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The Truth About Pet Birth Defects | Daily Treat Feature by Dr. Hodge

Dr. Hodge was recently featured on Rover.com as a guest blogger discussing the importance of Pet Birth Defects Awareness.

What causes pet birth defects?

Most of the causes are unknown. Abnormalities to the mother’s metabolism, trauma or extreme body temperature variations can cause birth defects. Infections and exposure to chemicals or drugs can also cause. Some are more common in certain breed of pets as well, indicating there may be an inherited component.

Some of the common defects may be noted at birth or shortly thereafter. Cleft palates, umbilical hernia, inguinal hernia, and limb deformities can be readily visible. Other abnormalities that may be subtler, such as heart murmur, will require veterinary examination. Some defects such as retained testicles or liver shunts may not be seen until the pet is maturing or older, which may also be true of heart murmurs.

All newborn pets should be presented to the veterinarian shortly after birth for a physical exam to evaluate them for birth defects that may not be visible or known to the owner. The veterinarian can also discuss treatment options if there are abnormalities noted.

Treatments for common pet birth defects

Cleft palate: Puppies and kittens with cleft palates should be fed with a bottle that has a long nipple that allows the food to go beyond the cleft into the back of the throat, but in front of the voice box. A feeding tube inserted into the stomach may be needed for severe cleft defects until surgery can be performed. A recheck of the pet’s weight should occur daily to ensure the pet is getting the proper amount of nutrition and growing. Surgery can be performed at 3-4 months of age. Lack of proper nutrition can quickly exacerbate a pet’s condition and may result in mortality.

Limb Deformities: Since newborns don’t walk, this may not be an issue until they start trying to crawl or walk. Ensuring that the newborns get access to the mother for nursing or bottle-feeding may be needed. The ultimate treatment depends on the limb(s) affected and will change as the pet grows. Padded braces or splints may be needed. Carts with wheels can allow pets to be mobile. These can be made for front or rear limb deformities. Surgery can assist some pets with limb deformities. Self-trauma needs to be prevented as these pets may harm themselves trying to move around or walk.

Most other pet birth defects will require aid from the veterinarian. Deformities of the eyes, nose, palate, heart defects, hernias, retained testicles, liver shunts, etc will require veterinary specific care and treatment. This may be a combination of medical and surgical. Home care to maintain a high quality of life will vary and depends on the defects present. Other care is the same as for those pets without birth defects and includes proper nutrition, housing, access to fresh water at all times, proper sanitation, deworming and vaccinations, heartworm preventives, social enrichment and proper handling by all. This is especially important in teaching the very young how to properly handle their new family members.

Click here to read Dr. Hodge’s post on Rover.com and explore other great articles!

Hurricane Season is Here!

Remember, during a disaster what’s good for you is good for your pet, so get them ready today.

If you leave your pets behind, they may be lost, injured – or worse. Never leave a pet chained outdoors. Plan options include:

  • Create a buddy system in case you’re not home. Ask a trusted neighbor to check on your animals.
  • Identify shelters. For public health reasons, many emergency shelters cannot accept pets.
  • Find pet friendly hotels along your evacuation route and keep a list in your pet’s emergency kit.
  • Locate boarding facilities or animal hospitals near your evacuation shelter.
  • Consider an out-of-town friend or relative
  • Locate a veterinarian or animal hospital in the area where you may be seeking temporary shelter, in case your pet needs medical care. Add the contact information to your emergency kit.
  • Have your pet is microchipped and make sure that you not only keep your address and phone number up-to-date, but that you also include contact info for an emergency contact outside of your immediate area.
  • Call your local emergency management office, animal shelter or animal control office to get advice and information.
  • If you are unable to return to your home right away, you may need to board your pet. Find out where pet boarding facilities are located.
  • Most boarding kennels, veterinarians and animal shelters will need your pet’s medical records to make sure all vaccinations are current.
  • If you have no alternative but to leave your pet at home, there are some precautions you must take, but remember that leaving your pet at home alone can place your animal in great danger!
  • Food. At least a three day supply in an airtight, waterproof container.
  • Water. At least three days of water specifically for your pets.
  • Medicines and medical records.
  • Important documents. Registration information, adoption papers and vaccination documents. Talk to your veterinarian about microchipping and enrolling your pet in a recovery database.
  • First aid kit. Cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape and scissors; antibiotic ointment; flea and tick prevention; latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol and saline solution. Including a pet first aid reference book is a good idea too.
  • Collar or harness with ID tag, rabies tag and a leash.
  • Crate or pet carrier. Have a sturdy, safe crate or carrier in case you need to evacuate. The carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lie down.
  • Sanitation. Pet litter and litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and household chlorine bleach.
  • A picture of you and your pet together. If you become separated, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you. Add species, breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing characteristics.
  • Familiar items. Familiar items, such as treats, toys and bedding can help reduce stress for your pet.

Canine Influenza Virus Notice

Chief Veterinary Officer
American Kennel Club

This notice is being sent out to provide up-to-date and accurate information about the Canine Influenza Virus to help prevent the spread of the virus to healthy (unexposed) dogs. The information provided is not intended to alarm dog owners and handlers.

There are recently confirmed cases of the Canine Influenza Virus (H3N2 strain) that was first brought to and identified in Chicago, Illinois in the spring of 2015. The most recent outbreaks concern the following states: Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.

Canine Influenza Virus is an extremely contagious airborne disease that is easily spread among dogs, and in rare instances, can be contagious to cats. If you believe one of your dogs may have contracted the Canine Influenza Virus, immediately isolate it from other animals and contact your veterinarian.
Here is some additional information about Canine Influenza Virus and tips for how to minimize the risk and reduce the spread of the disease:

Canine Influenza Virus

  • Canine Influenza Virus is spread through:
    • Close proximity to infected dogs(it is airborne and can travel up to 20ft.)
    • Contact with contaminated items (bowls, leashes, crates, tables, clothing, dog
      runs, etc.)
    • People moving between infected and uninfected dogs
    • 80% of all dogs that are exposed to the virus will contract it
    • The virus lives up to 24 hours on soft surfaces and up to 48 hours on hard
      surfaces.
  • Some exposed dogs will be subclinical carriers – meaning some dogs will contract and
    spread the virus without showing symptoms.

    • Dogs show clinical signs within 24-48 hours and can shed the virus for up to 28 days
      from exposure.
    • Most dogs will completely recover with proper treatment.
    • Dogs that regularly interact with dogs outside of their own family or frequent places
      where many dogs gather are most susceptible to exposure to Canine Influenza Virus.
      Symptoms
    • Dry, hacking cough (similar to kennel cough)
    • Lack of appetite
    • Lethargy
    • Discharge from the nose or eyes
    • Fever (normal temperature is 101 – 102)

Prevention

  • The best protection is vaccination. There is now a single vaccination for both the H3N2 and H3N8 strains of the virus. The vaccination requires a booster shot two weeks after the initial vaccine. Vaccination provides the best chance of immunity within 7-14 days of booster shot.
    • Isolate sick animals and keep them isolated for up to 30 days after symptoms subside.
    • Practice good sanitation. Use a bleach and water mixture diluted to 1-part bleach x 30 parts water to disinfect common areas such as tables, bowls, leashes, crates, etc. Allow items to thoroughly air dry for a minimum of 10 minutes before exposing dogs to them. Bleach breaks down quickly so solution should be made daily. Keep in mind that bleach becomes inactive in UV light. If mopping use two buckets so as not to cross contaminate areas
    • Wash your hands frequently, ideally between handling different dogs. At the very minimum, hand sanitizer should be used between handling dogs.
    • Use disposable gowns or wipe down clothing and shoes with a bleach solution between dogs or after leaving an area where dogs congregate.
    • Food/water bowls should be made of stainless steel instead of plastic because scratched plastic is hard to fully disinfect.
      Treatment
    • Treatment of Canine Influenza Virus requires veterinary assistance. If you believe your dog may have Canine Influenza Virus, please contact your veterinarian immediately. Untreated, the illness may progress to pneumonia or other, more serious problems. H3N2 can lead to severe secondary pneumonia which can cause extremely sick dogs with potential fatalities.
    • Most dogs take 2-3 weeks to recover from the illness.
      Containment
    • Any dog suspected of having Canine Influenza Virus should be immediately isolated from other dogs and should not attend dog shows, day care, grooming facilities, dog parks, or other places dogs gather. Dogs are contagious for up to 30 days once they have started showing symptoms.
    • Contact your veterinarian to let them know that your dog may be showing symptoms of Canine Influenza Virus. If your dog is going to a veterinary hospital or clinic, call ahead to let them know you have a suspected case of Canine Influenza Virus. They may ask you to follow a specific protocol before entering the clinic to minimize the spread of the disease, including waiting in your car until they are ready to examine your dog.
    • Keep sick dogs at home and isolated from other dogs and cats until you are certain the illness has run its course (typically 3-4 weeks).
      Consideration for Event Venues
    • Use a bleach and water mixture diluted to 1-part bleach x 30 parts water to disinfect common areas including show floors, grooming tables, ring gates, in-ring examination tables and ramps, and x-pens. Allow solution to completely dry (at least ten minutes in order to assure virus has been killed). Bleach breaks down quickly so solution should be made daily. Keep in mind that bleach becomes inactive in UV light. If mopping use two buckets so as not to cross contaminate areas.
    • When wiping down hard surfaces paper towels are preferred over cloth.
    • Consider having two exam tables at every ring so that they can be cleaned and allowed
      to air dry frequently in between classes.
    • Provide hand sanitizer in each ring and in grooming areas.
    • Exhibitors should consider grooming dogs at their cars instead of using grooming areas where dogs are in very close proximity.

Written by Dr. Jerry Klein, a veterinarian in the emergency room at Chicago’s largest veterinary emergency and specialty center. He was personally involved in treating hundreds of dogs sickened by the H3N2 virus during its initial outbreak in Chicago in spring of 2015.

Vaccinations – Injecting Wellness

Vaccines are a means to stimulate the body’s immunity to different bacterial and viral infections.  A vaccine prepares the body’s defenses to attack invading pathogens and to prevent or reduce severity of the diseases they cause.  Vaccines are an important way to prevent certain diseases from invading and harming your dog or cat. Pet vaccinations have been around for a very long time. But modern vaccines are the most effective and safe that has ever been made.  In order to protect your precious pet from contagious diseases it is essential to keep his or her vaccinations up-to-date. Bringing in your pet to a Veterinary clinic will keep your pets on track with their vaccines and wellness care.

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Laser Therapy – See The Light

Major League Baseball uses it.  The NFL uses it.  The US Olympic Team uses it.  Progressive Cutting Edge Veterinarians use it. What is it?  Laser Therapy, that’s what.  So, let me shed some light on the subject.

Therapeutic Laser is a new innovative method of treatment that has shown to improve a pet’s circulation, reduce pain & inflammation, speed healing, kill infection and much more, in many ways.

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Blood Work & Lab Testing – An Internal Physical Exam

Have you ever gone to the veterinarian and be told that they recommend annual blood work for your pet?

There is a reason for this, as most pet owner’s only think about blood work or lab tests when their pet is sick. However just like their human counter parts, pets too should have lab tests done once a year for their overall health evaluation.  Lab work is considered an internal examination for your pet. It is also essential if your pet is sick or having any kind of surgery performed.

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Allergies in Pets – Scratching the Surface

Have you noticed your pet scratching a lot lately?  Shaking their head or chewing at their paws?  If so, most likely it is due to allergies (Atopy).  We need to schedule your pet for a comprehensive exam to have several diagnostic tests done to best determine the cause(s) of their allergy problems.  The most common symptoms that owners will notice from their pet is excessive licking, scratching or chewing, odor from the ears or skin, hair loss, crusted skin lesions, greasy or oily skin, scaly, dry or red skin, stained or inflamed paws.  Recurrence of skin infections and/or ear infections is also common in allergic pets.

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Acupuncture for Pets – What’s the Point?

Almost everyone has heard of acupuncture. Many people have actually had or have ongoing sessions with acupuncture. But how much do you really know about this ancient healing art and its use in pets?

Acupuncture is described as the stimulation of a specific point on the body with a specific method, to elicit a specific response to help put the body into balance. Balance is a process of where all the bodily functions are working in harmony and there is no, or less disease (dis-ease). This balance has been represented for thousands of years by the Yin/Yang symbol.

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