Stimulating play is important during the first week. Stalking and pouncing are important play behaviour in puppies and are necessary for proper muscular development. If given a sufficient outlet for these behaviors with toys, your puppy will be less likely to use family members for these activities. The best toys are lightweight and movable. These include wads of paper and rubber balls. Any toy that is small enough to be swallowed should be avoided.
Disciplining a young puppy may be necessary if its behaviour threatens people or property, but harsh punishment should be avoided. Hand clapping and using shaker cans or horns can be intimidating enough to inhibit undesirable behaviour. However, remote punishment is preferred. Remote punishment consists of using something that appears unconnected to the punisher to stop the problem. Examples include using spray bottles, throwing objects in the direction of the puppy to startle (but not hit) it, and making loud noises. Remote punishment is preferred because the puppy associates punishment with the undesirable act and not with you.
There are many diseases that are fatal to dogs. Fortunately, we have the ability to prevent many of these by the use of very effective vaccines. In order to be effective, these vaccines must be given as a series of injections. Ideally, they are given at between approximately 6 and 12 weeks of age and cover Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus. In areas of high infection your veterinary surgeon may advise a further injection at approximately 16 weeks of age. It is also worth considering full vaccination against tracheobronchitis, often known as kennel cough although this affects many dogs who have never been near a kennels. This vaccination prevents infection with parainfluenza virus and Bordetella bacteria. It can be carried out at the same time as the other injections and may be given as an injection or drops inserted into the nose.
When the puppy is suckling from its mother, it receives a temporary form of immunity through the mother’s milk. This immunity is in the form of proteins called antibodies. For about 24-48 hours after birth, the puppy's intestine allows absorption of many of these antibodies directly into the blood stream. Later during suckling further antibodies are transferred via the milk although not in such great quantities.
This immunity is of benefit during the first few weeks of the puppy's life, but, at some point, this immunity falls and the puppy must organise its own long-lasting protection,hence vaccinations are used for this purpose. As long as the mother's antibodies are present, vaccinations do not have such a good chance to stimulate the puppy's immune system. The mother's antibodies interfere by neutralising the vaccine.
Many factors are involved to determine when can the puppy be able to respond to the vaccinations. These includes the level of immunity in the bitch, how much antibody has been absorbed, and the number of vaccines given to the puppy. Since we do not know when an individual puppy will lose the short-term immunity, we give a series of vaccinations. We hope that at least two of these will fall in the window of time when the puppy has lost immunity from its mother but has not yet been exposed to disease. A single vaccination, even if effective, is not likely to stimulate sufficient long-term immunity which is so important for the puppy's protection.
Modern vaccines have the ability to overcome maternal immunity thus conferring protection on the puppy while at the same time not causing disease even though maternal antibodies are still present.
Intestinal parasites are common in puppies. Puppies can become infected with parasites before they are born or later through their mother's milk. The microscopic examination of a fecal sample will usually help us to determine the presence of intestinal parasites. Modern deworming preparations are safe and effective and we recommend their use at two week intervals, from two weeks of age. It is important that the medication is repeated since it is usually only the adult worms that are killed. Within 3-4 weeks, the larval stages will have matured and will need to be treated.
Round worms pose a small but definite risk to immunologically susceptible children, therefore, it is good practice to regularly administer deworming preparations to your dog throughout its life. Today, combined preparations eradicating both roundworms and tapeworms as well as other pathogenic worms are available and can be administered as tablets, liquids, or granules which can be mixed in the food. We recommend that all adult dogs are wormed at least twice a year and more frequently if in contact with young children.
Tapeworms are the most common intestinal parasite of dogs. Puppies become infected with them when they swallow fleas; the eggs of the tapeworm live inside the flea. When the puppy chews or licks its skin as the flea bites, the flea may be swallowed. The flea is digested within the dog's intestine; the tapeworm hatches and then anchors itself to the intestinal lining. Therefore, exposure to fleas may result in a new infection; this can occur in as little as two weeks.
Dogs infected with tapeworms will pass small segment of the worm in their feces. The segments are white in color and look like grains of rice. They are about 3 mm (1/8 in) long and may be seen crawling on the surface of the feces. They may also stick to the hair under the tail. If that occurs, they will dry out, shrink to about half their size, and become golden in color.
Tapeworm segments do not pass every day or in every fecal sample. Inspection of several consecutive bowel movements may be needed to find them. We may examine a fecal sample in our laboratory and not find them, then you may find them the next day. If you find them at any time, please let us know and we will provide the appropriate eradication drug.
Diet is extremely important in the growing months of a dog's life, and there are two important criteria that should be met in selecting food for your puppy.
1. The diet should be nutritionally adequate for puppies.
2. The diet should have physical qualities (texture, abrasiveness) that will help control plaque and maintain oral health.
Feeding a dry, canned, or semi-moist form of dog food is acceptable. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Dry food is definitely the most inexpensive form. It can be left in the dog's bowl without drying. The good brands of dry food are just as nutritious as the other forms. However remember canned food contains about 75% water compared with only 10% in dry food. Hence dry food, price for price, usually works out less expensive. Obviously with only a 10% moisture content in a dry food, compared with 70-80% in a canned food, your puppy will appear. to drink very much more if fed a dry food.
Semi-moist and canned foods are also acceptable. However, both are considerably more expensive than dry food. However, diets consisting largely of soft foods, be they commercial or home prepared, even if nutritionally complete, may be physically inadequate and favor development of periodontal disease. If you choose to give your puppy table food, be sure that at least 90% of its diet is good quality commercial puppy food.
When soft foods form the basis of your pup’s ration, additional methods are advisable to remove plaque. These could include combinations of the following:
1. Supplementing the diet with raw bones together with attached meat and connective tissue.
2. Replacing part of the diet by large biscuits of appropriate size, shape and texture to encourage chewing.
3. Adding large pieces of raw fibrous vegetables to further encourage chewing
4. Providing rawhide chew toys
5. Additional home dental care such as daily rubbing or brushing of teeth and gums
Many effective flea control preparations for use on adult dogs are not suitable for use on puppies, therefore it is worthwhile consulting your veterinary surgeon regarding flea control in the young animal. Today there are new, innovative products which are eminently suitable for use on even very tiny puppies. It must be emphasized that flea control in the puppy is equally as important as with the older dog and must be coupled with the control of fleas in the environment.
Puppies have very sharp toe nails. They can be blunted and shortened using an emery board or a piece of carpenter's fine sandpaper. They can also be trimmed with nail scissors or with clippers made for dogs and cats. However if you remove too much nail, you will cut the quick and cause bleeding and pain. If the puppy has clear or light colored nails it is possible to see the quick as a pink line running through the nail. With black nails this is more difficult and therefore these should be trimmed at only about 1 mm a time until the puppy is beginning to resent it when it is likely you are getting very near to the quick. It is useful to have a men's shaving styptic pencil available so that if you inadvertently cut the quick you can stop the bleeding without causing pain or discomfort to the puppy. If in doubt, please consult us and we will show you exactly how to trim the nails.
Spaying (desexing) offers several advantages. The female's heat periods result in about 2-3 weeks of vulval bleeding. This can be quite annoying if your dog is kept indoors. During this period she is attractive to any neighborhood male dogs and these can sometimes cause considerable nuisance. Your bitch will have a heat period about every 6 months. In some cases, despite of your best efforts, the bitch will become pregnant. Spaying is the removal of uterus and ovaries. Heat periods no longer occur and thus unplanned litters of puppies are prevented.
It has been proven that as the bitch gets older, there is a significant incidence of breast cancer and uterine infections if she has not been spayed. Spaying before she has any heat periods will prevent these problems. If you do not plan to breed from your dog, we strongly recommend that she be spayed either just before her first oestrus or midway between oestrus periods. It is important not to neuter the bitch if she is not physically mature.
Desexing offers several advantages. Male dogs are attracted to a female dog in heat and will climb over or go through fences to find her. Male dogs are more aggressive and more likely to fight, especially with other male dogs. As dogs age, the prostate gland frequently enlarges and causes difficulty urinating and defecating. Desexing will solve, or greatly help, all of these problems that come with owning a male dog. The surgery can be performed any time after the dog is 6 months old. It is worth remembering that all service dogs, Guide Dogs, Hearing Dogs and Dogs for the Disabled, both male and female, are routinely desexed.
If you plan to mate your dog, she should have at least one or two heat periods first. This will allow her to physically mature allowing her to be a better mother without such a physical drain on her. We do not recommend breeding after 5 years of age unless she has been bred from prior to that. Having her first litter after 5 years of age increases the risk of problems during the pregnancy and/or delivery. Once your dog has had her last litter, it is worth considering spaying in order to prevent uterine infections and other reproductive problems.
Responsible ownership involves having a well-trained dog and this training should be commenced as soon as the puppy is acquired. Puppies are continuously learning from the moment their eyes are open and responsible breeders will ensure that the elements of training have commenced long before you acquire the puppy at 6-8 weeks of age. Remember training is not some formal process but should occur all the time we are together with a dog.
Training and socialization are intermixed, a well socialized dog is invariably a well trained dog and vice versa. Thus puppies should be socialized. They should be handled by family members and strangers as soon as possible and then be introduced to other dogs, preferably to puppies, as soon as their inoculation program allows. Many training clubs and some veterinary practices today run puppy classes in order to initiate training and ensure adequate socialization takes place. Enquire from your veterinary surgeons.
Basic training of a puppy is not a very difficult task provided certain simple rules are followed:
1. Keep the tasks simple and only go one step at a time.
2. Teach sounds and words as commands and not sentences
3. When trying to program the puppy to respond to your command, avoid distractions and competing activities, for example you will never get your puppy to learn to walk round the garden on a collar and lead if Aunt Emma is playing ball with her mother in another part of the garden.
4. Be effusive with your praise and don't be afraid to use food rewards.
5. Ignore failures and certainly do not punish the puppy, and finally.
6. Be consistent and this applies to all members of the family.
Local training clubs or puppy pre-schools are an ideal way of ensuring socialization and dog and owner participation in basic training methods. Other means of training available involve one to one methods, ideally involving both owner and dog with a trainer or sometimes sending the dog away to be trained. However these are certainly less fun and sometimes not as successful as the owner/pet participation and are often reserved for problem animals who have to undergo behavioral therapy.
Distemper is a highly infectious, highly fatal viral disease. It is transmitted by airborne droplets (e.g. cough) from an infected animal. It is very common among young animals, especially those housed in groups. The fatality rate among affected dogs is about 50%.
Distemper causes a rapidly spreading infection. It starts in the nose, throat and lungs, and spreads to the stomach and intestines, and then to the nerves and the brain. Any or all of these organs can become affected, and cause coughing, sneezing, vomiting, diarrhoea, depression, seizures, and nasal and ocular discharges. Even years after the dog has recovered, brain injury from the distemper infection can cause seizures, paralysis, muscle tremors and incoordination.
Because distemper is a virus, there is no specific treatment. Distemper invades the cells of the immune system, and so it allows other serious bacterial infections to emerge. These cause life threatening infections, and severely compromise the dog’s immune response against the virus. This is prevented by a course of broad spectrum, highly effective antibiotics. The dog’s immune response is aided by a course of injections of distemper-active immunoglobulins, which help the body recognise and eliminate the virus. Because distemper affects so many organs, symptomatic treatment is needed to help the dog to eat, to breathe freely and to eliminate the discharge from the airways. This symptomatic treatment makes the dog more comfortable and helps eliminate the virus. Your puppy should be encouraged to eat, and force fed if necessary. All discharge from the nose and eyes should be cleaned regularly with warm water.
Distemper has a fatality rate of about 50%. The survival rate is influenced by the age and condition of the animal, and the treatment offered. Severe cases need hospitalisation and intravenous fluids. Whether or not your dog survives depends on how its immune system responds to the virus. If the immune response is weak, death occurs 2-4 weeks after infection, if the immune system is strong the virus is eliminated within 1-2 weeks. After the dog seems better, there is a 10-20% chance of developing neurological signs up to 3 months after infection. Some dogs show no signs of even having distemper and still develop neurological signs. These signs include increased sensitivity to touch, incoordination, depression, seizures and sometimes temporary or permanent blindness.
1. The most important factor is vaccinations. Begin vaccinations early (6 weeks old), and make sure your dog has the full course of 3 vaccines. Make sure you vaccinate with a registered veterinarian, and the vaccine batch and date are recorded on a vaccination card.
2. Prevent your dog from being in close contact with other puppies. When your puppy is young it is highly susceptible, and even vaccination does not give 100% protection. If your dog has distemper, it is infectious, and should be isolated from any susceptible dogs.
3. Make sure your puppy is fed the right amount of the right type of food. Make sure it is not allowed to get too cold or too hot, and has fresh water available at all times. These things help keep the immune system of the puppy strong and functional.
4. Take care where you get your puppy from. If there are any animals in the environment that have discharge from the nose or eyes or are coughing, chances are that the environment will be distemper positive.
If you suspect distemper, see your vet quickly. Early treatment will help keep the puppy strong, and prevent early pneumonia or dehydration.
Heartworm disease (dirofilariasis) is a serious and potentially fatal disease in dogs in many parts of the world. It is caused by a worm called Dirofilaria immitis.
Heartworms are found in the heart and large adjacent vessels of infected dogs. The female worm is 2.3 to 5.5 cm long and 5 mm wide; the male is about half the size of the female. One dog may have as little as 1 or as many as 300 adult worms.
Adult heartworms live in the heart and pulmonary arteries of infected dogs. They have been found in other areas of the body, but this is unusual. They survive up to 5 years and, during this time, the female produces millions of young (microfilaria). These microfilaria live in the bloodstream, mainly in the small blood vessels. The immature heartworms cannot complete the entire life cycle in the dog; a mosquito is required for some stages of the heartworm life cycle. The microfilaria are therefore not infective (cannot grow to adulthood) in the dog.
As many as 30 species of mosquitoes can transmit heartworms. The female mosquito bites the infected dog and ingests the microfilariae during a blood meal. The microfilariae develop further for 10 to 30 days in the mosquito and then enter the mouth parts of the mosquito. The microfilariae are now called infective larvae because at this stage of development, they will grow to adulthood when they enter a dog. The mosquito bites the dog where the haircoat is thinnest. However, having long hair does not prevent a dog from getting heartworms.
When fully developed, the infective larvae enter the bloodstream and move to the heart and adjacent vessels, where they grow to maturity in 2 to 3 months and start reproducing, thereby completing the full life cycle.
The disease is not spread directly from dog to dog. An intermediate host, the mosquito, is required for transmission.
It takes a number of years before dogs show outward signs of infection. Consequently, the disease is diagnosed mostly in 4 to 8 year old dogs. The disease is seldom diagnosed in a dog under 1 year of age because the young worms (larvae) take up to 7 months to mature following establishment of infection in a dog.
Adult worms cause disease by clogging the heart and major blood vessels leading from the heart. They interfere with the valve action in the heart. By clogging the main blood vessels, the blood supply to other organs of the body is reduced, particularly the lungs, liver and kidneys, leading to malfunction of these organs.
The signs of heartworm disease depend on the number of adult worms present, the location of the worms, the length of time the worms have been present, and the degree of damage to the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys from the adult worms.
The most obvious signs are: a soft, dry, chronic cough, shortness of breath, weakness, nervousness, listlessness, and loss of stamina. All of these signs are most noticeable following exercise, some dogs may even faint.
Listening to the chest with a stethoscope will often reveal abnormal lung and heart sounds. In advanced cases, congestive heart failure may be apparent and the abdomen and legs will swell from fluid accumulation. There may also be evidence of weight loss, poor condition, and anaemia. Severely infected dogs may die suddenly during exercise or excitement.
Microfilariae (Young worms):
Microfilariae circulate throughout the body but remain primarily in the small blood vessels. Because they are as wide as the small vessels, they may block blood flow in these vessels. The body cells being supplied by these vessels may be deprived of the nutrients and oxygen normally supplied by the blood. The lungs, liver and kidney are primarily affected. Generally, however the changes produced by the microfilaria are not particularly significant.
In most cases, diagnosis of heartworm disease can be made by a blood test that can be run by the veterinary practice. Further diagnostic procedures are essential, in advanced cases particularly, to determine if the dog can tolerate heartworm treatment. Depending on the case, it is recommended that some or all of the following procedures be taken before treatment is started.
This is a test performed on a blood sample. It is the most widely used test because it detects antigens (proteins) produced by adult heartworms. It will be positive even if the dog does not have any microfilaria in the blood; this occurs between 10-50% of the time. Dogs with less than five adult heartworms may not have enough antigen to turn the test positive, so there may be some false negative results in mild or early infections. Because the antigen detected is produced only by the female worm, a pure population of male heartworms will give a false negative, also. Therefore, there must be at least 5 female worms present for the most common test to be positive.
A blood sample is examined under the microscope for the presence of microfilariae. If microfilariae are seen, the test is positive. The number of microfilariae seen gives us a general indication of the severity of the infection. However, the microfilariae are seen in greater numbers in the summer months and in the evening, so these variations must be considered. Approximately 10-50% of dogs do not test positive even though they have heartworms because of an acquired immunity to this stage of the heartworm. Also, there is another microfilarial parasite which is fairly common in dogs; on the blood smear, these can be hard to distinguish from heartworm microfilariae.
Complete blood counts and blood tests for kidney and liver function may give an indirect indication of the presence of heartworm disease. These tests may be performed on dogs diagnosed as heartworm-infected to determine the function of the dog's organs prior to treatment.
A radiograph of a dog with heartworms will usually show heart enlargement and swelling of the large artery leading to the lungs from the heart. These signs are considered presumptive evidence of heartworm disease. Radiographs may also reveal the condition of the heart, lungs, and vessels. This information allows us to predict an increased possibility of complications related to treatment.
An echocardiogram allows us to see into the heart chambers and visualise the heartworms themselves. Although somewhat expensive, this procedure can diagnose heartworms when other tests fail.
There is some risk involved in treating dogs with heartworms, although fatalities are rare. The drug that is used contains arsenic. The amount of arsenic is sufficient to kill heartworms without undue risk to the dog. However, dogs with poor liver or kidney function may have difficulty breaking down and eliminating the arsenic. In spite of this we are able to treat more than 95% of dogs with heartworms successfully.
Some dogs can have advanced heartworm disease. This means that the heartworms have been present long enough to cause substantial damage to the heart, lungs, blood vessels, kidneys, and liver. A few of these cases will be so far advanced that it will be safer to just treat the organ damage rather than risk treatment to kill the worms. Dogs in this condition are not likely to live more than a few weeks or months.
Treatment to kill adult worms: An injectable drug to kill adult heartworms is given for two days. It kills the adult heartworms in the heart and adjacent vessels over a period of about 30 days.
Complete rest is essential after treatment: Some adult worms die in a few days and start to decompose; the remainder will die within a month. As they break up, they are carried to the lungs, where they lodge in the small blood vessels and are eventually reabsorbed by the body. This is a dangerous period, and it is absolutely essential that the dog be kept quiet and not be allowed to exercise for 1 month following treatment. The first week after the injections is very critical because the worms are dying. A cough is noticeable for 7 to 8 weeks after treatment in many heavily infected dogs.
Prompt treatment is essential if the dog has a significant reaction in the weeks following the initial treatment, although such reactions are not common. If a dog shows loss of appetite, shortness of breath, severe coughing, coughing up blood, fever, and/or depression, treatment will be necessary. Response to antibiotics, cage rest, and supportive care, such as intravenous fluids, is usually good in these cases.
Approximately one month following treatment to kill the adults, the dog then undergoes administration of a drug to kill microfilariae. Your dog needs to stay in the hospital for the day. Seven to ten days later a test is performed to determine if microfilariae are present. If they have been all killed, the treatment is complete. If there are still some present in the blood, treatment for microfilariae is repeated.
In some cases, the heartworm infection is "occult", meaning that no microfilariae were present. In this case, a follow-up treatment at one month is not needed.
In dogs with severe heartworm disease, it may be necessary to treat them with antibiotics, anticoagulants to thin the blood, diuretics to remove fluid accumulations, and drugs to improve heart function prior to treatment for the heartworms.
Dogs with severe heart disease may need lifetime treatment for the failing heart, even after the heartworms have been killed. This includes the use of diuretics and heart drugs.
Dog owners are usually pleasantly surprised at the change in their dog following treatment for heartworms, especially if the dog had been showing signs of heartworm disease. The dog has a renewed vigour and vitality, improved appetite, and weight gain.
Canine parvovirus (CPV) infection is a relatively new disease that first appeared in 1978. Because of the severity of the disease and its rapid spread through the canine population, CPV has aroused a great deal of public interest. The virus that causes it is very similar to feline enteritis, and the two diseases are almost identical. Therefore, it has been speculated that the canine virus is a mutation of the feline virus. However, that has never been proven.
The causative agent of CPV disease, as the name infers, is a virus. The main source of the virus is the faeces of infected dogs. The faeces of an infected dog can have a high concentration of viral particles. Susceptible animals become infected by ingesting the virus. Subsequently, the virus is carried to the intestine where it invades the intestinal wall and causes inflammation.
Unlike most other viruses, CPV is stable in the environment and is resistant to the effects of heat, detergents, and alcohol. CPV has been recovered from dog’s faeces even after three months at room temperature. Due to its stability, the virus is easily transmitted via the hair or feet of infected dogs, contaminated shoes, clothes, and other objects. Direct contact between dogs is not required to spread the virus. Dogs that become infected with the virus and show clinical signs will usually become ill within 7-10 days of the initial infection.
The clinical manifestations of CPV disease are somewhat variable, but generally take the form of severe vomiting and diarrhoea. The diarrhoea may or may not contain blood. Additionally, affected dogs often exhibit a lack of appetite, depression, and fever. It is important to note that many dogs may not show every clinical sign, but vomiting and diarrhoea are the most common signs; vomiting usually begins first. Parvo may affect dogs of all ages, but is most common in dogs less than one year of age. Young puppies less than five months of age are often the most severely affected and the most difficult to treat.
The clinical signs of CPV infection can mimic other diseases causing vomiting and diarrhoea; consequently, the diagnosis of CPV is often a challenge for the veterinary surgeon . The positive confirmation of CPV infection requires the demonstration of the virus in the faeces or the detection of anti-CPV antibodies in the blood serum. Occasionally, a dog will have parvovirus but test negative for virus in the faeces. Fortunately, this is not a common occurrence. A tentative diagnosis is often based on the presence of a reduced white blood cell count (leukopaenia). If further confirmation is needed, faeces or blood can be submitted to a veterinary laboratory for the other tests. The absence of a leukopaenia does not always mean that the dog cannot have CPV infection. Some dogs that become clinically ill may not necessarily be leukopaenic.
As with any viral disease, there is no treatment to kill the virus once infected. However, the virus does not directly cause death; rather, it causes loss of the lining of the intestinal tract that results in severe dehydration, electrolyte (sodium and potassium) imbalance, and infection in the bloodstream (septicaemia).
The first step in treatment is to correct dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. This requires the administration of intravenous fluids containing electrolytes. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs are given to prevent or control septicemia. Antispasmodic drugs are also used to inhibit diarrhoea and vomiting that perpetuate the problem.
Most dogs with CPV infection recover if aggressive treatment is used and if therapy is begun before severe septicaemia and dehydration occur. For reasons not fully understood, some breeds, notably the Rottweiler, have a much higher fatality rate than other breeds.
The best method of protecting your dog against CPV infection is proper vaccination. Puppies receive a parvovirus vaccination as part of the vaccines given from 6 and about 12 weeks of age. In some situations, veterinary surgeons will give the vaccine at two week intervals and an additional booster at 18 to 20 weeks of age. After the initial series of vaccinations when the dog is a puppy, all dogs should be boosted at least once a year. Dogs in high exposure situations (i.e. kennels, dog shows, field trials, etc.) may be better protected with a booster every six months. Bitches should be boosted before mating or immediately before whelping in order to transfer protective antibodies to the puppies. The final decision about a proper vaccination schedule should be made by your veterinary surgeon.
The stability of the CPV in the environment makes it important to properly disinfect contaminated areas. This can be accomplished by cleaning food bowls, water bowls, and other contaminated items with a solution of 250 mL of chlorine bleach in 5 litres of water. It is important that chlorine bleach or glutaraldehyde based disinfectants be used because many other "viricidal" disinfectants will not kill the canine parvovirus.
It is important to note that at the present time, there is no evidence to indicate that CPV is transmissible to cats or humans.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a chronic disease of the intestinal tract. Occasionally, the stomach may be involved. Most affected dogs have a history of recurrent or chronic vomiting and/or diarrhoea. During periods of vomiting or diarrhoea, the dog may lose weight but is generally normal in other ways. As a rule, most affected dogs eat well (or even have an increased appetite) and appear normal.
The cause of IBD is poorly understood. In fact, it appears that there may be several causes. Whatever the cause(s), the end result is that the lining of the intestine is invaded by inflammatory cells. An allergic-type response is then set in place within the bowel lining. This interferes with the ability of the dog to digest and absorb nutrients.
For some dogs, dietary components are speculated to play a role in initiation of the disease. Bacterial proteins may be involved in other cases. In most instances, an underlying cause cannot be identified.
Firstly blood tests are likely to be taken to establish if there is an exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, i.e. if digestion is normal and whether the digested food is being absorbed correctly. Depending on the results, special diets may then be tried depending which part of the bowel appears to be most involved. These diets include hypo-allergogenic foods, low residue diets or high fibre foods. In addition if it appears from the blood tests that bacterial overgrowth is present, drug trials may be instituted in`volving administration of certain drugs and gauging improvement. Finally it may be necessary to obtain biopsy samples from the bowel, either via the oral route using a flexible endoscope or in some cases following an exploratory laparotomy where the bowel is examined during operation for signs of disease and portions of the diseased tissue are secured for further tests.
When a diagnosis of IBD is made, the dog is placed on a hypoallergenic, low residue or high fibre diet for eight weeks or more. This helps to identify the contribution of dietary components to the problem. Although this is not a common cause of the disease, it is easy to treat if an acceptable food is found. If the dietary trial does not offer any improvement, medication is used to control (not cure) the problem. Since not all dogs respond to the same medication, a series of drugs may be necessary.
Once the appropriate drugs or diet can be determined, many dogs are maintained on these for life, although dosages of the drugs may eventually be decreased. Occasionally, a dog will be able to stop drug therapy at some point.
Most dogs do well for many years; others require alterations in therapy every few months. Unfortunately, a few dogs will ultimately become totally resistant to treatment.
Some severe forms of canine inflammatory bowel disease will eventually progress to intestinal cancer. This finding is well documented in human beings and, in recent years, it has become apparent that this occurs in dogs, as well.
It means that a yellow pigment is found in the blood and in the tissues. It is most easily seen in the gingiva (gums), the sclerae (white part of the eyes), and the pinnae (ear flaps). However, if these tissues normally have a dark colour, jaundice will probably not be seen.
The causes of jaundice fall into three major categories:
Liver disease. Any disease that causes destruction of liver cells or causes bile to become trapped in the liver can cause jaundice.
Obstruction of the bile duct. The bile duct carries an important fluid for digestion, bile, from the gall bladder to the small intestine. Obstruction can occur within the gall bladder or anywhere along the bile duct.
Destruction of red blood cells. The process of red cell destruction is known as haemolysis. It can occur within blood vessels (intravascular) or in the spleen and liver (extravascular).
Within each category listed above are several possible causes. Determining the cause of jaundice requires a series of tests. Some of these tests determine which category is involved. Once that is known, other tests are done to look for a specific disease which is leading to the jaundiced state.
Since severe red cell destruction needs to occur before jaundice develops and because an estimation of the numbers of red cells present can be done quickly and easily, determination of red blood cell numbers is one of the first tests performed on the jaundiced patient. The packed cell volume (PCV) is a centrifuge-performed test that separates the red blood cells from the serum or plasma (the liquid parts of the blood) and expresses the packed cells as a percentage of the whole.
Haemolysis can be caused by toxic plants, chemicals, or drugs, parasites on the red blood cells, heartworms, autoimmune diseases, and cancer. Several tests are needed to determine which of these is the cause.
A biochemistry profile is performed on dogs with jaundice. This is a group of 20-30 tests that are performed on a blood sample. This profile contains several tests that are specific for liver disease. The main ones are the alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST); alkaline phosphatase (ALP), and the proportions of different types of bilirubins present in the blood.
Although each of these tests look at the liver from a slightly different perspective, ultimately they only determine that liver disease is occurring. None of them is able to determine the exact cause of the disease. To make that determination, a biopsy of the liver is necessary. This can be done in three ways.
1. Fine-needle aspirate. To perform this procedure, a small gauge needle is inserted through the skin into the liver. A syringe is used to aspirate some cells from the liver. The cells are placed on a glass slide, stained, and studied under a microscope. This is the least invasive and quickest test, but it has certain limitations. Because only a few cells are obtained, it is possible that a representative sample from the liver will not be obtained. It is also not possible to view the cells in their normal relationship to each other (i.e., tissue architecture). Some diseases can be diagnosed with this technique, and others cannot.
2. Needle biopsy. This procedure is similar to the fine-needle aspirate except a much larger needle is used. This needle is able to recover a core of tissue, not just a few cells. The sample is fixed in formaldehyde and submitted to a pathologist for analysis. General anaesthesia is required, but the dog is anaesthetised for only a very short period of time. If it is done properly and with a little luck, this procedure will recover a very meaningful sample. However, the veterinary surgeon cannot choose the exact site of the liver to biopsy because the liver is not visible. Therefore, it is still possible to miss the abnormal tissue.
3. Surgical wedge biopsy. The dog is placed under general anaesthesia, and the abdomen is opened surgically. This permits direct visualisation of the liver so the exact site for biopsy can be chosen. A piece of the liver is surgically removed using a scalpel. This approach gives the most reliable biopsy sample, but carries the greatest risk since general anaesthetic and major surgery is involved. The cost of this evaluation also is considerable.
4. Ultrasound guided biopsy. Here a needle biopsy is carried out but the area of liver sampled can be selected using ultrasound. This technique carries fewer risks than (3) but is more expensive. Usually a very short acting anaesthetic is necessary.
The most common causes of liver disease include bacterial infections, viral infections, toxic plants, chemicals, or drugs, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and certain breed-specific liver diseases.
Dogs with obstructed bile ducts are usually extremely jaundiced. Their yellow colour can often be seen readily in the skin, as well as the sclerae and gingiva. However, an evaluation of the gall bladder and bile duct is necessary to be sure that obstruction is present.
An ultrasound examination is the most accurate non-invasive way to evaluate the gall bladder and bile duct. This technology uses sound waves to "look" at the liver, gall bladder, and bile duct. If this is not available, radiographs (x-rays) should be taken of the liver. However, sometimes exploratory surgery is necessary to properly evaluate the dog for biliary obstruction.
The most common causes of bile duct obstruction include pancreatitis, trauma, cancer, gall bladder stones, and severely thickened bile.
Jaundice is not a disease; it is a sign that disease is present. Therefore, there is not a specific treatment for jaundice. Jaundice will resolve when the disease that causes it is cured.
The basis for resolving jaundice is to diagnose the underlying disease. When the proper testing is done, this is usually possible. Then, treatment can begin.
Tapeworms and roundworms are two of the most common intestinal parasites of dogs Tapeworms are long flat worms composed of many individual segments whereas round worms are much shorter and have rounded bodies. Roundworms produce microscopic eggs which are shed in the faeces of infected cats, whereas tapeworms release mature segments (which again contain eggs) from the end of the worm into the faeces. These segments sometimes look like grains of rice and are mobile. They can occasionally be seen on the hair around the anus of the cat or in the faeces.
Roundworms are very common, particularly in young dogs and puppies. The two most common species found are Toxocara cati and Toxascaris leonina. With both of these worms, eggs passed in the faeces can be ingested (eaten) by another cat leading to transmission of infection. In addition, the eggs may be eaten by another animal (‘intermediate host’) such as a small rodent (for example a mouse or rat), and a cat can be infected by preying on (eating) the infected intermediate host. For Toxocara cati there is another important route of transmission to puppies, which is through the milk of the bitch (mother). From earlier infections with roundworms, a bitch will have some larvae remaining dormant in certain tissues in the body and when she gives birth to a litter of puppies these larvae migrate to the mammary glands and are excreted in the milk. This process causes no harm to the queen, but means that puppies are very commonly infected with roundworms from a very young age. Roundworm infections are extremely common, and it is safe to assume that all puppies will be infected.
There are a variety of different tapeworms that can infect dogs, but the two most common are Dipylidium caninum and Taenia taeniaformis. The eggs of Dipylidium shed within the tapeworm segments in the faeces are eaten by flea larvae, and then other cats become infected with this tapeworm by ingestion (eating) an infected flea during grooming. As flea infections are so common in cats, this tapeworm is also common and it should be assumed that any cat with fleas will also have Dipylidium infection.
In contrast, the eggs of Taenia taeniaformis are eaten by rodents (rats and mice) so other cats become infected during hunting by eating an infected rodent. Infection with this worm is less common therefore, but should be expected in any cat that actively hunts.
It is possible for humans to be infected with both Toxocara cati and Dipylidium caninum, the latter is very rare however, as it requires ingestion (eating) of an infected flea. Toxocara cati is more of a concern, particularly in children, where ingestion of the eggs may result in migration of the worm larvae through the body and potential damage. This is much more of a risk with the dog roundworm (Toxocara canis) but can still occur occasionally with Toxocara cati.
Due to the potential human health hazard, as well as the possible ill-health to the cat, regular worming of cats is important. In addition, careful disposal of litter from litter trays is important, and ideally the tray should be disinfected weekly with boiling water.
A variety of products are available to treat roundworms and tapeworms in cats but they are not all equally effective. For the best advice on the type of worming preparation most suitable for your cat, you should seek the help of your veterinary surgeon.
As puppies can be infected with roundworms from a very young age it is important that worming is started early and repeated regularly. Tapeworms are more likely to be a problem in adult cats and at this age less frequent but still regular worming is required.
A suitable protocol for worming cats of all ages is:
1. Puppies from 4 to 16 weeks of age
Treat every two weeks with a product active against roundworms, e.g. pyrantel.
2. Dogs from 6 months of age and older
Treat every two to six months with a product active against both roundworms and tapeworms.
The precise frequency of treatment will depend on likely exposure to tapeworms in particular (for example whether fleas are present and whether the cat hunts).
For example, acute hemorrhage due to road traffic accidents, anemia or blood circulation system failure, chronic blood parasitism, excessive blood losses due to surgery, platelet insufficiency or coagulation dysfunction, low protein sickness.
Blood transfusions with unmatched blood types carry a risk of acute hemolytic immune responses which can be life-threatening. These tests are performed to avoid these reactions.
There are 3 blood types for feline (A, B & AB) and 8 blood types for canine (DEA1.1, 1.2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8). Universal Donor means an animal’s blood is suitable for all blood types and there will be no undesirable responses after transfusion.
The universal blood type for canines is DEA1.1 negative, while there is no universal blood type for felines.
Requirements of Blood Donors:
• Age 2 – 8 year-old
• Not pregnant
• Weight: 20 kilograms or above for canines; 4kg or above for felines.
• Tame character with good general health
• Does not have endocrine disease, immune-mediated disease, neurological dysfunction, common infectious disease or heart disease, etc.
• Does not have external or internal parasites and heartworm disease.
The blood donation volume for feline is 60 ml (11 – 13 ml/per kg) and it can donate blood for every 3 – 4 weeks.
The blood donation volume for canine is 400 ml (16 – 18 ml/per kg) and it can donate blood for every 2 months.