Posts Tagged ‘health’

Ringworm in Pets

May 10th, 2011

Dr. Jed and I have been on the hunt for a new cat or kitten for around the past six months. We have been holding out as we were waiting for “the one.” When I saw her pictures on PetFinder, I thought she was adorable, but it was the in-person visit that convinced us that she was the perfect new family member.

ringworm in pets, online vet

Almost all healed up, and tuckered out after playing in her new harness.

As luck would have it, a few days before we were supposed to adopt her, she developed ringworm. The rescue group politely gave us an out if we wanted it, and I must admit, we did consider.

I am one of those people that are particularly susceptible towards ringworm and I contract it very easily. In addition, we are adopting a second kitten (we ended up finding two that melted our hearts and we all know nothing is cuter than two kittens playing), and we had concerns that the second kitten would catch it from the first.

After much deliberation, we decided to move forward with the adoption of both kitties. We figured that two vets could treat her ringworm more effective than a rescue. That is not to say the rescue was doing a poor job, but we have the time and resources for her to be our full focus.

We have now had McKenzi for a week, and sure enough, I did get ringworm, but I treated it aggressively and it’s already resolved. McKenzi’s is greatly improved and only one tiny spot remains.

Myths about ringworm in pets

5. Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first, but I do believe it deserves a mention as some people aren’t aware of it. Ringworm is not a worm. Ringworm is cause by one or several fungal infections that infects and survives on the top surface of the skin, called keratin.

ringworm in cats, ask the vet4. Ringworm is not just spread by direct contact. Not only can it be spread by indirect contact, such as by touching an object that is infected with it’s spores, it can even be spread by the air.

3. The type of ringworm that people naturally get is different than the type that cats and dogs naturally get. If your human family has an outbreak, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the family pet is responsible if they have no signs. A child could have picked it up at school or a playground. Either way, a culture is needed to determine the species of ringworm being passed around. Read the rest of this entry »

Sticks, stones, and other mysterious things your dog eats

April 21st, 2011

ask a vet, pica, why dogs eat rocks, why dogs eat paper

Word's most expensive dog snack

Ask the vet why your dog eats things that aren’t food

Many dog owners have this problem:  your dog eats the most bizarre things.  Guest what?  Veterinary medicine has a term for it and a diagnosis even.

The consumption of nonfood items is called pica. Although pica can be a sign that a dog’s diet is lacking in nutrition, pica often occurs in puppies and young dogs as a result of boredom.

Puppies eat all kinds of objects, and they tend to explore their world with their mouths. Although we aren’t quite sure why puppies do this, many puppies tend to chew and eat a variety of inedible objects, from rocks to plastic bags and toys, clothing, and even pieces of wood. Most puppies grow out of this behavior as the morph into adult dogs, with only the mildest of discouragement from their owners.

ask a vet why my dog eats grassMany adult dogs that eat inedible objects may do so out of destructive chewing. This is different from pica, in that destructive chewing starts off as just that, chewing. Most doggy chewing doesn’t lead to actual swallowing of the object, but inevitably your dog may swallow bits and pieces. Dogs have an ever-impressive ability to swallow something that is in the back of their mouths without second thought.

Read the rest of this entry »

Online Vet Reviews Spring Cleaning Tips to keep your pets safe

April 5th, 2011

ask a vet, online vetAsk a Vet

Though the mercury isn’t yet rising in our part of the world, spring time is here, and for many of us, a thorough spring cleaning is in order.

As you clean out your medicine cabinets and drawers, please remember that many pets often find pills tasty little treats (dogs) or toys to bat around on the floor and then ingest (cats).

One of the most common types of accidental ingestions that we see as VetLIVE veterinarians is pets that have gotten into medications. While many human drugs can be safely prescribed for dogs or cats, overdoses can be dangerous or deadly.

So which drugs are the common ones that pets get into? Listed below are some of the most common drugs pet owners report to us that their pets got into.

1. Aspirin. Did you know that giving a puppy even one baby aspirin can be fatal? Toxic quantities of aspirin can adversely affect all organs of your pet, including impaired blood clotting, vomiting and diarrhea, acute kidney failure, and even seizures.

2. Ibuprofen (or many similar drugs such as Aleve). For dogs, ibuprofen can easily exceed toxic levels. The most common cause of ibuprofen toxicity is a well-meaning owner who tries to alleviate pain in their dog by giving a dose he thinks is adequate or reasonable without knowing the toxic dose. The initial toxic effect is bleeding stomach ulcers. In addition to ulcers, increasing doses of ibuprofen eventually lead to kidney failure and, if left untreated, can be fatal.

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Pet Adoption Success Stories

March 14th, 2011

online vet reviews, online vet, ask a vetBaxter, the search and rescue canine

It was February 2006 when Baxter, a loveable and highly intelligent Golden Retriever was discovered by a member of a Search Dog Foundation in California. He was adopted and soon began training. He earned his canine search and rescue certification in 2007, and for years now Baxter and his handler Gary Durian have been traveling across the world to provide relief to those when disaster strikes.

Today, with Japan being under a national state of emergency, canines, firefighters, and paramedics are on their way. Baxter and his canine handler are one of many canine and human teams that arrived this past weekend in Japan to look for survivors buried underneath the rubble and debris as a result of the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the country last Friday. Officials estimate over 1,000 people may have lost their lives.

While your adopted pooch certainly doesn’t have to be a search and rescue star to be the hero of your life, it is important to remember that shelter and rescue pets have the full potential of pets from breeders, or worse, mills. Read the rest of this entry »

Dog Diabetes: Ask the Veterinarian

March 2nd, 2011

I thought we would do something different today.  We receive a lot of questions about canine diabetes mellitus, and it seems to be a commonly confused topic in veterinary medicine for pet owners.  Today I wanted to share with you a portion of a Q&A from our ask a vet service.  Additional topics were discussed, but for the purpose of this post, I have only included relevant information on diabetes.

Ask a vet a Question:

ask a vet a question, ask the vet, dog diabetesI have a seven-year old female miniature schnauzer Daisy. Over the past month, I have noticed her drinking more, asking to go out more–just to pee it seems, and she seems to be losing weight. She still has a strong appetite, and seems otherwise normal. I already went to the vet, and they thought it was probably a urinary tract infection and gave her antibiotics. We didn’t do the test because the vet thought it was pretty sure and money is tight, and the antibiotics were expensive enough. We finished the antibiotics but they didn’t seem to help any. What do you think could be wrong?

Vet Answers:

I am very suspicious that your dog may have a condition called diabetes mellitus. Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a endocrine disease often called “sugar diabetes” because of the dog has an abnormally high blood and urine sugar levels. Diabetes arises when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, the hormone that allow the body to use glucose, and in turn, when not enough insulin is produced, there is excessive glucose in the blood, and negative consequences happen.

The most common reason is that the cells of the pancreas that are responsible for insulin production, called beta cells, get destroyed. They usually get destroyed from chronic inflammation of the pancreas, such as flare ups with pancreatitis or chronic GI issues of many kinds. This is Type 1 DM, and is the most common type of DM in dogs, while Type II which arises from insulin resistance is very rare in the dog.

The common clinical signs are why I am suspicious this is what your pooch is suffering from. Increased thirst and urination are the most common signs. The miniature schnauzer is one of the most common breads that we see DM in, and females are more likely to suffer from it than males. The average age of onset is 7-9 years. Other signs are increased appetite and weight loss. This is because even though they are eating more, the body can’t effectively use the glucose because of low insulin levels, so they are in essence starving.

The diagnosis is fairly straight-forward. A significantly elevated fasting blood glucose Read the rest of this entry »

Ask the vet: What is the deal with Pet Dental Care?

February 25th, 2011

dog dental cleaning, ask a vet, online vet, pet dental careHaving the conversation with pet owners that are dubious that their pets need dental care is a repetitive part but essential part of being a veterinarian.  It is true that periodontal disease is by far the most common disease I see in dogs or cats older than a mere two or three years of age, and while more and more pet owners are recognizing that they pets can get toothaches like they can, there are still a large number of pet owners that ignore the fact that pets need dental care too.

Bad dog breath is not normal. It usually signals periodontal disease, which leads to tooth decay, oral abscesses, bleeding gums, tooth loss, and systemic infections that affect the kidneys, liver, and heart. And that doesn’t even mention the pain associated with periodontal disease.

So how often should you brush your pet’s teeth? Daily. This is one of those do as I say and not as I do. I am guilty of not brushing our pet’s teeth daily. I understand how difficult it is, and am not passing judgment. But if you strive for daily and perhaps reach every other day, I can vouch in the difference it will make.

Luckily, most general practice vets are trained in dental cleanings. While the procedure does require anesthesia as we are poking in the backs of their mouths with tickly instruments and headlamps, it is not a reason to shy away from the procedure. I would seek out a vet that includes pre-anesthetic blood-work (including both a complete blood cell count and a serum biochemistry panel) as part of the package deal. If your veterinarian has the blood work itemized separately and as an option, they really don’t have your pet’s best interest at heart and it is a red flag warning that they are willing to cut corners and risk your pet’s health.

After getting a clean and squeaky smile to move forward with, you can ask a vet to demonstrate how to effectively brush your pet’s teeth. It may take some practice (okay, guaranteed it will), but give it time. Also, make sure to use a toothpaste specifically for dogs or cats. Since they don’t rinse and spit, if they swallow our toothpaste it can be dangerous for them.

We are nearing the end of Pet Dental Month. How many times have you brushed your dog or cat’s teeth this month? Make the last few days count if you’ve forgotten! What are your best tips for fellow pet owners?

Dr. Laci


Dr. Laci Nash Schaible, DVM

Why do dogs eat grass?

February 21st, 2011

ask a vet, online vet, why do dogs eat grass

It’s a question I’ve heard more times than I can remember, and yes, as a dog owner, I too have seen my own dogs (and cats) go outside for a munch of the green stuff, chow down, and often times throw it right back out.

Dogs too often will seek out a natural remedy for their GI ailments, be it if their tummy is upset or if they are feeling a bit bloated and gassy. Typically they will nibble just a bit, but some dogs will graze more.

So why do dogs eat grass and then throw it up?

When they eat the blades of grass, it is believed the tiny “hairs” on the blade tickle the esophagus and stomach as they go do. This then often causes the dog to vomit, which may be just what the doctor ordered if something they ate is upsetting their tummy.

Many household and landscaping plants are poisonous to dogs, and dogs are no better botanists than their people, so make sure they don’t have access to the dangerous herbage.

Typically, dogs will chew and graze more when they are feeling well. The more they chew the grass, the more the blade becomes saturated with saliva, and in becoming so, it is less “tickly” as they swallow. These dogs may just be craving some roughage in their diet, or may find the texture appealing.

Alternatively, the quicker they gulp it down, the more likely they are to throw it right back up.

So, why do dogs find grass appealing?

Read the rest of this entry »

Vaccine Fine Print (Not Another Argument)

February 17th, 2011

ask a vet, online vet, online vet reviews, dog vaccinesWhile many pet owners are becoming more concerned about which vaccines they should let their vet give their pets (and you can read our take on that here) , one message they may not be clear on when they leave the vet’s office is.

Just because your new puppy got his first vaccines does not mean he is protected.

We have excellent vaccines available in veterinary medicine to help protect against many infectious diseases.

But they take time to work.

There is a period before a puppy or kitten reaches 16 weeks of age where their immune system switches from antibodies from the mother and their own. During this switchover, they essentially have no protection and are at risk for serious illness.

This is nothing to make light of. Many states have recently reported an increase of both canine parvovirus, as well as deadly distemper. Both diseases have a great vaccine, but unfortunately not every dog is vaccinated and many pets suffer because of it.

Read the rest of this entry »

How healthy is it to get intimate with your pet?

February 9th, 2011

Online vet reviews some of the major diseases that people and our pets share

With all the talk recently frowning upon sharing your bed with your pet, cooking your pet’s food in separate areas than your own food, and a few recent cases of rabies in domestic animals, I stopped to wonder: what is all this hype about, and really, how dangerous or safe is it to be snuggly wuggly with our pets?  As a veterinarian, I want to address the main health scares that our pets bring indoors, and some of the myths that surround them.


I was a new veterinarian when we first learned that MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphyloccocus aureus), the bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics, existed. As a nation, we freaked out. Our MRSA positive pets were buried (after they passed, they were not euthanized let it be known) 6 feet deep in seriously thick plastic liners, and vets were quarantining simple skin infections left and right. I remember being scared. Now looking back? It seems we went a little overboard. Better safe than sorry, but MRSA is no longer making me lose sleep at night, as a vet or a pet owner.  Still, if your veterinarian is concerned, listen up!

The dreaded bacteria from a dog or cat’s mouth.

Now it is true, I am not a fan of having all my clients lick me on the lips. While you may think this is weird as I am a vet and a lover of all animals four-legged and furry (or furless), would you kiss thirty people a day? I’m guessing no.

What are your thoughts on getting up close and personal with your furbabies?

Do you kiss the person you share your life or space with? Lots of people would answer yes here. While your person hopefully doesn’t lick their bum, I can go either way on this one. Personally I think on the lips is too much, but I am one of those people who brings antibacterial hand gel everywhere. Perhaps a bit over the top, but I am so much healthier now than I was before I was geared up my my germ warfare.

As someone who has performed thousands of dentals on pets, most all of which there are countless harmful bacteria being aerosolized, and I know I have slipped more than once on my personal protective equipment, I have never gotten sick from dog or cat mouth germs. As the usual recommendation, I would say keep pet kisses away from the young, elderly, and the immune-compromised.

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This is the biggest threat in my veterinary experience. An alarming 600 U.S. children lose their eyesight each year due to roundworm larvae. They contract this parasite from the soil contaminated with infected dog feces. It is important to emphasize your own pet can be parasite free, and your child can still be at risk.

As for safety tips for intestinal parasites, it’s simple. Use common sense, good hygiene (meaning picking up poop every other day in your yard, as this prevents the parasite from becoming “infective”), and please don’t skip on the heartworm meds. Being in a place where I honestly don’t see a lot of HW disease, I do diagnose a tremendous number of dogs with intestinal parasites when their owners skip a month of HW preventative. While I too hate the mark up we have to pay for pet medications, it is definitely worth the price to keep your family–four and two-legged– safe and parasite free.

Keep is simple, keep is safe, keep the love going with your pets. Isn’t that why we have acclimated into each other’s lives after all?

Cheers to pet snuggles,

Dr. Laci


Dr. Laci Nash Schaible, DVM

When a cat can’t urinate

January 19th, 2011

How well read are you?ask a vet, cat can't urinate, sick cat, online vet
Today I want to share a special story that happened this week to a colleague and best friend of mine. Sadly, it happens all too often in veterinary medicine.

This past Saturday, an elderly couple took their cat to the vet with the complaint of having trouble urinating. The vet did an analysis of the urine and saw a plethora of crystals and white blood cells. I don’t know if the owners were wearing ear plugs, had their hearing aids turned off, denied all treatment, or if the vet was really that lousy, but the people went home with nothing but antibiotics–which is insane treatment to another vet.

Come Tuesday morning, the concerned couple again called the vet. Their beloved cat was doing worse, had vomiting and diarrhea, still had trouble urinating, and just seemed like a very sick cat.  They were told to bring him back in–for more fees of course. They declined, as they were on a fixed budget.

At 4:30 pm, they showed up at the vet’s office. Granted, they did not have an appointment, so I understand this can be difficult to squeeze them in as a vet, BUT, ethically, you are the active and current doctor overseeing this case which does put an legally arguable responsibility on you to see the pet.

This vet should have been thinking, “oh my goodness, this cat is probably blocked and could be about to die. I need to make this cat my #1 priority!”

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