Tag-Archive for » Cat «

Heatstroke in Dogs and Cats

The word stroke comes from “strike,” and, predictably perhaps, heatstroke means “to be struck down by heat.” A pet can suffer heatstroke whenever he or she becomes severely overheated. Signs can include heavy panting, loud breathing, vomiting, disorientation, collapse, coma, and death. Heatstroke can come on quickly and is a dire emergency so it is something pet owners must work to prevent. After cooling a dog down, a veterinarian may need to administer IV fluids and possibly medications. Without prompt treatment a pet is likely to die from heatstroke.


Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition suffered when a pet is unable to lower its body temperature. Cells in the body become damaged when the core body temperature reaches anywhere between 106°F and 109°F. Heatstroke is most common in dogs but can also occur in cats and can happen whenever a pet gets severely overheated.

Among the most common causes of heatstroke in dogs happens when dogs are left in parked cars. One test performed on a partly cloudy, 93°F day found that cars can heat up to 120°F in just 15 minutes. But even cooler days can be deadly. In another test, conducted on a 71°F day, the temperature inside a car parked in the sun with the windows open a crack went up to 116°F in one hour.

Exercising in warm weather or being left outside in high temperatures (especially if the animal doesn’t have access to fresh water or shade) are also common causes.

Factors that may make some animals particularly at risk for heatstroke include obesity and a decreased ability to circulate air through the lungs due to a compromised respiratory tract. Animals with narrow airways, such as those with laryngeal paralysis, or a brachycephalic (short) head, such as Bulldogs and Pugs, are less able to cool themselves efficiently and are particularly at risk.

Heatstroke affects almost every system in the body. Under normal conditions, dogs (and even cats under extreme conditions) will pant to cool themselves as their bodies heat up. Another way they cool themselves down is to send more blood to dilated blood vessels near the skin. Heat radiates off the body, and cooler blood returns to the body’s core.

If an unduly hot environment prevents the normal cooling process, blood is diverted away from important organs such as the brain, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, and liver. When these organs do not receive enough blood, they begin to fail.

Death is common with heatstroke. It should be underscored here that heatstroke is a medical emergency that must be addressed immediately to give the patient the best chance of survival.

Signs and Identification

Signs of heatstroke include:

  • Panting
  • Loud, rasping breaths
  • Bright red gums
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting/diarrhea
  • Disorientation
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

The dog’s body temperature will be checked immediately upon arrival to a veterinary facility. For those whose severe exposure requires hospitalization, blood testing is typically undertaken frequently throughout the treatment process to continually assess and correct the systems that may have been damaged by the heatstroke.

Affected Breeds

All dogs are susceptible to heatstroke. Heat exhaustion and heatstroke occur more commonly in breeds predisposed to laryngeal paralysis, brachycephalic syndrome, and other diseases that might impede normal respiration.


Immediate action must be taken when a pet is found to be suffering from heatstroke since death occurs within minutes of the body’s core temperature reaching 110°F. In a study of 54 dogs with heatstroke, 50 percent of the dogs died. However, 100 percent of the dogs that were given first aid at home and arrived at the veterinary hospital within 90 minutes of being found survived.

Cooling a pet at home by using a cool bath or the garden hose is strongly recommended before transport, as it begins the process of bringing down the body temperature. Never immerse a pet in cold water or ice water!

As soon as a pet with heatstroke arrives at the veterinary hospital, a rectal temperature will be taken and further cooling will begin. If at-home cooling was successful, measures will be taken to reverse the effects of heat, dehydration, and low blood pressure. An IV catheter will be placed, and fluids will be given to help get blood flowing to major organs again.

Treatment is aimed at supporting these organs in the hope that the damage they’ve sustained isn’t permanent. Unfortunately, it will often take days to know which organs have been affected. Specific treatments may include antibiotics, blood pressure medications, and blood transfusions.


In hot weather, it is best to exercise pets during the coolest part of the day (early morning and evening) and always provide plenty of fresh water and rest. It is also helpful to cool your pet with a hose or a swim after exercising and to limit exercise entirely during high temperatures.

Never leave a pet in a car during warm weather – not even for a few minutes with the windows cracked.

Brachycephalic dogs’ owners should be extra vigilant, keeping their dogs inside in air conditioning on hot days.

All geriatric, obese, and respiratorily compromised pets should be exercised with caution in hot weather.


This article was provided by 


imageedit_1_6385079406Adequan: A Near-Miracle for Dogs with Arthritis
By Christie Keith

Is your dog slowing down as he gets older? Does she hesitate before jumping in the car, on the bed, or going up the stairs? Is he dragging himself up from a reclining position with his shoulders instead of springing up with his hindquarters?

If so, your vet might have diagnosed your dog with osteoarthritis, the same condition that afflicts millions of American humans, too. And your vet probably suggested the same remedy that you see pushed on dozens of TV ads nightly: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, from over-the-counter medications like Advil to prescription drugs like Vioxx or Celebrex.

The canine version of these prescription drugs are known as Rimadyl, Etogesic, Metacam, and Deramaxx. Like all NSAIDs, including the human ones, they have a long list of potential side effects, include vomiting, bloody diarrhea, kidney and liver damage, and even death.

Of course, side effects don’t affect every animal who takes the drugs, and many pet owners are so thrilled to see their stiff, painful dog become active and limber again that they’re willing to take the risk. I gave my old dog Lillie Rimadyl towards the end of her life, and I’m not saying that decision is always wrong. But there is an option that many vets and dog owners seem unaware of, and I think it’s a crying shame.

I’m talking about the veterinary drug called Adequan Canine.

Adequan is an injectable substance known as a “polysulfated glycosaminoglycan,” and is very similar to the more familiar oral supplement known as glucosamine. Adequan has been proven to be preferentially taken up by inflamed joints when injected into the dog’s muscles. It soothes and lubricates the joint, naturally reducing inflammation and pain by reducing friction. Even better, instead of just masking pain as NSAIDs do, it actually helps to rebuild cartilage in the damaged joint. It’s not just pain control, it’s therapy.

To make the “miracle” tag even more appropriate, Adequan does this without much in the way of potential side effects. Some humans who have used Adequan on themselves (there is no human version licensed in the United States) report that it stings a little; it upsets some dogs’ stomachs for a while after the injection, and in very rare cases it can cause low platelets – a condition that is reversed upon stopping the drug.

Adequan has one major drawback: The price. My hope is that if more vets started using and recommending it, the cost could come down. My vet lets me order it wholesale through her practice, and then just charges me a few dollars for the injections. Some vets will order it for you and let you give the injections yourself at home, but it’s an intramuscular injection and I’m not comfortable doing those.

It’s crucial that the full loading dose, following the directions in the package insert, be given. Until we followed the directions, my chow mix didn’t get any relief at all from the Adequan, but as soon as we did, the change was dramatic after 2-3 injections. The biggest problem I have found with people who say they tried Adequan and it “didn’t work” is that they didn’t do the loading dose, so I am going to say it again: The loading dose is critical.

The interval needed to maintain the dog will vary from individual to individual. Generally we would experiment with intervals as we tapered them off. Once the full loading period was done, we’d let the dog go until we saw some symptoms appear, and then we gave the injection and set the interval as one week LESS than the interval that resulted in symptoms. As my chow mix got older this interval did get shorter, but with the deer hounds, who we started the instant we saw signs that arthritis was starting, the opposite has occurred: The interval has gotten LONGER (which we found out by missing a few appointments by accident!).

I sincerely wish that more vets would recommend Adequan. It is much safer than the NSAIDS such as Rimadyl and Deramaxx. It is a better first step for dealing with pain from degenerative joint disease than NSAIDS, and the NSAIDs are always there if Adequan isn’t enough.

When coupled with acupuncture and chiropractic, I’ve observed that the benefit of Adequan is greatly increased, so if those therapies are available, they are also well worth seeking out. You can also continue the oral glucosamine supplementation with a high-quality supplement such as Cosequin; I know owners of large dogs who say they have been able to extend the symptom-free period between Adequan injections to as much as six months by starting out aggressively, and tapering off while giving oral glucosamine supplements at the highest recommended dose.

If your dog has arthritis, before you put him or her on Rimadyl, Deramaxx, or other NSAIDs, talk to your veterinarian about giving Adequan a try. There is information for dog owners as well as veterinarians on the manufacturer’s website at www.adequan.com.

Ask Dr. McClaine about adequan on your next visit to Desert Care Animal Hospital

Feline Stomatitis

  • Feline stomatitis is a severe, painful inflammation of a cat’s mouth and gums.
  • Dental disease, certain viruses, and some other inflammatory conditions can cause feline stomatitis.
  • The long-term outcome can vary. Many cats require long-term treatment to control the condition.

What Is Feline Stomatitis?

Feline stomatitis is a severe, painful inflammation of a cat’s mouth and gums. In most cases, the condition causes ulcers to form in the mouth; these ulcers can involve the lips, tongue, gums, and back of the throat. Cats of any age or breed can be affected.

There is no single cause of feline stomatitis. Dental disease (particularly periodontal disease) is commonly implicated as a cause of stomatitis in cats. Periodontal disease results from the accumulation of plaque (bacteria) on and around the teeth, which causes inflammation involving the gums and tooth support structures.

In many cases, the cause is assumed to be immune mediated, meaning that the cat’s immune system attacks its own oral tissues as an abnormal response to bacteria in the mouth. Other medical conditions that can be associated with stomatitis include infection with viruses [such as feline leukemia virus (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and calicivirus] and bartonellosis.

What Are the Clinical Signs of Feline Stomatitis?

Feline stomatitis is extremely painful. In some cases, a cat suffering with this condition may be in too much pain to open his or her mouth to eat. In other cases, the cat may try to eat but scream and drop the food as soon as it touches the mouth. Other clinical signs may include the following:

  • Drooling (sometimes with blood)
  • Unkempt hair coat (because grooming is painful)
  • Refusal to eat
  • Bad breath
  • Weight loss
  • Pawing at the face or mouth

How Is Feline Stomatitis Diagnosed?

Examining the mouth of a cat with stomatitis can be difficult because the cat is reluctant to open his or her mouth. Your veterinarian may recommend sedation to facilitate a more complete examination.

Results of basic blood tests, such as a chemistry panel and complete blood cell count (CBC), tend to be unremarkable in cats with stomatitis. However, your veterinarian may recommend specific testing for underlying diseases such as FeLV, FIV, and bartonellosis.

Sometimes, a small sample of tissue from the mouth is submitted to a laboratory for biopsy. However, the diagnosis is commonly based on clinical signs and physical examination findings. A dental examination and dental X-rays can help your veterinarian determine the extent of periodontal disease.

What Are the Treatment and Outcome for Feline Stomatitis?

Because the condition is very painful, initial treatment generally includes giving medication to control pain and inflammation. Antibiotics are also commonly administered. Some cats may be willing to eat soft food, so owners may be advised to puree canned food until the cat’s mouth heals.

Severe periodontal disease has been implicated as a cause of feline stomatitis. Although stomatitis is difficult to completely cure and treatment tends to be long term, your veterinarian will likely recommend managing dental disease as part of the overall treatment plan. A thorough dental cleaning may be recommended, and many cats do well if the molar and premolar teeth are removed. Because tooth surfaces provide areas for bacteria to attach, removing the teeth can help control periodontal disease and minimize the bacteria that provoke the immune system in cats with stomatitis. Cats tend to do very well without their teeth.

If the cat has an underlying illness that can be treated, such as bartonellosis, treatment should be pursued.

Long-term outcome can vary. Many cats with stomatitis require long-term treatment with anti-inflammatory medications (and antibiotics intermittently) to control the condition. At-home toothbrushing and other dental care are recommended to reduce the accumulation of plaque and associated inflammation in the mouth.

This article has been reviewed by a Veterinarian.

This article was originally posted at VetStreet

Brushing Your Dogs Teeth

February is National Pet Dental Health Month!

Brushing your cat or dogs teeth is very important, not only are you cleaning the teeth and getting old debris off the gums and teeth, you are also regularly checking one of the biggest problem area’s for  a pet.  While you are brushing your pets teeth, look at the gums , tongue and cheeks for abnormal lumps, discoloration and sores.  Catch a problem before it gets to far.

A Safe Halloween for you & your pets

A Safe Halloweencat-halloween

Halloween can be a frightening time for pet owners across the country. It can be scary for our furry friends too. Desert Care Animal Hospital encourages pet owners to protect their four-legged family members this October by being mindful of their F.E.A.R. – food, environment, attire, and recovery.


Halloween means candy and tasty treats are plentiful and easily accessible to young children and pets. Candy, especially chocolate, is toxic to animals and can cause vomiting, restlessness, heart disturbances, and even death. Although grapes and raisins are a healthy alternative snack for humans, they can be potentially deadly for dogs. These fruits contain an unknown toxin that can damage dogs’ kidneys and cause kidney failure.

Candy wrappers can also cause health problems. Animals may eat the wrapper, causing obstruction or irritation to the pet’s digestive system. Candy and wrappers should be kept out of pets’ reach and young children should be taught not to share Halloween goodies with their pet. Seasonal foods such as pumpkins and corn may cause minor stomach irritation; however, they are relatively safe for Fluffy and Fido. Pumpkin seeds may cause digestive system obstruction if consumed by smaller animals.


Due to the increased foot traffic and commotion in your neighborhood, outdoor pets should be kept indoors during the days surrounding Halloween. Unsupervised outdoor animals are susceptible to stress, inhumane practical jokes or theft. Providing a safe, stress free environment reduces the probability of your beloved friend injuring himself or others. Loud and excessive noise created by trick-or-treaters can frighten your cat or dog. Animals should be kept away from the door and out of hearing range of a constantly ringing doorbell and excited children. Fluffy or Fido should be put in a room where they will not be disturbed by noise and activity. A frightened or upset pet may run out the door at the first opportunity and could harm the children in its way.

Be sure decorations are safe from the paws and teeth of curious pets. Crepe paper streamers, fake cobwebs, glow sticks, plastic spiders and cardboard wall hangings can easily be chewed and swallowed, damaging your pet’s digestive tract. Animals can also tip over the candle in a jack-o-lantern and burn themselves or start a fire. Keep decorations out of animals’ reach, and maintain supervision if they play nearby.


Transforming your pet into a superhero, witch, ghost, or goblin can be a stressful and unpleasant experience. Some animals love to dress up, but others dread it. If your furry friend doesn’t mind dressing up, make sure that you select a costume that doesn’t restrict his normal movements, breathing or vision. Costumes that interfere with these things can cause ligament or joint injuries, and animals are more likely to bite if their vision is impaired. Pets are better off left at home during trick-or-treating excursions. However, if they do tag along, it is best to keep them on a very short leash and harness to keep them from fighting with other animals, eating the treats, becoming victims of practical jokes – as black cats often do – or biting strangers they encounter.


It is important to have a plan if your pet becomes sick, injured or lost this Halloween season. Since time is critical during any unfortunate incident, pet parents should always have contact information for their veterinarian and local animal shelters easily accessible. Also, pet owners need to be aware that not all veterinarians are available 24 hours.  It is also important to update your pet’s identification tags and micro chip information each time you move or change phone numbers so that current contact information is always available on your pet.

Desert Care Animal Hospital wishes you a safe and Happy Halloween for you and your pets!



The Truth About Rabies

Rabies-Vaccine-generic-from-rabiesvaccinefordogsdotcom1-040313Rabies! It’s a potent word that demands an exclamation mark.

Our reactions are primal, colored by myths, modern movies and novels such as“Rage,” “Cujo,” “Old Yeller” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.” You may have heard the popular warning: Beware of bats or raccoons in the daytime. They carry rabies!

But the truth is such a raccoon might be a mother taking a break from caring for her babies, one that has distemper or another disease, or one dazed after being injured by a passing car.

A bat in the daytime might be a juvenile learning to fly but “driving” erratically and without parental consent to be out and about, according to Charles Rupprecht, VMD, PhD, chief of Rabies Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

No signs can tell you if an animal is rabid, he says. That’s why there are diagnostic tests.

Wild animals acting oddly—perhaps approaching people—may indicate they have rabies. But nonrabid wild animals also may do that because they are used to humans, says Rupprecht.

Another myth is that certain animals “carry” the disease. Any mammal infected with the virus is its victim as well. Some species are better hosts. Those that lick, suck and bite in their social interactions allow the virus to spread through saliva or brain/nervous system tissue. Hosts that live in large and dense social groups help maintain the virus’ success. more…

Dog & Cat Abscess

catbite diagramPets have a way of getting into trouble with one another. And when the seemingly inevitable altercations ensue, fangs and fur can fly. Unfortunately, a great many of these cases end in abscesses. A bite-wound abscess forms when the body can’t remove infection, inflammation, and damaged cells fast enough after one cat bites another, but there are other kinds of abscesses. An abscess causes a painful lump at the bite site, fever, and tiredness until the infection is cleared up, which will require antibiotics and possibly surgery, depending on the size and severity of the infection. more…

Foxtails and Pets

Foreign Body Is an Outdoor Threat

Jennifer Hawkins, DVM

What Is a Foxtail?

Foxtails are grass awns, or seeds, that are prevalent in the Western United States. These awns look like barley and have tiny spikes on them such that they easily stick to fur and then migrate in one direction only. Thus, once they get caught in the fur of an animal, they often wind their way deeper into the fur coat and penetrate the skin.