USEFUL INFORMATION

(The information provided is not to be used to diagnose your pet’s medical condition. Please consult a veterinarian if your pet is unwell)

INFORMATION ON TESTS

Red blood cells, haemoglobin, white blood cells, platelets, PCV/HCT, etc are checked to diagnose anaemia, leukaemia, infection, inflammation and bleeding disorders. Lower levels of haemoglobin indicate possible haemorrhage, anaemia or iron deficiency. A low PCV indicates anaemia and a high PCV is often seen in dehydrated dogs. There could also be other conditions that result in abnormal readings.

Urinalysis is used for routine health screening or to diagnose a number of medical conditions like urinary tract infection, kidney infection/failure, blood in urine, fever, muscle damage or for monitoring the progression and response to therapy for chronic conditions like diabetes mellitus and hypertension related kidney diseases. Urinalysis is important in the early detection of kidney diseases especially in older pets.

A series of tests are used to assess the proper functioning of the liver, kidney, pancreas, muscle and bones. This includes:

Liver Function Tests: AST, ALT, ALP, Total Bilirubin, GGT, Cholesterol and proteins.
The tests help to evaluate the healthy functioning of the liver. Decreased liver function, inflammation, infection of the gall bladder can be diagnosed by these tests.

Kidney Function Tests: Blood urea nitrogen (BUN), Creatinine, Phosphorus, Amylase and Albumin
The tests combined with urinalysis help to monitor the proper functioning of the kidneys

Pancreas Function Tests: Glucose, Amylase, Lipase and Triglycerides
The tests if abnormal indicate problems with the pancreas or carbohydrate metabolism for example in pancreatitis and diabetes.

Muscle Tests: Creatine Phosphokinase (CPK) and Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST)
CPK and AST are abnormal in muscle damage, trauma or inflammation.

Bone Function and Electrolyte Balance Tests: Sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium and phosphorus.
Calcium and phosphorus are tested to assess bone health. Electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride and phosphorus) are tested to monitor the electrolyte balance and cellular health of the body. Electrolyte imbalance affects the overall well-being of the animal.

Thyroid Function Tests
Several different thyroid tests (T3, T4, Free T4, etc) are used to monitor thyroid function. The tests can diagnose increased thyroid function (hyperthyroidism) or decreased thyroid function (hypothyroidism).

Respiratory Function Test
Lung function is assessed by measuring the carbon dioxide level in blood. If the lung is not functioning properly, carbon dioxide will not be properly exhaled and it will build up in the blood. Chronic lung diseases, obstructive lung diseases and lung infection can increase blood carbon dioxide levels.

Blood coagulation evaluation: Prothrombin time (PT) & Partial Thromboplastin time (PTT)
PT and PTT are tested before a surgical procedure or for certain diagnostics to assess blood clotting function to address uncontrolled bleeding during the procedure.

Urinalysis is used for routine health screening or to diagnose a number of medical conditions like urinary tract infection, kidney infection/failure, blood in urine, fever, muscle damage or for monitoring the progression and response to therapy for chronic conditions like diabetes mellitus and hypertension related kidney diseases. Urinalysis is important in the early detection of kidney diseases especially in older pets.

INFORMATION ON SERVICES

When puppies and kittens are born they are protected from infections by their mother’s milk provided the mother is not infected. As this immunity does not last long they need vaccinations to protect them from infections ideally when they are less than 2 months old. As antibody levels after a vaccination will decrease gradually, boosters are required yearly or every few years to maintain an effective level of antibodies. Older pets also need vaccinations to protect them from bacteria and viruses.

Dogs are routinely vaccinated against canine parvovirus, canine distemper virus, Leptospirosis and infectious canine hepatitis. If your dog is going to spend time in kennels, a kennel cough vaccine may be necessary. This vaccine is usually given intra-nasally and protects against parainfluenza virus and Bordetella bronchiseptica which can cause bronchitis. Dogs travelling abroad may require rabies vaccination. Cats should be routinely vaccinated against infectious enteritis and feline herpes virus.

This is a safe way to tag your pet so that it can be easily traced if it is lost. A microchip is a tiny device, about the size of a grain of rice that is implanted under the loose skin at the back of the neck using an injector. The microchip carries a code that is unique to the pet. Details of the pet and its owner can be obtained by scanning the chip and making reference to a microchip registry.

A healthy balanced diet and good dental care are essential for keeping your pet’s teeth and gums in good condition with refreshing breath. Pets can start to develop dental diseases as early as 3 years of age if dental care is neglected. Dental problems can be easily prevented and treated with a well balanced diet, good oral hygiene and regular dental cleaning and polishing by a veterinarian.

During dental examination there will be a thorough examination of the teeth, gum and oral cavity. The pet’s teeth will be charted to determine the number of normal, lost and damaged teeth, the extent of plaque and tartar build up and gum condition. If necessary, the teeth will be cleaned and polished ultrasonically to remove tartar. If a tooth requires extraction it will be done under local anaesthetic.

This is a routine surgical procedure to remove the reproductive organs to stop animals from breeding. Male and female cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs can be sterilised and the procedure is safe and is usually carried out when the animals are about 6 months of age. Hamsters are not suitable for sterilisation.

Sterilisation is done under general anaesthesia by a veterinarian.  Recovery is fast within 48 hours of surgery.

Sterilisation has several health benefits especially if done when the pets are young. Sterilisation helps to prevent uterine infections and breast cancer in females and testicular cancer in males. There are also good behavioural changes observed when you sterilise your pets. Sterilisation makes pets less aggressive. Sterilised pets don’t go into heat. Female cats usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks. They are excessively noisy when in heat and males will also be noisy when they smell a female in heat. Unsterilised male dogs and cats are always trying to escape to look for mates and tend to mark their territory by passing strong-smelling urine all over the house.

INFORMATION ON MEDICAL INFORMATIONS

FIV attacks the immune system of cats causing Feline AIDS. Cats infected with FeLV are at risk of developing serious illnesses like cancer, various blood disorders or anaemia. The infection may lead to immune deficiency. Cats at greatest risk of infection are those living with infected cats, cats allowed outdoors where they may come into contact or be bitten by an infected cat or kittens born to infected mothers. Kittens below the age of six months are vulnerable to becoming infected with the virus. Early detection and treatment are important.

Intestinal parvovirus causes severe vomiting, diarrhoea, fever and weight loss in dogs. The cardiac form of the virus attacks heart muscles and can cause death. Parvovirus infection is highly contagious. Puppies below six months of age are prone to the infection. A vaccination protects your dog from parvovirus.

Heartworms can infect dogs, cats and ferrets. When a female mosquito bites a dog infected with heartworm the larvae enter the mosquito and start to grow. After several days in the mosquito, the larvae are infective and are capable of growing into adult heartworms. If a female mosquito carrying infective larvae bites your pet it will become infected. It takes several months after the mosquito bite for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms. The adult worms find their way to the heart, lungs and surrounding blood vessels. Infected dogs do not show any signs until the condition is at an advanced stage. Adult worms can live in dogs for several years.

Heartworms block the normal flow of blood from the heart to the lungs leading to dilation and weakening of the heart. Infected dog have been seen with large numbers of heartworms in the right ventricle of the heart. When present in large numbers in the lungs heartworms cause scarring and pneumonia. The infection starts with a cough which gets worse. Weakening of the heart leads to lethargy. The infection can cause sudden death in cats.

Heartworm infection is easy to prevent but difficult to treat. Heartworm prevention programme has to be started early when the puppy or kitten is about 3 months old.

Glaucoma is increased pressure within the eyes. One of the important causes is the accumulation of fluids inside the eye when the draining system for the eye fluid becomes blocked. If untreated, glaucoma can cause irreversible blindness and enlargement of the eyes.

Glaucoma can be of two types, primary or secondary glaucoma. Primary glaucoma is an inherited condition and is common in some breeds of dogs such as Cocker Spaniel, Jack Russell Terrier, Shih Tzu and Siberian Husky. Cats rarely suffer from primary glaucoma. Secondary or acquired glaucoma occurs when eye diseases cause fluid accumulation inside the eye. Common causes of secondary glaucoma include eye inflammation, cataracts, cancer, displacement of eye lens and retinal detachment. Glaucoma in cats is mostly secondary glaucoma. Early diagnosis and treatment are absolutely important.

Diabetes mellitus occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to control the level of glucose in the blood. Glucose is the main energy source for the proper functioning of the body. In normal animals, insulin prevents the liver from producing glucose and ensures that the excess glucose from the food consumed which is not used to produce energy is stored. In diabetic animals, insulin is not present in sufficient amounts to stop the production of glucose by the liver or to store away the excess glucose in the blood. Without insulin, glucose accumulates in the blood and is released into the urine together with water causing more urine to be formed than normal. The water loss is compensated by thirst and increased intake of water. The animal is perpetually hungry but loses weight because of breakdown of fats and proteins to make glucose and ketones in the liver to produce energy.  Excessive urination, thirst, excessive water intake, hunger and weight loss are therefore signs of diabetes in your pets.

If diabetes is not diagnosed and treated it may lead to infections of the bladder, kidney or skin and in the long-term cataracts, fatty liver and nerve or muscle dysfunction. If ketones are produced in large quantities by the liver it could lead to ketoacidosis, which will make your pet very ill. The condition is characterized by excessive thirst and water consumption, sudden loss of vision, weakness, lethargy, vomiting and dehydration. The breath would also smell of ketones resembling nail polish remover.

Diabetes is more common in older dogs and cats, but could also be found in young animals. When diabetes occurs in young animals, it is often genetic. Animals that are overweight or have pancreatitis are predisposed to developing diabetes. Long-term use of certain drugs eg glucocorticoids or hormones to control heat can interfere with insulin and may lead to diabetes in some animals.

Diabetes is managed by proper diet, oral medication or by insulin injection. Oral medications are not very effective in dogs. Diabetic pets with ketoacidosis become very ill and have bouts of vomiting. The condition is life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Intravenous fluids and rapid acting insulin are used to treat diabetic ketoacidosis until the vomiting stops. When the animal starts to eat normally, diabetes is managed with oral medication or insulin injection.

If your pet has bad breath, swollen gums (gingivitis), drools excessively, paws the face and mouth and has eating difficulties and prefers soft diet it has dental problems. If untreated, the problem can lead to extreme pain, infection, tooth decay/loss and gum disease with possible infection of organs, which could seriously affect the well-being of your pet.

Dental plaque is made up of bacteria, saliva and other harmful particles. Plaque can build up on the teeth and gums and calcify to form tartar which cannot be easily removed. Food and bacteria can accumulate under the gum infecting the gum and the bone causing periodontal disease. Disease starts with gingivitis when the gums become inflamed and painful. The gums separate from the teeth, creating space where more bacteria, plaque, and tartar build up leading to tooth and bone loss. Bacteria from the inflamed areas can pass into the bloodstream and affect important organs like the liver, kidneys, heart and lungs.

Bad breath is caused by bacterial infection of the gums and supporting tissues in peridontal disease. In some cases bad breath may be caused by diseases like kidney failure, diabetes, nasal or facial skin infections or cancers or if the pet has a habit of ingesting faeces.

Cats are prone to diseases of the mouth including periodontal disease and stomatitis. The cause of stomatitis is not clearly understood and it could be an autoimmune disease where the cat develops allergy to plaque on the teeth. Stomatitis is common in cats with autoimmune conditions like FIV and FeLV. It is a very painful condition with inflammation of the mouth extending into the throat, causing red lesions affecting the cat’s eating habits. The condition may respond to an intense oral hygiene regime to remove plaque and regular dental cleaning and polishing combined with a good diet plan to control plaque.

Another painful oral condition in cats is Feline Odontoclastic Oral Resorption Lesions (FORL). The disease starts with resorption of the enamel which is the outer layer of the tooth. Resorption slowly progresses to the dentin below the enamel and finally results in exposure of the pulp which is the most sensitive part of the tooth. Cats with periodontal disease, cats on a diet high in calcium and low in phosphorus and cats which vomit frequently (enamel is affected by the acidic stomach content) are prone to FORL. Good oral hygiene, dental examination and treatment may slow down the progression of FORL. Sadly, the only effective treatment is extraction of all the affected teeth.

Giardia is a single-celled protozoan parasite that can cause giardiasis in your pets. The condition is characterised by diarrhoea, nausea, fatigue, weight loss, bloating and cramps in your pets. Giardiasis is highly contagious. The condition can be easily diagnosed by stool examination and treated effectively.

This is a routine surgical procedure to remove the reproductive organs to stop animals from breeding. Male and female cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs can be sterilised and the procedure is safe and is usually carried out when the animals are about 6 months of age. Hamsters are not suitable for sterilisation.

Sterilisation is done under general anaesthesia by a veterinarian.  Recovery is fast within 48 hours of surgery.

Sterilisation has several health benefits especially if done when the pets are young. Sterilisation helps to prevent uterine infections and breast cancer in females and testicular cancer in males. There are also good behavioural changes observed when you sterilise your pets. Sterilisation makes pets less aggressive. Sterilised pets don’t go into heat. Female cats usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks. They are excessively noisy when in heat and males will also be noisy when they smell a female in heat. Unsterilised male dogs and cats are always trying to escape to look for mates and tend to mark their territory by passing strong-smelling urine all over the house.

The 3 conditions are transmitted by infected ticks. Dogs infected with ehrlichiosis have fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, stiff and painful joints, bruises, anaemia and enlarged lymph nodes, liver and spleen. In some cases the infection can lead to arthritis and kidney damage. The condition can be easily diagnosed and treated if help is sought early.

Lyme disease is more common in dogs than in cats. The most common symptom is sudden onset of shifting leg lameness (limping shifting from leg to leg). The limp lasts for a few days and may recur. Affected joints are painful and may develop into chronic arthritis. Other signs of Lyme disease include fever, swollen lymph nodes and poor appetite. Lyme disease can in the long term cause kidney problems and possible heart or nervous system disorders. Lyme disease can be easily diagnosed and treated with antibiotics.

The most common signs of anaplasmosis are lethargy, loss of appetite and fever which are common symptoms in other diseases. Vomiting, diarrhoea, lameness, nosebleeds, dark stools and pale mucous membranes may also occur. Anaplasmosis is easily diagnosed and treated with a course of antibiotics. Re-infection is possible.

Cataract is the blurring of vision caused by opacity of the eye lens. Cataracts can vary in size from tiny spots that do not affect vision to complete cataracts that can cause loss of vision. Cataracts may be present at birth or develop with age. Cataracts must be monitored closely because they may get worse and lead to blindness.

Cataracts could be an inherited condition or could develop from diseases like diabetes or old age or trauma to the eye. The most common cause in dogs is genetic and diabetes. Cataracts are more common in terriers, golden retrievers, cocker spaniels, poodles and miniature schnauzers. An untreated cataract may free itself from the eye lens to float around in the eye where it may settle and block the drainage of the eye fluid leading to glaucoma. Cataracts may also cause painful inflammation of the eye.

There is no treatment to reverse or cure cataracts. There are however, eye drops that can stop eye irritation or discomfort caused by cataracts. If a cataract does not affect vision treatment is normally not recommended, but regular monitoring is important. If the cataract progresses and affects vision cataract surgery may be considered. Get your veterinarian to examine your pet if its eyes look cloudy or bluish gray.

Urinary incontinence or involuntary passing of urine in pets can be due to an infection, problems with the bladder or urethra, defects in the brain and spinal cord that control bladder function or a birth defect. Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose the problem by physical examination and laboratory tests and treat the condition. Some causes of incontinence are:

Urethral Sphincter Mechanism Incompetence (USMI)
This is the most commonly diagnosed cause of urinary incontinence in adult male and female dogs due to inadequate functioning of the external urethral sphincter. The condition can worsen as the dog ages. Sterilised female dogs may be prone to USMI.

Bladder Infection
Incontinence can be due to a bladder infection. The infection causes the animal to have a strong urge to urinate. Bladder infection could also scar the bladder preventing it from stretching to hold urine.

Obstruction
Obstruction of the urethra by a stone or tumour may cause incontinence and retention of urine in the bladder. If the bladder cannot empty completely the bladder may enlarge and the back pressure of urine in the bladder causes some urine to leak around the obstruction. Total blockage of urine flow can be fatal if not attended to immediately.

Hormone-Responsive Incontinence
This is common in sterilised dogs especially in female dogs and sometimes in cats. The pet urinates normally, but leaks urine while resting. Hormone-responsive incontinence can persist for a very long after sterilisation.

Brain or Spinal Cord Disease
Dogs with brain or spinal cord disease may either leak urine or are unable to pass urine. They would also show signs of muscle weakness or paralysis.

Vulvovaginal Stenosis
Incontinence in female dogs could be due to vulvovaginal stenosis. In this condition there is narrowing of the vagina where the urethra ends. Occasionally when the pet urinates, some urine gets trapped in the vagina in front of the narrowed area. The trapped urine empties when the dog rises after lying down.

Birth Defects
Birth defects commonly ectopic ureter can cause incontinence in young dogs. In ectopic ureter the ureter bypasses the bladder and connects to the urethra or vagina instead. Some breeds eg. Siberian huskies, Collies, Labrador retriever, miniature poodle and terriers have higher occurrence of ectopic ureters. If only one ureter is affected the puppy will leak urine but will also urinate normally. If both ureters are affected the dog will not pass urine normally and will only leak. Bladder infection is common in puppies with ectopic ureters.

Ear infection in your dogs and cats could be caused by a variety of conditions ranging from ear mites, allergies (topical creams, foods, pollen and dust), polyps or growth in the ear to cancer. Discomfort and irritation of the ear by the infection causes the animal to shake its head and scratch the ears. Excessive scratching of the ear can lead to otitis, or inflammation of the ear canal. Otitis can involve the outer, middle, or inner part of the ear. Otitis of the inner ear is more serious as it could lead to permanent hearing loss and can affect balance and coordination.

Thorough examination of the outer ear, ear canal and eardrum and ear cytology involving microscopic examination of ear swabs are essential to diagnose the infection. Most cases of otitis can be successfully treated with cleaning and medication, but if the infection is due to allergies or other underlying conditions other treatment protocols may be necessary.