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Bones: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Bones Although most of us grew up with the assumption that bones are good for our pets this is in fact a fallacy, one that more pet owners should be made aware of. Let’s look at some effects and risks involved when feeding bones to pets. The Good: The unfortunate truth is that the only good thing about feeding your dog bones is that they like it and it keeps them busy, especially if they have a tendency to chew. Sadly just as we all enjoy our McDonalds, KFC and pizza we know these foods are not good for our health and the same applies to bones for your dog. They carry no nutritional value and are indigestible. Perhaps the only part of the bone a dog may actually eat and digest would be bone marrow. Read more
My cat has pimples!
Feline Acne Feline acne is a common skin condition in cats. Cats of any age can be affected, and there is no breed or sex predisposition. Cats are often presented to the veterinarian with the complaint of ‘dirt on the cat’s chin, that the owner cannot remove after attempts to clean it’ or ‘bumps on the cats chin’. How does feline acne develop? Hair follicles on the chin become blocked with secretions from small fat glands called sebaceous glands in the skin. This gives rise to multiple blackheads otherwise known as comedones on the chin, giving the chin the so-called ‘dirty appearance’. These comedones may also be associated with small red blisters or pimples and crusts on the surface of the chin. Read more
What is trichobezoar?
Hairballs in cats The elusive and very unpleasant hairball is something that every cat owner will experience at some point. Cats in general are very clean and well-kept animals and grooming is an essential routine for them to ensure their cleanliness. A healthy cat is one that grooms. Hairballs are simply a by-product of your cat’s hygiene. A trichobezoar, commonly known as a hairball, is a clump of indigestible hair, moistened by bile and digestive fluid that may or may not contain bits of food or other foreign material. Hairballs are not usually round in shape but rather drawn-out and the shape of a sausage. This is due to their passage through the oesophagus, the tube connecting the stomach to the mouth, which is long and cylindrical. Hairballs can occasionally resemble faeces but on closer examination one will notice it is made up of hair. It also does not smell like faeces although it does not have a particularly pleasant odour. Read more
What causes back pain in dogs?
Disc disease in dogs Introduction Intervertebral disc disease is a term that describes the condition in which the softer cartilage like material in between the bones of the spine, called an intervertebral disc, pushes onto the spinal cord, causing clinical signs that varies from slight back pain and discomfort to complete paralysis of limbs. Even with the slightest clinical signs, your pet should be examined by the vet to establish how serious the condition is and be treated accordingly. The earlier this is attended to, the better the overall outcome. Read more
Is your male pet missing testicles?
Cryptorchidism Cryptorchidism is a condition where the male dog or cat’s testicles have not descended into the scrotum. Descended in this context means that the testicles has come from inside the dog or cat’s belly and are visibly sitting in the ball sack (scrotum). In the embryo, when the kitten or puppy is being formed in the mother’s womb, the testicles develop inside the puppy or kitten’s abdomen (stomach cavity) behind the kidneys. As the embryo matures, the testicles then move from the inside to the outside of the animal’s abdomen. Read more
Old man's gland - Do dogs have the same problems as humans?
Prostate disease in the dog The prostate is the only accessory sex gland in the male dog. It is a butterfly shaped structure that surrounds the urethra (the tube that connects the bladder to the outside). Due to the location of the prostate, it can affect the urinary system, the colon and the hind legs, as well as having some systemic effects. Prostatic fluid is produced continuously in the dog. Prostatic fluid makes up most of the volume of seminal fluid (the fluid that carries semen). The prostate has many nerves and blood vessels running to it but is surrounded by a thick capsule, which sometimes makes it difficult for some drugs to get deep down into the prostate. Normal prostatic function is dependent on circulating testosterone. The prostate can develop a few conditions that can result in debilitating disease in the dog. Read more
Can I treat my pet's wound at home?
Wound Care at Home When managing wounds at home it is important to always contact your veterinarian for assistance. Many home and even human wound remedies are not suitable for use in pets. Determining factors in deciding whether a wound can be treated at home or needs veterinary care includes the severity and age of the wound, the cause and location of the wound, and most importantly if the pet is leaving the wound alone. In most instances the safest and most effective way to deal with it is to take the injured pet to the veterinarian for initial treatment and advice on continued care at home. In this article we will go over some of the major components of wound treatment and care as well as giving you guidelines on when to visit the vet. Read more
Pregnant women have to watch out for this bug carried by cats
Toxoplasmosis Introduction Toxoplasma gondii is a tiny organism, slightly bigger than a bacterium, called a protozoa. This parasite has a worldwide distribution, except in the absence of cats. Cats are the only animals capable of completing the life cycle of this organism. Other warm blooded animals, including cats can serve as intermediate hosts for the parasite. The organism has a very high prevalence, but rarely causes clinical disease in dogs and cats. This is an important parasite to be aware of due to the fact that it is an important zoonosis, meaning it is an animal disease that can be transmitted to humans. Read more
Why is my dog limping with his hind leg?
Patellar Luxation Patellar luxation is a condition where the knee cap does not run in its groove but slips off to the side. Luxation is a learned word for “slipping”. It is a condition which is regularly encountered in dogs and more commonly in toy breeds. The condition can be developmental or traumatic in origin. To understand the condition better, it helps to know what the anatomy of the knee looks like. The patella is commonly known as the knee cap and sits at the bottom of the big muscle group of the upper front part of the hind leg called the quadriceps. The patella makes up the front part of the knee and glides in the middle groove of the big bone of the upper part of the hind leg, the femur. This groove is known as the trochlear groove. The groove looks like a valley with two mountain ridges on either side. The ridges on either side of the groove are known as the trochlear ridges. The ridge on the inner part of the leg is known as the medial trochlear ridge and the one on th Read more
My young cat seems ill
Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a serious and most often fatal disease affecting cats. It is most commonly seen in young cats between the ages of six months and two years. It has been found to affect male cats more commonly than females and purebred cats particularly the Asian breeds are more susceptible. It is characterised by fluid build-up in body cavities such as the chest and abdomen and neurological signs. It can affect all major organs and inevitably results in death. It may be referred to as Feline coronavirus polyserositis (wet or effusive form) or granulomatous feline infectious peritonitis (dry or non effusive form). Read more
Can humans get worms from dogs and cats?
Have you ever wondered if humans can get worms from dogs and cats? You don’t have to wonder any longer, the answer is ‘yes’. In this overview we look at which worms can be transmitted between pets and humans, what diseases they cause and how to prevent this potential health risk. Read more
My pet has red urine - what does it mean?
Bladder stones is a condition that occurs in dogs and cats of various ages, sex and breeds. Bladder stones are also called urinary calculi or uroliths. These are mineral like formations that form anywhere in the urinary tract, including kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. The most frequent location is the bladder. Read more
Do cats bite for no reason?
Cats are often seen as less aggressive animals than dogs but they have five sharp ends that can be used at a moments notice. Cats may also be seen as more instinctive than dogs, mimicking some of the behaviour seen in their wild counterparts. This is obviously on a much smaller level. Aggression can be directed towards people, cats, other species such as dogs, rabbits and birds or inanimate objects, which would include toys or furniture. The most common causes of aggression in cats can be described under the following categories: Read more
Does your puppy have good manners?
House training your new puppy It is important to plan ahead for house training. Always ensure everyone in the house is involved and that everyone knows what the plan is. It is important to have consistency when training puppies so as not to confuse them. Routine is essential for achieving the desired goal of having a puppy with "good manners". Puppies, as with human babies, benefit greatly from a fixed routine, they feel safer and it helps the learning process. Read more
Do dogs bite for no reason?
Aggression in dogs Aggression can be classified into several different categories. Fighting amongst dogs in the same household is probably the most common aggression problem, followed by aggression to unfamiliar people. It is not always possible to prevent aggression but it can usually be controlled with effective management. In some cases, re-homing an aggressive animal may be a suitable solution and in a few cases, euthanasia may be the only option. Read more
A new puppy - happiest days or worst nightmare?
Having a new puppy join your family can be one of the most exhilarating experiences for a family but if not done the right way it can have disastrous consequences. People often let emotions get the better of them and don't make informed decisions. A new puppy will become part of the family for the rest of its life and you will be responsible for its wellbeing. Before getting a new puppy, there are a number of things one has to consider. Read more
Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV) infection in cats
Feline leukaemia (FELV) is a disease of cats caused by a virus called a retrovirus. It is called a retrovirus because of the method it uses to replicate inside the cat. It is the same type of virus as the human immunodeficiency virus and although there are a lot of disease similarities, several studies have shown that the disease is not transmissible to humans. FeLV is one of the most dangerous diseases that affect cats and is a major cause of death in cats. Read more
Cat Aids
Feline immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) has similar building blocks and is related to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), but very importantly, it cannot be passed between cats and humans. The virus can also not be transmitted from cats to dogs. Both FIV and HIV viruses share a similar pattern of disease progression. Both viruses are classified as Lentivirus, which means they have a long period of showing very few clinical signs during which time the immune system deteriorates. Eventually Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) develops and this is accompanied by opportunistic infections, systemic disease and cancer. Read more
My cat is eating like crazy but stays thin - What is the deal?
Hyperthyroidism refers to an overactive thyroid gland. The thyroid gland can be considered the engine room of the cat's body, which is responsible for the metabolism in the body and responsible for determining the speed at which all processes in the body works. It is an important part of the endocrine or hormonal messenger system in the body and affects all the organ systems including the liver, kidneys, heart, nervous system, intestines and even the skin. Read more
help
Demodex is a mite that lives in the hair follicles of most mammals. It is species specific which means that different types of animals, including humans, have their own type of mite. It is a normal inhabitant of the skin and is most commonly not contagious. The mite is usually passed on to puppies from their mother in the first 72 hours of life. Read more
Understanding congestive heart failure in your pet
Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) is a very common condition affecting our pets, and is more often seen in dogs than cats. Although it is a serious condition, and a major concern for a pet owner, it can be easily diagnosed and once diagnosed, it can be managed effectively. The important thing is to make an early diagnosis and start treatment immediately. Read more
When is it more than just a tummy ache?
Pancreatitis The pancreas is a small gland that is situated next to the stomach and first part of the small intestine in the front of the abdomen. As in humans, it performs two main functions in dogs and cats. Read more
Tis The Season To Be Jolly
As the end of the year draws to a close, most businesses start to slow down in anticipation of a well-needed rest. The veterinary world however, braces itself for its busiest time. The holiday season comes with a multitude of risks for animals. This occurs for many reasons, some of them are out of our control, including climatic changes and prevalence of certain parasites, but many of them can be guarded against if the pet owner is aware and vigilant. Read more
Kidney Failure
The kidneys are very important organs of the animal body and play an important role in the normal day to day functioning of the body. They act like a specialised type of filter by retaining the appropriate amount of different salts (electrolytes) to maintain fluid balance in the body. They secrete a hormone which is involved in the production of red blood cells. Read more
Socialisation - The Critical Period
Vets recognise the importance of looking at animals not only from a health point of view, but from a holistic point of view where the animal's health is but one part of the overall wellbeing of the animal. Aspects like nutrition, shelter, behaviour and training form as an important part of an animal's overall wellbeing as the physical and medical condition of the animal. Read more
Hand Rearing Young Animals - A Basic Guideline
The birth of a litter is a very exciting event, but it is also a huge responsibility for the owner, as many things can go wrong. Besides the birth process itself, problems can occur with the young animals due to birth defects, infections, or insufficient mothering care. In these cases hand rearing may be necessary. Read more
Ear Infections in Your Pet
Ear infections are common in dogs, and to a lesser degree in cats. The anatomy of the animal predisposes them to this condition. The ear canal of the dog and cat follows the shape of an "L", going first downwards and then horisontally. This shape makes it difficult for debris and water that go into the ear to come out, against the force of gravity. Read more
Do cats get colds?
Just like humans and most other domestic animal species, cats can also catch colds. In cats, this disease is referred to as Snuffles - quite an apt name for all the sniffing and snorting associated with this disease. The learned name for this disease is Feline Rhinotracheitis. This name describes the disease well; Read more
Do Dogs get colds?
Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis, or as it is more commonly known, Kennel Cough, is an upper respiratory tract disease of dogs that is found throughout the world. Breaking down the names of disease gives an indication as to how, and which parts of, the respiratory tract are involved. Read more
The Hype about Hyperadrenocortism
Hyperadrenocorticism, or Cushing's Disease, is a condition whereby the level of cortisol in the body is too high. It is a condition which is also found in humans and the name Cushing's Disease or also commonly known as Cushing's Syndrome comes from Harvey Cushing, who in 1912, was one of the first physicians to report a patient affected with excessive cortisol hormone also otherwise known as glucocorticoid. Read more
Diabetes Defined
The pancreas is an organ in the body which is closely associated with the segment of intestine that leaves the stomach. The pancreas releases enzymes involved in digestion as well as hormones with specific functions. One of these hormones is insulin. Insulin is released from the pancreas in response to the intake of food, especially carbohydrates and to a lesser degree fats and protein. Read more
My pet is having a fit! - Seizures in Pets
Anyone who has ever seen an animal experiencing a seizure will know that it is a "hair raising" event. Seizures or "fits" is a well described phenomenon in domestic pets. The way in which a fit or seizure presents can vary significantly, from what seems to be a brief moment of absent mindedness to full blown body contractions where the animal is semi-conscious and lying on the ground shivering, shaking and convulsing, Read more
Children and pets
The treatment of cancer in pets has become a significant part of the therapy provided by veterinarians to keep our pet population healthy and thriving. Depending on the modality used, the type and extent of cancer treated, and the size and the nature of the animal involved, cancer treatment can be very expensive. Read more
Cancer in pets - Part 1 of 2
The battle against cancer in humans is as old as mankind itself. Since veterinary medicine became a fully-fledged discipline in the previous century, this battle has been extended to animals, and more so than any other area of veterinary medicine, to our pets. Many animal owners who are confronted with cancer in their pet for the first time, are somewhat surprised to find out that cancer is as prevalent in animals as it is in humans. Read more
Smelling as fresh as a spring breeze
Human hygiene and animal hygiene are worlds apart. Whatever is considered to be clean for humans is totally something else for our pets. Dirt may easily be disguised in the thick (or thin) coat of a pet and only once the animal is washed do we really see how dirty they are. Read more
Fireworks and Thunderstorms and your pet
Anxiety and angst is as much part of the animal world as it is of the human world. As humans, the way in which we manage stress and anxiety is largely related to our understanding of our environment and an interpretation of cause and effect. Unfortunately this is not the same for animals. Read more
New puppies and kittens - Part 3 of 3
Nobody will dispute the cuteness of puppies or kittens. These adorable little creatures really pull at the heart strings and appeal to young and old. However spending some time in a puppy or kitten shelter and seeing what undernourished or uncared for puppies or kittens look like, will make anyone who is serious about the well being of animals think twice about indiscriminate breeding. Read more
Frequently Asked Questions about Rabies
How often must I vaccinate my dog? Puppies should be vaccinated at 3 months old with a booster vaccination required a month later and a booster given within 12 months of original vaccination . Thereafter animals who live in Rabies endemic areas like KwaZulu Natal should be given a rabies vaccination every year and animals living in non-Rabies endemic areas every 3 years by law, but preferably also yearly. Read more
Rabies
Rabies, a fatal disease of humans and all other mammals, is caused by a virus which has been associated with animal bites for more than 3 000 years and it is the oldest infectious disease known to medical science. Dogs have long been recognised as the main transmitters of the disease to people. Read more
New puppies and kittens - Part 2 of 3
Gestation (Pregnancy) Dogs are on average pregnant for 63 days after fertilisation has taken place. It may be difficult to determine exactly when a bitch fell pregnant if multiple matings took place over a number of days and therefore pregnancy may seem to be longer than 63 days, sometimes up to 72 days. Sperm can also stay alive in the female genital track for a few days and therefore fertilisation may happen a day or two or even up to a few days after mating. Read more
New puppies and kittens - Part 1 of 3
Heat and Mating in dogs and cats Few things in life are cuter than a puppy or kitten! If you would like to let your dog or cat have a litter of puppies or kittens there are a number of things you need to know in preparation for the process. Read more
Urination problems in cats - Part 2 of 2
In part 1 of this article we looked at the difference between urine marking and inappropriate elimination in cats, and urine marking was discussed in more depth. In this article we will look at the reasons for inappropriate elimination as well as the diagnosis and treatment of both inappropriate elimination and urine marking. Read more
Urination problems in cats - Part 1 of 2
Ask any cat owner and they will tell you that cats are not just small little dogs. So naturally a fair amount of the medical problems cats suffer from are unique to this species. In this two part series we are going to explore one of the more common problems that affect cats. Read more
Getting the most from your visit to the vet
Everybody wants value for money. No one will deny that it is no different when taking your pets to the vet. We love our four legged and feathered friends dearly, but like everything else in life, most of us have to budget for their expenses, and make sure we derive as much value out of a visit to the vet as possible. Read more
Poisoning in Pets - Part 2 of 2
We know that rat poison will kill a rat, but..., "Will it harm my cat or dog?"people often ask the vet? The answer is an emphatic YES. As a matter of fact, there are quite a few other common household items which can be lethal for dogs, cats, pet birds and pocket pets like hamsters and mice. Read more
Poisoning in Pets - Part 1 of 2
"Surely if a medicine is safe for use in humans it should be safe for use in my pet", vets often hear from pet owners. Nothing could be further from the truth and some human medicines and even some fruit and vegetables and sweets daily eaten by humans, can be deadly to our dogs, cats, pet birds and pocket pets like hamsters and mice. Read more
Battle of the Bulge
Most people, at some point in time, struggle to shed some extra weight. Obesity in humans has reached epidemic proportions and in a study released two years ago, South Africans were classified as the third fattest people on earth. Worse than this, is the fact that obesity in pets is following this trend and fast becoming a disease on its own. Read more
We're all going on a Summer Holiday
Going on holiday is always fun but we must never forget or neglect our pets in the excitement leading up to a well deserved vacation. When going on holiday find someone to look after your pets while you are away. It will be a good idea either to get a house sitter or place your pets in a kennel over the holidays as medical problems can just as easily arise when you are not at home. Read more
Arthritis Treatment and prevention - Part 2 of 2
In part one of this two part article, we looked at the signs and diagnoses of arthritis in pets. In this part of the article, we will look at the treatment and prevention of arthritis in pets. With the advancement of technology and medicine, arthritis is no longer a death sentence. Our beloved pets can benefit from a range of surgical and medical treatment. Read more
Arthritis Signs and Diagnoses - Part 1 of 2
So what happens when your beloved canine friend does not want to go for his walk anymore because he is too sore the next morning? Unfortunately older pets, and these days even puppies, get afflicted by a condition commonly known as joint disease. This is the same problem we as humans suffer from as well, better known as arthritis. Read more
Scratch scratch scratch - Part 2 of 2
In the first part of this two part series we looked at the complexity of itching and scratching in pets and the fact that although the symptoms eventually manifest in the same way i.e. itching and scratching, there could be many different causes for it. Itching or pruritis, as vets call it, can be described as the sensation that elicits the desire to scratch. Read more
Scratch scratch scratch - Part 1 of 2
Vets often hear this complaint in the examination room, where clients complain about the incessant itching and scratching of their pets. This is a more common complaint with dogs where the nightly thump, thump, thump of a hind limb hitting the floor keeps the owner and the dog awake for hours. Read more
A killer disease with a misleading name
The name of a particular disease is often influenced by the circumstances around the original occurrence of such a disease. For example "sleeping disease" in humans was originally associated with the green fever trees found in low lying areas around South Africa. Read more
Animal Emergencies
An animal emergency can roughly be defined as an incident or condition which, once it occurs, if left untreated for more than an hour, will lead to death. Most emergencies have an acute nature or onset and leave little room for preparation and decision making. We therefore have to prepare for them in advance, and be ready to take action as soon as the emergency occurs. Read more
Your pet's once a year health check-up
Many people wonder why vets recommend having a once a year check-up for pets. There are many reasons but probably the most important is that the average dog or cat ages by approximately seven "dog/cat years" for every human year. It may differ slightly from breed to breed and usually cats and small breed dogs age slower than large breed dogs. Read more
Behaviour difficulties
"Man's best friend." The reason why dogs have been described like this over centuries is because of their unwavering loyalty and their good nature towards humans. However now and again, behavioural problems crop up in pet dogs which cause many people to dispute whether dogs are really man's best friend. Read more
Spaying / Neutering your pet
People will often refer to sterilising an animal or alternatively called spaying or neutering of a pet as a "snip-snip". This makes it sound like it is a quick, outpatient procedure, which only takes a few minutes and only cost a few rand. Nothing could be further away from the truth. Spaying or neutering pets is a full blown surgical operation which requires a general anaesthetic. Read more
Vaccinating your puppy and kitten
Getting a new puppy or kitten is always exciting and most of us just want to cuddle this cute little bundle of fur. It would be lovely if this were enough to keep them healthy and disease free forever but unfortunately it isn't. Just like human children, animal babies also need immunization when they are very young. Read more
Spirocerca lupi
Most people do not know about this little worm. It has a strange and difficult name and an equally strange life-cycle. Normal deworming remedies do not kill this parasite and most people do not even know when their dog is infected with it. This article will try and shed some light on the how, what and where of Spirocerca lupi. Read more
Periodental disease in dogs and cats
"My dog/cat has bad breath!" This is probably one of the most common complaints vets hear from pet owners. Halitosis (bad breath) can be caused by many things, but is most often related to dental disease. Read more
The infallible flea
Fleas are the most common pests on our pets. The immature stages (larvae, pupae) can survive for a long time in crevices, sofas, dog beds and carpets, just waiting for the right circumstances (e.g. heat, humidity) to hatch and cause mayhem. Then they not only irritate our pets but can also cause discomfort in humans. Many people will tell you that getting rid of a flea infestation in your home can be quite difficult and costly. Read more
The no-good, the bad and the ugly
Few people can hear the word "worms" without cringing - especially if it is related to a beloved pet. Unfortunately parasites living in the stomach and intestines occur all too common in our dogs and cats. These parasites live in the digestive tract, causing damage and robbing your pet of much needed nutrients. The amount of damage they cause depends on the type and number of worms your pet has. Read more
Tiny but deadly
Ticks Living in a warm and sunny country is great, but with it comes all the parasites and diseases associated with a warm and/or tropical climate. One of these little scourges can be found nearly all over South Africa, namely ticks. Most people have at some or other time encountered a tick on their pet. This can be quite distressing - especially if you consider a disease like biliary (tick fever). Read more