiratory signs is presented, staff members should inquire whether the dog has recently been boarded or adopted from a shelter, has recently participated in dog-related group activities, or has been exposed to other dogs known to have canine influenza or kennel cough. The dog should be brought directly into a separate examination/triage area that is reserved for dogs with respiratory signs and should not be allowed to enter the waiting room or other areas where susceptible dogs may be present.
Dogs with suspected canine influenza virus infection discovered after entry into the facility should be evaluated and treated by a veterinarian. Isolation protocols should be rigorously applied for dogs showing signs of respiratory disease, including the wearing of disposable gloves by persons handling infected dogs or cleaning contaminated cages. Respiratory disease beyond what is considered typical for a particular facility should be investigated, and the investigation should include submission of appropriate diagnostic samples. (See "What diagnostic tests will tell me whether a dog has canine influenza?")
Q: What diagnostic tests will tell me whether a dog has canine influenza? What samples do I send? Where do I send the samples? How do I distinguish between canine influenza and kennel cough?
A: There is no rapid test for the specific diagnosis of acute canine influenza virus infection. Nasal or throat swabs from dogs that have been ill for less than 3 days may be sent to a diagnostic laboratory for testing. Your veterinarian may also offer other testing, such as an in-house test to detect influenza types A and B.
Antibodies to canine influenza virus may be detected as early as seven days after onset of clinical signs. Convalescent-phase samples should be collected at least two weeks after collection of the acute-phase sample. If an acute-phase sample is not available, testing a convalescent-phase sample can reveal whether a dog has been infected with or exposed to CIV at some point in the past.
For dogs that have died from pneumonia or other conditions in which CIV is suspected, additional diagnostic tests are available to your veterinarian through reference laboratories. 
Q: I work in a kennel/animal care facility. What should I do to prevent transmission of influenza virus from infected dogs to susceptible dogs?
A: Canine influenza is not known to be transmissible from dogs to people. However, caretakers can inadvertently transmit canine influenza virus from infected dogs to susceptible dogs by not following good hygiene and infection control practices. To prevent spread of canine influenza virus, caretakers should take the following precautions:
  • Wash hands with soap and water (if soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner):
    • Upon arriving at the facility
    • Before and after handling each animal
    • After coming into contact with animal saliva, urine, feces or blood
    • After cleaning cages
    • Before eating meals, taking breaks, smoking or leaving the facility
    • Before and after using the restroom
  • Wear a barrier gown over your clothes and wear gloves when handling sick animals or cleaning cages. Discard gown and gloves before working with other animals.
  • Consider use of goggles or face protection if splashes from contaminated surfaces may occur.
  • Bring a change of clothes to wear home at the end of the day.
  • Thoroughly clean clothes worn at the animal facility.
  • Do not allow animals to "kiss" you or lick your face.
  • Do not eat in the animal care area.
  • Separate newly arriving animals from animals that have been housed one week or longer.
  • Routinely monitor animals for signs of illness. Separate sick animals from healthy animals, especially animals with signs of respiratory disease.
  • There is no evidence of transmission of canine influenza virus from dogs to people. However, because of concerns about diseases that are transmissible from dogs to people, in general, it may be prudent for young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and immunocompromised persons to limit or avoid contact with animals that are ill.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Importance of Performing Dental Cleanings Under Anesthesia

Below the surface of anesthesia-free dentistry

​Service is growing, but veterinary organizations say cleanings should be done under anesthesia

Posted Jan. 13, 2016 
The American Veterinary Dental College is waging a campaign against anesthesia-free dentistry for dogs and cats, complete with a new website for pet owners and general practitioners.
At the same time, Pet Dental Services Inc., a national provider of anesthesia-free dentistry, is moving forward on a study with the working title “A comparison of oral examinations and dental cleanings in non-anesthetized and anesthetized dogs.”
The AVMA and American Animal Hospital Association recently stated that dental cleanings should be performed under anesthesia. According to the 2013 AAHA Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats, “General anesthesia with intubation is necessary to properly assess and treat the companion animal dental patient.”
Anesthesia-free dentistry is growing across the country, nevertheless, as many pet owners perceive a need for pet dental care but fear the risks of anesthesia—and as more general practitioners offer the service, generally via a third-party provider.

AVDC position

The 2004 AVDC position statement “Companion Animal Dental Scaling Without Anesthesia” states that the procedure is inappropriate for a number of reasons.
“Even slight head movement by the patient could result in injury to the oral tissues of the patient, and the operator may be bitten when the patient reacts,” according to the statement. Also, “access to the subgingival area of every tooth is impossible in an unanesthetized canine or feline patient.”
According to the statement, inhalation anesthesia with intubation provides three advantages: “... the cooperation of the patient with a procedure it does not understand, elimination of pain resulting from examination and treatment of affected dental tissues during the procedure, and protection of the airway and lungs from accidental aspiration.”

Also according to the statement, “A complete oral examination, which is an important part of a professional dental scaling procedure, is not possible in an unanesthetized patient.”

The AVDC launched its website on anesthesia-free dentistry, www.avdc.org/AFD, about a year ago. The college collaborated on the site with the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry. The sections of the site are “The Facts,” “For Pet Owners,” and “For Veterinarians.”

Dr. Curt Coffman of Arizona Veterinary Dental Specialists, an AVDC board member, said providers of anesthesia-free cleanings are able to clean some parts of the mouth but cannot see or reach all the parts. The teeth look cleaner, he said, “but yet, there are other parts of the mouth that haven’t even been examined, let alone cleaned, and those parts can still be diseased.”
​Dr. Curt Coffman of Arizona Veterinary Dental Specialists found multiple areas of periodontal disease below the gumline in a 5-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel during an oral examination and dental radiography, both performed under anesthesia. In all, Dr. Coffman extracted 15 teeth. The dog had received anesthesia-free dental cleanings by a veterinarian. (Courtesy of Dr. Curt Coffman)
Effective in 2014, Dr. Coffman’s neighboring Nevada amended the state veterinary practice act to require that veterinary dentistry—including cleanings—be performed under anesthesia.
Dr. Coffman said clients need education about anesthesia. He said, “No matter what your dog and cat’s age or what your dog or cat’s condition, almost every pet can have anesthesia.”
The AVDC position statement does not address radiography, but Dr. Coffman noted that intraoral radiography allows for evaluation of the whole mouth above and below the gumline beyond what a veterinarian can see even in anesthetized patients. He noted that dogs and cats really do need to be asleep for radiography.

Pet Dental Services

Joshua Bazavilvazo, Pet Dental Services founder and chief executive officer, said a pilot study of his company’s 11-step procedure for anesthesia-free cleanings sparked the interest of many in the veterinary community.
The pilot study involved 12 dogs, and the follow-up study now in progress involves 60. The investigators on the current study include two veterinary dentists and two veterinary technician dental specialists. The hope is to complete the study by the summer.
“I know what we do is beneficial for the pet, and it is a viable medical procedure that can be proven,” Bazavilvazo said. 
Many pet owners want anesthesia-free dentistry, Bazavilvazo said. He said they are considering factors such as preventive care, safety, expense, and convenience.

Pet Dental Services provides cleanings only under the supervision of veterinarians. Bazavilvazo considers anesthesia-free cleanings to be complementary to cleanings performed under anesthesia. He said, “At every single practice that we work in, the anesthetic dentals go up because we find so much pathology just during our oral examination, before the dental is even started.”
​Pet Dental Services, a national provider of anesthesia-free dental cleanings, offers an 11-step procedure for cats and dogs, with all services provided under the supervision of a veterinarian. Joshua Bazavilvazo, the company’s founder and chief executive officer, considers the service to be complementary to cleanings performed under anesthesia. (Courtesy of Pet Dental Services)
Anesthesia-free cleaning might be an option for a young dog with mild buildup. “Veterinarians say, ‘Well, you’re not quite ready for an anesthetic dental yet,’” Bazavilvazo said. “So we would fit in and be able to take care of the pet’s teeth as a preventive measure.”
In another scenario, a dog might undergo dental procedures under anesthesia to address pathologic changes, then an anesthesia-free cleaning six months later to remove buildup. Bazavilvazo said anesthesia-free cleanings also might be an option for pets that truly cannot go under anesthesia.
Pet Dental Services employees learn behavioral management techniques to enable them to clean pets’ teeth without anesthesia, Bazavilvazo said. After ruling out animals on which anesthesia-free dentistry cannot be performed because of  behavior or pathologic lesions, employees are able to work with almost all dogs and about three-quarters of cats, he said.
Bazavilvazo believes veterinarians’ main concern with anesthesia-free cleanings is that there is no certification process for individuals performing these procedures. Plus, some providers of the service don’t work under the supervision of veterinarians, even though state practice acts generally define dental cleanings for cats and dogs as part of the practice of veterinary medicine.

AAHA and AVMA

Soon after the 2013 release of its dental guidelines, AAHA started requiring AAHA-accredited hospitals to anesthetize and intubate patients undergoing dental procedures, including dental cleanings.
“Cleaning a companion animal’s teeth without general anesthesia is considered unacceptable and below the standard of care,” according to the guidelines.

AVMA policy on anesthesia in veterinary dentistry  

The following are the sections of the AVMA policy “Veterinary Dentistry” that cover anesthesia:
  • When procedures such as periodontal probing, intraoral radiography, dental scaling, and dental extraction are justified by the oral examination, they should be performed under anesthesia.
  • Sedatives, tranquilizers, anesthetics, or analgesics are commonly used during veterinary dental procedures to provide restraint and reduce animal pain and suffering. Visual or radiographic recognition of oral or dental pathology and accurate assessment of periodontal health by probing of pockets require sedation or anesthesia. An endotracheal tube is to be placed to protect the lungs from the water droplets generated during ultrasonic dental scaling or when a high-speed dental unit is used. Preoperative sedation, intra-operative local or regional analgesia and post-operative analgesics are used as indicated to reduce the dose of anesthetic agent required and ensure a smooth, pain-free recovery period. Federal law restricts such veterinary prescription drugs for use by, or on the order of, a licensed veterinarian to ensure their safe and effective use.

Dr. Heather Loenser, AAHA veterinary adviser for public and professional affairs, said anesthesia during dental procedures first allows for intubation to protect the airway. She said anesthesia also allows for thorough cleaning and for thorough evaluation of the oral cavity, including dental radiography.
“I think these points are very valid, and they resonate with veterinarians,” Dr. Loenser said.
Dr. Loenser believes that the biggest advance in veterinary dentistry recently has been an understanding of the importance of dental radiography. She said dental radiography has been a nonmandatory standard for AAHA-accredited hospitals since 2003.
In 2014, the AVMA House of Delegates approved adding the following statement to the AVMA policy on “Veterinary Dentistry”: “When procedures such as periodontal probing, intraoral radiography, dental scaling, and dental extraction are justified by the oral examination, they should be performed under anesthesia.”
The AVMA Council on Veterinary Service oversees the policy and has formed a subcommittee to investigate nonanesthetic dentistry. Dr. Christopher Gargamelli, a member of the subcommittee, believes the AVMA is unlikely to revise the policy before the regular five-year review unless scientific literature on the topic emerges.
After observing anesthesia-free dentistry, Dr. Gargamelli said that he personally can see a place for the service in veterinary practice but only under the supervision of a veterinarian and within a veterinarian-client-patient relationship as an addition to cleanings and radiography performed under anesthesia.
“Say you have a dental cleaning under anesthesia every one to two years. Some patients may need more dental care than that,” he said. “Having this nonanesthetic dentistry performed may be a good fit for that patient.”

In practice

Dr. John de Jong, chair of the AVMA Board of Directors and owner of Newton Animal Hospital in Newton, Massachusetts, offers anesthesia-free cleanings in his practice under contract with Animal Dental Care Inc., another national provider of the service.
Dr. de Jong was highly skeptical of the service until he saw a demonstration. All the dogs, including his two dogs, sat quietly as the company’s employees did a “very thorough and professional job,” he said.
He said, “For clients that refuse to have their pets undergo anesthesia or balk at the cost of a dentistry under anesthesia, I believe that a conscious dental cleaning can be a valuable adjunct to a complete and thorough oral health care plan.”
Dr. de Jong’s practice team tries to get clients to brush their animals’ teeth, but toothbrushing generally doesn’t happen. So when the veterinarians find tartar and plaque, they explain the options and costs to clients. If an animal obviously needs an extraction or further exploration, then an anesthesia-free cleaning is not an option.
Animal Dental Care refers to its procedure as preventive cleaning and assessment, Dr. de Jong noted, and the company still advocates for dental procedures and radiography under anesthesia.
Dr. de Jong considers anesthesia-free cleanings to be very successful at his hospital, and he has noticed the service growing across the country.
“I am hopeful that the AVMA and AAHA might consider changing their current positions on anesthesia-free dental cleanings,” Dr. de Jong said. “Like many other colleagues that I respect, I was willing to consider the possibility and clearly saw a place for these procedures.”

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Keeping Your Home Safe for Your Pets during the Holidays

Keeping Your Home Safe for Your Pets during the Holidays
Peter S. Sakas DVM, MS
Niles Animal Hospital and Bird Medical Center
7278.N. Milwaukee Ave. Niles, IL 60714
(847) 647-9325 FAX (847) 647-8498
Introduction
The holidays are joyous and active times for people and their pets. Our pets partake in many of the seasonal festivities with us which makes the holidays that much more special. However, many of the decorations and objects we have around the household during the holidays may be dangerous to our pets. By taking a few precautions, we can make this wonderful time of year a safe one for our pets.

Holiday Food/Cooking

Food is a very important aspect of our holiday celebrations as many human waistlines can attest. Unfortunately, many of these foods can cause serious problems in our pets and as any veterinarian will tell you, this is the time of year that we see numerous gastrointestinal problems in pets.

Food Preparation -The preparation of food can be a problem, especially for pet birds. Birds have a very effective respiratory tract and coupled with their relatively small size are susceptible to toxic elements in the air. During cooking if food burns or smoke is produced, any birds nearby the kitchen could be at risk of fatal smoke inhalation. If non-stick cookware is used there is another risk for pet birds. Under normal cooking conditions, the cookware is safe but if polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) coated products (such as Teflon, Silverstone, and Supra) are overheated (over 530 degrees F), they can emit toxic fumes which are fatal to birds. PTFE coated drip pans achieve high temperatures under normal usage so they should not be used around birds at all. If your bird has been exposed to smoke or fumes get them to an area of good ventilation and seek veterinary care.
Holiday Food/Leftovers -Avoid the temptation to feed your pets leftovers from your holiday meals. Many of these foods are rich; especially those that are high in fat, and can often cause severe gastrointestinal disturbances in pets which could prove fatal. Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) is a very common disease of dogs and is frequently caused by the eating of table scraps. The pancreas plays a role in digestion of food but when an animal eats a rich or fatty meal, the pancreas is 'overstimulated' and the organ oversecretes enzymes leading to inflammation of the pancreas and surrounding tissues. Signs of pancreatitis include vomiting and abdominal pain, sometimes quite severe. The condition is very uncomfortable for the pet and sometimes can be fatal. If you notice these type of symptoms seek veterinary care.
Be cautious with any bones provided to your pet. Sharp bones, especially from chicken or turkey, may become lodged in the mouth or throat of your pet. If the bones move further into the digestive tract, there is a risk that the bones could perforate the stomach or intestines. This situation may require surgical removal and if they do not receive veterinary attention, they may die. Provide your .pet with commercial chew toys to avoid any potential problems.
Be cautious with guacamole around pet birds. Most bird owners know that avocado is extremely toxic for birds and severe reactions can lead to death. However, some people forget that avocado is the key ingredient in guacamole. When you are having holiday parties and with all kinds of appetizers available, such as chips and dips, be careful if there is guacamole around with your pet birds present. They may decide to sample some of the dip, or an unknowing houseguest may innocently provide a taste of the dip to one of the birds with potentially tragic results.
Chocolate - Providing a piece of chocolate to a pet may seem like an act of kindness but there is a risk that this treat could have serious consequences. Chocolate may be fatal to your pet, especially dogs, because they are sensitive to theobromine, a compound in chocolate. It may cause vomiting, diarrhea, heart irregularities, muscle tremors, seizures and coma, sometimes with fatal results. Cats are rarely poisoned due to their more 'discriminating' habits. Keep those chocolate goodies out of the reach of your dog. If your dog accidentally eats some chocolate, seek veterinary care immediately.

The Christmas Tree

Decorations go up once a year and for a brief period of time. Your pets will be very interested in new and unusual objects scattered around the house believing that these are special 'toys' for their own use. Often these playthings end up lodged in the intestinal tract causing a blockage. Many dangers lurk on the Christmas tree. Overzealous dogs or cats have felled numerous wonderfully decorated trees. Support the tree securely with a sturdy stand and wires.

The Tree -There are several factors to consider with the tree. The trunk of a live tree is often coated with chemicals, such as fertilizer or insecticide. When the tree is placed in the stand and watered, the chemicals from the trunk contaminate the water. If your bird, dog or cat drinks it, they may become sick. The needles begin to fall out as the tree ages and dries. The needles are not poisonous but are very sharp, can puncture the skin and produce abscesses. If your pet tries to eat them, the needles can cut the tongue, lips and gums. If swallowed they are relatively undigestible and can actually pierce the lining of the stomach and intestines or cause a blockage.
The branches from artificial trees can be easily pulled out. The artificial needles can be sharp and are always non-digestible. If you pet chews on the branches, they might take in some of the needles. Just like the needles from the live tree, they can cause gastrointestinal problems such as bleeding and blockage.
Lights -The lights pose many dangers. They often get very hot after being on for a while and could burn your pet if they are touched. For some strange reason pets seem attracted to wires and like to chew on them. So keep a watch on your pets for this type of activity and check the lower strings of lights for evidence of chewing. You might want to ‘pet proof’ the tree by keeping objects, such as lights and ornaments, at heights that your pets cannot reach. If you want lights all over the tree, then string them on the lower branches, but place them away from the tip of the branches. The pets will have a more difficult time reaching them if they are placed on the inner portion of the branches.
Electrical Cords -Electrical cords often seem delectable to many pets, especially cats and young puppies. Chewed cords can cause severe burns and sometimes fatal, electrical shocks. If your pet seems overly interested in electrical cords, string or tape them in a position that is inaccessible to your pet. If that does not work you can cover the cords with hot pepper sauce or use bitter tasting commercial products sold in most pet stores.
Ornaments -Avoid using glass ornaments around pets. They are fragile, break easily and the shattered pieces are sharp. If any of the pieces are swallowed, the glass can puncture the intestines, which could lead to peritonitis and possibly death. Ornament hooks are also very sharp. They can be picked up and swallowed, resulting in gastrointestinal problems such as obstructions and punctures.
Be cautious with 'edible' type ornaments. Sometimes the store-bought varieties may not be edible and contain hardening agents/preservatives that could be toxic. If you make your own edible ornaments, your pet may try to eat them. They may knock over the tree trying to get a string of homemade popcorn or a gingerbread ornament.
The safest ornaments are one-piece, non-breakable and made of non-toxic material. They should be too big to swallow. Also, have them out of the reach of curious beaks, mouths and paws.
Tinsel -One of the most dangerous materials to put on a Christmas tree is tinsel. Animals are attracted to its bright finish and flexibility. Cats are especially attracted to tinsel and if you have a cat, it is recommended that you do not use tinsel on your tree. If your pet eats tinsel, there is a good chance that it will become wrapped around the tongue. As the pet struggles to remove it, the tinsel gets stretched out and wraps even tighter. It can cut sensitive tissues in the mouth and stop the circulation of blood to the tongue. If a strand is swallowed it can bunch up and block the intestine. If this occurs, surgery is usually required to remove it. The best advice is, if you have pets, do not place tinsel on your tree. You may lose the aesthetics of the icicle effect, but your pets will be much safer.

Holiday Decorations/Packages

Many people place decorations throughout the house including lights, evergreen branches, holiday knickknacks and other assorted objects to provide a festive environment. We have discussed some of these dangers previously. Lit candles can burn a curious pet or could be knocked over and start a fire. Centerpieces of dangling streamers and feather fronds are enticing to the curious pet. If chewed and swallowed, these materials can cause an intestinal blockage. Icicles and tinsel draped on a mantle are as dangerous as tinsel on a tree. Monitor your pets and watch out for any evidence of chewing on these objects.

Wrapped presents can pose a hazard to pets. They are attracted to the decorative bows, ribbons and other frills placed on the packages. If your pet would chew and swallow these materials, there is a risk of intestinal blockage. Food packages wrapped as gifts and left under a tree can entice a hungry animal. With their keen sense of smell they can sniff these out and decide to have a feast. Exercise caution with these types of presents around pets, especially dogs.
Poisonous Plants
Many homes are decorated each year during the holiday season with poinsettias and mistletoe. These plants do represent the season; unfortunately they are toxic for our pets and represent a problem for curious dogs, cats and birds. Poinsettias produce a milky sap that is irritating to the skin and eyes on contact and to the gastrointestinal tract if eaten. It may cause irritation and blistering of the mucous membranes of the mouth and stomach. Intake of large amounts of mistletoe may cause nausea, vomiting and gastroenteritis. Make sure that these plants are kept out of the reach of your pets. If you do catch you pet eating a poinsettia or a few loose mistletoe berries, seek veterinary care immediately.
Relieve Pet Stress during the Holidays
The holidays are stressful times for all of us. The commotion in decorating, purchasing gifts and entertaining friends/relatives can be overwhelming to many people. Our homes can be filled with people, especially young children. Many pets, even if not aggressive or territorial, are stressed by the increased numbers of strangers 'intruding' in their domain. The high activity level of children can be a new and stressful experience for many pets unaccustomed to this behavior. Birds can become especially upset during the holidays, particularly the larger varieties of birds. Routine is very important to birds and if that routine changes, they can become frustrated and engage in abnormal behavior. These types of behavior include, aggressiveness, screaming, biting or development of vices such as the picking off or chewing of their own feathers in frustration, which if allowed to continue can become a habit.
If possible, try to provide your pets with a consistent level of interaction with you so they do not feel left out. This is especially important with parrots. Try not to let the pandemonium of the holidays lead to stress in your pets. If you feel that your pets are uncomfortable around new people, it may be best to separate them from the holiday activity. Provide your pets with an area where they can 'get away from it all' and be alone. Cats may enjoy an intricate 'kitty condo' set up or even a cardboard box or paper bags in which to hide. For pet birds that are nervous, you might have to place the cage in a quiet room or, if that is impossible, partially or completely cover the cage so that the bird has the ability to 'hide.' Make sure that your young guests understand that they must let the animals rest when they are put in their area of 'refuge.
Conclusion
I hope that this discussion will assist you in keeping your home safe for your pets during the holidays. During all the activity, we must not forget the welfare of our pets and our responsibility to keep them free of danger. If you practice the proper preventative measures, the holiday season for your pet will be as happy as it is for you and your family.

The preceding discussion was garnered from several excellent sources including: Your Healthy Pet by Amy Marder, VMD  and A Dog for All Seasons by Jane Leon, DVM


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Wellness Plans Offered at Niles Animal Hospital

Wellness Plans Offered at Niles Animal Hospital
We now offer a variety of wellness plans at the hospital for all stages of life, including puppy and kitten plans (which include exams, vaccinations, fecals, lab work, as well as spay/neuters), general health care plans for adults, dental plans, and senior plans (all including exams, lab testing, vaccinations, and other procedures). In addition we are excited to inform you that we also have wellness plans for pet birds for both small and large birds. Check at the hospital or our website (nilesanimalhospital.com) for further details.

Wellness Plan Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Wellness Plan?
Wellness plans are a set of services, bundled at a discounted rate. We offer plans for dogs, cats, and birds of all ages. We also offer a dental plan for our canine and feline patients. Each wellness plan was designed by our doctors to benefit your pet's health at an affordable cost.

How Can I Pay for a Wellness Plan?
Wellness plans can be paid for monthly or in full at the time of enrollment. If you elect monthly payments, they are spread over the course of twelve months. This is beneficial for those who prefer to make payments rather than having a large invoice during a patient visit. Depending upon the wellness plan that is best for you and your pet, the plans may cover vaccinations, examinations, heartworm testing, fecal analysis, and other diagnostic testing. For pet birds the plans can cover examinations, bloodwork, fecal examinations, other diagnostic testing, and some grooming procedures.

Is a Wellness Plan Insurance?
The plans we provide for your pet are not insurance. They will not cover medications which are sent home. The various plans cover different levels of diagnostic testing. You are able to purchase VPI pet insurance separate for additional savings. For more information about pet insurance you can visit the VPI website. We have brochures available for our wellness plans and pet insurance at the hospital and information on our website.

Does Your Pet Have Dental Disease?

Does Your Pet Have Dental Disease?
During our dental health months (December, January, and February), bring your pet in for an evaluation of their dental condition, as dental disease can lead to serious problems, as outlined in the article from the AVMA Animal Health SmartBrief below.  

Exploring dental care for pets (Dr. K Dye from AVMA Pet Health SmartBrief)

Q: Why does my dog's breath stink?
A: Most odors from a dog's mouth come from periodontal disease and bacteria in the mouth.  Plaque and tartar build up along with inflammation cause periodontal disease (the periodontium includes the bone, connective tissue, and gingiva which surrounds and supports a tooth). 

Please have your pet examined by a veterinarian to determine the cause of bad breath, but often it is some form of dental disease.  Since most dogs do not get their teeth brushed daily, plaque and tartar accumulate quickly.  Unhealthy gums (gingivitis) can also result from lack of brushing.  Once the gums are inflamed, it is often appropriate to perform a dental prophylactic cleaning under anesthesia. 

There are several stages of periodontal disease, from Stage 1 (the most mild) to Stage 4 (the most severe).  Dental disease affects more than just the teeth and gums.  Over time, bacteria accumulate in the mouth along the gum-line, where they enter the bloodstream. 

Once enough bacteria are present in the bloodstream they begin to cause systemic damage, affecting the liver, kidneys and heart. 

Bacteria in the bloodstream can also cause sepsis (generalized invasion of the body by pathogenic microorganisms).  Obviously, an additional concern is tooth loss and pain associated with dental disease.  These conditions can take years off your pet's life.  Most studies show that 80% or more of all adult dogs have periodontal disease and at least 70% of all cats have some form of dental disease.

Dental disease is easily treated if done at the appropriate time. 

A dental prophylaxis performed at periodontal disease stage 1 or 2 can help ensure that your pet will not suffer any of the aforementioned conditions.  Once your pet has reached periodontal disease stage 3 or 4, irreversible damage may have already occurred and extracting teeth may be the only option to maintain your pet's oral health. 

Dental extractions are uncomfortable for the patient and can be financially costly for their owners. 

Therefore, detecting periodontal disease early and treating early with a prophylactic cleaning are important.

Q: What happens during a dental cleaning?
A: We recommend pre-anesthetic blood work to detect any underlying disease that may affect our anesthetic protocol. Your pet will be under full anesthesia, while being monitored by a trained technician as well as monitored by pulse oximetry machines and Doppler blood pressure.  Core body temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate are also monitored. 

Our patients all receive IV fluid support during the dental prophylaxis. The oral cavity will be examined closely for any unusual discolorations or masses. The teeth and gums will be evaluated to determine the degree of dental disease.  Digital dental radiographs will be taken to better evaluate the condition of the teeth and the roots. The teeth will be checked for fractures, pulp exposure, irreversible gum recession, cavities and abnormal wear.  The tartar will be removed using an ultrasonic scaler as well as hand scaling instruments by a licensed veterinary technician. 

Using special curettes, the plaque, tartar and bacteria will be removed from the tooth surfaces as well as under the gum line. 

At this stage of the procedure, the doctor will determine if the patient would benefit from additional therapy such as extractions or special antibiotics applied directly under the gum line. 

Finally, the teeth will be polished and fluoride applied to help prevent re-accumulation of tartar and bacteria. 
If necessary, the patient will go home with pain medication and/or antibiotics. After a dental prophylaxis, it is important to follow up with home care. There are several options including brushing (the best), oral rinses or water additives, and special dental chews.

(NOTE: We also follow the same protocol at Niles Animal Hospital, presurgical bloodwork, surgical monitoring by a certified veterinary technician, dental radiographs, and thorough cleaning/prophylaxis.)

It is also quite possible that your pet may need an additional dental prophylaxis in the future.

Hopefully with diligent home care we can increase the time between professional cleanings.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Thanksgiving Pet Safety

Thanksgiving Pet Safety

Thanksgiving is a special holiday that brings together family and friends, but it also can carry some hazards for pets. Holiday food needs to be kept away from pets, and pet owners who travel need to either transport their pets safely or find safe accommodations for them at home. Follow these tips to keep your pets healthy and safe during the holiday.

Poison Risks

Overindulging in the family feast can be unhealthy for humans, but even worse for pets: Fatty foods are hard for animals to digest. Poultry bones can damage your pet’s digestive tract. And holiday sweets can contain ingredients that are poisonous to pets.
  • Keep the feast on the table—not under it.  Eating turkey or turkey skin – sometimes even a small amount – can cause a life-threatening condition in pets known as pancreatitis. Fatty foods are hard for animals to digest, and many foods that are healthy for people are poisonous to pets – including onions, raisins and grapes. If you want to share a Thanksgiving treat with your pet, make or buy a treat that is made just for them.
  • No pie or other desserts for your pooch. Chocolate can be harmful for pets, even though many dogs find it tempting and will sniff it out and eat it. The artificial sweetener called xylitol – commonly used in gum and sugar-free baked goods – also can be deadly if consumed by dogs or cats.
  • Yeast dough can cause problems for pets, including painful gas and potentially dangerous bloating.
  • Put the trash away where your pets can’t find it.  A turkey carcass sitting out on the carving table, or left in a trash container that is open or easily opened, could be deadly to your family pet. Dispose of turkey carcasses and bones – and anything used to wrap or tie the meat, such as strings, bags and packaging – in a covered, tightly secured trash bag placed in a closed trash container outdoors (or behind a closed, locked door).
  • Be careful with decorative plants. Don’t forget that some flowers and festive plants can be toxic to pets. These include amaryllis, Baby’s Breath, Sweet William, some ferns, hydrangeas and more. The ASPCA offers lists of plants that are toxic to both dogs and cats, but the safest route is simply to keep your pets away from all plants and table decorations.
  • Quick action can save lives. If you believe your pet has been poisoned or eaten something it shouldn’t have, call your veterinarian or local veterinary emergency clinic immediately. You may also want to call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: 888-426-4435. Signs of pet distress include: sudden changes in behavior, depression, pain, vomiting, or diarrhea. Contact your veterinarian immediately.

Precautions for Parties

If you’re hosting a party or overnight visitors, plan ahead to keep your pets safe and make the experience less stressful for everyone.
  • Visitors can upset your pets. Some pets are shy or excitable around new people or in crowds, and Thanksgiving often means many visitors at once and higher-than-usual noise and activity levels. If you know your dog or cat is nervous when people visit your home, put him/her in another room or a crate with a favorite toy. This will reduce the emotional stress on your pet and protect your guests from possible injury. If your pet is particularly upset by houseguests, talk to your veterinarian about possible solutions to this common problem.
    Learn about dog bite prevention.
    • If any of your guests have compromised immune systems (due to pregnancy, some diseases, or medications or treatments that suppress the immune system), make sure they’re aware of the pets (especially exotic pets) in your home so they can take extra precautions to protect themselves.
    • If you have exotic pets, remember that some people are uncomfortable around them and that these pets may be more easily stressed by the festivities. Keep exotic pets safely away from the hubbub of the holiday.
  • Watch the exits. Even if your pets are comfortable around guests, make sure you watch them closely, especially when people are entering or leaving your home. While you’re welcoming hungry guests and collecting coats, a four-legged family member may make a break for it out the door and become lost.
  • Identification tags and microchips reunite families. Make sure your pet has proper identification with your current contact information – particularly a microchip with up-to-date, registered information. That way, if they do sneak out, they’re more likely to be returned to you. If your pet isn’t already microchipped, talk to your veterinarian about the benefits of this simple procedure.
    Learn more about microchips.
  • Watch your pets around festive decorations. Special holiday displays or candles are attractive to pets as well as people. Never leave a pet alone in an area with a lit candle; it could result in a fire. And pine cones, needles and other decorations can cause intestinal blockages or even perforate an animal’s intestine if eaten.

Travel Concerns

Whether you take your pets with you or leave them behind, take these precautions to safeguard them when traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday or at any other time of the year.
Your pet needs a health certificate from your veterinarian if you’re traveling across state lines or international borders, whether by air or car. Learn the requirements for any states you will visit or pass through, and schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to get the needed certificate within the timeframes required by those states.
Learn more about health certificates.
Never leave pets alone in vehicles, even for a short time, regardless of the weather.
Pets should always be safely restrained in vehicles. This means using a secure harness or a carrier, placed in a location clear of airbags. This helps protect your pets if you brake or swerve suddenly, or get in an accident; keeps them away from potentially poisonous food or other items you are transporting; prevents them from causing dangerous distractions for the driver; and can prevent small animals from getting trapped in small spaces. Never transport your pet in the bed of a truck.
Learn more about properly restraining pets in vehicles.
Talk with your veterinarian if you’re traveling by air and considering bringing your pet with you. Air travel can put some pets at risk, especially short-nosed dogs. Your veterinarian is the best person to advise you regarding your own pet’s ability to travel.
Pack for your pet as well as yourself if you’re going to travel together. In addition to your pet’s food and medications, this includes bringing medical records, information to help identify your pet if it becomes lost, first aid supplies, and other items. Refer to our Traveling with Your Pet FAQ for a more complete list. 
Are you considering boarding your dog while you travel? Talk with your veterinarian to find out how best to protect your pet from canine flu and other contagious diseases, and to make sure your pet is up-to-date on vaccines.

Food Safety

Don’t forget to protect your family and loved ones from foodborne illnesses while cooking your Thanksgiving meal. Hand washing, and safe food handling and preparation, are important to make sure your holiday is a happy one. The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers tips for handling, thawing and cooking turkey, as well as saving your leftovers.

More Information

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Halloween Dangers for Pets

Halloween can be fun and festive for people, but for pets it can also be dangerous. There are many Halloween pet safety hazards that are well-known (such as chocolate toxicity) and some that are not (like xylitol toxicity). Here are some tips to help you ensure that your pet has a happy and safe Halloween.
Things to Watch For on Halloween
Halloween is fun for kids and adults, but it can be scary and stressful for pets.
  •   A constant ringing doorbell & strangely dressed people at the door can be stressful
    for a pet. Some pets may experience diarrhea or even injure themselves if crated/ contained. Consider keeping your pet in a separate quiet room, away from the door, when trick-or-treaters arrive. Strange people in even stranger clothes can frighten some pets.
  •   Strangers in Costume may provoke an otherwise friendly pet into unexpectedly aggressive or fearful behavior.
  •   Pumpkins or candles within a pet’s range are a fire hazard. Wagging tails and frightened cats zipping through the house can easily knock over a lit pumpkin and cause a fire.
  •   Keep your pets indoors. Halloween pranks committed against pets can be vicious, and black cats are particularly at risk. Also, make sure that your pet doesn't run out of your home when you answer the door. In case your pet does escape, make sure it is wearing proper identification. Pets with identification are much more likely to be returned.
  •   Halloween treats are for people, not pets. Be sure to warn children not to share their treats with pets. Candy wrappers and lollipop sticks can be hazardous if swallowed and chocolate is poisonous for some types of pets.
    Candy Concerns
     Candies, gum, mints, baked goods and chocolate containing the “sugar-free” sweetener Xylitol are highly toxic, causing rapid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and liver failure in dogs and possibly other species (ferrets).
     Chocolate is also toxic to pets. A 50-pound dog would have to eat about 50 ounces of milk
    chocolate (but only 5 ounces of baking chocolate) for a toxic dose, but much smaller amounts can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Signs of chocolate toxicity: tremors, nerv- ousness, vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, and in severe cases, seizures and
    death. If you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate, contact your veterinarian.
     Lollipop sticks and other plastic parts can cause intestinal obstruction and poten- tially rupture the intestines, which is a life-threatening emergency.
    Pet Costumes vs. Safety
    If you dress your pet in a costume, be sure that it doesn't interfere with the pet's ability to breathe, see, hear, move, or bark. Also, consider reflective collars/gear for pets (and people).
    For more information and tips about holiday safety for pets, call or visit your family veterinarian. Remember, your veterinarian is your very best source for advice on keeping your pet safe, healthy, and happy!
    Provided by Chicago Veterinary Medical Association