CURRENT HEALTH CONCERNS
- Do you use grapes or raisins as treats or rewards for obedience training?? DON’T!!!
Around 1989, the Animal Poison Control Center began noticing a trend in dogs who had eaten grapes or raisins: Nearly all developed acute renal (kidney) failure. As more cases were reported, enough data was generated in the database to help veterinarians identify and treat dogs at risk. In all of the cases, the ingredients for potential acute renal failure were the same. Whether the ingested grapes were purchased fresh from grocery stores or grown in private yards didn't seem to matter, nor did the brand eaten. And the ingested amounts varied considerably, from over a pound of grapes to as little as a single serving of raisins. The cases weren't from any specific region, but instead came from across the United States.
The database showed that dogs who ate the grapes and raisins typically vomited within a few hours of ingestion. Most of the time, partially digested grapes and raisins could be seen in the vomit, fecal material, or both. At this point, some dogs would stop eating (anorexia), and develop diarrhea. The dogs often became quiet and lethargic, and showed signs of abdominal pain. These clinical signs lasted for several days -- sometimes even weeks.
When medical care was sought, blood chemistry panels showed consistent patterns. Hypercalcemia (elevated blood calcium levels) was frequently present, as well as elevated levels of blood urea nitrogen, creatinine and phosphorous (substances that reflect kidney function). These chemistries began to increase anywhere from 24 hours to several days after the dogs ate the fruit. As the kidney damage developed, the dogs would produce little urine. When they could no longer produce urine, death occurred. In some cases, even dogs who received timely veterinary care still had to be euthanized.
- Over the past several years, the doctors at the Billings Animal Hospital have been seeing a small number of dogs suffering from Lyme related kidney failure.
Some of the symptoms owners have been seeing are decrease appetite, vomiting, lethargy, stiffness, limping. When questioned, owners may remember that the decreased appetite and vomiting have been going on for a week or two. Blood tests reveal strong positive Lyme results, and high kidney values indicating kidney failure. Treatment for kidney failure includes hospitalization, intravenous fluids with antibiotics and other medications for three days, then re-evaluating blood work. Each of these dogs has died of kidney failure, but a number of dogs with weakened kidneys and Lyme Disease affecting only the joints have been treated successfully. We are hoping this communication will alert people to these symptoms and prompt them to bring their pets in when symptoms are first seen, because delay of treatment can result in the death of those animals that we could save.
- Other tick borne diseases such as Anaplasma, Ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are seen more and more.
Take the time to have your pet tested for these diseases at your next visit. Treatment can be very effective if caught early enough.
- One of the biggest problems we see in pets is vomiting and diarrhea, caused by dietary indiscretion.
Dietary indiscretion can range from feeding your pet table scraps to eating garbage and animal carcasses found outdoors. Dietary indiscretion can lead to a much more dangerous condition called pancreatitis, which, untreated, can be fatal. If your pet is vomiting multiple times, call immediately for an appointment. Early intervention can keep the condition from becoming dangerous to your pet.
- Weather…both hot and cold brings additional problems to your pets. Your pet reacts to a hot or cold day much as you do. Keep them as comfortable as possible.
Hot and humid weather brings the threat of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Older pets are particularly susceptible to this condition. Extremely heavy panting, tacky, pale gums, disorientation, and collapse are all symptoms of these conditions and require medical attention immediately.
Cold weather with ice and snow is every bit as dangerous as hot weather. Frost bite to unprotected feet can result in lost toes. Leaving your pet outdoors on extremely cold days or during heavy snow or ice storms can kill a dog or cat. Just because they have a fur coat, doesn’t mean the weather doesn’t effect them. Also, be careful of antifreeze. Just a very small amount can kill your pet. If you think your cat or dog has gotten into antifreeze, seek medical attention immediately. Minutes can make the difference between life and death.