Canine Flu: A Risk During Any Season

Canine influenza (CIV) is a highly contagious viral infection that has been spreading across the country over the past couple of years. Almost every state in the nation has reported cases of CIV, and it’s been on the rise in north Texas for some time.

CIV is also active year-round, and dogs have no natural immunity. Any dog exposed is likely to become sick. While most pets will recover, some run the risk of having the disease develop into a life-threatening infection like pneumonia.

Symptoms of CIV are like kennel cough and include persistent cough, sneezing, runny eyes, nasal discharge, fever and reduced appetite. There are two strains of the virus—H3N2 and H3N8—and I-20 AMC carries a combination vaccine that protects against both strains.

It is recommended that any dog with a lifestyle that includes boarding, doggy daycare, grooming, and playing at dog parks get the CIV vaccination. Senior dogs, those with pre-existing heart and lung conditions and brachycephalic or “short-nosed” breeds like pugs and bulldogs should be vaccinated as well.

If you have questions about CIV or want to get your pet vaccinated, schedule an appointment online or call us at (817) 478-9238.

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Feast on These Thanksgiving Pet Safety Tips

It can be tempting to want to share Thanksgiving treats with our pets, but you should be careful. Here are some tips to keep your animal companion feeling great during the paw-liday:

• Don’t leave wine glasses at snout or tail level. Alcohol can cause severe drops in body temperature, blood pressure and blood sugar. Overactive tails could also knock over glasses.

• A few bits of lean turkey are fine, but turkey skin, gravy and fattier pieces are a no-no for dogs and cats as even small amounts can trigger pancreatitis. Pancreatitis has potentially fatal side effects like dehydration and liver and kidney damage. Small turkey bones can also get lodged in your pet’s gastrointestinal system and cause blockages.

• You already know chocolate is dangerous for pets. But baking chocolate has even higher concentrations of caffeine and theobromine, the two substances in chocolate that are extremely toxic to dogs and cats. Keep nosy snouts out of the kitchen!

• Finally, keep centerpieces and decorations with ribbons, strings, plants and stems out of paw’s reach—cats love to play with these and they can be dangerous if ingested.

Show your pets you’re thankful for them by keeping them safe this Thanksgiving – and have a very happy holiday!

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Summer Parasites and How to Contain These Nagging Pests

Our hot and humid climate means your best friend has a high chance of encountering pests like fleas, ticks, intestinal parasites and heartworm-transmitting mosquitoes—it’s also important to note that this threat is heavily increased in the summer. Not only are these creatures unpleasant, but they can cause serious health issues, too.

Fleas can cause anemia and trigger skin allergies, ticks can pass along numerous diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, intestinal parasites can cause extensive intestinal and organ damage and heartworm can clog the blood vessels and eventually cause heart and lung disease. Because we have so many mosquitoes, heartworm is a particularly potent danger all across the great state of Texas.

Preventive medications are the best way to keep these nasty pests from bothering your pets in the first place. Your I-20 Animal Medical Center veterinarian can help you determine which preventive medications are right for your pets. Remember, prevention is always easier on your pet (and your wallet!) than eradication.

Call us at 817-405-2751 to learn more about preventive medications and to make sure your pet is protected and ready for the summer!

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Top 10 Human Medications That Poison Pets

Dogs and cats are not like humans when it comes to drug metabolism. Although some human medications are used in veterinary medicine, the dosages are vastly different (especially in cats). When pet poisonings from human medications happen, they can be life threatening. Here are the top 10 human medications that are the most commonly seen:

NSAIDS (Ibuprofen, Naproxen)
One of the most common problems seen is toxicity from the common household medication called non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), which include names such as ibuprofen (e.g., Advil and types of Motrin) and naproxen (e.g., Aleve). While these drugs are safe for people, just one tablet can be toxic for pets. Dogs, cats, birds, ferrets, gerbils and hamsters may develop serious stomach and intestinal ulcers as well as kidney failure.

Acetaminophen
Although safe for human children, acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) should not be given to pets, especially cats. One regular strength tablet of acetaminophen can affect red blood cells, damaging them so that they cannot carry oxygen. Acetaminophen can lead to liver failure in dogs, and with large doses can cause red blood cell damage.

Antidepressants (Effexor, Cymbalta, Prozac, Lexapro, etc.)
Although these drugs are occasionally used in pets in low doses, overdoses can lead to serious neurological problems such as sedation, incoordination, tremors and seizures. Some antidepressants also have a stimulant effect leading to a dangerously elevated heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. Pets, especially cats, seem to like the taste of Effexor and may eat the entire pill or pills. Just one pill can cause serious poisoning.

ADD and ADHD Medications (e.g., Concerta, Adderall, Ritalin)
These and other medications used to treat attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in people contain methylphenidate and amphetamines which are potent stimulants. These drugs can cause serious side effects including seizures, elevated body temperature, heart problems and life-threatening tremors.

Benzodiazepines and Sleep Aids (e.g., Xanax, Klonopin, Ambien, Lunesta)
Although these drugs are intended to reduce anxiety and help people sleep better, they often have the opposite effect in pets. About half of the dogs that ingest sleep aids become agitated instead of sedate. The other half show symptoms of severe lethargy, incoordination and respiratory depression (slowed breathing). Benzodiazepines can cause liver failure in cats when ingested.

Birth Control (e.g., Estrogen, Estradiol, Progesterone)
These appear to be a popular item with dogs, as they apparently like how birth control pills are packaged. Fortunately, if small amounts of these medications are ingested, they typically do not cause problems. However, the ingestion of large amounts of estrogen and estradiol can cause bone marrow suppression, especially in birds. Dogs and cats that have not been spayed are at an increased risk of side effects from estrogen poisoning.

ACE Inhibitors (e.g., Zestril, Altace)
These drugs are used to treat high-blood pressure in people, and occasionally pets. Overdoses usually cause low blood pressure, dizziness and weakness. Low doses, when ingested, may only cause mild symptoms. However, depending upon the dosage and if there is a history of kidney failure or heart disease, your pet may need to be hospitalized for observation and monitoring.

Beta-Blockers (e.g., Tenormin, Toprol, Coreg)
Beta-blockers are also used in people to treat high-blood pressure but, unlike ACE inhibitors, ingestion of this drug (even small amounts) may cause serious poisoning in pets. Symptoms of ingestion include life-threatening drop in blood pressure and a very slow heart rate.

Thyroid Hormones (e.g., Armour Desiccated Thyroid, Synthroid)
Dogs, like people, can have low thyroid levels and require supplementation. Surprisingly, the amount of thyroid medication needed in dogs is higher than in people. Therefore, accidental ingestion of small amounts of thyroid medication usually will not cause problems. However, large amounts of thyroid medication ingested in dogs and cats can cause muscle tremors, nervousness, panting, aggression and a rapid heart rate.

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Pet Pointer: Cats Can Have Arthritis Too

Just like people, cats can have osteoarthritis. Usually seen in older cats, the symptoms can be subtle and hard to detect. It’s best to catch the signs of this painful disease early to get them back to their playful selves. If you notice any of these signs in your cat, be sure and take him or her in to your veterinarian to be checked out.

  • Decreased grooming
  • Increased or decreased sleep
  • Avoiding human contact
  • Hiding
  • Doesn’t want to be stroked or brushed
  • Urinating or soiling outside the litter box
  • Reluctance to jump
  • Not jumping as high as usual
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Pet Pointer: Pets Apparently Influence Sleep

The sleeping woman and its dogA recent Mayo Clinic study suggests that pets may have an influence on how well you sleep. Patients at the Mayo Clinic completed an extensive sleep questionnaire in 2013, answering questions about number and type of pets, where pets sleep, pet behavior traits, and whether their pets disturbed their sleep.

Of those surveyed, as many as 10% of pet owners felt that their pets disturbed them while they were sleeping. Although few felt that the sleep interruptions were not intolerable, a higher percentage experienced irritation.

Dogs, cats and birds were the most popular pets owned. Reported sleep disturbances included whimpering, whining, wandering, squawking, medical needs, letting pets out and even snoring.

Dr. Krahn, author of the Mayo Sleep study concludes, “When people have these kinds of sleep problems, sleep specialists should ask about companion animals and help patients think about ways to optimize their sleep.”

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Pet Pointer: Is Your Cat Nervous?

mediumCats with overactive thyroid glands may appear “nervous”. The disease (hyperthyroidism) most commonly affects older cats. Other symptoms include a healthy appetite (initially) with weight loss and increased activity. Owners can be fooled into thinking their older cat is doing great because he or she is more active and has lost weight when actually they are seeing early symptoms of hyperthyroidism. The nervousness, increased appetite and activity are due to the revved up metabolism that occurs from elevated thyroid hormones. Another health problem that may cause “nervousness” in cats is hypertension. Cats are well known for their ability to hide illnesses until the disease is well advanced. Watching for behavioral changes can be one of the best early indicators of disease in cats.

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Pet Pointer: For Bird Owners!

Parrot in the cageNEVER use corncob bedding, aspen or pine bedding, coconut shells or any other organic material to line your bird’s cage. These bedding types are notorious for growing dangerous fungi such as Aspergillus that can lead to life threatening pneumonias for your bird. Newspaper should be changed every 1-3 days to avoid buildup of ammonia from urates in the bird’s droppings and bacterial buildup on wasted food that falls to the bottom of the cage.

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Pet Pointer: Dog Breeds With The Greatest Risk Of Cancer

Close-up of a Golden Retriever panting, 11 years old, isolated on whiteA study in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine reviewed causes of death for nearly 75,000 dogs from 1984 to 2004. The following breeds in descending order had the greatest incidence of cancer.

  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Golden Retriever
  • Scottish Terrier
  • Boxer
  • Bullmastiff
  • Irish Setter
  • Airedale Terrier
  • Gordon Setter

Lymphomas (cancer that originates in the lymph nodes) are one of the common cancers in dogs. A new study in Biomedical Reports calls mammary cancer one of the most prevalent tumors in female dogs.

Prevention? Studies show that dogs that are spayed early in life are found to be less likely to develop mammary cancer.

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