Sunday, April 26, 2015

Pet Health Tip #37- Allergies-Dogs

Allergies in dogs can be very frustrating for the owner.  Often the problem is chronic and the best thing you can do is try to control the dog’s reaction to the allergens.  Three types of allergens can affect dogs.  All three types will usually manifest themselves by causing dermatitis (inflammation of the skin).  However, the location, severity, and reoccurrence of the skin lesions help to narrow down what type of allergen is causing the issue.  Some dogs will also show respiratory symptoms such as runny eyes, coughing, or difficulty breathing.  The three types of allergens are:

Localized (Contact) Allergens:  These are allergens that come into direct contact with the dog’s skin and cause an allergic reaction.  The most common allergens are grass and pollen.  Localized allergens usually cause dermatitis on the dog’s feet or belly.  You will see your dog chewing or licking their feet.  This aggravates and inflames the skin even more, which in turn causes the dog to lick and chew.  It can become a vicious cycle.

The best way to prevent contact allergens is to prevent the contact.  First, make sure the hair on your dog’s feet is clipped short.  The hair can trap the allergen against the skin.  Next, rinse your dog’s feet off when he comes in from being in the grass; or alternatively, have your dog wear booties on his feet when he is outside.  If your dog is severely sensitive to these allergens, then he may require medication, such as anti-histamine or steroid therapy.

Food Allergens:  The most common ingredients in food that dogs are sensitive to are: beef, chicken, pork, wheat, corn, and soy.  However, they can be sensitive to other ingredients as well.  One of the ways to determine if your dog has a food allergy is to note whether or not the skin lesions are present all year round or seasonally.  Due to the fact your dog is exposed to his food all year, these allergies never clear up.  Also, food allergy dermatitis will often cause chronic ear infections because the skin inside the ear is the most sensitive skin on the dog’s body.  Other allergens can cause ear infections, so an ear infection doesn’t guarantee your dog has a food sensitivity, but you would definitely need to rule it out as a possibility.

Diagnosis of a food allergy is done by starting a feeding trial.  A feeding trial involves placing your dog on a very restricted diet consisting of ingredients not found in your dog’s normal diet.  There are commercially available foods for this purpose or a home-made meal can also be used.  The feeding trial needs to be conducted for several months to give the dog’s skin time to heal and for all the allergens to be eliminated from the dog’s system.  It is also very important to cut out treats, table scraps, etc. during the feeding trial to eliminate them as the possible source of the allergens.  Once a diagnosis of food sensitivity has been confirmed, you can try reintroducing your dog to different treats and dog foods to determine which specific ingredients your dog is sensitive to.

Generalized Allergens:  There are a variety of allergens that can cause generalized reactions in dogs.  These include: dust, pollen, dander, fleas, molds, cigarette smoke, cleaning solutions, and shampoos.  Dogs with severe generalized reactions are often sensitive to more than one allergen.  These can be difficult to completely control.  Diagnosis is usually done by a dermatologist who runs a skin test to determine sensitivities to common allergens.  Finding out what allergens your dog is sensitive to is key to being able to control the symptoms.  The more you can limit your dog’s exposure to the allergens, the more successful you will be at controlling your dog’s reactions.

Treatment of generalized sensitivity reactions usually involves multiple steps.  The first step is limiting your dog’s exposure to the allergen; second, use of a topical treatment on the inflamed skin, such as medicated shampoos, steroid sprays, etc.; third, giving oral medications, such as fatty acid supplements, anti-histamines, and/or steroids.  Allergy injections may also be needed to help de-sensitize your dog to the offending allergen.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

PET HEALTH TIP #36- Skin Tumors- Dogs

Several types of skin tumors can affect dogs.  Most are benign.  However, some skin tumors are malignant.

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.  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.  Lipomas 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 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 located on the limbs.  They can change shape and size very rapidly.  Mast Cell tumors are made up of cells the body uses to respond to inflammation and allergies.  These tumors can release high amounts of these cells into the dog’s body and cause damage to the internal organs.  Some Mast Cell tumors remain localized, but others can metastasize to other regions of the body.  It is very important to have Mast Cell 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 becomes visible.  At the point when it is visible, there is a 90% chance 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 early as possible.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

PET HEALTH TIP #35- Fatty Liver Disease- Cat

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 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.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

PET HEALTH TIP #34- Liver Disease- 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-Insecticides and arsenic
Drugs-NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) 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 chronic 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.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

SECOND CHANCE HEARTS is now available for pre-order!!!

"Second Chance Hearts" is the follow-up to "Scarred Hearts"
Expected release date 6/1/2015


Rachel Somerfield has spent most of her life in Whitman’s Orphanage for Young Girls in New York City. As she approaches her eighteenth birthday, her future looks very bleak. Everything changes the day she runs into Mathew Compton, a dashing young man, who sweeps her off her feet and offers her a chance at happiness. However, things don’t turn out as Rachel hopes, and she finds herself accepting a teaching position in Sand Hill, a small western town. She arrives in Sand Hill penniless, scared, and alone. 

Sheriff Chance Scott has been raising his son, John, alone since his wife died giving him birth. He loved his wife very much, and has given up on the idea of ever finding that kind of love again. He’s resigned to raising his son on his own. When the new school teacher arrives, he finds out that she’s in desperate need of his help. Is life offering him a second chance at love? Is it worth risking another broken heart to find out? 

click image to buy now!