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Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs by JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM

The urinary tract includes the kidneys, ureters (carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder), bladder, and urethra (carries urine from the bladder). Bacteria, such as E. coli, can travel up through the urethra, colonize in the bladder, and cause a urinary tract infection (UTI). Bacterial UTIs affect approximately 14% of dogs over their lifetime and are a very common canine disease.

Female dogs are prone to UTIs because their anatomy makes it easier for bacteria to travel up through the urethra. Dogs with diabetes mellitus are also susceptible to UTIs because diabetes reduces immune system function. In addition, dogs with bladder stones can experience recurrent UTIs.

Untreated UTIs can cause serious health consequences. For example, bacteria traveling up through the urinary tract can reach the kidneys, reducing the kidneys’ ability to filter out toxins from the blood; this can be life-threatening. Also, untreated UTIs can cause prostate problems in male dogs.

This article will describe UTI symptoms and how UTIs are diagnosed, treated, and prevented.

Symptoms
Classic UTI symptoms are as follows:
• Dripping urine
• Blood in the urine
• Straining to urinate
• Lapses in housetraining
• Frequently licking the genitals
• Pain and crying out during urination
• Frequently urinating small amounts

Notably, many dogs with UTIs don’t show any signs of the disease.

Diagnosis
Diagnosing a UTI requires analyzing the urine. Urinalysis results that indicate a possible UTI include the presence of blood or white blood cells. For dogs without symptoms, a UTI is diagnosed during a routine urinalysis as part of a wellness checkup.

If you think your dog has a UTI, consider using a home-testing urinalysis kit. This kit can provide useful information for your veterinarian, who would then perform a more detailed analysis. If you don’t feel comfortable doing a home test, your veterinarian can collect and analyze a urine sample.

Urinalysis results suggesting a UTI warrant a urine culture/sensitivity (C/S) test. A C/S test takes a few days and identifies which bacteria are present and which antibiotics will be most effective.

Treatment
To provide immediate relief, a veterinarian may begin treating a UTI empirically, meaning they will prescribe an antibiotic effective against bacteria commonly found in UTIs. Once the C/S results are in, the veterinarian may change antibiotics to ensure optimal treatment.

Treatment duration will depend on factors like disease severity and recurrence. The presence of bladder stones requires additional treatment, such as surgical removal or dissolution via diet. A urine culture is performed at the end of treatment to see if any bacteria are left.

If your dog has a UTI, follow treatment instructions carefully. Administer the entire course of antibiotics, even if your dog starts improving. Stopping treatment early might leave bacteria in the bladder and increase the risk of antibiotic resistance.

Prevention
Access to plenty of fresh water is the most important prevention tip. This will help prevent bacteria and stones from staying in the urinary tract and causing infections. Other prevention tips, such as supplementing your dog’s diet with cranberry concentrate or probiotics, can be discussed with your veterinarian.

UTIs can be very uncomfortable and painful for dogs. The sooner you recognize urinary problems in your dog, the sooner you can get your dog the treatment they need to feel better.

August 23rd, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Managing Diabetes in Your Dog – by JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM

Diabetes mellitus is characterized by high levels of glucose in the blood (hyperglycemia) and the presence of glucose in the urine (glucosuria). Some dogs are genetically predisposed to diabetes and others develop it due to health conditions like obesity. Common symptoms of canine diabetes include polyuria (excessive urination), polydipsia (excessive drinking), and polyphagia (increased hunger and eating).

If your dog has recently been diagnosed with diabetes, managing their condition may seem overwhelming at first—that’s completely understandable, given that managing diabetes requires daily monitoring. Your veterinarian will get you started by making an at-home diabetes management plan for you. Understanding the plan’s components, detailed below, will make managing your dog’s diabetes more, well, manageable!

Insulin Administration
Canine diabetes is treated with daily insulin. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ dose, so your veterinarian will make an individualized insulin regimen for your dog. Follow this regimen carefully! If you’re unsure how to give your dog insulin, or feel uncomfortable with injections, ask your veterinarian for a tutorial on administering insulin. Fortunately, insulin needles are tiny, so your dog will likely adjust quickly to the injections.

Contact your veterinarian right away if your dog is showing signs of an insulin overdose, such as tremors and weakness; do not change the insulin dose on your own. Also, your dog’s insulin needs may change over time, so your veterinarian may occasionally adjust the insulin regimen.

Glucose Monitoring
Blood glucose levels that are too high or too low can have serious health consequences, making daily glucose monitoring essential to effective diabetes management. Several blood and urine glucose monitoring devices are available, such as the PawCheck® General Wellness Test, which checks for glucosuria. Talk with your veterinarian about which monitoring device to use and how to use it.

If your dog’s glucose levels are abnormal, despite insulin treatment, your veterinarian may need to adjust the insulin dose.

Diet
A nutritious diet and regular feeding regimen help keep blood sugar levels in a normal range. An ideal diet for dogs with diabetes is high in protein, low in fat, and contains complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber; these diets are available commercially or by veterinary prescription. Your veterinarian will help you select the right diet for your dog. Whichever diet you choose, feed the same amount every day at the same time.

Exercise
Daily exercise is important for dogs with diabetes. It helps with weight loss, which is important if a dog is overweight. Exercise also reduces blood glucose levels; during exercise, the body’s cells pull glucose from the blood for energy. Over time, exercise can reduce your dog’s insulin needs because blood glucose levels will be lower.

Work with your veterinarian to develop an exercise plan that’s right for your dog. This plan can include more walks and more playtime.

Routine checkups
Routine checkups will help your veterinarian monitor your dog’s diabetes and overall health. For example, dogs with diabetes can develop cataracts, so your veterinarian will examine your dog’s eyes during the checkups. During these appointments, ask whatever questions you may have about diabetes management.

In conclusion, managing diabetes in dogs takes a daily commitment, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Your dog loves you unconditionally, so do the best you can to help them live a happy life with diabetes.

May 30th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Diet and Exercise: Keys to Weight Loss Success in Pets

Diet and Exercise: Keys to Weight Loss Success in Pets
JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM

Memes and videos of roly-poly dogs and cats may make us chuckle, but these animals’ pudginess is no laughing matter. The latest survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention reported that nearly 60% of dogs and cats in the United States are either overweight or obese. Yikes!

As in humans, obesity has serious health consequences in animals. It increases the risk of many illnesses like diabetes, liver disease, and arthritis. Obesity can also make a pet intolerant to heat and make it harder for them to breathe.

Veterinarians use what’s called a body condition score (BCS) to determine whether a pet is at an ideal weight or carrying extra pounds. Fortunately, you can use the BCS system at home to evaluate your pet. Certain physical features, observed from the top and side of an animal, indicate excess weight and a sub-optimal BCS: sagging belly, fat pads in various body locations (hips, chest, etc.), and undetectable ribs.

If you suspect your pet is overweight, take them to your vet for a more thorough assessment. Don’t let shame or fear of judgment keep you from going to the vet’s office—the sooner you acknowledge your pet’s weight problem, the sooner your pet can start shedding weight and getting healthy again.

Make the Plan
Just like in people, weight loss in pets involves reducing caloric intake and increasing calorie burn. Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone—your veterinarian can help you devise an individualized diet and exercise plan for your pet.

There are a few ways to reduce your pet’s caloric intake, like feeding smaller quantities of your pet’s regular diet or gradually switching to a commercially available weight loss diet. Other strategies include eliminating table food (very important!!) and feeding only healthy treats like fresh fruits. Your veteterinarian can help you put together a dietary plan that reduces calories while maintaining optimal nutritional intake.

Increasing calorie burn through physical activity must be done according to your pet’s current health status. For example, if your pet has arthritis, playing fetch won’t be very practical. Your veterinarian can help you determine which exercises your pet will be able to do, such as walks or swimming in the pool. As your pet loses weight and gets healthier, they may be able to handle more exercise.

Stick to the Plan
Here a few tips for staying the course:
• Be patient! Your pet’s weight loss won’t happen overnight.
• Be consistent. Consistency is key to achieving and maintaining weight loss.
• Make it fun! Weight loss doesn’t have to be drudgery.
• Make sure everyone in your household follows the plan.
• Schedule regular weigh-ins with your veterinarian. They can recommend adjustments to the plan if necessary.
• Maintain the weight loss. Once your pet has achieved their ideal weight, they’ll need to keep it off. Your vet can devise a ‘maintenance’ plan to prevent weight gain.

Obesity is a serious, but solvable, problem in pets. If your pet is overweight or obese, take active steps to help them lose weight and improve their health.

May 4th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments