85 November is Pet Diabetes Month

Most pet owners are surprised when I tell then their overweight dog or cat is at increased for diabetes, just like a human. It never occurred to them that pets get this blood sugar disease too, but it affects 1 in 100 to 1 in 500 pets. That is why I am talking about Diabetes during Pet Diabetes Month.
Just like humans, the disease is a relative lack of insulin in the body, which is needed for the cells to take in glucose, which leads to high levels of glucose in the blood. We can see both Type 1 (insulin dependent), and Type 2 (non- insulin dependent) in pets, but most of the time by the time I diagnosis it, insulin in the only treatment. And most pets need the twice a day “shots”.

The most common symptoms that I see in practice are increased thirst and urine output, increased appetite with weight loss, or lethargy. Often the owner just thinks their cat or dog has a urinary tract infection or incontinence because they are having urine accidents in the house. Occasionally, I notice that a middle age dog has cataracts developing.
Diabetes has to be treated with insulin injections, usually twice a day, for dogs and cats. This is not fun, but most pets tolerate the tiny needles better than the owners. The other big downsides are the cost, and being tied into a set schedule which makes it challenging for boarding or pet sitters. Rarely, I have a cat that can be managed on pills, or diet alone.

Long term complications include urinary tract infections, diabetic crises of glucose too high or too low, cataracts, suppressed immune function, and slow healing. We seldom see the neuropathy and amputations that affect humans.

The best prevention for pet diabetes is maintaining a normal weight, avoiding obesity, staying active, and avoiding pancreatitis (often secondary to high fatty food). Some researchers are concerned that high carbohydrate diets could be a contributing factor, but a low carb diet is certainly part of the management while on insulin.

(This is a mostly a repeat that I wrote last November, but you might have missed it then. Diabetes hasn’t changed much in a year. )




84 Things we have found in last month’s Wellness Bloodwork Special

We have been running our annual Wellness Bloodwork Special for the 31 days of October, and we have uncovered some interesting findings in “normal” dogs and cats.

Hypothyroidism in a dog– The thyroid gland controls the metabolic rate, so low thyroid can look just like a dog getting older. They slow down and gain weight. The coat can become dull, sparse, and slow to regrow after a haircut. They seem to get more frequent infections, like skin, ear & urinary tract. Treatment is a daily tablet, and the symptoms go away. It’s like magic. Definitely improves the quality of life for the pet and the owner.

Hyperthyroidism in a cat– This high thyroid disease is common in old cats, and is the opposite of the dog low thyroid. The cats are very active, losing weight despite a great appetite, and often vocalize. They have high heart rates, and all the revving up of the metabolism isn’t good. Treatment varies from daily tablets, referral for radioactive iodine (cure!), or a special diet that is super low in iodine.

Early kidney disease– many dogs develop kidney failure as the kidneys slowly degenerate with age. Until now we only had BUN and creatinine as tests, and they only become elevated when the kidney function is less than25-30% of normal. The new SDMA test can detect much earlier function loss, so we can make good choices to manage those kidneys. There are no magic pills to regenerate kidneys though, and kidney transplants are out for most dogs. So early detection is the best we have right now.

Early heart disease– the cardiopet- Pro BNP test measures stretching in heart muscle associated with heart disease. If this test is elevated, we look more closely at the heart and try to catch problems before they become symptoms like coughing and shortness of breath. With early medications, we can definitely increase the life expectancy and quality of life for dogs with congestive heart disease.

Leukemia-We had one healthy dog that we found white blood cell cancer in the blood. It really floored me.

Urinary tract infection– This dog had no symptoms despite a lot of bacteria and white blood cells in urine. Another had asymptomatic crystals.

Intestinal parasite check– one asymptomatic Giardia.

What we didn’t find this year– any Heartworm positives. I truly expected to find these.
No diabetics. YEAH!
No chronic infections with high WBC (only the leukemia boy).
No unexplained liver disease. I usually pick up 2-3 of these in October.

These are the reasons we do wellness bloodwork  (and urine & fecal checks). Just like people, we can find stuff early so we can make educated choices to improve the quality and quantity of days of our pets lives.

83 Halloween Hazards

So Halloween is less than a week away and we will be facing tricks and treats.

I usually see 3 problem areas with Halloween: ingestion of Halloween candy, behavior problems triggered by strangers ringing door bells, and costumes

Over the years I have seen dogs eat a lot of Halloween candy, wrappers and all. Don’t think that just because it’s all little fun sized individually wrapped Snickers in a bowl on the table or by the front door that Fido won’t counter surf and snag some. Or eat the whole bowl (seen it happen). Be prudent, store in closed containers out of the dog zone until the big night, and then be careful.

The biggest danger in Halloween candy is chocolate toxicity obviously, but all those wrappers can be hard to digest. According to candystore.com, the 3 most popular Halloween candy by sales in Texas are Reese’s peanut butter cups, Starburst, and Almond Joy. So chocolate is in 2 of the 3. Most dogs love peanut butter and it isn’t dangerous, but can be high in fat. I have seen some dogs with pancreatitis after eating snacks high in fat. I don’t see toxicity with most other candy, just sugar overload.

Many dogs are highly vocal and anxious when the door bell rings so Halloween is a big problem for them. For mildly agitated dogs, simply confining them far away from the door and chimes and distracting them with a loud TV show will do the trick. You might even add the calming pheromone Adaptil in a spray or plug in form. For the moderately affected dogs, some oral antianxiety medicine like trazadone might help them decrease the anxiety. For the most severely affected dogs, disabling the door bell, and doing all the above might be necessary. We certainly don’t want any Trick or Treaters bitten when we open the door to give out candy. These kids look cute, but to a dog they may look like big trouble when their job is to protect the family.

Lastly, costumes can really frighten some dogs. I remember one year I wore a bird mask with a large pointy beak and feathers. It really triggered many dogs to bark at me because it was so unfamiliar. Use caution when getting dogs and cats to wear Halloween costumes. They can be cute, but many fit poorly, limit mobility, or the pets just tear them off. I haven’t had to do GI surgery to remove a pet costume yet, but I am sure some vets have.

The AVMA website also suggests using caution with candles or jack-o-lanterns, and keeping your pet inside (especially those black cats) on the big night.

On a fun note, if your dog is well behaved in noisy crowds of people, the City of Lewisville invites them to the Halloween Bash in Wayne Ferguson Plaza  from 5-7 pm on Tuesday, Oct 30, for live music by Le Freak!

Have and fun and safe Halloween!

82 Vet News across the nation this week.

There was a lot of interesting pet related news articles this week that I wanted to share.

1.Texas A&M emergency veterinary team helping out in flood zone
The Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team was deployed to Junction, Texas, to provide veterinary care for search-and-rescue dogs working in a flood. “Our goal is always to keep them safe, see problems before they happen and to be there in case of a severe injury happens,” said veterinarian Wesley Bissett, a professor at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.
KBTX-TV (Bryan-College Station, Texas)

2. You tube how to brush dog teeth– 5 min long

3. Why do Siberian Huskies have blue eyes? It’s in the genes.

4. Which nutrional websites to trust? Here are some guidelines. http://www.tuftscatnip.com/issues/26_10/feature/Which-Nutrition-Websites-to-Trust-986-1.html?ET=tuftscatnip:e2853:2127383a:&st=email&s=p_WeeklyUpdate100118

5.  Bees went silent during last year’s  total solar eclipse
Citizen-scientists placed microphones in flower patches at 11 locations in the path of the 2017 solar eclipse and found that bees behaved normally as the light grew dim and the air cooled, but they abruptly stopped buzzing during totality. The study was published in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America.https://www.sciencenews.org/article/what-bees-did-during-great-american-eclipse

6. 3D-printed model improves veterinary surgery planning
Veterinarians at VCA Great Lakes Veterinary Specialists in Ohio worked with engineers at Case Western Reserve University on a 3D-printed model to prepare for surgery to mend a puppy’s severely fractured foreleg. Veterinary surgeon Andy Law said the model enabled him to correct the pup’s bone deformities with a minimum of cuts.
WEWS-TV (Cleveland) (10/10)

7. Distemper outbreak compels La. animal shelter to take action
An animal shelter in St. Landry Parish, La., had to euthanize some dogs, temporarily halt intakes and adoptions, and thoroughly disinfect the facility due to an outbreak of canine distemper. The outbreak might lead parish officials to pass new vaccination requirements, parish President Bill Fontenot said.
KADN-TV (Lafayette, La.)

81 Wellness Bloodwork Specials

It’s that time of year again when our laboratory gives us some great deals on wellness bloodwork that we pass on to you.
We have been busy drawing blood, collecting urine and feces already. So far, we have already picked up early problems in dogs and cats like hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, early kidney disease (SDMA), and several with some elevated heart muscle stretching tests (cardiopet pro BNP).

We have custom packages for dogs and cats, young and old, that are quite a discount than the rest of the year. I am getting my own dog’s wellness bloodwork today! If there is something going on inside, I want to know early so I can make diet and/or life style changes so Sarge is around for many more years.

It’s easy to set up an appointment to get Fluffy or Fido’s blood samples taken. We love it when you collect the urine and poop from home. We get the results in 1-2 days, depending on the types of tests performed. And we don’t make you come in to talk about the findings! You will be a call from the veterinarian, Dr Henricks or Dr Pena, who will actually explain the results. (of course, you are always welcome to come in…)

For more information, check out BLOG  #28, from October of last year for more details.

80 Bugs, Bugs, Bugs

Can you believe all the creepy crawly bugs we are seeing after the rain and slight break in heat? We are seeing crickets, army worms, fire ants, flies, moths, etc. near our building and homes. We will soon see an increase in fleas, ticks and mosquitos, so don’t let up on your heartworm and flea prevention. We have even found fleas on some dogs coming in for boarding.

Have you heard reports that the FDA is concerned about neurological events (tremors, ataxia, or seizures) in a class of oral flea and tick medicine calls isoxazolines? This class includes Bravecto, Nexgard, Simparica and the new Credelio. None of the products is being recalled or withdrawn from market, but there have been reports of adverse events now the products have been out for a few years. Here at Garden Ridge Animal Hospital, we haven’t seen these side effects, but we urge clients with concerns to check out the FDA statement to the manufacturers to add additional warnings to their labels. We will continue to sell oral flea and tick medications because they are so very effective and safe, we use them on our own pets, but we will follow this closely. Link to FDA statement

A large study by Idexx, our laboratory, shows a relationship between tick-borne diseases (like Lymes and Ehrilichia) and kidney disease. When they searched their data, if a pet had been positive for Lymes or Ehrlichia they had up to a 300% increase risk for kidney value elevations, years later. Many of the early signs of kidney disease are very subtle like an increase in water consumption, increased urine output, or a slight decrease in appetite. With blood tests like BUN, Creatinine, and new SDMA, we can detect kidney disease is the early stages, and have time to make some lifestyle and diet changes to manage those nephrons and increase life expectancy.

79 Rescued pets from Florence and Upcoming Test of the Emergency Broadcast System.

As with any disaster, there are amazing stories of heroism and stupidity. Florence is no exception. It does appear that disaster groups have learned some lessons from Katrina and will accept animals What are the lessons learned from Florence?
1. The flood after a hurricane is worse than the high winds. We learned that from Harvey too.
2. People fail to plan for their animals: dogs, cats, exotic pets, horses, livestock, etc. My heart hurt when I saw the photos of dogs in enclosed outdoor runs with the water up to their chests. Or horses penned in areas with standing water. Or wet cats loose in owner’s arms, no carriers.
3. Good Samaritans and pet lovers will step up the plate to help rescue individual pets, and even whole animal shelters. The story about the bus driver that help evacuate the Humane Society of North Myrtle Beach, the Dillon County Animal Shelter, Orangeburg Animal Shelter, and Saint Frances Animal Shelter. Last week, he rescued 53 dogs and 11 cats (in crates), got them to rescue groups outside the flooding, and was going back for more.

There is a planned test of the National Emergency Broadcast System, and you might receive an important text message on your phones on Wednesday, October 3. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be conducting tests of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) which includes the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). FEMA has performed three previous tests of the EAS, in November 2011, September 2016 and September of 2017. October 3 will be the first test of the WEA. If a cell phone provider participates in WEA, those who have that cell phone provider should receive the test texts. In reference to the WEA test text, www.fema.gov, explains, “Cell towers will broadcast the WEA test for approximately 30 minutes beginning at 2:18 p.m. EDT. During this time, WEA compatible cell phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless provider participates in WEA should be capable of receiving the test message. Some cell phones will not receive the test message, and cell phones should only receive the message once. “The WEA system is used to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on cell phones. The national test will use the same special tone and vibration as with all WEA messages (i.e. Tornado Warning, AMBER Alert). Users cannot opt out of receiving the WEA test.” It continues, “The WEA test message will have a header that reads “Presidential Alert” and text that says: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.

78 Disaster Preparation for Pets– Part 2

In Part 1, we discussed planning for disasters while staying at home. But what if you have to leave to stay safe?

Who? Everyone, even pets leave. No one will come to your house in a disaster and take care of Fluffy, or the gerbils, snake & birds. So be ready to transport.

When? Leave as early as possible. I know that is vague, but you have seen the traffic jams when everyone leaves at the same time.

Where? Ideally you have a close relative in a nearby town that is out of the disaster area. Other ideas are booking a room in a pet friendly hotel in a safe city, or a hotel with a nearby pet boarding facility. Campgrounds might be an option for campers or families with RVs. As a last resort, governments will set up “shelters” like Dallas has done for Houston during Hurricane Harvey, or Houston did during Katrina. These facilities may or may not allow pets, and they definitely recommend or require a carrier for each pet. Imagine how scare Fifi would be in a new wire kennel, in a big building, next to dozens of other scared dogs and cats, with you in the next building.

What to pack? This comes straight from FEMA
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.
(I would add calming pheromones to this list, or a Thundershirt if it helps your dog )

If you have made it this far, I challenge you to discuss this with the family, line to 2 or 3 relatives you could “visit” for a while, plan a few different ways to drive to their houses, gather up carriers, vaccine records, food & water for 3-7 days, and practice getting pets in the car. It will be challenging, but way less to practice now than in the event of an actual emergency.

If you can’t find your vaccine records, give us a call to reprint them. Or they aren’t up to date, let’s fix that.

I have a free red AAHA collapsible water /food dish like in the picture for the first 5 readers who contact me. You must come by to pick it up.



77 Disaster Preparedness for Pets- Part 1

As I watch the news this week with Hurricane Florence bearing down on the East Coast, I am reminded that September is National Disaster Preparedness Month. And that means planning with pets in mind. It actually started last week, and the theme is Disasters Happen. Prepare now. Learn how.

The first step is to imagine some likely disasters. Up here in North Texas, I think tornadoes, ice storms, power failures, localized flooding, and possible wildfires. There are many similarities to prepare, even though the causes may be different.

The next step is to figure out if you would shelter in place or leave. If you shelter in place, determine which room of your home would be safest. For tornadoes, ideally pick a room with no external windows, on the ground floor, maybe even a bathtub. I recommend having a leash for every dog and a carrier for each cat. If the power goes out, and the sirens wail, and everyone is freaking out, the last thing you want is your pets all loose and stressed out. This might be a great time to purchase some calming pheromone sprays for pets: Feliway for cat and Adaptil for dogs. These are available OTC at pet stores and Amazon. Some pets might want a favorite blanket or toy, just like children.

Some other items to keep in your shelter room are a charged up phone, flashlight, and a battery powered radio. It is a pretty helpless feeling to be hunkered down in a bathroom, in the dark, listening to the sirens, and you have no clue what is going on. Many cities have a Red Alert system, which will call you if there is a local emergency, but you have to subscribe ahead of time. In Lewisville, they call it Citizen Alert.  In a tornado, the cell towers might go down. Keep a battery powered radio handy, and know some local channels. And there are many apps for phones that can get weather and Dallas News, but not necessarily Lewisville news.

Some basic preparations are to make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date, you have at least a week or two of important medications, and that they are microchipped. This is not the time to run out of allergy pills, heart medications, or specialty diets. I see quite a few stray dogs and cats after big wind storms here when fences blow down. A tag on a collar or a microchip really helps reconnect Fido and owner.

What if you have to leave? Sometimes it just isn’t safe to stay home. Would you know what to pack? Where to go? When to leave? I am sure there are many people in the Carolinas or Californians near wildfires asking themselves that same question now.

Next week’s blog will be on “Go” bags and preplanning for a bug out.
For more information: https://www.ready.gov/animals

74 The Allergic Cat

Last week I wrote about ragweed, pollen, and allergies, especially in dogs. Cat can develop pollen or food allergies too, but it seems less frequent than dogs. This week, I have seen some indoor and outdoor cats with allergic symptoms. I think I see less feline allergy because most of my cats are indoor only (even though pollen does get into our houses.)

The symptoms of cats with allergies to pollen or food include itchiness, especially the face and ears, licking feet more, generalized tiny bumps, and raised red skin plaques. Some have other signs like sneezing, coughing, wheezing (asthma), and occasional vomiting and diarrhea (especially secondary to hairballs).

Cats can develop asthma just like people, which is a constriction of the tiny airways in the chest. It can be mild to severe. I probably never see the mild ones, but when cats are open mouth breathing and wheezing from an asthma attack, it is an emergency. And of course it isn’t healthy to smoke around cats, especially asthmatic ones.

Cats can also be allergic to flea bites, but we seldom see the actual fleas on cats because most cats are such great groomers. I do see more fleas on chubby patients because it is harder for them to groom themselves. So just because you don’t SEE fleas on Fluffy doesn’t mean she isn’t getting a single flea a day that bites her, which she quickly lick off. Revolution is a great topical product for cats that kills fleas, ear mites & many intestinal parasites.

Cat do occasional have food allergies. The symptoms are often skin related, not just gastrointestinal. They aren’t born with food allergies, but develop slowly over time, even when the food isn’t changed. I usually suspect food allergies if my patient doesn’t respond to steroids.

The treatment for cats is similar to dogs, with a few minor differences. Ideally we try to avoid the trigger, like keep them inside more. We try to remove pollens by bathing them or at least wiping them down with damp washcloths (“lick the cat”). We could try to give them liquid Benadryl, but most owners find that challenging. Apoquel isn’t approved for cats so I usually go straight to steroids, conveniently available in a long term injection. Fortunately, cats don’t have many side effects to an occasional steroid injection, unlike humans and dogs, so it is much safer.

Feline allergies are really a thing, and I don’t mean people that are allergic to cat dander (that’s a different article.) If your cat is grooming more, getting sores, or having respiratory signs, a vet can help. Come see us!