Newsletter

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Introduction

The veterinarians and staff at Matthews Animal Clinic are pleased to provide you with an online newsletter of pet-related articles and news stories.

This fun and fact-filled newsletter is updated on a regular basis.

Included in the newsletter are articles pertaining to pet care, information on our animal hospital, as well as news on the latest trends and discoveries in veterinary medicine. Get started by browsing the Current Newsletter Topics links that pertain to each article.

Please enjoy the newsletter!

Help Your Dog Overcome the "Back-To-School Blues”

Parents and youngsters aren’t the only ones having adjust to a new schedule every fall. Just as kids grow accustomed to the care-free days of summer, dogs get used to the constant attention and play time that a child’s constant presence brings. Many dogs will adjust quickly to the change when school begins again, but those prone to separation anxiety may look for ways to lash out.



In an interview with the Associated Press, Dr. Nick Dodman of Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine recommended the following tips to help ease the transition between summer and the school year:

• Make departure time happy using toys and treats

• Create a place in the house where the dog feels safe

• Try starting the routine before school begins

• Do not indulge with baby talk or sympathy

• See a veterinarian if the dog’s disposition doesn’t improve

With a little advanced planning and a few tweaks to you and your dog’s morning routine, you can keep your dog relaxed and content while his favorite playmate is gone for the day. Before you know it, your dog’s “back-to-school blues” will be a thing of the past.

10 Common Signs Of Cancer In Small Animals

Cancer in its early stages can often be treated. If your pet shows any of the symptoms listed below, we recommend that you call the animal hospital to make an appointment. Early diagnosis and treatment is the best way to treat any disorder in pets.

  1. Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow
  2. Sores that do not heal
  3. Weight loss
  4. Loss of appetitie
  5. Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
  6. Offensive odor
  7. Difficulty eating or swallowing
  8. Hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina
  9. Persistent lameness or stiffness
  10. Difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating
Blood Testing: What It All Means

Many technologies that help humans live longer, healthier lives are available to your pet. By performing some basic blood tests, your veterinarian can gather information concerning the health and well being of your pet.

Complete Blood Count

This blood test actually consists of several tests that evaluate the number and type of blood cells in the circulation. Cells that are evaluated consist of white blood cells (WBC), red blood cells (RBC) and platelets. White blood cells are important in helping the body fight infection. Red blood cells are fundamental for carrying oxygen to the body's tissues. The measurement of these cells can indicate anemia, infection, leukemia, stress and inflammation. Platelets are involved in the blood clotting process and if low in number can indicate a bleeding disorder. The hematocrit (HCT) provides information pertaining to the relative number of red blood cells (RBC) in circulation. This test is used to diagnose anemia and dehydration.


Blood Chemistry

These tests survey many of the organ systems of the body in order to make sure they are working properly.

Albumin (ALB) - Low levels indicates chronic liver or kidney disease, intestinal disease or intestinal parasites (hookworm).

Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) - Elevated with liver disease or injury.

Alkaline Phosphatase (ALKP) - Elevated levels can indicate liver disease or Cushing’s disease.

Amylase (AMYL) - Elevated blood levels can indicate pancreatic and/or kidney disease.

Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) - Reflects kidney and liver disease as well as dehydration.

Cholesterol (CHOL) - Elevated levels are seen in many disorders. Some include liver and kidney disease and hypothroidism.

Creatinine (CREA) - Elevated levels can be due to kidney disease or urinary tract obstruction.

Blood Glucose (GLU) - High levels can indicate diabetes. Low levels can indicate liver disease, infection or certain tumors.

Total Bilirubin (TBIL) - Levels of Bilirubin are useful in diagnosing anemia and bile duct problems.

Total Protein (TP) - This can detect many conditions. Some include liver, kidney and gasrointestinal diseases as well as dehydration.

Blood Electrolytes

Calcium (Ca) - Increased levels are seen with certain tumors and kidney and parathyroiud gland disease.

Phosphorus (PHOS) - Elevated levels can indicate kidney disease.

Sodium, Potassium, Chloride - All should be within normal levels. Vomiting, dehydration and diarrhea can affect their levels.

Allergy Testing in Pets

The goal of allergy testing is to identify the specific allergen(s) to which your pet has an allergy. Allergy testing is done either with a blood test (sometimes also called 'ELISA' or 'RAST testing') or with intradermal testing (sometimes also called 'skin testing'). Following the identification of the allergen(s), your pet usually begins a series of injections of a dilute solution of the allergens, with the idea of desensitizing his or her immune system to future allergen exposure. This is called immunotherapy. The exact schedule of injections is tailored to each individual case, but often begins as a once a week injection. The injections are usually carried out over the course of several months to years, and most patients require the injections for life.

Skin problems (particularly itching) and ear problems are two of the most common reasons why veterinarians see pets. Unlike humans who react to allergens with nasal symptoms, dogs react with skin conditions. These problems may range from poor coat texture or length, to itching and chewing, to hot spots and eventually self-mutilation. Allergies may also play a part in chronic ear infections. To make matters more difficult to diagnose and treat, thyroid disease may add to the problem as well.



Many times, severe skin itching and inflammation is caused by allergies to fleas, foods or environmental substances. If we can determine exactly what your pet is allergic to, it will allow us to provide more effective treatment. For pollen and dust allergies, it allows for the possibility of treatment with allergy shots (also called immunotherapy or hypo sensitization), which help to decrease the immune system's exaggerated response to these substances. Knowing exactly what the allergies are may also allow you to avoid things to which your pet is very sensitive to, such as fleas.

There are basically two types of allergy tests performed by veterinarians. The goal of allergy testing is to identify specific substances that are causing the allergic reaction, so that avoidance (if possible) and/or desensitization through allergy shots may be attempted.

As mentioned previously, allergy testing is done either by blood testing or by intradermal skin testing. The intradermal test involves clipping the fur from the side of the animal's chest and injecting very small amounts of pollen from trees and grasses, molds and insect extracts, into the superficial layers of the skin. Often, the test is administered under a light sedative/analgesic so that the pet feels no discomfort. If the animal is allergic, a hive-shaped mound forms at the site of one or more injections. This type of testing is more traditional, more involved and more expensive than blood testing, but has very few false positive reactions.

For the blood test, a small amount of blood is taken and sent to a special laboratory. Generally, the test results come back in about three weeks. This type of testing is newer and less expensive however, interpretation is more difficult. Although serum allergy testing can give meaningful results, intradermal skin testing is considered to be more accurate and is the preferred method of allergy testing.

If you have questions regarding your pet's skin problem or potential allergies, do not hesitate to call your veterinarian for more information.