Heatstroke in Pets

It’s been scorching here in Gloucestershire recently, and while the hot weather has been enjoyed by most of the population, it has not been so welcome for all, particularly for pets who find it difficult to cope with such extremes of temperature. In the surgery recently I’ve seen a few pets suffering from the effects of too much sun – a dog with mild heatstroke, a cat with sunburnt ear tips, and then there was Harry the bunny who was brought in last Friday in a real state…….

Difficult decisions towards the end of life.

A few weeks ago I was asked by a close friend to put her dog to sleep at home. Timmy was a farm dog really, who slept in a stable, but just as much of a family member as any house-dog and much loved. I trusted Timmy’s owners’ judgement completely as to when the “right time” came to part with Timmy, and I was already familiar with his medical history.

I was glad to be able to carry out the euthanasia in the way in which his owners wanted. Timmy was in familiar surroundings, greeted me like an old friend and showed no distress at all.With his owners beside him, I clipped some hair from his front leg and injected a strong solution of anaesthetic into his vein. He went so peacefully that there were only a few tears, mixed with feelings of relief. Timmy was buried on the farm.

Epilepsy in dogs and cats

This week my colleagues and I treated a lovely beagle called Emily, who was rushed to the surgery in a state called “status epilepticus”. This means that she was not just having an epileptic seizure, but was having continuous repeated seizures with no real recovery in between. This is an emergency situation, and fortunately Emily’s owners knew exactly what to do: they phoned the surgery first to let us know, so that we could be ready for her arrival, and then they brought her straight in. This is not something that can be treated in the home, so although it was a bit frightening for them to have to move her, they knew that it was in her best interests…

So you want to have a litter of pups?

By Cat Henstridge The Pet Street Vet. Breeding a dog is a big undertaking and many people underestimate the time and effort that will go into the process. Not to mention the risks to the bitch (there is no truth to the rumour that having a litter is ‘good’ for her) and the fact you have to find loving, responsible homes for the puppies once they are born. However, some people are determined to go ahead, so how do you ensure you breed the best possible quality puppies and keep your bitch safe and healthy?

Osteoarthritis in dogs.

This week I met a lovely 12 year old Labrador called Amber, who has been suffering for some time now with osteoarthritis. She is on a combination of two treatments, which keep her quality of life good although her condition is getting worse.

This is a very common complaint in dogs, especially middle-aged and elderly ones, but the good news is that the treatments available are improving all the time.

One of the most common findings in a routine examination of an older dog is stiffness of one or more joints. On questioning the owner, we often find that there is occasional lameness or difficulty getting into the car, or stiffness for the first few minutes of exercise before the dog “gets going”……………..

Cats get Tetanus too.

Most people are aware of tetanus (“lockjaw”) either through having vaccinations at the health centre or perhaps if they own a horse which has to be vaccinated against the disease.

Both humans and horses are genetically susceptible to tetanus and a particularly risky combination of events is when a gardener receives a wound whilst handling horse dung. The tetanus-producing organism (Clostridium tetani) is found naturally in soil and horse manure and can exist as spores for many years.

Dogs and cats only rarely get tetanus. In fact most vets will only see one or two cases in their professional lifetime but once seen, never forgotten….

Harvey’s Retained Testicle

Joe Inglis BVSc MRCVS is the vet for the One Show, This Morning and BBC Breakfast. He runs his own line of natural pet food called Pet’s Kitchen

When Harvey the spaniel came in for his routine 6 month check up he looked the picture of health – tail wagging, eyes bright and full of enthusiasm – so neither his owner nor myself were expecting anything other than a straightforward check over. And for the first five minutes of the examination, I found nothing untoward whatsoever – Harvey was clearly a fit and healthy young dog with a strong heart, clear eyes, wet nose, healthy lungs and a good coat. However the final stage of my examination did show that he wasn’t quite 100% perfect and there was a problem that was likely to require treatment.

‘Hmm,’ I started as I straightened up from the final stage of my examination at the back end of Harvey’s wriggling body, ‘I’m afraid to say Mrs Mann that there’s a bit of a problem here – Harvey’s only got one descended testicle.’

Parvovirus: a deadly threat to dogs.

This week I saw a very young puppy, Bobby, die in the most unpleasant way after succumbing to suspected parvovirus infection. It was a reminder, if one was needed, of the importance of vaccinating dogs.

Parvovirus is just one of the illnesses which can be prevented almost completely by giving a course of vaccinations to all puppies at the right age, followed by an annual booster vaccination.

When this illness first occurred in dogs in the UK in the 1970s, I was a veterinary student spending my holidays in veterinary practices. There was an epidemic of parvovirus and many dogs died, especially puppies. As it was a genuinely new disease, probably a mutation of an existing virus, dogs had no immunity to it until a vaccine was developed. The main symptoms are severe diarrhoea with blood and vomiting, leading quickly to lethargy, dehydration and death. In young pups the virus can also affect the heart muscle, and this is another reason for the high death rate. There is no specific treatment for the virus itself so supportive measures like intravenous fluids, pain relief and intensive nursing are given, along with other drugs like antibiotics for secondary bacterial infection. No-one involved in trying to treat these cases will forget the suffering or the awful and characteristic smell ………..

Why cats go blind.

One of the most common causes of sudden blindness in an elderly cat is due to high blood pressure (hypertension). The increased pressure pushes the light sensitive layer (retina) away from the back of the eye and this can happen literally overnight.

The affected cat will have very widely dilated pupils even in bright sunlight and there might be some blood visible when looking into the eyes. They will appear to be disorientated, bump into things and might vocalise excessively……

Wally bites off more than he can chew

Some cases stick in your mind because they are unusual or because the patient is a bit of a character, or both. One such case was Wally the collie, who needed a major operation a few years ago.

Wally was well known at the surgery, partly because he had epilepsy, so he made regular visits for check-ups and blood tests, and his condition was well controlled. Despite a poor start in life before his present owner acquired him as a rescue dog from the Blue Cross, he had become a lovely dog with such a good temperament that he became a P.A.T. dog (Pets as Therapy), visiting residential homes for the elderly where I am sure he brought a lot of pleasure into the lives of the residents…….

More Useful Information

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