Category: My Pet Has What?

What is Bloat?

Bloat; The Mother of All Emergencies

By: John Crumley DSC_0303-001

I want to take this opportunity to let you know of a severe, life-threatening syndrome that affects large breed dogs and a recent advance in preventative surgery for the condition.

Since your pet is a large breed dog, you may have heard of gastric dilatation volvulus complex, also referred to as “bloat” or “GDV.” This syndrome occurs in certain breeds, specifically large “deep-chested” breeds. The stomach dilates with gas and food and then begins an abnormal rotation (illustrated on the illustration-dog-bloat-500ximage to the left). This can happen very rapidly, often in hours, and if untreated results in obstruction of the stomach and death. Treatment consists of aggressive fluid therapy and prompt surgical correction. The success of treatment ranges from 60 to 80%, thus unfortunately, some of the patients die despite our best efforts. Cost of the procedure, excluding the obvious emotional cost, can range from $1,500 to $5,000.

Although this syndrome is not encountered every day in predisposed breeds, the severity of the condition has incited us to explore the latest surgical techniques to both correct and prevent it.

In the past the surgical procedure to prevent this syndrome (gastropexy) had to be performed with a more traditional surgical approach with a recovery time of 7 to 10 days and a 6 to 12 inch abdominal incision. Our hospital has invested in laparoscopic equipment and advanced surgical training for our doctors to enable us to perform surgeries such as this with minimal incision size and recovery time for the patient. We often recommend preforming this procedure during the time of great_dane_stock_7_by_sigarnistock-d3hwnnjthe spay or neuter. The surgery for the gastropexy can now be performed with two small incisions (less than 1 inch in many cases) with a recovery time of 2 to 4 days. If you have any questions on whether your pet would benefit from a preventative surgery please call us and speak with Dr. Baker, Dr Davidson, or me about the details of this surgery.


What is Parvovirus?

By: Dr. John Crumley DSC_0303-001

Parvoviruses are a large group with almost every mammal species (including humans) seems to have its own parvovirus. Fortunately, each virus is specific for which animal species it can infect (i.e. the canine parvovirus will not infect people). However, the canine parvovirus will affect most members of the dog family (wolves, coyotes, and foxes).

While the parvoviruses of other species have been well known for decades, the canine parvovirus is a relative newcomer. The original canine parvovirus, discovered in 1967, lead to a series of infections in the 1970’s and unfortunately still to this day.

Golden Retriever puppyThe most common form of the virus is called CPV-2b, but there is a new particularly virulent strain of parvovirus (CPV-2c) which is rapidly becoming the second most common form of canine parvovirus. Fortunately, currently available vaccines cover all variants of canine parvovirus including CPV-2c, as do all the commercially available diagnostic test kits.

After a 3-7 day incubation period, the disease manifests itself with vomiting, diarrhea, and poor appetite. If untreated, death from dehydration and sepsis is most commonly the end result. If treated with aggressive care, up to 80% of patients will survive and go on to lead normal lives after infection. Since the treatment is extensive, often times requiring isolation in a veterinary hospital for many days, we must be prepared for significant expense of treatment (often times over $1,000).

Treatment for parvovirus infection centers on supportive care. This means that the clinical problems that come up in the course of the infection are addressed individually with the goal of keeping the patient alive long enough for an immune response to generate. We do not have effective antiviral drugs and must rely on the patient’s immune system for cure. Puppy on Fluids Intravenous fluids, anti-nausea medication, anti-diarrhea medication, antibiotics, and pain medication are paramount if the pet is to survive infection.

The sad truth of canine parvovirus is that we could eradicate it with simple vaccination as we have with other terrible diseases (ever heard of small pox? ) Vaccination must be done at an early age (as early as 6-7 weeks of age), then repeated every 3-4 weeks until the pet is 16 weeks of age, then every 1-3 years into adulthood.

The difficultly lies in the robust nature of the virus; it can live on surfaces (pavement, grass, dirt, bottom of shoes and the SAMSUNGlike) for months to years. A sick pet’s feces and/or vomit can spread thousands to millions of viral particles into the environment. If an unvaccinated, or undervaccinated, dog sniffs or licks up viral particles, they can become infected.

So, if you have a new puppy, make sure you get him or her vaccinated at the correct times with your veterinarian and avoid areas where dogs congregate until the vaccine series is finished.

Hot Spots: What are they and how did my dog get them?

By: Michelle Caldwell Dr. Caldwell


What are hot spots?

“Hot spots,” or pyotraumatic dermatitis, are areas of skin that are weepy, wet, red, and sometimes bloody.  They are caused by over-zealous self-licking and chewing and they can arise quickly.  These areas can be solitary or there may be multiple patches of affected skin.  These lesions hot spotalmost always look worse than they really are.


How did my dog get them?

The most common underlying cause for “hot spots” is an underlying allergy (food or environmental). However, contact with an irritating substance, trauma (i.e. clippers from grooming), or pain in the area from underlying tissues can cause the dog to lick and chew, resulting in a “hot spot.”


What should I do if I think my dog has a hot spot?

Prompt veterinary attention is recommended as these lesions can get larger and are painful if not treated. Your veterinarian will most likely clip and clean the area to allow the wound to dry or “air out.” Sometimes the wound is 101_3579small enough for topical treatment, however in many instances, systemic antibiotics and even corticosteroids are needed to clear up secondary bacterial infection and decrease inflammation. An Elizabethan collar will most likely be recommended as well to prevent further licking/chewing.

Dr. Laura Leautier
 What’s the Scoop with Anal Glands ?
Laura Leautier
If you’re a lucky pet owner, you’ve never had to think about your pet’s anal glands.  Maybe you didn’t even know dogs and cats have anal glands.  But if your pet has ever been stressed out and expressed its anal glands, you’ll never forget the smell for as long as you live!  Since cats rarely have anal gland issues, I’ll focus on dogs here.
1029569Anal glands are scent glands located back by your dog’s anus, hence the name.  Every time it defecates, it expresses a small amount of fluid on its feces to “mark” its territory.  The fluid should be gray or tan watery material.  Sometimes, though, it’ll get thicker, and have a hard time exiting the anal gland ducts and get overfilled.  You may notice your dog dragging their bottom across the carpet (also known as the “butt scoot boogie”), licking back there excessively, or you may smell that tell-tale stale fish odor.  These are all signs that your pet is uncomfortable back there, and you’d need to bring him in to get the anal glands expressed.  (We promise we actually clean their butt afterward, but it’ll smell for a bit like we haven’t!)  If the material gets too thick (like dried toothpaste), it won’t flow out of the duct, and the material will actually push out through the skin and cause a big sore back there — an anal gland abscess, which is treated surgically.


It seems our smaller dogs have the most issues, and many come in every month or two to get them expressed.  So if you notice your dog obsessing back there, or scooting his bottom, bring him in, no appointment needed!

Feline Diabetes

Feline Diabetes

By: Dr. Jackie Pulver jlp

One of the diseases processes we see in our aging cats is diabetes. Usually we see this disease in our male neutered cats that are considered adult or early geriatric in age-typically 9-11 years old.  Symptoms that you may notice at home are increased drinking, increased urinations, increased eating, and weight loss. Occasionally you may also see that your cat is not grooming itself as well, is more lethargic, or your cat may show weakness in the hind limb or a “dropped hock” stance.

50-70% of cats have insulin-dependant, or historically type 1 diabetes, at diagnosis. These cats have an absolute deficiency of insulin and require insulin injections to control their symptoms. Approximately 30% of cats with diabetes 100_1137 (2)will have type 2 diabetes.  These animals have a decreased amount of cells in the pancreas producing insulin.  Weight loss, diet, changes in some medications, and treatment of underlying disease processes may control these animals without the use of insulin injections.  20% of cats may have a “transient” presentation of diabetes that will resolve weeks to months after starting insulin therapy. If you have concerns that you cat may have diabetes, we will need to perform several test to confirm this disease. A thorough physical exam, full panel of blood work, and complete urinalysis will be need to confirm the disease.

Once diabetes is diagnosed,  treatment will need to be initiated to control the disease.  If your pet is extremely ill, not eating, dehydrated, or has ketones present, the treatment will start with hospitalization to stabilize your pet and start insulin therapy. If you pet does not have ketones present on urinalysis and is eating and not vomiting, insulin therapy will be started at home.  When insulin therapy is started, we will have you come to our clinic for training in giving insulin injections and handling the medication, and symptoms to monitor.  Once the cat has been treated with 11139_420

insulin for approximately 3 weeks, we will have you bring your cat in for a fructosamine test to see the average of the pet’s blood sugar. This test will be evaluated every 3 weeks until an appropriate blood sugar level is reached.  Once an appropriate insulin dosage is found, your pet will need a fructosamine test every 3-6 months to insure that your pet is being cared for appropriately.

In cats, dietary changes are an important part of managing diabetes.  We will try and correct or prevent obesity by caloric management.  We will also place these cats on a decreased 1333988357_Royal Canin DS Feline Diabetic Cat Food 5 lbcarbohydrate diet and/or increased fiber diet. It is best to feed diabetic cats every 12 hours so you may monitor their food intake and give the insulin appropriately after you pet has eaten.

If you feel that your cat is displaying signs of diabetes, please give our office a call so we can get your pet in for a physical exam, and possible blood work.

Hypothyroidism in Dogs

Hypothyroidism in Dogs

By: Dr. Michelle Nguyen Dr. Nguyen

Is your dog overweight? Is your dog not as active as he/she used to be?  Does your dog have skin issues as well (i.e. thinning hair, hair loss, recurrent ear infections, greasy hair coat, etc)?  If any of these clinical signs fit your dog, a veterinary exam and a routine blood panel may provide some answers for you.
These clinical signs may be consistent with a syndrome called hypothyroidism. This disorder usually occurs in middle-aged dogs between the ages of 2 and 9, and both males and females are equally affected.  Hypothyroidism most commonly occurs due to the disruption or atrophy of the thyroid glands. Fortunately with treatment, long-term prognosis is excellent.

The mainstay of treatment is oral thyroid hormone replacement. Your dog will be on a twice daily oral medication life-long. Luckily, most dogs do very well with oral medications, especially if hidden in pill pockets! The initial diagnosis of hypothyroidism along with fine-tuning the medication dosage will 


require two to three blood panels.  However once the correct dose of medication is achieved, your pet will only need annual blood work to make sure the thyroid level is within the therapeutic range.

If you think these clinical symptoms fit your dog, we would love to see him/her for a comprehensive nose-to-tail physical exam and possibly blood work. Give us a call at (775) 358-6880. 

Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia
By: Dr. Tony Luchetti  


Canine hip dysplasia is a common condition in large breed dogs.  Hip dysplasia occurs when a dog has abnormal development of the hips.  The hips are a ball and socket type joint. The femur (thigh bone) makes up the ball portion and the pelvis makes up the socket portion.  When a dog has hip dysplasia the ball and socket joint don’t fit together smoothly.  This is usually due to either a malformation of the ball or inadequate coverage of the socket.   This malformation causes an unstable joint, and eventually leads to arthritis as the body tries to stabilize the joint on its own.  The best way to diagnose hip dysplasia is with x-rays.


Usually dogs with hip dysplasia present to their veterinarian in one of two ways.   The first is a young dog usually between 6 and 18 months of age who presents to their veterinarian for discomfort of the hips, but doesn’t have arthritis yet.  The second is an older dog who has also had hip dysplasia as a young dog, but for reasons not completely known, doesn’t develop discomfort until arthritis has set in.   The treatments for each of these dogs is usually either surgical or medical.  For young dogs there are surgeries (such as triple pelvic osteotomy and juvenile pubic symphysiodesis) which can change the alignment of the pelvis to produce a better ball and socket joint.  For older dogs surgical management consists of either a total hip replacement done by a veterinary surgical specialist or a procedure called a FHO, where the ball portion of the hip is removed so the dog develops a false joint, thus minimizing pain.

laserTherapyMedical management is appropriate for either young or old dogs when surgery isn’t an option.  Medical management consists of weight reduction where necessary, non-steriodal anti-inflammatory medication (Rimadyl/Previcox), cartilage protecting agents (glucosamine/Adequan), and cold laser therapy.

If your dog has been diagnosed with hip dysplasia, your veterinarian will speak with you about the pros and cons of each procedure.  Then you can make an informed decision about which procedure is best for you and your pet.

Medial Patellar Luxation

                            By: Dr Tony Luchetti

A medial patellar luxation (sometimes called a trick knee) is a very common problem in toy breed dogs.  Many owners will notice their dog “skips” for  a few steps on the affected leg, and then all of a sudden starts to walk or run normally on the leg again.

The process which is actually occurring is the knee cap (also called patella) has slipped out of the smooth groove in the thigh bone (femur) which it normally slides up and down in.  In some dogs we may notice this slip of the kneecap, also called a luxation,  in the exam room, and the owner hasn’t seen any skipping or limping with the dog.  In these cases, we usually elect to just monitor the situation.

However in other dogs, the limping can be severe when the patella slips out of the groove.  In these situations surgery is usually the best option.  In surgery, we usually deepen the groove that the knee cap sits in, and sometimes perform other procedures which help to keep the knee cap in the groove.  Most dog’s recovery time is 6 to 8 weeks.

Many dogs will have patellar luxation in both knees.  Once again, if the dog is not having any limping issues, we just monitor the situation.  If the dog is having limping issues we usually perform surgery on the most severely affected leg first, and then perform surgery on the other leg 8 weeks later.

If you have any questions about this condition or any other condition, please don’t hesitate to call.

Many people have been talking about the Swimmer’s itch outbreak at Pyramid Lake. We have gotten a couple of cases where clients have asked about what could happen to their pet’s who have been swimming out there. This bacterial bloom poses a potential risk to people and dogs. Since dogs drink much more water than we do when we go to the lake, it would be prudent to keep them out of the water when spending time at Pyramid Lake until the water temperatures return to lower levels. There aren’t any beach closures, but they are advising people to avoid the warmest water at shallow beaches, particularly at the North Nets, South Nets and Long Beach areas.

Though in humans swimmer’s itch primarily affects the skin, in dogs this can also cause gastrointestinal problems. Symptoms of a dog’s infection may be pustules and itching on the skin and diarrhea with mucus and blood.  Your pet may become very thin due to this diarrhea and a loss of appetite. If your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms please give us a call and bring them in.

Read more: Swimmer’s Itch on Dogs | 

Things to Know About Giardia 

                               By: Dr. Michelle Nguyen 

Most of us have all heard of Giardia infection in humans causing awful diarrhea.  Well dogs and cats can get Giardia, an intestinal protozoan parasite, as well.  Transmission of the parasite is via the fecal-oral route and occurs when animals ingest fecal material containing the cyst (infective stage) from an infected animal.  Clinical signs may vary from pet to pet, however the most common presenting complaint in animals with Giardia infection is diarrhea.

Diagnosing Giardia infection requires a fecal sample from your pet.  The sample will be sent off to the lab for a clinical pathologist to read and results typically return in 1-2 days.  If Giardia infection is confirmed, your veterinarian will then prescribe an anti-protozoal medication.  After completion of the medication, another fecal sample should be submitted in order to confirm that the infection has been cleared.  

Giardia cysts are immediately infective when passed in the feces and can survive in the environment.  As a result, feces containing these cysts are a source of infection and reinfection for your pet.  Removing feces regularly can limit environmental contamination.  The best way to prevent infection is to avoid situations where your pet can come into contact with contaminated substances, such as exposure to and drinking contaminated water.  Having good hygiene by washing your hands between petting your dog and other dogs, as well as after handling fecal material are great prevention methods. Giardia is a treatable disease with a good prognosis. Regular veterinary check-ups, with fecal examination, are especially important in the diagnosis of Giardia.