Dear Friend,

In this edition you will find:

Masters of Deception

Blue-green Algae

Dog Day Cars

New Puppies and Kittens


Masters of Deception

Did you know that you have a master of deception in your house? Dogs are good at it. Cats much better. But if you have a bird, you have a truly incredible deceiver.

What am I talking about? I am referring to their ability to mask symptoms of disease. In the wild, you become prey when showing any signs of weakness. Therefore, hiding any evidence of disease is vital to survival. This instinct carries over to the pets living in our homes and can make it difficult to determine if there is a problem, even for observant pet owners.

Additionally, many chronic diseases have very few or no symptoms as the body can compensate very well or there simply are no symptoms until something acute happens.

Some examples:

Chronic kidney disease. The waste products that cause patients to feel sick build up gradually only after about 2/3 of the kidney function is gone. The gradual increase in the waste products helps the body tolerate moderately high amounts that would make a patient feel incredibly sick if they were to get to that level in a short period. All that may be seen initially is an increase in thirst and urination.

Hemangiosarcoma: This is a blood vessel tumor. We commonly see patients acting completely normal until they present in peracute crisis due to a sudden bleed. The cancer has obviously been present for some time as the tumor is not small and has usually metastasized by the time of presentation.

Congestive heart failure: This is a disease that takes time to develop. Pets may have had a murmur for years. The body can compensate for the failing pump for quite a while. Symptoms may be quite subtle with a slow decrease of exercise tolerance that is often thought to be related to age. Maybe there is an occasional cough. Dogs and cats often present in crisis due to sudden respiratory distress.

Saddle thrombus: This is most common in cats and is secondary to heart disease. A blood clot forms in the left atrium and can sit there for a long time, then suddenly moves into the ventricle and out to the aorta. Severe problems literally appear between one heart beat and the next. The heart disease has been developing for a long time, but no symptoms have been seen as the body is compensating well.

Other problems can be more obvious. Chronic vomiting and/or diarrhea are symptoms of gastrointestinal disease. These symptoms cannot be hidden. However, the patient is often acting fine. Often a workup that includes intestinal biopsies is required for a diagnosis.

Other times patients have symptoms of disease appear over a few days but then continue to have problems with vomiting or diarrhea or other symptoms. In other words, there is an obvious change that persists.

Routine examinations can help identify subtle symptoms of disease. However, some problems simply have nothing to find without an extensive workup. If we can identify problems earlier in the course of disease, we can often improve both the quality and duration of life. Therefore, we recommend examinations twice yearly, especially for senior pets. Our goal is to detect disease early when it is most treatable.

The take home message is to pay attention to your pet and have regular examinations. Subtle changes can mean big problems. When you see these subtle or more overt changes, have your pet seen by a veterinarian. 

Blue-green Algae

What we commonly call blue-green algae are actually photosynthetic bacteria, known as cyanobacteria. These types of bacteria are found worldwide and are among the oldest and largest groups of bacteria.

The bacteria are normally present in the water. Problems occur when very exuberant growth occurs forming what is termed an algal bloom. The blooms usually form in slow moving or stagnant waters rich in nutrients. Most commonly, the blooms occur in the late summer or early fall, but can occur at any time. The blooms can look like foam, scum or mats that can be blue, green, brown or red. Some blooms may not affect the appearance of the water.

The cyanobacteria can produce toxins that are among the most powerful natural toxins known. There are many different types of toxins produced; including neurotoxins, liver toxins, kidney toxins, and tumor promoters. No antidotes have been identified for these toxins.

People and animals are exposed to these toxins when drinking water from, playing in, or inhaling aerosols from a contaminated body of water. Some toxins will cause skin irritation. If inhaled, some can cause allergy or asthma-like symptoms. Swallowing water can also cause severe gastroenteritis, including vomiting and diarrhea.

Treatment for blue-green algae toxicity revolves around decontamination, symptomatic and supportive care.

The best ways to protect yourself and your animals is to avoid areas of water where you see foam, scum, or mats of algae on the water. If you or your animals do swim in those areas, make sure to rinse off immediately with fresh water. Do not irrigate with pond water that looks scummy or smells bad. If you think you or your animal has been poisoned by blue-green algae, seek medical attention immediately!


Dog Day Cars

We are now entering the “Dog Days of Summer.” While named for the constellation Sirius, it has come to be known as the hottest period of the summer.

Cars heat very quickly in the sun this time of year. It does not take long for a car to become a deadly oven.

Please be very careful not to leave your pet in the car this time of year. The best and safest solution is often to leave your pet at home.

New puppies and kittens

We love to see new puppies and kittens around here. These cute little bundles of joy and energy are some of our favorite appointments. The visits are also very important for the pup and kitten.

We recommend starting the vaccine series at about 8-9 weeks of age. This series will finish up at about 15-16 weeks. This timing is important to get them immunized as soon as possible.

Additionally, we like to try to get you off on the right foot with your new pet. We will spend time talking with you about behavior and pet care.

We always encourage you to bring any new pet in for an exam within 1 week of acquisition.