Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Common Pet Problems: Acute Colitis

One of the most frustrating concerns a pet owner can encounter is diarrhea. While there can be many causes of diarrhea, one of the most common is colitis. Colitis is inflammation of the colon, or large intestine. It is a quite common issue seen in pets. Thankfully, when the cause of this condition is accurately diagnosed by your veterinarian, it can often be treated very quickly and effectively.

Symptoms of colitis include:

• Diarrhea
• Increased frequency of needing to defecate
• Increased urgency of defecation- often leads to accidents in the house and unhappy owners!
• Straining to defecate
• Producing small amounts of stool at a time
• Blood and/or mucous in the stool

There are a number of causes for colitis, but in general there are several that stand out amongst the rest as the most common culprits:

Intestinal Parasites need to be ruled out to ensure they are not contributing. This can be done by submitting an intestinal parasite exam (fecal test) to your veterinarian

Stress colitis is very common. Pets can be stressed by many factors. Stress colitis will be seen in pets that are boarded, stressed by new additions to the family/ household, construction or fireworks in the neighborhood, etc.

Dietary Indiscretion is probably the most common cause of colitis. Generally defined as eating anything they aren’t accustomed to, this can happen secondary to an abrupt switch in diet, new treats, medications, or even eating something in the yard we’ll never know about!

Diagnosis is generally made by taking a good history and performing a physical exam on the affected pet. An intestinal parasite exam is recommended to rule out parasites. In many cases, the exact cause may not be identified and the pet will be treated symptomatically.

Treatment of colitis may vary depending on doctor preference, but in general it consists of the following treatments:

Bland diets: bland diets are used to decrease stimulation to the GI tract and help reestablish “normalcy.” This can be accomplished with prescription diets available through your veterinarian. A home version can be accomplished using boiled chicken or hamburger with rice. Once the symptoms have resolved, the pet will gradually be switched back to their regular diet. Some veterinarians prefer adding fiber to the diet.

Medications: The most common medication used to treat acute colitis is a drug called Metronidazole. This is an antibiotic, but it is most commonly used because it also acts as an anti-inflammatory in the GI tract. Because symptoms are caused by inflammation, they typically resolve very quickly when this medication is used.

Other treatments: Supplements such as probiotics may also be used

Acute colitis typically resolves in several days with treatment. In cases where the colitis becomes more chronic, more diagnostic tests may be recommended to search for an underlying cause. Thankfully, many cases resolve quickly which is much appreciated by pets and owners alike!

article written by:
Derek Williamson, DVM
Companion Animal Hospital Vernon Hills

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

There are so many dental treats on the market…..which ones work the best?

Home dental care plays an important role reducing the need for a professional dental cleaning for your pet by your veterinarian.  Professional dental cleanings performed by your veterinarian are proven to be important to your pet’s overall health, but it’s the treatment owners do at home between cleanings that can have a bigger effect!

Daily teeth brushing has long been the best way to prevent the accumulation of plaque and tartar.  Many pet owners, however, find it difficult to make this a priority in their pets.  For this reason, dental treats have gained in popularity as they are seen as a more convenient alternative to brushing.

Dental treats typically break up plaque as it forms on the teeth.  There are two main ways this is accomplished.  The first is associated with the mechanical action of chewing.  Many treats are strategically shaped to help “brush” the teeth as they are chewed.  Dental treats will typically take a bit longer for your pet to eat than a treat not meant to have this function.  Many dental treats also contain enzymes which interact with developing plaque on the teeth.  Together, the mechanical chewing action and enzymatic cleaning help slow the accumulation of tartar formation and periodontal disease development.

Which dental treats are the best?  In general, look for an item which is approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC).  These products typically have a seal of approval on them which states they are VOHC accepted.  The VOHC is a group of veterinary dentists and dental scientists and their approval indicates regular use of that product will reduce the severity of periodontal disease in pets.

Professional dental cleanings will always be necessary to maintain oral health.  Teeth brushing and treats can help slow the progression of plaque, tartar, and periodontal disease helping make your pet’s dental more routine.  Look for the VOHC seal of approval the next time you are looking for a dental treat!

article written by:
Derek Williamson, DVM
Companion Animal Hospital Vernon Hills