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Diseases

Rabies

Rabies is a fatal viral disease that can affect dogs, cats, and people, as well as livestock species such as horses and cows. In Wisconsin the most common wild carriers of rabies are skunks and bats, but raccoons can also carry it. Rabies is spread by the bite of an infected animal, and there is no treatment for it.

State law requires all dogs over 16 weeks of age, be vaccinated for Rabies, then re-vaccinated in one year. There-after rabies vaccination is required every 3 years. Some municipalities require the same vaccination schedule for cats.

We STRONGLY recommend that dogs, cats and ferrets be kept current on their Rabies vaccinations to protect both the pets and their human families.

Canine Distemper

Canine distemper virus is a deadly disease that can affect puppies, unvaccinated dogs and immune compromised dogs. The virus is spread when it comes in contact with the mucus membranes.

It is carried and spread by wild animals such as fox, coyote, wolf and raccoons. The first symptoms you may notice are eye and nose discharge, fever, poor appetite and coughing. It can progress to cause vomiting, pneumonia, diarrhea, hardening of the paw pads and callus on the nose.

In the more severe final stages it causes tremors, weakness, imbalance, seizures and death. Recovery is possible with treatment, but some of the neurological symptoms may never go away. Treatment includes hospitalization for several days including fluid therapy and medications to help with the symptoms.

Even with successful treatment further symptoms may develop weeks after the initial treatment. As you can see, it is much better to prevent this disease then to treat your dog for it. Preventing this disease with vaccinations is important to your dogs health.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a bacterial disease spread by infected ticks, throughout Wisconsin, that affects dogs, horses, and people. In dogs, Lyme disease can cause fever, lethargy, severe sudden lameness of one or multiple legs and many other symptoms. Untreated it can be life-threatening,and even with treatment, problems can become recurrent.

We recommend that all dogs be vaccinated for Lyme disease, and especially those dogs that go up north hunting or camping; or run about in tall grass or wooded areas. Lyme vaccination can be started as young as 9 weeks of age, and requires one booster 2-4 weeks later. Thereafter, the vaccine is yearly.

Leptospirosis

What is it and how do dogs and cats get it?
Leptospirosis is a deadly bacterial disease spread by wildlife including raccoons, skunks, opossums, squirrels, rats and sometimes other dogs and cats. The leptospirosis bacteria is shed in urine, and dogs become infected after contact with fresh urine of infected animals, or contaminated soil or water. Typical dog behavior such as sniffing, licking and eating grass can put your dog at risk for exposure. If dogs or cats drink from standing water containing the bacteria, they also can get leptospirosis. Leptospirosis enters the body through the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth, and skin wounds).

What are the signs of Leptospirosis?
Symptoms may include, increased drinking and urination, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, depression, sore muscles, shivering, difficulty breathing, coughing and rapid dehydration. Getting treatment quickly to prevent kidney failure can mean the difference between life and death for some patients. Today, leptospirosis is the #1 infectious cause of acute kidney failure in dogs.

Because Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease (meaning transmittable to humans), having pets and farm animals vaccinated against Leptospirosis can decrease the chances of infection. Clinical signs in people can be vague, including headache, nausea, lethargy, and body ache.

What is the treatment for leptospirosis?
Since leptospirosis is a bacterial infection, antibiotics are generally used. We can decide which medication is best for your pet.

If you have to collect a urine sample from your pet who could be or is infected with Leptospirosis, be sure to use gloves when handling urine specimens, along with using good hygiene.

For additional information go to www.cdc.gov (Center for Disease Control).
See: "Leptospirosis - Pets"

Infectious Tracheobronchitis (Kennel Cough)

This vaccine protects against "Kennel Cough" which is an infectious bronchitis of dogs. This is one of the few diseases of dogs that is spread through the air, not requiring dog to dog contact. Because of this, it is very easily spread anywhere that many dogs congregate, such as at boarding or grooming kennels, dog or puppy classes, or dog shows.

This vaccine for Bordetella is given orally and requires no needles. We recommend all dogs that are groomed, boarded or attending classes or shows receive this vaccine yearly. The intranasal bordetella can be given to puppies as young as 3 weeks of age, and only needs to be repeated yearly. We recommend giving this vaccine at least 2 weeks before boarding or grooming.

Feline Leukemia

Feline Leukemia(FeLV) is a fatal retro-viral infection of cats, that is somewhat similar to HIV in people. (Note that it only affects cats- it CANNOT affect people, dogs, etc.). It can cause 2 different syndromes in cats. In the first syndrome, it causes immunosuppression, which then opens the cat up to many other diseases it wouldn't normally contract. The most common symptoms of this form of the disease are fever, lethargy, anemia and recurrent infections.  The other form of the disease is a cancer- the leukemia type. FeLV can hide out in apparently normal cats for up to 3-4 years before it causes any problems for that cat.  Unfortunately though, during that time period the infected cat can transmit it to other cats.

The most common modes of transmission are through bite wounds, mating, and urine. Kittens can become infected by their mothers. Therefore, the cats most at risk for getting FeLV are cats that go outside, or cats that live with an infected cat. Cats can be tested for FeLV by a simple blood test that takes only 10 minutes and can be run in the veterinary clinic. Cats that test negative can be vaccinated starting as young as 10 weeks of age. They should receive a booster in 3-4 weeks, and then the vaccine is yearly. We do not recommend vaccination of indoor cats unless they sneak out,

or live with cats that go outside.


FIV

FIV stands for feline immunodeficiency virus, just like HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. These two viruses are closely related and much of the general information that has become common knowledge for HIV also holds true for FIV.  FIV is a virus that causes AIDS in cats; however, there is a long asymptomatic period before AIDS occurs and our job is to prolong this asymptomatic period. The average life expectancy from the time of diagnosis for FIV is 5 years. Humans cannot be infected with FIV; FIV is a

cats-only infection.

FIP

FIP is a viral disease of cats that can affect many systems of the body. It is a progressive disease and almost always fatal. It is found worldwide and affects not only domestic cats, but many wild ones as well, including cougars, bobcats, lynx, lions, and cheetahs.

What causes FIP?

FIP is caused by a virus. Cats can be infected with feline corona virus (FCoV). There are two types of this virus which cannot be distinguished from each other in laboratory tests. One is avirulent (does not cause disease) or only mildly virulent and is called feline enteric coronavirus (FECV). Infection with this virus does not produce any signs other than maybe a very mild diarrhea.

The other type is virulent (produces disease), is the cause of FIP, and is called feline infectious peritonitis virus (FIPV). It is believed that FIP occurs when FECV mutates to FIPV in the cat and starts to replicate in the cat's cells. What causes this mutation is unknown.


 

Diabetes Mellitus in Cats

This disease is seen on a fairly regular basis, usually in cats 5 years of age or older. Simply put, diabetes mellitus is a failure to regulate blood sugar.

What Insulin does for the body:
The role of insulin is much like that of a gatekeeper. It stands at the surface of body cells and opens the door, allowing glucose to leave the blood stream and pass inside the cells. Glucose is a vital substance that provides much of the energy needed for life, and it must work inside the cells. Without an adequate amount of insulin, glucose is unable to get into the cells. It accumulates in the blood, setting in motion a series of events that can ultimately prove fatal.

When insulin is deficient, the cells become starved for a source of energy. In response to this, the body starts breaking down stores of fat and protein to use as alternative energy sources. As a consequence, the cat eats more; thus, we have weight loss in a cat with a ravenous appetite. The body tries to eliminate the excess glucose by eliminating it in the urine. However, glucose (blood sugar) attracts water; thus, urine glucose takes with it large quantities of the body's fluids, resulting in the production of a large amount of urine. To avoid dehydration, the cat drinks more and more water. Thus, we have four classical signs of diabetes:


Weight Loss
Ravenous Appetite
Increased water consumption
Increased urination

Diagnosing Diabetes:
The diagnosis of diabetes is based on three criteria: the four classical signs, the presence of a persistently high level of glucose in the blood stream, and the presence of glucose in the urine.

The normal level of glucose in the blood is 80-120 mg/dl. It may rise to 250-300 mg/dl following a meal or when the cat is very excited. However, diabetes is the only common disease that will cause the blood glucose level to rise above 400 mg/dl. Some diabetic cats will have a glucose level as high as 800 mg/dl, although most will be in the range of 400-600 mg/dl.

To keep the body from losing its needed glucose, the kidneys do not allow glucose to be filtered out of the blood stream until an excessive level is reached. This means that cats with normal blood glucose level will not have glucose in their urine. Diabetic cats, however, have excessive amounts of glucose in the blood, so it will be present in the urine.

The diagnosis of diabetes seems rather simple. and in most cats it is. However, some diabetic cats do not meet all the criteria. For these, another test is performed called fructosamine. This test represents the average blood glucose level for the past two weeks. It minimizes the influence that stress and eating have on blood glucose levels and can be very helpful in understanding difficult cases.

What it means for Your Cat to be Diabetic:
For the diabetic cat, one reality exists. Blood glucose cannot be normalized without treatment. Although the cat can go a few days without treatment and not get into a crisis, treatment should be looked upon as part of the cat's daily routine. Treatment almost always requires some dietary changes. Whether an individual cat will require oral therapy or insulin injections will vary. As for the owner, there are two implications: financial commitment and personal commitment.

When your cat is well regulated, the maintenance costs are minimal. The special diet, the oral medications, insulin, and syringes are not expensive. However, the financial commitment can be significant during the initial regulation process and if complications arise.

In some cases, your cat will be hospitalized for a few days to deal with the immediate crisis and to begin the regulation process. The "immediate crisis" is only great if your cat is so sick that it has quit eating and drinking for several days. Cats in this state, called ketoacidosis, may require a week or more of hospitalization with quite a bit of laboratory testing. Otherwise, the initial hospitalization may be only for a day or two to get some testing done and to begin treatment. At that point, your cat goes home for you to administer medication. At first, return visits are required every 5-7 days to monitor progress. It may take a month or so to achieve good regulation.

The financial commitment may again be significant if complications arise. We will work with you to achieve consistent regulation, but some cats are difficult to keep regulated. It is important that you pay close attention to our instructions related to administration of medication, to diet, and to home monitoring. Consistency is the key to prolonged regulation. The more you keep the medication, diet, and activity the same from one day to the next, the easier it will be to keep your cat regulated.

Another complication that can arise is hypoglycemia or low blood sugar; if severe, it may be fatal. This may occur due to inconsistencies in treatment or because some cats can have a spontaneous remission of their disease. This will be explained in subsequent paragraphs.

Your personal commitment to treating your cat is very important in maintaining regulation and preventing crises. Most diabetic cats require insulin injections twice daily, at about 12 hour intervals. They must be fed the same food in the same amount on the same schedule every day. If you are out of town, your cat must receive proper treatment while you are gone. These factors should be considered carefully before deciding to treat a diabetic cat.
Treatment:
As mentioned, the key to successful treatment is consistency. Your cat needs consistent administration of medication, consistent feeding, and a stable, stress-free lifestyle.

Your cat's feeding routine is also important. The average cat prefers to eat about 10-15 times per day, one mouthful at a time. This means that the food is left in the bowl at all times for free choice feeding. Fortunately, this is the best way to feed a diabetic cat. However, it is also desirable to monitor how much food is eaten each day. We realize that if you have more than one cat, this may be difficult, but make an effort, as this is part of the home monitoring that should occur.

Insulin injections are usually the first choice because this approach is to replace the hormone that is missing or made in inadequate amounts. Although many people are initially uncomfortable with the thought of giving injections, for most cats, insulin injections are easier than giving tablets for reasons described below.

Many people are initially fearful of giving insulin injections. If this is your initial reaction, consider these points:
1) The injections are made with very tiny needles that your cat hardly feels.
2) The injections are given just under the skin in areas in which it is almost impossible to cause damage to any vital organ.

Please do not decide whether to treat your cat with the insulin until we have demonstrated the injection technique. You will be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is.

Insulin Therapy and Administration

About Insulin:

Insulin comes in an airtight bottle that is labeled with the insulin type and the concentration. Before using, mix the contents. It says on the label to roll it gently, not shake it. The reason for this is to prevent foam formation, which will make accurate measuring difficult. Some of the types of insulin used in cats settle out of suspension in a few hours. If it is not mixed well, dosing will not be accurate. We recommend vigorous rolling 15 times right side up, then upside down, then rocking back and forth to mix.

Insulin is a hormone that will lose its effectiveness if exposed to direct sunlight or high temperatures. It should be kept in the refrigerator, but it should not be frozen. It is not ruined if left out of the refrigerator for a day or two as long as it is not exposed to direct sunlight. However, we do not advise this. Insulin is safe if it is used as directed, but it should be kept out of reach of children.

Several types of insulin are used in cats. Some are made for use in humans and obtained from regular pharmacies. Some insulins have a concentration of 40 units of active insulin crystals per milliliter of fluid. Thus, these are called U40 insulins. Others have a concentration of 100 units per milliliter, these are called U100 insulins. This is important to know because there are two types of insulin syringes, U40 syringes and U100 syringes. They are made to be used with their respective types of insulin and must not be interchanged or improper dosage will occur.

Drawing up insulin:

Have the syringe, needle, insulin bottle, and cat ready. Then, follow these steps:

1) Mix the insulin well - but don't shake it.
2) Remove the guard from the needle, and draw back the plunger to the appropriate dose level.
3) Carefully insert the needle into the insulin bottle.
4) Inject air into the bottle, this prevents a vacuum from forming within the bottle.
5) Withdraw the correct amount of insulin into the syringe.

Before injecting your cat with insulin, verify that there are no air bubbles in the syringe. If you get an air bubble, draw twice as much insulin into the syringe as you need. Then withdraw the needle from the insulin bottle and tap the barrel of the syringe with your finger to make the air bubble rise to the nozzle of the syringe. Gently and slowly expel the air bubble by moving the plunger upward.

Injecting Insulin:

The steps to follow for injecting insulin are:

1) Hold the syringe in your right or left hand.
2) Have someone hold your cat while you pick up a fold of skin from somewhere along your cat's back with your free hand (pick up a different spot each day).
3) Quickly push the very sharp, very thin needle through you cat's skin. This should be easy and painless. However, take care to push the needle through only one layer or skin and not into your finger or two layers of skin. The latter will result in injecting the insulin onto your cat's hair coat or onto the floor.
4) To inject the insulin, place your thumb on the plunger and push it all the way into the syringe barrel.
5) Withdraw the needle from your cat's skin. Immediately place the needle guard over the needle and discard the needle and syringe.
6) Stroke your cat to reward it for sitting quietly.
7) Be aware that some communities have strict rules about disposal of medical waste material so don't throw the needle/syringe into the trash until you know if this is permissible. If it is not, we can dispose of them for you.

It is neither necessary nor desirable to swab the skin with alcohol to "sterilize" it.

Although the above procedures may at first seem complicated and somewhat overwhelming, they will very quickly become second nature. Your cat will soon learn that once or twice each day it has to sit still for a few minutes. In most cases, a reward of stroking results in a fully cooperative cat that eventually may not even need to be held.

Monitoring:

It is necessary that you cat's progress be checked on a regular basis. Monitoring is a joint project on which owners and veterinarians must work together.

Home Monitoring:
Home monitoring can be performed in two ways.

The first way is to monitor your cat for signs of diabetes. To do this, you need to be constantly aware of your cat's appetite, weight, water consumption, and urine output. You should be feeding a constant amount of food each day, which will allow you to be aware of days that your cat does not eat all of it or is unusually hungry after the feeding. You should weigh your cat at least twice monthly. It is best to use the same scales each time. A baby scale works well for this. If you have several cats that eat together and use the same litter box, monitoring weight is the best because it is specific to this one cat.

If possible, you should develop a way to measure water consumption. Since this is highly variable from one cat to another, keeping a record of your cat's water consumption for a few weeks will allow you to establish what is normal for your cat. Another way to measure water consumption is based on the number of times it drinks each day. When properly regulated, it should drink no more than four times per day. If this is exceeded, you should take steps to make an actual measurement.

Urine output can be measured by determining the amount of litter that is scooped out of the litter box. This is a little less accurate if you have more than one cat that uses the litter box, but it can still be meaningful. The best way to measure litter is to use a clumping litter and scoop it into a seal-able container. After a few weeks, you will be able to know the normal rate at which the jar fills. Too rapid filling will indicate that your cat's urine production has increased.

Any significant change in your cat's food intake, weight, water intake, or urine output is an indicator that the diabetes is not well controlled. We should see the cat at that time for blood testing.

The second method of home monitoring is to determine the presence of glucose in the blood. This can be done with an Accucheck home kit. If you have more questions about this, please ask.

Monitoring of Blood Glucose:

Determining the level of glucose in the blood is the most accurate means of monitoring. This should be done about every 3-4 months if your cat seems to be well regulated. It should also be done at any time the clinical signs of diabetes are present or if glucose is detected in the urine for two consecutive days.

When testing the blood we want to know the highest and lowest glucose readings for the day. The highest reading should occur just before an injection of insulin is given. The lowest should occur at the time of peak insulin effect. This is usually 5-8 hours after an insulin injection, but it can vary for each individual cat.

Timing is important when the blood glucose is determined. It is very important to know when your cat last ate, when you gave the insulin injection, and what time you are testing the blood glusose level.

Keeping a journal of daily activity is extremely important. Record times of eating, times of insulin injections, and times of glucose checks.

Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia means low blood sugar. If it is below 40mg/dl, it can be life-threatening. Hypoglycemia occurs under three conditions:

1) If the insulin dose is too high. Although cats will require the same dose of insulin for long periods of time, it is possible for the cat's insulin requirements to change. However, the most common causes for change are a reduction in food intake and an increase in exercise or activity. The reason for feeding before the insulin injections so you can know when the appetite changes. If your cat does not eat, skip that dose of insulin. If only half of the food is eaten, just give half a dose of insulin. Always remember that it is better for the blood sugar to be too high than too low.

2) If too much insulin is given. This can occur because the insulin was not properly measured in the syringe or because two doses were given. You may forget that you gave it and repeat it, or two people in the family may each give a dose. A chart to record insulin administration will help to prevent the cat from being treated twice.

3) If your cat has a spontaneous remission of the diabetes. This is a poorly understood phenomenon, but it definitely occurs in about 20% of diabetic cats. They can be diabetic and on treatment for many months, then suddenly no longer be diabetic. Since this is not predictable and happens quite suddenly, a hypoglycemic crisis ("insulin shock") is usually the first indication.

When the blood glucose is only mildly low, the cat will be very tired and unresponsive. You may call it and get no response. Within a few hours, the blood glucose will rise, and your cat will return to normal. Since many cats sleep a lot during the day, this important sign is easily missed. Watch for it; it is the first sign of impending problems. If you see it, please bring in your cat for blood testing.

If your cat is slow to recover from this period of lethargy, you should give it corn syrup (1 tablespoon by mouth) or feed one packet of semi-moist cat food. If there is no response in 15 minutes, repeat the corn syrup or the semi-moist food. If there is still no response, contact us immediately for further instructions. (Note: Diabetic cats should not be fed semi-moist foods except for his situation.)

If severe hypoglycemia occurs, a cat will have seizures or lose consciousness. This is an emergency that can only be reversed with intravenous administration of glucose. If it occurs during office hours, come in immediately. If it occurs at night or on the weekend, call the Green Bay Animal Emergency Center at 494-9400.

Spontaneous Remission

This is a poorly understood phenomenon that only happens in a few cats. Unfortunately, it can happen rather suddenly so a hypoglycemic crisis may be created when the normal amount of insulin is given. When it occurs, the cat may be normal for a few weeks or for many months. However, diabetes will almost always return. Therefore, you should watch for the typical signs of diabetes, then contact us for insulin instructions.

 

Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs

Diabetes is seen on a fairly regular basis, usually in dogs 5 years of age or older. Simply put, diabetes mellitus a failure to regulate blood sugar.

Type of Diabetes Mellitus in dogs:
The type of diabetes mellitus that dogs get is type 1 Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus, which results from total or near complete destruction of the beta cells. As the name implies, dogs with this type of diabetes require insulin injections to stabilize blood sugar.

What insulin does for the body:
The role of insulin is much like that of a gatekeeper. It stands at the surface of body cells and opens the door, allowing glucose to leave the blood stream and pass inside the cells. Glucose is a vital substance that provides much of the energy needed for life, and it must work inside the cells. Without an adequate amount of insulin, glucose is unable to get into the cells. It accumulates in the blood, setting in motion a series of events that can ultimately prove fatal.

When insulin is deficient, the cells become starved for a source of energy. In response to this, the body starts breaking down stores of fat and protein to use as alternative energy sources. As a consequence, the dog eats more; thus, we have weight loss in a dog with a ravenous appetite. The body tries to eliminate the excess glucose by eliminating it in the urine. However, glucose (blood sugar) attracts water; thus, urine glucose takes with it large quantities of the body's fluids, resulting in the production of a large amount of urine. To avoid dehydration, the dog drinks more and more water. Thus, we have the four classical signs of diabetes.

Weight loss
Ravenous appetite
Increased water consumption
Increased urination

Diagnosing Diabetes:
The diagnosis of diabetes mellitus is based on three criteria: the four classical clinical signs, the presence of persistently high levels of glucose in the blood stream, and the presence of the glucose in the urine.

The normal level of glucose in the blood is 80-120 mg/dl. It may rise to 250-300 mg/dl following a meal or when the dog is very excited. However, diabetes is the only common disease that will cause the blood glucose level to rise above 400 mg/dl.

To keep the body from losing its needed glucose, the kidneys do not allow glucose to be filtered out of the blood stream until an excessive level is reached. This means that dogs with a normal blood glucose level will not have glucose in the urine. Diabetic dogs however, have excessive amounts of glucose in the blood, so it will be present in the urine.

The diagnosis of diabetes seems rather simple, and in most dogs it is. A diabetic dog will have high blood glucose and glucose in it's urine.

 

Canine Epilepsy

Canine epilepsy is the most common cause of seizures in younger dogs. Epilepsy is caused by a "short circuit" in the electrical system of the brain, causing varying degrees of seizures. They may be as mild as muscle tremors of the face, or severe enough to cause unconsciousness, and wild thrashing of the legs. It usually starts in young dogs between 6 months and 3 years of age. Epilepsy is genetically linked so parent dogs will pass it on to their offspring. It is best to spay or neuter an epileptic dog so they don't pass it on. (Also heat periods in female dogs often are a trigger for more seizures.)

Epilepsy is diagnosed by ruling out other causes of seizures such as liver disease, calcium imbalances, electrolyte imbalances or blood sugar problems, by blood testing. Epilepsy is treated with life long medications that decrease the brain's electrical hyper-reactivity, making seizures less common. These medications are metabolized by the liver, and can cause liver problems in some dogs. This is why blood work is done on a regular basis. Once on the medication, we will check the blood levels of the medication to make sure we are within the therapeutic range.

Treatment for your dog depends on the frequency and severity of the seizures. We want you to keep a seizure log book- with the date, time and length of seizure along with a short description of the seizure. Very mild seizures may just be muscle twitches while the dog "freezes" and stares into space, but more severe seizures are Grand Mal seizures which render the dog unconscious, their legs thrash wildly and they often will urinate or defecate during the seizure. Dogs will then go through a "post- ictal" phase of disorientation which can vary in length. Some dogs will even exhibit a "pre-ictal" phase just before their seizure, sometimes seeking out their owner or acting anxious. The seizure log book will not only help us to identify the frequency of your dog's seizures, but may help us to identify any specific triggers for your dog. Some epileptic dogs can be triggered by stress (veterinary visits, grooming visits, thunderstorms, etc), some by vaccinations (this is rare) and some by heat periods (estrus).

If your dog has a seizure that lasts more than 4-5 minutes, or has recurrent seizures within a day,or has a post-ictal phase that lasts more than 2 hours this is considered an emergency. Please call us (or the Green Bay Animal Emergency Center- 494-9400) immediately. If your dog's seizure frequency changes suddenly, but doesn't fall into the above emergency categories, please let us know during our business hours, we may want to change or check the medication levels.

 

Source for some material - courtesy VIN (Veterinary Information Network)

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