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Chocolate is a popular treat all year round. Care must be taken when animals are around, though. Chocolate can be toxic, and sometimes even fatal, for animals. Dogs are most commonly affected, due to their ability to find it and the common 'sweet tooth' they seem to have. It is important to remember that cats and other species are susceptible to the toxic effects of chocolate, too.



   

Originally thought to be an urban legend, it is now known that raisins and grapes are indeed toxic to dogs. The type of grape and the type of dog doesn't seem to matter, and the toxic amount may be a small serving to several ounces. Read this FAQ to learn what is known about this mystery toxin and to safeguard your pets from accidental poisoning.
Some dogs naturally love eating raisins and grapes and will seek them out; from the pantry or growing in a vineyard. Pet owners have used raisins as a training treat, and some have used them as a "healthy" snack alternative for their dogs.



   


Fleas: There are about two thousand recognized species of fleas with two being the most common on dogs: The cat flea is the most abundant and the dog flea which is less common is the next most likely to be found. The flea only spends about 10% of their lives on the dog (or other host) and that is what makes them hard to eradicate. Generally for every flea you see on your dog there are 200 more in various life stages in the environment!

Health issues associated with fleas:

*Flea bite allergies are the most common problem associated with fleas. It only takes one flea to cause a reaction in the dog so fleas may be overlooked as the source of itching and infection. You can check for fleas by standing the dog on a light colored surface and ruffle or brush through his hair. If you see dark specks on the light surface that could mean your dog has fleas. The dark matter is digested blood or, you guessed it, flea poop (flea eggs are an off white color not black). If you put a drop of water on the dark specks they will turn red.

*A heavy infestation of fleas can leave your dog anemic from blood loss. This can be tragic for very young puppies or elderly dogs.

*Tapeworm. The flea is the intermediate host for the common tapeworm of dogs. The dog swallows the flea that is carrying an immature stage of the worm which is released into the dogs system as the flea is digested. You can see live segments of tapeworm in your dogs stool or on the hair surrounding the anus. The segment soon dies but unfortunately it is an egg sack as well. Fleas feed on the tapeworm eggs and the cycle starts again.


Ticks: Ticks are blood sucking parasites (more related to the spider than to other insects therefore belonging to the arachnid group) that breed and lay eggs while on their host (animals, humans). The tick eggs fall to the ground and go through a series of molts until the larva is mature at which time it climbs a blade of grass or hangs off of leaves with their claw like legs extended. When a warm blooded creature walks by the tick latches on and finds a spot where blood vessels are close to the surface, attaches and feeds. If you live in an area where ticks are common or if you take a walk in fields or woods make sure to go over every inch of your dog and yourself paying close attention to areas such as between the toes, under the arms and behind the ears to find any critters that have hitched a ride. Male ticks are a bit harder to find as they are usually much smaller than the female, when breeding the male will be found latched on underneath the female.

Diseases caused by ticks:

*Lyme Disease: Lyme disease is named for the town of Old Lyme, Connecticut. In the 70’s doctors in that area noticed an unusual pattern of transient, recurrent joint diseases that occurred mainly in children during the summer and early autumn months. Borrelia Burgdorferi was found to be the cause of this disease. The bacteria is carried and transmitted by hard ticks with different species serving as carriers in different geographical areas. In the Northeast and Midwest the deer tick, a tiny tick that infest wooded areas, is the primary transmitter of infection. In the Northeast the white footed mouse is the primary carrier. This tick also bites humans and dogs and is considered the major carrier for transmission of Lyme disease in the Northeast.
In California the primary carrier is the western black legged tick and a second hard tick Ixodes neotomae. Both ticks feed on the dusky footed wood rat (or pack rat). Both ticks are needed to perpetuate the disease in humans. The Ixodes neotomae does not feed on humans, however, but seems to be more important in sustaining the infection among wood rats. It is the western black legged tick that plays the important role of transmitting the infection from the wood rat cycle to humans.
Symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs include fever, lack of appetite, depression, lethargy, lymph node enlargement, joint pain and lameness.

*Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: Symptoms are fever, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, enlarged lymph nodes, ocular and nasal discharge, muscle or joint pain, decreased blood platelet counts and multiple small hemorrhages on the oral or genital mucous membranes.

*Anemia from a heavy infestation.


Mites: Mites are very small critters that are classified as arachnids (same as spiders & ticks). There are many species of mites but only a few cause medical problems in dogs.

*Demodectic Mange or the more current term; Canine Demodicosis: This mange is caused by the canine follicular mite. These mites are normal inhabitants of the hair follicles of most species of domestic animals and humans and are highly host specific. There are two forms of Demodectic mange: Juvenile onset form, seen in young dogs, and a less common, acquired, adult onset form that occurs in mature dogs. Both forms may be either localized or generalized which are two very different diseases. Localized demodicosis is very common, usually mild and self limiting (it goes away on its own). Generalized demodicosis is a severe and potentially life threatening illness and usually evolves from the more localized form. It is usually uncommon in dogs. Both forms occur when there is an overgrowth of mites on the body thought to be caused by a defect in immune function.

Dogs affected with localized demodicosis exhibit one or more well circumscribed areas or patches of hair loss, reddening of the skin and scaling. Common sites for these patches to develop include the face, around the eyes or the corners of the mouth and on the forelimbs. The lesions may or may not be itchy. Most cases resolve without treatment either by the time the affected dog reaches puberty or by at least 1 year of age.

Dogs affected with generalized demodicosis usually have a history of prior localized demodicosis from which the generalized form has evolved. Diffuse or patchy, generalized hair loss with scaling, crusting and signs of chronic skin inflammation are characteristic. Secondary pyoderma frequently occurs. The feet may be severely affected in generalized demodicosis. Itching, pain and generalized enlargement of the lymph nodes are often evident. In some severe cases septicemia (presence of bacteria in the blood) may develop.

*Sarcoptic Mange or Scabies: This is a highly contagious, intensely itchy skin disease caused by the burrowing skin mite. The mite is restricted almost exclusively to dogs but may produce a transient pruritic (itching) disease in other hosts including people. The intense itching is caused from the mites burrowing under the skin and by their production of toxic compounds. The symptoms of Sarcoptic Mange: Intense itching, small reddened papules with crusting, hair loss, secondary trauma caused by scratching and biting. Lesions are located primarily along the underside of the body, margins of the ears, elbows and forelegs. There may be enlargement of the lymph nodes. Affected dogs should be temporarily isolated and the premises thoroughly cleaned. Treatment involves shampoos and miticidal dips. All animals in the household should be treated.

*Ear Mites: When these mites are present, a dry, reddish brown wax often appears (resembles fine coffee grounds). Large numbers of mites can create extensive excrement and wax production thus obstructing the ear canal with debris, the ear has a sour smell as well.


Lice: Lice are wingless insects that are spread by direct contact. Lice spend their entire life on the host and usually parasitize only one species of animal. Lice do not survive long off of their host. Lice are uncommon or rare parasites of dogs in North America. Lice are classified as either sucking lice or biting lice depending on their method of feeding.
Sucking lice move slowly and have pointed, piercing mouthparts for feeding. There is only one common species of sucking louse affecting dogs in North America. Itching and poor hair coat quality are the usual signs of lice infestation. Blood loss can be a serious problem of infestation with sucking lice causing anemia and even death.
Biting lice are smaller than sucking lice and move much more rapidly. They have a more rounded head and biting mouthparts. Hair loss and itching are the major signs of infestation making biting lice more of a nuisance than a serious health hazard.


Warbles: What is a Warble?

Warbles are the larvae of the bot-fly (Cuterebra sp.). Warbles appear as a swelling or lump just under the skin. Upon closer examination you will see that there is a puncture or hole in the middle of the lump. This is an air vent for the larva, which has burrowed into the skin. They will usually be found around the neck and legs of an animal, but can be found anywhere on the body. When the bot-fly lays her eggs on the animal, the eggs hatch into larva which then burrows into the skin. They wall off the area, and become a parasite living off the animal. Larval development can take anywhere from 19 days to around 60 days. The pupae period can be as short as 28 days, or as long as 7-11 months, depending on the time of year and temperature. The newly hatched larvae are usually 2-4 mm long and grayish white in color. As they grow, the color changes to reddish brown and then to dark brown. Fully grown larva can be from 20-42 mm long and 7-10 mm wide. When you find a lump or swelling on your pet, check to see if the air vent is present. If so, you are probably dealing with warbles. Take your pet to your vet right away; left untreated the warble can cause infection. You should not try to remove the warble yourself.
Picture here is of a larvae in its "warble" (hole under the skin).


   
Worms:

Roundworm: Most common worm in dogs. The larval stage worm passes through the placenta into the fetus’s liver. After birth of the pups the larvae are carried by the blood to the heart, then to the lungs. They can also pass through the milk of the dam. Irritation of the bronchial passages causes the dog to gag and cough the larvae up, then swallow them. This enables the larvae to reach the intestines where they latch onto the walls and mature. Older pups and adult dogs can get roundworms by ingesting contaminated stool or by coming in contact with stool contaminated places.




Actual roundworm in stool.


Hookworm: These worms cause debilitating disease in adult dogs and are a frequent killer of pups. It is probably the leading cause of death in pups over two or three weeks of age. In chewing their way to blood vessels serving the intestinal walls, hookworms inflame the lining and make the organ less efficient. As a result, the dog becomes malnourished as well as anemic. Bloody stool, diarrhea, anemia, weakness and dehydration are symptoms of hookworm infestation as well as poor coat condition.



Whipworm: These worms are less of a problem since it is not a common worm. Eggs are extremely resistant to the environment and larvae can exist for several years in the soil or cracks in floors. Symptoms are similar to those of hookworm.



Tapeworm: Most commonly infected by ingesting a flea which is the host for tapeworm larvae. A single segment of the worm looks like a grain of rice. Symptoms are gas and poor coat.





Heartworm: Heartworm larvae are carried by mosquitos. Heartworms clog the heart killing the dog. Shortness of breath, tiring quickly and occasionally coughing are symptoms of heartworm.


   
  Heartworms are parasitic worms (about the diameter of thin spaghetti) that normally live free floating in the right ventricle of the heart and nearby blood vessels.



   
As gross as it may be checking your dogs stool is a window into your dogs’ health. The odor of the stool is as important as the consistency. This guide is a partial summary of what stool can tell you about your dogs’ health. If you notice any problems contact your veterinarian for diagnosis, not all problems can be treated at home. This article is only meant to give you knowledge it is not meant as a substitute for proper veterinary care. Symptoms will be listed with a possible diagnosis for each one.



   
   


An increasing number of pet dogs have been diagnosed with canine influenza, a newly emerging respiratory pathogen, over the last few months. Previously found in racing greyhounds, the virus mutated from an equine strain of influenza and is highly contagious. The virus causes an acute respiratory infection that is characterized by signs that mimic “kennel cough” but is more serious and generally requires veterinary medical attention.
Canine influenza cases have been reported in dogs from throughout the U.S. and Canada. Cases have been confirmed in Florida, New York, and possibly Massachusetts, according to veterinary researchers working in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control. Confirmed cases have involved dogs from shelters, humane societies, boarding facilities and veterinary clinics.
Because canine influenza is a newly-emerging disease, all dogs, regardless of breed or age, are susceptible to infection and have no naturally-acquired or vaccine-induced immunity. Nearly 100 percent of exposed dogs will become infected and about 80 percent will exhibit clinical signs.

Clinical Signs
There are two general clinical syndromes – a mild syndrome and a more severe pneumonia syndrome. Most dogs will experience the mild syndrome, with signs similar to “kennel cough,” such as a cough that persists for 10 to 21 days despite therapy with antibiotics and cough suppressants. Dogs may also have nasal discharge and a low-grade fever.
Dogs that develop a more severe pneumonia syndrome may have a high-grade fever and increased respiratory rate and effort.

Fatality Rate
The mortality rate is believed to be low, between one and eight percent. The mortality rate can be higher in immuno-suppressed dogs and very young and old dogs.

Incubation/Shedding Period
Clinical signs may appear two to five days after exposure and infected dogs may shed the virus for seven to 10 days after the first day they exhibit clinical signs. About 20 percent of infected dogs will not show clinical signs but are still able to spread the infection.

Transmission
The virus is spread by aerosolized respiratory secretions, contaminated inanimate objects and by people moving back and forth between infected and uninfected dogs.
There are no known cases of the canine flu infecting humans.

Diagnosis
Nasal swabs and serology tests may diagnose the flu. Diagnostic tests will detect antibodies to the canine influenza virus, which may be identified as early as seven days after the onset of clinical signs.
While there is no quick diagnostic test available for dogs with an influenza virus infection, researchers are working to develop an in-house diagnostic test for veterinarians. Veterinarians can send blood samples to the Animal Health Diagnostic Center at the Cornell School of Veterinary Medicine for diagnosis.

Treatment
Researchers are working to develop a canine influenza vaccine; however, there is not one available at this time. Cynda Crawford, DVM, PhD., who studies canine influenza at the University of Florida, recommends that veterinarians prescribe a combination of wide-spectrum antibiotics if a secondary, bacterial infection occurs.
In the more severe syndrome, dogs with pneumonia may develop a secondary bacterial infection that may respond to a combination of broad-spectrum antibiotics and intravenous fluid therapy.

Prevention
Currently, there is no vaccine for canine influenza. Although the signs of canine influenza mimic those of “kennel cough,” there is no protection afforded by the Bordetella vaccine against the influenza virus. The virus is most likely killed by routine disinfectants, such as ammoniums and 10 percent bleach, so good housekeeping practices may reduce the likelihood and rate of transmission.
Because the virus is highly contagious and all dogs are susceptible to infection, veterinarians are advised to use contagious disease protocols for all dogs that exhibit signs of respiratory infection. Dogs exhibiting signs of respiratory disease should be brought to the veterinarian through an area where they will not pass other animals, such as a back door rather than the main entrance. Veterinarians are encouraged to use similar safety protocols as they would use in cases of parvovirus.

For More Information
Contact your state veterinarian for local incidence information.


   

WHAT IS A PYOMETRA?

The word “pyometra” is derived from Latin “pyo” meaning pus and “metra” meaning uterus. The pyometra is an abscessed, pus-filled infected uterus. Toxins and bacteria leak across the uterine walls and into the bloodstream causing life-threatening toxic effects, without treatment death is inevitable.



   
   Hip Dysplasia is one of the most common orthopedic problems in dogs. To have a better understanding of what hip dysplasia is lets first cover what makes up a good hip.



   
   

The patella, or kneecap, is part of the stifle joint (knee). In patellar luxation, the kneecap luxates, or pops out of place, either in a medial or lateral position. Although the luxation may not be present at birth, the anatomical deformities that cause these luxations are present at that time and are responsible for subsequent recurrent patellar luxation. Patellar luxation should be considered an inherited disease and dogs with this problem should not be used for breeding.







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