DOG HEALTH AND MEDICINE

For That Last Good-Bye

More and more people are opting for euthanasia at home. It could cost about $100 more than at the veterinarian’s office, but it allows a dog to drift off peacefully in his favorite spot.  It also allows you to grieve without having to drive or be around other people.

Summer’s Over, But Heartworm Season Is Forever

You might assume that because heartworm disease makes its way to dogs via mosquitoes, those dogs who live where temperatures fall too low to support mosquito life don’t need  year-round protection from this illness, which can cause lasting damage not only to the heart but also the lungs and arteries. But mosquito species keep adapting to better withstand cold climates. And some mosquitoes do perfectly fine huddling up in homes over the winter months. That’s no doubt at least part of the reason that heartworm disease has found new footholds in cooler, dryer regions.

Significance of High Cholesterol

Q: My dog was found to have high cholesterol on a routine blood test. The doctor said it won’t raise her risk for a...

Defibrillators Also Work on Dogs Experiencing Cardiac Arrest

You’ve seen the red boxes on walls in airport terminals and other public venues. They’re called automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, and even an untrained bystander can use them to shock a heart beating irregularly back into a normal rhythm when a person has gone into cardiac arrest and their heart has stopped pumping blood. They save about 1,700 human lives a year in the United States, including the life of football player Damar Hamlin last season. If an AED had not been available, he probably would not have made it off the field alive. Now researchers at the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine have found that AEDs have the potential to save dogs’ lives, too.

Dear Doctor August 2023

Q: If a dog has had a Lyme disease vaccination is any other prevention recommended?

Viagra May Benefit Certain Dogs, But Not For the Reason You Think

In a person, the esophagus is vertical. That means that in addition to muscle contractions in that organ propelling food from the back of the mouth to the stomach, gravity helps the food slide down. A dog’s esophagus, on the other hand, is horizontal. So if it doesn’t work right, food doesn’t make its way through the digestive tract. A dog will end up regurgitating much of his meals. Often, aspiration pneumonia sets in when the food erroneously ends up in the dog’s lungs or airway. There can also be severe malnourishment that leads to an inability to thrive and, all too often, death. 

DEAR DOCTOR July 2023

Q: We have three small dogs — two cavalier King Charles spaniels and a scnoodle. There appears to be a growing body of claims that flea and tick medicines, including Bravecto, NexGuard, and Simparica, are harmful. Apparently, their chemical compounds impact an insect’s nervous system, causing death. The question then becomes: Do they also impact a dog’s nervous system? I am looking for either reassurance or a good alternative. We live in a high-tick area, and I have already had Lyme disease once.

When Choosing Health Insurance For Your Dog, Consider Dental Care

Ironically, the most common disease to affect dogs is the one not necessarily covered by pet health insurance. We’re talking about dental disease. By the age of 3, four out of five dogs show at least some dental deterioration in the form of periodontal (gum) disease. If left untreated, it can lead to infections and, eventually, tooth loss. Fractured teeth comprise another common dental issue. But health insurance for dogs varies widely in terms of reimbursing for treatment, which for a procedure like multiple teeth extractions can easily cost thousands of dollars.

Even When Nothing Seems Wrong, Your Dog’s Eyes Need Checking

Of course, if one or both of your dog’s eyes have turned red or cloudy, or there is discharge, you should bring him to the doctor to see what’s going on. Ditto if your dog’s eyes appear to be causing him discomfort. You might notice a fair amount of squinting, rubbing at his eyes with his paws, or moving away when you go to touch his head. But eye exams should also be included in his regular check-ups even when nothing seems wrong. Just as with people, something may be going on that isn’t apparent. A basic ocular exam consists of three things:

What You Need to Know Before Your Dog Undergoes Anesthesia

In 2008, the risk of death for a healthy dog undergoing anesthesia was deemed to be one in 2,000, according to a study that appeared in the journal Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia. That risk is probably even lower now. Monitoring techniques and anesthetic drugs themselves keep improving. But just as for people, the risk is not zero. Indeed, when researchers included dogs with health problems along with healthy dogs in their 2008 assessment, the risk of death with anesthesia was considered to be as high as one in 600.

Should Your Dog Be Screened for Cancer Younger?

We know that the incidence of breast cancer in women goes up dramatically starting at around age 55, so screening with mammograms is recommended when the disease might have developed but before there are any outward signs — starting no later than age 50 and perhaps even as young as 40. It’s the same when it comes to screening men for prostate cancer. The average age of diagnosis is 66, and screening with a PSA test is recommended starting no later than age 55. Screening for other cancers, such as colon cancer, is also recommended before someone is likely to start feeling different or showing signs of the disease. Could such an approach be used for dogs so that canine cancer is caught as early as possible, with the best chance for treatment that could save an animal’s life?

Marijuana Toxicity in Dogs on the Rise

As the legalization of marijuana expands, veterinary emergency rooms are seeing an increase in canine cases of marijuana toxicity, according to research published in...