Question: I’ve heard that sugarless gum can be toxic to my dog, is that true?
Answer: There are a lot of myths out there regarding things that can be bad for your furry friends, but unfortunately, this one is indeed true. Sugarless candy and gum can contain an ingredient called xylitol, a common sugar substitute.
There are two different ways that xylitol can have potentially fatal effects. First, the pancreas confuses xylitol with real sugar and then releases insulin to store the “sugar.” The insulin then removes real sugar from the blood stream instead, leading to hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. This causes disorientation, weakness, tremors and even seizures.
Higher doses of xylitol can actually cause destruction of liver cells. In the worst cases, this can lead to an inability to clot blood and internal hemorrhage. It is still not understood how xylitol causes liver damage, and not all dogs will experience signs of low blood sugar first before liver damage occurs.
As little as one stick of gum could cause hypoglycemia in a 10 pound dog. It takes about ten times that amount to cause liver damage in a 10 pound dog. If your dog ingests sugarless gum, it is best to get them to their veterinarian right away so that vomiting can be induced. IV fluids and blood monitoring may also be necessary. As always, call you veterinarian if you have any questions.
Question: Why does my animal itch so much?!
Answer: Unquestionably, this is a loaded question, but we can break it down into three basic categories of why your animal might be itching. The categories include, but are not limited to, allergies, skin parasites, and skin infections. Skin allergies can be broken down into a food allergy or an environmental allergy. Environmental allergies are diagnosed by doing a skin test (similar to a scratch test in humans) to find out what the animal is allergic to. Once completed, allergy injections are then given to hyposensitize the patient. A food allergy is treated by feeding a hypoallergenic diet with single unique protein ingredients such as fish, rabbit, duck or venison with a single carbohydrate such as potato or rice and no other treats or chewable supplements can be given for a minimum of eight weeks.
Skin parasites include fleas and a variety of mites which can be diagnosed through a physical exam and skin scraping. Parasitic skin infections are treated with dips and oral anti-parasitic medications. Skin infections are usually secondary to skin allergies and parasites and require antibiotics to resolve it. Without a doubt, skin issues can be very frustrating and time consuming to treat, but there is light at the end of the tunnel with some patience and persistence. Contact your veterinarian if you have any questions, or if you think your pet may have a skin condition.
Question: What is this and why is it green?
Answer: This is a corneal ulcer in the eye of a dog. The reason that it is green is because in order to diagnose a corneal ulcer, we must do a fluorescein stain to see if there is any green uptake indicating an ulcer. A corneal ulcer is a break in the outer layer of the cornea and though initially painful, should heal within 4 to 7 days with appropriate topical antibiotics. However, ulcers that are not healing are deemed complicated and may require surgery to help the healing process. Signs of an eye ulcer include holding their eyelids shut, excessive tearing and blinking, and rubbing their eye on things. If you suspect an ulcer, see a veterinarian immediately because simple ulcers can quickly develop into complicated ulcers which can compromise your dog’s vision.
Question: My cat hates to go to the vet. I have such a difficult time getting her into the carrier, and then when we get there, she hisses and spats at the vet and me. Is there anything I can do?
Answer: I am sorry to hear that your cat gets so anxious and nervous about coming in for a visit. There are some things that can make the experience better for both of you.
First, make sure to get your carrier out a few days ahead of time. Put it in an area that your cat enjoys. You can even place a few treats inside the carrier to encourage her to go inside.
Place a towel in the carrier to make it more comfy for your kitty.
I also recommend purchasing a product called Feliway. It comes in a spray as well as a diffuser. You will want to get the spray. Feliway is a cat pheromone product that can help a cat feel more relaxed. About one hour prior to your veterinary appointment, spray the inside of the carrier with Feliway. About ½ hour prior to your appointment, place your cat within the carrier. Do not feed your kitty the day of the appointment, so that she will be more interested in treats.
When you’re at the veterinarian, check to see if there are any dogs in the waiting room. If there are, ask to be put into an exam room right away.
In the exam room, make sure to open the carrier right away. You can give your cat some treats to help make the experience pleasant. If you have a carrier that the top comes off easily, remove the top. Many times the veterinarian can examine the cat while in the carrier. Let your kitty explore the exam room. Encourage her with praise.
With these tips, your next visit should be a good one.
One of our patients got into some D-con. The owners noticed right away, and we were able to induce vomiting to get it out of her system. She is doing great!
D-con mouse and rat poison contains a chemical that prevents clotting. When an animal ingests the poison, it can take 3-5 days before clinical signs are noticed. Clinical signs include lethargy, coughing, exercise intolerance, vomiting, blood in the stool, pale gums, collapse, nose bleeds, blood in the urine or feces, and bruising. There is an anecdote to the poison, called vitamin K. Many patients who receive treatment survive, but if not caught early enough, ingesting the poison can be fatal.
Patients are treated for at least one month with vitamin K. A blood test to check clotting times should be performed after one month to make sure the patient is no longer affected.
If you see your pet ingest D-con, you should contact your veterinarian right away. If your pet is showing signs of illness and you have D-con in the house, you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
I found a tick attached to my dog yesterday and pulled it off. Could he have Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is caused by a tiny blood parasite that is spread by infected ticks. Not all ticks have Lyme disease, but the prevalence of Lyme infected ticks is increasing across the Midwest. Luckily, there are very effective measures that can be taken to prevent Lyme disease in our pets. First, use a monthly tick prevention such as Frontline or Vectra. These products cause the ticks to die before they are able to transmit diseases. Second, remove any attached ticks that you find on your pet immediately. Remove them by firmly grasping the body of the tick near the head and pulling back with firm traction. A tick must be attached for at least 24 hours to successfully transmit the Lyme parasite to a pet. Third, vaccinate and/or test your dog for Lyme disease if recommended for your specific situation. If you remove a tick that is attached but not engorged (filled with blood) it most likely has not been attached long enough to cause a problem. Watch any bite areas on your pet closely for continued redness or signs of infection like swelling and discharge. Signs of Lyme disease include fever, lethargy, joint pain, joint swelling, and lameness.