Do you have questions about lyme disease? We have answers…

Answers to Your Questions About Lyme Disease:

What causes lyme disease?

Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria called Borrelia burgdoferi, which is transmitted by a tick bite. A young tick picks up the bacteria by drinking the blood of a small host, usually a mouse, that is carrying the infection. As the tick matures, it begins to search for a larger host, such as a deer, human or dog. When it bites, the tick regurgitates into the animal’s blood to keep it from clotting. This regurgitation process is what transmits the bacteria to the animal. The tick must be attached for 24 to 48 hours before this transmission process is completed. If the tick is removed before it has been attached for 24 hours, the lyme disease bacteria cannot be transmitted.

How is lyme disease in dogs different from lyme disease in humans?

Lyme disease affects our canine companions in a much different manner than it affects humans. Humans who are infected by the lyme disease bacteria due to a tick bite tend to quickly develop flu-like symptoms, a rash around the tick bite site, and potentially neurological or cardiac abnormalities. Dogs, on the other hand, do not tend to show signs of this disease right away. If they do develop signs of infection, it is weeks to months after exposure and tends to manifest as arthritis or joint pain.

Some dogs never show any clinical signs of the disease at all. However, lack of clinical signs does not mean that lyme disease is not harming your pet. Sub-clinical lyme disease can cause damage to the dog’s cartilage due to chronic low-level inflammation and the kidneys due to chronic stimulation of the immune system.

Do we have lyme disease in this area?

Yes! Lyme disease is unfortunately very common in this area, and this is a disease that our doctors are faced with on a daily basis. Even dogs in our area,  that stay inside the majority of the time contract this disease.

How do we treat lyme disease once it is present?

Veterinarians will often prescribe a 28-day course of doxycycline, which is the same antibiotic used in humans. This treatment simply lowers the levels of lyme bacteria so there is no longer an active infection, but some bacteria remain hidden in the body long-term.

We have never been able to completely cure Lyme disease. This is because it has one appearance (OspA) when it enters the body. Then, after entering the body, it changes the proteins on the outside of the bacteria to hide from the immune system (OspC). In the past, lyme vaccines only provided immunity to Osp A. A new vaccine from Zoetis teaches the body to be immune to both appearances of the lyme disease bacteria. It is the veterinary community’s hope that this vaccine will help your dog’s immune system rid itself of the OspA and OspC lyme infection completely. Thereby, curing the dog of lyme disease. Time will tell us if this is truly possible.

Chronic lyme infections require an antibody level test (called a “Quantitative C6 Test”). A dog with a higher C6 antibody level likely has an active infection and should be treated with doxycycline. This is the only way to determine the severity of your dog’s current lyme infection.

How do we protect our dogs from lyme disease?

Regular monthly flea and tick prevention is the absolute best way to prevent lyme disease in dogs. As stated above, the tick needs to be attached to the dogs for 24 to 48 hours to transmit lyme disease. Both oral (Nexgard) and topical (Frontline plus and Frontline Gold) flea/tick preventatives will cause the biting tick to die before this point of transference.

Sometimes we forget to give our dogs their flea/tick prevention on time. In that case, vaccination against lyme provides a second level of defense against the disease. Vaccination will cause the dog’s immune system to be prepared to kill the lyme bacteria.

Traditionally, the lyme vaccine had only worked for dogs that had not already been exposed to the disease. This is because the protein (OspA) that the vaccine created immunity against was the protein the bacteria wore inside the tick. The dog’s antibodies would kill the lyme bacteria before it even entered their bodies. This was great for lyme negative dogs but did not help dogs who were already infected. There is a new Zoetis lyme vaccine that creates immunity against a second protein (OspC) as well, this one that is expressed by the bacteria in the dog’s body. Immunity to this second protein will your dog’s immunity against an infection that is already present in his or her boy. This is why we will recommend vaccination with the Zoetis lyme vaccine after doxycycline treatment to help boost the dog’s ability to fight off the chronic infection.

Do you have more questions about lyme disease in dogs? Feel free to ask one of our doctors!

How to train you pet to love tooth brushing

How to Teach Your Pet to Love Tooth Brushing Time

Dental disease is one of the most common conditions that veterinarians diagnose in our canine and feline patients. Besides contributing to bad breath, dental disease can also result in pain and infection, which can cause a pet to become inappetant or ill. The most successful way to prevent dental disease in our pets is the same way we prevent dental disease in ourselves: daily tooth brushing. Although this can sound intimidating, most pets will learn to love tooth brushing with the appropriate training schedule. Even cats can be taught to participate in their own dental care when the training is slow, consistent, and full of positive reinforcement.

Step #1: Start brushing your pet’s teeth as early as possible! Although puppies and kittens may be taught to accept tooth brushing more easily, it is never too late for an animal to learn.

Step #2: Collect the supplies needed. There are many different kits used for pet dental care- some include finger brushes, others include more traditional toothbrushes with soft bristles. Either type of brush can work, depending on the pet. Pet toothpaste often comes in flavors such as poultry (the most popular flavor for both dogs and cats), beef, tuna and vanilla mint. Try out these flavors to see which your pet prefers. These toothpastes are enzymatic, meaning that they will continue to break down plaque on the teeth even after brushing is completed.

Note- do not use human toothpastes in dogs and cats. Animals end up swallowing a significant amount of toothpaste during brushing, and human toothpastes can cause an upset gastrointestinal tract. Also, it is much easier to train pets to love tooth brushing when the toothpaste is flavored like a treat!

Step #3: Determine the best time and location for daily toothbrushing. Animals do much better when there is a routine associated with the task they are learning (this also helps us  remember to brush the teeth daily!).

Step #4: At the chosen time and in the chosen location, call your pet to you. Reward them with a small amount of toothpaste on your finger. This will teach them to see the toothpaste as a treat. Repeat this step once daily until your pet readily arrives for the toothpaste. This may require just a couple days for some dogs, but other dogs and most cats may need a couple weeks of training before they are consistent.

Step #5: When the pet arrives for toothpaste, provide it for them on the toothbrush instead of your finger. Allow them to lick it off the toothbrush. Repeat this daily until the pet shows no concerns about the toothbrush. Again, this can take days to weeks, depending on the animal.

Step #6: The next step is to get the pet to accept you touching his/her face while licking the toothpaste. Once this does not surprise the pet anymore, you can lift the upper lip on one side of the mouth to visualize the teeth.

Step #7: When lifting the upper lip on one side of the mouth, you can do a small stroke with the toothbrush and toothpaste. On the next day, do the other side. Continue to increase the time spent brushing, while paying attention to the comfort level of your pet. Make this process positive by praising your animal for good behavior.

Note- it is most important to contact the outer (cheek) side of the upper teeth when brushing an animal’s teeth, as this is where they build up most tartar. This is also the area that is most comfortable for animals to have brushed. You should also be able to brush the outer side of the lower teeth. Do not worry about the insides of the teeth near the tongue and palate. These areas do not build up as much plaque and can be addressed when the animal is under anesthesia for dental cleanings in the future.

Regular toothbrushing is easier to do when your pet enjoys and participates in the process! If your pet will not tolerate tooth brushing, please talk to us about other options to preserve dental health, such as dental diets, chews, and sprays. As always, even with regular toothbrushing, our pets will likely require regular dental cleanings under anesthesia over the course of their lives. The goal with toothbrushing is to decrease the need for these, resulting in less anesthesia time and better overall oral health for your pet.

Why bring your cat to the vet?

January is Catlett Animal Hospital’s Feline Health Month! This means 10% off wellness exams, vaccines, and bloodwork. We are excited to see your cats and give them the veterinary care they need to stay safe and healthy.

Why bring your cat to the vet?

  1. Dental Health/Feline Resorptive Lesions: By three years of age, most cats have evidence of disease around their teeth. Signs of this disease are very subtle, but the effect of dental disease on cats is serious. Tooth pain can reduce food and water intake, or worse, be the source of bacteria for the heart, brain, kidneys, gall bladder, and other organs causing your cat to have serious health issues that owners have trouble noticing until it is much too late to treat.
  2. Painful Arthritis: The majority if not all adult and geriatric cats have arthritis. They almost never show lameness or difficulty standing like dogs do. They hide, may not enjoy being touched, or may become annoyed. Some owners write this off to the cat getting older, but this is the cat’s way of showing that he or she is in pain. We can help make your cat happier and less painful, which makes them a much better pet.  Oftentimes, a joint supplement can really help a cat feel less pain and move better. Sometimes a pain reliever or laser therapy can be used for more severe pain or advanced arthritis.
  3. Vaccines: These are sometimes ignored for cats especially indoor cats, but the core vaccines: rabies and FVRCP are very important for cats. These are vaccines for severe diseases. If your cat gets them, they are fatal or at the very least severe and will require hospitalization.
  4. FeLV/FIV testing: This is especially important in multi-cat households. These are contagious diseases that pass from cat to cat through exchange of bodily fluids (saliva, blood, etc). FeLV: weak immune system, anemia, bone marrow shut down. FIV: equivalent of HIV in cats
  5. General Wellness: Cats are independent. They do not show illness like dogs, but they get sick much more often than owners realize. The key to effective treatment is early diagnosis. Screening for disease with wellness bloodwork can detect kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, anemia, liver disease, etc much earlier than when your kitty starts showing symptoms. That’s perfect! Then, we can start feeding a special diet or other medication before your cat is ill. This will increase your cat’s comfort and help manage if not cure your cat’s underlying disease.

Foaling Tips for Horse Owners-Article One: Equine Gestation

Hello horse owners with upcoming foals or those thinking about breeding! This will be a three-article piece that will cover gestation, the foaling process, and what to do once the foal is born. Our hope is that this will help educate you and get you excited for your mare’s upcoming parturition. A new article will be posted each week, so be sure to continue checking our website for more information!

Article 1: Gestation

Gestation Information: 

Equine gestation should last from 335 to 342 days. The length of gestation can vary based on season (may carry up to 10 days longer in the winter or early spring). This is a normal phenomenon and usually does not cause any problems for the mare or foal. On the other hand, fescue exposure can also result in longer gestation periods, but this is not desirable. It is a disease condition that can cause issues for both the mare and foal. An endotoxin that lives within the fescue plant can increase gestation length to 360 days causing the foal to be abnormally large when born. Unfortunately, this endotoxin can also cause the mare not to have milk once she foals. This is especially concerning because the “first milk” or colostrum is the milk that gives the newborn foal antibodies to protect it from diseases in the environment. Without those antibiodies, foals are at high risk of becoming extremely ill within the first few days of being born. Several things can be done to prevent this condition including keeping the mare off of fescue for the last trimester of pregnancy and administration of domperidone to the gestating and lactating mare (begin ten to fifteen days prior to foaling and continue after foaling).

60 day pregnancy per ultrasound - click image to enlargePregnancy diagnosis:

Pregnancy diagnosis can be confirmed via rectal ultrasound as early as fourteen days into gestation. Often veterinarians like to check this early to confirm the pregnancy and check for twins. Twinning in horses is fairly rare, and it is even rarer for a twin pregnancy to result in the birth of two live foals.

 

Nutrition:

Nutritional requirements during pregnancy are very similar to adult maintenance for the first 8 months. Pregnant mares should be kept at a body condition score of 6-7/9. Following the first 8 months, energy and protein requirements begin to increase. This is because the majority of fetal growth takes place during the last trimester. Increasing calorie intake the last trimester is also important because the mare needs to be in a positive energy balance going into foaling. Lactation is very taxing on a mare’s body due to it’s a high demand for energy. Mares need to be fed appropriately to maintain body condition when going into the period where they will be feeding their foals. Mares in the last trimester should be fed high quality forage and grain in order to meet their metabolic demands. Feeding alfalfa hay and a quality grain formulated for pregnant mares can also increase the protein of the diet.

 

Vaccination:

Mares should be vaccinated with their annual vaccines (Rabies, EWT, WNV) prior to breeding season. Do not vaccinate during first 90 days of pregnancy. Most modified live vaccines are not used in pregnant mares (They can cause abortions.). By vaccinating during the last month of gestation, colostral antibodies can be passed to the foal.

Vaccine Schedule:

  • Vaccinate for rhinopneumonitis (EHV1) at 5th, 7th, and 9th months of gestation
  • EHV1 of Herpes virus can cause abortion in mares and rhinopneumonitis in foals and growing horses. So, this is an important vaccine for all brood mares to receive prior to being bred.
  • Vaccinate for EWT, influenza, WNV at 10th month of gestation
  • ± Botulism – to protect foal – for mare’s first foal vaccinate at 8th, 9th, and 10th month of pregnancy, do at 10th month on subsequent pregnancies
  • ± Rotavirus – 8th, 9th, 10th month of pregnancy
  • Rotavirus is the most common cause of infectious diarrhea in foals.
  • ± PHF – for dam – usually April and August

 

Deworming:

Regular deworming throughout the pregnancy is important. Most horses stay on their normal deworming program (dewormed based on fecal egg counts or consistent deworming every several months). It is important to confirm that the dewormer you give can be used on pregnant mares. Most ivermectin products are for administration during pregnancy, but you should always check the label to be sure.

 

Ultrasound fetal check-ups:

Fetal viability can be assessed via transrectal ultrasound throughout gestation. On ultrasound the veterinarian can see fetal movement, count fetal heart rate and assess the health of the uterus and placenta. Once the fetus gets too big to be viewed via ultrasound, your vet can rectally palpate and feel fetal movement.

 

Work:

Mares can be exercised during gestation, and often, fit mares have an easier time with the birthing process. Normal work (similar to what work you were doing before the mare was bred) can be continued up until about the 7th-8th month of gestation. After that light riding is still possible until about a month before foaling. It is important not to over-work or over-heat pregnant mares, but some exercise is beneficial.

 

Housing:

Mares should be moved to the area where they will foal about 4-6 weeks before her due date. This not only lets her get familiar with the area, but also exposes her to the environment the foal will come into, letting her develop antibodies to pass to the foal in her colostrum. The area where the mare foals should be clean and dry.

 

Summary:

We hope you enjoyed the first article in our series on foaling. Now you and your mare are ready for the pregnancy! Check back next week for more information on the foaling process. If you have any questions, please give our office a call at 540-788-6094. One of our large animal veterinarians would be happy to give you a call back and discuss your questions with you.

1 2 3 4