Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Feline Upper Respiratory Tract Infections

Upper respiratory tract infections are common problems seen in cats. While there are many different types of infectious organisms that are the culprit, most of these infections are started by a virus. Both feline Herpes and feline Calicivirus can be involved, but Herpes is the more common of the two.

Most to all cats are exposed to feline herpes virus at a young age. Once a cat is carrying the virus, they will have it lifelong. Typically, the virus will remain latent in the body and the cat will show no symptoms. When something suppresses the immune system (most commonly stress), the virus will become active and the symptoms can appear.

Symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection include sneezing (most common), conjunctivitis (inflammation of the tissue surrounding the eye), coughing, and even ulcers that develop on the eyeball. When the infection is caused by a virus alone, clear discharge may be seen from the nose or eyes. Unfortunately, viral infections often pave the way for secondary bacterial infections. We know a bacterial infection is involved when the discharge becomes colored (yellow or green).

The most frustrating part of treating upper respiratory tract infections in cats is that the virus is difficult to impossible to treat. There are no inexpensive, effective anti-viral medications readily available. When a bacterial infection is present, antibiotics can do a good job clearing it up, but these medications will do nothing to treat the viral component of the disease. Thankfully, in time, the cat’s immune system will typically beat the virus into submission and send it back into latency.

Cats that have severe viral upper respiratory infections or cats that are prone to recurrent infections may benefit from a supplement known as L-Lysine. This is a type of protein that works to support the immune system to fight the viral component of the disease. It can also be used to prevent recurrent or chronic infections at bay. L-Lysine comes in many forms made specifically for cats.

As mentioned, stress is a very common trigger for upper respiratory tract infections in cats. For this reason, we often see these infections following a stressful period or event in a cat’s life. For example, it is very common that newly adopted cats may show these symptoms shortly after entering their new home, having surgery, or meeting a new housemate for the first time. It is important to recognize the symptoms and consult your veterinarian as to the best course of action to keep your feline friend as comfortable as possible while dealing with this often miserable condition.

article written by:

Dr. Derek Williamson

Companion Animal Hospital Vernon Hills

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Scooting Dogs

Some call it the "butt scooting boogie," but most would call it "gross." Regardless of what you refer to it as, there are number of reasons your dog is scooting his or her butt across your favorite rug. 

One of the most common reasons your dog may be scooting is because he or she is expressing their anal sacs. Anal sacs are two grape-sized pouches located on either side of the anus that fill with a foul fishy smelling oily yellow-brown fluid that dogs use to mark their territory. Each sac has a small duct that will normally drain this fluid during a bowel movement. However, sometimes these ducts can become clogged causing the anal sacs to fill and your dog to feel uncomfortable. This is usually when you will see your dog do the dreaded butt drag, often accompanied with the unforgettable smell of anal sacs. Should the anal sacs continue to fill, this may lead to an anal sac impaction, rupture, or infection. 

While small breed dogs such as miniature poodles, toy poodles, and Chihuahuas are more predisposed to anal sac issues, your dog may also be more prone if they have chronically soft feces, recent diarrhea, excessive secretions, or poor muscle tone. Cats also have anal sacs, however, anal sac issues are much less common. Though a veterinarian or veterinary technician can manually empty these anal sacs (or if you are brave enough to empty them yourself), this may be a sign of other problems if your dog continues to scoot, lick or bite at their butt, or strain to defecate. Other common causes of scooting include intestinal parasites, fleas, allergies, or irritation from debris in the fur. 

article written by:
Kathrine Anderson, DVM
Norwood Park Animal Hospital
Companion Animal Hospital of Norridge
Norridge, IL