Archive for November, 2018
Diabetes mellitus occurs when the pancreas stops producing insulin altogether. Without insulin, the body is unable to convert sugar into usable energy, leaving the blood sugar level dangerously high. The most common signs of diabetes include drinking more, urinating more, weight loss, increased appetite and lethargy. After diagnosis, the condition can be managed at home with twice daily injections.
So how can we help you?
As a part of the Senior Pet Month we are offering free nurse clinics that include a full urine test. This vital test can help detect signs of many problems, including diabetes, in your senior pet.
What happens if your pet is newly diagnosed with diabetes?
We have weekly Diabetic Clinics that run at the Walnut Tree hospital every Thursday with our Veterinary Nurse Megan. These clinics allow us to keep a close eye on your pet’s condition, and we will stay in regular contact with you over the phone to make sure everything is going well.
Diabetes can be a daunting prospect for owners, but we try and make things as easy as possible, providing help and support throughout your pet’s initial diagnosis and long term treatment. Book in for your free Geriatric Clinic with one of our Veterinary Nurses today!
An arthritic joint may be stiff to move or have a reduced range of movement and not be able to bend as much as it used to. It may be thickened, and in many cases will be painful. Exercise is often reduced and this can lead to muscle loss and weight gain, both of which are detrimental to the condition.
Arthritis is often a secondary change following an underlying joint condition. A dog may be known to have suffered from a condition such as hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia from a young age, or to have damaged the cruciate ligament in the knee, but in some cases the arthritis develops without any previously noted disorder.
Once arthritis (also known as degenerative joint disease or “DJD”), develops, treatment is aimed at improving an animals mobility by reducing pain to ultimately improve their quality of life. Animals will not always display any signs to suggest they are in pain, but you may notice they are less keen to go for walks, are uncomfortable or struggle to sit or lie down, are no longer climbing up stairs or onto the sofa! There may be more obvious signs such as yelping if they slip or as they stand up from lying down.
Imaging may be required to assess a painful joint. Radiographs (“X-rays”) may show new bone formation to suggest arthritis or a malformed joint. Some subtle conditions require advanced imaging such as CT or MRI scans, and may even require arthroscopy (a camera looking inside a joint). In older animals, the assessment of a joint during a consultation with a vet may be enough to suggest trialing some treatment.
There are many ways that we can improve the situation for our pets, some of which don’t cost anything!
It is vital that animals are kept to a sensible weight. Sadly, many pets are overweight and this in itself can get worse if animals are less keen to exercise due to arthritic pain. Many animals will feel much more comfortable if their weight can be kept to a sensible target. Our nurses are happy to help with weight reduction programs and offer free nurse clinics at many of our surgeries. An overweight dog with arthritis will be significantly more comfortable once it has lost weight. Try running your fingers along the ribs of your dog, you should be able to comfortably feel each rib without there being a significant fat barrier over them!
Sensible exercise regimes are also beneficial, not only to help them stay lean (or reduce unwanted weight), but will also increase muscle that can help support a damaged joint. You may need to start with slow gentle lead walks several times a day before building up to longer ones. You may even find several short walks a day are more comfortable for your companion than a single long walk. If your pet is coming home more lame, then reduce the amount of exercise you are doing before seeing if you can gradually slowly increase it again in the future.
Hydrotherapy and physiotherapy are both useful aids to improving your pet’s mobility. This can be beneficial after a surgical procedure, as well as for long term management of an arthritic animal. We can advise you on local hydrotherapy and physiotherapy centres. You are likely to need consent from a veterinary surgeon to attend a centre, so you may benefit from an appointment with one of our vets to discuss whether this treatment would be good for your dog. If you have a pet insurance policy, your cover may allow a certain amount of complementary therapy.
Painkillers are often important treatments for animals suffering from osteoarthritis. They may just be required when there is an acute flare up of pain in some cases, but many dogs with arthritis will be more comfortable if they are on long term medication. Most painkillers used in animals are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs). In the vast majority of cases, NSAIDs can be safely used in pets without significant side effects. The benefit nearly always outweighs the potential risks. The most common side-effects seen are usually gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting or diarrhea. There is a low risk of upsetting the liver or kidneys and running blood tests periodically on animals taking NSAIDs is a sensible precaution, especially in older animals that may have geriatric related liver or kidney problems that we would want to avoid making worse. An occasional simple urine test can also be useful to monitor for signs of problems in older animals.
There are other painkillers that we sometimes prescribe that have been used in people for a long time. Some of these are not currently licensed for use in pets so are prescribed “off licence”.
Supplements containing glucosamine, chondroitin and/or essential fatty acids may be helpful in animals with arthritis. It is often worth trialing them for a few months and seeing if they have any beneficial effect. They are not likely to provide an instant response as most of them aim to help support joint cartilage repair.
Some modern treatments are being trialed involving stem cells/regenerative medicine. This generally remains an experimental area, but some orthopaedic specialist centres are providing treatments. There are two main treatments currently available, one involves taking a blood sample and separating platelets that are then infused into a damaged joint. The other involves taking adipose tissue (fat) from the abdomen in one procedure and then this sample is treated to remove stem cells that are injected into a damaged joint at a separate procedure. These treatments may provide an anti-inflammatory response for a period of time when, if beneficial, the treatment can be repeated. Milton Keynes Veterinary Group can offer platelet therapy for clients interested in this area of medicine.
There are some situations when surgery may be recommended. If a dog has severe hip pain then referral for a total hip replacement may be considered. An animal with a ruptured cruciate ligament may benefit from surgery to stabilize the joint. Some animals may be more comfortable after salvage procedures such as fusing a joint that is painful or removing the ball part of the ball and socket hip joint.
Although people and animals can all suffer with painful joints, there are certainly some effective treatments available to help improve activity and happiness!
If you are worried your dog has arthritis, please make an appointment with one of our vets who will be happy to advise you on the best options to help.
Usually once CKD is diagnosed, we cannot identify the original cause, as it most likely happened earlier in the cat’s life. The kidney is an organ that cannot regenerate (regrow) and so CKD is not a disease that can be cured. The disease will usually progress over time and, unfortunately, in a lot of cases, the end stage is kidney failure. However, with treatment we aim to support the function of the kidneys for as long as possible, and also to minimise any complications.
Most cats diagnosed with CKD will have vague symptoms including weight loss, reduced appetite, drinking more and urinating more and vomiting intermittently. If you notice any of these signs at home do book your cat in for check with a vet as it is likely that we would recommend a blood test and a urine test. Often though these signs are difficult to notice as they come on gradually, and so it can be at a yearly booster or other check up that weight loss or other symptoms are found.
Once CKD has been diagnosed, if your cat is otherwise well and eating well, the vet will discuss the best way to manage the disease. If your cat is unwell when they are first diagnosed, they may initially need more intensive treatment which might involve a stay in hospital.
We will often recommend a change of diet to a prescription diet, and there is evidence to show that this is one of the most important factors in slowing down the progression of CKD. We do know however that a lot of cats will struggle to change their diet, and it is always more important that they are eating well and are happy, so we will always discuss with you whether this is right for your cat.
Monitoring your cat with regular blood and urine tests and blood pressure measurements is very important as it allows us to pick up changes early so that medication can be added if required and any complications picked up. We hope that by picking up CKD as early as possible we can prolong your cat’s good quality life as long as possible.
Our free senior cat checks are a perfect chance to discuss any concerns you may have about any of the symptoms of CKD, or any other worries. Please call us at the cat clinic to book your cat in.
Obesity can be a contributing factor in the case of other conditions such as arthritis, heart disease and pododermatiitis.
It can also be dangerous in cases of anorexia as they will metabolise fat which can be lead to hepatic lipidosis.
Rabbits should have a diet of high fibre pellets, add lib grass, hay and greens to prevent obesity and to lose weight.
Follow this link for a good guide on rabbit body condition scoring.
If you are concerned about your rabbit’s weight in their older age, why not book in for a geriatric check with one of our nurses. These appointments are available for rabbits over the age of 7 years old and are running during the month of November only.
Ever walked into a room and wondered why you went in there in the first place? I know I have, and at 50 years old it seems to happen more and more! This is part of normal ageing, along with creaky knees and my silver fox hair. Not every person (or dog) ages the same way & sometimes we see changes that are more severe than those of normal “healthy” ageing.One of the more common questions I get asked by the owners of geriatric dogs is “do dogs go senile?” The answer is yes they can, although we call it cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS). Cognition is the mental process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience and the senses, dysfunction simply means it is going wrong!
The age at which a dog becomes geriatric will depend on the individual, and factors such as breed, but is generally about eight years of age. It is important to realise that geriatric dogs will be less active and rest more, this is normal healthy ageing. What we see with CDS are behavioural issues which may affect the pet’s welfare and the human-dog bond.
Possible symptoms include disorientation (sometimes the dog doesn’t seem to know where he is even though he is somewhere familiar) and reduced interaction with the family, which may lead to fear or irritation. Disturbed sleep, for example becoming restless at night and sometimes crying at night for no apparent reason. You may see loss of housetraining and an increase in anxiety levels. In severe cases these changes strongly resemble senile dementia in old people, and can be very distressing for the dog and owner.
What can be done to help? It is important to realise there is no such thing as a cure for CDS. However a number of things can help.
- Drugs – the most commonly used drug is Selegiline .This is an enzyme blocker which increases levels of helpful chemicals in the brain such as serotonin and dopamine
- Diet- there has been a lot of research into “healthy brain” diets. As the brain ages it becomes less able to use glucose as fuel. By suppling diets that are rich in certain fats called medium chain triglycerides, we can fuel the older brain more efficiently. Also correct levels of Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins B C & E and other ingredients such as Arginine can improve blood flow to the brain, reduce inflammation and help reduce free radicals which damage the brain.
- Enrich the environment – It is important to give plenty of attention and interaction to geriatric pets. Most older dogs will still enjoy walks and play, although maybe not so energetically as they did in their youth. Make sure beds are comfy and warm as older dogs will spend more time in them. Puzzle type dog toys can also be useful just as Sudoku and crosswords are helpful in keeping our human brains active