Archives for December 2012

Your Pet and Their Anal Glands

What are anal glands?
Anal glands, or anal sacs, are normal structures of the canine and feline anatomy. These two glands are located at the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock position beneath your pet’s anus. They become expressed naturally as a scent marker during natural defecation. Also they can be expressed during times of extreme fear or danger as a self defense mechanism.

What are common anal gland problems?
In some individuals, anal glands fail to express naturally and tend to fill up with glandular material that may become thickened. These glands become impacted and can be bothersome to your pet. Clinical signs you may notice are a “scooting” of the bottom on the ground or more subtle symptoms such as licking of the hind end, pinning of the tail down, or any behavior that indicates discomfort. If anal glands are impacted for long periods of time they may become infected, which can lead to abscess formation. If your pet has an anal gland abscess you may see a hard, warm swelling in the area. Abscesses require medical attention; if you see any signs of anal gland disease please schedule an appointment with your veterinarian so that your pet may receive proper care. Treatment may include sedation and placement of a temporary drain. Oral and/or injectable medications will likely be prescribed as well.

Manual expression
Anal glands can usually be expressed digitally. In some pets the glands may be expressed by applying external pressure. If an individual has thicker more pasty glandular material, he/she may require an internal expression technique. During this technique, a gloved (lubricated) finger is inserted just inside the rectum and the anal gland is expressed with more direct pressure.

If your pet has ongoing instances of anal gland impaction and/or abscessation, your veterinarian may recommend that your pet have his/her glands manually expressed on a regular basis.

If an animal suffers from severe chronic anal gland problems, he/she may need to have an anal sacculectomy. This means that the anal glands are removed surgically.

Obese and overweight pets are predisposed to anal gland disease. Be sure to maintain your pet’s weight properly. Adding fiber to your pet’s diet will help to minimize this type of problem. Fiber helps to create well – formed stools and support weight control by making him/her feel full for a longer period of time. Please consult your veterinarian about the best diet for your pet.

Lacey LaVigna, DVM

Kennel Cough in Dogs

       Kennel cough is an infectious respiratory disease of dogs. The more scientific name for the disease is canine infectious tracheobronchitis. Kennel cough is usually caused by a bacterium called Bordetella, but other bacteria and certain viruses can also play a role in the disease.
       Clinical signs of kennel cough include a hacking, honking cough that is usually not productive. Dogs generally continue to act normally (eating, drinking, active) but have a persistent cough that can last for several weeks. Dogs spread kennel cough to each other through the air with small particles being passed from one dog to the other. Usually, dogs catch kennel cough in crowded areas where lots of other dogs are present such as boarding kennels, grooming salons, or dog parks.
       Cases of kennel cough usually resolve on their own, but antibiotics and cough medications can help your dog recover more quickly. It may also be helpful to use a harness instead of a collar and leash because putting pressure on the trachea (windpipe) can make coughing worse. It’s best to see your veterinarian if your dog is showing signs of coughing because there are many other diseases that can cause a dog to cough, some of which are serious and require rapid medical care.
       Though kennel cough cannot be 100% prevented, there are vaccines available to help decrease the chance of your dog getting sick. The two most common types of vaccines are an injectable form (given under the skin) and an intranasal form (given in the nose). Talk with your veterinarian about which is best for your pet.

Kerry Thode, DVM

Upper Respiratory Infections (URI) in Cats

Is your feline friend suffering from an upper respiratory infection? Feline upper respiratory infections (URI) are a common cause of illness in cats. Two viruses, a herpes virus (feline rhinotracheitis, FHV) and feline calici virus (FCV) are the culprits for nearly 90% of these infections. These two viruses account for a large majority of patients seen, but the disease can also be caused by bacterial organisms Chlamydophila felis (chlamydia psitacci) and Bordetella bronchiseptica.

Signs / Symptoms
Signs of URI are sneezing, nasal discharge, oral or nasal ulcers, runny eyes, coughing, fever, hypersalivation, dehydration, ocular ulcers (corneal ulcers), sniffling, and/or a hoarse voice. If your cat is showing these symptoms please schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for a health examination.
Infections can be acute (sudden), chronic (long-term), or persistent. Some cats that recover from the disease can periodically experience re-occurrence of symptoms. This is typically correlated with times of youth, stress, or immunosuppression.

Cats may become infected by contact with actively infected individuals, carriers or contaminated surfaces. The virus is present in nasal, ocular, and oral secretions and discharges. Cats that are infected with FHV or FCV can be carriers for weeks to years after resolution of clinical signs.

URI is commonly diagnosed based on the clinical symptoms. Specific tests can identify FCV, FHV, Bordetella, and Chlamydophila organisms. Your veterinarian may send cultures from your cat’s mouth, throat or nose to a laboratory for testing.

Similar to the human flu, there is no specific treatment for the viral diseases that cause URI. Therapy is focused on treatment of the symptoms that cats develop, or “supportive treatment”. This includes good nursing care, hand – feedings, maintaining a warm comfortable environment, cleaning eyes and nose. Antibiotics will not help to combat a viral infection but you veterinarian might choose to prescribe an antibiotic to help protect against secondary bacterial infections that may occur. Antiviral eye drops, low doses of interferon-alpha to stimulate the immune system and oral lysine may be indicated in some cases.
It is a great idea to vaccinate your cat in order to protect against URI. Core feline distemper vaccines are frequently combined with herpesvirus, calicivirus, and som etimes Chlamydophila felis to provide protection.
Consult with your veterinarian about your cat’s vaccine schedule and recommendations.

Lacey LaVigna, DVM