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Archive for February, 2020

Alabama Rot – Update February 2020

Cases of Alabama Rot are still being reported in the UK, with Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists providing an update of a further 12 cases within 2020, totaling 2016 confirmed cases since 2012.

This disease is still very rare within the UK, and we advise dog owners to seek advice from their local vet if their dog develops unexplained skin lesions. Within a twenty mile radius of Milton Keynes, there has only been one confirmed case since 2014. If you are traveling with your dogs, areas of higher case records include South of England and North West of England areas.
What is Alabama Rot?

Alabama rot is a disease which damages blood vessels within the kidney and skin. The disease causes blood clots to form in the vessels, damaging their lining and delicate tissues within the kidneys, and sadly can lead to kidney failure which can be fatal. It can also cause ulceration on the dog’s tongue. Alabama rot is also known as Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (CRGV), and was first detected by in the 1980s in the USA.

What causes Alabama Rot?

Unfortunately the disease can affect any dog of any breed, age or size, and the majority of cases have recently been walked in muddy or woodland areas.

There seems to be more cases reported during the months November to May than there is between the months of June to October, therefore winter and spring time is more dangerous to your dog.

What are the symptoms?

Most commonly, the skin lesions are seen below the knee or elbow, and are a symptom of the disease rather than being a wound from injury. There may be a patch of red skin or an ulcerated area, and there may be swelling around the lesion. In the following two to seven days, the affected dogs have developed signs of kidney failure, including vomiting, lethargy and reduced appetite. This disease will not be the only cause of skin lesions or kidney failure, often there will be another cause.

However, prompt diagnosis and treatment is imperative for any dog with Alabama Rot, but without knowing what causes the disease, it is also difficult for us to be able to give you specific advice on prevention or where to walk your dog.

How to prevent Alabama Rot?

We advise checking your dog over for skin lesions regularly and monitor for any signs as mentioned above. We also suggest bathing your dogs after their walks to remove any mud. Alabama rot is unfortunately not a disease we can vaccinate against at present, and it is not thought to affect cats or rabbits.

We will update this blog if any new information becomes available for this disease.

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Kennel Cough: What is it and vaccination update!

Coughing in dogs is a symptom seen quite commonly in the veterinary world, and can be extremely worrying for their owners. There is a number of causes of coughing, and therefore each individual should be assessed by a veterinary surgeon for the appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

The most common cause of coughing in dogs is the upper airway infection Infectious Tracheobronchitis, otherwise known as Kennel Cough.

What are the symptoms of Kennel Cough?

In most cases dogs will present with a persistent, hacking cough that may be described by owners as like they are choking. They may also have a runny nose, eye discharge or sneezing. In more severe cases, dogs may also show signs such as inappetence, lethargy, fever or coughs bringing up phlegm.

What causes Kennel Cough?

Infectious Tracheobronchitis can be caused by a number of viral and bacterial organisms. It is possible for an individual to be infected by one or more pathogens at one time. The most common pathogens associated with Kennel Cough are Bordetella Bronchiseptica and Parainfluenza. Bordetella Bronchiseptica is a bacterial pathogen, and infected dogs can shed this organism for up to three months post infection.

How is Kennel Cough spread?

Kennel Cough is highly contagious and will spread easily to other animals through airborne or droplet infection where dogs are in close proximity.

I think my dog has Kennel Cough – what should I do?

If you think your dog is suffering from Kennel Cough, contact us to make an appointment with a veterinary surgeon for assessment. Please let the receptionist know that you suspect your dog has Kennel Cough. We may ask for you to wait outside or in a free consulting room until the vet is ready to see your dog to help limit the exposure of other dogs to this highly contagious condition.

Can Kennel Cough be prevented?

Vaccination can reduce the effect of kennel cough. Commonly protection against Parainfluenza is provided with your dog’s primary course, along with Canine Distemper, Canine Adenovirus and Canine Parvovirus.

Protection against Bordetella Bronchiseptica, the most common pathogen, is given as a separate vaccine, and can be administered as young as eight weeks of age. There are many other pathogens which cause Kennel Cough, and vaccination cannot guarantee protection against every variation, but will at least help lessen the symptoms.

How is the Kennel Cough vaccine administered?

Milton Keynes Veterinary Group is excited to be using the latest innovation in Kennel Cough vaccination for your pet. We have recently switched to an oral vaccination, which has replaced the older style nasal preparation. The oral vaccination is well tolerated and is much less stressful for your dog to receive. We are already seeing a much more positive reaction from our canine visitors since changing to this new style vaccination.

When should I vaccinate against Kennel Cough prior to putting my pet in kennels?

The onset of immunity after vaccinating against Kennel Cough is three weeks, so we would advise allowing at least this before your dog is due to be admitted to kennels. We strongly advise owners to contact the kennels they are planning to use to enquire about their vaccinations requirements in advance – each establishment will have their own requirements for dogs to stay with them.
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A Pet Owner’s Experience of Pet Blood Donation and Pet Blood Bank

Cathy, one of our receptionists, shares her experience from a doggie owner’s perspective.

“I first became aware of a canine blood donation scheme in the late 1980’s and registered one of my Irish Setters ‘Jaffa’ with the national charity ‘The Holly Blood Donor Appeal’. They compiled a register of owners who would be willing to allow their dogs to donate blood. He was called up once, to donate blood for a dog suffering from auto immune haemolytic anaemia. In those days, it was a case of driving to the veterinary practice where the patient was being treated, donating blood and then going home again. Things have changed so much since those early days.

Launched in 2007, Pet Blood Bank UK provides a national blood product service to all veterinary practices across the UK. In my early days of working in veterinary practice which began in the late 1970’s, blood transfusions were performed very rarely and, if they happened at all, were generally performed when patients were referred to one of the universities. Today, they are carried out in general practice as routine. Having had two Irish Setters in the last twenty years who have benefited from transfusions, I felt it was time to give something back. There are many reasons why a dog would need a transfusion from trauma to acute or chronic illness. In my case, one dog suffered a perforated gastric ulcer and the second developed a clotting disorder. Neither would have survived without transfusions.

Just as with human blood, canine blood is in short supply and new donors are always required. The Pet Blood Bank holds sessions in veterinary practices and kennels across the UK and they now have a mobile unit. Donor dogs are typed at their initial donation and are either DEA 1 Positive or DEA 1 Negative. Approximately 30% of donors have the negative type, and certain breeds are more likely to be Negative. These include Dobermann, Boxer, Weimaraner, Old English Sheepdog and Flat Coat Retriever. Negative dogs are in high demand because they are the universal donors. Positive dogs are the universal recipients. At first transfusion a dog can receive Negative blood regardless of its own blood group. Obviously, it is far better to type all patients before a transfusion, but this isn’t always possible as not all veterinary keep the typing kits in stock. Dogs requiring subsequent transfusions must always be typed so that they receive compatible blood, but in an emergency situation where the recipient’s blood group isn’t known and cannot be tested, Negative blood must always be used. Negative dogs can only receive Negative blood, but initially Positive dogs can receive either Positive or Negative, hence the drive to enrol new donors from the potentially Negative breeds. Each donor is given a number which is used to label the blood products, consequently donations from that individual can be traced back to source and right through the process to transfusion.

I enrolled my Irish Setter ‘Lois’ because, as I mentioned earlier, I wanted to give something back and of all my dogs, she is the most outgoing, is people friendly and sees visits to the vets as one of the highlights in her life. Everything about the donation process is aimed at being a positive experience but the moment a dog becomes apprehensive or afraid then the session is stopped regardless of which point it has reached. For this reason, there are some dogs who don’t get as far as donating, but, if that is the case, they are not written off as failures but are invited to the next session to try again if the owner wants to pursue donation. For ‘Lois’ and I it was a great experience from start to finish. She loved the attention, the fuss, the food and meeting lots of people. She was the fastest donator of the session and announced as star of the day. As for me, I was extremely proud of what she had done and the way she had behaved. The cherry on top of the cake moment came a few days later when a call from the Pet Blood Bank announced that she fell into the minority Negative group.

Because ‘Lois’ fell into the Negative group, I wondered what the possibility of ‘Kitty’, her litter sister being Negative would be. The Blood Bank thought it quite likely and were keen to at least test her. I had some reservations about enrolling her as she is more reserved than ‘Lois’, and generally views a visit to the vets as something to be tolerated but not enjoyed. However, she sailed through the whole process without fear or trepidation. This was mainly due to the amazing, dedicated staff who make everything so positive and encouraging. Again, I left the session feeling uplifted and proud. Three days later came the welcome news that ‘Kitty’ was also in the Negative group.

New donors are constantly required, and I’m left wondering if Irish Setters could indeed be one of the breeds which are more likely to be Negative. Volunteering your dog as a donor is easy. There are certain criteria which need to be met, most importantly the dog must be of sound temperament, over twenty five kilos in body weight, fully vaccinated and never been abroad. They must be fit and healthy and not on any medication, and be between one and seven years of age.

At the donation appointment, each dog is given a thorough examination by the Pet Blood Bank veterinary surgeon, detailed questions are asked about the dogs medical history and lifestyle, the microchip is checked, and a small blood sample is taken to check that the dog is fit to donate. In first time donors, a larger sample is collected and sent away for analysis for a full health screen. Results are sent to the donor’s veterinary practice. If all is well the dog will donate one unit of blood, which is approximately 450mls, and takes around four to seven minutes to collect. Each donation is later separated into red blood cells and plasma products. Every unit of blood donated can help save the life of up to four other dogs.

Following donation, the dog is given a bowl of food and has access to water, is kept under observation by the qualified staff for approximately fifteen minutes. After the first donation a goody bag which includes treats, a collar tag and a ‘lifesaver’ bandana are awarded to each dog and they have their photo taken for the Pet Blood Bank Facebook page. They can also choose and take home a toy. A follow up call a few days later is made by the Pet Blood Bank to the owner to check on the wellbeing of the donor, and is a chance for the owner to ask any questions or give feedback.

My purpose in writing about my experience is to highlight the wonderful work done by this charity and to let other know how easy it is to get involved. At the end of the day, my two dogs went on to make recoveries from their illnesses thanks to the owners and their dogs who gave up their time and lifesaving blood. Now, thanks to ‘Lois’ and ‘Kitty’, things have come full circle and we’ve gone on to do our bit to thank those who helped our beloved dogs in the past. If you and your dog have a few hours to spare on a Saturday I would urge you to support the Pet Blood Bank and give donation a try. There is absolutely no pressure to donate, it’s not for every dog and if that is the case the session is simply stopped. It’s then entirely the owner’s decision on whether they want to try again at the next session.

For more information, to register and get involved please go to the Pet Blood Bank website, or give Milton Keynes Veterinary Group a call.”
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