All Posts By


Patient of the Week: Meet Nicky-Toothless and Happy

By All Posts No Comments

imageMeet Nicky. He could tell you a thing or two about pain.  Nicky has a bad back. In 2011 he was diagnosed with intervertebral disc disease (a slipped disc).  He required surgery to relieve the pressure on his spinal chord from several slipped discs. He recovered and other than a few ear infections he did well until a few months ago.

In Dec. his owner noticed weight loss, poor appetite, and occasional vomiting.  We examined Nicky and did some blood tests which indicated a liver problem.  During this exam we also noticed fairly advanced dental disease. I was unsure which problem, liver or dental, was the reason for Nicky’s decline in health.  We treated the liver in hopes that Nicky could then have a dental treatment. He improved and was maintined on pain medicine for his sore mouth until he could see Dr. Hale, the veterinary dentist.

The day before his dental treatment he had another episode of back pain and became partially paralyzed. A different part of his spine was effected this time and he might have once again needed surgery.  The team at the Ontario Veterinary College decided that even though he was partially paralyzed it was best for him to go ahead with the dental treatment. If he needed back surgery the rest of him would be infection free and therefore pose less risk to the back as it healed. So to the dentist he hobbled.  Dr. Hale found more than we expected. Nicky had CUPS, chronic ulcerative paradental stomatitis. The cause of CUPS is not fully understood but dogs with CUPS seem to be plaque intolerant. Anywhere the lining of the mouth contacts plaque it becomes ulcerated. These dogs have mouths full of painful, infected ulcers. The combination of CUPS and periodontal disease meant the only treatment for Nicky was extraction of all his teeth.

Nicky awoke toothless and still partially paralyzed. He had a tough couple of weeks ahead of him.  He needed pain medicine for both his back and his mouth which he usually took with food. He did not want to eat and, to not undo any of his oral surgery, we were instructed not to touch his mouth. A pain patch got him through those first few days.

Nicky’s back got better and his mouth healed and to me he is a changed dog. He has always been anxious and afraid when he visits the clinic. And in the past he felt his only hope of escaping was to bite. And bite he did. He would need a tight hug from an assistant for us to do anything to him.  This restraint didn’t make thing easier for him.  Now that his bite won’t injure us we no longer have to give him a big bear hug. What surprised me is that he doesn’t try to bite. I expected to feel his gums but he is a changed dog. The last time he stood on my exam table he looked at me and wagged his taiI. Maybe Nicky knows he can’t bite so he doesn’t try but maybe Nicky is happier because he feels better.

I would never wish that any dog has to lose all its teeth but living pain free is every pet’s right.

imageA happier, but toothless, Nicky.

Name the Lesion

By Hospital News and Views No Comments

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe posted this photo on our Facebook page and asked our friends to guess what it is.  We had one correct entry. This is an engorged tick on a dog. Tick season peaks in spring and fall so now is tick season. Pets can pick up ticks almost anywhere outdoors.  We have clients, right here in Elmira, who find several ticks on their dog every spring, often as early as March.  This pet spends most of its time in their yard and this is where he is getting ticks.  It doesn’t take a trip north or an off road adventure to find these tiny monsters.  Ticks attach to pets, and people, with their mouth apparatus and feed on their host’s blood. It can take a week for a tick to fill up and when full they let go and drop off.  When empty they are quite tiny but when engorged with blood they can more than triple in size.  This is usually when they are noticed but by this time they have already been on the pet for a week. Depending on the colour and length of your pet’s fur you may never see the attached tick.  The tick’s bite is not a concern but they can transmit organisms that cause serious illness in pets and people.  An example of such a disease is Lyme disease.  There are  currently no tick repellents or killers that will get rid of the parasite fast enough to prevent it transmitting disease.  If you find a tick on your pet we can help you remove it and we can send it for testing to determine if it is a carrier of any infectious organisms.  If you are unsure about your pet and exposure to ticks we have an in-clinic test that can be done on a very small blood sample which will tell us if your pet has been exposed to 3 of the most common tick transmitted diseases.

Search under Pet Health for more information about ticks and pets or go to the link below.

People, Pets and Parasites

By All Posts No Comments

An article by Dr. Hirzer

We share many things with our pets from our yards, homes, beds and sometimes even snacks. I have seen my friend share an ice cream cone with his beloved Golden Retriever. The dog didn’t finish the cone, they took turns licking! Even as a long time animal lover I was somewhat appalled and have since learned that this is a more common practice than I care to think it is.

Sharing our lives with animals may mean sharing parasites, too. Our pets expose themselves to parasites in their everyday lives. Most puppies are infested with round worms from their mothers. Animals can be infected from the things they are fed or choose to eat, like raw food diets, other animals, manure or feces. Parasites can also be ingested when pets groom by licking themselves. Some worms even have the ability to penetrate skin in order to enter an animal’s body.

Pet parasites, specifically intestinal worms can also infest us. People at greatest risk of acquiring pet related parasitic infestations are those who are most exposed to pets and their feces. This category certainly includes pet owners. Children are at particularly high risk of exposure due to their habit of putting things in their mouths. They aren’t necessarily eating pet poop, but may be getting sand, dirt or toys that have contacted the feces in their mouths. The danger in sharing a snack with your pet depends on what they had in their mouths before licking the ice cream cone. Parasites can also infect us by penetrating our skin. Our pets’ intestinal worms don’t necessarily become intestinal worms in us. Larval migrans is a term that describes a condition in which parasitic worms enter and migrate throughout our bodies. Migration can occur in the skin or any other tissues and organs. There are documented cases of these worm migrations occurring in the eye and causing blindness or in the brain causing neurological problems.

The risk of these types of infections in people can be reduced in a number of ways. We can reduce our exposure to animal feces by daily disposal of pet droppings, covering children’s sandboxes and hand washing after touching anything potentially contaminated with animal feces. We can also try to keep our pets parasite free by preventing them from hunting, feeding them cooked diets, having regular pet fecal examinations, and instituting a regular deworming program.

Your veterinarian can help you diagnose and treat parasite infections in your pet(s). Laboratory fecal examinations can be done to diagnose and identify intestinal parasites. There are a number of techniques available and they vary widely in their accuracy and none is 100% accurate. It is therefore important to also consider the lifestyle of your pet when deciding about a deworming program. The Tea Cup Poodle that lives in a high rise condo, is paper trained and only goes out in a fashionable pet tote bag has a low risk for parasitism. The farm dog that lives outdoors and supplements its diet with groundhogs, rabbits and manure has an extremely high risk of parasitism. The average pet, the cat that occasionally indulges in hunting or dog that goes for walks and sneaks a lick of enticing smelling stuff on the ground, are at a moderate risk of parasitism but these are the pets that give us kisses. Consulting with your veterinarian can help you determine the right deworming program for your pet.

With the readily available veterinary diagnostics and treatments and some common sense cleanliness we can feel safe to continue sharing our yards, homes, beds and ice cream cones with our pets.