If your pet has progressing heart disease, he or she may show observable symptoms. In dogs, these symptoms include gagging cough, fainting, weakness or reluctance to exercise, rapid resting or sleep breathing rates (more than 30 breaths per minute), and abdominal swelling. Cats may faint, have an increased rate of abdominal breathing, experience lethargy, painful limbs or limb paralysis, and they may hide more than usual. Be sure to make an appointment with your family veterinarian as soon as possible if you witness any combination of these symptoms in your pet.
- Glaucoma – pressure inside the eye which becomes so high that it damages the optic nerve–the most common cause of blindness in middle age dogs
- Cataracts – opacification of the crytalline lens which may be caused by genetics, inflammation, infection, aging, or injury
- Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (Dry Eye) – decreased volume or abnormal composition of tears
- Eyelid disorders – abnormal carriage or confirmation of the lids, third eyelid or conjunctiva
- Corneal Disorders – abnormalities of the anatomy or transparency (clouding, pigmentation) of the cornea
- Retinal detachment – when the retina is separated from its underlying blood supply
- Trauma to the eye
Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in human or veterinary medicine with any medical or surgical treatment because the ultimate outcome of any medical or surgical therapy depends on the response of the patient receiving treatment. Although the same exact treatment can be done for many different patients, each patient may respond differently, and unpredictably.
An ophthalmic examination for a new patient includes:
- Obtaining a detailed ophthalmic history
- Vision testing
- Examination of the anterior segment of the eye (the eyelids, conjunctiva, cornea, anterior chamber, iris, and lens) using a slit lamp biomicroscope and direct illumination
- Examination of the posterior segment of the eye (vitreous, retina, and optic nerve) using an indirect ophthalmoscope and condensing lens.
- Performing any additional diagnostic tests that are indicated for your pet’s eye condition.
Additional diagnostic tests may be required for your pet, such as Schirmer tear testing for dry eye, tonometry (measuring the intraocular pressure), refraction (to determine the optics of the eyes), gonioscopy (to determine the anatomy of the iridocorneal angle). These tests are usually performed at the time of the initial consultation. Another specialized testing (such as electroretinography (to test the electrical activity of the retina) or ocular ultrasound (to evaluate the eye or orbit when the direct evaluation is not possible) may be recommended and can usually be performed the same day as the appointment or the scheduled day of surgery.
It is our goal that you are well-educated and have a clear understanding of your pet’s eye condition. We will provide a diagnosis, describe the ocular condition in clear and understandable terms, discuss the necessary recommended medication(s) and treatment instructions to you
Yes, for one thing, remember that your pet ages at a much-accelerated rate compared to people. This means that an animal’s immune system also ages very rapidly. So although immunity provided through vaccines may last for many years in people, it does not last as long as our pets.
Many of the diseases that pets are vaccinated for are highly contagious and extremely serious (often fatal). Direct contact with a sick animal is often not required. The virus or bacteria can be picked up from contaminated grass, shoes, hands, etc. You could easily bring such an organism home to your pet and never even know it! The best treatment is prevention through vaccines. Your veterinarian will help tailor a vaccine schedule for your particular pet and his/her circumstances so that only the necessary vaccines are given at an appropriate frequency.
In addition, an annual examination gives the veterinarian the opportunity to pick up on any problems with your pet. This is also the ideal time to discuss any concerns that you may have. Subtle changes picked up at the annual examination such as weight loss or gain and dental disease can profoundly impact your pet’s lifespan.
Heartworms are 6 to 14 inch long worms that live in the heart of a dog. Dogs become infected when bitten by a mosquito carrying the heartworm larvae. Heartworm infection can lead to life-threatening heart failure. Ottawa area does have dogs that test positive each year for adult heartworm infection. Since transmission is by a mosquito, direct dog to dog contact is not required. Although dogs are the primary host, occasionally cats become infected as well. The best treatment is to prevent infection in the first place. Prevention involves using a heartworm medication (usually monthly) during the mosquito season which is June 1st to November 1st in the Ottawa area. Preventatives work by killing the larval stages that your pet has become infected with over the preceding month. Since a different drug is required to treat adult heartworm infections, all dogs should be tested on a regular basis to identify and then treat any breakthrough heartworm infections.
Several products are currently on the market for prevention of heartworm infection. Products range from treating only heartworm and intestinal parasites to those that also treat fleas, ticks and mites. Consult with your veterinarian to determine which product meets the needs or you and your pet’s particular lifestyle. Products are available to treat either dogs or cats.
Like with people, as your pet ages, the incidence of the disease also increases. The very nature of animals is “survival of the fittest” which means that the sick try to hide it as long as possible. As pet owners, we want to do the very best for our companions to extend their time with us as long as possible. With early detection, we can often alter the course of disease thereby lengthening the lifespan of our companions. For this reason, older pets (over 8 years of age) should have a complete physical exam every 6 months and blood work once a year. Your veterinarian can help set up a plan for your particular pet.
“Pre-anaesthetic blood work” checks that your pet’s major organs are functioning properly. This is very important with respect to any general anesthesia since these organs are responsible for proper processing and eliminating the drugs used for anesthesia. Blood work can, therefore, reduce the risk associated with general anesthesia and bring to light any hidden health conditions that may add to that risk for your pet.
As your pet ages, the risk for undetected diseases also increases. Appropriate testing and monitoring to identify these problems before anesthesia becomes even more important. In order to decrease risk, your veterinarian may take action such as change anesthetic drugs, postpone or even cancel an elective procedure. Consult your veterinarian about your particular pet’s circumstances with respect to blood work.
Most veterinarians do advocate spaying or neutering any dog or cat not being used for specific breeding purposes. Population control of our pets is very important since unwanted animals are taken in by humane societies and animal control authorities daily. Many animals are euthanized on a routine basis due to overpopulation. Sterilizing your pet is the best way to protect against the overpopulation problem.
In addition, sterilization has many behavioral and medical advantages. Spayed/neutered pets interact much better with other pets and with people, thereby, decreasing the risk of injury. Given the increasing density of both pets and people living together in cities, this can be very important. Urine marking in both male dogs and male cats is another behavioral reason for spaying/neutering our pets. Medical reasons include decreasing or even eliminating the risk of serious diseases such as uterine infection (potentially fatal), uterine or ovarian cancer, mammary cancer, testicular cancer and prostate disease.
Most veterinarians recommend spaying/neutering at around 6 months of age. This is after your pet has completed his/her set of puppy/kitten vaccines but before sexual maturity. At this time your pet is protected from picking up diseases from the animal hospital, but not yet at risk for behavior or medical problems associated with sexual maturity.
Other problems that have been noted by your veterinarian during the early examinations can also be dealt with at this time. Such things include hernia repair, removing retained baby teeth, hip radiographs (for hip dysplasia), etc.