Lyme Disease Prevention

Our health focus topic for March is Lyme Disease Awareness and Prevention! Just like humans, dogs are susceptible to Lyme disease, and can have long lasting issues from contracting this disease.

Ticks in our area carry Lyme disease, as well as other nasty blood parasites like Ehrlichia and Anaplasma. Virginia is one of the states on the East Coast with a very high prevalence of Lyme disease.

Lyme Map

Unlike humans, dogs very rarely get the “bulls-eye” lesion on their skin after a bite from an infected tick. Some dogs will get an irritated area around a tick bite whether or not the tick is carrying a disease, and others will not react at all.

The disease itself can cause fever, lethargy, achiness and arthritis, and in some cases, even permanent effects on the kidneys. Just because your dog has been exposed to Lyme disease doesn’t mean that he or she will necessary develop these symptoms. However, since some dogs do experience illness, we strongly recommend prevention for EVERY dog in our area.

Lyme infection in dogs is only detected with a blood test. We use a quick, in-hospital test that only requires a few drops of blood to screen for this disease.

Knowing your dog’s status is an important first step in preventing or treating this disease!

If your dog tests positive, our doctors will discuss with you the next options, which could include further testing or medications. If your dog tests negative, he or she is eligible to start the Lyme vaccine series to help prevent future infection!

This month, Catlett Animal Hospital will offer 10% off Lyme disease vaccination and the testing to start the vaccine!

Additionally, if your dog completes the Lyme vaccination series for the first time, you will be eligible for a FREE gift…  your choice of a travel dog water bottle or a light-up, night time safety collar! (while supplies last!)

The Lyme vaccine is an important means to prevent disease in your dog, but tick prevention is ALWAYS the best way to prevent ticks and the many diseases they can transmit. We recommend keeping your dog on tick prevention year round, as our mild climate often means ticks can be active even in the winter months.

Help us protect your dog from Lyme disease this spring!

Foaling Tips For Horse Owners: Article Three: Once The Foal Is Born

Part 3: Once the foal is born

Ready for the last article in our foaling series? Check out some tips for care of the post-partum mare and newborn foal below.

 

Mare Care

  • Post-partum examination of the mare’s reproductive tract is performed in order to decide whether or not to breed the mare again on first postpartum estrus.
  • The mare may have dark red colored vaginal discharge for about a week following foaling. If the discharge is yellow or if there is a putrid smell with the discharge, the mare may have an infection and should be treated by your veterinarian with antibiotics.
  • Owners should deworm the mare immediately following parturition to decrease the parasite load that could spread to the foal. An ivomec product is recommended for this deworming.
  • The mare will have a foal heat 5 to 14 days following foaling. Although there is a decreased pregnancy rate while breeding on foal heats, mares can get pregnant if bred at this time.
  • The mare’s energy needs are highest during lactation. At this time, she should remain on a very high plane of nutrition.
  • As long as the mare is getting enough energy through her food and your vet says she is healthy following foaling, riding can be resumed within several weeks post-partum.

Foal Care:

The first days:

  • The foal should be standing and nursing within 2 hours following birth. The first 6-12 hours of life are a crucial time for the foal. During this time, it is important that the foal drink colostrum from the mare. Colostrum, or the mare’s first milk, contains many antibodies to various pathogens and is high in fat and protein.
    • Failure of the foal to ingest colostrum is called failure of passive transfer and can be fatal for the foal.
    • In order to test that the foal took in enough colostrum, your veterinarian can run an IgG test on the foal’s blood. This is a quick stall-side test that can give much insight into the foal’s health.
    • If the foal did not receive enough colostrum, a plasma transfusion may be necessary.
  • In addition to drinking colostrum, it is important that the foal pass the meconium- or fetal stool. If the foal is unable to defecate, an enema may be necessary.
  • Within the first day of life, it is helpful for the foal to be examined by a veterinarian. Your vet can auscult the heart and lungs and can also identify any congenital problems such as a cleft palate or umbilical problems.
    • Owners should also closely monitor the umbilicus and joints for signs of disease. Often if an infection is present in the foal it will settle in the joints causing them to be hot and swollen. The umbilicus itself should also dry up and close up within several days. Owners should apply chlorohexidine to the umbilicus twice daily for the first three days. If the umbilicus becomes swollen or remains open after 3 days, contact your veterinarian
  • Overall, monitor your foal to ensure that they are getting up and moving around with the mare and that they are nursing frequently. Healthy foals will normally be spunky and playful.

Later in life:

 

  • Generally, horse owners start foal vaccination programs around 4 to 6 months of age
    • The exception may be for the Influenza vaccines, which should be administered at 6 – 9 months of age.
    • Depending on which vaccines are given, the foal may need follow-up booster shots.
    • Vaccines recommended:
      • EWT – 1x or 2x per year
      • Influenza, Rhinopneumonitis – 2 x per year
      • Rabies – 1x per year
      • WNV – 1x per year +
      • ± Potomac Horse Fever – 2x per year – April and August
      • ± Strangles – 1x or 2x per year
  • Deworming: Parasite control is very important in the foal. Foals should be dewormed with an ivermectin product starting at one month of age, and then follow up doses given every two months. It is important to have an accurate weight on the foal so that correct dose of dewormer is given. While she is nursing, the mare should also be dewormed every two months coordinating with the foal’s deworming schedule.
  • Nutrition: The foal is sustained only on the mare’s milk for the first few weeks. Following that time, the foal may begin to nibble on hay and can start to get grain. By 6 weeks, the mare’s milk production decreases and the foal will need extra feed to supplement its diet. There are many commercial formulations of grain that are proper for a growing foal.
  • Weaning: Foals normally remain on the mare for 4-6 months. After this point, they should be able consume enough other nutrition from hay and grain to sustain themselves and continue growth.
    • Weaning stress can be reduced if the foal is kept from nursing, but is still allowed to have some contact with the mare. This can be achieved by housing the mare and foal in adjoining stalls for several days so that they can still smell and hear each other.

 

Thanks for your interest in our foaling articles and in our practice. Please give us a call for any of your equine needs. 540-788-6094

Foaling Tips For Horse Owners: Article Two: The Birthing Process

Part 2: Foaling process

Welcome back! Thanks for continuing to read our page! This is part two of our foaling article. Read along to learn some basics that horse owners should know about parturition.

Changes in the mare leading up to foaling:

As the time nears for the mare to foal, she will go through several physical changes including abdominal growth (distention) and udder development. Closer to foaling, she will also have vulvar softening and relaxation of the pelvic ligaments. The udder grows the most in the last two weeks prior to foaling and fills completely right before foaling. A waxy substance often covers the teat ends in the last days of gestation. There are several tests that measure the calcium content of the milk that can be used to help predict how close the mare is to foaling.

 

Immediately pre-partum:

The mare should be housed in a large open area- either pasture or pen. The area should be dry, clean, well ventilated and deeply bedded. Before foaling, the mare’s udder and area around the udder should be cleaned to decrease the potential pathogens present on the mare’s skin.

 

Stages of parturition:

The birthing process is often described in three stages.

Stage 1: Positioning Of The Foal

  • Approximate length of time: 30 min to 4 hours. May be shorter in mares who have foaled before.
  • May show colic like signs. May lie down and get back up many times.
  • May urinate frequently.
  • During this stage, the uterus begins contracting and the cervix begins dilating. Then, the foal’s front legs and nose are into and through the cervix.
  • The owner should wrap the mare’s tail and clean the area around her vulva. Also, make sure the mare is in a clean, safe place to foal.
  • The final part of stage one is the presentation and release of the fetal fluids- “water breaking”. The water bag should be thin and see through and should break on its own.
    • If the water bag appears velvety and dark red and the fluid is not visible inside, the owner should rupture the bag, as this is a sign of the placenta separating before it should, which could impair the foal’s breathing.

Stage 2: Delivery Of The Foal

  • Approximate length of time: 20-30 minutes
  • Cervical dilation and uterine contractions are increased.
  • Mare may continue to stand up and then lay back down.
  • Forefeet will present through the vulva followed by the head stretched down between the front legs. Often the hardest part of labor will be pushing out the neck and shoulders. The back legs should be extended behind the body. If the foal is not in this position it may be necessary to with the birth. Call your veterinarian immediately.

  • If the amnion is covering the foal’s head, it should be removed. The foal’s mouth should also be cleaned out to allow for proper breathing. You can encourage breathing by stimulating the foal by rubbing it or tickling its nose with a piece of straw or hay to get a deep breathe or sneeze.
  • The umbilicus may break on its own during delivery. If it does not, leave the umbilicus attached for several minutes to allow additional blood flow and perfusion of oxygen to the foal. After this time, owner may break the umbilicus by twisting and pulling it apart. Do not break the umbilicus very close to the foal’s body, but leave 6 inches or so dangling. Cutting the umbilicus could cause the foal to lose too much blood. The umbilicus should be dipped in a chlorohexidine solution to avoid the traveling of bacteria into the foal’s body.
  • If the mare is not up at this time, the foal should be placed by her head.
  • Give the mare and foal some alone time to allow them to bond. Before long the mare should begin to clean up the foal.

Stage 3: Passing Of The Placenta

  • Approximate length of time: 30 minutes to 3 hours after foaling
  • After birth, while the mare is resting, the placenta may be tied onto itself so that the mare does not step on it and rip it. The mare should pass the placenta within three hours.
  • If the placenta is not passed within the time frame mentioned above, treatment may be necessary. Call your veterinarian immediately.
  • Once the placental is expulsed it is important to closely examine it. The placenta should be whole without any tears. A tear or rip in the placenta could be a sign that part of the placenta is retained inside the mare. Retained placenta can cause bad a uterine infection in the mare.
  • During this stage, the mare should stand and begin to clean the foal. The foal will normally stand within the first hour. As soon as the foal is up and moving around he should begin nursing. It is crucial to insure that the foal nurses within the first six hours.Image result for newborn foal

Summary: Ok, baby is out! Now what’s next? Be sure to check back next week for more information on early foal care and what your mare needs after she has foaled. As always, if you have questions or need assistance in foaling please contact our large animal vets at 540-788-6094.

 

Caring For Your Pet’s Teeth At Home

This is the third article in our series of dental health articles, and arrives just in time for February, which is National Pet Dental Health Month!

In case you haven’t heard, our February Dental Health Month special is 10% off all dental procedures (see our article on the “COHAT” and what this includes!) as well as FREE dental goody bags for pets after their procedure. Read on for more information about what to do with the great home care samples you’ll find in that goody bag!

Home Dental Care – The Most Important Part of Your Pet’s Dental Health!

What would your breath smell like if you NEVER brushed your teeth? Like your dog’s breath, maybe? Our pets’ mouths have bacteria and plaque just like our mouths (and often theirs have more, especially depending on what your dog likes to chew…).

There are many things that you can do at home to support your pet’s dental health, to reduce buildup of plaque and tartar, and to prevent periodontal disease. None of these options require advanced or special skills, and any or all of them could make a difference for your pet. Your bottom line could benefit as well, as home care may be able to reduce the frequency of professional dental cleanings for some pets, and often, can prevent expensive tooth extractions or restorations later.

Brushing – The Gold Standard

Dog owner brushing an Australian Shepherd puppys teeth. Educational showing the proper method of handeling the puppy.

Brushing your cat or dog’s teeth is the absolute best way to prevent tartar and gum disease.

Ideally, we would brush our pets’ teeth daily, but the truth is even occasional brushing can still make a difference. The brushing action is the best way to remove the bacterial film that builds up on the surfaces of teeth, which would otherwise develop into plaque and eventually dentaltoothpastetartar. Pet-safe toothpastes in flavors like poultry, seafood, malt and vanilla-mint are available to help make the process more enjoyable for your pet, and may contribute a little to cleaning the teeth as well. You should not use human toothpastes with pets, as they frequently end up swallowing a good deal of toothpaste in the process.

Brush options vary from traditional pet bristle brushes to smaller rubber finger brushes. Human baby toothbrushes with SOFT bristles can be used as well, and sometimes work well for cat mouths or very small dogs. Experiment to find what is most comfortable for you and your pet!dentalbrushes

Introducing your pet to brushing could be a whole article itself, but the basic principles are: start young if you can, start with only brief sessions and work up, and make the experience fun and rewarding for your pet! Almost any pet can learn to have their teeth brushed and all will benefit from this special care you give them!

Here is a great video about dental disease that gives specific demonstrations of brushing and introducing your dog or cat to brushing!

Dental Chews, Treats, & Toys

dentalchewsThe chewing action dogs (and some cats!) enjoy can help them keep their teeth clean by physically rubbing off the bacterial film on the teeth, just like brushing can do. Some dental chews and treats may also contain other ingredients to help combat bacterial buildup. Brushing helps us address all the surfaces of the teeth – it has an advantage over products that clean the teeth by the chewing action because pets may chew using some areas of their mouth preferentially. They may be cleaning only those areas. Still, some cleaning of the teeth is better than none. Therefore, products that clean the teeth as the animal chews are still useful.

Dental chews and treats vary in how effective they may be – there is no regulation to prevent a company from claiming their product is good for teeth even if they have never tested it. Treats that have received the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal have standards for their product with trials and are an excellent products with which to start. Other treats may also be effective, but one rule of thumb is if your pet is not actually chewing on the treat, they are likely not getting a lot of benefit from it!

Water Additives, Rinses, & Sprays

dentalrinsesWater additives and rinses are used to try to decrease bacteria in the mouth of our pets. Water additives like Oratene or AquaDent are put in the pets’ drinking water in small amounts, and act as a safe-to-swallow “mouthwash” each time the pet drinks. Oral rinses like DentaHex can dentallebaiiibe squirted over the pets’ teeth daily to help kill bacteria in the mouth.

Leba-III is a spray we offer that helps to promote a healthy bacterial balance in the mouth – it can be spritzed in the mouth twice daily to help keep teeth healthy.

Food – The Other Daily Dental Care Option!

td foodYou make an important health decision for your dog or cat every day – what to put in the food bowl! We carry not one but TWO food options that are clinically proven to help cats and dogs maintain healthy mouths. Both Hill’s t/d diet and Purina DH have the VOHC seal and are available for long term feeding that daily helps remove plaque and bacteria. They are suitable for almost every pet, and can be fed lifelong. They may be an especially good idea to start early in pets prone to dental disease.

Both foods use special kibble technology to help clean the teeth as the pet crunches their daily meal. These work best after a thorough cleaning, as they prevent buildup on clean teeth, but both are beneficial in ALL pets to slow down plaque and tartar accumulation.

YOU Can Do It – And We’re Here to Help!

brushcatteethThese are all wonderful ways for you to take an active role in protecting your pet’s health! Dental disease is such a common condition, and with just a little effort on the home front, pet parents can make a BIG difference in their pet’s oral health!

Please contact us with any questions about getting started with home dental care for your pet! Our doctors and staff would love to help find the right match for you and your pet.

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.

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