The loss of feeling or sensation. A variety of medications can be used to induce a patient into a state that allows the performance of surgery or other procedures that would cause pain in an awake patient. This is different than sedation, where a patient is relaxed, but is still awake and can still feel pain. Our veterinarians use the safest anesthetics available and tailor the type of medication (anesthetic) used to suit each pet’s specific needs.
Inflammation of a joint, common source of pain/ discomfort in older pets.
Abnormal concretion of mineral salts that form in the bladder under certain conditions and can lead to obstruction of the urethra. Typically crystals will be noted in the urine prior to the formation of the stones. The two most common types of bladder stones are Calcium Oxalate (CaOx) and Struvite, though others can also be found. Stones can be found when the urine has a very high or very low pH, is highly concentrated, has inflammation or infection present, or has high levels of certain substances due to the pet’s diet. Some bladder stones can be dissolved, other times surgical removal is the treatment of choice. Due to the effect that diet has on the urine, a prescription diet is often recommended to prevent crystals and stones from forming in pets that are at risk.
Type1- (part of DAPP vaccine)- Also known as infectious hepatitis (inflammation of the liver), this virus can cause sudden death in puppies and is extremely contagious, as it is spread in the urine and feces. More mild infections may cause fever, diarrhea and respiratory congestion, but more commonly severe signs such as bleeding, yellowing of the skin (icterus) and even seizures are noted. If the dog does recover, they may develop “blue eye”; cloudiness in the eyes that is a result of inflammation. There is no specific treatment for this, and even after recovery the dog will continue to shed virus in the urine and feces for up to one year. The best prevention is vaccination by a veterinarian beginning at 6 weeks and repeated every 3-4 weeks until 20 weeks of age, then every 1-3 years as an adult.
Canine Bordetella bronchiseptica – (Kennel Cough)
This bacteria is actually just one of a group of agents that can cause what is commonly referred to as “kennel cough” or infectious tracheobronchitis and laryngitis (inflammation of the airways). There are several other bacteria and viruses that can cause this condition, but the most common are Canine Parainfluenzavirus, Canine adenovirus- type1,2, and Canine Herpes. Dogs that are exposed to other dogs (such as in a kennel or dog park) or are stressed for any reason may be more susceptible to infection. This virus attacks the specialized cells in the respiratory tract that would normally defend against harmful irritants, viruses, and bacteria. It can take 4-10 days after being infected for the dog to display symptoms. Symptoms can include a mild productive or non-productive cough but can lead to loss of appetite, fever, and lethargy if a secondary bacterial infection takes advantage of the weakened immune system. Treatment may include a cough suppressant and/ or antibiotics if signs of secondary bacterial infection are present. The best prevention is vaccination by a veterinarian, either by oral administration, by intranasal route (where the liquid is applied directly into the nasal openings) or by injection.
Canine Distemper Virus – (part of DAPP vaccine)
Most commonly seen in young, unvaccinated puppies, but can affect dogs of any age. This virus causes a variety of symptoms which can include respiratory signs, diarrhea, and neurologic disease. It is airborne and shed in secretions of infected dogs or wildlife for up to 60 days after recovery. There is no specific treatment, and depending on the severity of the neurologic signs the seizures, loss of coordination, and paralysis that can result from infection may not be reversible. This disease can be devastating to an unvaccinated pet. The best prevention is vaccination by a veterinarian beginning at 6 weeks and repeated every 3-4 weeks until 20 weeks of age, then every 1-3 years as an adult.
Canine Parainfluenzavirus – (part of DAPP vaccine)
This virus is one of a group of agents that causes infectious tracheobronchitis and laryngitis (inflammation of the airways), commonly known as “kennel cough” in dogs. Dogs that are exposed to other dogs (such as in a kennel or dog park) or are stressed for any reason may be more susceptible to infection. This virus attacks the specialized cells in the respiratory tract that would normally defend against harmful irritants, viruses, and bacteria. It can take 4-10 days after being infected for the dog to display symptoms. Symptoms can include a mild productive or non-productive cough but can lead to loss of appetite, fever, and lethargy if a secondary bacterial infection takes advantage of the weakened immune system. Treatment may include a cough suppressant and/ or antibiotics if signs of secondary bacterial infection are present. The best prevention is vaccination by a veterinarian beginning at 6 weeks and repeated every 3-4 weeks until 20 weeks of age, then every 1-3 years as an adult.
Canine Parvovirus – (part of DAPP vaccine)
Most common cause of severe diarrhea and vomiting in young, unvaccinated puppies, but can affect dogs of any age. It is spread in feces of infected animals, is very resistant to many disinfectants, and is very contagious. The virus attacks rapidly dividing cells, causing damage to the absorptive border of the small intestines and inhibiting the body’s ability to hold onto nutrients and electrolytes. After being infected, it can take 4-14 days before the dog shows signs of sickness, and these may range from mild lethargy and loss of appetite to severe, debilitating vomiting and bloody diarrhea. A low white blood cell count, anemia (low red blood cell count), and loss of protein can occur as a result of the infection and can make the pet very sick. There is no specific treatment, but without supportive care including antibiotics, fluids/electrolytes, and medications to treat nausea and diarrhea the virus can become life-threatening. While hospitalization is often recommended, especially in very sick pets, it may be possible to treat more mild cases with out-patient medications and injections. After recovery, the virus will still be shed in the feces for up to 1 month, and the environment must be disinfected with a diluted bleach solution. It is not recommended to have any new puppies in the environment for up to 6-12 months since some areas (such as the yard) may not be able to be properly disinfected. The best prevention is vaccination by a veterinarian beginning at 6 weeks and repeated every 3-4 weeks until 20 weeks of age, then every 1-3 years as an adult. Even if your pet was infected with Parvovirus, they are not immune and should be regularly vaccinated.
CBC – Complete Blood Count
This is a blood test that counts the number of blood cells in a sample of blood, usually expressed as the number of cells per liter of blood. If the total number of red blood cells is low, this is known as anemia. There are various types of white blood cells and each is accounted for by this process and can help in the diagnosis of certain diseases. This test is part a “minimum database” of information that is needed to screen for underlying disease or to monitor a sick patient.
CHEM – Blood Chemistry Panel
This blood test actually measures the individual chemical elements in the blood including glucose, liver and kidney enzymes, electrolytes, and many other parameters. This test is part of a “minimum database” of information that is needed to screen for underlying disease or to monitor a sick patient.
A sporozoan that causes diarrhea in many species, but can be particularly severe in young puppies and kittens, and is often fatal. Watery diarrhea is the most common symptom and is commonly found in strays or pets that come from shelters or kennels. Routine fecal testing can detect the oocysts (eggs) and treatment is with medication available by prescription through a veterinarian.
The study cells, their origin, structure, function, and involvement in disease (using a microscope). Ear cytology is commonly performed to determine if an infection is present, and what type of infection it is, so that the appropriate treatment can be selected. This is done by using a cotton-tipped swab to collect a sample from the ear canal, which is then applied to a slide, stained, and examined under the microscope. Cytology can also be performed by using a needle to aspirate cells from a mass or lesion, then examining them on a slide. Often, these slides are sent to a pathologist, a board certified specialist in this area of veterinary medicine, to describe and suggest a diagnosis.
In animals, we most commonly refer to diabetes mellitus- a broad term encompassing a complex group of syndromes that have in common a disturbance in the body’s ability to process and use glucose. This is secondary to a malfunction in beta cells of the pancreas whose function is the production and release and insulin. Insulin is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Type 1 diabetes (most common in dogs) is insulin-dependent and is comparable to the juvenile onset form noted in children. There is a very low insulin level in the body to begin with (due to a deficiency in secretion by the pancreas), and the level does not increase appropriately when glucose is increased (such as through ingestion of a meal). Type 2 diabetes is non-insulin dependent, similar to the adult onset form in humans due to pancreatic damage. There is high or normal level of insulin present, but the response of the tissue receptors is diminished, and glucose still cannot be metabolized properly. This is the type most commonly seen in cats. In both cases, treatment with injectable insulin and diet modification is often used, and may be life-long. : For more information on diabetes please ask our veterinarians or visit www.veterinarypartner.com.
Fecal tests are important to diagnose intestinal parasites in pets and can be run on fresh stool samples either in the clinic or at a reference lab. Most common parasites (roundworms, hookworms, whipworms) shed eggs regularly into the feces and can be found by “floating” them onto a slide using a special solution in the clinic. These parasites are also easily treated by routine “deworming” given in 3 week intervals until the fecal test is negative. However, these common “dewormers” do not treat infections such as Giardia and coccidia which require different, specific medications. Giardia is also very difficult to diagnose in the clinic, and is best tested for by sending a fecal sample to a reference lab for testing. Many heartworm preventatives also protect dogs and cats against the common intestinal parasites, but again, not against all infections, and yearly fecal testing is recommended to treat infections before they become infestations.
Feline Calicivirus – (part of FVRCP vaccine)
This virus is a common cause of upper respiratory infection with ulcerations of the mouth/ tongue and varying amounts of sneezing, coughing, nasal and ocular discharge, and occasionally secondary pneumonia (mainly in young kittens). Ulcerations of the lips, nostrils, and skin may also be present, but generally the symptoms are mild. Less commonly, affected kittens may begin limping and develop a fever with diarrhea +/- seizures. Many times, these kittens are also infected with FIV, and thus, have a worse prognosis. Most cats/ kittens do recover, and many become life-long carriers and will shed virus and display symptoms periodically in times of stress. Calicivirus is part of “feline respiratory disease complex” which is caused by feline herpesvirus, feline calicivirus, Chlamydia psittaci, or mycoplasmas. It is often not possible to identify the causative agent, however, this is not necessary to begin treatment. The best prevention is vaccination by a veterinarian beginning at 8-9 weeks and repeated every 3-4 weeks until 20 weeks of age, then every 1-3 years as an adult.
Feline Distemper (Panluekopenia) – (part of FVRCP vaccine)
This is the feline version of parvovirus, and is most commonly found in shelters or feral cats, but can affect any unvaccinated kittens or cats. Survival rate is increased in older kittens and adult cats, that may not ever show symptoms of the disease but may go on to become carriers and continue to shed the virus in their feces. Usually, the symptoms of fever, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and sometimes neurologic signs such as loss of coordination or tremors when walking are more severe in young kittens. There is no specific treatment, but without supportive care including antibiotics, fluids/electrolytes, and medications to treat nausea and diarrhea the virus can become life-threatening. The best prevention is vaccination by a veterinarian beginning at 8-9 weeks and repeated every 3-4 weeks until 20 weeks of age, then every 1-3 years as an adult.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
This virus is spread mainly by bite wounds, not by casual contact (similar to HIV in humans). *Note- FIV is not transmissible to dogs or humans. Symptoms may develop 6-8 weeks after infection, however, many cats live normal lives for years before any signs of illness are noted. Infected cats may develop a fever and leukopenia (low white blood cell count) as well as neurologic signs. Kittens should be tested for FIV (although vaccination is uncommon) since infected cats will have an altered immune system making them more susceptible to other diseases and will be carriers that can infect other cats. However, it is possible for maternal antibodies that are passed to the kitten from its mother could affect the test. If the initial test is positive, the kitten should be rechecked in a few months, as the initial result could have been false due to maternal antibodies. The best way to protect your kitten or cat from this infection is to keep them strictly indoors, particularly if there are known feral cats in the area or your cat has a tendency to get into fights.
Feline Luekemia Virus (FeLV)
FeLV is shed in the saliva, milk, urine, and feces of infected cats and is easily transmitted to other cats by either biting or casual contact (e.g. shared water bowls, grooming, nose- nose contact through screen doors, or contact with saliva, urine, or feces on the grass). Once infected, the cat may initially develop a fever and enlarged lymph nodes, then 2-4 weeks later may become anemic (low red blood cell count) and thrombocytopenic (low platelet count). Loss of appetite and weight loss may also be noted. If the cat mounts a successful immune response, they may fully recover, never show symptoms, and not become carriers of the disease. However, those that test positive for the disease are carriers and are likely to go on to develop symptoms related to anemia (low red blood cell count) and immunodeficiency (weakened immune system). These cats also have a high likelihood of developing cancer, such as lymphoma, and have a shortened life span (many die within 3 years if diagnosis). All kittens should be tested for FeLV and then vaccinated if they are at high risk of infection. At risk kittens and cats are those that go outdoors (even on screened-in porches), those that live in areas where there is a high feral cat population, or live in a home with a FeLV positive cat. If the cat is strictly indoors, then it is at low risk of contracting the infection and do not necessarily need the vaccine. If you have a new kitten, and are unsure if it will be allowed outdoors later in life, it is best to have the kitten vaccinated by a veterinarian and provide them with the protection early on, then discontinue later if the cat remains “indoor-only”.
Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis – (part of FVRCP vaccine)
Rhinotracheitis refers to inflammation of the nasal cavities and the trachea. This infection is typically caused by feline herpesvirus and leads to acute upper respiratory infection with sneezing, coughing, ocular and nasal discharge, and sometimes inflammation/ ulceration of the cornea. In young kittens, a life threatening pneumonia can sometimes develop due to secondary bacterial infection. Most cats recover, and become life-long carriers and will shed virus and display symptoms periodically in times of stress. This is similar to the herpes simplex virus in humans which causes “fever blisters” around the mouth in times of stress, but may otherwise remain dormant in the body. FVR is part of “feline respiratory disease complex” which is caused by feline herpesvirus, feline calicivirus, Chlamydia psittaci, or mycoplasmas. It is often not possible to identify the causative agent, however, this is not necessary to begin treatment. The best prevention is vaccination by a veterinarian beginning at 8-9 weeks and repeated every 3-4 weeks until 20 weeks of age, then every 1-3 years as an adult.
A small, wingless, blood-sucking insect which are common external parasites found on animals. Fleas can cause severe allergy problems in dogs and cats and result in recurrent skin infections and chronic pruritis (feeling itchy). They also carry tapeworms and infect pets when they swallow the flea. Fleas are particularly a problem in Florida due to the warm temperatures, and the veterinarians at our clinincs recommend that your pet be on monthly flea prevention, all year- round to prevent infestations in your home.
The body is composed of fluids that are continually in motion such as water, electrolytes, and other substances. The fluids move in and out of the cell membranes; fluid inside the cells is called intracellular and fluid outside the cell is called extracellular. The maintenance of a proper balance between the intracellular and extracellular fluids is essential to the health of your pet. There are many diseases that disturb this balance, a few examples are heart failure, kidney disease, infections that cause vomiting or diarrhea, and diabetes. It is sometimes necessary to supplement the body with fluids in order to help restore the balance- this is commonly done by subcutaneous (SC) or intravenous (IV) infusion of fluids. The SC method is mainly used in mild cases of fluid loss or dehydration, since a relatively small volume of fluid can be deposited into the subcutaneous space (the space between the skin and the underlying muscle/tissue). For more severe illness or for patients that require blood transfusions, the intravenous (IV) route is used after placement of an IV catheter.
Also known as “DTM” (dermatophyte test media) this test is used to detect infection with ringworm which is a fungus that causes hair loss and itching in animals and humans. To perform the test, a few hairs are plucked from the root in areas around the lesion and placed in a sterile culture tube/ plate. They are then incubated at room temperature for up to 14 days and checked daily for signs of growth which is indicated by a color change in the media on the plate. There are multiple treatments for ringworm, depending on the size and distribution of the lesions/ areas of hair loss.
Gastrointestinal (GI) parasites
“Gastro” refers to the stomach, “intestinal” refers to the small intestines (duodenum, jejunum, and ileum), and a “parasite” is any organism that lives on or within another living animal and uses it to survive. The most common GI parasites in dogs and cats are hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, coccidia, and Giardia (though there are others).
“Gastro” refers to the stomach, “intestinal” refers to the small intestines (duodenum, jejunum, and ileum), and “blockage” refers to anything that obstructs the normal flow through these organs. This could be a foreign body, such as a toy, rock, rawhide or other type of bone, socks, rubber bands/ strings, or any other strange object a pet may ingest. It could also be the result of a mass or inflammation inside the stomach or intestines.
This is a flagellate protozoa capable of parasitizing most animals, including humans (it is known as “traveler’s diarrhea” in humans). In most cases, the infection does not cause symptoms such as diarrhea and weight loss unless the animal has a weakened immune system. However, since it is possible to be spread to humans through the pets feces, it is a public health concern and the veterinarians at our clinics strongly recommend testing for and treating this infection. The test is routinely performed on feces sent to a reference lab, since it is difficult to detect this parasite using on-site techniques. The reference lab runs a sensitive and specific test for this parasite, looking for antigen to Giardia. There is a low incidence of false negatives and false positives using this test.
Heartworm disease/ testing/ prevention
The scientific name for a heartworm is Dirofilaria immitis. Heartworm disease is spread by mosquitoes and is a very big problem in Florida due to the fact that it never gets cold enough here for the mosquitoes to completely go away. Even indoor dogs are at risk for this deadly disease, since there is no way to guarantee that even a single mosquito does not get into your home. For details on the life-cycle of heartworms and detailed information on the stages of the disease and its treatment, please visit www.heartwormsociety.org. Heartworm testing is not performed on puppies younger than 6 months old, since the test detects adult female heartworms and they cannot be detected until 6 months after the dog is infected. It is vital to the health of your new puppy that they be started on heartworm prevention as soon as possible; most heartworm preventatives are safe for puppies as young as 6 weeks old. Heartworm prevention is available through a veterinarian by prescription only, and can be taken orally or applied topically once a month, year-round, for their entire life! It is our policy that all new patients have an exam and a negative heartworm test before prevention can be dispensed. This is because if the dog is already infected with adult heartworms, they may have an allergic and potentially life threatening reaction to the prevention. Yearly heartworm testing is recommended even if you have not missed any prevention based on manufacturers’ recommendations, since there is no medication that is 100% effective. Yearly heartworm screening tests are designed to catch the infection while it is still in the early stages and we have the best chance at successful treatment. If a dog tests positive for heartworm infection, our veterinarians will discuss the treatment to eliminate the adult heartworms and prevent further infection. This treatment can become very expensive and has a high risk of side effects in some dogs. The best way to ensure that your dog never has to suffer from heartworm disease or the side effects of treatment is make sure they never miss a month of heartworm prevention!
Hookworms are parasites that get their name from the hook-like mouthparts they use to attach to the intestinal wall. There are 3 common types that affect dogs and cats are Ancylostoma caninum, Uncinaria stenocephaia, and Ancylostoma tubaeforma. They are so small that it is very difficult to see them with the naked eye, and most times the adult worms are not found by pet owners in the feces. Despite their small size, they ingest large amounts of blood from the tiny vessels in the intestinal wall. A large number of hookworms can cause anemia. This problem is most common in puppies and kittens, but can occur in adult dogs and cats as well. The eggs are periodically shed in the feces where other dogs can become infected by sniffing or licking the ground. Infected mothers can also pass the worms on to the unborn offspring through their placenta and then after birth through their milk. Thirdly, the hookworm larvae may penetrate the skin and migrate through the body causing an inflammatory reaction (cutaneous larval migrans). Hookworm eggs and larvae can also infect humans, either by ingestion or penetration of the skin. Pale gums, diarrhea, or weakness are common signs of anemia (low red blood cell count) caused by hookworm infection. Some animals also experience significant weight loss, bloody diarrhea, or failure to grow properly with hookworm infection. Routine fecal checks should be performed to detect the parasite and monthly heartworm preventatives should be used which also prevent against roundworm infection.
Animal husbandry refers to the methods that are used in meeting the needs of domestic animals as related to food, water, entertainment and company, companionship, exercise, and protection. This also includes proper housing, hygiene, veterinary health care, and training.
IV (intravenous) catheter
This refers to the placement of a small, flexible, tubular instrument that is passed into a vein (typically in the forelimb) and secured there to provide a port that allows delivery of fluids, nutrition, or blood products directly into the bloodstream. This is often used as a safety measure in pets that will undergo an anesthetic or surgical procedure to support blood pressure by administration of fluids and to allow fast access to the vein in case of emergency. It is also used in sick pets in order to help maintain proper hydration and nutrition when they are unable to take in enough water or food orally due to vomiting or diarrhea.
Often recommended for help in patients with arthritis, these supplements may include glucosamine, chondroitin- sulfate, MSM, EPA (an omega 3 fatty acid), L-carnitine, and other anti-oxidants that help decrease inflammation and help protect against breakdown of cartilage. Supplements can be given orally, and normally come in a capsule or tablet form, such as those from Nutramax (www.nutramaxlabs.com/animal-health). Prescription diets from companies like Hill’s Science Diet, Purina, and Royal Canin can be a great way to deliver supplements that pet’s love to eat and the “medicine” is already in the food!
Another option is a very potent type of glucosamine that is delivered by injection under the skin- this is a prescription product called Adequan. Proven research has earned Adequan an FDA label for the treatment of arthritis, and can either be given by our veterinarians or it can be prescribed for your pet and we can explain to you how to administer the injections at home. Please follow this link for more information on how Adequan® can stop the cycle of inflammation that leads to the pain of arthritis and improve your pet’s comfort. (www.adequancanine.us/)
Kidney (Renal) Disease/ Failure
The kidneys are found in the abdomen close to the spine and work to filter the blood of toxins, removing waste in the form of urine. Renal disease refers to the reduced capacity of the kidneys to perform this function and renal failure implies that the kidneys are no longer able to maintain their function. This may cause your pet to display signs such as drinking more water and urinating more frequently, since one of the many functions of the kidney to concentrate the urine when the body needs to conserve water. Kidney (renal) disease also affects blood pressure, the amount of stomach acid produced, and regulation of electrolytes. This disease is most common in older pets, but can occur as a result of toxin ingestion or infectious disease.
This infectious disease can affect all species (including humans). It is caused by 11 different species (known as serovars) of a bacterium that is shed in the urine and is able to survive in the environment for long periods of time. It is easily spread through contamination of water in rivers, ponds, lakes, streams, and even puddles in your yard if an infected animal has urinated there, or rainfall has washed the bacteria into the area. Once infected, dogs quickly become ill with symptoms that are secondary to kidney and liver failure, and even with aggressive treatment are unlikely to survive. This infection can cause the same devastating disease in humans, and is a public health concern. The best prevention for high risk dogs is vaccination initially with 2 injections 3-4 weeks apart, then yearly as an adult. If your dog frequently goes hunting or plays in puddles, ponds, streams, lakes, or rivers, please discuss having them vaccinated against Leptospirosis with one of our veterinarians. The vaccine does tend to have a higher risk of causing an allergic reaction, especially in small breed dogs, and thus it may not be appropriate for all dogs to receive.
Liver (Hepatic) Disease/ Failure
The liver is the large organ located in the abdomen just below the diaphragm and is partially covered by the rib cage. The liver has several functions; it works with the kidney to filter the blood of toxins, it is involved in the storage and metabolism of fat and sugars, and it is also involved in the production of proteins and clotting factors. Liver disease can occur as a result of many causes including toxins, infectious diseases, cancer, certain medications, inflammation, and immune-mediated disease. Common signs are vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst and urination and in the later stages the eyes, gums, and skin may appear yellow (icteric) and bleeding problems may occur. It is often difficult to determine the exact cause of elevated liver parameters on screening blood work, and other diagnostic tests such as further blood work or abdominal ultrasound may be recommended.
This disease is caused by a spirochete bacterium called Borrellia burgdorferi and is transmitted by the Ixodes genus of tick, most commonly found in the northeastern states. Many animals that are bitten by an infected tick will be exposed to the disease, but may never develop symptoms. The most common symptoms are limping due to arthritis which may develop in multiple joints, loss of appetite and lethargy, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. Dogs that display these symptoms are often treated with a tetracycline (doxycycline) antibiotic for several weeks, however, sometimes the symptoms resolve on their own.
There are 2 ways to prevent transmission of this disease, depending on your pet’s level of risk:
1. Avoid exposure to ticks or use a veterinary approved tick preventative (as our staff for the latest recommendation products) to kill ticks within hours of attachment before they can transmit disease.
2. It may also be necessary to treat your home and yard with a product that kills ticks in the environment, as this is where the source of the problem lies.
A tiny electronic device (approx. the size of a grain of rice) that is inserted under the skin between the animal’s shoulder blades for purposes of identification. The code on the microchip is linked to a database that has the pet owner’s contact information.
If your pet gets lost and is taken to an animal shelter or veterinarian, they will scan the microchip to read its unique dog or cat ID code. HomeAgain is the only dog & cat microchipping product on the market today that has the Bio-Bond patented anti-migration feature to help ensure that the microchip will stay in place. The microchip itself has no internal energy source, so it will last the life of your pet.
Refers to an excessive accumulation of fat in the body, or an increase in weight beyond that considered desirable for a particular animal’s age, height, and bone structure.
Surgical excision of the testicles, also known as castration, used as a means of preventing reproduction. Removal of the testes before puberty diminishes the development of secondary sex characteristics and behavior because of the deficiency of testosterone. Males that remain “intact” (not neutered) have a higher incidence of testicular cancer, prostatic disease, and aggression than males that are neutered.
Surgical excision of the ovaries and the uterus (the entire female reproductive tract), used as a means of preventing pregnancy or removing a diseased/ infected uterus. Females that are spayed before their first heat cycle are much less likely to develop mammary adenocarcinoma (breast cancer) later in life than females who remain “intact” (not spayed).
This term refers to the veterinarian examining parts of the body by touching and feeling them.
Pre-anesthetic blood screening
Refers to blood work that would be checked prior to placing an animal under anesthesia for a procedure such as a dental cleaning or surgery. In young, apparently healthy animals, this involves a small screening of the kidneys and liver, checking a blood glucose level, and checking for signs of anemia (low red blood cells) by measuring pack cell volume (PCV). In older patients, or if there is any concern about underlying disease, additional tests may be run to check for signs of underlying disease that could make the pet at higher risk for anesthetic complications.
This is a disease found in domestic and wild animals which is transmissible to humans. The virus is shed in saliva, urine, and milk of nursing mothers. The most common mode of transmission is through direct contact when the infected animal bites a person or other animal. It can take 12-180 days before symptoms develop, which can vary from paradoxical behavior (where normally aloof animals become very friendly) to aggressive behavior (typically snapping and increased salivation), to seizures and paralysis to death. Infected animals will die 4-5 days after they display these symptoms. The best prevention is vaccination by a veterinarian beginning at 12-16 weeks and repeated every 1-3 years as an adult. If your pet has been bitten by an unvaccinated animal, please call a veterinarian immediately. For more information, and what to do if you or your pet has been bitten by an unvaccinated animal, please visit www.cdc.gov/rabies.
These are parasites which live in the small intestines and are commonly found in puppies and kittens where they cause a “pot-bellied” appearance to the abdomen commonly referred to as a “wormy belly”. Toxocara canis, Toxascaris leonine, and Toxocara cati are the important species of roundworms in dogs and cats. The eggs are periodically shed in the feces where other dogs can become infected by sniffing or licking the ground. Infected mothers can also pass the worms on to the unborn offspring through their placenta and then after birth through their milk. The infection typically causes diarrhea in young puppies and kittens, but can affect pets of any age. In cases where there is a large number of adult worms present, the pet may vomit as well. Roundworms appear in vomit or feces as long, spaghetti-like worms. Roundworm infection may also be transmitted to humans, particularly children who may not wash their hands well. Very rarely, liver problems may result from roundworm larval migration in humans (visceral larval migrans). Even less commonly, the larvae can migrate into the eye and cause blindness in humans (ocular larval migrans). Routine fecal checks should be performed to detect the parasite and monthly heartworm preventatives should be used which also prevent against roundworm infection.
A sedative is any agent that calms nervousness, irritability, and excitement. The degree of relaxation produced depends on the type and amount of sedative medication used as well as the mental state of the patient. For example, it is sometimes necessary to give an increased dose or repeated doses of sedative to a patient that is already very nervous/ excited/ aggressive as compared to a calm and already relaxed patient. Sedation is commonly used to help patients be more compliant for taking radiographs( x-rays) or sometimes just to allow the doctor to perform an exam in a pet that is showing signs of aggression. A sedative is also used as a “pre-med”, which is given prior to anesthesia to lessen the amount of anesthetic needed for the procedure.
The use of a dull blade to scrape the superficial layer of the skin in order to diagnose the presence of skin mites. There are 2 common types of skin mites which can cause dermatitis (inflammation of the skin) and may be referred to as “mange”. Sarcoptic mange (scabies) mites live on the surface of the skin, but may be very difficult to find on a skin scrape because it only takes a few mites to cause severe disease. Sarcoptic mange is easily spread between animals but can also be spread to people and causes intense irritation and itching. The other type of “mange” is caused by Demodex mites, which are actually normal inhabitant of the skin of dogs and cats but cause hairloss in pets whose immune system is compromised and in young dogs. The Demodex mites live in the hair follicle and cause clogging of the pores and loss of hair when they overgrow. Although this does cause mild inflammation to the hair follicle, the infection does not cause symptoms such as itching unless there is also a secondary skin infection. In the past, “mange” was treated by a series of medicated baths or “dips”, however, there were many side effects associated with this treatment and today oral or topical medications are more commonly used.
There are 3 common types of tapeworms that infect dogs and cats; Dipylidium caninum, Taenia, and Echinococcus. The parasite lives in the small intestines and typically does not cause symptoms to infected pets. Often, owners will find small rice- like segments of the tapeworm passed in the feces. Pets most commonly become infected with tapeworms by eating a flea—even if you have never seen a flea on your pet this is still possible! The flea carries the larval form of the tapeworm, and it matures once it is eaten by the pet. The other way tapeworm infection can be transmitted is by ingestion of wildlife that is carrying the larval form of the tapeworm (e.g. rabbits and rodents). The treatment involves killing the adult tapeworm with medication from a veterinarian, and then preventing the pet from coming in contact with the “intermediate host” (the fleas or wildlife). Again, most commonly pets are infected because they have missed a month of flea prevention or are not using the proper type flea prevention. If you think your pet has tapeworms, please discuss the treatment and prevention with one of our veterinarians. It is possible, for humans to become infected with tapeworms if they ingest a flea, but more often humans are infected by eating raw fish or undercooked meat.
Thyroid dysfunction/ Thyroid testing
The thyroid gland secretes hormones (T4 and T3) which cause changes in many places including the hair and skin, muscles (including the heart), metabolism, red blood cells, sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, and activity level. Cats most commonly develop hyperthyroidism, where the thyroid produces too much hormone and the cat may become hyperactive, become excessively hungry while still losing weight, have vomiting or diarrhea, and have increased risk of heart disease. Dogs most commonly develop hypothyroidism, where the thyroid produces too little hormone and the dog may become lethargic, easily gain weight, have a dry/ dull hair coat or other skin problems, and may seem mentally depressed. Testing for thyroid dysfunction can be done as an individual blood test, but is often run as part of a “geriatric blood work panel” since the thyroid disease can mimic other common diseases and can affect other organs. Treatment involves either decreasing or increasing the amount of thyroid hormone circulating in the body, and addressing any other secondary disease which is present (eg: heart disease, skin disease, obesity). After starting on medication, the thyroid level is typically rechecked monthly until the appropriate level has been reached, then every 6-12 months or sooner if the pet is having any other problems.
Blood sucking parasites that attach to animals and spread several diseases. The most common ticks found on dogs and cats are the American Dog Tick (Dermacentor variabilis), the Brown Dog Tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus), the Lone Star Tick (Amplyomma americanum), and the Deer Tick (Ixodes). Ticks spread diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), Erlichia, and Babesia. Ticks are a problem in Florida, if you have found ticks on your pet our veterinarians recommend that you use tick prevention monthly, all year round to prevent the spread of these potentially devastating diseases. Avoid exposure to ticks or use a veterinary approved tick preventative (ask our staff for the latest recommendation products) to kill ticks within hours of attachment before they can transmit disease. It is not recommended to use flea/ tick dips and shampoos as there is a high potential for toxic effects on your pet.
A wound or injury, especially damage produced by an external force such as being hit by a car, being attacked by another animal, or being struck by a person or object. Trauma can also be self-inflicted as a result of a behavior disorder or as a response to pain or pruritis (feeling itchy).
The use of vibrations to remove calculus (tartar) that is above the gingiva (gums). The scaling tip, which vibrates at high frequency, is cooled by water. This procedure is performed as part of a dental cleaning, while the pet is under anesthesia.
Analysis of a urine sample to diagnose disease using a variety of tests. The most common and significant substances found in the urine are protein, glucose, ketones, blood, red and white blood cells, crystals and casts. Certain tests can also be run to check the function of the kidneys.
Whipworms are intestinal parasites which live in the cecum and colon (large intestine) of dogs where they cause severe irritation to the lining of those organs. This results in watery, bloody diarrhea, weight loss, and general debilitation. The eggs are periodically shed in the feces where other dogs can become infected by sniffing or licking the ground, and the eggs survive for long periods of time in the environment. Whipworm infection is more common in adult dogs, and can be very challenging to diagnose and to treat, due to the life cycle of the parasite. It is possible to detect the eggs on a fecal check, however, they may be difficult to find since they are only shed intermittently. Two treatments of a whipworm dewormer are needed at a 3-4 week interval, but because re-infection is such a problem, it is advisable to treat again every 3-4 months or to put the dog on a heartworm prevention product that contains an ingredient that prevents infection with whipworms.