C O N T E N T SIntroduction xixPart I Dogs and Cats 1History of the Dog 1History of the Cat 2Chapter 1 Choosing the Right Pet for You 5Housing Considerations 10Pets and Children 12New Pets and Other Pets 14The Responsible Pet Owner 14Finding the Right Dog or Cat for You 16The Prepurchase Exam 18Petproofing Your Home 22Your Dog’s Outdoor Home 23Naming Your Pet 24Introducing Your Pet to Its New Home 24Special Considerations for Cats 25First Encounters 26Rules of Play 26Chapter 2 Training Essentials 29Main Principles of Training 30Socializing and Desensitizing Your Pet 33Basic Training for Dogs 37Housebreaking Your Puppy 41Basic Training for Cats 43v
vi CONTENTSLitter Training Your Kitten 44Solving Challenging Behaviors 45Canine Behavioral Disorders 45Feline Behavioral Disorders 58Chapter 3 Traveling with Your Dog or Cat 65Traveling by Car 65Traveling by Air 67Vacation Planning 68Chapter 4 Preventive Health Care 71At-Home Physical Exam 71Vaccinations and the ABCs of Immunity 72Controlling Internal Parasites 81Controlling Fleas and Ticks 82Preventing Heartworm Disease 87Dental Care 89Feeding Your Pet 92Battling Obesity in Dogs and Cats 100Caring for the Canine Ear 105Maintaining a Healthy Skin and Coat 108Nail Trimming 112Expressing Anal Sacs 114Chapter 5 Elective Surgeries in Dogs and Cats 115The Facts Concerning Anesthesia 115Neutering 117Tail Docking and Dewclaw Removal (Dogs) 119Cosmetic Ear Trimming (Dogs) 120Declawing (Cats) 121Postsurgical Care for Dogs and Cats 123Chapter 6 Infectious Diseases 125Infectious Diseases in Dogs 125Canine Distemper 125Parvovirus 129
viii CONTENTSChapter 9 The Cardiovascular andHemolymphatic Systems 191Anatomy and Physiology 191Heart Disease and Heart Failure 194Arterial Thromboembolism (Cats) 200Anemia 201Bleeding Disorders 202Chapter 10 The Respiratory System 205Anatomy and Physiology 205Rhinitis 207Nasal Foreign Bodies 207Nasopharyngeal Polyps (Cats) 208Tracheobronchitis (Dogs) 209Collapsed Trachea (Dogs) 209Feline Asthma 210Pleural Effusion 211Pneumonia 212Chronic Obstructed Pulmonary Disease (COPD) 213Metastatic Lung Disease 214Chapter 11 The Digestive System 215Anatomy and Physiology 215Gastrointestinal Response to Disease and Treatment 218Disorders of the Teeth and Oral Cavity 220Esophageal Disorders 228Gastric Dilatation–Volvulus Complex (Dogs) 230Gastrointestinal Ulcers 231Hairballs (Cats) 232Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (Dogs) 233Intussusception 234Intestinal Obstructions 236Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) 236Colitis 237Megacolon (Cats) 239
CONTENTSixAnal Sac Disease 239Pancreatitis 241Hepatitis and Liver Disease 243Chapter 12 The Urinary System 247Anatomy and Physiology 247Kidney Disease 248Urinary Incontinence 251Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) 251Canine Urolithiasis (Urinary Stones) 255Urinary Tract Infections 258Chapter 13 The Reproductive System 261Anatomy and Physiology 261Accidental Mating (Mismating) 265False Pregnancy 266Eclampsia 267Vaginitis and Metritis 268Cystic Endometrial Hyperplasia (Pyometra) 269Phimosis and Paraphimosis (Dogs) 270Prostate Disorders 271Chapter 14 The Skin and Haircoat 273Anatomy and Physiology 273The Itchy Pet 274Hair Loss (Alopecia) 281Seborrhea 284Acanthosis Nigricans (Dogs) 285Bacterial Skin Disease 285Miliary Dermatitis (Cats) 289Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex (Cats) 290Feline Acne 291Neurodermatitis (Cats) 292Solar Dermatitis 292Skin Lumps and Masses 293
x CONTENTSChapter 15 The Eyes and Ears 297The Eyes 297Anatomy and Physiology 298Corneal Ulcers 300Conjunctivitis 302Glaucoma 303Cataracts 305Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (Dry Eye) 305Retinal Degeneration and Disease 306Prolapse of the Third-Eyelid Gland (Cherry Eye) 308Entropion 308Ectropion 309Masses Involving the Eyelids 310The Ears 310Anatomy and Physiology 311Otitis Externa 313Ear Mites 316Otitis Media and Interna 317Ruptured Eardrums 318Deafness 318Aural Hematomas 320Chapter 16 The Musculoskeletal System 321Anatomy and Physiology 321Arthritis and Degenerative Joint Disease 322Patellar Luxation (Dogs) 327Torn Knee Ligaments (Cruciate Injuries) 329Hip Luxation 330Fractures 330Osteomyelitis 331Spondylosis Deformans (Dogs) 331Metabolic Bone Disease 332Mucopolysaccharidosis (Cats) 333Myositis and Myopathies 333Hernias 336Chapter 17 The Nervous System 339Anatomy and Physiology 339Seizures 341Paralysis 344
CONTENTSxiDegenerative Disk Disease (DDD) 344Vertebral Instability (Canine Wobbler Syndrome) 349Myelopathies 349Vestibular Disease 350Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome 351Ischemic Encephalopathy (Cats) 352Chapter 18 The Endocrine System 353Anatomy and Physiology 353Hypothyroidism (Dogs) 355Hyperthyroidism (Cats) 357Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s Disease) 359Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison’s Disease) 361Diabetes Mellitus 363Diabetes Insipidus 366Part II Birds 369Chapter 19 Choosing the Right Bird for You 371Factors to Consider 371Taming and Training Your Pet Bird 379Proper Nutrition 381Housing Your Pet Bird 384Chapter 20 Avian Anatomy and Physiology 389The Digestive System 389The Respiratory System 390The Urogenital System 391“Sexing” Your Bird 392The Endocrine, Circulatory, and Nervous Systems 393The Musculoskeletal System 393The Integumentary System 394Vision and Hearing 396Chapter 21 Preventive Health Care 397Preventing Injury or Accidental Poisoning 399Restraint 400
xii CONTENTSAt-Home Physical Exam 402Nail Trimming 406Beak Care 407Feather Clipping 407Bathing 409Chapter 22 Avian Diseases and Disorders 411Respiratory Tract Diseases 412Digestive System Disease 414Neurologic Disorders 418Cardiovascular Diseases 419Endocrine Malfunctions 420Eye Disorders 420Ear Problems 421Disorders of the Skin and Feathers 421Hormone-Induced Feather Loss 425Musculoskeletal Disorders 427Reproductive Disorders 429Infectious Diseases 430Bacterial Infections 433Chapter 23 General Treatment of Sick Birds 435Care for Sick Birds 435Tube Feeding 436Hand-Raising Baby Birds 440Emergency and First Aid Procedures in Birds 441Part III Exotic Pets 445Chapter 24 Rabbits 447Restraint 447Housing 448Nutrition 450Reproduction 451Preventive Health Care 452Diseases and Disorders 453
CONTENTSxiiiChapter 25 Guinea Pigs 457Restraint 458Housing 458Nutrition 459Reproduction 459Preventive Health Care 461Diseases and Disorders 461Chapter 26 Hamsters and Gerbils 467Restraint 468Housing 469Nutrition 470Reproduction 471Preventive Health Care 472Diseases and Disorders 472Chapter 27 Mice and Rats 477Restraint 477Housing 478Nutrition 479Reproduction 479Preventive Health Care 480Diseases and Disorders 480Chapter 28 Chinchillas 483Restraint 484Housing 484Nutrition 487Reproduction 488Preventive Health Care 488Diseases and Disorders 489Chapter 29 Prairie Dogs 493Restraint 495Housing 495
xiv CONTENTSNutrition 496Reproduction 496Preventive Health Care 497Diseases and Disorders 497Chapter 30 Hedgehogs 501Restraint 502Housing 503Nutrition 504Reproduction 504Preventive Health Care 505Diseases and Disorders 505Chapter 31 Sugar Gliders 509Restraint 510Housing 510Nutrition 511Reproduction 512Preventive Health Care 512Diseases and Disorders 512Chapter 32 Ferrets 515Restraint 516Housing 516Nutrition 517Reproduction 518Preventive Health Care 519Diseases and Disorders 521Chapter 33 Miniature Pot-Bellied Pigs 525Restraint 526Housing 527Training 527Nutrition 527Reproduction 528
CONTENTSxvPreventive Health Care 528Diseases and Disorders 530Chapter 34 Reptiles 537Care of Snakes 537Restraint 538Housing 538Nutrition 540Shedding 541Care of Lizards 542Restraint 542Housing 543Nutrition 546Care of the Pet Chelonian 547Restraint 548Housing 548Nutrition 549Preventive Health Care for Reptiles 550Diseases and Disorders 550Chapter 35 Amphibians 553Restraint 555Housing 556Nutrition 559Preventive Health Care 559Diseases and Disorders 560Chapter 36 Invertebrates 563Tarantulas and Scorpions 563Restraint 564Housing 566Nutrition 568Molting 568Preventive Health Care 569Hermit Crabs 569Restraint 570Housing 570Nutrition 571
xvi CONTENTSMolting 572Preventive Health Care 572Diseases and Disorders of Invertebrates 572Chapter 37 Tropical Fish 575Getting Started 577Water-Quality Control 580Selecting Fish for Your Aquarium 584Diseases and Disorders 587Part IV Other Interesting Pet TopicsChapter 38 First Aid for Dogs and Cats 593The Five Goals of First Aid for Pets 593What to Do When You Encounter an EmergencySituation 594Planning for the Emergency 596General First Aid Procedures 598Addressing Immediate Life-ThreateningConditions 602Managing Trauma in Pets 607Managing Poisoning in Pets 610Other Common Emergencies in Pets 613Chapter 39 Caring for Injured and Orphaned Wildlife 633Caring for Injured or Ill Wildlife 634Caring for Orphaned Wildlife 636Chapter 40 Geriatrics: Caring for Your Older Pet 641Physical Challenges in Older Pets 642Saying Good-bye to an Older or Terminally Ill Pet 647Grieving for a Lost Pet 647Chapter 41 Increasing Your Pet’s Longevity 651
CONTENTSxviiChapter 42 Reducing Stress and Promoting MentalWellness in Dogs and Cats 657Chapter 43 Cancer in Companion Animals 663Tumor Definition and Types 664Causes, Occurrence, and Diagnosis of Cancerin Pets 666Treating Cancer in Pets 670Specific Types of Neoplasia in Dogs and Cats 674Chapter 44 Zoonotic Diseases 685Animal Bites and Scratches 685Rabies 686Intestinal Worms 690Heartworms 691Ringworm 692Infectious Diarrhea 692Toxoplasmosis 693Leptospirosis 693Flea- and Tickborne Illnesses 693Mites 695Psittacosis 695Control Summary 695Chapter 45 An Introduction to Holistic Pet Care 699Botanical (Herbal) Medicine 701Nutritional Medicine 706Homeopathy 708Chiropractic Care 713Acupuncture 716Chapter 46 Ten Super Strategies for Reducing theCost of Pet Ownership 723
xviii CONTENTSAppendix A Clinical Signs and Complaints in Dogsand Cats 733Appendix B Medications for Dogs and Cats 749Glossary 761Index 779
Welcome to the Third Edition of The Complete Home VeterinaryGuide, your one-stop resource for information on companion ani-mal husbandry and health care. This Third Edition has been com-pletely updated and contains many new and exciting features,including a newly formatted and expanded section on pet first aid, aglossary of veterinary terms, a listing of the most common drugs andmedications prescribed for pets, a section on injured or orphanedwildlife, and much, much more!It’s no secret that pets are an integral part of our society today, as evi-denced by the billions of dollars spent each year on food, supplies, hous-ing, and pet care services. And of the over 60 million households thatcontain companion animals in this country alone, many are home tomore than one pet, and oftentimes these pets are of differing species.Because of this, a resource was needed that contained information on avariety of companion ani-mal species, all condensedinto one easy-to-read vol-ume. Hence, The CompleteHome Veterinary Guide, acomprehensive, up-to-dateguide to caring for compan-ion house pets, was created.The Complete HomeVeterinary Guide is loadedwith illustrations and cov-ers important topics con-cerning husbandry andhealth care for all popularspecies of pets. WrittenI N T R O D U C T I O Nxix
from a veterinary perspective, this book provides an objective “nuts-and-bolts” look at pet care. It doesn’t matter if you own one pet or mul-tiple species of pets, The Complete Home Veterinary Guide coversthem all.Here are just a few of the subjects presented and questionsanswered in this expanded Third Edition:I Simple steps that you can take to improve your pet’s mentalhealth and well-beingI Matching clinical signs and complaints to disease conditions indogs and catsI Ten strategies for reducing pet care costs that you can imple-ment todayI How to treat annoying behavioral problems in dogs and catsI Complementary medicine and holistic approaches to pet careI What to do if you find an injured or orphaned bird or wild animalI The vaccination controversy: What is a pet owner to do?I How to treat skin challenges without steroidsI The universal warning signs of illness in pet birdsI Vital first-aid proce-dures, all of whichcould save your pet’slife somedayI Seven ways to help ourpets live longer andhealthier livesI Protecting your family andyourself from zoonotic(petborne) diseasesI The care and husbandryof exotic pets, from sugargliders to tarantulasxx INTRODUCTION
I How to maintain highwater quality in aqua-riumsPart I of this book dealswith dogs and cats. Informa-tion ranging from selectinga pet to preventing diseaseis covered in this section.Fighting fleas, managingallergies, and coping withvarious medical conditionssuch as arthritis and dia-betes are just a few of thetopics that will prove valu-able to everone who ownsone or more of these triedand true companions.The popularity of petbirds is quickly closing thegap on that of dogs and cats.Part II covers importantinformation regarding theselection, housing, feeding,and preventive health careof pet birds, as well as selectdiseases and disorders.There are even sections on hand raising baby birds and on emergencyand first aid procedures for our feathered friends.For those pet fanciers who prefer less conventional choices forcompanionship, Part III is where it’s at! This section deals with exoticor alternative pets, including rabbits, guinea pigs, small rodents, chin-chillas, prairie dogs, hedgehogs, sugar gliders, ferrets, miniature pot-bellied pigs, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. For tropical fishlovers, there’s also a chapter on aquarium maintenance and diseaseprevention in fish.INTRODUCTIONxxi
Part IV presents a vari-ety of topics of interest topet owners. You may havewondered how to adminis-ter cardiopulmonary resus-citation to a dog or cat, orwhat to do if your pet swal-lows a poison. Chapter 38covers those and otherimportant topics regardingemergencies and first aidprocedures for dogs andcats. In fact, this could verywell be the most importantsection of the book, since,in emergency situations,timing is of the essence. Asa result, foreknowledge ofthe material presented inthis chapter could verywell save your pet’s life one day.Other interesting and useful information presented in this section in-cludes caring for orphaned or injured wildlife, caring for the older pet,xxii INTRODUCTION
increasing your pet’slongevity, reducing stressand promoting mentalwellness in pets, andunderstanding cancer indogs and cats. The chaptercovering zoonotic diseases,or diseases that can betransmitted from pets topeople, is sure to open someeyes! Although the chancesof transmission can be min-imized through good pre-ventive health care, manypet owners fail to realize theimportance of such care. Asa result, they can inadver-tently place their healthand, indeed, that of theirfamilies, in jeopardy.With the growth in popu-larity of holistic approachesto health care among peo-ple, it is no wonder thatmany satisfied followers areseeking such approaches fortheir pets. As a result, thera-pies such as acupuncture,herbal medicine, homeopa-thy, chiropractic, and nutri-tional medicine, as theyrelate to the health and well-being of our pets, are pre-sented in Chapter 45. Whatyou read may surprise you!Saving money seems tobe first and foremost onINTRODUCTIONxxiii
everyone’s mind thesedays. And by followingthe 10 superstrategies sug-gested in Chapter 46 forreducing the cost of petownership, you’ll quicklyrealize that this book isone of the best invest-ments you’ll ever make!Of course, despite allthe information mentionedabove, this book is not designed to replace quality veterinary care forpets, but rather to supplement it. If your pet is exhibiting signs ofinjury or illness, always consult your veterinarian. Remember: Thesooner a correct diagnosis can be made by a qualified veterinarian, thegreater the chances are for a successful treatment.Now get set for an informative voyage into the world of petswith The Complete Home Veterinary Guide as your tour leader.Regardless of your pet fancy, this book is sure to increase your “petsavvy” as well as enrich the relationship you have with your lov-ing companion(s)!xxiv INTRODUCTION
DOGS AND CATS1P A R TAccording to a recent (as of 2003) study conducted by the AmericanVeterinary Medical Association, there are over 110 million cats anddogs living in the United States alone. Pet owners spend billions ofdollars each on veterinary medical services and supplies for theirfour-legged companions. And this figure does not even include thefood they feed them! There is no doubt that, in American society atleast, dogs and cats are here to stay.History of the DogFor over 10,000 years, the dog has been an integral player in man’ssocial and cultural development. It’s blood and toil have helpedhumans discover new lands and build civilizations, and its use in warhas helped topple the same. It has hunted alongside humans for cen-turies and has been hunted by man for food. As eyes for the blind andears for the deaf, the dog has become an indispensable member of ourmodern society. But what really sets the dog apart from all the rest? Mil-lions of dog lovers will agree that it’s the special loyalty and devotionthe dog exhibits toward members of our own species—a characteristicthat has justly earned it the proper title of “[hu]man’s best friend.”1
The modern-day dog(Canis familiaris) descen-ded from the wolf, withfour distinct groups recog-nized. The first group, thedingo group, is descended from the wolves of Asia. Its members weredispersed throughout the Asian, African, and Australian continents.Modern-day descendants of this group include Rhodesian ridgebacks,basenjis, and the dingoes of Australia. One distinguishing characteris-tic of this group is that they don’t like to bark too much.A second group of dogs, the greyhound group, is believed to haveevolved from wolves inhabiting the open plains of central Asia, Africa,and the Middle East. The oldest member of this group, the saluki, isthought to have originated prior to 1400 B.C.! Distinguishing features ofthe greyhound group include keen eyesight and incredible speed, twocharacteristics that the Egyptians found especially useful for huntingpurposes. Besides the saluki, other modern representatives include theAfghan hound, the borzoi, and, of course, the greyhound.The Northern dog group is believed to have evolved from the largegray wolf of northern Europe. Generally regarded as one-master dogs,descendants of this group have been used for a variety of functions,including pulling sleds (Alaskan malamutes, Siberian huskies), hunt-ing game (Norwegian elk hound), and guarding flocks (collies).A final group, the mastiff group, arose from wolves occupying themountainous regions of Eurasia. Gifted with a keen sense of smell,members of this group were commonly used as war dogs and as hunt-ing dogs. We still utilize the hunting skills of retrievers, setters, andpointers today. The mastiff, the St. Bernard, and the Great Pyrenees area few of the more sizable members of this group.History of the CatLike the dog, the cat is thought to also have wolflike ancestors. Themodern cat, Felis catus, is a direct descendent of Felis libyca, theAfrican wildcat, and Felis sylvestris, a European wildcat with a tabby-like appearance.2 DOGS AND CATSDogs are believed to be the firstanimals ever domesticated by humans.DID YOU KNOW?
Interestingly, over the years, the domestic cat has undergone onlylimited selective breeding. As a result, it has the closest ties to its“wild” ancestors when compared to other domesticated animals. Evi-dence of this phenomenon can be seen in the similar size andanatomic features of all cats. Except for variations in characteristicssuch as muzzle and coat length and color, different breeds of cats gen-erally look alike. Compare this, if you will, to the dog, which comesin a multitude of sizes, shapes, and varieties, all brought on by selec-tive breeding.Cats first associated with humans back in the Stone Age, wherethey probably hung around camp for food scraps and leftovers. Itwas not until ancient Egyptian times that humans and felinesbecame true companions. Cats were used to hunt birds and catchfish for the Egyptians, and to rid their granaries of rats and mice. Sorevered did the cat become in early Egyptian society that goddesseswere fashioned after its image, and separate burial grounds were setaside for the mummified remains of those felines that departed fromthis world.As the world trade routes opened up and the high seas became animportant means of interaction between countries and peoples, thecat spread throughout the civilized world. Longhaired varieties soondeveloped, and became highly favored in the European communityuntil the Dark Ages, when superstition began to run rampant and catsbecame symbols of evil and witchcraft. They quickly lost their pre-ferred status, and the European cat population fell into decline.Unfortunately, when the Crusaders returned from the Holy Land car-rying plague-laden brown rats with them on their ships, there werefew cats around to meet this threat. As the bubonic plague devastatedEurope, the importance of the predatory nature of the cat increased,and numbers were soon back on the rise. As they regained their statusin society, cats found their way back into the farmers’ granaries andinto the courts of royalty.To this day, in the eyes ofmillions of cat fanciers,they still command a royalstatus in our society!DOGS AND CATS3The first evidence of feline domestica-tion dates back over 9000 years!DID YOU KNOW?
Choosing the Right Petfor You1C H A P T E RBecause dogs and cats come in all types of shapes, sizes, colors, coatlengths, and personalities, how do you know which one is going tobe just right for you and for your particular situation? Here are severalquestions you should be asking yourself before you take the plunge:Why do I want a pet andwhat type do I want?Is it going to be an indoorpet or an outdoor pet?How will this pet interactwith my children orother pets in the house-hold?Am I willing to devote thetime and money neededto raise this pet?If you are simply look-ing for companionship,then you need only tochoose a furry individualFIGURE 1. 1 Dogs are believed to be descendedfrom wolves.5
that strikes your fancy.Both purebreds and thoseof “questionable ancestry”can make great pets, andthe decision concerninggenetic purity is entirely up to you (Figs. 1.1 and 1.2). If you choose togo the purebred route, expect to pay more up front for your purchase.In addition, you run greater risk of facing genetic disorders inherent tothat particular breed. Being very cautious and prudent in your selec-tion process can minimize this risk.If you are like many pet lovers, you might be less finicky about alengthy pedigree and instead prefer a pet with a more mysterious genepool. In fact, there are several advantages to owning mixed-breeddog and cats (also known as domestic shorthairs, domestic medi-umhairs, and domestic longhairs). First, because of their diluted,colorful ancestries, theyexhibit a unique geneticphenomenon known ashybrid vigor. Because ofhybrid vigor, geneticallyblended pets, as a group,tend to be healthier and livelonger than their purebredcousins.Another obvious advan-tage of choosing a hybrid isthat they cost less to pur-chase than do their paperedpeers. Ask yourself, “Whattype of purebred breed(s) do Ilike best?” Then start lookingin newspapers, pet stores,and pounds and other animalshelters for crosses that con-tain the genes of your favoredbreed. In many instances, thegenetic makeup of the par-6 DOGS AND CATSOver 95 percent of felines in theUnited States are hybrids!DID YOU KNOW?FIGURE 1.2 Cats can be just as social and lovingas dogs.A dog with AKC “papers” is of higherquality than one without papers. F I CBecause the AKC has noreal regulatory enforcement of qualitystandards outside its sanctionedevents, purchasing a pet with “papers”is not a guarantee of quality.A C T OR F I C T I O NFF I C T I O N .
ents is not known, yet you can usually guess the genetic background ofthe candidate by its anatomic features or by its behavior.For instance, let’s say you notice that a dog’s ears stand erect, yetare folded halfway. There is a good chance that this mystery breed ispart terrier. Does the dogenjoy lounging around inits water dish? It could con-tain some retriever blood.Does the cat appear to beslightly cross-eyed? Nodoubt it is part Siamese.Odds are that the individ-ual you encounter will be across between one or moreof this country’s top 10most popular dog or catbreeds.Of course, space limita-tions will play an importantrole in the type of dog or catyou’ll ultimately choose. Forexample, apartment dwellerswill usually want to limitthemselves to a cat or smalldog, whereas those withlarger living spaces will havemore options. However, thereare exceptions to every rule!Are you looking for anexercise companion (Fig.1.3)? If so, you will want tochoose a dog breed with astride length and aerobiccapacity that won’t slowyou down. On the otherhand, you might want a cutelap warmer just to keep youCHOOSING THE RIGHT PET FOR YOU7FIGURE 1.3 Companionship is the number onereason for dog ownership.The excellent tracking skills of huntingdogs arise in part from their ability todetect distinct volatile fatty acidslocated on the surface of game or leftover on the ground, brush, and/or trees.DID YOU KNOW?
company. If so, a cat or toypoodle will fulfill that needquite nicely.If you are in the marketfor a hunting dog, thereare many from which tochoose (Fig. 1.4). Setters,pointers, retrievers, hounds,and spaniels come in a widevariety of types, shapes,sizes, and abilities. Forupland game hunting, set-ters, pointers, and spanielsfit the bill. For waterfowl,retrievers won’t hesitateto plunge into the water toretrieve a fallen bird. Fortracking larger game, oneof the keen-scented houndbreeds might be what yourequire. Some hunting dogswill do it all! Keeping your particular needs in mind, research youroptions thoroughly, and talk with local gun club, hunting club, and/orbreed club members to assist you in the decision-making process.Perhaps you want a dog for protection purposes. If you envisionyour new acquisition roaming your backyard, lunging and snarlingat anyone or anything that approaches your gate, then forget it.Obtaining a dog under such pretenses is only asking for trouble (anda lawsuit), and is heartily discouraged. If, on the other hand, youplan to treat your dog as a true companion and household member,as well as protector, then your qualifications for ownership areacceptable.It stands to reason that an 85-pound rottweiler with glistening whiteteeth would certainly be more imposing to an intruder than would an11-pound Lhasa apso (not that the latter wouldn’t tear into the former—Lhasa apsos were originally bred for this purpose)! However, it isinstinctive that all dogs, regardless of breed or size, will actively defend8 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 1.4 As hunting partners, dogs have noequals!
pack members (and, like it ornot, you are a pack member)or territory if threatened.If you want your dog to pro-tect you, it is important thatit recognize what does anddoes not constitute a threat.And this is where profes-sional protection trainingwill come in handy.All dogs to be used for protection purposes must be properly social-ized with people. Military and police dogs are perfect examples. Thesedogs are trained to attack on command only. Off duty, most are gentleas lambs. This is how your dog should be. This will not only ensureyour safety and that of your family and friends but also might preventa lawsuit! Remember: A socialized dog can be a great protector; anunsocialized dog is downright dangerous!Unless you are planning to become (or are already) a professionalbreeder, don’t purchase a dog or cat with visions of large profits fromthe sale of future litters. Most novices find out quickly that breedingoperations, if done correctly and humanely (as they should always be),represent a considerable investment in time and money. Be sure tofind out what these investments are prior to plunging into the petbreeding business.If you are a novice, confine your efforts to one of the more popularbreeds rather than to some exotic, delicate breed. As a rule, you’ll berewarded with larger litters and fewer problems with dystocia (diffi-cult or complicated birthing). In addition, the more popular the breed,the greater the demand will be for the offspring, resulting in greaterfinancial rewards.But breeder beware: When selecting your initial breeding stock,closely scrutinize the pedigree of the dog or cat in question. All that ittakes is one genetic defect to appear in one or more of the offspring,and your reputation as a breeder could be shattered!For many, the pleasure of dog or cat ownership is compounded bythe thrill of competition in the field or show ring (Fig. 1.5). Thousandsof events are sanctioned each year by national, state, and local clubsCHOOSING THE RIGHT PET FOR YOU9Cats are loners by nature.F I C T I O NResearch has shown that feral cats,especially females, will actually exhibitpack behavior similar to dogs, groom-ing and taking care of one another!Only about 15 percent of cats willrefuse to socialize at all with humans.A C T OR F I C T I O NFF I C T I O N .
that bring owners and their performers in from all over the country.Breeders are motivated by these events as well, for earning a reputa-tion for producing show champions is rewarding not only to the egobut also to the pocketbook.Housing ConsiderationsWhere are you planning to house your new pet? Hopefully, your answeris “indoors.” For some reason, many cat owners are under the falseimpression that a cat cannot be happy unless it is roaming free outdoors.Although this might have been the standard of thinking years back, it is10 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 1.5 The thrill of competition.
time that cat owners changetheir attitudes toward thissubject. Aside from theobvious health hazards tooutdoor cats, such as carfenders and fan belts, hostile dogs, hostile humans, and infectious dis-eases, there is another important reason: an increased threat of zoonoticdisease transmission. As a result, although it is fine to allow your cat tospend some time outside, it should spend the majority of the day (and allof the night) inside.Dogs raised as housepets will respond more favorably to trainingand generally have less behavioral problems than those that are per-petually banished to the backyard from day 1. This is because dogscrave the attention and company of people, and, in most instances, abackyard existence does not fulfill this need. Problem behaviors anddisobedience frequently result from such discontent.In decisions regarding the housing of dogs, excitability, size, and coatlength are certainly three important considerations (Fig. 1.6). As a rule,the more excitable the dog, the more attention that dog will crave. Iso-late an excitable dog in a backyard away from human contact, and youare just begging for behavioral problems. At the same time, selecting alarge dog for a housepet and failing to housetrain or command-train itproperly could lead to some very disturbing and destructive confronta-tions. If you are not willing to devote the time to properly train anindoor dog, you should stick to one of the smaller breeds in order tolimit the damage that is bound to befall your carpet and furniture!Depending on the type of climate in which you live, haircoat lengthbecomes an important factor to consider when deciding on indoorsversus outdoor housing. In colder climates, dogs with long coats anddense undercoats can withstand the outdoor chill much better thancan their shorthaired counterparts. Conversely, dogs such as the Siber-ian husky and the chow chow may have a difficult time coping withsouthern heat without the benefits of air conditioning.Outdoor dogs with long haircoats will also require more groomingtime and effort to keep their coats healthy than if they were housedindoors. Are you willing to devote this time each day? If not, eitherselect a dog with a shorter coat, or plan on housing your dog indoors.CHOOSING THE RIGHT PET FOR YOU11The average cat will sleep well overhalf its life away.DID YOU KNOW?
If you plan on housing a dog outside when it becomes an adult, besure that it is housetrained as a puppy. That way, if the need everarises to bring the dog indoors, it will be easier (and certainly moresanitary) to accomplish such a conversion.Pets and ChildrenDogs and cats can serve as great teachers to educate children aboutresponsibility and unconditional love! However, wait until your chil-dren are at least 5 years old before acquiring a new pet. Youngerchildren, some of who might just be starting to crawl or walk, stand agreater chance of being accidentally hurt or scratched by a housepet12 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 1.6 Dogs with long coats and/or thick undercoats should not be housedoutdoors in hot climates.
than do older children. Onthe contrary, older childrenare better equipped tolearn about and/or under-take responsibilities asso-ciated with pet ownership,and can become active par-ticipants in the care of thenew family member.When selecting a pet fora child, choose one with anoutgoing personality, onethat can stand up to the rig-ors of ownership by a child(Fig. 1.7). Shy, introvertedpuppies and kittens rarelysatisfy the energy require-ments of children. Such petsmight be difficult to social-ize and could turn aggres-sive if mentally traumatizedby an overzealous child.With dogs, medium tomedium-large breeds arepreferred for children.Small dogs and toy breeds,because of their small stature, are more susceptible to accidentalinjury at the hands and feet of young ones. They are also more likelyto become aggressive if mishandled. On the other hand, while one ofthe giant breeds can be gentle as a lamb, such a pet could still pose asignificant health threat to your child because of its sheer mass.Personality features to look for in dogs include low aggressiveness,high tolerance, and low excitability. Golden retrievers are a favoriteamong parents, owing to their reputation for gentleness with children.Basset hounds, Labrador retrievers, and collies are also popular picks forchildren. Finally, when purchasing a puppy or kitten, limit your selec-tion to one that is between 8 and 12 weeks old. Because socializationCHOOSING THE RIGHT PET FOR YOU13FIGURE 1.7 Dog ownership is an excellent way toteach children about responsibility and uncondi-tional love!
naturally occurs during this time, a greater bond will form between itand your child.New Pets and Other PetsBefore bringing home a new dog or cat, consider your other pets thatare already in your household. Jealousies or incompatibilities (e.g.,cats and birds) could arise that need to be anticipated ahead of time.Be sure the new addition has been properly socialized to other pets,and vice versa! For example, if your existing dog is the type thatattacks anything that barks or moves on four legs, it might do the sameto your new arrival. Unsocialized dogs and cats (and even some thatare properly socialized) might refuse to accept another of their kindinto their territory without a fight.All newcomers should be gradually introduced to existing pets oneday at a time. Keep your new pet in a separate room or enclosure,allowing initial interactions to take place only under your directsupervision. These gradual encounters should eventually help breakthe ice between the two and help establish a social pecking orderwithin your furry family.The Responsible Pet OwnerPet ownership comes with major responsibilities in terms of both timeand money. For instance, dogs are pack animals and crave attentionfrom their human pack members (Fig. 1.8). Certainly one of the easiestways to upset a dog is to habitually ignore it. In fact, this lack of ownerattention underlies many of the problem behaviors seen in dogs.Regardless of whether you keep your dog indoors or outdoors, con-sider how much quality time you will be able to spend with it eachday. If your projections are low because of your job or other commit-ments, two dogs are often better than one. The company that one pro-vides the other while you are away can be an effective substitute foryour affections.Another factor to consider with a dog is how much time you willhave to devote to training. It cannot be stressed enough how importantthis is to your future relationship with your dog. One major cause of14 DOGS AND CATS
owner dissatisfaction is an unruly pet. As a result, training is definitelyone aspect of pet ownership that should never be neglected.Reduced time requirement is a major reason for the increasing pref-erence for cats over dogs as pets. Cats are indeed fairly self-sufficient,seemingly needing only food, water, a clean litterbox, and very littletraining. While this is true in many instances, you are still not off thehook! All cats still need a daily dose of attention and grooming.The financial aspects owning a dog or cat, including food, supplies,training, and veterinary care, can cost hundreds of dollars each year,and that’s assuming that it stays healthy (see Chap. 46). Are you willingCHOOSING THE RIGHT PET FOR YOU15FIGURE 1.8 Dogs are pack animals, and they crave attention.
to accept financial respon-sibility for your pet’s pre-ventive health care or fortreatment in an event ofan injury or illness? If not,you are not ready for petownership.On a final note,although your intentionsmight be pure, never sur-prise someone with a newdog or cat unless you arepositively, absolutely surethat they want one in thefirst place. Think about it:Your gift to them includesnot only that furry bundleof energy but also a heartycommitment to training,time, and money (Fig. 1.9).Unfortunately, too manypeople do fail to thinkabout it that way, and as aresult, our nation’s poundsand shelters are overflow-ing with unwanted pets turned in by disgruntled or disinterested giftrecipients. As a result, it is always best to allow other people to come toa decision about pet ownership by themselves, and not to force it onthem by your good intentions. Believe me, everyone will be happier inthe long run!Finding the Right Dog or Cat for YouOnce you have decided on a particular type of dog or cat, now is thetime to start your search. Newspapers, pet stores, veterinary hospitals,the Internet, and word of mouth are all fruitful avenues for information.If you’re not interested in a registered pet, check with the local humane16 DOGS AND CATSA dog and cat that are correctlysocialized to one another can becomebest of buddies, whereas the sametwo animals, if socialization does notoccur, often become bitter enemies!DID YOU KNOW?FIGURE 1.9 Plan on brushing your dog everyday!
society or animal shelter inyour area. These are excel-lent places to start andare often jam-packed withcanines and felines of alltypes, all eager to be adoptedinto happy homes. Usually,one can be yours to love foronly a nominal adoption fee.As an added benefit, youwill feel good knowing thatyou’ve saved an unwanted pet from an uncertain future.If a purebred fits your fancy, check pet stores or contact breeders,preferably within your area. Local veterinarians and groomers canoften provide specific recommendations. Magazines catering to dogand cat owners can also be excellent reference sources for profes-sional breeders. Finally, shows and other competitive events pro-vide a means of giving you a firsthand glimpse of the cream of thecrop and can give you the opportunity to meet prominent breedersin person.Before you go shopping, do your homework. Find out what thegoing rate is for the particular breed you want. Beware of the small-time operator who advertises or offers you a great deal on a “regis-tered” pup. These so-called great deals can end up costing you morein the long run in medical bills and emotional drain. Where qualitycounts, stick with reputable breeders who can provide you with thecomplete pedigrees of both parents and references of satisfied clients.This rule holds true for pet store purchases as well. Before buyingfrom a pet store, ask where the puppy or kitten came from and whothe breeder was. Ask to see the pedigrees of both parents. Reputablepet stores will have all this information readily available for yourinspection. And don’t hesitate to ask for references from satisfied cus-tomers. If the store is unwilling or unable to divulge such informa-tion, look elsewhere.Whatever you do, don’t rush your decision. Remember that you aremaking a long-term commitment. Take your time, and pick out thatspecial individual just right for you!CHOOSING THE RIGHT PET FOR YOU17To determine the age ofa young kitten, use ascale. Kittens under 6 months of agewill usually gain about a pound permonth of life. For instance, a 3-month-old kitten usually weighs around 3pounds, and a 4-month-old kitten willgenerally weigh in at about 4 pounds.DR. P’S VET TIP
The Prepurchase ExamOnce you think you’ve finally found the perfect companion, nowwhat? For starters, you want to be sure you are getting a healthy spec-imen. Be sure to inquire as to vaccination and deworming history. Youmight be told that all of the “shots” and dewormings have been given.This might be true, but don’t hesitate to ask for, in writing, dates andnames of products used. Your veterinarian can then review this list forcompleteness during the professional prepurchase exam.Even before your veterinarian gets involved, you should performyour own prepurchase exam on the prospect. It is easy to do on siteand will help illuminate many problems that might otherwise eludethe untrained eye.1. Environment. For starters, take note of the surrounding envi-ronment in which the puppy or kitten is being kept. Does it look andsmell clean, or is it filthy, with uncleaned litterboxes or urine and feceslying all around? If the latter is true, you should question the integrity ofthe seller. Observe all the individuals in the litter or group. Do anyappear sickly, depressed, or otherwise unhealthy? An infectious diseasecan run rampant through such a congregation of young dogs and cats,and it could be just beginning to rear its ugly head within the group.2. Attitude. Now focus your attention on the actual candidate.Start with overall attitude. Does it appear active and healthy, or isit lethargic and depressed? Are breathing problems evident? Does itseem friendly and outgoing to people and to the other animals in thegroup, or does it seem shy and introverted? Dogs and cats destined tobe good pets should take an instant fancy to people, and should out-wardly display this affection. At the same time, avoid those individu-als with overbearing and domineering personalities. Observe howyour favorite treats other members of its group. Domineering personal-ities are usually quite evident. As a general rule, choose one that is“middle of the road”—not too domineering yet not too shy.3. Skin and coat. Once attitude and personality have been evalu-ated, check out the skin and coat. Any fleas or ticks present? How aboutany hair loss, scabs, or signs of infection? These could be indicators ofdiseases such as mange or ringworm, both of which can be zoonotic. Cats18 DOGS AND CATS
especially are meticulous self-groomers. As a result, an unkempt hair-coat could signify parasitism or some other underlying health disorder.4. Lumps, bumps, or swellings. Run your hands over the umbili-cal area and, on both sides, over the points where the inner thighs con-nect with the abdominal wall. Do you notice any soft, fluctuantmasses? These could be herniations. Run you hands over the entirebody surface, feeling for other types of lumps and bumps. Note thelocation of any you find. Does the belly seem distended (swollen)? Ifso, it could be full of food, or it could be full of worms. Check beneaththe tail, looking for tapeworm segments and for evidence of diarrhea.Soiling on and around the hair in this area should tip you off to apotential intestinal disorder.5. Other anatomical considerations. Observe leg conformationand the way the puppy or kitten walks and runs. Any obvious defor-mity and/or lameness should be noted. In male dogs, check for descentof the testicles. Both testicles should be present at birth. If they aren’t,be prepared to neuter at a later date, not only for health reasons butalso to prevent the passage of this inheritable trait to future genera-tions. Fortunately, cryptorchidism is rare in cats.6. Head region. Now focus in on the head region. Using your eyesand your nose, check the ears for discharges or strong odors (usually asign of infection). Both eyes should be free of matter, with no cloudinessor redness. Compare both eyes, making sure that they are of the samesize, and that the pupils are of the same diameter. Glance at the nose,noting any discharges or crusts. Finally, look into the mouth. The gumsshould be pink. If they are white, the dog or cat could be anemic. Lookfor any severe underbites or overbites, or any missing teeth. Also glanceat the roof of the mouth. Cleft palate is a serious birth defect (see Table1.1), and unless it is surgically corrected, it will lead to secondary aspi-ration pneumonia and ultimately death.Consulting a VeterinarianLet’s say you’ve completed the exam described above and have foundsome potential problem areas. What do you do next? First, don’t get dis-couraged. Many of these conditions have quick, inexpensive solutions.This is where a veterinarian comes in handy.CHOOSING THE RIGHT PET FOR YOU19
20 DOGS AND CATSTable 1.1 Congenital or Inherited Disorders in Dogs*Eyes Microphthalmia (small eyes)Juvenile cataractsEntropion/ectropionGlaucomaProlapsed third eyelidTear duct deformityEars Congenital deafnessNervous system EpilepsyBrain underdevelopmentHydrocephalusInvertebral disk diseaseIntegument Umbilical herniaInguinal herniaDemodectic mangeDigestive system Cleft palateAbnormal dentitionOverbite or underbiteMusculoskeletal system DwarfismJoint dislocationsPatellar luxationCardiovascular system Blood-clotting disordersHeart murmursAnemiaRespiratory system Collapsed tracheaReproductive system Retained testicles (cryptorchidism)*For ethical purposes, all pets with congenital or inherited disorders should be neutered.
Don’t feel awkward about asking the seller to pick up the tab (pay)for a professional prepurchase exam [and for cats, feline leukemiavirus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) testing] by a vet-erinarian of your choice. Sellers who are confident in the quality oftheir pets should have no qualms about this. If they balk, a warninglight should flash in your head. And don’t get suckered into a “money-back” or “lifetime” guarantee on a pet as an alternative to a profes-sional prepurchase screen. Such a guarantee doesn’t protect youagainst the emotional distress caused by having to return a pet towhich you’ve already grown attached.Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations as to the purchasequality of the dog or cat in question. If the one you have your heart seton does have medical problems that can be easily corrected, ask theseller to deduct these costs from the purchase price. They aren’t oblig-ated but by character to do so; as a result, you must decide on yournext move if they refuse or fail to compromise. The extra expense(including cost of supplies and required documents in addition to ini-tial purchase price of the pet; see Tables 1.2 and 1.3) out of your ownpocketbook might be worth it if you think you have truly found the petof your dreams! You be the judge.CHOOSING THE RIGHT PET FOR YOU21Table 1.2 Supply Checklist for Your New CatFood and water bowl BrushCat (kitten) food CombCollar or harness Bed or cathouseLeash Travel kennelClaw trimmers Flea control productsIdentification tag Scratching postCity license (if required) Toothbrush/pasteProof of rabies vaccination ToysLitterbox Heartworm preventive agentLitter
Petproofing YourHomeIf you choose to allow yournew pet to have the run ofthe house, be sure to takeproper steps to petproofyour home. For instance,keep all electrical cords wellout of reach. This mightmean banishing your play-ful pet from certain areas ofthe house, but it is a minorinconvenience compared toa potentially fatal accident.Puppies especially love tochew, and electrical cordscan be mighty appetizing.Puppies explore withtheir mouths, and will pickup anything. Keep everything that’s not a toy out of reach, includingspare change. Also, be careful when putting out cockroach or rat poi-sons, as these can attract curious mouths.You will probably want to confine unsupervised puppies to non-carpeted floors until proper housetraining has been accomplished.Even so-called stain-resistant carpets can buckle under the strain ofrepeated bombardments.Keep all plants out of reach. Many dogs and cats love to chew onfoliage, and if they decide tonibble on a harmful orna-mented variety of plant, theycould poison themselves.Cats will also enjoy usingpotting soil as litter, and caturine has the unique abilityto quickly dispatch even theheartiest of house plants!22 DOGS AND CATSTable 1.3 Supply Checklist for Your NewDogFood and water bowls BrushDog (puppy) food CombCollar Bed or doghouseLeash Travel kennelTraining lead and Nail trimmersropeIdentification tag Ear cleanserCity license Toothbrush/paste(if required)Proof of rabies ToysvaccinationHeartworm Flea control productspreventativeCats love to play with strings andribbons. Unfortunately, stringforeign body intestinal obstructionsare relatively common feline medicalemergencies seen by veterinarians. Asa result, keep these items well out ofreach of your cat!A C T OR F I C T I O NFA C T.F
Cats love to jump onto ledges, windowsills, and furniture. As aresult, be sure all opened windows are screened, and that all lamps,pictures, and collectibles are secured. Open washers/dryers, drawers,high ledges or balconies, hot irons on ironing boards, and stovetopburners left on can all be insidious dangers to your cat’s health.Pins, needles, rubber bands, yarn, string, ribbons, aluminum foil,cellophane, and holiday tinsel are just a few items that could causeserious health problems if eaten by dogs or cats. Inquisitive cats havebeen known to get their heads lodged within open cans and jars, andbecause cats possess a strange attraction to bags of all types, plasticbags can become death traps if entered.Your Dog’s Outdoor HomeNo doubt there will undoubtedly be special situations which pro-hibit the indoor dwelling of a grown dog. In these instances, outdooraccommodations provided for your pet must take into account itscomfort and well-being. Remember that dogs get hot and cold just aswe do, and when housed outdoors, need to be provided a means ofprotection against extremes in the weather. Your friend is entitled toa sturdy, well-insulated shelter. The doghouse should be positionedin a relatively shady area of the yard, and should also be elevated afew inches off of the ground using bricks or wood to prevent flood-ing in the event of a rainstorm. Ideally, the shelter should have ashort, enclosed porch which leads into the main house. This willhelp keep wind drafts from penetrating into the main living area.The main living quarters should be large enough to allow your dogto turn around comfortably within, yet confined enough to provideit a sense of security and to concentrate heat during cold winterdays. Finally, a ramp should be included to allow your dog easyaccess into its elevated home.If you build the doghouse yourself, select sturdy building materi-als, remembering that they must be able to withstand constant pun-ishment from teeth and claws. If fiberglass insulation is to be used,make certain that it remains well contained and sealed within thewalls and roof, since such material can cause severe gastrointestinalupset if swallowed.CHOOSING THE RIGHT PET FOR YOU23
If you plan on further confining your dog to a pen or run, usea smooth concrete or quarry tile as flooring on which to place thedoghouse. Although such surfaces may not be the most comfortablefor your pet, they are the most sanitary and easy to clean. Floors con-sisting of grass, sand, pebbles, and/or just plain dirt only serve totrap and accumulate filth and disease, and should be avoided.The fence surrounding the enclosure should be made of wirechain link and be tall enough to prevent escape. Exposed metalpoints from the chain links at the top of the fencing material shouldnot extend above the metal support bar in order to prevent injuries ifyour dog does try to jump. The same rule applies for the bottomperimeter of the fence as well, just in case your dog tries to squeezeits way out.Naming Your PetNaming your new pet should be fun and involve the entire family.You can even find entire books dedicated to choosing the right namefor your dog or cat at your favorite bookstore. When deciding on aname, stick to one that has two syllables. This is especially impor-tant for dogs, enabling them to tell the difference between theirname and those one-syllable commands they must learn. You canfurther set its name apart from potential commands or reprimandsby adding a vowel sound to the end of it. Just be creative!Introducing Your Pet to Its New HomeYou will want to do everything in your power to make your new petfeel comfortable and secure in its new home. Establish an area in thehouse that your pet can call its own, and completely petproof it.When you first get your pet home, introduce it to its special roomimmediately. Allow it some time to scope out the new surroundings,including the sleeping accommodations you have provided. Thisshould include a cushioned bed, basket, or travel kennel. For kit-tens, cardboard or plastic boxes work just fine, assuming that easyaccess into these enclosures is provided. Be sure that your pet’s24 DOGS AND CATS
sleeping area is in a part of the house far from noise and otherdisturbances.Special Considerations for CatsYour cat’s litterbox should also be placed in an area in the housewhere interruptions are not likely to occur. For very small kittens, analuminum pan or shallow tray may be used; for larger kittens andadult cats, your standard plastic varieties available from a pet shopwork just fine.Avoid using boxes or other cardboard devices for a litterbox. Notonly do they have a tendency to leak, but their porous nature is mostunsanitary to your cat. Covered litterboxes have the advantage ofkeeping the litter from being strewn across the floor—assuming,of course, that your cat feels comfortable enough to enter suchan enclosure!Try to match the type of litter used in your cat’s previous home,but be sure that it is dust-free. Also, avoid products containingchlorophyll to mask odors, as this substance can irritate your cat’snose and prevent it from using the box. Fill the box with about 11ր2inches of litter. For sanitation purposes as well as aesthetics withinthe house, make a habit of scooping out solids from your cat’s lit-terbox on a daily basis. (Note: Pregnant women should pass thisduty on to someone else, in order to reduce their risk of exposure totoxoplasmosis.) Both coarse-grained and fine-grained (“clumping”)litters can be spot-cleaned daily without having to dump out theentire box. However, regardless of litter type used, litterboxesshould be emptied completely and cleaned with soap and waterat least once a week to maintain sanitary conditions and to controlodor.Unless you plan to have your cat declawed at a young age, you willalso need to invest in a good scratching post to spare your furniture andfixtures from the ravages of your cat’s claws. Clawing comes naturallyto cats, which use such behavior to keep their nails in top conditionand to mark their territory. The scratching post should be made ofsturdy material and be heavy enough or braced so that it doesn’t fallCHOOSING THE RIGHT PET FOR YOU25
over when the cat attempts to scratch. A sturdy piece of soft wood isideal for this purpose. Other commercial varieties can be obtained froma local pet store. Avoid those posts lined with thick, compliant carpet,as this might not satisfy your cat’s needs, causing it to look elsewherefor a surface that will.First EncountersYour new pet’s first encounters with the rest of your family are impor-tant. Be sure that initial introductions, be they with children or otheradults in the family, turn out to be positive ones. Carefully supervisechild-pet interactions, and stress to your children the importance ofgentle play and handling. Instruct your children and other adults onthe proper way to pick up and hold a new puppy or kitten. Pets shouldnot be picked up solely by the front legs or by the neck. Instead, theentire body should be picked up as one unit, with the hind end sup-ported, not left dangling in midair. Picking a cat up by grasping theskin over the back of the neck is acceptable as long as the hind end issupported as well.If they had it their way, most children, and some adults, for that mat-ter, would choose to play with a new puppy or kitten 24 hours a day.However, you need to stress the importance of a rest time after periodsof play, and lay down strict ground rules against disturbing the pet duringthis downtime (Fig. 1.10).Rules of PlayPuppies and kittens love toplay. In fact, it’s part of theirnormal behavioral devel-opment. However, realizethat there is a right wayand a wrong way to goabout it. Follow these “rulesof play” to be sure that yourapproach is the correct one.26 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 1.10 Puppies need their rest, too.
For dogs, toys should be made of nylon, rawhide, or hard rubber. Ofthe three materials, hard nylon or compressed rawhide is most desir-able because it is most easily digested if swallowed. Regular rawhides,pig ears, and similar substances are fine if the dog takes its time andchews slowly. For those dogs that don’t take the time to chew, avoidgiving these items altogether because they can cause serious stomachupset and even intestinal blockage if swallowed whole. Also, somedogs have difficulty differentiating rawhide from refined leather,which could put your new pair of shoes in serious jeopardy! Rubberchew toys should be solid and sturdy so that they cannot be easilyripped apart by sharp puppy teeth. Avoid chew toys with plastic“squeaks” in them. Most dogs can extract these mechanisms too easily,only to swallow them or aspirate them into their airways Regardless ofthe type of chew toy you pick, choose it as you would a child’s toy. Ifits design is such that it could cause suffocation or serious problemsif swallowed, put it back and choose a safer one.Avoid using old socks, shoes, or sweatshirts as substitute toys foryour dog because it won’t be able to tell the difference between old andnew. Allow a puppy to chew on an old shoe or sweatshirt while stillan adolescent, and you might find it fancying your expensive leathershoes or tennis warmups when it grows up.When selecting toys for your new kitten or cat, be sure that theycannot be torn apart easily and that they do not contain small partsthat could be swallowed. Wrinkled paper and shoeboxes are intriguingto most cats. Rubber balls or mice too large to swallow, as well as cat-nip toys (again, constructed for safety), are also considered safe toys. Ifa string is attached to a toy in order to entice a cat to play, alwaysremove it after the play session is over. Along the same lines, never useribbon or laces as play items. If a cat swallows such items, they coulddamage their intestines and have to be removed surgically.It is fine to play intensely with a puppy or kitten, but overt rough-housing should be avoided. If a play session progresses from a friendlyromp to an all-out frontal assault, end it immediately. Your pet needs tolearn how to keep its activity level to a socially acceptable intensity.Also, be sure that the youngster gets plenty of time to rest after an espe-cially active play period.CHOOSING THE RIGHT PET FOR YOU27
The same rules of mod-eration apply to chewing.It is perfectly natural for apuppy to want to exploreits environment with itsmouth. During play, therewill be times when thepup will bite and nip toomuch or too hard. Whenthis occurs, shout “No,”pull your arm or leg away,and provide a chew toy asa substitute. In essence,what you want to tell yourpup is that it is fine to useits mouth to explore, justas long as it knows itslimits (Fig. 1.11). You’llbe surprised how quicklythey learn!28 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 1.11 Make sure that your puppy learnsthe rules of play early!
Training Essentials2C H A P T E RProper training is definitely the key to a happy owner-pet relationship.It establishes your dominance in the relationship between you andyour pet right from the start, and it can help prevent many behavioralchallenges from rearing their ugly heads later on. Solid training canalso keep your pet out of troublesome situations that could threatenboth its health and yours (Fig. 2.1)!There is one characteristic exhibited by every good trainer: patience.Without this virtue, you’re going to have a tough time teaching yourpet anything. You need to set aside time each day for training andresolve to stick to it. Keep in mind that it will only be a temporary dipinto your time budget. After all, the more time you devote from thestart, the quicker and more satisfying the results will be.What about training school? Is it worth the time and the money?The answer is “Yes” if it will motivate you to devote the time for thetask at hand. You still have to be physically present during the train-ing (you can’t have someone else train your dog, and then expect yourstar pupil to respond likewise to your commands). If you choose thisroute, enroll in an active-participation class in which an instructordirects you and your dog through the training session. However, keepin mind that such a class doesn’t relieve you of your homework duties.You still need to practice with your pooch daily on your home turf.29
Main Principles ofTrainingFor any training method tobe effective, it must followsome basic principles toensure its success. Someof these principles aredescribed in the followingparagraphs.Consistency andRepetitionThe magic success formulafor all training endeavors isderived from two key con-cepts: consistency and repe-tition. Consistency providesthe building blocks; repeti-tion is the mortar that holdsthe program together. With-out the two, you might aswell try to teach a rock howto fetch. The results will bethe same!Consistency means morethan just using the samecommands over and overagain. It also means usingthe same praises and correc-tions each time and keepingyour voice tones consis-tently unique for each. Evenyour body language andpostures used during train-ing should remain uniformbetween sessions. As trivial30 DOGS AND CATSDogs learn in primarily two ways. Themost basic type of learning, calledhabituation, is characterized by adiminishing response to a repeatedstimulus over time. In the second typeof learning, called associative learning,a dog creates a “link” between two ormore different types of actions, results,and/or stimuli (e.g., food rewards fordesired behavior). Socialization isregarded as a form of this associativelearning.DID YOU KNOW?FIGURE 2.1 Proper training will enhance yourrelationship with your dog.
as it might seem, pets pickup on stuff like that. Dogsand cats also like routine, sostick to it. Train at the samehour each day and for thesame length of time for eachdaily session.Just as important as con-sistency to a dog or cat’slearning process is repeti-tion. Repeating an action ortraining drill over and overwill help reinforce the posi-tive response you are lookingfor. Furthermore, the morerepetition you implement into training, the leaner and more refinedyour pet’s learned skills become (Fig. 2.2).Verbal PraiseUse verbal praise instead of physical pain in your training sessions.Food treats are fine as a reward supplement, but they should neverreplace verbal compliments. Punishment might be warranted if yourpet purposely disobeys a command or commits an undesirable act, butthis should never take the form of physical punishment. There arealternative means, each of which is at least just as effective as physicalviolence.PunishmentDogs and cats can be reprimanded effectively with a sharp verbal “No.”Water sprayers, air horns, a can full of coins, handheld vacuums, andso on can all be used to gainyour pet’s attention quicklywithout inflicting any pain.If you decide to use pun-ishment, be sure to instituteit quickly, preferably within5 seconds of the act. If youTRAINING ESSENTIALS31F I G U R E 2 . 2 All cats should be trained to a har-ness and leash.When training, always endyour session on a positivenote. This will greatly accelerate yourresults.DR. P’S VET TIP
don’t apply it before thistime expires, any punish-ment thereafter might satisfyyour anger, but it will serveno useful training purpose.Don’t extend your punish-ment past a few seconds.Prolonged exhortations willonly confuse your pet (andmight cause you to lose yourvoice).Never use your pet’s name during the negative reinforcement. Ifyou do, your pet might start to associate its name with the bad act andeventually become a basket case whenever the name is called. Reservethis name calling for positive, happy experiences only.If you do punish, always follow it up shortly thereafter with a com-mand or drill that will lead to a praise situation. Remember that the mosteffective training programs rely on praise more than on punishment. Forsome dogs, simply withholding praise from them is punishment enoughto modify their behavior! By rewarding your pet for doing good ratherthan punishing it for doing bad, you’ll get the positive results you arelooking for much faster.Other Suggestions1. Get the whole family involved. In any training situation, alwaystry to involve all members of the family. An all-too-common scenariois one in which a pet virtually ignores the commands of anyone but theone person who trained it. To avoid this, get the whole familyinvolved. Just be sure to remain consistent within the family withregard to the training methods and commands used.2. Use short commands. All verbal commands you employ needto be kept short and sweet. Using slightly different voice tones for eachcommand will help prevent confusion. If verbal punishment is to beused, make certain that it is totally different in tone and in presenta-tion than the other commands.3. Start young. Always start your pet’s training at an early age.While it is true that certain advanced training techniques can be best32 DOGS AND CATSSticking a dog’s nose in its stool orurine is an effective form of punish-ment. C’mon, who thoughtof this one! For some reason, this typeof punishment is still quite popularamong pet owners, even though itserves no useful purpose. Dogs areattracted to the smell of this stuff,anyway!F I C T I O N .A C T OR F I C T I O NF
taught at around 6 months of age, basic training, including housetrain-ing for dogs, should be started as early as 8 weeks of age. If basic com-mand training is not taught this early in life, bad habits arise later on,some of which can put a damper on future training efforts.4. Keep training sessions short. Try to keep the training sessionsshort and to the point. For puppies and kittens 8 to 12 weeks of age,devoting 10 minutes two to three times daily will yield excellentresults. As your pet matures, the length of each of these sessions canincrease. Let your pet’s attitude be your judge. If it seems bored orindifferent, or has become totally unruly, you have probably exceededits attention span.5. End on a good note. Always end your training session on agood note. Doing so is very constructive in terms of your pet’s mentaldevelopment, and effectively sets the tone for the next session.Socializing and Desensitizing Your PetThere is no doubt that the most important time in a new puppy orkitten’s life is between the ages of 3 and 12 weeks. During this shorttimespan, the adolescent will learn who it is, who you are, and whoand what all of those other living, moving beings surrounding it are aswell. This stage of life in which such vital learning takes place iscalled the socialization period (Fig. 2.3).If for some reason a puppy or kitten fails to be properly introduced tomembers of its own species or to other species (including children) dur-ing this time, then there is a good chance that it will not recognizeTRAINING ESSENTIALS33F I G U R E 2 . 3 Dogs and cats can become best of friends if socialized at an early age.
these individuals for what orwho they are, and it mighteven show aggressivenesstoward them. For example,dogs intended for breedingpurposes must be properlysocialized to members oftheir own species if they areto be expected to breed withone of these members. Also,prime examples of dogs notproperly socialized includethose that show extremeaggressiveness to men only,or those aggressive to chil-dren. Dogs in particular seepeople as two species: bigpeople and little people. Asa result, while a dog mightrecognize an adult personas the one who feeds andcommands it, it might not recognize a small toddler as one who com-mands the same respect if the pet is never properly socialized to smallchildren (Fig. 2.4). Some dogs aren’t fit for any type of human interac-tion at all. These have absolutely no socialization whatsoever andcould pose a threat to humans.Improper or negative socialization is even worse than no socializa-tion at all. Any traumatic experience or physical punishment thatoccurs before 12 weeks of age could permanently scar a pet’s person-ality to a specific group or species for life. For instance, dogs or catsthat exhibit a fear of men were most likely abused by a member of thissex during the socialization period. This is one reason why all physi-cal punishment should be avoided during this time in your pet’s life.Such activity could damage its relationship with the person doing thepunishing for life!The existence of this socialization period is one reason why youshould select puppies and kittens less than 12 weeks of age whenchoosing a new companion. If you don’t, you have no way of knowing34 DOGS AND CATSF I G U R E 2 . 4 All dogs must be properly social-ized to children.
whether proper socializa-tion has taken place, and youmight be faced with behav-ioral problems in the future.Socializing a pet is not diffi-cult if you remember to keepall interactions positive andto guard against any physi-cally and emotionally trau-matic situations (Fig. 2.5).Before introducing a newpuppy or kitten to other ani-mals, be sure that it and theother animals are current onvaccinations and dewormings. In addition, always be sure that the ani-mals you are planning to introduce it to are socialized themselves, orelse you could have a battle on your hands.Weekend excursions to a park and/or neighborhood strolls aresome of the more opportune ways of introducing your new pet to otheranimals and to other adults and children. Allow children to freelyinteract with your puppy or kitten, but again, be sure that none gets toorough. For best results, you should repeat such encounters throughoutits socialization period. And by all means praise your pet for goodbehavior during these interactions. It will leave a lasting impressionon its personality (Fig. 2.6)!One word of caution: Socialization, like any personality skill, caneventually be lost if it is not reinforced periodically. As a result, evenas your dog or cat matures,don’t just discard those tripsto the park or strolls throughthe neighborhood. Remem-ber: You have to use it orlose it!Desensitization trainingis often overlooked by mostnew pet owners, yet it canbe one of the most valuabletools for preventing stressTRAINING ESSENTIALS35F I G U R E 2 . 5 Socialization is just as importantfor cats as it is for dogs.Cats may socialize to one breed of dogbut not to another!DID YOU KNOW?F I G U R E 2 . 6 The power of socialization!
and behavioral problems as their dog or cat matures. There are threetypes of desensitization that need to be accomplished: (1) contact desen-sitization, (2) separation desensitization, and (3) noise desensitization.The first two types should be instituted at 8 weeks of age, and the thirdshould commence at 16 weeks of age.The first type, contact desensitization training, will condition yourpet to allow its haircoat, feet, ears, and mouth region to be handled.This is vitally important for your pet’s preventive health care program,for it will allow you to brush hair, trim nails, brush teeth, and cleanears without a fight! When interacting with your puppy or kitten,make a special effort to gently touch these regions with your fingersseveral times a day. Don’t attempt to perform any of the grooming pro-cedures mentioned above with the actual utensils; instead, simply gothrough the motions with your hands and fingers. Soon, your puppy orkitten won’t think twice when you reach out and grasp a paw or anearflap. Once it has been desensitized to your touch, then you gradu-ate up to actual grooming utensils. Just remember to temporarily discon-tinue your efforts if a struggle ensues. Any negative or painfulexperience involving these regions during your initial training effortscan produce the exact opposite effect and create an individual thatwill struggle vehemently when attempts are made to perform thesesimple procedures.The goal of separation desensitization training is to desensitize apet to being left alone by itself. This is especially important in dogsbecause of their “pack” mentality; however, it can apply to cats aswell. As far as dogs are concerned, separation desensitization trainingwill help prevent one of the most common behavioral disorders seenin the species: separation anxiety. You can start by placing your puppyin its travel kennel and leaving the house for a predetermined periodof time (a few minutes at a time for the first day, then gradually work-ing up over several weeks to 20 to 30 minutes departures each day),being careful not to make a fuss over your puppy or respond to itsprotests before you leave. In addition, when you reenter the house,wait several minutes before you let your pet out of its kennel, doingyour best to ignore its pleas. When you do finally let it out, take itimmediately outside to use the bathroom. Act as though your arrivalsand departures are “nothing special,” and your puppy will soon acqui-esce to being left alone (see discussion of behavioral disorders).36 DOGS AND CATS
Desensitization to strange or loud noises should also be performedwhen a puppy or kitten is still young. The easiest method for accom-plishing this training is to regularly expose your young pet to recordingsof various sounds, such as thunder, lightning, and fireworks. Compactdisks containing these sounds and others are available at most bookand record stores, or can be tracked down over the Internet. Playingthese recordings while in the presence of your pet for 15 minutesdaily, adjusting the volume up over a 3- to 6-week period, will usuallyachieve the desired desensitizationBasic Training for DogsSome tools of the trade you’ll want to acquire to assist you in yourcanine training efforts include a leash, a 20- to 25-foot rope with an endclasp attached, and a sturdy collar or harness. If you decide to use a slipor choke chain collar, read the package directions and make certain thatyou know how to use it properly; otherwise, serious damage to yourpet’s neck and trachea could result. Because this device can be easilymisused, many veterinarians recommend not using them unless youare a seasoned trainer. A better alternative is to use a head collar (i.e., aGentle Leader®). This device applies pressure to the back of the neckand to the muzzle (without inflicting pain or pressure on the trachea),allowing you to effectively control your dog’s head during training.If your new puppy or dog is not used to wearing a collar (halter),harness, or leash, you must get it accustomed to them prior to any train-ing efforts. Start by placing a collar, halter, or harness on your dog andallowing it to wear it around the house for several days. Once you thinkyour dog feels fairly comfortable with it on, attach a leash to the claspand allow your dog to walk around with the leash dragging behind. Toprotect your dog from snagging furniture or other objects with the leashand hurting itself, you should supervise these sessions. After about sixto eight sessions over the course of 2 days, your dog should feel morecomfortable with its leash being attached to its collar, halter, or harness,and should be ready for further instruction (Fig. 2.7a).HeelThe first command you will teach your four-legged student is to heel,or walk at your side (Fig. 2.7b). To begin, position yourself on yourTRAINING ESSENTIALS37
dog’s right side facing forward,with its shoulders even with yourleft knee. Take up the slack on theleash to prevent your dog frombecoming entangled in theexcess. Now, in simultaneousfashion, give a quick forward tugon the lead, say “heel,” and startforward with your left foot lead-ing. As your dog follows, keep itshead level and in control usingthe leash. Start out by going 5yards at a time, then stopping topraise for a job well done.If your dog refuses to move onyour initial command, go back tothe starting line and set up again.This time, if needed, follow thequick tug with an encouraging pullon the lead to initiate movement.Start and stop frequently, praisingas you go. As your dog starts tocatch on, increase the distance yougo each time. The ultimate goal isto have your dog walk briskly byyour side until a command isgiven to do otherwise.If your dog gets too far out in front of you, a quick, backward tugon the lead should be used to correct the discrepancy. For thosetrainees more interested in playing rather than learning, stop thetraining session temporarily until your dog settles down. Don’t scoldor show any other acknowledgment of its antics. It will soon learnthat you mean business!Once your dog has become comfortable walking in straight linesby your side, take it through some turns both to the right and to theleft. During the turns, your dog’s shoulder should remain aligned withyour knee.38 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 2.7a All dogs should be taughtto walk on a leash.
StopOnce your dog respondsfavorably to the heel com-mand, it is time to teach it thecommand “stop.” With yourdog heeling at your side, givea sharp backward tug on theleash as you say “stop,” andhalt your forward motion.(The verbal exclamation dif-ferentiates this from the back-ward tug used to slow anoverenergized heeler.) Holdthe stop for 3 seconds, thenpraise heavily for compliance.Afterward, have your dog heelagain, and repeat the processover and over again, gradu-ally increasing the amount oftime you require your pet toremain still.Sit and StayFrom the “stop” position, pull upward on your dog’s lead while at thesame time saying “sit,” and pushing down on its rear end to achievethe sitting position (Fig. 2.8). Have your dog maintain this posture fora good 5 seconds, then break into a heel. Gradually increase the sittinginterval as your training progresses.When your dog has learned what “sit” and “stop” mean, it’s time toteach the “stay” command (Fig. 2.9). This is where your 20-foot ropelead comes in handy. Attach this to the collar and walk your dog againthrough the heel-stop-sit routine. Once your dog is in the sitting posi-tion, place your left hand in front of its face and say “stay.” Nowslowly walk about 3 yards away, keeping your back to your dog. If itbreaks its “stay” when you move, reel your dog in with the lead, andmake it immediately return to the sitting position. Then try again.TRAINING ESSENTIALS39FIGURE 2.7b Teaching your dog to “heel.”
If the student stays inplace even for 3 secondsafter you walk away, heapon bundles of praise. If yourdog still disobeys, walk itthrough your heel-stop-sitroutine a few more timesbefore returning to the“stay” command. As yourpet starts to catch on, youcan begin increasing the dis-tances you go and timeintervals for it to stay put.Other Commands“Heel,” “stop,” “sit,” and“stay” are the basic obedi-ence commands that youshould start teaching yourdog as early as 8 weeks ofage. Two other commandsthat are optional, yet couldcome in handy in certaininstances, are “down” and“come.”“Down” should be in-cluded as an adjunct to the“sit” command. After yourdog is in the sitting position,utter the command whileapplying downward pres-sure with your free hand toits shoulder region. Note thedifference from the “sit”command, in which down-ward pressure is applied to the hind end. Now, from this down position,you can proceed into the “stay” drill.40 DOGS AND CATSF I G U R E 2 . 9 The “stay” command.F I G U R E 2 . 8 The “sit” command.
“Come” can be taught as a continuation of the “stay” command.With your dog sitting or lying at rope’s length, give a quick forward tugwhile saying the command “come.” Again, use the lead to reel it in ifit decides to wander off track. Praise your dog only if it comes directlyto you from its original starting position.When, and only when, your dog has mastered these commands andresponds to them consistently can you discard the leash or lead. Foroff-leash training, repeat each command sequence as before. Don’t hes-itate to put the lead back on if your dog fails to cooperate. At first, it isespecially important to hold all off-leash training sessions in fenced-inyards or other enclosed areas to prevent you star pupil from dashingoff into the sunset!Housebreaking Your PuppyPuppies should be housebroken at an early age, preferably as close to8 weeks old as possible (Fig. 2.10) because this is when the period ofstable learning begins in adolescent dogs. Their minds are wide opento suggestions, and they learn quite quickly at this early stage of life.If you expect to yield successful results, you must be willing todevote some quality time to the task. Recognize that puppies have fourfairly predictable elimination times:1. After waking2. After eating3. After exercising4. Just before retiring forthe nightMake a concerted effortto take your puppy outsideat these times, and every 3to 4 hours in between. Whenyou suspect that it has togo, take your pup outsideand set it down in the grass.TRAINING ESSENTIALS41FIGURE 2.10 When housebreaking a puppy,use lots of praise and avoid punishment.
If elimination takes place, praise your puppy, and then take it imme-diately back inside the house. By doing so, you will help it associatethe act with the location.If a minute passes and your puppy hasn’t gone, take it back inside.Don’t leave it outside to play or roam. Puppies trained in this mannersoon realize that their primary business for being outside is to elimi-nate, not to play. What happens if you catch your puppy in midact? Ifthis is the case, go ahead and rush it outside. The puppy might finishwhat it started before you make it out the door, but don’t get upset.Again, praise it immensely for going outside, and then bring it imme-diately back inside.If you happen to miss an accident altogether, don’t fret. If you sawit happen, a verbal punishment is warranted. On the other hand, if youdidn’t see it happen, do nothing. Simply try to be more attentive nexttime.Other housetraining tips to remember are1. Be sure that your puppy is current on its vaccines (since it willbe going outside) and is free of intestinal parasites. The latter isvery important because the presence of worms in the intestinaltract will cause unpredictable urges to eliminate.2. Always use lots of praise; never physically punish. Again,remember that puppies crave praise, and if they don’t get it, theyfeel punished. Give plenty of praise when they deserve it; holdit back when they don’t.3. When verbal punishment is indicated, avoid associating yourpuppy’s name with the reprimand. For instance, simply say“bad,” instead of “bad dog, Sugar.” By leaving names out of it,the puppy won’t associate its name with the bad behavior.4. Establish a regular feeding schedule for your new puppy. Feedno more than twice daily, and take your puppy outside after itfinishes each meal. It is preferable to feed the evening portionbefore 6:00 P.M. in order to help reduce the number of overnightaccidents that can occur otherwise.5. To help prevent accidents, keep your puppy in a confined areaat night. It should be puppyproofed and have a floor that won’t42 DOGS AND CATS
be damaged if a slipup occurs. Utility rooms and half-bathroomswork well for this purpose, as do kitchens if they can be corneredoff. If accidents occurs during the night or while you are away,don’t get upset. As your training sessions progress, you’ll findthat this will become less and less of a problem. A natural instinctof any canine is to keep its “den” clean. These inherent instincts,combined with correct housetraining efforts on your part, willhelp fuel the success of your training efforts.6. When cleaning up an accident, always use an odor neutralizerrather than a deodorizer on the area in question. These are avail-able at most pet stores, and will usually eliminate any lingeringscents that can lure your pet back to the same spot. Avoid usingammonia-based cleaners, since ammonia is a normal componentof canine urine. Such cleaners might serve to attract, rather thanto repel, repeat offenders.Basic Training for CatsContrary to popular belief, some cats can be just as trainable as dogs.Keep in mind, though, that the independent nature of cats can makecertain training procedures a bit tricky, but if you maintain an under-standing attitude toward your task, your frustrations will be minimaland your rewards plentiful.As with dogs, all cats should be trained to walk on a leash at anearly age. Why? By teaching your cat to accept a leash and harness,you will be able to institute a daily exercise program for it, keeping itfit and healthy. In addition, since allowing a cat to roam freely out-doors these days is becoming more dangerous, a leash-trained cat canenjoy the same benefits of the great outdoors, yet without the risks.Finally, many travelers find that leash training comes in quite handy atrest stops during lengthy trips.Before you attach a leash to your kitten or cat, it must becomeaccustomed to a halter. Because halters provide more control andsecurity than do collars, the latter should not be used to walk a cat ona leash. Place the new halter on your cat and allow it to wear it aroundthe house for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Then take it off, and repeat theprocess at 3-hour intervals throughout the day. Eventually lengthenTRAINING ESSENTIALS43
the time you leave the halter on until your cat will wear it all day with-out a fuss.At this point, attach a leash to the halter and allow your cat to dragthe leash around for 10 to 15 minutes at a time before removing it. Repeatthis procedure throughout the day for a week or so. Do not allow yourcat to walk around unsupervised with the leash dangling free. If theleash becomes snagged, your cat could seriously injure itself.Once you feel that your cat has become accustomed to the leash,practice walking with it indoors using the lead for a week or two. Onlyafter your cat gives you total compliance should you attempt the samemaneuver outdoors. If everything goes as planned, be sure to rewardyour cat for a job well done. A scratch behind the ears or under thechin, or a favorite food treat, does wonders to help solidify and pro-mote such desired behavior.If you so desire, teach your cat commands as you would a dog.Remember: Because of the very nature of the feline, you can’t alwaysexpect 100 percent compliance; simply take all successes and run withthem! One helpful tip is to hold your training sessions when your catis hungry. If you do so, food rewards become powerful motivators forgood behavior.Litter Training Your KittenKittens will be instinctively drawn to litter or dirt in which to elimi-nate as early as 4 to 6 weeks of age. As a result, housebreaking a kittenusually involves minimaleffort on an owner’s part(Fig. 2.11). Allowing accessof your new kitten to its lit-terbox after eating, playing,waking up, or just beforebedtime will help encour-age repeat use. If your catdoesn’t seem to catch on,there might be some reasonfor its reluctance to use thelitterbox. If so, it is your jobto find out why.44 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 2.11 Most kittens will learn to use alitterbox without your help.
Solving Challenging BehaviorsWhen searching for the leading cause of dissatisfaction among petowners, problem behaviors top the list. Each year, a multitude of dogsand cats are abandoned, evicted from their homes, or even put to sleepbecause of annoying behavioral activity. However, by understandingand employing special training techniques and/or therapy to correctsuch vices, and by allowing veterinarians to play active roles in thetreatment process, pet owners can often avoid such drastic actions.Canine Behavioral DisordersThe most common behavioral disorders you may encounter with yourdog include separation anxiety, nuisance barking, inappropriate elim-ination, digging, destructive chewing, jumping, fear of loud noises,and aggressiveness.Separation AnxietyIt has happened to many of us: We leave the house, sometimes for onlya few minutes, and our “best friend” proceeds to chew up the furni-ture, bark or howl, and/or eliminate in the house. If your dog behavesthis way when you leave your home, it is probably suffering from thebehavioral problem known as separation anxiety. (Note: Medical prob-lems can be the cause of such aberrant behavior; these must be ruledout before you can safely assume that you are dealing with a case ofseparation anxiety.) Before you can successfully treat a problem likeseparation anxiety, it is helpful to know what causes it.Dogs are considered pack animals; that is, they prefer to associatein groups rather than act as loners. Because you are its owner, a dogwill consider you part of its “pack” and will constantly want to asso-ciate with you. When youleave, you separate the dogfrom its pack, and this cre-ates separation anxiety (Fig.2.12). This behavior will bemagnified if you tend tomake a big fuss over the dogwhen leaving or returningTRAINING ESSENTIALS45For cases of separation anxi-ety that are refractory toconventional management, veterinarianscan prescribe specific antianxiety med-ications to help effect a cure.DR. P’S VET TIP
to the house. Furthermore,certain other behavioral pat-terns on your part, such asrattling the car keys or turn-ing off the television, can beassociated to your departureby the dog.When treating separationanxiety, you must remem-ber that it is an instinctivebehavior; it is not due todisobedience and/or lack oftraining. As a result, overtpunishment for the act tendsto be unrewarding. In fact,most of these dogs would rather be punished than left alone! The keyto treating this problem lies in planning short-term departures, thengradually lengthening them until your dog gets used to your absence.Begin by stepping out of the house for 10 seconds at a time for thefirst few days or so. Hopefully this will allow your dog to get used toyou leaving the house, since it will learn that you will return soon.Vary your training session times throughout the day. The idea is togradually lengthen your absences (30 seconds at first, then 1 minute,then 2 minutes, etc.) so that your departures soon become secondnature to the dog.Points to keep in mind when attempting to break your dog of thisannoying behavior are as follows:1. Don’t make a fuss over your dog within 5 to 10 minutes of yourarrival to or departure from home. This will help keep theexcitement and anxiety levels in your dog to a minimum. Duringyour training sessions, try not to reenter the house while the dogis performing the undesirable act. Doing so will only serve toencourage the dog to repeat the act.2. Eliminate any behavior that might key the dog off to yourdeparture, such as rattling your car keys or saying “goodbye” toyour dog.46 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 2.12 Dogs enjoy spending time withother members of their “pack.”
3. For the dog that likes to chew a lot, provide plenty of nylonchew bones to occupy its time.4. Leaving the television or radio on while you’re gone seems tohelp in some cases.For severe cases of separation anxiety that fail to respond to desensitiza-tion training, an antianxiety medication, prescribed by a veterinarian,may be necessary.Excessive (Nuisance) BarkingLet’s face it: Some dogs just love to hear their own voices! Unfortunately,most owners and their neighbors hardly share the same adoration.There is no doubt that dogs that bark excessively are a nuisance andcan cause many a sleepless night. For this reason, correction of the prob-lem is essential to your sanity, and that of those who live around you.A dog might bark excessively for a number of reasons. The first isboredom. Dogs that have nothing else to do might simply “sing” tothemselves to whittle time away.Another potential cause is territoriality. Outsiders, whether humanor animal, will almost always elicit a bark out of a dog if threatening toencroach on its territory. Dogs can also use the bark indiscriminatelyas a communiqué to other outsiders to stay away. In such instances,the far-off bay of a neighborhood dog or the slamming of a car doordown the street can trigger a barking episode.Separation anxiety is another common source of nuisance barking.Some dogs have it so bad that they bark continuously when their ownerleaves them, even for a short period of time. Often, owners returnhome to find their dogs hoarse from so much barking.When attempting to break your dog of this annoying habit, alwaysremember this one principle: If you respond to your dog’s barking fitby yelling at it or physically punishing it, you will make the problemworse. Dogs that are isolated from their owners for most of the day don’tcare about what kind of attention they receive (positive or negative), aslong as they get some. Dogs that are barking because of boredom orseparation anxiety will soon learn that their actions will eventually getthem attention, and they’ll keep doing it. Even dogs that are barkingfor other reasons can catch on quickly that such vocalization will bringTRAINING ESSENTIALS47
them a bonus of attention from their beloved owners. As a result, nomatter how mad you get, or how sleepy you are, avoid the urge to pun-ish your dog for its barking.The first thing you need to determine is whether separation anxietyhas anything to do with the problem. If you think it does, treat it as youwould any other case of separation anxiety. In many cases, dogs thatbark for this reason alone can be cured of their habit.Keep in mind, though, that the source of the barking might involvea combination of the factors, not just one. Dogs that bark for reasonsother than separation anxiety need to be given more attention through-out the day. A dog that tends to bark through the night should be givenplenty of exercise in the evening to encourage a good night’s sleep. Anylon or rawhide chew bone can be helpful at diverting its attention.Feeding the dog its daily ration later in the evening can also promotecontentment for the night.For those times of the day or night when the barking seems theworst, consider bringing the dog inside the house or the garage. This,of course, will not be possible if you failed to instruct your dog as tothe ways of household living when it was a puppy. Nevertheless,removing your dog from its primary territory and/or increasing theamount of contact with members of its pack can help curb the urge tobark. Also, if possible, encourage your neighbors to keep their petsindoors at night, since nighttime roaming of neighborhood dogs andcats is a major cause of nuisance barking.Inappropriate EliminationIt has happened to all of us: the early morning encounter in the familyroom or the unexpected (or sometimes expected) surprise awaiting ourarrival home from work—house soiling. It is a dirty habit, yet one thatmillions of pet owners have to put up with each day. In many of thesecases, the problem has an origin traceable to puppyhood; for others, itresults from developmental behavioral and/or health problems.Regardless of the cause, pet owners can take an active role in mostcases to minimize or stop completely this annoying habit.Don’t think that you will break your dog of this nasty habit by stick-ing its face and nose in the excrement after the fact. Not only is thisaction illogical and inappropriate for the particular situation; some dogs48 DOGS AND CATS
might even enjoy it! Instead,pet owners need to take amore rational approach toidentifying the cause andsolving the problem. To dothat, you must first deter-mine what is causing it.LACK OF OR INADEQUATEHOUSETRAININGThe most common cause ofhouse soiling is undoubt-edly the failure of an ownerto housetrain the dog prop-erly during its puppyhood (Fig. 2.13). Many pet owners can’t under-stand why their puppy has no problems going on newspaper, but justcan’t get the knack of going outside. They seem to forget that, to a puppy,newspaper and grass are two different surfaces with different smells.To paper-train a puppy and then expect it to switch easily to anothertype of surface is asking a lot, and this often presents a confusingdilemma to the poor creature.Puppies need to be taught right from the start to go outside to usethe bathroom instead of encouraging them to go within the confinesof the home. At the same time, dogs that will be spending a greatdeal of time outside need to be housetrained as puppies, in case theneed arises later in life to bring them indoors for whatever reason. Ifyou miss this chance when it is a puppy, you could be in for troublelater on.Contrary to popular opinion, you can teach an old dog new tricks;it just takes longer! With older canines that weren’t properly potty-trained, proceed with training or retraining as you would with apuppy. Along with lots of praise, a favorite treat or snack can also beused to reinforce desired behavior. For those times you can’t be athome to monitor indoor activity, confine your dog to a travel kennel orsmall bathroom, since dogs are less likely to have premeditated acci-dents in such confined spaces. Just be reasonable as to the amount oftime you make it wait between eliminations.TRAINING ESSENTIALS49FIGURE 2.13 The cause of house soiling mustbe determined before effective treatment can beinstituted.
SEPARATION ANXIETYInappropriate elimination activity can, as do many other behavioralproblems, result from separation anxiety. Dogs left alone may becomefrustrated and soil one or more parts of the house. Some dogs can evenbecome downright spiteful, targeting favorite furniture, bedding, and,if kept in the garage, even the roofs of automobiles. If your dog is trulysuffering from separation anxiety, most of its adverse behavior willoccur within 15 to 20 minutes of your departure. This predictabilitycan assist in efforts to correct the problem. Treat this as you would anyother case of separation anxiety.DESIRE TO DELINEATE TERRITORYThe desire to delineate territory is another reason why a dog maychoose to urinate (or sometimes defecate) indiscriminately. Certainly,intact (nonneutered) male dogs are more prone to this instinctiveactivity. Dogs have such a keen sense of smell that the mere presenceof a canine trespasser around the perimeter of the home can set off aurine-marking binge. Owners who move into preowned homes oftenfind out the hard way that the previous owners had a poorly trained orhighly territorial pet housed within.Neutering your pet may or may not help solve this problem,depending on its age. In many older males, house soiling has becomemore habitual than hormonal, and neutering does little to prevent it.Use of a pet odor neutralizer on the carpet and baseboards is war-ranted if you suspect that a previous occupant is to blame. Use of fencingor dog repellent (not poison!) around the perimeter of the house mayalso help keep persistent urine-markers away from your house.EXTREMELY SUBMISSIVE BEHAVIORExtremely submissive behavior often results in a cowering dog thaturinates whenever anyone approaches. This type of adverse elimina-tion is common in dogs that have been abused as puppies or havespent most of their growing years in a kennel or pound facility.Management of such behavior depends on your actions and bodylanguage when approaching or greeting such a dog. Try to avoid directeye contact and sudden physical contact with such dogs, for by doing so,you can send them into immediate submissiveness. If you’ve been gone50 DOGS AND CATS
from the house for a while, avoid sudden and exuberant greetings whenyou get home. By ignoring your dog initially, you’ll lower its excitementlevel, reduce the immediate threat, and give it no reason to urinate.One trick you can try is to immediately and casually walk over toyour dog’s food bowl and place some food or treats in it. The idea isto distract your dog’s attention away from the excitement of yourarrival and create a more comfortable, pleasing situation for it. Onceyou’ve been home a while, then you can (and should) offer more ofyour attention.ILLNESS OR DISEASEFinally, don’t forget that some diseases or illnesses can cause a pet tourinate or defecate indiscriminately. For instance, dogs that tend todefecate inside the house should be checked for internal parasites.Diets with increased fiber content can also increase the number of tripsyour pet will need to take outdoors.Certainly if the stools are semiformed or seem to differ from normalappearance or consistency, an underlying medical reason should besuspected. In addition, some of the conditions that can increase thefrequency and/or urge to urinate include urinary tract infections, kid-ney disease, and diabetes mellitus. Urinary incontinence, character-ized by the inability of the bladder to retain urine because of poorsphincter function, is common in older dogs. For these reasons, don’tjust assume that your dog’s soiling problem is purely mental. Have thepotential medical causes ruled out first; then you can concentrate onbehavioral modification.Just a word about cleaning up an accident in the house. When usingcleaners to tackle the initial mess, be sure that they don’t containammonia. Dog urine contains a form of ammonia, and such productsmight actually attract your dog back to the same spot later on. Alongthis same line, after the initial manual cleaning, your next job is toensure that residual smell doesn’t attract your pet back to the samespot. To accomplish this, you need to employ a product containingodor neutralizers specifically targeted for dogs. These products areavailable at grocery stores or pet shops. Deodorizers should not beused, for it is virtually impossible to completely mask or hide a scentfrom the keen canine nose.TRAINING ESSENTIALS51
DiggingAlthough separation anxietycan cause digging episodes,its influence on this behav-ior is much less than withother problem behaviors.Instead, sheer boredom and/or instinctive behavior arethe two common states ofmind that compel a dog todig (Fig. 2.14).Dogs with nothing else to do might opt for yard excavation just tohelp pass the time or to use up extra energy. The urge to break out ofconfinement and roam the neighborhood can also compel a dog to startdigging. Finally, as you might have already experienced, many dogslike to bury personal items such as bones or toys for exhumation at alater date. Such instinctive behavior, although aggravating, can hardlybe considered abnormal, and is difficult to totally eliminate.Increasing your dog’s daily dose of exercise could be just whatthe doctor ordered to help resolve its boredom and release any pent-up energy. Diverting the attention of a chronic digger is another plau-sible treatment approach. For instance, some troublesome cases haveresponded very well to the addition of another canine playmate.Rawhide bones and other chewing devices can also be used as attention-grabbers, but only if they don’t end up underground themselves. Ifmost of the digging occurs at night, overnight confinement to the garagemight be the answer to spare your yard from the ravages of claws.Finally, if you haven’t already done it, neutering can sometimes helpsnuff out the strong urge to dig in those dogs wanting to escape theyard and roam the neighborhood.Destructive ChewingMany canines are literally “in the doghouse” with their owners becauseof their destructive chewing. No one wants a pet that seeks and destroysany inanimate object into which it can sink its teeth. However, theurgency for dealing with such behavior is not governed merelyby personal property damage. Many of these chewers also end up in52 DOGS AND CATSF I G U R E 2 . 1 4 Digging behavior is often causedby instinct or by sheer boredom.
veterinary hospitals sufferingfrom gastroenteritis or intesti-nal obstructions. Hence, suchadverse activity can costmore than just replacementvalue of furniture or fixtures.It can even sometimes costthe life of a pet!In puppies, destructivechewing can easily arise fromlack of training and frominappropriate selection oftoys (Fig. 2.15). Althoughpuppies are naturally goingto explore their environmentwith their mouths, they needto learn at an early age what isand isn’t acceptable to chewon. Solid command trainingis a must in these little guys.Avoid providing normalhousehold items such as oldshoes, T-shirts, or sweatshirts as toys to play with. Puppies can’t tell thedifference between old and new shoes, and they might decide to try outyour new pair for a snack one afternoon!Objects that repeatedly bear the brunt of your dog’s teeth should beplaced as far out of reach as possible. For furniture or immovable objects,special pet repellents should be sprayed around their perimeters to makea mischievous puppy think twice before sinking its teeth into the item.In young to middle-aged adults, separation anxiety is probably thenumber one cause of destructive chewing. As with all cases of separa-tion anxiety and the behavior it provokes, correction of the problemshould focus on correction of the anxiety attack. Finally, as with prob-lem barking, boredom plays a leading role in destructive chewing insome adult dogs. If you think this might be the case, increase your dog’sdaily activity, and provide it with plenty of alternative targets, such asrawhides or nylon bones, on which to chew. Divert its attention, andmost likely it will divert its chewing.TRAINING ESSENTIALS53FI G U R E 2 . 1 5 Destructive chewing is an annoy-ing behavior that can lead to serious healthchallenges.
Other Causes and Forms of Aberrant BehaviorJUMPINGTalk about annoying behavior! Jumping is right up there with housesoiling and incessant barking. Jumpers are usually right there at the doorwhen visitors call and have this innate tendency to spoil a perfectlycordial greeting. After all, nobody wants a dog with dirty paws to jumpon their nice, clean clothes, especially if the dog weighs 50 pounds ormore (Fig. 2.16)!This is one challenging behavior that should never be allowed togain a firm root in a puppy. Probably the best way to assure this isthrough strict command training, starting at an early age. Until itlearns its commands, be sure to discourage your dog from jumpingon you or family members when the occasion arises. When it doesjump at or on you, quickly push it off with your hands and shout“No!” Or, as an alternative, flex your knee and make sudden contactwith its chest, making it fall backwards. Just don’t overdo it and hurtyour pet!For adult dogs that neverlearned their manners, arefresher course in com-mand training is the mosteffective method of curingthe chronic jumper. Some-times dogs that jump aresimply trying to tell theirowners that they want moreattention. In such cases, afew more moments of yourtime devoted to your furryfriend each day is an impor-tant adjunct to therapy.FEAR OF LOUD NOISESFear induced by loud noisessuch as thunder or gunshotscan be a common cause ofaberrant behavior in canines.54 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 2.16 Proper obedience training is thekey to curing the “jumper.”
Many people argue that because of the ultrasensitive hearing of dogs,pain induced by the noise or a pressure change might play a bigger rolethan fear itself. Regardless of the reason, when confronted with thedisturbing sound, these dogs often become hysterical and quitedestructive in their attempts to escape. Many might even injure them-selves or their owners in the process.In the case of the hunting dog that shies away when a gun is fired,training sessions involving repeated, gradual increases in exposure tothe sound of gunfire are an effective method of ridding the dog of its fear.For dogs that fear the sound of thunder, fireworks, and other loud noises,owners must avoid direct attempts at comforting the pet, since doing sowould be indirectly rewarding the undesirable behavior. If your dog isthe type that comes unglued in these situations, consider letting it “rideout the storm” in a travel kennel. In addition, playing a radio or televi-sion loudly in the room where your pet is present might help mufflesome of the fearful sounds, as well as make your dog feel more at ease.Your veterinarian can prescribe antianxiety medications for yourdog if it has an exceptional fear of loud noises. In any event, theseshould be used sparingly and only as needed. The best treatment isprevention through the use of proper desensitization training.AGGRESSIVENESSOf all the undesirable behaviors a dog can exhibit, this one is certainlythe most disturbing and the most unacceptable. Aggressiveness can bedirected toward other dogs or toward other species, including humans.Certainly dogs harboring an uncontrollable inherent aggressivenesstoward the latter pose special problems to their owners in terms ofliability as well.DOMINANCEThis certainly plays an important role in canine aggressiveness. Somedogs refuse to submit to authority and will lash out at anyone or any-thing that attempts to exert such. In many instances, these dogs were notproperly socialized and/or trained when they were young. In others, sexhormones—namely, testosterone—can exert a strong influence as well.Treatment for such aggressiveness consists of a return to basiccommand and obedience training. In addition, exercises designed toreestablish dominance should be performed as well. If the aggressionTRAINING ESSENTIALS55
is directed toward a particular person, that person should be included inthese exercises. Remember: Extreme caution and a good, strong muzzleare both advised before any attempts at such dominance assertion aremade! For domineering male dogs, neutering is recommended prior toany attempts at retraining.FEAR AND PAINThese are the two other common causes of aggressive showings incanines. If a dog feels threatened or overwhelmingly fearful, it natu-rally experiences a “fight or flight” syndrome, and might choose theformer option over the latter, depending on how it perceives its situa-tion. In addition, dogs have been known to naturally lash out in fear athumans or other animals on being startled, or more frequently, whenthey are experiencing pain. For this reason, sudden aggressive changesin personality with or without other signs of illness warrant a completecheckup by a veterinarian.Treating fear-induced aggression is aimed at reducing the threat you orothers pose to your pet. If fear aggression is induced by some outsidestimulus, such as thunder, then proper restraint and isolation are recom-mended while the stimulus lasts. If a dog suffers from a vision or hearingdeficit, attempts should be made to capture the dog’s attention prior toapproach. Also, remember that physical punishment not only is a uselesstool for training but it also, by itself, can lead to natural, aggressive back-lashes due to pain (and fear). This is just one more reason why such pun-ishment should be avoided. Finally, for those dogs suffering from injuriesor illnesses, owners should remember to always approach and handlethem with caution, for although they might not mean to, they couldexhibit aggressive tendencies due to the pain associated with the disease.TERRITORIAL DEFENSEDogs, male or female, will certainly defend that property they deemtheirs, and they might not hesitate to fight for it. Territorial aggressive-ness toward unwelcome animals or people is not uncommon, as anyutility-meter reader would attest to! Such aggressive behavior can bejust as easily sparked by a perceived encroachment while the dog iseating, or while it is playing with its favorite toy. Many bite wounds tohumans have been inflicted because of such actions.56 DOGS AND CATS
Again, a return to the basics of command training should help curbsome of the territorial aggressiveness that might be exhibited by somecanines. Certainly, showing some respect for a dog’s “private prop-erty” (toys, bowls, etc.) and its eating privacy is a commonsense wayto avoid this type of aggressive behavior. It is important to impress thisconcept on children, too, because they are often the most frequent vio-lators of this rule. If a dog seems particularly possessive over toys,bones, and other objects, then the number of these objects should bereduced to only one or two items. Also, consider feeding the dog in anisolated area of the home, free from interruptions.“MEAN STREAKS”Finally, certain breeds and canine family lines can have inherent“mean streaks” in them. For instance, chow chows are notoriousamong veterinary circles for their aggressiveness toward strangers. Inaddition, pit bull terriers, because of selective breeding, pose a realthreat to any other dog that might cross their paths.In many instances, this inherent aggressiveness can be harnessedby way of proper socialization and by strict command training. Neu-tering can be of assistance as well in select instances.TREATMENTThe best treatment for most types of aggression is prevention. Byadhering to the principles of proper socialization and by proper com-mand training, most behavioral problems related to aggressiveness canbe controlled or avoided altogether.However, for any dog exhibiting aggressiveness, a thorough physicalexamination and consultation with a veterinarian is warranted. Rulingout underlying medical causes is certainly one reason for this; theother is that your veterinarian might choose to prescribe medicationsto assist in retraining efforts or as a direct attempt to curb the psycho-logical aspects of your dog’s aggressiveness. Antianxiety medicationsand behavior modification drugs are now commonly used in veterinarymedicine to help assist in the correction of many behavioral problems,including aggressiveness. Don’t hesitate to ask your veterinarian formore details.TRAINING ESSENTIALS57
Feline Behavioral DisordersAmong cats, the three most common behavioral disorders seen includeinappropriate eliminations, destructive scratching, and aggressiveness.Inappropriate EliminationCats exhibit two types of normal elimination behavior. The firstinvolves urine spraying to delineate territories (the typical feline terri-tory encompasses over one-tenth of a square mile) and to attract mem-bers of the opposite sex (see Fig. 2.17). The second type is calledcovering behavior, in which a cat digs a hole in the soil (or litter), elim-inates in it, and then covers it to mask the scent. Most inappropriatehouse soiling that occurs with cats involves indulgences or deviationsin one or the other.The most frequent cause of house soiling deals with the first type,territoriality and sexual behavior. Both male and female cats, neutered ornot, can spray urine. A new cat in the neighborhood or a female in heatcan quickly set off instinctive behavior in a male cat kept indoors andlead to inappropriate mark-ings. Even moving into anew house or apartment inwhich a cat previously livedmight entice your cat to goaround the dwelling andmark those areas in whicha scent from the previousinhabitant is picked up.Neutering might helpcontrol urine spraying inthe repeat offender, yet, asmentioned before, it is notnecessarily a cure-all. Ifthere is a particular area inthe house that your cat fan-cies the most for its spray-ing activities, do your best58 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 2.17 Cats will often spray urine tomark their territories.
to prevent its access to that part of the house. Or if you can, catch yourcat in the act and punish it using a squirt from a water sprayer or ablast of air from a compressed air canister. Then leave the sprayer orcanister sitting beside the soiled object or in the room for a few days.Chances are that your cat will get the drift and will abandon its ten-dencies to repeat the action. [Note: If plain water from your spray bottleseems to have little impact with your cat, adding a small amount ofvinegar or lemon juice (2 tablespoons per cup of water) to it willimpart to it an odor that is offensive to most cats.]Feline odor neutralizers can be used on carpets and furniture tohelp eliminate those lingering odors that might be causing the problembehavior. They should also be used anytime an elimination accidentoccurs outside the litterbox. These odor neutralizers are available froma veterinary clinic or a pet supply store. Household cleaners designedto simply mask odors or those containing ammonia are of no use; infact, the latter might actually attract your cat back to the same spot.For those tough cases of urine spraying in which nothing seems towork, special drug therapy prescribed by a veterinarian might providea satisfactory solution to the problem. However, such agents should beused only after other training methods have failed.REFUSAL TO USE THE LITTERBOXWhat about the cat that has stopped using the litterbox? There couldbe a number of reasons for this behavior. Some cats may not like thetype or brand of litter that was put in the box. Have you changedbrands lately? If so, switch back to the brand you were using before thehouse soiling started. Remember that the texture and scent of a litterare two factors that can influence your cat’s reaction to it.Some cats become upset if too much litter is placed in the box. Catsshould be able to reach the bottom of the pan when digging. If youhave one of these fickle cats, restocking the box with just a 1-inch layerof litter might do the trick.Still other cats will refuse to use a litterbox that, in their minds, isdirty. Check your frequency of litter changes. If the litter is not beingreplaced every day, this could be the problem. If so, step up the fre-quency. Also, do not use strong cleansers when doing your weeklyTRAINING ESSENTIALS59
litterbox cleaning, as the residual scents from these might be justenough to send your cat off searching for another place to do its business.Refusal to use a litterbox may also be linked to some traumatic inci-dent, emotionally or physically, that occurred while your cat wasusing the box on a previous occasion. Because of this, it now associatesthe box or its location with the unpleasant incident. Obviously, thebest way to find out if this is indeed the cause is to move the litterboxto a different location, one that is quiet and away from disturbances.For those cats that are especially emotional, buying new litterboxesmight be required.Not all causes of house soiling are psychological in nature. Forinstance, the presence of feline lower urinary tract disease can bethe underlying cause of abnormal elimination behavior in felines.Since some of the diseases causing abnormal elimination can be life-threatening, always let a veterinarian rule out any medical causesbefore concentrating on behavioral causes.Destructive ScratchingScratching comes naturally to cats, which use this behavior to keeptheir retractable claws manicured and to mark their territories. As aresult, scratching, though itmight become destructiveand annoying, should beviewed as a perfectly nat-ural behavior.If your cat is engaged indestructive scratching, youhaven’t satisfied a basicneed. A scratching post is arequired tool for anyonewho owns a cat (Fig. 2.18).In fact, it is preferable totrain a cat on a scratchingpost right from the startinstead of bringing one into offset problem scratchingactivity. If your cat seems to60 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 2.18 A scratching post can be used tospare you furniture from the ravages of your cat’sclaws!
fancy one or more particular pieces of furniture in your home, see ifyou can catch it in the act. If you do, use a blast of water or compressedair from a sprayer or canister to reprimand it, then leave the sprayer orcanister sitting beside or on top of the piece of furniture for severaldays. Most cats will avoid that piece of furniture like the plague fromthat point on. Some persons recommend commercial cat repellents orvinegar be used on furniture to discourage scratching, but these can bemessy and could stain your furniture.For that feline that seems refractory to punishment, try placing thescratching post near its favorite piece of furniture and allow it to makea choice. Make the scratching post as plush and tempting as possible.Catnip attached to the post can help lure a reluctant cat to its newscratching post. Be sure to reward your cat for making the switch.Special nail covers are available through veterinarians and petstores and can be applied to the nails of your cat to prevent scratching.Surgical removal of its front claws can also be considered to spare yourhouse from total destruction.AggressivenessBecause of the inherent nature of the cat, a display of aggressiontoward another member of its own species, especially if a territory hasbeen violated, is somewhat common. Aggressiveness toward humans,on the other hand, can be influenced by a number of factors, includingpersonality defects, fear, play activity, and medical disorders. Cats thathave not been properly socialized to people can be expected to showsome degree of aggressiveness when feeling threatened. It is also awell-known fact that even some socialized cats just want to be leftalone at times and may become aggressive if disturbed.PERSONALITY DEFECTSPersonality defects can lead to true aggressive tendencies in cats.These are cats that have been poorly socialized to humans, or haveexperienced negative socialization. Nervous or hyperexcitable cats orthose with extremely domineering personalities can also show aggres-siveness at times as well. An agitated or angry cat will flag its tail andflatten its ears against its head when approached or touched. A low-pitched growl or hiss is usually heard as well.TRAINING ESSENTIALS61
All aggressive cats, especially males, should be neutered or spayed.If neutering doesn’t eliminate the problem, then antianxiety medica-tions can be used to help “take the edge off” the pugnacious feline.FEAR-INDUCED AGGRESSIONFear-induced aggression rarely responds to training or reprimand. Infact, if such actions are attempted while the cat is in such a state, seri-ous injury to an owner could result! The self-defense posture causedby fear-induced aggressive behavior is characterized by piloerection(hair standing on end), arched back, flattened ears, and hissing or spit-ting. Cats that feel threatened will lash out with their claws, and makeshort, sharp lunges at their adversaries. If they really sense danger,they often roll over on their backs, and assume a defense posture thatwill allow them to utilize the claws on all four feet.Obviously, eliminating the source of fear is the first step in managingsuch aggression. Afterwards, give your cat plenty of time alone to calmdown and relax. A special food treat can be offered as well to help takeits mind off the incident.PLAYFUL AGGRESSIONPlayful aggression must be differentiated from the two previous typesof aggression, since it is by far the easiest to address. This type ofaggression is seen primarily in younger cats filled with youthfulenergy and curiosity. These cats may stalk house guests or ambushunexpecting owners when they arrive home. This behavior providesthem a way to release excess energy and to practice their instinctivehunting skills. Most bites inflicted during this type of play are notmeant to break the skin; however, this can certainly be a function ofthe game’s intensity. One physical characteristic of a mischievous cator kitten is that they often carry their tail arched up over their back orin an inverted “U” position during these play episodes.Playful aggression can be managed by allowing your cat greateraccess to toys such as paper bags, ping pong balls, or windup, movingfigures. If you play action games with your cat using strings attachedto toys, be sure to remove these strings following a play session.Finally, taking your cat out for more walks during the day can helpexpend some of its pent-up energy.62 DOGS AND CATS
Negative reinforcement utilizing water sprayers or compressed-aircanisters can also be used to break overzealous cats of their bad habits.As a last resort, simply isolating your rambunctious feline in anotherroom while you have guests over will ensure that they are not met withany unexpected surprises!MEDICAL CAUSESLet us not forget about medical causes for aggressiveness in cats. Catsthat don’t feel good often just want to be left alone, and if they are dis-turbed, they may show aggressiveness. Diseases that affect the nervoussystem (including rabies), metabolic disorders, and pain can all have anegative effect on a cat’s personality. If your cat has experienced agradual or sudden change in personality, have it examined by a veteri-narian in order to rule out possible medical causes for the change.TRAINING ESSENTIALS63
Traveling with Your Dogor Cat3C H A P T E RAs a rule, most pets are good travel companions. Rarely do theybecome hysterical or sick to their stomachs when placed inside amoving object! However, whenever you plan on traveling with yourdog or cat, be it on an extended vacation or a short trip to the local gro-cery store, there are some guidelines that you should follow to ensurea safe, pleasant experience.Traveling by CarWhen traveling with your pet by automobile, always keep the safetyand comfort of both driver and passenger in mind. As a result, alwaysuse a travel carrier when transporting your four-legged friend by car(Fig. 3.1). Not only will your pet feel more secure in a carrier, helpingto reduce stress associated with the ride, but it will help minimizejostling and jolting movements that could injure your pet. If you havea dog that is too large to fit comfortably into one of these carriers, or ifthe carrier is too big for your car, then the backseat is the place to be,not the frontseat! An excited or stressed-out, unrestrained pet in thepassenger seat of an automobile creates a very dangerous driving con-dition. In addition, dogs and cats allowed to ride in frontseats can suf-fer serious or even lethal injuries should airbags deploy in an accident.65
Special restraint harnessesor seatbelts are availablecommercially and shouldbe used to secure your petto its assigned seat.Even though most dogslove to stick their heads outof car windows while carsare in motion (it remindsthem of the wind in theirface while they are chasingprey), don’t let yours do it.Dogs with long, floppy earscan suffer trauma to theirearflaps. Also, both ear and eye injuries from insects and flying roaddebris can easily occur in dogs allowed such freedoms.For truck owners, never allow any dog to ride in the bed of a pickuptruck unless it is confined to a carrier. Many of the dogs you see lyingdead along the highway met their fate as a result of owners failing toheed such commonsense advice!Keep the interior of your car cool and well ventilated. Dogs and catsthat are excited and forced to travel in hot stuffy cars or those filledwith cigarette smoke can hyperventilate and overheat. Cigarette smokein itself can be quite irritating to the eyes, nose, and mucous mem-branes of your pet, and has even been linked to cancer in cats! Also,car exhaust fumes can quickly overcome a pet left inside an idling car.If you become stuck in traffic, be sure to crack the windows and keepthe air circulating within the car. And never leave a dog or cat unat-tended in a parked car if outside temperatures exceed 72 degreesFahrenheit or drop below 55 degrees Fahrenheit (Fig. 3.2). If you do,your pet could succumb to heat stroke or hypothermia, respectively.For trips over 2 hours, besure to take plenty of breaksto give your pet water andto relieve itself (for felines,keep a clean absorbent towellining the floor of the carrier,66 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 3.1 Cats should always be trans-ported in sturdy carriers.Second-hand cigarette smoke, eitherinhaled or licked from the fur, hasbeen linked to cancer in cats!DID YOU KNOW?
since many cats on long trips will refuse to use a litterbox if offeredone). Crushed ice is a neat and spillproof way to quench a thirsty trav-eler’s thirst.If your pet gets car sick, try feeding a small amount of food about 30minutes prior to your trip. Often, an empty stomach coupled withstress can predispose a pet to motion sickness. If this fails to work, anantihistamine may be administered prior to travel. Contact your vet-erinarian concerning the various over-the-counter medications youcan use and their dosages.For those pets absolutely terrified of the car, a stronger tranquilizerprescribed by a veterinarian may be needed. Although this should beused only as a last resort, it can be an effective tool for taking the edgeoff your phobic friend and thereby making the ride much less stressfulfor everyone concerned.Traveling by AirIf you are planning to transport your pet by plane, consult a veterinarianbefore your trip to determine whether your pet has any medical condi-TRAVELING WITH YOUR DOG OR CAT67F I G U R E 3 . 2 Leaving your dog in a parked car even with the windows cracked canbe hazardous to its health.
tions that may prohibit such travel. For example, should significanttemperature and/or pressure fluctuations occur during flight, theycould be harmful to a pet suffering from an underlying heart condition.Since different companies may have different policies, check aheadof time with the airline concerning its travel rules and requirements forpets. Many airlines will allow you to take a cat or small dog into thecabin with you; however, realize that for the comfort of you and fellowpassengers, it must be well behaved and silent during the trip. If youfear that these two criteria will not be met, your pet should travel cargo.If your dog or cat is to travel cargo, book either an early evening orearly morning flight during the summer months and midday flightsduring winter months to protect it from exposure to temperatureextremes. Also, book direct flights only so that there’s no chance of“lost baggage.” If possible, plan on arriving early enough at the gate sothat you can observe your pet being loaded onto the plane.If you own a pet carrier that is not fit for air travel, most airlineshave carriers for rent; however, be sure that the carrier selected foryour pet is the proper size for its safety during the flight. Call ahead oftime to confirm carrier availability.You will want to pad the inside of the carrier liberally with largeblankets and/or towels. And don’t forget to throw in one of your dog orcat’s favorite toys! A “live animal” sticker, as well as your name,address, and phone number, should be attached conspicuously to theoutside of the carrier.Avoid feeding your pet solid food within 6 hours of the plane trip.Provide a constant source of water during the flight by freezing waterin a water bowl the nightprior to your trip and plac-ing this in your pet’s carrierprior to the flight.Vacation PlanningPrior to leaving on a vaca-tion, there are certain itemsthat need to be taken care offirst. To begin, be sure you68 DOGS AND CATSWhen transporting yourpet by air, book nonstopflights to reduce thechances of your pet becoming lost lug-gage. In addition, during the summer,book flights early in the mornings orlate in the evenings to avoid exposingyour pet to midday heat.DR. P’S VET TIP
are aware of all the requirements necessary for taking your dog or catto its intended destination, including required health certificates,quarantines, and customs. When traveling domestically and interstatewith your pet, two items you should always have with you are yourpet’s vaccination record and a current health certificate. A licensedveterinarian must issue this health certificate within 10 days of yourtrip. If traveling overseas, the embassy of the country of destinationcan inform you of all the necessary requirements for the safe and legaltransport of your pet.Be sure that the carrier you have for your dog or cat is sturdy and ingood condition. Also, make sure that your pet’s collar has identifica-tion tags, including a phone number, if possible, of where you’ll bestaying just in case your pet gets lost. Of course, you’ll want to take aleash along for daily exercise, as well as your pet’s brush and/or combfor daily grooming. Finally, plan on taking plenty of your pet’s foodalong with you, just in case the brand you normally feed your pet isnot available at your destination.Consult travel guides or travel agents to find listing of those motels,hotels, and campgrounds that accept pets, and plan your overnightstops around these locations. Finally, when you arrive at your destina-tion, look in the local phone directory for the name and number of alocal veterinarian in the area, in case of emergency.Try not to leave your pet unattended in your motel or hotel room. Ifyou do, be sure to place the “Do not disturb” sign on the front door sothat your pet doesn’t accidentally escape if housekeeping comes toclean your room while you are away.When camping with your pet, don’t allow it to roam or to interactwith wild animals. Cats especially, being the natural-bred hunters thatthey are, could get themselves in trouble real quick! It’s also a greatidea to have your pet checked out by a veterinarian following thesecamping trips to be sure that it didn’t pick up any unwanted parasitesfrom the local fauna.Finally, there will be times when your dog or cat will be better offstaying at home rather than traveling with you. In these instances,choose a kennel facility for your dog or cat as you would a hotel for your-self, making sure that it is clean, well ventilated, and staffed by a caringgroup of people. Many newer facilities are equipped with interactiveTRAVELING WITH YOUR DOG OR CAT69
cameras attached to each run or pen that can be accessed over the Inter-net, allowing you to check in on your pet even if you happen to be on theother side of the world! Although it costs more to board a pet at such afacility, many owners feel it is well worth the price.Another great alternative is to let your dog or cat stay home andhire a pet sitter to check in on it throughout the day. If you can’t find aneighbor or friend to oblige, check your phone book for a reliable pro-fessional pet sitter near you, or ask someone at a local veterinary clinicto recommend one to you.70 DOGS AND CATS
Preventive Health Care4C H A P T E RWhen it comes to health, pets are just like people. Some will gothrough their entire lives without any health problems along theway; others just seem to be prone to every illness that comes along. Anumber of factors play a role in the susceptibility of dogs and cats toillness, including genetics, environment, nutrition, immune systemcompetence, and, very importantly, the extent of preventive healthcare provided to them by their owners. In fact, for a pet that is genet-ically prone to illness, this latter factor can do wonders to help coun-teract some of these inherent effects. Unfortunately, many pet ownersfail to realize the importance of preventive health care; as a result,their pet can ultimately pay the price later in life.At-Home Physical ExamDo you worry about your pet’s health even when it appears healthy?Your veterinarian can ensure that your dog or cat is thriving by per-forming a thorough checkup, but what can you do between visits? Petscannot verbalize their discomforts, and people often worry that they’llmiss the early signs of illness. If you learn to examine your pet athome, you can have that all-important peace of mind between visits tothe vet (Fig. 4.1).71
During your next visit topet clinic, the veterinarianwill probably begin with anexamination of your pet.Watch how your veterinar-ian performs the exam andask to participate in theprocess. Discuss your desireto supplement the vet’sexams with at-home checksthat you will make. The vet-erinarian should be pleasedwith your desire to providesuch attention to your pet’shealth and should be happyto help develop your skills(Fig. 4.2). Your teamworkwill provide the consistentattention to details thatcould prevent a tragedy.At-home examinationsare no substitute for a veterinary checkup, but doing them might oneday give you a jump on treating a minor or serious condition. For con-venience, these exams can be combined with regular grooming sessions.Use the physical exam checklist in Table 4.1 as your guide. Also, seeFig. 4.3 for instructions on how to take your pet’s temperature (see alsoTable 4.2), pulse, and respiratory readings. Finally, get into the habit ofweighing your pet every 3 months and recording your readings. Unex-plained weight loss or weight gain or a pattern of continual loss or gainshould prompt you to contact your veterinarian. Also check for othersigns of illness, such as a visible “third eyelid” in cats (Fig. 4.4).Vaccinations and the ABCs of ImmunityThe theory behind vaccinating any pet is to provide artificial exposureto certain disease-causing organisms, thereby priming the body’simmune system before actual exposure occurs (Fig. 4.5). Doing so will72 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 4.1 Periodic physical exams per-formed at home are a vital part of your pet’s pre-ventive health care program.
allow for a rapid, effective immune response if this exposure does hap-pen, without the lag time associated with a first exposure.If the mother has been properly vaccinated prior to pregnancy,most puppies and kittens receive protective antibodies from theirmother through nursing, primarily during the first 24 hours of life.These “passive” antibodies are important, since the immune system ofa neonate less than 6 weeks of age is incapable of mounting an effec-tive response to any antigen (foreign organism or substance). Around 8weeks of age, levels of these antibodies begin to taper off, leaving thepet to fend for itself.If a puppy or kitten that still has adequate levels of passive antibodiespresent in its system is immunized, the vaccination will be renderedineffective. For this reason, initial vaccinations are usually given aroundPREVENTIVE HEALTH CARE73F I G U R E 4 . 2 Preventive health care can help your cat live a happy and healthylife.
74 DOGS AND CATSTable 4.1 Physical Exam Checklist for Dogs and CatsDate Temperature WeightGeneral evaluation—Alert —Disinterested—Active —Lethargic—Healthy appetite —Poor appetite—Playful —Weight loss/gain—Lameness —Abnormal posture—Abnormal aggressivenessSkin and haircoat—Appear normal —Shedding—Hair loss —Mats—Dull; unkempt —Tumors or warts—Scaly —Parasites—Dry —Abnormal lumps under the skin—Oily —Crusts on neck and head—ItchingEyes—Appear normal —Haziness/cloudiness—Clear discharge —Unequal pupil size—Mucus discharge —Discoloration—Redness —Squinting—Eyelid abnormalities —Protruding third eyelidsEars—Appear normal —Hair loss on pinnae—Red; swollen —Bad odor
8 weeks of age, when levels of passive antibodies begin to decrease. Vac-cination as early as 6 weeks of age may be indicated in those instanceswhere the mother has not been vaccinated, or if lack of passive antibodyabsorption is a possibility (i.e., inadequate nursing during the first hoursof life).PREVENTIVE HEALTH CARE75Table 4.1 Physical Exam Checklist for Dogs and Cats (Continued)—Itchy —Masses—Creamy, yellow discharge —Tender—Brown to black discharge —Head tilt—Head shakingNose and throat—Appear normal —Ulceration on nose—Nasal discharge —Crusty nose—Enlarged lymph nodes (feel on either side of the neck just under the jaw)Mouth, teeth, and gums—Appear normal —Tooth loss—Broken, discolored, or loose teeth —Inflamed gums—Foul odor —Excess salivation—Tartar accumulation —Pale gums—Growths or masses —Ulcers—Base of tongue inflamed —Foreign body notedMiscellaneous—Abdominal tenderness —Increased water consumption—Coughing —Decreased water consumption—Breathing difficulties —Genital discharge—Abnormal stools —Mammary lumps—Straining to urinate —Swollen limb
Vaccinating Your DogFour core vaccines shouldbe administered to all dogs.These include those protect-ing against distemper, par-vovirus, adenovirus (infec-tious canine hepatitis),and rabies. Other vaccines,including those againstparainfluenza, canine con-tagious respiratory disease(kennel cough; Bordetella),leptospirosis, coronavirus,lyme disease, and Giardiaare optional, and should beadministered only upon76 DOGS AND CATSF I G U R E 4 . 3 Use a digital thermometer to obtain your pet’s temperature.Table 4.2 Potential Causes of ElevatedBody Temperature in Dogs and CatsFear or excitementHigh environmental temperatureExerciseInfectionTissue inflammation or traumaAutoimmune diseaseCancerDrug reactionsEndocrine disorders (e.g., hyperthyroidism)
the recommendation ofyour veterinarian. SeeTable 4.3 for current recom-mendations.Vaccinating Your CatFive core vaccines shouldbe administered to all cats.These include vaccinesagainst panleukopenia (par-vovirus), herpesvirus (viralrhinotracheitis), calicivirus,feline leukemia (FeLV), andrabies. Other vaccines, in-cluding those for the felineimmunodeficiency virus(feline AIDS), feline infec-tious peritonitis (FIP), ring-worm, Chlamydophila, andBordetella are optional, andshould be administered onlyon veterinary recommenda-tion. Table 4.4 lists currentvaccination recommenda-tions for cats.As you can see fromTables 4.3 and 4.4, theschool of thought regardingcanine and feline immuniza-tions has changed. Manyveterinary practitioners and veterinary schools are using extendedvaccination schedules in lieu of the traditional “yearly booster”approach. These changes in traditional protocol are based on researchfindings indicating thatI Certain vaccines may provide extended immunity and, in somecases, lifelong immunity after an initial series of immunizations.PREVENTIVE HEALTH CARE77F I G U R E 4 . 4 Protrusion of the third eyelidsis a sign of illness in cats.F I G U R E 4 . 5 Immunizations are an impor-tant line of defense against disease.
I Vaccines administeredafter this immunity hasbeen established may beneutralized and ren-dered ineffective by thepet’s immune system.I Repeated immunizationusing certain vaccineagents, especially thosethat contain adjuvants(chemical compoundsdesigned to increase theeffectiveness of the vaccine), has been linked to allergic reactions,autoimmune disease, and feline sarcoma, a deadly form of cancerin cats.DiscussionResearch also suggests that individual vaccines that provide protec-tion against a single type of disease (“univalent” vaccines) should beadministered in lieu of those containing multiple agents that stimu-late immunity against more than one type of disease (“multivalent”vaccines). The traditional “5-way” and “7-way” vaccines used in petsfor years are examples of multivalent vaccines. Even though it maymean more needles for your pet, the protection conferred by univa-lent vaccines is deemed superior to that of the multivalent varieties.Regardless of types of vaccines used and frequency of immuniza-tions, such a protocol must be one that provides maximum protectionwith minimum risk to the pet. One option that many veterinarians arenow offering prior to vaccinating a pet is antibody titer testing. With suchtesting, levels of antibodies to the various disease agents are measured ina blood sample. If a specific antibody titer (the level of antibodies in theblood) is deemed protective, no vaccination is necessary. However, if thislevel is too low, then a vaccine can be given to stimulate the body to pro-duce a protective level once again. Be sure to ask your veterinarian abouttiter testing and about the latest research findings regarding canine andfeline immunology. Your pet’s health depends on it!78 DOGS AND CATSVaccines given to puppies 8 weeks ofage or younger are generally ineffec-tive. Vaccines administeredbefore a puppy is 8 weeks old are ren-dered useless by antibodies that thepuppy received from its mother whilenursing. In addition, even if the puppydid not receive such antibodies, itsimmune system is often too immatureat 6 weeks of age to respond effec-tively to antigenic stimulations.A C T.FA C T OR F I C T I O NF
PREVENTIVE HEALTH CARE79Table 4.3 Canine Vaccine ScheduleVaccine Initial series Booster intervalCore groupRabies 16 weeks Every 1–3 years, dependingon the state in which youlive1 year ϩ 4 monthsDistemper 8 weeks Every 3–7 years or as recom-mended by veterinarian12 weeks16 weeks1 year ϩ 4 monthsParvovirus 8 weeks Every 3–7 years or as recom-mended by veterinarian12 weeks16 weeks1 year ϩ 4 monthsAdenovirus 8 weeks Every 3–7 years or as recom-mended by veterinarianNoncore groupBordetella 10 days prior to boarding, Every 6 months as needed(intranasal) grooming, and dog showsParainfluenza As recommended by veterinarianLeptospirosis As recommended by veterinarianLyme disease As recommended by veterinarianGiardia As recommended by veterinarianCoronavirus As recommended by veterinarian
80 DOGS AND CATSTable 4.4 Feline Vaccine ScheduleVaccine Initial series Interval for boostersCore groupRabies 16 weeks Every 1–3 years,depending on state1 year ϩ 4 monthsHerpes/calicivirus 8 weeks Intranasal vaccine annually or as recommendedby veterinarian12 weeks16 weeks1 year ϩ 4 monthsPanleukopenia 8 weeks As recommended byveterinarian12 weeks16 weeks1 year ϩ 4 monthsFeline leukemia 9–12 weeks As recommended byveterinarian12–16 weeksNoncore groupChlamydophila As recommended by veterinarianBordetella As recommended by veterinarianFeline As recommended by veterinarianinfectiousperitonitis (FIP)Feline As recommended by veterinarianimmuodeficiencyvirus
Controlling Internal ParasitesLeft undetected and untreated, intestinal parasites can rob your dog orcat of much-needed nutrients, can cause severe gastrointestinal upset,and can predispose it to secondary disease. Internal parasites arewidespread throughout the pet population. To make matters worse,many internal parasites of dogs and cats are also classified as zoonoticdiseases; that is, they can be directly communicable to humans, espe-cially children. As a result, controlling intestinal parasites is a vitalpart of any preventive health care program.Management of intestinal worms should begin when a puppy orkitten is as young as 3 weeks of age. At this age, these infants can har-bor immature hookworms and roundworms without any evidence ofeggs shed in the stool. Puppies and kittens should receive medicationsfor these parasites at 3, 6, and 9 weeks of age, regardless of whethereggs are detected in their stool.Stool ExaminationsMore treatments might be necessary for those puppies or kittens foundto be actually harboring worms. Stool examinations on such a petshould be performed by a veterinarian at 6, 9, and 12 weeks of age toensure that it is indeed free of these parasites and is not shedding eggsinto the environment.Frequent stool checks such as these will also assist in the detectionof two other common intestinal parasites: tapeworms and coccidia.The latter parasite can especially cause severe gastroenteritis andsometimes even neurological problems in puppies and kittens if leftundetected and untreated.Most heartworm preventives available for dogs also contain med-ication to protect against common canine intestinal parasites. As aresult, if your pet is taking such medication (and it should be!), it doesnot need to be routinely dewormed. However, your pet’s stools shouldstill be examined for parasite eggs at least once a year, just to be safe.Stool exams should also be conducted on any ill animal, regardless ofclinical signs. Even when the worms do not directly cause the illness,their mere presence and effect on the host’s immune system can exac-erbate any disease, regardless of cause.PREVENTIVE HEALTH CARE81
Environmental SanitationAside from routine stool checks, good environmental sanitation isanother way to lessen the impact of intestinal parasites. Many parasiteeggs that are shed into the environment via feces take days of sitting inthe sunlight or in other favorable environmental conditions beforebecoming infective to other pets. As a result, keeping all fecal matter(either your pet’s or that of an unwelcome visitor) cleaned up out ofyour pet’s environment (or litterbox) on a daily basis is a very effectiveway of protecting your pet (and yourself) from these worms.Controlling Fleas and TicksMuch confusion exists about the proper approaches to external parasitecontrol and prevention in pets. Many different products are now avail-able for external parasite control. The key to successful control is tochoose and properly use the products that provide the best possibleresults for the specific external parasite and environment involved.Flea ControlFleas are by far the most common external parasites with which yourdog or cat will have to contend. Effective flea control entails not onlytreatment for fleas on the pet but environmental control as well (Fig.4.6). Consult with your veterinarian concerning the best approach totake to relieve your pet of these pesky parasites.INSECTICIDE SPRAYS, POWDERS, COLLARS, AND DIPSOnce serving as the vanguard in the war against fleas and ticks, theseproducts are being replaced by newer, more effective agents. However,some can still be helpful incertain situations, and war-rant mention here.Flea and tick sprays,available in both liquid andaerosol forms, are useful forspot treatments. Sprays con-taining natural chemicals82 DOGS AND CATSNot only can their annoying bitesproduce extreme discomfort and evenallergic reactions, fleas are also thesource of the most common tapewormthat affect cats, Dipylidium caninum.DID YOU KNOW?
called pyrethrins, derivedfrom chrysanthemums, arethe preferred products overothers for flea controlbecause of their safety andefficacy if used properly.The major advantage of nat-ural pyrethrins is that theyare relatively safe for use onpets of all ages. The disad-vantage is that they havepoor residual flea-fightingactivity, lasting only a dayor so. Newer, syntheticpyrethrin products avail-able on the market todayhave improved this residualactivity while still main-taining a good safety mar-gin. If pyrethrin products are used, frequent spray application, both onthe pet and in its environment (bedding, carpeting, etc.), is imperativefor effective flea control. In some instances, this means on a daily basis.Just be sure before doing so to check the label on the particular productyou are using to confirm the safety of this practice. If you are in doubt,always follow label directions!As with the sprays, pyrethrin-containing powders are preferredover others because of their low toxicity potentials. Powders do notevaporate like liquid prod-ucts; therefore, under dryconditions, powders stayactive on the hair and skinsomewhat longer than dosprays. Again, frequentapplication is required forbest results. Exposure towater inactivates mostinsecticide powders.PREVENTIVE HEALTH CARE83F I G U R E 4 . 6 With the advent of sophisti-cated methods and products, flea control hasnever been easier!When applying any typeof spray to the haircoat ofa cat, avoid spraying itdirectly on the coat.Instead, saturate a washcloth or towelwith the solution and then rub it onthe haircoat. Your cat is much lesslikely to object to treatment that way.DR. P’S VET TIP
Insecticide shampoos and collars are common items in both retailstores and in most veterinary clinics. However, since frequent sham-pooing can lead to excessively dry skin, and collars are of little use tobegin with, these products are not recommended for flea control. Dips,which are simply highly concentrated preparations of insecticides, arealso no longer recommended for flea and tick control, because of theirhighly toxic nature and the advent of newer, safer products.SECOND-GENERATION (ONCE-A-MONTH) PRODUCTSWhen treating for parasites on your dog or cat, a number of productsdesigned to be administered only once per month are now available. Forinstance, fipronil (Frontline®) kills adult fleas on pets and helps to breakthe flea life cycle by killing immature fleas before they can lay eggs. Thisproduct is also effective against ticks that your pet may encounter in thewoods or field. Applied as a spray or topical drops, fipronil collectswithin the hair follicles and sebaceous glands of the skin, providinggood residual action after initial application. Imidacloprid (Advantage®)is yet another addition to the flea-control arsenal that can be incorpo-rated into a comprehensive flea-control program. Imidacloprid works bykilling adult fleas on contact, before they can lay eggs. Applied as topicaldrops on the back, according to the manufacturer, this product retainsits effectiveness even after shampooing or repeated swimming.Lufenuron (Program®, Sentinel®) is a product designed to be taken inter-nally by your dog. Available in tablet form, lufenuron exerts its flea con-trol action by sterilizing the fleas that bite the dog. Since they cannotreproduce, fleas are eventually eliminated (in a contained environment)via attrition. It is important to remember that lufenuron does not actu-ally kill fleas. As a result, products that kill adult fleas must be used inconjunction with this treatment in order to achieve effective flea con-trol. As one might expect, many veterinarians recommend this productonly for those dogs keptin an indoor (contained)environment.NATURAL REMEDIESThroughout the years,countless natural remedies84 DOGS AND CATSSince the advent of newer, safer flea-control products, the incidence ofinsecticide-related poisoning in catshas decreased dramatically!DID YOU KNOW?
for parasite control have been touted as effective alternatives to insec-ticides. Some of these substances or devices are worn or applied exter-nally; some are designed to be taken internally.Products such as brewer’s yeast, garlic, and B vitamins have allbeen implicated at one time or another as flea-control remedies. Unfor-tunately, controlled scientific studies indicate little to no benefit inflea control with these products. In addition, some natural substancescan be highly toxic to cats. Check with a veterinarian before giving anynatural remedy to your cat.Certain products containing abrasive-type ingredients (e.g., silicagel and diatomaceous earth) are available for external flea control.These noninsecticidal products act by damaging the chitin exoskele-ton of the flea, leading to desiccation (drying up) and death of the flea.Moderate success has been reported with these abrasive-type prod-ucts. Drying and/or mild irritation of the pet’s skin may occur withthese products. Frequent application (four to seven times weekly) isrequired if these are to be used.Electronic flea collars have limited popularity, as well as limitedbenefits. Although manufacturers may stand by their efficacy, scien-tific studies have shown that their worth in controlling external para-sites is minimal. The idea behind them is that the device emits ahigh-pitched sound that can’t be heard by humans or pets, yet it dri-ves fleas away. Unfortunately, aside from their relative ineffective-ness, some models might indeed deliver an audible pitch that can beheard by—and might be quite discomforting to—the dog or cat wear-ing the collar.ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROLEnvironmental control of fleas begins in the home (Fig. 4.7). You canuse insecticidal foggers to get the job done, or you can employ a profes-sional exterminator. For excellent results, you can also use polymerizedborate compounds, available under various brand names from a veteri-nary clinic or pet supply store. Sprinkled on the carpets, baseboards,and/or furniture, these compounds will kill all fleas that come in con-tact with them. Noticeable results are usually obtained within a weekafter application. Best of all, these powders are odorless, easy to use,and safe for pets and children. Under normal conditions, application ofPREVENTIVE HEALTH CARE85
this product must be performed every 6 to 12 months. Carpets mustremain dry for continued efficacy; if the carpet becomes damp or isshampooed, reapplication will be necessary.Your yard should be treated with insecticidal granules every 6 to 8weeks during the warm months of the year. Alternating the types ofinsecticidal granules used with each treatment (several different typesare available commercially) can improve effectiveness of your overallcontrol program.Tick ControlBesides fleas, the next most prevalent external parasite that your dogor cat will likely encounter is the tick. Dogs are more likely than catsto be parasitized by ticks, since cats, because of their meticulousgrooming habits, rarely afford a tick the time it needs to attach itself.Regardless, controlling ticks on your pet and in your environment isimportant not only for your pet’s health but for yours as well. Theseunsightly parasites, which attach themselves to their host via suckingmouthparts, can transmit serious diseases such as Rocky MountainSpotted Fever and Lyme disease to pets and to people. As far as theirfour-legged hosts are concerned, untreated infestations can also lead toskin irritation and in severe cases, blood-loss anemia.Female ticks lay their eggs in and under sheltered areas in the envi-ronment, such as wood stumps, rocks, and wall crevices. Once hatched,the larvae, called “seedticks,” will crawl up ontograss stems or bushes andattach themselves to a hostthat may happen to pass by.Depending on their lifecycle, immature ticks mayseek out one to three differ-ent host animals to completethe maturation process intoan adult.Since ticks are sensitiveto the same type of chemi-86 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 4.7 Environmental treatment isrequired for effective flea control.
cals as are fleas, treatment and control are basically the same. Certaintopical once-a-month treatments for fleas in dogs and cats can be effec-tive in controlling ticks as well. Ask a veterinarian for details. Flea andtick collars can be effective at keeping ticks out of the ears. Just be surethat if you plan to use one on your cat, it is of the “breakaway” variety thatis designed to snap apart in case it gets snagged on a fence or treebranch. A pyrethrin spray or powder can also be applied to your pet’shaircoat prior to a trip outdoors to discourage ticks from attaching.Certainly a thorough and consistent treatment of the yard (andsometimes the house) with an approved insecticide is the cornerstoneof an effective control program. Since ticks can live for months in theirsurrounding habitat without a blood meal, treatment should be per-formed every 2 to 4 weeks during the peak tick seasons in your area.If a tick happens to attach itself to your pet, use a pyrethrin spray tokill it. Never attempt to remove ticks from your dog or cat by applyingmanual pressure alone, or by applying a hot match or needle to the tick’sbody. Most ticks first killed by the application of a pyrethrin spray willfall off with time once they die. In some cases, you may need to manu-ally remove the dead tick after spraying. When picking them off yourpet, never use your bare hands, in order to prevent accidental exposureto disease. Instead, use a pair of gloves and tweezers to grasp the deadtick as close to its attachment site as possible, then pull straight up usingconstant tension. Once the tick is freed, wash the bite wound with soapand water and then apply a first aid cream or ointment to prevent infec-tion. Again, be sure that the tick is completely dead before removal; thiswill ensure that the tick’s mouthparts come out attached to the rest ofthe body. If left behind, the mouthparts can cause an irritating localizedskin reaction.Preventing Heartworm DiseaseHeartworm disease is a devastating illness of dogs, responsible for tens ofthousands of deaths each year. Most of these occur due to the destructionthat these worms do to not just the heart, but the lungs, liver, and kidneysas well. In some cases, the worm burden within the heart and blood ves-sels can become so great that circulation of blood is actually compro-PREVENTIVE HEALTH CARE87
mised, resulting in suddendeath. Other infected dogscan go years without show-ing any signs of heartwormdisease, seemingly forminga symbiotic relationshipwith the parasites. Regard-less of its presentation, thepresence of heartworm dis-ease puts a tremendous bur-den on the body’s organsand immune system (Fig.4.8). (For more informationregarding canine heartwormdisease, see Chapter 7.)The good news is that this destructive disease is completely and eas-ily preventable! The most popular heartworm preventive medicationscome in tablet form or as topical “spot-ons” and are designed to be givenjust once a month. If your dog is not currently on a heartworm preven-tion program, call right now and schedule an appointment with your vet-erinarian to start one (Fig. 4.9). As a responsible pet owner, you owe it toyour companion! In warmer clients where mosquitoes are present nearlyyear-round, the heartworm preventive must be given 12 months out ofthe year. In contrast, in those regions that experience seasonal changesand lower temperatures, the preventive need not be given for the entireyear but only during thewarmer mosquito season. Besure to consult your veteri-narian as to the proper pre-ventive schedule to followin your particular area.Before starting a dogon heartworm preventivemedication, a simple bloodtest needs to be performedto determine if exposure toheartworms has already88 DOGS AND CATSEven if the heartwormpreventive medication isnot required year-roundin your area, you should still give it toyour pet all throughout the year. Thereason: Most preventives sold on themarket today also prevent infestationswith intestinal parasites (some ofwhich can be zoonotic, includingroundworms), providing an importantsource of continual protection not onlyfor your dog but for you and your familyas well.DR. P’S VET TIPF I G U R E 4 . 8 The mosquito is the vector forboth feline and canine heartworm disease.
occurred (Fig. 4.10). If thetest results are negative,then your dog may bestarted on a preventive.However, if the test returnspositive for heartworms,then treatment optionsmust be discussed. Further-more, if you are currentlygiving your pet preventivemedication and you missa scheduled administra-tion, consult a veterinarianbefore resuming the treat-ments. Depending on howlate you are on the treat-ment, retesting may be rec-ommended. For those dogson a seasonal prevention program, blood retesting should be per-formed before the first preventive medication of the season is given.Although cats are not the natural host of heartworms, they can infestthe heart and vessels of this species as well, with serious consequences.Even though the number of worms typically found in an infectedfeline’s heart is usually small, these worms still take up a lot of spaceand interfere with proper heart function. The challenge is that catsafflicted with this parasitism are difficult to treat, because killing theadult worms in the relatively small heart and lungs of cats (when com-pared to dogs) can cause life-threatening blockages to proper blood cir-culation. As a result, preventing this disease from the start is the key.And the good news is that, as in dogs, it is easy to do so. Feline heart-worm preventive medication comes in tablet form, and is designed to begiven just once a month as well. Ask a veterinarian for details.Dental CarePeriodontal disease, or tooth-and-gum disease, is one of the most com-mon diseases affecting pets today. In fact, most dogs and cats showPREVENTIVE HEALTH CARE89F I G U R E 4 . 9 All dogs should be takingheartworm preventive medicine.
some signs of this disease by 3 years of age. Signs can include tender,swollen gums, excessive drooling, loss of appetite, and bad breath.A complete dental exam should be performed on all pets at leastonce a year. For smaller breeds more prone to periodontal disease,these exams should be done every 6 months. If dental calculus is pre-sent at the gumline, the veterinarian should professionally clean theteeth (Fig. 4.11). Because this cleaning can be a painful procedure,especially if periodontal disease already exists, a short-acting sedativeor anesthetic is essential for your pet’s comfort and safety. An ultra-sonic dental scaler, combined with manual scaling instruments, isused to break apart and remove the hard calculus and deposits fromthe tooth surfaces. Afterward, the teeth are polished with a specialpaste to restore their natural smooth surfaces.Your pet’s dental care doesn’t stop there, though! At-home aftercareis a vital part of your pet’s dental health. Toothpaste, gels, and rinses90 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 4.10 Drawing blood for a heartworm test.
formulated for use in petsare readily available frompet stores or from veteri-nary offices. Choose onethat contains chlorhexi-dine, as this antibacterialcompound can remaineffective for up to 12 hoursafter application. Humantoothpaste should not beused, as it can cause stom-ach upset if swallowed byyour pet. Also, the much-advocated home formulamixing baking soda andsalt in water can be effective as a toothpaste alternative, yet, because ofthe high sodium content of this mixture, it should not be used in olderpets or in those pets suffering from heart ailments. A regular, soft-bris-tled, human toothbrush can be used to apply the dental product. Forcats and smaller dogs, a child’s toothbrush can be substituted. How-ever, for best result, purchase a special “finger” brush that fits on theend of your finger (Fig. 4.12). These can be purchased at any pet sup-ply store. Apply the paste, gel, or solution to the brush, and proceed tobrush as you would your own teeth, concentrating on the gumline aswell as the outsides of the large premolars and canine teeth. No rins-ing is necessary.What about flossing? Yes, you can floss your dog’s teeth, but not inthe conventional way. Flossing devices in the form of chew toys havebeen developed to assist in dental hygiene (Fig. 4.13). Don’t laugh;such devices can have a significant impact on dental health, assuming,of course, that your pet will play with them.Rawhides, nylon chew bones, and urethane chewing devices canalso prove helpful in mechanically removing plaque from canine den-tal surfaces. Contrary to popular belief, feeding hard chew biscuits doeslittle by itself to prevent periodontal disease; in fact, the starchy natureof such food items can promote plaque formation. The same holds truefor most hard dry foods, although most contain substantially lessPREVENTIVE HEALTH CARE91FIGURE 4.11 Professional cleaning will beneeded to effectively remove dental calculusfrom your pet’s teeth.
plaque-promoting sugarthan do their moist counter-parts. Special diets do existthat contain ingredients tohelp control tartar buildupin dogs and cats. Ask a vet-erinarian if such a dietwould be right for your pet.Remember: Good dentalhygiene is important to thehealth of your pet. In fact, itcan help it live a longer,happier life. If you haveany questions concerningyour pet’s dental health,don’t hesitate to conferwith a veterinarian.Feeding Your PetThere can be little doubt that proper nutrition is the cornerstone of along, healthy life for all pets. As our understanding of the link betweendiet and health increases each day, so does the quality of foods that areavailable to feed your pet. Not long ago, the diet of most dogs and catsconsisted primarily of table scraps, supplemented by whatever other92 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 4.12 You can use your finger toapply dental paste along the gumline to helpprevent periodontal disease.FIGURE 4.13 Dental floss for dogs.
foods they could find while roaming freely. Today, our pets more oftenthan not live indoors with us, and it is much more practical to feedthem commercially prepared food that is complete and balanced forthe particular stage of life of each pet.While the quality of nutrition for dogs and cats has improved con-siderably with the increasing use of prepared pet foods, thereremains a great deal you should know about choosing the proper dietfor your pet from among the many thousands of brands available inthis country alone. Because dogs and cats move through several “lifestages” as they age, it is easiest to discuss the nutritional needs ofthese different life stages separately and in the order in which the petexperiences them.Nutrition for Puppies and KittensFor most dogs and cats, childhood lasts for about 1 year, although verylarge breed dogs (Great Danes, Newfoundlands, St. Bernards, etc.) maycontinue to grow rapidly until they are 18 to 24 months of age. Duringthis time, puppies and kittens requires higher levels of minerals such ascalcium and phosphorus, protein, vitamins, and energy (calories) thanthey will as an adult. Therefore, foods fed to young, growing pets shouldcontain these higher levels in balance with each other and with all otherdietary nutrients. Such a pet food will carry a designation such as“canine growth,” or “kitten food,” to distinguish it from diets that con-tain levels of nutrients that are right for other stages of life.Please note that the commonly held belief that if “a little is good,more must be better” is not true when it comes to feeding pets. Dietsthat contain very high levels of minerals, protein, and some vita-mins are not superior tothose that contain only theamounts required for growth.Excesses can actually beharmful to the growingpups and kittens, as can thepractice of supplementing agood growth diet with vari-ous human foods or vita-min/mineral preparations.PREVENTIVE HEALTH CARE93Be careful not to overfeedgrowing puppies, espe-cially fast-growing large breeds. To doso could lead to arthritis later in life.As far as how much to feed, follow themanufacturer’s recommendation for theparticular food you are using.DR. P’S VET TIP
For instance, scientific studies have shown that high calcium and phos-phorus intake by young dogs can lead to a variety of bone problems,especially in large, rapidly growing dogs. In addition, research has alsoshown that allowing your puppy to overeat even a high-quality, well-balanced growth diet can lead to some of these same problems becausethe pup grows too rapidly as a result of the increased food intake.To be sure that your puppy or kitten gets all the good nutrition itneeds for good growth and development, but never too much, followthese simple guidelines:1. Feed a high-quality, balanced commercial puppy food for pup-pies or kitten food for kittens. A veterinarian can recommend anappropriate brand. Remember that your pet’s nutrition will influenceits lifelong health and happiness. It is very important that you investin good nutrition at this crucial life stage.2. If you own a large breed puppy that will have an adult weightexceeding 55 pounds, consider feeding it a diet specially designed forits growth needs. These diets contain controlled levels of fat, calories,and minerals when compared to conventional puppy foods in order topromote a proper growth rate, thereby guarding against bone andskeletal disorders that can be caused by extrafast growth in large breedpuppies. Ask a veterinarian to recommend such a diet for your dog.3. Do not supplement a quality, balanced food; you will almost cer-tainly create an imbalance in your pet’s diet if you do. Avoid givingtable food, table scraps, or treats and snacks to your puppy or kitten forthe same reason (Fig. 4.14).4. Kittens can be fed free-choice; however, follow the daily rec-ommendations given on the food bag or can and don’t offer morethan these amounts. Do not feed puppies free-choice. Most pups arevery eager eaters and will tend to eat too much of a high-quality,highly palatable (good-tasting) diet. It is much better to put downone-half of the recommended daily ration amount (as stated on thebag or can) for a limited time period, say, 30 minutes. Allow yourpup to eat all that it wishes to eat in that time, and then pick up anyuneaten food and save it until the next feeding. Later on in the day,feed the second half of the daily ration, along with the food not eatenat the first sitting.94 DOGS AND CATS
5. Keep fresh, cleanwater (preferably filtered)available at all times (Fig.4.15).Nutrition for AdultsAt about 12 months of age,switch your pet to a mainte-nance diet for adults. Onceyour puppy or kitten isgrown, its nutritional needsare reduced considerablyfrom those during the rapiddevelopment of that firstyear. Continuing to feedyour adult pet high levels ofminerals (particularly cal-cium and phosphorus), pro-tein, and energy (calories)could lead to problems laterin life. Just as we are findingthat excess intake of certaindietary nutrients (like phos-phorus, sodium, and fat)are harmful for humansover long periods, certainexcesses might also con-tribute to diseases such askidney failure, heart failure,obesity, and diabetes inadult and senior pets. Also,we know that reducing thelevel of key nutrients in theadult’s diet to meet but notgreatly exceed its needs isnever harmful. Good qual-ity, scientifically designed,PREVENTIVE HEALTH CARE95FIGURE 4.14 Feeding table scraps will pro-mote an annoying begging habit.FIGURE 4.15 For better health, consideroffering your dog filtered water instead of plaintap water.
adult-maintenance diets always contain these reduced and balancednutrient levels.Guidelines for feeding adult dogs and cats include1. Feed a high-quality, complete, and balanced diet specificallydesigned for adults. Be aware that foods that say they are“complete and balanced for all life stages” are actuallydesigned for puppies and kittens, since they have been formu-lated to meet the needs of the most demanding life stage,namely, growth. They contain excesses of most nutrients foradults and seniors.2. It is best not to give supplements or treats to your adult dog orcat. If you must give an occasional food snack, use either a smallamount of the regular food, or fresh, unsalted vegetables cut upin bite-size pieces.3. Most dogs can receive their allotted daily ration at one sitting.Adult cats can be fed free-choice. Use the manufacturer’s recom-mended feeding amounts as a starting point only. If your petgains weight, reduce the portion offered. If your pet starts to loseweight, increase the amount you feed. A veterinarian can helpyou decide what your pet’s optimum weight should be. Onceyou know this, weigh your pet periodically to prevent weightloss or gain from becoming a problem.4. Some pets show a pronounced tendency to gain weight as theygrow older, despite eating only moderate amounts of an adultmaintenance diet. For these,follow the instructions foroverweight pets in thischapter.5. Dogs that are very active,work regularly, have ner-vous dispositions, or aresimply not eager eatersshould be fed a ration thatcontains extra calories. In96 DOGS AND CATSCats can starve themselves to death.Whereas otherwise healthy dogs willeventually give in to hunger pressures,cats can be more stubborn. If they gowithout food long enough, they candevelop life-threatening malnutritionand hepatic lipidosis!DID YOU KNOW?
addition, pregnant dogs and cats will need extra nutrition dur-ing the last few weeks of pregnancy and throughout lactation(Fig. 4.16). Growth diets fulfill this role well. Feed such a foodstarting in the last trimester of pregnancy and continue it untilall puppies or kittens are weaned. Also, feed her free-choice,and do not add vitamin/mineral supplements unless your vet-erinarian recommends it.PREVENTIVE HEALTH CARE97FIGURE 4.16 Pregnant and lactating females should be fed a “growth” formula toprovide added nutritional support.
6. Keep fresh, clean water (preferably filtered) available at alltimes.A word about bones: To get to the point, natural bones should notbe fed to dogs. Now some might scoff at this, saying that dogs havebeen surviving on bones for centuries. While this is true, we still don’tknow how many of those dogs succumbed to impactions and tointestinal perforations. Why take a chance?Bones, regardless of type, can splinter, causing penetrating woundswithin the gastrointestinal tract. They can also add unwanted amountsof minerals to the diet. Nylon and/or compressed rawhide substitutesmore than adequately satisfy that bone-chewing urge and are muchsafer (Fig. 4.17).Nutrition for the Older PetOnce your pet is 7 years old (5 years old for large breed dogs), anotherdietary change becomes necessary. As people and animals age, manyorgan systems begin to show the effects of wear and tear. The kidneysespecially begin to lose the ability to handle waste materials that mustbe removed from the bloodstream and excreted in the urine. Even olderdogs and cats that appear to be in perfect health could have kidneys thatfunction much less effec-tively than they used to.Guidelines for feedingthe older pets include1. Feed a high-quality petfood specifically designedfor the senior pet. A vet-erinarian can advise youof any special health prob-lems that your pet alreadyhas and any other dietarychanges that might be nec-essary. In many cases of“old age” diseases, specialfoods can be prescribed98 DOGS AND CATSFeeding your cat a high-quality, highly digestiblediet will cut down on lit-terbox odor as well as litterbox mess.DR. P’S VET TIPFIGURE 4.17 Rawhide bones are relativelysafe alternatives to real bones.
along with medica-tion to help managethese conditions. Forinstance, studies haveshown that feeding adiet rich in antioxi-dants can help lessenage-related senility.2. If you notice yourolder pet gaining orlosing weight, consultwith a veterinarian about any changes in diet that can correct theproblem. At the same time, the vet will check for any medicalproblem that might be contributing to the change in weight.3. Do not supplement your older pet’s diet with anything unless aveterinarian specifically recommends it. Senior digestive sys-tems are even more sensitive than younger ones to the unbal-ancing effects of frequent snacks, treats, and table food added tothe diet.4. Take your “senior” for regular (at least once a year) medicalcheckups to catch problems early or prevent them altogether.The right diet throughout life is an important part of a soundpreventive medicine program to safeguard the health and longlife of your treasured pet.5. Keep fresh, clean, filtered water available at all times.Dietary Management of DiseaseFor years, medical research has been telling us about the benefits ofeating a well-balanced diet for good health. In addition, we also knowthat special modification of the dietary intake in the presence of a dis-ease state can be helpful in the treatment and/or long-term manage-ment of the condition. This same nutritional health concept can beapplied to dogs and cats as well.Many disease conditions in dogs and cats, such as obesity (yes, obe-sity is a disease!), heart disease, kidney disease, and gastrointestinalPREVENTIVE HEALTH CARE99Food palatability can beenhanced by increasing afood’s odor or changingits texture. Odor can be enhanced bywarming the food or by adding bouil-lon or gravy to it. The texture of aration can be changed by blending itor cooking it further.DR. P’S VET TIP
disease, can be effectively controlled, and sometimes even cured,through diet modification alone.For example, obesity, constipation, certain types of colitis, and dia-betes mellitus all warrant an increase in the amount of fiber present inthe ration. Dogs suffering from diarrhea, excessive gas production,and/or pancreatic problems can benefit from diets that are more easilydigestible than standard maintenance rations. Cats suffering from cer-tain types of feline lower urinary tract disease benefit from diets thatacidify the urine and contain low levels of magnesium and other traceminerals. Finally, recommended management of dogs and cats suffer-ing from kidney disease includes diets low in phosphorus and con-taining only the highest quality proteins.These special diets or rations aimed at fighting or counteracting dis-eases can be purchased through a veterinarian, or can be prepared athome via veterinary-supplied recipes. In general, the commercially pre-pared products are preferred over the homemade rations. The cost ofthese diets is negligible when compared to continuing veterinary billsand the poor quality of life that would result by not feeding them. Justremember to follow the veterinarian’s directions closely as to amountsand frequency of feeding of these diets if they are indeed used.Battling Obesity in Dogs and CatsObesity is certainly one of the most prevalent diseases affecting the petpopulation today. For years, the frequency of this health disorder wasskyrocketing at an alarming pace, owing primarily to improper feedingpractices and inadequate time spent exercising due to owners’ per-ceived lack of time (Fig. 4.18). Sounds a lot like the cause of most obe-sity in humans, doesn’t it? In fact, dogs and cats are not much differentfrom us in this respect. The problem, however, is that most overweightpets were made that way not by themselves, but by their owners!Unfortunately, few owners realize that by encouraging their pet to getfat, they are at the same time endangering its health and unfairlyreducing its quality of life.The health-related ramifications in dogs and cats are the same asin people. Although pets don’t suffer from atherosclerosis and“heart attacks” as we do, obesity does place a great strain on their car-100 DOGS AND CATS
diovascular systems. Otherinternal organs suffer theconsequences as well. Forinstance, obesity promotespancreatitis in dogs andliver disease in cats. Obesecanines seem to suffer frommore skin ailments and coatdisorders than do theirslim and trim counterparts.Musculoskeletal disorders,including intervertebral diskdisease, occur with greaterfrequency in dogs carryingaround excessive weight.In summary, it is safe to saythat the overall quality ofand length of life for thesepets is reduced, owing tothese side effects of obesity.Visually, dogs that areoverweight will sport awaist that is barely discern-able. In addition, their ribs can barely be felt when their chest istouched, and their abdomens may be noticeably distended. Finally, fatdogs will carry prominent fat deposits along the hips and at the base oftheir tails.The average adult cat weighs anywhere from 8 to 15 pounds. Notonly will fat cats tip the scale to the heavy side, but they will usuallyappear round and their bellies may sag under the weight of theirexcess adipose tissue.Causes of ObesityThe causes of obesity in dogs and cats are numerous, but the first andforemost of them is plain, old dietary indiscretion [aka (also known as)too many table scraps]! Realize that when you feed 10-pound Gingerthat tiny piece of hot dog, that is equivalent to you eating two to threePREVENTIVE HEALTH CARE101FIGURE 4.18 While automatic feeders maybe convenient, they can predispose dogs toobesity.
hot dogs! In other words, it won’t take many of these tiny pieces tomake Ginger fat. Feeding one innocent cheese curl to a dog or catmight be the same as eating half a bag ourselves, depending on thepet’s size! Table scraps do nothing but promote obesity and create anannoying beggar out of your pet.Feeding table scraps is no doubt the biggest culprit causing obesity inpets, but simply feeding the wrong type of food can do the same. Mostpet food manufacturers produce products geared for different stages of apet’s life. For instance, on the market today you have growth formulas,high-protein rations, “light” formulas, adult-maintenance formulas, geri-atric formulas, and so on. The choices are so numerous that pet ownersoften become confused as to which type their particular pet should beon, and this could lead to improper feeding practices and obesity.The only pets that need to be on a growth formula of food are pup-pies and kittens under 1 year of age, pregnant and lactating pets, and,in certain instances, dogs and cats that are recovering from or fightingoff illness. Because energy requirements drop considerably as a petmatures, feeding high-energy, high-calorie growth formulas to an other-wise healthy adult dog or cat can inadvertently cause obesity. Thesame holds true for geriatric pets over 8 years of age. These pets shouldbe fed “less active” or senior-type diets containing higher fiber andfewer calories instead of the regular adult-maintenance rations.Failure to adjust dietary requirements to specific individualneeds is another predisposing cause of obesity. As far as how muchyou should be feeding your pet, the first place to start is to consult abreed book or a veterinarian and find out what the ideal weightshould be for your pet. Then look at the recommendations printed onthe label of the pet food you are using. Even these printed guidelinesshould be considered averages, since the needs of each individualwill vary, depending on individual metabolic rates, exercise levels,and eating habits.For adult and senior dogs, the best approach is to feed the recom-mended amount of food over a 3-week period, monitoring your dog’sweight each week. If weight gain is noted, cut back on the rations fed.If the opposite is true, then increase the rations slightly.For puppies and kittens, follow the manufacturer’s recommenda-tions as to how much to feed. When your pet is still an adolescent,102 DOGS AND CATS
instilling solid feeding habits is more important than worrying abouthow much to feed.Weight ReductionIf your pet is overweight, simply cutting back on the amount you feedwill not do the trick. In fact, doing so could conceivably lead to a mildstate of malnutrition and cause your dog or cat to be constantly hungry(and begging!). Many dogs that are not receiving adequate nutritionwill try to eat anything, which in itself can lead to a serious case of gas-troenteritis. Cats that are malnourished can develop serious liver dis-ease as a result.Instead of cutting back on its ration, switch your pet’s feed to onethat is specially formulated for weight loss. Studies have shown that ahigh-protein, low-fat diet can promote weight loss while maintaininglean body mass. Such diets are readily available from a veterinaryclinic. They might cost a bit more than what you are accustomed topaying for pet food, but the switch is only temporary and the benefitsto your pet are immense. Also, most of these “diet” foods have a highfiber content, which allows for calorie reduction while still givingyour pet that feeling of fullness after eating.A veterinarian can assist you in determining how much and howoften to feed your pet. For dogs, spreading out the total daily foodamount over two to three feedings during the day might help satisfyyour pet even more. Be patient with the results. You might not real-ize it, but even 1 pound of weight loss is significant for both a dog ora cat.It is vital that during the weight reduction period that you remainconsistent with the feedings and avoid giving any snacks (a few kib-bles of the special diet now and then can make for an excellent snacksubstitute). For dogs, nylon or compressed rawhide bones are okay togive to chew on during this time, but keep in mind that hungry dogsmay gulp down these items without properly chewing them, leavingthem susceptible to gastritis and intestinal blockage.Make sure that your pet gets enough exercise. As with people, lackof exercise does its part to promote obesity. House dogs kept indoorsmost of the time are the ones at greatest risk. Many are lucky if theyjust get acknowledged when their owner steps in the door from a hardPREVENTIVE HEALTH CARE103
day’s work. When they do get to go outside, it is often just to go to thebathroom, then back inside.Regardless of whether your dog is kept indoors or out, make it ahabit to devote a specific amount of time each day to social activityand exercise with your dog. It is important not only for its peace ofmind but also to keep its body fit and keep the fat away.A brisk, 15-minute aerobic walk or jog twice a day is all that shouldbe needed. When exercising your dog, just be sure not to overdo it.Stride for stride, most dogs need to work twice as hard to keep up withthe pace you set. Avoid exercising during those times of the day whenthe heat and humidity are at their worst. And remember to keep plentyof water available for your dog. Drinking water prevents these dogsfrom becoming dehydrated, and provides a cooling mechanism fortheir body.Cats kept indoors rarely get enough exercise, unless, of course, theyare leash-trained and can be taken for daily walks. However, simplyplaying with your cat more when you get home from work can do itspart to help burn those calories!You should also rule out medical reasons for obesity. Finally, just tobe fair, the pet owner can’t be saddled with the blame for his or her pet’sobesity in all cases. There can be medical reasons behind a pet’s weightchallenge. For instance, hypothyroidism is a common condition indogs, and it can lead to weight gain and lethargy by lowering the body’smetabolic rate. One unique finding in hypothyroid dogs is that thesedogs will gain weight despite a poor appetite. The signs associated withthis condition can be quite subtle and might lead you to believe thatimproper diet is the cause of your dog’s weight problem. For this reason,thyroid function tests should be administered to all dogs that have aweight problem. Most veterinarians now offer a simple, inexpensive in-house thyroid screen that can detect problems if they exist. In thesecases, supplementing thyroid hormone by mouth not only makes thepet feel better but also helps conquer the weight disorder.In summary, follow these guidelines to protect your pet from thehealth risks caused by obesity:1. Be strict when it comes to your pet’s diet. Keep it regular andfeed a formulation suited for your pet’s stage of life and physical activ-104 DOGS AND CATS
ity level. Avoid feeding table scraps! If your pet needs to lose weight,don’t just cut back on its ration. Switching to a specially formulatedhigh-fiber diet is a must. Slow, steady weight loss is the goal. Eliminateall treats and special snacks during the weight reduction period, andnever feed free-choice.2. If you haven’t already done so, implement an exercise programfor your dog or a regular playtime for your cat. Not only will you behelping control your pet’s weight, you’ll also be preventing potentialbehavioral problems. Don’t overdo the exercise, and keep plenty ofwater available at all times.3. Always have a medical checkup performed on your pet beforeembarking on any weight-loss program. A veterinarian can tell you ifyour pet is actually overweight and can give you specific guidelinesfor weight reduction in your pet if needed.Caring for the Canine EarBecause of the unique anatomy of the canine ear, routine preventiveear care, involving cleaning, drying, and, when applicable, plucking isrecommended.CleaningMany different types of ear cleansers and drying agents are availablefrom pet stores, pet supply houses, and veterinary offices (Fig. 4.19). Liq-uid cleansers are preferred over powders; powders can become quicklysaturated with moisture, trapping them within the ear canal. Most liquidear cleansers contain wax solvents as well as built-in astringents (dryingagents) that help promote a healthy environment within the ear.Cotton balls, cotton tip applicators, and tissues are also helpfulaccessories to have available. These are used to clean around the outerportions of the ear canal and surrounding structures. In no instancesshould a cotton-tipped applicator be placed down into an ear canal;you’ll only serve to pack wax and debris down deep next to theeardrum or actually rupture the eardrum itself.Be sure to consult a veterinarian before putting any medications orsolutions into your pet’s ears. This is especially important if those earsare inflamed or infected, since many solutions designed for use inPREVENTIVE HEALTH CARE105
healthy ears can cause seri-ous problems if used in earswith unhealthy or rupturedeardrums.Restraint duringCleaning or TreatmentThe most important part ofany preventive or treatmentprogram for the ears isproper restraint of thepatient. This is essential foreffective application ofmedications, as well for thesafety of both owner and dog. If necessary, don’t hesitate to use a muz-zle. Unfortunately, many dogs object to having their ears medicated,especially if the ears are already sore from inflammation.If at all possible, obtain assistance from a friend or family memberfor that extra set of hands. Smaller dogs can be placed atop tables orwashing machines for a better working angle. This unfamiliar groundusually serves to pacify a fidgety protester.Use good judgment: If it looks like all-out war is likely, abandonyour efforts and seek the assistance of a veterinarian. Having to makerepeated weekly trips back and forth from the veterinary office mightbe inconvenient, but try to keep the benefits afforded to your pooch’sears in mind. If your dog is suffering from an ear infection, considerleaving it at the hospital or clinic for a few days to make sure that thoseears are treated properly.Recommended ProcedureThe procedure for cleaning and/or applying medication to the ears iseasy. To begin, the pinna (earflap) should be pulled gently toward thehandler in an outward, not upward, direction. By extending it in thisfashion, the external ear canal will be straightened, allowing easyaccess of the cleanser to the deep portions of the canal. On the otherhand, if the pinna is pulled upward, the ear canal will become flat-tened against the skull, rendering cleansing efforts ineffective.106 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 4.19 When cleaning your dog’s ear,pull the pinna straight out (not up) to allow themedication to get down deep into the ear canal.
Now carefully place the cleanser or medication into the externalear opening and squeeze a liberal amount of solution into the ear. Thenext step is to feel for the cartilage supporting the ear canal and, keep-ing the pinna extended outward, gently massage the ear canal for agood 15 to 20 seconds. Once this time is up, the dog should be allowedto shake its head before proceeding to the next ear.After both ears have been treated, cotton balls, cotton applicators,or tissue can be used to wipe up excess cleanser, medication, or waxydebris stuck to the inside folds of the pinnae and the very outer por-tions of the ear canals. Again, never stick anything down into the earcanal itself. Serious injury could result! Most commercial ear cleanerscontain or come with drying agents, which makes manual drying ofthe ear canals unnecessary.HAIR IN THE EAR CANALIn some breeds, hair can occlude the ear canal, predisposing toinflammation and infection. Poodles, terriers, and schnauzers arenotorious for this. In cases where excessive hair is visualized in the earcanal, the veterinarian should perform an ear pluck (Fig. 4.20).Why not do it yourself? Well, there are three good reasons not to.First, ear plucking is a painful procedure, especially if inflammation isalready a factor. As such, it requires effective restraint. In some instances,sedation might even be required to do the job. Second, if done properly,an ear pluck should be focused not just on the hair visibly occluding theoutside of the ear canal, but on the hair down deep within the canal aswell. Special instruments are needed for this, the kind used by a veteri-narian. Finally, if done improperly, ear plucking can lead to infectionwithin an ear canal. Sincethe act of forcibly removinghairs from their folliclescauses inflammation, theentire length of the pluckedcanal needs to be medicatedafterward to reduce thisinflammation and prevent asecondary infection fromoccurring.PREVENTIVE HEALTH CARE107A 50:50 mixture of iso-propyl alcohol and whitevinegar can be used as aroutine ear cleanser for healthy ears orthose with mild yeast infections.(Caution: Alcohol will sting aninflamed ear.)DR. P’S VET TIP
The bottom line is this: Ear plucks done improperly and withoutproper medication afterward can actually do more harm than good!Routine weekly application of an ear solution can help keep earcanals healthy. In addition, using a drying agent in the ears after a petgoes swimming or receives a bath is also a good idea. Daily or every-other-day (alternate-day) preventive treatment is not needed unlessprescribed by a veterinarian; in fact, such frequent application couldconceivably alter the normal flora and environment within the earenough to allow disease-causing bacteria to proliferate.Routine ear plucks should be performed on an as-needed basis. Inmost cases, this means every 4 to 6 weeks.If the ears are being treated for an infection, follow the dosage andfrequency guidelines prescribed by your veterinarian for the particularmedications you are using. See Chapter 15 for more informationregarding diseases and disorders that can affect the canine ear.Maintaining aHealthy Skin andCoatRoutine grooming is essen-tial for maintaining healthyhair and skin in dogs andcats. Be sure to allot sometime each day to this task(Fig. 4.21).BrushingWhether your dog or cathas short or long hair,brushing the coat thor-oughly on a daily basis willaid in its appearance aswell as promote healthyskin. It does this by108 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 4.20 Excess hair occluding the externalear canal should be plucked.
I Removing telogen(dead) hairs from thecoat, making way fornew ones to growin.I Preventing tangles andmatsI Stimulating sebaceousgland activity, whichkeeps the skin mois-turized and the hair-coat shiny. Brushingalso helps to spreadthese oils across theentire skin and coat.I Removing scale (excess keratin), which could lead to itching.I Increasing owner awareness of the presence of external para-sites or other skin-related problems.Long-haired and/or thick-coated breeds require more diligentbrushing than do shorter-coated dogs. Minor shedding is normal year-round in all breeds. However, because the shedding cycle in dogs andcats is stimulated by changes in day length, most will occur during thespring and fall months, when the days become longer and shorter,respectively.Be sure to choose the right type of brush for your pet. In general,the wider the bristles or pins are placed on the brush, the longer thecoat it is designed to be used on. Brush medium- and long-haireddogs, as well as those breeds with thick coats, using a wire-pinbrush. For dogs with shorthaircoats, brushing with abristle-type brush will workbest (Fig. 4.22). Long-coatedcats should be brushedusing a wire-pin brush orPREVENTIVE HEALTH CARE109FIGURE 4.21 Contrary to popular belief,dogs do not need to be bathed on a regularbasis.Dogs can’t sweat like people do; thusthey pant to dissipate heat via themouth and tongue.DID YOU KNOW?
comb. For shorthaired cats, abristle-type brush or rubbercurry comb will do the trick.In addition to the wire-pin brush, the slicker brushis another very popular typeof device used on dogs.Most of these consist of asquare head containing lotsof tiny wire projections, andthey can be used on almostany type of haircoat forremoving shed hair andtangles.Purchase of a comb isoptional, unless you own acat or one of the silky-furbreeds with a coat thatmight be too delicate formany standard brushes.Combs can also come inquite handy for removingtangles and mats when usedin conjunction with scis-sors. Like brushes, the teethof combs are set at differentwidths apart for differenttypes of coats: widelyspaced for thicker coats andclosely spaced for longer, silkier hair. Just keep in mind that using thewrong type of brush or comb can be painful to your pet and actuallydamage the haircoat. For this reason, choose grooming tools with care.Always use firm, short strokes when brushing, never forcing thebrush through the coat. For dogs with short- to medium-length hairand all cats, brush with the grain of the hair. To help in the removalof shed hair, use towels or disposable gloves to buff the coat after110 DOGS AND CATSDogs should be bathed at least once aweek Dogs with healthyskin and haircoats rarely require rou-tine bathing. Daily brushing and appli-cation of a coat conditioner willaccomplish the same results! In fact,indiscriminate bathing can dry out theskin and predispose an otherwisehealthy skin to disease.F I C T I O N .A C T OR F I C T I O NFF I G U R E 4 . 2 2 Be sure to use the right typeof brush for your pet’s particular haircoat.
brushing. For those canines with thick undercoats, the initial direc-tion of brushing should be against the grain of the hair. Once theundercoat has been groomed, you can brush the outer coat with thegrain.If you encounter a mat, don’t try to forcefully remove it with thebrush. Instead, try to work it free with your fingers, using one hand tofree the tangle and the other to stabilize the tuft of hair to keep it frompulling the skin. If the mat or tangle still can’t be freed, insert a combbetween the mat and the skin surface; then take a pair of blunt-nosedscissors and snip as much of the mat off as you can between the comband the free end of the hair. Don’t worry about cosmetic appearances.It will grow back! Mats that are left in place can promote infectioninvolving the skin beneath. And always remember: If you brush yourpet as often as you should, you won’t have a problem with matting!BathingDogs and cats should be bathed when one or more of the following sit-uations develop:I Accumulation of excessive dirt, grease, or other foreign sub-stances on the skin and coatI Buildup of waxy sebum (seborrhea), which often leads to bodyodorI Accumulation of skin scale (dandruff)I Skin infectionsDogs and cats with normal, healthy skin and haircoats really do notrequire routine bathing. Asfar as cats are concerned,that’s welcome news, sincemost cats abhor bathing!If a bath is indicatedfor your dog or cat, a hypo-allergenic shampoo is rec-ommended. For medicalconditions involving skinPREVENTIVE HEALTH CARE111To remove skunk odor, mixone quart of 3% hydrogenperoxide with 1ր4 cup ofbaking soda and 1 teaspoon of mildliquid dish soap. Apply liberally to thecoat, and then rinse thoroughly.DR. P’S VET TIP
infections and seborrhea, use only those shampoos prescribed by aveterinarian. Using the wrong type of shampoo on such skin disorderswill yield poor results and might even exacerbate them.Before you put your pet into the tub, brush its coat out thoroughlyand remove any mats and tangles. In addition, always apply sometype of protection to both eyes to prevent accidental soap burns. Min-eral oil has been used for this purpose; however, a sterile ophthalmicointment is preferred. Such ointment is readily available from a vet-erinary clinic or pet store, and provides greater eye protection thandoes plain mineral oil.After you’ve treated the eyes, stick some cotton balls into the outerportion of each ear canal to keep bath water out. If the nails need trim-ming or the anal sacs need emptying (dogs), do this before the bath aswell. If you are bathing your cat, place a window screen or rubber matin the tub to give your feline something to hold onto while gettingscrubbed. Once these preparatory measures have been taken, you canproceed with the shampoo and rinse.If you are using a medicated shampoo, allow it to remain in contactwith the skin for a good 10 minutes prior to rinsing. After rinsing, atowel, chamois cloth, or brush and blow dryer (dogs only—on the lowheat setting only) can be used for drying.Nail TrimmingAs part of a routine grooming program, you should perform a nail trimon your dog every 4 to 6 weeks and for cats, every 2 to 3 weeks (Fig.4.23). The procedure itself is easy, assuming you have the right equip-ment and that your pet agrees to cooperate. If your pet refuses to holdstill for its manicure, let a veterinary assistant perform the deed. It willbe less stressful on both you and your pet.There are many types and styles of nail trimmers on the markettoday. The preferred choice is the guillotine-type nail trimmers withreplaceable blades. These are available at pet stores everywhere.The procedure itself is simple on clear nails. Observe the nail tobe clipped and identify the endpoint of the blood supply, or thequick. Then, staying just in front of the quick, snip off the end por-tion of the nail.112 DOGS AND CATS
On dark nails that don’thave readily identifiablequicks, start snipping backthe end of the nail in smallportions at a time. Stopwhen the nail is shortenough as to not contactthe ground when weightis placed on the paw (Fig.4.24).Invariably, the timemight come when you acci-dentally “quick” your pet’snail, causing it to bleed. Ifthis occurs, there is no causefor panic. Using a cleancloth or gauze pad, applydirect pressure to the bleed-ing nail for 5 minutes to stopthe bleeding. Alternatively,you can apply clotting pow-der or clotting sticks, both ofwhich can be purchased atpet stores, to the end of theaffected nail to quickly stopthe bleeding. If none of theseare handy, ordinary flourcan be used as an effectivesubstitute.Occasionally, a dog’snails might have grown solong that the quick hasextended far down the nail,making it virtually impos-sible to clip without making it bleed. In these instances, you mightwish to employ the help of a veterinarian, who can sedate your pet andperform a short nail trim.PREVENTIVE HEALTH CARE113FIGURE 4.23 When trimming nails, trim back justfar enough so that when your dog’s paw is flatagainst a surface, the nails are just off the surface.Third PhalanxCut here“Quick” ofthe nailF I G U R E 4 . 2 4 Keeping a cat’s nails trimmedshort is one alternative to declawing.
Expressing Anal SacsThe anal sacs are structures located on either side of the anal openingin dogs and cats. Filled with a foul-smelling fluid that is used forintraspecies identification, these sacs normally empty with eachbowel movement. Contrary to popular belief, these do not have to bemanually emptied on a routine basis whenever a dog is bathed. In fact,by manually expressing healthy anal sacs, you could inadvertentlycause inflammation and predispose to secondary impaction. Anal sacsrequire attention only if a dog is showing signs of impaction or analsac irritation (Fig. 4.25). These signs usually appear in the form ofscooting the rear end across the floor or excessive licking of thatregion. Fortunately, cats rarely have trouble with their anal sacs.Mildly impacted anal sacs can be expressed by applying gentle,inward and upward pressure at the four o’clock and eight o’clockpositions surrounding the anal opening, using your thumb and fore-finger, respectively. If thisfails to empty the sacs, or ifthe sacs are especially ten-der, stop what you aredoing and call the veteri-narian. In these instancesthe procedure is better per-formed at the vet’s office.(Note: If you happen toget anal sac secretion onyour skin or clothes, youmight lose your friendsquickly unless you takeappropriate action to neu-tralize the odor. Isopropylalcohol can be used to getrid of the smell. Better yet,many commercial odorneutralizers that are avail-able at your favorite petstores can do the job evenmore effectively.)114 DOGS AND CATSA dog that scoots its rear end on thefloor has worms A dog thatscoots its rear end on your floor hasdistended anal sacs and is trying toempty them on your floor or carpet!F I C T I O N .A C T OR F I C T I O NFF I G U R E 4 . 2 5 Anal sacs should be expressedonly if they are impacted.
Elective Surgeries inDogs and Cats5C H A P T E RSome of the more common elective surgeries (surgeries not promptedby disease or illness) performed in dogs and cats include neutering(ovariohysterectomy, castration), ear crops (dogs), tail dock/dewclawremoval (dogs), and declawing (cats). While there is sound medicaland sociological reasoning behind neutering dogs and cats, many otherelective surgical procedures commonly requested by pet owners offerno benefits whatsoever. As a result, ear cropping, tail docking, andeven feline declawing have come under increasing public scrutiny asto their necessity and humaneness.Whether you decide to have an elective procedure performed onyour pet is up to you (and current laws governing such practices), butbefore making a final decision, you are encouraged to communicatewith your veterinarian, who will be able to answer your questionsregarding benefits, risks, and controversy surrounding any particularelective surgery (Fig. 5.1).The Facts Concerning AnesthesiaAnesthesia is a word that tends to inspire uneasiness and fear in manypeople. In actuality, though, anesthesia is an indispensable tool inveterinary medicine (and human medicine, as well!). It is required for115
the painless performance ofmany important procedures,including surgery, dentistry,diagnostics, and restraint.There are basically twotypes of anesthetics that areused alone or in combina-tion in elective and non-elective surgeries. Injectableanesthetics are used quiteoften for procedures lastingfor only a short period oftime. For longer procedures,inhalation (gas) anesthesiais used for maintenance.Newer, safer anesthetic agents are now available for use in pets.However, regardless of the type of anesthetic agent used, it is impor-tant to remember that none are totally risk-free. It is difficult to predicthow each pet will react while under anesthesia, yet with strict moni-toring and adherence to basic anesthetic principles, many problemscan be avoided.Ideally, animals should be as healthy as possible prior to undergoinganesthesia. For this reason, laboratory work is often required to confirmthe health status of your pet. Of course, certain situations will require theuse of anesthesia in sick animals. It is easy to see how the risks of anes-thesia tend to be greater in these patients. Older animals also tend tobe at greater risk. Yet, again, with the proper laboratory workup and agood physical exam performed by a veterinarian prior to anesthesia, aswell as close monitoring during the procedure, the risks associatedwith the anesthesia can be greatly minimized.Owners, too, have a responsibility to help ensure the safety of a petundergoing anesthesia. Be sure to inform the veterinarian of all med-ications that your pet is currently taking, as well as any changes youhave noted regarding your pet’s behavior (more frequent urination,exercise intolerance, etc.). Don’t hesitate to review your pet’s pastmedical history with the veterinarian and to ask questions concerningthe anesthesia to be used.116 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 5.1 With animal shelters overflowingwith so many unwanted pets, neutering your petis highly recommended.
If the pet is to stay at home the night before the surgery, it is imper-ative that all food be taken away at least 12 to 18 hours prior to thescheduled procedure. Water, on the other hand, may usually be offeredup to 4 hours before the scheduled anesthesia. Be sure to check withthe veterinarian regarding this subject. If for some reason your pet doeseat food or drink water when it’s not supposed to, it is important thatyou relate this information to your veterinarian.NeuteringOvariohysterectomy (OHE) involves the surgical removal of theovaries and uterus from an intact female dog or cat. The common termassigned to this procedure is “spaying.” OHE is a preferred method ofbirth control in pets, since it is easy to do and ensures 100 percentsterility. Most veterinarians require a dog or cat to be at least 6 months ofage before undergoing suchan operation, although somewill perform the procedureas early as 12 weeks of age.Aside from birth control,there are many other reasons for performing an OHE on your female dogor cat. For instance, it can be lifesaving as treatment for or prevention ofpyometra (accumulation of pus within the uterus) as an animal matures.In addition, it has been used as a behavioral modification tool to calmexcited or overly aggressivepets (Fig. 5.2). Finally, andvery importantly, researchhas actually shown that indogs, spaying at an early agecan reduce the risks of thatindividual developing mam-mary cancer in the future.The entire surgery takesanywhere from 10 to 20 min-utes, depending on the skillof the surgeon and certainpatient factors. For instance,ELECTIVE SURGERIES IN DOGS AND CATS117The feral cat population in the UnitedStates is estimated at over 50 million!DID YOU KNOW?Having a female dog spayed (OHE) whenshe is young will help prevent mammarycancer as she gets older. In fact,the most protection is afforded if theprocedure is performed prior to a dog’sfirst heat cycle. With each consecutivecycle a dog undergoes, this protectivenature of an OHE declines until, by 21⁄2years of age, this potential benefit islost altogether.A C T.FA C T OR F I C T I O NF
the procedure normallytakes longer if the pet is inheat at the time of surgery,owing to an increased bloodsupply to the reproductivetract, requiring additionalcare and ligatures. The sameholds true for pregnant pets.Dogs and cats that are exces-sively overweight are moredifficult to spay becauseincreased fatty tissue withinthe abdomen obstructs thesurgeon’s view. Finally, inthe case of an OHE becauseof pyometra, the operation can take two to three times longer than it nor-mally would, as the surgeon must use delicate care not to rupture thepus-filled uterus.For whatever reasons, veterinarians often are asked if they couldjust remove the ovaries and leave the uterus intact (or vice versa).While the intentions of such a request may be good, it lacks medicalreasoning. Pets whose ovaries are removed without the uterus are stillat risk of developing pyometra in the future. Similarly, pets whoseovaries are left intact, but have had their uterus removed, can stilldevelop a pyometra in the stump of the uterus left behind. In addition,such an operation does little to reduce the risk of mammary cancer inthat particular individual.The technical term for neutering a male canine is castration, whichinvolves the surgical removal of the testicles. This procedure is com-monly employed for birth control, and for reducing territoriality andaggressiveness in male dogs and cats. Castration is also employed indogs as treatment for medical disorders that are directly influenced bytestosterone, namely prostate disease, perineal hernias, and certaintumors. Retained testicles (testicles that have failed to descend intothe scrotum) are also candidates for removal, since they have highincidence of becoming cancerous. In general, castrations can be safelyperformed on a dog or cat as early as 6 months of age.118 DOGS AND CATSF I G U R E 5 . 2 Castrating tomcats can sometimeshelp curb aggressive tendencies.
Rather than having to have surgery performed at all, pets may soonbe sterilized with a series of special injections. Chemicals that renderthe reproductive organs nonfunctional have been developed, andoffer a safer, more affordable way to neuter a pet. Ask the veterinarianfor details.Common Concerns about NeuteringOne common misconception about spaying a dog or cat is the beliefthat a female needs to go through at least one heat cycle or have at leastone litter before the deed is performed. Many feel that this is necessaryfor the proper emotional development of their pet, but in fact, it isn’t.On the contrary, spaying before the first heat cycle will have noadverse effect on a pet’s’s mental well-being, and, as mentioned earlier,can offer significant medical benefits, especially in dogs.Another concern that many pet owners harbor is that neutering willcause their pets to gain weight. However, poor feeding practices, lackof exercise, or certain medical conditions (such as hypothyroidism)cause obesity, not the act of neutering. By addressing these issues, youcan keep your neutered pet slim, trim, and healthy!Tail Docking and Dewclaw Removal (Dogs)Established conformational standards dictate that select breeds of dogshave artificially shortened tails and be free of dewclaws. Tail dockingoriginated in centuries past as a way to prevent hunting and sportingdogs from traumatizing their tails while working in thick woods orunderbrush (Fig. 5.3). Even as certain sporting dogs have evolved intolap dogs, tail docking still remains in vogue as a cosmetic standard formany of these breeds. Medical necessities might also warrant amputa-tion of the tail. Trauma, infections, and tumors involving the tail maybest be resolved by partial or complete amputation.Dewclaws are actually functionless remnants of the first digit oneach paw. Many puppies are born without any dewclaws at all; othersare born with them on the front paws, but not the back, or vice versa.Conformational standards are not the only reason for removing thesestructures when a puppy is young. Dewclaws have a nasty habit of get-ting snagged and torn on carpet, furniture, and underbrush. SecondaryELECTIVE SURGERIES IN DOGS AND CATS119
infections can develop if this trauma is repeated. For this reason,removal of dewclaws is a good idea if this is the case.Tail docking and dewclaw removal are best performed within thefirst week of life (Fig. 5.4). The operations simply involve snipping offthe dewclaws and the desired length of tail (per breed standards) withsurgical scissors. One to two sutures are usually placed in the tail; thesite of the dewclaw removal is often cauterized and left open.If tail docking/dewclaw removal is not performed within 7 daysafter birth, anesthesia will be required for the surgery. As a result, theprocedures must be postponed until the pet is 5 to 6 months of age.Cosmetic Ear Trimming (Dogs)Cosmetic ear trimming, or ear cropping, is the surgical alteration of thenormal anatomy of the ear pinnae in dogs to conform to accepted breedstandards. Many people feel that ear trimming puts a dog through need-less pain and suffering. Veterinarians and veterinary organizations are120 DOGS AND CATSF I G U R E 5 . 3 Tails are docked on many hunting breeds to prevent injury in the brush.
even joining the bandwagonand are advising againstcosmetic ear trims, sincethey serve no useful pur-pose. In certain countries,cropped ears are no longerconsidered an acceptablebreed standard, and cos-metic ear trimming has beenofficially banned (Fig. 5.5).The choice of whetherto have it done or not isstrictly up to you. If yourpet’s breed standard callsfor it and you plan on com-peting on the show circuit,then you’ll need to haveyour dog’s ears cropped. Inthese cases, the surgery isbest performed between 12and 14 weeks of age. If, onthe other hand, your dog isstrictly for companionship,then such a procedure isnot necessary.Declawing (Cats)The decision as to whetherto have a cat declawed is cer-tainly a controversial one,yet it is one that needs tobe made based on individualcircumstances. For indoorcats that refuse to stick totheir scratching post, declaw-ing is certainly a betterELECTIVE SURGERIES IN DOGS AND CATS121F I G U R E 5 . 4 If desired, tails should be dockedand dewclaws removed prior to 1 week of age.F I G U R E 5 . 5 Cosmetic ear trimming has sparkedmuch controversy among the dog-owning popu-lation.
solution than drug therapy or worse yet, eviction from the home.Also, for predominately outdoor cats that spend their time indoorsdestroying the furniture with their claws, declawing might be theanswer (Fig. 5.6). It is important to remember, however, that cats with-out their front claws cannot climb as well (although they can stillclimb!) as they could with them, and they might have trouble avoidinghostile dogs or fellow cats that they might encounter.Declawing can be performed as early as 12 weeks of age. In fact,younger cats seem to recover much faster from the surgery than do oldercats, primarily due to the immature development of the blood supplyand other supporting structures to the nails at a younger age.Before the decision is made to declaw your cat, try to train it to ascratching post first. If done correctly, you might find that it just maysolve the problem. Also, consider keeping your cat’s nails clippedshort to minimize the damage caused by its scratching activity. Since thenails of cats are somewhat fragile, be sure that the nail clippers you useare sharp. Guillotine-type clippers available from pet stores work best.122 DOGS AND CATSF I G U R E 5 . 6 Declawing your cat may become necessary if it refuses to limit itsscratching activities to its scratching post.
When clipping the nailback, be sure to stop short ofthe pink “quick,” which con-tains the blood supply to thenail. However, if an accidentdoes happen, the bleedingcan be controlled with directpressure to the site throughthe use of clotting powder,again available at a local petstore.Finally, special nail covers are also available to minimize the damageassociated with scratching activity. However, if none of the aforemen-tioned options work, then removal of the front claws might be the onlychoice left to preserve that happy owner-pet relationship.Postsurgical Care for Dogs and CatsFollowing any type of surgery, you should receive specific instruc-tions from your veterinarian as to the type of postsurgical care your petrequires. It is important to follow these instructions closely to ensurean uneventful recovery. Postsurgical instructions includeI Do not give your pet food or water for 30 minutes after arrivingat home. To do so can cause nausea and vomiting.I Restrict your pet’s activity for 8 to 10 days or until the suturesare removed. Protect your pet from stress, such as extreme exer-tion, excitement, temperature fluctuations, and drafts. Travelingshould be kept to a minimum.I Check incision sites twice daily for any swelling and/or dis-charge. Keep them clean and dry at all times. Avoid bathingyour pet until all sutures have been removed.I Unless otherwise instructed, return to your veterinarian in 8 to10 days for suture removal.I If medications are dispensed, follow all label directions closely.I Don’t hesitate to call the veterinarian if any problems arise or ifyou have any questions regarding your pet’s recovery.ELECTIVE SURGERIES IN DOGS AND CATS123Cats that are declawed in front can’tdefend themselves. A catin true defense mode will utilize itsback claws with utmost efficiency!What renders a feline truly defenselessis to remove these rear claws, whichwill also take away its ability to climb.As a result, remove only the frontclaws, never the back ones.F I C T I O N .A C T OR F I C T I O NF
Infectious Diseases6C H A P T E RInfectious diseases are those diseases directly communicablebetween pets. They are certainly among the most common canine ill-nesses seen by veterinarians. Infectious organisms responsible fordiseases in dogs and cats include a multitude of viruses, bacteria andbacterialike organisms, and fungi. Multiple organ systems (see Figs.6.1 and 6.2) can be affected when an infectious disease is involved,resulting in a potpourri of clinical signs.INFECTIOUS DISEASES IN DOGSViruses certainly account for the majority of infectious disease seen indogs. Treatment for these agents is usually supportive in nature, owingto a lack of specific antiviral medications. Fortunately, most can beprevented through proper vaccination. As far as bacterial and fungalinfections are concerned, most can be treated effectively with antibi-otics and antifungal medications if recognized soon enough.Canine DistemperThis infamous viral disease of dogs used to be one of the leadingcauses of death in unvaccinated puppies throughout the world.125
126 DOGS AND CATSTracheaLungsHeartSpleenSmall intestinesBladderColonUreterKidneyStomachLiverTracheaLiverKidneyStomachUreter ColonBladderLungsHeartSpleenSmallintestineFIGURE 6.1 The internal organs of the dog.F I G U R E 6 . 2 The internal cat.
Although the incidence of this disease has decreased dramaticallyover the years because of vaccination programs, the distemper virus isstill out there and can strike without warning.The virus itself is related to the human measles virus and can pro-duce a number of different disease patterns in canines. Infected dogsshed the disease in all body excretions, and transmission usually occursvia airborne means. As a result, like canine cough, it is highly conta-gious and can travel some distance on an air current.Distemper is considered a multifaceted disease; that is, it can affecta number of different body systems, including the respiratory, gastroin-testinal, and nervous systems.Early signs of the disease include fever, loss of appetite, and a mildconjunctivitis (eye inflammation). These signs can come and go, last-ing only a few days. As a result, pet owners often miss or ignore thisearly phase of the disease.As the disease progresses, signs become more serious and exten-sive. They can include coughing, breathing difficulties, eye and nosedischarges, vomiting and diarrhea, blindness, paralysis, and seizures.The seizures associated with this disease often have their own uniquepresentation, called “chewing gum fits.” As the name implies, petsstricken as such will look as if they are chewing gum during the attack.In fact, many owners, when they see this, immediately think of rabies.The final outcome of an infection with the canine distemperdepends on the extent of exposure, the strain of the virus involved,and the ability of the dog’s immune system to mount a defense againstthe virus (with the help of supportive treatment). Depending on thesefactors, the outcome of such an infection can present itself in one offour ways:1. Death2. Recovery with no lasting side effects3. Recovery, with non-life-threatening side effects4. Recovery, with life-threatening sequelaeOutcomes 1 and 2 are fairly self-explanatory. Non-life-threatening sideeffects that can result from distemper can include such conditions asINFECTIOUS DISEASES127
hard pad and enamel hypoplasia. The former is characterized by aprominent thickening and proliferation of the pads of the feet; hencethe name. Enamel hypoplasia is a term used to describe the lack of nor-mal enamel covering the tooth surfaces. This occurs in puppiesstricken with distemper at an early age, before their permanent teethhave erupted. What happens is the virus attacks and kills off thosecells responsible for manufacturing the tooth enamel; hence the newteeth grow in lacking this vital component. Needless to say, teeth lack-ing enamel are not very strong and tend to erode quickly, becomingbrownish in color.These innocuous side effects might be all that linger, or theymight be coupled with more serious sequelae. One such side effectthat could become life-threatening to some recovered cases is a degen-eration of the nervous system, which can occur slowly or very rapidly.Dogs so affected sometimes show a progressive deterioration of boththeir motor skills and mental abilities. Rhythmic muscle twitchingcan become so bad that it totally disables the unfortunate pet.Seizures, paralysis, and incoordination can also become factors asprogression proceeds.A diagnosis of canine distemper is based on a history of exposure,the absence of proper vaccination, and classical clinical signs associatedwith the disease (eye and nasal discharges, chewing gum fits, enamelhypoplasia, hard pad, etc.). In addition, direct microscopic evidenceof the virus within blood cells, or within scrapings of the conjunctivaof the eye or tonsils, can help the veterinarian in the diagnosis.There is no specific treatment for the canine distemper virus; as aresult, supportive care with antibiotics, fluids, and anticonvulsants isindicated. Unfortunately, the overall prognosis is poor, with over 50percent of dogs that exhibit severe signs dying in spite of good sup-portive care. Of those dogs that do recover, about 50 percent of themcan be expected to develop some form of nervous system complicationdown the line.With recent advancements in veterinary dentistry, enamel restora-tion with artificial compounds has become available for those casessuffering from hypoplasia, and it is a viable way to prevent furthertooth deterioration.128 DOGS AND CATS
Immunization at an early age with a canine distemper vaccine isthe cornerstone for preventing this disease. Any puppy or dog sus-pected of having the disease should be immediately isolated from itspack members. Disinfection of the contaminated premises with bleach(1 part bleach to 30 parts water) will also help reduce spread.ParvovirusFirst identified in 1977, this virus, which is related to the feline pan-leukopenia virus, usually strikes young, unvaccinated puppies underthe age of 6 weeks, although all ages can be susceptible to infection. Itis highly contagious, spreading from host to host via oral contamina-tion with infected feces. Parvovirus affects the intestines, the immunesystem, and/or the heart of infected canines and can quickly be fatal ifneglected.The parvovirus is attracted to those areas of the body in which nor-mal cells are actively dividing and multiplying. In dogs, the lining ofthe intestines, lymph nodes, and bone marrow are targeted areas. Inaddition, in puppies less than 6 weeks of age, the virus can infect heartcells, causing irreparable damage to this organ.The intestinal form of the disease is by far the most common. Signsseen include loss of appetite, persistent vomiting, and profuse, odiferousdiarrhea, often streaked with blood (Fig. 6.3). In severe cases, the actuallining of the intestines may be shed in the stool. As these signs develop,dehydration and secondary bacterial infection can rapidly occur,especially in the young pup.If not treated immediately,both conditions can lead toorgan failure and death.The cardiac, or heart,form of the disease is usu-ally characterized by suddendeath for no apparent reason,and often with no outwardsigns to indicate involve-ment of the virus. In a fewINFECTIOUS DISEASES129FIGURE 6.3 Bloody diarrhea accompanies acuteparvovirus infections.
cases, severe breathing problems may arise as the heart is attacked,which may then be followed up by vomiting and diarrhea as the dis-ease progresses into its intestinal stage.Diagnosis of parvovirus infection is based on clinical signs, vacci-nation history, and laboratory tests. A declining white blood cellcount, which reflects the virus’s invasion into the bone marrow, is oneof the most consistent signs seen with parvovirus. In fact, this parameteris used as a prognostic indicator by veterinary clinicians for determiningthe severity of a particular infection. In general, if this white cell countcontinues to fall even after 3 days from the onset of clinical signs, theprognosis for recovery is poor. On the other hand, if the countrebounds, and starts its way back up by day 3, recovery can usually beexpected, provided, of course, supportive treatment is continued.Because there are no specific antiviral agents available for this dis-ease, treatment for parvovirus infection involves supportive care andthe prevention of secondary complications. Success of treatmentdepends on many factors, including how quickly it is instituted afterthe onset of signs, how aggressively treatment is applied, and whichstrain of the virus is involved.Intravenous fluids are a must in treating existing dehydration andpreventing further dehydration from occurring. Supplementation withpotassium, a substance vital to the normal motility of the intestinaltract, is also used to replace the amount that was lost from vomitingand diarrhea.Since an infected puppy or dog cannot keep any food down, a dex-trose or sugar supplement and vitamins may be given intravenously aswell. Antibiotics and drugs designed to control vomiting are also partof the support plan. Good nursing care to maintain an adequate bodytemperature and reduce stress is also a must. Finally, injections withspecial preparations of antibodies (immunoglobulin injections) thatactively fight the parvovirus are showing great promise in the activetreatment of parvovirus infections. Whole-blood transfusions withblood from vaccinated dogs can help achieve a similar effect.Starting immunizations at a young age is the most effective way toprevent serious complications associated with parvovirus exposure andinfection. To help reduce the chances of puppies coming down with theheart form of this disease, bitches should be current on vaccinations130 DOGS AND CATS
prior to breeding in order to ensure that optimum amounts of protectivematernal antibodies will be passed on to the offspring.Minimizing exposure is also an important control measure for par-vovirus. This virus survives relatively well in the environment outsideits host, so its contagiousness can last for weeks. All puppies and dogs,even those vaccinated, should be kept well away from dogs infected withthe virus. Owners should also realize that some of these infected dogscan even shed the virus in their stools for weeks after clinical recovery.Puppies should be restricted in their contact with other dogs and withstressful situations until their vaccination program is complete. Contam-inated environments can be cleaned with a 1:30 dilution of bleach tohelp inactivate the virus.CoronavirusCoronavirus infection is a highly contagious disease of puppies thatcan cause minor gastrointestinal illness. The virus is transmitted viacontact with shed fecal material containing the virus. This can presenta problem when large groups of puppies are housed together, sinceviral shedding from one infected animal can continue for severalweeks even after clinical signs have abated.Coronavirus causes mild, self-limiting diarrhea and occasional vom-iting in affected puppies. However, if a puppy contracts parvovirus,the resulting immune suppression can allow the coronavirus to repli-cate unchecked and exacerbate the clinical signs seen as a result of theparvovirus.Diagnosis is afforded by a thorough history, clinical signs seen, andlaboratory tests. There is no specific treatment for coronavirus itself. Ifcoupled with parvovirus, treatment approaches will be the same asthose for the latter disease.The need for vaccination against coronavirus is questionable. As arule, puppies that are properly vaccinated against parvovirus rarelysuffer from coronavirus enteritis.Infectious Canine Hepatitis (ICH)This disease is caused by the canine adenovirus 1, an organism foundworldwide and known for its stability outside its host environment (itINFECTIOUS DISEASES131
can survive for up to 2 weeks!). The virus is shed in all body excre-tions, and can be found in the urine of a recovered dog for up to 6months. Direct contact with such secretions by an unsuspecting dog,usually under 1 year of age and unvaccinated, is the method of diseasetransmission.As the name implies, once the organism enters the body, it can setup a severe inflammation of the liver, or hepatitis. ICH does not, how-ever, stop there. Other organ systems, including the eyes and kidneys,can be affected as well.Loss of appetite, depression, and fever, sometimes reaching 106degrees Fahrenheit, are initial symptoms seen. Enlargement of thetonsils and other lymph nodes occurs as the virus multiplies in theseregions. As the liver is attacked, abdominal pain and jaundice becomeevident. In addition, inflammation of the blood vessels within thebody can lead to clotting problems and internal bleeding.One characteristic lesion of infectious canine hepatitis that candevelop later as the disease progresses is called “blue eye.” In this con-dition, one or both eyes can take on a blue appearance due to fluidbuildup and inflammation within the eye(s).Diagnosis of infectious canine hepatitis is based on the age of theanimal involved, vaccination history, and laboratory data. Such datawill reveal elevated liver enzyme levels, a lowered white blood cellcount, and increased clotting time. Biopsy samples might reveal theactual presence of the virus within the tissue itself.Treatment aims are preventing secondary complications, such asbacterial infections, and giving intravenous fluids to combat dehydra-tion. In severe cases, blood transfusions could be required. Even whenvigorous therapy is instituted, prognosis for recovery remains veryguarded in the majority of cases.Vaccination is the best way to prevent this disease.Canine Contagious Respiratory Disease (CCRD)CCRD (also known as “canine cough” and “kennel cough”) is a highlycontagious disease transmitted by air and wind currents contaminatedwith cough and sneeze droplets from infected canines. It occurs with132 DOGS AND CATS
high frequency in boarding kennels, dog shows, and other areas wheredogs may be congregated. There is no one organism on which to solelyplace the blame for this disease. In fact, over six different causativeagents have been isolated, including several types of adenoviruses andreoviruses, the canine herpes virus, the parainfluenza virus, and abacterium called Bordetella bronchiseptica. All of these agents cancause disease by themselves or in combination with the others. TheBordetella organism is related to the bacterium that causes whoopingcough in humans, and can cause permanent damage to the airways ofaffected dogs if not detected and treated soon enough.The classic clinical sign associated with an uncomplicated case ofCCRD includes a relentless dry, hacking cough, usually nonproductive(Fig. 6.4). Occasionally, a clear discharge from the nose might appear.Gagging or retching might be noted at the end of a coughing spell andis often mistaken for vomiting. Affected dogs rarely run a fever or seemto “feel bad,” nor is it common for them to lose their appetite—that is,if the case doesn’t become complicated with secondary infections.Complicated cases of CCRD are characterized by a greenish eye andnasal discharge, and by obvious breathing difficulties as pneumoniarears its ugly head. In these instances, affected animals do run fevers,do lose their appetites, and do appear sick.Diagnosis of CCRD is based on the presence of the classic clinicalsigns, plus a recent history of exposure to other dogs. Radiographsmight be required to evaluate the extent of the lung and airway involve-ment in complicated cases. Bacterial cultures are also indicated inthese latter instances.Treatment of the diseaseconsists of antibiotic ther-apy, and, in the case of non-productive coughs, coughsuppressants. Owners needto realize that coughing canpersist for up to 3 weeks,even after treatment.If complications exist,more specific therapy will beINFECTIOUS DISEASES133FIGURE 6.4 A dry, hacking cough is character-istic of “kennel cough.”
needed to battle the pneumonia and fever and to prevent dehydration.Vaporizers are often used to liquefy secretions in the airway, allowingfor greater ease of passage. A similar effect can be obtained by placingthe affected pet in a steam-filled bathroom for 10 to 15 minutes. Just besure that the temperature within the room doesn’t get too hot; drinkingwater should be provided to the dog to help prevent overheating.An intranasal vaccine can be administered to provide some protec-tion against CCRD. If a dog has not been vaccinated within the past 6months, it should be administered no later than 1 week prior to ascheduled boarding or event.Herpes VirusThis virus poses no real threat to adult dogs. In fact, it is thought to bea natural inhabitant of the respiratory tract and sometimes the repro-ductive tracts of these adults. Its main importance rests in the diseaseit causes in puppies under 2 weeks of age.As it turns out, this herpes virus does not multiply well in thehigher body temperatures normally found in adult dogs. However,neonatal puppies, whose ability to maintain this body temperature ispoor, are prime targets for the virus. They can become infected with itdirectly inside the mother’s uterus, or they can become exposed afterbirth. Unfortunately, once clinical signs appear in these young puppies,there is not much that can be done to save them.The time from exposure to the appearance of clinical signs is about 7to 10 days. Afflicted puppies will cry constantly, become depressed, andstop nursing. Death usually occurs within 24 hours after the signs begin.Because of its age specificity, herpes virus infection should be sus-pected anytime puppies under 2 weeks of age become ill and cry con-stantly. Further diagnostics performed on tissue samples after deathcan help confirm the diagnosis and shift focus on saving the remainingmembers of the litter.As mentioned before, once signs appear in an individual, death isinevitable. However, there are steps owners can take to try and spare theother puppies in the litter from the same fate. Be sure to provide a sourceof heat (remember—never allow a heating pad to come in direct contactwith the body surface, and always keep heating pads on their low134 DOGS AND CATS
setting!) to the puppies to maintain their body temperatures above 100degrees Fahrenheit. This will help slow the multiplication of the virus. Ifindicated, supportive fluids and forcefeeding can be helpful as well.There is no vaccine available to help combat this disease.LeptospirosisCanine leptospirosis is a bacterial disease of dogs characterized byjaundice, vomiting, and kidney failure. At least four different groupsof leptospirosis organisms, all belonging to the genus Leptospira, havebeen implicated in this disease in dogs. Remarkably, most infectionsare subclinical; that is, few show clinical signs of disease. When clinicalsigns do arise, however, the results can be serious, even life-threatening.Leptospirosis becomes more of a problem in kennels where animalsare kept together under poor sanitary conditions. Animals becomeinfected with the organisms through contact with infected urine.Leptospirosis is found primarily in young animals between theages of 1 and 4 years. In addition, males seem to be more commonlyaffected than females. Signs associated with the disease reflect thedamage done by the organisms to the body’s blood, liver, and kidneys.Fever, depression, vomiting, and diarrhea might be early signs thatbecome noticeable. Anemia might set in as red blood cells aredestroyed by the invading organisms, and distinct bruising on the skinsurface becomes evident as the body’s blood clotting mechanisms areimpaired. In severe cases, liver failure and/or kidney failure appear,leading to rapid dehydration and to a urine with an orange-browncolor, a feature characteristic of this disease. Left untreated, this dis-ease will often result in death.To diagnose this disease, veterinarians rely on a thorough history(including potential exposure to livestock), clinical signs, and speciallaboratory tests. The white blood cell count is usually elevated, in con-trast to those seen with viral diseases. Blood and urine cultures mightbe used to confirm a diagnosis. Antibody levels measured at 2-weekintervals have been used as well for this purpose.Treatment of leptospirosis consists of high levels of specificantibiotics, combined with fluid therapy to combat dehydration andmedications to stimulate kidney function. Unfortunately, unless treatedINFECTIOUS DISEASES135
early enough, the kidneys could suffer irreparable damage, leading tounavoidable failure.Because of the serious nature of this disease, dog owners need tofocus their attention on prevention. Since cross-protection against thisdisease is not afforded by most leptospirosis vaccines, prevention isaimed at limiting access to potentially infected livestock and the watersources they may frequent.RabiesIf there was ever a disease to strike fear into the hearts and minds ofpet owners everywhere, this is it! Rabies is a deadly viral disease thatcan infect any warm-blooded mammal, including domesticated animalssuch as dogs, cats, horses, and cattle. As a disease to be avoided, rabies isone of the earliest to ever be recorded, dating back to almost 2000 B.C.It is found worldwide, except in a few countries, such as Great Britainand Japan, which have strict laws designed to keep the countriesrabies-free.The incidence of rabies within the United States varies with eachstate, depending on the normal fauna found in that state and on existingvaccination laws. It is estimated that over 86 percent of all rabies casesoccur in wildlife species of animals, with about 14 percent spilling overinto the domestic pet and livestock population. It is certainly these lattergroups that pose the greatest threat to public health. Species that arecommonly culprits of spreading wildlife rabies include skunks, rac-coons, coyotes, foxes, and bats. Opossums are noted for their resistanceto this virus, and they rarely become infected. Rodents, such as ratsand mice, are not significant carriers of the disease, either, since fewsurvive encounters withrabid animals in the firstplace.Skunk rabies is mostprevalent in the midwesternand southwestern states andCalifornia; raccoon rabies,in the mid-Atlantic andsoutheastern United States;fox rabies, in the eastern136 DOGS AND CATSContrary to popular belief, a bite woundor direct contamination of an openwound isn’t the only way a person canbe exposed to the rabies virus. Aerosoltransmission has been known to occuras well (e.g., breathing air in cavesheavily populated by bats).DID YOU KNOW?
states; and bat rabies—well, it’s found in all states. Most cases seem tooccur during the spring and fall months of the year.The rabies virus is usually transmitted via the infected saliva ofaffected animals through a bite wound or contamination therewith ofan open wound or mucous membranes. The disease is uniformly fatalonce contracted.Dogs are a leading host for this killer, and serve as a major vectorfor transmission of the disease to humans. Studies have shown thatrabies occurs in higher incidence in younger dogs; the median age isabout 1 year. In addition, due to hormonally related roaming and ter-ritorial instincts, male dogs are at greater risk of exposure than arefemales.Traditionally, when speaking of rabies, most people visualize asnarling, frothing dog snapping at anything in sight. While this is truein some instances, pet owners should understand that this representsonly one of three stages that are part of the overall disease process.Depending on each individual case, viciousness might take on aprominent role, or might not occur at all. These three stages of rabiesinclude the prodromal stage, the furious stage, and the dumb or para-lytic stage.The first stage, which might last for 1 to 3 days, is characterized bya change in the overall behavior of the animal. Normally friendly dogsmight suddenly exhibit aggressive tendencies toward their owners ortoward other pets in the household. Affected individuals might alsohide a lot, preferring to be left alone, and becoming upset when dis-turbed. Loss of appetite might become apparent, and owners mightnotice an increased sexual arousal and/or frequency of urination.Once the prodromal stage is complete, the victim then enters intothe “furious” stage. This is the stage most persons equate with a tradi-tional rabies presentation. Dogs in this stage often become quite rest-less, excitatory, and aggressive, losing fear of natural enemies. Theymight wander about aimlessly, snapping and biting at anything thatmoves. The character of the animal’s vocalizations might noticeablychange. In dogs especially, pica, or an abnormal desire to eat anythingwithin reach (rocks, wire, dirt, feces, etc.), might become apparent. Asthe disease enters the third stage, the swallowing reflex becomes para-lyzed, making it impossible to eat, drink, or swallow saliva. This iswhat accounts for the excessive drooling seen in rabid animals.INFECTIOUS DISEASES137
The furious stage might last for up to a week before progressing intostage 3, the paralytic or “dumb” stage. Pet owners should be aware ofthe fact that some animals, especially dogs, might skip the furiousstage entirely, going directly from the prodromal stage into the para-lytic stage. When this happens, the disease can be easily mistaken forother nervous system disorders if the diagnostician is not careful.Because this quick transition can occur, the risk of human exposure isgreatly increased. The paralytic stage presents itself as a general loss ofcoordination and paralysis. A droopy lower jaw with the mouth justhanging open is often characteristic. A general paralysis and deathusually overtakes the unfortunate animal in a matter of hours.Rabies should be suspected anytime a dog exhibits behavioralchanges with unexplained, abnormal nervous system signs. Unfortu-nately, the only way to definitively diagnose a case of rabies is to havea laboratory analysis performed on the animal’s brain tissue, whichmeans of course, euthanasia of the animal in question.There is no known treatment for this fatal disease; as a result, strin-gent control and vaccination measures are a must. All puppies shouldreceive a rabies immunization between 3 and 4 months of age. In moststates, a licensed veterinarian must administer this vaccine. Depend-ing on the vaccine used and on the state in which you live, a boosterimmunization is required every 1 to 3 years. Owing to the publichealth implications of this disease, dog owners who fail to keep theirpets current on this immunization are putting their own health at risk!Other preventive control measures that can be taken include dis-couraging night roaming and keeping all pets restrained on a leashwhen walking outside. Repairing or constructing fences and enclo-sures to help keep wild animals out of a pet’s play area or living areawill also help reduce chances of exposure.If a stray or wild animal bites a dog, the wound needs to be seenimmediately by a veterinarian, and, depending on when the last onewas given, a booster rabies immunization should be administered. Theanimal should also be placed in quarantine for a minimum of 90 days,unless the particular animal that did the biting can be found and itsrabies status confirmed as negative.If the dog that was bitten by a known carrier of rabies has neverbeen vaccinated before, immediate euthanasia is warranted. If an138 DOGS AND CATS
owner of such a pet refuses to do so, then, for safety reasons, the petshould be quarantined for at least 6 months before it is declareduninfected.Laws in most states spell out regulations concerning vaccinations,bites involving humans, and the ownership of wildlife in order tocurb the impact of this disease. Any vaccinated dog that bites ahuman being needs to be placed in quarantine for a minimum of 10days to observe for signs of rabies. If suspicious signs appear, theanimal is then euthanized, and samples are sent to the laboratory. Ifthere is no history of the dog ever having a rabies vaccine in the past,or if a wild animal is involved, euthanasia and prompt laboratoryexamination of the brain tissue are warranted to expedite the diag-nostic process.Euthanasia should be carried out only by veterinarians or otherpublic health and/or wildlife officials to ensure that the sample thatreaches the lab has been properly handled and stored. Certainly anyperson bitten by an animal should contact a physician immediately. Ifthe situation warrants it, prophylactic rabies treatment should com-mence on the bitten individual until the quarantine period is over oruntil the specific laboratory test results are in.It is interesting to note that because the concentration of the rabiesvirus in the infected dog’s saliva might be low or even absent in somecases, less than 50 percent of all bites from rabies-positive animals willresult in the transmission of the disease. Yet because there is no way ofknowing which fall into this category, prophylactic treatment is amust, just to be on the safe side!Finally, ownership of wild animals, especially skunks (descentedor not) and raccoons, should be avoided for a number of reasons. First,there are no licensed vaccines available for these wild animals. Second,because the incubation period of rabies can last for months, ownersmight be exposing themselves to rabies right from the start withoutknowing it. Finally, in many states, it is outright illegal to own suchanimals without a permit.Parents should always discourage children from interacting withstray animals or wildlife. Their natural curiosity could lead to aserious bite wound and much anxiety, especially if the offender isnot found.INFECTIOUS DISEASES139
Bacterial DiseaseDogs most often develop bacterial infections and abscesses secondaryto traumatic wounds and dietary indiscretions. However, in mostinstances, bacterial infections occur secondarily to other disease condi-tions, such as periodontal disease, stress, viral infections, and parasites.As a result, whenever a bacterial disease rears its ugly head, all under-lying problems that may exist must be identified and addressed at thesame time.Higher Bacterial DiseaseA special group of bacteria, called “higher bacteria,” which share char-acteristics of both standard bacteria and fungi, can cause significantdisease in exposed dogs.Two of the more prevalent organisms in this class are Nocardia andActinomyces. These agents, found in soil, are transmitted primarilyvia traumatic wounds. Draining, painful skin lesions, and severepneumonia are consequences of higher bacterial infections in dogs.Diagnosis and treatment for these diseases are similar to those for stan-dard bacterial infections; however, surgical removal of infected tissueis often required to afford a complete cure.Ringworm and Fungal DiseaseAlong with viruses and bacteria, fungal organisms can cause disease indogs. Probably the most common one pet owners are familiar with andhave heard about is dermatophytosis, or ringworm. In addition, yeastinfections can be a common problem in the ears of dogs. These typesof yeast and fungi that affect mainly the outer skin surfaces are termedsuperficial mycoses.The most prevalent fungal disease that afflicts dogs is ringworm.Three different organisms—Microsporum canis, Trichophyton menta-grophytes, and Microsporum gypseum—can actually cause ringworm(Fig. 6.5). The first two are contracted from infected animals; the third,from contaminated soil. In dogs, ringworm causes patchy hair logs withor without an accompanying lesion on the skin beneath. Since humanscan be susceptible to the same type of ringworm, reddened, circular140 DOGS AND CATS
lesions occurring on theowner as well might sup-port a diagnosis. Diagnosisof ringworm is confirmedby a fungal culture. Treat-ment can consist of iodine orchlorhexidine shampoos andtopical and/or oral antifun-gal medications.In contrast to ringworm,fungal and yeast infectionsinvolving the deeper tissuesof the body are termed sub-cutaneous or deep mycoses,depending on the depth of tissue involvement. These diseases, includingsporotrichosis, aspergillosis, blastomycosis, histoplasmosis, coccid-ioidomycosis, and cryptococcosis, can be quite severe, and even life-threatening at times. Spores from these organisms are inhaled, areingested, or penetrate the skin via wounds. Depending on the organisminvolved, clinical signs can include weight loss, coughing, breathingdifficulties, draining skin lesions, tender skin masses, lameness, diar-rhea, and nervous system impairment (i.e., blindness).History, physical exam findings, and laboratory tests, includingradiographic X rays, and biopsies of affected regions can lead the vet-erinary practitioner to a tentative diagnosis of a fungal infectionwithin the body. Microscopic examination of body fluids or drainagesfor fungal spores or yeast can also be helpful. In most cases, a defini-tive diagnosis is made by testing a blood serum sample for antibodiesagainst the fungal organisms in question, or, less commonly, by cul-turing for growth.A number of antifungal medications are available and can be used totreat such infections in dogs. Depending on which agents are used (manyare used in combination with one another), duration of treatmentrequired is often 1 to 3 months to afford a complete cure.Radiographs and special immunologic tests can be used to moni-tor the response to treatment. In many cases, surgical excision ofthose regions infected with the fungus can afford faster recovery. TheINFECTIOUS DISEASES141F I G U R E 6 . 5 Microscopic appearance of ring-worm spores.
prognosis for dogs is good when fungal infections are detected andtreated in their early stages but guarded to poor if disseminationthroughout the body has occurred.INFECTIOUS DISEASES IN CATSAs with dogs, viruses cause the majority of infectious disease seen incats. Again, treatment for these agents is usually supportive in nature,owing to a lack of specific antiviral medications. The best treatment isprevention using proper immunization procedures. With those infec-tions caused by bacteria and fungi, most can be treated effectively withthe early use of antibiotics and antifungal medications.Parvovirus (Panleukopenia; Feline Distemper)The feline parvovirus is found worldwide, affecting cats in much thesame way as parvovirus affects their canine counterparts. The felineparvovirus causes severe gastroenteritis in affected cats, and can befatal unless treated with haste. This highly contagious disease primarilyaffects unvaccinated cats less than a year old.Spread by oral contact with infective feces, urine, or saliva, the felineparvovirus strikes the intestines with a fury, causing fever, depression,vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and dehydration. The disease canbe complicated even further as bacteria within the gut proliferate as aresult of the virus and release toxins into the bloodstream. The virusitself can even spread to the bone marrow and interfere with the body’sability to mount an effective immune response to the disease. If aqueen becomes infected with the parvovirus while pregnant, abortionsor weak kittens could result. In many instances, these newborn kittenssuffer from underdeveloped brains, causing permanent incoordination.Diagnosis of a parvovirus infection in cats is based on history, clin-ical signs, and a marked reduction in the circulating number of whiteblood cells (Fig. 6.6).Treatment is supportive, involving antivomiting drugs and intra-venous fluids to correct and prevent further dehydration, and antibioticsto keep the secondary bacterial infections at bay. Recovery will dependon how rapidly this supportive treatment is instituted.142 DOGS AND CATS
Feline parvovirus can be prevented through vaccination. Queensshould be current on vaccinations prior to becoming pregnant to pro-tect unborn offspring from the virus. Finally, this virus is relativelystable in the environment, so it is a good idea to wait 3 to 4 weeksbefore introducing any new kittens or cats into a house where the par-vovirus has been.Feline Infectious PeritonitisFeline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a unique viral disease of cats,unique in that the actual organ damage resulting from infection is notdirectly caused by the virus itself, but from the immune response tothe invader.INFECTIOUS DISEASES143F I G U R E 6 . 6 Laboratory analysis of a blood sample can help confirm a diagnosis ofpanleukopenia.
The FIP organism is classified as a coronavirus, belonging to samegroup of viruses that cause gastrointestinal disease in dogs. Cats actuallycan be infected with two types of coronavirus: the feline enteric coro-navirus and the feline infectious peritonitis coronavirus. Although theformer can cause severe gastroenteritis in affected cats, most cases aresubclinical; that is, there are no apparent clinical signs caused by theinfection. The importance of these enteric coronaviruses is not onlythat their presence in a feline can interfere with some standard testingprocedures designed to diagnose FIP but also that the FIP coronavirusmay actually be a mutation of the enteric coronavirus. If this is true,then all cats could be at risk of this disease.Cats less than 4 years and over 12 years of age seem to have a higherpreponderance for this disease than do other age groups. Inhalation oringestion of infective secretions and excretions is the primary way inwhich this highly contagious disease is spread from cat to cat. Thevirus can even be passed via the uterus from an infected queen toher kittens.Interestingly, most cats that contract this potentially deadly viraldisease rarely show signs of infection, and may actually eliminate theinfection soon after exposure occurs. If they are to appear, clinicalsigns usually show up 2 to 3 weeks after exposure, although this canvary by months to years. Upper respiratory signs can appear for a fewdays, then subside without any further problems until other clinicalsigns appear years later.Another interesting fact about cats infected with FIP is that manyare also concurrently infected with the feline leukemia virus. Sincethe leukemia virus suppresses the immune system, this paves the wayfor clinical FIP if exposure occurs.FIP infections are unique in that the actual virus itself does not causespecific damage to the body’s organs or tissues. It is the cat’s exaggeratedimmune response to the virus that damages the organs, tissues, andblood vessels within the body. Clinical signs that are seen depend onwhere this damage is done. Almost all affected cats run persistent, low-grade fevers. Insidious weight loss and appetite loss are common as well.Clinical FIP presents itself in three forms:1. Wet or effusive FIP144 DOGS AND CATS
2. Dry or noneffusive FIP3. A combination of forms 1 and 2Wet FIP. When the immune system attacks the blood vessels inresponse to FIP, wet FIP results. Fluid that leaks out of the damagedvessels accumulates within the chest and/or abdomen, causingnonpainful abdominal distension and/or breathing difficulties.Dry FIP. With dry FIP, many small nodules and regions of inflamma-tion appear in various areas of the body, including the gastroin-testinal tract, the lungs and heart, the brain and spinal cord, thekidneys, and/or the eyes. Obviously, with so many organ systemspotentially affected, a wide variety of clinical signs, includingcoughing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and blindness, can result.In an effort to diagnose a suspected case of FIP, a veterinarian willrely initially on clinical signs seen, physical exam, blood samples, andperhaps microscopic examination of any abnormal fluids within thechest or abdomen. A persistent nonresponsive fever in a cat may pointto FIP infection. As mentioned, diagnosis of the FIP coronavirus usingcertain tests designed to detect antibodies to FIP can be obscured bythe presence or absence of the enteric coronavirus.Unfortunately, there are no effective treatments that can eliminatethe FIP virus from the feline body. Modulating the immune responsewith steroids and certain chemotherapy drugs can help provide tem-porary relief from clinical signs, but will do nothing to afford a cure.Survival time for cats exhibiting clinical signs can vary from days toweeks, depending on the degree of organ involvement.Because of the lack of an effective treatment, prevention is the keywith this disease. A vaccine is available for FIP. Also, owners should takealternative steps to protect their cats from the deleterious effects of thisdisease. Because FIP can gain a foothold in cats with unhealthy immunesystems, it is important to keep the immune system in top-notch shape.This includes keeping cats on a good plane of nutrition and being surethat they are current on their feline leukemia vaccinations. Keeping catsindoors, restricting their interaction with stray felines, is another excel-lent way to limit potential exposure. Finally, all new cats brought into ahousehold should test negative for the feline coronavirus.INFECTIOUS DISEASES145
Enteric Coronavirus (EC)As a disease entity itself, EC can cause fever, vomiting, and diarrhea inkittens; however, if supportive care is provided, the gastrointestinaltract of these kittens usually recovers in a few days. Yet, the primaryimportance of this virus is not in the disease it causes, but in theconfusion it often generates when trying to diagnose a case of felineinfectious peritonitis.Feline Upper Respiratory Disease (URD)At least six infectious agents are responsible for upper respiratorydisease in cats, including Bordetella, the same bacterium that causeskennel cough in dogs. The primary agents in the majority of casesinclude the feline herpes virus (rhinotracheitis) and the feline cali-civirus. Vaccinations against these two organisms are routinelyadministered to cats at the time of their yearly checkup. In manyparts of the country, veterinarians also routinely vaccinate forChlamydophila felis, a bacterial agent that causes a condition knownas feline pneumonitis. However, because many other less commonorganisms can cause feline respiratory problems, vaccination is not aguarantee against a cat coming down with respiratory disease.Feline RhinotracheitisFeline rhinotracheitis is caused by a herpes virus that infects the nasalpassages and upper airways of the affected individual. The virus itself isvery contagious, with the incubation period (the period from exposureto the appearance of clinical signs) ranging from 2 to 20 days. Kittens areusually more severely affected by acute disease than are adults. The pres-ence of the feline leukemia or AIDS (FIV) virus can also significantlyincrease the susceptibility to rhinotracheitis. Clinical signs associatedwith rhinotracheitis include sneezing, loss of appetite, conjunctivitis, oralulcers, and nasal discharge (Fig. 6.7). The discharges might start out asclear, but turn thick and mucuslike as secondary bacterial infection setsin. Severe infections can result in corneal ulcers of the eye, and pregnantqueens might even abort their fetuses. Rhinotracheitis in newborn kittens146 DOGS AND CATS
can be deadly, with infectedkittens dying within hours todays after birth. This syn-drome is better known as“fading kitten syndrome.”Many cats, especiallythose infected when young,will suffer continued recur-rences of this disease as theymature if the virus decidesto set up housekeeping with-in the bones of the nasalpassages. Purebreds such asSiamese and Himalayans areespecially predisposed tothese chronic, recurring infections and become effective carriers of thevirus. Recurring episodes are brought on by stress due to shipping orboarding, pregnancy, or other illnesses.Feline CalicivirusAs with rhinotracheitis, the feline calicivirus is a very contagiousorganism that can create both acute upper respiratory disease andchronic carriers in all ages. The incubation period of the calicivirus isanywhere from 2 to 10 days. Sneezing, fever, nasal discharge, oralulcers, and conjunctivitis are all characteristic signs of the acute dis-ease. The chronic form of the disease can be responsible for recurringgingivitis and oral infections in infected individuals.The feline calicivirus has also been implicated in the disease syn-drome of kittens known as “limping kitten syndrome” (LKS). LKS isseen in kittens less than 14 weeks of age and appears as a generalizedarthritis (hence the name), especially affecting the back legs. This pre-sentation of the disease will usually run its course without causing anypermanent joint damage.ChlamydophilaChlamydophila felis does not limit itself to the airways of cats; humansand birds are also susceptible to infection by this organism. AlthoughINFECTIOUS DISEASES147FIGURE 6.7 Conjunctivitis is often caused byupper respiratory viruses.
this organism is not a virus, Chlamydophila behaves very similarly to theherpes virus and the calicivirus in causing disease and clinical signs.The incubation period for this organism is approximately the same asthat for the calicivirus.Chlamydophila felis is susceptible to antibiotic therapy and can bebrought under control with rapid treatment. Unfortunately, as with theviruses, carrier states can occur, and recurrence of clinical signs mightresult secondary to stress.Diagnosis and Treatment of Upper Respiratory DiseaseBecause viruses cannot be readily identified microscopically or cul-tured, diagnosis of URD in cats relies on history of occurrence andclinical signs seen. Laboratory findings from blood samples are usuallynonspecific as well. If Chlamydophila is suspected, microscopic exam-ination of some of the cells lining the conjunctiva and/or nasal passagesmight reveal characteristic inclusions created by this organism. Also,because of its effect on the immune system, all cats suffering from URDshould be concurrently tested for feline leukemia and the feline immuno-deficiency virus.Any sign suggestive of upper respiratory disease in cats warrantsprompt veterinary examination and treatment to prevent serioussequelae. In the case of rhinotracheitis and calicivirus, there are no spe-cific drugs to combat these agents; however, with good supportive care,life-threatening situations can be avoided. Antibiotic therapy is usuallyimplemented to prevent any secondary infections from setting up;antibiotics are also indicated for combatting Chlamydophila and Borde-tella infections. If eye manifestations are present, antibiotic-containingeyedrops or ointment will help protect the eyes and speed healing.In addition to oral and, if needed, ophthalmic antibiotics, it is vitalthat the nose and airways be cleared of discharge and fluid as soon aspossible. Because a feline’s appetite is dependent on its ability to smellits food, cats with URD will show a marked reduction in appetite,which could conceivably lead to secondary complications from mal-nutrition and dehydration.Nasal discharges should be manually removed as often as possible.Human nasal decongestant sprays might be used to help break up any148 DOGS AND CATS
mucus buildup that might be present (contact a veterinarian as totypes and dosages).Humidifying the cat’s room air using a vaporizer or by placing it ina misty bathroom where hot water has been running in the shower willalso assist in the breakup of mucus within the airways. If dehydrationis a factor, intravenous fluid replacement performed by a veterinarianmight be necessary.Finally, good nursing care can do wonders to assure a positive out-come. Keep the ill cat warm and dry and free from stress. If required,forcefeeding or tube feeding can help provide the nutrition necessaryto boost the effectiveness of the cat’s own immune system and shortenthe convalescent period.Prevention of URDOwners can help prevent URD in their cats by making sure that theyremain current on vaccinations. Both intranasal (Fig. 6.8) and inject-able vaccines are available to combat respiratory viruses. In multicatINFECTIOUS DISEASES149F I G U R E 6 . 8 Administering an intranasal vaccine to a cat.
households, prompt isolation of sick and sneezing cats might help pre-vent its rapid spread to other cats in the household.Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)Certainly one of the most devastating diseases affecting cat populationsaround the world is feline leukemia. The feline leukemia virus belongsto a group of infectious agents known as retroviruses, and it sharessome characteristics with the human AIDS virus. It can occur by itself,or in combination with the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), adeadly AIDS-like virus that in itself has been spreading at an alarmingrate in cats in recent years.Like the human AIDSvirus, both of these felinediseases wreak havoc on thecat’s immune system, pre-disposing it to a wide varietyof infectious diseases andto cancer.The feline leukemia virus can be transmitted via all bodily excre-tions from an infected cat (Fig. 6.9). Infected queens can transmit thedisease to their offspring through the placenta prior to birth or throughthe milk during lactation. As a result, even newborn kittens can testpositive for this disease. For other cats, close contact is required for150 DOGS AND CATSF I G U R E 6 . 9 The feline leukemia virus is easily spread through close contact.Susceptibility to feline leukemiadecreases with age. Cats over 1 yearof age appear to be resistant to thevirus.DID YOU KNOW?
effective transmission. As a result, feline leukemia is most prevalent inmultiple-cat households and catteries. Interestingly, cats over 1 year ofage that have otherwise healthy immune systems seem to develop anatural resistance to the feline leukemia virus.Because of the ability of the feline leukemia virus to suppress thecat’s immune system, infected felines are prone to cancer (especiallylymphosarcoma and leukemia), anemia, kidney disease, and a wide vari-ety of secondary infections such as feline infectious peritonitis, hemo-bartonellosis, cryptococcosis, and upper respiratory viruses. Pregnantqueens might abort their kittens, or give birth to weak, unthrifty off-spring that die soon after birth.Even cats suffering from seemingly innocent lesions on their skin andmucous membranes could actually be suffering from an underlyinginfection with feline leukemia. Finally, in some affected individuals,the only apparent signs might be lethargy, weight loss, and/or chronicgingivitis.Diagnosis of feline leukemia is accomplished by a simple test thatcan be performed in a veterinarian’s office. Tears and saliva can beused for initial screening purposes, but for definitive answers, a bloodtest should be performed.Once bone marrow penetration has occurred, permanent infectionis likely, and the majority of these cats will become active carriers andshedders of the disease. FeLV has the ability to incorporate itself into thegenetic material within host cells and remain dormant (not causing dis-ease) for long periods of time. As a result, an infected cat might not showany adverse signs for years. However, if the immune system becomesstressed in any way, the FeLV will become active, and clinical signsappear. In general, cats with permanent FeLV infections usually suc-cumb to FeLV-related disease within 3 to 5 years after initial exposure.Currently, there is no cure for the FeLV virus. Treatment is directed atrelieving any clinical signs seen and eliminating secondary infectionsor managing cancerous conditions present. Unfortunately, however,recurrences of such diseases are common after treatment. Many exper-imental agents, such as interferon, antiviral drugs, and medicationsdesigned to modulate the immune system, have been employed in anattempt to eliminate the feline leukemia virus itself. Unfortunately, todate, these have met with limited results. Bone marrow transplant,INFECTIOUS DISEASES151
although helpful in some experimental instances, is not as yet a provenor practical means of treatment. The bottom line: The best treatmentfor feline leukemia is prevention!Vaccines that can help protect a pet against this deadly disease areavailable from veterinarians. Kittens in high-risk households can bevaccinated as early as 9 weeks of age. These kittens should receive twoinitial boosters 3 weeks apart.Prior to receiving the vaccine, all kittens should be tested for theleukemia virus. While such testing is not mandatory before the vaccineis given, it is always a good idea to prevent a false sense of security in anowner’s mind. Remember: Because they can be born with this disease,even kittens that have no other history of exposure should be tested.There are other control measures that you can implement to protectcats from FeLV. Testing all new cats before introducing them into ahousehold is one. In addition, when boarding a feline or taking one tocat shows, be certain that the facility or event requires that all cats betested free of leukemia and vaccinated prior to admission. Finally, keep-ing a cat indoors at night and, if it is a male, having it neutered, will helpreduce potential interactions with neighborhood carriers of the disease.A question frequently asked concerning a cat that has tested posi-tive for FeLV is “Is feline leukemia transmissible to humans?” To date,no antibodies to FeLV have ever been found in human individuals inhigh exposure–risk groups such as veterinarians, cat breeders, and lab-oratory handlers. In addition, the incidence of cancer in humansseems to show no correlation with exposure or nonexposure to FeLV-positive cats.However, the ultimate decision governing whether a FeLV-positivecat is to be kept in a household rests on the cat owner. Many veteri-narians and researchers do recommend segregating children, pregnantwomen, the elderly, and immunocompromised persons from cats thathave FeLV, primarily because of the other zoonotic organisms that theseimmune-depressed cats may be harboring. Certainly other cats withinthe household, even if fully vaccinated, are at risk of contracting the dis-ease from an infected cat. However, in those situations in which none ofthe above apply, the difficult decision on whether to keep a FeLV-posi-tive feline is a personal one, and should be influenced by an owner’sindividual feelings on the matter and the cat’s overall health status.152 DOGS AND CATS
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)Until the late 1980s, the feline leukemia virus was the only agent linkedto acquired immunodeficiency syndrome in cats—that is, it was until thefeline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) (also known as “feline AIDS”) wasidentified. This organism is unlike the feline leukemia virus in thatit belongs to the same sub-family of retroviruses as thehuman AIDS virus (HIV).FIV is now known to bewidespread among the catpopulation across the UnitedStates and around the world.FIV behaves the same way in cats as HIV does in humans; that is, itattacks the host’s immune system and debilitates it, leaving the bodywide open to secondary invaders and disease. The disease does notappear to be readily sexually transmitted in cats, and rarely is it passedon through casual contact with saliva, urine, or other body fluids, asthe feline leukemia virus can be.Instead, the main mode of transmission of FIV between cats isthrough penetrating bite wounds that introduce infected saliva deepinto the tissues. This method of transmission is said to be analogous tothe use of a dirty hypodermic needle in humans as a means of spreadingHlV between people. Needless to say, nonneutered male cats betweenthe ages of 3 and 10 years that are allowed to roam about the neigh-borhood and fight with other cats are at greatest risk of contracting thisdeadly disease (Fig. 6.10).Clinical signs associated with FIV in cats can be quite variablebecause of the immunosuppressive nature of the disease. Some catsmight be carriers of the disease, not showing any clinical signs of ill-ness whatsoever. In others, the only subtle signs noticed might berecurring infections (abscesses and skin infections, respiratory infec-tions, bladder infections, etc.), weight loss, or chronic gingivitis andbad breath. Chronic, unresponsive diarrhea is another sign commonlyseen in cats harboring FIV. Lymph node enlargement, loss of appetite,cancerous growths, and/or bizarre behavioral changes might also bepresent in an active infection. Finally, FIV makes the affected cat moreINFECTIOUS DISEASES153It is believed that up to 15 percent ofall sick cats presented to veterinariansare infected with the feline leukemiaand/or feline AIDS virus.DID YOU KNOW?
susceptible to parasitic infections, such as toxoplasmosis, hemobar-tonellosis, and demodecosis, and their associated clinical syndromes.Diagnosis of FIV can be made in a veterinarian’s office using aquick, easy test similar to the one used to test for feline leukemia. Infact, it is common to test for both diseases at the same time, since theycan occur concurrently.All cats presented with acute illnesses or those with chronic, recur-ring disorders are prime candidates for testing. In addition, all new catsshould be tested for both feline leukemia and FIV prior to their introduc-tion into new households.Kittens under 6 monthsof age can test positive forFIV if they received antibod-ies to the virus from theirmother’s milk. However, thisdoes not mean that they arenecessarily infected withthe virus. As a result, theyshould be retested at 6months of age to ascertaintheir true status.154 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 6.10 Cats that fight are at high risk of contracting the feline immunodefi-ciency virus.Kittens under 6 months of age can testpositive for FIV if they received anti-bodies to the virus from their mother’smilk. However, this does not meanthat they are necessarily infected withthe virus. They should be retested at6 months of age to ascertain theirtrue status. The test will usually turnup negative.DID YOU KNOW?
As with feline leukemia, there is no known cure for FIV in cats. In theearly stages of the disease, many infected individuals will respond wellto treatments geared specifically toward any secondary problems of infec-tions, yet as the disease progresses, even these treatments become lessand less effective. Medications used to treat AIDs in humans have beenused to treat FIV, yet such therapies are cost-prohibitive for most petowners and have achieved limited success at prolonging life in these cats.Felines exhibiting pronounced clinical signs are usually in theterminal stages of the illness, yet even then they might slowly deterio-rate over months to years. Euthanasia should be a consideration inthese instances.A vaccine is now available for FIV. However, the most effective waysto protect a cat from the ravages of FIV are to have it neutered and tokeep the cat indoors during the evening hours (the time when it is mostlikely to get into a fight with another cat). Cat owners should report allstray cats in the neighborhood to animal control because such animalsare the most likely carriers. Finally, as mentioned above, have all newcats tested for the disease prior to their induction into a new household.As with feline leukemia, the question arises, “Is FIV transmissible tohumans?” The general consensus of veterinary and medical researchersis that it is not. Studies analyzing individuals at high risk of exposureto FIV (veterinarians, lab technicians, multiple-cat owners) have failedto show any link between FIV and human illness. Furthermore,viruses belonging to the same subfamily as HIV and FIV are quitespecies-specific, rarely crossing species lines.The decision governing whether an FIV-positive cat is to be kept ina household rests on the cat owner. Many veterinarians andresearchers agree that owners should consider segregating children,pregnant women, the elderly, and immunocompromised individualsfrom cats that are carriers of FIV, primarily because these immunosup-pressed cats can be carriers of other zoonotic diseases that would nototherwise be found in a healthy cat.RabiesThe incidence of rabies in cats has increased in recent years, actually sur-passing that of dogs (Fig 6.11). Many attribute this to the nocturnal huntingINFECTIOUS DISEASES155
behavior of this species;however, the tremendousincrease in the number ofhomeless cats in recent yearsputs them at greater risk ofexposure to this deadly dis-ease. The disease in cats isthe same as that in dogs.Bacterial DiseaseCats develop bacterial infec-tions and abscesses sec-ondary to traumatic wounds(usually bite wounds fromother cats) and by eatingsomething they shouldn’tbe eating. However, in mostinstances, bacterial infec-tions occur secondarily toother disease conditions,such as allergies, stress, viralinfections, and parasites. Asa result, as with dogs, allunderlying problems mustbe identified and addressedbefore treatment can beadministered effectively.Higher Bacterial andFungal DiseaseHigher bacteria and fungiaffect cats with clinical signsand disease similar to those156 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 6.11 Because of their nocturnal andpredatory behaviors, cats are at relatively highrisk of exposure to the rabies virus.Not all pets stricken with rabies willexhibit aggressive behavior. In fact,some cats might skip the furious stageentirely, going directly from the pro-dromal stage into the paralytic stage.When this happens, the disease canbe easily mistaken for other nervoussystem disorders, thereby increasingthe risk of human exposure.DID YOU KNOW?Ringworm is not a “worm” at all, but askin fungus.DID YOU KNOW?
found in dogs (see page 140).In cats, ringworm is cer-tainly the most commonfungal infection seen. Inter-estingly, many ringworm-infected cats display onlysubtle signs of infections,making them ideal transmit-ters of the disease to otherpets in the household and topeople! A vaccine does existfor ringworm, yet its efficacyis questionable. Consult aveterinarian for recommen-dations regarding this modeof prevention.INFECTIOUS DISEASES157FIGURE 6.12 Ringworm often causes faciallesions in cats.
Parasitic Disease7C H A P T E RAlong with infectious diseases, internal and external parasites areresponsible for the vast majority of illnesses and disorders seen indogs and cats. As a result, timely diagnosis and treatment for thesepests is vital to the health of the pet.FleasCtenocephalides canis (common dog flea) is by far the most commonexternal parasite seen on dogs and cats (Fig. 7.1). As most pet ownerswill attest to, these pests are the number one health problem facingthese pets. However, aside from causing relentless chewing andscratching, fleas are also disease carriers, and can threaten the petowner’s health as well. For these reasons, the development of a goodcontrol program to combat these irritating pests is a must.It is important to understand that fleas spend the vast majority oftheir time off of the pet, reproducing and maturing in the pet’s envi-ronment. As a result, environmental control measures are essential forsuccessful flea control.The flea life cycle includes four major stages: egg, larva, pupa,and adult stages. Both the egg and pupa stages are very resistant toinsecticides, which can make complete flea control difficult. During159
summer months, the entireflea cycle (egg to adult) mightbe completed in 16 to 21days. Heat and humidity tendto shorten this cycle period.In addition, fleas are mostprolific during hot humidweather.A complete approach toflea control should alwaysinvolve three steps:1. Treating the home2. Treating the yard3. Treating the petBecause fleas, on aver-age, will only spend about10 percent of their time ondogs and cats, treating the surrounding environment is probably moreimportant than treating the actual pet. For more information regardingflea control, see Chapter 4.TicksTicks, unlike fleas, attachthemselves to the pet’s skinvia their mouthparts. Ticksgenerally remain attachedin one spot for long periods.The head, neck, and inter-digital (between the toes)areas of the pet are the mostcommon sites of severeinfestation. Ticks producelocal irritation and even ane-mia in heavy infestations(Fig. 7.2). Ticks might serve160 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 7.1 The flea is the most common para-site of dogs and cats.FIGURE 7.2 Female ticks engorged on blood canreach relatively enormous sizes!For every flea seen on your pet, thereare nine more in your house or yard!DID YOU KNOW?
as intermediate hosts for disease-producing microorganisms andmight transmit these “germs” (such as Lyme disease) to the infestedpet. For more information on tick control, see Chapter 4.MitesMite infestation, commonly known as mange, requires the diagnosticand treatment expertise of a veterinarian. The common mites infectingdogs and cats are microscopic, requiring skin scrapes and subsequentmicroscopic examination by the veterinarian for diagnosis. The mostcommon forms of mange and pertinent facts concerning each aredescribed below.Sarcoptic Mange (Dogs)Caused by the organismSarcoptes scabiei var. canis,sarcoptic mange is charac-terized by a sudden onset ofsevere itching. Direct expo-sure to an infected animalis required for transmission(Fig. 7.3).The mite burrows intothe host’s epidermis and tun-nels. Severe itching results,particularly on the abdomen,chest, legs, and ears. Thick-ening and scaling of elbows,hocks, and eartips might benoted. Hair loss and skin irritation often result from the almost con-stant scratching and biting (Fig. 7.4).Scabies is highly contagious to other dogs. In addition, it mighttemporarily produce chiggerlike bites and itching on exposed humanfamily members.Pet treatment consists of proper diagnosis, miticidal dipping,and/or systemic miticides. All dogs in the household should be treatedbecause of the highly contagious nature of the scabies mite. If pet tohuman transmission occurs, contact your physician.PARASITIC DISEASE161FIGURE 7.3 The sarcoptic mange mite.
Cheyletiella MangeThe mange mite Cheyle-tiella can cause skin scaling,intense itching, and hair lossin affected dogs and cats.The common name for thisparasitism is “walking dan-druff,” since the flakes andscales produced by the dis-ease, when observed closely,appear to be in motion. Likesarcoptic mange, this mitecan temporarily infest peo-ple who become exposed.Diagnosis and treatment ofCheyletiella mange is thesame as that for sarcopticmange.Notoedres Mange (Cats)The most common mangemite infecting cats, Notoe-dres cati, is microscopic,and it requires special skinscrapes for its detection (Fig.7.5). Direct exposure to aninfected animal is requiredfor its transmission.The major symptom ofNotoedres mange is a sud-den onset of severe itching.As the mite burrows intothe host’s epidermis, itch-ing, hair loss, and scaly skinresult, initially on the face,neck, and ears, and then to162 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 7.4 Facial crusting caused by sarcopticmange.Mange is always contagious from petto pet. Although manytypes of mange mites are indeed con-tagious, one of the most infamous,Demodex, is not. This type of mangecauses problems only in pets withcompromised immune systems.F I C T I O N .A C T OR F I C T I O NFFIGURE 7.5 Skin scrapings can be used to detectmite infestations in pets.
other areas on the body. The haircoat on these cats often takes on a“mousy” odor as well.Treatment for Notoedres mange consists of special miticidal dip-ping and/or systemic miticides. If dips are used, they should only beperformed by a veterinarian, since toxicity can be a problem if they arenot used correctly. All other cats in the household should also betreated due to the highly contagious nature of this mite.Demodectic MangeDemodectic mange is also called follicular or red mange. The demod-ectic mange mite, Demodex canis, might be found in the hair folliclesof normal dogs in low numbers (Fig. 7.6). However, in cases wheredemodectic mange develops, normal immunity to the mite either failsto develop or is suppressed resulting in pathogenic proliferation of themite within the hair follicles.The majority of demodectic mange cases occur in dogs less than 2years of age with immune systems that are immature or temporarilysuppressed. The first symptomobservable is usually smallareas of hair loss. The lesionsmight occur anywhere on thebody but often begin in thehead area. Diagnosis requires askin scraping and microscopicexam by a veterinarian.The lesions (areas of hairloss) might be localized to onearea or generalized over thebody. Secondary bacterial hairfollicle infections (folliculitis)are common sequelae to somelocalized and most generalizedcases. The inflammatory skinreaction that ensues mightresult in the reddened skinreferred to by the term redmange.PARASITIC DISEASE163FIGURE 7.6 The demodectic mange mite.
With correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment, 80 to 90 percentof young dogs with demodicosis will recover. Maturation of theimmune response plays a vital role in cases of complete recovery.Relapse might occur but is infrequent. However, unlike sarcopticmange, demodicosis often requires long-term therapyDemodectic mange in older dogs might reflect immunologic suppres-sion elicited by an underlying disease. Liver disorders, viral infections,malnutrition, heat cycle changes, neoplasia, hypothyroidism, diabetes,and other problems might lead to impaired immune responses anddemodicosis. A thorough physical examination is important in suchcases. The success of the treatment is dependent on the cause ofimmunodeficiency.Special insecticidal medications, both topical and systemic, areavailable for demodectic mange through a veterinarian.Factors concerning a dog’s immunologic ability to protect it fromdeveloping demodectic mange are considered hereditary. However,since most cases of demodicosis resolve when the dog matures, thesignificance of its inheritable nature is questionable.The Demodex mange mite can also affect cats, yet its occurrencerate in felines is quite low. If present, it causes scaly, bald regions onthe skin of the head, legs, and feet. As in dogs, this type of mange infes-tation is caused by a poorly functioning immune system. As a result,gaining a complete cure with treatment can be difficult.TapewormsTapeworms (Fig. 7.7) are considered segmented flatworms, belongingto a class of organisms called Cestoda. One important characteristicof this class is that all utilize intermediate hosts in their transmissioncycle. Intermediate hosts can include rodents, fleas, and otherinsects, rabbits, sheep, swine, cattle, and in some instances, evenhumans!Tapeworm segments containing eggs are shed in fecal material.When these eggs are accidentally or voluntarily consumed by an inter-mediate host, they hatch and the resulting larvae migrate into the bodytissues and begin their development. Yet they won’t reach their adultstage inside the tissues of this intermediate host. Instead, the life cycleis completed when this host or portions thereof are consumed by164 DOGS AND CATS
another, called the definitivehost. Inside this new hostenvironment, the larvae thenproceed to develop into adulttapeworms, which attach to theintestinal wall, eat, and repeatthe life cycle all over again.The extent of diseasecaused by tapeworms dependson the type of worm involved,and if the affected individualis an intermediate or finalhost. As a rule, adult tape-worms living within the intes-tines of a definitive host areseldom life-threatening, caus-ing varying degrees of gas-troenteritis and malnutrition.Larval forms, on the otherhand, tend to do more damage,simply because they migratethrough the body tissues. Fur-thermore, if these larvae gain entrance into the tissues of an animal (orhuman) that is not a normal intermediate host for that tapeworm, theresults can sometimes be deadly.By far the most prevalent species of tapeworm seen in dogs and catsis Dipylidium caninum, the double-pored tapeworm. It is so commonbecause it uses the flea as an intermediate host (the dog louse can alsobe a carrier).Segments from the tapeworm are passed in the feces or actually“crawl” out onto the haircoat of an infested animal. Once outside, thesegments dry out and release egg baskets into the environment. Flealarvae looking for food then ingest these eggs, and a new tapewormbegins its development. If the flea happens to be ingested by a pet duringchewing or self-grooming episodes, the tapeworm larvae will continueto develop into adult worms within the pet’s small intestine.Although less frequently, dogs and cats can become infected withother types of tapeworms besides Dipylidium, depending on potentialPARASITIC DISEASE165FIGURE 7.7 Tapeworms can grow to enormouslengths!
exposure to intermediate hosts. For instance, dogs fed raw meat orgarbage are at risk. Echinococcus granulosus, the tapeworm responsiblefor hydatid cyst disease, is often transmitted to dogs in this way. Thehunting habits of outdoor domestic cats put them at high risk of expo-sure to this parasite as well.Dogs and cats infested with adult tapeworms may or may notexhibit the typical signs associated with gastroenteritis, such as vom-iting and diarrhea. Weight loss certainly can occur as the wormsabsorb nutrients from within the gut. Often, scooting and other signsrelated to anal sac discomfort might also tip off an owner as to thepresence of these pesky parasites.Diagnosis of a tapeworm infestation can be confirmed by actuallyseeing the white, moving, wormlike segments in fresh fecal material oron the haircoat around the hind region. Segments might also be seenon anal sac expression. If dried, the segments will take on a brownish,“ricelike” appearance.Microscopic examination of the stool might be helpful as well;however, because the shedding of the segments is sporadic, a negativefinding cannot totally rule out an infestation.Tapeworms can be difficult pests to treat and totally eliminate.Praziquantel and epsiprantel are two effective medications used byveterinarians to eliminate tapeworms from the intestines. Other drugsare available as well. Repeating the treatment in 2 to 3 weeks helpsensure thorough elimination.Flea control is the best way to prevent Dipylidium caninum. Othertapeworms, including Echinococcus, can be prevented by denyingaccess to garbage and/or raw meat, and discouraging the huntinghabits of felines.RoundwormsRoundworms (Fig. 7.8), known as ascarids or “spool worms,” arethick-bodied, whitish-to-cream-colored worms that can inhabit thesmall intestine of dogs and cats. This is one of the most commonintestinal parasites affecting dogs and cats and young puppies andkittens. In fact, research has demonstrated that over 95 percent of allneonates are born with roundworms.166 DOGS AND CATS
Adult worms exist unat-tached within the intestinallumen and can grow up to 8inches in length. If presentin sufficient numbers, adultroundworms can cause pro-minent malnutrition and gas-troenteritis. In some severeinstances, rupture of an intes-tine jam-packed with round-worms has been known tohappen. Immature round-worms can cause problems,too, since they might migratethroughout the lungs, liver,and other tissues of thebody before settling down asadults within the intestines.Unlike tapeworms, round-worms do not require anintermediate host for their transmission. Each female worm shedsthousands of eggs into the environment by the way of feces. Theseeggs, which are covered by a thick shell, are very resistant and mightremain viable in an environment for years prior to being consumed byan unsuspecting pet.After consumption of a roundworm egg, it is possible for thehatched larvae to develop into adults without ever leaving the intes-tine. However, this is the exception rather than the rule. Usually thelarvae penetrate the bowel wall and migrate to the liver and the lungs,maturing and growing along the way. Once inside the lungs, they canenter the airways, then be coughed up and swallowed again, allowingthem to finish their development into adults within the intestines.Alternatively, from the lungs, these larvae can enter the blood-stream and circulate throughout the body. In female dogs and cats,these larvae might settle down and become dormant within the mam-mary tissue until such time as lactation begins. In this way, newbornscan ingest roundworm larvae through their mother’s milk. But thisPARASITIC DISEASE167FIGURE 7.8 A bloated abdomen in a kitten iscaused by roundworms.
isn’t the only reason for the high incidence of roundworms in neonatalpuppies and kittens. They can also be exposed to the circulatingroundworm larvae via the umbilical cord while they are still in thewomb, and actually be born with active infestations!The clinical signs seen with a roundworm infestation depend onthe age of the pet affected, the stage of maturity that the worms are in,and their location within the body. As a general rule, the younger thepet, the more severe the signs tend to be. In fact, some older dogs andcats can actually develop a resistance to these parasites. If adult wormsare within the intestines, signs often include stomach pain with aprominent “bloated” appearance to the abdomen, vomiting, and diar-rhea. In many instances, actual adult worms might be revealed withinthe vomitus or stool. Ruptured bowels and intestinal obstructions canresult if not treated promptly.Because of the migration through the lungs, coughing, breathingdifficulties, and other signs of pneumonia might be present. In severecases, seizures and other nervous system problems can occur.Veterinarians can diagnose roundworms by using a microscope tolook for eggs in a stool sample. Clinical signs and the pet’s history arehelpful in those cases where eggs might be absent from such a sample.There are a wide variety of deworming drugs effective at removingroundworms from the intestines. You can buy relatively inexpensivedewormers at supermarkets and pet supply stores. Be sure, however,to consult a veterinarian before using one of these to be certain that itcontains the correct ingredients for your pet’s particular problem.Repeat deworming should be performed 3 weeks later to ensure thatany migrating larvae that reached the intestines since the firstdeworming are killed.Young puppies and kittens suffering from roundworm-inducedpneumonia require intensive veterinary supportive care to preventlife-threatening complications from arising. Most will recover withsuch care.All puppies and kittens should be dewormed for these parasites,even if parasite eggs are not seen on an initial stool exam. Thesedewormings should commence at 3 weeks of age, and should berepeated at 6 and 9 weeks of age. Periodic stool exams are warranted toconfirm a puppy or kitten’s negative status.168 DOGS AND CATS
Good sanitation procedures will help prevent reinfections andspread to other dogs and cats. Realize, however, that once round-worms enter an environment, they are almost impossible to totallyeliminate because of the hardy nature of the eggs. As a result, annualstool checks by a veterinarian are indicated to ensure that pets remainparasite-free.Visceral larva migrans, a human disease syndrome caused bymigrating roundworm larvae, does pose a serious public health threat.As a result, good personal hygiene after handling pets plus routinestool exams and treatments are a must to minimize the threat fromthis disease.Most heartworm preventive medications on the market today alsohelp prevent roundworm infestations if given on a regular basis. Inthose instances where environmental contamination is difficult tocontrol, administering such a preventive year-round is one way tokeep a pet free of these parasites.HookwormsThe hookworm (Ancylostoma, Uncinaria) is another type of parasitethat inhabits the small intestine of dogs and cats. Unlike the round-worm that floats unattached within the intestinal lumen, absorbingnutrients through its skin, the hookworm actually has teeth, which ituses to attach itself to the wall of the intestine. Once attached, it beginsto suck blood from vessels within the wall. In fact, the infestation canbecome so severe that anemia and eventual death of the host animalcould result if the hookworms are left unchecked.Compared to roundworms, hookworms are fairly small and thread-like, measuring up to 1 inch in length. Their life cycle begins withadult worms within the gut laying eggs, which are then passed out inthe stool. If environmental conditions are warm and humid enough,the eggs hatch and give rise to larvae, which then search for a host.Once a host comes along, the larvae can gain entrance into the bodyin a number of ways. They can be picked up by way of the mouth, orthey can actually penetrate the skin (usually the footpads) and migratethrough tissue before reaching the small intestine. Like roundworms,some of these migrating larvae might decide to stop and settle for aPARASITIC DISEASE169
while within the tissues, making it possible for offspring of such femalesto become infected while still in the womb, or through nursinginfected milk. As a result, puppies and kittens can be born with theseblood-sucking parasites.The severity of clinical signs depends largely on the amount ofworms present in the gut and the age of the pet infected. Generallyspeaking, the young suffer from more severe disease than do adults.Lethargy, loss of appetite, and pale mucous membranes due to lossof blood are not uncommon in pets harboring a large worm burden. Adark, tarry diarrhea may be present. If skin penetration has takenplace, the footpads or other areas might be reddened, bleeding, and/orinfected because of the larvae. Intense itching can also be noted as aresult of this penetration.Diagnosis of a hookworm infestation is based on an examination ofa stool sample for the presence of hookworm eggs.There are a number of safe dewormers available from veterinariansthat can help eliminate a hookworm infection. After the initial dose isgiven, a follow-up deworming should be administered 2 to 3 weekslater to kill any migrating larvae that have since reached the intestines.In dogs and cats suffering from anemia, supportive veterinary careis needed. This might include blood transfusions if the loss of blood issevere enough. Intravenous fluids and antibiotics might also be usedto combat dehydration and secondary infections. Vitamin and ironsupplements, combined with a high-quality diet, are fed to providebuilding blocks within the body for new blood to be produced.It is known that some dogs and cats can actually develop an immu-nity to hookworms after an initial infection has taken place. However,this does not preclude routine periodic stool checks by a veterinarian,since those individuals that actually develop immunity can be diffi-cult to identify.Hookworm eggs are not as hardy as their roundworm counterparts;hence, environmental control can be an effective way to prevent rein-fection or spread to other dogs and cats. Since the eggs require optimumenvironmental conditions before hatching will occur, keeping fecalmaterial picked up daily in and around the premises will reducechances of exposure. Studies have also shown that outdoor dogs kept onconcrete stand less chance of infection than do dogs housed in kennels170 DOGS AND CATS
with dirt or grassy floors. Again, this is assuming that daily removal ofcontaminated fecal material is performed.Deworming female dogs and cats prior to pregnancy will helpreduce the chances of puppies and kittens being born with hookworminfections. However, because deworming will not eliminate larvaewithin the mother’s tissues and mammary glands, all neonates shouldbe routinely dewormed for these parasites starting at 3 weeks of age.Most heartworm preventive medications on the market today alsohelp prevent hookworm infestations if given on a regular basis. In thoseinstances where environmental contamination is difficult to control,administering such a preventive year-round is one way to keep a pethookworm-free.Some hookworm larvae have the ability to penetrate human skin,causing severe itching and dermatitis. This condition in humans isknown as cutaneous larva migrans, or “creeping eruption.” It is seenmost often in tropical climates and in the southeastern portions of theUnited States. Since hookworm larvae thrive in warm sandy soils, thisdisease is one major reason why pets are denied access to most publicbeaches.Whipworms (Dogs)Trichuris vulpis, the dog whipworm, is a slender parasite that canreach 4 inches in length. Unlike tapeworms, hookworms, and round-worms, which inhabit the small intestine, whipworms colonize thelarge intestine, particularly the cecum (this structure corresponds tothe human appendix).The life cycle of this parasite is fairly simple. Eggs are passed infresh feces into the environment. These eggs are then swallowed by anunsuspecting dog, and hatch within the dog’s gut. From there, they setup housekeeping within the large intestine and grow to maturity,sometimes taking up to 3 months to do so. Adult females then producemore eggs, and the cycle is repeated. Note that unlike hookworms androundworms, whipworms are not known to undergo tissue migration.Light to moderate infections with whipworms might not give anyoutward hints of their presence. Sometimes dogs so affected mightdevelop rough, unkempt haircoats and lose weight. Diarrhea might bePARASITIC DISEASE171
a clinical sign. When it does occur, the stools are often blood-tinged.Like other intestinal parasites, definitive diagnosis of a whipworminfestation is made by identifying whipworm eggs in stool under amicroscope. Whipworms don’t seem to be as prolific as other gut par-asites; as a result, multiple samples might need to be examined beforeany eggs are seen.Since whipworms are a common cause of chronic colitis in dogs,many practitioners opt to deworm for these parasites in such cases,even if eggs are not seen on a fecal exam. In those instances wherewhipworms are indeed to blame, the condition responds quite favor-ably to this empirical therapy.Several different types of dewormers are effective at expellingwhipworms. Some require only a single treatment; others need to berepeated months later.As seen with hookworm infections, many heartworm preventivemedications on the market today also help prevent whipworm infesta-tions if given on a regular basis. In those instances where environmen-tal contamination is difficult to control, administering such apreventive year-round might be useful.Warbles (Cats)Warbles (Cuterebra fly larva)are an unusual type of par-asite that can be found on,or living within, the skin ofcats (Fig. 7.9). They usuallyappear as nodules or lumpsaround the head or neckregion. Often, these nod-ules are mistaken for plainabscesses, yet on closeinspection inside, an actualfly larva, sometimes the sizeof a grape, will be visible liv-ing within a fibrous cavity.172 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 7.9 Cuterebra larva (warble).
In rare instances, depending on their location, these parasites canadversely affect the brain, leading to severe neurological signs.Needless to say, such unwelcome guests need to be manuallyextracted by a veterinarian. In addition, the open cavity left over in theskin after extraction will usually require antibiotics in order for fasthealing to take place.HeartwormsHeartworms in DogsWhen we hear of parasites or worms, our natural inclination is to thinkof those that inhabit the gastrointestinal tract. However, there is oneparasite that, instead of residing within the gut, prefers the heart. Thatparasite is Dirofilaria immitis, the canine heartworm.Heartworm disease is a devastating disease of dogs, responsible fortens of thousands of deaths each year. Most of these deaths occur dueto the destruction that these worms cause not only to the heart but thelungs, liver, and kidneys as well. In some cases, the worm burdenwithin the heart and blood vessels might become so great that circula-tion of blood is actually compromised, resulting in sudden death.Other infected dogs might go years without showing any signs ofheartworm disease, seemingly forming a symbiotic relationship withthe parasites.Regardless of its presentation, heartworm disease puts a tremendousburden on the body’s organs and immune system. The good news isthat this destructive disease is completely preventable!Heartworm disease is transmitted through the use of a vector, themosquito. When a mosquito feeds on a dog infected with heartworms,it picks up heartworm larvae (microfilariae) through its blood meal.Inside of the insect, the microfilariae begin to undergo primary devel-opment. Now when the mosquito gets hungry again, the larvae exit thefeeding mouthpart of the mosquito and are deposited on the skin of thenew host canine. From here, they gain access into the dog’s tissuethrough the feeding port created by the mosquito, and begin a 100-daymigration to the heart, growing and developing along the way.PARASITIC DISEASE173
Once they reach the heart, the worms set up housekeeping withinthe heart and blood vessels of the lungs and mature into sexually activeadults within 2 to 3 months. Some of these can reach up to 14 inches inlength! Once mature, they start reproducing and the new larvae pro-duced are deposited into the bloodstream, just waiting to be picked upby a hungry mosquito.Heartworm disease is found worldwide, anywhere mosquitoes arefound. In North America, the southeastern and Gulf Coast regions of theUnited States have a greater prevalence of the disease than do otherareas. However, infections have been documented as far north as Canada.The incidence of this disease seems to be higher in dogs between the agesof 4 and 7 years. Males are more likely to contract the disease than arefemales. Larger breeds that, as a general rule, spend more time outdoorsare also more susceptible to heartworms. Of course, this does not meanthat small, indoor lap dogs are safe from exposure, since they can’t betotally shielded from the wayward mosquito that happens to find its wayindoors. Interestingly, the length of a dog’s haircoat does not figure inwhen determining a dog’s risk of contracting heartworm disease.Canines are the primary host of Dirofilaria immitis; however, othermammals can become infected, including cats and foxes. Humanshave even been known to become accidental hosts for this parasite. Inthese instances, the larvae will migrate into the lungs, where they aresealed off by the body and subsequently cause no clinical problems.The lung lesions created, however, might be easily confused withtuberculosis or cancer, causing some consternation in physicians andin the patients so affected.Clinical signs of heartworm disease can include exercise intoler-ance, coughing and breathing difficulties, or sudden death. The wormsprimarily reside in the right portion of the heart and in the lungs.Heartworms cause thickening of the lung’s blood vessels, causing anincrease in blood pressure and the workload on the heart (Fig. 7.10).Congestive heart failure is not an uncommon sequela in these indi-viduals as the heart eventually becomes unable to compensate for suchan increased workload. This in itself has a “snowball” effect, causingfluid buildup within the lungs and a disruption of blood circulation tothe vital organs. Damage to the liver and kidneys is an ultimate conse-quence (Fig. 7.11).174 DOGS AND CATS
Occasionally, the num-ber of heartworms becomesso great that they can actu-ally block the return flowof blood from other parts ofthe body to the heart. Thiscondition and the resultingclinical signs are termedcaval syndrome. Whereasthe onset of clinical signswith a typical heartworminfection might be slowand gradual, the signs seenwith caval syndrome occurabruptly and with fury.Dogs so affected might sud-denly collapse, unable tobreathe and in advancedorgan failure. Actual surgi-cal removal of the offend-ing heartworms can be usedto save the life of some ofthese dogs; in most, how-ever, the disease is too faradvanced to even attempttreatment.Diagnosis of an activeheartworm infestation can bemade utilizing blood tests,radiographs, and/or ultrasound results. The blood tests are designednot only to detect microfilariae that may be in the blood but also todetect occult infections (infections characterized by the absence of cir-culating microfilariae, even though adults are present within theheart) (Fig. 7.12). These types of infections can occur in up to 50 per-cent of all heartworm-infected dogs. They can result from a number offactors, including the presence of immature adult worms in the heartthat are not yet reproducing, infections involving worms of all the samePARASITIC DISEASE175FIGURE 7.10 As one might imagine, heart-worms can drastically reduce the heart’s ability topump blood effectively.FIGURE 7.11 Dogs with advanced heartwormdisease often appear emaciated.
sex, the destruction of thosemicrofilariae that are pro-duced by the dog’s immunesystem, and/or the elimi-nation of larvae as a resultof giving heartworm pre-ventive medication to aninfected dog.Safe and successful treat-ment of a heartworm infec-tion depends on promptdiagnosis in the early stagesof the disease, before sec-ondary organ damage hasoccurred. A special drug canbe administered to a dog tokill the adult worms withinthe heart and lungs.Prior to treating a dogfor heartworms, a completelaboratory workup, includ-ing radiographic X rays and/or ultrasound, should be performed todetermine the status of the internal organs, especially the heart, lungs,liver, and kidneys. If potential problems do exist, pretreatment withsupportive medication might be needed to prepare the body for treat-ment. Then in a month or so, if all looks well, standard treatment isattempted.Because of the highpotency of the drug usedto treat heartworm disease,complications from the drugtherapy can arise, prompt-ing immediate cessation ofthe treatment series. Thesecan include loss of appetite,vomiting, and/or the devel-opment of icterus, indicat-ing liver inflammation. As176 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 7.12 Larval forms of the heartworm, notadults, are found circulating in the bloodstream.Microfilariae can live for up to 2 yearsin a dog’s bloodstream!DID YOU KNOW?Dogs kept indoors and dogs with longhair do not need to take heartwormpreventive medication. Ifyou have ever been bitten by a mos-quito in your house, then your pet is atrisk! Also, research has yet to uncovera link between haircoat length andresistance to heartworm disease.F I C T I O N .A C T OR F I C T I O NF
the adult worms die, pieces of them might lodge within the blood vesselsof the lungs, and if extensive, protracted coughing and lung hemor-rhaging can result.If all goes well with the treatment series, patients are usually dis-charged from the hospital 2 to 3 days after treatments are started to beginconvalescence at home for the next 4 to 6 weeks. During this time,supportive treatments consisting of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories,and/or special diets might be prescribed.It is of the utmost importance that a strict limitation of exercise andstress be employed during this convalescent period. In addition, preven-tive heartworm medication is not to be administered during this time.Depression, loss of appetite, bleeding, and/or protracted coughingduring this time should alert dog owners to potential posttreatmentcomplications and warrantprompt veterinary attention.Four to six weeks aftertreating the adult heart-worms, special medicationis administered to eliminateany circulating microfilariaethat are present in nonoccultcases. Once this is performed,preventive medication canthen be given on a routinebasis. At 12 weeks posttreat-ment, another heartwormtest should be done to becertain that the infection wascompletely eliminated by the treatment. If not, the treatment seriesmight need to be repeated, generally 6 to 8 months after the first.Heartworms in CatsAs frightening as it might seem, the incidence of this disease, oncethought limited to canines, is on the rise in cats as well. Dirofilariaimmitis, the same mosquitoborne organism that causes canine heart-worm disease, also causes the feline disease. Most cats that becomeinfested with heartworms develop less than 10 worms within theheart, yet even this low number can damage the heart and lead to lungPARASITIC DISEASE177Even if heartworm preven-tive medication is notrequired year-round in your area, youshould still give it to your pet allthroughout the year because most pre-ventives sold on the market today alsoprevent infestations with intestinal par-asites (some of which can be zoonotic,including roundworms), providing animportant source of continual protec-tion for not only your dog, but for youand your family as well.DR. P’S VET TIP
and kidney disease as they do in the dog. The main reason for this isthat cats produce a more potent immune response to the parasites thando dogs, which can result in greater damage to the tissues involved.Male cats allowed to roam outdoors are at greatest risk of contractingthis disease. Many cats infested with heartworms will show no clinicalsigns whatsoever, and the disease will be identified incidentally whenthese cats are brought to the veterinarian for other reasons. In moreadvanced cases, lethargy, breathing difficulties, coughing, vomiting, andsometimes even blindness can occur.Special blood tests can be used to help detect heartworm disease incats. However, because the worm burden in some cats is so low, someinfections may be missed by these tests. As a result, many veterinariansbase their diagnosis on chest radiographs (X rays) and ultrasound find-ings, which usually reveal changes in the heart and lungs characteristicof heartworm disease.Treatment, if performed, is similar to that used for dogs. However,because of the comparatively small size of the feline heart and lungsand the intense feline immune response to these parasites, killing theadult worms contained within the heart can actually do more harmthan good. As a result, cats diagnosed with this disease, yet not showingany clinical signs, are often not treated but placed on heartworm pre-ventive instead to prevent additional infestation. Unfortunately, thosecases exhibiting clinical signs of heartworm disease carry with them apoor to grave prognosis for recovery.Because of the difficulty in safely treating heartworms in cats ifthey come down with the disease, cat owners should consider givingtheir pets preventive heartworm medication on a monthly basis. Suchmedication is available through veterinarians.For information on preventing feline heartworm disease, seeChapter 4.CoccidiaCoccidia belong to a group of microscopic parasites called protozoans.These organisms primarily inhabit the small intestine of affecteddogs and cats. The disease caused by coccidia (coccidiosis) is rarelysevere, yet the resulting diarrhea it causes can rapidly dehydrate a178 DOGS AND CATS
young puppy or kitten. Overcrowding and poor sanitation greatly con-tribute to the spread of these organisms within a group. Eggs passedin fecal material can be directly ingested by another pet, leading to thedevelopment and maturation of the organisms within the gut of theirnew hosts.If coccidia are ingested by animals other than their normal host(e.g., if the feline Toxoplasma coccidia is ingested by a dog), tissuemigration might occur, similar to that seen with roundworms. In mostcases, this migration causes no problems, and the infection is quicklyeliminated by the animal’s immune system. However, if a neonate isinvolved, or an animal with a compromised immune system, severedisease might result.In younger pets, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and weight loss are themost consistent clinical signs seen in an overwhelming case of coccidio-sis. Older pets might not show any signs at all. If tissue migration hasoccurred (toxoplasmosis), other signs might be seen, including fever,muscle soreness, and convulsions.A microscopic examination of a stool specimen will detect coccidiaeggs if present. Treatment consists of administering an anticoccidia drugin proper dosages. If dehydration is present, intravenous fluids areindicated to correct the disorder.Good sanitation practices are the best ways to prevent exposure tococcidiosis. Routine stool checks performed by a veterinarian shouldalso be utilized to ensure that dogs and cats remain parasite-free. As azoonotic disease, toxoplasmosis is of significance, especially in preg-nant women. For more information, see Chapter 44.EhrlichiosisEhrlichiosis, also known as canine typhus, is caused by the bacterialorganism Ehrlichia canis. One of many tickborne diseases, ehrlichiosisis primarily a disease of dogs, although cats can be affected in rareinstances. The disease is spread from dog to dog by the bite of the browndog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus. First reported in the United Statesin 1963, this disease is most prevalent in the midwestern and southernstates. Left undetected, ehrlichiosis can be quite devastating and ulti-mately fatal to its host.PARASITIC DISEASE179
Once they gain entrance into the body, these parasitic bacteria setup housekeeping in various organ systems throughout the body withina week or two. As a result, clinical signs can be quite variable once theystart to appear.Acute signs of infection include general depression, weakness, fever,weight loss, eye and nose discharges, and swollen lymph nodes. Asthe disease progresses over time and the organisms colonize the bonemarrow, dogs will often become anemic and immunosuppressed. As aresult, secondary pneumonia is a frequent finding in infected canines.Nosebleeds and bruising of the skin might also become apparent as thebody’s blood clotting mechanisms are interfered with. Finally, insevere instances, the kidneys and brain might become affected, lead-ing to kidney failure and nervous system disorders.Noticeable drops in the total number of white blood cells, red bloodcells, and platelets (structures that play a vital role in the body’sblood clotting mechanism) within an obtained blood sample are usu-ally the first parameters that tip veterinarians off to a possible infec-tion with Ehrlichia. In fact, in many cases, the Ehrlichia organisms canbe seen microscopically within the actual white blood cells them-selves. Clinical signs related to a bleeding disorder or involving a highfever also provide clues leading to such a diagnosis. Specific Ehrlichiaantibody detection tests are also available through veterinarians, andcan help confirm what is already suspected.Current treatment of ehrlichiosis in dogs employs high doses of spe-cial antibiotics until clinical signs go into remission. Owing to the organ-ism’s ability to hide within blood cells and bone marrow, ehrlichiosis isdifficult to treat. The sooner treatment is instituted after the appearanceof clinical signs, the better the chances are for a complete recovery.Chronic long-term infections, however, might never clear up totallywith antibiotic therapy. Drugs such as doxycycline and imidocarbdipropionate have shown some promise in many of these cases. Con-tinuous low-dose administration of antibiotics, combined with sup-portive therapy, including occasional blood transfusions, might beneeded to keep these long-term infections controlled.To date, there is no vaccine available to protect against ehrlichiosis.As a result, a good tick-control program is still the best way to preventthis disease.180 DOGS AND CATS
Lyme DiseaseLyme disease has come to the forefront in public awareness because ofits ability to cause human illness. The disease, caused by the bacteriaBorrelia burgdorferi, is spread to dogs and to humans primarily throughthe bite of an infected tick. The disease is fairly rare in cats. Manydifferent species of ticks can be involved, including the deer tick, theblack-legged tick, and the western black-legged tick.Ticks, however, are not the only vehicles for spreading the disease;fleas and other biting insects are capable of spreading it as well. Inaddition, there have even been incidents in which Lyme disease hasbeen transmitted via direct contact with infected body fluids. Becauseof this ease of transmission, Lyme disease is one of the most commonlyreported tickborne diseases, and it has been diagnosed in many statesacross the country.Clinical signs of Lyme disease in dogs include loss of appetite,lethargy, high fever, swollen lymph nodes and joints, and/or a suddenonset of lameness. This lameness often resolves on its own accord,only to recur weeks to months later. In untreated dogs, kidney diseaseand heart disease can be unfortunate sequelae.Diagnosis of Lyme disease is based on a history of exposure to ticksand of recurring lameness. Veterinarians now have the ability to testfor this disease in house.Rapid treatment of a diagnosed case of Lyme disease is essential toprevent permanent damage to the joints or internal organs. Many dif-ferent types of antibiotics can be used to treat this disease, and acutesigns will usually disappear within 36 hours of instituting such therapy.Longstanding infections might not respond as well and require a morevigorous treatment approach.A vaccine against Lyme disease is available for use in dogs living inendemic areas. Tick control is another important control measure toprevent Lyme disease. Since a tick must feed for about 24 hours beforespread of the disease will take place, prompt removal of ticks will helpbreak the transmission cycle.The signs of this disease in humans are similar to those found indogs. Vaccination of the family dog should help prevent it frombecoming a source of human infection. In addition, prompt removalPARASITIC DISEASE181
of ticks from the skin will help afford the same protection in peopleas in dogs.Cytauxzoonosis (Cats)Cytauxzoonosis is found mainly across the southeastern portion of theUnited States in cats allowed to roam in heavily wooded areas. Ticksare thought to transmit this protozoal organism, which attacks thehost’s red blood cells and causes anemia. As a result, clinical signsassociated with cytauxzoonosis include those related to anemia, suchas loss of appetite, lethargy, breathing difficulties, and pale mucousmembranes.Veterinarians can diagnose this disorder by observing speciallystained blood smears under the microscope. Unfortunately, once adiagnosis is made, there is no known effective treatment and infectedcats invariably die from the disease. Good tick control and limitingaccess to high-risk environmental areas are the two best ways to pro-tect a cat from this fatal disease.HemobartonellosisHemobartonellosis is a disease seen primarily in cats, although dogsthat have been splenectomized or suffer from immunosuppression canbe at risk as well. This disease, which causes a profound anemia,occurs most often in young, male cats around 4 to 6 years old. Insectsare thought to be the mode of transmission between these organismsand cats.Clinical signs of hemobartonellosis include a sudden onset ofdepression, loss of appetite, and fever. Because of the anemia thedisease causes, the gums and mucous membranes of these cats areoften quite pale. The skin and whites of the eyes may appear jaun-diced as well.Diagnosis of this disease in cats can be made in a veterinary settingfrom the microscopic examination of fresh blood from suspected cats.Many felines suffering from hemobartonellosis also concurrently havefeline leukemia. As a result, a feline leukemia test should be pre-formed on all cats with hemobartonellosis. Hemobartonellosis is182 DOGS AND CATS
treated with blood transfusions if the anemia caused by it is severe,and with special antibiotics and medications.The prognosis for recovery from the anemia and associated symp-toms is good if treatment is instituted quickly. Unfortunately, a totalcure is rarely possible with this disease, and owners should be on thelookout for stress-induced relapses, and seek prompt treatment fortheir felines if they should occur.PARASITIC DISEASE183
The Immune System8C H A P T E RWithout a functioning immune system, our pets would easily fall preyto every hostile organism that came around. Immunity is designedto protect against such infectious invaders and eliminate any foreignmatter or cells that somehow gain entrance into the body. Preventingthe growth of cancer cells and tumors is also in its job description.Although the immune system serves a rough and rugged function, adelicate balance does exist as far as its activity is concerned. Stress, poornutrition, and hormone fluctuations are only some of the many factorswhich can deleteriously alter this activity, leading to a weakened defensesystem. As if this weren’t enough, certain viruses, such as the canine par-vovirus and the feline leukemia virus, have the ability to suppress theimmune system. Such an overwhelming upset of the body’s naturaldefense mechanisms can only lead to one outcome, and it isn’t good.This balance can be thrown the other way as well. There are certaindisease conditions that can be caused by an overactive, overworkingimmune system. Allergies are a good example of this. Allergic reac-tions can even turn deadly if the response is exaggerated enough.At other times the immune system, in carrying out its duties, willdestroy or damage normal healthy tissue in the process. These autoim-mune diseases usually result from the body’s inability to turn off theimmune response, with disastrous consequences.185
Anatomy and PhysiologyThe immune system itself is a complex network of cells, organs, andspecial chemicals. No one division overshadows another; each teammember relies on the others for support. In this way, they all work inunison toward a common goal.Cells of the Immune SystemSpecial cells, called stem cells, located within the bone marrow giverise to all the cells of the immune system. The cells that are pro-duced by these stem cells are referred to as white blood cells. Thisgeneral category comprises numerous types, each serving distinctfunctions.The neutrophil functions to gobble up bacteria that gain entranceinto the body. Also assisting in this function are white blood cellscalled macrophages. These cells usually come after the neutrophilsare already engaged. In addition to bacteria, macrophages also havethe capability to eat viruses, fungal organisms, and foreign matter.When a dog or cat is vaccinated, special immune cells called lym-phocytes are stimulated. B lymphocytes are responsible for producingactual antibodies in response to the vaccine or foreign organism;T lymphocytes don’t produce antibodies per se, yet they assist the Blymphocytes in doing so, and help modulate the immune response.They also have the ability to attack and kill cells within the body thatare cancerous or infected with viruses.Both B and T lymphocytes are said to possess “memory”—that is,they remember the various organisms and invaders that they’re fight-ing against. That way, if they show up again at a later date, they will beattacked without hesitation. Yet even with memory, this response canbecome slower and weaker over time if the immune system remainsidle. This is why certain vaccination boosters are needed periodically.Another important lymphocyte of the immune system is called thenatural-killer cell, which searches for and destroys tumor cells andcells infected with viruses. Unlike their T-cell counterparts, natural-killer cells do not possess memory, yet at the same time, few of themrequire a previous exposure to a foreign agent to respond effectively.186 DOGS AND CATS
Organs of the Immune SystemThe organs of the immune system include the bone marrow, the thy-mus, the spleen, and the various lymph nodes and aggregates of lymphtissue spread throughout the body.BONE MARROWAs mentioned before, all cells of the immune system originate withinthe bone marrow. Many stay put and undergo maturity right wherethey are; other cells are shuttled off to the thymus.THYMUSThe thymus is an organ located in the neck region of young animals.As that individual ages and the immune system undergoes a maturedevelopment, the thymus gland gradually disappears. It is in thisorgan that most of the T cells undergo their maturation.LYMPH NODES AND TISSUEFrom the thymus and the bone marrow, the cells of the immune sys-tem are then shipped to the front-line defenses, including the lymphnodes, tonsils, and other lymph tissue lining the gastrointestinaland respiratory tracts. This latter tissue, owing to its strategic loca-tion, provides a first line of defense against organisms that try togain entrance into the body. B lymphocytes in this tissue producespecial antibodies that coat the surface of the tract, and block suchaccess.Lymph nodes and tissue are responsible for filtering the body’sblood and lymph for foreign agents and cells. Lymph is a special typeof fluid that circulates throughout the body within its own separatechannels or vessels, called lymphatic vessels. Fats that are absorbedvia the intestinal tract enter into this lymphatic system, as do lympho-cytes on their way to and from the front-line defenses.THE SPLEENThe spleen is an organ most have heard about; its various functionsinclude filtering blood and providing a storehouse for blood cells.THE IMMUNE SYSTEM187
Chemicals of the Immune SystemSpecial chemicals produced by the cells of the immune system serveto assist them in their protective function. Among those chemicalsgenerated are interferon, interleukins, and complement.Interferon is a protein that is produced and released by cells thathave been invaded by or come in contact with a virus. Released within2 hours after the cell is invaded, it acts as a messenger to surroundinghealthy cells and stimulates the immune system to respond. It evenhas antitumor effects, preventing tumor cell replication in someinstances.Interleukins are chemicals produced by macrophages that helpcontrol and modulate the activity of the T cells during an immuneresponse. Interference with the release of interleukins, which canoccur with many viral diseases, can lead to immunosuppression.Complement is a special protein produced by the body thatattaches itself to the surface of antibodies. When these antibodies bindto a bacterium or infected cell, the complement serves to “burn” a holein the cell membrane, leading to the cell’s destruction. In someinstances, complement doesn’t need the help of antibodies to fulfillthis function.AntigensAn antigen is defined as any substance capable of eliciting an immuneresponse. Infectious organisms—such as bacteria, foreign matter, andeven tumor cells—have antigens within their makeup and liningtheir outer surfaces. Since the body does not recognize such an anti-gen as one of its own, it mounts an immune response against it to tryto eliminate it.On initial exposure to an antigen, B lymphocytes start to divide anddifferentiate into their antibody-producing form. It might take up to 7days before antibody production can be achieved. Even then, produc-tion is only moderate, and adequate levels generally last only about3 weeks. In the meantime, however, other immune components, suchas neutrophils, macrophages, and killer cells, are called in to fight offthe invader.If the invader is a tumor cell, foreign body, or an organism that livesand multiplies within body cells (such as viruses do), then the T lym-188 DOGS AND CATS
phocytes start to multiply and prepare themselves for battle as well. Aswith the B lymphocytes, they are specific for each antigen; that is, alymphocyte that responds to one type of antigen will not respond toany others. As a result, each different antigen that enters the body willstimulate its own group of antagonistic B and T lymphocytes.Following this initial exposure, the lymphocytes that have beenprimed to the antigen retain “memory” of the experience. Sent to thefront-line defenses, they simply wait for the antigen to show up again.If it ever does, the lymphocytes are ready for it, without the 7-day lagtime. Antibodies are produced in high levels almost immediately, andthe T cells are primed and sent into action with minimal delay.ImmunosuppressionAs pointed out previously, the immune system is a complicated anddelicately balanced system that performs a vital function within thebody. If this balance is disrupted, serious trouble can develop.A suppressed immune system leaves the body wide open to inva-sion by foreign organisms and cancer cells. This immunosuppressioncan occur secondarily to viral infections (such as parvovirus or distem-per virus in dogs, and the feline leukemia and feline AIDs viruses incats), drug therapy (including steroid treatments), severe stress, anddisorders of the bone marrow. In addition, pets can actually inheritpoorly functioning immune systems. For instance, the incidence of anunderactive immune system seems to be higher in Doberman pinschersand rottweilers than in other breeds.Allergies and Autoimmune DiseaseBoth allergies and autoimmune diseases are characterized by an over-active immune system that can irritate or damage its host’s own tissuesin response to an antigen invasion within the body. For example,atopic (allergic) dermatitis in dogs and cats results from an overactiveimmune response to inhaled pollens. Lupus erythematosus and pem-phigus are two autoimmune disorders that, aside from causing signifi-cant skin lesions, can damage other organs of the body as well. Withautoimmune hemolytic anemia, the immune system actually destroysTHE IMMUNE SYSTEM189
the body’s own red blood cells, leading to anemia. Myasthenia gravis,a disease characterized by profound muscle weakness after only mini-mal exertion, is also classified as an autoimmune disease. Immunity-mediated kidney disease and arthritis can also afflict pets stricken witha genetic predisposition for these disorders. Many cases of hypothy-roidism in dogs are caused by an overactive immune system attackingand inactivating the thyroid hormone produced within the body. Fin-ally, in cats, the classic example of an immune system gone awry isfeline infectious peritonitis. In this disease, it is not the virus itself butrather the exaggerated immune response to it that actually proves fatalto the cat.Allergies and most autoimmune reactions can be controlled withcorticosteroid medication, which, at high enough dosages, has a sup-pressive effect on the immune system. However, because these steroidscan have significant side effects, such treatments should only be per-formed under the close, continual supervision of a veterinarian.190 DOGS AND CATS
The Cardiovascular andHemolymphatic Systems9C H A P T E RThe systems responsible for the effective transmission of oxygenand/or nutrition to all organs and tissues of the body are the cardio-vascular and hemolymphatic systems. These systems are composed ofthe heart (Fig. 9.1) and blood vessels, located within the chest or tho-racic cavity, and the vessels that carry blood and lymph throughoutthe body.Anatomy and PhysiologyThe heart is a hollow organ that serves as a double pump and islocated approximately in the center of the thoracic cavity. Its wallsconsist of muscular tissue called myocardium. The pumping action ofthe heart causes blood to flow through the circulatory system, supply-ing oxygen and nutrients to the body tissue. Inside the heart a wall oftissue separates the heart into two sections of pumps: the “right heart”and the “left heart.”Each side of the heart is made up of two hollow chambers: theupper chamber is the atrium, which receives blood; the lower chamberis the ventricle, which pumps blood from the heart. The cavities of theatrium and ventricle on each side of the heart communicate with eachother, but the right chambers do not communicate directly with those191
on the left. Thus, right andleft atria and right and leftventricles are distinct.Blood flow is directedby a series of valves thathave nothing to do with theinitiation of flow. The dri-ving force for blood comesfrom the active contractionof cardiac muscles. Thevalves only prevent theblood from flowing in theopposite direction. Heartmurmurs are caused by thebackflow of blood throughdefective or diseased heartvalves.A drop of blood that isin the right atrium is firstpumped through a valveinto the right ventricle. Theventricle then pumps thedroplet to the pulmonaryarteries and lungs. In the lungs, the blood takes on oxygen and releasesthe waste product carbon dioxide. The oxygen-rich droplet is nowready to nourish cells of the body, but first it must return to the heart.This time the droplet enters the pulmonary veins and goes into the leftatrium. The atrium pumps it through a valve into the left ventricle.The left ventricle then pumps it out to the cells, tissues, and organs ofthe body.Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood from theheart to the tissues. As these vessels approach their targets, they pro-gressively branch out, creating smaller arterioles. Actual exchange ofoxygen, nutrients, and waste products between the blood and the tis-sues occurs through microscopic, thin-walled vessels that originatefrom the arterioles called capillaries. Once this exchange has takenplace, the capillary beds coalesce to form venules, which eventually192 DOGS AND CATSAortaPulmonaryarteryLeft atriumHeart valveLeft ventricleWall dividingventriclesRightventricleRightatriumFIGURE 9.1 The heart.
empty into even larger veins. Blood is carried back to the heart viathese veins.The walls of arteries are much thicker and more elastic than those ofveins primarily to compensate for the increased blood pressure withinthe arterial system caused by the pumping heart. Pets can suffer thesame ill effects from high blood pressure as do humans. Althoughstress can cause the blood pressure to rise, some type of impedance tonormal blood flow—such as heart failure, liver disease, and/or kidneydisease—is the most common cause of its occurrence in animals.Blood consists of a variety of cellular elements, including erythro-cytes (red blood cells), which transport oxygen with the help of hemo-globin molecules contained within; leukocytes (white blood cells),which fight infections and foreign invaders; and tiny cell fragmentscalled platelets, which initiate the blood clotting cascade.Plasma is the noncellular portion of the blood. It consists of water,nutrients, waste products, and a wide variety of hormones, enzymes,and electrolytes. Plasma also contains three special plasma proteins:albumin, globulin, and fibrinogen.Albumin is a transport protein that escorts large molecules, includ-ing some hormones, through the bloodstream. Globulins include anti-bodies formed by the immune system and certain proteins needed fornormal blood clotting. Fibrinogen is a plasma protein also involved inthe body’s blood clotting scheme. Serum is plasma from which thisclotting component has been removed.The lymphatic system is an entirely different type of circulatorysystem found within the body. Lymphatic vessels that course through-out the body carry not blood, but a special substance called lymph, aplasmalike substance derived from fluid and protein that normallyleaves the bloodstream at the capillary level to enter the tissues.Lymph components that are not used by the tissues enter the speciallymphatic vessels, which carry them back into circulation. Lymph alsocontains fats absorbed from the small intestine.Lymph nodes are special structures found all along the lymphaticchain that serve to filter bacteria and contaminates out of the lymph,while at the same time adding special immune cells called lympho-cytes to the fluid for transport to the blood circulatory system. In dogsand cats, edema, or fluid retention within the tissues, can be caused byTHE CARDIOVASCULAR AND HEMOLYMPHATIC SYSTEMS193
parasites or tumors obstructing normal lymph flow through the lym-phatic vessels.Heart Disease and Heart FailureHeart disease, with subsequent heart failure, is one of the most fre-quent problems in small-animal medicine. Because the heart functionsto supply oxygen and nutrients to the rest of the body via the blood,serious ramifications result if this function is interfered with by dis-ease. In addition, the decreased movement of blood through the circu-latory system caused by a faulty heart leads to high blood pressure,and fluid buildup within the abdomen and/or the lungs (congestiveheart failure), depending on which side of the heart is involved. If thelatter structures do become waterlogged, oxygen exchange is reducedeven further.Mitral Insufficiency and Other Valve-Related DisordersDifferent diseases involving the heart valves or heart muscle can leadto heart failure. By far the most common type of heart disease seen indogs, aside from that caused by heartworms, is mitral insufficiency,which involves the heart valve separating the left atrium from the leftventricle. If this valve becomes diseased and fails to close properlywhen it is supposed to, blood is allowed to flow back into the leftatrium when the left ventricle contracts.This has two effects: (1) The amount of blood pushed forward intocirculation by each heart contraction is greatly reduced, which meansthat the heart (which, remember, is diseased) must work harder than itdid when it was healthy to keep up with the body’s demand for blood;and (2) the backup of blood that occurs as a result of the inefficientheart contraction leads to fluid buildup within the lungs, interferingwith oxygen exchange between the blood and the lungs. As a result, avicious cycle develops.Mitral insufficiency can result from normal wear and tear associ-ated with age, or—more importantly—it can appear secondary to otherdiseases, namely, periodontal disease. Bacteria from the diseased teethand gums can enter the bloodstream and attach to the heart valve, set-ting up infection and inflammation. Over time, the heart valve194 DOGS AND CATS
becomes damaged andscarred, making it unableto function properly. Theend result is often heartfailure.Although their fre-quency is much less, dis-eases involving the othervalves in the heart can nevertheless occur. Disease of the tricuspidvalve, which separates the right chambers of the heart, can occur sec-ondary to age or infection and can interfere with the normal return ofblood to the heart from the body. Defects in the pulmonic or aorticvalves, which separate the ventricles from the pulmonary vessels andaorta, respectively, are usually congenital (present at birth) and mightnot be detectable when the dog is young. However, as the dog maturesand the requirements placed on the heart increase, signs of heart dis-ease or failure could become apparent.CardiomyopathyChanges in the thickness and/or contractility of the muscles makingup the heart are termed cardiomyopathies. The two main types of car-diomyopathies that dogs and cats can suffer from are hypertrophic car-diomyopathy and dilated cardiomyopathy.In hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the muscular heart walls becomeexcessively thickened, shrinking the chambers of the heart and dis-rupting normal filling of the heart with blood. With dilated cardiomy-opathy, the opposite occurs: The heart walls become thin and weak,making normal contractions difficult. Regardless of the type, a car-diomyopathy can lead to overt heart failure if progression occurs.Cardiomyopathies are more prevalent in cats than they are indogs. Middle-aged male cats seem to be affected the most. In addi-tion, Siamese, Burmese, and Abyssinian cats appear to have a higherincidence of this disorderthan do other breeds. Thecauses of hypertrophiccardiomyopathy in catsremain unknown; however,THE CARDIOVASCULAR AND HEMOLYMPHATIC SYSTEMS195Atherosclerosis, characterized by abuildup of fat, calcium, and cellulardebris within the vessels, is not assignificant a problem in pets as it isin people.DID YOU KNOW?Over 75 percent of cats that developheart disease are male!DID YOU KNOW?
researchers have found a link between dilated cardiomyopathy anddietary deficiencies in the amino acid taurine.An increased lethargy and loss of appetite might be the initial signsseen in cats with cardiomyopathies. Other more advanced clinicalsigns can include coughing, difficulty in breathing, and overt collapse.Vomiting can also become a factor, especially if there is secondary kid-ney damage caused by poor blood circulation. In addition, hind-endweakness and muscular pain due to aortic thromboembolism can beseen in these cats.These clinical signs can help lead a veterinarian to a diagnosis ofcardiomyopathy in a cat. Using a stethoscope, the veterinarian candetect rapid heart rates, abnormal rhythms, and heart murmurs aswell. Radiographic X rays and ultrasound show abnormal heartshapes, abnormal heart wall thickness, and, if heart failure is present,fluid buildup within the thorax in these cats.Electrocardiograms are useful in determining the extent of anyheart enlargement and to assess the electrical conduction occurringwithin the heart walls. If a taurine deficiency is suspected, measuringblood levels of this amino acid can prove or disprove such suspicions.Treatment of cardiomyopathy consists of medications designed toreduce blood pressure and to increase the efficiency of heart contrac-tions. Drugs designed to move fluids out of the lungs might also be pre-scribed. In cats with advanced heart failure, oxygen therapy might benecessary. Obviously, for those cats with taurine-deficiency cardiomy-opathy, taurine supplementation should also be used to normalize car-diac function.Unfortunately, little can be done to reverse the anatomic changes tothe heart seen in most cardiomyopathies. With supportive treatment,however, the quality of life of affected felines can be maintained at agood level for months, even years.Birth DefectsBirth defects involving the heart wall (septal defects), the heart valves(valvular stenosis), or the vessels leaving the heart (patent ductus arte-riosus) can increase the workload placed on the heart and can lead toheart failure as the affected pet gets older. If detected early enough,many of these defects can be surgically corrected at a young age, before196 DOGS AND CATS
associated signs become severe. In those that cannot be repaired, treat-ment is similar to that of other forms of heart disease.Symptoms of a Failing HeartRegardless of the inciting cause, the clinical signs associated with afailing heart include coughing (especially at night and after exercise),breathing difficulties, distended abdomen, weight loss, and exerciseintolerance. Suffering pets might stand with their front legs spreadwide apart and their necks lowered and extended to afford the passageof more air into the lungs. Affected dogs and cats might collapse evenafter the slightest exertion or excitement.If the right side of the heart is involved, owners might notice abulging abdomen. This occurs secondarily to a backup of blood withinthe abdominal vessels, leading to a fluid buildup within the abdomi-nal cavity.All of these signs might start off subtly, yet they usually progres-sively worsen as the disease progresses and failure begins.DiagnosisDiagnosis of heart disease or heart failure is made using clinical signs,radiographs, ultrasound, and/or electrocardiogram findings. In addi-tion to the classic clinical signs listed above, many forms of heart dis-ease are accompanied by heart murmurs, which can be detected by aveterinarian on listening to the chest using a stethoscope (Fig. 9.2).A heart murmur is an irregular sound caused by the disruption ofnormal blood flow within the heart. By far the majority of heart mur-murs heard are caused by diseases of the heart valves and the abnor-mal blood flow through these valves that results. Still other murmurscan originate from the defects in the heart muscle or vessels that alternormal blood flow. Unusually forceful and rapid heart contractions,such as those seen within overly excited animals or in pets sufferingfrom anemia, can even lead to an irregular heart sound. Interestingly,murmurs are not commonly detected in dogs suffering from heart-worm disease, even when their hearts are full of the parasites.Heart murmurs are usually classified according to their intensity asheard through a stethoscope. A trained veterinarian can identifywhich portion of the heart is affected and arrive at a diagnosis just byTHE CARDIOVASCULAR AND HEMOLYMPHATIC SYSTEMS197
pinpointing the area on thechest where the murmur isthe loudest, and by deter-mining when the murmuroccurs, whether it is duringthe heart’s contractionphase, relaxation phase, orboth.OTHER DIAGNOSTICTESTSOne parameter that cannotbe determined from theintensity of a heart murmuris the stage of heart diseaseor failure the animal is in.For instance, severe mitralinsufficiency might not beassociated with any mur-mur whatsoever, whereas aloud one might accompanyan early case. This isbecause in the later stages,the valve might become so diseased and worn that it offers so littleresistance to blood flow back through it that a murmur-causing dis-ruption of blood flow might not arise.Radiographs and/or ultrasonography of the chest are essential forestablishing a diagnosis of heart disease. Animals with primary lungdisease, including pneumonia, can exhibit clinical signs very similarto those seen in patients with heart failure, and these tests are neededto differentiate the two. Diseased hearts will appear abnormallyenlarged on both tests. This enlargement can occur in compensationfor the heart having to work harder to pump blood, or it could be dueto a thinning and bulging of the heart wall resulting from constantbombardment with high-pressure streams of blood escaping throughfaulty heart valves. Regardless of the cause, an enlarged heart, com-bined with clinical signs or murmurs, signifies heart disease. If such a198 DOGS AND CATSF I G U R E 9 . 2 Heart murmurs can be detectedby your veterinarian using a stethoscope.
combination exists, the next test most practitioners will perform is anelectrocardiogram.The electrocardiogram (ECG; often phonetically pronounced EKG) isa test used widely to assess the condition of the heart (Fig. 9.3). Remem-ber that a heartbeat is produced when a wave of electrical energy movesthrough the tissues of the chambers, starting in the atria and movingdown to the ventricles. This electrical wave then makes the muscle wallof these chambers contract, pumping out the blood contained within.The ECG helps evaluate the status of this electrical conduction system,and at the same time, can give the veterinarian useful informationregarding the size of the heart itself, and indirectly, the condition of theheart as a pump. In addition, with the information gained from an ECG,proper drug treatment dosages can be more easily established.TreatmentBecause most cases of heart disease or failure are nonreversible, thetreatment goal for any dog or cat suffering from such a condition is tocreate an environment that relieves some of the workload on the heartand slows the progression of the disease.Canines and felines with bad hearts need to be fed special diets thatare moderately restricted in sodium to help reduce blood pressure anddiscourage the accumulation of fluid within the lungs and/or theabdomen. Diets formulated especially for this purpose are availablefrom veterinarians.Diuretic drugs are also used in heart failure patients to helpmobilize and eliminate excessive fluid that might be accumulatingwithin the body. In many instances, this diuretic therapy, combinedwith a low-sodium diet, might be all that it takes to relieve thecoughing and discomfort seen in affected pets. Remember that a dogor cat on diuretic medication will drink lots of water and urinatewith greater frequency,so be sure to provide itwith plenty of water todrink at all times, and beprepared for plenty ofwalks outside or frequenttrips to the litterbox.THE CARDIOVASCULAR AND HEMOLYMPHATIC SYSTEMS199F I G U R E 9 . 3 An electrocardiogram (ECG)measures electrical conduction within the heart.
Medications designed to dilate the blood vessels, making it easierfor the diseased heart to pump blood through them, are usually thenext in line if the special diet and diuretics don’t seem to be enough tocorrect the problem.If none of the treatment regimens described above prove effective, thefinal medicating step often taken to manage the heart failure is to givedrugs designed to help slow and strengthen the heart’s contraction. Suchmedications can have many undesirable and serious side effects if a vet-erinarian does not carefully monitor therapy, but, on average, they willprolong the life of a pet in heart failure for an average of 4 to 6 months.Arterial Thromboembolism (Cats)Cats afflicted with cardiomyopathy suffer from impaired circulation,which in turn can lead to a condition known as arterial thromboem-bolism. This disorder is characterized by large blood clots that formwithin the left side of the heart and pass into circulation, only to lodgewithin one or more blood vessels within the body, usually at the pointwhere the large aorta divides into two smaller arteries that supply thehindlimbs.When such a clot restricts blood flow to the back legs, pronouncedhindlimb weakness results. The hind paws might feel cold to thetouch, and the clear nails might take on a bluish hue. As the musclesof the hind end are deprived of blood and oxygen, they become firmand painful to the touch.Diagnosis of arterial thromboembolism is based on clinical signsand physical exam findings. Ultrasound can be used to assess the con-dition of the heart and to identify thrombi still within the organ. Atotal absence or partial reduction in hind limb pulse is diagnostic of athromboembolism as well (Fig. 9.4).Treatment for arterial thromboembolism is difficult at best. Surgeryis usually unrewarding, and the existing heart disease in these catsmakes them high anesthesia risks. Medical therapy can be somewhateffective if instituted within a few hours of onset. This involvesadministering drugs designed to dissolve the blood clot, prevent fur-ther thrombi from developing, and restore normal blood flow.200 DOGS AND CATS
Prognosis for a full recovery is guarded, simply because of the pre-existing heart disease and because of chronic pain and tissue damagecaused by the temporary loss of oxygen. However, with physical ther-apy and attentive nursing care, many cats experience at least partialfunctional restoration in 1 or 2 months. Obviously, management of thepreexisting cardiomyopathy is necessary as well.AnemiaAnemia is defined as an overall reduction in the number of red bloodcells within the bloodstream relative to normal levels within thatpet. This reduction can occur from a number of processes, includingan increased destruction or decreased production of red blood cellsTHE CARDIOVASCULAR AND HEMOLYMPHATIC SYSTEMS201F I G U R E 9 . 4 Cats with thromboemboli often lack a pulse in the hindlimbs.
within the body. The overall consequence of anemia is the inabilityof the blood to supply desired levels of oxygen to the tissues.Signs seen in an anemic pet include intense lethargy, weakness,increased respiratory and heart rates, and a pallor of the mucous mem-branes. Depending upon the cause of the anemia, signs related to ablood clotting disorder might be seen as well. Finally, if red blood cellsare being destroyed within the body, the skin and mucous membranesmight become jaundiced.A simple blood test performed by a veterinarian can tell you if yourdog or cat is anemic. Treatment of anemia depends on the underlyingcause. In severe cases, blood transfusions and oxygen therapy might berequired to save the pet’s life until the cause can be identified andtreated. Therapy utilizing special compounds called colloids andother oxygen-carrying solutions can be lifesaving as well.Bleeding DisordersWhenever an injury or illness compromises a blood vessel and leads tobleeding out of that vessel, a remarkable mechanism or chain reactionbegins within the body in an effort to stop the leakage of blood fromthe damaged vessel and prevent the individual from bleeding to death.This mechanism is known as hemostasis.When a blood vessel is compromised, the first reaction that occursis constriction of the vessel to help slow blood loss. Following this,special blood cells called platelets begin to adhere to the injured ves-sel wall, forming a temporary plug. At the same time, a coagulation(clotting) pathway is activated within the body, involving a complexinteraction of blood and tissue components, as well as calcium andvitamin K. The end result of this pathway is the formation of a morepermanent clot at the site of injury.Bleeding disorders canoccur whenever any part ofthe clotting mechanism isinterfered with. Diseases orsubstances such as toxins,drugs, cancers, autoim-mune hemolytic anemia,202 DOGS AND CATSLiver disease can lead to bleeding dis-orders because many of the compo-nents needed for proper blood clottingare manufactured in that organ.DID YOU KNOW?
and infectious agents, such as Ehrlichia canis, can interfere withplatelet numbers or function. In addition, kidney disease and certaininherited defects can also lead to poor platelet function and secondarybleeding.Any disruptions of the coagulation pathway also spell trouble forhemostasis. For instance, most rodent poisons contain substancesthat interfere with the vitamin K component of the coagulation path-way. If a dog or cat accidentally ingests these, its coagulation pathwaywill be effectively disrupted. Also, inherited defects in the coagula-tion pathway can cause bleeding disorders known as hemophilia andvon Willebrand’s disease.Serious diseases or injuries such as heartworm disease, viral dis-eases, and massive trauma (such as that caused by a car) can lead to asecondary condition known as disseminated intravascular coagula-tion (DIC). In DIC, tiny blood clots form throughout the body. Not onlyare these clots detrimental to the health of the animal, but DIC alsoleads to a depletion of the body’s clotting components. This, in turn,predisposes the pet to a bleeding disorder. DIC is invariably fatal to apet unless rapid supportive treatment is instituted.Clinical signs of a bleeding disorder usually include noticeablebruising of the skin and mucous membranes. Blood in the urine orfeces, nosebleeds, joint pain, abdominal pain, and breathing difficul-ties might be seen as well. Because of the variety of potential causes, aveterinarian will need to run a series of tests to determine the exactcause and to formulate a proper treatment regimen.Initial treatment for any bleeding disorder entails blood transfu-sions until the exact cause is discerned. If rodenticide poisoning issuspected, vitamin K injections, followed by oral vitamin K tablets,will help reverse the effects of certain rodenticides. These tabletsshould be given daily for a minimum of 4 weeks, since the ingestedpoison could linger within the body and exert its effects for this lengthof time.Finally, for autoimmune clotting defects, steroid therapy can beused to help control the disease and subsequent bleeding.THE CARDIOVASCULAR AND HEMOLYMPHATIC SYSTEMS203
The Respiratory System10C H A P T E RThe respiratory system works in conjunction with the circulatory sys-tem to provide oxygen to and to remove carbon dioxide from the bodytissues. Oxygen is the driving force behind all chemical reactions thatoccur internally. Obviously, life could not exist without it. As a result,the function of all body systems, including the respiratory system itself,depends first on the ability of this system to deliver its product. In addi-tion to this vital function, the respiratory system also serves as a meansof thermoregulation, or body heat exchange, in the dog. Since dogs can’tsweat in the conventional way, they rely on heat transfer out of the bodythrough exhaled air. Hence, dogs pant when they get hot.Anatomy and PhysiologyThe respiratory system begins with the mouth and nose, which, underthe influence of the breathing mechanism, facilitate the passage of airinto the trachea. The wall ofthis cylindrical structure islined with rings of toughcartilage which prevent itfrom collapsing during nor-mal breathing activity. TheCats purr only when they are content.Cats may also purr whenthey are in pain.F I C T I O N .A C T OR F I C T I O NF205
trachea enters the thorax, or chest cavity, and eventually branches intobronchi and smaller bronchioles within the lungs themselves. Thinmembranes called pleura line the lungs and inner wall of the thorax.Pleuritis is the term used to describe inflammation of these mem-branes, which can make normal respiration difficult and painful.The smallest unit of the respiratory system is the alveolus, locatedat the terminus of the bronchioles. It is within these alveoli that gasexchange occurs between the lungs and the circulatory system. Sur-factant (surface-active agent) is a special substance found lining theinsides of normal alveoli. It is responsible for preventing alveolar col-lapse during the breathing cycle.The major blood supply to the lungs and alveoli comes from thepulmonary artery originating from the right ventricle of the heart. Indogs and cats, heartworms reside in the right side of the heart and caneffectively clog this artery and its branches supplying the lungs. Theresulting disruption of blood flow and increase in pulmonary bloodpressure can have devastating consequences on respiratory function.The only air within the thorax, or chest cavity, is contained withinthe lungs. As a result, a negative pressure system exists that facilitatesnormal breathing. Intake or inspiration of air occurs as the diaphragm,the large muscular band separating the thorax from the abdominalcavity, flattens and lowers itself, and the ribcage expands. The result-ing negative pressure caused by the increased thoracic size activelydraws air through the trachea and into the lungs. On exhalation, orexpiration, the diaphragm and ribcage are returned to their normalsize, forcing air out of the lungs. Pneumothorax is a life-threateningcondition in which air is allowed into the thoracic cavity, eitherthrough a penetrating wound through the skin and ribcage or througha tear in the lung tissue. Either way, the loss of negative pressurewithin the thorax quickly collapses the lungs, and renders the normalbreathing mechanisms inoperable.Because of its direct exposure to a hostile environment, the respi-ratory system contains several defense mechanisms to help keep for-eign invaders and particulate matter out of the lungs. The stickysubstance called mucus, produced by cells lining the trachea andbronchi, serves to trap contaminants and foreign debris that might gainexternal access to the respiratory system.206 DOGS AND CATS
In addition, tiny, movable, fingerlike projections called cilia linethe surface of airways and function to mechanically maneuver trappedcontaminants in a direction away from the lungs. Any significantbuildup of respiratory mucus or irritation to the respiratory liningresults in a cough, and (hopefully) the forceful expulsion of anyoffending substance.The airways are also lined with surface antibodies that provide afirst line of defense against infectious organisms. In dogs, intranasalvaccines against the disease canine cough are designed to stimulatesuch antibody production. In an unprotected dog, infecting caninecough organisms can destroy the lining of the trachea, predisposingthe unfortunate victim to all kinds of secondary infections and to a lifeof continual coughing.RhinitisInflammation involving the nasal passages of dogs and cats is termedrhinitis. The hallmark clinical signs seen with a case of rhinitisinclude sneezing and nasal discharge. Causes of rhinitis include bac-terial infections, nasal tumors, trauma, and foreign bodies. In addi-tion, the fungal organism Aspergillus fumigatus can invade the bonesand tissues constituting the nasal passages in dogs and cats, resultingin rhinitis. The fungal organism Cryptococcus neoformans infectscats in the same way. The nasal discharges associated with fungal dis-ease, which are usually green and thick in nature, might persist formonths at a time. In addition, ulceration involving the outer surfaceof the nose is sometimes seen. Aspergillosis can occur primarily onits own or secondarily to other conditions that might compromise theimmune system.Nasal Foreign BodiesOccasionally, foreign bodies can gain entrance into the nasal passage-ways of dogs and cats via the mouth, causing extreme irritation andrhinitis or sinusitis. The chief culprits in this category seem to beblades of grass, which is not unusual since many dogs and cats love tochew on vegetation.THE RESPIRATORY SYSTEM207
Pets with nasal foreignbodies will sneeze and usu-ally have a cloudy or bloodydischarge coming from oneor both nostrils. Veterinaryinspection of the back of themouth and inner entrancesinto the nasal passages whilethe pet is sedated or anes-thetized is often enough toidentify and extract the cul-prit. If not, surgery might berequired to remove it and toprevent secondary compli-cations associated with bac-terial infections (Fig. 10.1).Nasopharyngeal Polyps (Cats)Nasopharyngeal polyps are benign, pendulous masses that are associ-ated with chronic ear infections in cats. These polyps normally arisewithin the throat region and extend into the latter part of the nasal cav-ity. They may grow to significant sizes and actually interfere with thenormal flow of air into the trachea and respiratory airways, causingbreathing difficulties.Clinical signs associated with nasopharyngeal polyps in catsinclude noisy breathing sounds, sneezing, nasal discharge, and swal-lowing difficulties. If the polyps arising from the ear canal are largeenough, vestibular signs including head tilting, head shaking, incoor-dination, and falling may also be associated with this condition.Diagnosis of nasopharyngeal polyps can usually be definitivelymade on visual examination of the oral cavity of cats suspected of hav-ing this disease. Treatment involves surgical removal of the polyps.However, such a procedure is not without its potential complications.Because of the number of nerve fibers that course through the middleear canal, surgical removal of polyps can lead to localized nerve dam-age. Such damage can lead to side effects such as paralysis of the mus-cles of the face and excessive drooling.208 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 10.1 A veterinary inspection of themouth and nasal passages may be needed todetect an elusive foreign body in those areas.
Tracheobronchitis (Dogs)Inflammation occurring within the trachea and bronchi of the respira-tory tree is properly termed tracheobronchitis. In dogs, the leadingcause of tracheobronchitis is canine cough. Other causes can includeallergies, foreign bodies, and chemical or gaseous irritants.Incessant coughing is the hallmark sign of tracheobronchitis. A dry,hacking cough is seen in cases of canine cough, whereas in other cases,such as chemical irritation, the cough might be moist and productive.Treatment of tracheobronchitis depends on the underlying cause.Collapsed Trachea (Dogs)Collapsed trachea is a respiratory disease primarily seen in thesmaller, toy breeds of dogs, such a toy poodles and Yorkshire terriers.It can occur in dogs of any age, but most cases are seen in dogs over 6years of age.A weakening of the mus-cles that interconnect theband of cartilaginous ringsthat normally support thetrachea causes the syn-drome. The end result of thismalformation is that insteadof the trachea maintainingits normal round shape dur-ing respiratory activity, it col-lapses or flattens out (Fig.10.2). Depending on whichsection of the trachea isinvolved, this collapse mightoccur on either inspiration orexpiration. In some cases,it might be so severe as tobecome life-threatening.Obviously, such a situa-tion leads to noticeableTHE RESPIRATORY SYSTEM209FIGURE 10.2 Top left: diameter of a normaltrachea. Bottom right: reduced diameter causedby collapsing trachea.
respiratory distress in affected individuals. In addition, dogs suffer-ing from a collapsing trachea can have a dry, harsh cough with acharacteristic “goose honk” sound to it.Diagnosis is assisted by the type of breed involved and the type ofcough heard. Radiographs taken of the trachea are usually diagnosticand will help differentiate this disorder from other diseases of the air-ways, including tracheitis, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Actual exami-nation of the affected portion of the trachea with an endoscope can beused to help determine the extent and severity of the problem.Mild cases of collapsing trachea can often be managed throughmedical means. If an affected dog is overweight, a weight-loss programis a good place to start. Cough suppressants and drugs designed todilate the airways can help relieve the symptoms. Overexertion andexcitement should be discouraged, since the increased respiratory rateresulting from such activities can exacerbate the condition.Depending on the location of the collapse, surgical correctionmight afford a more permanent solution to the problem. This involvesthe implantation of special artificial support rings around the circum-ference of the trachea for additional support. The postoperative com-plications associated with such a procedure are usually minimal.Feline AsthmaCats can suffer from asthmaattacks very similar to thoseseen in people. They areusually triggered by anallergic reaction to pollensand other allergens that arebreathed into the lungs (Fig.10.3). The reaction causedby the immune system’sresponse can be minor, or itcan be quite severe, causingbronchitis and pneumonitis(inflammation of the lungs).This, in turn, can lead to210 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 10.3 Pollen and other foreign sub-stances in the air can trigger an attack of felineasthma.
severe breathing difficulties, coughing, and gagging in affected felines.Any cat can suffer from feline asthma, regardless of age.Along with a good history of occurrence and clinical signs seen,diagnosis of feline asthma is aided by radiographic X rays of the lungs.Longstanding, recurring cases can actually exhibit scarring or fibrosisof the lung tissue.Treatment of feline asthma involves identifying the source of theallergic reaction and using corticosteroids and other drugs to reducethe allergic response. When looking for the source, some experts rec-ommend starting with the cat litter, especially dusty ones. Often,though, the source of the problem cannot be pinpointed, and sympto-matic therapy will be needed each time a flare-up occurs.Pleural EffusionPleural effusion is not really a disease entity in itself; rather, it is a signof disease. It occurs more frequently in cats than it does in dogs. Thepleural space is an air-filled space located in the thoracic cavitybetween the inner thoracic wall and the thoracic organs themselves.Pleural effusion is a buildup of fluid—such as blood, pus, or serum—within this pleural space. This effectively interferes with the normalfunctioning of the heart and lungs.Some of the potential causes of pleural effusions include infectiousdiseases (bacterial and fungal infections, FIP, feline leukemia), foreignbodies within the chest, rupture of lymphatic vessels, heart disease,or cancer.Pets afflicted with a pleural effusion must fight for every breath,often exhibiting open-mouthed breathing with their necks extendedforward. In severe instances, they can collapse from lack of oxygen.Emergency treatment is a must.If pleural effusion is present, treatment will involve drainage of thefluid from the chest. This usually entails placement of a temporarydrain tube within the chest to facilitate continued drainage as it isrequired until the exact cause of the problem can be discerned. Thenature of the fluid removed from the pleural space will usually affordthe veterinarian enough information to pinpoint the exact causeof the effusion. Treatment is then directed accordingly.THE RESPIRATORY SYSTEM211
PneumoniaWhen inflammation strikes actual tissue within the lungs themselves,a condition of pneumonia is said to exist. Pneumonia doesn’t neces-sarily mean that an infection is present; on the contrary, there are anumber of noninfectious causes of pneumonia that need to be consid-ered whenever a dog or cat is showing signs of lung disease. Forinstance, aspiration pneumonia can result from the accidental inhala-tion of a substance originally destined for the stomach. Dogs and catssuffering from seizures, persistent vomiting, or structural abnormali-ties, such as megaesophagus or cleft palate, are very susceptible to thistype of pneumonia. Pneumonia can also result from inhalationof smoke and certain caustic chemicals. The damage caused by thesenoninfectious sources is often so severe that the unfortunate victimsdevelop bacterial pneumonia as a secondary problem.Pets suffering from pneumonia will cough incessantly and often spitup mucus and phlegm. Obvious breathing difficulties are noticed insevere cases, with a reluctance by the pet to move or exert itself. Dogs soaffected might stand with their front legs spread wide apart and theirnecks lowered and extended to afford the passage of more air into thelungs. Fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite are also seen in patients withpneumonia.Clinical signs combined with abnormal lung sounds detected with astethoscope can lead a veterinarian to suspect a case of pneumonia(Fig. 10.4). Chest radiographs are needed to confirm such suspicions. Ifa bacterial or fungal component is thought to exist, a culture of the fluidand mucus within the respiratory tree might be performed as well.Blood work will usually show an elevated white blood cell count.With infectious pneumonia, high doses of appropriate antibioticsand/or antifungal medications will be required to bring it under con-trol. Drugs designed to expand the airways are helpful in improvingairflow into and out of the lungs. Intravenous fluids are also useful toreplace important body fluids lost in the increased respiratory secre-tions and to prevent existing secretions from becoming thickened as aresult of dehydration. (Note: Medications designed to suppress cough-ing should not be used in most cases, since this only serves to preventthe removal of mucus and other respiratory secretions from the lungs.)212 DOGS AND CATS
Cases of aspiration orinhalation pneumonia aretreated in a similar fashion,yet these carry a much poorerprognosis. Attempts to suc-tion the foreign material outof the lungs through the tra-chea are often unsuccessful.Pets that survive are oftenafflicted with a residualcough for the rest of theirlives.Chronic ObstructivePulmonary Disease(COPD)Chronic obstructive pul-monary disease (COPD) is adisorder of the lungs andrespiratory tree often linkedto aging. It is seen primarilyin dogs. COPD is actually acatch-all phrase for all thoseconditions that affect andrestrict normal air move-ment into and within the lungs. Chronic bronchitis and age-related scar-ring of the actual lung tissue are the two most common causes of COPDin canines.COPD is characterized by persistent coughing, mucus buildupwithin the airways, and breathing difficulties. Definitive diagnosis ofchronic obstructive pulmonary disease can be made by ruling out otherpotential causes of clinical signs (pneumonia, canine cough, etc.), eval-uating the duration of the clinical signs, and obtaining biopsy samplesof lung tissue to determine whether scar tissue is indeed present.Unfortunately, if diagnosed, there is no treatment presently availablethat can reverse the effects of COPD. However, medications designed toTHE RESPIRATORY SYSTEM213FIGURE 10.4 The lungs sound harsh in dogssuffering from pneumonia.
dilate the airway passages can provide some degree of respiratory reliefto the affected pet. In addition, anti-inflammatory medications can alsobe utilized to reduce inflammation and slow scar tissue formation thatmay be contributing to the COPD.Metastatic Lung DiseaseOne characteristic of most highly malignant tumors, regardless of theirpoint of origin, is that they invariably spread to and end up in thelungs if not detected and treated soon enough. Some cancers spread, ormetastasize, more readily to the lungs than others. For instance, malig-nant melanoma of the skin might be present in the lungs even beforethe actual skin tumor becomes noticeable.The clinical signs exhibited by pets afflicted with metastatic lungdisease can be similar to those seen with pneumonia. Unfortunately,the prognosis for dogs and cats harboring such tumors in their lungs isgrave, even with specific cancer treatment.214 DOGS AND CATS
The Digestive System11C H A P T E RThe digestive system of the dog and cat is made up of a collective net-work of organs designed to supply the body with the nutrition itneeds for growth, maintenance, and repair. It also functions to rid thebody of waste. Because of this, diseases involving the digestive systemcan have a profound effect not only on the region so afflicted but onthe entire body as well.Anatomy and PhysiologyThose organs or regions of the body categorized under the digestivesystem include the oral cavity (teeth, tongue, salivary glands, etc.),esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, anus,pancreas, liver, and gallbladder. In order to understand diseases andtheir adverse effects, a brief overview of the digestive process is war-ranted. Keep in mind, however, that the following description is anoversimplification; the actual digestive process is so complex andinvolved that it warrants the devotion of an entire book in itself!Once food enters the oral cavity, the process of digestion begins.The teeth mechanically rip, crush, and grind down the food, while thesaliva secreted by the salivary glands into the mouth moistens and par-215
tially digests carbohydrate portions of the food before it is swallowed.In puppies and kittens, the eruption patterns of these teeth do not startuntil around 2 to 4 weeks of age. By the time the neonate is 7 weeks ofage, it should have a full complement of deciduous (baby) teeth. By 7months of age, all the permanent teeth should have fully erupted andreplaced the deciduous ones.From the oral cavity, food, water, and saliva are passed back intothe esophagus with the aid of the tongue and are swallowed. The wallsof the esophagus consist of bands of muscle, which contract in a rhyth-mic fashion, pushing the food down toward the stomach. This uniquemuscular action is called peristalsis.From the esophagus, the food passes through a muscular sphincterinto the stomach. This sphincter is very important, for it keeps stom-ach acids and enzymes from entering into and burning the esophageallining. If it is defective, ulcers and that feeling humans describe as“heartburn” can result.The stomach is lined with cells that secrete acids and special diges-tive enzymes, designed to further break down ingested proteins andcarbohydrates (Fig. 11.1). The muscular walls of the stomach help gen-tly churn and mix the contents, until such time as they’re ready for pas-sage into the small intestine. Again, the food must pass through anothersphincter to reach the small intestine. Once the food passes through thesphincter, the stomach acids mixed in the digesta are neutralized andrendered harmless by secretions in the small intestine.The small intestine is the site where most digestion occurs, andwhere the resulting nutritional building blocks are absorbed into thebody. Bile produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder is addedto the digesta here to break down fats. Enzymes from the pancreas fur-ther digest fats, proteins, and carbohydrates until, finally, the nutrientscan be absorbed through the intestinal lining and into the body.The lining of the small intestine consists of millions of small, fin-gerlike projections called villi, designed to increase the absorptive sur-face area within the intestine. And as if this weren’t enough, each ofthese tiny villi are lined by even tinier projections, called microvilli—again, to further increase the surface area for nutrient absorption. Onereason why a parvovirus infection can be so deadly is that the virus216 DOGS AND CATS
can effectively destroy these villi lining the small intestine, blockingabsorption of nutrients and “starving” the victim.As digested nutrients are absorbed, they enter into either the circu-latory system or into the lymphatic system. End products of proteinand carbohydrate digestion travel by way of the blood to the liver,where any toxic by-products are promptly eliminated. Other functionsof the liver include the production of serum proteins, the storage ofvitamins and other nutrients, the destruction and removal of old redblood cells from the bloodstream, and the secretion and excretion ofbile into the small intestine to aid in the digestive process.Fatty acids, resulting from fat digestion, travel initially via thelymphatic vessels and later enter into the bloodstream, where theyTHE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM217FIGURE 11.1 The stomach is lined with cells that secrete acids and special diges-tive enzymes.
are broken down and absorbed into the body tissues. The lymphaticsystem also plays an important role in immunity.Digesta and waste that are not absorbed from within the smallintestine then pass into the large intestine, which is responsible forremoving water and electrolytes from the material and lubricating itfor passage out of the body through the rectum and anus.One special portion of the large intestine is called the cecum,which corresponds to the human appendix. In dogs, whipwormsinhabit this portion of the large intestine and exert their deleteriouseffects from within.Gastrointestinal Response to Disease and TreatmentConsidering what they have to go through each day, the stomach andintestines make up a remarkable organ system. In the performance of theirdaily nutritional functions, they must be on constant guard to protectthemselves from autodigestion by digestive acids and enzymes producedand must constantly battle foreign organisms and agents that are inadver-tently taken in by mouth.When the stomach and/orintestines become acutely dis-eased, three major factors comeinto play that can quickly turn asometimes seemingly harmlesssituation into a life-threateningpredicament; these include pain,secondary bacterial invasion,and dehydration (Fig. 11.2).PainAny inflammation and/or exces-sive smooth-muscle contrac-tions occurring within thegastrointestinal system can bequite discomforting and painful.In fact, in severe cases of viralenteritis, intestinal obstructions,218 DOGS AND CATSA dog that eats grass has an upsetstomach Dogs eat grassbecause they instinctively crave it. Inthe wild, when a herbivorous prey ishunted and killed, the stomach andits contents are usually the first to beeaten. The partially digested vegeta-tion found in the stomach providesvaluable nutrition for the caninepredator. Unfortunately, when domes-tic pets try to mimic the eating habitsof their wild cousins, they oftenvomit, since the grass has not beenpredigested for them. If your dogcraves grass, boil some vegetables(predigest them!) and offer them astreats. You’ll be a hero in its eyes.F I C T I O N .A C T OR F I C T I O NF
and intussusceptions, thispain can be so great that thepatient goes into life-threat-ening shock. As a result, thesooner therapeutic measuresare undertaken to correctthe problem and stifle thepain associated with it, theless chance of complicationsoccurring.Secondary BacterialInvasionThe second factor to con-tend with is secondary bac-terial invasion. Normally,the intestines are inhabitedby billions of bacteria that peacefully reside there without causingany problems whatsoever. In fact, the very presence of these non-dis-ease-causing bacteria actually helps prevent the growth of patho-genic, or disease-causing, bacteria within the intestinal setting.However, if disease strikes the small or large intestine, these“friendly” bacteria can be wiped out, allowing pathogenic ones toproliferate and cause disease themselves. If the inflammation per-sists, or if an intestinal perforation occurs, these and any other bacte-ria within the intestines can leak out of the gut and even gain entranceinto the bloodstream, causing a life-threatening systemic infectionand shock.For these reasons, it is obvious that antibiotics become very impor-tant in the treatment of moderate to severe cases of gastroenteritis,even if the original cause is nonbacterial in origin.DehydrationThe final threatening factor that arises when acute gastroenteritis strikesa pet is dehydration. Pets suffering from vomiting and/or diarrhea canTHE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM219FIGURE 11.2 Pets with gastrointestinal dis-turbances invariably lose their appetites.
quickly become dehydratedas a result of water lossthrough the bowels. Sinceinflamed bowels cannot reg-ulate water absorption asthey do when they arehealthy, any fluid intake thatindeed occurs will usuallypass right out of the body viavomiting and/or diarrheawithout being absorbed.In fact, the disruption ofnormal motility and disten-sion occurring within theaffected bowel can actuallyattract and draw water right out of the body and into the intestinallumen. As a result, pets that have become dehydrated or are on the vergeof dehydration due to gastroenteritis require intravenous fluids to cor-rect the dehydration occurring within the body’s cells, at least until thegut has healed sufficiently to resume these functions once again.TreatmentOnce the gastrointestinal system is on the mend, and all vomiting hasbeen brought under control, a good level of nutrition is required tocounteract any malnutrition induced by the disease. Bland diets thatare easily digested are prescribed until complete healing of the stom-ach and/or intestinal linings has taken place. Offering a convalescentpet some type of electrolyte replacement drinks during these first fewdays can also promote rapid recovery as well. Feeding plain yogurt isalso helpful toward repopulating the gastrointestinal tract with non-pathogenic bacteria.Disorders of the Teeth and Oral CavityDiseases and disorders affecting the teeth or oral cavity interfere witha pet’s ability to prehense and process food for digestion. In addition,other general signs associated with conditions involving these areas220 DOGS AND CATSForce-feeding water can help correctdehydration in a sick petWhenever a pet reaches a state of trueclinical dehydration, intravenous flu-ids are required to correct the prob-lem. This is especially true fordehydration caused by vomiting ordiarrhea. Most fluids given orally tosuch animals will pass right throughtheir diseased digestive systems with-out being absorbed and could actuallymake the dehydration worse.F I C T I O N .A C T OR F I C T I O NF
usually include increased salivation, swallowing difficulties, badbreath, gagging, and decreased appetite.MalocclusionMalocclusion occurs when the teeth lining the upper jaw fail to line upand fit properly with the teeth of the lower arcade. In the normal bite,the upper canine teeth should rest just behind the lower canines. Dis-ruption of the normal bite pattern can be caused by trauma, impropertooth eruption, and genetics.Brachygnathism refers to a condition in dogs in which an overbite,or overshot upper jaw, exists. Conversely, prognathism is the termreferring to the undershot jaw (underbite). Both conditions are inheri-table traits, passed from one generation to another. In fact, prog-nathism is considered normal for certain breeds, such as pugs, boxers,and bulldogs. Although not life-threatening, these anatomic maladiescan interfere with normal biting action and eating, and can predisposeto dental and jaw problems in affected dogs. As a result, dogs sufferingfrom distinct overbites or underbites (unless normal for the breed)should be surgically neutered to prevent the propagation of theseundesirable traits.Malocclusion can also result from improperly positioned decidu-ous teeth creating abnormal eruption pathways for the permanentones. Dental examination of the deciduous teeth performed on pup-pies and kittens as early as 8 weeks of age can help identify potentialproblems. In many instances, simply removing the offending decidu-ous tooth clears the path for the proper eruption of its permanent suc-cessor.Surgical repair or reconstruction of the jaw can be used to repairtrauma-induced malocclusions, which is the most common type ofmalocclusion seen in cats. Orthodontic correction of brachygnathismand prognathism has been utilized in select cases, yet for ethical rea-sons, such procedures should be performed only for medical pur-poses, not for cosmetic gains.Supernumerary TeethSupernumerary teeth are extra teeth within the mouth. These can beretained deciduous teeth, or can actually be permanents.THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM221
Retained deciduous teeth are commonly seen in small dog breeds,including miniature poodles and Yorkshire terriers. In these dogs, thedeciduous canine teeth have the greatest propensity for remainingbehind (Fig. 11.3). Such retained teeth can crowd the permanent ones,creating abnormal eruption pathways. In addition, because of theirclose proximity with their permanent counterparts, these extra teethcan serve as niduses for dental calculus buildup and infection. As longas the eruption pattern for the corresponding permanent tooth is notbeing interfered with, most veterinarians will postpone removal of theretained tooth (teeth) until another elective procedure, such as neuter-ing or teeth cleaning, is performed. However, if the permanent tooth isbeing interfered with in any way, immediate removal is recommended.In rare instances, duplicated permanent teeth, consisting of one ortwo isolated ones, or an entire arcade, can erupt. Removal of these per-manent supernumerary teeth is seldom necessary unless they interferewith the normal biting action of the dog. Because of the genetic pre-disposition of this condition, affected dogs should not be bred.222 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 11.3 A retained deciduous upper canine tooth.
Enamel HypoplasiaThis unfortunate condition involves the incomplete development ofthe hard, protective layer of enamel that normally surrounds thecrown of the tooth. Enamel hypoplasia results when the enamel-pro-ducing cells within the dental arcade, called ameloblasts, are injuredor destroyed prior to eruption of either the deciduous or permanentteeth. The canine distemper virus is the most notable culprit causingenamel hypoplasia to occur; other causes can include severe malnutri-tion and fluorine toxicity.Teeth that lack enamel have coarse textures (due to exposed dentin)and tend to stain brown. The absence of the protective enamel coatingmakes these teeth especially susceptible to decay and to traumaticfractures.For puppies and kittens suffering from enamel hypoplasia on theirpermanent teeth, enamel restoration procedures (such as crowning)performed by a veterinary dental specialist can add a protective layerto exposed surfaces. Ask a veterinarian for more details regardingthese dentistry procedures now available for pets.Broken TeethOccasionally, teeth will break or fracture as a result of trauma or dis-ease (such as in enamel hypoplasia). If the pulp cavity of the tooth isnot exposed by the break, treatment measures, aside from filing downany sharp edges, are rarely required. However, if the damage doesextend down into the pulp cavity, inflammation, infection, and paincould result.Endodontic therapy, or root canals, can be performed to salvageteeth with exposed or infected pulp cavities and dentin. The proce-dure involves the removal of the pulp tissue and infected dentin,thereby alleviating pain and the further progression of disease withinthe tooth. Cracks and fractures in the tooth can then be filled, com-pleting the restoration procedure.Discolored TeethThe administration of certain antibiotics to a pregnant dog or cat canresult in yellow-stained dentin within the teeth of her offspring. TheTHE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM223
same holds true for adolescents administered these drugs prior toeruption of their permanent teeth. Although this staining has no effecton the health of the teeth, it can be unsightly and detrimental in theshow ring.Calculus buildup can certainly discolor teeth so affected. If allowedto persist on a long-term basis, the tooth surface can often take on ayellow hue, even after the calculus has been removed. In theseinstances, the complete removal of the calculus is far more importantthan any discoloration left behind.As mentioned previously, a brownish discoloration to the teethcould be the result of enamel hypoplasia. Enamel restoration proce-dures can be employed to deal with this problem.Finally, a bluish-gray discoloration to a tooth is indicative ofinflammation within the pulp cavity, warranting endodontic manage-ment if the tooth is to be saved.Dental Caries (Cavities)Because of uniquely high pH of the saliva, cavities rarely form in theteeth of dogs and cats. When they do, they are often secondary to sometrauma that has disrupted the continuity of the dental enamel. Cavitiesin pets are managed the same way as they are in people, with dentalfillings.Periodontal DiseasePeriodontal disease, or tooth and gum disease, is one of the mostprevalent health disorders in dogs and cats. Studies have shown thatmost canines show some signs of this disease by 3 years of age. Earlysigns can include tender, swollen gums, and, most commonly, badbreath. More importantly, though, if left untreated, periodontal diseasecan lead to secondary disease conditions that can seriously threatenthe health of affected pets (Fig. 11.4).It all begins with the formation of plaque on tooth surfaces. Thisplaque is merely a thin film of food particles and bacteria. Over time,however, plaque mineralizes and hardens to form calculus. Ownerswho lift up their pet’s lip and glance at its teeth, especially near thegumline, might notice brownish to yellowish buildup of calculus onthe outer surface of the teeth.224 DOGS AND CATS
Calculus tends to accu-mulate worse on the outersurface of the large fourthupper premolars and on theinner surfaces of the lowerincisors and premolars.This is because caninesaliva is conducive to cal-culus formation, and theducts from the salivaryglands empty into themouth at these particularsites. Buildup of this sub-stance tends to be worse insmaller breeds of dogs,such as miniature poodles,Yorkshire terriers, Maltese, and schnauzers. In fact, it is not at allunusual for some of these dogs to start losing teeth by 4 to 5 years ofage without at-home preventive dental care!Along with these breed predispositions, diet can play an importantrole in the development of periodontal disease. For instance, moistfoods high in sugar content promote plaque formation much morereadily than do the dry varieties. In addition, diets containing toomuch phosphorus (such as all-meat rations) have been linked to peri-odontal disease.Certain underlying disease conditions might also promote peri-odontal disease as a side effect. For example, hypothyroidism can leadto gingivitis and dental complications associated with it. Periodontaldisease can also occur incidentally with tumors involving the gum tis-sue and/or teeth.Pets suffering from periodontal disease can exhibit a diverse selec-tion of clinical signs. Earlyperiodontal disease mightbe marked only by adecreased appetite due toswollen, painful gums. Petowners often complain ofTHE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM225Receding gumFIGURE 11.4 Receding gums caused by peri-odontal disease.Both feline leukemia and feline AIDSare common causes of periodontal dis-ease in cats.DID YOU KNOW?
bad breath in their pets, and might notice signs of gagging or retchingas secondary tonsillitis sets in.As the disease progresses, these signs might worsen, and other symp-toms, such as gum recession, gum bleeding, and tooth loss, might arise.Infected teeth that do not fall out can form abscesses, marked by sinusinfections, nasal discharges, and/or draining tracts appearing on the face.But the damage caused by periodontal disease doesn’t stop there.Bacteria can gain entrance into the bloodstream by way of the teeth andgums, seeding the body with infectious organisms. In advanced cases,these bacteria can overwhelm the host’s immune system and set uphousekeeping on the valves of the heart. The resulting valvular endo-carditis in turn can lead to heart murmurs and eventual heart failure.Besides the heart, the bacteria that gain access to the body becauseof periodontal disease can lodge in the kidney, causing infection,inflammation, and acute damage. Over time, signs related to kidneyfailure might develop in affected pets.Early cases of periodontal disease can be treated by a thorough scal-ing and polishing of the teeth to remove the offending calculus. Thisscaling needs to be professionally performed under sedation or anes-thesia to ensure complete removal of the calculus under the gumline.Using special instruments to hand-scale a pet’s teeth at home with-out anesthesia is not only dangerous but also highly ineffective atcleaning the teeth where it counts the most, up under the gumline.Furthermore, such scaling, if not followed by polishing, will leaveetches in the enamel covering of the teeth that can serve as foci forfuture plaque and calculus buildup.Antibiotics will also be prescribed for dogs and cats suffering frommoderate to advanced periodontal disease to combat the associatedbacterial infection. Teeth that are excessively loose within their sock-ets serve only to propagate infection, and should be extracted. Forinfected teeth that are still deemed viable, a root canal can be per-formed as a salvage procedure. See Chapter 4 for prevention tips tohelp protect pets against the adverse effects of periodontal disease.TonsillitisThe tonsils are lymphoid tissues located in the back of the oral cavitynear the esophagus. Since they are lymphatic tissues, tonsils have an226 DOGS AND CATS
immune function. Tonsillitis refers to the inflammation and/orswelling of these lymphoid structures in response to infections, for-eign bodies, and sometimes even noninfectious diseases. For instance,long-term coughing, such as that seen in cases of canine cough, canresult in a secondary tonsillar inflammation. Periodontal disease isanother common cause of tonsillar swelling. Finally, certain tumors,such as lymphosarcoma and squamous cell carcinoma, can cause thetonsils to swell and should always be kept in mind anytime an olderdog or cat develops tonsillitis.Signs of tonsillitis include gagging, retching, and difficulty swal-lowing. Affected animals might also go off feed and have a tendency tosalivate excessively. Because tonsillitis is usually secondary in nature,other signs of illness related to the primary disease might be present aswell.Diagnosis of tonsillitis is easy when it is based on clinical signs andactual visualization of the swollen tonsils within the oral cavity. Treat-ment depends on the underlying cause. For example, if the disease isinfectious, appropriate antimicrobial therapy will clear up the tonsil-litis. If a tumor is suspected, or if a seemingly simple case of tonsillitisis refractory to standard treatment, then the tonsils should be removedand biopsied.Cleft PalateThe palate is a fleshy structure located at the roof of the mouth thatseparates the oral cavity from the nasal passages. The firm portionlocated toward the front of the mouth is termed the hard palate,whereas the softer, flexible portion toward the back of the mouth iscalled the soft palate. Cleft palate is a disease condition in which thepalate fails to fully develop, leaving a communication gap between themouth and the nasal passages. This condition is hereditary in breedssuch as English bulldogs, Boston terriers, and cocker spaniels. It canalso be acquired secondary to foreign bodies puncturing the palate, orby burns caused by puppies and kittens chewing on electrical cords.Puppies and kittens born with cleft palates often die because theyare unable to suckle properly. Those that do survive initially candevelop nasal infections and aspiration pneumonia if the problem isnot surgically corrected in time. The recommended time of surgery forTHE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM227
these individuals is around 6 weeks of age. Until then, daily feedingsusing a tube passed directly into the esophagus are indicated to pre-vent these secondary complications.Feline StomatitisFeline stomatitis is a condition of the oral cavity in cats characterizedby red, friable gums that often grow over and cover the teeth, as wellas inflammation of the teeth and bony tissue of the jaw.Cats affected with this disorder often have difficulty chewing theirfood, have foul-smelling breath (Fig. 11.5), salivate profusely, andmight even have inflamed lips. The inflammation associated with thedisease can also spread to the back of the throat, making it difficult toswallow.The exact cause of this disorder in cats is unknown; however, con-ceivably any type of chronic inflammation that attracts inflammatorycells to the area could cause such a reaction. Diagnosis of feline stom-atitis is made by collecting a biopsy sample of the affected tissue andradiographing the oral cavity to determine the extent of involvement.Treatment consists of surgically removing and/or cauterizing theexcess gum tissue, as well as any teeth or bony tissue affected. In espe-cially severe cases, steroid anti-inflammatory medications, antibiotics,and pain relievers may be used as well.Owners can help slow the recurrence of this disorder by followinga strict regimen of dental care for their cats, including the daily treat-ment of both teeth and gums with a paste, gel, or solution containingchlorhexidine.Esophageal DisordersDisorders involving the esophagus will manifest themselves as diffi-culty in swallowing. Effortless regurgitation of solid food, which mustbe differentiated from vomiting and its associated abdominal spasms,often tips off the pet owner and veterinary practitioner to an existingproblem with the esophagus. Because of the inability to properly swal-low food, dogs and cats afflicted with esophageal disease are at highrisk of accidentally aspirating food into their lungs, causing serious,life-threatening pneumonia.228 DOGS AND CATS
MegaesophagusMegaesophagus is a condi-tion in which a generalizedenlargement of the esopha-gus occurs, making itunable to push food intothe stomach. Seen primar-ily in dogs, this conditionmight be inherited, or seensecondary to esophagealobstructions or neuromus-cular diseases such asmyasthenia gravis.Diagnosis of megae-sophagus is made by takingradiographs of the esopha-gus or actually visualizing the enlargement with an endoscopeinserted into the esophagus via the mouth. Those dogs diagnosed withthis disorder must be fed with their front end elevated on a chair ortable to encourage gravity flow of food and water into the stomach.Feeding liquid or semisolid food will also help facilitate this passageinto the stomach. Depending on the cause, some individuals doimprove with time. In select cases, surgery might be performed to helpimprove esophageal function.EsophagitisInflammation occurring anywhere along the esophagus is termedesophagitis. Esophagitis can be instituted by foreign bodies that injurethe organ’s lining, by ingestion of caustic substances, and by reflux ofstomach contents and acids up into the esophagus. In keeping with thelatter cause, chronic, long-term vomiting can also lead to esophagitis.Regurgitation, loss of appetite, and weight loss are the most fre-quent signs seen. If left untreated, damage to the lining of the esopha-gus could occur, causing strictures and secondary megaesophagus.As with megaesophagus, diagnosis is made using clinical signs,physical exam findings, and endoscopic exam or radiographic X rays ofthe esophagus using barium as a contrast medium. Treatment ofTHE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM229FIGURE 11.5 Oral ulcers can cause foulbreath in cats.
esophagitis consists of treating any primary problems that might be pre-sent, and, if stomach acid reflux is to blame, reducing the amount ofstomach acid secretions and increasing the rate of stomach emptying.Esophageal ObstructionsObstructions can occur secondary to tumors, infections, strictures,and the ingestion of foreign objects (especially bones). As withmegaesophagus, obstructions can be diagnosed using radiographsand/or endoscopy (Fig. 11.6). Treatment is aimed at surgical removalof the offending agent.Gastric Dilatation–Volvulus Complex (Dogs)Gastric dilatation–volvulus complex (GDV), or “bloat,” is a serious, life-threatening disorder that can strike the gastrointestinal systems of dogs,particularly those of large, deep-chested breeds. Great Danes, St.Bernards, Irish setters, standard poodles, boxers, and English sheepdogsare only a few of the many breeds that can be suddenly afflicted withGDV. Although they don’t fit the anatomical mold of these other breeds,dachshunds and Pekinese also have a higher incidence of GDV than doother similar-sized breeds.Regardless of the size andage, death can quicklyensue in these dogs if thecondition is not recognizedand treated with speed.Rapid ingestion of alarge amount of food andwater, followed by exercise,is an important predispos-ing cause for this disorder.As the stomach dilates dueto the large food and watercontent within, and due tothe gas formed within thestomach secondary to vigor-ous exercise, it can rotate or230 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 11.6 An endoscope is useful forretrieving foreign objects in the upper airways,esophagus, and stomach.
twist in such as way as to block off all entry into and exit from the stom-ach. The condition snowballs as the food, water, and gas within are notallowed to escape, and more and more gas and fluid are produced by thechurning action and secretions of the distressed stomach. In addition, asthe stomach dilates and/or rotates, it can effectively put pressure on thelarge blood vessels located within the abdomen and seriously reduceblood flow through them. This, in turn, places almost every major organwithin the abdomen in serious jeopardy.Dogs suffering from an acute case of GDV will exhibit signs such as adistended, bloated abdomen, vomiting, excessive salivation, and rapidbreathing. In the early stages, the dog will be quite restless because of thepain; as the disease progresses, weakness, recumbency, and shock set in.A diagnosis of GDV is based on history and clinical signs seen. Asmentioned before, treatment must be instituted in earnest to save thelife of the pet. The attending veterinarian will try to pass a tube intothe stomach to relieve the stomach distension; however, if the stomachis twisted, this passage might be impossible. In these cases, immediatesurgical intervention is required. Intravenous fluids, antibiotics, andsteroids to combat shock are among the medications used in thesepatients. The prognosis is guarded with any dog presented with GDV,and recurrence is not uncommon.If a dog likes to gulp down its food as soon as it is set down, protectit from the dangers of GDV by feeding smaller portions at more fre-quent intervals throughout the day. In addition, discourage exercisefor at least 1 hour after mealtime. For dogs that have recurring boutswith GDV, surgery can be performed as a preventive measure to “tack”the stomach down to the inner abdominal wall, thereby preventing itfrom twisting if bloating occurs.Gastrointestinal UlcersAn ulceration within the stomach or intestines occurs when the pro-tective barrier of mucus covering the inner surfaces of the gastroin-testinal tract is lost or destroyed, allowing stomach acids and bileacids to erode the gastrointestinal lining. The same type of heartburnhumans can sometimes experience with this problem can affect dogsand cats as well, leading to inappetence, vomiting, and lethargy.THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM231
Ulcers actually are indicators of disease rather than distinct diseasesyndromes in themselves. Sharp foreign bodies or harsh chemicalsthat are swallowed can scrape, injure, and—in the case of the latter—burn the gastrointestinal lining and cause a primary ulceration.Ulcers occur secondary to stress, infectious diseases, intestinal par-asites, bacteria (including Helicobacter), and metabolic diseases suchas Cushing’s disease and kidney disease. Certain drugs can also have adeleterious effect on the stomach lining when given orally.Diagnosis of an ulcer relies heavily on clinical signs seen and thehistory or evidence of an underlying disorder. Radiographs taken afterthe oral administration of barium can be used to pinpoint the exactlocation of an ulcer. In addition, direct visualization of the actualstomach or intestinal lining using an endoscope is another means ofdiagnosing ulcers in a pet.Obviously, when formulating any treatment regimen for ulcers, anyunderlying source for the ulceration must be identified and treated.Specific ulcer treatment is aimed at reducing the amount of stomachacid secretion and providing a protective coating over the existingulcer until it has time to heal. Medications used to treat ulcers inhumans are very effective at treating the same in pets.Hairballs (Cats)The accumulation of hair within the stomach is the most commoncause of vomiting in cats. Because of their self-grooming habits and theroughened nature of their tongues, cats are prone to hairballs. Inci-dence of this problem increases during the spring and fall monthsbecause of increased shedding (Fig. 11.7).When the hair is swallowed, it can coalesce into a ball within thestomach and act as a gastric foreign body, irritating the stomach lin-ing. Vomiting, often right after eating, and gagging are usually theresult when this happens;coughing might also benoticed. Aside from thesesigns, those cats affectedseem otherwise clinicallynormal.232 DOGS AND CATSShorthaired cats can develop hairballsjust as readily as their longhairedpeers.DID YOU KNOW?
Diagnosis of hairballs isbased on clinical signs (andthe absence of other clini-cal signs) and physicalexamination. If the vomit-ing is continuous or severe,radiographs of the stomachor direct endoscopic exam-ination might be requiredto rule out other gastric for-eign bodies common tocats, such as cloth, strings,and plastic wrap.Another way to make adiagnosis of hairballs is to monitor response to treatment. There arenumerous “cat laxatives” on the market that can be given to a cat sus-pected of harboring hairballs. These agents, most of which are merelyflavored petroleum jelly, act to lubricate the hairball and facilitate itspassage out of the stomach and into the stool. Once this occurs, theclinical signs seen should abate. In severe instances, surgical removalof a prominent hairball might even be required to afford a cure.Pet owners can do their part to prevent hairballs in their cats. Giv-ing a laxative in a preventive manner once or twice weekly shouldhelp keep things moving smoothly through the gastrointestinal tract.One word of caution: Mineral oil should never be used as a hairballlaxative, primarily because this substance can be easily aspirated intothe lungs. In addition to giving hairball laxative periodically, brushinga cat’s haircoat on a daily basis will help reduce the amount of hairavailable for ingestion.Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (Dogs)Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis is a life-threatening condition that canbe rapidly fatal if not treated promptly. Characterized by an explo-sive onset of bloody diarrhea, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis canquickly cause dehydration, depression, shock, and toxemia inaffected dogs. It is most often seen with dietary indiscretions and/orTHE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM233FIGURE 11.7 Because cats groom themselvesso efficiently, they are highly prone to hairballformation.
bouts of pancreatitis. Toxins produced by bacteria within an irritatedgut cause such extensive inflammation that overt bleeding within thedigestive system results. Toxins and bacteria may then permeatethese blood vessels and gain entrance into the body, with seriousconsequences.Diagnosis of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis is based on history andclinical signs seen, as well as ruling out other causes of digestive sys-tem disturbances. Treatment consists of intravenous fluids to controldehydration, high levels of antibiotics to combat infection, and highdosages of steroid anti-inflammatories and other medications to con-trol shock and to counteract the effects of toxemia.IntussusceptionAn intussusception is a life-threatening condition involving an abnor-mal invagination of a portion of a dog or cat’s small or large intestineinto a dilated portion of bowel situated just ahead of it, causingobstruction to normal flow within the intestine (Fig. 11.8). Peristalsisinvolving the affected gut segments further aggravates the intussus-ception, making it worsewith time. In especiallysevere instances, the bloodsupply to the portion of theintestine involved will becut off, resulting in thedeath of that tissue andserious health problems.The site at which an intus-susception is most likely tooccur in dogs is where thesmall intestine links upwith the large intestine.The causes of an intus-susception can include anytype of inflammation withinthe gut, viral infections,234 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 11.8 An intussusception occurswhen a portion of the bowel folds over andinvaginates on itself.
parasites, tumors, and swallowed foreign objects. Strings (Fig. 11.9) andother linear foreign bodies are often the underlying causes of intussus-ceptions in cats. Signs seen in pets affected include lethargy, abdominalpain, fever, and vomiting.Radiographs are the most useful tools in the diagnosis of an intus-susception, since it has its own characteristic appearance on a radi-ograph. If intussusception is suspected or diagnosed, immediate surgeryis necessary to correct the invagination and to remove any dead portionsof bowel that might be present. Obviously, the underlying problem thatinitially caused the intussusception must be corrected as well.THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM235FIGURE 11.9 String foreign bodies commonly become lodged under the tongue.
Intestinal ObstructionsIn addition to intussusception, other items can obstruct normal flowthrough the gut and result in clinical signs, such as lethargy, vomiting,and black, tarry stools, and abnormal posture (Fig. 11.10). Swallowedforeign bodies (such as bones, rubber balls, and stones), tumors, fungalinfections, and herniations are all capable of causing either partial orcomplete obstructions if large or extensive enough. Unless the obstruc-tion is relieved in a timely fashion, usually through surgical means,loss of blood supply to the affected portion can occur, resulting in thedeath of that portion of bowel, systemic infection, and shock.Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is actually a group of chronic diges-tive disorders characterized by the infiltration of the walls of the bow-els with inflammatory cells, leading to abnormal wall thickening andirregularities. IBD has been recognized as a significant cause ofchronic vomiting and/or diarrhea in both dogs and cats. As far as theetiology of IBD, research to date has failed to uncover an exact cause.Many veterinarians believe that bacterial and/or dietary proteins maystimulate an autoimmune type of reaction in these pets. This reaction,in turn, manifests as abuildup of immune cells onand within the surfacescoming in contact withthese proteins.The classic clinical signassociated with IBD in catsis chronic vomiting. Oftenmisdiagnosed as hairballs,vomiting induced by IBDusually occurs intermit-tently over months to years,gradually worsening andincreasing in frequencywith time. In addition to236 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 11.10 Characteristic “hunched up”appearance of a dog with an intestinal obstruc-tion.
vomiting, bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain are also clinical signsseen in both dogs and cats suffering from IBD. In cats, lymphosarcomais not an uncommon sequela to severe cases of IBD that cannot be con-trolled through medical means.Diagnosis of IBD is made through the use of a thorough history,physical exam findings, radiographs of the abdomen, and more specif-ically, biopsy samples from affected portions of bowel. Diagnostictechniques such as these will help differentiate this condition fromother disorders that may cause similar clinical signs, including foreignbodies, pancreatitis, tumors, and bowel obstruction.Treatment for inflammatory bowel disease employs the use of drugsdesigned to reduce the inflammatory response, as well as medicationsdesigned to locally suppress the immune system response within thegut. Administration of these medications may be required on a long-term basis to control this disorder. Since food allergies are thought tobe an underlying cause in some instances, most treatment regimens forIBD also employ rations that are hypoallergenic in nature.Unfortunately, a complete cure for IBD is rarely possible. However,with appropriate treatment, most cases can be managed enough toallow the affected pet to live a relatively normal life otherwise.ColitisProblems involving the large intestine of dogs and cats are common inveterinary medicine. Colitis refers to the inflammation of the lining ofthe large intestine, resulting in diarrhea, with the feces often contain-ing an abundance of redblood and mucus. Tenes-mus, or straining to defe-cate, is another prevalentsign that is often mistakenfor constipation.Acute colitis refers to asudden onset of signs thatusually lasts only a shortperiod of time with propertreatment. Chronic colitisTHE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM237If bright red blood appears in thestool, it has originated from some-where along the large intestine. Onthe contrary, when bleeding originateswithin the small intestine, the bloodthat is passed in the stool is oftenpartially digested, giving the stool ablack, tarry appearance.DID YOU KNOW?
is a long-term, recurring condition that might last for the entire life-time of the pet.Parasites and bacterial infections are common causes of acute coli-tis in dogs and cats. Dietary indiscretions and stress-induced situa-tions are two other prevalent sources. Less commonly, fungalinfections, foreign bodies, intussusceptions, polyps, food allergies,immune system disorders, and tumors can all result in signs related toa chronic colitis. Because of the variety of potential causes, colitis canstrike a pet of any age.Diagnosis of colitis is made from a predisposing history (such asdietary indiscretion), existing clinical signs, and physical examina-tion. Stool examinations and other laboratory tests should be per-formed in an attempt to identify the underlying cause of the colitis.Radiographs, including barium contrast studies, are indicated in non-responsive, recurring cases. Biopsies obtained using an endoscope orthrough exploratory surgery can also prove to be helpful for establish-ing a definitive diagnosis. In some cases, an exact cause of the inflam-mation can never be discerned, even with extensive laboratory tests.Treatment of acute colitis is aimed at eliminating the inciting cause.Parasites should be treated using proper dewormers and antiparasiticmedications. Antibiotics can be used to help remove any disease-caus-ing bacteria within the colon, and steroid anti-inflammatories mightprove helpful in diminishing clinical signs. If polyps or tumors arepresent, surgical removal might be necessary to afford a cure.However, understand that in many cases of chronic colitis, espe-cially those caused by stress or by immune system disorders, a com-plete cure cannot be achieved. In these pets, treatment goals are aimedat managing flare-ups as they occur and maintaining a good quality oflife for the pet. Anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, and local protectantssuch as kaolin and pectin can help provide relief from these intermit-tent episodes.Dietary management is an important component of colitis treat-ment. Acute cases of colitis caused by dietary indiscretion or someinfectious process respond well to feeding a bland, easily digestiblediet available from a veterinarian.Chronic, recurring bouts with colitis might be managed by increas-ing the fiber content in the diet to normalize the gut motility. Finally,238 DOGS AND CATS
for those cases suspected of being caused by food allergies, a hypoal-lergenic diet can help eliminate the effects of the allergy.Megacolon (Cats)Feline megacolon is a disease condition characterized by a large, dis-tended colon that has lost its ability to contract properly. When thisoccurs, feces build up within the affected segment and prevent normalflow of ingesta through the intestinal tract.Megacolon is caused by a disruption of or lack of nerve activity inthe muscular walls of the colon. It might occur secondary to spinalcord trauma, other diseases affecting the nervous system, or, as in thecase of some Manx cats, be inherited.The clinical signs associated with feline megacolon can vary.Straining to defecate is certainly the most obvious sign; diarrhea canalso be seen alongside firm, hard stools. If the obstruction is severe,vomiting, dehydration, and loss of appetite can be seen as well.Diagnosis of feline megacolon can be made on physical examina-tion and, for confirmation, from radiographs. Treatment involvesremoving the fecal impaction using warm-water enemas and by infus-ing the colon with mineral oil.Enemas designed for use in humans should not be used in cats, asthe components of a human enema solution can cause severe dehy-dration in cats, Severe cases might require surgical relief of theimpaction.There is no effective cure for this condition; as a result, preventivemaintenance therapy should be used to prevent recurrences. Giving anoral hairball laxative on a daily basis will help keep fecal matter mov-ing along nicely. Increasing the amount of fiber in the diet has alsobeen shown to be helpful in preventing relapses.Anal Sac DiseaseThe anal sacs are special structures located at the eight o’clock and thefour o’clock positions just below the anus. These sacs are lined withspecial cells that secrete an odiferous liquid into the lumen of eachsac, where it is stored. As feces pass out of the anus, these sacs areTHE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM239
depleted of their stored material via small ducts located just below theanal opening. Some dogs and cats even have the skunklike ability toexpress these sacs on their own free will! No one knows quite for surewhat the purpose of the anal sacs and their secretions is, but manysuspect that they serve as a means of communication and identifica-tion between strangers!Anal sac infections and irritation can occur if the material withinthe sacs isn’t emptied on a regular basis. Secretions that are allowed toremain within the sacs for long periods of time often become thick andgritty, making future anal sac emptying that much harder. Any inflam-mation of the skin caused by allergies, fleas, and other problems canlead to this problem. Changes in frequency or consistency of bowelmovements caused by diarrhea, constipation, or dietary changes canalso result in improper emptying of the sacs and secondary anal sacdisease. Tapeworm segments are notorious for finding their way intothe sacs and causing marked irritation. Small breeds of dogs under 15pounds seem to have more problems with their anal sacs than dolarger breeds because the sacs’ emptying ducts are smaller as well. For-tunately, cats rarely have problems associated with their anal sacs.Dogs suffering from anal sac irritation often show obvious signs ofdiscomfort, including constant licking in that region, and “scooting”their hind ends along the floor in an attempt to empty the sacs (Fig.11.11). In these instances, manual emptying of the sacs often leads todramatic improvement in the pet’s overall disposition.If one or more anal sacs become infected, actual pus or drainingtracts might be observed around the affected region. These dogs are ina great deal of pain and will resist attempts at inspection. The amountof licking activity will also increase.Infected anal sacs need to be treated with topical antibioticsinstilled directly into the affected sac(s) on a daily basis. In extensivecases, oral antibiotics might also be used to quicken the cure.Anal sac problems can be prevented in a number of ways. Increas-ing the fiber and bulk content in the diet, and hence in the fecal mate-rial, will promote a thorough emptying of the sacs with each bowelmovement. If a dog is showing early signs of problems, such as scoot-ing, prompt evacuation of the sacs by a veterinarian can help preventfurther progression of the problem.240 DOGS AND CATS
Routine expression ofhealthy anal sacs is notadvised, since, if doneimproperly, it could actu-ally inflame these sacs andlead to impaction. Surgicalremoval of the anal sacs iscertainly an option forthose dogs that suffer mis-erably from this affliction.If infection is present, itmust be cleared up beforethis type of surgery is per-formed.PancreatitisInflammation of the pancreas, or pancreatitis, is a painful conditioncharacterized by an overproduction of digestive enzymes by the pan-creas, which actually begin to damage the pancreatic tissue itself. Thisdisorder can strike both dogs and cats with equal vengeance. In dogs,it is seen most often in middle-aged, overweight females. Dogs andcats that are fed poor-quality, high-calorie diets with or without tablescraps are also at high risk of developing pancreatitis. Heredity canalso come into play with certain canine breeds, such as schnauzers,which are at greater risk than are some of their counterparts.Signs of a pancreatitis attack include loss of appetite, excessivesalivation, vomiting (Fig. 11.12), diarrhea, depression, and markedpain in the abdominal region on the right side just behind the ribcage.Dogs so afflicted will sometimes assume a “praying” posture, with thefront legs bent and the hind end stuck up in the air, in an attempt toalleviate some of the pain.With severe involvement, shock and death can result if the painand inflammation are not relieved promptly. Diabetes mellitus canalso be an unfortunate consequence with repeated bouts of pancreati-tis as digestive enzymes destroy the insulin-producing cells within thepancreas. Because of the similarity of the clinical signs, acute bouts ofTHE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM241FIGURE 11.11 A dog with impacted anal sacswill “scoot” along the ground in an attempt toempty them.
pancreatitis must be differentiated from other gastrointestinal disor-ders such as foreign bodies and intestinal obstructions.Dogs and cats suffering from mild flare-ups of pancreatitis willoften recover spontaneously when food and water is withheld. In fact,this is one method of diagnosing this condition. Measuring the bloodlevels of the pancreatic enzymes amylase and lipase can also be a help-ful diagnostic tool, since both tend to be elevated during an acuteattack. Radiographs are useful for ruling out other potential causes ofthe clinical signs, such as intestinal obstructions.When treating pancreatitis, it is imperative that all food, water, andeven oral medication be discontinued for a period of 48 to 72 hours.This will help lower the amounts of digestive enzymes being pro-duced by the pancreas. Intravenous fluids are required to preventdehydration during this time of fasting.Pain relievers and medications designed to reduce pancreaticsecretions are very important to prevent secondary complicationsfrom arising. Since the gastrointestinal tract is involved, antibiotics areindicated as well to prevent secondary bacterial infections.242 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 11.12 Pancreatitis causes severe vomiting in dogs so affected.
Pancreatitis is usually a recurring problem that can never be elimi-nated completely. However, there are certain measures owners caninstitute at home to protect pets from acute flare-ups and the healthproblems associated with them.Dogs and cats with a history of this disorder should be fed low-calorie, easily digestible diets that don’t require much pancreatic effortfor their breakdown within the intestines. Such a diet, or a recipe forits formulation, is available from veterinarians. All table scraps shouldcease; even sneaking a small treat from the table could result in a life-threatening pancreatitis attack.Increasing exercise levels and promoting weight loss will also serveprotective functions against recurrence of this disorder.Hepatitis and Liver DiseaseWhile pancreatitis means inflammation involving the pancreas,hepatitis involves inflammation of the liver. Contrary to popularbelief, not all cases of hepatitis are infectious and contagious in nature.There can be numerous noninfectious causes of liver inflammation aswell. Some of these include diabetes mellitus, heart disease, acciden-tal poisonings, starvation, and cancer.Hepatic lipidosis is acommon type of liver dys-function in cats that has baf-fled researchers for years. Itis characterized by an exten-sive infiltration of the liverby fatty tissue that, inessence, crowds out the nor-mal liver cells and interfereswith normal liver function.It is seen in all ages of cats,and the exact cause of thiscondition is unknown, yetobesity and/or prolongedperiods of food deprivationdue to loss of appetite areTHE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM243Aspirin, acetaminophen, and othertypes of oral human pain medicationsare poisonous to cats. Thefeline liver, unlike that of most otherspecies, is deficient in a certainenzyme called glucuronyl trans-ferase. This enzyme is normallyresponsible for metabolizing anddetoxifying certain therapeutic drugsthat reach the liver. This is why catsare so sensitive to drugs such asaspirin and acetaminophen; even smalldoses can be deadly!A C T.FA C T OR F I C T I O NF
thought to increase the body’s utilization of fats for energy, the metab-olism of which is carried out in the liver.As an organ responsible for metabolism of the multitude of nutri-ents absorbed from the intestines, and detoxification of poisons anddrugs circulating in the blood, it is remarkable that the liver is nor-mally very resistant to injury or breakdown resulting from its normalday-to-day functions. Unfortunately, because of this heartiness, clini-cal signs of liver inflammation seldom appear until serious damage toliver function has already taken place.Like so many other diseases affecting the gastrointestinal tract,acute flare-ups of hepatitis can cause loss of appetite, vomiting, diar-244 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 11.13 Acute liver disease requires intense veterinary support.
rhea, and fever in affected dogs and cats. One unique sign often seenwith hepatitis, both acute and chronic, is jaundice, or icterus. Jaun-dice, caused by elevated levels of bile pigments in the bloodstream, ischaracterized by a yellow discoloration of the skin, mucous mem-branes, and the liquid portion of the blood.Other clinical signs that can result from chronic, long-term hepati-tis and liver disease include a fluid buildup within the abdominal cav-ity (ascites) due to increased resistance to blood flow through the liver,bleeding tendencies, and anemia. Seizures and other neurologic disor-ders can also appear with advanced cases as blood levels of ammoniaare allowed to build up.Diagnosis of hepatitis is based on clinical signs, elevated serum lev-els of liver enzymes, and/or the demonstration of an enlarged liver onradiographs or ultrasonography. For those more subtle cases, specialliver function tests and even biopsies might be required to confirm adiagnosis of hepatitis or discover its cause.Treatment objectives for hepatitis and liver disease are aimed ateliminating the injurious agent and its harmful effect on the liver tis-sue and at promoting healing of the affected tissue. In cats withhepatic lipidosis, this means force-feeding them if necessary. The liveris one of the few organs within the body that can actually regenerateitself after injury, provided, of course, that the source of the injury isdealt with properly (Fig. 11.13).If vomiting is a problem, intravenous fluids (Fig. 11.14) might beneeded until the stomach set-tles down enough for oralingestion of food and water.An easily digestible diet withhigh biological value (avail-able through veterinarians) isideal for dogs and cats suffer-ing from a liver disorder.Oral antibiotics designed toeliminate ammonia-formingorganisms are useful forthose cases exhibiting neuro-logical signs. Ascites can beTHE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM245FIGURE 11.14 Sick cats that refuse to eatmay require tube feeding. This particular tubepasses through the nose, down the esophagus,and into the stomach.
treated with diuretic drugs and by reducing the amount of sodium inthe pet’s diet.Finally, in chronic cases of hepatitis, steroids might be warrantedto increase appetite and to counteract the loss of protein that can occurwith liver disease. In addition, certain drugs for liver disease designedfor use in humans are being used in animals with variable success.246 DOGS AND CATS
The Urinary System12C H A P T E RIn the normal, day-to-day functioning of the body, lots of waste mate-rial is formed as a result of metabolic activity. It is the function of theurinary system to handle and to rid the body of these waste products.In addition, through its ability to dilute or concentrate the urine, itserves to regulate fluid levels within the body.Anatomy and PhysiologyThe urinary system of dogsand cats is composed of twokidneys, the ureters, a blad-der, and a urethra. The kid-neys are composed of cellscalled nephrons, which areresponsible for filteringthe waste material out of theblood and returning vitalfluids and nutrients backinto the bloodstream thatwould otherwise be lost inthe urine (Fig. 12.1). ThoseFIGURE 12. 1 The kidneys function to filterwaste material out of the bloodstream.247
solids and fluids not put back into the blood by the nephrons will even-tually make up the urine. All the nephrons empty urine into a specificportion of the kidney, which then empties into the ureter for transportto and storage in the bladder.The bladder wall is composed of smooth muscle and is capable ofexpanding to enormous sizes. Special muscular sphincters prevent theurine from passing out of the bladder prematurely. Urinary inconti-nence, characterized by an inability to voluntarily hold urine withinthe bladder, can result from malfunction of these sphincters. Once thebladder is ready to release its contents, the urine then passes out ofthe body by way of the urethra.Because of its vital function, any interference or alteration of uri-nary system function can quickly lead to serious health consequences.For this reason, prompt and proper diagnosis of urinary tract disordersin dogs and cats is essential. Periodic checkups by a veterinarian canhelp detect potential problems before they reach such a magnitude asto threaten the health of the pet.Kidney DiseaseThe kidneys are responsible for eliminating waste products producedby the body’s normal metabolism. If they fail to perform this functionadequately, the body will literally poison itself. For this reason, spe-cial attention must be directed at keeping these organs healthy, or—ifa disease state already exists—at treating to prevent further functionaldeterioration.In dogs and cats, kidney (renal) disease is the most common disorderassociated with old age. In essence, through normal wear and tear, thekidneys become unable to perform their functions in the same way thatthey did when they were young. Worn-out kidney cells die and arereplaced by scar tissue, which can’t filter out toxins from the blood. Whenenough of these nephronsdie and the buildup oftoxins in the blood becomesgreat enough, the pet beginsto exhibit signs of kidneyfailure.248 DOGS AND CATSIt takes a loss of over 75 percent of thefunctioning capacity of both kidneys tolead to signs of kidney failure in pets.DID YOU KNOW?
But don’t get the idea that only older pets can suffer from kidneyimpairment. Young dogs and cats might have been born with inade-quate kidney function, or they might suffer from other diseases (suchas feline infectious peritonitis or leptospirosis) or toxic agents that killnephrons and impair renal performance.For example, systemic infections, heat stroke, heart disease, andautoimmune diseases are only some of the acquired conditions that canlead to kidney disease and kidney failure. Many therapeutic drugs, suchas aspirin and certain antibiotics, can be damaging to the kidneys if usedindiscriminately. Antifreeze, or ethylene glycol, is deadly to dogs andcats when ingested because of the profound damage it causes to the kid-neys. Finally, periodontal disease, with its associated complications, canpredispose pets, both young and old, to kidney problems in the future.The clinical signs associated with kidney disease can be quite vari-able depending on the extent of damage to the kidneys. Interestingly,dogs and cats rarely show outward signs of kidney disease until atleast 75 percent of the function in both kidneys is lost! As a result,when signs do finally become apparent, it is vital that therapeuticmeasures be taken quickly to prevent loss of the remaining 25 percent.Sudden, acute kidney failure, the type that can result from theingestion of a poison such as antifreeze (Fig. 12.2), can lead directlyinto intense dehydration, shock, unconsciousness, and death withoutmanifesting any other signs.Chronic, more long-term kidney disease and kidney failure rarelyhave such a dramatic presentation, yet such conditions can even-tually turn into acute kidney failure if measures aren’t instituted toprevent this progression. Dogs and cats with chronic renal failurewill exhibit an increasedthirst and an increaseddesire to urinate. Depres-sion and loss of appetitemight also set in. In addi-tion, since renal diseasecan cause stomach ulcers,vomiting might occur.Veterinarians can diag-nose kidney disease throughTHE URINARY SYSTEM249FIGURE 12.2 Antifreeze will destroy the kidneys!
a series of laboratory tests performed on the blood and the urine. Twoblood parameters, blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and serum creatinine,will be elevated if the kidneys are failing.The urine specific gravity is also an important parameter that helpsthe veterinary practitioner determine the extent of damage to the kid-neys. Under normal circumstances, the specific gravity of the urine,which measures how concentrated the urine is, should fluctuatedepending on the body’s own needs for water. Diseased kidneys, how-ever, are unable to conserve water for the body; hence, the specificgravity of the urine in a pet with advanced kidney disease will bediluted, even if the pet is clinically dehydrated.Dogs and cats suffering from acute renal failure must be hospital-ized and placed on intravenous fluids to correct dehydration. Othermedications designed to stimulate kidney function will be given aswell. If the pet survives this acute attack, support measures for chronickidney failure must then be implemented.Stress reduction is vital in dogs and cats with chronic renal diseaseand/or failure. Unlimited access to clean, fresh water should be pro-vided at all times, since water deprivation could lead into an acutekidney-failure crisis. Special diets that are low in phosphorus andcontain only high-quality protein should be fed to help reduce toxinbuildup within the bloodstream. These are available from veterinari-ans. Vitamin supplementation should also be considered to replacethose lost in the increased urine flow.Since renal disease canalter, among other things,the blood levels of calciumand phosphorus, medica-tions designed to keep levelsof these electrolytes con-stant are used as well. If apet is having trouble with vomiting, human antiulcer medications canbe employed to help settle the stomach.Finally, since kidney disease places an incredible burden on theaffected pet’s immune system, all underlying disease processes anddisorders (such as periodontal disease) need to be addressed.250 DOGS AND CATSA test is now available from your vet-erinarian that can detect kidney dis-ease before symptoms even appear!DID YOU KNOW?
Urinary IncontinenceDogs and cats that are unable to willfully control their urination habitsare said to be suffering from incontinence. Pets with urinary inconti-nence might simply urinate spontaneously without warning, or mightdrip urine continuously throughout the day. Inappropriate urinationwhile sleeping is another common complaint. Dermatitis in the geni-tal and hind-leg regions can also be seen as a result of incontinenceand urine scalding in these areas.The potential causes of urinary incontinence are numerous; as aresult, a proper veterinary workup is essential to obtain a correct diag-nosis. Spinal trauma, anatomical changes or irritation caused by inher-ited defects, infections, tumors, urinary calculi, and metabolicdiseases such as diabetes mellitus or diabetes insipidus can all beunderlying causes of incontinence. In these instances, treatment isgeared toward correcting the underlying cause if possible.It has been noted that a small number of female dogs that arespayed at an early age can suffer from incontinence when they entertheir geriatric years. Although the exact cause of this incontinence isunknown, it can usually be controlled with medications designed toincrease sphincter tone within the lower urinary tract.Puppies and even some adult dogs might urinate spontaneouslywhen they become excited or frightened. Most puppies will “growout” of this problem as they mature. For these and others, treatment forbehavioral incontinence is directed toward minimizing the stimulithat cause the incontinence in the first place. For instance, when deal-ing with dogs that urinate because of excitement, avoiding eye contactor exaggerated greetings when approaching the pet often help curbexcitement and prevent urination. For those dogs that urinate whenfrightened, easing their fear through behavioral modification is the keyto a cure.Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)Feline lower urinary tract disease [known in the past as feline urologicsyndrome (FUS)] is a disease syndrome of cats characterized by theTHE URINARY SYSTEM251
formation of crystals (themost common are struviteand calcium oxalate crys-tals) within the urinary blad-der. These crystals, in turn,cause inflammation, urinarybleeding and straining, andsometimes life-threateningobstruction to the normalflow of urine out of the blad-der (Fig. 12.3).No one knows for surewhy some cats get FLUTDand others don’t. Many poten-tial causes have been hypoth-esized, including viruses,abnormal urinary retention,obesity, bladder defects, and—the most popular theory to date—improperdiet. In reality, one or all of these factors might play a role in the occurrenceof FLUTD.If a cat is prone to this disorder, it will usually show some signs ofthe disease by the time that it is 3 years of age. Both male and femalecats are at risk of developing FLUTD; however, males have a greaterlikelihood of developing a life-threatening obstruction simply becausethe male urethra is smaller than that of the female and can becomeplugged with crystals more easily. If such an obstruction occurs, urinecan flow back into the kidneys, causing damage to these organs andalso causing toxins to begin building up in the bloodstream.Early clinical signs of FLUTD result from the irritation that thesecrystals cause within the bladder itself. These can include inappropri-ate urination in places other than the litterbox or normal eliminationareas, increased licking at the genital region, straining, frequentattempts at urination with crying or vocalization, and blood in theurine (Fig. 12.4). Cats often lose their appetites and become more irri-table as well. More seriously, male cats suffering from partial or com-plete obstruction of the urethra can exhibit vomiting, intense lethargy,and a distended, painful abdomen.252 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 12.3 Urine crystals as seen under amicroscope.
Diagnosis of FLUTD isbased on clinical signs,physical examination, anda urinalysis. An enlarged,painful bladder can also bepalpated in those cats suf-fering from some degreeof obstruction. If a bladderinfection is suspected, thenurine cultures might alsobe performed.The obstructed cat willusually have high levels ofkidney enzymes (BUN, cre-atinine) present in its bloodstream, signifying the toxin buildup andkidney destruction that is occurring. Most veterinary hospitals areequipped to monitor these enzymes.If an actual obstruction is suspected, then rapid treatment is essen-tial to save the life of the cat. Obstructed cats are immediately placedon intravenous fluids to help dilute the toxin levels within the blood-stream. A catheter is then inserted into the urethra to “unplug” it inorder to reestablish urine flow. Once this flow is reestablished, thebladder is flushed repeat-edly with sterile saline toremove any crystals thatmight be remaining within(Fig. 12.5).The veterinarian mustdecide whether to keepthe urinary catheter inplace for a few days. Whilecatheterized, these cats areplaced on antibiotics toprevent the occurrence ofany secondary bladder infec-tions as a result of the cathe-ter. Intravenous fluids areTHE URINARY SYSTEM253FIGURE 12.4 Cats with urinary tract diseasewill lick incessantly.FIGURE 12.5 A urinary catheter may becomenecessary to relieve an obstruction.
continued in the hospital setting for 2 to 3 days after the obstructionis relieved.For the cats that are not obstructed but still are showing signs ofFLUTD, smooth-muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory medicationscan be used to help reduce the discomfort and urge associated withthis disease. The use of antibiotics in such patients is still controver-sial; studies have shown that bacterial infections are present in lessthan 20 percent of the cases. However, if urine culture confirms thepresence of such, antibiotics are, of course, indicated.If struvite crystals have been diagnosed, altering the pH of the urinein order to dissolve any crystals present within the bladder is anotherimportant step in treating this disease in both obstructed and unob-structed felines. Rendering the urine more acidic will help dissolveexisting struvite crystals and help prevent the formation of new ones.Most veterinary research-ers agree that diet plays theforemost role in the cre-ation and in the treatmentand prevention of this dis-ease syndrome. Dry dietswith high contents of mag-nesium and ash (mineral)levels are the biggest culprits in promoting FLUTD in cats.Unfortunately, many of the commercial supermarket brands of catfood contain these excesses. Diets specially formulated for the preven-tion of FLUTD can be obtained in both moist and dry forms from mostveterinary offices and some pet supply stores. Because of its high cal-cium and mineral content, cow’s milk should never be offered to thoseindividuals prone to FLUTD.Besides feeding a diet that promotes a healthy urine pH and is lowin magnesium and ash, providing cats free access to a fresh water sup-ply is a must. Increased water consumption will help increase thenumber of urinations each day, effectively keeping the bladder flushedout. In fact, most commercial diets formulated for the prevention ofFLUTD have an increased salt content to promote increased water con-sumption. With these increased urinations comes the responsibility ofkeeping the litterbox cleaned on a regular basis. Many cats refuse to254 DOGS AND CATSSpecial cat litter additives are nowavailable from your veterinarian thatcan help detect the presence of bloodin the urine, allowing for the earlydetection of FLUTD.DID YOU KNOW?
urinate in a dirty litterbox, a practice that encourages urine retentionand FLUTD.Although it might not seem important, regulating the frequency ofmeals fed can play a direct role in the prevention of FLUTD. After a catconsumes a meal, its urine undergoes a temporary rise in pH. For thosecats allowed to eat and nibble all day long (such as those fed dryfoods), this might promote relatively constant alkaline urine, andthereby predispose to struvite crystal formation. As a result, in termsof preventing FLUTD, offering one or two meals a day rather thanfree-choice meals is preferred.Obese cats are more prone to FLUTD than their slimmer counter-parts, so weight control is an important preventive measure to followas well. Overweight felines, especially those who have exhibited signsof FLUTD in the past, should be placed on a reducing diet prescribedby their veterinarians and have their activity levels increased until thedesired weight is reached. Once weight loss is accomplished, they canbe switched back over to preventive-type rations.Without proper dietary management, FLUTD can be expected torecur over 50 percent of the time. In some cats, however, FLUTDrecurs over and over again, even with dietary management. In theseinstances, treating the symptoms when they first appear and continu-ing with preventive measures will usually prevent such episodes fromturning serious.For those male cats that have had recurring obstruction, a specialoperation known as a perineal urethrostomy might be indicated toreduce the danger of death due to urinary blockage. This surgeryinvolves the removal of the end of the penis and widening the urethralopening, effectively allowing for free passage out of any and all crys-tals. Keep in mind that such a procedure is not intended to cure theFLUTD; it merely lessens the risk of severe, life-threatening complica-tions associated with it.Canine Urolithiasis (Urinary Stones)Urinary tract infections that go unnoticed for a period of time can pre-dispose a dog to urolithiasis. A urolith or stone results from the coa-lescing of crystals that form within the bladder environment. In dogs,THE URINARY SYSTEM255
these stones form more readily within the bladder than they do inother portions of the urinary system. Urolithiasis presents itselfin dogs in two forms: cystic (bladder) calculi and urethral calculi.Cystic calculi are found mainly in females and appear when infec-tious bacteria within the bladder cause a shift in the urine pH, whichin turn causes the crystals to form. The two most common types ofcrystals generated are struvite and calcium oxalate crystals. Stonesformed by these crystals are often discoid in shape.Urethral calculi occur in male dogs and are typically composed ofcystine or urate crystals instead of struvite. This type of urolithiasis isseldom caused by infections; rather, an inherent metabolic disorderis responsible for crystal formation. If these stones lodge in the maleurethra, they can prevent normal urination, and can seriously threatenthe life of the pet.Straining to urinate, bloody urine, constant licking at the urethralopening, and/or frequent unsuccessful attempts to urinate are allsigns of a urinary problem. Stones might or might not be present in adog exhibiting these signs, but this warrants a professional evalua-tion. Some dogs, especially females, might carry stones in their blad-ders for long periods of time without exhibiting any signs at all. Thisis one good reason for hav-ing a veterinarian performa routine urinalysis on anannual basis.Diagnosis of urolithiasisis made on the basis of micro-scopic examination of theurine for crystal formation,abdominal palpation, andradiographs (Fig. 12.6). Moststones will show up readilyon regular radiographs; how-ever, those composed ofurate or cystine might requirespecial contrast radiographsin order to identify them. Inaddition, for male dogs sus-256 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 12.6 Radiographs (X rays) can be usedto detect many types of bladder stones.
pected of having urethral calculi, inability to pass a urinary catheter is asure sign that stones are present. In these cases and others, the attendingveterinarian will often elect to run blood tests as well to ensure that thekidneys and other organs are functioning properly in the presence ofthese uroliths.Treatment of urolithiasis depends on the size and number of thestones present and their location within the urinary tract. Obviously amale dog whose urinary tract is completely plugged by one or more ofthese stones requires emergency care immediately. Catheterization isperformed in an attempt to dislodge the stones, pushing them backinto the bladder and freeing up the flow of urine. Most of the time,these stones must then be removed from the bladder surgically.In those cases uncomplicated by obstruction, the size of the stonesinvolved determines the treatment regimen. Large stones locatedwithin the bladder will undoubtedly require surgery for their removal.In contrast, smaller struvite stones or crystals can often be effectivelymanaged only with special diets designed to dissolve the stones.Typically, this dietary approach to treatment might take anywherefrom 1 to 4 months to accomplish the desired results. If a pet is placedon a urolith-dissolving diet, be sure to follow the veterinarian’sinstructions closely. These diets should not be administered for anyterm longer than that prescribed by the veterinarian. Once the stoneshave dissolved, the pet needs to be switched to a different diet.Of course, whether a surgical or medical approach is used, concur-rent antibiotic therapy is also necessary if an infection is underlyingthe bladder stones.Because the rate of recurrence of urolithiasis is relatively high evenafter successful treatment, preventive measures should be instituted tohelp lower the odds. For urethral calculi, special diets that can helppromote a urine pH that is nonconducive to crystal formation areavailable from veterinarians. These diets are also low in those dietarycomponents that might be incorporated into crystals.Cystic calculi can be prevented in a similar fashion, using specialdiets available from veterinarians designed for the prevention of stru-vite uroliths. In addition, prompt identification and treatment of uri-nary tract infections will help ensure that crystals and stones won’tdevelop as a consequence.THE URINARY SYSTEM257
Urinary Tract InfectionsInfections of the urinary tract can occur anywhere along the systempathway, including the kidneys, the ureters, the bladder, the urethra,and the prostate gland. One particular site might be exclusivelyaffected, or multiple sites could be involved at the same time. Mosturinary tract infections are caused by bacteria gaining entrance intothe body through external urinary orifices and traveling upward into thesystem (termed ascending infections). Other routes of infection caninclude the blood or the lymphatic system, and through direct pene-trating trauma. Urinary tract infections are relatively uncommon incats unless they occur secondary to FLUTD.Because of the shorter length of their urethras, female dogs are moreprone to urinary tract infections than are males. In all animals, regard-less of sex, normal body defense mechanisms are constantly at workpreventing the establishment of infections within the tract. Antibodieslining the surfaces of the bladder and urethra provide a first line ofdefense. Sphincter systems, controlled by contracting smooth muscle,help seal off the different portions of the tract from one another. Anacidic pH to the urine is another safeguard against the multiplication ofundesirable organisms. Finally, normal, frequent urination is also veryeffective at eliminating undesirable bacteria from the bladder and otherparts of the system. For this reason, any disruption in the normal uri-nation routine (e.g., not taking a dog outside enough, dehydration) canpredispose an individual to a bacterial infection.Clinical signs of urinary tract infection will vary, depending onthe region(s) involved. Signs associated with infections of the blad-der and urethra include straining when trying to urinate (often mis-taken for constipation), passage of only small amounts of urine at atime, and/or bloody urine. In the latter case, blood noted at the begin-ning of urination often signifies a urethral infection, whereas bloodnoticed near the end of elimination might indicate that the bladder isinvolved. In many cases, dogs won’t show any other signs of illnessor fever.If the kidneys or ureters are involved, similar clinical signs mightbe noticed, along with other obvious signs of illness, such as fever,depression, vomiting, abdominal pain, and/or back pain. In cases of258 DOGS AND CATS
upper urinary tract infections, it is vital that treatment be instituted atonce to prevent permanent damage to the kidneys.A urinary tract infection can be associated with other diseaseprocesses as well, so its presence can sometimes be overshadowed byclinical signs associated with another primary disease. For instance,diabetes mellitus can predispose to urinary tract infections due to thehigh sugar content in the urine caused by the disease (sugar can pro-vide an ideal growth medium for bacteria). Disorders of the nervoussystem can even lead to urinary infections if the nerve supply to themuscles and sphincters of the tract is disrupted, thereby eliminatingsome of the body’s natural means of defense.One unfortunate sequela that can result from any type of urinary tractinfection that is not treated promptly is urolithiasis, or urinary stones.Stones have a propensity to form when an increase in urine pH occurs,often as a result of bacteria acting within the urinary tract to break downurine. When this breakdown occurs, ammonia is released, increasing thepH of the bladder environment.Diagnosis of a urinary tract infection is based on clinical signs, uri-nalysis, and urine cultures designed to identify the actual bacteriainvolved. In addition, a veterinarian might choose to order a bloodworkup on a pet to rule out any disorders, such as diabetes mellitus,that might be underlying the infection. Furthermore, if crystals arenoted on microscopic examination of the urine, radiographs will beneeded to rule out the presence of any bladder or kidney stones.Treatment for a urinary tract infection involves the use of an appro-priate antibiotic for a minimum of 10 days. Since bacteria can becomeresistant to certain antibiotics over time, urine cultures to determineantibiotic sensitivity should be performed if a response to treatmentwith a particular antibiotic is poor.Large urinary stones might need to be removed surgically. Smallerstones and crystals can often be dissolved by feeding a special type ofdiet designed to accomplish this task.For those dogs that suffer from chronic, recurring flare-ups of uri-nary tract infections, long-term, low-dose antibiotic therapy might beprescribed by a veterinarian. This involves the administration of a sin-gle dosage of antibiotic just before the pet’s bedtime. Because of theovernight buildup of urine within the bladder, the antibiotic is allowedTHE URINARY SYSTEM259
to reach high concentrations within the urine, effectively combatingany bacteria that might be present. It is important to take a dog outsideto eliminate just before bedtime, to ensure that the new urine that isformed will contain high levels of the medication.Owners can help prevent the occurrence of a urinary tract infectionin their dogs by providing plenty of fresh water to drink at all times,and by encouraging frequent urination. Special diets that promote ahealthy environment within the urinary tract and help discourageinfections are available from veterinarians.For dogs with long hair, especially females, keep the hair trimmedaround the external urinary structures to reduce the chances of bacte-ria gaining entrance to the urinary system via contamination by thishair.Finally, because uncomplicated urinary tract infections might notshow any outward signs, a routine urinalysis on a pet is encouraged onan annual basis, along with its regular checkup and vaccinations.260 DOGS AND CATS
The Reproductive System13C H A P T E RDiseases and conditions involving the reproductive tract tend to beeither infectious or anatomical in nature. Prompt medical attentionis warranted in any disorder involving the reproductive tract.Anatomy and PhysiologyThe Male Reproductive SystemStarting with the male dog and cat, the major parts of the reproductivesystem include the testicles (with associated epididymis and ductus def-erens), the scrotum (containing the testicles), the penis (containing theurethra), and the prostate gland. Tomcats also have two bulbourethralglands, which contribute fluid to the semen.The testes are the organs responsible for the production of spermato-zoa. This production is directly influenced by the hormone testosterone,also produced by the testi-cles. Aside from regulatingsperm production, testoster-one is also responsible fornormal male sexual behav-ior, as well as the aggressive,territorial behavior exhibitedby some males.All calico cats are female.Ninety-nine percent of all calicos arefemale, yet the occasional male slipsthrough. When he does, he is sterile.F I C T I O N .A C T OR F I C T I O NF261
Normally, the testicles should descend into the scrotum shortlyafter birth, usually no later than 8 weeks of age. If this event fails tooccur, the pet is said to be cryptorchid, and surgical removal of the tes-ticles is required to prevent medical problems (such as testiculartumors) in the future and to prevent the passage of that undesirabletrait to offspring.From the testicle, sperm is shunted into the epididymis, a structureclosely attached to each testicle, where it finishes its maturation process.On copulation, the mature sperm is transported from the epididymisthrough the ductus deferens and to the tubelike urethra coursing withinthe penis.The feline penis is covered with tissue “spines” that serve to stim-ulate ovulation in the female when mating occurs. The canine penishas the uncommon ability to swell near its origin during erection,effecting the unique interlocking “tie” with the female during repro-duction. In addition, the dog’s penis contains a bony structure calledthe os penis, which is grooved underneath to allow for passage of theurethra. If its support function seems somewhat sedentary, its medicalsignificance is not. Because the penis and urethra are parts of the uri-nary system as well as the reproductive, this os penis can exacerbatecomplications associated with certain urinary disorders, includingurethral calculi.The prostate gland, considered an accessory sex gland, is locatedsurrounding the urethra near the neck of the bladder. It functions toproduce prostatic fluid, which mixes with sperm to form semen, andhelps increase the survivability of the sperm within the female repro-ductive tract. Enlargement or inflammation of this gland can occur asintact male dogs mature. Constipation, discharges from the penis, andpainful urination can be clinical signs of a prostatic disorder.The Female Reproductive SystemThe major reproductive organs of the female dog and cat include theovaries, the oviducts, the uterus, the vagina, the vulva, and the mam-mary glands. The ovaries are responsible for the production andrelease of eggs destined to be fertilized by the male sperm. In addi-tion, several important reproductive hormones are produced by thesestructures.262 DOGS AND CATS
Unfertilized eggs are released, or ovulated, by the ovaries, and passinto the small oviducts. It is within these oviducts that fertilizationtakes place. The fertilized egg, or embryo, continues its passage downthe oviducts on its way to the uterus.When an embryo reaches the uterus, it attaches itself to the uterinewall and begins its development. If fertilization has not taken place,this attachment won’t occur and the body eventually resorbs the egg.The uterus is separated from the vagina by a ring of muscle knownas the cervix. Most of the time, this cervix remains open. During preg-nancy, however, the cervix will close, preventing outside access to theuterine environment. At time of parturition, the cervix relaxes, allow-ing the birth to take place.The external opening of the vagina is termed the vulva. As a femaledog enters into her heat cycle, the vulva will begin to noticeably swell,tipping off owners to the impending heat.Dogs and cats typically have a total of 8 to 10 mammary glands(4 to 5 on each side), designed to supply newborn offspring with life-sustaining milk (Fig. 13.1). The size of these glands will fluctuate,depending on the stage of the estrous cycle and the pregnancy status ofthe female.The “estrous cycle” is the term used to describe a series of eventsthat occurs within the female reproductive tract between actual heat,THE REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM263FIGURE 13.1 Newborns receive colostrum from their mother’s milk during their first24 hours of life. This colostrum contains antibodies that help protect the neonatesagainst disease.
or periods of estrus. On the average, this cycle lasts from 6 to 8 monthsin the female dog (bitch) and in cats (queens), 12 to 20 days. Cats areconsidered “seasonally polyestrous,” meaning that the estrous cycletends to occur during only certain months of the year (February toOctober), with anestrus (see the next paragraph) settling in during thefall and early winter. However, cats kept indoors exposed to continu-ous artificial lighting may not experience anestrus at all.The four phases of theestrous cycle include anes-trus, proestrus, estrus, andmetestrus. Anestrus is theperiod of time in whichthere is no reproductiveactivity going on in theovaries. The duration of anestrus is typically 4 to 5 months in the aver-age dog. As mentioned above, the period of anestrus in cats occurs sea-sonally and is influenced the length of daylight. From anestrus, thereproductive cycle enters the period of proestrus. Signs seen duringproestrus are related to the ovaries’ increased production of the hor-mone estrogen, and, in dogs, they include vaginal bleeding and a grad-ual swelling of the vulva. Proestrus can last anywhere from 7 to 14days in the dog and 3 days in the cat. Normally, females will not standto be mated until the waning days of this phase.In dogs, as vaginal bleeding subsides and proestrus ends, estrus, ortrue heat, begins (the termestrus should not be con-fused with estrous cycle).This heat period can last1 to 2 weeks in both dogsand cats and is character-ized by sexual receptivityof the female to the male.Some dog breeds, particu-larly husky-type breeds andbasenjis, can undergo a phe-nomenon known as “wolfheat.” Thought to be a carry-264 DOGS AND CATSQueens are induced ovulators; that is,mating stimulates the egg to be ovu-lated from the ovary, increasing thechances of a successful fertilization.DID YOU KNOW?Once a female dog starts bleedingfrom her vagina, she is “in heat.”In reality, such females arebeginning their proestrual period andwon’t enter into true heat until thebleeding stops. Unfortunately, manypet owners trying to guard againstaccidental pregnancies learn this fact2 months later when an unexpectedlitter arrives!F I C T I O N .A C T OR F I C T I O NF
over from their wild ancestors, dogs exhibiting such a pattern mightnot enter directly into heat after the proestrual period. Instead, theestrous cycle actually comes to a halt for 2 to 3 weeks before startingup again. Another interesting fact about the heat period in the dog isthat eggs that are ovulated from the ovaries can mature and be fertil-ized at different times. As a result, it is possible for mixed litters tooccur if the female dog happens to be bred by more than one male.The last stage in the estrous cycle is metestrus, which can last from2 to 3 months in the dog and 3 to 14 days in the cat. This stage beginswhen the female refuses to accept the male for further breeding. It isthe period of uterine repair or, if fertilization is achieved, the period ofpregnancy. False pregnancies appear during this phase as well (see thenext section).Accidental Mating (Mismating)The question about what to do with the female dog or cat that is acci-dentally (Fig. 13.2) bred is not an easy one to answer. In the old days,all that a pet owner needed to do was to take her in to the veterinarianfor a “mismating” shot orpill. What these treatmentsconsisted of were formula-tions of the female hor-mone estrogen, which, ifgiven within the first 36hours after mating occur-red, would effectively ter-minate a pregnancy.However, it is nowknown that significant sideeffects can occur if suchdrugs are used. For starters,external sources of estrogenshave been demonstrated toactually cause infertility insome female dogs, renderingthem unable to conceive atTHE REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM265FIGURE 13.2 Be on guard: Male dogs will go togreat lengths to be with a female in heat.
later dates. On a more serious note, estrogens can also cause a life-threat-ening anemia in sensitive cases. And if that weren’t enough, they canalso predispose a pet to pyometra after administration.To be safe, use of such estrogen-containing drugs is not an accept-able method for dealing with mismatings in dogs or cats. So what arethe options open to pet owners? To begin, valuable breeding femalesshould be allowed to just go ahead and have the litter of puppies orkittens instead of chancing it with mismating medications. If this isnot acceptable, then either surgical removal of the fetuses from theuterus at a later stage of development or an actual ovariohysterectomyis warranted.Remember: All of this is assuming, of course, that a viable matingdid indeed take place and that a pregnancy resulted from it! Many mis-matings do not result in pregnancy, and cause owners to grieve need-lessly. Pregnancy detection tests are available through veterinariansand can be used to confirm whether a pet is indeed pregnant.False PregnancyWhen the ovaries release eggs to be fertilized, they then start to pro-duce a hormone called progesterone. The function of this hormone isto maintain pregnancy if egg fertilization occurs. However, a uniquefeature seen in dogs is that even if fertilization does not occur, proges-terone levels will remain high for up to 10 weeks after heat is over. Itis precisely this behavior that is responsible for the condition dogowners know as pseudopregnancy, or “false pregnancy.” False preg-nancies can also occur in cats, yet rarely of the same magnitude as seenin dogs.All female dogs exhibit some form of pseudopregnancy after theycome out of heat. In most, signs associated with it go unnoticed by theowner. However, some dogs do exhibit marked changes as a result ofthese high progesterone levels, including mammary gland enlarge-ment with or without the production of milk, and behavioral changesthat include restlessness, nesting, mothering of inanimate objects, andloss of appetite. In short, they might actually appear to be expectantmothers! Often, there is no way to be sure that they are not, withoutthe use of ultrasound or radiographic X rays. Dogs that undergo266 DOGS AND CATS
marked false pregnancies are also prime candidates for mastitis, acommon sequela.Therapy to control signs associated with pseudopregnancy isseldom needed, unless mastitis becomes a recurring problem, or ifmarked behavioral changes occur. Hormones prescribed by a veteri-narian can provide relief in many cases, yet prolonged use of theseagents can have undesirable side effects, especially in females used forbreeding. For this reason, unless you have a valuable breeder on yourhands, ovariohysterectomy is the safest and most effective way to dealwith pseudopregnancy.EclampsiaEclampsia is a serious, sometimes life-threatening disease that canoccur in the female either just prior to giving birth or within 3 weeksafter parturition has taken place. More common in the smaller, toybreeds, it is characterized by abnormally low levels of blood calciumin their systems. The condition is rarely seen in cats.In dogs, early signs seen with eclampsia include nervousness, whin-ing, pacing, and trembling. This might progress into incoordination, mus-cle spasms, and seizurelike activity. If the eclampsia is left untreated,death can result from respiratory difficulties and high fever (Fig. 13.3).Diagnosis of eclampsia is based on history, clinical signs, and bloodcalcium levels. Fortunately, treatment consisting of intravenous injec-tions of calcium is highly effective and provides instant relief from thelife-threatening signs seen.After treatment is performed, and clinical signs have abated, ownersneed to take special precautions to ensure that a relapse does not occur,For starters, puppies should not be allowed to nurse for 24 hours aftersuch an episode. Instead, a commercial milk replacement formulashould be fed to them. In fact, periodic supplementation should con-tinue even after the puppies are placed back on their mother’s milk toreduce the load on her. In some cases, putting the puppies back on theirmother’s milk will cause another episode of eclampsia, in which casethey should be permanently placed on supplements.Female dogs that are prone to eclampsia should be placed on oralcalcium supplements throughout the nursing period. In fact, if there isTHE REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM267
a past history of such a problem, calcium supplementation started dur-ing the last 2 weeks of pregnancy and continued throughout lactationcan be quite helpful in preventing a recurrence.Vaginitis and MetritisInflammation involving the uterus is termed metritis; that involvingthe vagina is properly termed vaginitis. Both vaginitis and metritis canoccur independently of each other, or together. Causes of vaginitis andmetritis can include venereally transmitted organisms, metabolic dis-eases like diabetes mellitus, retained fetuses or placentas, and, as men-tioned earlier, treatment with estrogen-type drugs.Female puppies under 1 year of age can suffer from a conditiontermed juvenile vaginitis, characterized by a thick, greenish vaginal dis-charge. Aside from the discharge, affected puppies generally show noother ill effects, and the condition will, in most instances, spontaneouslyresolve on its own when the puppy enters into her first heat cycle.Classic signs of vaginitis or metritis include a thick, yellow-to-greendischarge seen coming from the vagina. Owners might notice their petslicking excessively around this area. In especially dire metritis cases,268 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 13.3 Eclampsia causes rigid (spastic) convulsions in affected female dogs.
loss of appetite with an increased water intake, fever, and abdominalpain might become apparent. The discharge might also become dis-cernibly blood-tinged. Because of the intimacy of the urinary tract withthe reproductive tract in females, bladder infections that occur sec-ondary to the vaginitis or metritis are also common.The type of treatment used for reproductive tract infectionsdepends on which portions are involved. For instance, in mild cases ofvaginitis, including juvenile vaginitis, direct infusion of the vaginawith antibiotics or povidone-iodine douches provides effectiveresults. If the vaginitis is severe or if the uterus is involved, high dosesof antibiotics given orally or by injection are required. To determinewhich antibiotics will work the best, a bacterial culture is indicated.Certainly, if there are any puppies nursing on the affected female, theyshould be removed and placed on formula.In critical metritis cases, intravenous fluids might even berequired for support. Unless the female is a valuable breeding animal,an ovariohysterectomy should be performed on these pets to directlyeliminate the source of the problem, and to prevent metritis fromrecurring at a later date. For those dogs and cats that are consideredtoo valuable to be spayed, special medications called prostaglandinscan be utilized to help the uterus contract and empty. These, however,must be used with extreme care under the direct supervision of a vet-erinarian, and even then, only as a last resort.Cystic Endometrial Hyperplasia (Pyometra)In older dogs that have experienced numerous heat cycles, cysticendometrial hyperplasia complex (CEHC), or pyometra, can develop.Because of repeated hormonal stimulation of the uterus year after year,glands lining the inside wall of the uterus become larger and moreactive with each heat cycle. Large amounts of fluid are secreted into theuterus by these glands, which can then accumulate, causing uterineswelling. Obvious problems can arise if this fluid is not allowed todrain out of the uterus. Unfortunately, this is precisely what happens inmany instances. Because of high progesterone levels associated withmetestrus, the cervix remains closed, prohibiting drainage from theuterus. At the same time, the trapped fluid provides an ideal mediumTHE REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM269
for bacteria to grow in, leading to bacterial infections and pus forma-tion. As a result, the uterus literally becomes a bag full of pus. Andbecause of the continued buildup of fluid and pus, an infected uteruscan reach an enormous size within the dog’s abdomen. In advancedcases, actual rupture of the uterine wall might result, often with fatalconsequences for the unfortunate dog.Females afflicted with pyometra usually exhibit the classic signsof metritis, including depression, loss of appetite with a markedlyincreased thirst, and abdominal pain. As mentioned earlier, a dis-charge might or might not be associated with pyometra, and the lackthereof might be associated with the more serious form of the disease.Abdominal enlargement due to uterine filling might also becomeapparent, with radiographs revealing a huge uterine outline. Bloodwork performed on these patients will reveal an enormously elevatedwhite blood cell count and mild anemia (due to the long-term natureof the disease). Pyometra has also been shown to induce kidney dis-ease in affected dogs; as a result, increased urination, vomiting, anddehydration might also be present.Complete ovariohysterectomy is the treatment of choice for pyome-tra. Those cases involving a grossly enlarged uterus filled with pus andfluid should be regarded as emergencies, and the surgery should beperformed as soon as possible.Spaying nonbreeding females at an early age can prevent pyometraand its associated complications. For those dogs used for breedingpurposes, spaying is recommended after their useful breeding life isfinished (usually around 8 years of age).Phimosis and Paraphimosis (Dogs)Phimosis and paraphimosis are two conditions that occur in male dogsresulting from a preputial opening that is too small.Phimosis refers to the inability to extrude the penis through theopening, effectively interfering with reproductive activity; paraphi-mosis, is just the opposite: the inability to retract the penis back intothe prepuce once extruded. The exposed organ is very susceptible totrauma and lacerations, which can exacerbate the problem even more.270 DOGS AND CATS
Phimosis can be treated by having the prepucial opening surgicallyenlarged. In cases of paraphimosis, reducing the penile swelling bysoaking it in Epsom salt will usually allow the replacement of thepenis back into the prepuce. Antibiotic ointment can then be instilledinto the prepuce to speed healing.Prostate DisordersThe prostate gland in male dogs and cats lies just at the base of thebladder at the origin of the urethra. Its normal function is to producesecretions that make up a portion of the semen. Disorders of this glandin cats are rare, yet can occur in dogs, and can include bacterial infec-tions, benign prostatic enlargement, cysts, and tumors. Signs of pro-state disease include straining to urinate, painful urinations, blood inthe urine, abdominal pain, and/or hind limb lameness.Prostate pain or enlargement can be detected on a physical examusing rectal palpation and/or radiographs. If an infection is present,treatment consists of antibiotic therapy. If a tumor or cyst is suspected,surgical treatment is necessary. Neutering should be performed on alldogs that suffer from prostate problems to help prevent recurrences inthe future.THE REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM271
The Skin and Haircoat14C H A P T E RThe skin, or integument, functions to protect the body from outsideforeign invaders and from water loss. It provides a focus for thesense of touch and assists in the regulation of the temperature withinthe body. In addition, special modifications of the skin, such as clawsand pads, provide a means of traction and defense, as well as shockabsorbency.Anatomy and PhysiologyThe skin is composed of three layers: the epidermis, the dermis, andthe hypodermis. The epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin.Beneath the epidermis lie the dermis and hypodermis, which are com-posed of, among other things, an array of connective and fatty tissue.Sebaceous glands, embedded within these layers, secrete natural oilsout onto the skin surface that lubricate and moisturize the skin.The haircoats of dogs and cats consist of guard hairs, which makeup the rougher outer coat, and the wool hairs, which constitute thefine dense undercoat of most breeds. In addition, special hairs calledtactile hairs (more commonly known as “whiskers”) can be found onthe head region. These fulfill a sensory function.273
A hair cycle exists in dogs and cats that involves the seasonal shed-ding of old hair and replacement by new hair. This cycle is dependenton light, not on temperature, and increasing or decreasing amounts ofdaylight trigger it. As a result, peak shedding periods for the dog andcat occur in the springtime, when the days begin to get longer, and inthe fall when the days get shorter. Of course, as more pets spend moretime indoors with artificial lighting, the hair cycle can be altered, withshedding occurring year-round.Hair color is dependent on the amount of pigment present withinthe hair shaft. Large amounts of pigment result in black hair; hairsthat lack pigment are white. Different levels of pigmentation that fallbetween these two extremes result in all other coat colors. Changes inthe natural color of the hair can occur with inflammation, trauma, orconstant licking of a particular region or regions of the coat. Of course,as a pet enters its senioryears, the appearance ofgray hairs is not an uncom-mon sight as well.The Itchy PetMany disease conditions canproduce itching in the dog andcat. However, only a few disor-dersresultinsevereand/orpro-longed itching. The primarysymptomsofthe“itchypet”arescratching, licking, and/or bit-ing of the skin. Early signs thatmight be noticed include wethairs, reddened skin, and hairloss in the areas of biting andscratching. Prolonged itchingresultsinfurtherhairloss,excessivescalingandthickening,anddiscolorationofthe involved skin. Secondary skin infections are common (Fig. 14.1).Severe and/or prolonged itching is most always a symptom ofan underlying skin disorder. As a result, correction of the underlying274 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 14.1 Fleas and ear mites are two com-mon reasons why cats will scratch their heads.
problem (see list in Table14.1) is imperative if thesymptom of itching is to besuccessfully controlled.External ParasitesRefer to specific discussionsof external parasites foundin this book (Chapter 7).Inhalant AllergicDermatitis (AtopicDermatitis; Atopy)Inhalant allergic dermatitisrepresents one of the most common causes of itching in dogs and catsacross the United States. Atopy often produces severe itching and isfrequently accompanied by skin infection (folliculitis), scaling, hairloss, and discoloration. Atopy parallels human hay fever, except thatitching is the primary symptom in the dog and cat rather than the res-piratory symptoms exhibited by people. Licking and chewing of thefeet, legs, and flank are common symptoms reported by owners, alongwith generalized scratching.Atopy is inherited and usually develops between the ages of 6months and 4 years, following exposure to immune-system-stimulatingsubstances called allergens. Although atopy is seasonal, sporadic, andrelatively mild in its early stages, it often becomes perennial, and wors-ens in severity with time. Unfortunately, pets do not outgrow theseallergies. Dust (and dust mites), fungal spores, and pollens from trees,shrubs, and grasses can all initiate an allergy in dogs and cats (Table14.2). Since these substances are present in the air and can be carriedhundreds of miles by wind, trying to avoid them by restricting a pet’senvironment is not possible.Diagnosis of atopy is based on clinical signs seen, seasonality of suchsigns, and allergy testing. There are currently two methods of allergytesting available: intradermal skin testing and serum testing.Intradermal skin testing involves injecting a number of differentallergens into the skin of the patient and observing the injection sitesTHE SKIN AND HAIRCOAT275Table 14.1 Common Causes of Itchingand Hair Loss in CatsFleasFood allergyInhalant allergies (atopy)NeurodermatitisFeline endocrine alopeciaRingwormMange
for a corresponding allergic reaction. This type of testing has beenused effectively for allergy diagnosis for years and provides the mostdefinitive way to find out what a pet is actually allergic to.Serum testing is also used to diagnose allergies. These tests involvethe evaluation of a serum sample from the allergic pet for antibodies tosubstances to which it might be allergic. The advantage such testingaffords over skin testing is that it is much easier to perform and causeslittle discomfort to the patient. However, since the accuracy of suchtests is still being debated within the veterinary community, intrader-mal skin testing is still considered by some experts to be the mostdefinitive way to diagnose atopy.There are four ways to approach treatment for atopy: steroid anti-inflammatory (cortisone-type) drugs, antihistamine/fatty-acid therapy,topical therapy, and allergy shots or hyposensitization.276 DOGS AND CATSTable 14.2 Wind-Pollinated Plants and Trees That Can Lead to Atopy inDogs and CatsRed-root pigweed Common sagebrushMeadow fescue Wild oatBermuda grass Short ragweedJohnson grass Kentucky bluegrassSweet vernal grass RedtopQuackgrass Smooth bromeVelvetgrass Broncho grassRyegrass Prairie ragweedRussian thistle CockleburLamb’s quarter Sheep sorrelWestern waterhemp Annual June grassBox elder OakSilver maple White elm
STEROID ANTI-INFLAMMATORIES (CORTISONE-TYPE DRUGS)These medications temporarily suppress the itching sensations pro-duced by the allergy. Steroid anti-inflammatories are never curative,yet they can offer effective relief from itching for days to weeks.Increases in water consumption, urination frequency, and appetite aresometimes seen in pets placed on steroid therapy. Unfortunately, pro-longed steroid usage over months might produce side effects muchmore unpleasant than these, including bloating (water retention), mus-cle atrophy, skin thinning,hair loss, and decreased resis-tance to infection. In addi-tion, while these steroids arebeing administered to a pet(especially dogs), its body’sability to produce its owncortisone is suppressed, andmight not return even whenthe steroid therapy is discon-tinued. If this happens, thepet could go into shock anddie. As a result, long-termusage of these drugs for aller-gic dermatitis should be doneonly under the close scrutinyof a veterinarian.ANTIHISTAMINE/FATTY-ACID THERAPYScientific studies have shown that antihistamine medications alonedo little to suppress itching caused by atopic dermatitis. Becauseantihistamine drugs can cause drowsiness, they can be useful forhelping calm down a frustrated pet that can’t stop itching and chew-ing on itself.Omega-3 fatty acids can be quite beneficial to atopic dogs. It seemsthat these fatty acids, which are derived from cold-water fish such assalmon, do have the ability in some cases to reduce inflammatoryresponses and stop itching. Some allergic dogs do fantastic just onTHE SKIN AND HAIRCOAT277The type of steroid used to treat aller-gies in dogs is different from thosecommonly used by people to buildmuscle and strength. Thesteroids used to treat allergies in dogs(glucocorticosteroids) are actuallycatabolic in nature, meaning that theytend to diminish muscle size andstrength with prolonged use. Steroidsused to increase muscle size andstrength are called anabolic steroids,which, by the way, are sometimes usedin veterinary medicine to counteractthe effects of aging in older pets.A C T.FA C T OR F I C T I O NF
these alone. Others require additional medications, such as antihista-mines, in order to achieve an acceptable comfort level. Although theeffectiveness of this therapy can vary between cases, it does provide aunique alternative to steroid therapy.TOPICAL THERAPYTopical treatments by themselves do little to provide lasting relief tothe atopic pet. However, when used in combination with other formsof therapy, they can potentiate the effects of these other treatments.One such topical product, a colloidal oatmeal conditioner, can provideeffective topical relief for atopic dogs and cats. Along with applying itafter bathing, it can also be used as a daily spray (create a 10 to 25%mixture with filtered water and place in a spray bottle) as well. Theadvantage of using oatmeal conditioners versus shampooing istwofold: (1) A conditioner will help moisturize and soothe the skinwith repeated use, whereas shampoos can dry out the skin; and (2) col-loidal oatmeal is known to be an effective anti-itch agent and can beapplied as many times during the day as necessary to provide relief.Just be sure to brush your pet thoroughly after each application towork the conditioner down to the skin.ALLERGY SHOTS OR HYPOSENSITIZATIONAn alternative approach to treating allergies aside from the ones justmentioned is to hyposensitize the pet using allergen injections. Thisapproach requires allergy testing to be performed, followed by aseries of injections of the exact allergens or agents causing the reac-tion. Although this approach is not effective in all instances, someveterinary dermatology specialists do report at least an 85 to 90 per-cent success rate; this rate is based on at least 50 percent overallimprovement in the allergic pet’s condition. However, since inhalantallergens are poor stimulators of immunity, this improvement takessome time. Owners should allow anywhere from 1 to 6 months beforemaking a final judgment as to the effectiveness of the treatment. Inmost cases, maintenance injections given monthly will be requiredfor the lifetime of the pet.278 DOGS AND CATS
HypersensitivityFLEABITEHYPERSENSITIVITYAside from the discomfortcaused by the actual bite ofa flea, dogs and cats mightdevelop an allergic responseto the flea’s saliva depositedin the skin during feeding.Moderate to severe itchingand hair loss can result,especially along the backnear the tail, hips, and hind-leg areas (Fig. 14.2).Some allergic pets canharbor staphylococcal bacte-ria not found on the skin ofnonallergic pets. Irritationresulting from fleabites canproduce a skin infection (fol-liculitis) on the damaged skin surface and hair follicles. Toxins releasedfrom these bacteria might further intensify the itch-scratch cycle. As onemight guess, successful treatment of a flea allergy is heavily dependenton the ability to control fleas on the pet and in the environment.FOOD HYPERSENSITIVITY (FOOD ALLERGIES)Food allergies are a potential cause of nonseasonal itching in dogs andcats. Other dermatological symptoms might include hives, facialswelling, and chronic ear infections as well. Besides these skin-relatedproblems, food-related allergies have also been implicated in gastroin-testinal disorders, such as diarrhea, vomiting, and/or excess gas.Diagnosis of food hypersensitivity requires the exclusive feeding ofa hypoallergenic diet containing a protein source that is not commonlyused in commercial pet foods for 8 weeks. Such diets are availablethrough veterinarians.THE SKIN AND HAIRCOAT279FIGURE 14.2 A flea allergy causes characteris-tic hair loss from the hips, tail base, and lowerportion of the back.
If a positive diagnosis ismade, the pet will need toremain on the hypoaller-genic diet indefinitely. Sim-ply changing food brands ortypes seldom benefits foodallergy cases since most commercial foods contain similar ingre-dients. Food items such as milk, animal proteins, and vegetable pro-teins are the most common culprits causing food-induced allergiesin pets.CONTACT HYPERSENSITIVITY (CONTACT ALLERGY)The haircoat of dogs and cats offers an efficient protective barrier tomany substances and agents that could produce an allergic reactionjust by coming in contact with the skin. Therefore, those areas rela-tively devoid of hair such as the chest, abdomen, and feet are moresusceptible to contact allergies.The most common contact-allergy-producing agents include deter-gents, shampoos, pet sprays, collars, and insecticides, which, in liquidform, can penetrate the normally protective haircoat. In addition, bed-ding that is moldy or has been chemically treated can cause contacthypersensitivity.Symptoms of such exposure include redness and swelling of theskin and intense itching. These signs will generally develop within 24to 72 hours after exposure.Chemicals that can normally irritate the skin might produce similarsymptoms immediately after contact. Such reactions are not to be con-fused with slower developing hypersensitivity. Treatment of contactallergies requires the removal of the offending agent and administra-tion of topical and/or systemic anti-inflammatory drugs. A thoroughhistory of the pet’s exposure to chemicals and exposure to any envi-ronment vegetation is imperative in the veterinarian’s effort to identifythe allergy-producing agent.Bacterial InfectionsBacterial infections involving the skin are itchy in themselves. As aresult, when they occur secondarily to an allergy or parasitic infestation,280 DOGS AND CATSOf all the different types of allergiesthat can affect pets, food allergies areamong the rarest!DID YOU KNOW?
it can mean sheer misery for a pet. It is for this reason that many treat-ments for other skin ailments are combined with antibiotic therapy.Hair Loss (Alopecia)Loss of hair, either locally or generalized over the coat of a dog or cat,is another type of skin problem that owners may face. As with itching,the causes of hair loss can be quite numerous, and sometimes verycomplex. A proper diagnosis is essential for restoring a full-bodiedhaircoat.SheddingAlthough the normal shedding cycles for dogs and cats tend to occurin the spring and fall, some pets, especially those kept indoors, mightactually shed year-round. In fact, some of these pets can fill a brushwith hair every day! If the dog or cat is otherwise healthy and is on agood nutritional program, this seemingly excessive shedding is of noreal consequence. If normal shedding is truly the cause of the hair loss,rarely do raw spots or patches of exposed skin appear. If they do,another cause of the hair loss should be suspected. If the dog or cat isof the type that sheds excessively, be sure to brush it daily to removethe dead hairs and make way for the new ones. Failure to do so canpredispose the pet to skin infections.Any event that is associated with abnormally high amounts ofstress can cause increases in shedding activity and, in some cases,overt alopecia. A good example of this is a female dog undergoingpregnancy or lactation. The physiological stress and demands placedher body might lead to an accelerated hair-loss situation. Fortunately,in most instances, the hair will return once the stress abates.MalnutritionThe hair cycle in dogs and cats is dynamic and active, with new hairsconstantly growing in to replace old, dead hairs that are naturally shed.These new hairs require a bounty of protein and other nutrients for theirproper formation and development. If these are not supplied, thereplacement hairs might not grow in at all, or they might be weak, brit-tle, and easily broken. As a result, dogs and cats suffering from poorTHE SKIN AND HAIRCOAT281
nutrition often have scanty, lackluster haircoats, not to mentionunhealthy skin. Since the source of the problem is internal in nature, thedistribution of this hair loss tends to be symmetric over the entire body.Feeding the wrong type of diet is not the only way to cause nutri-tion-related hair loss. Failure to have a pet checked routinely for inter-nal parasites can also lead to malnutrition secondary to parasitism.Because intestinal parasites can steal vital nutrients, the haircoat canbecome deprived of essential nutrients and bear the brunt of the con-sequences.Obviously, providing quality nutrition and correcting any internalparasite problems that might exist are the two key means of restoringnormal hair growth in these cases.ItchingVirtually all the disorders that cause itching can cause loss of hair aswell. This hair loss might be due to self-trauma from licking, chewing,and/or scratching, or it might be secondary to inflammation affectingthe hair follicle (e.g., Demodex, folliculitis). The distribution of the hairloss can be localized or diffuse, symmetric or asymmetric, dependingon the extent of the causative disorder. For instance, if allergies are toblame, the resulting hair loss is often symmetric, affecting both sidesequally. On the other hand, hair loss caused by mange or bacterial fol-liculitis usually appears localized to certain portions of the body atfirst, although this hair loss can spread to other parts if the disease isleft unchecked.Identifying and correcting the underlying problem are the mostimportant steps to take for restoring the scanty coat (Fig. 14.3). Realizethat in many conditions involving inflammation of the hair follicle, thecoat might look worse with treatment before it gets better because oftreatment-induced shedding of dead or damaged hair. A good planeof nutrition, one that is adequate in protein and fatty acids, will alsospeed replacement of the lost hair in recovered pets.Hormonal ImbalanceSymmetric, nonitchy hair loss in middle-aged to older dogs might bethe result of hormonal disturbances within the body. Abnormally lowamounts of thyroid hormone, deficiencies in insulin, and/or unusually282 DOGS AND CATS
high amounts of steroid hormones in circulation can all cause this typeof alopecia. Although one would expect to see other signs associatedwith such disorders, this is not always the case. Regardless of whichhormone(s) is (are) involved, stabilization and normalization of theircirculating levels within the body are needed to correct the existingalopecia.Imbalances in circulating amounts of sex hormones (estrogen andtestosterone) have also been implicated in some cases of alopecia.Feline endocrine alopecia is one example of this in cats. Seen inneutered male and female cats, this condition is characterized by anonitchy, symmetric hair loss affecting the abdomen, thighs, and pos-terior region; however, the underlying skin in these areas appearshealthy and unaffected. Diagnosis of this disorder is based on rulingout other potential causes of hair loss and on experiencing a positiveresponse to therapy. Treatment using special drugs can sometimeshelp stimulate hair regrowth in these cats.RingwormFungal infections involving the skin and hair can cause hair loss with-out associated itching. Certainly the most prevalent fungal infectionTHE SKIN AND HAIRCOAT283FIGURE 14.3 A special test called a “skin scraping” is needed to definitively diagnosemange in a dog.
affecting the integument of dogs and cats is ringworm. For more infor-mation on ringworm, see Chapter 6.Treatment of Hair LossAs illustrated, itching and hair loss can be a complex challenge todiagnose and treat. Owners should no longer ignore or simply blameexternal parasites in all cases of itchy or balding pets. A complete andthorough history provided to a veterinarian, combined with the vet’sdermatological examination, are important first steps in all cases ofproblem itching and/or alopecia.SeborrheaThe term seborrhea refers to an abnormality in the normal turnover ofskin cells, which can lead to excessive secretion of sebum by the seba-ceous glands in the skin. Dogs and cats afflicted with seborrhea mighthave dry, flaky skin (seborrhea sicca), or, if the sebaceous glands areactive, greasy skin with a rancid odor to it (seborrhea oleosa). Itchingand infections can also be unpleasant components of both types.Seborrhea can be caused by a number of diseases, including aller-gies, fleas, and, in dogs, poor thyroid function. It can also be a primarydisease entity, with no apparent underlying cause. Cocker spanielsand Doberman pinschers are two examples of breeds that can sufferfrom primary seborrhea.Diagnosis of a seborrheic condition is not difficult; what can bechallenging is determining the underlying problems if they exist. Lab-oratory tests, including skin biopsies, might be needed to determinewhether the seborrhea is primary or secondary. By knowing which itis, the better the chances are that the treatment will be successful.Successful treatment of seborrhea depends on correcting any under-lying sources (secondary seborrhea), and then focusing attention onnormalizing the abnormal cell turnover occurring in the skin. Specialmedicated shampoos containing chlorhexidine, tar and sulfur, and/orselenium disulfide have all been used to clear up infections and removedead epithelial cells and excessive oils associated with seborrhea.In cases of dry seborrhea, moisturizing skin rinses and fatty-acidsupplements (available from veterinarians) can be helpful. In espe-284 DOGS AND CATS
cially tough cases, prednisolone can be used to lessen the severity ofsigns and help stop the itching.Because of its inherent nature, a complete cure will rarely beafforded in those cases of primary seborrhea. However, veterinaryresearchers are looking with interest at new treatments for primaryseborrhea, including retinoid therapy. Although research is still ongo-ing, the results so far at least look promising.Acanthosis Nigricans (Dogs)Acanthosis nigricans is a hormonal condition seen primarily in dachs-hunds and cocker spaniels, and characterized by hair loss, increasedpigmentation, and thickening of the skin. This increased pigmentationusually begins in the armpit region and spreads to the chest and otherregions of the body. As the skin thickens, it becomes itchy and inflamed.Seborrhea and secondary bacterial skin infection could also result.The exact cause of this disease is unknown, but a hormonal imbal-ance resulting in increases in the melanin pigment is suspect. Hyper-thyroidism, although rare in dogs, must be ruled out as the cause of theincreased pigmentation; so must allergic skin disorders. Skin biopsiescan be used to help confirm or rule out cases of acanthosis nigricans.Treatment of acanthosis nigricans is nonspecific, using corticosteroids to reduce pain and inflammation, and antibiotics to combat skininfection. Aloe vera gels applied topically can also be used to soothe andcomfort irritated regions. Finally, if seborrhea is present, antiseborrheicshampoos should be used on a weekly or twice-weekly basis.Bacterial Skin DiseaseBacterial skin disease in dogs and cats seldom occurs unless there issome underlying disorder promoting it. Trauma, malnutrition, para-sitism, hormonal abnormalities, and immune system malfunctions canall predispose to the proliferation of bacteria on the skin.Healthy skin has several mechanisms by which it resists infectiousorganisms. A dry, outer layer of keratin, combined with periodic shed-ding of dead skin cells, helps discourage population of the skin surfacewith harmful bacteria. Even sebum, produced by the sebaceous glandsTHE SKIN AND HAIRCOAT285
of the skin, is antibacterial at normal concentrations. Finally, a normalpopulation of bacteria that resides on the skin surface and in the hairfollicles competitively inhibits the growth of disease-causing bacteria.Problems can start to occur when the integument becomes trauma-tized, or underlying disease alters the normal integrity of the skin. If theskin’s defenses are penetrated in such a way, disease-causing bacteriafound naturally in the environment can set up housekeeping.Superficial bacterial skin disease can take on a number of appear-ances. These infections are limited to the outermost layers of the skin;however, if left untreated, they can spread to the inner layers, makingtreatment difficult and lengthy.Acute Moist DermatitisAcute moist dermatitis (“hotspots”) is characterized bymoist, weeping lesions withhair loss and noticeable red-ness and swelling of theskin. These lesions are quite itchy and painful to the touch, and canspread rapidly over a dog’s body if not treated soon enough. Althoughany breed can be affected, thick-coated breeds such as golden retrieversand chow chows seem to suffer from these the most.ImpetigoImpetigo, also known as “milk rash,” is a bacterial skin disease affect-ing puppies 6 weeks to 6 months of age. Characterized by small pus-tule formations, especially in the abdominal region, impetigo isusually an aftereffect of some debilitating disease that stresses theimmune system, such as intestinal parasites or viruses. Most puppiesseem nonirritated by their presence, and with proper treatment, casesof impetigo clear up very rapidly.SKIN-FOLD PYODERMASSkin-fold pyodermas can strike those breeds with lots of extra skin.This type of infection occurs secondary to moisture, warmth, and fric-tion occurring within prominent folds of skin. Many breeds and breedcrosses can be affected by skin-fold pyoderma. For instance, cocker286 DOGS AND CATSMost bacterial skin infections in dogsoccur secondary to other underlyingdisorders.DID YOU KNOW?
spaniels can have this problem in their lip region; Pekingese and sim-ilar flat-nosed breeds, in the facial region; pugs, in the tail region; andbulldogs and shar-peis, just about anywhere on their bodies! Keepingthese areas clean and dry can help discourage this problem. In somecases, plastic surgery to remove the skin fold in question is truly theonly way to afford a cure.DEEP PYODERMASDeep pyodermas extending into the depths of the skin layers warrantprompt attention. Unless hit hard with treatment, these infections canspread throughout the body. As mentioned above, superficial pyoder-mas can easily become deep if neglected.Juvenile pyoderma is a form of deep pyoderma that can strikeyoung dogs less than 6 months of age. Affected dogs have markedswelling, inflammation, and pain in the facial and ear regions. Lymphnodes in the neck region might be noticeably swollen as a result ofsuch infections, and these dogs are noticeably depressed, sometimesrunning fevers of up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Unless juvenile pyo-derma is treated promptly and aggressively, permanent scarring andhair loss around the face and head can be an unfortunate side effect.Cellulitis and abscesses are types of deep pyodermas that appearsecondary to tissue injury. Cellulitis involves a poorly defined regionof inflammation involving the deeper layers of the skin with no appar-ent rim or border, whereas abscesses do have a well-demarcated line ofsurrounding inflammatory cells that make them stand out. Both can becharacterized by a painful buildup of pus, and usually cause fever anddepression. Both can also lead to blood poisoning if not treated.Because of their isolated nature, veterinarians often lance and flushout abscesses to help speed the healing process.Other types of deep pyoderma are named for the region of the bodyaffected. These include nasal pyoderma, interdigital or foot pyoderma,and elbow callus pyoderma. Generalized pyoderma refers to a deepbacterial infection involving all areas of the body.FolliculitisFolliculitis is bacterial infection that affects the hair follicles. Becausethe hair within the follicle suffers from the infection, the coats of dogsTHE SKIN AND HAIRCOAT287
and cats with folliculitis often develop a moth-eaten appearance as thedamaged hair falls out. In addition, as the inflammation progresses,pustules and small crusty lesions often form over the hair follicles.The amount of itching seen with folliculitis can range from mild tosevere. One special type of folliculitis, called bacterial hypersensitiv-ity, is a type of allergic reaction to the bacteria residing on the skin.Dogs affected with bacterial hypersensitivity exhibit severe itchingand hair loss. In fact, because the hair loss is usually in a circularpattern, bacterial hypersensitivity is often mistaken for a case ofringworm.Treatment of Bacterial Skin DiseasePrompt treatment of bacterial skin disease is a smart idea to preventunnecessary complications. For all types, both superficial and deep,there are certain principles that should be followed when treatingsuch diseases.If there is an underlying cause for the infection, it must be identi-fied and corrected first. For instance, if fleas seem to be the source,insecticidal treatment is warranted. If this problem is not controlled,the infection will recur after other treatments are stopped.Skin lesions should be kept clean and dry at all times. This is espe-cially true for cases of acute moist dermatitis. Astringents (dryingagents) should be applied daily to assist in healing and prevent furtherspread. Many of the ear cleansers available have excellent dryingproperties and can be used topically for such a purpose. Creams andointments should not be used on moist skin lesions, since such vehi-cles are counterproductive to drying efforts. Ideally, bacterial skinlesions should be allowed direct access to surrounding air, whichmeans that the hair in the affected region(s) should be shaved andbandages avoided.High doses of antibiotics used for extended durations are the main-stay of treatment for bacterial skin infections. Mild, superficial infec-tions might require only 10 to 14 days of medication to afford a cure;severe, deep infections might require antibiotic therapy that can last aslong as 8 weeks!Bacterial resistance to the effects of certain antibiotics has becomean unfortunate reality. As a result, do not be surprised if a veterinarian288 DOGS AND CATS
elects to perform a bacterial culture or sensitivity study to determinethe exact antibiotics that are effective against that particular infection.If a pet is placed on oral antibiotic therapy for a skin infection, it isimperative that owners complete the entire prescription as directed,even if the skin clears up after only a few days of medication.Topical therapy for bacterial skin infections is an important adjunctto any treatment regimen. Many medicated shampoos are availablethat can be used to help speed healing. Those shampoos containingchlorhexidine are preferred, since this substance has excellent antibac-terial properties. In some cases, these medicated shampoos should beused daily until the infection is brought under control. For best results,medicated shampoos should be allowed to remain in contact with skinin the affected area(s) for at least 15 minutes before rinsing. Rememberto follow all veterinary recommendations concerning the frequencyand duration of this type of topical therapy.Pets should be shampooed and rinsed thoroughly, then dried offcompletely. This last step is vital because moisture will only serve topromote the infection. If needed, a handheld blow dryer set on lowheat can assist in this task.Medicated creams and ointments are also popular therapeuticadditions for pets with skin infections. Triple antibiotic formulationsavailable over the counter or by prescription are preferred, and shouldbe applied three to four times a day to the lesions. As mentionedbefore, use these products only on lesions that have been properlydried; do not use on moist lesions.When using a medicated cream or ointment, avoid those prepara-tions containing hydrocortisone or other steroid anti-inflammatoriesunless specifically prescribed or recommended by veterinarians.Indiscriminate use of such products could actually delay healing andallow the infection to worsen.Miliary Dermatitis (Cats)Miliary dermatitis refers to a specific way in which feline skin respondsto inflammation and/or irritation. Such a skin reaction is characterizedby the formation of tiny, seedlike crusts that frequent the head, neck,and tail regions of the body. In extensive cases, the entire body might beTHE SKIN AND HAIRCOAT289
involved. Furthermore, the miliary reaction is quite itchy, and leads toscratching, rubbing, and licking of the affected skin. Hair loss oftenresults as a result of these activities. Often the irritation that miliarydermatitis causes is so great that the affected cat becomes easily agi-tated and twitches its skin when disturbed or touched.The potential causes of miliary dermatitis are numerous. Irritationcaused by external parasites is the most common cause of localizedmiliary reactions. Allergies, including food, inhalant, and contactallergies, are other potential causes. In addition, adverse reactions tomedications and drugs and fatty-acid deficiencies in the diet have alsobeen implicated as inciting feline miliary dermatitis.Treatment for feline miliary dermatitis is aimed at correcting theunderlying cause of the disorder, if this is known. For those cases inwhich an underlying cause cannot be identified, treatment with corti-costeroids can provide relief from the clinical signs. Antibiotics arerarely necessary, since bacterial infection is rarely a component ofthis disorder.Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex (Cats)This dermatopathy of cats is characterized by the unexplained appear-ance of red to yellow-brown ulcerated lesions with associated hair lossoccurring at various loca-tions around the body. Onthe average, it tends tostrike female cats that areunder 6 years of age.When the raised, well-demarcated reddish ulcersappear on the lips ofaffected felines, they aretermed eosinophilic ulcersor “rodent ulcers” (Fig.14.4). Linear granulomasare eosinophilic granulomasthat can occur anywhere onthe body, but usually on the290 DOGS AND CATSEosinophiliclip ulcerFIGURE 14.4 Eosinophilic lip ulcers appear asred, angry lesions.
back portion of the hind legs. These ulcerations are yellowish to pink inappearance, and, as the name implies, they tend to run in a straight linedown the affected portion of skin.With both eosinophilic ulcers and linear granulomas, pain and itch-ing do not appear to be significant factors. However, prompt treatmentis still important, since some of these lesions, especially eosinophiliculcers, can evolve to skin cancer if left alone.Eosinophilic plaques are types of eosinophilic granuloma that areassociated with intense itching. These well-demarcated, raised ulcersare often bright red in appearance and show up primarily on theabdomen and on the upper, inside portions of the back legs. Cats soaffected will often lick constantly at the lesions because of the irrita-tion and itching that they cause.Diagnosis of eosinophilic granuloma complex in cats is routinelymade on physical exam and on microscopic examination of cells ortissues from the lesions. Treatment employs corticosteroids givenorally or by injection for 3 to 4 weeks. In cases that don’t respond tostandard treatment, alternate therapy such as radiation therapy may beused in an effort to bring the lesions under control. As with miliarydermatitis, antibiotics are rarely necessary to afford a cure unless asecondary infection is present.Feline AcneSuperficial bacterial skin disease in cats can take on a number ofappearances. Feline acne is perhaps the most common type seen inveterinary circles. This disease is characterized by infection of the hairfollicles and the appearance of blackheads and/or pustules on thechins of affected cats. Although the exact cause of this disorderremains unknown, many researchers feel that it is due to the cat’sinability to adequately groom this area.Treatment for feline acne consists of clipping the hair away from thechin and scrubbing the chin daily with a mild antibacterial solutioncontaining benzoyl peroxide or chlorhexidine. Afterward, a dryingagent such as alcohol or ear-cleansing solution should be applied to thechin. In severe instances, systemic antibiotics might be required tocompletely clear up an infection.THE SKIN AND HAIRCOAT291
As far as other superficial skin infections are concerned, any at-hometreatment that uses topical antibacterial creams or ointments should befirst approved by a veterinarian. Avoid those preparations containinghydrocortisone or other steroid compounds. In cases where the infec-tion is spreading or is not responding to topical medications, then oralantibiotics will be required.Neurodermatitis (Cats)Feline neurodermatitis results in hair loss and/or skin irritation due tonervous licking and chewing. The highly emotional breeds of cats, suchas Siamese and Himalayan, are more prone to this disease than others.This nervous licking and chewing can be triggered by any disrup-tion or stress in the cat’s normal daily routine, such as moving into anew home or introducing a new addition to the family. The lesionscaused by this abnormal grooming activity can resemble eosinophiliculcers, or it might present itself as a “stripe” of hair loss on the back orsides of the body (Fig. 14.5). Often the hair loss resembles that seenwith ringworm.A diagnosis of neurodermatitis is made after carefully examiningthe history of occurrence, plus ruling out other causes of similar der-matological signs. If possible, eliminating or correcting the incitingcause is the best way to treat neurodermatitis. In difficult cases, ther-apy using antianxiety or mood-altering drugs might be necessary tocalm the nervous feline andprevent self-trauma to theskin and coat.Solar DermatitisInitiated by the ultravioletrays of the sun, solar der-matitis can occur in catsand dogs with insufficientskin pigmentation to blockthe harmful effects of sun-light. Cats with white hair-292 DOGS AND CATSFIGURE 14.5 Cats suffering from neuroder-matitis harbor characteristic lesions.
coats (or those with white ears and/or white faces) and dogs with pinknoses that live in hot, sunny climates are most prone to this der-matopathy.In cats, lesions usually begin at the tips and margins of the ears, yetthey can also appear on the eyelids, nose, and/or lips. Hair loss, scabs,and ulcerations characterize these lesions. If left unattended, theaffected skin can eventually become cancerous, and metastasize toother parts of the body.Diagnosis of solar dermatitis is confirmed through surgicallyobtaining a biopsy sample of the affected areas. Treatment is gearedtoward reducing exposure to the sun’s rays via indoor confinementand through the use of commercial sunscreen products. Corticos-teroids applied topically can also help reduce any associated inflam-mation. For those lesions suspect of becoming cancerous, surgicalremoval (if possible) and/or radiation therapy is needed to preventits spread.Skin Lumps and MassesWhenever a lump or mass appears on/or beneath the skin of a dog orcat, five possibilities exist as to its source:1. An abscess2. A hematoma or seroma3. A cyst4. A granuloma5. A tumorObviously, because the cause can vary, owners will need to employthe help of a veterinarian for identification of the mass. A fine-needleaspirate of the mass or an actual biopsy sample will assist the