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A sugar substitute fit for humans, which can be lethal to your dog

White rectangular Chewing gums on blue

White rectangular Chewing gums on blue.

What is xylitol and where can it be found?

Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol that is commonly used as a sugar substitute in human foods. It is found in and extracted from corn fiber, birch trees, hardwood trees as well as other fruits and vegetables.

Xylitol is a sugar substitute most commonly found in chewing gum, candies, breath mints, baked goods, cough syrup, children’s edible vitamins, mouth wash and tooth paste (all of the sugar free variety). There are many more human products on the market that may contain xylitol. It may also be purchased in a granulated form to be used for baking, or as a sweetener over cereals and in beverages. As society’s pressure to look lean and slim, and the need to diet increases, this sugar free alternative has grown drastically in popularity over the last decade. Continue reading

Lameness in old dogs

two senior german shorthaired pointers, nine year old females

two senior german shorthaired pointers, nine year old females

As a dog gets older, he or she may start to struggle to get up or get a little slower on walks. You may notice that they are worse in winter than in summer or after resting for a prolonged period. Sometimes they may not to be able to place any weight on a leg at all and this may happen quite suddenly. Lameness in older dogs can be broadly placed in three categories:

  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Trauma and infection.

Continue reading

Lameness in young dogs

puppy old english bulldog in front of white background

puppy old english bulldog in front of white background

Getting home to find your puppy or young dog not placing weight on a leg is always a concern. There are many different reasons why a young dog may limp, some more serious than others. Causes of lameness can be broadly placed into three different categories:

  • Lameness due to trauma
  • Developmental and congenital (inherited) lameness
  • Infectious causes of lameness and cancer

Because the causes of lameness can be so wide and varied, it is important to have your puppy looked at by the veterinarian sooner rather than later when you notice any signs of limping or lameness.  Continue reading

Proptosis

Proptosis is defined, as the forward displacement of the globe (eyeball) out of the socket, with the eyelids trapped behind the globe.

Proptosis is an ophthalmic emergency. Any suspected trauma to your pet’s eye warrants a visit to your veterinarian immediately.

Let us first have a look at the normal eye anatomy:

Normal eye - Proptosis

Predisposing factors: Breed predisposition

Proptosis is a condition more commonly seen in Brachycephalic breeds (dogs with prominent bulging eyes, short noses and shallow eye sockets). Pekingese, Pug, Boston terrier and Shihtzu are over represented.

Common Causes

  • Trauma is the most common cause of proptosis. In small breed dogs this often occurs during a fight with a larger dog, wherein the larger dog bites over the scruff on the neck and starts shaking the smaller dog. The pulling of the skin back over the head allows for the eye to pop forward, out of the socket. Bite wounds directly to the face could also result in proptosis of one or both eyes but this is very rare.
    • Blunt trauma to the face or head, often seen when hit by a car.
    • Brachycephalic breeds have very shallow eye sockets, and very large openings of the eyelids, in these breeds even mild manual restraint can result in proptosis.
    • Space occupying lesions behind the globe e.g. tumours located behind the eyeball, applying pressure and pushing the globe forward.

Clinical signs

Often the first thing noticed by owners is a very prominent eye where the eyelids are unable to blink over the eyeball (globe).

Other signs include:

  • Swelling and inflammation of the tissue/muscles surrounding the proptosed globe
  • Bleeding inside the eye
  • Abnormal pupil (it may be dilated or constricted)
  • Rupture of the globe
  • Rupture of the muscles around the globe, the eye then deviates outward. These muscles are responsible for keeping the globe in place and are responsible for movement of the eye.

Proptosis needs to be distinguished from

  • Bupthalmia: Enlargement of the eyeball (globe), often caused by Glaucoma or a tumour in the eye.
  • Exopthalmia: Abnormal protrusion of the globe forward, the size of the eyeball remains normal it is just the positioning that changes. Often caused by tumours behind the globe, abcesses in the tissues surrounding the eye or bleeding behind the globe.

What to do when you notice your pet’s eye has proptosed?

  1.  Keep the proptosed eye moist. You can use lubricating human eye drops, or sterile water, try not to use tap water as tap water contains micro-organisms which can be detrimental to eye health.
  2. If you have an old Elizabethan collar you should put it on your dog as a proptosed eye is very painfull and your dog will try to rub it or scratch at it using its paw. The Elizabethan collar will therefore aid in limiting further trauma to the proptosed eye.
  3. Do not give your pet any human pain medication or anti-inflammatories, your vet will treat it as soon as it arrives at the practice with the correct medication at the correct dosage.

ProptosisPresentation to the vet

Your pet will be assessed for any other injuries or possible complications; this is a very important step especially if the cause of the proptosis was an accidental hit by car. The patient must be stable before any surgery can be attempted.

The vet will then examine both eyes to assess the extent of injury.

The vet will look at the cornea (thin see-through layer) by staining it with fourecein to determine if there are any cuts or scratches on the surface of the eye (this stain changes color from orange to green if there are any cuts or scratches on the cornea). Then also the muscles, skin and nerves (optic nerve) attached to the eye will be examined

Based on the severity of the injury two treatment options exist, either replacement of the eye back into the socket or enucleation (surgical removal of the proptosed eye).

The prognosis for vision in the affected eye is always poor and is often dependant on the extent of the trauma to the eye and how soon treatment is started. Even if vision is lost, rapid response could aid in salvaging the eye for cosmetic reasons.

When the patient is stable enough they are placed under general anesthesia.

If the eye can be salvaged it is lubricated and placed back into the eye socket. Sometimes an incision is made on the outer edge of the eyelid to allow more space and make replacement of the eye easier. They eyelids are then stitched closed – this procedure is called a temporary tarsorrhaphy. Often times the vet will dispense eye drops that needs to be applied daily, this promotes healing of the cornea. The stitches are removed after two weeks and the function of the eye is reassessed to determine if the vision in the eye was affected or not.

If an enucleation is required, the globe is removed, blood vessels and nerves are tied-off and excessive tissue is also trimmed away. The eyelids are permanently stitched closed.

In both instances the patient is sent home with pain medication and an Elizabethan collar to prevent further trauma to the surgical site.

The thought of imagining a beloved pet with only one eye is very distressing and traumatic to owners, but most often these patients recover really quickly and do lead normal happy lives.

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Breeding with your dog

puppies cavalier king charles in front of white background

puppies cavalier king charles in front of white background

Understanding the female’s cycle

A female dog will only come into heat for the first time between the age of seven months and anytime up to a year of age. Occasionally this period may be longer. The age at which they first come into heat is governed by a combination of factors but usually smaller breeds start at a slightly younger age than the larger breeds. This is by no means a set rule as there is a great variation. Once she has started to cycle, a female dog will then come into heat every 4 to 7 months but your giant breed dogs may only cycle once every 12 to 18 months. It can take up to 2 years for them to develop regular cycles. Once started the heat cycle can last 2 to 3 weeks. There are two main parts to a female’s cycles namely pro-oestrous and oestrous. Pro-oestrous is the period during which her vulva will be very swollen, she may have a bloody discharge (volume varies greatly) and she will not allow any males to mount her. This is essentially the non-receptive part of her cycle. The second part is known as oestrous. At this point her vulva is still swollen, any bleeding has stopped and most importantly this is the period during which she is receptive to males and will allow mating. It is essential to understand this to avoid unwanted pregnancy. It is only when the bleeding stops that she is in full heat and at her most fertile. Continue reading

My cat has pimples!

Feline AcneFeline acne is a common skin condition in cats. Cats of any age can be affected, and there is no breed or sex predisposition.

Cats are often presented to the veterinarian with the complaint of ‘dirt on the cat’s chin, that the owner cannot remove after attempts to clean it’ or ‘bumps on the cats chin’. Continue reading

What is trichobezoar?

Hairballs in cats -The elusive and very unpleasant hairball is something that every cat owner will experience at some point. Cats in general are very clean and well-kept animals and grooming is an essential routine for them to ensure their cleanliness. A healthy cat is one that grooms.  Hairballs are simply a by-product of your cat’s hygiene.

A trichobezoar, commonly known as a hairball, is a clump of indigestible hair, moistened by bile and digestive fluid that may or may not contain bits of food or other foreign material. Hairballs are not usually round in shape but rather drawn-out and the shape of a sausage. This is due to their passage through the oesophagus, the tube connecting the stomach to the mouth, which is long and cylindrical. Hairballs can occasionally resemble faeces but on closer examination one will notice it is made up of hair. It also does not smell like faeces although it does not have a particularly pleasant odour. Continue reading

What causes back pain in dogs?

Veterinarian looking at an xray.  Shallow DOF. Focus is on her eyes.

Veterinarian looking at an xray. Shallow DOF. Focus is on her eyes.

Introduction

Intervertebral disc disease is a term that describes the condition in which the softer cartilage like material in between the bones of the spine, called an intervertebral disc, pushes onto the spinal cord, causing clinical signs that varies from slight back pain and discomfort to complete paralysis of limbs. Even with the slightest clinical signs, your pet should be examined by the vet to establish how serious the condition is and be treated accordingly. The earlier this is attended to, the better the overall outcome.  Continue reading

Is your male pet missing testicles?

A cute beagle puppy sleeping on the floor in the living room.

A cute beagle puppy sleeping on the floor in the living room.

Cryptorchidism is a condition where the male dog or cat’s testicles have not descended into the scrotum. Descended in this context means that the testicles has come from inside the dog or cat’s belly and are visibly sitting in the ball sack (scrotum).

In the embryo, when the kitten or puppy is being formed in the mother’s womb, the testicles develop inside the puppy or kitten’s abdomen (stomach cavity) behind the kidneys. As the embryo matures, the testicles then move from the inside to the outside of the animal’s abdomen. Continue reading

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