It's flea and tick season! Find out why prevention is important for your pet.
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I hear this question on a daily basis! Many pet owners spend hours researching options by looking at pet food websites, reading blogs, asking friends and family for advice, and browsing the local pet store food aisle. As a result, the amount of information that is found is vast and overwhelming, so our clients often ask for our advice.

cat-eating-pet-foodHonestly, veterinarians are not trained in choosing a pet food. We are extensively trained in nutrition - i.e. what happens if a pet doesn’t get enough of a particular vitamin, what is that mineral used for in the body, what diseases have a nutritional component, how do we treat that condition, etc. Choosing a pet food can be as daunting to us as it is to a consumer, especially now that the overall number of pet foods in the marketplace has skyrocketed. So, how do we answer this question?

Our team of veterinarians review 5 different categories of information when evaluating a pet food company. And believe it or not, it doesn’t include an assessment of protein, ingredients, by-products or health claims! We first look at the company, decide if the company is one we can trust, and recommend to our clients, then we look at the individual diets to choose the best option for our patient from there.

Bloodsuckers! Disease carriers! Does the very thought of fleas crawling through the forest of your dog or cat’s coat seem disgusting to you? It should! Whenever I write about ectoparasites, my head begins to itch.

Fleas cause itching and discomfort for our pets, and for those unfortunate critters who have allergies to fleas, an infestation can result in copious hair loss and a massive secondary skin infection requiring (preventable) multiple veterinary visits and a battery of oral and topical therapies. Fleas suck blood and can infect your cat with cat scratch fever—it’s not just a song… Cat scratch fever is an infection that can be deadly to the elderly, organ transplant patients, people fighting cancer, or those with other diseases of the immune system. Living partners, roommates, couples, families, or any household that includes an immunocompromised person should use monthly flea and tick control for all pets in the home even if they never go outdoors. Don’t take a preventable health risk!

Dr. Rule's daughter and dog

Why Dr. Rule uses flea and tick prevention:
Natalie Rule and Margeaux the dog

Fleas also carry the cystic form of the tapeworm. Cats and dog will eat their fleas to relieve their itchiness. By ingesting a flea, the cystic form of the tapeworm develops into an adult in the GI tract of the host. The result: Little white worms crawling around on your cat or dog’s rear end.

Let’s consider the tick… another blood sucker. Ticks carry many, many diseases that can be transmitted to dogs and people. The primary offenders in our geographical area include Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, babesia, and we think even more. When anaplasma bacterial organisms and Lyme spirochetes infect a dog at the same time, the consequences can be catastrophic. Biologically, the pathogens potentiate each other, resulting in a far worse situation than one infection alone. This is called a co-infection. Cats can also get tick-borne diseases, although this is not as common as the many we diagnose daily in our local dog patient population.

What product is best? There are so many. At Countryside Veterinary Hospital, we carry a number of options but not all of the available options. We have carefully chosen our preventatives to meet the needs of the most pets in our care. The answer to what to use depends on your household: Do you have one pet? Many pets? Live in a high tick area? Have a history of getting flea exposure in your pets? Do you have pets that wrestle or swim? Do you have children? Some households may even need multiple products.

dog desiDesi is a two-year-old black Puggle that has a tail that will not stop! Her owner, Emily, is a very good pet parent. She has brought Desi to all of her needed regular veterinary wellness visits here at Countryside Veterinary Hospital. She feeds Desi prescription T/D diet to keep tartar scraped from her teeth (Puggles are susceptible to dental disease), keeps her on regular monthly flea and tick preventative, and also gives her monthly heartworm prevention that kills both baby heartworms in the blood and intestinal parasites in the GI tract that can be transmitted to humans.

Desi is a love – she sleeps on the bed and licks mom’s face – a lot! Emily takes Desi on plenty of walks, mainly to local parks. The regular exercise is so good for this energetic dog! While Desi was out enjoying herself one day, she also picked up a parasite. This year, like every year, Desi’s owner brought in a fecal sample to her annual wellness exam.

The fecal sample looked normal and well-formed with no obvious evidence that she had any problems. But Desi’s results showed Giardia cysts and that she was ELISA positive (immune system response), with exposure to Giardiasis. Giardia is a protozoal parasite that can cause severe diarrhea in humans and dogs. As for that face licking… well, good thing we know now and we have treated Desi with a simple medication added to her food!

Regular fecal testing is very important. We don’t just look for evidence of intestinal worms, but we also look for protozoans, some of which can be transmitted to humans. If you and your pets live with a child, an elderly family member, or there is someone in your home who has had cancer treatment, don’t miss a fecal test – both your pet’s and your family’s health could depend on it.

Veterinary Surgery -  Laparoscopic SpayLaparoscopy is a minimally invasive way to perform surgery in the abdomen. Laparoscopy is quickly becoming the preferred method for procedures in people including: gall bladder surgery, biopsies of tumors, and many others.

What does minimally invasive mean? Procedures that are performed with less impact to the patient in terms of pain and length of recovery are considered minimally invasive. Think about having your blood drawn for a blood test — this is one of the most minimally invasive test available. X-rays are a bit more invasive, as they expose the body to radiation. Surgery is the most invasive — the effect on the body causes some pain and results in a recovery period that will vary depending on the procedure.

To be more specific in terms of surgery, traditional abdominal surgery requires a lengthy incision through the muscles of the abdomen to allow the surgeon access to the organs inside. The length of the incision will vary with each surgery; spays can be up to 3 inches, and abdominal exploratory can be up to 12 inches! Recovery is at least 2 weeks for all abdominal surgeries.

On the other hand, surgery done using Laparoscopy requires two (or three) incisions that are only ½- inch long, or less, thus allowing a camera (Laparoscope) and one or two special surgical instruments into the abdomen to perform the surgery. The camera projects images from inside the abdomen onto a TV screen, and the surgeon uses the instruments to lift, move, ligate ("tie-off") and cut structures. Smaller incisions are less painful and heal faster; recovery from a laparoscopic surgery is approximately half that of regular surgery and pain is reduced by approximately 70%!

In 2010, Countryside became one of the first general veterinary practices in Massachusetts to offer Laparoscopy. We commonly perform laparoscopic spays, gastropexies (a procedure to prevent a fatal twisting of the stomach), and biopsies. Laparoscopy is performed Monday through Friday. We are continually impressed with the post-surgical recoveries of our patients and are proud to offer this cutting edge option to our patients.

The news that your dog has a knee injury and needs surgery is upsetting and can be devastating to a pet owner. Though this may be your first experience with a pet having torn the cruciate ligament, you are not alone. Over 600,000 dogs a year are diagnosed with knee injuries.

Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture (CCLR) injuries often happen to active, athletic dogs during the course of normal play and activity. Commonly referred to as an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury in people, primarily athletes, this injury significantly affects the function of the leg and requires surgery to restore the limb for regular use. There are three main ways to repair the problem, each with its own pros and cons: Lateral Suture Technique, Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA), and Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO).

At Countryside, we offer both the Lateral Suture technique, typically for smaller dogs and cats, and the TTA technique for medium to larger breed dogs. The TPLO is a procedure limited to veterinary surgeons, thus not offered at Countryside, and is an alternative procedure to the TTA. Once your pet is diagnosed with a CCLR, our team will discuss each procedure, its pros and cons, and make a recommendation for your individual pet.

CCLR repairs are done on the premises — no off-site referral needed — and costs less than the TPLO at surgical referral centers. Drs. Holub, Kopser and Churchill are well trained and skilled at repairing cruciate ruptures using both lateral suture and TTA techiniques and are available to perform this surgery Monday through Thursday. Your pet will have one overnight stay following the procedure for pain management. Like any orthopedic surgery, including in humans, physical therapy is recommended to get the leg back to full working order in the shortest time. Countryside offers the convenience of managing all your pet’s physical therapy needs in our on-site, state-of-the-art Canine Rehabilitation Suite, led by Dr. Jacobs, CCRP and Hollie Neild, CVT, CCRP.

To schedule a consultation appointment or learn more about what Countryside can offer your family, please call 978-256-9555, or send an email to vet@cvhonline.com.