Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Canine Influenza

Canine Influenza is a highly contagious infection that can be caused from 2 different strains, H3N8 and H3N2. H3N8 is the strain that was responsible for the outbreak 10 years ago. The outbreak in Chicago last spring was caused by H3N2. It takes 2-4 days before dogs start showing symptoms and this is when they are most highly contagious, allowing them to spread the disease unknowingly. 

Symptoms of Canine Influenza come in two forms, the mild form and the severe form. Most dogs develop the mild form and although Canine Influenza is highly infectious, it has a fairly low fatality rate (less than 10%). Mild form infections have a soft moist cough that can last for up to 30 days. They can become lethargic, have a low grade fever, decreased appetite, sneezing, and discharge from the eyes. They can get secondary bacterial infections and develop thick nasal discharge. Sometimes the cough is very similar to the dry cough of “Kennel Cough.” The severe form infections are associated with high fevers (104-106 degrees) and develop pneumonia and difficulty breathing. The pneumonia may be due to a secondary bacterial infection. 

Treatment for Influenza is mostly supportive and can range from just monitoring at home to hospitalization for IV therapy depending on the severity of the illness. The canine influenza virus is not transmissible to humans and there have been no reports in cats. The dogs that are most at risk are ones that are in close proximity to other dogs such as boarding facilities. There have only been 2 reported cases in Idaho recently. If your dog is coughing it is most likely not Canine Influenza, but your pet should be seen to be evaluated for other respiratory diseases. 

At this time we are not recommending vaccinating for Canine Influenza for the general population; however if you have a high risk pet (traveling or being exposed to a large amount of dogs such as at a dog show that have been traveling) please let us know and we can discuss whether or not vaccination should be considered. 

We will continue to monitor the situation and keep you updated on changes.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

What to expect if your pet needs dental care by Evann Thoms

Periodontal disease. The tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth.  The word "perio" means around and the word "dontal" means tooth.   Out of all the members of a household family, it can't be hard to guess who has the worst dental hygiene: the pets!  They don't brush or floss their teeth as religiously as their people do, and this goes on for years! GROSS!

A full 85% of pets have periodontal disease by the age of 3 years old.
            Surprisingly enough, there is little physical difference between the dog or cat's tooth and the human tooth.  If we do not regularly disinfect our mouths and brush away plaque, plaque can quickly mineralize into tartar or calculus.  Bacteria then starts to build up under the tartar, and thus the big nasty disease process starts!  Bacteria that lives under tartar in the mouth can seed into other areas of the body, affecting organ function and can be carried virtually anywhere the bloodstream goes.
            It's a good idea to start being comfortable opening your pets mouth and taking a peek inside.  Lift the lips and physically look at the teeth.  If your pet allows, briefly take a glance at the inside surface of the teeth and back of the mouth.  Take a good whiff too!
It shouldn't be too surprising that just like humans, pets need to visit the "dentist" too for a regular cleaning and exam. Home care of the tooth is never perfect and veterinarians will tell you, you cannot brush the tartar off the teeth.  But the professional cleaning your pet gets at the veterinarians office is very similar to the one you get at your dentist office.
So what does a veterinarians dental cleaning entail? Well, to start, your pet MUST be placed under anesthesia. It is NOT possible to perform the proper 6 step cleaning of your pets mouth without general anesthesia.  The first step entails removing the visible tartar with a specific  set of instruments.  Step two, more delicate tartar deposits are removed with another set of scalers that are safe for the gum line.  Step 3, another set of scalers are used to removed tartar that is building up underneath the gum line. Step 4, the enamel that was etched from scaling is then polished to remove any unevenness. Step 5, the mouth is then disinfected, rinsed and usually sealed with a type of fluoride sealer or plaque repellent. The sixth and final step is charting! Technicians and doctors notes all abnormalities of each of the dogs 42 teeth or the cats 30 teeth. 

            So what about a non-anesthetic cleaning?  Most groomers are now offering "anesthesia free" dental cleaning, but it is IMPOSSIBLE and important to note that the 6 step cleaning process is not safe or possible to do without anesthesia.  It is important to protect a pets airway from the tartar and bacteria we are chipping away from their teeth, along with being able to see all surfaces of the teeth including the inside, to probe and look for disease.  Groomers and daycare facilities more commonly offer to brush a pets teeth for you, which if tolerated, is fantastic!  Can you imagine our children's day care facilities offered to help brush our kids teeth twice a day while they were there?!  On a more serious note, typical brushing and cosmetic cleaning of  a pets teeth do not address the more serious periodontal disease where is occurs: UNDER THE GUM LINE.