Archive for November, 2015

Take time to cherish your loved ones,
celebrate your blessings,
and forgive past transgressions.
Today is a day to be thankful
for all things, large and small; 
for the good to outweigh the bad;
to thank God for all His gifts to us.
Happy Thanksgiving to you. 


Vintage greeting card courtesy of Vintage Holiday Crafts.

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Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Every year, around Turkey Time (that’s Thanksgiving and Christmas), pets are rushed to the emergency room with a sudden onset of illness after sharing the family meal.

So what’s wrong with all those animals?

The answer: acute pancreatitis.

[How do you say that word? Try this: pan-cree-uh-tie-tis.]

The pancreas is a V-shaped abdominal organ that produces digestive enzymes and insulin. (Insulin regulates blood sugar. A lack, or insufficient quantity, of insulin results in diabetes.) 

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, in which the organ essentially digests itself via the enzymes it produces.

What causes acute pancreatitis?
Common causes are:

  • high-fat diets (long-term)
  • singular high-fat meal (like meat trimmings)
  • obesity
  • infection
  • blockage of the pancreatic duct
  • abdominal injury or surgery
  • hyperstimulation by certain drugs and venom

Because of the high fat content of many holiday feasts, pets that are fed from the table are at serious risk of becoming gravely ill. In some cases, pancreatitis will be fatal.

Feed your pet its own food prior to mealtime, to make it less likely to beg.
Move your pets to a separate area of the house during mealtime and after-dinner cleanup, if you or your guests are tempted to share food with Fluffy and Fang.
Let your guests know that your pets are on a strict diet and cannot have table food. If you want to – blame the vet! We’re always happy to play wet blanket when it comes to giving pets unnecessary – and even harmful – treats.

Symptoms of pancreatitis
Watch for:

  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • weakness
  • depression
  • collapse from shock

How do you know if a pet is experiencing abdominal pain?
Look for these signs:

  • restlessness
  • panting
  • trembling
  • hunched-up posture
  • “praying” posture
  • resting on cool surfaces
  • vocal or physical response to touch (on the belly)

Which types of dogs or cats are most at risk of pancreatitis?
Normally, in this type of article, I list the age span, breeds, and gender of dog or cat most commonly affected by the disorder. I am not going to do that in this post for one specific reason: I do not wish to give any pet owner the impression that his or her pet is “safe” from pancreatitis and can join in the family meal. We just don’t recommend it for any pet.

Take Action
If you believe your cat or dog may have pancreatitis (even at a non-holiday time of year), take him to the nearest Veterinary Emergency Hospital. Immediate intervention in a critical care setting will give your pet the best chance at recovery.

Remember: some cases of pancreatitis can be deadly, so prevention and early intervention are key to your pet’s good health.

Resources for this article include:
Instructions for Veterinary Clients
Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary
Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice
The 5 Minute Veterinary Consult
This article was originally posted on Nov. 12, 2012 and Nov. 20, 2014.

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Please make a note of our schedule changes for next week.

Dr. Miele will be available only on

  • Tuesday morning, Nov. 24
  • Friday morning and afternoon, Nov. 27
  • Saturday morning, Nov. 28

In the doctor’s absence, the clinic will be open for retail sales and future appointment booking on

  • Monday, Nov. 23
  • Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 24
  • Wednesday morning, Nov. 25

As always, our office will be CLOSED on Thanksgiving Day. If your pet is in need of medical care over the holiday, please contact the good people at Blue Pearl Specialty & Emergency Medicine for Pets, at 757-499-5463. They will be available 24/7 to help you.


Vintage postcard courtesy of Vintage Holiday Crafts.

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Canine Flu vaccine

If you think only people can catch the flu – think again. A flu strain known as H3N8 affects dogs all over America.

Get the facts here, then make an appointment with us to vaccinate your dog for Canine Influenza.

Some quick facts about Canine Flu:

  • Only affects dogs
  • First reported in March 2003, in Florida
  • Highly contagious, especially in kennels, shelters, grooming parlors, dog parks
  • Signs include persistent cough, fever, nasal discharge, lack of energy, lack of appetite
  • Nearly 20% of infected dogs will develop high fever and pneumonia
  • Spread through direct contact; cough or sneeze; contaminated hands, clothing, surfaces

My dog’s records say she’s received the Parainfluenza vaccine already.  That’s the same thing as the H3N8 Flu, right?
No.  Parainfluenza is a different virus, unrelated to the (relatively) newly discovered H3N8.  Your pet’s immune system will know the difference!

My dog is already vaccinated against Bordetella (Kennel Cough.)  Isn’t that the same thing?
No.  Although the symptoms may look the same, the organisms responsible are different.  Bordetella is caused by bacteria; Canine Influenza is caused by a virus.  Vaccinating against one does not provide protection against the other.

How can I tell whether my dog needs the Canine Flu vaccination?
The same situations that call for the Bordetella vaccine, also call for the Flu shot. Check this list* to see which situations apply to your pet:

  • Pet comes from a shelter, rescue group, breeding kennel, pet store
  • Pet boards at a kennel or goes to doggie daycare
  • Pet attends group training classes
  • Pet goes to a groomer, dog parks, or meets other dogs during its daily walks
  • Pet is entered into dog shows
  • Pet comes into contact with other dogs in veterinary clinic or pet store

How many Canine Flu shots does my dog need?
Initially, dogs should receive two Flu shots spaced 2-4 weeks apart; after that, one booster yearly is recommended.

So if my pet gets the Canine Flu shot, it won’t develop the disease?
The Canine Flu vaccine makes it much less likely that your pet will develop the disease.  And if he does get sick, he is more likely to have a mild case and recover more quickly than a dog that has not been vaccinated.

Why did the veterinarian give my dog antibiotics, if the Canine Flu is a virus?
The doctor may opt to treat suspected secondary bacterial infections with antibiotics.  Bacterial infections are often responsible for a thick yellow/green nasal discharge that can accompany the Flu, but there can be other symptoms, as well.   

Remember:  when your pet is sick, its immune system is fighting the primary illness, but it is still vulnerable to other diseases that come along.  In our clinic, we call those secondary infections “opportunistic” because they are taking advantage of the opportunity infect a pet with a weakened immune system.  And, unfortunately, Mother Nature has no law against people or pets suffering more than one illness at a time.

Learn more about reducing your dog’s risk of contracting Canine Influenza.

*Borrowed from “Canine Influenza: What do I need to know?” by Intervet Schering-Plough Animal Health. Pamphlet is available at our office.

This article was posted on November 10, 2011 and November 14, 2012, and November 26, 2013.

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Can cats and dogs develop diabetes?

The answer is – YES. Cats and dogs can develop diabetes. Luckily, treatment is available.

Diabetes 010

What is diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the body either does not produce enough insulin (Type I) or is unable to effectively use the insulin it does produce (Type II). In either case, serious health disturbances result.

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, necessary for processing blood sugar (glucose). Without insulin, blood sugar passes into the urine, rather than being used by body tissues.

When body tissues are starved for sugar, they begin to break down and no longer function normally, resulting in:

  • cataracts
  • skin sores and infections
  • urinary and respiratory infections
  • pancreatitis
  • neuropathy
  • vomiting and dehydration
  • coma and death

The kidneys, liver, heart, and nervous system can also suffer as a result of diabetes.

Type I diabetes is also known as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) and is often seen in older, overweight female dogs and in cats.

Type II diabetes, also known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) is often seen in cats, but is rare in dogs.

What signs should I look for in my pet?

  • excessive thirst and urination
  • weight loss
  • poor appetite
  • weakness, inactivity
  • vomiting
  • dandruff and unkempt appearance (scruffy coat)
  • muscle wasting
  • plantigrade stance in cats (see photo)
Click to enlarge. Photo by Jennifer Miele.

Click to enlarge. Photo by Jennifer Miele.

What causes diabetes?

  • genetic predisposition
  • viral infection
  • pancreatitis and other diseases
  • hormone-type drugs
  • obesity

Is there a cure?
No, diabetes is not curable, but it can be controlled.

What kind of treatment is available?
Insulin injections and a specialized diet are indicated for Type I diabetes. You will learn how to give your pet its insulin injections at home. You may also need to monitor its blood sugar and urine sugar levels.

Type II diabetic patients may require a specialized diet and feeding schedule, along with blood sugar monitoring.

Nearly all diabetic patients require some amount of exercise, and female patients should be spayed to prevent hormone fluctuations from disturbing blood sugar levels.

As for diet, low carbohydrate, low fat, high fiber, high protein diets work best. Your pet’s veterinarian or vet specialist will recommend a suitable diet to manage glucose levels and weight. Hill’s Pet Nutrition has formulated m/d, r/d, and w/d to address various issues concerning diabetic dogs and cats.

Will pet insurance help me manage the cost of treatment?
Yes.*  In fact Veterinary Pet Insurance reported in 2010 that its fifth most common health claim for cats was diabetes. In 2011, diabetes dropped to number six on the list, but still represented a large number of claims.
*Important: if your pet is diagnosed with diabetes before you sign up for pet insurance, it is considered a pre-existing condition and may not be covered. Pet health insurance is best started when your pet is young and healthy.

Note: The information above is a partial explanation of diabetes, its symptoms, and treatment. There are other types of diabetes that are not mentioned here.
This article is not a substitute for medical care. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any condition. If you believe your pet has an illness, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian today.

Hill’s Pet Nutrition publication
Instructions for Veterinary Clients
Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary
Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice
The 5 Minute Veterinary Consult

This post originally appeared on October 10, 2012.

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Diabetes blog

November is Pet Diabetes Month. Cats and dogs can develop this disease of the pancreas that affects many other body functions.

Take this quiz to find out whether your pet is at risk of developing diabetes.

On Thursday, we’ll learn more about diabetes, its symptoms, and treatments.

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You’ve probably heard us say that we don’t recommend giving bones to dogs, but did you know the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) feels the same way? This is what the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the FDA has to say about it:

     Ten reasons why it’s a bad idea to give your dog a bone — 

  1. Broken teeth.  This may call for expensive veterinary dentistry.
  2. Mouth or tongue injuries.  These can be very bloody or messy and may require a trip to see your veterinarian.
  3. Bone gets looped around your dog’s lower jaw This can be frightening or painful for your dog and potentially costly to you, as it usually means a trip to see your veterinarian.
  4. Bone gets stuck in the esophagus, the tube that food travels through to reach the stomach.  Your dog may gag, trying to bring the bone back up and will need to go to the emergency hospital.
  5. Bone gets stuck in a windpipe.  This may happen if your dog accidentally inhales a small enough piece of bone.  This is an emergency because your dog will have trouble breathing.  Get your pet to the emergency vet immediately!
  6. Bone gets stuck in the stomach It went down just fine, but the bone may be too big to pass out of the stomach and into the intestines.  Depending on the bone’s size, your dog may need surgery or upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, a procedure in which the veterinarian uses a long tube with a built-in camera and grabbing tools to try to remove the stuck bone from the stomach.
  7. Bone gets stuck in intestines and causes a blockage.  It may be time for surgery.
  8. Constipation due to bone fragments Your dog may have a hard time passing the bone fragments because they’re very sharp and they scrape the inside of the large intestine or rectum as they move along.  This causes severe pain and may require a visit to your veterinarian.
  9. Severe bleeding from the rectum.  This is very messy and can be dangerous.  It’s time for a trip to the doctor.
  10. Peritonitis This nasty, difficult-to-treat bacterial infection of the abdomen is caused when bone fragments poke holes in your dog’s stomach or intestines.  Your dog needs an emergency visit to the vet because peritonitis can kill your dog.

Est. 1973

This article originally appeared on August 8, 2011.

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