Monthly Archives: October 2010

Lick Granulomas

This is a common skin ailment of dogs and occasionally cats that is more annoying than serious. It is also known as acral lick dermatitis. A  granuloma  is a solid group of inflammatory cells that come together forming a lump. It is the bodies reaction to   excessive licking of a specific spot on the body, usually a forelimb &/or rear limb. It is considered to be a form of neuritis which is the inflammation of a nerve ending. A simple insect bite or bruise can set it off. An intense urge to lick the affected area can become a habit and can progress to an obsessive-compulsive disorder. This self-inflicted lesion becomes a thickened, oval, firm raised mass called a granuloma. They often become infected which complicates the treatment. Some researchers believe there are other causes, which include: stress, boredom, separation anxiety, allergies, mange, and even joint disease.  A vicious cycle develops of pain, itching, and licking. It is similar to nail biting and smoking in  humans in some respects, as it becomes an addictive habit, extremely difficult to stop. It occurs more frequently in the popular larger breeds like Golden Retrievers, Labradors, and German Shepherds, but it can and does occur in any size dog.   There are many treatments available that include steroids, bandaging, mind altering drugs, surgery, cryosurgery, laser surgery, radiation and even acupuncture.  Most veterinarians are experienced in the various causes and methods of treatment and usually choose the conservative treatment first of injecting the lesion with steroids to decrease the itch/lick syndrome and then utilize bandaging and Elizabethan collars to keep the dog away from it.  In addition,  the treatment chosen has to be tailored to the personality of the dog and its’ “lifestyle”.  For instance, if the dog is home alone a lot or does not get much exercise, mild sedatives might be added to the treatment. Occasionally lab tests are performed to eliminate thyroid problems, yeast infections, allergies, or mange, etc. Since there are so many possible causes, your veterinarian will recommend a course of therapy.

Parvovirus (Oct. 2010)

Because of recent outbreaks around the country of this horrid disease, and the fact that a very good client just lost 2 puppies to this disease, I feel compelled to write about it again. Canine Parvovirus (CPV) is a very serious, often fatal viral infection that is readily transmitted from the environment to a dog or from dog to dog. It mainly affects dogs, but raccoons and fox can carry it and “seed” the environment through their feces. It is very contagious and is spread by direct or indirect contact with infected feces. For instance, a person can bring it into a house on their shoes. Unvaccinated puppies and even unvaccinated mature dogs are most susceptible. Dogs not current on their vaccines are also very susceptible.  The primary symptoms include the following: lack of appetite, depression,. fever, and  vomiting and diarrhea, usually with blood. There are NO known drugs to kill the parvovirus, but proven treatments of supportive care are able to control the complications of the disease, if caught in the early stages. A lot depends on the innate immunity the puppies got from their mothers milk.  The Parvovirus, which  in Latin means small, is one of the most deadly and resistant viruses known to mankind. It is resistant to most detergents and even alcohol. The virus can survive freezing weather and the high temperatures of summer. However, a diluted solution of water to chlorine bleach (30:1) does kill the virus. Fortunately, prevention is the only way to ensure a puppy or dog is immune, and the vaccine that is routinely provided by veterinarians does induce immunity.  It is very important to make sure your dog stays up to date on this vaccination, especially if the dog goes to grooming shops, pet food stores, boarding kennels, walks on the street, etc. In other words, if your dog is exposed to the environment where other dogs go, protect by vaccination. Vaccination works while does not always.

Holiday Season Hazards

The festive holidays are upon us again and the best gift you can give your pet is to keep them healthy and avoid the many holiday pitfalls. Every year, around this time, we see many pets with avoidable illnesses. The American Veterinary Medical Association lists some of the more common problems that veterinarians are faced with this time of the year. Table scraps, keep them from your pets and ask guests not to give them anything from the table unless approved by you. Especially avoid salty, spicy and greasy foods, as they can be life threatening, causing acute pancreatitis. Bones of all kinds should be avoided, always. Make sure the trash cans are secure and plastic garbage bags are out of reach. Chocolate should always be out of reach, the darker the chocolate the more dangerous, with baker’s chocolate being the most deadly. Avoid all sweets and artificial sweeteners, especially xylitol, which is usually found in dietary baked goods, candy and chewing gum. Make sure your Christmas tree is anchored and decorations are high enough up so pets can’t get to them. This is especially important for small ornaments and tinsel, as puppies and kittens love to play with them and often swallow them. Eating these ornaments can result in an intestinal blockage and require emergency surgery. Tree water usually has preservatives and sap in it which can cause severe gastrointestinal problems. Never leave electrical wires exposed, especially around kittens and puppies. Many common holiday plants are toxic to animals, especially the following: Poinsettia, holly, cedar, balsam, pine and mistletoe. The ASPCA lists the following on their “highest toxicity” list: expandable wood glues such as Elmer’s ProBond and Gorilla Glue, antifreeze/coolants, chocolate, rat and mice poisons, human cold and flu medications and decongestants, alcoholic beverages and homemade play-dough, ice melt and moth repellant. The annual top 10 most common poisonings of dogs regardless of season are the following: ibuprofen, chocolate, rat and mouse poisons, acetaminophen found in antihistamines, cold medications with pseudophedrine, human thyroid medications, bleach, fertilizer and hydrocarbons found in paint and varnish. In general, cats are more fastidious in what goes in their mouth, but there are exceptions. Very toxic to cats include: liquid potpourri, NSAIDS like ibuprofen, “Glow Jewelry and Glow Sticks”, human medications with acetaminophen or amphetamine, rat and mouse poisons, and “for dogs only” flea and tick medications. Avoidance is the best protection, so please read labels. For more articles, go to my website at:

Urolithiasis in Cats, (FUS), (FLUTD)

This condition, formally known as  Feline Urological Syndrome (FUS), is now generally referred to as: Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD). It is very common in all species of cats, and in both males and females alike. Just as in dogs, crystals can precipitate out of the urine and become small aggregates, called calculi. Usually there is an associated infection of the bladder known as a cystitis. Many theories have been postulated through the years as to the cause. They include genetics (hereditary predisposition), stress, change in environment, viruses, obesity and diet. Diet and genetics seem to be most popular as sometimes just a change in the diet is all that is necessary to eliminate the precipitates. In males, the risk of a complete blockage is a very real and serious complication. It is a true emergency, regardless ot the time of day or night, as a complete blockage can become fatal. The common term is “blocked cat”. In females, most of the time, the small calculi can be passed to the outside through the very short and wide urethra. Males have just the reverse: their urethra is long and narrow and becomes tiny at the tip of the penis. Today, the number of surgeries that are performed to eliminate these obstructions have been reduced by over 50%. This is all because of client education, client compliance with their veterinarian, and most importantly the changes in the formulation of cat foods. However, an early diagnosis which requires  a physical examination, urinalysis, and often a radiograph can save a lot of discomfort for the cat, and anxiety for the cat owner. The early symptoms of this disease is frequent urination and urinary accidents.  But this can progress into straining to urinate, crying while urinating, blood in the urine, and attempting to urinate without success. Do not wait if this occurs regardless of sex. A complete blockage can occur in either sex, but usually occurs in males. Treatment includes general anesthesia, catheterization, iv fluids,  antibiotics,  antispasmodics, and pain medications. If the blockage is eliminated, no further surgical procedures are necessary.  Regardless, an early diagnosis saves lives and eliminates the need for surgery. Once the diagnosis is made, treatment &/or surgery performed, special food is prescribed. Over 85%of these crystals are Struvite (magnesium ammonium phosphate) and special cat foods are used to dissolve these small crystals for 1-3 months. A different diet is prescribed for the rest of the cats life, to prevent crystal production. Occasionally, even with dietary change, reoccurring obstructions plague some cats and a major surgical procedure known as a perineal urethrostomy must be performed. This procedure actually changes the anatomy of a male into a female. For more articles, go to my website at:

Anaplasmosis–In Locust Valley & Glen Cove

As of this writing, April 10, 2010, we had 4 positive cases of Anaplasmosis diagnosed by my office, two dogs from Glen Cove and two from Locust Valley. This disease is transmitted by ticks, but it is caused by a bacterium carried by those ticks. In nature, the white-footed mouse is the primary reservoir.  The same ticks that carry Lyme disease can, and do, carry this bacterium. Some dogs get both diseases at the same time which can be devastating for the dog and dangerous. Humans can get this disease also from the same ticks, but it is not communicable from dog to human or vice versa. In dogs, the symptoms vary and depend on the length of time from the tick bite. These symptoms may include: high fever, depression, lack of appetite, lameness, swollen joint(s), vomiting and diarrhea, neck pain, loss of balance, and even seizures. Sometimes nose bleeds,  blood in the urine and skin bruising become apparent. Two of the four cases had symptoms of lameness and a swollen joint and the other two were found during a routine heartworm/lyme screening. The disease mimics Lyme disease and can only be diagnosed by means of a simple blood test. Most veterinarians use a test that screen these tick diseases and also Heartworm disease.  This is very early in the year to see these tick diseases so I felt impelled to let my readers know. We had many cases of Lyme disease diagnosed at my office last year, but these are the first  Anaplasmosis cases.  If caught early enough it is successfully treated with a month supply of a specific antibiotic. Those dogs with dual infections are treated longer and some may even need a blood transfusion. These diseases are preventable. Have your veterinarian do a blood screening and if ok apply monthly tick/flea preparations to the skin (not the hair), avoid high grass and wooded areas where ticks live. Also give 1x a month prevention heartworm/intestinal parasite pills.


Bladder Stones (Urolithiasis) Part 2

Last week I discussed what these stones are and how common they are found in dogs and cats. Bladder stones are formed by minerals, which first precipitate out in the urine as separate microscopic crystals. The most useful diagnostic test used is the urinalysis. Many times these crystals show up in the microscopic analysis of urine and an early diagnosis of the potential of calculi development is determined. The most common type of stone is struvite. These stones are made up of magnesium ammonium phosphate. Other stones are made up of calcium oxalate, calcium phosphate, cystine, ammonium urate, etc. Some stones are a composite of more than one type. This reinforces the importance of a urinalysis, because the treatment varies with the chemical makeup of the crystals. Also, it is very important to determine if an infection is present, as well as the urine pH (level of acidity). Radiographs must be taken to determine the presence of the larger aggregates of minerals called calculi, and their size and location. In males, the size and location of these stones will indicate the risk of obstruction, while in females the small stones in the bladder or urethra can actually pass through the urethra to the outside. One the diagnosis is made, the size and location determined, a decision is made to try or not to try to reduce the size of the stone by means of diet and medication. Sometimes medical therapy is used in conjunction with surgery to treat the patient and eliminate the problem. In males the obstruction potential always looms, so usually surgery is the best choice. The usual associated infection is treated, as well as the correction of pH. The surgical procedure is known as a cytology (my favorite operation). If all the stones are located in the bladder only, and none lodged in the urethra further down the urinary tract, the procedure is very successful, with a quick recovery When the urethra is involved, although the procedure is also very successful, it is more involved, and recovery is longer. Once the immediate problem is resolved, whether by surgery or medical management, the prevention now is the key. We now know that this pet has the genetic capacity of stone production. The type of stone determines which food is recommended to prevent future stones from developing. For instance, struvite producing dogs require a completely different type of food than urate producing dogs. Keeping your pet on the special food is an absolute must. Otherwise, stones will reoccur and surgery has to be repeated. Frequent urine microscopic analysis is very important to determine if any crystals are beginning to form again. Next week my article will be Urolithiasis in Cats. To view more articles, go to my website at