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Ask a vet online- ‘what is this on my dog’s paw?’

Question from Keagan Palardy: Does any one know what this is on my poor doggies paw?:( paw Answer from Shanika Winters: Thank you for sending the photo of your dog's paw along with your question as to what it might be.  I will discuss some of the possibilities for what a lesion (growth/diseased area) similar to the one on your dog's paw could be, how we would try and make a diagnosis and then treatment options. What is this on my dog's paw? The first thing we need to do is find out more details about your dog, your vet will ask you a lot of questions to from what we call a history, this includes information about your dog's:
  • Age Breed Sex Eating Drinking Toiletting General Health
  • How long the lesion has been present .  Has the lesion grown/how quickly
  • Does it cause any irritation to your dog/is he chewing at it
  • Has your dog had anything like this before?
Your vet will then come up with a list of possible diagnoses for the lesion which in the case of your dog's paw would probably include:
  1. Histiocytoma
  2. Mast cell tumour
  3. Other growths/tumours
How do we find out what it is? In combination with the history your vet will put together and examining your dog's paw, your vet may suggest taking samples from or removing the entire lesion itself and then analysing the tissues as a laboratory.  The results of the analysis will hopefully tell your vet exactly what the lesion is and how it can be treated along with the likelihood of recurrence. Histiocytoma Is probably top of the list of things that the photo of your dog's paw look like, they are a benign ( non cancerous) type of growth that are usually found in young dogs, they rarely cause any pain and can sometimes go away after a few months by themselves.  If however your dog is bothered by the growth, or diagnosis cannot be made without full removal of the growth then surgery may be the best option. Mast Cell Tumours Are another type of growth which can look similar to the photo of your dog's paw, but can also have many other appearances.  These are generally a more aggressive type of cancerous growth, there are several different types of them and the chances of successfully treating them varies which each type.  Mast cell tumours are more likely in older dogs and can change in size/shape due to release of a chemical called histamine. Other growths/tumours There is a very long list of other types of skin lesions such as ulcers, burns and other tumours that can cause lesions on the paws and close examination with/without sampling may be the only way to determine what the growth on our dog's paw is. What should I do next? Make an appointment to see your vet, give them as much information as you can about your dog's paw.  Your vet will then suggest a plan of action, in some cases this will be to recheck after a set length of time or it may be to book your dog in for sampling/surgical removal of the lesion followed by laboratory analysis. Once the results are back in then both you and your vet will have a much clearer idea of what the lesion is, how to treat it ( if further treatment is needed) and the chances of the lesion coming back. I hope that my answer has helped you to understand some of the possibilities for what might be happening with your dog's paw.  With the help of your vet I hope that your dog is soon on the road to recovery. Shanika Winters MRCVS ( online vet) If you have any worries about your pet, please make an appointment with your vet, or try our Symptom Guide.
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Ask a vet online ‘symptoms to know if your dog has kidney failure’

Question from Susanne Hayward: how come no symtems to know if your dog has kidney failier Answer from Shanika Winters: Hi Susanne and thank you for your question about how to know if your dog has kidney failure.  I will answer your question by discussing what kidney failure is, how we diagnose it and what signs you can look out for in your dog. So what is kidney failure? The kidneys are two bean shaped organs present mid way along the back of your dog’s abdomen (tummy); they have a large blood vessel going in and another large blood vessel coming out of them.  The job of the kidneys is to filter your dog's blood and remove toxic/waste products but make sure that the important useful chemicals e.g. proteins, nutrients (sugars and fats) and blood cells remain in the blood.  The kidneys are also involved in breaking down some chemicals such as medications.  The Kidneys are also important when it comes to keeping the correct amount of water in your dog's blood, this ensures that all the body cells are adequately hydrated and can function at their best. Kidney failure is a term used to describe a stage of kidney disease once more than two thirds of your dog's kidney function has been lost.  That means that out of the function of your dogs two kidneys there is a third or less now working.  Kidney disease is a broader term used to describe any problem with the kidneys this could be infection, neoplasia (tumour), polycystic (disease where kidneys are taken up by lots of cysts or cavities) or loss of function with age. So how does my vet look for kidney disease? Whenever you take your dog to see your vet they will ask you questions regarding how your dog is doing in general including how they are eating, drinking, urinating (weeing) and defecating (pooing).  These along with other questions will give your vet an idea as to your dog's general state of health and is called a history. The answers to the questions your vet asks along with anything they find on physically examining your dog along with the reasons as to why you brought your dog to see the vet will help your vet to try and work out what is going on with your dog. Some specific findings in kidney disease: Whether your pet is young, middle aged or elderly the following may be found: Anorexia Some dogs either completely stop eating or have a reduced appetite due to the build-up of toxins in their blood which makes them feels under the weather. Weight Loss Most dogs will start to lose weight as they are eating less but also as they are losing important substances such as proteins from their blood as these are not reabsorbed by he kidneys and end up being lost into the urine (wee). Polydypsia/Polyuria This means increased drinking and urination, and happens as the kidneys try to remove more waste products and toxins by flushing them out by producing more watery urine. Change in kidney size The kidneys can become small and hard or even large.  With some tumours or polycystic kidney disease the kidneys can become larger.  In cases where the kidney function has decreased and the working part of the kidneys has become replaced by fibrous tissue then the kidneys can become smaller and harder.  Usually the size of the kidneys is something your vet will try and feel or look at on a scan or x-ray. Halitosis Some dogs may show a strange unpleasant smell on their breath, this can happen when waste products such as urea build up in the blood and can give off a smell. Blood changes Your vet may suggest doing blood tests of your dog, this is to identify changes to chemicals in your dogs blood such as increased levels of urea, creatinine, potassium and phospahate but also decreased levels of proteins and blood cells.  The blood results can be used to monitor how your dog's kidney disease is going. Urine changes Dogs with kidney failure tend to produce large quantities of very dilute urine which can contain protein.  As kidney disease progresses the actual amounts of urine produced can sometimes decrease as the kidneys are no longer able to filter out and flush out the waste products from the blood.  Testing your dog's urine is a non-invasive way for your vet to monitor your dog's kidney disease. How can my dog's kidney disease be treated? Depending on the stage of your dog's kidney disease the following treatment options are available: Diet There are specially formulated diets for dogs with kidney disease which have the correct balance of protein, fat, carbohydrate and minerals to ensure your dogs body can function with minimal extra work for its kidneys. Medications There are a wide range of medications available for dogs with kidney disease starting with drugs to improve the blood flow to the kidneys, some to decrease blood pressure (high blood pressure can be damaging to the kidneys), some to bind harmful chemicals and also some to decrease fibrosis (a change where functional kidney tissue is replace by scar tissue). I hope that my answer has helped you to recognise some of the signs of kidney failure/disease in dogs and that along with the help of your vet we can now give dogs with kidney disease the best chance possible when disease is detected early. Shanika Winters MRCVS (Online Vet) If you have any worries about your pet, please make an appointment with your vet, or try our Symptom Guide.
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Ask a vet online – ‘my puppy has watery eyes’

Question from Eileen Murphy: Hi, I have a bichon x poodle. She has been really poorly. She was born with a skin infection. She pulled through it and her fur is growing back on her face but since this she has been suffering with very watery eyes. Do I need to be taking her back to vets? She is healthy and very playful. I have no other worries from her. Answer from vet Cat Henstridge Excessively watery eyes are a common problem in both the Bichon Frisé and Poodle breeds, so it seems like your baby is following the trend! However, it is important to have her checked over.  Although dogs like her can have watery eyes as a ‘normal’ issue, it can also be caused by problems which are painful and need fixing.  The most common of these is conjunctivitis.  This is an inflammation of the sensitive tissue around the eyeball and is often triggered by infections, which in her case could have spread from her skin.  Other issues include ingrowing eyelashes or ulcers on the cornea. If nothing abnormal is diagnosed with the eyes themselves then she may have blocked tear ducts.  Poodles are pre-disposed to this but it should be considered in any young dogs with very watery eyes.  These are positioned at the lower inner corners of the eyes and drain away the tears.  Often the opening hole doesn’t form properly and instead the tears fall onto the face.  Once it has been diagnosed it is often easily rectified. If everything is fine, in a dog like yours, with short noses and thick, curly coats, it is not uncommon for hairs to rub the eye.  This causes a mild irritation leading to them watering more and also wicks the tears onto the face.  Something simple like this can be improved by your groomer trimming the fur on the face nice and short and regularly wiping around the eyes. Depending on how old she is, you may be making trips to the vets for puppy vaccinations anyway and she can be looked at then but I would advise you have her seen. I hope this helps you! Cat Henstridge BVSc MRCVS - Read more of her blogs at www.catthevet.com If you have any worries about your pet, please make an appointment with your vet, or try our Symptom Guide.
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Ask a vet online-‘what age do seasons stop?’

Question from Julie Wilshaw: at wot age do staffies.stop having seasons? Answer from Shanika Winters: Hi Julie, you have asked an interesting question for all owners of entire (unspayed) female dogs.  In short entire bitches (female dogs) do not stop having seasons.  I will discuss what seasons are, signs that your bitch is in season, when seasons tend to start and what happens as your bitch gets older. A season is what we call the time when a bitch is able to get pregnant (reproduce).  An average season lasts approximately three weeks, during this time the vulva (outside part of the bitches vagina) becomes pink and swollen, there is often a bloody discharge for around 9 days, this is followed by ovulation (eggs being released from the ovaries) and after this time things start to settle back to normal. Bitches usually have one to two seasons a year.  During a season bitches give off pheromones which attract entire male dogs from a long distance away, also at or near the time of ovulation the bitch may stand with her tail held up and to the side to allow herself to be mated.  Some bitches can become aggressive during their season others more clingy.
  1. Anoestrous - not in season, around 6-8months
  2. Proestrous - around 9 days, vulva swells, vaginal bleeding
  3. Oestrous - around 9 days, usually stop bleeding allows mating
  4. Dioestrous - around 2-3months, high levels of the hormone progesterone which can sometimes lead to false pregnancies
The above is just a simple example of an average season, there can be lots of variation in how a bitch behaves and shows its season and of the length of the individual parts of the season. Seasons usually start at around six months of age but can be as late as one year to eighteen months.  It is often thought that small bitches usually start their seasons sooner than larger bitches of dog as they take longer to mature. As your bitch gets older it seems reasonable to assume that they will stop having seasons, in humans what we call the menopause.  However in the case of bitches this does not happen; female dogs continue to have seasons for their entire lives and therefore could potentially get pregnant. So why do so many dog owners think that their bitches have stopped having seasons?  This is because as bitches get older they do not always show the external or behavioural signs that they are actually having a season, this can sometimes be referred to as a ‘silent season’.  It is important to remember that even though your bitch may not be showing signs of being in season that she could still get pregnant if mated by an entire male dog. Why is it worth considering getting your older bitch spayed (neutered)? The obvious reason would be that you did not intend to breed form your bitch but it is also worth considering hormone related disease processes that can happen in older entire bitches; such as pyometra9(womb infection), uterine cancer(womb tumours) and mammary tumours(breast cancer).  The diseases mentioned are all influenced by the female sex hormones which will still be produced on a regular basis if your bitch is entire. A lot of dog owners are worried about having surgery carried out as their dogs become older, this should always be discussed with your vet or veterinary nurse and all the risks weighed up against the potential benefits to your dog. I hope that my answer has helped to explain why even though it may seem like your bitch has stopped having seasons that she actually is still having them and will continue to do so for the rest of her life. Shanika Winters MRCVS (online vet) If you have any worries about your pet, please make an appointment with your vet, or try our Symptom Guide.
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Ask a vet online-‘treatment for feline herpes virus’

Question from Carmen James: Best treatment for feline herpes virus flare ups? Answer from Shanika Winters: Hi Carmen and thank you for your question regarding feline herpes virus, I will discuss what the virus is, the disease process and possible treatment options. So what is feline herpes virus? Herpes is a virus that we are familiar with in people as it is associated with cold sores, herpes viruses are specific to a species that means human herpes viruses only affect people and feline herpes virus only affects cats. Feline Herpes Virus (FHV) can affect any cat, it is spread in discharges from eyes, nose and mouth. FHV is usually associated with cold like symptoms which include runny eyes, sneezing, coughing, corneal ulcers (ulcers on the surface of the eye) and general signs of illness such as increased temperature, weakness and appetite loss. How do I know if my cat has FHV? If your cat seems unwell and is showing any of the signs listed above then it is important to take him to your vet for a full examination. A combination of the signs listed and blood tests or PCR test (tests done on discharge samples from your cat at a laboratory) can confirm that your cat is likely to be suffering from FHV. Herpes viruses can remain in your cat even when they seem well and this means that your cat could spread the disease (your vet may refer to the virus as being latent). At times of stress the virus can be shed by your cat and this may also mean signs of illness appear. The severity of the signs of illness will depend on your cats level of stress and how strong its immune system is (that is its body’s natural defence against diseases) Can my cat be vaccinated against FHV? Routine cat vaccines offer protection against cat flu and FHV is one of the components of the cat flu part of the vaccine. Vaccinations give your pet protection against disease but this cannot account for factors such as your cat already being exposed to the virus before vaccinations. Why do cat with FHV get flare ups? The reason for flare ups in cases of FHV is due to the nature of herpes viruses, they remain in the cats body and when your pet is well the virus is ‘latent’. At times of stress however the virus is shed(released again) and this can lead to signs of disease again or a ‘flare up’. How can the flare ups be treated? Firstly it is really important to try and avoid flare ups of FHV by ensuring your cat is well, calm and up to date with his or her vaccines. However even with the best possible cat care flare ups will still occur. There is no licenced antiviral treatment available for cats with FHV, there are a few human antiviral medicines in the form of tablets, creams and ointments which have been tried on cats with some success. Most commonly it is antibiotics which are used to treat FHV signs, this is because when your cat has a viral infection they are more prone to bacterial infections on top of the viral infection. Antibiotics are effective against the bacterial part of the infection, and once this is cleared your cat will hopefully feel better, have less discharge from its eyes /nose and feel like eating and drinking. If it is only the eyes that are affected then treatment can be focused on the eyes alone, this avoids giving medications that may have side effects on the whole of your cat. How to minimise flare ups? Prevention of flare ups can be helped by keeping your pets environment calm, having a regular daily routine, strict hygiene when it comes to food dishes/water dishes and the litter tray. Isolate cats showing signs from other cats. Keeping your cat’s the eyes and nose clean and clear of discharges. The correct use of antiviral and or antibiotic drugs can also help keep flare ups to a minimum and shorten the lent hog episodes. I hope that my answer has helped you to understand how FHV works and that in order to keep flare up under control there are things you can do at home as well as with the help of your vet. Shanika Winters MRCVS (online vet) If you have any worries about your pet, please make an appointment with your vet, or try our Symptom Guide.
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