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Small Animal

Canine Lymphoma

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November 7th is National Canine Lymphoma Awareness Day.

Canine lymphoma is one of the most common canine cancers. Lymphoma is the expansion of lymphoid cells and can include other lymphoid tissues. This illness targets organs associated with the immune system including the spleen, bone marrow, and lymph nodes but can affect other organs.

Unfortunately, there is no known cause. Scientists are looking into the possibility of genetic predisposition for this cancer, as we tend to see it happen more commonly in certain breeds, such as Golden Retrievers. Older dogs seem to be more prone to developing lymphoma but younger dogs can develop it as well.

Signs

Signs and prognosis are dependent on the type of lymphoma present, and how far it has progressed. The following is a list of some of the common types and signs we see:

  • Multicentric lymphoma (most common)
    • Swelling of the lymph nodes is usually the first sign. People usually first notice the lymph nodes under the jaw when they are enlarged. Without treatment the pet could develop signs of weakness, high temperature, lethargy.
  • Alimentary lymphoma
    • Diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and abdominal pain.
  • Mediastinal Lymphoma
    • Coughing and shortness of breath due to lesions formed in the chest cavity. Swelling and increased thirst leading to urinating more.
  • Extranodal lymphoma
    • Is dependent on the affected organ.

Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will need to do a full physical exam and gather history about your pet. Other diagnostics may be performed such as bloodwork, x-rays, ultrasound, or biopsy. Frequently, one of the first tests would be a small biopsy, called a “fine needle aspirate”, of an enlarged lymph node.

Treatment

Although lymphoma is not curable, it is one of the most successfully managed cancers. The main treatment for lymphoma is chemotherapy. Quality of life is always the priority for our pets, so chemotherapy in dogs is very different than chemotherapy in humans. Great care is taken to make sure it is well tolerated, minimizing side effects as much as possible. Animals do not tend to lose hair with chemotherapy, but can have vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy or decreased appetite. With chemotherapy, as many as 70% of dogs will go into remission. However, survival times vary based on many factors, but can range anywhere from months to over 2 years.

Talk to one of our team members at Mitchell Veterinary Services or Pauly Veterinary Clinic if you suspect your dog may have canine lymphoma.

 

Top Ten Reasons Why Senior Pets Need Extra TLC

By | Small Animal

 

Senior pets are some of our most special patients. We’ve seen them through the chaotic puppy and kitten stage and had many years to develop a strong relationship with them and now they are more willing to calmly spend time relaxing with us.  We  recommend a physical exam every six months for senior pets.

Here are some medical differences between an adult and a senior pet:

  1. Decreased ability to digest protein and decreased metabolic rate
  2. Behaviour changes due to brain ageing
  3. Declining hearing, vision and sense of smell
  4. Skin and coat changes
  5. Increased risk of heart and lung disease
  6. Progression of tooth and gum disease
  7. Increased risk for hormone disorders
  8. Decreased muscle mass and degeneration of cartilage
  9. Declining kidney function
  10. Intolerance to extreme heat/cold

We recommend feeding senior pets a high-quality food that is very easy to digest and contains anti-oxidants, omega fatty acids and an appropriate amount of protein and calories. Joint health supplements, soft padded bedding and neutral temperatures are also recommended.  Deterioration of body systems may be painful and many geriatric pets benefit from pain medication.  Routine blood work can trend organ function and determine if therapy for chronic kidney disease, hypothyroidism (in dogs), hyperthyroidism (in cats), diabetes or other diseases should be implemented.  Routinely having masses assessed may catch cancer early and allow it to be cured.

 

Just because your pet is old, it doesn’t mean that it should be slow or stiff, smell bad or be non-interactive and painful. Do not accept diseases in your pet simply because it is a senior.  Unlike in people, your pet may not show you symptoms that you would associate with illness.  At Mitchell Vet Services, we aim for early detection of disease in pets that may outwardly appear healthy.  Our goal is to prevent or delay disease and death where possible.  We also assess your senior pet’s current quality of life to determine whether measures can be taken to improve its daily comfort.

Talk to one of our team members at Mitchell Veterinary Services or Pauly Veterinary Clinic to discuss your senior pet’s individual needs.

Other Recommended Reading:

Cognitive Dysfunction in Senior Pets

Feeding Mature and Senior Dogs

Feeding Mature, Senior and Geriatric Cats

Benefits of Adopting a Senior Pet

 

World Rabies Day

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Did you know that September 28th is World Rabies Day? This day is meant to raise awareness about Rabies and ultimately to prevent Rabies from occurring. Sadly, in many countries in the world people are still infected and almost 59,000 people are killed every year from this fatal disease.

What is Rabies?

Rabies is a virus that is spread by infected animals biting other animals or transmission of their saliva to an open wound. The virus travels through the nervous system to the brain where it will cause neurological signs including changes in behaviour, aggression, paralysis and death. Once signs are evident, Rabies is almost 100% fatal.

What is the Risk of Rabies in Canada?

Luckily (thanks to extensive vaccination programs), the risk of Rabies is low in Canada, but still present. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in 2019 (up to July), there were 28 confirmed cases of Rabies in Ontario (56 in Canada, including one human case in BC).  Half of those cases were bats.

Other animals such as raccoons, skunks and foxes are also more common carriers, though any mammal can be infected.

How Can I Protect Myself and My Family From Rabies?

  • Vaccinate your pets: Make sure your pets are always kept up to date with their vaccinations, even if they are indoor only and don’t interact with other pets These vaccination programs are an important part of the reason why the risk of rabies is so low in Canada.
  • If you are bitten by a wild animal: Wash the wound well and see a doctor immediately. Tell your doctor that you were bitten by a wild animal so that the treatment for Rabies can be started.
  • If your pet is bitten by a wild animal: Wash the wound and take your pet to your veterinarian right away. Depending on the vaccination status of your pet, he may need to go into quarantine. To avoid this scenario, it is best to keep your pet up to date on its Rabies vaccine.
  • Keep your pets indoors. Only allow your pets outdoors when they are supervised.
  • Teach your children not to approach wildlife.
  • Bat proof your home. Learn more about this here: http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/bats/index.html

 

Rabies is 100% preventable, but people are still exposed every year which is why this is still an important issue. Keep your family safe by talking to one of our team members at Mitchell Veterinary Services about Rabies vaccinations for your pets.

 

Recommended read – Rabies in Ontario blog

 

 

Pet Insurance

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With our Fur Babies being such a big part of our lives now, we treasure our time with them even more.  They love us unconditionally and are also so dependent on us.  We shower them with our love and attention; through food, cuddles and play.  Our biggest responsibility as pet owners is to keep them safe and healthy.  Even with good preventative care we are not able to prevent everything as accidents and illness still happen.  Pet insurance can provide us the comfort we need to know that we are prepared for these surprises.

There are many different types of Pet insurance out there.  Often you can choose from plans that help with emergency and illness care only and others that also include preventative care. We encourage you to do research and choose a plan that works best for you and your Pet.

Pet insurance helps to maintain and improve our human and animal bond!

Please feel free to check out the links below for pet insurance companies (listed in no particular order) or talk to one of our team members at Mitchell Veterinary Services.

OVMA

Trupanion

Pets + Us

National Immunization Awareness Month

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National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) is an annual observance held by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.  During the month of August, there is a focus on the importance of vaccination for the human population.  On-time immunizations play a role in preventing serious disease for people of all ages.

Just like for people, immunization for animals is also important for the health of our pets at all life stages. 

What Vaccines Does Your Dog Need?

  • Core vaccines
    • Rabies
    • DHPP (this includes 1) distemper 2) parvovirus 3) adenovirus and 4) parainfluenza)
    • Leptospirosis
  • Non-core vaccines
    • Bordetella (kennel cough)
    • +/- Lyme

 

What Vaccines Does Your Cat Need?

  • Core vaccines
    • Rabies
    • FVRCP (this includes 1) feline herpes virus, 2) feline calicivirus, as well as 3) feline panleukopenia virus, which is also known as distemper)
  • Non-core vaccines
    • Feline leukemia

 

A series of vaccines are required to achieve immunity.  Immunization against core vaccine DHPP and FVRCP is generally given to puppies and kittens respectively every 3-4 weeks between the ages of 8 and 16 weeks.  Very young puppies/kittens have maternal immunity (antibodies from their mother), which fades in the first few months of life.  Early on, maternal immunity will block disease, as well as vaccines, but when it has faded, will not prevent disease.  The purpose of the series of boosters is to ensure that the puppy or kitten is protected against disease during the window of time where maternal immunity no longer is protective. 

The second core vaccine is rabies, which is generally given at 4 months.  This immunization is extremely important to protect the public from rabies exposure.  

Leptospirosis is also a core vaccine for dogs in Perth County, due to the number of cases contracted from local wildlife.  

Lifestyle-specific vaccines

  • Feline leukemia vaccine may be appropriate for kittens that may have exposure to other cats outside. Prior to immunization, they are ideally tested for feline leukemia virus. 
  • Bordetella (kennel cough) is recommended for dogs at risk of exposure through boarding, grooming, dog parks or public dog interactions
  • Lyme vaccination may be appropriate for dogs travelling to areas in Ontario where there is a high risk of Lyme disease transmission from infected ticks 

Vaccines may not be protective unless they are correctly administered at the appropriate intervals.  There are vaccine guidelines that form the basis for your veterinarian’s recommendations for which vaccines should be given to your pet.  These recommendations change based on your pet’s age, risk of exposure, health and history of vaccine reactions.  There is a small risk of vaccine reactions, ways to minimize these risks can be discussed with a veterinarian. Titers, a blood test that evaluates a pet’s antibody level, may be discussed with a veterinarian as well.

For additional information, please check out the “Vaccinating Your Pet” section on the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association website: https://www.ovma.org/pet-owners/basic-pet-care/pet-health-101/   or talk to one of our team members at Mitchell Veterinary Services or Pauly Veterinary Clinic.

 

Recommended blog

What Happens at My pet’s Annual Visit to the Doctor’s Office?

How Can Acupuncture Benefit My Pet?

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What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture has been practiced in both animals and humans for thousands of years to produce a healing response in the body.  Acupuncture involves the use of very thin, sterile needles at specific energetic points just under the skin where there is a high density of free nerve endings, blood vessels, lymph ducts and mast cells.  Through placement in these energy channels the needles enhance circulation and induce the release of beta-endorphins, serotonin and other neurotransmitters throughout the body with the goal of restoring normal body homeostasis.

Is Acupuncture Safe?    

Yes! Acupuncture is a very safe medical procedure when administered by a qualified practitioner. Many animals become sleepy and relaxed after a treatment. Some animals may experience minor discomfort as needles are placed.

How Long Does Each Treatment Take? 

Each session may take between 20-40 minutes. The first session takes longer than follow-up appointments.

 

How Soon Can We See Results?

Some results can be seen immediately but others require several treatments.  Generally speaking a minimum of 3-5 treatments 1-2 weeks apart for chronic conditions are needed before seeing significant improvement.

How Can Acupuncture Benefit My Pet?

Clinical trials indicate that acupuncture therapy can be effective in the following conditions:

  • Musculoskeletal problems: pain management for muscle soreness, back pain, osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease
  • Neurological disorders: seizures, intervertebral disc disease, laryngeal hemiplegia, nerve paralysis
  • Gastrointestinal disorders: nausea, diarrhea, colic, constipation
  • Other chronic conditions such as skin problems, renal failure, chronic liver disease, behavioural problems, infertility, Cushings disease, geriatric weakness
  • Quality of life and hospice care
  • Performance enhancement and disease prevention

Always work closely with a veterinarian to develop a treatment plan for your pet.  Alternative healing methods like acupuncture might have the potential to make your pet’s life more comfortable and can be used in conjunction with traditional medicine. 

To determine if your pet’s condition may be responsive to this treatment modality, please set up a consultation with Dr. Angela Gerretsen at Mitchell Veterinary Services or Coventry Animal Hospital. 

 

Click here to view our Acupuncture Service page

 

        

Pet Fire Safety

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July 15th is National Pet Fire Safety Day.  This is the perfect time to prepare a fire safety plan and review some tips to prevent an accidental house fire.   The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) reports that nearly 1,000 house fires every year are started by pets.  Pet deaths related to fires are mostly due to smoke inhalation.

Ensure all smoke alarms are in good working order and change batteries regularly.   Include all family members when developing a fire safety plan so everyone knows what to do in case of an unexpected fire emergency. In households with multiple pets, each family member can be delegated a pet to be responsible for.   Practice escape routes with your pets. Leashes can be left by the door for quick access. Ensure all pets have a collar with ID should they become loose during a fire escape.   When pets are left unattended at home, placing them in a confined area/room near the entry door can limit potential fire-starting hazards.

Local fire stations provide window stickers to alert firefighters of the presence of pets.

Ensure candles or any open flames are never left unattended. Pets are naturally curious and can harm themselves or start a fire as a result.

The NFPA reports that stoves and cook tops are the #1 cause of house fires started by pets. Stove knobs can either be removed or covered if pets are able to reach them.

Exposed electrical cords can be seen as chew toys for pets so if possible hide cords behind furniture or unplug them if pets are left unattended.

By taking some time to ensure your home is fire safe and implementing a fire safety plan for your furry family member, you can rest assured that should a fire develop within your home your pets will be safe.

Our team at Mitchell Veterinary Services and Pauly Veterinary Clinic hope that these tips help keep your pets and home safe from fires.

What’s That Lump!?

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Is there a lump or growth on your pet?  Do you ever wonder what it may be and if it is something to be concerned about?

Growths on our pets come in many shapes and sizes.  Unfortunately, just looking at them with the naked eye doesn’t tell us very much. 

The least invasive way to help us identify these lumps is to collect a fine needle aspirate (FNA). To do this we place a small needle into the lump and draw some cells into the needle.  We then gently place the sample onto a microscope slide.  The next step is to stain the slide(s) using a 3 step stain to allow us to see the different cellular structures.  Once the slide(s) are dry we examine the sample under the microscope. On the sample we look for signs of inflammation, infection or abnormal cell growth.   

This procedure is easily done in our practice and is very well tolerated by our patients. Using treats as a distraction, they don’t even flinch! If possible we like to collect at least 3 samples per lump. 

FNAs are a great tool to know what actions need to be taken next. These can include the following:

  1. Obtaining a biopsy to send for further testing or grading
  2. Surgical removal of the lump
  3. Monitoring the lump for growth and how it effects the patient
  4. Treat for infection/inflammation

 Lumps can be a “growing” concern and are not recommended to be ignored. 

“Why wait? Aspirate!”

 

If you have found a lump on your pet, don’t hesitate to talk to one of our team members at Mitchell Veterinary Services or Pauly Veterinary Clinic.

 

 

               

Heart Murmurs and Mitral Valve Disease in Dogs

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What is a Heart Murmur?

When your veterinarian is listening to your dog’s heart, they are listening for the typical sounds a heart makes when it beats. These sounds represent the closing of the heart valves. When a heart murmur is heard, this means your veterinarian is hearing a “whooshing” sound over the typical “lub-dub”.

 

What Causes a Heart Murmur?

A heart murmur is caused when there is turbulent blood flow through the heart. The heart is responsible for pumping the blood through the body, and normally the blood flows smoothly through the heart. This is usually a quiet process. However, sometimes there is something within the heart that disrupts this smooth blood flow. This creates a “whooshing” sound.

Most frequently, in older dogs, the murmur is caused by one of the valves of the heart (most commonly the mitral valve) not closing all the way shut. When a valve does not close all the way, some blood is allowed to flow backwards. This causes turbulent blood flow, and the “whooshing” sound of a heart murmur.

 

What Does it Mean for My Dog?

Your dog being diagnosed with a heart murmur means you veterinarian is concerned with possible mitral valve disease. Unfortunately, we do not know the ultimate root cause of mitral valve disease, other than for some breeds where there seems to be a genetic component.

The good news is that many dogs with mitral valve disease can live long and happy lives without it ever causing them any ill health. This is because mitral valve disease is frequently mild and slowly progressive.

However, in some cases, mitral valve disease can progress to congestive heart failure. As the leaky valve worsens, more blood flows backwards. The heart stretches to accommodate this. At some point, the muscles of the heart are at their maximum stretching ability, and are no longer able to contract strong enough to push the blood forward through the body. This causes a backup of blood in the veins in the lungs. The pressure this creates causes fluid to build up in the lungs, making it very difficult to breathe. Unfortunately, once a dog is in congestive heart failure, the prognosis is poor.

 

What Can Be Done to Help My Dog?

Previously, when we diagnosed a heart murmur, there was not a lot that could be done until a dog was actually in congestive heart failure. The good news is that times have changed and we now have the ability to figure out if a dog is likely to go into congestive heart failure, and significantly prolong the time it takes for them to get there.

The first thing to be done is x-rays of your dog’s chest. This will allow your veterinarian to assess your dog’s heart size. The sign that a dog with mitral valve disease is headed towards congestive heart failure is an enlargement of the heart. Many dogs will have enlarged hearts without showing any clinical signs of heart disease, so an x-ray is a very good tool for early intervention.

If heart enlargement is noted on x-rays, then it is time to start on medications to support the heart. A new study has shown starting medication at this time can significantly prolong the time it takes for dogs with mitral valve disease to go into congestive heart failure. This means a much longer and happier life for your dog!

If you have any questions, talk to one of our team members at Mitchell Veterinary Services.

 

 

 

 

 

Why Cats Scratch

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It is completely normal for cats to scratch. They aren’t doing it to bug you, or because they always hated that floral couch; they do it for a multitude of reasons.  Cats scratch to remove the dead outer layer of their claws, to mark their territory (they leave both visible evidence and a scent – they have scent glands in their paws), and also to stretch their body and toes.  Yes it can be frustrating, but since it is a normal behaviour you don’t want to discourage it completely.

Watch Them – Watch where they like to scratch. Note the type of material, when they scratch (after a nap, or when they see you?), how do they scratch (vertically, do they scratch the carpet, etc.?) Once you know all of that information, you can present them with alternatives.

Alternatives – Start by covering the off-limit spot with things that your cat’s paws will avoid (like aluminum foil or double sided sticky tape).  You can even change the odour; cats don’t like citrus or menthol smells.

  • Provide Scratch Zones:
    • Rope trees, cardboard pads – whatever textures your cat enjoys to scratch
    • Experiment with placement (near bed, near couch, by door etc.)
    • Rub catnip on the designated scratching zone or try to use specific cat pheromone spray ( which attracts cats to scratch in that one place)

Location – Place the scratch post where the cat will use it. Then eventually, little by little you can move it to where you want it to be.  

Clipping Claws – cats don’t wear down their claws like dogs can, which means they can become overgrown. It is beneficial to clip their nails and check every couple of weeks to see if they need clipped again.

If you have any questions, talk to one of our team members at Mitchell Veterinary Services.