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Cayenne tickEvery year it is recommended that dogs are tested for heartworm disease regardless of being on year round heartworm prevention. The most common heartworm test will also test for three tick borne diseases. While heart worm disease is carried by mosquitos, tick born disease are transmitted by ticks , as the name suggests. The three most common diseases are Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, and Lyme disease. While all three are bacteria that live in the blood, each has its own symptoms and potential long term effects.

Anaplasmosis is a bacteria that infects a dogs bloodstream; it also can infect humans. Anaplasma phagocytophilum is the most common form of the disease and is carried by the deer tick. The other form of the disease is Anaplasma platys, which is carried by the brown dog tick. Symptoms of the A. phagocytophilum can be vague, including fever, tiredness, lack of appetite and joint pain. Less common symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea and/or respiratory signs like coughing or labored breathing. Since the symptoms can be similar to Lyme disease, anaplasmosis can be misdiagnosed.

Senior catImproved veterinary care has allowed our pets to live longer lives, but with increased longevity comes the changes associated with older age. Our feline friends like to hide signs of illness or pain. It is our responsibility to help them as these afflictions start to affect their quality of life.

Cats experience arthritis just like anyone else. Unlike some of our other pets they hide their pain by decreased activity (instead of limping). This may include sleeping more, not jumping up to their favorite areas, or just not moving as much. While we cannot fix arthritis there are ways to make their lives easier. Provide stairs or improvised stairs that will allow them to access their favorite elevated places. Some cats will like a heated bed. This will work somewhat like we would use a heating pad for sore joints.

Spring and Easter Pet HazardsSpring is finally here and with it can come some hazards to pets including plants and goodies from Easter.

  • Easter Lilies (and related lily plants) and Daffodils: These plants are common this time of year and, if ingested, are highly toxic to cats. The first signs of ingestion are vomiting and lethargy that can progress to kidney failure (with lily ingestion).

  • Easter Grass: These stringy decorations can lead to linear foreign bodies if ingested, especially in cats and ferrets. Signs may include vomiting, straining to defecate, and painful abdomen. Sometimes the grass can sometimes be visible from the mouth. Be careful not to pull out any visible grass or material as this can lead to further damage.

Seizures can be a scary thing to witness in our beloved pets. To help understand what is going on during a seizure, let’s start by talking about what is a seizure. Typically seizures are caused by an electrical disturbance in the brain. Our brains are comprised of neurons, which are tiny cells that run on electricity. If this electrical current gets disrupted it can cause the body to lose consciousness, control over movement and bowels resulting in a seziure.

Dog in grassThere are different types of seizures. When most people think of seizures they think of a generalized (or grand mal seizure). This is where the pet will lose consciousness, have rapid arm and leg movements, and typically will urinate and defecate. This is the most serious form of a seizure. There are less extreme seizures call partial seizures. These can be mild and may go unnoticed. Some of these clinical signs include tremors, facial twitching, staring into space, light/fly biting, abnormal aggression or rage and even just brief episode of loss of consciousness.

Cluster seizures are more than one seizure within a 24 hour period. It is important to keep track of how many seizures your pet has. Status epilepticus is a seizure that lasts longer than 5 minutes. There can be serious even life threatening consequences for this type of seizure or recurrent seizures where your pet does not fully recover in between them. During these prolonged seizures, it is possible to have a lack of oxygen to the brain, extremely high body temperature and high blood pressure, any of these things can lead to permanent brain damage or death. Because these are life threatening emergencies, your pet should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

parrot mccaw 350pxAlthough there are a lot of human foods that can be shared with pet birds, there are some that should be offered only in moderation and some that should be avoided all together.

A big part of socializing a pet bird and creating a bond is having the bird out of its cage at meal time. This is when sharing food with the pet bird can promote the union that your bird is part of the flock. Sharing food that has not been in your mouth (which contains bacteria and yeast foreign to birds) and that is non-toxic to birds can be a great way to build trust with your pet, make it comfortable, and provide an activity all can partake. However, always be vigilant that if your bird should ingest any potentially toxic item, that you should contact your veterinarian immediately to see if treatment is warranted.

Though it may seem strange, regurgitation to a mate, person or toy is a normal part of bird reproductive and bonding behavior.

bird harlow Regurgitation is the expulsion of the contents of the crop, a specialized part the esophagus. Regurgitation is usually a normal behavior. A bird that is regurgitating will make a head-bobbing and neck-stretching type of movement. Food will be brought up and deposited on the bird's toys or mate. Such controlled regurgitation usually does not result in staining of the feathers or the beak.

Vomiting, on the other hand, is the expulsion of the contents of the proventriculus, ventriculus (specialized parts of the stomach in birds), or intestine. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to differentiate between regurgitation and vomiting.

Vomiting usually includes a rapid flick of the head, which happens so fast it is often not seen by the owners. Tell-tale signs of vomiting in birds is the flicking of small pieces of ingested food around the cage. A very common complaint is that the feathers on the head are messy and stuck together. Food may become caked on the bird's head giving it a spiky, matted appearance.

Vomiting can occur along with regurgitation and is a serious clinical sign. If you suspect that this behavior is the result of illness and not behavioral causes, a veterinarian should examine your bird.

Encephalitzoon cuniculi is a parasite most often associated with neurologic disease in pet rabbits. It can also have other manifestations including renal and ocular.

Black rabbitWhat are the signs?

The most common signs we see with affected rabbits include head tilt, rolling, and trouble walking (ataxia). The less common manifestations of the disease include a renal form of the disease where your rabbit may have an increase in thirst and/or incontinence, and an ocular form that is most commonly associated with cataracts.

How can my pet get it?

Most rabbits are infected from the urine of infected rabbits. This transmission can occur within six weeks of birth. It is also possible for an infected mother to infect her kits in utero. 

It is important to know that E cuniculi is a zoonotic disease, meaning humans can be infected with this parasite. The people most commonly affected are immunocompromised. Be sure to wash your hands and clean around your rabbit well.

KittenAs Veterinarians, we are more commonly presented with the cutest little kittens afflicted by diarrhea, though constipation can also be a significant problem. Most cat owners are more aware of when their young cat is having bouts of diarrhea because of the mess and smell. Constipation and severe constipation (obstipation) is not usually as obvious, but can be equally as problematic for kittens.

Because cats vary in when they go to the bathroom, determining if a cat is actually constipated can be challenging. Ideally most cats should go once per day, and though the color may vary with the diet, the consistency should be firm but soft.

Monitoring your kitten's bathroom activities, though perhaps the least enjoyable part of caring for your cat, is important to ensure that they are using the litter box regularly. Obstipation/constipation can lead to serious problems such as illness due to absorbing toxins from the colon, and even rectal prolapse.

What are the Causes?

Constipation may have many causes. As kittens transition from nursing to eating kitten food, they may become dehydrated or not have enough fiber in the diet. As young cats further develop, lack of exercise and gaining too much weight may be a contributing factor. Young cats also like chewing on everything and anything, which can contribute to constipation and may even progress to a blockage. So monitoring your kitten's behavior closely to make sure that he or she does not ingest foreign substances is also very important. There are several medical conditions including parasites that can play a role in the kitten becoming constipated.

What are the Signs?