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Avoid Smoking With COPDIn chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), two lung diseases make breathing more difficult. If your pet is unfortunate enough to have an encounter with a snake you can help by being aware of the signs and symptoms of snake bite, and getting the affected animal to the hospital as quickly as possible. The first clue that a pet has been bitten may just be a small amount of blood on the coat, face or limb with a some soft tissue swelling around a small puncture wound(s).
Most snake bites in humans occur when people try to kill snakes, often after seeing them bite a pet. Calling ahead gives us critical extra time to make necessary preparations to ensure prompt and effective treatment. When you call, listen very carefully to the announcements, and then call the emergency mobile number on the message (Mark sometimes has a night off with the after hours phone going to another vet).
If your pet has stopped breathing, attempt mouth to nose resuscitation and if possible continue this during transport of your pet to the hospital.
These days the treatment of snake bite has a good success rate, and with appropriate and timely medical therapy many patients recover completely.
The unfortunate animal will require constant monitoring, day and night, every one or two hours for the first 24 hours then every three hours for the next two days, with high rate intravenous infusions, blood clotting products and regular blood tests. If a snake needs removal from the property, contact WIRES to ask for theie recommended local snake handler. Hyperthyroidism in Cats: Great News!This is a very interesting disease of cats which we see in nearly any age group. Hyper-active thyroids (hyperthyroidism) make cats act like a car all revved up- ravenous appetite, hyper-active (just like my kids), under weight, often difficult to handle (again like my kids!) and may suffer from heart failure- rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, panting. By performing a simple blood test, we can diagnose affected cats and institute therapy to knock-out the thyroid hormones causing all the problems. Left un-treated, hyperthyroid cats run the major risk of high blood pressure and heart failure. The ventricles become smaller and smaller and as a result, can’t fill up with the same volume of blood. Treated cases usually see an improvement in heart function and the removal of heart drugs from the treatment regime at this stage i.e. Blood test are performed before and 24-36 hours after starting therapy to ensure the kidneys can handle having the blood pressure dropped.
Kidney DiseaseDogs and cats can suffer from either acute or chronic renal failure caused by many different types of illnesses.
Kidneys have powerful protective mechanisms in place which kick into action if problems arise.
Kidneys are also responsible for sending messages to the bone marrow telling it to make more red blood cells (RBC's) to replace the old ones which are "gobbled up" by the spleen and liver when they are worn out.
As with most diseases, early detection and treatment is much more preferable especially for a vitally important organ like the kidneys. For all our renal failure cases, we use a Doppler machine to record elevations in blood pressure and measure response to blood pressure lowering medications. Force feeding using a stomach tube through which fluids and liquidised renal support diets can be administered.
For cases with elevated Phosphorous in their body, we can use drugs called phosphate binders.
For young cats in Australia with kidney failure, there is the possibility of kidney transplantation in Brisbane, but it is quite involved and the donor cat has to be taken on as a new family pet. Parvovirus- the Ebola equivalentWe all know about Ebola- one of the nastiest and most contagious viral diseases for man. Parvovirus has to be one of the nastiest and most infectious diseases of dogs causing severe suffering with a very high fatality rate despite all the best intensive care. Surprisingly, because Parvovirus has been around for so long, some pet owners have either forgotten what it does to dogs, or they were not yet born when it first arrived on the scene in a world wide epidmiec in the 1980's.
Parvovirus is a virus that attacks the lining of a dog’s stomach and intestines and literally strips it out. If pet owners are struggling financially, vets often have to euthanise infected dogs before starting any therapy. Camden vets had 10 Parvovirus cases in just one day, not to mention how many cases they had for a whole year! In a recent national study, there were 1,200 cases reported - and that was from only a small number of vet practices taking part in the survey. When Parvovirus first occurred in the 1980’s, people were not aware of just how tough and contagious it was. Well, the very fact that Parvovirus managed to spread across the world in just 2 years puts a few holes in this statement. A dog either brewing or in the recovery stage of a Parvovirus infection, sheds millions of the viruses into the environment. It does not take long for an epidemic of Parvovirus to occur if the general dog population has a low vaccination percentage. Parvovirus can affect dogs of all ages; however dogs less than one year of age are particularly susceptible. Treatment is difficult because there is no way to kill the virus once it has infected the dog. Treatment is intensive and involves hospitalisation in an isolation ward (sometimes for many days), aggressive fluid therapy, antibiotics, pain relief and anti-vomiting drugs.
Despite all of these treatments, a high percentage of dogs die a few days later leaving the owner with no dog and a very large vet bill. Malignant tumour of the adrenal glands- tumours made up of the cortisone producing cells of the adrenal glands make excessive cortisone. Dogs with pituitary gland tumours can go on to live comfortably for some time until the tumour gets too big and starts to place pressure on adjacent parts of the brain.At this stage, we might see symptoms such as blindness and other hormone imbalances. Unfortunately, adrenal gland tumours are often malignant and can spread to other parts of the body. Suspected cases have blood tests done to try and find out where the excess cortisone is coming from. Until recently, most cases were treated with a drug called Lysodren which destroys the parts of the adrenal glands that make cortisone.
Many cases on Trilostane can have the dose lowered after a few months, which helps with the budget.
Diabetes is commonly seen in Cushing's cases, probably as a result of cortisone interfering with the action of insulin. Before embarking on treatment, owners need to be very aware of the expensive nature of treament. In human medicine, pituitary gland tumous can be removed by specialist surgeons operating through the nose or roof of the mouth.
Increased Thirst (Polydypsia)There are a large number of causes of increased thirst (polydypsia) in pets. Blood tests (biochemistry and full blood count) give an overall picture of a pet's health.
Pets and humans can donate a kidney (and therefore be down to 50% total kidney function) and still lead a healthy life with no elevation of kidney blood tests or polydypsia. If their remaining kidney becomes diseased, and loses over half of its ability to function, kidney blood test start to rise i.e.
When there is 25-50% of healthy kidney function, kidney blood tests are often normal, but the urine may be dilute (low specific gravity).
Between 50-100%, the urine will still be concentrated (high specific gravity), and bloods normal.
It is important to check a urine sample as it can detect kidney failure long before a blood test.
These chemicals travel down a special tube from the pancreas into the first part of the small intestines (the Duodenum). Sometimes as pets get older and fatter, the pancreas gets inflamed or worn out from too much of a workload e.g.


Traveling through the pancreas is the bile duct- a tube connecting the gall bladder in the liver to the duodenum.
We normally see pancreatitis in older overweight dogs or dogs being fed too many fatty meals e.g.
From the history, breed, sex, age, symptoms and clinical examination, a vet usually has a pretty good idea the pet is suffering from pancreatitis. A special in-house blood test ( Idexx SNAP CPL) gives an accurate positive result in pancreatitis cases (blue dot on the right is the same or darker than the dot on the left- see picture).
Other blood tests may show elevated white blood cells combating inflammation and infection and elevated liver enzymes if the bile duct becomes blocked. As mentioned above, the inflamed pancreas can block the bile duct, so jaundice is a common symptom, sometimes seen 1-2 days after the start of the condition. Cases failing to respond to therapy may require surgery to rule out pancreatic cancer or to gently flush the affected area to try and settle the inflammation. Repeated episodes of pancreatitis can destroy the ability of the pancreas to produce food digesting acids and alkalis, resulting in chronic diarrhoea. In humans, there is an overall 20% fatality rate, usually due to a secondary infection developing in the affected areas of the abdomen. Dogs with pancreatitis and diabetic keto-acidosis have a poor prognosis and despite the best of efforts, may die from complications.
Treatment can be very costly due to the length of stay in hospital with intensive care, drugs, repeat blood tests and fluid therapy. Boxer CardiomyopathyThis condition is characterised by feinting (syncope) and sudden death in Boxer dogs.
The problem is due to a run of extra heartbeats interrupting the normal flow of oxygen rich blood to the brain. These extra heartbeats originate in damaged heart muscle in the right ventricle (ventricular premature contractions -VPC's).
A run of several or more VPC's can cause sudden death which is a common consequence of the condition. By listening to the heart for several minutes with a stethoscope, a vet may detect a skip in the normal heart rhythm although this is not a sure fire way of detecting a problem as affected dogs can go for several hours without as much as one skipped VPC. Similarly, connecting a dog to an ECG machine to record the heartbeat for a few minutes may miss a run of VPC's. Listening to the heart or recording an ECG while the dog has a syncopal episode would be ideal way to diagnose the problem, but these events tend to happen away for vet surgeries and owners can be too stressed to  think about recording the heartbeat while their unconscious dog lies at their feet. Specialist cardiologists can loan out 24hr ECG recording machines (Halters) which attach to the trunk of the body in special leather harnesses.
Quite often it is astounding to see how many runs of VPC's occur while the dog is asleep.
Atrial FibrillationSome dogs with dilated cardiomyopathy and left A-V valve disease get a life threatening arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation. Each time the damaged atrium contracts, it tries to sends an electrical signal to the ventricles below telling it to contract as "its their turn now". The refractory period may only be a split part of a second, and follows a normal ventricle contraction. In effect, the atria are doing their own rapid irregular heart beat and 8 times out of 10 their extra contractions cause the ventricles to contract. As a result, we see the ventricles pumping at a much faster and irregular rate than in a dog with no atrial fibrillation.
If a dog has either A-V valve disease or dilated cardiomyopathy, the ventricles are already having a hard time. Cardiac output is reduced in A-V valve disease and dilated cardiomyopathy, so oxygen rich blood does not reach vital organs e.g. But don't forget the heart which is the most dynamic oxygen hungry organ (next to the brain). The last thing the diseased ventricles want is atrial fibrillation causing them to contract even faster. Atrial fibrillation can very quickly cause the ventricles to fail and lead to sudden heart failure and death.
On exmination, the heart rate is very rapid and irregular- often over 200 beats a minute (nearly 3-4 beats a second). A normal ECG has one P wave (atrial contraction) followed by one QRS wave (ventricle contraction) and a normal heart rate of approx 100-140. Atrial fibrillation shows rapid irregular spaced ventricle heartbeats (QRS waves) and no regular P waves.
Chronic bronchitis inflames and narrows airways (bronchi) and makes phlegm, while emphysema destroys parts of the lungs. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. Dogs, cats and horses are all at risk, although curious dogs are the most frequently affected. Tiger and Brown snakes are also prevalent, especially on Coolangatta Mountain and adjacent flat lands.
But don't waste time trying to find it as we stock a multi-snake anti-venom that covers Black, Tiger and Brown snake bites.
If we are at home, have the after hours going to another vet, or are out on a house call, you will be using up what might be precious time - always call first! But treating snake bite is always arduous for the affected pet, as well as for the vet and the nurses. Consequently, it can be expensive, although it may be covered by pet health insurance if you have it. With the rapid heart rate, the heart muscles get thicker and thicker- its a bit like a weight lifter doing extra work.
Less blood in means less blood out of the heart, and reduced blood supply to the body and its vital organs eg kidneys, liver, heart. In some cats, the high blood pressure from hyperthyroidism is keeping their poorly functioning kidneys going. Should your remaining kidney lose up to 50% of its ability to concentrate urine, you can still appear normal although you may be drinking a bit more and making dilute urine. A Senior Pet Health Check urine examination looks at the concentrating ability of the kidneys to detect early reduction in kidney function. In other words, the pet makes more urine than normal because the kidneys can't re-absorb the water out of the urine like they did when healthy. We would rather diagnose renal failure before clinical signs or blood tests indicate its presence. It is very accurate at detecting early kidney problems long before blood tests start to indicate a problem. It can survive up to 18 months in soil or concrete and needs strong disinfectants to kill it. International travellers and infected or recovering dogs being flown to other countries would infect healthy dogs upon their arrival- either by direct contact with another dog or with their clothing, bedding and foot wear. It is vital all puppies and adult dogs are vaccinated against parvovirus and your vet will advise on the appropriate vaccination schedule.
Referral to a specialist may be an option if the tumour is in just one adrenal galnd and not adhered to any vital structures e.g.
They must be fully committed and prepared to put up with regular blood tests and expensive drug bills. Besides the expected increase in thirst with hot days, exercise or change to a drier food,  any pet showing polydypsia over 2-3 days should be examined by a vet. The pancreas is a special organ that makes many different chemicals such as insulin, acids and alkalis which help digest and process foods. Repeating these tests during the dog's stay in hospital gives the vet an good idea on how the dog is going. Diabetes and all of its associated complications (keto-acidosis) can be a life threatening presenting sign.


It is unlike the traditional form of cardiomyopathy we see in large dog breeds (most of the time). By the time they do have a feel of the heartbeat or pulse, the rhythm may be back to normal as it may have just been a run of several VPC's taking up less than 1-2 seconds of time. A computer runs through the 24hrs of recording in seconds and prints out a report highlighting all the abnormal heartbeats. The damaged area fires off its own electrical current causing the atrium to contract very rapidly (sometimes as much as 200-300 times a minute).
Not every electrical impulse gets through to the ventricle as a number of these extra charges arrive at the ventricle when it is in a "none-responsive" state (refractory period). Once it has passed, the extra electrical signals from the damaged atrium above can trigger off a ventricle contraction. Any reduction in output means less oxygen for the heart muscles, so they can't pump as well as they would like. There is often evidence of left sided heart failure - coughing, weakness, pale gums, weak thready rapid pulse. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health.
But it’s always better to keep your pets out of likely snake habitat and avoid the risk. This thickening happens at the expense of the chamber (ventricle) sizes, and is called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). Dialysis is performed in people with renal failure to filter out the waste products that the kidney normally places in the urine.
When we run blood tests on renal failure cases, we see elevated levels of urea (Blood Urea Nitrogen- BUN), Creatinine and Phosphate. More urine going out of the body automatically triggers a chemical release in the brain which makes the pet thirsty.
If the kidneys are not working properly, chemicals are released which elevate the blood pressure in an attempt to improve the flow of blood through the kidney and remove waste products that are building up in the body.
Because RBC's are responsible for carrying oxygen around the whole body, the pet is quite weak and easily fatigued.
Treatment involves intensive care, fluid therapy, pain relief, blood transfusions and no guarantee of success. In a very old patient, no treatment may be a more preferable propositon especially if the owners are on a budget.
When making the appointment, try to bring along a fresh urine sample as a lot of information can be found by examining it. In other words, we don't normally see elevated kidney tests in chronic renal failure until there is only 25% of healthy tissue left. The kidneys aren't doing their job of "recycling water" by sucking water out of the urine before it goes to the bladder to be voided. This small amount of inflammation results in leakage of acids and alkalis both inside and adjacent to the pancreas. Some older dogs can develop pancreatic cancer which looks just the same as normal pancreatitis. Dogs must go onto an IV drip to correct dehydration and reverse shock and damage to the kidneys. This is important to provide fluid and nutrition to the cells lining the stomach and intestines. It is vital that repeat episodes are avoided as too much damage to the pancreas can result in lack of insulin (diabetes) or the inability to digest and absorb foods (pancreatic exocrine insufficiency). Boxer cardiomyopathy is also known as "Boxer arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy". Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If they are inactive (hypo-thyroidism), pets are lazy, over weight, have skin problems and greasy coats. In fact, many dogs only survive 2-3 days with this intensive care before dying, leaving pet owners with huge vet bills and no dog. It did not take long before surrounding parks and streets were covered in millions of viruses. This means a dog may appear healthy, but can be excreting virus particles in its faeces and so become a source of infection to other dogs while the disease is brewing in its intestines.
As a result, bile "backs up" in the liver and can cause a yellow staining of the blood, skin and gums (jaundice). Dehydration and shock quickly follow, making the dog thirsty, however each time it drinks, more leakage of the acids and alkalis occurs. If they are very rapid, the ventricle does not have time to fill up to the top befoire it is "told" to contract. The brain realises it is losing more "water" than it should be from the body, so it activates the "thirst centre" in the brain which makes the pet look for water.
Acute secondary kidney failure can occur due to the large amount of fluid loss causing thickening of the blood and decreased blood flow to vital organs.
Bronchodilators for COPDYour doctor may prescribe bronchodilators to help relax the muscles around your airways, making breathing easier. Short-acting bronchodilators provide brief relief fast, while long-acting bronchodilators can relieve constriction for a long time and are often used overnight. More damage to the pancreas means more leakage and it does not take long for massive inflammation and tissue destruction to occur. Corticosteroids for InflammationCorticosteroids, also called steroids, help reduce mucus production and inflammation in your lungs, making breathing easier. Most people with COPD take corticosteroids by inhaler, but sometimes they are taken in pill form. You may need to boost your calcium intake if you take steroids long-term, so talk with your doctor about whether you'll need calcium supplements or a change in your diet.
Vaccines: Flu and PneumoniaIf you have COPD, you're at higher risk for complications from infections like the flu and pneumonia. You should get vaccinated against seasonal flu every year and receive a pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccine with a booster shot as needed.
If you stop taking an antibiotic too soon, the bacteria could become antibiotic-resistant, making it harder to treat your infection. Nutrition: Eat Well, Breathe BetterWhat you eat, and how much, can affect how well you breathe. To keep from feeling stuffed, try having four to six small meals a day instead of three large meals. In general, eat a nutritious, balanced diet, and be physically active to help your body stay strong.  Oxygen Therapy and COPDYour lungs are vital for getting the oxygen you need, but COPD reduces lung function. In addition to helping you with normal body functions, it can help increase your stamina and improve your sleep.
Lung Surgery for COPDIn rare cases of severe COPD that doesn’t improve with medication, your doctor may suggest lung surgery. While not right for everyone, a procedure like lung volume reduction surgery can improve lung capacity and your ability to breathe. With this surgery, 20%-30% of the most diseased lung tissue is removed, leaving the healthiest part of the lung to perform better.
Pulmonary RehabilitationPulmonary rehabilitation uses exercise, disease management, nutrition, and psychosocial counseling to help you feel better and stay active.
You’ll learn techniques for staying fit and managing shortness of breath, so you can improve your quality of life, decrease the amount of time you spend in the hospital, and improve your ability to exercise.
Reach Out for SupportHaving COPD can leave you feeling sad, frustrated, and depressed -- all of which can make it hard to manage your symptoms.



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