Posts from September, 2014

9 behavior changes indicating signs of pain in cats

signs of pain in cats

Cats are masters at disguising when they are sick or hurt.  Do you know the signs of pain in cats?  Dr. Anna Coffin reveals some subtle signs that you might not recognize as signs of pain in cats.

Cats don’t show signs of pain as other species do, which makes it more difficult to recognize and treat.  The best way to identify signs of pain in cats is to look for changes in a cat’s behavior.[Tweet “The best way to identify signs of pain in cats is to look for changes in a cat’s behavior.”]

Changes in normal behaviors associated with signs of pain in cats:

1.  Appetite:  Any change of appetite in a cat is a signal that something is wrong.  Usually with signs of pain in cats you will see a decrease in appetite.

2.  Urination/Defecation:  Vocalization during elimination, increase or decrease volume, changes in ability to get in and out of the litter box, elimination outside the litter box, changes in how stool or urine is passed

3.  Grooming:  Over grooming in one or more areas, not grooming, matted fur

4.  Sleep:  Sleeping more, unable to get comfortable and sleeping less, restless

5.  Activity:  Depending on the problem you may see decreased or increased activity

6.  Vocalization:  Excessive vocalization, not vocalizing for food or treats, increase or decrease in purring

7.  Play:  Decreased

8.  Interactions with people or other pets:  Aggressive to other pets and people, withdrawn or hiding, clingy, more cranky

9.  Gait:  Arthritis is extremely common, but it is rare to see a cat limp so watch for hesitation when a cat jumps up or down and stiffness upon wakening.

Just because a cat doesn’t express pain, doesn’t mean that the cat isn’t  painful.  If you see any of these changes in behavior it may be signs of pain in cats.  If you think your cat is in pain, ask your veterinarian for a prescription of pain medication.  A positive response to the medication is an important part of pain assessment in cats.

If you have an Ask Dr. Anna question you would like answered, please post them in the comment section. Stay up to date on all the latest by subscribing to my blog.  Also “like” me on Facebook.

Dr. Anna was born and raised in Guthrie, Oklahoma. As a teenager, Dr. Anna found her beloved pet dead on the side of the road left to die without any help. That was the moment she decided to become a vet and vowed to help other people and their pets. After a few years of practicing in New Hampshire, Dr. Anna became homesick and decided to return to Guthrie to be with her parents and five other siblings. Family and friends are a major part of our lives which is why we treat our clients at Guthrie Pet Hospital as family.  Dr. Anna and her husband do not have children but are very proud pet parents and therefore, treat every four legged friend as part of the family.

Chronic dry eye in dogs

chronic dry eye

Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS), commonly called chronic dry eye, is a common condition seen in dogs but unfortunately is often misdiagnosed.  Chronic dry eye is a painful condition that can lead to blindness if not treated properly.[Tweet “Chronic dry eye is a painful condition that can lead to blindness if not treated properly.”]

The medical term keratoconjunctivitis Sicca means inflammation of the cornea and surrounding tissues due to dryness.  KCS is caused by a lack of production of the tear film.

Normal tear film in dogs and cats is composed of :

1.  Lipid (fatty liquid):  Functions to limit tear evaporation, helps keep the tear film on the cornea and prevent it from flowing out of the eye.  This layer is produced from glands that line the eyelids.

2.  Aqueous (water):  Functions to provide nutrition to the corneal, acts as a surface lubricant and removes waste material and bacteria from the cornea.  This layer is produced from the lacrimal glands

3.  Mucin (mucus):  Functions to enhance the spread of the tear film across the cornea.  This layer is produced from conjunctival goblet cells.

A deficiency in any one of these components will cause chronic dry eye.  The most common deficiency is the aqueous (water) layer. 

American cocker spaniel, Bloodhound, Boston terrier, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, English bulldog, English springer spaniel, Lhasa Apso, Miniature schnauzer, Pekingese, Pug, Samoyed, Shih Tzu, West highland white terrier and Yorkshire terrier are all breeds that are prone to chronic dry eye.

Dogs with chronic dry eye have painful, red and irritated eyes.  It’s common to see dogs with this disease squinting or blinking frequently.  There is often a thick, yellowish mucous discharge due to a lack of the aqueous (water) portion of the tear film.  Scarring of the cornea occurs frequently and looks like a dark film covering the eyes.  Vision is reduced if the scarring is extensive.  Scratches, ulcerations and infection of the cornea are frequent complications that can occur due to chronic dry eye.chronic dry eye

Diagnosis is based on  history ,physical exam and clinical signs.  The Schirmer Tear Test (STT) is a simple test that can be performed in the exam room to diagnose chronic dry eye.  This test uses a special paper to measure the tear production in one minute.  Dogs with KCS should also be evaluated for corneal ulcers.

Stimulating tear production and replacing the tear film are the two main goals in the treatment of chronic dry eye. 

1.  Cyclosporine and Tacrolimus are the two main drugs that can be used to help stimulate tear production.  

2.  Tear film replacement helps provide lubrication to the cornea until tear stimulants are effective.  These medications are available without a prescription and come as solutions, gels and ointments.  Below are some examples of some products that can be purchased over the counter.

  • Artificial tear solutions:  These products are helpful in removing debris and mucus from the eye.  However, it’s not a great solution for long-term treatment because it needs to be applied frequently to provide adequate lubrication
  • Cellulose-based solutions:  These products stay in the eye longer than artificial tears but still required applying every 4-6 hours.  Examples include hydroxyproply and hyaluronate.
  • Artificial tear solutions containing petrolatum or mineral oil:  These products provide long-term lubrication but can results in debris accumulation and are best for patients that have a deficiency in the lipid (fatty) tear film layer.  This is a great product for owners that will be absent for long periods of time. 

If you have an Ask Dr. Anna question you would like answered, please post them in the comment section. Stay up to date on all the latest by subscribing to my blog.  Also “like” me on Facebook.

Dr. Anna was born and raised in Guthrie, Oklahoma. As a teenager, Dr. Anna found her beloved pet dead on the side of the road left to die without any help. That was the moment she decided to become a vet and vowed to help other people and their pets. After a few years of practicing in New Hampshire, Dr. Anna became homesick and decided to return to Guthrie to be with her parents and five other siblings. Family and friends are a major part of our lives which is why we treat our clients at Guthrie Pet Hospital as family.  Dr. Anna and her husband do not have children but are very proud pet parents and therefore, treat every four legged friend as part of the family.

Wordless Wednesday: What’s your diagnosis #27

This is an pelvic x-ray of a 4 year old Lab mix that was having left hind limb lameness for about one month.  Physical exam revealed pain on extension of hip.  What’s your diagnosis?

I will answer diagnostic questions as they are requested so stay tuned!

Check back later in the week for the answer!  If you have an Ask Dr. Anna question you would like answered, please post them in the comment section. Stay up to date on all the latest by subscribing to my blog.  Also “like” me on Facebook.

Wordless Wednesday: What’s your diagnosis #27

This is an pelvic x-ray of a 4 year old Lab mix that was having left hind limb lameness for about one month.  Physical exam revealed pain on extension of hip.  What’s your diagnosis?

I will answer diagnostic questions as they are requested so stay tuned!

Check back later in the week for the answer!  If you have an Ask Dr. Anna question you would like answered, please post them in the comment section. Stay up to date on all the latest by subscribing to my blog.  Also “like” me on Facebook.

Treatment options for torn ACL in dogs

torn ACL in dogs

A torn ACL in dogs (anterior cruciate ligament) is the most common knee injury seen in dogs.  Dr. Anna Coffin will briefly describe this condition and then discuss treatment options available to fix a torn ACL in dogs.[Tweet “A torn ACL in dogs (anterior cruciate ligament) is the most common knee injury seen in dogs.”]

Knee anatomy

The knee joint is a fairly unstable joint because it doesn’t have any interlocking bones within the joint.  The femur (upper bone) and the tibia (lower bone) are held together by multiple ligaments.  There are two cruciate ligaments that cross from front to back of both of these bones which allow the knee to move back and forth like a hinge, but restrict side to side movement.  There are also two meniscus that act as shock absorbers between the femur and the tibia. 

The anterior (front) cruciate ligament is commonly ruptured due to some type of twisting injury. This type of injury usually happens when a dog is running and suddenly changes directions.  It is common for the meniscus to become damaged when this ligament ruptures.

A torn ACL in dogs is extremely painful.  The torn ligament results in an unstable knee joint and dogs typically present completely non weight bearing in the affect limb.  Without surgery damage will occur to the cartilage and the surrounding bones and lead to arthritis. 

Surgical repair

There are several surgical techniques that are used to correct torn ACL in dogs. 

Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO):

This is the procedure recommended by most board certified veterinary surgeons for torn ACL in dogs and is the procedure of choice performed at Oklahoma State University.  The purpose of this surgery is to change the angle of the top of the tibia from 20% to 6.5% to prevent the femur from shifting forward. 

  • The surgery involves making  a semicircular cut in the tibia.  This bone segment is then rotated to achieve a “level” tibial plateau.  The rotated bone segment is then secured with a specially designed orthopedic plate.

Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA):

This procedure is more commonly performed in dogs with a steep tibial plateau.  Recovery may be slightly quicker with this procedure because it is a less invasive of a procedure.

  • The surgery involves making a cut through the front of the tibia where the patella ligament attaches.  A special orthopedic spacer is screwed into this space which brings the front part of the knee forward and up.  A bone plate is then attached to hold the front section of the tibia in the proper position.

External Capsular Repair (ECLS):

This is the oldest and traditional surgical correction for torn ACL in dogs.  The joint is stabilized from outside the joint capsule.  A special type of suture material acts as an artificial ligament to prevent joint instability.

  • The surgery involves drilling two holes, one through the front of the tibia and one through the back of the femur, so an artificial ligament can be passed through them.  Over the last decade, new materials and anchoring devices have been made available to make this surgery more successful than ever before.

TightRope procedure:

This is a slight variation to the ECLS repair using different materials and a slight variation in technique.  The TightRope procedure uses a customized needle, special suture material and bone anchors to stabilize the joint.

  • The surgery involves drilling bone channels through the femur and tibia.  The customized needle and suture is then run through the channels of both bones.  Bone anchors are used to reduce the need for additional suture material in the joint.

TPLO and TTA advantages: 

  • faster healing
  • resume normal activities quicker
  • better range of motion in the knee

TPLO and TTA disadvantages:

  • expensive
  • infection can be post op complication in < 10% of all patients

ECLS and TightRope advantages:

  • less expensive
  • less invasive

ECLS and TightRope disadvantages:

  • 15% failure rate
  • infection can be post op complication in 1-4% of all patients
  • knee joint must still be opened to remove damaged ligament and remove or repair damaged meniscus

If you have an Ask Dr. Anna question you would like answered, please post them in the comment section. Stay up to date on all the latest by subscribing to my blog.  Also “like” me on Facebook.

Dr. Anna was born and raised in Guthrie, Oklahoma. As a teenager, Dr. Anna found her beloved pet dead on the side of the road left to die without any help. That was the moment she decided to become a vet and vowed to help other people and their pets. After a few years of practicing in New Hampshire, Dr. Anna became homesick and decided to return to Guthrie to be with her parents and five other siblings. Family and friends are a major part of our lives which is why we treat our clients at Guthrie Pet Hospital as family.  Dr. Anna and her husband do not have children but are very proud pet parents and therefore, treat every four legged friend as part of the family.

If you have an Ask Dr. Anna question you would like answered, please post them in the comment section. Stay up to date on all the latest by subscribing to my blog.  Also “like” me on Facebook.

Dr. Anna was born and raised in Guthrie, Oklahoma. As a teenager, Dr. Anna found her beloved pet dead on the side of the road left to die without any help. That was the moment she decided to become a vet and vowed to help other people and their pets. After a few years of practicing in New Hampshire, Dr. Anna became homesick and decided to return to Guthrie to be with her parents and five other siblings. Family and friends are a major part of our lives which is why we treat our clients at Guthrie Pet Hospital as family.  Dr. Anna and her husband do not have children but are very proud pet parents and therefore, treat every four legged friend as part of the family.

Wordless Wednesday: What’s your diagnosis # 26

oral ulcers in cats

This is a 7 year old cat that has not been eating or drinking much for about one week.  It is not having any vomiting, diarrhea, coughing or sneezing.  It is an inside only cat.  On physical exam, multiple oral ulcerations are present in the mouth (see picture) and the cat is severely dehydrated.  Everything else on physical exam is normal.  What is your differential diagnosis and what diagnostics would you like to perform?

I will answer diagnostic questions as they are requested so stay tuned!

Check back later in the week for the answer!  If you have an Ask Dr. Anna question you would like answered, please post them in the comment section. Stay up to date on all the latest by subscribing to my blog.  Also “like” me on Facebook.

Why you need pet wellness plans for your pets

pet wellness plans

Regular preventative care is essential for your pet’s continued health.  Dr. Anna Coffin explains what pet wellness plans are and why you need one.

The Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study published in 2011 revealed that owners would visit their veterinarian more often if they offered a full year pet wellness plan and monthly billing for routine services.  Veterinarians across the nation, including Guthrie Pet Hospital, have responded to this request and are now offering pet wellness plans. Continue…

Wordless Wednesday: What’s your diagnosis #25

snake bite collage

This dog was bitten by a poisonous snake and a large piece of skin tissue died.  Initially, I surgically closed the wound but because it was in a high motion area the sutures did not hold.  How did I get this to heal from the before treatment picture to the after treatment picture in 10 days?

Check back later in the week for the answer!  If you have an Ask Dr. Anna question you would like answered, please post them in the comment section. Stay up to date on all the latest by subscribing to my blog.  Also “like” me on Facebook.

How to succeed at flea control #Seresto

flea control

People struggle with flea infestations primarily because they don’t understand the flea life cycle and the importance of treating their environment.  Dr. Anna Coffin will discuss what you need to know about stopping fleas dead in their tracts.

Flea Life Cycle:

Adult flea:  The adult flea only accounts for 5% of the flea population.  An adult flea can lay 50 eggs/day and during its 3 week life span can lay up to 1000 eggs. 

Eggs:   Flea eggs make up 50% of the flea population.  Flea eggs are approximately 1/64 of an inch, about the size of a grain of salt.  The flea eggs are the major problem when battle flea infestations because they are harder to see and they have a hard exterior shell protecting them.

Larvae:  Larvae make up 35% of the flea population.  The larvae emerge from the egg when the outside temperature and humidity are appropriate.  The larvae are the least protected from the environment and will crawl to a moist, dark area to continue developing. 

Pupae:  Pupae make up 10% of the flea population.  The larvae develop into the pupae stage depending upon the temperature and humidity.  The pupae is surrounded by a protective cocoon and can remain dormant in this phase for 30 weeks.  Mechanical pressure, carbon dioxide and temperature can stimulate the pupae to hatch out into an adult flea.

Adult fleas can emerge in 13 days.flea control

Most people are concerned about killing the adult fleas on their pet with flea control, but as you can see, 95% of the flea population is in the environment.  Dr. Anna Coffin recommends treating all pets and treating the environment for effective flea control. [Tweet “Dr. Anna Coffin recommends treating all pets and treating the environment for effective flea control. “]

Before treating your environment, vacuum carpeted areas to stimulate the pupae phase to hatch out of the cocoon.  For the best flea control, use a product that will kill adult fleas and their eggs in the environment and on your pet.  Due to the flea life cycle, it’s important to retreat the house again in 14 days.

Fleas can cause skin disease and transmit tapeworms and other contagious diseases to your pet.  All year around flea control is important, especially in the Southern United States, to keep your pet healthy.  The Seresto collar is a great collar that kills fleas and ticks and lasts for 8 months.

flea control

This post is sponsored by Bayer / Seresto and the Pet Blogger Network. Dr. Anna is being compensated for helping spread the word about the Seresto product, but Dr. Anna only shares information she feels is relevant to our readers. Bayer / Seresto is not responsible for the content of this article.

If you have an Ask Dr. Anna question you would like answered, please post them in the comment section. Stay up to date on all the latest by subscribing to my blog.  Also “like” me on Facebook.

Dr. Anna was born and raised in Guthrie, Oklahoma. As a teenager, Dr. Anna found her beloved pet dead on the side of the road left to die without any help. That was the moment she decided to become a vet and vowed to help other people and their pets. After a few years of practicing in New Hampshire, Dr. Anna became homesick and decided to return to Guthrie to be with her parents and five other siblings. Family and friends are a major part of our lives which is why we treat our clients at Guthrie Pet Hospital as family.  Dr. Anna and her husband do not have children but are very proud pet parents and therefore, treat every four legged friend as part of the family.

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