Thursday, December 27, 2012

Pet Health Tip#36- Skin Tumors in Dogs

There are several types of skin tumors that affect dogs.  Most of these are benign.  However, there are also some malignant tumors that can affect dogs.
The benign tumors are usually slow growing, soft, and free moving; meaning that you can grasp them and move them around under the skin.  Benign tumors include: skin tags, warts, moles, and lipomas.  The skin tags, warts, and moles look similar to the ones we get.  They are unsightly, but harmless.  Lipomas are fatty tumors that are very slow growing and soft.  They are very common in older, overweight dogs.  They typically don’t cause any problems unless they are located in an area that restricts movement; such as under a front limb.
The most common malignant tumors that are found under the skin are Mast Cell Tumors and Osteosarcomas.  Both of these tumors are usually fast growing, hard, and attached to the tissue under the skin.
Mast Cell tumors are very common and can be found in all breeds.  However, Boxers, Beagles, and Boston Terriers are the breeds most commonly affected.  These tumors can be found anywhere on the body, but are often found on the limbs.  They can change shape and size very rapidly.  These tumors are made up of cells that the body uses to respond to inflammation and allergies.  These tumors can release high amounts of the cells into the dogs body and cause damage to the internal organs.  Some mast cells remain localized, but others can metastasize to other regions of the body.  It is very important to have these tumors removed and sent for a biopsy to determine the malignancy and risk to the dog’s overall health.
Osteosarcomas are bone tumors.  These tumors are highly malignant.  They are most commonly seen at the elbow, wrist, or shoulder.  However, any bone can be affected.  Limping on the affected limb is usually the first symptom.  However, often times the tumor isn’t noticed until it become visible.  At the point that it is visible, there is a 90% chance that it has already metastasized to another area of the body, usually the lungs.  Treatment of osteosarcoma is very aggressive and usually involves chemotherapy or radiation.
In conclusion, although there are many types of skin tumors that are benign, it is important to have all tumors examined by your veterinarian, so that treatment of malignant tumors can begin as soon as possible.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pet Health Tip #35- "Fatty Liver Disease in Cats"

Fatty liver, also known as hepatic lipidosis, is the most common liver disease in cats.  When the body is in starvation mode, it quickly shifts fat cells to the liver.  It does this so that the liver can convert the fat into lipoproteins for energy.  However, the cat’s liver is not very good at converting these fat cells.  So, the fat accumulates in the liver.  As the fat builds up, the liver starts to lose its ability to function. 
The liver has many jobs in the body.  These include: detoxification, protein synthesis, and the production of chemicals used in digestion.  The liver also helps break down red blood cells and produces clotting factors to aid in blood clotting.  Because of its many jobs, when the liver starts to fail, you will see several symptoms.
Hepatic lipidosis is usually caused by a cat’s loss of appetite.  This can be caused by illness (such as diabetes or kidney disease), stress, extreme diet restrictions by owners, or being lost.
The most obvious symptom is yellowing of the eyes and mucous membranes.  This is referred to as jaundice in people, but is referred to as icterus in animals.  Other symptoms include: anorexia, vomiting, lethargy, neurologic symptoms, and depression.
Treatment will often require hospitalization and includes: fluid therapy, diet changes, and mineral supplements.
The most important treatment is prevention by paying close attention to your cat’s eating habits.  If your cat loses its appetite, it is important to discover the underlying cause and get it treated before the liver starts to deteriorate.  Hepatic lipidosis can be life threatening, so the earlier treatment is started, the higher chance of your cat’s liver recovering.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pet Health Tip #34- Liver disease in dogs

There are a wide range of causes of liver disease in dogs.  The most common causes are:

Bacterial infection
Viral Infection- Most common in unvaccinated puppies
Toxins-Most common are insecticides and arsenic
Drugs- Most common are NSAIDS used to treat arthritis

Early symptoms of liver disease include: weight loss, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased thirst.  In most cases, if the underlying cause of the liver damage is found and treated during this early stage, then the liver will heal and return to normal function.

Symptoms of liver failure include: icterus (yellowing of the eyes or gums), ascites (fluid accumulation in the abdomen), spontaneous bleeding, and neurologic symptoms (disorientation, head-pressing, dullness, and seizures).  Once the liver has advanced to the stage of liver failure, the chances of regaining liver function are very slim.  However, many dogs can survive with treatment, such as IV fluids, medications, and a special diet.

The most important factor in liver disease is to prevent the underlying causes by having your puppy properly vaccinated, keeping your pet away from potential toxins, and using therapeutic drugs according to your veterinarian’s instructions.  Additionally, if you suspect that your pet has been exposed to toxins or has overdosed on NSAIDS, it is important to seek treatment as early as possible.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


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Pet Health Tip#33- Seizures

Seizures in pets can be caused by a number of underlying issues.  The most common causes are:

Idiopathic Epilepsy
Kidney Failure
Liver Failure
Toxins- Insecticides, chocolate, and antifreeze
Brain Tumors
Heat Stroke
Encephalitis- Inflammation of the brain usually caused by an infection such as Distemper

There are several types of seizures.  A grand mal seizure usually begins with a period of altered behavior such as staring, restlessness, and crying out.  This is followed by the symptoms we usually associate with seizures, such as loss of consciousness, paddling, urinating, and defecating.  This part of the seizure usually only lasts 1-2 minutes.  It is followed by a period of confusion and incoordination.
Seizures can also be localized in the brain and cause a more localized reaction such as muscle twitching, blinking, and chomping.

Diagnosis is often made based on historical information, such as exposure to toxins, age of the animals, recent illness, etc.  Blood work will also be done to check for liver function, kidney function, and blood sugar levels.
During the seizure, the first impulse is to reach out and comfort your pet by talking to him and petting him.  However, it is best to turn out the lights, keep quiet, and not to touch him.  Sensory input can prolong the seizure.  This includes the period of disorientation that follows the main part of the seizure.  Once the seizure has ended, it is important to get your pet to a veterinary for a diagnosis.
Treatment is usually based on treating the underlying problem.  For epilepsy, the treatment is based on the frequency and severity of the seizures.  It is important to keep track of when seizures occur and how long they last.