Canine worms: Invisible Intestinal Invaders

Canines are vulnerable to many infections and infestations, just because they are prone to it…sometimes because of their attitude (free-spirited) and sometimes because of our negligence. The most common is the canine worm, which should not be taken lightly as these dangerous parasites can cause irreparable health loss to our loving pooch, if not treated in time. Here are some useful insights about the same.

Worms worries…

Canines can become afflicted with several different types of intestinal parasites, commonly called “worms”.Dog Health Dog worms are very dangerous as they live inside our pooches’ body. They can prove fatal if proper diagnosis or treatment is not given in time.

There are at least five different types of dog worms or intestinal parasites which dog can fall prey to, which include Roundworm; Hookworm; Tapeworm; Whipworm; and Heartworm. The most prevalent worms are roundworms and tapeworms. Roundworm infestation can be quite high in puppies, whereas tapeworms may also be a problem for your canine, especially if he has fleas. Early detection is very important as they are not only dangerous to our canines but they can be transmitted to humans as well. Some of these worms can be invisible to the eye and may show little symptoms, so routine check-ups with your local veterinarian, becomes all the more necessary.

Roundworms

Roundworm is the most common infection in puppies and is transmitted through the ingestion of eggs. A female roundworm produces hundreds of thousands of eggs each day. These eggs are deposited in the soil. When your pet plays in contaminated soil and ingests worm eggs, they will hatch in your puppy’s intestine. It can also be transmitted from mother to puppies. The larva is then carried into your puppy’s lungs through the bloodstream. Once in the lungs, the larva will crawl up your pup’s windpipe and get swallowed. This will normally cause your puppy to gag or cough. Once the larva has been swallowed, they will live in your pups’ intestines and grow into adult roundworms. A severe infection of roundworm can cause an intestinal blockage, which in certain cases can lead to death also.

Symptoms:

  • Stunted growth
  • Dull hair coat
  • Weight loss
  • Pot-bellied appearance

Tapeworms

They are long segmented worms that are found in dog’s small intestine and are transmitted through fleas. Your dog may be susceptible to tapeworms if he is a hunting dog and has ingested a “game” – animal that has tapeworms. Likewise, your dog may get tapeworm if he ingests fleas, which has been on wildlife. The most common sign in infested dogs and cats is anal irritation associated with segments “crawling” on the area. Typically the owner sees motile tapeworms’ segments on the feces. One of the species of tapeworm – Echinococcus spp is of human health hazard.

Symptoms:

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Nervousness
  • Severe itching around the anus
  • Vomiting

Hookworms

Hookworms are the worst parasite for pets as they feed on host’s blood. Infestation is usually via ingestion of the ova-female gamete; sometimes freshly hatched larva also penetrates into the skin of the dog and causes an infection. The adults lie in the small intestine and are attached to intestinal lining with hook like organ. After invading host’s body, larvae travel to the small intestine, mature, mate, and lay eggs. These eggs then pass into the soil through the dog’s feces, and again while coming in contact with the infectious soil or objects, the worms get transmitted to pets and human as well, thus continuing the infection cycle.

Symptoms:

  • Life threatening blood loss in puppies
  • Anemia
  • Diarrhea
  • Diminished strength and vitality
  • Black stools
  • Blood in the stools

Caring cure…

If you see any symptoms that are mentioned above, take your pet to the vet immediately. Remember that if these worms are detected at an early stage you can stop them from being dangerous to your dog…as they say precaution is always better than cure.

(Dr Satbir Singh Josan, MVSc (Surgery) is in Small Animal Practice since last 10 years. He can be contacted at: 9810291453 or 0124-2367812.)


Do’s and don’ts…

  • Visit the vet for stool testing and dog worms, twice a year.
  • Root cause for tapeworms infection is fleas, so make sure that dog is flea protected.
  • Most puppies eat their feces, when not kept under watch and these feces carries worms, so make sure that your puppy does away with this bad habit.
  • Clean your dog’s area like their bed or kennel with a strong saltwater solution for prevention of the worms.
  • Exposing your dog to stray animals, birds and dead rodents, mouse can cause infection, so make sure that your dogs don’t get exposed to them.

De-worming

Regular de-worming schedule should start at an age of 21 days and continue every month till the age of six months and then after every three months till the pet is alive.


Diagnosis

Medicines for de-worming in dogs should be used only after consultation with your vet.

First aid for stray dogs

Whenever we spot an injured Stray dog on a street, we wish to help him but do not know how. Here are few first-aid tips for them.

Sometimes we see a stray dog in distress and do not know what to do. Inexperience of handling strays and the fear of attack may also deter you to treat them. Injured animals need to be handled with caution, so as to avoid any futher unpleasing situations like bite or attack. So, be extra careful while handling them. Here are a few first aid tips from Welfare of Stray Dogs (WSD). (WSD has experiences of sterilising and immunising more than 30,000 stray dogs and impacting the lives of more than 90,000 through its on-site first aid and immunisation and adoption programmes.) These are only temporary measures, for permanent cure you must call a vet as soon as possible.
Burns
Burn injuries are very common and can occur from contact with direct heat, with chemical agents or from chewing electrical wires. In case of burn with heat, cool the burned area by applying cold water or ice pack for 20-30 minutes and then apply an anti-bacterial ointment. Do not apply greasy remedies like butter, oil etc as they will trap the heat and delay healing. In case of burn with chemicals, flush the skin with a large quantity of cool water. If burn substance contained alkali, follow with a rinse of equal parts vinegar and water. If acid caused burn, follow with a baking soda rinse. In case of burn with electrical wires, disconnect the wire from power source. Keep the dog warm and call the vet immediately.
Poisoning
Sudden violent vomiting and/or diarrhoea, fits, foaming at the mouth, staggering gait, collapse and coma are the signs of poisoning. These may also relate to other conditions not caused by poisoning. Give 2-3 teaspoons of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide every ten minutes repeated 3 times. Or place 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt at the back of the tongue, or dissolve one tablespoon in one cup of warm water. Try to delay absorption by giving milk, whipped egg whites, vegetable oil or water. Do not try to make the animal vomit.
Bleeding
Deep wound may cause profuse bleeding. Apply turmeric powder or tincture iodine. Place a clean cloth or gauze bandage over the wound and apply manual pressure until the bleeding stops. Get veterinary help immediately.
Shock
Shock can occur due to an accident, acute infection, haemorrhage, heart disease, heatstroke, diabetes, poisoning or an epileptic fit. The symptoms are low body temperature, pale gums, breathing difficulty and body may become stiff. Place the dog in a warm, quiet place and cover him with a blanket. Rub the paws and ears to improve the circulation. If there is bleeding, take steps to stop it.
Injury (spine, hip)
He needs medical care immediately, so without shaking his head, back and pelvis, shift him to the hospital. Avoid bending the spine. Use a flat board or blanket stretched tightly as stretcher.
The Welfare of Stray Dogs (WSD) is a government-recognised organisation carrying out a mass sterilisation-cum-vaccination programme for stray dogs in Mumbai. They can be contacted at 23733433, 23891070, Kennel: 23060275 or wsd@wsdindia.org

Understanding canine Strokes

One day he’s normal. The next he’s walking funny, eating funny, or losing his balance. There’s a possibility he may have had a stroke. Once considered a rare occurrence, canine strokes are now more frequently diagnosed, thanks in part to advances in neuro-imaging. But don’t confuse the word “stroke” with “heat stroke.” Although related, a “stroke” involves the obstruction or rupture of blood vessels in the brain. And because the brain controls the entire body, a stroke can impact your dog in a number of ways.

What is a stroke?

Like in humans, a dog’s brain relies on a constant supply of blood, which brings oxygen and nutrients and removes waste products. A stroke interrupts this blood flow either through:

  • A blockage in an artery that supplies blood to the brain.
  • The bleeding of ruptured blood vessels (hemorrhage) in the brain.

Either instance may result in the death of brain tissue. In addition, dogs sometimes experience “mini strokes” where the blood flow is only cut off for a short amount of time, causing less immediate damage. However, this could be a warning sign that a larger stroke may be around the corner.

Identifying a stroke

Common signs may include a lack of recognition of sensory stimuli on one side of your dog’s brain, resulting in his eating out of only one side of his dish or turning his head to the wrong side when his name is called. He may also have head tilt or turn, loss of balance, blindness, circling, and falling. Of course, these signs may be indicators of other brain conditions, too. If you notice any of these symptoms, have your pet examined by your vet immediately for a proper diagnosis.

What causes canine strokes?

Common causes of strokes in dogs include thyroid conditions, kidney disease, Cushing’s disease, arterial diseases, diabetes, blood clotting diseases, heart disease, high blood pressure, bleeding from a brain tumor, and bleeding from head trauma.

Treatment options

Once your dog has had a stroke, there is no specific treatment that can repair the damage done to his brain. Your vet will focus on identifying a potential cause for the stroke in an attempt to prevent another one from happening. Most dogs tend to recover within a few weeks of having a stroke, depending on the location where the stroke affected his brain and the severity of the stroke.

Donating the gift of life

Emergency never informs us, neither accident warns us; so it’s always better to be prepared for the worst, we cannot take chances with our pooches. Just imagine if our loving pooch is battling for life, and vet asks for blood transfusion. What next! Most of us are clueless. D&P always understands the medical needs of pet parents. Thus, here we bring some useful information about the nitty-gritty of blood donation and donor club.

Q?What are the health requisites for a dog to be a donor? Any 2-6-year-old healthy and friendly dog, with at least 25 kg body weight, free from ticks and other major diseases, who is up-to-date vaccinated and dewormed is medically fit for donation.

Q?Do vets sedate dogs, before donation? It’s not an indispensable part of donation. The sedation is required only when pooches seem to be frightened or hyperactive or aggressive. The sedatives are very mild and given for short duration only.

QWhat is the procedure, how’s it done? A small area of fur on the neck is clipped, to protect him/her from infection and to keep the blood contamination free. A 16 G needle, attached to the blood bag is inserted into the jugular vein to collect blood. After the blood collection, vets monitor the donor for sometime.

Q?How long it takes for donation? The whole process takes around 15-20 minutes to get successfully accomplished.

Q?How much blood can be donated and after how long a pooch can donate again? A healthy dog can donate about 350 ml of blood. Our furry companion can again donate blood after three months, since the last donation.

Q?Are there any side effects of blood donation? It’s a sheer myth; there are no side effects. But as they say precautions are always better than cure, so vets generally monitor dogs for 30 minutes before they leave. Dogs sometimes need emergency blood transfusion, if situation goes out of gear or in cases of nosebleeds, anemia, shock, trauma, or other blood disorders. Taking in account of practical dead ends in dog blood banking, several clubs, such as The Ark Dog Blood Donor Club have come up…to save God’s gift…we mean lives of our innocent pooches.

(Inputs from The Ark Veterinary Clinic, Adyar, Chennai, a 24-hour veterinary clinic. Their emergency number is – 9841811445. For more information and further details visit – www.theark.in or call – 044-24915402.)

Common Health Concerns

Your dog may live a long and healthy life, and never experience any health problems. However, it’s still a good idea to familiarize yourself with the more common canine health concerns so that if he should develop a problem, you will know what to do. Here’s a rundown of some of the most common complaints your dog may face, and what you can do about them.

Allergies: Dogs can be allergic to a variety of things including grass, flea bites and, less commonly, food. Allergies in dogs usually cause skin problems – although food allergies can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. If you see your dog scratching, licking, and biting himself, take him to your vet to diagnose the problem. Your vet can recommend treatment products and procedures, and you may also need to keep your dog away from allergy-causing substances.

Diarrhoea: There are two types of diarrhoea that dogs experience: acute and chronic. Acute diarrhoea strikes suddenly and doesn’t last long. It is often caused by food allergies, infection, or if your dog eats food from the garbage can. Acute diarrhoea can be managed without too much trouble. However, with diarrhoea, there is always a risk of dehydration, so you will have to ensure that your dog takes in enough water, even if he’s not eating. A day of fasting, followed by a special, bland diet should restore his health. Call your vet if the diarrhoea continues, or if your dog has a fever, abdominal pain, starts vomiting or seems depressed.

Chronic diarrhoea is a longer-term problem that is often caused by an illness such as Colitis or pancreatic problems. Your vet will need to diagnose the problem and direct the treatment.

Ear problems: Ear mites are parasites that live in the ear canals of dogs and they can cause a bacterial infection or inflammation. If your dog has ear mites, he may excessively shake or tilt his head. Your vet can easily diagnose ear mites – they leave behind a distinctive brown discharge – and prescribe anti-mite eardrops. You will have to administer the drops at home for four-to-six weeks. It takes some persistence to get rid of these parasites.

Ear infections are also common in dogs, especially dogs with floppy ears. If your dog has an ear infection, he may scratch his ears or shake his head. Treatment consists of a visit to your vet, who will clean out his ears with a special solution, and may prescribe antibiotics.

Fleas: Fleas can cause a range of health problems in both dogs and humans. They are difficult to spot and are usually diagnosed by the presence of flea dirt – black flakes or specks. Your dog may scratch and bite himself if he has fleas. However, even if he doesn’t scratch, the presence of fleas should still be of concern. To rid your dog of fleas, treatment will consist of a flea control program that includes treating his environment -your vet can recommend the appropriate flea control program.

Obesity: Excess weight creates a high risk for medical problems and can shorten a dog’s life. Obesity is probably the most common nutritional disease among adult dogs. It is estimated that 40% are overweight. A quick way to tell if your dog is overweight is to feel his ribs with the flat of your hand. If you can only feel the ribs with difficulty, your dog probably needs to lose weight.

Occasionally, underlying health problems can make a dog overweight. But overfeeding and under exercising are much more common causes of excess weight. If your dog is overweight, take him to the vet to rule out any medical problems. Your vet will set a target weight for your dog and select a proper diet. You will also need to give your dog regular exercise.

Worms: They are a common problem for dogs and must be controlled for his safety and yours. The most common worms are roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. Although they may not seem to cause your dog problems, worms can stress his immune system, cause diarrhoea and vomiting, and, in rare cases, spread to people. A preventive program of regular worming should be a part of your dog’s health routine.

The good news is that there are more ways than ever to eliminate worms and other internal parasites, and your vet is your best resource for treatment. A thorough worming program includes flea control because fleas may carry tapeworm eggs. Some heartworm medications also prevent intestinal parasites.

The road to health

Don’t be overwhelmed by all of this information on common health concerns in dogs. Your dog may never experience any of these conditions – and he certainly won’t experience them all at once. However, if you are prepared, you will be better able to give your dog the care and attention he will need. After all, he deserves your help in achieving the best health possible because of all the warmth and companionship he brings to your life. And if your dog is healthier and happier, both of you will have more time together – and that makes it all worthwhile!

Life is Precious

It’s an alarming situation for many pet owners to hear their pet is affected with cancer. Seeing a lump or mass on the body of their pet, some of the pet owners neglect, some of them panic while a few even get rid of the pet. But many genuine pet lovers like to treat and manage the disease so as to improve their pet’s condition and lengthen their lifetime. Here’s a brief info on the basics of cancer and its management in dogs. Cancer is one of the major causes of non- accidental death in dogs. Prevalence of all cancer is estimated as 10% in dog’s population. Increased incidence of cancer in dogs in recent years could be due to increased life span of pets (incidence of cancer is high in old dogs). Before going into actuals of cancer, here are a few commonly used terms for better understanding of the disease?:

  • Tumour means a swelling – cancer is one cause of tumour.
  • Neoplasm is a type of tumour in which particular type of tissues/cells of the body multiply abnormally in uncontrolled manner.
  • Tumour/neoplasm are classified into benign and malignant.
  • Benign tumour is a slow growing mass which does not spreads to other parts of body.
  • Malignant tumour grows fast, invade adjacent tissues and spreads (metastasis) to other parts of body through blood and lymphatic flow. Malignant tumours are sometimes called cancer. Forty percent of a particular tumour has the chance to become malignant.

Cause of tumour

Normal genetic pattern in a cell is changed (mutated) by varied cancer causing agents (carcinogen) and become cancer cell. The cancer cell multiplies rapidly in uncontrollable manner to develop into cancer mass. The effect of some of the following carcinogenic agents accumulates over a long period and cause cancer in dogs.

  • Chemicals – pesticides, some medicine.
  • Radiation – X-rays, ultraviolet rays.
  • Virus – Feline leukaemia virus in cat.
  • Hormones – Estrogen in female dog predisposes to mammary tumour and testosterones in male dog predispose testicular tumour and prostrate tumour.
  • Genetic – inherited mutated genes.
  • Age – incidence is high in old dogs and in rare case, young dogs and pups also get affected.
  • Breed – Some breeds are prone to cancer e.g. Golden Retriever, Boxer, GSD etc.
  • Size – large and giant breed dogs are at a higher risk for bone tumour.

Symptoms of cancer

Many or a few of the following symptoms are seen in dogs affected with cancer?:

  • Abnormal swelling that persists or continues to grow.
  • Sores that do not heal.
  • Progressive weight loss.
  • Chronic loss of appetite.
  • Recurrent/prolonged bleeding or discharge from any natural orifice.
  • Offensive odour of secretions/exudates.
  • Difficulty in eating or swallowing.
  • Loss of stamina or reluctant to exercise.
  • Persistent/increasing lameness.
  • Laboured breathing.
  • Difficulty in urination/defecation.
  • Prolonged fever, anaemia, excess water/food consumption may occur in some types of cancer.

Most dogs in the early stages of cancer often appear normal without exhibiting any of the clinical signs of the disease. But, pet owners can observe their pet aging more rapidly or slowing down and less willing to engage in normal activity. Blood tests at this stage will indicate an increase in lactate and insulin levels in some types of cancer.

Interestingly, cancers of the ovaries and uterus are rare in dogs. This could be because most dogs do not reach the age at which these cancers become more common. Dogs do not have much lung cancer either, presumably because they do not smoke and have fewer occupational exposures to known carcinogens.

Colon and rectal cancer, the third most common tumour in humans, is extremely rare in dogs. This could be due to more rapid transit time of food through dog’s relatively short intestinal tract, more exercise than humans, and diet.

Cancer treatment

Goal of cancer treatment is to achieve a cure or at least remission of cancer mass and to improve the quality of life and increase survival time. Cancer is being treated by one or more combination of different following procedures:

  • Surgery is most common and effective treatment for localized or regional. It is usually combined with other treatment like chemotherapy for malignant tumour.
  • Chemotherapy (treating with drug) used for cancer distributed throughout the body and for metastatic tumour.
  • Radiation therapy for local or regional malignant tumour.
  • Other therapy like immunotherapy,?cryosurgery, radioisotope therapy, hyperthermia etc.

Nutritional management of cancer patient

Cancer cells in the body act differently to get their energy to grow. Tumour cells use glucose without using oxygen and get less energy and convert glucose into a byproduct called lactic acid, which is toxic to the body. The body has to convert the lactic acid back into glucose by using more energy. By doing so, the body uses a lot of energy for tumour cells to grow and get depleted. Tumour cell also use protein for its energy and make the animal lose weight. The only source of nutrition, the animal gets for its energy is fat, which is not used by the tumour cell. It is appropriate to add more of fat and less of carbohydrate in their ration, so as to starve the tumour cells and help the body to maintain its condition. The diet of the dog should contain 40% of fat, 40% of protein and 20% of carbohydrate. Apart from that, the food containing more than 2% omega3 fatty acid will help in slowing down the growth of tumour and to improve the health condition of the cancer patient.

Preventive measures for reducing the occurrence of cancer in dogs

  • Spaying before the first heat cycle. The greatest protection from spaying occurs if the dog is spayed before her first heat. The protective value of spaying drops steadily until age 2.5. If the female dog is spayed at or after age 2.5, the risk of getting mammary tumour is statistically not different from a female who was never spayed.
  • Neutering dogs with undescended testicles. Dogs with undescended testicles (i.e., the testicles do not properly migrate to the scrotum but remain in the body cavity) have a markedly higher risk than other dogs to develop this type of cancer. Dogs with inguinal hernias are also at increased risk. Obviously, neutering of dogs prevents the development of this type of cancer.
  • Limiting your dog’s exposure to flea and tick dips, asbestos, and tobacco smoke. The risk for getting nose cancer in long-nosed breeds increased with increasing number of packs of cigarettes smoked in the home.
  • Keeping dogs away from lawns, which have recently been sprayed with herbicide.
  • Do not spend a great deal of time in areas with high levels of electromagnetic fields.

(Dr R Jayaprakash, MVSc (Surgery), PhD, is the General Secretary of Small Animal Practitioners Association of Chennai (SAPAC) and the President – Federation of Small Animal Practitioners Association of India (FSAPAI). He can be contacted at JP Pet Specialty Hospital, Adyar, Chennai – 600 020, Phone: 044 24411909, Mobile: 09444385393.)

Skin care regimen for your K9

Skin is the largest organ of the body representing 15-25% of body weight. Rightly called “first line of defence,” it protects other body parts from weather extremities, ultra violet radiations and injuries, which makes skin care regimen all the more important. Here’s a piece of advice on the same.


A healthy skin truly represents dog’s good health condition. Cleanliness is one of the important factors to keep your dog’s skin healthy and intact, besides making him look good. Here are a few tips for dog skin care:

    • Feed proper diet as per dog’s requirement. Add vitamins- A, B, C, E and Brewers yeast in diet.
    • For dogs having dry skin, essential fatty acids should be fed additionally.
    • Avoid bathing frequently as it removes the natural oils present on the coat, which act as weather proofing agent.

Dogs sweat very less as they don’t have sufficient sweat glands. The dog’s dermal skin layer has two types of glands that produce fluids. The apocrine glands have two other functions in dogs – they help to seal the outer layer of the epidermis and they secrete pheromones that give dogs a distinctive body odour. The eccrine glands in the pads of the paws produce a watery secretion similar to human sweat.

Skin diseases

Skin problems arise from external as well as internal reasons like injury from foreign objects, nibbling teeth, scratching, external parasites, and internal infections or autoimmune diseases. The most common reasons for skin irritation are contact and inhalant allergies, which lead to serious problems like hot spots, hair loss and crusty lesions. Allergy is caused by release of histamines by body in its effort to protect from foreign agents. These histamines produce the itching sensation. Whenever you find your dog itching, contact your vet immediately.

Skin parasites

Mites, fleas and ticks are most common parasites of the skin. Mange is of two types, based on the causative agent – demodectic and sarcoptic. Mange mites live under the skin and cause irritation and hair loss. Some people believe that susceptibility to demodectic mange is inherited because the disease manifests in puppies also. But it’s not true because the mites never go to the foetus. It is only the physical transmission of the mites to new-born pups. Sarcoptic mange (also called scabies) causes severe itching and can infect dogs of all breeds. This mite lays eggs under the skin. Itching occurs commonly on the elbows, ears, armpits, chest and belly region. If red colour small pustules develop along with yellow crust on the skin, consult your vet immediately.

Similarly, ticks and fleas also cause severe problem to dogs. Some dogs become allergic to flea bites and fleas also act as vectors for tapeworms. Ticks are more difficult to tackle than fleas. They suck blood and also act as vector for various diseases.

Treatment

Shampoos and sprays are the most commonly used topical treatments. Shampoos are mainly of three types – cleansing, antiparasitic, and medicated. Cleansing shampoos remove dirt and excess oils from the coat. Antiparasitic shampoos are mostly used for ticks and fleas. Medicated shampoos include antimicrobial and antiseborrheic products. The most widely used antibacterial shampoos contain chlorhexidine or benzoyl peroxide. Ketocnazole and Miconazole shampoos are usual therapy for the treatment of Malassezia infections. Antiseborrheic shampoos mostly contain sulphur which is keratolytic and also have antiseptic properties. Sulphur is also recommended for scaly seborrhoea.

Before using a medicated shampoo, the pet should be washed properly with a cleansing shampoo and rinsed well. The medicated shampoo should be applied evenly to the hair coat after diluting it in water. The medicated shampoo should be left on the skin for 10 minutes and then rinsed thoroughly from the coat as shampoo residue is a common cause of irritant reactions.

In a nutshell, the skin of your pet requires continuous care, right from grooming to good nutrition and prevention to treatment. Don’t take skin problems lightly, consult your vet before the problem aggravates.

(Dr. Avinash Srivastava, M.V.Sc. (IVRI), PGDPM (Symbiosis) is Technical Manager (Livestock and Canine) at Vetnex. He can be contacted at 09350506830 or avinash.srivastava@rfcl.in)

Shooing away impairment.. the Buddy’s way

Let’s start with an inspiring case study of 2 months old Buddy, who won over his disability caused by spinal injury with his grit and apt vet’s care.
Bravo Buddy!
Buddy was 2 months old, Dachshund puppy, when he lost the use of his back legs in a freak accident, which broke his back. Buddy’s X-rays had revealed a vertebral fracture, which probably severed his spinal cord from thoraco lumbar junction. He had lost sensations in both his feet and could hardly move. Randeep – Buddy’s friend decided not to give up. After numerous hours on net we finally came to the decision that surgery at this stage was too late an option. The only thing we could try was a physical rehabilitation device that would give Buddy the chance to use his upper body to move around.
After getting inspiration from websites on designs of wheel chairs for dogs, we built the first prototype, but it failed. Nevertheless, we did not give up the dream that Buddy will walk again. And one day we succeeded in making a wheel chair that was light, mobile and which Buddy enjoyed. He ran to his heart’s content. And we could see his eyes full of love and appreciation.
As time flew by, Buddy walked for longer and longer on wheels, till one day when we decided to remove the support underneath his feet. But, he did not gain any strength back.  Then started the long process of physiotherapy. Daily massages, occasional swims and lots of love. By the end of third month, we had remodified his wheelchair to allow him to use his legs. Buddy did not disappoint us. He regained some strength in his left hind leg and started walking on three legs. Till now his physiotherapy is on and he is gaining strength each day. Each breath he takes is a testimony of the fact, “In love, do not give up!”
Buddy was fortunate to have parents who went out of their way to help him, and also fortune favored the brave heart Buddy, making him walk, play and run again. But every pooch is not lucky enough. Read on to get valuable info about the spinal injuries…it’s symptoms, causes and precutions.
The spinal cord along with the brain makes up the central nervous system. The spine is made up of the vertebrae, the spinal cord, the intervertebral disc and tendons, muscles and ligaments that hold all this together. Trauma to the spinal cord is not common and can be very devastating. It is most often associated with sudden impact injury, such as being hit by an automobile, gunshot or falling from a height. When the spine is injured, a vertebra may fracture or a disc may rupture. Sometimes the vertebrae are torn apart. In addition to trauma to the spine, the animal typically sustains injuries elsewhere on the body.
The most common cause of spinal injury by far is the dog being hit by an automobile. Certain breeds with short legs, like Dachshund, Corgis, Miniature Jack Russell and Fox Terriers are prone to disc problems that can result in mild to severe signs and may result in paralysis without any history of trauma.
Symptoms and signs
Spinal injuries have a progression of signs going from mild to total paralysis. Pain is the first sign, which is noticeable. The pet may not be willing to stand or in milder cases jump up onto furniture or use stairs. In mild cases, the pet may appear shaky, especially in the hindquarters. It may fall easily when turning corners.
Your pet may become weak in his hindquarters and have difficulty getting up. You may notice that your pet stands on the upper surface of his toes instead the pads. He may scuff his nails and wear them down so they bleed. As symptoms worsen, your pet may not be able to get up.
Right management
Cells of the spinal system have no ability to regenerate so that once cell death occurs, the damage becomes permanent. Therefore, it is very important to be careful, while handling an animal you suspect to have spinal damage. The spinal cord can be severely damaged at the time of the accident however sometimes the cord is uninjured. Nevertheless the support structure around it has been compromised and it becomes easy to damage the cord. It is therefore extremely important not to twist, bend or compress the injured spinal column. Prompt veterinary treatment may prevent paralysis and euthanasia for your pet.
Keep your animal as quiet as possible no matter the cause. For trauma cases, lift the pet supporting the injured spine so that as little movement as possible occurs at the injury site. Put small pets in a basket or a box. Larger dogs should be carried on a board or between several people. Under no circumstances a pet with suspected spinal injury should be allowed to jump or use stairs. Rush to your vet immediately.

Disability is the worst face of any form of sickness, mostly it occurs due to lack of proper treatment. And when our pet doggies are concerned, even a minor negligence can prove fatal.  Spinal injuries often cause irreparable losses and situation gets even worse, due to lack of knowledge. Here’s an  in-depth information about the same.

(Dr. Jaspreet S. Mauj, MVSc Surgery, runs the pet clinic ‘Vets for Pets’ in Ludhiana and can be contacted   at: 9815245692.)

Pooch fracture management

Like kids, naughty pooches are also prone to accidents. They need vigilance, all time; a small negligence can end up in a troublesome situation, viz bone fracture or sprain. God forbid! But if it occurs, one needs to have ample information and knowledge to handle the situation tactfully. Here’s a complete overview about the fracture management for pets. Pets have been an integral part of our society since time immemorial. Pets at home are wonderful companions, great stress busters and provide unsolicited love and affection. Keeping pets has gained immense popularity in the last decade. Hence, there has been an increased demand for advanced and specialized health care especially in the field of ‘Small Animal Orthopedics and Neurology.’

Numerous pets have been rendered lame or paraplegic for their entire lifetime either due to lack of expertise or facilities in this field. Compassionate pet owners are most eager to consult with specialists in this field to obtain the best possible treatment options for their ailing pets. Specialized small animal orthopedics and neurology services have now become a priority for pet owners.

Milestones… so far

Primary aim of fracture treatment is to restore anatomical shape of the fractured bone and to restore the function of the affected limb. Until the early fifties, treatment of fractures in pet animals was confined mainly to casts and splints, which did not prove successful in complex fractures, and resulted in fracture disease. Fracture disease is characterized by non-union/mal-union of fractures, osteoporosis, joint stiffness, limb deformity, arthritis and muscle wasting. In 1958, a study group of Swiss surgeons formed ‘The Association For The Study of Internal Fixation’ (AO/ASIF) and developed new techniques, devices and implants for treatment of fractures. The philosophy of the organization was “Life is movement-movement is life”. The aim of the AO technique is a rapid return to full function of the affected leg.

In the late sixties, veterinarians adapted the principles of the internal fixation group, made modifications better suited to the needs of animals, carried out research, developed new and versatile equipment and implants to produce maximal stability of fracture with minimal reaction to facilitate early and pain free return to full limb function and permitting full range of motion of the joints. The benefits of this technique include early return of normal limb function compared to conservative therapy; little or no pain at the fractured site compared to conservative therapy; and no limb deformity or lameness compared to conservative therapy.

The technique used for fracture management was based on the configuration of the fracture and the type of forces that needed to be counteracted to promote stability. The age temperament, health status of animal and owner compliance influence decisions on fracture management.

Medical boons for pooches

Dynamic compression plate (DCP): The dynamic compression plate developed by the association for the study of internal fixation probably represents one of the most innovative developments in orthopedic surgery in the last two decades (British Small Animal Veterinary Association). Combining the plate with an intra-medullary pin (placing a pin through the bone) increases the strength of the plate multifold. Specially devised ‘T’ plates are used to manage distal radial fractures (fractures of the end of radius bone), as they do not heal easily. External fixators (Ex-Fix) : Ex-Fix and intra-medullary pins are used in combination for management of open infected shaft fractures/comminuted fractures (broken into many pieces).

The ‘hanging limb method’ and the OBDNT (open but do not touch procedure) technique of external fixator application for fracture fixation fulfill the principles of minimally invasive orthopedic surgery and promotes biologic fracture healing. External fixators with stainless steel connecting rods and clamps (dogs weighing > 15 kg) or locally available epoxy (dogs weighing <15kg) as connecting column have been used with success. Healing times were reduced and complications were minimized.

A “tie-in” procedure combining the intramedullary pin and external fixator for management of complicated fractures of long bones.

The advantages of the External Fixators system include

  • Closed or minimally invasive open application.
  • Fracture alignment can be adjusted during or after surgery.
  • Fixation can be removed without performing major surgery.
  • Relatively affordable with many reusable components.
  • Indicated for highly comminuted shaft fractures, open infected fractures mandibular fractures, bone deformities.

Other useful techniques include?:

  • Tension band wiring technique for avulsion fractures of olecranon process of ulna, tibial tuberosity and calcaneus (fractures caused by pull of the muscles in the opposite direction).
  • Combination of intramedullary pin and cerclage wiring (when the length of the fracture exceeded twice the diameter of bone) in fractures of long bones.
  • Intramedullary pinning in combination with cross pinning for supra condylar (fractures occurring near the end) fractures of femur.

Curing common orthopedic disorders

  • Femoral head and neck ostectomy (removal of the head and neck of femur bone) and placement of a muscle flap in the defect has been used successfully as a salvage procedure in the management of painful chronic osteoarthritis of the hip joints which occur in severe cases of hip dysplasia. Clinical studies indicate that this procedure provides early and pain free weight bearing on operated limb and improved quality of life of the animal.
  • Nutritional bone disorders have been diagnosed early using biochemical and radiological evaluation and successfully managed. Imbalance in nutrition and overzealous supplementation with calcium, especially in rapidly growing giant breeds, is the primary reason.
  • Growth deformities in dogs (bow legs) have been successfully managed with removing a portion of the ulna bone and using a fat graft or by performing corrective bone surgeries using a bone plate or an external fixator system.
  • Correction of patellar luxation in dogs (knock knees) have been performed successfully.

(Dr Ayyappan with over 16 years of experience is a PhD and Associate Professor in veterinary surgery from Madras Veterinary College. He did a Clinical Postdoctoral fellowship at the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University, USA (2000-02). He specializes in small animal orthopedic surgery and neurology. He also completed the basic, advanced and special training in small animal orthopedic surgery at AO-International, Davos, Switzerland (1994,1995 and 1999). He can be contacted at: 9841249129/ 26475988; or email: jujups61@hotmail.com)

Tips for Arthiritis

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a condition that affects the bones that make up the body’s joints. It causes the bones to rub together because of damage to the surrounding cartilage and tissues that would normally provide protection. And, it doesn’t just occur in human beings. Dogs, too, of any age, may suffer from it, particularly those older than 5 years. The most common types of canine arthritis are Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Infectious Arthritis. None of us wish our dogs to suffer from arthritis. So, it’s good to know that if it happens, there are treatments available to ease the symptoms. Read on to learn more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of arthritis, so that you are able to provide better comfort and care to your senior dog.

What causes arthritis?

Some dogs are pre-disposed to suffer from arthritis, for example:

  • Dogs who have suffered hip dysplasia, excessive strain on their joints, or previous injuries.
  • Older dogs, particularly large dogs aged 5 years and above, and smaller dogs aged 8 years and above.

However, not all dogs with the above conditions get arthritis. Some dogs – just like people – never suffer from arthritis at all. What are the symptoms?
If you think your dog may be experiencing the onset of arthritis, look for signs of stiffness and pain in the joints, which may result in:

  • Difficulty going up or downstairs, rising from a sit, and/or performing other movements that were formerly a part of your dog’s everyday life.
  • Limping.
  • Avoiding, becoming aggressive, and/or exhibiting pain when touched. If you suspect that your dog may be suffering from arthritis, consult your veterinarian for a diagnosis. Although there is no cure, there is still much that you can do to help your aging friend enjoy his senior years in comfort.

How can I help ease my dog’s arthritic symptoms?

Controlled exercise: Although vigorous exercise will be painful for an athritic dog, exercise should not be avoided. However, it should be gentle, no-impact exercise. This kind of exercise actually helps decrease the symptoms because it keeps the joints moving.

Healthy weight: If your dog is overweight, this puts more pressure on his joints and his symptoms will be worse. Speak to your veterinarian about helping your dog feel more comfortable by putting him on a calorie-controlled diet. Your vet can help you determine the optimum weight for your dog.

Therapeutic massage: You can do this at home, or take your dog to a professional dog massage therapist. Either way, your dog will appreciate the relief a massage will bring. If you choose to do this yourself, concentrate on areas that may be especially painful and stiff, such as your dog’s joints, and knead these areas gently.

Comfort and care: Arthritis pain is aggravated by the cold, so keep your dog warm by adding an extra blanket or two to his bed, and keep him inside on damp, cold days.
Prescription and medication?: There are many medications that can help ease the pain of arthritis. The type of medication most suitable to your dog depends on the type of arthritis he has, and your veterinarian’s recommendation. Never give medication to your dog without consulting your vet.

Although there is no cure for arthritis, there are many ways of helping your dog be more comfortable. And that means that your dog’s life needn’t be ruled by his arthritis. By following the above treatment and suggestions, you are giving your dog the help he needs to continue enjoy many of his favourite activities – whether it’s joining you on the couch or taking a short walk in the park – and that translates to more quality time for you and your senior dog.